Medical research looks to consumers

Consumer-driven and translational research has been identified as one of the top priorities for Australian medical researchers, an innovation that the Consumers Health Forum heartily welcomes as a breakthrough for the health system.

This step forward, announced in the Medical Research Future Fund’s (MRFF) research and innovation priorities for the next two years,  recommends establishing a program to pair researchers to consumers, carers and clinicians to jointly design grant opportunities that enable consumer-driven  targeted research.

The Future Fund proposes research that is driven by crowdsourcing consumer priorities, connecting researchers to consumers to translate evidence in everyday clinical practice.

“This is the most emphatic support for consumer-driven medical research that I can remember,” the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells, said.

“As the Future Fund says sometimes there is a “mismatch” between what researchers want to research and the lived experiences, values and priorities of consumers, carers and clinicians.

“We agree with the Future Fund that such partnerships can increase the translation of research evidence and illuminate new discoveries, transforming the healthcare experience and maximising the impact of investment in research.

Overall the priorities laid out for the next two years provide a robust guide for the Minister for Health as the Government  makes funding decisions under the MRFF.   

“We also welcome the priority given to primary care, ageing and aged care and digital health intelligence research. The growth in chronic and complex diseases, particularly in cohorts with low socioeconomic status calls for a more concerted effort in primary care research that is geographically relevant, the Future Fund says.

Aged care is ä looming policy challenge. Boosts to research to guide how we optimise the health, well being and care of older Australians is also a welcome direction for the Fund.    

“”Digital health is going to disrupt and transform clinical practice. CHF welcomes the Fund’s focus on , research to better explore the benefits of novel decision tools and applied artificial intelligence.   

“A central aim of CHF is to advocate for consumer design and involvement in all parts of the health system and the recognition that consumers can have a significant impact in setting research priorities,” Ms Wells said.


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