Health

Australia’s health care system is among the best in the world. But not all Australians experience the same health outcomes. Life expectancy remains lower for Indigenous people, and people from low socioeconomic, regional and remote communities generally experience poorer health outcomes. Also, the demands on the health system are growing with the ageing population, increased rates of chronic and preventable diseases, availability of new treatments, and rising costs.

Governments support access to primary care, hospitals and pharmaceuticals for people who experience illness or injury, and set quality and performance standards. They also focus on health promotion and disease prevention, particularly around lifestyle-related issues that cause chronic disease.

Prevention strategies include campaigns through traditional and social media to promote healthy eating and active living, smoking cessation, sun protection, and regular check-ups for conditions like breast cancer. For health service delivery there has been a focus on strategies to reduce emergency department and elective surgery waiting times, strengthen the primary care system, enhance service coordination and integration, and ensure sustainability.


Project examples

Click on any of the following projects for more information.

Cystic Fibrosis Model of Care

(The Agency for Clinical Innovation ACI, 2015)

Cystic Fibrosis Model of Care

(The Agency for Clinical Innovation ACI, 2015)

The ACI commissioned ARTD Consultants to develop an evaluation framework and plan the tools for a newly developed Cystic Fibrosis Model of Care. The evaluation framework and plan was developed through a review of the draft Model of Care itself, and key literature in regards to the delivery of Cystic Fibrosis care in NSW. The framework and plan also drew on consultations with key stakeholders, including representatives from the ACI, the six Cystic Fibrosis Specialist Services located across NSW (and one satellite service), representatives from Cystic Fibrosis NSW and a consumer of Cystic Fibrosis services. The Evaluation Plan and Evaluation Tools will be used to evaluate the new Model of Care, once it is finalised and implemented across NSW.

Australian Government Water & Snow Safety Programmes

(Department of Health, 2015)

Australian Government Water & Snow Safety Programmes

(Department of Health, 2015)

ARTD undertook a review of two Australian Government water safety and one snow safety programme for the Department of Health. We gathered information for the review through a literature scan, scoping interviews with key informants and in-depth consultations with the funded organisations - Royal Life Saving Society of Australia, Surf Life Saving Australia, AUSTSWIM and the Australian Ski Patrol Association. The review also analysed documents provided by funded organisations and current reports on water safety and drownings and snow safety. We analysed all data collected, including a costing analysis, and prepared a report for the Government that included conclusions on the efficiency and effectiveness of programme delivery, value for money, and opportunities for increasing contestability. The report discussed future directions for the funding programme that could be considered by the Department of Health.

Stakeholder consultation for the Central Coast LHD Community Health Centre

(The Agency for Clinical Innovation, 2013-15)

Stakeholder consultation for the Central Coast LHD Community Health Centre

(The Agency for Clinical Innovation, 2013-15)

ARTD was initially commissioned by the Agency for Clinical Innovation to provide stakeholder consultation for a project they funded on the Central Coast. The successes of the first stage lead to a suite of high-level evaluation advice, data analysis and formative evaluation projects to inform a broader review of reforms to improve the efficiency of the Central Coast Community Health Service. We commenced with a baseline analysis of quantitative and qualitative data (surveys and focus groups) on stakeholder (clients, community health staff, allied health professionals and GPs) perceptions about referral pathways, communication systems, patient outcomes, barriers and success factors in the local service system. 

The second project was to analyse Community Health Occasions of Service and staffing levels across seven community health service types, and modelling and projections for Potentially Avoidable Hospitalisations using Activity Based Funding data. The third project, identified by the evaluation steering committee, was a formative evaluation of the introduction of a major IT reform designed to increase efficiency and effectiveness of the system. This included face-to-face interviews and site visits with all affected frontline staff and separate interviews with their managers. Post-intervention stakeholder consultations are planned for 2015. ARTD has worked closely with ACI on this project, providing consolidated reports to assist ACI to perform its broader monitoring and evaluation role for the Central Coast reform project.

