PERHAPS the only fun thing Bleeding Edge can recall about the experience of being admitted to Melbourne’s The Alfred Hospital a couple of weekends ago was the truly impressive array of gadgets we were hooked up to.

Within minutes of clambering on to the gurney in the emergency department, we had had adhesive sensors attached to the Bleeding Edge abdomen; the nurses had popped a Bleeding Edge finger into a heart-rate monitor; and wrapped a sphygmomanometer cuff around an arm. At that point, our vital signs were suddenly the late-breaking news on the TV monitor.

It made us wonder if perhaps it might be time to upgrade the Omron HEM-790IT, which we have been using to monitor our blood pressure for the past two years.

When one nurse employed a more user-friendly wrist-cuff model, we decided to check out the possibilities. The local Omron site has a HEM-6052 wrist monitor for $179.95 ($139.95 via getprice苏州美甲美睫培训.au), which seemed a bit steep compared with the Omron Bp652 7 series model on Amazon苏州美甲美睫培训 at $49.96. At that price, even with shipping costs, we regard these sorts of devices as a good investment in one’s healthcare. You can download a blood pressure diary from Omron here, for instance, and upload the data to a PC and even create graphs.

We don’t think it’s a good idea to use these gadgets to replace professional medical care, because it’s quite easy for non-professionals to make mistakes entering and interpreting data. But particularly if you calibrate them against your GP’s equipment, they provide a much more accurate picture than desultory consulting room readings, which in our case tend to be elevated by so-called white-coat syndrome.

We have been active participants in our own healthcare since July, when we became one of the first Australians to register online for a PCEHR (Person-Controlled Electronic Health Record), which is a secure online summary of one’s personal health record, which patients can choose to share with medical providers.

One points one’s browser to, clicks on the ”Register” button, and provides a password and answers to three security questions to set up an account, taking care to record the user ID and password, which one will almost inevitably forget.

You then link that account to your PCEHR, which will require you to provide the date, provider and amount of your last Medicare claim. A PCEHR becomes particularly valuable when a practitioner you nominate – generally your GP – uploads the details of your medical history you are prepared to share with nominated healthcare professionals.

That requires a practice to be registered and to have compliant software with secure messaging capabilities.

Comparatively few practices so far qualify, but by May this year roughly 25 per cent of Victorian practices are expected to be registered and equipped with the software.

The other highly valuable data that can be included in one’s PCEHR is a hospital discharge summary, a vital document that gives a patient’s primary healthcare practitioners details of diagnoses, prescriptions and other data accumulated in a hospital stay.

Unlike kidney stones, the passage of a discharge summary through a Victorian hospital system to a primary healthcare provider is usually expected to occur within 72 hours.

Peninsula Health, which includes Frankston Hospital, has developed an electronic discharge summary that has been recorded as providing 88 per cent of discharge summaries within 24 hours.

The Barwon Health system, centred on Geelong, has also developed e-discharge summaries, which dramatically increase the legibility and usefulness of these documents.

Last November, Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital became the first in Australia to go beyond providing e-discharge summaries to primary providers by uploading a clinical document to a patient’s PCEHR. It was also the first to allow clinicians to view patients’ PCEHRs through its clinical information system.

Unfortunately, several days after our release, The Alfred still hadn’t provided an analog discharge summary to our GP, which meant that we were forced to postpone an appointment for continued care.

All we had was a photocopied sheet of paper that did not list the ailment – a kidney stone – or any of the formidable collection of vital signs, including a CT scan and an X-ray indicating the most recent position of the kidney stone.

We doubt we could have obtained better care than The Alfred provided. But when it comes to providing a necessary record of that care, we wonder if they might be in need of some new gadgets.

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