Murray PHN eNews #99 | Australia’s health report card


Edition 99  | Australia's health report card

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Australia's health report card released

Australia is generally a healthy nation but there are some key areas where we could do better, according to the latest report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). The two-yearly report card,  Australia's Health 2018,  was launched this week by the Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health.

The report shows that Australia sits squarely in the best third of OECD countries when it comes to life expectancy, with girls born in 2016 likely to live 84.6 years, while boys can expect to live to 80.4 years.

Fewer of us are smoking or putting ourselves at risk from long-term alcohol use than in the past. More of our children have been immunised and we're doing well in terms of preventing avoidable deaths.

At an individual level, we're feeling the effects of these good results, with more than 4 in every 5 Australians grading their own health to be at least "good" if not "very good" or "excelllent".

But with a population that is living longer, we are now experiencing higher rates of chronic and age-related conditions. For example, we know that older Australians use a higher proportion of hospital and other health services and 75 per cent of all PBS medicines were dispensed to people aged 50 and over. With  health spending continuing to rise - reaching $170 billion in 2015-16 and outstripping population growth - we see the important role our health system plays in both prevention and treatment.

Half of Australians have a common chronic health condition, such as diabetes, heart disease, a mental illness, or cancer. Importantly, almost a quarter of us have two or more of these conditions, often making our experiences of health and healthcare particularly complex.

Many chronic health conditions share common preventable risk factors, such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and not getting enough exercise - in fact, around one-third of our nation's "disease burden" is due to preventable risk factors.

To read the report, click here.

Aboriginal cultural safety training for the AOD sector
Murray PHN is excited to be  partnering  with the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) to bring free two-day cultural safety training sessions to health professionals, who deliver  alcohol and other drug (AOD) services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.The training aims to develop a skilled workforce who are better equipped to self-reflect on own practice, tailor engagement strategies, understand guiding principles for  co-occurring mental health and drug and alcohol issues for Aboriginal people and to understand socio-emotional wellbeing and recovery frameworks.

RSVP to attend an event closest to you  and note places are limited are for mainstream  general practice staff, alcohol and other drugs workers, mental health workers, housing workers, community and health workers, psychologists and  social workers who deliver services to people experiencing AOD substance misuse:


PSA testing for Prostate Cancer videos
In Victoria, all six PHNs are working together to promote the adoption of the prostate cancer Optimal Care Pathway (OCP) into primary health. Patient and health professional resources supporting this OCP  can be found on our website, in addition to three new videos:
  1. Dr Jane Crowe (featured above) talks to three patients in different scenarios, about the pros and cons of PSA testing and the importance of shared decision making - 17mins.
  2. Dr Crowe talks to a patient with no symptoms, who has specifically come in for a PSA test - 8 mins.
  3. Dr Crowe introduces the idea of PSA testing to a patient who has come in for an unrelated reason - 8 mins.

Are you NDIS ready?

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is one of the largest social and economic reforms in Australia since the introduction of Medicare in the 1970s. It replaces an old disability system that was unfair and inefficient with a new system that is world-leading, equitable and sustainable.

The NDIS has been gradually rolling out across Australia and is already providing support to more than 33,000 people with disability in Victoria and 160,000 Australians nationally (Q3 2017/18 data).

From 1 July 2018, an additional 150,000 Australians across the country may now be eligible to access the NDIS.
In Victoria the NDIS is being rolled out by area. People can apply to join the NDIS up to six months before it becomes available where they live. Go to the Victorian page  of the NDIS website to find out more.

Those who are currently receiving disability support services from State Government will be contacted as the NDIS becomes available in their area. Otherwise to join the NDIS, an application must:

  • meet residency requirements;
  • be for a person aged under 65 at the time they apply to access the NDIS; and
  • demonstrate that person has a permanent disability that affects their everyday life.

If you or someone you know would like to become a participant of the NDIS, the first step is for the person or their guardian (including carer or nominee), to complete an Access Request Form. This form can be obtained by contacting NDIA on
1800 800 110.

Industry collaborates to end the era of the fax machine
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council has approved Australia's National Digital Health Strategy - Safe, Seamless, and Secure. A key priority in the strategy is to end dependence on the fax machine and paper-based correspondence, by helping healthcare providers communicate with other professionals and their patients via secure digital channels.On 6 June 2018, key industry participants agreed to adopt the tools, processes, and standards that have been demonstrated to solve the interoperability problems across secure messaging and clinical information systems.

Through this collaboration, Australia is on track to end the use of fax machines in healthcare, with key industry players agreeing to the next steps to improve secure messaging of patient records between healthcare providers using clinical software.

Telstra Health is  leading a consortium to test the delivery of discharge summaries from Royal Melbourne Hospital to a range of GPs. CorePlus, Genie Solutions, Global Health, HealthLink, and Zedmed are also participating in this project.

