A note from the gcma secretary
Dear GCMA Colleague, our President Dr Sonu Haikerwal is on a well-earned short break. While she is away I have been asked to provide a brief message for this edition of the Medical Link.
Our regular third Thursday of the month medical meetings has illuminated important topics this year. The last meeting on the federal government ordained electronic medical record – My Health Record – was no exception. Despite good intentions, this initiative has many ‘doubting Thomases’ – and with good reason. Not all doctors are convinced that the contents of each patient’s electronic medical record will be that useful clinically. Many are suspicious of the government’s intent of using the data obtained for non-clinical purposes. Some doctors are not convinced that the security of the system can be really protected against determined cyber criminals. And both GPs and specialists are underwhelmed by the financial incentives for doctors especially in the private sector to spend the time and energy on summarising patient information, loading up the data and maintaining or curating it on the system. Despite a passionate defence of the My Health Record by our invited speakers I wonder how many of the audience were convinced? It will be interesting to see how many of our medical colleagues decide to ‘opt out’ of My Health Record during the three-month ‘opt out’ period starting this month.
The GCMA has developed an enviable record of assisting Pacific Island nations local medical associations and colleges develop medical education conferences. The GCMA worked with the Fiji Medical Association in 2009, the Fiji College of GPs in 2015, and the Vanuatu Medical and Dental Association in 2017 to support and enhance their annual medical education meetings by partnering with each group by bringing in Gold Coast specialist presenters and international keynote speakers to bolster conference programs. Our Pacific Island colleagues have appreciated these efforts and we have learned so much about the health concerns of Pacific Island countries. At a personal and association level our closer ties with colleagues from the South Pacific has enriched us all. The GCMA is now looking to partner with the Pasifika Medical Association based in New Zealand and with the local medical associations and medical colleges from the South Pacific to run a medical education meeting in 2020. A proposed name of the meeting is the ‘Polynesian, Melanesian and Australasian Medical Conference’ to reflect the both common and unique health and clinical challenges across the geographical, cultural and ethnic diversity of our region. Please keep a look out for further developments concerning this meeting. When a date and venue is set please put it in your diary as a ‘date claimer’! It is possible this meeting will be held on the Gold Coast.
Finally, recent media and medical news references to doctor suicide have personally confronted me. I think we often try to avoid this topic as a form of defence against painful information. Many of us will know of a colleague who died by suicide. How it could have been prevented or stopped is the question we all want answered. But the solution is not clear. I recently read the thoughts of a doctor who has made a study of this sad phenomenon. Dr Pamela Wible posted an article on her website on ‘What I’ve learned from 952 doctor suicides’ (http://www.idealmedicalcare.org/ive-learned-547-doctor-suicides/). She lists 34 characteristics of doctor suicides. While the setting of her observations is in the USA many of the factors she lists are applicable to Australia. I encourage you to review her remarks – they may just help us all assist colleagues at risk of suicide.
I look forward to seeing you at our next Thursday evening clinical meeting.