The Centre’s Support Platforms are enablers to the Major Translational Research, the Healthy Regional Communities and Clinician-Initiated Priority Research Programs. They bring together and build upon existing major investments from the NSW Regional Health Partners. The effectiveness of the Platforms have been further enhanced by governance that facilitates open access for all researchers and clinicians, underpinned by a financial management system that subsidises developing research groups to access fee-for-service components within the Platforms. The Centre has also developed linkages between some of the Platforms and key state and national programs such as the NSW genomics facility.
The Platforms are purpose built to support clinical and population health researchers, clinicians and health service managers to improve healthcare delivery both in terms of effectiveness, cost effectiveness and efficiency.
Health Research Economics and Health Technology Assessment (HTA). A unique and now nationally recognised Framework to Assess the Impact from Translational health research (FAIT) has been developed by the health economic researchers from the Hub. This framework for evaluating the economic impact of health systems and other clinical/population health research activities is one of the techniques used to examine the comparative cost-effectiveness of new models of care, new interventions and existing interventions within the Hub. Importantly, FAIT provides the Hub with ongoing opportunity for research and capacity building in the specific discipline of health economics and impact assessment.
Telehealth & eHealth Support. The Hub is an internationally recognised leader in telehealth and teleradiology systems, being a global reference site for Kodak Care Stream teleradiology systems, an international Luminary Centre for Toshiba Medical Imaging (the only such centre outside Japan and North America), and the only operational telestroke network in NSW, supporting the only regional interventional neuroradiology service in Australia.
Health Informatics, Registries and Data Linkage Support. Ready access to health care data – both processes of care and health outcome data, is essential to support comparative effectiveness research, research translation and continuous quality improvement. The Centre has invested in an integrated data management system capitalising on the extensive datasets available, with the aim of capturing process of care and clinical outcome measures. The end product of this work has been the establishment of the data warehouse with its central facility the Clinical Operational Reporting Data Store (CORDS). CORDS integrates with clinical registries where data custodianship is within the Centre partners. CORDS also has links to external datasets and registries including the Australian Longitudinal Study of Women’s Health, and other platforms overseen by Centre for Health Record Linkage (CHeRL). Clinician engagement and use of the “warehouse” data is facilitated by a Clinical Research Informatics Support Service with nodes across the footprint of the Hub. The service provides the clinical and research communities with access to the “warehouse”. The clinical quality registries housed by the Hub include: the Cardiac and Stroke Outcomes Registry, the Diabetes Alliance Registry, and the Clinical Toxicology Registry.
Clinical Trials Support and Enablement Platform. Clinical trial participation rates in the Centre catchment are increasing as a function of the dedicated clinical trials facilities nested within the precincts of the major regional hospitals of the Hub, thus reducing barriers to participation in rural areas. To support the Major Programs and other groups in trial design and conduct, HMRI provides expert support for all aspects of clinical trials via its Clinical Trials Centre and Study Design and Analytics and Health Research Economics team (see below). In addition, participant recruitment support is provided via the HMRI Research Register, a register of over 1,400 community health volunteers who are happy to be contacted for potential inclusion in trials.
Primary-Care research and education support. Centre governance structures support alignment of purpose across the continuum of care where the Council brings together the senior research leadership of the PHN, Local Health Districts, Universities and HMRI. The Alliance (an established partnership between Hub partners, NSW Ambulance and Aboriginal Medical Services) brings together clinicians, health service managers and researchers to focus on specific regional health themes and important gaps in delivery of care and HealthPathways and eReferral facilitate GP access to tertiary care and decision support. In addition, a General Practice Research Network supports the conduct of primary care research projects, and Research Training in Primary Care is led by GP academic Parker Magin and delivered by the regional GP training provider GP Synergy.
Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) Study Design and Analytics and Health Research Economics Support. HMRI is a purpose-built ‘accelerator’ of translational research. These services are available to health and medical researchers including clinicians, public health practitioners and basic scientists, HMRI’s partner organisations and external organisations. The study design and analytics service provides clinical and preclinical researchers with support in processes of care and clinical outcome data that will facilitate comparative effectiveness research. HMRI’s bioinformatics services provide access to capability in large-scale data management and integration and mathematical analysis of exceptionally large data sets. The health research economics group provides services including the conduct of: cost, cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit studies, and health technology assessments. HMRI also provides a focus for the region’s medical research philanthropy and a platform for development of business and industry partnership. It also acts as the community face and engagement arm for many health and medical research initiatives.