It’s All In Your Head

The following post originally ran on Disruptive Woman to Watch Lisa Suennen’s blog Venture Valkyrie on January 26th.

Mental health needs a great deal of attention. It’s the final taboo and it needs to be faced and dealt with.”

Adam Ant, mental health commentator

That quote is from the great philosopher and clinician, oh wait I mean 80’s post-punk rocker Adam Ant. Seriously. But he is so right on.

Back in 1998 I was part of the management team of a company called Merit Behavioral Care, also once known as American Biodyne. The company was the first of its kind: a company that delivered what we now know as population health for people with mental health and substance abuse challenges (then called managed behavioral healthcare). We looked essentially like an insurance company or HMO specifically for people who need that kind of help. We had a huge network of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and the like, did care coordination and utilization review, paid claims and did everything associated with accessing, using and paying for behavioral healthcare services. (more…)

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HHS move is a great moment for coordinated care and value-based payments

Cyndy Nayer

In a just-released move, HHS has accelerated the focus on new payment structures for Medicare beneficiaries, responding to President Obama’s goal of 30% of beneficiaries in ACOs (accountable care organizations) by 2016, with a goal of 50% by end of 2018.

cyndy 1.29It’s a great moment for the shift from fee-for-service to coordinated care and value-based payments.  In the ACO, or accountable care model, each patient is tracked through a quarterback physician who oversees the processes, screenings, interventions and outcomes for the team of clinical providers.  The ACO is paid for better outcomes, including but not limited to lower readmissions, higher control of chronic conditions (such as diabetes and heart disease), and use of evidence-based guidelines for screening and treatment. (more…)

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When Size Affects Your Odds

durkin_helenOncologists are on board in the fight against obesity. And they’ve made it official by issuing their first-ever Position Statement on Obesity and Cancer through the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

That’s especially great news for women—who are twice as likely as men to be affected by the nearly half a million new cases of obesity-related cancers worldwide each year. Not surprisingly, the greatest proportion of them are in North America. (

Despite the fact that more American men than women are overweight or obese, U.S. women are disproportionately affected by the obesity-cancer link. Obesity not only puts a woman at greater risk of cancer—especially post-menopausal breast cancer, endometrial cancer, and colon cancer—but it worsens her odds for surviving it as well. ( (more…)

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January Man of the Month: Dr. Donald McEachron

don-mceachron_SmallWe are thrilled to name Dr. Donald McEachron this month’s Man of the Month. Currently, he is a Teaching Professor and serves as the Coordinator for Academic Assessment and Quality Improvement for the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems at Drexel University. We will all benefit from the work Dr. McEachron is doing. Below is a brief look into his work. We have no doubt you will understand why we named him Man of the Month after learning more.

Dr. McEachron’s background in evolutionary biology, neuroscience and chronobiology led him to connect with architect and lighting expert Dr. Eugenia Victoria Ellis. Together they have been investigating the impact of built environments on human health, well-being and productivity. They along with collaborators, such as Dr. Elizabeth Gonzalez and electrical engineering Master’s student Greg Yeutter, are developing methods of enhancing artificial lighting systems to provide a closer match to the solar day cycle. In order to fully understand why this is important you need some background on biological rhythms. (more…)

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HIMSS or Bust

Regina Holliday

Last year I had the opportunity to do an amazing interview with Tim from HIStalk.  It was a wide-ranging discussion that covered a great deal of the HIT (health information technology) landscape.   Toward the end of our conversation, Tim and I began to talk about the challenges patients face attending HIMSS.  Many patients would like to go this enormous conference with its thousands of attendees, great educational sessions and access to numerous health care venders; but cannot afford to pay for hotel lodging, airfare and an attendee pass.  We talked about the possibility of working together to create patient travel scholarships.

regina 1.26

So today we would like to jointly announce the HIS-talking Gallery Patient Scholarship for travel to HIMSS 2015, April 12-16, in Chicago! (more…)

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Who is perfect? Advocacy ads for real people.

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

What is the nature of disability? What is the nature of beauty? What is perfection? Who among us is perfect?

