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Health Award winners share in $1 million funding 

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Sharing in funding worth more than $1 million, the recipients of the Bupa Health Foundation 2014 Health Awards aim to address some of Australia’s most pressing health issues including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The Award recipients’ projects span improving the likelihood of success of weight loss programmes by targeting people according to psychological and perceptual attributes; and testing the hypothesis that antibiotics might offer a cure for refractory urge incontinence; through to looking at alternative approaches to the prevention of stroke; and evaluating the potential of a decision-support tool for General Practitioners to help in the management of cardiovascular disease.

"Australia's researchers are some of the world’s best," says Bupa Health Foundation’s Professor Christine Bennett AO.

"Bupa Health Foundation is proud to continue its tradition of supporting groundbreaking ideas and research that can help improve the health of the Australian community."

View interviews with the 2014 Health Award recipients:

Photo - left to right: Prof Christine Bennett AO, Chair, Bupa Health Foundation Steering Committee; Adjunct Assoc. Prof Anne Abbott, Monash University; Dr Paul Bates, Bupa Health Foundation Steering Committee; Prof Sally Lord, University of Notre Dame Australia (accepting on behalf of Dr Charlotte Hespe); Dr Kylie Mansfield, St George Hospital and University of NSW (accepting on behalf of Prof Kate Moore); Mr John Conde AO, Chairman, Bupa Health Foundation; Dr Priya Sumithran, University of Melbourne; Prof Michael Friedlander, Australia New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group.

Supporting primary health care in Australia 

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With primary health care in Australia in current transformation with the recent creation of Primary Health Networks (PHN), Bupa has shown its continued support of the sector as Principal Partner of the recent Primary Health Care Roadshow.

Jointly organised by the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) and the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA), the Roadshow took place in five cities around Australia. It featured leading international and Australian speakers and provided a platform for health care leaders to discuss and commence planning for the future of primary health care in Australia.

The Roadshow identified a range of opportunities and challenges for the new PHN, with the PHAA and AHHA outlining 12 key recommendations in a Primary Health Communiqué.

Bupa has a deep commitment to primary health care in Australia, including a long association with the sector as Principal Partner of the former Australian General Practice Network and the Australian Medicare Local Alliance.

"At Bupa, we believe the primary health care sector plays a vital role in improving patient experience, population health and ensuring a sustainable health care system," says Dr Paul Bates, Bupa's Chief Medical Officer.

"Health care challenges – such as an ageing population, the rise in chronic diseases and spiraling health costs – demand new, innovative approaches and partnerships. Strengthening the collaboration between primary care, public health and the hospital sectors could deliver a great return in care coordination and better health outcomes," he says.

Overcoming medication non-adherence 

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Poor adherence to medication is a major health issue, with an estimated 41 per cent of Australians stopping their prescribed medicine before they were meant to on at least one occasion7.

Bupa has recently forged a new commercial partnership with MedAdvisor to encourage patients to adhere to the medications that are keeping them in better health or controlling their health conditions.

The MedAdvisor tool is a simple app, available for web-enabled devices from smartphones to PCs, to help individuals manage their medications. The app features virtual coach Pharmacist Phil who reminds users to take their medications and even prompts them to fill their scripts on time or obtain new scripts before the old ones run out.

A meta analysis of 63 studies has shown that people who are compliant with medicine are more likely to show improved treatment outcomes, reducing the risk of a null or poor treatment outcome by 26 per cent8, explains Bupa’s Medical Director, Dr Tim Ross.

"Failure to take medications as prescribed can have a substantive negative impact on health outcomes by making treatments less effective, increasing the risk of complications or even reducing quality of life," says Dr Ross.

"We believe that MedAdvisor is a fantastic example of how simple technology solutions can empower people to improve their health - in this case through better managing their medicines."

7 Pharmacy Guild of Australia. Community Pharmacy Roadmap Program Development Template. Accessed July 2014.

8 Compliance to Medicine Working Group Report to Pharmaceutical Benefits Association Committee. April 2010.

Health checks for visa applicants  

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Bupa will be providing medical services and health checks for temporary and permanent visa applicants as part of an agreement with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Opening in July, Bupa has established and is operating a range of purpose-built medical assessment centres in major Australian cities as well as managing a network of approved medical clinics in regional areas to ensure that people satisfy Australian migration health regulations.

Bupa's Managing Director, Dean Holden, explains that Bupa will be responsible for providing medical services and health checks for around 250,000 visa applicants each year.

"We will be absolutely focused on drawing upon all of Bupa’s experience to ensure we deliver our best possible service to the Commonwealth and visa applicants," says Mr Holden.