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Health News

Money worries worsen workforce wellbeing crisis

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Money worries worsen workforce wellbeing crisis

SONDER

Financial insecurity is leading to poorer employee wellbeing and is exacerbating Australia’s workforce wellbeing crisis, medical experts suggest.

Official statistics have laid bare the economic fragility of Australia’s workers, and lifted the lid on a workforce in serious physical and psychological distress. Inflation has jumped to 6.1 per cent over the year to June – the fastest pace in more than 30 years. Medical experts are warning of a worsening workforce crisis as workers grapple with the soaring cost of living, and poorer overall wellbeing.

 Key Points:  

  • The latest census statistics reveal more than 8m Australians have a long-term health condition, with mental health issues surpassing every other chronic illness. Census data also highlights increased cost of living pressures, as Australians face paying bigger mortgages and higher rentsAustralia’s inflation rate, or CPI, is currently at a record high.  Meanwhile, official labour statistics show that Australia’s underemployment rate has increased to 6.1 per cent and that people are working fewer hours than usual due to their own illness or injury or sick leave.
  • The figures correspond with the findings of a Sonder-commissioned survey of 1,025 employees in Australia working more than 20 hours per week. The sobering survey shows that employees are not feeling physically and/or psychologically safe at work, and that employee concern about mental wellbeing is affecting workplace attendance rates.
    • 42 per cent of employees reported taking time off work in the last 12 months due to concerns about their mental wellbeing, with 26 per cent of respondents reporting taking time off work in the last year due to concerns about the mental wellbeing of their friends or family.
    • Survey respondents who worked part time or casually were more likely to feel uncomfortable talking to their manager about mental wellbeing (43 per cent), compared with 31 per cent of respondents who worked full time.
    • Respondents who were full-time employees were more likely to be aware of wellbeing programs offered in the workplace (74 per cent), compared to 59 per cent of respondents who were part time or casual employees.
  • Sonder’s Medical Director and Specialist Physician, Dr Jamie Phillips, said that Australians were making impossible compromises to the detriment of their overall health.
    • “People are having to make difficult health-purchasing decisions and are priortising their basic human needs, such as paying their rent or mortgage, over paying for prescriptions or seeking medical care,” he said.
    • “Too many Australians are not getting the help they need, and this has been exacerbated by the recent cost of living stress on household budgets. This has broad implications for individuals, their families, their employers, their communities, and the wider society. Left untreated, problems escalate, which means higher treatment costs for individuals, plus increased absenteeism and lost productivity at work,” he said.
  • Dr Phillips added that diverse groups— including women, LGBTQ+ employees, First Nations, people of colour, and working-class families were struggling the most.
    • “We know that people within specific social groups have greater exposure to more challenging work environments, such as physically-demanding jobs, shift work, and precarious and insecure employment,” he said.
  • Dr Phillips said that the link between mental, financial, and physical wellbeing is well documented, but modern healthcare tends to view an individual’s health and wellness as a series of individual components.
    • “The latest Government report into Australia’s mental health services states that people living with mental illness are more likely to develop physical illnesses and die earlier. Research suggests that just 14 per cent of this gap in life expectancy can be attributed to suicide, while almost 80 per cent can be attributed to physical health conditions,” he said.
    • The Government acknowledges that the reasons why people living with mental illness are more likely to develop physical illnesses are complex. But factors include reduced access to and quality of healthcare due to financial barriers, alongside stigma and discrimination among healthcare providers.”
  • Dr Phillips said that systemic healthcare issues, including the separation of mental and physical health services, may also lead to physical illness among people with mental illness.
    • “The report also highlighted a lack of capability among both generalist and specialist healthcare staff to deal with complex comorbidities,” he said.
    • “It’s clear that we need to invest in more personalised, holistic, and preventative approaches to care that consider a person’s cognitive, emotional, social, physical, financial and spiritual wellbeing at all times.”

 

Health News

AI-Powered MedTech Breakthrough: CSIRO and Singular Health Unveil Revolutionary Spinal Vertebrae Segmentation Technology

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An example of spinal segmentation software. CSIRO

AI-Powered MedTech Breakthrough: CSIRO and Singular Health Unveil Revolutionary Spinal Vertebrae Segmentation Technology

 

A groundbreaking AI-powered medical technology, developed through collaboration between CSIRO‘s Data61 and Australian Medical Imaging Company Singular Health, swiftly segments spinal vertebrae with an impressive 95% accuracy rate within a mere two minutes. This innovation holds the promise of revolutionising surgical planning and facilitating the design of customised implants for medical professionals.

Traditionally, the segmentation of spinal vertebrae in computerised tomography (CT) scans has demanded extensive manual labour, involving countless hours of meticulous identification and markups. However, the advent of AI automation heralds a transformative shift in this arduous process, significantly reducing time and effort while ensuring exceptional segmentation precision and localisation accuracy, as elucidated by Dr. Dadong Wang, Research Lead at Data61.

Singular Health’s Executive Director of Innovation, Dr. Guan Tay, underscores the game-changing potential of this automated segmentation technology. By integrating AI-driven automation into the segmentation process, medical professionals will now only need to make minor adjustments and validate the software’s outputs. This semi-automated approach empowers surgeons and radiologists to fine-tune the results according to their interpretations, ensuring meticulous compliance with image analysis standards while substantially streamlining processing time.

The utilisation of artificial intelligence in medical imaging, particularly in radiology, stands poised to profoundly reshape workflow dynamics for radiologists.

