HCF invests an additional $1 million in research to ensure Australians receive the right care in the right setting

28 November 2019

The HCF Research Foundation has invested a further $1 million to boost the evidence base for providing clinical care outside of hospitals, as well as better understand motivations driving the uptake of pre-emptive or unnecessary surgery.

Eight researchers across Australia are the recipients of this year’s research grants and will use the funds to map variations in healthcare and their impact on patient outcomes for a range of procedures and conditions, including caesarean births, cystic fibrosis, heart attacks and colonoscopies.

HCF Research Foundation Chair, Lisa McIntyre, said the 2019 funding round builds on the HCF Research Foundation’s commitment to improving the administration and delivery of health services to benefit all Australians.

“This year’s grant recipients will tackle some of the underlying issues driving up hospital waiting-list times and the cost of care; a trend of considerable concern to everyone working in healthcare.”

“The recurring theme in the funded projects is improving patient outcomes by providing the right care in the right setting. We’ve selected projects that focus on providing safe and high-quality alternatives to hospital-based care, which also facilitate consumer choice and access,” Ms McIntyre said.

Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery from Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Ian Harris, is one of this year’s beneficiaries and welcomes the increased investment into a project addressing the appropriateness of total knee arthroplasty:

“I’m extremely grateful for the generous support of our patient-focused project at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. This funding will allow us to develop a patient decision aid that aims to improve patients’ health outcomes by improving the decision-making process when considering surgery.”

Professor Jodie Dodd from The Women’s and Children’s Hospital, another of this year’s funding recipients, will be researching the uptake of early term caesarean births when not medically required:

“With the number of births by caesarean section climbing, this funding will allow us to develop robust clinical practice guidelines to ensure a consistent clinical approach. Our team will also have an opportunity to educate Australian women about the risks and impact of early term caesarean section in the absence of medical indications.”

This year, for the 9th time, the HCF Research Foundation is subsidising Australian researchers with grants ranging in value from $20,000 to $240,000, with all projects to begin in 2020. Since its inception, the Foundation has invested $19.7 million in research.


Notes to editors:

Issued on behalf of the HCF Research Foundation by opr. Media enquiries to:
Gabriela Czwarnos
M: 0450 396 290
E: gabriela.czwarnos@opragency.com.au


About HCF

HCF, Australia’s largest not-for-profit health fund protecting Australians since 1932, covers over 1.6 million members with health and life insurance, travel and pet insurance. On average over the last five years, HCF has paid out more cents in every dollar in premiums to members as benefits than the industry average. With over 35,000 specialists participating in its Medical Gap Cover Scheme and over 19,000 provider locations forming part of its More for You network, HCF gives members access to quality health care with no gaps or minimal costs compared to non-participating providers. To empower members to put their health first, HCF also offers a range of health and lifestyle services, mobile Victor Chang Health Checks and the HCF second opinion service. HCF’s national network of branches and Australian-based call centres have earned multi-award winning status. HCF members also have access to low cost, high quality services at HCF Dental Centres and HCF Eyecare Centres. Having contributed $50 million to support the health services research funded by the HCF Research Foundation, HCF is devoted to investing in the future of Australia’s health. HCF has been voted the most trusted health insurer 2 years in a row – as voted in the Roy Morgan Net Trust Survey 2018 & 2019. To learn more about HCF go to hcf.com.au/about-us


About the HCF Foundation

Now in its 19th year, the HCF Research Foundation’s mission is to encourage the examination and improvement of the provision, administration and delivery of health services to effect positive changes to the health of all Australians. This is achieved by funding research projects that consider the most effective ways to organise, manage, finance and deliver high-quality care; reduce the number of errors; and improve patient safety.

The HCF Research Foundation was established in 2000, with a donation from The Hospitals Contribution Fund of Australia Limited (HCF). While HCF has generously donated money to establish the Foundation’s current corpus of $50 million, the HCF Research Foundation operates independently and with specific focus on funding health services research that can benefit all 24 million Australians. Since its inception the Foundation has invested $19.7m in health services research. For more information go to https://www.hcf.com.au/about-us/hcf-foundation


About the HCF Research Foundation’s grants recipients (2019):

