CHESM research team awarded Medical Research Future Fund grant for telehealth research

A research team from the Centre for Health, Exercise and Sports Medicine (CHESM) has been awarded a $1.12 million grant under the Medical Research Future Fund to investigate the effectiveness of a telehealth program aimed at improving health outcomes for those with hip osteoarthritis.

The team, consisting of Professor Kim Bennell, Professor Rana Hinman, Dr Michelle Hall, Dr Belinda Lawford, Professor Jillian Francis, Professor Julie Simpson, Dr Kalpana Sumithran and colleagues will investigate the effectiveness of HipHealth – a pilot-tested telehealth program that incorporates education, exercise and weight loss programs. The researchers will engage in an interdisciplinary approach, with the cost-effectiveness and clinical outcomes of the program being compared to those of standard care. The team will also evaluate opportunities and challenges associated with scaling up HipHealth to a broader patient base.

While clinical guidelines emphasise a combination of education, exercise and weight loss for those with hip osteoarthritis, it is estimated that 57% of patients do not receive appropriate care. Through video consultations with dietitians and physiotherapists, behaviour change support and education surrounding nutrition and exercise, it is hoped that the program can improve access to vital care – particularly in rural and remote areas.

The project is being undertaken in collaboration with the Australian Physiotherapy Association, Dietitians Australia, telehealth platform Coviu and private health provider Medibank. Should it be proven successful, there are immediate opportunities for scale-up. Chief Investigator Prof Hinman is looking forward to building upon CHESM’s relationship with Medibank that has spanned ten years.

‘This new project evaluates a program specifically for Medibank members, and we look forward to further collaborations to improve health outcomes into the future’, she said.

Previously, CHESM successfully developed the Better Knee, Better Me program that, following evaluation and review, was scaled up to Medibank members last month.