Leveraging a comprehensive dataset comprising over 200 CT scans of labelled data, the Data61 team meticulously explored various AI models and pre-processing techniques to achieve precise instance segmentation, labelling, surface meshing, and spatial localisation of individual vertebrae.

Dr. Wang elaborates on the AI development process, highlighting the adaptation of deep learning-based instance segmentation methodologies such as nnUNET, SC-NET, and Dense-NET. These models were rigorously trained using the VerSe’2020 dataset, comprising 100 CT scans of spines from individuals spanning diverse age groups and genders. Subsequently, the trained models underwent rigorous testing on an additional 100 CT scans, generating segmented labels of the spine, individual vertebrae, spatial coordinates, and vertebra identification.

The integration of this cutting-edge technology into Singular Health’s MedVR software represents a significant milestone, offering a transformative solution for hospitals, clinicians, educational institutions, and universities alike. This milestone achievement was made possible through the CSIRO Kick–Start initiative, which extends funding and support to innovative Australian start-ups and small businesses, granting access to CSIRO’s unparalleled research and development (R&D) expertise and capabilities.

 

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Health News

Northern Rivers Business Community gets behind Autism Awareness Month

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Autism Awareness Month

Northern Rivers Business Community gets behind Autism Awareness Month

 

Aprils is National Autism Awareness Month where recognition raises awareness about autism acceptance and promotes inclusion and connectedness for people with autism.  Social and community support can help people with autism achieve optimal health and reach their full potential.

Business NSW Northern Rivers is co-hosting the Autism@Work Business Luncheon with the Northern Rivers Autism Association on Tuesday 9 April 2024 in Ballina as part of Autism Awareness Month and the official launch of the Northern Rivers Autism Association.

“Micheal Lynch, Chair of the Association has been working tirelessly with our team on this event and we hope to demonstrate the support we can put behind such a great initiative to embrace a neurodiverse workforce in our region.”  Said Jane Laverty, Regional Director Business NSW

The luncheon will feature guest speaker, Mat Rogers a dual code international with a prominent career in both rugby league and union.  After a stella career representing Queensland, the Kangaroo’s and the Wallabies, Mat finished his career back in the NRL with the Gold Coast Titans, retiring in 2011.

With his wife, Chloe Maxwell, Mat is devoted to the charity they established, 4ASDKIDS, after discovering their son was autistic, so they could help other families with autistic children.

“We are excited to have Mat lead the conversation along with an expert panel sharing thoughts on the amazing value we can bring to our businesses and employees with a neurodiverse workforce and inclusive workplaces.”  Mrs Laverty said.

“This is going to be an inspiring event and an opportunity for Micheal Lynch to share his vision for the Association.  The Northern Rivers business community is looking forward to being part of this month of awareness raising and promoting inclusion and acceptance.

The expert panel includes:

  • Luke Terry, CEO of Whitebox Enterprises/Beacon Laundry (located in Bangalow and newly formed social enterprise)
  • Andrew Cashin, Professor of Autism and Intellectual Disability with Southern Cross University
  • Samantha Albertini, Senior Manager People & Culture with Social Futures
  • Jodi Rogers, locally based counsellor (Birds & Bees) who has just authored a book called Unique – what Autism Can Teach Us about Difference, Connection and Belonging

“Most of us know someone on the spectrum and know that autism can be a superpower.  With more than ¾ of Australians on the spectrum being young (between 5 and 24) it is important that we look at how our workplaces can adapt for neurodiverse people and enable greater inclusivity.”

 

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Health News

North Coast residents urged to shape future health care by participating in Better Health survey

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NSW-Northern-Rivers-Breaking-News

North Coast residents urged to shape future health care by participating in Better Health survey

 

Healthy North Coast has this week opened its ‘Better Health’ community survey in a bid to gather valuable insights that will help shape the future of primary health care across Northern NSW and the Mid North Coast.

Every three years, local communities are asked to share their experiences of primary health care and make suggestions for improvement. It’s a chance for people in Northern NSW and the Mid North Coast to have their say on what’s working, what’s not and to identify any gaps in health services.

The feedback gathered in the Better Health survey will be combined with data to form a comprehensive review of the health needs for our region. This is called the North Coast Health Needs Assessment 2025-2028.

“A strong community voice is essential for good health planning and decision making,” said Monika Wheeler, CEO of Healthy North Coast.

“Residents on the North Coast are engaging with primary health care services every day, whether for their own personal health needs, their family, or as a health carer. They have valuable insight into what’s working, what needs improvement, and what might be missing entirely.

“So if you think you’re having to wait too long for an appointment with a GP, or you think getting support for mental health is too confusing, or even if you’re satisfied with the health care in your area, please let us know. By sharing your thoughts and experiences, you really do have the power to reshape health care in your town.”

The previous iteration of the community survey in Healthy North Coast’s 2021 Health Needs Assessment was called Speak Up. From the Speak Up survey, initiatives like the telehealth service North Coast Health Connect and the social support service Healthy Me, Healthy Community in Port Macquarie were born, to address specific local health needs.

“Your feedback helps us prioritise our efforts, ensuring that available funding is directed to the right areas to achieve better health outcomes for all,” added Ms Wheeler.

The Better Health survey is open from Monday 25 March 2024 (today) and will close on Sunday 14 April 2024. It will take residents approximately 10 minutes to complete, with all answers being anonymous and completely confidential.

At the end of the survey, participants can enter a prize draw to win one of twenty $100 cash cards.

Visit Better Health North Coast to find out more and take the survey today.

 

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