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Why might research active healthcare organisations provide improved performance?

S Hanney Antonio presentation-Aug 18

Why might research active healthcare organisations provide improved performance?  

Whether, and how, research active organisation provide improved healthcare was debated at a seminar at Brunel on Wednesday 8 August. Colleagues from The Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust and local universities joined researchers from Brunel and former senior managers from research funding bodies to discuss the latest research on this key topic.

The seminar was organised by the Brunel Partners Academic Centre for Health Sciences (BPACHS) and the Health Economics Research Group (HERG). Welcoming the audience, Belinda Norris, Director of BPACHS, highlighted the importance of the topic to aims of the BPACHS. It is especially relevant for the ‘Research and innovation’ and ‘Quality Improvement’ workstreams within the BPACHS. 

Dr Subhash Pokhrel, new Head of the Dept of Clinical Sciences and Theme Leader for Health Economics, introduced the speakers. He described how HERG’s longstanding stream of research assessing the  payback, or impact, from health research had led to HERG’s current work analysing the benefits to patients of being treated in research active healthcare organisations.  Emeritus Prof Steve Hanney from HERG described how an evidence synthesis conducted for the National Institute for Health Research by HERG, and others, reviewed the global evidence to conclude that: ‘when clinicians and healthcare organisations engage in research there is a likelihood of a positive impact on healthcare performance.’ https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/5/12/e009415.long Steve also described recent findings from new studies of English NHS hospitals that found a correlation between increased research and reduced deaths, and a statistically significant association between clinical trials activity and improved CQC ratings (Jonker & Fisher, 2018).

Prof Antonio García Romero from the IE Business School in Madrid is currently a Visiting Academic at Brunel and collaborating with BPACHR and HERG.  He presented his recent study of Spanish Hospitals which aimed to provide ‘new causal evidence on the effects of research carried out in hospitals on their average length of stay (LOS), and subsequently, on hospital costs.’ The finding show the quantity of research produced contributed significantly to the reduction of hospital LOS: García Romero, A. Escribano, A. Tribó, J.A. (2017) The impact of health research on length of stay in Spanish public hospitals. Res Policy; 46:591-604. 

Finally, the seminar discussed a new proposal in which the HERG team have combined with Prof Annette Boaz from Kingston University/St George’s who is leading a bid to conduct further research to address the many remaining unresolved issues in this field. If funded, the project will involve an iteration between an updated and extended review, and detailed qualitative research to explore mechanism. Antonio García Romero will be one of the panel of experts recruited to advise the project, particularly around the issue of confounders. Various questions at the seminar helpfully highlighted issues that could be addressed in the new study.

At the end of the seminar, attendees overwhelmingly said that they had increased their knowledge of the benefits of undertaking research within healthcare organisations and would be very likely to consider participating in research in the future.