Million dollar primary care research grant unveiled

Matt Woodley

9/02/2021 4:45:06 PM

The Windermere Foundation has revealed its contribution towards establishing an Australian-first framework aimed at improving patient outcomes.

A GP using a tablet.
The research framework will be built on local community networks and collaboration among GPs and other healthcare professionals.

The grant, aimed at developing the Translating Research Outcomes into the Primary Health Interface (TROPHI) healthcare model, was first announced last year but details of its scale were not known until now.
The $1 million boost will help TROPHI partners – the RACGP, Monash University Department of General Practice, and the University of Melbourne Department of General Practice – set up the framework, which will be built on local community networks and collaboration among GPs, nursing and allied health practitioners, and academics.
The funding is vital, as while more than eight in 10 Australians consult their GP at least once a year, and two million people are seen by a GP each week, less than 1% of the Medical Research Future Fund’s 10-year Investment Plan has been allocated to primary care research.
Unlike hospital settings, where the vast majority of research occurs, general practice research is widely distributed, with thousands of GPs spread across the country.
This lack of centralisation for research has hindered engagement and investment, with RACGP Victoria Faculty Chair Dr Anita Munoz saying primary care research has long been ‘shockingly undervalued and underfunded’.
‘The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the significant gap in primary care research capacity in Australia,’ Dr Munoz said. ‘In the United Kingdom, primary care researchers were able to rapidly establish a large trial on the best treatment for mild-to-moderate coronavirus in primary care.
‘It’s highly unlikely that Australia could rapidly implement a similar large-scale national trial because we don’t have a framework for it – this is a huge gap, and our healthcare system and patients suffer for it.’
Dr Munoz said a greater investment in general practice research would help create a healthier community, and reduce healthcare costs overall.
‘We need to be able to rapidly generate evidence from primary care, where the majority of healthcare is undertaken; not only for immediate health crises but all kinds of care GPs provide, such as chronic condition management and preventive health,’ she said.
‘Supporting GP researchers is among the RACGP’s top priorities. Research into general practice is best done by those who really understand the complexities of caring for patients in general practice. This funding will help do just that.’
Chair of the Windermere Foundation, Rowan Kennedy, said the TROPHI project will be initially developed in the outer-east of Melbourne, with the aim of expanding locations once established.
‘This growing community, with representation from both urban and regional communities, will reap the benefits of grassroots clinical research before going on to inform a national framework for high quality general practice research across Australia,’ he said.
‘TROPHI will generate research with real benefits for the Australian community and beyond.’
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