Category Archives: Interesting Reading

Pros and Cons of Virtual Doctor Visits

Even before the pandemic struck, virtual doctor visits were becoming more and more popular. Now with so many people confined to their homes and the doctor’s office not being as safe as it used to be, virtual visits and telehealth communication have become a necessity. However, virtual visits have their advantages and disadvantages. When it comes down to it, is it worth it in the end?

Pro: Cost-effective Care

Oftentimes, a virtual visit with your doctor is going to be less expensive than a traditional visit to their office. A patient can actually save money by removing the time spent sitting in the waiting room and commuting to the clinic. Virtual care appointments also decrease no-show and late appointment rates.

Pro: Convenient and Accessible

Many patients found virtual visits to be easier and much more convenient. Instead of taking time out of their day to drive down to the clinic and wait for the doctor, they can access care right from the comfort of their home or wherever they have an internet connection. Telehealth is also a great option for those living in rural areas and remote locations. They can gain access to doctors more easily while also having quicker and more convenient access to specialists. 

Pro: Better Patient Engagement

Patients are more likely to set and keep their appointments when made through telehealth solutions. Virtual visits also encourage patients to be more involved by making it easier to reach out with questions, voice concerns, share early warning signs, and schedule a follow-up appointment. With the patient-centered approaches that telehealth offers, there’s a major improvement to patient care.

Con: More Training and Tech Equipment

Moving care to a virtual platform requires more training in tech and requires equipment. This restructures the IT staff’s responsibilities, which costs both time and money. To ensure patients are getting the best care possible with virtual visits, training for doctors, nurses, and other medical staff is crucial. 

Con: Less In-Person Consultations

Technology has its limitations and cannot completely replace in-person consultations. However, the appeal and convenience of virtual visits will make in-person visits seem like even more of a hassle, even when it is necessary. Not all procedures, especially a checkup, can be performed digitally. 

At the end of the day, as good as tele-health is, nothing can replace an experienced doctors’ gut feel when a patient walks in their door, and there is no substitute for a thorough clinical examination. 

Telehealth is a worthwhile supplement to good patient care, but should never replace it, as things will get missed.

DISCLAIMER

All content provided on the www.lachlansoper.com.au website is general in nature and for informational purposes only.  It does not take into consideration an individual’s circumstances and it is not advice and should not be used as a substitute for advice from an appropriately qualified professional.

Opinions are my own. Links to external websites do not constitute an endorsement or recommendation.

No responsibility is accepted for any liability, loss or risk which is incurred as a consequence of the use of any of the material or links on this website, nor for any errors or omissions in the information.

All content on this website © Lachlan Soper (unless otherwise specified).

Digital Health Trends

Innovative technology has changed our lives and improved our day-to-day. As industries embrace and adapt to new technologies, they’re finding ways to improve customer service, communication, and even employee satisfaction. The healthcare industry is truly embracing technology and seeing the advantages of digital trends. It is reshaping how patients interact with health professionals, data is shared more easily among providers, and it is changing treatment plan decisions as well as health outcomes.

Records in the Cloud

Thanks to tech advancements, over the years more and more medical records are moved into cloud storage. This type of cloud infrastructure is key to having easy access between disparate systems. Healthcare organisations using the cloud for storage understand that it is the best way to hold large amounts of medical data that accumulates every day. It’s also an easy way to share information, images, and records across different healthcare providers and organisations. If executed correctly, cloud storage can improve patient care, everyday workflow solutions for physicians, and ensure records remain private and secure. 

Resources such as My Health Record offer an online summary of a patient’s key health information. This information can be securely viewed online by the patient or medical professional and gives healthcare providers access to important health data such as allergies, medication, past and present medical conditions, blood tests, and more. 

