Medibank releases annual health research report

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Medibank has issued its annual report on health research for a year that was significantly covered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"2020 has been a challenging year for our healthcare and medical research industries, and we are grateful for the enormous contribution they have made to keeping Australians safe and well," said Medibank chief medical officer Dr Linda Swan.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted traditional healthcare delivery this year. While it has also interrupted some important research projects, the pandemic has given Australian medical researchers the opportunity to demonstrate their world-renowned agility, teamwork and incredible scientific knowledge."

Dr Swan said the Medibank Better Health Foundation has invested $1.2 million in 17 projects during 2020. The new report has provided the details of these projects that cover a range of areas, including osteoarthritis, COVID-19, loneliness and physiotherapy.

A project involving the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists, the University of Melbourne, Austin Health and the Alfred Hospital, aimed to ensure that COVID-19 screenings and temperature checks for incoming patients were correctly captured in patient records.

In another project, the Medibank Better Health Foundation partnered with the Australian National University, the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists, as well as public and private hospitals across the country to demonstrate that low community prevalence of COVID-19 is associated with very low risks to healthcare workers from asymptomatic elective surgery patients.

The Foundation supported a University of Sydney trial, PARTNER, to give GPs better access to up-to-date osteoarthritis treatment information and providing telehealth support to patients to help improve their knee pain and function.

It also funded work by the Menzies Institute of Medical Research at the University of Tasmania to see if better health outcomes can be achieved for Australians with knee osteoarthritis through simple, cost-effective physical exercise rather than invasive and sometimes debilitating surgery.

"This has been a challenging year for clinicians and researchers, and we are proud to support their ongoing commitment to continue to improve Australia’s excellent healthcare system," added Dr Swan.