11 July 2019.
Four future health care leaders are heading overseas on a diverse range of projects, thanks to the latest round of HARC (Health Alliance for Research Collaboration) scholarships.
The scholarships of up to $10,000 provide a unique opportunity to travel abroad to investigate areas of health policy, and this year’s winners are embarking on trips that range from the Netherlands to New Zealand – with projects that tackle timely issues such as the use of artificial intelligence for mammographic reading and trends in hospital results.
Since its inception in 2010, the HARC scholarships have supported future leaders to develop advanced skills in using research in policy making, and to forge connections with national and international health experts.
The scholarships are available to employees of the HARC partner organisations: the Clinical Excellence Commission, Agency for Clinical Innovation, Bureau of Health Information, Cancer Institute NSW, and the Sax Institute.
Here’s what our four recent winners have planned for the year ahead:
Matthew Warner-Smith, Manager Business Intelligence and Information Systems at the Cancer Institute NSW, will investigate the operational, ethical and legal considerations associated with the use of artificial intelligence for reporting on mammograms.
Matthew will travel to Switzerland in September to attend an AI conference, where he’ll see what researchers around the world are doing in the AI space. He’ll also stop through Paris and London for meetings with emerging vendors, plus a stint in Scotland where he hopes to get an understanding of how the Scots are using AI in diabetic retinopathy screening.
Findings from the project will further an understanding of how this technology could impact mammographic reading in the BreastScreen NSW program. However, with all the hype around AI, Matthew says the field of health needs to remain cautious.
“There are obvious benefits and applications that could be really beneficial for the (BreastScreen NSW) program and for the women who screen with us,” says Matthew. But he also adds that “there are privacy, ethical and legal considerations that we need to be conscious of.”
Ivana Goluza Riddell is a Clinical Auditor at the NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation. She has already used her scholarship for an intensive 28-day trip to the Netherlands, Scotland, UK, Canada and the US, where she met with experts in Audit and Feedback (A&F) implementation laboratories.
After 40,000 kilometres of travel, 18 meetings and endless cups of coffee, Ivana says the experience was a fantastic way to learn from international academics and practitioners. “It was really interesting to see how the researchers and practitioners worked together to build evidence about the best ways to undertake audit and feedback, and to implement those learnings to optimise performance and improve healthcare delivery,” she said. “The HARC scholarship really enabled me to accelerate my learning and think about how to implement the findings in our work.”
Jenny Miu, Acting Evaluation and Planning Manager at the Cancer Institute NSW, is heading off to Denmark and Sweden in September to understand how cancer plans can drive changes in the health system.
The NSW Cancer Plan is a strategic document that sets a direction for the NSW health system to reduce the incidence of cancer, increase survival for people with cancer, and improve quality of life. Jenny is keen to compare the similarities and differences between NSW, Denmark and Sweden, who are also part of the International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership. Jenny hopes to learn from these countries and bring back findings that will help with the development of NSW’s next cancer plan.
“Part of the work will be to understand how they’ve evaluated their cancer plans and structured their cancer systems,” explains Jenny. “And being able to meet with everyone face-to-face is a way to really learn from these experts in the field.”
Kha Vo, Lead Analyst at the Bureau of Health Information, is looking at methodologies to explore trends over time in hospital results from a patient’s perspective. First on the agenda is travel, and thanks to her scholarship, Kha will meet up with researchers from the Care and Quality Commission in New Zealand, as well as attend the Health Services and Policy Research Conference in Auckland later this year.
By the end of her HARC scholarship, Kha aims to develop a model to detect meaningful trends in patient experience. And after that? “I hope my project will contribute to improve patient’s experience and care every day,” says Kha.
HARC drives innovative thinking about current and emerging challenges in the delivery of healthcare. It aims to improve health and hospital services through research.
Learn about the HARC scholarship program