Nine NHMRC-accredited centres have come together in a national alliance to improve the health of Australians through collaboration for faster, outcome-driven research. The Australian Health Research Alliance (the Alliance) is there to ensure health service led, priority driven and co-designed collaborative research to improve healthcare.
Across Australia, there are seven NHMRC-accredited Advanced Health Research Translation Centres and two Centres for Innovation in Regional Health. These centres are recognised as national leaders in research-based health care and training and have been accredited by NHMRC for excellence in the translation of evidence into patient care.
‘The Centres are unique internationally in that they are all health services led. Our services set high level health and health system priorities, identifying problems for collaborations of researchers, health professionals and our communities to solve together,’ Professor Helena Teede, President of the Alliance said.
‘Our purpose is to connect clinicians, community and researchers, to innovate for better health. The Centres bring together all key stakeholders who have an interest in better health through research. This helps to identify problems from all perspectives and to generate meaningful solutions with our best and brightest researchers to translate into practice.
‘On average it takes 17 years to turn research into health impact. The Centres aim to reduce this time and create efficiencies to deliver greater benefits to patients from research.
‘Research driven solutions may not always address the complex problems health professionals, health systems and communities face. Here we collaborate to understand problems from all perspectives, establish priorities and through research, build a useful solution, supported by large-scale collaboration within and across these Centres,’ she said.
The Alliance has formed national steering committees to address four system wide priorities that are supported by the Medical Research Future Fund:
- Data driven healthcare improvement
- Consumer and community involvement in research and health innovation
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander capacity building—as communities and researchers—for better health
- Health systems improvement and sustainability.
‘Some agreed national priorities include development of a national data sharing accord, shared principles and tools to promote community and consumer involvement in research, and streamlined ethics and governance processes.’ Professor Teede said.
‘Collaboration is our greatest strength and is a powerful vehicle for learning and sharing together and affecting change to deliver genuine benefit to the community more quickly. I believe the biggest difference the Centres can have is for us to create change at the systems level that encourages people to collaborate for greatest impact and move away from working in competitive silos.
‘NHMRC accreditation has been absolutely critical in terms of credibility. It has also been inspirational in requiring that Centres are health service led to move towards research priorities from our community, health professionals, health services and other stakeholders.
‘In ten years’ time, I would like the Centres to have had a critical role in transforming the landscape for research and translation in Australia to see more prioritised research addressing identified problems and translation into health impacts, so that the community receive genuine health benefits.’
Professor Helena Teede was President of the Australian Health Research Alliance (AHRA) at the time of interview. Professor Steve Wesselingh assumed the role of AHRA President at the time of publication (July 2018).