Academic and Research Collaborative in Health (ARCH)

The La Trobe partnership that is building an ARCH to better outcomes for patients, students and the healthcare system

Partnership at a glance

  • ARCH stands for the Academic and Research Collaborative in Health, an initiative built on strong industry partnerships to deliver better health and social care to Australians.
  • La Trobe academics and researchers are embedded with ARCH partners in hospitals, community and residential aged care settings. There, they connect directly with patients, clients, clinicians and policy makers to understand problems firsthand and help solve them with consumers to ensure rapid translation of research into practice.
  • The ARCH partnerships have significant impact in a range of ways, including co-producing research and its implementation with “end-users” such as clients, clinicians, care managers and policy makers.
  • One example of a problem addressed by ARCH is hospital falls, which is a serious concern worldwide. ARCH partners have started international conversations about this and the collaboration is helping to reduce falls and the pain and distress they cause.

Case Study

From digital healthcare to new therapies for stroke and COVID-19, through to staff training on hospital safety, members of La Trobe’s Academic and Research Collaborative in Health (ARCH) initiative are responding to a broad range of challenges in partnership with industry.

When La Trobe’s Professor Meg Morris and her research team moved into their new office at Healthscope several years ago as part of the university’s industry partnership program, she asked: “What is the biggest problem that we can help solve here?”

The answer was unequivocal: falls cost the Australian healthcare system more than $500 million annually. But for organisations like Healthscope, which operates a network of private hospitals, and caring health professionals like Morris, it’s not just about reducing the cost of falls on the healthcare system, it’s about putting patients first. Hospital falls cause patients injury, delayed recovery, loss of confidence and pain.

Five years later, Morris and the team of researchers from the ARCH initiative have made significant breakthroughs by working with industry partner Healthscope to reduce hospital falls.

According to Morris, a physiotherapist and clinical researcher, the success of the falls project demonstrates the power of ARCH: linking La Trobe’s academics with clinicians, consumers, healthcare professionals and social care agencies creates powerful collaborations that solve healthcare problems.

ARCH’s La Trobe experts are embedded in a range of health and social care settings. Students reap the benefits, gaining real-world engagement with clinicians and patients to prepare them to become part of the future workforce.

“Historically, people would see researchers and university professors like me as belonging in the lab back on the university campus. They would do the studies, find answers and advise the partners what to implement,” says Morris. “But, of course, that type of hierarchical implementation doesn't work very well because, if you want to help the care recipients, it's critical that you work together from day one.

We work with patients, families and other clients, and with partners like the directors of nursing, doctors, CEOs and the head of allied health. When stakeholders work together, and the consumers are part of the research process from day one, research can answer the right questions and be rapidly translated into practice

Professor Meg Morris
Academic and Research Collaborative in Health

And for Morris, investigating the local problem of hospital falls has illuminated an urgent global need.

“We’re looking to collaborate with the University of Sheffield Hallam in the UK to scale up our programs,” Morris explains. “We are also now working with Australian experts and international colleagues on the global guidelines for falls in older adults, an initiative towards falls prevention and management, to increase the reach and impact of our work.”

For Harry Koutsioufitis, General Manager of Victorian Rehabilitation Hospitals for Healthscope, having a researcher with Morris’s connections, experience and passion working on site is powerful, improving patient experience and providing rich professional development opportunities for staff.

“It’s great, having the potential to do research here. I'm a big believer in knowledge translation and making sure research is utilised on the ground, in the clinical setting. Evidence-based practice reinforces efficient, quality care. Resources are always limited, but if we direct them appropriately, where we know they have impact, you can still provide high quality, efficient care, which is our top priority.”

To find out more on our partnerships, please contact us.