Feeling the heat at
Burning GP
 
 

Feeling the heat at Burning GP

MediRecords joined the sun-starved throng flocking to the Tweed for the Wild Health Burning GP conference last week.

Here are 10 takeaways from two days of robust and enlightening conversations.

1. GPs are divided on the impact of Urgent Care Centres (UCC)

Are nascent UCCs an attempt to woo voters in outer suburban marginal seats, a means to divert a few people from crowded hospital emergency departments… or an example of government spending that would be better invested in primary care? The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) past president Adj Prof Karen Price also pondered whether UCCs are turning away “non-urgent” patients and referring them back to their family GPs.

2. There’s a great divide between GPs and hospitals

Healthdirect Australia is trialling a way to send NSW hospital discharge summaries to GPs and patients and Queensland discharge summaries are uploaded to The Viewer … but the data disconnect between primary and tertiary care remains vast*.

Associate Professor Alam Yoosuff, the Rural Doctors Association NSW vice president, said GPs were often left in the dark about hospital outcomes for their patients.

“We don’t always know if person has died, been discharged, or been sent home with only six (tablets)… We know the system is not right. It may be better than other countries, but we know it should be even better, given what (governments) are spending.” 

– Associate Professor Alam Yoosuff, the Rural Doctors Association NSW vice president

Judging by the overall vibe at Burning GP, GPs feel much of the government cash spent on shiny new hospitals could be better spent on disease prevention led by community-based primary care practitioners.

3. Workforce scaling

The RACGP warned Australia has a “whole of health” workforce crisis, exacerbated by insufficient medical students coming through, so we’re going to have to import doctors, nurses and specialists from overseas. (The ever-resilient Health Department Assistant Secretary Medicare Benefits and Digital Health, Mr Daniel McCabe, said he preferred “critical juncture” to crisis, triggering a running joke for the entire conference.)

Grampians Health Chief Strategy & Regions Officer Dr Robert Grenfell said the shortage of GPs in western Victoria was so acute he was planning based on having none. He said: “If we have (GPs) I will use them” but it was now prudent to make alternative plans.

4. Medicare misery is multiplying

Several conference panels highlighted the challenges of determining the correct, optimally reimbursed Medicare item codes for complex consultations. Mr McCabe conceded all billable items are due for review, with an aspirational goal of improving access to healthcare for people who can least afford it.

5. Telehealth – supplementary or threat?

If young and tech-savvy consumers keep opting for online access to quick prescriptions, medical certificates and more, community GPs will be left with older, sicker, more complex clients, including those with mental ill health. Whitebridge Medical Centre owner Dr Max Mollenkopf said GPs needed to understand why consumers are switching to digital health companies such as Eucalyptus and adapt fast. He said, “Our old patients who love us will die off and all the young ones will be (Eucalyptus patients) unless we do something different.”

6. The numbers speak for themselves

The Australian National University Associate Professor (and GP) Louise Stone highlighted a 42% pay gap between men and women GPs. She said this was compounded by women GPs shouldering a majority of longer, underfunded consultations with complex patients, (who may have been released from hospital prematurely to reduce bed blockages).

7. But metrics may deceive

Associate Professor Stone cautioned that ‘evidence-based solutions’ in healthcare may not be what they seem. Analysis had shown the typical participant in clinical trials is a privileged white male, the researcher is likely to be a white urban male and even the average lab rat is a white furred male. This means clinical metrics may not be representative … and AI tools risk exaggerating biased data even further.

Evrima Technologies CEO and Founder Charlotte Bradshaw said that 80% of clinical trials are delayed in Australia because eligible people can’t be found and paired with researchers.

8. The My Health Record (MHR) will grow exponentially

Mr McCabe confirmed legislation is imminent to mandate sharing diagnostic imaging and pathology with the MHR. The government will also “push very hard” for every medication event – prescribing and dispensing – to be uploaded. The CSIRO-led Sparked community will need to lead the software industry to a FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) standard to achieve this. Mr McCabe said Australian healthcare was hamstrung by “a lot of technology built in the 1990s that is not fit for purpose”. The recent MediSecure data breach showed, “We need to make sure we set the bar a lot higher than it is today”.

