SHP has provided a total of $1.7 million to the projects, using funds from the Australian Government’s Medical Research Future Fund through its Rapid Applied Research Translation scheme.

The Executive Director of Sydney Health Partners, Professor Garry Jennings, said that all funded projects shared Sydney Health Partners’ vision to improve health care through the successful translation of research into clinical practice.

“Our mission is to deliver the benefits of health and medical research to our patients and communities more quickly. All the projects promise innovative solutions with the potential to improve health care delivery and patient outcomes.”

A grant awarded to Dr Emma Quinn and her colleagues at Sydney Local Health District’s Public Health Unit will evaluate the effectiveness of an innovative web-app, FluCARE, to predict and prevent flu outbreaks in aged care facilities.

The app provides aged care workers with a streamlined way to report suspected influenza cases. It then triggers automatically when the criteria for an outbreak is met and provides staff with an action plan to reduce the impact of the outbreak.

“If we help nursing home staff detect and implement responses to flu outbreaks earlier, then we can reduce the spread of the outbreak in the facility – which means fewer people falling ill, fewer hospitalisations and fewer deaths,” said Dr Quinn.

A grant awarded to Western Sydney Local Health District’s Professor N Wah Cheung and his team is combining personalised SMS with activity monitoring to help women who have had gestational diabetes reduce their risk of developing diabetes after birth.

Women will be sent SMS tips and reminders encouraging them to stay active and eat healthily – both ways to reduce their risk of diabetes – and these are personalised based on step data recorded by their activity monitors.

“Importantly, the messages also provide support for parenting,” said Professor Cheung. “For the women, their priority at this time is their baby and not so much themselves.”

Several of the grants are for initiatives within the growing field of eHealth.

A grant awarded to the University of Sydney’s Associate Professor Christopher Gordon and his colleagues is investigating whether an app to treat insomnia can be incorporated into a GP’s treatment toolkit.

While cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is the most effective treatment for insomnia, 90% of insomnia presentations in general practice result in at least one prescription for sleeping pills – which cannot be taken long term and fail to treat the underlying issue.

Associate Professor Gordon and his team have developed an app that uses evidence-based therapy to treat insomnia, and it has been shown to be just as effective as therapies that take longer.

“Now we’re seeing if GPs will give out a ‘prescription’ for the app - and investigating whether it’s something that they’d take into their arsenal of therapy options into the future,” said Associate Professor Gordon.

Applications for funding were received from researchers across SHP’s major partner organisations – the Northern, Western and Sydney Local Health Districts, the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network (at Westmead), the University of Sydney and their affiliated medical research institutes and centres.

Research proposals were assessed by panel representing the partner organisations.