Funding to cut hospital admissions

La Trobe University researchers working on reducing hospital admissions for patients with knee osteoarthritis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have secured $2.6 million over three years from the Medical Research Future Fund’s “Keeping Australians out of Hospital” scheme, announced today by Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.

La Trobe Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Industry Engagement) Professor Susan Dodds welcomed the announcement.

“La Trobe has long focused on innovative problem-solving for community benefit,” Professor Dodds said.

“Keeping people healthy, out of hospital and active in their communities as they age is important to us too. That’s why we are particularly proud of these grants which will ultimately improve healthcare and quality of life across the nation.”

The Projects

Reducing inappropriate knee replacement surgery

Dr Christian Barton
MRFF TRIP Fellow, La Trobe Sport and Exercise Medicine Research Centre, School of Allied Health, Human Services and Sport
$1.34 million over three years

Dr Barton leads a team investigating whether improved access to physiotherapy for people with knee osteoarthritis, who have been referred for potential surgery, results in fewer operations. The project will explore strategies to improve physiotherapy access for all Australians.

Dr Barton said Australia currently spends more than $1.2 billion a year on knee joint replacements. That figure is estimated to pass $3 billion in the next 10-15 years.

“This cost is not sustainable in our healthcare system. We already know that physiotherapist-led non-surgical care can delay joint replacement by two years in two thirds of people. Our trial will look at the costs, impacts and barriers to providing non-surgical care for people on knee-replacement waiting lists or who have been referred to see a surgeon,” Dr Barton said.

Transforming pulmonary rehabilitation to reduce hospital admissions in COPD

Professor Anne Holland
Academic and Research Collaborative in Health (ARCH) Chair, Alfred Health, School of Allied Health, Human Services and Sport
$1.22 million over three years

About half a million Australians have COPD and experience distressing breathlessness, often resulting in a hospital stay. Professor Holland leads a team that has developed a low-cost home-based rehabilitation model based around exercise training to cut hospital admissions.

Professor Holland said today’s funding announcement provides a unique opportunity to take the pulmonary rehabilitation model from research into real world clinical practice.

“We will partner with 14 pulmonary rehabilitation programs across Australia to find out whether making participation in rehabilitation easier improves wellbeing for people with chronic lung disease, and reduces hospital admissions and healthcare costs. This is a key step towards more accessible and affordable care for people with COPD in Australia,” Professor Holland said.

La Trobe’s partners in this project are Lung Foundation Australia, Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand, and the Institute for Breathing and Sleep.

Media Contact: Kathryn Powley | 0456 764 371 |