PCHSS Summer Newsletter 2021

Welcome to the PCHSS’s summer newsletter! With vaccinations for COVID-19 planned or underway in many countries, we are hopeful that 2021 will become a more normal year – or, as seems more apt, to return to a new normal – which means, a better than before normal. With that said, the ever-changing nature of the pandemic highlights the importance of building sustainable and resilient health systems. In this edition of our newsletter, we highlight some of our investigators’ and system partners’ recent work.

What is the PCHSS?

The PCHSS is a $10.75M, five-year collaboration involving 17 lead investigators, 20 expert advisors, and over 40 system implementation partners from around Australia. Our vision is that our research findings significantly influence the development of a more resilient health care system – one that is affordable, cost effective, and delivers improved health outcomes for all Australians.

Recent and Upcoming Events

PCHSS 2020-2021 webinar series

Between October 2020 and May 2021, the PCHSS is hosting a series of webinars on different facets of health system sustainability. Registration details for upcoming events are available on our website. If you missed any of our webinars, you can watch them on our YouTube channel. Follow us on Twitter @PCHSS_AIHI for notifications of upcoming events and registration links.

 23 February 2021, 2-3 pm (AEDT): Not yet business as usual: How are alternative models of care changing the health system and health care?; moderated by Professor Len Gray (PCHSS and The University of Queensland).

Professor Rachelle Buchbinder

Professor Rachelle Buchbinder [pictured right] from the PCHSS, Monash University and Cabrini Institute will share her research on alternate models of care, such as early supported discharge from hospital and hospital-in-the-home.

Dr Tracey Tay

Dr Tracey Tay [pictured right] from the NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation will talk about the NSW Health Virtual Care Initiatives that have been ongoing and further enhanced through the Virtual Care Accelerator in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Register here to attend.

30 March 2021, 2-3pm (AEDT):Improving health system performance from planning to evaluating implemented health services; moderated by Professor Henry Cutler (Macquarie University).

Professor Jon Karnon

This webinar will include presentations byProfessor Jon Karnon (PCHSS and Flinders University) and Associate Professor Yvonne Zurynski (PCHSS and Macquarie University).

Professor Karnon [pictured right] is a health economist and will discuss the “Embedded Economist” program, which links economists with health care managers to co-design health services for Primary Health Networks and Local Health Networks.

Associate Professor Yvonne Zurynski

Associate Professor Zurynski [pictured right] will focus on the “Embedded Evaluation” and the value of evaluations performed along-side of implementation of health service improvement programs or new models of care to support program sustainability. Click here to register.

April 2021 (Date and time TBC): Can new payment models for healthcare providers support the provision of value-based healthcare?

  • Professor Tony Scott will summarise new evidence on how creating the right financial incentives can increase value-based, rather than volume driven, healthcare. He will discuss what the evidence suggests about reforming private payment methods in Australia. More information about the webinar will be announced soon.

CHF Summit 2021: Shifting Gears (18-19 March 2021) 

  • On 18-19 March 2021, the Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF) will host a virtual summit entitled “Shifting Gears”. As part of the summit, PCHSS investigators Professor Braithwaite and Associate Professor Zurynski will lead a workshop entitled Imagine it’s 2031 – what role should consumers play in the health system? How will we get there? on the crucial role of consumers in creating sustainable health care systems, which will include a dynamic panel of leading consumer advocates and researchers. For more information and to register, please visit the CHF website.

Past Events

  • On 26 October 2020, the PCHSS hosted the webinar Impact of COVID-19 on the Australian Health Workforce; moderated by Professor Braithwaite (PCHSS and Macquarie University). Professor Tony Scott (PCHSS and Melbourne University) revealed the extent of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the working patterns, mental health, and finances of Australian general practitioners (GPs) and non-GP specialists in private practices. Associate Professor Liam Caffery (PCHSS and The University of Queensland) discussed what the pandemic-fuelled upsurge in telehealth usage has meant for GPs, health consumers, and the health system in 2020. Watch a recording of the webinar here.
  • On 25 November 2020,the PCHSS held the webinar Harnessing Digital Technologies to Enhance Patient Safety; moderated by Associate Professor Farah Magrabi (PCHSS and Macquarie University). Our two speakers in this webinar were Professor Johanna Westbrook (PCHSS and Macquarie University) and Associate Professor Shlomo Berkovsky (PCHSS and Macquarie University). Professor Westbrook discussed the role of electronic medication management systems in reducing medication error rates in paediatric hospitals. Associate Professor Berkovsky outlined his cutting-edge work on categorising frail elderly patients using AI to improve decision making about treatments for aged patients. Watch a recording of the webinar here.
Webinar image

