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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The Safety Nets Have Gaping Holes – Our Sewing Kit!

LH and AK headshots

Anne Klee & Laurie Harkness

In our country, two words that should never be spoken or written in the same sentence are Veteran and homelessness.  Yet all too frequently we hear this is the case.   Ten years ago there were estimated to be 250,000 homeless Veterans on the streets of America each night.  Today through the multi-pronged efforts of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), many state Governor’s, state agencies, and community agencies and partners, there are now less than 50,000 homeless Veterans each night.  Veterans are about 50 percent more likely than the general population to fall into homelessness, according to VA researchers.

The new subpopulation of homeless Veterans, female Veterans represent approximately 10% of the homeless Veteran population, yet are four times more likely to be homeless than those women who have not served.  Homeless female Veterans are likely to be divorced and single parents, victims of domestic violence, to “couch surf”, and more likely to have experienced Military Sexual Trauma (MST) while serving. Vocationally, they have more difficulty keeping a job secondary to child care, transportation, and these trauma-related issues.   Since often their PTSD is not secondary to combat, many feel guilty, non-deserving of services, embarrassed, and feel uncomfortable talking about what led to their homelessness.   Many are distrustful of others.   Substance abuse is most common.  Some feel uncomfortable accessing the services of the VA (“It is still seen as a male institution”). (more…)

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Endo Awareness

Amber Coleman-MortleyMarch is endometriosis awareness month.  According the CDC, endometriosis occurs “when the kind of tissue that normally lines the uterus grows somewhere else”.  In other words your uterine lining can grow on ovaries, it can wrap around your intestines and in some cases on parts of the body nowhere near the female reproductive organs, like in a few rare cases the lungs.  As serious as this sounds, unfortunately, many people have heard more about ovarian cancer (which is very serious) than endometriosis.  I, however, have known about this disease and the havoc it can wreak for my entire life.

Growing up I used to pray that I would never get my menstrual cycle.  I never wanted children and I never wanted to take part in any of the natural changes that occur within the 21-35 day interval of femininity.  I saw it as the body’s unnecessary method of taking out the garbage and wondered what would happen if you could “become a woman” but keep all of that “stuff” in there. But alas the end of middle school came and my prayers were not answered.  I was a normal woman and I had to deal with the “tribulations of womanhood”. But my overall attitude toward the process changed when someone very close to me was diagnosed with endometriosis. (more…)

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Annie Levy’s Latest Project: “Ask Me a Question”


Annie Levy

Disruptive Woman Annie Levy has been busy lately serving as Creative Director of the “Ask Me a Question” project. Annie is part of the MADE VISIBLE Foundation team which worked on this project. Through this video project the stories of five different people who were/are patients is told. The videos are designed to be an interactive teaching tool for students and physicians to learn firsthand about the patient experience. The ultimate goal…make patients more visible. What is even more exciting about the project is that two of the individuals interviewed are part of the Disruptive Women network. The first is Amy Berman one of Disruptive Women’s 2015 Women to Watch and the second is a Man of the Month, Matthew Zachary. You can view Amy and Matthew’s videos as well as the other patient’s videos here. This impressive and important project is worth viewing and sharing with colleagues and friends. Way to go Annie!

To see an interview with Annie done by the Gold Foundation’s blog editor Perry Dinardo about this project click here. Medpage Today also ran an article on this fabulous series which you can read here.

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Destruction of Lives with the Stroke of a Pen

Protect Our Defenders is a non-profit human rights organization that honors, supports and gives voice to the brave women and men in uniform who have been raped or sexually assaulted by fellow service members. 


Nancy Parrish


Paula Coughlin

Men and women serving in our military who are raped or sexually assaulted face overwhelming obstacles in order to receive adequate health care.

Instead of assuring victims that their distress about their attacks is a normal response, the Department of Defense (DoD) has a record of mistreating victims by labeling them with errant diagnoses of personality or adjustment disorders. Based on these diagnoses, victims are not only further stigmatized, but often discharged without benefits or health care.

Just last week, the Military Times reported that the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps do not properly track mental health discharges. (more…)

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A Call to Consumers to Lead the Shift in Healthcare

Sharon TerryRecently Sharon Terry a Disruptive Woman and CEO of the Genetic Alliance joined Mendelspod to kick off their new series, Personalized Medicine and the Consumerization of Healthcare. Over the last twenty years Sharon has worked tirelessly as a patient advocate, advocating for the sharing of patient data long before others were doing so.