9. Technology knowledge is variable

When you’re a time poor GP, technology is rarely top of mind. You just want it to work. GPs still need reassurance from healthcare influencers that cloud technology is as safe (or safer) than server-driven desktop tech and that switching brings cost and time savings on hardware, hosting, back-ups, security, software patches, electricity and more. As one GP said to us, “You mean I can sack my IT guy?”

As for innovations such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), there’s a sense that while there are time, safety, revenue and efficiency gains to be made, the early adopters and innovators will be waiting a while for their conservative colleagues to join them.

10. Summing up

Based on our conversations and observations at Burning GP, community general practitioners feel underfunded, overworked, undervalued, and under siege from telehealth providers and pharmacists. They’re a resilient mob though, and still passionately defending their role as number one for longitudinal patient care.

*MediRecords new Admissions module means we can provide a longitudinal record connecting primary and tertiary care in one secure, cloud-hosted software system. We can send Discharge Summaries from our Admissions module and store them against the central patient file. Please reach out to us at sales@medirecords.com if you’re trying to solve these types of connectivity problems!

Solve Healthcare Challenges with MediRecords APIs
 
 

Solve Healthcare Challenges with MediRecords APIs

Effective management and secure sharing of clinical data are essential ingredients for providing safe, high-quality patient care.

However, healthcare providers often encounter challenges, from incompatible software systems to co-ordination issues among healthcare teams. In an effort to break down these barriers, MediRecords has developed a comprehensive suite of APIs to streamline data sharing processes and help improve patient outcomes.

FHIR APIs: Elevating data management in healthcare

MediRecords’ FHIR APIs give you better access to and control of your clients’ clinical data by facilitating the management and sharing of patient records. From encounters to prescriptions, allergies to immunisations, these APIs offer a robust way to handle diverse sets of patient information. By enabling interoperability between systems, FHIR APIs ensure that critical data is accessible whenever and wherever it’s needed.

Connect APIs: Seamless integration for enhanced patient care

Complementing our FHIR APIs, MediRecords’ Connect suite of proprietary REST APIs offers a tailored solution for managing patient administrative data and other crucial information. From appointments to practitioner sessions, these APIs facilitate seamless communication and coordination among healthcare providers, resulting in more efficient care delivery.

FHIR & MediRecords APIs

FHIR is the future standard for health data interoperability. MediRecords has enabled FHIR as a mechanism for secure data exchange, including with hospital systems.

MediRecords has various APIs, including:

Patient

Securely exchange patient data with 3rd party systems, import patient records or notes into your database, create surveys and web forms to update the patient database, and update patient files from remote hardware devices or services.

Appointments

Our platform offers medical integration & scheduling with 3rd party booking systems & the ability to sync multiple clinicians' calendars to improve patient flows. We also provide reporting software integration for recurrence & patient 'no-shows'.

Correspondence

Easily filter & arrange correspondence in MediRecords and third-party applications. Initiate reporting, create actions or follow-ups, and use webhooks to push correspondence triggers.

Configuration

Utilise 'custom fields' in patient records to introduce additional patient identifiers. You can also create, update, and delete tags to categorise patient records and improve searching and filtering.

