Communications & Media

Medical data and its health benefits the focus of Churchill Fellowship recipient

Reaping the best health benefits from General Practice electronic data is the focus of research by University of Tasmania’s Associate Professor Jan Radford, who recently received a Churchill Fellowship for her ongoing work.

Associate Professor in General Practice at the University’s School of Medicine based at the Launceston Clinical School, and a Launceston-based GP, Associate Professor Radford described receiving the prestigious award as a welcome boost to her research.

The Fellowship will see her travel to UK and the Netherlands to find out how efforts to collate routinely collected, de-identified, electronic general practice health record data can be sustained and be best used to improve patient care.

“These countries have had systems set up to collect and use general practice data for more than 30 years,” Associate Professor Radford said.

“As GPs in Australia we are already involved in significant data collection but I am interested to know how we encourage this to continue, how we value-add to the GPs who share their data, and how we get more GPs to participate.”

Associate Professor Radford uses electronic medical record data in her own practice to undertake audits with the aim of improving patient care.

“General practices are great ‘research laboratories’ as they have data, patients, researchers and the latest patient profiles including blood pressure, weight, diagnoses and medications prescription data,” she said.

Associate Professor Radford co-convenes the Northern Tasmania General Practice-Based Research Network (PBRNS) 7which aims to harness the power of many general practices to provide enough data to answer significant questions.

“PBNRs are general practice’s research laboratories but require support to organise and sustain,” she said.

“With support from Tasmania Medicare Local in 2015, and GP North in 2015 and 2016 the PBRN has grown steadily. A Clifford Craig Foundation grant for work in kidney disease, was also a valuable help to sustain the PBRN.”

In addition to her work with the Northern Tasmania PBRN, Associate Professor Radford established a research group at the University of Tasmania that uses  general practice data, and supports a national program that has pioneered the large-scale collection of de-identified general practice electronic medical records.

“It’s a very new endeavour in Australia where collating deidentified GP clinical data is in its infancy in terms of finding effective collection mechanisms and much can be learned from countries like the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada and the United States,” she said.

“My vision is that we will use this valuable, primary care data which is very rich and close to the area of delivery, to paint really great pictures of what health looks like in terms of diseases at least, in Tasmania,” she said.

Associate Professor Radford’s Chruchill Fellowship is sponsored by the Australian Government Department of Health.

Churchill Fellowships are aimed at providing people from all walks of life, the opportunity to travel overseas to gain new knowledge and insights, to bring back to Australia to positively impact communities.

Published on: 24 Oct 2017 12:36pm