An economist each day, keeps the
doctor away

In Australia, healthcare is a part of most people’s lives from the moment they are born.

While access to good healthcare is vital — decreasing the amount of time citizens spend in hospital or the doctor’s office and ensuring optimal treatment is received, will benefit their health, their wallet and the economy as a whole.

With a focus on improving health across the lifespan, from babies to older people, Professor Brenda Gannon and her team are using economic methods to aid the wellbeing of millions of Australians.

By examining which treatment methods, programs and health behaviours like physical activity, are most effective, these researchers can help influence the creation of better health interventions, behaviours and policy.

Professor Gannon, has championed new approaches and methodologies to healthcare with a focus on ageing and longevity in Europe and recently established her area of research in Australia.

“The methods and models we develop are aimed at improving health and quality of life,” Professor Gannon said.

“This research has already been effective in creating new healthcare interventions abroad. We’re now using it to help find solutions to improve the health and quality of life for the more than 24 million people living in Australia.”

Professor Brenda Gannon sitting down.

Professor Brenda Gannon

Professor Brenda Gannon

Partnering with local and federal government and other industry and health care providers, and community organisations helps Professor Gannon’s team identify and address key social healthcare- related issues.

“Working in partnership with the government and external partners is very important,” Professor Gannon said.

“It helps us find the right questions to address and enables us to deliver the greatest impact for patients and families with health needs.”

Recent projects involve collaborations with Queensland Children’s Hospital to help improve paediatric healthcare and assess the out-of-pocket costs for families with sick children.

Other projects include women’s health initiatives supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), as well as research to examine the use of exercise to prevent the onset and progression of dementia and other diseases of the ageing body.

A partnership with the Mater Health Services group enables Professor Gannon to work on maternal health and socioeconomic inequalities.

Using data from health care providers, for example the Princess Alexandra Hospital, enables the team to also look at emergency demand in an era of digital health.

“Our work helps inform better policy creation, it helps reallocate health expenditure, to enable more efficient hospital spending and to determine out- of-pocket expenses for patients and their families.”

Read more stories about how research at the School of Economics is creating change, locally and globally.