Wearable Devices 

Tracking your health in real-time has been made possible thanks to innovative wearable devices. Many people are familiar with devices such as fitness trackers, smartwatches, and heart monitors that pair to personal devices. These wearables are now more often being paired with Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) platforms that can send data to their doctor. In the future, we can expect to see wearables playing a major role in healthcare and digital health. These devices can help patients in recovery or assist those with chronic issues. The data that is collected from wearables can help healthcare providers, medical professionals, and patients transform healthcare. 

Virtual Reality

What was once thought of as futuristic recreational technology is now a breakthrough in the healthcare industry. Wearing a Virtual Reality (VR) headset is an immersive experience and is now used by educational institutions to train future doctors. VR is also being used for surgeons to test techniques to prepare for intricate surgeries. What’s more, experienced physicians have used it as a way to practice new procedures and perfect ones they’ve done in the past. There could be even more VR advances in 2021.

 

DISCLAIMER

All content provided on the www.lachlansoper.com.au website is general in nature and for informational purposes only.  It does not take into consideration an individual’s circumstances and it is not advice and should not be used as a substitute for advice from an appropriately qualified professional.

Opinions are my own. Links to external websites do not constitute an endorsement or recommendation.

No responsibility is accepted for any liability, loss or risk which is incurred as a consequence of the use of any of the material or links on this website, nor for any errors or omissions in the information.

All content on this website © Lachlan Soper (unless otherwise specified).

Why Australia’s Covid 19 Response Was Better Than Most

Countries all over the world fell into uncertain times when the coronavirus (Covid 19) began to quickly spread. World leaders had to quickly come up with a plan of action to keep their citizens safe and healthy. Some countries went into strict lockdown, while others’ responses were delayed. It’s no wonder now why there are some countries lifting restrictions and coming out of quarantine while other countries are still having daily death counts approaching the thousands.

Australia had one of the best Covid 19 responses throughout the entire world. Today, almost all of Australia is back to normal with quarantine restrictions lifted and no masks to be seen. There are many reasons why our country has done better than most:

Being an Island

One of the biggest factors that helped Australia go back to normal is being an island. Australia is closed off from the rest of the world with no neighbouring countries to worry about. Much like New Zealand, Vietnam, Brunei and some Caribbean islands, Australia is reporting fewer cases every week. Defeating a virus can definitely be a lot easier when your country is an island and the borders are closed to foreigners, but that isn’t the only factor that helped Australia.

Strict Quarantine

When it was clear the virus was very serious and people’s lives were in danger, Australia went into a very strict quarantine that kept many citizens at home for months, especially in Victoria. Unlike the United States and Europe, the borders were strictly closed to foreigners. Blocking out the rest of the world from entering and keeping Australians from leaving had a huge effect on controlling the spread of the virus. 

For Australian citizens, they had to stay at home unless absolutely necessary. For instance, in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, most people were confined to their homes for 22 hours a day. The only time they were allowed to leave their homes was only for exercise, shopping, schooling, medical appointments, or funerals. These strict rules and regulations helped keep the virus under control and saved many lives. 

Rigorous Contact Tracing

Another strategy Australia has put in place while tackling the virus is its rigorous contact tracing. Australia has adopted a backwards contact-tracing approach to keep coronavirus cases low. Instead of forward contact tracing by finding all the people an infected person could have passed the virus on to and asking them to self-isolate, Australia’s backwards contact tracing aims to find who gave the virus to the person who tested positive, which can potentially pick up infections that might otherwise be missed.

DISCLAIMER

All content provided on the www.lachlansoper.com.au website is general in nature and for informational purposes only.  It does not take into consideration an individual’s circumstances and it is not advice and should not be used as a substitute for advice from an appropriately qualified professional.

Opinions are my own. Links to external websites do not constitute an endorsement or recommendation.

No responsibility is accepted for any liability, loss or risk which is incurred as a consequence of the use of any of the material or links on this website, nor for any errors or omissions in the information.

All content on this website © Lachlan Soper (unless otherwise specified).

