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Two weeks ago, on 17 March, as governments around the world began closing borders, a flight arrived at Sydney airport from the US. On board was the first consignment of thousands of new COVID-19 diagnostic testing kits that had been developed by Roche Diagnostics within weeks of the outbreak in Wuhan, China.

Their arrival was a critical moment as Australia ramped up testing under its widening containment strategy.

But it was symbolic too, for it illustrated, very simply, the vast importance of the pharmaceutical and diagnostic industries in times of health crises.

There are literally thousands of articles in both the mainstream and medical media about the urgent R&D pharmaceutical and medical devices companies are conducting at present that cover the search for a vaccine, for rapid diagnostic tests, and for treatments both of the infection and its potentially lethal complications.

However, behind all this is the equally important story of the work being carried out to ensure that Australia’s health system continues to function; the work needed to ensure the heath system goes about its day-to-day business of treating and supporting patients in this time of enormous, uncertain change.

It’s an important story to tell. During the last three weeks, ADG has seen a surge in engagement by doctors and other healthcare professionals across all areas of content, both coronavirus-related and not. From news, feature and opinion articles, to CPD accredited education and pharma industry information, our audience is consuming more information than ever before.

More than 17,000 GPs visited the AusDoc.PLUS website this month, viewing three times more content than usual.

One good example of the surge in engagement we’re seeing is an article we published on 9 March on access to personal protective equipment and new COVID-19 testing criteria for GPs.

It was written by Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy. Within 12 hours it was read by 12,500 doctors and healthcare professionals.

This reflects the on-going demand for robust, accurate and reliable information as the situation evolves day-by-day, hour-by-hour.

However, at the same time, average time spent on our clinical features also rose by 8% in March compared with February, and the number of GPs taking part in CPD education remained steady.

This demonstrates our audience’s continuing need and desire to stay up-to-date with information to deliver routine care while this crisis plays out. And that includes access to robust, accurate and reliable information on pharmaceutical products, drug developments, medical devices and guidance on best practice.

The industry’s role in this current crisis goes deep – well beyond the critical work of developing and delivering diagnostic tests and potential treatments and vaccines for COVID-19 – it includes providing doctors and the wider health system much needed support in managing and caring for patients who, thankfully, have not yet been affected by this terrible virus.

Bryn McGeever, Managing Director of Australian Doctor Group.