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Detecting risk of heart failure before clinical symptoms

For the past four years, researchers at Monash University’s Centre of Clinical Research Excellence in Therapeutics have been using a simple blood test to detect heart failure before symptoms are evident.

Initiated and funded by Bupa, SCREEN-HF is the world’s first and largest study into brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) in people at risk but without symptoms of heart failure. The ethics approved study has followed over 4,000 Bupa (HBA) members in Victoria at high risk of heart failure, but without known disease, in order to determine whether the BNP hormone in their blood can predict the development of symptomatic heart failure.

While the final report is due for publication later this year, preliminary results have shown that in elderly people with higher BNP levels the heart muscle was not pumping well even though they had not yet noticed any clinical symptoms.

On the strength of the preliminary data, Bupa has become the first organisation in the world to implement a heart failure screening program, the BNP test, at no additional cost to selected high risk customers nationally, commencing in Victoria.

“Pending the final report showing a positive result, Bupa will advocate for the test to have Medicare listing to make it affordable for all Australians,” said Bupa’s Head of Medical Services, Dr Bert Boffa. “A particular priority is to make the test available to indigenous communities in Australia’s remote regions as heart failure is more prevalent, comes on at an earlier age and has worst outcomes for these Australians compared to the rest of the population.“

New low-cost IOL trial is showing promising results

Bupa has been instrumental in setting up a study that has the potential to reduce the cost of intraocular lens (IOL) used in cataract surgery by up to 90 per cent.

The study, a collaboration led by Bupa, the Victorian State Government and other parties, has been comparing the clinical outcomes of the current high-cost IOL with a low-cost IOL produced by the Fred Hollows Foundation at one-tenth of the price. The good news is that preliminary results indicate that the IOLs are clinically equivalent.

“This study is a demonstration of the benefits of industry working in partnership with government and the not-for-profit sector to improve the quality and affordability of healthcare,” said Bupa’s Head of Medical Services, Dr Bert Boffa.

Healthy Weight for Life

The path to joint replacement for most people is long and painful but an innovative partnership between Bupa and Prima Health Solutions aims to help sufferers of hip and knee joint osteoarthritis either avoid the need for surgery, or reduce complications and improve recovery and rehabilitation should it be necessary.

The Healthy Weight for Life Osteoarthritis Program, which targets multiple important and modifiable risk factors including excess weight and low muscle strength, is offered to eligible Bupa customers (BMI>30) at no additional cost.

Designed to be offered through GPs, orthopaedic surgeons or rheumatologists, the 18-week program includes eating and exercise plans, online coaching and self-monitoring, and telephone motivation, support and advice.

Visit Healthy Weight for Life for more information.

Reducing unwarranted healthcare variation

With chronic disease affecting four in five Australians and representing almost 70 per cent of the nation’s health expenditure, Bupa Health Dialog aims to help people better manage their health conditions while also reducing medical costs for both the individual and the healthcare system.

Bupa Health Dialog’s services, which are grounded in Health Dialog’s more than 30 years of academic research, clinical excellence and evidence-based healthcare, include telephone health coaching, decision-support tools and health risk analytics.

Bupa Health Dialog’s analytics services address unwarranted variation by looking at the differences in care and treatment that individuals receive for comparable conditions that cannot be accounted for clinically. Analytics can also identify the individuals who are most likely to gain the greatest health benefit from preventive coaching.

“With a better understanding of healthcare needs and by reducing levels of unwarranted variation, it becomes possible to design healthcare provision to meet the needs of the population more efficiently, which improves patient outcomes and experiences,” said Brett Comer, General Manager, Bupa Health Dialog.

Visit for more information.