Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency - Harnessing research for effective regulation that improves patient safety
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Harnessing research for effective regulation that improves patient safety

04 Mar 2019

Last week Australian and international health regulation experts gathered at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre for the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (NRAS) 2019 Research Summit.

The Summit centred on asking how research can be harnessed to strengthen regulation and enhance patient safety to contribute to improved health outcomes.

Led by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and the National Boards, the all-day Research Summit hosted 17 speakers and drew more than 300 participants from National and State/Territory Board and Committee members, AHPRA staff, co-regulatory bodies, representatives from accreditation authorities and key partners.

With the theme Optimising research for regulatory effectiveness, the Research Summit explored the National Scheme’s evolving approaches to risk assessment, lessons from research into notifications, and exploring future opportunities to utilise smart data. At the heart of discussions was asking how we can use data and research to improve regulatory processes and ultimately contribute to safer care for patients.

From the University of Toronto, Professor Zubin Austin’s stirring keynote address highlighted that competency assessment has emerged as a dominant issue for regulators, educators and employers worldwide; Professor Austin called for more attention on notions of teamwork, emotional intelligence, and genuine practitioner engagement as important concepts in defining and evaluating competency.

Reflecting on the insights coming out of health regulation research, AHPRA CEO Martin Fletcher said it is crucial for learnings to translate into action. ‘It’s important for us to make sure that when we learn about what’s working and what’s not working in regulation, that we take that knowledge and translate it into action so that we are actually making a difference in how we deliver regulation into the future,’ Mr Fletcher said.

‘We are committed to investing in and growing our data, research and evaluation capabilities through organisation areas like our Research Unit, to assure that our research is relevant, actionable and can allow us to respond to emerging issues’.

The Summit presented work AHPRA is doing to better understand peoples’ experiences with the notifications process – both from the notifier and practitioner perspective – and explored how we can make health regulation more trustworthy and humane. The Summit also gave a platform to leading health and medical research partners to pose questions raised by their own research, such as whether better data and information sharing with regulatory agencies can improve our ability to predict risk and prevent harm to patients.

AHPRA National Director of Strategy and Research Mr Paul Shinkfield said there was broad consensus at the end of the Summit on key themes and areas for future work. ‘The clear feedback from attendees was that we need to continue our development as ‘intelligent’ regulators, strengthening collaborative partnerships, learning from our maturing research activities and ensuring that our policies and regulatory efforts are underpinned by a robust evidence base,’ Mr Shinkfield said.

‘In particular, the use of predictive modelling approaches will enable us to make more timely and useful contributions to mapping and assessing risk, enabling us to further improve our regulatory policy development and decision-making capabilities. This will ultimately help us to make more valuable contributions to the broader landscape of patient safety in healthcare and improve our overall effectiveness as a regulator,’ he said.


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Page reviewed 4/03/2019