Q&A with Jodie Hillen


Who inspired you to have a career in health in the first place?

To be honest I do not recall. As a child I was fascinated with science. It was an avenue through which I could understand the natural world. I was drawn to health sciences late in my schooling. I loved physiology, biology, and chemistry so the natural pathway was a career in health. It wasn’t smooth sailing, I had to complete two years of a general science degree before being accepted into pharmacy. This early set back was a great experience. It taught me to be patient and to work hard for what you want.


However, I do have a very clear memory, in my later years at pharmacy school, of Emeritus Professor Lloyd Sansom presenting to us the first draft of Australia’s National Medicines Policy. A whole new world of QUM opened to me that day and I have been hooked ever since. It was the first time I realised the significant contribution pharmacists can make to optimising public health and driving health policy.


In any of your previous roles what has been your biggest lesson?

I have been very fortunate to work in various roles throughout my career with very talented and successful colleagues. As I evolved as a health professional and researcher, I realised the biggest lesson for me was to ‘listen’, both to others and myself.


Whether I was delivering health care to patients, engaging stakeholders, or developing research protocols, I found the ability to listen and quickly process conversations a very powerful and effective skill.


Also, if something doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t. Listen to your intuition.


What has drawn you to join Evohealth as an advisor?

At a previous employer, I worked closely with Renae on a project and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I decided to join Evohealth for several reasons. The uniqueness of Evohealth in terms of its team attributes, focus on health and a strong ethos of engaging with projects which aim to improve patient outcomes. I was also attracted to Evohealth as it is an organisation which directly influences health practice, policy, and outcomes.


Working for Evohealth is a great opportunity to challenge my skillset across a variety of projects and engage with broader health and life sciences networks.


QUM is a focus for you, in your work and research. With the announcement by the Minister of the review of the National Medicines Policy from on 1 August, what do you hope will change, if anything?

There have been significant shifts in the goals of health service delivery since the first NMP in 2000. Twenty years ago, health care was mainly paternalistic and siloed. Today patient-centric care and collaborative care models are firmly embedded in national clinical standards and guidelines. Added to that is the explosion of new medicinal products, many of which are transforming the treatment of previously refractory or incurable diseases. These new medicines are expensive to both manufacture and publicly fund.


As the clinical space in Australia evolved over the last 20 years, our population was ageing with an increasing burden of multimorbidity and polypharmacy. This perfect storm of innovation and increasing clinical need means the NMP review will have a challenging journey to balance stakeholder needs.


It would like to see a greater focus on harnessing health data to optimise quality use of medicines across the lifecycle of medicines. There is critical need for linkage of health data sets and harmonisation of data languages. Collaboration between industry and health data custodians would facilitate post-marketing safety and efficacy studies i.e., real world outcomes.


I would also like to see greater awareness in the community of QUM principles through a dedicated consumer friendly website and public campaign. The global pandemic has demonstrated the public’s appetite for health information and how misinformation can impact health interventions.


I would also like to see comprehensive mandatory NMP and QUM education subjects in all health-related courses regardless of the administering institution (TAFE, University etc.).


What are your hopes for the Australian healthcare system as we navigate out of the COVID-19 pandemic?

The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a multitude of learnings for the Australian healthcare system and our society as a whole. I hope we continue to grow the capacity to be responsive to public health challenges and protect our most vulnerable citizens. I also hope this experience has learnings with respect to resource allocation to those most in need of health and social resources.


I hope the Australian public has a deeper understanding and gratitude for the complexities of our universal healthcare system.