National eHealth Strategy Summary

The World Health Organisation defines E-Health as "the combined use of electronic communication and information technology in the health sector." In more practical terms, E-Health is the means of ensuring that the right health information is provided to the right person at the right place and time in a secure, electronic form for the purpose of optimising the quality and efficiency of health care delivery.

The development of an effective Australian e-health strategy is of paramount importance. This change will require a fundamental shift in the way information is accessed and shared across the health system. We have to create an environment where consumers, care providers and health care managers can reliably and securely access and share health information in real time across geographic and health sector boundaries.

Depend on group to talk things through

Ms Shoveller’s successful treatment for codependence and depression prompted her to start her own local branch of Codependence Anonymous which will hold its inaugural weekly meeting at the Orange Community Centre on March 4.

Forensic unit to create 150 jobs

Orange's new forensic mental health unit being built as part of the new hospital facility at Bloomfield will create more than 150 new jobs. Doctors, nurses and administrative support staff will be recruited to run the unit which will comprise 20 beds. Making up the unit will be an additional 40 beds, however these beds will be part of a rehabilitation program.

Maternity Services Report

The report on Maternity Services follows a review led by Chief Nurse and Midwifery Officer Rosemary Bryant and is a key step in developing a national plan for maternity services. The report focuses on the need to improve the choices available to pregnant women, access to high quality maternity services, and support for the maternity services workforce.

Recommendations include:

* Improving choice for Australian women by supporting an expanded role for midwives
* Consideration of the expansion of access to Medicare and the PBS for midwives - but only if accompanied by stringent professional requirements for midwives
* Consideration of support for professional indemnity insurance for midwives
* The development of new national cross-professional guidelines to support collaborative multidisciplinary care in line with best practice
* Consideration of the establishment of a single integrated pregnancy-related telephone support line
* Improved data collection and analysis, and further research
* Providing increased support for the maternity workforce, particularly in rural Australia

Livewire : online community supporting chronically ill children

It is estimated there are over 400,000 children and young people aged 10-21 years old coping with the impact of living with a serious illness, a chronic condition or a disability in Australia.

Illness and disability can profoundly affect the everyday lives of kids, teens and young people by increasing their risk of social isolation, disconnection, lower peer acceptance and lower emotional wellbeing. Maintaining relationships with family, friends and other young people with a shared experience is essential. Connecting this group of children and young people via an online community is a solution.

That is why the Starlight Foundation launched the groundbreaking online community Livewire.

Livewire is a safe and fun online community for young people (aged over 10 and under 21 years) living with a serious illness, chronic condition or disability. Livewire is a supportive place for them to hang out,connect, share experiences, creatively express themselves and realise that they are not alone in their situation.

Medpedia : the world of medicine online.

First there was Wikipedia, now comes the medical equivalent, Medpedia. In association with Harvard Medical School, Stanford School of Medicine, Berkeley School of Public Health, University of Michigan Medical School and other leading global health organizations, Medpedia will be a commons for the gathering of the information and people critical to health care..

Intended Uses and Benefits:

* Reference source for both medical professionals and the lay-public covering information about health, medicine and the body
* Forum for individuals and groups to be recognized for their areas of expertise
* Clearinghouse of bio-medical journal articles, data, research, and educational materials
* Forum for debating emerging issues
* Platform for advancing medical knowledge

Users of the platform include physicians, consumers, medical and scientific journals, medical schools, research institutes, medical associations, hospitals, for-profit and non-profit organizations, expert patients, policy makers, students, non-professionals taking care of loved ones, individual medical professionals, scientists, etc.

Rural areas have poorer oral health (AIHW report)

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has released a new report Geographic variation in oral health and use of dental services in the Australian population 2004-06

The report shows that people living in non-capital-city areas were less likely to visit the dentist for check-ups, less likely to make an annual dental visit, and less likely to have a particular dentist that they usually visit.

Those who had visited a dentist in the previous 12 months were more likely to have had one or more teeth extracted and less likely to have received a professional clean.Inadequate natural dentition (having less than 21 teeth) was more prevalent among non-capital-city residents, particularly in the 55-74 years age group.Overall, people who lived in areas outside capital cities had almost double the prevalence of complete tooth loss as capital-city dwellers (9% compared with 5%), with the difference evident in all age groups.Untreated decay was also more prevalent among residents of non-capital-city areas than capital-city dwellers (33% compared with 22%).

Media release

Options for reforming Australia's health system

In health policy debates in recent years, a range of different models have been proposed for reforming the Australian health system. When presented in isolation, these models can be confusing, particularly for those for whom the health system is unfamiliar territory.