These questions are at the heart (literally and figuratively) of a project undertaken by Pro Infirmis, a Switzerland-based advocacy organization raising awareness of people with disabilities, promoting the International Day of Persons with Disabilities in December 2013.

Pro-Infirmis-Mannequins-and-People-300x188Mannequins in fashionable shops on Zurich’s tony street the Bahnhofstrasse were replaced by new ones, artfully, painstakingly and lovingly created, as shown in the video.

Pro Infirmis’s website tells us “who” we are looking at in human and 3-D life-size mannequin form: Miss Handicap 2010, Jasmin Rechsteiner; radio presenter and film critic Alex Oberholzer; track and field athlete Urs Kolly; blogger Nadja Schmid; and, actor Erwin Aljukic.

In Pro Infirmis’s words: Between the perfect mannequins, there will be figures with scoliosis or brittle bone disease modelling the latest fashions. One will have shortened limbs; the other a malformed spine. (more…)

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Go Sit On A Sofa

Amber Coleman-MortleyIt had gotten to the point where I would find myself standing in the kitchen staring at nothing; or I would get angry for no reason; and then sometimes, a random thought would cross my mind reminding me of all of my perceived failures over the past four and a half years.  I needed some help but my own personal pride prevented me from seeking such attention.

With the kids’ needs, the responsibilities for work as well as the demands for school and other external commitments; I’d lost my very tight and very regimented method of survival to a more chaotic out of control (but thinking I’m in control) method of getting things done.  It felt like every bit of me was being pulled apart at the seams and I was barreling quickly toward a very detrimental end.  Moms are sometimes these exotic robots that handle all schedules, delays, updates and changes in a smooth and orderly fashion.  For me, a point of personal pride was my ability to schedule everything in without anyone missing out on the things that they wanted to do.  But things began to fall by the wayside. (more…)

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Fighting the injustice of health disparities: Honoring the legacies of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. & Dr. John M. Eisenberg

Robin Strongin

For the past several years I have run this post and just as it was those years, it is this year a very important message.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.John EisenbergWe, as a nation, have made progress and I believe Dr. King would be proud. But our work is far from complete – particularly where health care is concerned. Another doctor, Dr. John M. Eisenberg, a physician of tremendous stature whose life was also tragically cut short (not by an assassin’s bullet but by brain cancer) was equally passionate about the dignity of life and justice for all Americans. Dr. Eisenberg, who among other things, served as the Director of the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (as AHRQ was known back in the day), cared deeply about access to and the integrity of health care for all Americans – regardless of skin color.

Fifteen years ago, on January 14, 2000, Dr. Eisenberg gave what is, in my opinion, a brilliant speech to the employees of the Department of Health and Human Services. As with the past years I want to share his words with all of you today — as a reminder of how far we’ve come, and how far we still have to go. (more…)

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Upcoming Screening: No Evidence of Disease

On Wednesday, February 4th No Evidence of Disease will be screened in cities nationwide.  This will be a one hour version of the film and will be followed by a discussion/Q&A led by a GYN Oncologist. Visit for a complete list of all screenings, as well as to view the trailer. The website  also will post when advance tickets go on sale online through Fandango and (more…)

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If It’s Not Your Heart or Your Age, It Could Be Your Thyroid

Terri Prof Headshot 0412If your heart starts pounding and skipping beats what is your first thought? For Mary M., 49, it was, “Oh No! Is this a heart attack? Is it heart arrhythmia? I know my mother has an irregular heartbeat and my grandmother died from a stroke.  Is it my turn?” So, off she went to the doctor. Her pounding heart had been waking her up at night and she was ready for the diagnosis and sat pretty calmly through the EKG test. Her mother took heart medication, exercised and watched her diet so she knew how to handle it. When the doctor returned to the room and told her “Your heart looks fine and your heart rate is normal,” she was confused. The call that came from her doctor a few days later threw her into a panic.

