Medibank: Researching our way back to better health

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Medibank's chief medical officer Dr Linda Swan says simple numbers tell the story of the challenges confronting Australia's health system.

According to Dr Swan, half of all Australians have a chronic condition, almost two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese and around 45 per cent of those aged 16-85 will experience a mental health illness in their lifetime.

"As we grapple with these challenges, health and medical research is vital in helping us understand the causes, finding optimal treatments and achieving better outcomes for patients," she said.

Dr Swan said Medibank has invested $1.6 million to support 30 active research projects in the past year. "We’ve partnered with more than 30 organisations to focus on key health priorities that impact the quality of life for millions of Australians and cost the health system billions each year - including osteoarthritis, low back pain, obesity and mental health."

The projects include two initiatives focused on optimising osteoarthritis treatment. They are a two-year review of all current evidence and research with the goal of producing updated guidelines for the management of knee and hip osteoarthritis, and the trial of a new multidimensional tool to provide a more rigorous screening program to assess patient suitability for total knee replacement surgery.

Other projects are focused on chronic back pain, obesity and mental health.

"As we await the final outcomes of these trials and studies, we are inspired by the passion and commitment of those involved - driven to help improve the lives of millions," added Dr Swan.