Executive Dean to improve heart disease patients' care journeys with NHMRC Ideas Grant

Research news

04 November 2021

An innovative new project hopes to improve patient care journeys for Australian women living with coronary heart disease, thanks to National and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding.

Deakin University was awarded an NHMRC Ideas Grant announced by the Minster for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Greg Hunt on 4 November.

Professor Rachel Huxley, Executive Dean of Deakin’s Faculty of Health, will lead a four-year project ‘Mapping sex differences in the journey of an individual with coronary heart disease through the healthcare system’ ($843,258).

‘Over 60,000 people are living with coronary heart disease, one third of whom are women who often have poorer health outcomes compared to men,’ Professor Huxley said.

‘Evidence suggests the existence of systematic sex biases in the assessment and management of coronary heart disease. How these biases occur however, is unclear since information documenting patients’ journeys throughout health and medical systems is siloed.’

A general practice visit is often the first point of contact with the health system and a gateway to other specialist health services. However, data from different services are not easily ‘joined up’ making it difficult to look across a patient’s care journey. This project will join all health attendances for patients with heart related symptoms.

Importantly, linked primary care information has been previously unavailable in Australian research studies due to privacy and confidentiality issues associated with health records.

Using Privacy Preserving Record Linkage (PPRL), her research team will leverage data across the health systems to identify key sex differences in the utilisation of health resources and treatment pathways. This project will deliver an improved understanding of when, how and where it is best to intervene to improve health outcomes among women living with coronary heart disease.

‘Many coronary heart disease patients have multiple points of contact across their healthcare journey. We hope our research will highlight the potential for targeted interventions during health service experiences to create transformative and positive outcomes and remove the negative impacts of systematic biases.’

Deakin’s Professors Steven Allender and Anna Peeters, Associate Professors John Amerena, Susan Brumby and Adrienne O’Neil, Dr Lan Gao and Miss Kieva Richards will also work on this project.

Collaborating partners on this project are: Australian Institute for Health and Welfare, Centre for Health Record Linkage, Centre for Victorian Data Linkage, Curtin University, LaTrobe University and NPS MedicineWise.

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Professor Rachel Huxley, Executive Dean of Deakin’s Faculty of Health

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Professor Rachel Huxley, Executive Dean of Deakin’s Faculty of Health

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