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9 Dec 2022

Gastroenterologist develops HCV digital navigator

Monash Health gastroenterologist and hepatologist Associate Professor Suong Le has been awarded a $250,000 Fellowship to develop a digital ‘one stop shop’ system that helps patients with hepatitis C navigate their therapeutic journey.

Associate Professor Le said the software will enable patients with HCV to access care from their homes by helping them find their nearest healthcare provider, generate pathology forms, provide medication scripts and support them through to the completion of their treatment.
“The role of this digital therapeutic will be to help us efficiently screen the population, diagnose and cure them from Hepatitis C in order to prevent future complications such as liver failure, cancer and the need for a transplant”

“Patients find it hard and arduous to navigate the current healthcare system and those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds experience additional barriers – this new system of digital therapeutics will dismantle those barriers and help people get the treatment they need from within their home and reduce the stigma associated with the disease.”

Associate Professor Le said she was inspired to develop the system after noticing a high volume of patients who had been living silently with the disease in the community before developing symptoms and or complications.

“When we noticed this gap we wondered how we can close it and help our community understand they should not be afraid of getting tested, particularly given our access to curative treatment,” she said.

“The difficulty we have is that it’s a highly stigmatised condition and is often associated in the public with people who inject illicit substances, but it can affect anyone,” Associate Professor Le said.

Her project was selected for the federal Department of Health’s Researcher Exchange and Development within Industry (REDI) initiative

Infliximab switching appears safe in IBD

Switching to an infliximab biosimilar brand appears to be safe with no increase in incidence of infusion reactions, experience from Queensland suggests.

In 2020 many patients in the state were switched to Renflexis after Queensland Health removed the infliximab originator from the state formulary. A review of medical records for 119 patients who were switched found that the rate of infusion reactions was no different (1.7% vs 2.6%) when compared to reactions to doses prior to the switch. There were no infusion reactions reported among 17 treatment-naive patients initiated on Renflexis, according to University of Queensland researchers.

The most common indications for infliximab were Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (56%), ankylosing spondylitis (14.4%), rheumatoid arthritis (5%), psoriatic arthritis (5%) and psoriasis (5%).

Their findings are published in Journal of Pharmacy Practice and Research.

Rethink your imaging requests to cut carbon footprint

Clinicians are being urged to reduce the healthcare carbon footprint by adopting a three-pronged strategy to make more efficient use of diagnostic imaging.

Diagnostic imaging and pathology testing account for almost 10% of the hospital carbon footprint, with MRI and CT scans accounting for a high proportion of it, a Melbourne University study has shown.

The carbon emissions from an MRI were equivalent to driving a car for 145 km, while a CT scan carbon emission was equal to driving 76 km, the findings in Lancet Regional Health showed.

Much of the large carbon footprint was due to electricity use by scanners, and in particular, their standby power use, said the researchers, who recommended that clinicians and administrators make efforts to reduce unnecessary imaging and/or switch imaging to a lower carbon modality such as X-rays.

Other carbon footprint reduction tips include turning scanners off when they are not required rather than leaving them on standby and ensuring existing scanners have high utilisation rates, the researchers suggested.

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