The Health News – 4 Nov 2014

Overview

  • The Telederm service was been developed by the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health under the Rural Health Outreach Fund (RHOF).
  • Two leading Sydney surgeons are calling on health authorities to make weight loss surgery available in the public health system to prolong people’s lives and save the public purse from the costs of obesity-related illnesses.
  • A Tamworth-based GP with 25 years experience has been recognised at the conference of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia and the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine.


Stories Discussed
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 4th November 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-03/nrn-telemedine-celebrates-10-years/5862040

Telemedicine is celebrating 10 years of sending images from a remote location for specialist diagnosis.

The Tele-derm service was been developed by the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health under the Rural Health Outreach Fund (RHOF).

It means dermatologists based in major hospitals can tell the patient quickly if they have just a rash, eczema or even skin cancer, melanoma.

The Dean of Medicine at James Cook University in Townsville, Professor Richard Murray, says you can send a digital image of your skin lesion rather than having to book and attend a specialist.

But while images are an appropriate use of e-health, there will be some limitations because of low bandwidth in the country.

“This is really important. Rural areas need to assume you can never take big city high bandwidth of a wealthy country as the accepted standard everywhere.

“We have to assume that the solutions we provide have to cope for low bandwidth and the example we just quoted, of sending an image, is very low bandwidth friendly. You don’t need high fidelity live two-way interaction and streaming, because what you’re seeing is an image.”

Diabetics in remote areas can expect some benefit.

Professor Murray describes the end stage kidney failure in remote Indigenous communities as an epidemic and the numbers are doubling every five years, even among the middle aged.

“(Telemedicine offers care like) consultants advice, because we know how to provide dialysis locally, so by skilling local GPs and nurses we can provide haemodialysis, machine-driven, in remote and isolated communities.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-03/surgeons-urge-weight-loss-surgery-in-public-health-system/5861398

Two leading Sydney surgeons are calling on health authorities to make weight loss surgery available in the public health system to prolong people’s lives and save the public purse from the costs of obesity-related illnesses.

In an editorial in the Medical Journal of Australia, Michael Edye, professor of surgery at the University of Western Sydney, and Dr Michael Talbot, senior lecturer in surgery at St George Hospital, said Australian patients were missing out on life-saving treatment because they could not afford it.

The procedures were the best treatment option for some patients, they said, and the cost of surgery would be offset by the savings accrued from not having to treat obesity-related conditions.

The doctors acknowledged that weight loss surgery was not the cure for the worldwide obesity epidemic but said it could play a key part in the nation’s response.

Dr Talbot said he had tried to convince public health authorities to offer the surgery for the past eight or nine years but said negotiations never progressed past the opening dialogue.

Obesity treatment centres which offer weight loss surgery to public patients are scarce.

Professor Edye said there are only a couple in NSW, seeing just a handful of cases each year.

The surgeons said there are a number of reasons for the lack of progress in establishing world’s best practice care for obese patients, the first being funding.

While hospital care is a state responsibility, the care of a chronic illness such as diabetes is covered by federal funding under Medicare.

The doctors said the second reason related to the way obesity is defined.

There is a prevailing view that obesity is a lifestyle disease and, as such, it is the responsibility of the patient to fix it.

Professor Edye and Dr Talbot suggest forming multi-disciplinary teams to supervise the care of a candidate for weight-loss surgery to make sure it is the most appropriate use of resources.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-03/tamworth-gp-named-rural-doctor-of-the-year/5861802

A Tamworth-based GP with 25 years experience has been recognised at the conference of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia and the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine.

Dr Jenny May has been named Rural Doctor of the Year.

Dr May said she’ll use the recognition to continue to advocate for training medical students in country areas, which she said is a way to keep the young Doctors in rural areas as they move into post-graduate training and beyond.

Dr May is the Clinical Dean of the University of Newcastle’s Department of Rural Health, based in Tamworth, and is responsible for supporting the 32 students studying at the Rural Clinical School each year.

She said keeping Doctors in regional areas requires long-term planning.

Dr May is completing a PhD, studying the recruitment and retention issues affecting regional centres.

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