Australia to benefit from US healthcare research

Dr Adam Elshaug.

Dr Adam Elshaug.
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Monday, 1 February 2010

A University of Adelaide researcher who is studying the cost-effectiveness and quality of healthcare has won a prestigious fellowship to continue his research in the United States.

Dr Adam Elshaug has won a Harkness Fellowship in Health Care Policy and Practice, valued at up to US$107,000. It will enable him to expand his work at a leading US university and healthcare organisation over 12 months.

The Harkness Fellowship was established by the Commonwealth Fund (based in New York) in 1925 as an American version of the Rhodes Scholarships. The Harkness Fellowship is now considered one of the most prestigious international award programs in health policy. Dr Elshaug is the sole Australian recipient for the 2010-2011 program.

Dr Elshaug is currently a Hanson Institute Research Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Public Health with Adelaide Health Technology Assessment (AHTA), part of the Centre for Health Services Research at the University of Adelaide. He has been investigating whether commonly used medical treatments are appropriate and cost effective.

Studies by Dr Elshaug and colleagues have shown that some current treatments may provide little to no benefit to patients in relation to their high cost, and in some cases may cause harm instead of good.

He says his research in the US will further explore issues around the comparative cost of health technologies and the benefits they bring to patients and the healthcare system.

"Australia and the US have embarked upon health policy reforms to improve the safety and quality of care, and to rein in spending which continues to outpace the growth of their economies," Dr Elshaug says.

"In the US, there is increasing interest in comparative effectiveness research as a means of improving care standards and reducing costs.

"The need to identify and reduce ineffective healthcare practices is based on three key issues: economic sustainability, ethics - in relation to providing quality of care - and clinical excellence.

"I hope that my experience in the US will form part of a broader international understanding of the need for such research and associated policy reform. It could have potential benefits for healthcare throughout the world, with scarce resources diverted away from areas of waste and targeted at healthcare practices offering the best possible outcomes for the populations served."

Dr Elshaug will begin his Harkness Fellowship in the US in August.


Contact Details

Dr Adam Elshaug
Hanson Institute Research Fellow & Senior Lecturer
Adelaide Health Technology Assessment (AHTA), Centre for Health Services Research, Discipline of Public Health
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 3098

Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762