Healthlink is leading a second consortium and is testing the delivery of referrals from a range of  GPs to specialists. MedicalDirector, Best Practice Software, Genie Solutions, Global Health, and Telstra Health are supporting this work.

The projects have  been extended to include allied health practitioners and electronic medical record (EMR) products used in that domain.  Read the release.

Gastroenterology pathways
It's Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and a  number of gastroenterology pathways have been localised to our region. The 'Bowel Cancer Follow-up - Post Treatment' pathway is in the final stages of being localised to our region.  Note that you must be registered and logged in to access the direct pathways links below. Health professionals in our region can get free access here.

Quick links to this edition's stories

Royal Flying Doctor Service mental health survey    mental health    

The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS), and research partners at the Australian Catholic University (ACU) are conducting a survey on Australian’s mental health literacy.

This research will assist in understanding how much Australians know about mental health conditions and provide insight into what needs to be done to improve services.   RFDS want to hear from people who live in all areas of Australia, including major cities, inner and outer regional areas, and remote and very remote areas. To find out more, or to complete this survey, click  here.

Are you prepared for real-time prescription monitoring?    SafeScript

Victoria's real-time prescription monitoring system - SafeScript - is scheduled to start later in 2018. The roll-out will initially be in the Western Victoria PHN catchment area before being extended to the rest of Victoria in early 2019. However, important regulatory changes are  effective from 2 July 2018:

To ensure complete and accurate data is recorded in SafeScript, the following is required:

  • Prescribers to include the patients date of birth on all prescriptions for medicines monitored through the system
  • Pharmacists to ensure the patient's date of birth is recorded in the patient's dispensing record relating to a monitored medicine
  • All community pharmacies that have not activated the connection with a prescription exchange service  need to contact their software vendor

For more information, contact the  SafeScript  implementation team:  /  (03) 9096 5633 or click here for more information.

Changes to childhood National Immunisation Program from 1 July    immunisation  

Changes to the childhood National Immunisation Program come into effect on 1 July 2018. This includes:

  • Routine infant Pneumococcal vaccination (Prevenar  13Â ®) will now be given at two, four and 12 months instead of at two, four and six months. Children with a higher risk will continue to receive this vaccine at two, four, six and 12 months as recommended befpre this change.
  • The combined Meningococcal C Conjugate-Haemophilus  Influenzae Type B (Menitorix) vaccine currently scheduled at age 12 months will no longer be given. Instead, it will be replaced by two vaccines: a  dose of Meningococcal ACWY Conjugate vaccine (Nimenrix ®) given at age 12 months, and a  dose of Monovalent Haemophilus Influenzae Type B  (ActHIB ®) vaccine at age  18 months

For more information, click here.

RACGP Green book 3rd edition now available    prevention    

The RACGP has just released the third edition of the Putting prevention into practice: guidelines for the implementation of prevention in the general practice setting  (the Green book).

GPs, general practice teams, and other health professionals are encouraged to refer to the new edition Green book which now includes signposted information for easy reference, and links to helpful resources for further reading. It provides  easy to follow and practical advice with successful real-life examples of implementing evidence-based preventive activities. The resource encourages and reflects a collaborative, whole-of-practice approach to prevention.

Are your patients asthma-ready for winter?    asthma  

Cold and flu viruses are very common triggers for people with asthma, and while patients ccan't always avoid them, they can lower their risk and the impact of a cold or flu triggering an asthma flare-up.Health professionals and care providers play a key role in helping to ensure that people living with asthma are taking the right steps to manage their asthma and be prepared for the winter colds and flu season - including following Asthma Australia's winter checklist and referring patients to its Patient Education Referral Service. For more information, click here.

What we heard about chronic disease
We know that costs of services, in particular dentistry (59%), prevent people from accessing services but transport (19%) and long distances (25%) to cardiologists, also mean that people are potentially missing out on life saving services.Since sending out the chronic disease results, the Royal Flying Doctor Service has been in contact to let our communities know that RFDS offers cardiology by telehealth across many of our local towns. Learn more about this service here.

To see the full Health Voices results  click here. Register to  be a Health Voice here

Murray PHN CPD Events
For the full Murray PHN CPD events calendar click here.

Murray PHN jobs

Regional news


Government news

Research and reports

External CPD events and education

  • Click here  to access a list of  CPD and education events delivered by other organisations  locally and nationally.

Training and courses



Grants and funding

Copyright  © 2018 Murray PHN, All rights reserved.
Every effort has been made to ensure that the information in this newsletter is accurate. Information in this  newsletter  may be duplicated in other media with due  acknowledgement  of the originating sources. Murray PHN does not  necessarily  endorse products and/or  services  advertised in this publication.Murray PHN gratefully acknowledges the financial and other support from the Australian Government Department of Health.
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