Pipeline for July 2011
A range of global and local news snippets and links that may be of interest to readers.
Pipeline Extra simply broadens the range of topics that can be concentrated in one delivery of i2P to your desktop.
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Testosterone and brain function link
It is already known that testosterone plays an important role in cardiovascular health as well as its function as the male sex hormone. Now Australian researchers are testing the links between testosterone and brain function in women.
Researchers believe it could unlock the secrets of treating dementia and even improve the libido of people on anti-depressants.
But despite this, they say Australian pharmaceutical regulators have set the bar too high for testosterone therapy.
Robotic aged care still on the cards
New Zealand nursing homes are considering using robots to perform routine tasks such as dispensing pills, serving meals and helping residents seek assistance as the ongoing aged care workforce crisis comes to a head.
In a study of attitudes to “assistive technologies” among nursing home staff and residents, New Zealand primary care researchers found that robots would be welcomed if they could perform tasks that would result in allowing staff to spend more time with residents.
Don’t work yourself into the ground
While employment in our later years can have positive impacts on self-esteem and overall health, we should not have to work until we drop.
A UK study, issued by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), found the last 20 years have seen a significant increase in the number of over-50s and people over retirement age in employment.
Analysis showed the job market has changed significantly since 1992. About 57% of people aged between 50 and 64 were employed in April 1992, but this rose to 65% by December last year.
This is said to be a significant increase for retirement age workers in the UK, who now make up a bigger share of the total working population.
Sensing promise in seniors’ health
A small pilot study of wireless mobile sensors used by a group of retirees suggests the technology may be useful in detecting meaningful changes in seniors' health, researchers at Dartmouth College in Connecticut say.
Eight elderly residents in a continuing care community, whose average age was 85, wore the waist-mounted, two-inch sensors for 10 days while the devices continuously measured such factors as time spent walking, sitting, standing and speaking with other people.
“These everyday behaviours often reflect physical and psychological health and potentially predict health problems, like depression or dementia,” the study author, Dr Ethan Berke says.
Twitter Yields Useful Public Health, Flu Information
Twitter allows millions of social media fans to comment in 140 characters or less on just about anything: an actor's outlandish behavior, an earthquake's tragic toll or the great taste of a grilled cheese sandwich. But by sifting through this busy flood of banter, is it possible to also track important public health trends? Two Johns Hopkins University computer scientists would respond with a one-word tweet: "Yes!"
Toughbook H2 Most Rugged Tablet Yet
Taking the ruggedized tablet concept to a new level, Panasonic released the Toughbook H2, arguably the hardiest tablet computer available to the healthcare market. Hardened to “military-grade" ruggedness, the H2, which has a variant specifically designed for the healthcare sector, has a magnesium alloy casing coated with an anti-scratch surface. It can survive a 6-foot drop on concrete, temperatures from -20 degrees to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and exposure to dust and sprayed water. (Full immersion is not mentioned on the spec sheet.)
Why Google Health’s Failure Is Good News
Google officially shuttered its stumbling Google Health personal health record (PHR) service on Friday, marking an ignominious end to an ambitious project to make health and medical data storable and searchable for vast numbers of consumers.
“With a few years of experience, we’ve observed that Google Health is not having the broad impact that we hoped it would," wrote senior product manager Aaron Brown and Bill Weihl, head of green energy for Google, in a blog post. (Google is also shutting down its PowerMeter smart-grid service.) “There has been adoption among certain groups of users like tech-savvy patients and their caregivers, and more recently fitness and wellness enthusiasts. But we haven’t found a way to translate that limited usage into widespread adoption in the daily health routines of millions of people."
Dawn of a new profession
The role of the case manager in Australia is poised to undergo the biggest evolutionary change in its fifteen year history as it agrees its first process of formal case manager certification.
At the 14th Case Management Society of Australia’s (CMSA) national conference next month, members will hear for the first time, details of a certification scheme which aims to provide increased structure and professionalism for the rapidly growing healthcare role
South Australians continue to migrate to eastern states
Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales were the top three interstate migration destinations for South Australians, according to the June edition of SA Stats (cat. no. 1345.4) released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
More residents are moving from South Australia interstate than are arriving, with a net loss of 3,000 people between June 2009 and June 2010. The highest number of people leaving South Australia were in the 25-29 year age group, with a net loss of 700, followed by the 20-24 year age group with a net loss of 500.
