What is the Research and Innovation Program?

As the Victorian Government’s insurer and risk adviser, we support public health services and hospitals by identifying avoidable risks that may lead to medical indemnity claims.

Since 2017, VMIA has worked in partnership with Monash University’s BehaviourWorks Australia (BWA) on a Research and Innovation Program to understand how human behaviour – the habits, biases and behaviours we all share – affects sound decision-making and increases patient risk in public hospitals. Through a rigorous prioritisation process involving a wide range of stakeholders, including the Department of Health and Human Services, the BehaviourWorks research team and VMIA identified seven priority healthcare challenges.

These challenges led to the creation of trials conducted in Victorian hospitals between 2018 and 2020. Each trial has a key role as part of the patient journey – from injury through to getting the correct treatment.

The trials sought to explore and better understand how behaviour change research can improve decision-making and patient care in a number of settings, across the patient journey. Six trials looked at aspects of patient care, including:

  • reducing cognitive bias among clinicians by facilitating a structured discussion using the Rapid Diagnostic Discussion tool
  • improving the speed and efficiency of communicating diagnostic test results by using a secure messaging app - myBeepr
  • giving patients more of a voice in their healthcare by providing a simple bedside notepad
  • helping clinicians gain experience navigating the key behavioural barriers to the escalation of care, such as fear of hierarchy, via an interactive ‘choose your own adventure’ training video
  • fostering an empathetic and collaborative mindset among doctors receiving non-critical patient transfer requests from regional hospitals via a persuasive video
  • improving the skills and confidence of health service board members to engage in difficult conversations via simulated training with a trained actor.

A seventh trial seeking to improve informed consent conversations between surgeons and patients did not go ahead due to coronavirus.

Researchers developed the methodology and bespoke tools to unpack problems, identify behavioural solutions, understand behavioural drivers, and design, test and embed innovative solutions.

To learn more, you can read about the trials in detail on BehaviourWorks Australia’s website

To find out more about harm prevention initiatives, please email Ursula Harrisson at u.harrisson@vmia.vic.gov.au.