Health Services

Connecting scientific discovery with health policy

Health services research is a multidisciplinary field with a shared goal to improve clinical practice and the delivery of services for patients through high-quality research.

Health data provides a rich source of information to explore and understand the clinical care and economies of Victoria’s healthcare systems. However, inherent barriers in systems can prevent translation of evidence-based research into clinical practice. A systematic, academic program of outcome-focussed, multidisciplinary health services research is one way of reducing impediments and meeting patient expectations, including out-of-pocket costs, allied health waiting times and access to psycho-oncology support.

Professor Maarten IJzerman is employed by the University of Melbourne and Western Health and supported by the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC); his Cancer Services Research Group focusses on change and innovation to improve cancer service delivery standards and efficiencies, and satisfaction for patients with cancer, as well as healthcare professionals.

Key achievements

Professor IJzerman drives a cutting-edge program building analytical capability for data-driven research, facilitating data sharing, data sciences and clinical expertise. He is also the co-chair of the data-driven Cancer Health Services Research Hub, using linked data sets and clinical registries for research on dynamic treatment pathways for patients with cancer.

The Cancer Services Research Group produces new knowledge on existing healthcare systems to develop improvements for value-based cancer health services. The research concentrates on health outcomes for patients with cancer by integrating multidisciplinary research findings and evidence-based interventions into healthcare policy and practice. With support from the VCCC, three research fellows have been employed to work with Professor IJzerman, grow clinical expertise and increase the number of expert health system researchers in Australia.

The VCCC data-hub aims to create an opportunity for data-linkage, combining different hospital-based cancer services, primary care, the cancer registry and other registries like the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

Advancing patient care through health services research

The emergence of new technologies and expensive drugs are placing increasing financial pressure on health systems globally. Known as a ‘climate of financial toxicity’, it is widely recognised that different approaches to health service financing and delivery is required to achieve innovative and sustainable improvements in health outcomes.

Bringing together the VCCC alliance knowledge and expertise, health services research aims to produce new knowledge of existing services and to influence policy and practice to ultimately improve the quality, efficiency, cost and equity of healthcare by:

  • Addressing cost-drivers in cancer care
  • Improving standards of care
  • Reducing the clinical variability in care
  • Using evidence-based approaches to improve patient outcomes

Improving health care is not simply a matter of investing more dollars. It requires careful, considered and wise investment to ensure our health system is improving health outcomes in the best possible and most efficient way.