Survey of Specialist Medical Colleges

(Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare, 2014)

Survey of Specialist Medical Colleges

(Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare, 2014)

The National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards were developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare to improve the quality of health service provision in Australia. They provide a nationally consistent statement of the level of care consumers should expect from health service organisations. The Commission engaged ARTD to review curriculum documentation and survey the 15 Specialist Medical Colleges in Australia to assess the educational content in their postgraduate and continuing professional development programs relevant to the Standards. We conducted the survey online, inviting representatives from each College to take part. Our final report highlighted which Standards were and which were not well covered, and suggested ways to facilitate enhanced coverage.

Analysis of SunSmart Victoria's evaluation of their mass media campaigns

(Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, 2014)

Analysis of SunSmart Victoria's evaluation of their mass media campaigns

(Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, 2014)

ARTD undertook a meta-evaluation—an evaluation of evaluations—to assess the quality of three evaluations of Victorian SunSmart mass media campaigns conducted by Cancer Council Victoria in 2009/2010, 2010/2011 and 2011/2012. We used descriptive analyses, based on the campaign reports and interviews with key informants and comparative analyses, based on comparison with published evaluations of sun protection campaigns from Australia and other countries, and also assessed using a scoring system based on The Program Evaluation Standards. The final report presented recommendations for the future design and conduct of campaign evaluations for consideration by VicHealth and the Victorian Department of Health.

Evaluation strategy for Camp Quality

(Camp Quality, 2014)

Evaluation strategy for Camp Quality

(Camp Quality, 2014)

In 2012, Camp Quality released its new strategic plan for 2012–2017, which makes a strong commitment to evaluation of both current and new programs. ARTD was commissioned to develop an overarching Evaluation Strategy to align with the Strategic Plan. Through workshops with staff and two rounds of consultation, ARTD developed an agreed Evaluation Strategy, comprising program logic models, an overarching evaluation framework, evaluation questions, priorities for evaluation, and an overall approach to evaluation activities and data collection to 2017. The Evaluation Strategy will help to focus evaluation efforts where they will be most effective and provide a framework and guide for developing more detailed program evaluation plans and implementing evaluations during the life of the Strategic Plan.

Evaluation framework for the Can Get Health project

(Sydney Local Health District and Inner West Sydney Medicare Local, 2014)

Evaluation framework for the Can Get Health project

(Sydney Local Health District and Inner West Sydney Medicare Local, 2014)

The Can Get Health project (Supporting the Canterbury Community) is jointly funded by Sydney Local Health District and Inner West Sydney Medicare Local, with academic support and advice from Australia’s Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity at the University of New South Wales. It is an equity-focused project that aims to strengthen the capacity of the comprehensive primary health care system in Canterbury Local Government Area to contribute to reducing risk of inequity in health in the local population. ARTD was commissioned to develop an evaluation plan for the Can Get Health project, which comprised program logic models, an evaluation framework, and an outline of a plan to guide implementation of the evaluation by the Can Get Health team. 

Design of framework and strategy for and evaluation of the National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health

(Australian National Preventive Health Agency, 2014)

Design of framework and strategy for and evaluation of the National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health

(Australian National Preventive Health Agency, 2014)

The National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health (NPAPH) was a $973 million COAG funded reform to improve the health of Australians through Commonwealth and State and Territory Governments working in partnership to deliver healthy lifestyle programs, social marketing and enabling infrastructure. In 2012, ARTD, in partnership with the Prevention Research Collaboration, University of Sydney, developed an evaluation framework and strategy for the Agreement through three rounds of consultation with preventive health managers in the Commonwealth and State and Territory health departments, and stakeholders in peak organisations. All parties endorsed the framework and strategy, which provided a basis for the three-year national evaluation.

We were subsequently commissioned to undertake the evaluation, focusing primarily on the systems and processes of the partnership approach, within the broader context of the overall delivery of the NPAPH funded programs. In 2013, we successfully undertook the formative evaluation, which involved interviews with the Implementation Working Group, Healthies Steering Committee representatives and program managers in states and territories; a national evaluation forum to support evaluation of the NPAPH funded programs in states and territories; and an assessment of the partnership. We combined three methods for the partnership assessment—a partnership survey, cooperation assessment and social network analysis—to consider the partnership at all levels and provide a comprehensive understanding of how partnerships were working. The NPAPH was terminated in the 2014 Budget and the two remaining stages of the evaluation were cancelled.