Key challenges MediRecords can address through APIs
  1. Integrated appointment booking: You can eliminate scheduling conflicts and incomplete calendars by enabling patient booking and appointment management across systems. For example, external booking software can be used to populate your MediRecords appointments calendar.
  2. Secure communication of clinical information: Ensure effective and safe communication of clinical information through secure sharing of patient material, including referrals and medical certificates, with data clinically coded to SNOMED standards, aligning with industry best practices.
  3. Unified patient identifier: Overcome the challenge of duplicate patient records by sharing a unique patient identifier across systems, thus ensuring synchronized and accurate patient information. This identifier becomes the key to making sure systems and data are in synch.
  4. Consolidated patient record data: Provide a consolidated view of extended patient details by integrating patient demographics, allergies, conditions, and family history across systems. For example, if a patient’s details are updated in MediRecords, you can use APIs and webhooks to make sure these same details are updated in a separate client management system (CMS).
  5. Closed-loop medication ordering: Enhance medication management by monitoring orders from prescription to dispensing, thereby minimising errors and disruptions in patient treatment plans. An example is the sending of evidence of prescription from MediRecords into a hospital enterprise system, creating a single source of truth for medication history. MediRecords has done this at Northern Health in Melbourne, to support Victorian Virtual Emergency Department prescribing workflows.
  6. Integrated case management and shared care: Improve collaboration among healthcare teams by integrating episode of care details, ensuring a more coordinated approach to patient management. Updating the status of allergies and investigation requests, for example, can increase safety and reduce risk of duplicated procedures.
  7. Flexible data capture and retrieval: Offering flexibility in capturing and retrieving custom data through custom fields within MediRecords, tailored to specific practice needs. 

Learn more about the problems MediRecords APIs can solve here.  

MediRecords’ APIs represent a significant step forward in addressing the complex challenges faced by healthcare providers today. By offering robust solutions for data management, communication, and collaboration, these APIs empower healthcare teams to deliver safer patient care in an increasingly interconnected healthcare landscape. With a commitment to innovation and efficiency, MediRecords will continue to expand our means of securely sharing the data needed for the future of healthcare delivery.

MediRecords wises up on CSIRO’s Smart Forms for Healthcare
 

MediRecords wises up
on CSIRO’s Smart Forms
for Healthcare

Leading cloud healthcare technology company MediRecords is deploying CSIRO’s open-source Smart Forms software to develop FHIR forms for rapid deployment into clinical use. 

The initiative will see Smart Forms technology deployed in the MediRecords platform, enabling faster access to new clinical assessment tools and patient surveys. 

The first Smart Form, a Falls Risk Assessment, is expected to be available in MediRecords this month. 

Commissioned by the Commonwealth Department of Health, Smart Forms technology was developed to improve health assessment procedures and clinical information sharing, leading to better patient outcomes. This was first demonstrated through the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Check Assessment Smart Form. 

Standardised forms can streamline how clinicians capture patient data and simplify how this data is made available for research and other analysis. 

MediRecords Integrations Lead Sanjeed Quaiyumi said Smart Forms would accelerate the introduction of new health assessments within MediRecords. 

“MediRecords is laying the foundations for the adoption of Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) in the broader health ecosystem, having developed and implemented an extensive library of FHIR and API resources. Smart Forms provide an exciting new way to gather and share data.” 

What are Smart Forms? 

Smart Forms conform to the HL7 FHIR Structured Data Capture and SMART App Launch Implementation Guides, ensuring seamless interoperability between clinical systems and applications. This standardised approach facilitates exchange of electronic health information across a diverse range of platforms. 

Key benefits of Smart Forms include: 

  • Interoperability: Facilitating seamless data exchange between FHIR-enabled healthcare applications and systems 
  • Adaptability: Customisable forms tailored to specific clinical contexts and user needs 
  • Standardisation: Adherence to standardised data formats and coding conventions for consistency in healthcare data representation 
  • Security: Robust security measures to safeguard patient data and maintain privacy 
  • User-Friendly Interface: Designed for accessibility across various levels of technical expertise 
  • Enhanced Workflow Efficiency: Streamlined data capture, retrieval, and exchange processes for improved decision-making and patient care coordination. 

MediRecords will use Smart Forms to expand its range of clinical templates, starting with the Falls Risks Assessment and extending to inpatient Admissions and Primary Care Assessments forms. 

This initiative underscores MediRecords’ commitment to driving innovation and enhancing healthcare outcomes through cutting-edge technologies. By harnessing the power of CSIRO’s Smart Forms, MediRecords aims to significantly improve data capture options, providing clinicians with advanced tools for delivering personalised patient care. 

MediRecords actively participates in the Sparked FHIR Accelerator community. Sparked is a collaboration between Department of Health and Aged Care, the Australian Digital Health Agency, HL7 Australia and CSIRO’s Australian e-Health Research Centre. 

