This month we are pleased to feature PhD candidate and Medical Anthropologist Carol Pizzuti.
Please tell us a little about yourself
I am currently an Industry PhD candidate at the University of Sydney, in the Faculty of Medicine and Health. I am part of a large interdisciplinary team that conducts research within the Discipline of Biomedical Informatics and Digital Health, and I am also collaborating with the USYD Health Professions Education Research Network. …there is a lot to learn (and to do!), but I feel extremely grateful for this opportunity, and I look forward to more challenges.
My academic background is in Medical Anthropology – I gained my Master of Research in Italy at Sapienza University of Rome conducting qualitative studies on Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health issues, focusing on Obstetric Violence in particular. I still have a strong interest in these areas of research, and I try to keep myself updated with the latest developments and findings.
When I moved to Australia, l started working as a Research Officer at the Directorate of Professional Practice of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), where I was involved in the development and management of a range of projects in different areas, such as continuing medical education theory and methodologies, business improvement initiatives, and organisational governance and strategic planning. I am currently on a career break from my role at the RACP to conduct my PhD research.
What is your research on?
My research project intends to understand how secondary health data and existing feedback on clinical and professional practice can be used to inform future design and implementation of personalised educational programs for Australasian medical practitioners, with the ultimate aim of improving their clinical performance and professional competencies.
I am currently designing three different studies, and I will start conducting them very soon. The first one aims at gaining a better insight of the characteristics of feedback and performance culture in medicine. Barriers and enablers to use health data and performance feedback for practice improvement will be examined at the health system and organisational level, and macro-issues, such as procedural barriers to accessing data and organisational governance principles, will be investigated in depth. The second study will focus on the analysis and comparison of past and current evidence-based health policies and quality improvement initiatives, in order to obtain a clearer picture of recent changes, ongoing trends, and potential future developments. The third study, finally, will be an observational piece of research in a range of health-care settings. This fieldwork research component will focus on exploring how the Australasian regulatory and policy context contributes to shaping the current use of performance data and feedback for educational and professional development purposes. Moreover, and perfectly in line with the ethnographic approach of my study, I plan to investigate the behaviours and attitudes of medical practitioners towards performance data and its potential use for educational purposes, professional development, and performance improvement, with the ultimate goal of making optimal use of their insight, opinions, and practices.
What are the real-world consequences of your research?
At system level, the outcomes of my research are expected to support the creation of data-driven systems and to contribute to the promotion of a learning health system through a better integration and usage of patient health data, peer and patient feedback, performance reviews, and the findings of evidence-based research in the fields on continuing medical education and continuing professional development.
At organisational level, one of the main objectives of my research project is to provide medical regulatory bodies, health-care service organizations, and medical education providers with evidence-based information and unique insights that could be used to inform their current and future governance, planning, and decision-making processes.
Ideally, the final outcomes of my research will also show the benefits of promoting a constructive feedback culture at team level and the value of encouraging feedback-seeking behaviours at individual level – both are in fact considered to be successful strategies for improving safety and quality in the provision of health-care services for better patient outcomes.
What does digital health mean to you?
As a Medical Anthropologist, I have to admit that I see Digital Health, in its convergence of digital technologies with health and healthcare, as a phenomenon of cultural transformation in medicine, medical technology, and care delivery. Digital Health represents in fact a major shift in multiple disciplines, fields, and industries and, to me, the most fascinating fact is that its theoretical underpinnings and practical trajectories are still unfolding before our very eyes. I am excited to be part of this journey, and extremely curious to know what the future holds. …and I am sure I am not the only one!
Do you have any resources or links you would like to share?
I would like to share with you all the article I co-authored in 2019 on Multi-Source Feedback Implementations for Australasian Physicians: Pooley, Michael & Daly, Michele. (2019). Optimizing Multisource Feedback Implementation for Australasian Physicians. Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions. 39. 1. 10.1097/CEH.0000000000000267.
Connect with Carol:
A very big thank you to Carol for being our August student feature!