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State of private healthcare in Australia

Australia’s healthcare system is often described as a mixed system, with a combination of public and private providers. While public healthcare through Medicare provides universal coverage for essential services, private healthcare offers additional options and amenities for those who can afford them.

Private Healthcare Australia (PHA) is the Australian private health insurance industry’s peak representative body that currently has 21registered health funds throughout Australia and collectively represents 98% of people covered by private health insurance. PHA member funds today provide healthcare benefits for over 14 million Australians.

Landmark Australian-led study revises thresholds to diagnose and treat anaemia

In 2014, WEHI researchers began a study at the request of the World Health Organization (WHO), to formally review its global anaemia guidelines that were last updated in 1968. 
 
Study lead and Acting WEHI Deputy Director, Professor Sant-Rayn Pasricha, speaking to Australian Health Journal said while anaemia can be diagnosed by measuring the amount of haemoglobin in the blood, there is currently no consensus on the thresholds that should be used to define the condition.

Awareness campaigns and HCP Toolkits for thyroid health

In 2021, the Australian Thyroid Foundation released analysis to show, well over 1 million Australian are living with an undiagnosed thyroid disorder, including thyroid cancer, lower IQs, lifelong disability, and a causal or possible contributory factor – in the development of other neurological disorders such as ADHD and autism. Some of the challenges for diagnosis and treatment can be addressed by producing material for health care practitioners during patient presentations.

‘Recent statistics show well over 1 million Australians are living with an undiagnosed thyroid disorder, awareness and testing can prevent unwarranted outcomes for mothers and their babies’ says ATF CEO Beverley Garside OAM

The Australian Thyroid Foundation has lodged a Pre-Budget Submission for the Federal Budget 2024-25 to counter increasing misinformation on social media creating dietary deficiencies such as an increasing number of young women, who are planning pregnancy or already pregnant opting for plant based milks such almond, soy or oat milk coffee as an alternative to standard cow’s milk, which is a source of iodine and alternate milks do not include.

Understanding factors of persistent lower back pain in women

Lizzy Quinn is a Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist with 20 years experience focusing on people with spinal pain. Australian Health Journal spoke with Lizzy on the complexities of persistent lower back pain in women.

Lower back pain in women in their 30s, 40s, and 50s is complex to treat due to the combination of physical and emotional factors, and health professionals need to stay updated on best practices and science to provide the best recovery platform for patients. These women typically have busy lives, pressures, and expectations.

Landmark research projects tackle critical issues in emergency healthcare

For two decades, the demand for emergency department services in Australia has outpaced population growth and wait times have increased. In 2022-2023 more than 8.8 million emergency department presentations occurred nationwide.

While demand is a contributing factor, EDs are currently being impacted by various factors across the entire health system.

The Emergency Medicine Foundation (EMF) is a non-profit organisation funding innovative Australian research that improves the way people are cared for in a medical emergency. The aim of the research is to deliver better and more effective health services to save lives and money.

Empowering underprivileged communities with sustainable health

Dr Gaj Panagoda, CEO of Xstitch Health, has a diverse medical background and is working to improve health systems for underprivileged communities. In the Australian Health Journal’s People In Health Care series, he talks about the changes needed in community-based care using a project based approach,

According to Dr Panagoda, there is a need for a shift towards community-based care and collaboration with stakeholders in the healthcare system, and the potential to create a new kind of socially conscious, inspired, community-informed medical specialist is the future of medical specialty care.

Alfred Hospital leading in pharmacy services for critically unwell patients

Cristina Roman, is the Lead Pharmacist at Alfred Emergency Trauma Centre. In her 12 years working in the Emergency Department, Cristina has established pharmacy services, and filled gaps in patient care with new models of care.

One of those models of care adopted by the US and other countries, is involving pharmacists for critically unwell patients that present to the emergency department.

Australian Health Journal spoke with Cristina Roman and Lisa Bremner, Advanced Training Resident Pharmacist at Alfred Hospital Emergency Trauma Centre.

Cardiovascular Disease Risk Guidance and Calculator get long overdue update

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is responsible for significant morbidity and premature mortality in Australia. Ischaemic heart disease was the leading cause of death in 2020 and cerebrovascular disease was the third most common cause of death.

As the first major update to Australian CVD risk assessment guidelines in over a decade, the 2023 Australian Guideline for assessing and managing cardiovascular disease risk  and associated Aus CVD Risk Calculator reflect the latest evidence on assessing, communicating, and managing CVD risk. Developed using Australian-specific data and the latest evidence, it supersedes the 2012 Guidelines for the management of absolute cardiovascular disease risk.

Unleashing the potential of Paramedic skills and knowledge

According to a prominent paramedicine academic and researcher, paramedics have the potential to provide much-needed care in the community, changing the traditional healthcare model. Research points to paramedics having a wider healthcare workforce impact based on their ability to identify and fix problems 24/7.

Dr. Brendan Shannon is Head of Postgraduate Programs in the Department of Paramedicine at Monash University and a member of The Australasian College of Paramedicine. His interests including refining healthcare models, to ensure underserved communities receive requisite care. These alternative care pathways, like outreach programs, can work out of hospitals to provide care in underserved communities with social and complex chronic conditions.

Brain cancer Professor mentors Tasmanian researchers

Rosemary Harrup trained in Victoria and Tasmania in Medical Oncology and Clinical Haematology, completing a dual Fellowship in 2001. She is the current Director of Cancer and Blood Services at the Royal Hobart Hospital (RHH), a role she has held since 2009.

Australian Health Journal spoke to Rosemary about her journey in medicine and specifically her work in Clinical Trials in Brain Cancer and the value she placed on her senior clinicians as mentors and how she now mentors others.

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