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Evidence to inform health system change in the public interest

Work has begun on a new Health Research Board funded project that will help guide the design and roll-out of the new Regional Integrated Care Areas (RICAs) announced by Minister Simon Harris in July 2019.

This is one of six new awards that the HRB is funding under its Applied Partnership Award Scheme.

Led by our own Dr Sara Burke, Health policy analyst in the Centre for Health Policy and Management in the department of Public Health & Primary Care, the project will use a variety of research methods and tools to harness the latest national and international evidence and experience to inform the roll of the six new RICAs. Sara is part of the research team whose technical advice formed the basis of the original Sláintecare report

Speaking about the task ahead, Dr Burke, said: ‘This project will actively support the work of the Sláintecare implementation office who, along with the Health Service Executive, are partners in the project. The project is structured around a co-design approach that will actively feed international and national, theory, knowledge and experience into the policy implementation process. Allocating resources on the basis of population health needs, facilitating regional autonomy, empowering staff and communities in health service planning and delivery has the potential to radically improve people’s health and their experience of healthcare’.

Laura Magahy, Director of Sláintecare added, ‘Sláintecare will deliver the right care, in the right place, at the right time for all our citizens. In order to do that, we as partners need evidence and that’s what this research will give us. ‘The process whereby we combine the work of academic researchers whose job it is to bring the latest international evidence to the table, along with the on-the-ground experience of those providing and delivering current services, gives us a solid platform to deliver on our long-term goal to provide access to fully integrated health and social care’.

The research project itself will use methods such as rapid reviews, mapping exercises, documentary analysis, key informant interviews, participant observation, secondary analysis of data and co-design techniques to gather evidence.

The real-time, iterative, nature of this research offers continuous learning and the potential for constant refinement and improvement of the roll out process. This will be documented in a Living Implementation Framework with Evaluation (LIFE) which in turn will facilitate bounded regional autonomy within national policy, that is person-centred, empowers staff and communities, is effective and efficient.

Photo caption: Dr Sara Burke with Laura Magahy and Ciara Mellet of the Slaintecare Implementation Office and Laura Reid of the Alzheimer Society of Ireland at a Slaintecare town hall meeting with the Communtiy and Voluntary sector in the Department of Health on 16 October 2019

About Sara Burke

Dr Sara Burke is Research Assistant Professor of Health Policy in the Centre for Health Policy and Management, in the School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin. Prior to this, she coordinated 'Mapping the pathways to universal healthcare'. In the first five months of 2017, Sara and her team worked with the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare, who had a remit to develop Sláintecare, a ten year plan for healthcare reform in Ireland. Before this, Sara was a post-doc researcher on the Resilience of the Irish health system during the economic crisis. Sara is the module lead on Health Systems and Policy on the SPHeRE PhD programme and the Centre's MSc in Health Services Management. Sara has worked for 20 over years as a researcher in and of health policy.

About School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin

The School of Medicine is one of the world’s top medical schools (QS world rankings 51-100, 2019 for Medicine). With some 1,500 undergraduate students and 500 registered postgraduate students, the School is an international leader in education programmes spanning a broad spectrum of medical and scientific disciplines and focusses on the key principles of excellence and training. More information: https://www.tcd.ie/medicine/

Picture Caption:

Dr Sara Burke with Laura Magahy and Ciara Mellet of the Slaintecare Implementation Office and Laura Reid of the

Alzheimer Society of Ireland at a Slaintecare town hall meeting with the Communtiy and Voluntary sector in the Department of Health on 16 October 2019.