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How good are footy finals?

4 October 2016

No matter who you support undeniably some of the best footy of the season has been played over the past few weeks.

If we’re talking AFL, you will have also see members of our T1D community on the field.

I was surprised a few years ago to find out that one of the Swans young guns had T1D. It challenged what I thought about T1D – and what I thought of AFL. Perhaps the fatigue, potential for lows and compromised performance I’d heard of associated with T1D wasn’t true. Or – perhaps AFL wasn’t as physically demanding as I thought. Of course – both were wrong.

What hadn’t been factored into the equation was the importance of good glucose management. The status quo that people for years had been ‘tolerating’ was being challenged – and it was being challenged by a teenager with sights on the premiership. I know this player wears a pump and has used CGM.  I also know that there is more than one player with T1D making their mark in AFL at the moment. If you follow teams in Sydney, Brisbane and Victoria – you probably know this too.

Earlier this season I heard a commentator describe a player by saying “he has full-blown diabetes”. The statement was not derogatory – quite the opposite. But what did it mean? It certainly wasn’t that the other players were going to go easy on them. I guess it was trying to highlight that T1D might change your life, but it doesn’t mean you can’t play footy – and play it well.

It highlighted to me that people still don’t understand what T1D is, although we have seen great inroads. By celebrating our community living well with T1D we are challenging stereotypes and giving hope to dreams, every day. Better glucose management and understanding of an individual’s T1D won’t automatically mean you can play footy for the Swans (or any other team), but it does bring that potential one step closer… the rest is up to you.

Contribution by Medtronic team member Donna.


1 July 2016

As Australia goes to the polls this weekend, good health is on the agenda and so is CGM.

The bipartisan support for CGM (continuous glucose monitoring) means that regardless of the result, our Australian type 1 diabetes community are one step closer to having access to technology for those who would benefit. It’s a critical step in making CGM widely available and to realising the appetite for new health technologies.

While the promises of the Coalition and Labor are different, increasing availability of this life-saving technology reinforces the value of a healthy community for everyone. So why is it so important?

The value of CGM for people with type 1 diabetes comes with an ability for this technology to ‘talk’ to an insulin pump and proactively ensure therapy is delivered appropriately.

CGM promotes good glucose level control – critical because poor control can lead to serious and costly diabetes-related complications such as blindness, kidney failure, amputations, heart disease, strokes and possibly death.

The advantages of CGM in addition to traditional finger sticks and HbA1c testing are well documented. Research has shown that:

  • 60% of glucose lows may not be revealed with fingersticks alone.[i]
  • CGM identifies four times as many serious glucose incidents as self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG).[i]
  • CGM can significantly reduce HbA1c and has been shown to reduce HbA1c levels by up to 1% when compared with fingerstick testing alone.[ii]

Until now, CGM has not received Government support because there’s no established funding pathway for technology like it. Medical devices – such as CGM – that are not permanently implanted in the body fall into a ‘black hole’ because they don’t fit the established norm associated with technology used to treat chronic disease, i.e. that it’s permanently implanted.In an era when medical devices are going to continue to push these boundaries and as Medtronic endeavour to deliver therapies that provide therapeutic benefit in new ways, we recognise the current funding pathways for medical technology must be addressed. We want to see that medical technology is available to all people who will benefit – it will only be through improving appropriate access to these advances in healthcare that we will see real change in the management of chronic disease.To learn more about how CGM works with an insulin pump check out this infographic:

CGM Explained_Illustration

[i] Kaufman FR, et al. A pilot study of continuous glucose monitoring system. Diab Care. 2001:24:2030-2034

[ii] Bergenstal RM, Tamborlane WV, Ahmann A, et al. Effectiveness of Sensor-Augmented Insulin Pump Therapy in Insulin Dependant Diabetes NEJM. 2010;363(4):311-320

DBS Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease

15 April 2016

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive, degenerative neurological movement disorder. It is considerably more common in people over 60, but the number of people diagnosed at a younger age is increasing.1

As PD progresses, it becomes increasingly disabling. Many of the symptoms involve motor control, the ability to control your muscles and movement. The four primary symptoms of PD are tremor, rigidity, bradykinesia and postural instability.

MICK’S STORYMick with wife Jude, daughter Katelyn, partner Ray and newborn granddaughter Isla, photographed at Kangaroo Point Cliffs, Brisbane on 3 February 2015.

At age 32, Royal Australian Navy Chief Petty Officer Mick Sharp started to experience symptoms of PD, but as a young father and not fitting the ‘typical stereotype’ for PD, his difficulties in manoeuvring around the ship were attributed to an ankle injury. Missing these first vital signs of PD sparked a tumultuous 10 year journey toward diagnosis and treatment.

INITIAL TREATMENTS: Mick recalls, “They said it wasn’t physical, it was psychiatric. I spent years on medication that began to not only mask my symptoms, it amplified them. I started to flop around like an untrained seal. Being told this was ‘all in my head’ destroyed me.”

