HSR17 – ‘Shifting Priorities: balancing acute and primary care services’

Nick Graves

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Professor Nick Graves.

The Health Services and Policy Research Conference will be held at Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort & Spa, Gold Coast Queensland on Wed 1st –Fri 3rd November 2017. This is a wonderful location for a meeting. The theme is ‘Shifting Priorities: balancing acute and primary care services’ and it’s topical.

Health care is being punted around as a political football for this year’s federal election. During a recent appearance on ABC’s QandA programme with Tony Jones (link), Malcolm Turnbull handled a question about high workload from a busy ED doctor. The PM featured the ‘Health Care Homes’ policy. Designed to keep Australians with chronic diseases out of acute care the government plans to pay GPs to co-ordinate, manage and support a patient’s care in the community. Around 65,000 Australians will participate in a two-year trial among 200 medical practices, starting in July 2017.

On the surface, the plan seems like a good idea – but there are myriad other initiatives in health services trying to achieve the same thing. Some involve telemedicine with equipment in the patient’s home, others involve health care professionals visiting patients at home, and some are based on a virtual medical wards, with patients admitted in their own home. Australian health care will soon see a large change in the way it is organised, with less emphasis on acute care and more on primary care. And the HSRAANZ17 conference is designed to reflect on this change.

At the last meeting in 2015 in Melbourne we featured a session of a 3-minute thesis style presentation, and the presentations and feedback was excellent. So that will happen again. We will try to have fewer concurrent sessions to keep the rooms busy and the sessions lively. We wish to engage with those who manage and run health services and so plan to promote the event to clinicians doing their own HSR. We believe strongly that good HSR is collaboration between care providers and researchers. The problems at the coalface need to be quantified and solved using insights from a research method.

Translating new evidence into practice is an emerging science, and we hope to attract a lot of interest from knowledge translation researchers. This is likely to be a theme for one of the keynotes. To make a connection between HSR and decision-making we are planning to run a ‘shark tank’ session, not for entrepreneurs but for budding health services innovators. Our panel will be tough, no-nonsense, and powerful decision makers from within the Australian health service. The bait will be a team of researchers and health care professionals who have an idea and will pitch it, asking for investment from our panel members. It’s an experiment and a change to the usual conference programme, but we hope to provide the audience and presenters with real insights into how senior decision makers think and act.

We will organise a fun social programme as well. Come along and enjoy yourself, tell your friends and maybe bring the family for a weekend of sun, surf and sauvignon blanc.

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