Health and Healthcare
Our research provides vital insights into the funding and organisation of Australia’s healthcare system, the factors influencing individuals’ health and the issues surrounding equity and quality in healthcare provision.
Healthcare is the largest sector of the Australian economy at 10 per cent of GDP and the country’s biggest employer, making up around 13 per cent of the working population.
Our highly trained economists at the Melbourne Institute seek to improve the health system and people’s health and wellbeing by conducting high-quality research into the key issues facing the health sector. By looking at health through an economic lens, our work generates unique insights and evidence that positions us to influence health policy and reform, in Australia and beyond.
OUR RESEARCH FOCUS
Funding and value-based healthcare
Our researchers are exploring the role and impact of funding and financial incentives on the Australian healthcare system – a system currently characterised by disparate, volume-based funding models and a lack of transparency in patient costs. Our work seeks to provide evidence of the benefits of value-based healthcare, where funding models and payment systems help to drive improvements in health outcomes at a reasonable cost.
The medical workforce
Without a skilled, productive and equitably distributed medical workforce, innovations to prevent and reduce the burden of disease, improve the quality of care and promote health outcomes will not have the desired impact. Our research provides new evidence to better understand how the supply and organisation of the medical workforce influences access to medical care. Using data from the Medicine in Australia: Balancing Employment and Life (MABEL) panel survey of 10 000 doctors, we are providing key evidence to improve access to and the supply of medical care, including improving the geographic and specialty distribution of doctors, the role of financial incentives, gender issues, health and wellbeing of doctors, and the uptake of evidence and innovation.
Healthcare markets, choice and competition
Consumer choice and competition in healthcare markets can influence costs and quality. However, patients have limited access to information on quality and pricing, and competition could have adverse consequences for patients (such as high prices, high out-of-pocket costs and poor outcomes) if providers have excessive market power.
Our research examines the effects of choice and competition in public and private hospital markets, labour markets for doctors, health insurance markets and residential aged care. This research has important implications for policy-making in the areas of consumer information, health outcomes and costs, and in the design, regulation and structure of healthcare markets.
Health behaviours, health and wellbeing
Understanding how individuals’ health behaviours influence their physical and mental health is key to creating effective prevention policies. Our research provides evidence of the drivers of individuals’ physical and mental health across the life course, from early childhood through to family life and ageing. We’re also investigating the role of education and work on health and wellbeing, providing new evidence to inform economic and social policy.
Equity, health and wellbeing for marginalised groups
Our research seeks to understand the factors influencing health and wellbeing in groups experiencing marginalisation and disadvantage, such as Indigenous youth in the Northern Territory and people living in developing nations in Australia’s region such as Indonesia, Laos and East Timor.
Program Coordinator: Professor Anthony Scott
Partnerships and Funding
This program is funded through grants and research contracts provided by a variety of sources, including the ARC, NHMRC, Australian State and Federal Government departments, the private sector, and international agencies.
The program is a founding member of the University of Melbourne Health Economics Group, a network of researchers working in the field of health economics.