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Health News

SURVEY REVEALS: NORTHERN NSW RESIDENTS WAITING A WEEK OR LONGER FOR HEALTH ADVICE

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NEW HEALTH SERVICE LAUNCHED TO HELP SUPPORT ACCESS IN THE REGION - NORTH COAST HEALTH CONNECT.

SURVEY REVEALS: NORTHERN NSW RESIDENTS WAITING A WEEK OR LONGER FOR HEALTH ADVICE

 

NEW HEALTH SERVICE LAUNCHED TO HELP SUPPORT ACCESS IN THE REGION

New findings released today show that many Northern New South Wales residents struggle to get a GP appointment and are often waiting a week or more to see their local doctor, as the country’s healthcare worker shortage crisis worsens.

A survey was recently undertaken by Amplar Health in support of a new telehealth service – North Coast Health Connect. The survey of local residents revealed that close to one in three (31%) have had to wait a week or longer to see a doctor – more than double the country’s national average (13%).

With local health systems already under immense pressure, North Coast residents are presenting to emergency departments for ailments that could be addressed outside of a hospital by another health professional in their community.

In fact, close to a quarter (24%) of Northern NSW locals have been to the emergency department for a non-urgent medical problem in their lifetime, with more than 1 in 10 (13%) claiming it took up to five hours to see a medical professional once admitted.

North Coast Health Connect has been launched in a bid to improve access to health advice and reduce waiting times for locals attending GP practices or presenting to hospitals. Available to Northern New South Wales residents, the telehealth service offers confidential healthcare advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The service connects locals with qualified nurses who provide clinical support and advice to patients over the phone or via online chat. When healthcare advice is needed but it may not warrant a visit to the emergency room, North Coast Health Connect is available for consultation. Where clinically appropriate, nurses can also organise for the patient to see a GP face to face, or schedule an appointment with a pharmacist.

Dr Peter Baird, Senior Medical Advisor, Amplar Health, said he was unsurprised to hear that more than a third (40%) of locals are concerned about accessibility to healthcare.

NEW HEALTH SERVICE LAUNCHED TO HELP SUPPORT ACCESS IN THE REGION - NORTH COAST HEALTH CONNECT.

NEW HEALTH SERVICE LAUNCHED TO HELP SUPPORT ACCESS IN THE REGION

He added that overly-long wait times and rising medical costs were also of concern to local residents and clinicians.

“The survey is consistent with our engagement of local clinicians and community members – Northern New South Wales locals are concerned about healthcare access and are in favour of additional healthcare services to address non-urgent medical needs,” he said.

“North Coast Health Connect is a new way to access healthcare that helps overcome these challenges. A confidential 24/7 telehealth service helps locals get answers to health queries by connecting them to a nurse who will help them manage their symptoms or support them to find appropriate care,” added Dr Baird.

Dr Baird also believes the service will help relieve a strained healthcare system.

“On average, more than 1 in 3 (37%) locals told us they visit their local emergency room department at least once a year,” he said.]

“A similar number (41%) also said they take their child to the local emergency department once a year. Yet, many of these instances may not have required urgent care. This is where North Coast Health Connect can really provide benefits to residents and support our clinicians who are doing an amazing job serving our community.”

“Using this service takes the pressure off existing health services because it redirects people to the right care at the right time.”

“Put simply, North Coast Health Connect is here to offer Northern NSW locals, and their families, the support and advice needed for medical concerns that do not require a visit to the emergency room.”

Dr Baird concludes that success of the new offering will be based on one key element – safe and effective care for the North Coast community.

“One in three locals claim being unable to access healthcare in a timely manner has previously affected their employment and social commitments, while more than double that figure (61%) claimed it has led to significant stress on themselves or their families.”

“Working alongside trusted local health professionals, such as GPs and pharmacists, North Coast Health Connect is here for the community. We want to make healthcare available for everyone, when and where they need it. If we do that, we’ve done our job.”

Eligible residents must be based in or around Northern New South Wales – a full list of available suburbs can be found here. North Coast Health Connect can be reached on 1800 198 888, or further information is available on their website.

 

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Time for action on a NSW Autism Strategy

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Time for action on a NSW Autism Strategy

 

STATE Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin says she welcomes the Australian Government’s recent release of the Draft NSW Autism Strategy.

Ms Saffin says “it provides the State and Territory governments with the opportunity to engage with the Draft National Autism Strategy.

“We need a NSW Autism Strategy and I have had discussions with the relevant Minister in the Minns Labor Government, Kate Washington,” Ms Saffin says.

“I raised the importance of an autism strategy in the NSW Parliament last year. South Australia is way ahead of us.  Now we have the Draft National Autism Strategy, we need to seize the momentum and get a New South Wales strategy to break down barriers for autistic children and adults and their families.”

President of the Northern Rivers Autism Association Micheal Lynch has teamed up with Business NSW Northern Rivers Regional Director Jane Laverty to co-host an Autism@Work business luncheon at the Ballina RSL Auditorium from noon today (Tuesday, 9 April).

The event, titled Embracing a Neurodiverse Workforce, celebrates Autism Awareness Month and guest speaker will be former dual-code international for rugby league and rugby union Mat Rogers.

Ms Saffin says she will be an apology as she is recovering from Covid.

“A panel of speakers for today’s event is sure to discuss the Draft National Autism Strategy,” Ms Saffin says.

“It is clear from the draft that the states and territories and Federal Government need to work together because the strategy covers polices across both levels of government.

“The states have primary responsibility for the key areas of education, health, justice and housing.

“It is the states that have responsibility for pre-schools for example, where children are at critical age for early intervention which can make a huge difference.

“This is an opportunity for National Cabinet to tackle the crossover of responsibilities and ensure that this is an effective, properly funded strategy without gaps for people to slip through.

“Being in a rural or regional area can add another layer of disadvantage, so it is important that people from this region give their feedback to the national strategy.”

For more information on the Draft National Autism Strategy and to give feedback, visit here.

 

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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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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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