The Single Senior STD Epidemic

Terri Prof Headshot 0412If you think your retired parents who have settled into a low-key retirement home or senior living community are spending their time playing checkers and watching soaps, think again! They may be running around having sex just like college kids let loose in a dorm for the first time. Senior citizens, contrary to popular belief, are often still sexually active. And they are spreading sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

According to the Center for Disease Control, since 2007, the incidence of syphilis among seniors, those 65 and over, is up by 52 percent, and the number of chlamydia cases has risen 32 percent. The rapid increase in STDs among older people is similar to STD trends in the 20- to 24-year-old age group. The rate of STDs among seniors has been growing steadily for the last several years, doubling from 2000 to 2010. The UK is seeing similar increases. The largest increases in STDs were in Arizona’s retirement heavy counties where cases of syphilis and chlamydia in those 55 and older rose 87% from 2005 to 2009 and in Florida. Unfortunately, a larger number of those over 55 are also contracting and living with HIV. (more…)

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albright-dacarlaIn light of the recent the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) proposal, I immediately think of my 46 year-old patient, recently diagnosed with breast cancer, after routine annual screening. I call her one of my “favorites” and look forward to seeing her each year. We get to talk, laugh, share mothering notes, parenting beautiful daughters. This year, I gave her extra hugs, and comforting words, as I referred her to a breast surgeon. How did this happen? She had no family history, no breast concerns, and was definitely not in a high risk category. But, a 6 mm invasive breast cancer was detected with 3D mammography. At least it was early, and the interventions allowed the option of breast conservation. My patient is thankful that she was referred for routine screening, annually.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women. Approximately 40,000 women die from breast cancer each year, with as many as 10,000 deaths from cancer that potentially could have been diagnosed with screening mammography prior to the age of 50. These thousands of women represent mothers, sisters, wives and friends. They are my patients. Yet in its new recommendations the USPSTF demonstrated it believes these numbers are insignificant. (more…)

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SWHR Honors Champions of Women’s Health at their 25th Anniversary Gala Dinner

swhrThe Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR) held their annual black-tie gala on March, 25, 2015. This year celebrated 25 years of transforming women’s health. More than 600 guests gathered at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Washington D.C. to commemorate this milestone.

Judy Woodruff was the evening’s master of ceremony. The gala honored the accomplishments of several champions of women’s health, and opened with an anniversary video, chronicling SWHR’s efforts to put women’s health at the forefront of research. (more…)

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HIMSS15: The Patient Takes Center Stage

Lisa-Suennen-photoThe following was originally posted by Lisa Suennen on Venture Valkyrie.

Back in 2012 I wrote a blog post called SXSW: Woodstock for Geeks, which became the opening chapter of Tech Tonics, the book I wrote with David Shaywitz. In this piece, I pointed out the marked differences between SXSW vs. HIMSS, both of which I had recently experienced.   I said that HIMSS was best described as “a festival of old-school techno weenies recognizable in the wild by their big company expense accounts and the blue and gray suits that barely cover their pocket protectors.” In contrast, I experienced SXSW as an event that “would blanche at the thought of being called a conference. SXSW is more of a happening.  Rather than suits (the costume is old jeans and rock and roll t-shirts), the primary thing that comes in blue is hair.” My conclusion of the 2012 piece was this:

“In a perfect world, the ideal HIT gathering would be somewhere psychologically between HIMSS and SXSW:  fewer gray suits, less purple hair, more next generation technology, more business models that work.   If we could do a little cross breeding between species here, we just might make it work. Or we could accidentally end up with the Monster from Young Frankenstein.  Wait a minute, my God it’s brilliant! He might actually be perfect!  The Monster had both a gray suit AND a green head.  If he knows how to code, we have a winner.  Oh, sweet mystery of life at last I’ve found you!” (more…)

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TBT: Amplifying the Voices of Patients

DLN_HeadshotThis post originally ran back on June 26, 2013 but its message is still extremely important today…patient voices should be at the forefront when it comes to improving our health care system.

Big changes are taking place in our health care system – and it’s about time.  While some innovations have been occurring in limited areas around the country, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is making bigger, bolder transformation of the health care system more of a reality.  It is altering the way health services are delivered, changing the way we pay for care, and beginning to reward high-quality care rather than a high volume of services.

