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September 2007

EasyClaim slow

WA doctors are not racing to embrace the federal government's Easy Claim system. In theory, the good idea of allowing people to claim Medicare rebates at the same time as they pay their doctor's bill has been outweighed by the extra time in processing and the need for additional staff. The AMA has put forward a proposal that doctors be paid $1 for every claim made - pharmacists and banks receive a transaction fee. As a side issue, it was reported in the Financial Review that a number of senior AMA policy staff dealing with electronic health had resigned following the election of Dr Rosanna Capolingua.

Diluted WA health dollar

A report by the Federal Government shows that in 2005-2006, WA spent $3.5 billion in health (an increase of $170m) but due to a rising population this equated to $118 less per person than the preceding year (but still $894 per person, the second highest). The report also showed that the average number of beds per 1000 population fell 0.1 to 2.5 and the average waiting time for procedures increased by one day.

Thanks for the mammaries

Through years of IVF treatment (and afterwards), Busselton woman Sarah O'Brien struggled... ... Read More...
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August 2007

Origin experts downunder

With 103 confirmed international speakers, the six-day 5th International Congress on Developmental Origins of Health & Disease coming to Perth (Nov 6) promises great things in preventive health - just when State Health is moving in that direction. Sponsorship by WA's Womens and Infants Research Foundation and government has attracted the biennial conference to the southern hemisphere for the first time, thanks also to intensive lobbying from convenor Prof John Newnham. Over 500 delegates are expected from obstetrics, paediatrics, general practice and medical research. Not surprisingly, pharmaceutical sponsors are absent, given this conference is about preventing illness. See  for more details.

Rated or overinflated?

Remember "Rate" ( from last month's Have You Heard? Ratings of WA medicos have now tripled. While there are plenty of comments like "if its bones you got a problem with, he is your man" - one worrying note cropped up on a specialist's record: "He appeared either extremely tired or otherwise impaired - slurred speech, blurry eyes, inattention, etc. His treatment has resulted in permanent and disabling damage..." The site's FAQ counsels that if you think your rating is unfair, your only course is to post a comment. Imperiously, they state they will not remove doctors' names and lawsuits will not work (quoting some US laws - pfft!), adding this pearl of wisdom: "this site is only going to get more popular as time goes by, so the best way of dealing with it is to use it rather than try to fight it."

QEII angst

While the Reid report's focus has been closing Royal Perth and opening the new Fiona Stanley hospital, the expansion of QEII is causing angst ... ... Read More...
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Beneath the Drapes. July 2007

Dr Peter Silberstein was named in this year's Queen's Birthday honours for "service to medicine, particularly as a paediatric neurologist, and through executive roles with disability support organizations." Dr Mike Daly was honoured for "service to medicine, particularly to veterans in the fields of counselling and stress related illness."

Ms Lorraine Glover, previously sales and marketing manager at Visiomed, has been promoted to executive manager with responsibility for "coordinating the integration of the company's operational divisions and providing support in the areas of marketing and investor relations".

Mr Scott Thompson has taken over ...

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July 2007

Rate your mates

In the tradition of popular websites such as "Rate Your", new website "Rate" has been franchised into Australia from the US (where else?). The site encourages patients to rate their doctors on a scale of 1 to 5 on their punctuality, helpfulness, and knowledge. According to the Herald Sun, 270,000 US doctors have been rated on the site and some have sued patients for libel because of less-than-flattering comments. As of this writing (late June), six WA GPs and one surgeon had been rated by their patients. Five scored perfectly on all counts (showing there is such a thing as the perfect doctor!) while one GP was given a "grumpy face" score of 2 out of 5.  Draw your own conclusions at

Samples at the door, kids

Drug testing is in vogue. Random screening is the norm in the mining industry and the AFL has come under pressure from the government to tighten its testing procedures (Ben Cousins, anyone?). In turn (and in spite), the AFL players association proposed random drug testing of pollies and bureaucrats. But is drug testing in the wider community such a ludicrous idea? Perth doctor George O'Neil doesn't think so. George sees the pointy end of drugs through his addiction treatment clinic and has called for high school students to be regularly screened for drugs. ‘Ice' and amphetamines are rampant on our streets and yet the best the government can come up with is this month's drug summit. How about less talk and more action?

HDWA's dirty linen

Keeping its dirty linen well out of sight seems to be the WA Health Department's favoured approach ...

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Beneath the Drapes. June 2007

Long term trustee Mr Don Good has been appointed Chairman of Trustees for St John of Good Health Care, replacing Sister Isobel Moran who held the role for seven years. It may be a sign of the times that an accountant is taking over from a nun.

Still at St John of God, Ms Anna Roberts has been appointed inaugural Mental Health Program Coordinator ... ... Read More...
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June 2007

Canadian cash cow

Canadian operation is now targeting Australian doctors, medical students and nurse practitioners with free CME activities. As elsewhere, ‘free' means financed by the pharmaceutical industry while the RACGP and ACCRM are paid to accredit. Heavy promotion is through regular email broadcasts and prizes offered to survey participants, with results used to fine tune content and provide feedback to sponsors. Its all about creating awareness around a product or service within a clinical area - educational grants generate particular content, usually from specialists, paid by mdBriefCase to write independently with "AMA standards for scientific validity, objectivity and completeness" whatever that is.

Govt fat burn fans

Aussies are fat, with 80% dying from preventable diseases. A stunning proactive move by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has been the 4-year Australian Better Health Initiative ($250m from the feds and $24.6m from State coffers). Even the federal opposition has a new shadow minister for Sport and Recreation and Health Promotion in Senator Kate Lundy - to help people live healthy, active lives and cut the estimated $1.5 billion preventable disease bill for Oz. Wow! The public sector Australian Health Promotion Association is trumpeting support, with eyes on the new preventive health budget no doubt. They run an annual conference and publish the Health Promotion Journal of Australia to add science to what we already know.

Kalamunda curtailed

Despite earlier talk of a GP-focussed community hospital at Kalamunda, the reality is ... ... Read More...