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Australia Working Towards ‘permanent’ Telehealth




The Australian government has set aside A$106 million ($76 million) over four years to support what it calls “permanent” telehealth, which will ensure flexibility in healthcare delivery and continuous health consultations via phone or online.


Telehealth, according to the federal government, has been “transformational” to the delivery of healthcare and “underpinned much” of its COVID-19 response. “[Telehealth] has played a critical role in ensuring the continuity of care for hundreds of thousands of Australian patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, protecting the health of patients and health professionals,” a government statement read.

Since last year March, over 16 million patients have received over 80 million COVID-19 telehealth services under the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS). Around 89,000 providers are now using telehealth services.

The telehealth investment includes A$31.8 million ($22.8 million) for the Workforce Incentive Programme which will provide additional funding to general practices by adding telehealth items in the calculation of Standard Whole Patient Equivalent.

For Dr Silvia Pfeiffer, CEO of telemedicine company Coviu, the permanent changes to telehealth is “long overdue,” although it demonstrates the government’s commitment to the future of the country’s digital healthcare system. The company has been pressing for more digital capability in the healthcare system for many years.

The changes, she said in a separate statement, empower clinicians as it means having the “choice to work from home, service patients without geographical limitations or become sub-specialists in a particular area of interest”.

“The permanent changes validate the critical role telehealth services have played during the pandemic and will continue to play in creating a more equitable and accessible healthcare system for all Australians, in both regional and urban areas,” Dr Pfeiffer said.


Earlier this year, the government extended its provision of telehealth services until yearend from June. It has infused A$114 million ($88 million) more funding for this purpose under the 2021-22 Budget.

The latest telehealth budget is part of a A$308.6 million ($220 million) investment in the country’s primary care system. It includes the following:

A$58.8 million ($42 million) to extend the provision of subsidised mental health support to December 2022;

A$41.2 million ($30 million) to incentivise doctors and nurses to work in rural and regional areas;

A$77 million ($55 million) to add new tests and treatments – including those for heart and kidney conditions – to the MBS, as well as enhance access to allied health services and wound care; and

A$25.6 million ($18 million) for COVID-19 efforts, including the creation of a new MBS item allowing health professionals to conduct COVID-19 Vaccine Suitability Assessment in a patient’s home without GP supervision; increase in funding for the Primary Health Networks Vulnerable Vaccination Programme; and extended operation of the Commonwealth Vaccination Clinics.

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Health Care

PatientBond, Vizient Team up for Digital Behavior Change Tools




Patient engagement SaaS provider PatientBond and healthcare performance improvement and analytics company Vizient are partnering up to provide Vizient member healthcare organizations with digital patient engagement and behavior change programs.

WHY IT MATTERSPatientBond’s digital engagement workflows can be personalized with psychographic insights, with the aim of activating patient behaviors and driving improved patient engagement and outcomes.

Through the partnership, Vizient’s customer base, which includes academic medical centers, pediatric facilities, and community hospitals, will offer programming including care gap closures, condition specific messaging, screenings and appointment reminders and appropriate use communications.

The aim of the programs is to reduce hospital readmissions and improve digital health risk assessments.

Other programs included in the deal will provide psychographically segmented marketing campaigns to advance patient/member activation, as well as patient and physician matching or find a doctor services based on psychographic insights.

The deal will also provide extensive market research insights and dynamic payment reminders for partners.

THE LARGER TRENDPatient-reported outcomes are a critical way to assess the ongoing state of patient health and satisfaction, and a growing number of digital tools are helping them do so.

The financial upside for care providers is also noteworthy: Jackson Hospital significantly improved its finances with digital patient engagement tools, switching from letters and phone calls to automated emails and text messages along with some help from analytics.

At Rush University Medical Center, the hospital has deployed similar digital tools to reduce the strain of avoidable readmissions and ED recidivism when resources already were at capacity.

Last year, Cardinal Health announced the launch of a digital patient engagement platform aimed at addressing medication adherence challenges – a significant issue for the health industry and patients.

In 2019, Vizient collaborated with Civica Rx on provider needs analytics data to reduce Rx costs. By providing insights into purchasing patterns and provider needs through its analytics and data capabilities, Vizient helped Civica Rx anticipate gaps in drug availability and affordability.

ON THE RECORD“PatientBond brings consumer science and dynamic intervention technologies to healthcare with unmatched clinical and business results,” said PatientBond CEO Justin Dearborn in a statement. “Vizient’s member healthcare organizations can benefit from PatientBond’s personalized patient engagement at scale with proven and consistent results.”

Nathan Eddy is a healthcare and technology freelancer based in Berlin.Email the writer: nathaneddy@gmail.comTwitter: @dropdeaded209

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LifePoint Health Inks Data Deal With Health Catalyst




Brentwood, Tennessee-based LifePoint Health has entered a new collaboration with Health Catalyst and will use its analytics technologies to help bolster care quality, lower costs and improve population health management.

WHY IT MATTERSLifePoint Health will integrate Health Catalyst’s data operating system and analytics tools to gather performance metrics and drive improvements in healthcare quality, reporting and operational and financial decision-making.

By discovering and sharing clinical data, the partnership will help reduce variation in clinical outcomes. Health Catalyst’s tools dovetail with LifePoint’s national quality and facility recognition program goals to measurably improve patient care, safety and satisfaction as well as improve access and lower costs, according to the company.

In addition to the cloud-based data platform, LifePoint will use Health Catalyst’s analyzer, insights, AI, patient safety monitoring and data entry applications. The suite of tools can help increase organizational speed and interoperability, according to Health Catalyst.


While healthcare organizations are just beginning to scratch the surface of using data to drive improvements, according to Health Catalyst President Patrick Nelli, the company’s strategic acquisitions have provided them with the ability to customize software and services around core care systems.

One of them was its purchase earlier this year of KPI Ninja, whose event-driven data processing capabilities complement Health Catalyst’s own platform, enabling customers to build new services and operational tools around their core care systems.

LifePoint, meanwhile, has been making acquisitions of its own, such as its June 2021 addition of specialty hospital company Kindred Healthcare, with an eye toward a delivery network that taps into Kindred’s specialty hospital and rehabilitative expertise and its behavioral health platform.

ON THE RECORD“The Health Catalyst DOS platform, along with our technology product suites and applications, and improvement expertise, will best position LifePoint Health to achieve, sustain and scale the highest standards of care across its network,” said Health Catalyst CEO Dan Burton in a statement this week.

Andrea Fox is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.Email: afox@himss.orgHealthcare IT News is a HIMSS publication.


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Fifteen Months for Domestic Worker Who Stole Jewellery




On Thursday, a Palma court sentenced a domestic worker to fifteen months for the theft of jewellery from her employer, a woman in her eighties.

Between 2015 and the end of 2020, the 45-year-old Chilean worked two days a week at the woman’s home in Sa Indioteria, Palma. Over that period, she stole various items of jewellery. The woman only realised this at the end of 2020, which was when she reported the matter to the National Police.

The police established that these items, which included watches, rings and bracelets, were sold in gold-buying establishments in Palma. The woman later verified that these were hers. As well as the jewellery, a hearing aid was stolen.

In January 2021, the domestic worker was arrested. Described as being in an “irregular situation” in Spain, her lawyer obtained agreement for the sentence to be suspended so long as a sum of 10,700 euros is paid over three years, at a rate of 297 euros per month, and she does not commit another crime during this period.


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