The power to prescribe: Who should have it?
 
 

The power to prescribe:
Who should have it?

A couple of weeks ago at a media conference, a Pharmacy Guild representative was photographed wearing a stethoscope over his white smock. The image triggered an adverse reaction among GPs; some asked how a pharmacist would use the instrument, others whether the event was a costume party.

The heated response suggests the national conversation over whether pharmacists should be able to extend their limited prescribing rights is gaining heat, rather than cooling. So what’s the debate all about? Let’s look at the key parties and what they say is at stake.

Party one: Pharmacists (represented by The Pharmacy Guild of Australia and Pharmaceutical Society of Australia)

Many pharmacies already offer vaccination services and support for chronic disease management. Trials have been conducted in several states, focused on providing assistance to people with conditions such as urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Pharmacists believe they can do even more to assist Australians who need help with common conditions and will be coming to them to collect medications anyway.

Backed by the Queensland government, the Guild initiated the North Queensland Pharmacy Scope of Practice Pilot, pencilling it for December 2023 and kicking it off in April 2024. Under the pilot, conditions pharmacists can now treat include acne, hay fever and eczema. For the full list, see About the pilot | Queensland Health

The Queensland Government has since moved to make the North Queensland pilot statewide.

Party two: Governments

Governments are trying to solve a supply and demand problem. It’s hard to get a GP appointment just about anywhere — and generally harder the further you are from a state capital.

Queensland Premier Steven Miles said: “Our Government is committed to making sure Queenslanders can access good quality healthcare, no matter where they live across the state.

“We know our hardworking pharmacists are more than capable to deliver these services – for common health conditions – and divert people away from our emergency departments and GPs.

“I am really proud that Queensland is leading the nation with this initiative.”

Queensland Health states: “Pharmacists are highly qualified and trusted members of our healthcare teams. Providing pharmacists with additional clinical training and supporting them to practice to their full scope, will enable them to help and support their local communities.”

Party three: General Practitioners (represented by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACP) and Australian Medical Association)

Doctors say that medications cannot be safely prescribed without a holistic, longitudinal view of the patient’s medical history, as best understood by their usual GP. They say the pilot puts vulnerable people at risk and that a previous trial allowing pharmacists to prescribe antibiotics for UTIs led to incorrect diagnoses and serious conditions going untreated, increasing overall healthcare costs.

Party four: Healthcare consumers (represented by you and I)

While most people prefer a long term relationship with a GP who knows you and your family, getting an appointment when you need it isn’t always easy or affordable. Some people go to hospital emergency departments (or virtual versions) for free help.

Other consumers are opting for convenience, using telehealth providers that offer quick access to scripts and more, but might not have time to hear your health history, (if you can remember it). For this group of consumers, getting help from the pharmacy you’re going to anyway, may be a no-brainer. However, the services are not free. Fees of up to $55 per pharmacist consultation may limit take-up.
Those with multiple or complex conditions are likely to have to wait for the next available appointment with their GP and hope for a cancellation to get in sooner.

Sparring partners

Back in March, the Medical Software Industry Association promised a ‘ding dong battle’ between the Guild, the RACGP and government, placing three key representatives on stage together in Melbourne.

Pharmacy Guild Victorian president Anthony Tassone said the prescribing issue was not about “pharmacists being GPs. It’s about pharmacists being the best professionals they can be…. solving problems for patient benefits.”

RACGP past president Dr Karen Price said she was concerned about the ‘taskification’ of general practice, which hindered longitudinal care. Dr Price said it can take 45 minutes to explore a patient’s medication history before writing an appropriate script. She said a UTI is a “retrospective diagnosis where there may be other issues that can’t be picked up by a pharmacist”.

Representing the Federal Department of Health and Aged Care, First Assistant Secretary (Medicare Benefits and Digital Health Division) Daniel McCabe said Australia faced “acute workforce challenges” and governments were trying to unlock the full potential of professionals who could deliver, “true multidisciplinary care”.

Dr Price said multidisciplinary care was great in hospitals and, while desirable, underfunded and challenging in general practice where, “the people who most need care can least afford it”.

Mr Tassone said doctors and pharmacists were all on ‘Team Patient’ but he and his peers were not rewarded for being part of multidisciplinary teams. “Are we part of the team or are we on the bench to make up the numbers?”

He said: “Patients don’t care. They care about getting care when they need it.”
It seems this conversation is far from finished.

Skin in the game

MediRecords provides secure, cloud-hosted electronic health records and prescribing functionality to healthcare professionals across Australia delivering face-to-face and virtual care.

