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Professor Vijaya Sundararajan Head of Department (Public Health), Public Health

Vijaya Sundararajan, MD, MPH, FACP initially qualified as a general physician in the United States before completing fellowships in primary care research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1996 and cancer outcomes research at Columbia University in 1999.

Between 2000 and 2006, Vijaya worked to develop the State of Victoria’s data linkage capabilities. In 2008 she secured $AU 5.5 million from both Australian and Victorian government sources toward establishing data linkage infrastructure for Victoria. She served as the Foundation Director of the Centre for Victorian Data Linkage between 2009 and 2011. As of 2018, the Victorian linked data, which begins in 1994 contains nearly 70 million records, including hospital admissions, emergency department visits, perinatal records, intensive care, trauma, stroke, cardiac procedures, cardiac rehab, aged care, and ambulance registry data as well as death records.

Vijaya was a Senior Medical Advisor to the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services between 2006-2009 and again in 2011.  She worked across program areas including cancer, chronic disease, maternity, ambulance and capital planning (2006-2008); funding policy and acquisition/quality assurance of hospital, emergency department and elective surgery data (2008-2009); and health strategy (2011). During this time, she also led several initiatives which included: 1) an evaluation of the Hospital Admission Risk Program whose aim was to improve care and prevent readmission of chronic disease patients throughout Victoria; 2) a review of the Mental Health Funding Model; 3) an assessment of single patient rooms for the planning of Royal Children’s Hospital and the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre; and 4) the development of an Australian Patient Safety Indicator set, which has contributed to specific indicator lists for national and international organisations including The Australian Institute for Health and Welfare, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare, the OECD and the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Policy.

Vijaya’s background also includes periods in which she has delivered direct patient care in US and Australian emergency departments, general medical wards and ambulatory clinics.

During her time at the Victorian Department of Health/Human Services, Vijaya retained a fractional academic role at Monash University, initially at the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine (200-2002) and then at the Department of Medicine, Southern Clinical School (2008-2013). In 2012, she was recruited to the Department of Medicine, St Vincent’s Hospital, University of Melbourne to establish The Centre for Research Methods, which supported researchers across the Eastern Hill Academic Campus, including St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne. She has taught in the Melbourne Medical School’s Medical Doctor Research Project and in its Graduate Course in Clinical Research. She joined LaTrobe University’s Department of Public Health in 2018.

Vijaya research program aims to:
Understand the outcomes and end results of medical care in the spectrum of chronic disease from diagnosis to the end of life using routinely collected, linked, hospital data;
Improve disease classification and coding in routinely collected data and advance the statistical methodology that underpins health services research; and
Investigate health system and hospital quality and performance.
She has been a Chief Investigator on 4 NHMRC grants and is a member of the Editorial Board of Health Services Research (http://www.hsr.org/hsr/index.jsp).
Vijaya is a committee member of the World Health Organization’s Topic Advisory Group on Quality and Safety for the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases. She is also a participant of the International Methodology Consortium for Coded Health Information (IMECCHI, www.imecchi.org). IMMECHI has participants from Australia, New Zealand, US, Canada, Switzerland, France, Germany, Korea, Japan, China, the OECD and the WHO and is on the Scientific Committee for the International Population Data Linkage Conference 2018 in Banff, Canada.

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