Evidence to inform health system change in the public interest

Work has begun on a new Health Research Board funded project that will help guide the design and roll-out of the new Regional Integrated Care Areas (RICAs) announced by Minister Simon Harris in July 2019.

Slaintecare Implementation Strategy report cover

This is one of six new awards that the HRB is funding under its Applied Partnership Award Programme.

According to Dr Darrin Morrissey, Chief Executive at the HRB,

‘This HRB funding programme is designed to generate evidence that will drive innovation and transformation in the health system. Given Sláintecare will deliver major change for our health services, it is excellent to see this partnership which will ensure change is informed by the latest research and evidence.’

Led by the Trinity College research team whose technical advice formed the basis of the Sláintecare report, the project will use a variety of research methods and tools to harness the latest national and international evidence and experience to inform the roll of the six new RICAs.

Dr Sara Burke, the Principal Investigator on the project said,

‘This project will actively support the work of the Sláintecare implementation office who, along with the Health Service Executive, are partners in the project.  The project is structured around a co-design approach that will actively feed international and national, theory, knowledge and experience into the policy implementation process. Allocating resources on the basis of population health needs, facilitating regional autonomy, empowering staff and communities in health service planning and delivery has the potential to radically improve people’s health and their experience of healthcare’.

Laura Magahy, Director of Sláintecare added,

‘Sláintecare will deliver the right care, in the right place, at the right time for all our citizens.  In order to do that, we as partners need evidence and that’s what this research will give us.
‘The process whereby we combine the work of academic researchers whose job it is to bring the latest international evidence to the table, along with the on-the-ground experience of those providing and delivering current services, gives us a solid platform to deliver on our long-term goal to provide access to fully integrated health and social care’. 

According to Dean Sullivan, Chief Strategy Officer, HSE,

‘The move to RICAs offers the HSE the opportunity to deliver services with a focus on prevention, early intervention and care at the least complex level. The transition to delivering health care services on the basis of population health needs has the potential to be a game changer when it comes to not only meeting the health service needs of the people we serve, but also it gives us the opportunity to be proactive and to improve the health of the nation overall’.

The research project itself will use methods such as rapid reviews, mapping exercises, documentary analysis, key informant interviews, participant observation, secondary analysis of data and co-design techniques to gather evidence.

The real-time, iterative, nature of this research offers continuous learning and the potential for constant refinement and improvement of the roll out process.  This will be documented in a Living Implementation Framework with Evaluation (LIFE) which in turn will facilitate bounded regional autonomy within national policy, that is person-centred, empowers staff and communities, is effective and efficient.

Dr Burke concludes,

‘The partners in this project will be co-designing a framework which will live beyond the project to ensure regions can sustain the delivery of universal, integrated care that is responsive to their population’s health needs’.


For more information, please contact

Brian Cummins, Communications Officer, Health Research Board

e, t 01 2345136, m 0858879313