Patient activity within private hospitals continues to grow
The number of patients who were discharged from private hospitals grew by 6.7% in 2009-10, according to a report released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
There was an increase in the number of private hospital beds across Australia in 2009-10. Acute hospitals increased by 286 beds (1.2%), while free standing day hospitals increased by 327 beds (13.1%). The only reduction was in psychiatric hospitals which were reduced by 45 beds (-2.9%). Acute hospitals were recorded as having 23,465 beds, psychiatric hospitals 1,461 and free standing day hospitals 2,822.
Six Milliuon migrants call Australia home
Almost 6 million migrants, born in over 200 countries, live in Australia. According to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 27% of Australia's resident population were born overseas, as at June 2010.
People born in the United Kingdom continued to be the largest group of overseas-born residents, accounting for 1.2 million people. The next largest group was born in New Zealand with 544,000 people, followed by China (380,000 people), India (341,000) and Italy (216,000).
Over the last decade, the proportion of those born in the UK declined from 5.9% of Australia's population in 2000 to 5.3% in 2010. In contrast, the proportions increased for people born in New Zealand (from 1.9% to 2.4%), China (from 0.8% to 1.7%) and India (from 0.5% to 1.5%).
End of Aging
Irish broadcaster RTE recently aired a very interesting documentary on the aging population and the drastic effects the shifting demographic will have on society.
Narrated by Prof. Rose Anne Kenny of TRIL, the documentary delivers a powerful message on why people are living longer, the challenges this presents, and the consequence this will have on the current healthcare system. She concludes the documentary by reviewing some of the current research in the area that seeks to address the future challenges that lie ahead.
Medicine’s future? There’s an app for that. Daniel Kraft on TED.com
At TEDxMaastricht, Daniel Kraft offers a fast-paced look at the next few years of innovations in medicine, powered by new tools, tests and apps that bring diagnostic information right to the patient’s bedside. (Recorded atTEDxMaastricht, April 2011, in Maastricht, Holland. Duration:
Scientists Create A Living Laser
One of the first stories I was ever really proud of was on the history of green fluorescent protein, or GFP, a glowing protein found in jellyfish that can be used to make living things glow. I wasn’t that surprised when GFP won the Nobel Prize a few years back. But this — wow. Researchers have used GFP to create, literally, a living laser. Read more.
Label Change: Zocor (simvastatin) - New Restrictions, Contraindications, and Dose Limitations
FDA Media Watch Alert.
ISSUE: FDA notified healthcare professionals that it is recommending limiting the use of the highest approved dose of the cholesterol-lowering medication simvastatin (80 mg) because of increased risk of muscle damage. Patients taking simvastatin 80 mg daily have an increased risk of myopathy compared to patients taking lower doses of this drug or other drugs in the same class. This risk appears to be higher during the first year of treatment, is often the result of interactions with certain medicines, and is frequently associated with a genetic predisposition toward simvastatin-related myopathy. The most serious form of myopathy, called rhabdomyolysis, can damage the kidneys and lead to kidney failure which can be fatal. FDA is requiring changes to the simvastatin label to add new contraindications (should not be used with certain medications) and dose limitations for using simvastatin with certain medicines.
Roxon aims to please at AMA conference
Health Minister Nicola Roxon tried to reassure doctors today that Medicare Locals would not “usurp the role of GPs” as she opened the AMA conference. Ms Roxon told the conference in Brisbane she wanted to “dispel the myths” about what Medicare Locals would be doing once they opened.
ABS: Census Collector jobs + Centrelink payments = no worries
Australians receiving Centrelink payments are being encouraged to apply for a Census Collector job.The Australian Bureau of Statistics still needs Census Collectors across Australia to help conduct the Census of Population and Housing on 9 August 2011.Centrelink has advised the ABS that Collectors earnings will not be assessed until after field staff complete their work.
Drug distributor Sigma feeling better now
THE drug distributor has endured what CEO Mark Hooper dubs a "near-death experience", but there's always someone less fortunate. "You want a challenging industry -- go and work in paper," says Hooper, who came to Sigma from perennial laggard Paperlinx.
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