News in brief: Prediction of asthma and COPD from gut microbiome; IPF mortality starting to shift; More specialists are using My Health Record

Wednesday, 13 Apr 2022

Prediction of asthma and COPD from gut microbiome

There is more evidence for the gut microbiome being a significant risk factor for incident asthma and COPD, according to new research.

An Australian study ran shallow metagenomic sequencing on stool samples from 115 adults.

It found a total of 695 and 392 significant microbial associations at different taxonomic levels with incident asthma and COPD, respectively.

The microbiome predicted asthma and COPD largely independent of conventional risk factors but prediction improved when the microbiome was integrated with conventional risk factors.

Subgroup analyses indicated gut microbiome was significantly associated with incident COPD in both current smokers and non-smokers, as well as in individuals who reported never smoking.

IPF mortality starting to shift

The mortality burden for IPF, traditionally as severe as that of oesophageal and pancreatic cancers, has started to shift.

A systematic review and meta-analysis across 22 countries found 3-year and 5-year cumulative survival rates were consistently low before 2010 (59.9% and 44/1%, respectively) followed by some improvement (66.2% and 49.3%).

“Patients taking antifibrotics (67.4%; 95% CI 63.9–70.9; I2=93.1%) had significantly (p=0.032) higher pooled 3-year CSRs than those taking non-antifibrotics (59.8%; 95% CI 59.8–63.8; I2 =95.5%),” the study said.

However the study said use of steroid/immunosuppressive drug combinations has also rapidly reduced.

“Lack of improvement in survival trends for IPF worldwide before 2010 may be related to changing age profiles at diagnosis or the prevailing therapeutic regimens, which have since been proven to have negative effects.”

Read more in ERJ Open Research

More specialists are using My Health Record

Use of My Health Record by specialists has increased since it became accessible through clinical software in late 2021, according to the Australian Digital Health Agency.

Its latest figures for February 2022 show that 20% of specialists have registered for the MHR and 9% have used it. In comparison 95% of public hospitals and 98% of GPs have used the MHR. While the specialist usage levels are still low they increased by 17% in January 2022, the Agency says, and the number of documents uploaded by specialists and viewed by other healthcare providers increased by 23%.

Public hospital viewing of MHR had doubled in the last year, it noted.

The Agency said the increase likely reflects the increasing proportion of clinical software products that are compatible with the MHR and have the discharge summaries and reports for diagnostic imaging and pathology.

Ongoing funding for the Agency was confirmed in the 2022 Budget, which noted total expenditure of almost $380 million for 2021-2022. The Agency was given a target of increasing provider use of the MHR by 15% a year and a 20% increase in e-prescribing.

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