Evaluation of the BreastScreen Victoria Integrated Communications Campaign

(BreastScreen Victoria, 2014)

Evaluation of the BreastScreen Victoria Integrated Communications Campaign

(BreastScreen Victoria, 2014)

The BreastScreen Victoria campaign consisted of three waves of advertising on television, radio and online between September 2012 and May 2013, alongside other media activities, events and work with campaign partners and stakeholders. ARTD conducted a post-hoc evaluation, bringing together a number of different data sources, to provide an overall assessment of the effectiveness of the campaign. Methods included: detailed analyses of BreastScreen Victoria data on calls, website activity, bookings and screens attended in the campaign year and previous years; review of documents on campaign development and reach; review of data collected after the first wave of advertising exploring campaign recall and impact on knowledge, attitudes and intentions; and stakeholder interviews. The evaluation findings provided evidence for decisions about the future use of integrated communication campaigns. ARTD have since evaluated further waves of the campaign in May and October 2014. 

Evaluation of perinatal depression screening in NSW

(Mental Health Kids, NSW Department of Health 2011-13)

Evaluation of perinatal depression screening in NSW

(Mental Health Kids, NSW Department of Health 2011-13)

The National Perinatal Depression Initiative 2008–13 aimed to improve the prevention and early detection of perinatal depression through screening, and to improve support for new and expectant mothers who are experiencing perinatal depression. ARTD conducted a two-year evaluation of perinatal depression screening in NSW to identify the factors that contribute to successful implementation of screening for depression and psychosocial risk among pregnant women and new mothers. The evaluation assessed the extent to which perinatal depression screening has been implemented in NSW Maternity Units and Child and Family Health Services. The focus of the assessment was: use of the Edinburgh Depression Scale (EDS) and SAFE START psychosocial assessment questions; taking a multidisciplinary approach to supporting women identified as at risk; implementation of Multidisciplinary Case Discussion meetings; and coordinated care planning and follow-up to support vulnerable women.  We conducted an online survey of antenatal and child and family health teams implementing the screening across NSW, site visits to 16 antenatal and child and family health services, and interviews with key stakeholders and service providers. The findings were disseminated to stakeholders and used to review guidelines for screening for depression and psychosocial risk in NSW.

Baseline measures for population health research

(NSW Ministry of Health, 2012)

Baseline measures for population health research

(NSW Ministry of Health, 2012)

The NSW Ministry of Health Population Health Research Strategy (Promoting the generation and effective use of population health research in NSW: A strategy for NSW Health 2011–15) provides a framework for improving the quality of population health in NSW. ARTD was contracted to support implementation of the strategy by identifying research supported by the Population and Public Health Division during 2011/12 to establish a baseline for measuring progress with implementation and the outcomes achieved. ARTD developed an online survey portal to collect comprehensive information about the range and nature of population health research being undertaken by the Ministry. Completion of the portal was coordinated by the Directors of different units. ARTD also interviewed health directors to better understand the reasons certain research is being supported. The NSW Ministry of Health is planning to repeat the survey annually to track progress and outcomes and inform their investment in population health research.

Research with children with cancer and their families

(Camp Quality, 2011)

Research with children with cancer and their families

(Camp Quality, 2011)

Camp Quality is a national organisation that provides family support, hospital, education and recreation programs to support children with cancer and their families. The organisation wanted to know more about the needs of children with cancer and their families throughout their cancer journey and how Camp Quality’s philosophy and programs were meeting these needs. ARTD used a mixed-methods approach to the research, reviewing the literature on psychosocial needs, conducting focus groups with children with cancer, their siblings and parents in 18 locations around Australia, and surveying families and relevant health professionals. Following this, Camp Quality engaged us for a second phase research project with the volunteers. We designed and distributed an online survey to all Camp Quality companions and camp leaders to gather their views about the value of the program and how support could be improved. Our reports made recommendations for improving existing supports and suggestions for future strategic objectives and program delivery. Camp Quality has used these to inform planning.