“Your T3 and T4 thyroid levels are VERY high and your TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormones) is .0009, which is extremely low. You need to see an endocrinologist. The last person I sent for this had to have her thyroid removed.” (more…)

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A New Resolution: To Create Healing

Janice Lynch Schuster

For all my years on the planet, 52, there are still times when experience is no teacher—or when futility seems to be my master. Nowhere is this more true than in my annual list of New Year’s resolutions. (It is a relief to know that I am not alone in this one.) Many of us share the idea that with an annual tick-tock-bank, we can fashion ourselves anew by resolving to achieve certain goals.

In some ways, my approach to making resolutions echoes the Lenten period of my Catholic girlhood: in those days, I could give up something for 40 days, and in doing so, would become closer to my faith.  Perhaps that early experience is still the force that leads me to making resolutions that are at once modest and narcissistic. My resolutions tend to contain some combination of activities that, if only I could achieve them, would lead to meaningful change. (more…)

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Filming in the ER: A Policymaker Perspective

Glenna Crooks

This post is the second of two posts, the first ran yesterday and can be read here.

Some say ‘there oughtta be a law’ against ER filming.

In my role as a policy advisor, including to U.S. Presidents and global company CEOs, getting assignments to assess policy issues to determine if ‘there oughtta be a law’ happened weekly. That assignment would have launched discussions with my team to conduct comprehensive, fair-balanced analyses of the issues.

Our own personal views would not have mattered. To those we advised, we promised thoughtful analyses that considered as many different perspectives as we could identify. We’d assure our analysis and any recommended policy positions were consistent with existing laws and protected against downstream unintended harms. We’d also take into account the views of stakeholders. Realistically, politics and personalities might upend it all. That wouldn’t matter in our work. Our job was to assure that any analyses and recommendations were sound. (more…)

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Filming in the ER: A Patient Perspective

Glenna Crooks

Editorial note: This post is the first of a two part series, the second will run tomorrow.

Several years ago, chest pains woke me from a sound sleep at 2 AM.

I knew it might be a heart attack.

I decided against seeking care.

I had my reasons: far too many stories and far too many IOM reports about what happens in hospitals.

If death was to come, I preferred to be at home rather than in an uncompassionate, error-prone, care-mismanaged, expensive institution. It never occurred to me that the outcome would be good or that I’d actually benefit from emergency care. (more…)

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Transformative 2015: NHS to pursue digital health

ClaireHarding_MG_9600Claire Harding one of our DW UK bloggers considers what the new year will bring for digital mental health services. This post originally ran on Big White Wall’s blog.

It’s something of a cliché at New Year to announce that ‘this year is going to be game-changing for our sector’, regardless of whether that sector is painting, panda breeding or parachuting. But at risk of special pleading, it really does seem that 2015 is going to be exceptional for digital mental health in the UK.

The end of 2014 saw two major policy announcements from the NHS: the Five Year Forward View from NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens, and Personalised Health and Care 2020 from the National Information Board. Taken together, the two documents set out a radically different NHS: more responsive, more personal, and more focussed on prevention rather than cure. The authors recognise that many citizens want to interact with the NHS online, but most cannot – and that this is particularly true in mental health. The 2020 Framework commits the NHS to developing a kite-marking system for mental health apps by the end of 2015, so people can easily see which of the hundreds of apps and websites available they are able to trust. (more…)

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New Year. New Job? Not So Fast.

Archelle Georgiou, MD

The telltale sign that I’ve entered a new year is not the champagne corks on New Year’s Eve or the repetitive 20142015 error on my checks.  It’s the small but predictable influx of phone calls, emails and LinkedIn contact requests from long lost acquaintances during the early weeks of January who casually suggest, “let’s have coffee or a glass of wine sometime soon. Would love to catch up.”  I’ve learned that these are code words for: “I am thinking of leaving my job and would appreciate some advice.”

“Career coach” isn’t listed in my LinkedIn profile, and there are certainly others who are certified and well-trained to formally offer this type of advice.  Nevertheless, since I’ve successfully navigated through several 90-degree turns in my own career—from practicing clinician to a managed care executive to healthcare strategic consultant—I’ve navigated many of the very issues that these professionals are wringing their hands over as they contemplate leaving the economic security and stability of their job. (more…)

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