Skip to main content

Dr Michael Falster

Dr Michael Falster
02 9385 0698

I am a Biostatistician and Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Big Data Research in Health (CBDRH) at UNSW Australia, with over 15 years’ experience working in public health, biostatistics and epidemiological research. I have various projects exploring variation in the delivery and quality of health care, including disparities in hospital care between public and private patients, care fragmentation following surgery, and population-level patterns of medicine use. I am currently an NHMRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow investigating variation in potentially inappropriate combinations of medicines.

My work and interests are characterized by finding innovative statistical methods for quantifying and exploring variation in health and health care, such as: multilevel models for deconstructing geographic variation in health inequalities and outcomes; data visualizations exploring temporal patterns of health events; network modelling of communities of health practitioners; spatial methods for identifying and analyzing hospital patient catchments; and data algorithms for characterizing longitudinal patterns of healthcare use (e.g. continuity of care).

I have experience in diverse fields such as health services research, cardiovascular care, pharmacoepidemiology, injury, Aboriginal health, cancer epidemiology and perinatal research, and experience analyzing complex linked data sources including survey, hospital, Medicare, pharmaceutical claims. mortality, perinatal, cancer notification and emergency department data sets. My PhD used linked health data to investigate patient-, geographic and system-level factors influencing variation in 'preventable' hospitalisations, and resulted in changes to national reporting of this leading health indicator. Having a background in health, policy and statistics, I am interested in translating complex statistical methods and findings towards a policy audience.

Research activities

I have a body of research exploring variation in quality care across the health system, particularly using linked administrative health data. Current projects include exploring disparities in hospital care between public and privately funded hospital inpatients (e.g. receipt of innovative procedures, length of stay and low value care); variation in guideline concordant medicine use, and long-term patient outcomes following a variety of surgical procedures.

I have a track record of research which engages with health policy. My prior research in the National Data Linkage Demonstration Project was the first research in Australia to use whole-of-population linked hospital, pharmaceutical dispensing and Medicare claims data - finding significant evidence-practice gaps in the use of critical cardiovascular medicines following hospital admission for a myocardial infarction. My PhD research exploring sources of variation in 'potentially preventable hospitalisations' reshaped the way we conceptualise this national health performance indicator. I have drafted interpretive guidelines for it's national reporting, and have been on multiple advisory groups and Committees including the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare ("Australia's Health 2020), the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care ("Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation") and the National Health Performance Authority.