Further reading:

Female-Friendly Federal Healthcare Budget
 
 

Female-Friendly Federal Healthcare Budget

Australians can look forward to a price-freeze on medicines, 29 new Medicare Urgent Care Centres, 61 walk-in Medicare Mental Health centres and a raft of cancer, HIV and women’s-health measures, as part of a $2.8 billion health package in the 2024 Federal Budget. 

More virtual care and hospital outreach services are also planned to avoid unnecessary hospital admissions — and enable older patients to be discharged sooner into medically supported, safe, comfortable environments. 

Older Australians will also benefit from an extra 24,100 Home Care Packages, which are intended to reduce wait times to an average of six months and provide greater access to in-home aged care. 

Other big-ticket items from the Federal Budget include: 

  • More affordable medicines via a price-freeze on Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medicines to beat inflation: $318 million 
  • Life-changing and life-saving medicines added to the PBS, reducing costs to consumers: $3.4 billion 
  • Conversion and expansion of 24 existing Head to Health services into 61 walk-in Medicare Mental Health centres across Australia: $163.9 million 
  • 29 new Medicare Urgent Care Clinics, aimed to reduce waiting time at hospital emergency departments: $227 million 
  • Military veterans’ claims processing is prioritised with an additional $186 million for staffing and $8.4 million to improve case management and cyber security. The Government will also provide $222 million to overhaul legislation covering veterans’ compensation and rehabilitation. It will direct a further $48.4 million to Veterans’ Home Care and Community Nursing programs, and $10.2 million to fund medical treatment for ill and injured veterans waiting for liability claims to be processed. 
  • Free bowel cancer test kits for Australians aged 45-49, allowing them to join the over 50s ($39 million) 
  • New Medicare-benefit-scheme tests, including for suspected heart failure and rare cancers, to reduce waiting times and catch health problems sooner. A skin cancer prevention initiative is also included. ($25.3 million)  
  • Improved preventative health measures such promoting health and fitness, including $132.7 million for grassroots community and school sport to encourage participation. 
  • Spending of $44 million will further Australia’s goal of eliminating HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) transmission by 2030. Federal Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler said Australia aimed to be the first nation to wipe out HIV. 
  • A boost for alcohol treatment and prevention services, better nutrition programs and organisations supporting people with chronic conditions. 
  • $314.5 million in close-the-gap efforts include $164.3m towards First Nations health infrastructure projects, $54.3m towards training up to 500 First Nations health workers, $45m towards boosting renal services, and water infrastructure works.    

Women’s health is prioritised, including funding for breast cancer treatment subsidies, contraception training for practitioners, and development of a virtual contraception decision-making tool. Other initiatives aimed at women’s health include:  

  • Medicare: Longer consultations provided for complex gynaecological conditions like endometriosis, reducing out-of-pocket costs for women. 
  • Menopause Training: $1.2 million for health professionals’ training to manage women’s health during menopause. 
  • Breast cancer: Cutting the cost of a specific treatment from around $100,000 to $31.60. 
  • Funding for research on menopause, pregnancy loss, and fertility: $53.6 million over four years  
  • Miscarriages and sexual/reproductive health: $8 million for developing data sets 
  • Enhanced antenatal and postnatal care, including mental health screening: $56.5 million over four years 
  • Miscarriage: public awareness program, with support for affected women and families 
  • First Nations Women’s Health: Investments in prevention work for preterm births, stillbirth action plan, and free period products for First Nations communities. 

Breaking the Silence on Heavy Periods
 
 

Breaking the Silence on Heavy Periods

For many women, dealing with excessive menstrual bleeding is an unspoken struggle, often endured because it has been misunderstood as ‘normal’.

The inaugural International Heavy Menstrual Bleeding Day on May 11 aims to change that narrative.

This movement, propelled by shared experiences and expert insights, seeks to shed light on the challenges faced by women worldwide and encourage open conversations about heavy periods.

Some research has found that the issue affects one in four women.

Heavy menstrual bleeding isn’t just a minor inconvenience; it can significantly impact quality of life.

“It’s disabling,” said one 53-year-old lived-experience contributor to the campaign.

“On some heavy bleeding days, I could not leave the house.

“I became anaemic, which carries further health risks,” she said.

“But we do not have to suffer. Do not hesitate to see your doctor – treatment is available.”

More than half of women who experience heavy periods have not discussed treatment options with a healthcare professional, found a recent survey by marketing research company Two Blind Mice for medical technology company Hologic.

The survey also found that women experiencing excessive menstrual bleeding felt embarrassment and shame, which hindered help-seeking.