Mick received electro convulsive therapy (ECT) in the hope is would treat his ‘psychiatric disorder’. After a few months Mick and his family moved, and they met a Neurologist who diagnosed PD. “I was shocked but had a huge sense of relief.”

“In the early days the medication worked quite well. Over time, my ‘on window’ [time free of symptoms] became shorter.” Mick continued with medication for seven years.

HOW DBS HELPED MICK: “I first heard about Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) around 2007. The thought of people operating on my head wasn’t great, particularly while I was awake. Initially I discounted it as a radical option. As time went on and medication was less effective I thought ‘what do I have to lose’.

“Since having the procedure , my life has totally changed. I feel closer to the man I was at age 32. I don’t require medication, I can drive, go for a walk and I am more independent and spontaneous than ever.”

“I WOULD CLIMB THE HIGHEST TREE AND YELL ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE DBS HAS MADE TO ME” Mick is pleased with his results. “My advice to others with PD is get DBS as soon as you can. It has given me a second shot at life. I might be turning 50 in December this year [2016], but I have two birthdays now. In January, I have my DBS birthday when I turn seven.


Just like a pacemaker for the heart, a small device [1] is surgically placed under the skin in the chest to deliver DBS therapy. The device sends electrical pulses through the extension [2] to the leads [3] and electrodes [4] that are placed in an area of the brain that controls movement. These pulses disrupt some of the brain’s messages that cause the symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders.

DBS therapy is reversible and can be discontinued at any time by turning off or surgically removing the device.

Speak with your Healthcare Professional to learn more.

Disclaimer: The patient testimonial relates an account of an individual’s response to the treatment. The response other persons have to the treatment could be different. Responses to the treatment can and do vary; not every response is the same.

How much will lowering the price PHI Funds pay for medical devices really lower premiums?

31 March 2016

We’ve heard a lot from the private health insurers attributing rising premiums to the cost of medical device technology. You’d think perhaps we were enemies – we aren’t.

You might also think that medical device costs represent the biggest ‘chunk’ of the healthcare budget – they don’t.

Private health insurance and the private hospital system are critical within the Australian healthcare system. We want to work with them to ensure that all Australians who might benefit from access to medical technology can.

For us, healthcare is a basic right. We want to see more people living well in the community, because when people live well, we all benefit. This won’t be achieved through taking a backward step in our approach to accessing medical technology. We’ve come a long way – do we want to be left behind now?

Since the implementation of the Prostheses List[i], the benefit paid per prosthesis has remained flat. For the last five years it has actually started to decline.

Any increase in benefit payments is driven primarily by an increase in use, and therefore an increase in the number of Australian receiving medical device technology. Surely this is a good thing – more people are receiving the medical technology they need. Isn’t that why PHI premiums are paid in the first place?

If you want to talk statistics consider this:

  • Benefits paid for prostheses have remained static at just over 10 per cent of total benefits paid by private health insurers across all expenditure categories[ii];
  • Prostheses benefits have also been a stable proportion of total insurer hospital expenditure at around 14 per cent[iii].
  • Medical technology comprises 2% – 5% of national health expenditure; however, appropriate use of medical technology reduces hospital stays by an average of 13%[iv].

We also know[v]:

  •  More than half of the current PHI holders (52%) would consider cancelling their policy if changes resulted in them being unable to access the latest medical technology through their insurance.
  • Slightly less than half (46%) would consider cancelling their policy if health insurance companies adopted a user pays approach in which policy holders would be required to pay extra to access the latest medical technology.
  • Two thirds of PHI holders (66%) would consider cancelling their policy if insurance companies increased premiums and reduced access to the latest technology.

So who will really win if there are cuts to the prices private health insurance funds pay for medical devices? Is it you? Do we really believe that savings will be passed on to consumers as lower premiums or will our ability to advance healthcare be compromised?

We agree there is room for Prostheses reform. Reform should be focussed on improving access to healthcare for those who need it, when they need it. It should also consider the complex healthcare system in which this care is delivered. It’s not as simple as a blanket cut to the prices private health insurers pay for medical technology for their members. Rushed changes impacting the delivery of healthcare have the potential to impact human health – this is simply not negotiable.

[i] The Prostheses List, administered by the Department of Health, lists the products, and the benefit amount, that private health insurers are required to reimburse ensuring access to medical technology for people with private health insurance.

[ii] Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) industry data.

[iii] Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) industry data.

[iv] Medical Technology in Australia: Key facts and figures 2014.

[v] Galaxy Research: Health Insurance Study, Commissioned 22-23 February 2016.

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Patient’s first: Expanding access – narrowing the gap

22 March 2016

There’s been a lot of discussion about the cost of medical device technology lately – particularly related to the potential for Private Health Insurance (PHI) reform.

We agree there’s room for improvement. But there is no quick fix.

