November 17, 2018

Associate Professor Justin Tse reflects on how his academic post helped pave the way for a fulfilling career in medicine and academia.

Having begun his career in medicine as a general practice registrar, Associate Professor Justin Tse remembers the time fondly.
‘I had wonderful experiences in both rural and metro settings, and was supported by generous and amazing general practice supervisors,’ he told newsGP. ‘Our training provided a varied and comprehensive program.’
Associate Professor Tse completed his medical training at the University of Melbourne and at hospital junior posts. After taking a year off to travel, he was given the opportunity to take up an academic posting 2001 ­– an experience he feels helped shape his career.
‘The academic post was an amazing two years and propelled me into my academic career,’ Associate Professor Tse said.
‘We had an awesome cohort of motivated Melbourne University general practice academic registrars, and our research topics covered cance...

November 15, 2018

Planning for a fulfilling retirement just got a little simpler: Hundreds of retired physicians have shined a light on what makes them successful, satisfied and confident in this stage of life.

More than 1,200 retired physicians were surveyed for the “2018 Report on Retired Physicians” and shared what makes for a successful physician retirement. The report found that the majority of retired physicians—80 percent—have a satisfying retirement.

The report was released by AMA Insurance Agency Inc., a subsidiary of the AMA that is committed to helping physicians protect their finances and their assets. AMA Insurance leverages the influence of over 1 million physicians to negotiate highly competitive rates and customise insurance and financial products from top-rated companies.

Survey respondents shared their advice for making retirement fulfilling. Here are six of their top insights.

Consider a gradual transition, which can help you “grow into” retirement. Leaving such a demanding and personally...

November 15, 2018

Financial planners have to fight 'lifestyle inflation' to keep well-paid clients on track.

More Americans are living beyond their means than ever before, including those pulling down six-figure paycheques. Household debt in the U.S. hit a record $13.3 trillion in the second quarter. Of those earning $150,000 or more, nearly 30 percent have less than $1,000 saved, a 2016 GoBankingRates survey found.

Increasingly, financial planners find themselves on the front lines in the battle to get doctors, lawyers and other well-paid professionals to spend less, save more and live financially sound lives. That can mean working with clients to break bad spending habits and to rein in and pay off high-cost debt like credit cards. Some planners espouse a "tough-love" approach, which can sometimes even lead to "firing" a client who refuses to get with the program.

"Bad debt is a destroyer of wealth," says James White, founder of J.H. White Financial and a certified financial planner in Pottstown, Penn. "...

November 11, 2018

GPs and practice owners recently had the opportunity to submit questions to the Department of Human Services regarding Medicare. Here are the answers.

The strong turnout and positive feedback for the RACGP’s inaugural Practice Owners National Conference, held in August, was evidence of a strong GP appetite for support and information about running and owning your own business.
The conference was designed to help fill GPs’ need for relevant business information, connect practice owners with their peers from across the country, and provide mentoring and assistance for GPs who are aspiring to become practice owners.
Attendees also had the opportunity to submit questions on notice to the Department of Human Services (DHS) regarding Medicare. Here are the answers to some of the most pertinent queries.
How do I determine if a condition is considered chronic when determining if my patient is eligible for chronic disease management services?

To be eligible to claim a chronic disease manag...

October 29, 2018

In communities across Australia, the old guard of general practitioners (GPs) are retiring and it is unclear who will take their place.

These new vacancies can take years to fill and on South Australia's Eyre Peninsula, there are so many vacancies for GPs that the situation has become critical.

"The shortage of health professionals across the Eyre Peninsula is at crisis point now," Wudinna GP Scott Lewis said.

"We've had communities that have been without resident doctors for significant periods of time.

"We are losing doctors who have been in their communities for significant periods of time and replacing them is going to be extremely difficult."

Dr Lewis is acutely aware of the challenges these communities face in hiring new permanent GPs.

He has been advertising for a second doctor in Wudinna for nearly a year and is offering a house, a car and even a fully funded pilot's licence to make it easier to visit family and friends.

The inland farming community is lucky to have Dr Lewis, who has...

