The News – 2 July 2014

Overview

  • It is predicted Australia will see a growing trend towards doctors actively ‘prescribing’ health apps to monitor complex health issues.
  • The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has labelled a push by retail giant Woolworths to conduct in-store health checks as an attempt to “hoodwink” shoppers.
  • The amount of plastic floating on the ocean surface is less than expected according to scientists who have mapped plastic pollution in the world’s oceans.


Stories Discussed
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 2nd July 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-30/health-apps-wont-replace-doctor-visits-ama/5559832

It is predicted Australia will see a growing trend towards doctors actively ‘prescribing’ health apps to monitor complex health issues.

Advocates refer to it as the digitisation of health care with applications on smartphones, but experts say the technology will not replace the need for face-to-face doctor consultations.

There are more than 10,000 apps available to monitor heart rate and even sexually transmitted diseases.

Sometime in the future, biosensors applied to the body will be able to measure almost anything including blood pressure, glucose and oxygen concentration in the blood.

The data could then be sent wirelessly through smartphones to doctors, giving them a panoramic, high definition view of a patient that doctors can use to assess and manage a disease.

University of Western Sydney’s Dr Joanne Curry, who has developed award-winning health apps, says the volume of health-related apps is increasing.

“This is a very important and growing area for good proactive monitoring of one’s health,” Dr Curry said.

“If you can get the patient to actually monitor their condition more frequently while they’re at home you can capture things like their dizzy spells or their periods of inactivity.”

The Australian Medical Association’s Council of General Practice chairman, Dr Brian Morton, says the introduction of health apps is a good thing but the information needs to be monitored and interpreted.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-01/pharmacists-concerned-over-woolworths-offering-health-checks/5561230

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has labelled a push by retail giant Woolworths to conduct in-store health checks as an attempt to “hoodwink” shoppers.

Woolworths has confirmed it is hiring final year pharmacy students, graduating pharmacists and nurses to conduct health checks such as blood pressure and cholesterol in their stores.

A spokesman for Woolworths said six stores in New South Wales and Queensland have been trialling a system where nurses and pharmacy students offer customers basic health checks.

He has confirmed the scheme will be expanded to other sites across Australia.

He said if any customers have readings outside a normal range, they will be directed to a doctor or pharmacist for medical advice.

In an advertisement on employment website Seek.com, a company called XPO Brands is looking for “final year pharmacy students, graduate pharmacists and entry level nurses” to conduct checks such as blood pressure and cholesterol, and “engage in general health discussions”.

It says it wants someone who is “a real people person and happy to talk to shoppers passing by”.

But the Pharmacy Guild of Australia is concerned about the move, saying it is an attempt by the supermarket to “hoodwink consumers into believing they can get professional pharmacist advice and products from a supermarket”.

Pharmacy businesses are protected by rules that allow them to have a monopoly on dispensing prescription drugs.

The industry has thwarted attempts by the major supermarkets to increase competition and enter the pharmacy market.

The Federal Government recently reconfirmed its commitment that retail giants would not be allowed into pharmacy.

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2014/07/01/4036200.htm

The amount of plastic floating on the ocean surface is less than expected according to scientists who have mapped plastic pollution in the world’s oceans.

But, they say, that’s likely to be because the food chain is soaking up the smaller particles of plastic, known as microplastics.

“Based on trends in plastic pollution we expected to find about 100 times more plastic than we actually found,” says study co-author Professor Carlos Duarte from the University of Western Australia.

“But the reason is probably because it is being removed by fish and entering the ocean food web.”

Since the introduction of plastic materials in the 1950s, the global production of plastic has increased rapidly. But, despite a growing awareness about the accumulation of plastic debris in our oceans, very little is known about how much plastic there is — or where it concentrates — in the open ocean.

To map the level and distribution of plastic in the world’s oceans, Duarte and his colleagues analysed the level of plastic debris in 3070 surface water samples collected from across the world as part of the Spanish Malaspina Circumnavigation Expedition.

Plastic pollution in the open ocean is much more widespread than previously thought, but there is less microplastic than expected, they report in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences .

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