The new Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation is testing new care models like Patient Centered Medical Homes, Accountable Care Organizations, and the Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative to encourage better care coordination for patients and reward high quality services. That’s especially important for women, who not only use health care services themselves, but also tend to be caregivers for children and older relatives. (more…)

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Setting the Agenda to Create a Learning Public Health System

academyhealthIf you were opening a small business or starting a new household project, what would be your first step? You would likely read reviews and talk to experts or others who have already successfully reached similar goals in the most efficient and effective way. A common sense approach would be to look for – and identify – the best route to success, pulling information from a variety of sources.

It’s the same method we need to understand the best strategies for the nation’s public health system, which faces everyday pressures from health threats like measles, flu and antimicrobial resistant infections. The system is in a constant process of learning what works. But what would happen if we could harness gaps in information and better spread up and scale our successes? What if a sort of “Angie’s List” pointed to what works best to improve the nation’s health?  A “learning public health system” would result from better collection, integration and analysis of health data.     (more…)

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Can Social Media & Healthcare Work Together?

Does the privacy of health and openness of social media work?

Social media has many uses, from the basics of being able to stay abreast of what your friends and colleagues are doing, to a way for companies to communicate with their customers.

It is a way of sharing the big or small moments in your life, but it can be so much more than that.

This is especially true in healthcare, where despite the clear confidentially restrictions put on how people can communicate, it is making a big difference – as will be discussed by Dennis Jolley, Chief Marketing Officer from Gillette Children’s Specialty, at the Digital Health Innovation Summit. (more…)

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Founder Robin Strongin helps Women in MedTech Group Launch at MassMEDIC Forum

The article below originally ran on April 9 in MedTech Boston and can be accessed here. Many thanks to Disruptive Woman Randel Richner who invited Disruptive Women Founder Robin Strongin to participate in this launch. Can’t wait to hear more from this group!

StronginThe first-ever Women in MedTech event launched last week in Waltham, MA as 125 women gathered for a MassMEDIC-sponsored forum titled “Disruptive Technologies in Medicine.” Its founders frame their goal: “To unite New England medical device executive women by providing an inspirational and educational leadership forum.” The message: “You will hear us now.”

Randel Richner, President of Richner Consultants, opened the forum. “Today is a dream of mine, to have all of you in this room,” she said. Two powerful influences have guided her life: her dad, who said, “You will always work,” and Robin Morgan’s 1969 book, Sisterhood is Powerful. Richner started her career as a dialysis nurse on a bus, but has taken her work many places since. She has been called incendiary – inflammable and provocative – and effective, and she believes deeply in an Alibaba quote: “To be more successful, bring in more women.” (more…)

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TBT: Culture of Shame

lydia brownApril is National Autism Awareness Month so for today’s TBT post we are running one by Lydia Brown who is an Autistic and multiply-disabled activist, scholar, and writer.

Growing up, my understanding of “disability” was limited to signs for “handicapped parking” with a white stick figure in a wheelchair and “special needs” children, who were always looked at from afar, and who would be described in low, quiet tones just in case they heard themselves being described.

I was not diagnosed until I was thirteen.

The word disability was not a word I associated with myself for years after receiving my diagnosis. It’s not a word with a very positive history or even a well-known one. (more…)

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Glimpse of 12th Annual World Health Care Congress

kymThank you, Disruptive Women in Health Care, for the opportunity to attend the 12th Annual World Health Care Congress and Exhibition (WHCC) held in Washington, DC on March 22nd-March 25th.

Despite thirty-two years of repetitive engagement with the healthcare system to manage my four unique cancer diagnoses, my fifteen-year marriage to an MD informatician, my two years as a Patient Opinion Leader and my role as founding Co-chair of the Patient Experience Council, I had vague knowledge of the business of healthcare prior to attending WHCC.

As a real world, experienced Patient Opinion Leader, I carry balanced messages forward to inform industry leaders of patient-centric issues and opportunities, as well as messages about healthcare system challenges and innovations back out to patients to convey the vital role they each play in transforming care. Healthcare conferences provide a prime opportunity for this pivotal exchange of information and building of shared empathy to occur. (more…)

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The Rocky Road from the Military to the VA

diana d 2While serving in the military, few think about what comes next.  What happens if you are injured and the physical, mental, emotional damage does not go away? Who is tasked to make you “whole” again through health care and compensation?  It is a process with which most civilians, and many service members and their families have little familiarity. It is cumbersome, and starts when the individual is still in the service, with a transition program and virtually no follow up by the military.

