Patients missing out in communication divide

November 14, 2005

Patients are missing out on the latest advances in medical technologies, drugs and treatment options because doctors and researchers do not communicate, according to a British health policy expert being hosted by ANU to give the keynote address at a health conference in Canberra this week.

Professor Huw Davies, Professor of Health Care Policy and Management at the University of St Andrews, will give the keynote address at the fourth Health Services and Research Policy Conference for the Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute at ANU.

In his address, Professor Davies says that despite evidence of new drugs and better ways of treating patients, doctors may be slow to change their practices.

There are a number of factors that make it difficult to breach the cultural divide between the research and medical workforce communities, he said.

"Health research doesn't impact on policy and practice nearly as much as it could or should. Researchers and clinicians live in different worlds, they speak different languages and are only infrequently brought together," Professor Davies said.

Professor Davies recommends the two groups coming together to discuss research questions and then working more closely on research projects to address the problems identified.

"Researchers and health professionals need to work together to gather data - when that happens the people involved in researching the issues are more likely to be receptive to the findings from that research."

Professor Davies said considering the large investment in health care in countries around the world, and the huge amounts of funding that goes into research, more value could be gained if that research knowledge was used more effectively to improve health care.

"It's about getting more bang for your buck. There is a lot of money spent on research, but unless we have uptake from the doctors and other health professionals patients may miss out on the benefits," he said.
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The biannual Health Services and Research Policy Conference is hosted by the Health Services Research Association of Australia and New Zealand, and will be held over four days between 13 - 16 November at the Canberra Convention Centre.

Research Australia

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