Improving sustainability of our health system

Our research is responding to the need to improve the sustainability of our health services in the face of economic and environmental threats.

Sustainability of our health services is under threat from a range of factors, including:

  • Projected healthcare workforce shortages
  • The impacts of climate change, which are global in scope and unprecedented in scale and include rising pollution, shifting weather patterns that threaten food production, catastrophic weather events and rising sea levels
  • The predicted human health and economic costs of climate change are significant and unsustainable. Climate change is already responsible for 400,000 deaths globally each year, together with the carbon economy amounting to 5 million deaths. By 2030, this is projected to increase to a total of 6 million deaths per year, 600,000 of which will be attributable to climate change (DARA report, 2012)
  • In Australia, healthcare services have experienced dramatic increases in service demand from climate change -related extreme weather events, including heatwaves, storms, floods and fires
  • The ongoing contribution of health systems to climate change is becoming ever more apparent, with the Australian health system responsible for approximately 7% of our greenhouse gas emissions
  • The exponential growth in healthcare costs, with spending growth of approximately 50% in real terms over the past decade. Achieving a balance between quality of care and affordability of care is a challenge facing all health services globally.

Our research contributes to the national response to these challenges by: 

  • Evaluating health interventions and advising Government on priorities for value based healthcare
  • Supporting improvements in medication safety
  • Developing methods rapidly respond to health emergencies
  • Exposing waste and over-servicing in health
  • Making the best use of the workforce, infrastructure and technologies
  • Developing workforce models of care
  • Increasing the productivity, responsiveness and capacity of the health workforce
  • Evaluating new workforce models and new roles for health professionals
  • Redesigning existing health professional roles
  • Building research partnerships for ecological determinants of health
  • Evaluating co-benefit interventions for health and sustainability