Update provided by Dr Anna Janssen
This month’s Digital Health CRC update is on the project ‘Using practice analytics to understand variation and support reflective practice’. The project is a collaboration between Industry partners Adventist HealthCare, Cabrini Health Australia, St John of God Health Care and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and University partners the University of Sydney and Monash University. Professor Tim Shaw, who is the lead investigator on the project, has kindly agreed to answer some questions about the project to share with the DHIN. Thank you very much for participating in this interview Tim.
Could you briefly describe the project? The Practice Analytics project is fundamentally looking at how we work with clinicians, teams and organisations to optimise care delivery through better access to data and information. The project has an emphasis on how we support practice reflection by individual clinicians and teams by using data sets, such as that in the electronic medical record, that is not necessarily captured to be used for that purpose.
What is your role in the project? I am the project leader, but also am working alongside a number of academic colleagues who are heavily involved in the research direction of the project. That team includes Professor Judy Kay at Sydney University and Professor Dragan Gasevic and Dr Stella Talic at Monash University.
What excites you most about working on the project? For me the project is a culmination of a number of different avenues of work that I and my colleagues have worked on for a number of years. I think the project brings together medical education, implementation science and practice change together with how we use emergent data sets for improvement. I’m also excited because we have five private hospitals, two of our professional colleges and three universities working on the project, so it is a real collaboration. It has been a lot of fun working with those colleagues and teams and to see how excited they are. For me it’s been by far the most integrated project I’ve ever worked on in terms of enthusiasm for sharing information and so on.
What do you see as the key benefits of this project to the University of Sydney? I think there are a number of benefits. I think this project is in an area that Sydney University can really lead the world in. We are also looking at international partnerships in this project, so I think it is one where we can foster those collaborations. It is also a project where we are already forging partnerships with other universities, so it’s a project that can give us a springboard to pursue potential grants and other funding opportunities beyond this project itself. This project itself has also already nearly doubled in size through new partners joining, and I think it will only continue to grow.
How is working on an industry research project through the DHCRC different than other research projects? I think anybody who works with industry knows it’s quite a different way of work. I think the primary difference is it really is a partnership, and I think collaborative research centres (CRCs) really put industry in the driving seat. I think there is many other grant schemes that are still largely controlled by the academic group and directed by the University. In this grant whilst the universities are definitely partners in it, the drive is on addressing the needs of industry in everything we do. That influences the activities we undertake and the speed of that activity. We have to bring the industry groups along with us. I find that ultimately rewarding, and I think it is a real benefit to us.
What does success look like for you on this project? We want to have high impact research outputs, and I am sure we will. Success for me will also include having some valuable insights and resources that our partners want to use. So there will actually be practical things that the hospitals involved in the project can use. I think this project also has real potential to set an agenda about where we go in Australia around the use of data for performance and linkage to continuing professional development. I think success will be in three or four years time when we can look back on this project and say ‘this has really changed policy and practice in this space.’