Choosing the Right Primary Care Doctor for You

Believe it or not, your primary care doctor, or general practitioner (GP), should be one of the most important relationships when it comes to your health and well-being. It’s imperative to take the time to do your research and find the right doctor for you. They should not be chosen on a whim because they can have a major impact on your health and wellness. Take the time to find someone who is qualified and, more importantly, someone you can trust. Here are some helpful tips for choosing the right primary care doctor for you:

Ask Friends and Family

While nowadays everything can be found on the internet, it’s also a good idea to ask around when looking for a primary care doctor. More often than not, your friends and family will have a doctor that they trust and like well enough to make a recommendation. However, it is also very important to keep in mind that although a doctor was perfect for your best friend or your parents, it doesn’t mean that he or she will be right for you. With that in mind, asking friends and family can help you get the search started. 

Think of Your GP like the hub of a wheel

In a bicycle wheel everything communicates back to the hub. Your GP is the hub. They need to know as much as possible to either deal with the problem you present with themselves, or to know the right people to send you to. If it is a musculoskeletal problem, their job may be to find you the most appropriate physiotherapist. They then refer you to that physio, and the physio then communicates back with your GP. Similarly if you are, for example, short of breath, it could be many things, but two systems that are common are the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. The GP’s job, if it is a complicated issue, is to find the most appropriate specialist in that area, who will then treat you and communicate with your GP. Your GP should always be at the centre of the loop, so that they can know as much as possible about your medical needs, and therefore facilitate the best treatment possible. They are both your treating physician, and your advocate within the health field.

Keep Location in Mind

Your GP is typically for everyday health needs, which is why it is essential that they are located somewhere convenient for you. By sticking with a doctor who is close by, you won’t need to travel far and wide when you’re not feeling good. What’s more, if your doctor’s office is conveniently located, it’ll be much easier to keep your appointments and be more capable of coming in last minute if there is an emergency.

Give the Doctor a Visit

Once you feel you’ve found the right doctor for you, schedule a visit. A face-to-face meeting will help you make certain that you’ve made the right choice. In the visit, make sure you feel comfortable in the office, with the doctor, and even the nurses. If you feel you’ve found a GP you trust, then they’re the right person to rely on and help manage your healthcare. Use the visit as an opportunity to discuss your past medical history, any current medications you take, or any chronic conditions you’re managing.

DISCLAIMER

All content provided on the www.lachlansoper.com.au website is general in nature and for informational purposes only.  It does not take into consideration an individual’s circumstances and it is not advice and should not be used as a substitute for advice from an appropriately qualified professional.

Opinions are my own. Links to external websites do not constitute an endorsement or recommendation.

No responsibility is accepted for any liability, loss or risk which is incurred as a consequence of the use of any of the material or links on this website, nor for any errors or omissions in the information.

All content on this website © Lachlan Soper (unless otherwise specified).

Some Occasions It’s Worth Seeing Your Doctor

There are some patients who have no problem going to their doctor with anything they have a question about or when they aren’t feeling well. However, there are others who hardly ever go to their doctor, even if they are sick or in pain. Most of the time, this doesn’t mean they’re trying to be tough or think the doctor can’t help. On the contrary, many people aren’t sure when it’s serious enough to go to their doctor.

Prolonged Muscle Soreness

Often times, someone will experience sore muscles after trying a new exercise or any physical activity that the body isn’t used. Most of the time, it will last for a couple of days. However, if the soreness lasts for a week or longer, it could be time to get your doctor on the phone. In rare situations, prolonged muscle soreness from intense exercising could be associated with rhabdomyolysis, which can lead to permanent kidney damage if untreated.

Chronic Low-back Pain

The older you get, the more likely you are to get stiffness or aches on your neck, back, and shoulders. Usually, with a bit of stretching and over the counter medications such as paracetamol or ibuprofen it may dissipate. However, chronic pain in your lower back could be a red flag if there is also pain or tingling down your leg. This could mean you’ve slipped or herniated a disc, or a pinched nerve root. This type of injury calls for medical attention and you should phone your doctor immediately.

