Primary health care (PHC) research requires dedicated policies and funding, specific research infrastructure and a workforce trained and skilled in this area. Currently PHC research is supported by the Primary Health Care Research, Evaluation and Development (PHCRED) strategy which was developed by the Commonwealth government in 2000 to build the PHC research capacity and evidence base in Australia, and to promote high quality research. Both the Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute (APHCRI) and the Primary Health Care Research and Information Service (PHCRIS) are funded by the PHCRED strategy.
The PHCRED strategy, now in its third phase (2010-2014), is focused on health services and systems research. PHCRED has been effective in developing a PHC research infrastructure and narrowing the gap between evidence and practice. However, improvements in implementation of research evidence are necessary.
As the completion of PHCRED Phase 3 coincides with restructuring of PHC organisations into Primary Health Networks (PHNs) there is a window of opportunity to align PHC research, delivery and policy enabling systems to improve implementation.
This could be achieved through combining the existing functions of the PHCRED Phase 3 strategy (currently delivered by APHCRI and PHCRIS) into one strategic governance structure that includes the current functions of commissioning, capacity building, knowledge translation and exchange. Additional functions and services to research users/stakeholders could also be added, such as:
- the provision of academic and technical advice services (including experts in implementation research, program/service evaluation, health economics and spatial data analysis) to support improvements in effectiveness and efficiency measures and access to tools and resources;
- implementation focused capacity building opportunities for research users/stakeholders through advice, co- working, events, training programs and web based resources;
- the formation of new and diverse partnerships with research users/stakeholders (e.g. peak bodies, professional representation organisations, the private health insurance sector, industry and consumer bodies);
- the continuation of APHCRIs current policy liaison position (seconded from the DoH) and consideration of similar secondments from the Consumers Health Forum and other relevant bodies;
- updated and renewed capacity building initiatives, including the development of a PHC research workforce plan for the next ten years, based on a study assessing PHC research capacity (currently being undertaken by APHCRI and PHCRIS); and,
- national structured engagement of a wide scope of end users (e.g. policy makers, practitioners, researchers and consumers).
This proposed model focuses on improving the translation and implementation of research findings into policy and practice through aligning platforms and drivers for research translation and implementation with newly established PHNs. It builds on successful engagement models in the current infrastructure and reflects new system structures, e.g. PHNs, providing a conduit between key users of research and direct support for researchers and stakeholders.
APHCRI has developed a full discussion paper which outlines this model in more detail and is seeking feedback from stakeholders.
Feedback and comment should be provided by close of business 27 February 2015 to
Associate Professor Terry Findlay; Head of Programs, APHCRI; firstname.lastname@example.org or
Emma Whitehead; Research Implementation Coordinator, APHCRI; email@example.com