Featured Doctor

MARTIN, A/Prof Carmel Mary

Australia - convenor SIG on Complexities in Health

What work do you do now?

I am an Associate Professor of Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health at Monash University in Australia, a medical consultant to the local regional health service, as well as a part-time General Practitioner. I have always been grounded in clinical general practice while doing other roles, and I have a particular interest in chronic disease and illness, and patient centred care and complex systems.

The main focus of my work is the experience of illness and wellness, and the biopsychosocial care of unstable complex health conditions that often fall between. My research in Australia, Canada and Ireland has focussed on reforms related to primary health care and chronic care; the nature of health in body, mind, society and the environment; and meaning and sense-making about personal health. I am a co-editor, with A/Prof Joachim Sturmberg, of the forum on systems and complexity in medicine and healthcare, in the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice.

What are your plans/hopes for the WONCA SIG on Complexities in Health?

My major objective is to improve the experience of illness and the experience of care through supporting the human capacity to heal, and the human capacity to care and support others. I am highly committed to a generalist approach, in clinical care and primary health care. I am involved in developing the role of the GP (primary care physician), in conjunction with the developing roles of community health workers, care managers, primary care nurses and care guides.

My current vision is to continue to centre care on dynamic systems that represent changes in health experiences, including pain and also health systems design and evaluation. I am highly supportive of others who have the courage to work with new methodologies and new ideas.

I would like to engage and link WONCA members who are working on transforming overly simple, silos of disease management into care networks that can address multimorbidity.

My other objective is to encourage evaluation methodology that is able to accommodate the ongoing adaptive change of the complex systems of unstable health, in primary health care. I encourage colleagues who wish to publish such evaluations or research to submit to the forum on systems and complexity in medicine and healthcare in the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice: submit here

Other interesting things you have done?

I studied medicine at the University of Queensland, and after registration worked and trained as a GP and a Public Health Physician, in London. My research work started with my own experience of chronic illness that began my PhD - The Care of Chronic Illness in General Practice - Australian National University 1994-1998.

I am now operationalising this work through the Patient Journey Record System program. Practically this work is now being conducted utilising design thinking approaches to improving patient experience, sociology, trajectory analysis, natural language processing, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

In Canada, I participated in the evaluation of Pan-Canadian Primary Health Care Transition Fund initiatives in 2001-2006 and the Pan-Canadian Aboriginal Health Care Transition Fund initiatives as the internal evaluator for the Inuit 2005-2009. On my recent return to Australia from the UK after 13 years, I was an inaugural member of the GP Evaluation Program, Technical Advisory Group which oversaw the first wave of Australian primary care reforms.

I am the Chief Medical Officer of PHC Research Pty Ltd which is a research and development company focussed on developing software to improve the care of complex illness. My husband, Kevin Smith, is a Computer Scientist who leads software development for tracking unstable patient journeys as well as many other health related applications.

What are your interests outside work?

My interests are travel and learning about how different societies and their (online) cultures evolve. After many years in Europe and North America (being fascinated by Western culture), and moving back to Australia in 2015, I am now captivated by Asian culture, history and development. I am very interested in online television drama at an international level and what that reveals about the societies that develop them, and the audiences that watch them. I have recently become particularly fascinated by the creative energies of countries on the geopolitical margins.

I am a fifth generation Australian of northern and southern Irish ancestry on my paternal side and second generation Basque and Catalan on my maternal side, thus I’m aware of the nature of historical grievances. I grew up in the tropics in far North Queensland in a rural community. As a woman in medicine, I have always been supported by my husband and family to develop my work. I am the mother of adult triplets who are following various paths in historiography, computer science and social work and am blessed to be living closer to my siblings and relatives in Australia, although I miss my friends and colleagues in Canada, US, and Ireland.