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Health Bulletin 16 July 2020

In this edition: funding for artificial intelligence, legislation to cut red tape for doctors. technology surges in the face of COVID-19, AMA encourages telehealth consultations continue, Easy English Guide to the Home Care Agreement and 2 new promotions within Russell Kennedy's Health team.

The latest insights from our Health Law team:

$19 Million for Artificial Intelligence health research projects

Legislation to cut red tape for doctors

Healthcare providers use of technology surges in the face of COVID-19

AMA calls for telehealth consultations to continue

Two new promotions within Russell Kennedy's Health team

Easy English Guide to the Home Care Agreement and updates to Russell Kennedy's Home Care & Resident Agreements

If you'd like to stay up to date with Russell Kennedy's insights, please sign up here.

 

$19 Million for Artificial Intelligence health research projects

On 29 June 2020 the Government announced $19 million in transformative medical research project funding which will fund applied artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a range of health conditions. The funding is sourced from the $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Applied Artificial Intelligence in Health grant. The Government announced a $5 billion, 10 year investment plan for the MRFF as part of its 2019-2020 budget.

Under the AI funding, the Centre for Eye Research Australia will be funded almost $5 million for a project exploring artificial intelligence systems to detect eye and cardiovascular diseases, the University of New South Wales will be funded almost $5 million for a project optimising treatments in mental health using AI and the University of Sydney will be funded approximately $7 million for two projects which will explore explainable machine learning to improve youth mental health care and translating AI networks to support clinical excellence in neuro diseases.

The Minister of Heath highlighted in his 29 June 2020 media release the critical nature of artificial intelligence to future health care, noting the potential health benefits from the funding to improve efficiency of research, inform clinical decision making and empower people to help manage their health.

The media release may be accessed hereInformation on the Medical Research Future Fund may be accessed here.

 

Legislation to cut red tape for doctors

The Department of Health has announced that the Health Insurance Act 1973 (Act) has been amended to remove red tape for general practitioners to access Medicare rebates.

Changes have been made to the Act so that the definition of ‘general practitioner’ is harmonised with the definition used by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) under the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme. This means that practitioners who are awarded Fellowship as a general practitioner are no longer required to make an application to Services Australia to access Medicare rebates. Services Australia will instead rely on the AHPRA National Register to determine general practitioner access to rebates through an automatic process.

The transitional arrangements will continue until 15 June 2021, and affected practitioners should be contacted by Services Australia.

You can read the Department of Health’s release here.

 

Healthcare providers use of technology surges in the face of COVID-19

The Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) has recently released statistics about the uplift in use of the My Health Record system during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There have been various changes to the delivery of health services during the pandemic, including an increased use of telehealth, electronic prescriptions, immunisation and patient records. 

ADHA records that:

  • 22.77 million My Health Records have been created, with 85% of those containing patient data;
  • 2.05 billion documents have been uploaded to My Health Record, including clinical documents, medicine documents and Medicare documents;
  • 97% of pharmacies are registered and 78% of those are using the platform;
  • 92% of GPs are registered and 82% are using; and
  • 95% of public hospitals are registered and 91% are using.

You can read more from the ADHA here. A further breakdown of the statistics is available here.

 

AMA calls for telehealth consultations to continue

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has called for Medicare-funded telehealth consultations to continue after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

Since the pandemic began, approximately 20 per cent of all doctor consultations are being provided via phone or video.

In March 2020, temporary telehealth services were included in the Medicare Benefits Schedule, in order to remove barriers to access during the pandemic.

Dr Tony Bartone, President of the AMA, said that the AMA “is working closely with the Minister to provide the Government with advice on how to move forward on the permanent retention of Medicare-funded telehealth arrangements, recognising that they need to be underpinned by a sustainable model that supports good medical practice”.

Given that telehealth consultations are widely available elsewhere in the world when a physical examination is not required, it will be interesting to see whether this relatively new practice in Australia will continue to be funded by Medicare into the post-pandemic future.

You can read the AMA’s full statement here.

 

Two new promotions within Russell Kennedy's Health team

Russell Kennedy is please to announce 18 new promotions, four of which are at the principal level.

Russell Kennedy would like to congratulate two members of our health team on their promotions; Kylie Walsh on her promotion to Principal, and Felicity Iredale on her promotion to Senior Associate.

Managing Director Paul Gleeson said “In this challenging market it is particularly satisfying to see our talented people continue to develop and progress their careers, contributing the further growth and success of the Firm.”

Read more about the Russell Kennedy promotions here

Kylie Walsh Kylie Walsh

 Principal

 P: 03 9609 1551
 E: kwalsh@rk.com.au

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Felicity Iredale Felicity Iredale

 Senior Associate

 P: 03 8602 7254
 E: firedale@rk.com.au

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Easy English Guide to the Home Care Agreement and updates to Russell Kennedy's Home Care & Resident Agreements

Russell Kennedy has recently finalised an Easy English Guide to the Russell Kennedy Home Care (HCP) Client Agreement. The Guide is an illustrated document aimed to help consumers understand and complete their Client Agreements. It uses simple pictures and easy to understand text to help home care providers and their staff explain the key aspects of a home care package and the Client Agreement. To download a sample, click here.

Graphic for ACSA newsletter - Easy English - Russell Kennedy

 

Learn more about Russell Kennedy's expertise in the Health sector here.

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