For the last twenty years, the Department of Labor (DOL) Veterans Employment and Training Services (VETS) has provided grants to the National Veterans Training Institute (NVTI), which operates within the University of Colorado at Denver (UCD) to develop and implement training programs for the Department of Defense (DOD)  to provide transition information to active duty personnel before they leave the military. To keep it simple, they titled the training “Transition Assistance Program (TAP) and taught the material to DOD personnel in a “train the trainer” model. While the intent and objectives were clear, and the benefits to military personnel enormous, implementation and utilization of the training was and continues to be inconsistent. (more…)

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TBT: Angelina got tested. Will everyone at risk be able to?

Angelina_JolieGiven Angelina Jolie’s latest decision we felt it was appropriate for this TBT to re-run our post from when she had a double mastectomy in 2013. We would love to hear what you think about her decision to remove her ovaries.

Angelina Jolie announced today in a New York Times op-ed that she recently underwent a double mastectomy after finding out that she has the gene mutation known as BRCA1, which increases a woman’s chances of getting breast cancer by 87% over her lifetime (and ovarian cancer by 50%). It is certainly a marvel of modern medicine that we not only know about this gene mutation but have the ability to test for it. Jolie’s announcement put a well-known face to the name “BRCA,” which has been in the news a lot this year as part of a larger discussion about genetics and the law. (more…)

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Why Your Healthcare Organization Can — and Should — Adopt New Tech

Asha SaxenaIn a fast-paced, high-stakes hospital setting, delivering premium patient care is everyone’s top priority.

Naturally, as new tech enters the scene, you diligently work to implement it into your hospital. But when those changes interfere with your staff’s immediate focus on patient care, your push for efficiency might face some resistance. And without employee adoption, you can’t reap the benefits of new tech.

Say you’re rolling out a new payment method for HR, for example. Updating your system might be breezy, but integrating it into employees’ daily lives poses bigger challenges. While you might be able to force staff to use the new program, nurturing an environment that embraces innovation will take the pain out of tech adoption and allow your entire organization to enjoy the benefits. (more…)

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Big Annoucement about DW Woman to Watch Jen Hyatt and Big White Wall

PrintToday, the new NHS Choices Mental Health Apps Library was launched. Big White Wall was among the first five services to be featured. Read NHS England’s press release here.

This pilot is the ’first ever directory of NHS-endorsed digital mental health services’, and it will allow the public in the UK to explore mental health support options available online via the NHS.

The pilot was championed by Tim Kelsey, National Director for Patients and Information, Geraldine Strathdee, NHS England’s Clinical Director for Mental Health, and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

Jen Hyatt, Big White Wall CEO and founder, said: “We are delighted to be one of the first NHS-endorsed digital services on NHS Choices and applaud this bold move to bring the benefits of evidence-based digital technologies direct to the public.”

Note: Big White Wall is a client of Amplify Public Affairs.

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Which is More Uncomfortable: The Colonoscopy or Treatment for Colon Cancer?

Terri Prof Headshot 0412Michelle was a healthy, active 47 year old. She tried to eat right and she exercised. It looked like the hard work was paying off: no health issues and lots of energy. Her work in the healthcare field motivated her to see her doctors regularly for checkups, to get mammograms and to have her blood work done annually. She knew she was getting close to the magical age of 50 and that soon she would need to get a colonoscopy to screen for colorectal cancer.  Since she had no family history of the disease she wasn’t worried. She felt certain that, just as all her previous testing had come back normal, this one would too.

One morning she noticed a blood clot in her stool.  She had no pain, bloating or nausea and assumed that this was probably due to the aspirin she had taken the evening before.  “Well,” she thought, “since I’m due for my annual physical next week I’ll just mention it to the doctor.”

She went as planned for her physical and when she mentioned the blood clot to her doctor he suggested that since she was getting close to 50 she might as well go ahead and set up a colonoscopy now to be sure that it wasn’t anything serious.  She did and had an endoscopy as well to see if there were stomach ulcers causing the bleeding.

The news she received was devastating.  (more…)

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