General General News Research — 14 February 2019

A major new South Australian research group focusing on improving aged, disability and public health care models is commencing at Flinders University this year.

Using technology, innovation, and training and education programs, we can improve health and social outcomes, particularly in aged and disability care, without necessarily spending more money.” — Professor of Health Economics Julie Ratcliffe. Photo: iStock

Targeting better cost-effective solutions, the experts in health economics include two new Matthew Flinders Research Fellows, Professor Julie Ratcliffe and Dr Rachel Milte from the University of South Australia, and Professor of Health Economics Jonathan Karnon from the University of Adelaide.

Incoming Professor of Health Economics Julie Ratcliffe, who leads an Australian Research Council Linkage project to develop new consumer-focused methods for assessing quality in aged care, says health and care systems should incorporate more informed management, better planning and consumer choice to maximise ‘bang for buck’.

“Our population is ageing, and the government and private sector need to find new solutions to deliver better quality aged care, hospitals and other health services with a limited pot of money,” says Professor Ratcliffe, who together with Professor Karnon will lead the expanded Health Economics Group at Flinders University.

Searching for improvements for aged and disability care are researchers Dr Rachel Milte, PhD candidate Jenny Louise, Professor Julie Ratcliffe and Dr Claire Hutchinson, all part of the new Health Economics Group at Flinders University.
Searching for improvements for aged and disability care are researchers Dr Rachel Milte, PhD candidate Jenny Louise, Professor Julie Ratcliffe and Dr Claire Hutchinson, all part of the new Health Economics Group at Flinders University.

Public spending on health continues to rise, with governments paying more than households can as total spending grows faster than gross domestic product (GDP). In 2016, the world spent US$7.5 trillion on health, or close to 10% of GDP, according to the World Health Organization.

“Our team of experts will focus on the best allocation of scarce resources to make the most of interventions and investment to maximise and improve quality-of-life and wellbeing outcomes for all Australians,” says Professor Ratcliffe.

“Using technology, innovation, and training and education programs, we can improve health and social outcomes, particularly in aged and disability care, without necessarily spending more money.”

Along with evaluating new and emerging health technologies and aged care service innovations, Professor Ratcliffe’s group will focus on measuring and valuing health and quality of life outcomes for economic evaluation.

This includes a wide-ranging ARC Linkage project to develop a new quality of life instrument for older Australians suitable for application in economic evaluation, along with key roles in several NHMRC-funded projects.

She has been a chief investigator on over 50 multi-disciplinary research grants woth more than $40 million and has published over 200 papers in peer reviewed journals.

Professor Karnon also has a distinguished record of achievement in health economics and health services research publications and research grants awarded.

Flinders Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Robert Saint welcomes the new 2019 Matthew Flinders Fellows – including sleep expert Professor Danny Eckert and anthropologist Professor Amanda Kearney – who will bring additional strength and rigour to deeply relevant research which will make a difference now and in the future.

“Concerns about health funding and health spending – and the social cost of ageing, disability, diseases and chronic conditions – need urgent and immediate attention,” Professor Saint says.

“Our research centres and disciplines are focused on making a difference with novel and brave, independent science and investigation which will make a difference now and in the future.”

Last year, the new Flinders University Institute for Mental Health, Wellness and Neuroscience was launched to concentrate research and translation efforts into more effective policy and treatments.

Other leading Flinders research institutes and centres are listed on the website.

This piece was originally published on ‘InDaily’, 14 February 2019.

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