New Publications

Since our Spring newsletter, PCHSS investigators published over 30 papers, abstracts, reports, and other research works that arose from Partnership Centre funding or were related to health system sustainability. These and all our papers are available on the Our Publications page on our website. Notable recent examples of our publications include:

How effective are electronic medication systems in reducing medication error rates and associated harm among hospital inpatients? A systematic review and meta-analysis by Peter Gates, Rae-Anne Hardie, Magdalena Raban, Ling Li, and Johanna Westbrook, published in the Journal of American Medical Informatics Association, whichshowed a significant reduction in the number of prescribing errors with the introduction of electronic medication systems. The researchers found that it remained unclear if there was a reduction in the number of harmful medication errors. The study also revealed that much remains unknown about the most effective ways to improve outcomes.

Who is ditching private health insurance during the pandemic? by Yuting Zhang, Judith Liu, and Anthony Scott, published in Melbourne University’s Research Insights, which revealed that a quarter of Australians reported that they were financially stressed during the pandemic, and about 15% of private health insurance users downgraded or dropped their insurance during 2020. The research suggests that private health insurance is viewed as not providing value for the money by many Australians. The effect on the public health system of the drop in private health insurance coverage has yet to be determined.

Accessible and affordable healthcare? Views of Australians with and without chronic conditions by Yvonne Zurynski, James Ansell, Louise A. Ellis, Chiara Pomare, Carolynn L. Smith, Joanna Holt, Jo Root, James Gillespie, Leanne Wells, and Jeffrey Braithwaite, published in the Internal Medicine Journal, whichidentified significant affordability problems hindering access to healthcare by people with chronic conditions in Australia. Australians with chronic conditions were more likely to forego necessary care because of costs, and less likely to have private health insurance than those without chronic conditions. Furthermore, although there was high confidence about the safety and quality of care in Australia, many people with chronic conditions were not confident that they could afford needed healthcare. The authors noted that equitable access needs to be at the centre of health system reforms to ensure system sustainability.

International survey of COVID-19 management strategies by Riccardo Tartaglia, Micaela La Regina, Michela Tanzini, Chiara Pomare, Rachel Urwin, Louise A. Ellis, Vittorio Fineschi, Francesco Venneri, Chiara Seghieri, Peter Lachman, Johanna Westbrook, and Jeffrey Braithwaite, published in the International Journal for Quality in Health Care, which explored the management of COVID-19 across 97 countries, and all six WHO regions. The authors found that healthcare workers from many countries reported an insufficient response to the pandemic. Common complaints included a lack of advice on how to avoid burnout, and pandemic response plans that had not been updated in the last three years. However, the authors concluded that there was an overall improvement in the response by many countries across WHO regions as the pandemic progressed.

Map of COVID-19 deaths worldwide

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Media Engagements

Since our last newsletter, there have been more than 65 popular press stories covering PHCSS research.

Here is a small sampling of news stories from the past few months:

Other News

  • Professor Karnon continued the “Embedded Economist” lecture series on 27 October with ‘Developing a research question: what is the opportunity and what is the state of knowledge?’, and on 10 November with ‘Designing interventions: what intervention is most likely to be cost-effective?’ The “Embedded Economist” initiative is designed to incorporate economic expertise into daily health service decision-making. Video recordings of the lectures are online here.
  •  The PCHSS website has been relaunched for 2021. Please take a moment to check out our new look!


If you would like to partner with a stream of health system sustainability research, or you have an interest in any of the above areas of research, please contact us.

Warm regards,

The Partnership Centre Team on behalf of:

Chief Investigator Professor Jeffrey Braithwaite

Founding Director, Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Macquarie University

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