October 16, 2018

Cancer sufferers used to be told to avoid exercise and eat what they could stomach. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiography knock the body around and doctors didn't want their weakened patients doing fun runs or forcing down steamed fish.

Lina Pugliano believes they got it wrong. The Sydney oncologist is pioneering a new form of cancer care that starts in a fitness centre. Her fitness centre.

The idea's genesis came from her personal trainer, Rob Wen. Pugliano was venting one day to him about the way many cancer patients stopped or ignored physical exercise during their treatment. "You need to start a boot camp!" he told her.

She agreed. Almost four years later what started as an almost ad hoc training session for her patients under Sydney Harbour Bridge has evolved into a surprisingly innovative approach to cancer treatment. Not only is Pugliano doing good medicine, the 41-year-old third-generation Italian immigrant is demonstrating that doctors can make good entrepreneurs too.

"I would com...

October 5, 2018

It was a relief when senior counsel assisting the royal commission, Rowena Orr, QC, called an end to the day's proceedings on Thursday afternoon.

This had been a harrowing afternoon, as witness Loraine van Eeden, the general manager of claims at insurer TAL who joined the company only in January, sat through a case study that went from ugly to abhorrent.

Orr took van Eeden through a case involving a nurse who bought income protection insurance in early 2009, and was then diagnosed with depression.

She stopped working on January 1, 2010, and after her worker's compensation claim was rejected, she claimed under her TAL policy.

TAL Life's Loraine van Eeden leaves the royal commission on Thursday. Eddie Jim

Thus started her nightmare at the hands of the insurer.

TAL launched what it internally described as a "general review" of the claim, but which van Eeden agreed amounted to a "fishing expedition". It grabbed medical reports from various professionals, Medicare records and even tax and financi...

September 2, 2018

Dr Jason Kaplan is a leading Australian physician and cardiologist, an expert in heart health, longevity and sports cardiology. With a busy Sydney CBD practice and young family, he could be forgiven for not taking on extracurricular responsibilities. Yet for Kaplan, making time to teach is a way to pass on the wisdom of medical knowledge.

As Clinical Lead of the Cardiovascular program at Macquarie University, as well as clinical senior lecturer in medicine at the university, Dr Kaplan instructs undergraduate and post-graduate students in cardiology and medicine.

He was honoured by the American College of Cardiology earlier this year with an invitation to become a fellow of that organisation for his contribution to cardiovascular teaching and education.

“No matter how much you read in textbooks or journals, there’s no substitute for hands-on clinical experience in taking care of patients,” he says.

“I have been fortunate enough to have been mentored by some of Australia’s finest cardiologis...

July 25, 2018

Given that self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs) enjoy substantial tax concessions, it comes as no surprise that the Australian Taxation Office wants to ensure trustees play by the rules and don't take advantage of the system.

Hence the existence of independent SMSF auditors, whose role is to check compliance and maintain the integrity of the SMSF sector through yearly audits.

From July 1, 2019, this will change for eligible SMSFs as a result of the government's 2018 budget announcement that the compulsory audit cycle for SMSFs will be extended from one to three years. This "reward" will be available only to SMSFs which can demonstrate a clear audit report for three consecutive years and have lodged their annual returns in a timely manner.

The rationale is it will assist trustees by reducing red tape. Reality or wishful thinking?

The cost of annual audits depends on many factors such as the number of members, how active the fund has been in terms of its investments, the complexiti...

July 24, 2018

 A SMALL medical clinic in the heart of Warwick is leading the country with its remarkable success as a non-profit.

Warwick's Carbal Medical Clinic is one of two practices pumping a phenomenal $10million into the Darling Downs economy each year.

Through clinics in Warwick and Toowoomba, Carbal Medical Services self-generates 40 percent of its funding.

The service has also stripped administrative costs to 7 per cent, far below the standard of 25 per cent for non-profits.

CEO Brian Hewitt said he wasn't aware of any other non-profit in Australia that was currently running a leaner use of public funds than Carbal Medical Services.

"It can't be a bottomless pit," Mr Hewitt said.

