Luka Ivkovic

MSc in Health Sciences

Luka Ivkovic hopes his research on telehealth interventions shape decision-making in health care to be more efficient and equitable in Canada.

Completing his undergraduate degree from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, Luka Ivkovic developed an interest in health sciences when he studied the sociology of mental illness. Learning about telehealth interventions, which allow healthcare providers and patients to communicate electronically, he realized that the potential of such interventions could improve the healthcare services for Canadians.

“[Telehealth interventions] could improve the efficiency of health services in Canada, and [that] was the primary reason I contacted FHS professor Dr. David Whitehurst with a view to graduate-level (MSc) training,” he explains for his reason to study health sciences. “Additionally, I have personal experience of being on a waitlist for elective surgery in Canada for a significant amount of time. This personal experience has cemented my interest in studying health sciences, particularly in regard to decision-making in health care and developing the skills required to explore approaches to delivering efficient and equitable health care in Canada.”

Ivkovic’s Master’s thesis project will be a trial-based economic evaluation of a multi-chronic disease management program delivered through the Internet focused on high-impact chronic diseases targeted to patients in rural communities, and at the highest risk of further marginalization.

“Health care resources, such as physicians, hospitals, and surgery equipment are scarce in Canada and other countries – therefore, decisions must be made regarding the deployment of these limited health care resources, and decision-makers often face situations where they need to evaluate between two or more alternative policies, services, or interventions, intended to improve health,” he explains. “Choosing one course of action over another needs to be made by considering the costs and benefits of each one, and this type of evaluation is often referred to as economic evaluation.”

Currently, Ivkovic values the teachings from his professors. Taking FHS professor Travis Salway’s course on Principle of Epidemiology for Public Health course, Ivkovic learned the valuable skill of critically appraising research papers, an important tool for his academic research and thesis. As for advice he has for other students, he hopes future students get started on reaching out to potential supervisors early.

“Contacting them ahead of time will give you an opportunity to ask them about funding, workload, and how your project will look like; that way, you will have enough time to decide whether you want to work with the particular supervisor or not.”