Brisbane Diamantina Health Partners facilitates the integration of the three cornerstones of research, clinical care and education to deliver the highest quality healthcare.

Creating key clinical themes as the foundation of collaboration where community needs and demonstrated existing capability intersect, BDHP provides leadership and guides collaboration in advancing health and medical innovation for the future.

These themes focus attention on excellence and harness the collective partner strengths towards innovative solutions to clinical problems with access to enabling capabilities including platform systems and technologies.

These clinical themes are:

Strategic Initiative Grant Scheme

Early in 2016 BDHP invested in six projects under its inaugural Strategic Initiative Grant Scheme (SIGS).

The SIGS initiative was specifically designed to promote BDHP’s core premise, which is integration and collaboration.

The projects selected aligned with the BDHP Themes Chronic disease, Ageing, Cancer, Maternal and child health, and Immunity, inflammation and infection, with the main focus on Evidence and innovation in clinical care.

The Mater Family Cohort

With the SIGS funding, Mater Health Services is set to begin Australia’s first major cohort to define biological mechanisms associated with paediatric and adult disease and develop biomarkers that identify health risks.

The Mater Family Cohort: Current health status of Queensland’s reproductive population is a $40m project that will follow newborns and their parents through their life span, filling a gap in the knowledge left by ageing and out-of-date studies.

The data from the project will have an immediate outcome of identifying the health status of Queensland’s reproductive population, paving the way for modelling approaches in clinical care for the future health needs of the community.

It will also be comparable to cohorts being established in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia, facilitating a snapshot of the health of the nation.

Professor Vicki Clifton from Mater Research Mothers and Babies Theme said the project was in its development phase with protocols being designed for the examination of mother, partner and child.

“The major outcomes of this project will have a significant benefit for BDHP, Queensland and Australia,” Prof Clifton said.

“There will be significant discoveries derived from the generation of biological data targeted towards identifying health risk and defining public health interventions.

“For the first time this study will show the links between the environmental pollution and health in Queenslanders.”

The Queensland Gynaecological Cancer Initiative

The research, education and translation into practice of the Queensland Gynaecological Cancer Initiative (QGCI is centred on the outstanding care provided to patients by the gynaecological oncologists of the Queensland Centre for Gynaecological Cancer. Since 1982 these specialists and their clinical colleagues have been working as a team to treat the women of Queensland, northern New South Wales and the Northern Territory, a catchment that covers 22% of Australian women.

The co-ordinator of the QGCI, Professor John Hooper from the Mater Research Institute at the University of Queensland, said that the efforts of the clinical units to continually improve patient care inspires the research teams in their efforts to discover new ways to better diagnose and treat gynaecological malignancies. He also noted that the QGCI’s strategy to accelerate these new diagnostic tests and treatments, is to embed, as much as possible, research activity within the clinical units that treat patients.

A key example of the success of this “hand-in-glove” model of research is the development, by Professor Ian Frazer’s team at the Princess Alexandra Hospital and the University of Queensland, of the Gardasil vaccine for the prevention of cervical cancer. This vaccine has already saved countless lives reducing the need for protracted and painful treatments involving surgery and chemotherapy.

Other examples are the ground-breaking feMMe trial for endometrial cancer being coordinated by the team of Professor Andreas Obermair, who is a gynaecological oncologist at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, and the ECHO trial of Professor Sandi Hayes’ team, from Queensland University of Technology, that examines the impacts of exercise on women receiving chemotherapy for ovarian cancer.

Professor Alex Crandon, Director of the Queensland Centre for Gynaecological Cancer, is buoyed by the capacity building opportunities provided by the BDHP’s Strategic Initiative Grant. He notes that these funds will help bring up to date the Centre’s comprehensive database of gynaecological cancers stretching from 1982 through to the present day. The coordinators of the database will be able to examine the findings of the QGCI’s researchers to identify those that have the greatest chance of improving the lives of patients diagnosed with a gynaecological cancer. BDHP funding will also be used to develop new models of gynaecological cancer and to isolate biomolecules from patient samples – this will help identify aberrant molecular processes that may serve as drugs targets for treatment of these malignancies.

Professor Crandon said that “these projects will help support our ongoing studies that have the potential to improve the treatment of gynaecological cancer.” He added that “Due to the close connections between researchers and the hospitals, the results of the QGCI’s research will be able to be rapidly evaluated and implemented into clinical care.”

The Older Person Friendly Hospital

The Older Person Friendly Hospital project will help hospitals to introduce measures that will deliver better care and well-being for the quarter of a million older Queenslanders using Metro North and Metro South Hospital and Health Services.