As such, this Background Note is intended as a guide to some of the main recent proposals for health reform. The Note focuses on the main features of each model and seeks to explain what problems they are intended to address and how they differ from one another. The Note also highlights some of the main criticisms that are made of each.

A Healthier Future for all Australians: Interim Report of the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission

The Interim Report of the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission (NHHRC) "A Healthier Future for all Australians" was released today at the National Press Club in Canberra.

The report proposes 116 reform directions across the spectrum of health service delivery from a healthy start to life to end of life care, covering a range of issues including governance of the health system, primary health care, prevention, Indigenous health, hospitals, aged care, workforce, mental health, and rural health.

The report presents the Commission's reform agenda under four themes :

* Taking responsibility: individual and collective action to build good health and wellbeing by people, families, communities, health professionals, employers and governments;

* Connecting care: comprehensive care for people over their

* Facing inequities: recognise and tackle the causes and impacts of
health inequities; and

* Driving quality performance: better use of people, resources, and evolving knowledge.

Costing a social insurance scheme for dental care (National Health and Reform Commission)

This paper elaborates on the DentiCare proposal contained in the Commission's interim report.

Australian Dental Association response

Involving fathers in early childhood services (Website)

The University of Newcastle's Family Action Centre joined forces with Good Beginnings - a national early childhood charity - to develop this new website, offering free tools, guides and tips for early childhood centres to involve fathers more in their activities. The website contains examples of programs, research evidence about the benefits to children of father involvement and a set of training DVDs for workers and parents.

Press Release

Radical surgery: The only cure for NSW Hospitals / Wolfgang Kasper / The Centre for Independent Studies

Kasper argues that "NSW public hospitals are plagued by massive systemic failures, as diagnosed in the Garling report. At the same time, hospital costs are blowing out, and may yet bankrupt the NSW budget despite a massive federal bailout under the COAG agreement. The situation requires dramatic and fundamental changes to hospital management not additional layers of bureaucratic control or more federal subsidies." His recommendations include autonomy and diversity for individual hospitals, a liberation from bureaucracy and the instigation of a revenue for services system, involving bed vouchers.

Resources for bushfire victims and those working to assist them - Australian Psychological Society

A wide range of resources for people affected by the bushfires and for those working to assist them have been made available by the Australian Psychological Society (APS).

Some resources are designed primarily for survivors, to help them cope with their distress and the psychological reactions that typically emerge after such a traumatic experience. Other resources are designed primarily for those working to assist survivors, including counsellors, psychologists, GPs and other disaster relief workers. These outline current best practice strategies for helping survivors cope with their immediate and short-term distress, emphasising the value of basic practical and emotional support. There are also a number of web-links that provide information about monitoring survivors for signs of risk in the longer-term, and for providing appropriate referrals or treatment where indicated.

Australian Guidelines for the Treatment of Adults with Acute Stress Disorder and Postraumatic Stress Disorder.

With the Victorian bushfires dramatically emphasising the trauma of natural disasters, it is perhaps timely that an upcoming Rural Health Education Foundation broadcast deals with the Australian Guidelines for the Treatment of Adults with Acute Stress Disorder and Postraumatic Stress Disorder.

The guidelines, developed by the Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health, cover best practice in screening and treatment for a wide range of posttraumatic situations. Also available are Anger Practice Guidelines and Alcohol Practice Guidelines. The guidelines may be downloaded or ordered in hard copy for a minimal cost.

Oral health in rural populations and the Shepparton Declaration

The disparity between the oral health of people living in rural areas in Australia and metropolitan populations is striking.

* Rural adults are one and a half times more likely to have no natural teeth than the general population.
* People living in rural areas are more likely than urban dwellers to report avoiding eating food due to dental problems.
* People living in rural areas are more likely to be hospitalized for preventable dental conditions than people living in metropolitan areas.
* A person living in rural Australia is less likely to have visited a dentist in the last 12 months than someone living in an urban area.

The Oral Health of Rural Populations in Australia Symposium in Shepparton on Friday 26 September 2008 examined the reasons and experiences behind these facts and considered innovative and realistic approaches to improving oral health in rural areas.As a result of the symposium, dentists and health academics have drafted the Shepparton Declaration - a call for new ideas and action to reduce the city-country divide in oral health.

Healthy societies : addressing 21st Century health challenges

In her paper, Healthy societies : addressing 21st Century health challenges, Professor Ilona Kickbusch argues that we are at a turning point in health policy and that changes in the existing health care system will not be sufficient to maintain and improve our health. Both our extensive knowledge about what creates health, as well as the exponentially rising rates of chronic disease, obesity and mental health problems, indicate that we need to shift course and apply a radically new mindset. Although primarily directed at South Australia, the report has national and international relevance.

