Researcher Spotlight: Paul Kuwornu

AusHSI Researcher Spotlight Paul Kuwornu

Q&A with Dr Paul Kuwornu, AusHSI Senior Research Fellow – Health Economics

Q: What expertise do you bring to AusHSI?
A: I came to AusHSI with over a decade of experience in conducting health services research, particularly in Canada. I have broad experience in curating and organising messy administrative data and using these data sets to conduct research suited to generating insights for evidence-based decision making. I am fascinated by causal inference and quasi-experimental designs for evaluating healthcare interventions. The highlights of my career so far are the unique combinations of the “stopovers” I have had along my career journey to date. I have had an intriguing research career in healthcare, child protection services, corrections services, and law enforcement.

Q: What does health services innovation mean to you?
A: It may be tempting to think of health services innovation as only involving cutting-edge technologies to deliver care. I think of innovation in health services as creating the right framework to efficiently deliver timely care. Whilst this acknowledges the important role of technology, it focuses more on the human aspiration to embrace change and continually strive for improvement in the way health services are delivered.

Q: What inspires you most in your research?
A: I admire the diversity of research in the AusHSI team – from hardcore statistics, through health economics, to implementation science. For me, the real inspiration comes from the value placed on diverse perspectives in tackling research problems. My current research partly focuses on evaluations of digital health technologies on patient outcomes. We always learn from the tech guys, care providers, policy makers, health economists, and qualitative researchers on the team. It is amazing to see how passionate the team members are, and the mutual respect placed on every viewpoint.

Q: Why is health services research important?
A: Rather controversially, I think the field of health services research was born out of necessity. Older fields in the health space have become extremely good at describing the problems in healthcare. Health services research was carved out to provide research findings that prescribe solutions to problems in healthcare. The real significance of the field lies in its capacity to meddle in the governing dynamics of healthcare organisations; not to lobby per se but to strongly advocate for evidence-informed practice.

Q: What do you see as the main challenges facing Australia’s health system?
A: All around the world, patients, advocacy groups, and policy makers have high hopes of using digital technology tools to improve healthcare service delivery. The unique influence of these technologies on quality of care and healthcare cost containment are yet to be fully understood and realised. With careful planning, Australia can become a leader in this area.