Media inquiries:

For media inquiries or further information, please contact MediRecords Senior Business Development Manager Tim Pegler via tim.pegler@medirecords.com. 

References: 

Home – AU Core Implementation Guide v0.3.0-ballot (hl7.org.au) 

https://aehrc.csiro.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/2022_23-AEHRC-Annual-Report.pdf 

https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/indigenous-australians/indigenous-health-checks-follow-ups/contents/timeline-of-major-developments-in-health-check-imp  

Tales from the Frontline: APHA Congress 2024
 
 

Tales from the Frontline:
APHA Congress 2024

Members of the Australian Private Hospitals Association (APHA) gathered in glorious weather on the Gold Coast for their annual congress last week but the industry forecast was for turbulence and storms ahead.

Across the two-day event, MediRecords Tim Pegler found that the recurring theme was that many private hospitals are barely breaking even — or are loss-making — and that hospital closures are imminent.

Mental health facilities are struggling to recruit and retain psychiatrists, who can find a better income and lifestyle working privately via telehealth. Private maternity hospitals are also at risk.
 
Tension with the private health insurance (PHI) industry was evident; many APHA members pointed to indexation of PHI fees failing to keep up with escalating costs for labour, IT systems, insurances, administration, cybersecurity, and building costs.
 
PHI representatives returned fire, being critical of private hospitals building new facilities that result in competition for doctors, which are already in scant supply. They said rising costs of living are driving consumers to downgrade their PHI memberships, making them eligible for fewer private hospital procedures.
 
If private hospitals close, particularly in regional areas where doctors are scarce, the impact will be felt throughout the public system with longer waitlists and more pressure on emergency departments.
 
An appetite to find common goals and work together – government, private sector, public sector and PHIs, seemed to be one positive note for the Congress.

Other Congress insights

  • 15 private hospitals have closed in the past year, including 4 mental health facilities.
  • The national shortage of GPs and radiologists is likely to worsen, with a generation of practitioners due for retirement without ready replacements.
  • Private hospital operating costs are rising rapidly while revenue is falling. 43% of hospitals have an EBITDA below 5% and 68% below 10%. A consultant warned that innovation and investment are not occurring and if this doesn’t change further closures are likely.
  • The public system has embraced virtual care more than the private hospital system.
  • Queensland Health has a Surgery Connect program outsourcing waitlisted surgical procedures to private hospitals.
  • PHI representatives say chemotherapy, hospital in the home and rehabilitation in the home programs will be vital to support Australians but more GPs need to refer to these services.
  • The ADHA reported strong growth in use of the My Health Record (MHR), which now houses 50% of pathology reports and 20% of diagnostic imaging reports. It urged more private hospitals to integrate with the MHR, cautioning that disconnected health information systems “are no longer sustainable”.
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    Australian Healthcare Week Wrap-Up!
     
     

    Australian Healthcare Week Wrap-up!

    MediRecords thoroughly enjoyed the hustle and bustle of Australian Healthcare Week in Sydney on 20 and 21 March.

     

    Here are 5 key take-outs from AHW –

    1. Virtual care keeps growing

    Victorian Virtual Emergency Department Clinical Director Loren Sher said the free statewide service is on trajectory to see 200,000 patients this financial year. Dr Sher said: “One of our messages is that we’re not here to replace existing care, we’re here to supplement care and also to fill gaps…” The VVED works with Ambulance Victoria and residential aged care facilities to care for patients that might otherwise attend at busy hospitals, ensuring patients can, “access care… regardless of their postcode, and … access the right level of care”.

    AHW Stage 1

    2. Helping hospitals meet demand may require out-of-the-box thinking

    MediRecords proudly supports the VVED as an e-prescribing platform and we can be a tad one-eyed in thinking digital health tech is an answer to connecting care records, streamlining safe workflows, and helping reduce ambulance ramping and bed blockages. But we were mighty impressed by the modular hospital facilities from Q-bital Healthcare Solutions, who can put an operating theatre on a truck and deliver it to your site to meet escalating clinical demand.