You’re Sick For a Month

Many things in medicine get better with the course of time. However, if your symptoms persist longer than you or your relatives would expect, or if something “mild” persists for up to a month, it’s worth getting checked out. If your symptoms are persisting, what you have may not be a “simple” transient issue, and it’s worth having your doctor check you out to help diagnose and treat you.

DISCLAIMER

All content provided on the www.lachlansoper.com.au website is general in nature and for informational purposes only.  It does not take into consideration an individual’s circumstances and it is not advice and should not be used as a substitute for advice from an appropriately qualified professional.

Opinions are my own. Links to external websites do not constitute an endorsement or recommendation.

No responsibility is accepted for any liability, loss or risk which is incurred as a consequence of the use of any of the material or links on this website, nor for any errors or omissions in the information.

All content on this website © Lachlan Soper (unless otherwise specified).

The Transition For Children From Paediatric Care

When it’s time to move from paediatrics to adult care, the transition can be difficult for some, particularly for those with significant disabilities who have needed ongoing paediatric care since they were infants. While it may sound as simple as moving from one doctor to another, many parents struggle with knowing the right time or wondering how different it will be for their child. Here’s what to expect when transitioning from paediatric to adult care:

The Right Time for the Transition

When it comes to deciding the right time to transition away from paediatric care, there is no one answer for this. Transitioning from paediatric to adult care usually occurs around the 18th birthday. However, in reality, it is a case-by-case basis. It all depends on the patient, their health history, and much more. When you’re thinking about taking your child out of paediatric care, it’s always best to consult their doctor first to decide when would be the right time. 

The Role of the Pediatrician 

Under their care, a paediatrician will help prepare your child for the transition to an adult physician. As the patient grows older, paediatricians will begin to see patients in private when they’re in their early teen years, depending on the level of disability. As adolescents begin to learn real-life responsibilities such as driving or getting their first job, they also need to learn how to advocate for themselves when it comes to their health. 

The Consent of Treatment

There is a principle called the “mature minor”, it is different from state to state and country to country. What that means is that some point, between the ages of 14 and 16, the doctor determines if the child has the maturity to understand and consent to the treatment they are having. If they are ‘mature’ enough to consent, then their consultation is confidential. As such, when a patient is at the age of consent, they no longer have to disclose anything medically related to their parents. This means that whatever is discussed between the patient and their doctor will stay between them. 

The Difficulties with Getting a COVID-19 Vax

Throughout every country, the dangers of the worldwide pandemic, coronavirus, still linger. Although some populations have begun to get back to the way it used to be slowly, many are still worried about the likely second wave of coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. Looking at countries in the Southern Hemisphere that up until late June appeared to have had COVID-19 well under control (like Australia), there has been a large surge in cases in July as the typical winter respiratory infection season arrives. In January 2021, when many are fed-up with social distancing, there may well be a huge rise in cases in the Northern Hemisphere respiratory infection season. Many are hoping for a vaccine to help stop the spread of the dangerous virus. However, there are difficulties with getting a COVID-19 vax.

Developing a brand new vaccine is a significant medical and scientific discovery. It can take decades to finally find a successful vax, even with the urgency of the situation. Remember drug companies are motivated by profits – if a drug is likely to be profitable, they’ll pour more money into trying to develop it. Coronaviruses are one of the main causes of the common cold (as well as rhinoviruses, RSV and parainfluenza). Almost all of us get at least one cold every winter. So there would be a huge incentive to developing a successful vaccine to a disease we all get every year. There has never been a successful vaccine to a coronavirus. Why will it be different with COVID-19? Hopefully, it will be different, but we have to be realists. 

Also, studies have shown that those people who acquire COVID-19 have a rapid drop off in their natural immunity – 23-fold in only a few months! The immune system generally builds a more robust response to “naturally” acquired infections, than to vaccines. So if a vaccine is developed, people may need to be re-vaccinated at least every 3 months. 