Review of NSW child protection and sexual assault counselling services

(NSW Ministry of Health, 2011)

Review of NSW child protection and sexual assault counselling services

(NSW Ministry of Health, 2011)

NSW Health provides specialist counselling responses for adult and child sexual assault and child abuse and neglect through Child Protection Counselling Services (CPCS), Sexual Assault Services (SAS) and Child Protection Units (CPU) across the state. ARTD was commissioned to map NSW Health funded and delivered domestic and family violence counselling responses; review existing counselling service delivery models and assess whether realignment was required; and develop draft key performance indicators for the services. To do this, we reviewed the national and international literature on best practice, analysed service data and documentation, and consulted with service providers through an online survey, forums, and meetings. We also visited CPCSs and SASs in all of the then Area Health Services to gain an understanding of their operating contexts and the counselling services they provided. Our mapping and review of NSW Health’s child protection and sexual assault counselling services supported the Ministry’s efforts to increase consistency and best practice in service delivery.

Research on Australian Rugby Union recruitment programs

(Sport and Recreation, Office of Communities, 2011)

Research on Australian Rugby Union recruitment programs

(Sport and Recreation, Office of Communities, 2011)

Sporting organisations make significant investments in recruitment programs to build participation, supported by government agencies in the sport and health sectors. There is little evidence about the effectiveness of these programs or the return on investment. The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) approached the Sport and Recreation Division for assistance researching and evaluating their recruitment strategies, and the Division engaged ARTD to develop a research plan and undertake the project. We scanned the literature to identify existing evidence about the outcomes of sport recruitment programs, looked at the inputs and outcomes of key ARU recruitment programs, and developed a comprehensive plan to guide ongoing research and evaluation of recruitment programs. The project will help ensure an improved evidence base to assist sporting organisations to determine the most effective recruitment strategies and suitable resources.

Review of the Medicare Provider Number Legislation

(Department of Health and Ageing, 2010-11)

Review of the Medicare Provider Number Legislation

(Department of Health and Ageing, 2010-11)

The Medicare Provider Number Legislation was introduced to improve the quality of, and access to, patient care for all Australians. Regular reviews of the legislation are required under the Health Insurance Act 1973.  ARTD was engaged to conduct the comprehensive independent three year review scheduled for 2010. Health industry stakeholders provided feedback through one-to-one interviews and group meetings (65 participants), formal submissions (6 organisations), and semi-structured electronic submission forms (37 responses). ARTD also facilitated two stakeholder forums: one at the start of the consultation period to ensure all issues were covered, and a second to discuss the preliminary ?ndings and the practicality of the recommendations. Our findings and recommendations were based on a systematic and balanced assessment of stakeholders’ views as well as analysis of existing documents. The review report, with its 25 recommendations, was tabled in Parliament in February 2011.

Assessment of resources for allied health professionals

(Department of Health and Ageing, 2010)

Assessment of resources for allied health professionals

(Department of Health and Ageing, 2010)

‘Lifescripts’ resources were developed to provide general practices with tools and resources to manage their patients’ lifestyle related risk factors. As allied health professionals had approached the Department about using the resources in their own practices, the Department commissioned ARTD to consult with these professionals across Australia to determine whether the Lifescripts resources could be used in allied health. The consultation used a mixed-methods design. This included a document review, telephone interviews with representatives of allied health profession peak bodies and general practice stakeholders, an online survey of members of peak bodies, opportunistic consultation with professionals, and focus testing of resources. Our report outlined the scope for using Lifescript resources in allied health and made recommendations for essential and desired changes to the resources for use by allied health professionals.

Qualitative evaluation of the rural research capacity building program

(NSW Institute of Rural Clinical Services and Teaching, 2010)

Qualitative evaluation of the rural research capacity building program

(NSW Institute of Rural Clinical Services and Teaching, 2010)

The Rural Research Capacity Building Program aims to build research capacity among health professionals working in rural NSW by funding face-to-face teaching and forums, workplace-based research projects, mentoring, ongoing telephone and email support, and links to research networks. To inform the evaluation, being undertaken by the Clinical Education and Training Institute’s Rural Division, ARTD interviewed 25 health professionals in the 2006/7 intake of the program about their experiences. We developed a coding framework and used qualitative analysis software to code the interviews for thematic analysis. Our report assessed the effectiveness of the program in improving research capacity among health professionals in rural areas and in their workplaces. We worked with the evaluation team to prepare a journal article, which was published in the peer reviewed journal Australian Journal of Primary Health, Volume 17; 1:107-113.