Academic Health Science Centres
WHAT IS AN ACADEMIC HEALTH SCIENCE CENTRE
Academic Health Science Centres (AHSCs) were established decades ago in the United States, and have rapidly spread throughout the UK, Europe and parts of Asia. AHSCs involve a partnership between a major tertiary healthcare provider and a university, with an aim to enhance patient outcomes achieved through education, research and clinical service. The Centres strive to create environments whereby the benefits of research excellence are felt by patients and the broader healthcare sector.
OUR MODEL OF AN ACADEMIC HEALTH SCIENCE CENTRE
US and UK AHSCs are traditionally owned and managed by universities, however the Australian system operates differently. The University of Melbourne, along with its partner hospitals and many medical research institutes, have previously established strong associations that enable collaboration, joint appointments and joint grant applications, along with embedded clinical schools in major hospitals. Therefore, a traditional approach to an AHRC would in many ways duplicate these existing structures.
The Melbourne Academic Centre for Health (MACH) distinguishes itself from traditional structures of AHSCs, by approaching the goal of enhanced patient outcomes from a system perspective. Rather than commence with an explicit focus on specific diseases, the projects within the MACH are relevant to all members. The members work collectively to identify systemic problems, from primary health care through to tertiary care. Once these issues have been identified, suitable solutions are proposed, to be later trialled using specific disease responses, utilising the full research strength of the MACH members. This approach allows for research to enable systemic reform, ensuring that the ability for research translation and immediate positive patient care are at the forefront of its principal outcomes.
THE AUSTRALIAN HEALTH RESEARCH ALLIANCE
The MACH is a member of the Australian Health Research Alliance. The AHRA is an informal platform for collaboration instigated by the Directors of the accredited AHRTCs. The Alliance aims to harmonise activities, such as joint bids for MRFF funding and a joint approach to research facilitation, to maximise program impact nationally.