Surgical and Perioperative Care Research Program

HMRI Surgical and Perioperative Care Research Program

Individuals undergo surgery an average of nine times in their lifetime. Surgery is increasingly complex, and our aging population presenting for surgery is increasingly co-morbid.

Historically surgical and anaesthesia research has occurred in silos, and may not be easily translatable or scalable, with patient-focussed outcomes (including psychological and social) only coming to the forefront in more recent years. The medical evidence base is expanding rapidly but its translation into patient care is incomplete and understudied. There is an urgent need for coordinated, collaborative, clinician-driven and relevant research that seeks to optimise holistic long-term health outcomes for all the community using the surgical encounter as an opportunity for improved health outcomes. 

Our collaborative, clinician-driven program seeks to improve the operative experience through research into: 

  • Improving clinical care by determining optimal systems and team processes that drive safety and efficiency

  • Reducing unnecessary procedures 

  • Improving economic outcomes and reducing waste 

Research Areas

  • Defining patient-centred processes, having patients as active participants in decisions about their care and treatments. 
  • Using resources such as prehabilitation and tools to improve health and wellbeing prior to major surgery and minimise complications after surgery 
  • Challenging the validity of current practice and traditions 
  • Examining holistic long term patient outcomes including quality of life 
  • Examining systems and safety and implementing best evidence into our practice of surgery and perioperative care.

Research Innovations and Discovery 

Collaboration in care for complex patients 

The silos and gaps in the delivery of traditional surgical care models are becoming a major source of adverse outcomes, particularly as patients become older, frailer, increasingly comorbid, and complex. This requires collaboration from all experts involved in the care of the increasingly complex patient, including recognition of the patient and their families as part of this pool of expertise. The members of this proposed program recognise this, and this is reflected in research collaborations that have brought us together to this point. 

Consideration of meaningful outcomes 

As the potential risks of surgery and anaesthesia begin to outweigh the potential gains, our aims of care are shifting from ‘What can we do?’ to ‘What should we do?’ Research outcomes of interest need to reflect this shift. No longer limited to mortality and morbidity, outcomes extend to quality-of-life measures, life impact measures, person-reported outcome measures (PROMs) and patient-reported experience measures (PREMs). Robust evaluation of economic inputs and outcomes must be included. 

Use of innovative research approaches to better understand the context within which our patient exists 

While any project requires innovative methodology, this Program will develop an ongoing culture of collaborative multidisciplinary team research including behavioural sciences, simulation, and ‘whole of population’ studies to improve care in the context within which our patient exists. 

Application of Human Factors research methodologies including user-centred design studies to understand the optimal design for our systems and processes 

Healthcare is a complex system in which problems can be challenging to study and resolve. It is increasingly recognised that a Human Factors Engineering (HFE) approach is required to address core challenges. Our collaborative group combines HFE expertise with our clinical simulation laboratory to study the design of tools, processes and systems that result in optimal patient care. 

Research Team 
  • Program Lead/Chair: A/Prof. Ross Kerridge 
  • Deputy Program Lead and/or Chair Prof. Jon Gani 
  • Senior Representative: Prof. Jon Gani 
  • MCR Representative: Prof. Steve Smith 
  • ECR Representative: A/Prof. Chris O’Neill, A/Prof. Cate McIntosh and Dr Pragya Ajitsaria 
  • Support Staff Representative: Rosemary Carroll/ Monique Magnusson 
  • Consumer Representative: Sue Clarke Pitrolo

Professor Stephen Smith
Research Program :
  • Surgical and Perioperative Care Research Program
Research Topics :
Pancreatic, Colorectal & Rare Cancers