Telstra News |

5 tips for a healthy holiday break

By Dr David Pan January 30, 2017

So you’ve made your travel plans, your bag is packed and the room with a view is all set. The last thing you want is to get sick, or run out of your usual medication when you’re are interstate or overseas. Dr David Pan shares his top five tips for making your summer getaway a healthy one:

1. See your GP – speak to your GP for a pre-travel consult to assess risk, need for vaccines and recommendations on medications to take in your travel medical kit.

2. Pack your regular prescription – even if you think you have enough of your regular medication on hand for the duration of your trip, pop your prescription in your bag just in case. It will come in handy if you lose your medication or have to answer questions from a custom official.

3. Be ready for tummy troubles – nearly everyone has experienced the dreaded ‘Bali Belly’, so make sure you pack oral rehydration sachets and speak to your doctor about the need for anti-nausea or anti-diarrhoeal medications if appropriate to take with you.

4. Keep up the H20 – Australian summers are notoriously hot, and we often celebrate with an alcoholic drink or two, so keeping hydrated is so important. Symptoms of dehydration are thirst, reduced urine output, dark urine as well as dizziness. There are lots of apps out there, like Water Drink Reminder, that can help you keep track of your water consumption.

5. Slip, slop, slap – make sure you pack a good sunscreen and a wide brimmed hat alongside your eReader and magazines. Nothing ruins a holiday like a painful sunburn. The Cancer Council’s SunSmart App helps you understand your sun exposure and what you need to do to stay protected.

But as much as we plan ahead for a great break, sometimes things just happen. Your daughter gets sick at 3am when you’re interstate. You misplaced your asthma inhaler and now the local pharmacy is closed.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a doctor you could call anytime day or night? Many people don’t realise that services like this already exist, which is just one of the benefits of a healthcare system that is more connected and better able to provide you with advice and care no matter where you are.

We hope you don’t need a service like this on your holiday but it’s good to know that they exist if you need them. Enjoy your summer break wherever you go and do what you can to ensure it is a healthy one.

This guide contains general information only and does not replace advice from a qualified health professional. If you require emergency assistance, please call 000 for immediate help.

Telstra News |

Closing the gap on Indigenous Australians health

By Greg Robinson September 2, 2016

Telstra Health’s Greg Robinson explains how the Communicare electronic health record system is playing a small part in closing the gap on Indigenous Australians health.

It is a disappointing reality that Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face a shorter life expectancy when compared to the non-Indigenous population. The mortality rates for the Indigenous population are consistently higher than the non-Indigenous mortality rates across all age groups, but especially for those below 65 years. Since 2006, Australia’s peak Indigenous and non-Indigenous health bodies, NGOs and other government departments have worked together in striving for equality in health and life expectation for Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This is known as the Close the Gap campaign.

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, health and wellbeing means:

“ … not just the physical well-being of an individual but refers to the social, emotional and cultural well-being of the whole Community in which each individual is able to achieve their full potential as a human being, thereby bringing about the total well-being of their Community. It is a whole-of-life view and includes the cyclical concept of life-death-life.

Health care services should strive to achieve the state where every individual is able to achieve their full potential as a human being and this bring about the total well-being of their community.”

National Aboriginal Health Strategy, 1989

How Communicare helps

For more than 20 years, Communicare has helped Indigenous community health services to close the ‘Gap’. Communicare is a community focused electronic health record system that captures everything relevant to the patient and all the services provided by the health service.

It’s more than just traditional medical information though – Communicare records the life story of the patient. The detailed and comprehensive medical record is complemented by the details of the person’s social and family history, allowing the health service to analyse and evaluate outcomes and make decisions to improve healthcare in their communities.

These communities are identified as regional, remote or very remote. I’m personally very proud that Communicare is the Electronic Medical Record system now used by more than 65% of Indigenous Health Services in Australia. Our footprint extends from Bamaga at the tip of Australia on the Cape York Peninsula to Circular Head in Tasmania as well as some of the most remote communities of the APY Lands (Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands) in the north west South Australia, 200 communities of the Kimberley and many ocean facing communities of Arnhem land, to mention just a few.

In time, the data in Communicare becomes a rich repository of structured population health information about the health and wellbeing of the community, enabling decisions that can change patient outcomes and avoid acute admissions. Our Indigenous Health Services customers are very passionate about their impact on Indigenous health care, and use Communicare to plan and demonstrate their achievements in managing the health needs of their community in their location.