    Q-Bital AHW_PNG

    3. A patient perspective informs patient-centric care

    Former Cleveland Clinic CEO Edward Marx has long been a voice for digital disruption but his stint in a hospital bed with a “widow-maker cancer” underlined his passion for patient-centred care. Mr Marx detailed five pillars for improving patient experience, “most of which can be solved for free”. These included plain language communication, intentionally involving patients in decision making on treatments, and creating an organisation-wide culture of empathy.

    Mr Marx said that healthcare executives should perform ward rounds and hold meetings in labs, nursing stations and other patient-facing areas, to hone their awareness of patient experience. He advocated for AI to accelerate the personalisation of care. “My bank, my airline and my hotel all know me so why doesn’t my hospital?”

    Cleveland Clinic_Edward Marx_AHW

    4.Technology vendors should team up

    A panel of influential information technology leaders delivered a wake-up call to vendors, urging collaboration to research and solve known problems with interoperable solutions. Northern Territory Government Health Chief Clinical Information Officer Dr John F. Lambert said, “If you’re not coming to me with someone in the business who wants to use (the solution), don’t waste my time. You also need an executive who cares enough about it, to take money off something else.”

    AHW

    5. The healthcare workforce is evolving

    St Vincent’s Health Australia Group CEO Chris Blake said there will be as many engineers in healthcare as doctors within a decade. Rapid developments in technology such as AI are one reason for this, but vendors may not always be aligned with buyers. Dr Lambert urged tech suppliers to focus on AI solutions for boring administrative workflows, rather than more glamorous clinical applications that could introduce risk.

    AHW Team
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      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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        MediRecords welcomes Queensland Health contract extension

        MediRecords welcomes Queensland Health contract extension

        Pioneering cloud technology company MediRecords has renewed its statewide contract with Queensland Health for provision of a Practice Management Enterprise Solution (PMES).

         

        The contract extension means Queensland Hospital and Health Services can deploy functions such as ePrescribing within MediRecords’ clinical platform, while continuing use of the Medicare billing and reporting workflows implemented in 2019.

        Use of the clinical records platform is growing, with MediRecords now supporting Queensland Health (QH) teams in alcohol and other drug clinics and virtual care.

        The renewed Standing Offer Arrangement (SOA) is for an initial term of three years with an option to extend two.

        MediRecords Founder and Chief Executive Officer Matthew Galetto welcomed the SOA extension and the opportunity to innovate with QH teams.

        “As an industry leader in cloud hosted FHIR technology, the sky is the limit for how we can support Queensland Health staff and patients.”

        Mr Galetto said the MediRecords billing and claiming platform had delivered significant efficiency gains for Queensland Health since 2019, including an 85% reduction in rejected Medicare claims realised within two months of go live.

        “With more than 6000 subscribers within Queensland Health, we have been able to demonstrate the value and efficiency of a scalable solution for a large enterprise client,” Mr Galetto said.

        MediRecords was the first clinical and administrative, cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) application introduced within the QH IT environment.

        Implemented to support private practice billing, receipting, distribution and reporting of practice revenue on behalf of medical officers, MediRecords also provides appointment management and clinical records at some HHSs.

        New features to be added to the MediRecords platform in 2024 include transaction reports, deposits, an inpatient Admissions Module, and new patient portal.

        Media inquiries

        To arrange to speak with Mr Galetto, or for further information on MediRecords, please email Tim Pegler or call 0412 485 146.

        For information on MediRecords FHIR technology, see https://connect.medirecords.com/

        Want to learn more about how MediRecords can assist you?

        Fill out the form below and one of our team members will be in touch.

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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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            What’s happening in health?
             
             

            What’s happening in health?

            January has skedaddled and February is upon us. In Australia, that means the kids are back at school, the trains are crowded again, and things are getting serious at work. In the interest of getting you up to speed, here’s a selection of recent happenings in health and healthcare across the globe.

            Some come from the frontlines of technology, while others show human connections are increasingly important:

            As we enter a newish year, here’s what kept hospital CEO’s up at night in 2023. Do any of these resonate with you?

