Seminar with Michael Ward

Place: Room 420, GP South (Building 78)
Time: Monday 24th July 2006, 3pm
Title: "Complex systems challenges in healthcare"
Presenter: Professor Michael Ward, School of Medicine

Health care systems in all industrialised nations are afflicted by similar problems that include :
- wide (up to 400%) variations in clinical outcomes in different hospitals treating the same disease processes
- high (around 10%) risk of incidental damage to patients accompanying hospital care
- a widening gap between community expectations of what is technically possible and what is deliverable in practice
- increasing concerns that the high costs of health care do not always deliver proportionate patient benefits

There is growing recognition that the intractability of these problems is in large part a reflection of the non-linear interactions within the complex adaptive systems that abound in healthcare. It is also clear that conventional hierarchical management methods and orthodox linear analysis of healthcare data sets are no longer sufficient for this level of interactive complexity. This is clearly a fertile field in which academic-healthcare partnerships could be developed to find new solutions to these problems.


Michael Ward MB BS FRACP FRCP(Edin) Qualified Kings College Hospital London, and trained as a gastroenterologist at the Western General Hospital & University of Edinburgh. Previously held positions as:
- Director of Gastroenterology Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital
- Director of Medicine at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital
- Interim Program Director for the Queensland Health Skills Development Centre,

Currently :
- Head of Central Clinical Division of the University of Queensland School of Medicine (from Feb 2003)
- Senior Director of Queensland Health Clinical Practice Improvement Centre. (From Feb 2005)

Research interests include clinical gastroenterology, organisational aspects of healthcare delivery, clinical information management systems, and applications of statistical process control methods in health care.

He has authored or co-authored 90 publications in relation to this work.

Most of the recent service improvement activities have been in association with his role as co-sponsor of the Queensland Collaborative for Healthcare Improvement (CHI) This has resulted in the development of networks of over 400 healthcare professionals in 25 hospitals in Queensland working together to improve quality and efficiency of care in a wide range of clinical services. Specific collaboratives include: cardiac, cardiac rehabilitation, renal, emergency department, and stroke. This work has led to the development of standardised methods to support clinicians in improving clinical practice such as the statewide electronic clinical indicator analysis system. These groups continue to be supported and expanded as clinical networks in the new Clinical Practice Improvement Centre.

World-class basic and applied inter-disciplinary research on questions fundamental to understanding, designing and managing complex systems
2009 The ARC Centre for Complex Systems, Australia