Why online health records help us all

Friday 1 September 2017

In an era of big data, the opportunity to harness the masses of information, including personal health records, through better collection, linkage and access, has the potential to transform our health systems and the way we deliver healthcare.

The more a doctor who is treating you knows about your medical history (and the quicker that history can be accessed) the better chance you have of it saving your life. If you are in an accident, unconscious and seriously hurt, then you really want those taking care of you to be able to access all your information about allergies, illnesses and medical history. It could make the difference between life and death.

You might assume doctors in various parts of the health system can already access your information, when the reality is that in most cases they cannot.The Australian health system is fragmented and information is not easily shared between the various GPs, medical specialists, private clinics and hospitals you visit over a lifetime. This means the data a medical professional looks at might not be complete or you may have to recall your own history repeatedly. This can lead to poor diagnoses and increased cost to the health system, with every repeat test and scan that might otherwise have been avoided.

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2030 Strategy for Science, research and innovation

As we are all too aware, Australia scores poorly on the translation of its research discoveries into new products and services. We need to improve the extent to which Australia’s research effort is directed to the questions and problems of greatest importance and how effectively our research is applied to provide solutions.

Bringing research and innovation together in the one Strategic Plan provides an opportunity to drive these improvements and to overcome some of the historic divides between programs to invest smartly in research and in programs to support and drive innovation. In addition to the research, innovation and investment communities, active engagement with the state and territory governments will be vital; it needs to be a ‘whole of governments’ strategy.

Just as importantly, the 2030 Strategic Plan needs a whole of community communication strategy to ensure all levels of society understand the imperative for a greater and more strategic investment in research, technology and innovation, and the benefits this can bring as we plan for the Australia we want in 2030.

Download Research Australia’s submission here.

Federal Budget 2017-18 | First grants issued by MRFF

Response to Budget 2017

Research Australia welcomes first grants issued by Medical Research Future Fund

Government delivers on promise to establish flow of funding into health and medical research $20 billion capital target to be achieved in 2020-21

After a long-fought campaign to bring the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) to reality, health and medical researchers have welcomed the first round of grants issued from the MRFF, as announced tonight in the Federal Budget. $65.9 million is available for 2016/17, with the detail of $25 million of this spending released tonight. Just as importantly, we now have a clear path to achieving the capital target of $20 billion, with the Budget papers revealing this target will be achieved in 2020-21.

Research Australia Director and CSL’s Senior Vice President of Research, Dr Andrew Nash, said the Budget announcement tonight confirmed the Government has begun to deliver on its promise to establish a consistent flow of funding for health and medical research.

“The grants announced tonight represent an important milestone in the establishment of this landmark source of funding for health and medical research.
Continue reading “Federal Budget 2017-18 | First grants issued by MRFF”

Federal Budget 2017-18 | Highlights

We have just got out of the Health Portfolio Federal Budget Lockup and here’s some early news on items affecting our sector.

We will provide you with more details around how the Federal Budget 2017-18 directly impacts health and medical research in the next few hours.

  • In 17-18, the total Health budget including (Aged Care & Sport) will increase 2.8% on last year to $94.2bn – that is 20% of total Commonwealth spend.
  • $5bn of that relates to HMR which includes:
    • $10M in preventive health research funded from MRFF
    • $78.8m for cancer research including $68m for a Proton Beam Facility in South Australia and $14.8m for childhood cancer.
  • Funding of $642.9 million will be made available in 2020 – 21, bringing total investment in HMR over the first 5 years of the MRFF to 1.4b, this is in addition to NHMRC funding.
  • $374.2m for national expansion of My Health Record to an opt-out system as agreed by COAG last year which will deliver enormous savings to the nation’s health bill over the next decade.
  • A compact with the pharmaceutical sector will mean lower cost medicines for consumers and in return allow more new drugs on the PBS and provide certainty and funding viability for the sector – congratulations to Medicines Australia

Continue reading “Federal Budget 2017-18 | Highlights”

Research Australia supports TGA Reforms

The Therapeutic Goods Amendment (2016 Measures No. 1) Bill 2016 (the Bill) is part of the Government’s response to the recommendations of the review of Medicines and Medical Devices Regulation (MMDR), and the legislation is supported by Research Australia’s submission to the inquiry by the Senate Standing Committees on Community Affairs.

