PCHSS Researcher and Health Economics Research Fellow, Dr Centaine Snoswell, tell us about her work on telehealth and why it’s important to health system sustainability.
How would you describe your research to a 10-year-old?
Health economics: like the decision of which food treats to buy with your allowance – you have to look at much money you have to spend (budget), what you will enjoy most (effect), and how much you will get for the money that you have (cost). I sort of work all of these things out but for telehealth services in Australia – we don’t have a lot of money as a country (budget), we need to do the most good for Australians (effect), and we can’t buy everything we want (cost). My research creates some of the evidence to help with those choices.
What made you pursue this area of research?
I was a hospital pharmacist, and every time I went to my director and had my say about inefficiencies in the services we provided she would say “bring me the data to back it up”. Even when I collected the data, changes often didn’t occur due to business drivers. I wanted to work in health economics so I could learn the business of health and effect change from inside the machine.
What question do you most often hear at work?
Serious answer – Do you think this will have economic implications? Hint: The answer is almost always yes, but that doesn’t mean the correct data has been collected to demonstrate the effect.
Silly answer – “So you teach people to bake muffins at the University? I didn’t know it was so advanced.” … To which I reply, “Sorry, I said ‘health economics’ not ‘home economics’” … and get the reply, “What’s the difference?’”
How does your work contribute to health system sustainability?
My work with the PCHSS examines the potential for digital health interventions to augment the way we provide care in Australia, with the hope that it will improve the sustainability of the system. Outside of this work I also examine pharmacy practice changes that look at advanced scope roles for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians which have the potential to improve the productivity of services provided by the profession.
How has collaborating with PCHSS impacted your research?
PCHSS has brought me into a network of like-minded researchers. The size of the centre has created a voice for my research. As one person I can’t research, disseminate, translate and implement effectively, but as part of a large centre like this there is support to take small pieces and create a larger movement.
What might you be found doing outside work?
Playing board games with friends and family (I normally lose). Current favourites are Boggle and 7-Wonders. Plus, tending to our garden which has a collection of pretty and delicious plants.
If you could have dinner with anyone (living or dead), who would it be?
What was the last great book you read?
You obviously mean apart from the thrilling report about the potential for telehealth to save money for the Australian health system that our team just finished writing for the PCHSS?
Just finished The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (Swedish: Hundraåringen som klev ut genom fönstret och försvann), by the Swedish author Jonas Jonasson. Interesting writing style and a very fun read.
This article is one of our Telehealth Awareness Week stories. Be sure to check out our piece on Dr Liam Caffrey, (PCHSS Researcher, Senior Research Fellow at University of Queensland).