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MRFF’s new Research and Innovation Priorities – a major boost for evidence-based health care

ACTA welcomes specific new priorities in the Medical Research Future Fund’s (MRFF) Australian Medical Research and Innovation Priorities 2018-2020, published 7 November 2018.

Of the 12 priorities, five, summarised below, are directly relevant and highly supportive of clinical investigators who underpin the generation of evidence so essential to inform better health care.

  • Digital Health Intelligence –  “ […] a series of thematic research grant opportunities to advance data platforms, linkage and analytics; end-user digital utility; the development of novel decision tools; and applied artificial intelligence. Opportunity to align with the emerging National Framework for Clinical Quality Registries should be considered over time.”
  • Comparative Effectiveness Research – “Evidence generated by comparative effectiveness research improves treatment and informs decision making about investment and divestment […]Priorities need to be driven by clinicians, consumers and policy makers.”
  • Primary Care Research –  “Emphasis on multi-disciplinary, adaptive research methodologies and clinician capability supporting Practice-Based Research Networks (PBRNs) to advance primary health care research in partnership with Advanced Health Research and Translation Centres (AHRTCs) and Centres for Innovation in Regional Health (CIRHs), and the Australian Clinical Trials Alliance. Develop a grant opportunity to support PBRNs and other collaborations to conduct prioritised primary care research that is led by clinicians, can permeate daily practice and has potential for scalability.”
  • Clinical Researcher Capacity – “Continue to enhance Australian clinical researcher capacity with a focus on next generation fellowships that target multidisciplinary engagement, fields of emerging scientific effort that has healthcare application potential and primary care. Clinically active researchers bring a practice perspective that aids research translation. Sufficient and sustained investment is required to ensure Australia maintains its reputation for research excellence.”
  • Consumer-Driven Research – “ […] Sometimes there is a mismatch between what researchers want to research and the lived experiences, values and priorities of consumers, carers and clinicians […] Establish a program that can pair researchers to consumers, carers and clinicians and through a joint priority setting methodology […] design grant opportunities that enable consumer-driven targeted research.

Commenting on the new MRFF priorities, ACTA Chair, Professor John Zalcberg said:

“On behalf of ACTA members and our stakeholders across the health care system, I wholeheartedly welcome the general thrust of the new MRFF Priorities’ as well as the very encouraging focus on clinical-trials and registry specific support and capacity development. ACTA’s vision of Better health through best evidence and our work to grow, strengthen and support the clinical trials sector maps extremely well with the Priorities, especially those that clearly address the key requirements to enable a self-improving health care system.

These include faster access to data, the need to work out not only what works, but what is the preferred treatment, the embedding of research in everyday health care so that ‘how we do health better’ becomes part of everyday care, building and supporting clinician researcher capabilities, and never forgetting who and what all of this is about: better health outcomes for consumers.”