Here what Sharon had to say on the topic here.

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TBT: Supreme Court Upholds Individual Mandate

0702 Supreme Score CardGiven what SCOTUS is up to this week it seemed appropriate for this week’s TBT post to be one from the last time they reviewed part of the Affordable Care Act.

Despite conflicting reports early on, the Supreme Court upholds most of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA), including the controversial individual mandate provision. A 5-4 ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts surprised many pundits by joining with the Court’s four liberal justices (Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan) to uphold the individual mandate as a tax.

“Simply put, Congress may tax and spend. This grant gives the federal government considerable influence even in areas where it cannot directly regulate,” Roberts wrote in the majority opinion. “The federal government may enact a tax on an activity that it cannot authorize, forbid or otherwise control.” The Court did not decide that Congress has authority under the Commerce Clause to require individuals to buy insurance, nor did they find that the mandate held up under the Necessary and Proper Clause. (more…)

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From Silos to Synergy: Creating Community Conversation

mary ellenThe Women Who Serve weekly blog is a visionary opportunity for civilians and service members and veterans to commune…to talk and listen together with profound intensity, rapport, intimacy and vulnerability.  We shall share an interchange of ideas and reflections, challenges and needs, those that are tangible and intangible as well as presenting action based solutions.  We are excited about the paradigm-shifting conversations we are entering into, where awareness is raised about military women’s experiences through eras and generations of peace and wartime.

I am an insider/outsider- the mother of a GWOT three-time deployed OIF Marine.  The language of the military is one of the obstacles civilians encounter. Let’s try this again:  I am the mother of a Global War on Terror (GWOT) post 9/11 veteran who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) for two deployments as well as a tour in the Philippines.  In these blogs, we will do our best to be informative about military culture and its acronyms. (more…)

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Rare Disease Day: Bringing People Living with a Rare Disease out of the Shadows and into the Spotlight

Today is Rare Disease Day. To help raise awareness among the public and decision-makers about rare diseases and their impact on patients’ lives we are posting the video below.

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February Man of the Month: Dr. Louis Sullivan

sullivan.louiswTo celebrate Black History Month we are honoring Dr. Louis Wade Sullivan as our February Man of the Month. He is an active health policy leader, minority health advocate, author, physician, and educator. Dr. Sullivan served as Secretary of Health and Human Services from 1989 to 1993 during President George H. W. Bush‘s Administration and was Founding Dean of the Morehouse School of Medicine. (more…)

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TBT: Here’s My Battle…What’s Yours?

Today’s TBT post is in honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” -Plato

I’d like to start with a disclaimer: I am not a dietician, a doctor, or a therapist, and I do not have the expertise or authority to provide professional advice on the following subject.  I do, however, have personal experience, and in ways, I feel that for so many others confronting similar issues, these personal experiences hold equal to professional training.

I had an eating disorder.  More specifically, I had several.  For 10 years of my life, I cycled through various types of disordered eating methods [Side Rant: technically I am classified as Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED) because I don’t meet the very specific criteria of eating disorder categories; however, telling people I have an ‘other specified feeding disorder’ makes me feel like an animal that just has a difficult time controlling what she eats.  It’s a completely invalidating name for a condition, in my opinion, which is why it is simply easier for me to say I had an eating disorder].  My battle with food started in high school when I would restrict my calories and eat as little as possible.  In college, I gained the “freshmen 15” and then some, but also discovered I had the ability to make myself throw up.  That led to binging and purging, sometimes several times a day.  (more…)

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What Do Women Know About Obamacare That Men Don’t?

Susan-DentzerThe post below originally ran on The Health Care Blog. Susan Dentzer is one of Disruptive Women’s 2015 Women to Watch, read the post and you will see why!

For the second year running, more women than men have signed up for coverage in health insurance marketplaces during open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, enrollment ran 56 percent female, 44 percent male, during last year’s open enrollment season; preliminary data from this year shows enrollment at 55 percent female, 45 percent male – a 10 percentage point difference.

What gives? An HHS spokeswoman says the department can’t explain most of the differential. Females make up about 51 percent of the U.S. population, but there is no real evidence that, prior to ACA implementation, they were disproportionately more likely to be uninsured than men – and in fact, some evidence indicates that they were less likely to be uninsured than males. (more…)

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