With trends that seem counter-intuitive, predicting the take-up of private health insurance can be tricky. People with private insurance are less likely to be in poor health and have fewer long-term health conditions than those who rely on the public system. But there are methods for modelling choice behaviours and policy-makers would do well to employ them, argues Michael Keane, an economics professor at the Australian School of Business. Attempts to control hospital waiting times through the private health insurance market are unlikely to be successful. Insurance take-up seems driven by the mixed motives of risk aversion, cognitive ability and income.
From: March 19, 2013 Grey Matter: How Managing Others Affects Brain Power – Positively!
Corporate players often list managing others as one of their greatest challenges, but new research from the University of New South Wales shows the upshot may be a bigger hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory. Being a manager potentially may ward off common neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's. The research is thought-provoking for policymakers as they attempt to keep mature individuals in the workforce longer to tackle the dilemmas of an ageing population. And senior staff may want to think again about the prospect of early retirement.
From: February 07, 2012 A Mindshift on Obesity: Rethinking the Costly Epidemic
There are many preconceived ideas about obesity, but a new University of New South Wales' research paper has debunked the myths that it's all about lack of willpower or lousy lifestyle choices. Obesity presents a high cost to the public purse, employers and individuals. With almost 30% of Australians now classified as obese, the epidemic requires new solutions – and fast. A trial of cognitive remediation therapy now underway looks likely to present some leads to complement the boss's standard fitness incentives, such as a corporate gym membership or cycling club. Conquering the battle of the bulge may be more about changing the way we think, suggest the researchers.
From: November 07, 2011 Superbugs: Why Pharmaceutical Companies Are Resistant to Antibiotics
The World Health Organization has warned that antibiotic resistant "superbugs" may give rise to a global health emergency. Already about 7000 Australians die annually from infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria, but pharmaceutical companies seem reluctant to produce new medicines to tackle the problem. Long lead times for drug development, commercial risks and government policies that keep costs down are among the reasons why big pharma is intent on treating diseases and conditions that keep patients coming back for more. A national surveillance program is urgently needed. Meanwhile, strategies devised at an interdisciplinary summit at the University of New South Wales aim to improve the prognosis.
From: August 25, 2011 'Spousonomics': All's Fair in Love and Economics
By applying the precision of economics to the messiness of relationships, Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson offer an amusing attempt to solve some of love's stickiest issues in their book, Spousonomics: Using Economics to Master Love, Marriage, and Dirty Dishes.
From: June 21, 2011 Aged Care Revolution: The Next Generation of Stay-At-Home Grannies
Baby boomers are expected to age differently and to be "old" for longer than previous generations. But, with an aged care system that's "creaking to the point of collapse", policymakers and providers have their work cut out for them. A shake-up is expected following a set of recommendations for caring for older Australians, due to be released by the Productivity Commission shortly. While plans to accommodate ageing in place – living at home until you die – may not come up well on a cost-benefit analysis, they are in the comfort zone for a generation that's used to getting what it wants and look set to go ahead.
From: June 07, 2011 In the Health Care Sector, Who Should Choose Which Treatment Is Best?
Each day, workers in the health care field debate the most reliable course of action for treating a particular ailment. As part of US health care reform, new emphasis is being placed on comparative effectiveness research (CER), which pits remedies against one another to determine which is best. A new paper by Wharton professor Scott Harrington warns that the government should avoid developing a monopoly on CER, and offers suggestions for sparking interest from private sector researchers.
From: April 11, 2011 Healthcare: Why Human Resource Practices Are Flat-lining
Australia may boast one of the world's best healthcare systems, but those who work in it claim "it stinks", says the head of clinical services at one of the nation's top hospitals. Indications are that at least part of what's ailing healthcare are the people-management practices in hospitals. Poor communication, bullying and staff shortages have been well-reported. While the federal government announced plans for a single hospitals network in 2010, a new research project led by Julie Cogin, head of organisation and management at the Australian School of Business, looks set to uncover ways to improve hospital workers' wellbeing and, as a consequence, patient outcomes.
From: February 14, 2011 Ready, Set, Go! Innovators Set the Pace in the Race for Faster Cures
Philanthropies and nonprofits are creating new models for drug development that cut against the grain of traditional for-profit drug discovery. Success stories range from bringing a meningitis vaccine to sub-Saharan Africa in record time to accelerating the start of clinical trials for a promising new cancer treatment. Open-source research is a key part of new models, and public and private projects are under way as well. Such initiatives may serve as templates for future drug development.
From: February 10, 2011 Cures for an Industry Crisis: Big Pharma Scrambles to Find New Ways to Develop Drugs Faster
Companies are turning to new methods of developing drugs as blockbusters lose patent protection. These models include partnerships with universities and the sharing of once closely guarded warehouses of compounds. A key focus of the research is "translational medicine" -- whose goal is to replace traditional one-size-fits-all drugs with personalized treatments for patients with specific genetic profiles.
From: February 10, 2011