Health System Sustainability Research Gets $12.4M Funding Boost

Photo of Professors Braithwaite, Glasziou, and Westbrook
Professors Braithwaite, Glasziou, and Westbrook

More than $12 million in new grant funding has been awarded to NHMRC Partnership Centre for Health System Sustainability (PCHSS) investigators to further their work to improve the performance of the Australian health system, including in the field of children’s cancer, lower back pain and waste in healthcare.

PCHSS Chief Investigator Professor Jeffrey Braithwaite said, “These grants leverage the strength of the PCHSS research areas, building on our investigators’ achievements in health informatics, patient safety, reducing waste and low-value care as well as promoting better value care.”

“They address the underlying issues that impact the sustainability of our health system now and into the future.”

Professor Jeffrey Braithwaite(1), Professor Johanna Westbrook(2) and Professor Paul Glasziou(3) each received a NHMRC Investigator grant which recognise high performing researchers. Professor Braithwaite will also lead a Commonwealth Department of Health’s Medical Research Future Fund grant into keeping people healthy and out of hospital(4), while Professor Westbrook will lead an NHMRC Partnership Grant into improving quality and safety in aged care services(5). Professor Rachelle Buchbinder is a chief investigator on the new Centre of Research Excellence (CRE)(6) grant focussed on tackling low back pain – the leading cause of disability worldwide.


Professor Braithwaite’s Investigator project will improve care for children and adolescents with rare cancers or kidney disease by developing a unique learning system designed to quickly and precisely match the best available treatments and approaches with the individual child’s health and wellbeing needs. This ground-breaking project will lay the foundation for leveraging sophisticated information technologies, data mining, machine learning and genomics to capture all the evidence a clinical team requires to determine a patient’s unique and individualised needs.(1)

Professor Westbrook’s research will generate new evidence to support policy and practice change urgently needed to optimise electronic medication management systems to reduce medication errors to save lives and improve health outcomes.(2) Medication error poses a major patient safety challenge and costs $42B globally each year.

Professor Westbrook will also lead the new Partnership project(5) as a joint partner with Anglicare and in collaboration with Sydney North Primary Health Network, Northern Sydney Local Health District, Deeble Institute for Health Policy Research, and Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission to improve the health and wellbeing of people in community and residential aged care. The project will develop and implement an innovative digital dashboard of integrated data, which will provide residents, families and care providers with actionable information to optimise care quality and safety as highlighted by the current Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

Professor Glasziou’s project focuses on four big, neglected problems in healthcare: overdiagnosis and overtreatment; non-drug interventions; antibiotic overuse and resistance.(3)

Professor Braithwaite said “All of these practices are considered to be low-value healthcare that uses up resources but has little value for the health consumer or may even cause harm. This project builds on Professor Glasziou’s internationally recognised body of work to improve research uptake and reduce waste in the health system, while building capacity.”

Yvonne Zurynski, Associate Professor of Health System Sustainability who leads the Coordinating Centre of the PCHSS, said, “We congratulate all of our PCHSS investigators on this remarkable success. It is heartening to see funding support for translational research focused on improving health services and health systems for health consumers, health workforce and health policy makers, whilst building research capacity. These are important next steps in building a sustainable healthcare system.”


Details of grants received:

  1. NHMRC Investigator Grant (1176620): Designing and implementing a real-world learning healthcare system: operationalising knowledge, data and practice for clinical microsystems of the 21st Century, awarded to Professor Jeffrey Braithwaite.
  2. NHMRC Investigator Grant (1174021): Delivering safe and effective medication management technology now and for the future, awarded to Professor Johanna Westbrook.
  3. NHMRC Investigator Grant (1175487): Neglected Problems in Health Care, awarded to Professor Paul Glasziou.
  4. MRFF grant: Harnessing implementation science, complexity science and evidence-based care to Keep Australians Out of Hospital: leveraging seven natural experiments in New South Wales, awarded to Professor Jeffrey BraithwaiteProfessor Johanna Westbrook, Professor Richard Day, Professor Jean-Frederic Levesque, Associate Professor Rebecca MitchellProfessor Frances Rapport, Dr Henry Cutler, Dr Yvonne Tran, Dr Robyn Clay-Williams
  5. NHMRC Partnership Project (1170898): A dashboard of predictive analytics and decision support to drive care quality and person-centred outcomes in aged care, awarded to Professor Johanna WestbrookProfessor Andrew Georgiou, Professor Stephen Lord, Professor Len Gray, Professor Richard Day, Professor Julie Ratcliffe, Associate Professor Melissa Baysari, Professor Jeffrey Braithwaite.
  6. NHMRC Low Back Pain Centre for Research Excellence (CRE) (1171459), awarded to Professor Chris Maher, Professor Rachelle Buchbinder, Associate Professor Mark Hancock, Professor Peter O’Sullivan, Associate Professor James McAuley, Professor Fiona Blyth, Professor Louisa Jorm, Professor Alex Collie, Associate Professor Kirsten McCaffery, Dr Alison Hayes (Associate Investigators: Professor Andrew McLachlan, Professor Ian Harris, Professor Andrew Briggs, Professor Michael Nicholas M, Associate Professor Laurent Billot, Dr Denise O’Connor, Dr Chris Lin, Dr Carmen Huckel Schnedier, Professor Lyndal Trevena, Associate Professor Jane Latimer).

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