Doctors warn that heavy bleeding may be a sign of a medical condition.

Obstetrician and gynaecologist and campaign spokesperson Talat Uppal emphasises the importance of assessing whether heavy periods disrupt daily activities, rather than solely focusing on the amount of blood loss.

“”If a woman’s period is resulting in a compromised quality of life, then it’s heavy menstrual bleeding,” she said.

Treatment options for heavy menstrual bleeding are available and varied.

Reluctance to address the issue can delay access to timely care.

Dr Uppal stresses the need for more awareness and open conversations to empower women to take control of their reproductive health.

International Heavy Menstrual Bleeding Day’s – online event

Join Bleed Better tomorrow, May 11th at 10 am AEST for an online event featuring guest speakers who will raise awareness, offer management insights, and advocate for a shift in attitudes towards heavy menstrual bleeding. Register here: https://www.bleedbetter.org/ihmb-online-event

Further reading:

Bleed Better

Wear White Again

Heavy Menstrual Bleeding Clinical Care Standard

Australian Healthcare Providers to Automatically Share Data with My Health Record Within a Year

Australian healthcare providers to automatically share data with My Health Record within a year

New rules mandating healthcare providers share information to My Health Record by default are expected next year.

 

In a five-year strategy and roadmap released last week, the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) detailed “priority initiatives that will contribute to delivering the strategy’s vision of an inclusive, sustainable and healthier future for all Australians through a connected and digitally enabled health system”. 

The ADHA is charged with accelerating the adoption and use of digital services and technologies across the Australian health system, and this report identifies four change enablers. Among these is regulatory and policy change 

 Dovetailing with the federal government’s Digital Health Blueprint 2023 – 2033 , the other enablers are: 

  • Secure, fit-for-purpose and connected digital solutions 
  • Digitally ready and enabled health workforce 
  • Informed consumers and carers with strong digital health literacy 

 Consumers and clinicians can look forward to health-information exchange and real-time access to data when the National Digital Health Strategy 2023-28 is fully implemented. 

Secure, connected, interoperable digital solutions are key to accelerate the adoption and use of digital services and technologies across the Australian health ecosystem, according to the new strategy. 

The ADHA is a corporate Commonwealth entity supported by all Australian governments to cultivate the adoption and use of digital services and technologies in health.

MediRecords Founder and Chief Executive Officer Matthew Galetto said, “We welcome this report and stand ready to collaborate as industry partners.”

“In particular, we welcome the government’s regulatory efforts aimed at enabling efficient health data exchange to support accessible, person-centered care for patients.”

“At MediRecords, we are fully prepared to embrace and support the government’s vision that mandates “real-time information exchange at the point of care”. Our cloud-based solutions are equipped with Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) by design, ensuring seamless connectivity within the broader healthcare ecosystem.”

“We’ve already observed a growing trend among healthcare service providers who are eager to future-proof their operations by adopting the next generation of clinical solutions. This proactive approach not only aligns with our capabilities but also underscores our commitment to advancing healthcare through innovative technology.”

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    What to consider when selecting a practice management system?

    What to consider when selecting a practice management system?

    Looking for a new system to manage your practice, clinical notes, and patient records? What should you be looking for in a software solution?  

    Delve into the following factors to consider when seeking a healthcare practice management system. These insights come from conversations with our customers, decades in digital health, and personal experience as healthcare consumers.

    1. System architecture

    When navigating PMS options, one of the first crucial decisions is whether to opt for a server-based or cloud-based system. Evaluate the long-term costs, encompassing initial setup, subscriptions, IT support, and maintenance. It’s important to tailor your choice to your practice’s model of care, whether it’s virtual care/telehealth, bricks-and-mortar, or a hybrid approach.

    Read our article, “Eight Reasons to Embrace Cloud Technology in Healthcare” to learn how cloud technology can help in substantial cost savings, potentially saving your practice $600k in 10 years.

    2. Feature requirements

    To maximise the efficiency of your healthcare delivery, it’s essential to define specific feature requirements tailored to your practice. From appointment booking to electronic health records and billing, identify key elements such as ePrescribing, Medicare billing & claiming, online booking, My Health Record integration, secure messaging, patient portal functionality, investigation requests, and robust reporting capabilities.

    3. Training and support

    A successful integration of a PMS into your healthcare setting relies heavily on the training and support provided by the vendor. It’s important to enquire about the level of training and ongoing support offered by the PMS vendor, and to assess the available support mechanisms for addressing any day-to-day operational issues.

