$20m for Aussie e-health research

The Australian federal and Queensland state governments have together kicked in $20 million to fund the Brisbane-based Australian E-Health Research Centre (AEHRC) for the next four years.

Established in 2003 as a joint venture between the CSIRO and the Queensland government, the AEHRC has been developing simulated training tools, home monitoring systems for patients recovering from heart problems, improved imaging techniques, data analysis tools and electronic medical records.


Technology with that human touch

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association last week revealed that that home BP monitoring and transmission of results online to patients’ GPs resulted in a drastically improved blood pressure control among hypertensive patients.

However, the improvement was seen only in patients who also had a regular intervention from a pharmacist, who encouraged them and reinforced training on how to use the system; patients who performed home monitoring without the human intervention had no better results than the control group.

Another observation by the researchers was that the age range of participants was skewed because most of the elderly patients solicited for the study – the group that arguably would benefit the most from home monitoring – couldn’t participate because they didn’t have Internet access.

This is a good example of how people need to be carefully shown how a technology can help them before they can make good use of it. Those of us who have lived and breathed computers and applications for years need to remember that it’s not just about having the tools, it’s understanding how to use them.