Primary health care in focus

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The Primary Healthcare Research and Information Service (PHCRIS) at Flinders University is hosting healthcare researchers from across Australia and NZ. They will discuss everything from population ageing to health service delivery in rural and remote Australia.

The issue of 40,000 unnecessary admissions by elderly Australians to emergency departments will be discussed at the 2015 Primary Health Care Research Conference at the Adelaide Convention Centre this week (29 – 31 July).

The Primary Health Care Research and Information Service (PHCRIS) at Flinders University is hosting researchers from across Australia and New Zealand at the conference.

They will discuss everything from population ageing, to services for children and young people, to health service delivery in rural and remote Australia.              

A new health framework for Indigenous Australians by Indigenous researchers and a web tool that helps GPs predict bowel cancer are other topics on the agenda.

Concurrent sessions will also investigate issues of chronic care, managing cancer, diabetes, mental health, use of technology and health in the workforce.

The conference offers unparalleled opportunities for mutual learning between research and research users in primary health care.

The conference, titled PHC Research Matters, comes as Australia struggles with the costs of health care, and as the importance of primary health care is being increasingly recognised as the ‘front line’ of that battle.

That’s a battle in which Conference Convenor, Dr Christina Hagger, from Flinders University, says good, well applied research could mean the difference between success and failure.

“We need to ensure that public health care research matters to government, to consumers, to policy, to practice, and that it is valuable as a resource to improve primary care,” said Dr Hagger.

“We can achieve this by engaging with research users to ensure relevant and timely research that delivers a return on investment.”

Dr Hagger said the importance of the annual conference was impossible to overstate terms of its uniqueness as a knowledge exchange event.

“The PHC Research Conference is renowned for bringing researchers and research users together to inform discussions and debates, as well as future research to influence and improve primary health care provision throughout Australia and New Zealand,” said Dr Hagger.

One of the critical issues being discussed is the more than 40,000 emergency department (ED) attendances a year by older people that could be managed by GPs.

Findings from the REDIRECT study, by researchers from Monash University, will be used to determine new models of care to provide non-emergency options for older Australians seeking fast access to primary health care.

Another topical issue will be a wellbeing framework designed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers to support the quality of life of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living with chronic disease.

An interactive symposium will offer unique insights into how the framework was developed by and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The opening keynote speech, from Ms Beth Wilson AM, former Health Services Commissioner, Victoria, will explain the benefits of engaging consumers in the research process.

“The trick is to work alongside consumers to ensure we go on the journey together, learning from each other,” said Ms Wilson.

“We need to ensure evidence based research is the basis of policy, practice and implementation, because with evidence, we are just dancing in the dark, and without consumer engagement, it’s even worse, because we are dancing alone.”

A keynote presentation by Professor Ngaire Kerse, from the University of Auckland, will focus on working in collaboration with Indigenous communities in research. An interactive panel discussion will feature Maori investigators Anna Rolleston and Rangimarie Mules.

The final plenary session, on Wednesday, will feature Professor Anne Kelso AO, CEO of National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC); Professor Michael Kidd,  Executive Dean, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Flinders University; and Professor David Lyle from the Broken Hill University Department of Rural Health, University of Sydney.

They will consider the structures and leadership we have to support PHC Research that impacts on improving health care outcomes.

It will be Professor Kidd’s first public event since his appointment to the Council of the NHMRC.

For more information on the event, please click here.

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