    4. Evaluate other key aspects –

    Other important factors to consider include the following:

    • Ease of use: Ensure the system is user-friendly, promoting an efficient workflow within your team.
    • Mobile accessibility: Verify if the PMS allows remote access, facilitating flexibility and on-the-go management.
    • Interoperability: Confirm the system seamlessly integrates with other healthcare systems, promoting efficient information exchange.
    • Security and compliance: Ensure the PMS adheres to necessary regulations to safeguard patient data, maintaining the highest standards of security.

    The truth is every practice has slightly different needs and workflows so no practice/patient management system will be a perfect fit. Each will have strengths and weaknesses and potentially require compromise to accommodate your team’s unique requirements. Finding a flexible, robust system that can tick most of the boxes, now and tomorrow, suggests you’re on the right track.

    Contact our Sales team today to discuss how MediRecords cloud-based software can help you. 

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      Eight reasons to embrace cloud technology in healthcare
       

      Eight reasons to embrace cloud technology in healthcare

      We’ve done the maths. But saving $600K in ten years is just one good reason to switch to the cloud.

      In today’s fast-paced world, healthcare needs to be as efficient and technologically advanced as any other sector. This doesn’t mean adopting the latest technology for the sake of it. It does mean delivering 21st-century healthcare and, by doing it right, reaping substantial, long-term cost savings, and significant workplace and environmental benefits.
      Here are eight reasons why cloud technology is essential to healthcare:

      1. Interoperability is the future
      Interoperability isn’t just a passing trend. Governments worldwide are moving towards legislating information sharing by default and cloud technology ensures real-time information exchange at the point of care. In contrast, non-cloud technologies, including cloud-bridging platforms, introduce multiple risks ranging from data integrity to security and governance issues. Cloud-based EHRs (Electronic Health Records) provide superior interoperability, enabling more coordinated and integrated care.

      2. Cloud technology drives operational efficiency
      From minimised IT overheads to consolidation of services and identity management, cloud technology reshapes how businesses operate. It offers universal access, strengthens data security, supports single source systems, and much more. Adopting the cloud doesn’t just mean upgrading technology; it enables overhauling and enhancing the operational fabric of your organisation.

      3. Unparalleled scalability with cloud solutions
      The adaptability of cloud applications is noteworthy. In a landscape that’s continuously evolving, cloud-based solutions can adeptly manage unpredictable usage patterns, support multi-party usage, and adapt to regulatory changes swiftly. With unparalleled scalability, cloud solutions are equipped to handle increasing data volumes, user counts, and evolving stakeholder needs.

      4. Cost Analysis: Cloud vs. on-premise
      When it comes to the financial aspects of healthcare, cloud solutions offer undeniable benefits. Consider the following costs associated with cloud and on-premise solutions. 

      Click here to view the below table in a new window.

      5. Adapting to the casualised workforce trend
      The post-pandemic period has witnessed a shift towards a more casualised healthcare workforce. The burgeoning telemedicine sector, and changing economic circumstances, have resulted in more flexible work arrangements. Digital platforms are bolstering this change, fostering work-from-anywhere telecommuting and freelance opportunities. Cloud technology stands at the crux of these changing workforce trends, ensuring seamless transitions and facilitating innovative care models for healthcare providers and consumers.

      6. Meeting patient expectations in the post-Covid era
      The Covid-19 pandemic reshaped many sectors, and healthcare wasn’t exempt. Nowadays, patients anticipate digital solutions such as online appointment bookings, e-prescriptions, and quick access to telemedicine. Beyond the functional solutions, they also expect a personalised touch to their care, and more involvement in decision-making. Digital healthcare, powered by cloud technology, enables safety improvements, real-time access to information, and an enhanced patient experience.

      7. Environmental benefits
      According to research, cloud computing can decrease carbon emissions by approximately 60%-70%. This not only reflects more sustainable utilisation of resources like water, but also effective management of waste products when decommissioning hardware. As opposed to traditional data centers, cloud data centers are known to be significantly more energy efficient. [1,2] Transition to the cloud means reducing the carbon footprint of your health business.

      8. Virtual care: The way forward
      With virtual care rising in popularity, especially in Australia, integrated patient data systems are crucial. Cloud-based EHR solutions offer healthcare providers location-agnostic access to patient data, ensuring comprehensive care, whether provided remotely or in-clinic.

      In summary, the transition to cloud technology in the healthcare sector isn’t just a tech upgrade; it’s a holistic approach to meeting modern business challenges head-on. Furthermore, the estimated costs savings over a 10-year period for a 10-doctor practice is over $600,000, not to mention the environmental benefits and peace of mind that come with outsourcing operations to a trusted partner.

