Home' Australian Pharmacist : January 2011 Contents Vol. 30 -- January #01
more vulnerable than those using
self-service technology in other areas.
This means they may be less likely to
be effective in using the technology.
Dr Robertson pointed to research in
the US which showed 85% of people
there were using the internet to
diagnose themselves and, 'Doctors
and pharmacists were being faced
with consumers coming in with all this
material they have printed off from
the net. And there are more and more
of these self-diagnosis sites and it is
difficult for consumers to assess the
quality and credibility of those sites.
'Convergence in media like smart
phones means this information is even
more widely available,
' she said.
'Educating consumers is a key.
We have to educate consumers in
how to assess sites and we need
to educate them how to use the
technologies properly. Just because
it's on the internet does not make it
credible or good research.
'There is a great onus on providing
consumers with the tools to
effectively use the technologies.4
'Consumers want choice. US
researchers conducted an experiment
where they forced people to use the
do-it-yourself technologies and didn't
give them a choice and this actually
reduced customer satisfaction and
reduced their quality of perceptions.
Dr Robertson said that the need for
choice was leading to a greater focus
on high-tech, high-touch alternatives.
'We are going to see continual
improvements in the technology and
also in the customer service aspect
of the technology because at present
a lot of the technology is developed
without thinking of the consumers ...
they are operationally driven or have a
' Dr Robertson said.
'There will be improved consumer
focus. Health is catching up on other
self-service technologies. Health has
been slow on the uptake but is now
'But you will always see these
technologies as being complementary
to existing technologies and the move
now is to blend the high-tech with the
A few interesting websites
1. Hubbard T, Daimyo S. Medication Adherence and Care
Teams. New England Healthcare Institute. Sept 2010.
2. WHO. Adherence to long-term therapies. Evidence for
3. Godding V, Kruth M, Jamart J. Joint consultation for
high-risk asthmatic children and their families, with
pediatrician and child psychiatrist as co-therapists:
model and evaluation. Family Process. 1997; 36:265--80.
Smart technologies will eventually
reduce visits to doctors and hospital
admissions among Australia's
ageing population, according
to the academic behind a new
bioelectronics degree at the
University of Sydney.
Dr Alistair McEwan says the
bioelectronics degree at the
Faculty of Engineering and
Information Technologies will train
engineers to help drive down
the skyrocketing health costs
associated with growing numbers
of elderly patients.
Bioelectronics melds biology and
electronics to design and build
the likes of ECG machines and
3D CT scanning equipment. The
Bachelor of Electrical Engineering
(Bioelectronics) gives students the
skills to build healthcare equipment,
previously used only in hospitals,
for the home. The ratio of people of
working age to those aged 65 plus
in Australia will fall from the present
5:1 to 2.7:1 by 2050, according to the
recent Smart Technology for Healthy
Longevity report by the Australian
Academy of Technological Sciences
and Engineering (ATSE). The report
found gerontechnology -- linking
gerontology with smart technologies
-- can make a substantial contribution
to meeting the economic and social
challenges posed by changing
'Wired and wireless technology
can help diagnose, monitor and
manage patients, with instruments
connected via telephone, web-based
services and databases. Bioelectronic
engineering gives us the ability to
develop comfortable, non-invasive
physiological monitors, meaning
medical conditions can be treated at a
lower cost and in the home.
ATSE estimates home-based, self-
management interventions can
improve patient outcomes, halve
hospital admissions and reduce doctor
visits by 40%.
'As a business proposition, demand
for such medical equipment in
the home is evidenced by the
increasing number of consumer
electronics companies entering the
Related postgraduate research at
the school is looking at the link
between nutrition in early life to the
onset of cardiovascular disease in
'We are looking to build low cost
electronic devices to track nutrition
both here and in the developing
' Dr McEwan said.
The Bachelor of Electrical
addresses concerns raised in a
recent Federal Government report
on the medical device industry,
identifying gaps in engineering
graduates' practical skills
development. It will be taught at the
University from 2011.
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