Once the corona vax is created, many people may be fearful about getting vaccinated. Even with the vaccine tested and numerous trials are done, it’s difficult for people to trust a new vaccine entirely. These are reasonable concerns. It is wise not to be an ‘early adopter’ of new medications, often side-effects become more well known once the medication has been in broad community use after the initial trial phases. 

Facing the Reality of a Vaccine

While a COVID-19 vax could help billions of people around the world, it’s essential to be realistic. Probably within the first few weeks of distributing a vaccine, there will be countless stories about side effects, medical syndromes, and scary reactions. Even for someone who is pro-vaccine, this could be scary to hear. It’s important to be realistic that many people are going to be scared to take the vaccine, not based on science, but on the horror stories spread around. Many people are probably going to want to wait before getting vaccinated, which is entirely understandable. 

This means if a vax if found and ready to be given to the public, it won’t stop the pandemic in its tracks. It will definitely take time. 

Asking Your Doctor the Tough Questions

When it comes to health and medicine, the best person to talk to is your doctor. However, sometimes the tough or even embarrassing questions are not easy to ask. While a lot of people understand that their doctor is there to help them, many still have a tough time working up the courage to speak up about health questions or concerns because it can feel too embarrassing. Take a look at these tips for asking your doctor the tough questions:

 

Prioritise Concerns

Often times, doctors only have about 15-20 minutes to talk with their patients. When you have a line of questions for your doctor, have them prepared ahead of time by writing a list. By preparing, it can help you get used to the idea of asking and make it easier to ask. It’s also a good idea to ask your tough questions at the start of your appointment. This way, your doctor has more time to give you a quality answer and explanation. 

 

Use Your Own Words

Chances are, you tried researching the tough question online already before working up the courage to ask your doctor. While this can sometimes be helpful, it’s important to tell your doctor how you’re feeling or why the concern has been raised in your own words. Using your own words is better than spewing medical terms you read on the internet. You can even write down your symptoms or experiences beforehand to make sure you tell your doctor everything they need to know. 

 

They’ve Probably Heard it Before

Your doctor has spent many years studying the medical field and has probably seen many patients before you. Whatever ever tough or embarrassing question you want to ask, they have probably heard it before. Never be too scared to ask because you’re afraid they’ll judge or think it’s strange. 

 

It’s Their Profession

When it comes down to it, a doctor’s job is to answer any medical question that their patient has. As their patient, you have a professional relationship that allows you to be completely open about your medical concerns and they are there to help you. Being too embarrassed to ask the tough questions can put a damper on your health and do more harm than good. Be sure to always be open and honest with your doctor. 

Resilience – 3 characteristics to help through life’s traumas

Trials, trauma and tough roads, we all will face them in life. Some more often and some in more tragic ways than others. Relationship breakdown, death of loved ones, job loss, financial difficulty, medical illnesses and other life events can all throw us into despair. 
How do we deal with such tragedies and grief? 
Resilience researcher and fellow traveller in the world of emotional trauma, Lucy Hone, believes that developing emotional resilience is one of the best ways to both healthily grieve and live our lives concurrently. She believes that resilient people have 3 key characteristics. She says:

1. “Resilient people get that s#*t happens. They know that suffering is part of life. This doesn’t mean they actually welcome it in…. Just that when the tough times come, they seem to know that suffering is part of every human existence.”

2. “Resilient people are really good at choosing carefully where they select their attention. They have a habit of realistically appraising situations, and typically, managing to focus on the things that they can change, and somehow accept the things that they can’t. This is a vital, learnable skill for resilience. Make an intentional, deliberate, ongoing effort to tune into what’s good in your world.”