      Whether you’re a startup or an established player, it’s time to harness the power of the cloud.

      [1] https://sustainability.aboutamazon.com/products-services/the-cloud?energyType=true

      [2] https://aws.amazon.com/executive-insights/content/fighting-climate-change-with-the-cloud/

      This article was written by MediRecords CEO & Founder Matthew Galetto, and originally published by Health Services Daily and The Medical Republic.

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        It’s a Yes from MediRecords for the Voice to Parliament
         

        It's a Yes from MediRecords for the Voice to Parliament

        Tim Pegler

        Tim Pegler - Senior Business Development Manager

        MediRecords strongly encourages Australians to vote yes in the upcoming referendum for an Aboriginal Voice to Federal Parliament. 

        As a company committed to helping deliver better health outcomes for all Australians, MediRecords believes the Voice to Parliament is an essential step toward equity and justice for First Nations peoples and ‘closing the gap’ in indigenous health. 

        Closing the Gap

        Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have significantly worse health, education, employment, and economic outcomes, compared to the rest of the Australian population. 

        In 2008 the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) created the National Indigenous Reform Agreement to close the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians, listing six key targets:

        • to close the life expectancy gap within a generation
        • to halve the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous children under five within a decade
        • to ensure access to early childhood education for all Indigenous four-year-olds in remote communities within five years
        • to halve the gap in reading, writing and numeracy achievements for children within a decade
        • to halve the gap for Indigenous students in year 12 attainment rates by 2020 and
        • to halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a decade.

        Progress against these and additional targets is reported to the Federal Parliament annually. Successive governments have committed to achieving equity, but the disparities remain dire. Closing the Gap data shows:

        • If you are born an indigenous woman your life expectancy is 75.6 years, compared to 83.4 for non-indigenous women. If you are an Aboriginal male, your life expectancy is 71.6 years compared to 80.2 for non-indigenous men.
        • In 2020, 94 per cent of non-indigenous babies are born with a healthy birthweight compared to 89 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies.
        • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are massively over-represented in our jails (2151.1 per 100,000 adult population in 2022, versus 15.7 per 100,000 non-indigenous people). Former federal Opposition leader Bill Shorten has said: “A young Aboriginal man of 18 in Australia is more likely to end up in jail than university”, a statement subsequently verified by researchers.
        • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are also more likely to have their children taken away (56.8 per 1000 children in out-of-home care in 2022 compared to 4.8 per 1000 for non-indigenous families). This is despite the Australian Human Rights Commission ‘Stolen Generations’ national enquiry, which handed down its findings in 1997.
        • In 2018-19, 8.4 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females aged 15 years and over experienced domestic physical or threatened physical harm.
        • In 2021, 68.1 % of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 20-24 years had obtained a Year 12 or equivalent educational qualification, compared to 90.7 per cent of non-indigenous people aged 20-24.

        Deaths in custody are not included within the Closing the Gap goals. There have been more than 500 indigenous deaths in custody since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody handed down its report in 1991. The report contained 339 recommendations, many of which have not been implemented.

        Living by our values

        MediRecords’ core values state that we “act with integrity, actively listening to clients and colleagues and striving to improve health care delivery for our community”. The Closing the Gap data indicates government policies are either not improving health outcomes – or not doing so fast enough.

        We believe that empowering First Australians with the Voice to Parliament they have asked for is a way to enable more influence and input into policies that affect their lives. We support a “not about me, without me” approach to policy making.

        This is why we will be voting, ’Yes.

        Referendum FAQS

        Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people want more say in the laws that affect them. In 2017, following consultations across Australia, the First Nations National Constitutional Convention delivered the powerful Uluru Statement from the Heart. One of the things the statement calls for is, “establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution”. It also states: “We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.”

        You can hear the full Uluru Statement, read by Indigenous community leaders, here:
        https://youtu.be/rWoIgPyQTK4

        The Australian Constitution is the primary set of rules that determine how Australia is governed. Our Constitution was introduced in 1901. The only way to update the Constitution is through a process known as a ‘referendum’. First, both houses of the Federal Parliament must endorse a change to the Constitution. A national vote is then held so the Australian people can say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the proposed change. A majority of voters in a majority of states and territories, AND a majority of voters nationally, must vote ‘yes’ for a referendum to succeed.

        While most previous attempts to change the Constitution have been unsuccessful, one of the successful ‘yes’ votes also involved Aboriginal people. Before 1967, the Constitution did not even acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people were part of the Australian population. In the 1967 referendum, 91% of Australians, with a majority in every state or territory, voted to update the Constitution to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as part of Australia’s population, and empower the Commonwealth Government to make laws affecting them.

