International partnership to optimise health care access for vulnerable

Professor Grant Russell

Professor Grant Russell

APHCRI and the CIHR will contribute $2.5 million each over five years to an Australian Canadian Joint Centre of Research Excellence. The Centre, ‘Innovative Models Promoting Access and Coverage Team (IMPACT) will give governments, health services and health consumers in both countries a rich understanding of what really matters in optimising access to needed community based primary health care.

Monash University’s Professor Grant Russell, Director of Southern Academic Primary Care Research Unit (SAPCRU), a unique partnership between South Eastern Melbourne Medicare Local (SEMML), Monash Health and Monash University, along with Professor Jeannie Haggerty of McGill University in Quebec will lead the study. The Partnership includes teams from eleven universities as well as consumers, policy makers and providers in six communities (three Australian States and three Canadian Provinces).

Australian IMPACT activities will be overseen by Professor Russell, Professor Mark Harris of the University of NSW and Associate Professor Virginia Lewis of La Trobe University. They will work with clinicians, health authorities and local communities in three outer suburban locations in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. The program will culminate in the trialling of ‘world’s best practice’ innovations to assist access to health care for vulnerable populations.

“The IMPACT research partnership grant is one of the largest grants ever awarded for primary care health services research,” Professor Russell said. “This shows how countries like Australia and Canada are beginning to realise the importance of high quality primary care to health outcomes.”

CEO of South Eastern Melbourne Medicare Local, Anne Peek said “SEMML is proud to be one of the three outer suburban locations in Melbourne that will participate in the trial of world’s best practice in primary health care services. We are excited to be part of this international team that will develop and support innovations that assist access to health care for the most vulnerable in our community.”

IMPACT researchers hope to make it easier for vulnerable groups – such as the poor, the disabled, and those of indigenous or refugee background – to access the sort of health care that will bring lasting benefit.

“Even the best quality clinical care won’t make a difference unless quality care can be easily obtained,” said Professor Russell. “Our team hopes to uncover and test new, evidence- based approaches that can help vulnerable communities access the best quality care,” Professor Russell said.

“Ultimately we want to find innovative community centered ways to help those most at obtain care. These sorts of innovations can help relieve the pressure on emergency departments and improve the health of those most at risk.”

The IMPACT grant will be officially launched at a SEMML hosted forum at Punthill Dandenong on Thursday 22 August at 10am.