Professor Kickbusch is one of the world's leading experts on public health, health promotion and global health. This paper follows her stay in Adelaide on the Government of South Australia's Thinker in Residence program.

Global Health Watch 2: An alternative world health report

Global Health Watch 2: An Alternative World Health Report covers many topics, such as access to medicines, mental health, water and sanitation, nutrition, and war and conflict. It draws attention to the politics of global health and the policies and actions of key actors. The report is not only an educational resource for health professionals and activists, but also makes clear the need for global health advocates to engage in lobbying key actors to do better and to do more, whilst resisting those that do harm.

Reducing harm to patients from healthcare associated infection: the role of surveillance (draft report)

This draft report from the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care seeks to explore options for surveillance systems to monitor health care associated infection and provide timely feedback to jurisdictions, managers and clinicians.

A future for food

The Public Health Association (PHAA), has developed A Future for Food - an initiative calling on government, professionals and industry to work together to establish a national integrated food policy to enable the nation to meaningfully address the issues of public health, sustainability and equity when it comes to our food supply.

Preventing falls and harm from falls in older people: Best practice guidelines for Australian hospitals and residential aged care facilities 2008

These guidelines, developed by Marilyn Cruickshank and John Ferguson of the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, are specifically written for use in public and private hospitals and residential aged care facilities. They are to be used to inform clinical practice and assist facilities to develop and implement practices to prevent falls and injuries from falls.

Men at work - and play (Menshed)

The Bathurst Menshed
opened yesterday as a uniquely Australian enterprise to address men's issues. "The Menshed will address issues such as men’s health - emotionally and socially - within the community by providing support in areas including hobbies,” according to Mr Buckby.

A shared vision for Indigenous health (Mental Health Workers)

A shared desire to recruit, educate and retain Indigenous mental health workers for regional and rural communities across NSW will see the signing of a new agreement between Charles Sturt University (CSU) and NSW Health on Tuesday 3 February.

At the heart of the new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is the Djirruwang Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health Program offered through CSU’s School of Nursing and Midwifery within the Faculty of Science.

Press release

Medication management in residential aged care

The National Prescribing Service developed this website containing resources and tools related to medication management. The site has been designed for registered nurses working in residential aged care.

Links are provided to a wide variety of sites giving access to the most up - to - date policies and regulations, codes for guidance and guidelines. Access to current information about medicines and downloadable Consumer Medicine Information leaflets are provided from the National Prescribing Service website.

Sleep and the Common Cold

Adults who slept fewer than 7 hours per night were almost three times more likely than longer sleepers to develop a cold after rhinovirus exposure.
Sleep deprivation can adversely affect immune function, and one study has suggested a link between poor sleep habits and increased risk for common colds (JAMA 1997; 277:1940). Researchers now report results from a prospective study of sleep habits and rhinovirus susceptibility.
Participants were interviewed daily for 14 days to assess sleep duration and "sleep efficiency" (the proportion of time in bed spent asleep). Information on several other variables (e.g., rhinoviral antibody titers, age, body-mass index, race, income, sex, smoking) was also collected to allow control for potential confounders. After this assessment, participants were placed in quarantine, exposed to an experimental rhinovirus (RV-39), and monitored for 5 days for signs and symptoms of illness. The outcome (a cold) was defined as infection (recovery of RV-39 from nasal lavage fluid or a 4-fold rise in RV-39 antibody titer) plus the presence of signs (mucus weight 10 g or nasal clearance time 35 minutes) or symptoms of a cold.
Of 153 individuals enrolled, 135 (88%) became infected, but only 54 (35%) and 66 (43%) developed a cold as determined by signs and by symptoms, respectively. Participants who averaged <7 hours of sleep per night had the highest risk for colds as determined by signs (odds ratio, compared with participants sleeping 8 hours/night, 2.9; 95% confidence interval, 1.2–7.3). Similarly, those with "sleep efficiency" <85% had the highest risk for colds after RV-39 exposure (OR, compared with the rest of the sample, 5.4; 95% CI, 1.5–19.1).
Comment: To the many benefits of good sleep we can now add protection from symptomatic rhinovirus infection. Data from this prospective investigation, combined with other study findings linking sleep duration to mortality and to heart disease morbidity, support a recommendation for 7–8 hours of sleep nightly. Further study of the link between sleep habits and disease susceptibility is warranted.
Daniel J. Diekema, MD, MS

Citation: Arch Intern Med 2009 Jan 12; 169:62

Measuring the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

This report provides a picture of the social and emotional wellbeing of Indigenous Australians. It is a useful resource for policy makers, administrators of programs and researchers with an interest in issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.