Cuts to the benefits private health insurers pay for medical devices through cuts to the Prostheses List won’t necessarily translate into cheaper costs for patients in accessing technology or decrease PHI premiums.  They might even make some medical technologies harder to access. Would this matter to you? A recent Galaxy Research study says it does[i]:

  • Virtually all those with private health insurance (97%) consider it important that they can access the latest medical technology through their insurance cover. Most of these consider access to the latest technology very important (64%).
  • More than 9 in 10 PHI holders (94%) agree that health insurance companies should provide cover to members for the medical device chosen by the patient’s doctor.
  • The overwhelmingly majority of PHI holders (86%) consider it unacceptable that private health insurance companies do not fund the latest advances in medical technology.
  • Three quarters of all PHI holders (75%) disapprove of the private health insurance companies choosing not to fund some of the latest medical devices that are available in Australia.
  • There is widespread disapproval for cuts to the health insurance system that would result in doctors being unable to choose the specific medical device they believe is best for their patient. Overall, 84% of PHI holders disapprove of these cuts and only 9% approve.

…and the bottom line:

  • More than half of the current PHI holders (52%) would consider cancelling their policy if changes resulted in them being unable to access the latest medical technology through their insurance.
  • Slightly less than half (46%) would consider cancelling their policy if health insurance companies adopted a user pays approach in which policy holders would be required to pay extra to access the latest medical technology.
  • Two thirds of PHI holders (66%) would consider cancelling their policy if insurance companies increased premiums and reduced access to the latest technology.

With April 1 just around the corner, it’s natural you’ll be thinking about what to do with your PHI.

We’re looking at healthcare where the patient comes first – that’s you.

We want you to live well and we want to see people access healthcare that will benefit them. When we all live well, the whole community is healthier. It’s that simple.

[i] Galaxy Research: Health Insurance Study, Commissioned 22-23 February 2016

Apply Now: Medtronic Infection Control Scholarship

23 February 2016

Encouraging collaboration amongst the Infection Control community, Supported by the ACIPC

Hospitals and Healthcare providers around the world continue to strive to reduce healthcare-associated infections. We care about helping to reduce infections and improve patient outcomes too.

With support from the Australian College of Infection Prevention and Control (ACIPC), the Medtronic 2016 Infection Control Scholarship has been designed to encourage Australian and New Zealand healthcare professionals with an interest in infection control, to share their successes and innovations in infection control and receive support for further work in this area. The scholarship is to support critical infection control projects to ultimately enhance patient safety and assist best practice procedures and work place outcomes.

The annual scholarship was established in 2006 and has awarded over $320,000 to projects in healthcare associated infection surveillance and management along with support areas including clinical governance, research, training, poster/paper presentations at conferences and post graduate education in the infection control space.

Funding will be awarded across three categories:

  • Major Research Project: Two grants for research project requiring funding up to $15,000 (Total Award = $30,000).
  • Minor Research Projects: Two grants for research projects requiring funding up to $5,000 will be awarded (Total Award = $10,000).
  • Educational Grant: $10,000 in grants to further educational requests related to Infection Control such as conference/oral presentations at either national or international conferences

More information on the scholarship and how to apply is here and on the ACIPC website.

The application form is available here.

Applications close Thursday 31 March 2016. If you have questions please contact:

Hear from a previous applicant, Prof Ramon Z Shaban:

Infection Scholarship_Thumbnail2

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Medtronic help Humankind

19 November 2015

Human KindRecognising the impact of chronic health conditions* on the individual, as well as their network of healthcare professionals, colleagues, family and friends, we searched for a partner who shared an interest in alleviating this burden on Australians and were determined to make change. Through our search we met Relationships Australia.

Relationships Australia are a community based not for profit organisation providing relationship support services.

Through their research, Relationships Australia knew that relationships can be seriously impacted by chronic illness – however they can also have tremendous value in helping manage chronic illness. Through their expertise in understanding relationships and communication – Relationships Australia also knew they could help. At Medtronic, we knew we could too and in 2013 we provided a Health Access Grant to help fund a program directed to this effort.

It was important to all parties that any resource developed was meaningful. Therefore, extensive research was undertaken by Relationships Australia to validate the problem – and opportunity. Recently, a huge milestone has been reached with the launch of a new website; to support people living with chronic illness and their loved ones to achieve positive and respectful relationships. Humankind provides relationship information, support and resources appropriate for people living with a chronic illness and for the families, friends and practitioners that support them.

Alison Brook, National Executive Officer Relationships Australia remarks “All couples experience hard times, though living with a chronic illness or with a partner who is chronically ill can have a dramatic impact on your relationship. When dealing with chronic illness relationship issues are often overlooked, however the research tells us that good relationship health is fundamental to overall wellbeing. Working to improve your most important relationships can lead to better health outcomes. This is what the Humankind website aims to help people do.”

The name Humankind comes from the notion that it is human to experience chronic illness and it is natural for humans to want to help each other when times are tough. Being kind is the corner stone to healthy and long lasting relationships. The message from Humankind is to be kind to yourself and others.

We encourage you to take a look at the resource and to share it with your network. Visit today.

*Chronic health conditions include conditions such as Type 1 Diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and Chronic pain

Humankind was developed by Relationships Australia with the assistance of a Health Access Grant from Medtronic, a global leader in medical technology.