  • Professor Jodie Dodd, The Women’s and Children’s Hospital (1 year, $161,195)
    Variations in clinical practice and health outcomes for women and babies associated with early term caesarean birth in the absence of medical indication.
    • Caesarean section is the most common operation performed on women worldwide. In Australia, rates are climbing, especially in the private sector. In addition, there is lack of data reported outlining adherence to clinical practice recommendations.
    • The project aims to increase awareness amongst the medical and midwifery community by ensuring a consistent clinical approach based on ongoing education and rationale for practice change. The researchers also hope to improve consumer understanding of the impact of early term caesarean section in the absence of medical indications, as well as develop a robust clinical practice guideline to inform evidence-based practice that will inform local hospital policy.
  • Mr Michael Doumit, Macquarie University (3 years, $143,114)
    Replacement of multi-disciplinary hospital clinic appointments with telehealth appointments delivered directly to the home.
    • Individuals with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) only have the option of specialist multi-disciplinary reviews in hospital, which impact family commitments, schooling and work, as well as having considerable time, financial, travel or accommodation costs.
    • Without evidence to show efficiency and efficacy of telehealth as a model of care, people with CF do not yet have access to care in their home.
    • The project aims to design, deliver and evaluate a model of care that will allow people with CF to receive approximately half their care in their own home. The model will be supported by telehealth, meaning staff and patients won’t need to travel, which may lead to increased satisfaction as well as cost savings for individuals and the healthcare system.
  • Professor Ian Harris, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (3 years, $258,256)
    Assisting patients with knee osteoarthritis to make informed choices about total knee arthroplasty (TKA) and non-operative management.
    • The use of TKA is higher in Australia than in most other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. It’s estimated that cost of TKA will reach over $1.5 billion by 2025.
    • The project aims to address the overuse of TKA by developing and testing a patient decision aid, explaining the benefits and harms of the procedure and non-operative management.
    • By conducting the randomised controlled trials, the researchers hope to provide patients with more accurate estimates of the likely benefits and harms of TKA.
  • Professor Thomas Hugh, The University of Sydney (2 years, $20,000)
    Surgeons choices: Why aren’t same-day hernia operations the norm in Australia?
    • Although hernia repair is the 5th most common elective operation performed in Australian hospitals, there are wide variations in surgical practice and no Australian consensus guidelines on inguinal hernia management.
    • The study aims to help generate data and contribute to the development of consensus guidelines in order to minimise barriers to same-day inguinal hernia operations.
    • The researchers plan to explore surgeon motivations driving clinical practice variances, equip and provide education to GPs in perioperative management of patients undergoing elective hernia surgery, and promote public awareness of the safety and efficacy of same-day hernia surgery.
  • Dr Michael Johnson, Spine Society of Australia Ltd (3 years, $100,000)
    Identification and analysis of the variation of diagnosis and clinical outcome in patients undergoing lumbar spinal surgery.
    • Back pain is the world’s leading cause of life years lived with disability and it often leads to poorer quality of life, psychological distress and physical pain. Spine surgery isn’t suitable for everyone with back problems and is usually the last resort in the treatment.
    • The researchers aim to expand data collection and reporting across Australia to enabling surgeons to benchmark their practice against their peers’ global outcomes.
  • Dr Barbara Murphy, Australian Centre for Heart Health (2 years, $159,502)
    Getting Back on Track after a cardiac event: Trial of an online patient self-management program comparing self-directed and health professional-supported delivery options.
    • Each year, over 55,000 Australians have a heart attack, and those who survive, are at risk of a secondary event and premature death, highlighting the importance of lifestyle change in this population. However, only around 30% patients attend centre-based programs that provide guidance, which is partly attributed to access difficulties.
    • The project will trial the Back on Track online patient self-management program to test whether they obtain enhanced benefit through the provision of one-on-one telephone support from a health psychologist.
  • A/Prof Tarik Sammour, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (2 years, $221,400)
    Poor guideline compliance for surveillance colonoscopy: reducing the colonoscopy burden.
    • About 10-25% of surveillance colonoscopies are unwarranted which significantly impacts the colonoscopy burden. Current poor guideline compliance is expected to worsen as the revised 2019 Clinical Practice Guidelines for Surveillance Colonoscopy are significantly more complex.
    • The researchers aim to measure the impact of current guidelines to inform the development of a clinician-led surveillance colonoscopy booking interval recommendation for incorporation into a colonoscopy model of care in line with established best practice.
  • Dr Jane Wu, St Vincent’s Hospital (2½ years, $240,034)
    Evaluating a new model of integrated care between acute and rehabilitation services, via Proactive Rehabilitation Screening (PReS)
    • There is evidence that many acute hospital bed days are ‘wasted’ while patients wait for subacute rehabilitation. Further to that, data shows that the initiation of early rehabilitation can help prevent deterioration during hospitalisation and accelerate patients’ recovery.
    • The researchers will provide an economic evaluation of implementing hospital-wide screening, potential benefits and cost savings associated with improved bed flow and reduced length-of-stay.
    • The project aims to develop a comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation dataset which will be a valuable resource for services to inform their service delivery, staffing, bed capacity and rehabilitation models-of-care.