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Friday, 21 July 2017 12:13

Brisbane company develops refugee immunisation app

Brisbane company develops refugee immunisation app Image courtesy of tiverylucky at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Not-for-profit GP clinic Inala Primary Care has been awarded for its work on developing an app designed to tackle the problem of doctors being too time-poor to work out which immunisations newly arrived refugees need.

Inala has just taken out the Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) gong in Brisbane for its work with hackers on developing the app which it says replaces a complicated set of guidelines on different vaccines, and details the doses and combinations required for various ages.

According to Inala, with 18,000 refugees to be settled in Australia in the next 12 months and hundreds of thousands of migrants also arriving, the app could save lives by stopping preventable diseases such as hepatitis B and liver cancer, as well as benefiting Australia’s overstretched health system and the health of the whole population.
“The automation of this complicated but vital calculation cuts hours of work per week — hours which are not reimbursed by Medicare — meaning the app also has the potential to increase the number of general practices willing to support newly arrived refugees,” says Primary Care’s director of finance and business development Inala Chris Smeed, who created the app.

RHoK Brisbane is the local arm of a global not-for-profit movement of social hackers “coding for good”.

Twice a year, altruistic volunteers from the IT community come together to produce practical open-source solutions to problems affecting the world, prompting Inala Primary Care to turned to RHoK to develop a solution to automate and schedule immunisation.

Smeed said it was critical for refugees and other migrants to catch up with immunisations on arrival, “but the problem was widely ignored as it takes more time to deliver than is reimbursed by Medicare”.

“Refugees settling in Australia are very aware of the consequences of illnesses, which is why they are among the most willing of patients when it comes to catch-up immunisations,” Smeed said.

“But the current manual nature of this checking and the complexity of finalising an immunisation plan means many GPs do not feel they have the time or competence to complete the work. This leaves some of society’s most vulnerable at risk of developing preventable diseases.

“We are a small organisation doing the hard work most general practices see as too complex or costly to perform. Saving time with immunisation means we can give more attention to other patient needs.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - an iTWire treasure is a mentor and coach who volunteers also a writer and much valued founding partner of iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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