        The 2023 referendum is a vote on whether you support the Constitution being changed to establish a Voice to Parliament. You will be asked to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the following question:
        “A Proposed Law: to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. Do you approve this proposed alteration?”

        If successful, the following words will be added to the Constitution:

        Chapter IX Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
        S 129 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice

        In recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia:

        1. There shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice;
        2. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to the Parliament and the Executive Government of the Commonwealth on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
        3. The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws with respect to matters relating to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, including its composition, functions, powers, and procedures.

        As these words show, the proposed Voice does not give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people the power to make, alter or block national laws. The Voice just gives Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders a presence in parliament to offer advice and feedback on policies, based on their lived experience.

        The referendum on a Voice to parliament will take place on a date (yet to be announced,) between September and December this year. It is compulsory by law for all eligible Australian citizens aged 18 and older to enrol and vote in referendums.

        The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has published information on the referendum, including Yes and No arguments, here: Your official referendum 2023 pamphlet (aec.gov.au) The AEC also has a Disinformation Register.

        The following video discusses widespread misinformation on the Voice and is well worth watching: https://youtu.be/Nla61MfEtiY

        Further learning
        References

        History of Closing the Gap | Closing the Gap

        Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people enjoy long and healthy lives – Dashboard | Closing the Gap Information Repository – Productivity Commission (pc.gov.au)

        Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are born healthy and strong – Dashboard | Closing the Gap Information Repository – Productivity Commission (pc.gov.au)

        Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults are not overrepresented in the criminal justice system – Dashboard | Closing the Gap Information Repository – Productivity Commission (pc.gov.au)

        Fact check: Are young Indigenous men more likely to end up in jail than university? – ABC News

        Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 0children are not overrepresented in the child protection system – Dashboard | Closing the Gap Information Repository – Productivity Commission (pc.gov.au)

        Bringing them home: The ‘Stolen Children’ report (1997) | Australian Human Rights Commission

        Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and households are safe – Dashboard | Closing the Gap Information Repository – Productivity Commission (pc.gov.au)

        Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students achieve their full learning potential – Dashboard | Closing the Gap Information Repository – Productivity Commission (pc.gov.au)

        ‘Beyond heartbreaking’: 500 Indigenous deaths in custody since 1991 royal commission | Indigenous Australians | The Guardian

        Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody | naa.gov.au

        Who We Are – our goal to improve the way healthcare is delivered (medirecords.com)

        Voice to Parliament – Reconciliation Australia

        Australian Constitution – Parliamentary Education Office (peo.gov.au)

        The 1967 Referendum | AIATSIS

        Voice to Parliament – Reconciliation Australia

        Tim Pegler
        Tim Pegler - Senior Business Development Manager
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          Communication the key to reducing hospital readmissions

          Communication the
          key to reducing
          hospital readmissions

          Can health tech help reduce hospital readmissions?

           

          According to a global research review, telehealth and virtual wards can certainly make a difference.

          The Deeble Institute — the research arm of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) — reviewed international research on the role of primary care in reducing hospital readmissions.

          In its Evidence Brief no. 24, the Institute says telehealth can be used to boost general practice involvement in hospital discharges and subsequent multidisciplinary virtual care, resulting in fewer unplanned readmissions.

          Unplanned readmissions are associated with poorer health outcomes, dissatisfaction with healthcare, increased costs, and bed blockages.

          The report highlighted research that showed improved communication and coordination of care between GPs, hospitals and/or pharmacists is effective.

          “Effective interventions included … electronic tools to facilitate quick, clear, and structured (health) summary generation… use of electronic discharge notifications; and web-based access to discharge information for general practitioners,” reported the Netherland’s Hesselink and colleagues.

          Virtual wards are another way to reduce risk of hospital readmissions and improve outcomes during hospital-to-home transition, with research indicating these can be effective with specific disease cohorts but less so with non-specific, complex diseases.

          The Evidence Brief contrasted virtual wards with Hospital in the Home (HITH). HITH is a form of remote hospital inpatient care whereas virtual wards facilitate transition from hospital care to home care.

          “Compared to HITH, virtual wards typically have a higher degree of interdisciplinary care coordination and review, are simpler in design and implementation, and have a broader scope of activities,” The Deeble Institute reported.

          “Transitional care is similar to virtual wards, but usually implemented within existing systems. Virtual wards typically require a completely new care pathway and potentially new organisations to manage its implementation.”