This characteristic is fundamental to a famous prayer known as “The Serenity Prayer” which prays to God: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

3. ‘Resilient people ask themselves, “Is what I’m doing helping or harming me?“‘

https://www.ted.com/talks/lucy_hone_3_secrets_of_resilient_people?utm_source=recommendation&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=explore&utm_term=newest-talks-4

When you go through life’s traumas, as we all will, find a great counselor or psychologist to get you through, and some good mentors too – some close friends who are not merely “yes” people to help shape and gently guide you on your journey. And on that journey learn to accept that suffering is part of life, focus on what you can change and accept the things you cannot change, and stop doing the things which reactivate your distress.

God-willing these strategies can help you survive, take the next steps, move on and transform in your life.

Dr Lachlan Soper

Wisdom from Jewish Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl – Success, Happiness and Pleasure

I’ve had the privilege of going through Viktor Frankl’s book, “Man’s Search for Meaning” lately.
Here’s one quote, worth reading twice, on success and happiness:
“Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you’re going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued, it must ensue. And it only does so as the unintended side effect of ones personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself, or as the byproduct of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success, you have to let it happen by not caring about it…. In the long run… success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it”
“Pleasure is, and must remain a side-effect or by-product, and is destroyed and spoiled to the degree to which it is made a goal in itself. Hence the failure of hedonism”.

Dr Lachlan Soper

Ingredients to great conversation. Be prepared to be amazed – Celeste Headlee

In this talk by Celeste Headlee, she outlines the ingredients of a great conversation: Honesty, brevity, clarity and a healthy amount of listening. And most importantly, “be prepared to be amazed.”

Most of us need to be challenged to apply our minds to what we hear, before we engage our mouths to add our opinion.

10 Rules for better conversations:

  1. Don’t multitask. Be present. Be in that moment. Don’t be half in the conversation
  2. Enter every conversation assuming you have something to learn. Everybody is an expert in something
  3. Use open ended questions. Who, what, where, when, why or how? What was that like? How did that feel? It gives a more interesting response.
  4. Go with the flow. If thoughts come into your mind, let them go.
  5. If you don’t know, say that you don’t know.
  6. Don’t equate your experience with theirs. Their loss of a family member, job loss vs your family loss or job loss. Their and your experiences are different.
  7. Try not to repeat yourself. It’s condescending and boring.
  8. Stay out of the weeds. People don’t care about the years, names, dates… They care about you, what you are like, what you have in common.
  9. Listen. Keep your mouth shut as often as you possibly can. Keep your mind open. Always be prepared to be amazed.
  10. Be brief.

 

“Conversational competence might be the single most overlooked skill we fail to teach.

Kids spend hours each day engaging with ideas and each other through screens. But rarely do they have the opportunity to hone their interpersonal communication skills. Is there any 21st Century skill more important than being able to sustain competent confident conversation. Paul Barnwell, High School Teacher

Listen on: ted.com

Dr Lachlan Soper

Loneliness – important to consider for those you know in these times of self-isolation

Loneliness can be a killer.
It increases early mortality risk by 26%.
For comparison, that’s similar to obesity or 15-cigarette daily smoking habit.
Loneliness, research shows, raises systolic blood pressure, BMI (body mass index), and puts people at increased risk for depression and suicide.

Read full article on: mdlinx.com

Dr Lachlan Soper

The benefits of decluttering

This season in life was one I never sought after. BUT there have been so many opportunities to grasp a hold of. One of the small opportunities is decluttering.

“Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value, and the removal of the things that distract us from it”
Benefits include more time with family & generosity.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVbQ-oro7FQ

Dr Lachlan Soper

The Paradox of Choice

A thought provoking talk about the paradox of choice.
The multitude of choice we have leads to paralysis rather than freedom. People put off decisions.
The second consequence is that even if we overcome the paralysis to make a choice, we become less satisfied with the choice we’ve made.
The opportunity cost of missing out on the option you could have chosen detracts from the enjoyment of the choice you made even if it was an excellent decision.
“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
Apostle Paul

Read full article on: ted.com

Dr Lachlan Soper