COVID-19: we need health services researchers in hospitals now

In an article published in MJA Insight  Dr Robyn Clay-Williams, senior research fellow and Professor Jeffrey Braithwaite, Founding Director of the Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Macquarie University, have argued for health services researchers to be embedded in hospitals now to learn from COVID-19

" As researchers, we are often called in “after the event” to determine what went wrong and how best to implement changes so that it doesn’t happen again. Why wait until after the disaster has occurred, when we have skills and tools that can be used now to support our health care professionals through the crisis and proactively lessen the likelihood that our systems will fail now, during this event, and those that occur in the future?

This is an unrivalled opportunity to learn from COVID-19, because if there is one thing of which we can be certain – this will not be the last big emergency event or novel virus. We need to embed health services researchers in hospitals now."

Read the full article here

HSRAANZ President Professor Rachael Morton | Director of Health Economics, Robinson Fellow – The University of Sydney, NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre; Faculty of Medicine and Health has responded:

Thank you to Dr Robyn Clay-Williams, Professor Jeffrey Braithwaite and Professor Teede (above) for highlighting the importance of Health Services Research during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Health Services Research Association of Australia and New Zealand (HSRAANZ, with >280 members, is the peak professional body for individuals and groups doing, funding, implementing and disseminating health services research. HSRAANZ members across the two countries include clinicians, policy researchers, economists, implementation scientists and consumers that focus on improving health services and health systems through research. The HSRAANZ works with all State and Federal Governments, NGOs, academic institutions, the Australian Health Research Alliance, the private sector, Industry and others to build capacity in health services research.

The main aim of Australia’s response to COVID-19 is “flattening the curve”. That is, delaying the transmission of the virus, so that presentations to the ED and GP clinics can be managed, with fewer people needing concurrent hospital and ICU care. Given that the shape of “the curve” is about managing the impact on both Federal and State health services, the evolving policies for prevention, screening and treatment need real-time evaluation. Targeted funding for vaccine development, as announced by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) is clearly important, but will not give us vital information about what works and what doesn’t at a health service level. There is a critical and much needed opportunity here for the Federal Government to invest in health services research.

Disclosures: Professor Rachael Morton is the President of the Health Services Research Association of Australia and New Zealand (HSRAANZ), Principal Research Fellow at The University of Sydney, and Co-Chair of AHRA Working Group 1 on Health Services Research.