          MediRecords Connect provides FHIR (Fast Health Interoperability Resources) and API options for connectivity with hospital systems, including patient administration systems (PAS). MediRecords is deployed as an ePrescribing system at two Australian virtual emergency departments and as an outpatient billing and claiming system for Queensland Health. New functionality enabling multidisciplinary case management and inpatient care will be released later this year.

          MediRecords is also integrated with the Coviu telehealth platform for streamlined virtual consultations.

          Top three Technologies that reduce hospital admissions:

          Further reading

          ‘A wonderful day’: telehealth to become permanent

          Improving Patient Handovers From Hospital to Primary Care

          Consumer adoption of digital health in 2022: Moving at the speed of trust

          PARR++ is dead: long live predictive modelling

          Impact of ‘Virtual Wards’ on hospital use: a research study using propensity matched controls and a cost analysis

          Applying the Integrated Practice Unit Concept to a Modified Virtual Ward Model of Care for Patients at Highest Risk of Readmission: A Randomized Controlled Trial

          Effect of post-discharge virtual wards on improving outcomes in heart failure and non-heart failure populations: A systematic review and meta-analysis

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            Federal Government digital health upgrade grants on the way

            Federal Government digital health upgrade grants on the way

            Update: 24 April 2023

            New details are now available on the Strengthening Medicare General Practice Grants.

            Grants of $25,000, $35,000 or $50,000 are available depending on practice size. The grants will be administered by your local Primary Health Network (PHN) or the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO). To take advantage of this funding, complete a grant application sourced via your PHN or NACCHO.

             

            MediRecords welcomes the news that Federal Government grants aimed at helping to enhance digital health capability for Medicare general practices and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) will become available from April. 

             

            General practices and ACCHS will be eligible for one-off grants of up to $50,000 for innovation, training, equipment, and minor capital works under three categories:

            1. Enhance digital health capability – Accelerate moves to a more connected healthcare system that meets future standards;
            2. Upgrade infection prevention and control arrangements – Ensure infectious respiratory disease (e.g. COVID, influenza) patients can be safely seen face-to-face; and/or
            3. Maintain and/or achieve accreditation against the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Standards for General Practice to promote quality and safety in health care.

            The grants were an election promise from then opposition leader Anthony Albanese in May 2022. The Strengthening Medicare – GP Grants Program was subsequently allocated $220 million in the October 2022 federal budget.

            Medicare general practice grants will be administered by local Primary Health Networks (PHNs) and ACCHS grants by the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO). Practices and health services owned or operated by a state, territory or local government agency are ineligible.

            MediRecords Chief Executive Officer Matthew Galetto welcomed the move and said he hoped it signalled a shift to better data connectivity between GPs and the broader health care system.

            “We would like to see incentives for general practices to switch to the cloud, given the environmental, security and interoperability benefits that flow from leaving behind legacy software and hardware systems.”

            Mr Galetto said the grants program was an opportunity for the Federal Government and PHNs to drive industry-wide reform and boost adoption of new technology platforms.

            “Just as PIP (Practice Incentives Program) grants helped shift GPs from paper-based systems to electronic, this grant funding should seek to do the same for next generation interoperable technology.”

            “This is bigger than improving the My Health Record. There is an opportunity to follow the United States example and provide genuine connectivity of digital health records for patients, from primary to tertiary care.”

            MediRecords is a true cloud electronic health record system featuring global standards-based interoperability and SNOMED-CT-AU clinical coding. MediRecords pioneered cloud practice management software in Australia and is now used by general practitioners, specialists, multidisciplinary clinics, hospitals, and government departments.

            Practices considering using their grant to upgrade to cloud clinical software are welcome to reach out to MediRecords. We provide onboarding services including training, data migration and configuration of electronic prescribing, telehealth integration, Medicare claiming and more.

             

             
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              Survey Results: What do Clinicians really look for in Practice Management Software?

              Survey Icon

              Survey Results: What do Clinicians really look for in Practice Management Software?

              Survey Icon

              COVID impact, working habits and rejection of Telehealth?

              Throughout July we ran a survey for users of Medical Practice Management Software, like MediRecords. The aim was to listen to, and learn from, both our own users and those who use alternatives.

              In this article we have summarised some of the more interesting insights around:

              • the impact of COVID on doctors
              • the working environments of clinicians
              • what users want from practice management software, and
              • How important Telehealth features are to clinicians.

              If any of this sounds interesting, then please read on! But before we get into it, we would like to say a big thank you to all who took part in the survey.