The team, led by Adj Professor Alison Mudge from the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, will use a knowledge translation lens (the i-PHARIS framework) to bring together the necessary enablers to implement high quality care.

“Key processes such as comprehensive assessments linked to evidence-based managements, an appropriate physical environment, good team communication, early discharge planning, and safe transitions between care settings can significantly improve hospital outcomes for older patients,” Dr Mudge said.

“These interventions reduce functional decline, delirium, length of stay, mortality, re-admissions and nursing home placement.

“While we recognise that uptake of evidence into practice is complex, this initial proposal will provide a firm foundation for prioritised knowledge translation efforts.”

Dr Mudge said the work initiated by the project will help hospitals meet the new national safety and quality standards and deliver better healthcare through improved patient and staff experiences of care, a reduction in adverse events, shorter hospital stays, and less functional decline of patients and less need for additional care after their discharge.

Dietetics Research Translation Award

The annual Dietetics Research Translation Award will be expanded to include the dietetic departments in Metro North and South Hospital and Health Services under the SIGS funding.

The Nutrition and Dietetics Research Translation Award was designed to provide clinical dieticians with professional development in critical appraisal and research translation skills, and encourage dietetic staff to identify existing research findings and create change in their practice by translating to a clinical application within an Australian healthcare sector.

Mater Research Institute’s Dr Ingrid Hickman, who developed the initiative, said it has since guided professional development education sessions by research fellows across the participating sites.

“We propose developing a BDHP allied health research translational education syllabus that would be used across all participating sites,” Dr Hickman said.

“At the core of the initiative is the desire to develop equitable access to professional development and training for evidence-based practice, implementation science and integrating research translation into standard care for allied health professionals,” she said.

“We also have a vision to roll out to other allied health specialty fields.”

The Award is in its fourth year and is open to staff in all hospitals in Metro North and Metro South Hospital and Health Services and Mater Health Service.

Chronic Liver Disease Research Network

The Chronic Liver Disease Research Network will use the SIGS funding to host a number of strategic, multi-disciplinary meetings to determine priorities for better outcomes for people with chronic liver disease and their families in Queensland.

The Chronic Liver Disease Research Network (CLDRN) was created to bridge clinical practice and research across Queensland to maximise short and long-term health outcomes for people with chronic liver disease.

Dr Patricia Valery from QIMR Berghofer said the CLDRN tackled clinical, scientific and medical problems by fostering collaboration between clinicians and researchers and facilitating greater integration of healthcare, research and education.

“We are expanding the CLDRN to sponsor a roundtable on priorities for chronic liver disease in Queensland as well as hosting four multi-disciplinary meetings in Brisbane with visiting speakers,” Dr Valery said.

“The funding will also support data acquisition which we will use to strengthen our new NHMRC grant application,” she said.

Professor Elizabeth Powell from Princess Alexandra Hospital said that the prevalence of chronic liver disease and cirrhosis in Australia is increasing and now represents a major chronic illness requiring a multidisciplinary management strategy.  “This network is an important opportunity to work together to significantly improve the health outcomes for our patients with chronic liver disease,” she said.

To attend CLDRN meetings, please contact Professsor Elizabeth Powell or Dr Patricia Valery

Development and implementation of Structured Assessment of Gastrointestinal Symptoms Scale (SAGIS)

A team led by the Princess Alexandra Hospital will use the SIGS funding to refine and expand a system for assessing gastrointestinal symptoms.

Professor Gerald Holtmann said that with immune, inflammatory and infection-based disorders rising, it was essential to develop and implement a standardised assessment of symptoms for patients in clinical practice.

The Structured Assessment of Gastrointestinal Symptoms (SAGIS) Scale has been shown to be reliable and valid and even reduce the amount of time taken by doctors for  clinical assessment.

Further, it allows for the identification of cohorts of patients that are at risk of developing adverse outcomes and would allow targeting of these cohorts for tailored interventions.

“There is now a critical need to extend this framework to interested Brisbane Diamantina Health Partners (BDHP) working in the field of immunity, inflammation and infections and other users,” Professor Holtmann said.

“This, in turn, will significantly improve standardised clinical assessment of these patients and rapidly accelerate recruitment of patients into research studies,” he said.

“The funding will help us co-ordinate the development of a BDHP-wide platform for assessment and characterisation of patients with highly prevalent disorders in the field of immunity and inflammation and develop or adapt similar tools for infective disorders.

“It will also help us develop the processes and infrastructure for prospective collection and processing of biological samples for microbiome and related relevant assessment of patients with inflammatory bowel disease, functional gastrointestinal disorders, and musculoskeletal disorders across BDHP.”

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