The Australian government is investing over $2 million in tests that will help people with diabetes monitor their condition.
The glycated haemoglobin test (HbA1c) will be listed on Medicare from November this year which will find 190,000 tests for patients who have been diagnosed with diabetes.
What is Medicare?
Medicare has been Australia’s universal healthcare scheme since 1984 covering medical services, public hospitals and medicine. It covers the cost of public hospital services which include services by GPs and medical specialists.
Anyone who is a permanent resident of Australia can access Medicare.
Around one in 20 Australian adults have diabetes, it accounts for 11 per cent of hospitalisations in the country and it can lead to a range of health complications such as heart disease, kidney disease, blindness and lower limb amputation.
Early detection and effective therapy can help delay diabetes complications which means a better outcome for patients.
The HbA1c is a blood test which shows how much glucose has been in the blood over a period of time.
It is important when it comes to treating someone with diabetes as patients with a high HbA1c level are at risk of developing complications.
At the moment, this blood test is performed in laboratories which requires a referral and a visit to a collection centre to have blood drawn. The blood is sent to a pathology lab and the results will be given to the referring doctor. The patent then has to have another appointment to discuss the results of the test.
However, the tests will now be done in the doctor’s surgery by a trained GP or a specialist.
This will help improve convenience for the patients and improve access for patients based in regional, rural and remote areas. It will also help people with impaired mobility.
Lab testing will continue to play a critical role in the diagnosis and management of diabetes.
In Australia, around 280 people are diagnosed with diabetes and this accounts for one person every five minutes. Around 1.7 million people have diabetes in the country which includes all types of diagnosed diabetes.
The chronic health condition costs Australia around $14 billion each year.
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