The aim of the Review’s recommendations is to improve the processes for the approval of medicines and medical devices by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. Together the regulatory reforms are expected to reduce the administrative burden on applicants and make the approval process faster without jeopardising the safety of consumers.

Achieving this aim will provide consumers with earlier access to potentially lifesaving new medicines and devices. It is also an effective means of supporting Australia’s medical device and medicines industries; by accelerating their pathway to market it will enable them to become profitable more quickly, providing them with more resources to pursue the international markets needed to be truly successful and profitable.

Research Australia submission TGA Bill

Social Impact Investing for better health

Research Australia’s submission to Treasury in response to the discussion paper on Social Impact Investing has advocated that interventions designed to improve health outcomes be explicitly acknowledged as within the scope of the proposed social investing framework.

Research Australia believes that Social Impact Investing could be an effective mechanism for funding and evaluating some pilot projects and clinical trials designed to implement and evaluate new evidence based practices and interventions. The benefits of implementing successful new interventions include better population health, improved patient care, and efficiency gains in the Australian healthcare system. These provide quantifiable social and financial gains that make the funding of these measures amenable to Social Impact Investing.

Research Australia Submission Social Impact Investing

Health and medical researchers welcome appointment of Hon Brad Hazzard MP to Health portfolio

30 January 2017

Australia’s peak body for health and medical research has welcomed the appointment of the
Hon Brad Hazzard MP as Minister for Health and Minister for Medical Research.

“Bringing health and medical research back under one senior minister presents new opportunities to better integrate health and medical research with clinical care. This will mean better outcomes for patients and opportunities to achieve sustainable spending within the NSW health budget,” Research Australia CEO Nadia Levin said. Continue reading “Health and medical researchers welcome appointment of Hon Brad Hazzard MP to Health portfolio”

Research Infrastructure Draft Roadmap

Research Australia has provided a response to the Chief Scientist’s Research Infrastructure Draft Roadmap, released in late 2016. Research Australia’s submission has addressed the proposal for a new national advisory group, suggesting the functions of this group could be preformed by existing bodies. It has also emphasised the importance of engagement with state and territory governments in relation to investment and reiterated the importance of workforce planning for a skilled workforce to build, maintain and use research infrastructure. Research Australia has called for greater transparency in the funding of major research infrastructure and suggested some further clarity about the circumstances in which the national interest can be invoked to justify new infrastructure spending.

Research Infrastructure Roadmap Submission

Fifth Mental Health Plan ignores research

Research Australia’s submission in response the draft Fifth National Mental Health Plan has highlighted the Plan’s failure to include health and medical research.

Research Australia is concerned that the Fifth Plan is currently a missed opportunity to make better use of Australia’s significant capacity in health and medical research to help deliver the Plan’s vision of healthier Australians, faster and more complete recoveries from mental illness and more responsive and effective services.

The draft Fifth Plan calls for significant reform and innovation in the way we deliver mental health services in Australia, and the health and medical research sector is well placed to help inform, design, implement and evaluate these reforms. Research Australia believes the Fifth Plan provides an opportunity to improve the integration of the mental health system with the health and medical research sector, and to better utilise and direct research towards the Plan’s priorities. Our submission has highlighted some of the many ways in which health and medical research can contribute. Submission for 5th Mental Health Plan

 

Roadmap for Research Infrastructure

Research Australia has responded to the Capability Issues Paper provided as part of the development of a new National Research Infrastructure Roadmap. The Roadmap will guide the Australian Government’s future investment in large national research infrastructure.

Research Australia’s submission supports the consideration of international participation in Australian facilities and Australian participation in international facilities as part of the process of evaluating new research infrastructure facilities. We have supported the proposed governance principles and suggested that specific governance arrangements need to be fit for purpose for the individual proposal rather than fitting a predetermined template.

Research Australia has emphasised the importance of broadening the governance frameworks in relation to data infrastructure to consider the issues raised where the data is individuals’ health information, and made the point that legislative and cultural barriers to the better use of data need to be addressed in tandem with technological solutions.

The need to consider workforce training and capability issues as part of the broader roadmap was endorsed, as was the need to consider the full infrastructure lifecycle.

Infrastructure Roadmap submission