Healthcare partnerships form new research initiatives

Morgan Liotta

16/10/2020 2:10:30 PM

GPs are among the recipients of the latest round of NHMRC research grants designed to build on advances in healthcare policy and practice.

Professor Peiris and Professor Liaw
Professor David Peiris (left) and Professor Siaw-Teng Liaw will use their research grants to strengthen productivity and performance in the healthcare sector.

The National Health and Medical Research Centre (NHMRC) has awarded grants to support 22 research initiatives as part of its $20 million Partnership Projects scheme.
newsGP profiles two GP recipients.
Unifying and quality assuring disparate health data silos with a common data model
Professor of General Practice at UNSW Sydney, and Director of WHO Collaborating Centre on eHealth, Siaw-Teng Liaw’s vision is for general practice to contribute data as an integral part of the national research enterprise across primary and secondary care.
Professor Liaw told newsGP that a key message of his research is the fact there is a significant role for GPs.
He believes Australia is a ‘highly fragmented information ecology with silos of disconnected non-standardised data holdings’ across most healthcare settings, with disparate data models and quality assurance mechanisms – which his research aims to improve.
‘There is little explicit and published understanding of the data quality and fitness-for-purpose,’ Professor Liaw said.
‘This research addresses Australia’s aspiration to a unified information enterprise to support data-driven innovation and research.
‘To achieve the unity, health data custodians must aspire to the FAIR [findability, accessibility, interoperability and re-usability] principles of scientific data management and stewardship while maintaining privacy and security.’
By mapping national general practice data repository MedicineInsight to a common data model, Professor Liaw anticipates it will contribute to unifying Australia’s digital data assets. His vision is to see cost efficiencies and benefits from sharing interoperable data and tools for large-scale multicentre and multisystem data analytics.
‘Imagine a scenario where data from individual general practices in Australia are mapped to a common data model applicable across the health sector,’ he said.
‘No data will be shared – they remain private and secure within the general practice or the data repository.
‘What is shared through this program are the platform and tools for data quality assessment and analytics of the dataset. The use of common tools and methodologies enables consistent and logical integration and interpretation of the analytical findings.’
The UNSW Sydney research is a partnership with NPS MedicineWise, as well as other universities and Primary Health Networks (PHNs). It was undertaken to address two key foundations essential for collaborative data sharing and data-driven research across the continuum of care, education and research: the quality and interoperability of data from multiple information systems.
The platform will support a virtual Australian general practice-based academic network, enabling ‘robust and adequately powered collaborative research studies to generate real-world evidence to underpin general practice and integrated care’, according to Professor Liaw.
This will extend and enhance general practice as a health profession, with an embedded and ongoing data-driven quality improvement cycle.
‘Key objectives of the project [include] data quality assessment and cost efficiencies of a common data model-enabled approach,’ Professor Liaw said.
‘We will map real-world data from general practices participating in MedicineInsight to an international model that supports global reference terminologies.
‘The ultimate outcome for Australian general practice is a robust cost-efficient platform and methodology to share common data model-enabled data quality assessment tools and AI-based data analytics tools with individual general practices, as well as custodians of real-world data repositories, such as universities, PHNs, MedicineInsight, AIHW and others.’
Development and evaluation of regional healthcare alliances to improve health system performance in New South Wales – Patient Centred Co-commissioning Groups
Faculty of Medicine Professor at UNSW Sydney and Director of Global Primary Health Care Program at the George Institute, David Peiris told newsGP the impetus for his research is to strengthen health system performance in NSW.
‘Widening inequities, large variations in the quality of care, and uncontrolled growth in healthcare spending – which now represents more than 10% of GDP [gross domestic product] – are threatening the sustainability of Australia’s healthcare system and ultimately the nation’s prosperity,’ he said. 
‘This project involves an exciting NSW policy reform program, Collaborative Commissioning, which will support formation of local alliances between local hospital districts and PHNs.’
These alliances, Patient Centred Co-commissioning Groups (PCCGs), will be tasked with developing new ways of working to achieve better patient outcomes more efficiently.
The project also involves the NSW Government and the Consumers Health Forum, partnering with leading health services researchers to design and evaluate a new service delivery model that, according to Professor Peiris, ‘could transform our health system’.
‘Several PCCGs are in the process of being established with a goal of having state-wide coverage in all 10 NSW PHN regions. Populations to be serviced are diverse,’ Professor Peiris said.
‘For example, Western Sydney [PHN] is focusing on community-based services for people with urgent care needs who would otherwise use the emergency department, alongside providing services for cardiology patients in the community. North Sydney [PHN] is focusing on a strategy to support elderly people with complex urgent health needs.
‘If successful, it will overcome waste and inefficiencies, enhance patient and provider experience and improve health outcomes.’
Community health workers extending care in the community
Professor Mark Harris, UNSW Sydney
The RACGP is hosting a free webinar, ‘GP research: What’s it all about?’ on Tuesday 27 October, 7.00–8.15 pm. The Q&A-style digital panel discussion will showcase all areas of general practice research. More information and registration is available on the RACGP website.
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