If Providing Best Care Means Being at the Cutting Edge of Research, Should It Be Implemented System-wide?; Comment on “‘We’re Not Providing the Best Care If We Are Not on the Cutting Edge of Research’: A Research Impact Evaluation at a Regional Australian Hospital and Health Service”

Document Type : Commentary


Health Economics Research Group, Department of Health Sciences, Brunel University London, London, UK


The COVID-19 pandemic intensified debates about the desirability of integrating health research systems into healthcare systems. An excellent evaluation undertaken prior to the pandemic examined a purposeful strategy to improve healthcare through an expansion in research capacity in the Townsville Hospital and Health Service (THHS), a regional service in northern Queensland. This comment puts that evaluation into a rapidly developing wider context, drawing on other work showing an association between research engagement in healthcare organisations and their improved healthcare. In most previous studies this impact arose as a by-product of the research activity. The Townsville scheme went further. But while the evaluation identified some progress and impacts, they were patchy, not system-wide. Recent pre-pandemic studies showed that going even further and integrating a health research system across a national healthcare system markedly improved healthcare, despite continuing challenges. The UK’s research experiences during COVID-19 are giving additional momentum to this approach globally.


Main Subjects

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