We’ll continue to work with Indigenous Health Services to further improve Communicare, and we’re proud to be part of Telstra Health, rolling out the National Telehealth Connection Service to 15 more communities in the Northern Territory in the next three years. Together, these solutions will allow patients to stay in their community for a range treatment options, while consulting with medical specialists in urban areas via telemedicine when needed.

It’s our small, but important, contribution to help closing the gap in Indigenous Health.

Communicare is a bespoke “whole of population” electronic health record system in the comprehensive and multidisciplinary primary health sector. It:

  • has helped manage 400,000+ patients and perform 1.2m episodes of care
  • is used in >200 locations, by 1,000 service providers
  • is used in 65% of the 200 + Indigenous and Government Health services across the country
  • was acquired by Telstra Health in 2013.
Telstra News |

Get ready for winter ills

By Dr David Pan June 2, 2016

There’s lots of things to look forward to with the arrival of winter, but getting sick and being unable to see your doctor is not one of them. Dr David Pan explains how telemedicine can help.

While winter brings the joys of ski season, hearty soups, log fires and additional layers of fashion, it also means an increase in coughs, colds and flus. In my work as a GP, I see first-hand the extra demand for appointments as people need check-ups, medical certificates or medication.

There’s a range of steps you can take to reduce your chance of getting sick in the first place, from regularly washing your hands, coughing into a tissue or armpit and not touching your eyes or nose. In addition, I encourage everyone to get a flu vaccination and if you do get sick, stay away from the workplace or school to avoid spreading your germs to others.

Colds and flu are more prevalent in winter because people tend to stay indoors, closer together, so disease is spread more easily. While there is no cure for the common cold, people often need to see a GP to get a medical certificate and to ensure that they are not actually experiencing something more severe like a flu or bacterial infection requiring antibiotics.

Last year we launched Telstra ReadyCare, a 24/7 telemedicine service that allows you to talk to an Australian based and qualified GP using telephone or video.

It’s great for coughs, colds and flus when you can’t get an appointment to see your regular GP. Following a series of clinical protocols, we can diagnose you, advise treatment, prescribe medication if needed and provide you with a medical certificate. In addition, if you agree, we provide a summary of our treatment to your regular GP.

It means if you or a family member get sick on the weekend, late at night or your regular doctor is fully booked, you can still get quality medical care in a way that is convenient. And let’s face it, when you’re sick, rugged up in bed and it’s cold and wet outside, seeing a doctor should be easy.

To help take the pain out of medical appointments during this time however we’re running a special price of $29 for ReadyCare appointments until the end of July, following which the price will return to the usual $69 fee per consultation.

While we hope you and your family stay healthy this winter, our friendly doctors are just a call away if you need medical care and you can’t access your usual GP.

To access the service simply call 1800 732 392 or click below.

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Telstra News |

Why the Information Revolution in healthcare won’t wait any longer

By Tim Kelsey March 10, 2016

Better use of data and technology has the power to improve health and wellbeing and transform the quality and value of health and care services.

Telstra Health is in a unique position to harness the power of the modern information revolution for patients and citizens in Australia and around the world – I am delighted to be joining the business as its new strategy and commercial director.

The internet touches every part of our society: it has made things faster, cheaper and better. More than three quarters of citizens in Australia (and in the UK) go online every day. But the mobile revolution that has transformed so much of the rest of our lives does not support us nearly well enough as patients, citizens or care-givers.

Recent research shows that doctors and nurses can spend up to 70% of their time in administration – access to new mobile solutions, such as tools that report the vital signs of their patients in real time, reduce that. Many patients want access to online health services so that they can easily book appointments or order routine prescriptions from home; others want to access their medical data and share it with health apps they can trust.

Why shouldn’t clinical professionals be enabled by technology to do their jobs better? Why shouldn’t patients have a world-class customer experience when they are sick? Everybody has their own stories: but we all know healthcare needs to do better.

I have spent the past four years working as the National Director for the NHS in England, responsible for putting data and technology best to work for citizens and the professionals who serve them.

Each year the NHS spends around A$200bn on care services – it is the largest unitary public health system in the world and it has prioritised the introduction of new digital services because of the clear evidence that they make healthcare safer, more convenient and better value for money. Patients in England are now able to book appointments with GPs online, order repeat prescriptions and access their medical records in real time; by 2018 clinicians in emergency care will no longer need paper records to treat their patients – all relevant medical information will be digital and real time. The NHS has made a great start but there is much more that needs to be done – Telstra Health is already supporting it to realise the benefits that new data technologies offer.

