Researcher

Dr Michael Falster

Keywords

Fields of Research (FoR)

Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Public Health and Health Services

Biography

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...view more

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.


My Grants

  • NHMRC Ideas Grant 2021 "Disentangling the interrelationship between multimordibity, multimedicine use, and cardiovascular health" (Associate Investigator)
  • NHMRC Ideas Grant 2020 "Same patient, same care: is our funding of hospitals promoting inequities in care and outcomes?" (Chief Investigator A)
  • NHMRC Project Grant 2019 "Post-surgery care fragmentation: impacts and implications" (Chief Investigator D)
  • NHMRC Early Career Fellowship 2018 "Using big data to reduce inappropriate medication use" (Chief Investigator A)

My Qualifications

  • PhD, UNSW Sydney, 2017
  • Masters of Biostatistics, University of Sydney, 2011
  • Bachelor of Psychology (Hons), UNSW Sydney, 2005

My Awards

  • Medical Journal of Australia, Top 10% most read research paper 2018-2019, 2020
  • NSW Cardiovascular Research Network, Professional Development Award, 2020
  • UNSW Faculty of Medicine, Dean’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to Research by a Higher Degree Research Student, 2017
  • Health Services Research Association of Australia and New Zealand, Best PhD Student Prize, 2016
  • National Health and Medical Research Council, "10 of the Best" Research Projects, Indigenous Health outcomes Patient Evaluation (IHOPE) Study, 2015 (Team member)
  • UNSW Graduate Research School, Travel Scholarship, C9-Go8 Forum - Big Data: Graduate Perspectives from China and Australia, Nanjing University, 2015
  • UNSW Faculty of Medicine, Top ranked oral presentation, Postgraduate Research Symposium, 2015

My 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.


My Research Supervision


Currently supervising

I currently supervise:

  • Two PhD students (joint-supervisor)
  • One Medical Honours student (co-supervisor)

I have previously supervised to completion:

  • Two Masters of Health Data Science students (co-supervisor)
  • One Masters of Applied Statistics (Ecole Polytechnique, France) student (primary supervisor)
  • Five Masters of Biostatistics students (biostatistical supervisor)
  • Three Medical Honours / Independent Learning Project students (primary and co-supervisor)

My Teaching

I currently teach in the following subjects: 

  • HDAT9100 - Context of Health Data Science (Chapter instructor, 2018 - present)

I have previously taught in the following subjects, short courses and workshops:

  • HDAT9400 - Management and Curation of Health Data (Guest lecturer, 2018-2020)
  • Advanced Analysis of Linked Data (Tutor, 2017)
  • Managing Big Data in Health Research (Lecturer, 2015-2016)
  • Health in Context: A Course in Multilevel Modelling in Public Health and Health Services Research (Guest lecturer and tutor, 2013)
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Location

Level 2, AGSM Building (G27)

Contact

02 9385 0698
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