New future focused research to improve public health programmes

18 January 2022

New economic modelling to better anticipate the future needs of our ageing population.

Centre for the Business and Economics of Health (CBEH) researchers are aiming to make health care planning more future-focused and equitable. The development of new economic models will add much-needed nuance by focusing on the issues faced by different age groups, resulting in more efficient allocation of medical resources and addressing health disparities between populations. This is in contrast to the current model that simply scales the current use of care with population growth.

“We know health and health risks are dynamic”, explains project lead Professor Stephen Birch

profile photo of Professor Stephen Birch“It is important that the healthcare system is planned based on estimates of future needs for care. Currently, future need is modelled on current use and scaled up based on expected population growth. This research will allow a more nuanced approach, with the development of economic models that reflect healthy ageing in populations”.

 - Professor Stephen Birch.

The research aims to improve knowledge about the likely future health needs of the Australian population. It will identify trends in the number and percentage of individuals who report health issues in different age groups and how these change between generations. These insights will then be used to model health by age group over the next 30years, which is critical for planning future healthcare capacity.

“When we can anticipate Australia’s future health needs better, we can improve resource allocation across the population”, says Chief Investigator Professor Luke Connelly.

Profile photo of Professor Luke Connelly“Our team aims to create better models of health care and services that improve outcomes, increase efficiency and reduce the health disparities currently experienced by disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in Australia”.

 - Professor Luke Connelly

The project will commence in March 2022, and run for three years. To translate the research findings into practice, CBEH will host interactive workshops for policy and planning representatives from Commonwealth, State and Territory Health Departments and Treasury.” Whilst the research is focussed on the Australian setting, the CBEH team will collaborate with Dr William Whittaker from the University of Manchester, providing opportunities for international insights and impact. This research is supported through the Australian Research Council Discovery scheme.

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