Before that I worked for the British government as the country’s first director of Transparency and Open Government where I oversaw reforms which gave much greater public access to information about local health and other public services – including about individual surgeons and local hospitals, so that people could make more informed decisions about where they wished to go for treatment.

My journey into health started back in 2000 when I co-founded a business called Dr Foster which pioneered new approaches to measuring quality in healthcare – what that taught me is the power of digital information in improving services. It seems extraordinary that most health services in the world do not have accurate information about who uses their services, or why, or at what cost – and this makes them, in the worst cases, harmful. One of the worst tragedies in the recent history of the NHS – at Stafford Hospital in the West Midlands, in which several hundred people are thought to have died avoidably from poor quality care – was the result, in large part, of a shocking absence of management information about the standards of its services.

Better data in healthcare is a social as much as an economic imperative: without it, health services are dangerous and most likely to operate with unsustainable inefficiency. This is why Dr Foster – and the broader hospital services and health informatics businesses in Telstra Health – are such an important priority: already working with partners in Australia and around the world to transform the costs and quality of health and care.

There is another key reason for society to harness the power of the Information Revolution in healthcare – and that is to keep health services at the cutting edge of medical science. I had the privilege of leading for the NHS on the implementation of a new national programme to sequence 100,000 whole human genomes and understand how this transformational new approach to the diagnosis and treatment of diseases like cancer could work best for patients. The cost of sequencing a genome has dropped from $2bn to under $1,000 in less than a decade.

But none of the benefits of these new breakthrough sciences can be delivered if health services are not digital, or able to analyse complex human data – or indeed if citizens and patients are not able to access their data online and make sense of it.

One day we’ll all look back and wonder how we let the health services we rely on for the care of our families get so far behind the rest of our lives. I’ve moved to Australia because the Information Revolution in healthcare won’t wait any longer – and Telstra Health is leading the way.

Telstra News |

Hybrid cloud a game-changer for radiology

By Michael Boyce November 24, 2015

Research shows that 1 in 6 hospital admissions in Australia run duplicate radiology tests because health professionals have had no access to previous results. This means greater costs and wasted time because x-rays, MRIs and other radiology studies are often filmed on unique, incompatible systems – meaning files can only be viewed by people with the same system – and are not shared across locations.

A new solution recently implemented by Telstra Health however is changing the way radiology is delivered by digitising the process and increasing access and convenience for both patients and radiologists.

The vendor neutral image and data management service provides radiologists with the ability to view x-rays, MRIs and other radiology studies, regardless of location or the system used to capture the image. Leading diagnostic imaging provider Capital Radiology signed as our foundation customer in July and we have now deployed the solution to 55 of their clinics.

The hybrid cloud/on-site solution sees radiology studies transmitted to a centralised storage facility through Telstra data connectivity links and then managed using the Mach7 Vendor Neutral Archive (VNA) software, provided by Telstra Health’s third party supplier, 3D Medical. The service will deliver long-term image storage including back-up of all images at a secondary site.

It means more convenient access to images and reports and reduced time taken for a diagnosis to be delivered to patients. For radiologists and radiology firms it leads to more efficient use of skills and resources, allowing images to be automatically routed to the most appropriate radiologist available depending on the type of image or skill set required.

It also means second reviews can be conducted or reports archived without concern as to what system was used to capture the image. This solution particularly lends itself to radiology providers who outsource their reporting services to teleradiology organisations.

When a patient sets an appointment the service can pre-fetch prior studies of that person, making the patient’s history available at the radiologist’s fingertips.

In designing our strategy at Telstra Health we know that the key to building a connected healthcare system is interoperability – having different programs talk to each other and allowing data to be shared across platforms. This solution is a great example of how connecting the health system can deliver real outcomes. Where radiologists previously had to be using the same imaging system, they can now use different systems but share files, regardless of location, software or hardware.

In the future this will mean patients will be able to create a holistic image history, pulling files and images from different providers, in different locations and have one, single source of their radiology history.

And those days of having to awkwardly carry oversized envelopes while working crutches or an arm in a sling may be one step closer to the memory bank as healthcare moves one step closer to the benefits of the digital era.

Discover more on how Telstra Health is making healthcare easier.