              As with all survey data, the stats can often be interpreted in many ways. If you have any insights or explanation for what we found in the survey, we would love to hear from you via marketing@medirecords.com.

              About the Survey & Audience

              Our survey was delivered to GP clinics via fax, email and through The Medical Republics e-newsletter. Whilst the survey was open to clinicians, practice managers, nurses and business owners, most respondents primarily identified as clinicians.

              We ran our survey throughout July, which ended up being an interesting time. The initial explosion of conversations around Telehealth had begun to quieten down (more on this later), whilst Victorians began seeing lockdown restrictions gradually being enforced as they experienced their ‘second wave’.

              One noticeable skew was that the audience had a significant amount of professional experience, with over 40% having over 20 years in General Practice, which is worth bearing in mind as you read this article:

               

               

              GP’s Working Environment

              We were keen to understand how GPs tend to work, as this allows us to better understand how MediRecords can be as useful to clinicians as possible.

              We found GP’s were split fairly evenly between those who work in one location, and those who work across multiple locations. What is not clear if this means they work across multiple practices, or often from home, something which could be influenced by the current pandemic.

              Far more clinicians work on multiple devices rather than one, which us unsurprising given our consumer habits across phones, tablets and computers. It is particularly interesting for practice management software however, as ease of working across devices and locations is very difficult on server-based solutions such as Best Practice and Medical Director, compared with cloud solutions like MediRecords.

              It was interesting to see that almost as many people use Apple products as do Windows, again something that could make browser-based software more appealing to ensure consistency of experience and usability for GPs on whichever device they use.

              Preferences for practice management software

              We asked our GP respondents a lot of questions about their preferences are for practice management software. This information is best summarized in the two questions:

              • What do you like about your Practice Management Software ? And…
              • What do you not like about your Practice Management Software?

              Surprisingly, the same sort of answer was most popular for both questions – Usability!

              It can be easy to get lost in specifications and functionality lists when choosing Practice Management Software, but what this shows us all is that, fundamentally, it means little if the platform is not easy for clinicians to use. We suspect this will also be what drives most day to day frustrations users have with their current software.

              (By the way, we think this is great news given the positive feedback we have had on MediRecords from our users. If you are struggling with usability there is a solution!)

              So, are clinicians looking for something better?

              We then asked if clinicians were planning on reviewing or upgrading their software over the next five years. Only 40% of respondents said they would consider doing so.

              Many in the healthcare tech space may find this disappointing, but we believe it shows us the wider trend of reluctance to adopt and change with new technologies. Whilst many may be heralding a silver lining of COVID to be increased adoption of technology, the results suggest this mindset change will not happen overnight – even if pushed by a major event such as COVID.

              If clinicians are still reluctant to change, what does this mean for Telehealth adoption?

              We asked respondents to rank features in terms of the importance to them when choosing practice management software. Whilst we won’t be sharing the full results of this (hopefully you can understand, we want to keep some knowledge to ourselves!) what was surprising was that Telehealth was the second least important feature to the GPs we asked.

              The timing of the survey may have had something to do with this. Whilst in the earlier days of the pandemic many GPs were trying to figure out how to incorporate Telehealth into their daily workflow, by July Telehealth MBS items had been live for over a month, with GPs finding that using the telephone was an easier, more familiar solution in the short term.

              Again, this may reflect the reluctance of many to adopt new technologies, even if these technologies lead to better experiences for patients. We can see the benefits of telehealth via remote monitoring via projects such as Spritely’s recent trial in retirement villages in Christchurch, but clearly there is more work to be done to help clinicians see if there is a benefit for them.

              So, what do clinicians want from their PMS?

              Finally, we asked what GPs wished their PMS could do that it does not already.

              The results here were less clear, with 27% of people wanted a feature specific to their practice’s requirements, and a further 20% wanting an integration with a specific other service.

              This shows how personal and bespoke the needs of many practices are, and how software such as MediRecords must not only be flexible for different workflows, but also responsive to users when they need new feature.

              Again, usability came up, this time as something that respondents wish their PMS offered. Given the large share of the market enjoyed by traditional solutions such as Medical Director and Best Practice, perhaps this reflects the need for clinicians to look at some of the newer, easier to use options that are out there.

              Personally, we think MediRecords fits the bill perfectly! If you would like to find out more you can contact support@medirecords.com, book a demo, or enjoy a 30 day free trial now.

              About the Author

              Andrew Dyson is our Digital Marketing Lead here at MediRecords, and managed this latest survey. Prior to joining MediRecords he has worked on marketing projects, including in depth market research, for some of the largest employers in the UK.

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