The 2014 Primary Health Care Research Conference (Canberra, 23–25 July) sought to foster a culture in which knowledge exchange becomes automatic - a part of core business for everyone who wants to contribute to the improvement of primary health care outcomes.
Researchers and research users were encouraged to consider future research directions from fresh perspectives, and to explore new approaches to learning, innovation, research partnerships and collaborations. And they were urged to do these things using a range of media and modes.
The Conference 'walked the walk' on such communications diversity, with interaction between speakers, other participants and 'the outside world' online (IPad & IPhone), and through face‐to‐face meetings, panel discussions, Skype interviews and debates.
The underlying theme of the Conference was how researchers can maximise their contribution to help improve primary health care through developments in policy and practice.
The point was made that research should help the policy process by being flexible and supporting multiple solutions, and by clearly defining questions and evidence. It was suggested that researchers are often naïve about the context in which policy makers are working.
Consumer and stakeholder consultations should be done before research funding applications are drafted. 'Patient engagement' has the potential to aid system transformation, including through patient involvement in self-care, in service design and health care policies.
Sessions of particular interest to people in rural and remote areas included those about an extended scope of practice for paramedics and their inclusion in the multidisciplinary health team; and the research capacities of the new Primary Care Networks.
Some of the particular rural and remote aspects of these themes will be considered in detail at the 4th Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium to be held in Canberra, 2-3 September.