E-health record test
MEDICAL software companies are being asked to help “test and fine tune” specifications, which are yet to be defined, for the federal government’s $467 million personal e-health record program, according to a report in The Australian. The National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) has called for proposals from GP clinical software suppliers willing to work with it on three e-health implementation sites announced by Health Minister Nicola Roxon in August. NEHTA hopes vendors established in the GP sector will contribute technical expertise as the new e-health standards are developed and trialled.

Doctors feature in awards
A DOCTOR in Mount Isa hopes winning a prestigious state award will raise awareness of the gap in health services in Indigenous communities, ABC News reports. Dr Don Bowley, named Queensland Local Hero at the state Australian of the Year awards, has worked with Mount Isa’s Royal Flying Doctor Service for the past 14 years. Dr Noel Hayman, one of the state’s first Indigenous doctors, is Queensland’s nominee for Australian of the Year.

“Brown-ribbon day” needed
FRUSTRATION with the federal government’s indecision on bowel cancer screening has prompted a leading specialist to call for a “brown-ribbon day”, The Age reports. Bowel Cancer Foundation chairman Graham Newstead says he is dismayed at the government’s failure to lock in future funding for the test that has saved an estimated 11,000 Australian lives since screening was introduced in 2006.

Fat cells boost heart function
FAT cells taken from the waistline could hold promise in treating heart attacks, BBC News reports. A pilot study on 14 patients in the Netherlands and Spain found that stem cells extracted from fat and delivered to the heart appeared to boost heart function after a heart attack. The research was presented at the American Heart Association’s annual conference.

Funding cut for sports physicians
AUSTRALIA’S main professional and participation sports bodies are alarmed at a decision to cut Medicare rebates to patients of sports physicians by 30%, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. They claim it will penalise amateur participants and exacerbate the nation’s ballooning obesity epidemic, adding to the health bill. The Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports has written to the Australasian College of Sports Physicians supporting its lobby to restore the rebate to levels consistent with rehabilitation and general practice medicine.

Allergy specialist crisis
CHILDREN’S lives are at risk if health bosses do not cut an 18-month waiting list to see a paediatric allergy specialist, the Courier Mail reports. Despite government promises to fix the problem more than 3 years ago, there is still only one doctor treating children from across Queensland in an allergy clinic at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Brisbane.

Health insurance rise
MORE than 10 million Australians have private health insurance, the highest level in a decade, The Australian reports. Health Minister Nicola Roxon is using that growth to urge the Senate to approve plans to means test the 30% subsidy for insurance. An extra 243 000 people took out private health cover over the past year, according to figures released by the Private Health Insurance Administration Council.

Mobile health messages
A FREE text message service sending prenatal health advice to expectant mothers in the United States has proved a success, The Washington Post reports. The company that launched the government and privately funded service to educate and encourage healthy habits in pregnant women said more than 100 000 mothers-to-be used the service. The idea of monitoring patients and promoting healthy behaviour through mobile phones and other portable devices has emerged as a potential method to reduce the costs of health care while improving quality.

Radio waves reduce blood pressure
PEOPLE with high blood pressure that does not respond to drugs have improved after receiving treatment using radio waves that deactivate nerves in the kidneys, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. An international study published in the Lancet led by Australian researchers found 84% of patients with uncontrollable blood pressure who had the sympathetic nerves in their kidneys deactivated had a reduction in their blood pressure of more than 10 mmHg.

MRI increases breast cancer survival
A YEARLY MRI scan in addition to mammograms and breast examinations may save the lives of women with a high risk of breast cancer due to genetic mutations or family history, the New York Times reports. The study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology is the first to measure survival in a large number of high-risk women receiving MRIs. It found that after 6 years of follow-up, 93% of mutation carriers with cancer were still alive, compared with 74% alive at 5 years in earlier studies.

Posted 22 November 2010

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