News in brief: Stroke care maintained despite pandemic; CT scan ‘frequent flyer’ clinicians to be targeted; My Health Record remains underused despite $2 billion spend


Stroke care maintained despite pandemic

Unlike some other countries there was no drop off in Australian hospital presentations for stroke during the COVID-19 lockdown in early 2020 compared to corresponding periods in previous years.

A Queensland study found no significant difference between a mean of 2.15 stroke admissions per day in March to May 2020 compared to 2.13 and 2.26 in 2018 and 2019 respectively (p=0.81). Similarly there were no differences in admissions for either ischaemic stroke or ICH.

In secondary outcomes, there was also no difference in rates of intravenous thrombolysis (p=0.82), endovascular thrombectomy (p=0.93) and time from last known well to presentation (p=0.54). Conversely, daily ED presentations (including non-stroke presentations) were significantly reduced in 2020 compared to the previous years (p<0.0001).

“The lack of change to stroke admissions in Brisbane during the early phase of the pandemic demonstrated in the present study may in part be due to effective communication by the public health authorities and these results provide reassurance that while internationally there were significant impacts to the timing and quality of stroke care, the same has not been seen in Brisbane,” the study authors said.

Read more in the Internal Medicine Journal


CT scan ‘frequent flyer’ clinicians to be targeted

To conserve scarce stocks of contrast media for CT scans, radiologists will be targeting clinicians and departments who are  ‘frequent flyers’ who order the most contrast-enhanced CT scans (CECT).

The temporary global shortage of iodinated contrast medium (ICM) due to the Covid -19 pandemic. Means that some public hospitals in Australia have less than a week’s supply, they say in an article in the Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Oncology.

They therefore suggest several guidance points to preserve ICM, “to conserve ICM for those diagnostic tests and interventions which are time -critical, and without which patients would suffer death or significant morbidity.”

The most frequently performed CECTs at Monash Health were CT abdomen and pelvis and CT pulmonary angiogram, they noted.


My Health Record remains underused despite $2 billion spend

The digital My Health Record remains rarely used by either patients or doctors, despite more than $2 billion being spent on it since it was launched in 2012.

Research shows it was accessed during just 2% of ED presentations and a survey of 40 emergency medicine clinicians in Victoria also found nearly half had never used the multi-billion dollar system.

First reported in Guardian Australia this week, the survey was compiled by Monash University PhD candidate Alex Mullins, who said problems included lack of trust and records that were outdated.

She told the publication: “Areas for improvement include both technical improvements to the system itself … and more data flowing into the system, and improvements with respect to clinician engagement with the system.”

Some 2.7 million patients, or just of 10% of those registered for a My Health Record opened their file in 2020-21, according to the Australian Digital Health Agency.

While this was an increase of 14% on the previous year, it was most driven by patients accessing their vaccination records, the agency said in its most recent annual report.

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