"Public money is becoming less and less and the demands on it are becoming more and more.

"I think it is beholden on to all organisation to find creative ways to self-generate funds that can continue in partnership with government funding."

Surplus pushes centre forward

With 8000 clients across the Darling Downs, Carbal's c...

July 23, 2018

MOUNTAIN View Medical Centre in Mossman has been serving the local community for over thirty years, but in recent months a lot has changed. 

The modern accredited general practice surgery still upholds the traditional values on which it was founded, but has now transformed into a multidisciplinary team with a strong emphasis on allied and holistic healthcare.

Managing Director Louise Cooper said the new holistic health program means the practice focuses on the individual’s overall needs and mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing.

“We address not just the medical condition but the whole person,” Cooper said.

The team of doctors and allied health practitioners work together to provide specialised support for different patient needs.

Mountain View Medical now offers GP services along with psychologists, exercise physiologists, accredited dietitians, podiatrists and a diabetes educator.

The new additions to the centre come after change of ownership in January when Cooper, who comes f...

Key points:

  • HealthEngine has boasted to advertisers it can tailor advertising to patients' symptoms

  • The Australian startup says it only shares information with users' consent

  • But if a patient wants to use the app, there is no opportunity to opt-out of the fine print about giving information to third parties

Health Minister Greg Hunt has ordered an "urgent review" of Australia's biggest online doctor appointment booking service, HealthEngine.

The ABC earlier reported that the HealthEngine app has funnelled hundreds of users' private medical information to law firms seeking clients for personal injury claims.

A spokesperson for Mr Hunt said the Government had instructed the information commissioner and Australian Digital Health Agency to investigate the issue.

The Perth-based startup, which is part-owned by Telstra and SevenWest Media and boasts 1.5 million monthly and 15 million annual users, has also been touting access to patients' medical conditions and symptoms for targe...

July 19, 2018

Just like the rest of the population, doctors are vulnerable to the vagaries of ageing and now a new Australian study has provided strong evidence for their professional competence to be routinely tested from the age of 70.

This study, thought to be the largest of its kind in the world, has taken a hard look at where older doctors are falling short.

It looked at complaints made against all doctors across the country over a four-year period.

Many senior doctors provide high-quality care well beyond the traditional age of retirement and the study showed almost 87 per cent of doctors over the age of 65 were not subject to any complaints.

But there is something hidden in these numbers. It's like looking at older drivers. They have fewer accidents but then they drive less often and travel far fewer kilometres.

Many older doctors work part-time and when the study took their total hours into consideration, they had 37 per cent more complaints levelled against them than were levelled against younge...

July 9, 2018

Old-fashioned ways of reporting new discoveries are holding back medical research. Some scientists are pushing for change

“NEVER tried sharing data like this before,” said the tweet. “Feels like walking into a country for the first time. Exciting, but don’t know what to expect.”

David O’Connor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison was announcing his decision on February 14th to post online data from his laboratory’s latest experiment. He and his team had infected macaques with the Zika virus and were recording the concentrations of virus in the monkeys’ bodily fluids every day. Researchers know that Zika is transmitted principally by infected mosquitoes. But if the virus appears in saliva and urine then these might also be sources of infection.

Dr O’Connor and his colleagues published their results every day to a publicly accessible website. They hoped this would be useful to others working on the disease and, ultimately, to health authorities striving to contain it. They did not expect...

June 29, 2018

Key points:

  • In February, Government made regulations that tightened access to codeine

  • Low-dose codeine was previously available over the counter

  • Government sees some doctors as contributing to the problem

Australia has been warned that moves to restrict access to addictive opioid painkillers could drive pain sufferers to illegal markets or even stronger substances, if people are not able to access affordable, effective options to manage their pain.

The Federal Government says it has written to 4,800 doctors to let them know they could be prescribing too many doses of addictive painkillers, as it seeks to avoid an opioid crisis like that seen currently in the United States.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the letter was intended to let the top 20 per cent of prescribers know where they sit, in the hope they will moderate or regulate their own actions.

The move follows on from changes the Government made to regulations in February that tightened access to the painkillers by ma...

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