Centre for Research Excellence in E-health

The NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence (CRE) in e-health commenced operation in 2012, and will run for an initial five years. Investigators in the CRE come from UNSW, Bond University, Sydney University and the University of South Australia. Prof Coiera directs the $2.5 million CRE, whose work program includes new collaborative research between the Centre for Health Informatics at UNSW and its two partner Universities.

The CRE targets major evidence gaps in the safety and quality of clinical and consumer E-health systems. It also intends to contribute robustly to national e-health policy, and urgently build national capacity in e-health research to meet current and emerging national health priorities. The CRE is conducting a collaborative research program with three major aims, where research evidence is urgently needed, and opportunities for translational impact are high:

Aim 1 – A national e-health incident monitoring system: To monitor the safety and quality of e-health implementations as they roll out nationally, the CRE is developing, and will in the early stages operate, a national e-health critical incident system. Analysis of incident reports can generate critical alerts for government, vendors, clinicians and the community, as well as contribute to the development of an international classification of information technology (IT) related incidents, and theoretical and empirical models of IT failure.

Aim 2 - Consumer e-health trials: Despite the growing national investment in consumer personal health record systems, we know little about their impact on health outcomes, or the types of errors that are associated with their use. Given the importance of disease prevention and self-management in the chronically ill, the CRE is trialling a consumer e-health system to measure it’s potential impact on outcomes or service utilisation.

Aim 3 - Evidence-based decision-support: Whilst current clinical decision support systems typically improve clinical decisions overall, there are significant risks that clinicians can be misled in certain settings or circumstances, to make poorer decisions. The CRE is developing the next generation in evidence-based decision support technologies, engineered to minimise risks with current systems that can mislead users, or fit poorly into practice. The CRE will also pioneer the use of these technologies to support systematic review teams.

The CRE is offering an integrated training program, in partnership with AIHI, to attract and retain the ‘best and brightest’ to a career in e-health research, and to support these individuals from their time as doctoral candidates through to helping mid-career postdoctoral research fellows become established and independent research leaders. The CRE wishes to make excellence in doctoral candidate support a defining feature of its contribution. It has established a formal doctoral program in E-health and health informatics research to provide both specialized topic specific training as well as a general core set of skills in research methods.