            While we’re on the topic of nightmares, the WHO predicts a 75% increase in global cancer rates over the next 26 years, due to smoking, alcohol use, obesity, ageing and other factors.

            Based on that prediction, it’s important that mRNA technology trials have begun with human subjects in the UK. The trial aims to see if introducing cancer ‘markers’ to people can jump-start an additional immune response and boosts their fight against melanoma, lung cancer and other solid tumours – a bit like summoning an extra battalion of internal cancer fighters. It’s early days, but another step toward personalised cancer treatments.

            In Australia, government data shows Federal Budget initiatives aimed at increasing bulk billing for medical appointments have had an impact, with rural regions the main beneficiaries.

            Scientists have suggested the appendix might not be as expendable, or useless, as generally perceived, and has a hidden role in gut health.

            Meanwhile, Elon Musk’s Neuralink venture says it has put a wireless brain chip in a human. Details are sketchy but Neuralink has previously stated a goal to assist people experiencing paralysis.

            Have you heard of orthosomnia? It is a term for the obsessive quest for perfect sleep. A just-published survey found sleep-medicine doctors viewed the sleep-tracking devices that some of us are wearing on our wrists to bed as a contributor to orthosomnia and misperceptions about sleep. Clinically, consumer sleep technology was “neither helpful nor unhelpful”.

            The jury is still out on mental-health apps, particularly those reliant on chatbots.

            Speaking of mental health, Sesame Street’s Elmo asked the Internet how people were doing and triggered an avalanche of more than 9000 responses from people struggling with mood and mental health. The take-home lesson is the need for regular wellbeing check-ins is real.

            Please let us know if anything else has caught your eye. We aim to keep a finger on the pulse throughout 2024.

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              Federal Government’s digital-health plan puts people first
               

              Federal Government’s digital-health plan puts people first

              The Federal Government has launched its 10-year blueprint for digital health investments and initiatives, with a key focus on encouraging Australians to trust in data and enable its innovative use in healthcare. 

              The much-anticipated blueprint envisions an efficient, person-centred healthcare system underpinned by secure, interoperable data, and responsiveness to emerging technologies.

              Digitally enabled collaboration between hospitals, primary care and community providers, including allied health, will ensure information follows patients through the system, the report said.

              The Digital Health Blueprint 2023-2033 is accompanied by an Action Plan establishing broad strategies for the coming decade.

              The central aim of the blueprint is convenience for consumers whose healthcare journeys will be supported by multidisciplinary teams providing coordinated care. These teams will deliver services underpinned by digital-health technology that enables consumers to make informed decisions about their care.

              While eyebrows were raised at the timing of the release of such an important planning document, three days before Christmas, the arrival of the national strategy was welcomed by the Medical Technology Association of Australia (MTAA).

              The blueprint states: “Trusted, timely and accessible use of digital and data underpins a personalised and connected health and wellbeing experience for all Australians.”

              The action plan sets out a range of initiatives either already started, ongoing or at planning stage. “While each initiative calls upon specific delivery partners, the health software industry should be recognised for its key role in realising many of these,” it says.

              The Initiatives include:

              • Allied health providers to connect to a beefed-up My Health Record, “building on adoption within general practice and medical specialists”
              • Strengthening and expanding ePrescribing, including to public hospitals
              • Real-time prescription monitoring
              • Electronic medication charts 
              • Establishing a core national standard — Sparked – Core FHIR standards — for consistent patient health interaction information capture (MediRecords is an active participant in the Sparked community)
              • “Digitally empowering” Australia’s healthcare workforce
              • Establishing a national eRequesting capability for pathology and diagnostic imaging health services, facilitating electronic clinical-decision support
              • National health-information exchange capabilities, requiring agreement between states and territories
              • Broadening the range of assistive technologies available for seniors living independently.

              MediRecords is uniquely capable of supporting the digital health initiatives. The MediRecords  Care platform is designed for use by multidisciplinary teams and for data interoperability. Featuring FHIR and API connectivity, MediRecords is working on a major national project for data sharing across the healthcare spectrum of patients, GPs, allied health providers, specialists and hospitals.

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