New initiative focused on mental health in the workplace

MHFA_Facebook_AThe National Council for Behavioral Health in collaboration with Aetna, a major health insurance provider, has launched a new initiative to create healthier work environments through Mental Health First Aid training. The purpose of this initiative is to raise awareness of mental health issues in the workplace and to change the perceptions of mental health and substance use problems for employees.

Mental Health First Aid is a skills-based, in-person training that helps increase literacy around mental illness and substance use and better equips managers and employees to safely, respectfully and effectively address mental health and substance use concerns before they become performance problems. It also provides resources so employees know where to go for help for themselves or a colleague. (more…)

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Over-Reliance on Tests: Why Physicians Must Learn to Trust Themselves & Their Patients

Val Jones, MD

The post below ran yesterday on Better Health.

I met my newly admitted patient in the quiet of his private room. He was frail, elderly, and coughing up gobs of green phlegm. His nasal cannula had stepped its way across his cheek during his paroxsysms and was pointed at his right eye. Although the room was uncomfortably warm, he was shivering and asking for more blankets. I could hear his chest rattling across the room.

The young hospitalist dutifully ordered a chest X-Ray (which showed nothing of particular interest) and reported to me that the patient was fine as he was afebrile and his radiology studies were unremarkable. He would stop by and check in on him in the morning.

I shook my head in wonderment. One look at this man and you could tell he was teetering on the verge of sepsis, with a dangerous and rather nasty pneumonia on physical exam, complicated by dehydration. I started antibiotics at once, oxygen via face mask, IV fluids and drew labs to follow his white count and renal function. He perked up nicely as we averted catastrophe overnight. By the time the hospitalist arrived the next day, the patient was looking significantly better. The hospitalist left a note in the EMR about a chest cold and zipped off to see his other new consults. (more…)

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Direct Access Testing: Putting Consumers in the Driver’s Seat

Terri Prof Headshot 0412Angela Young knew something was wrong. She hadn’t felt well for months but didn’t know what was going on. Her doctor ran tests for immune problems and endocrine issues. They all came back normal. Finally, Angela went to an independent direct access testing (“DAT”) laboratory and had them run some additional tests, including a test for something she suspected, but her doctor didn’t want to test her for: Lyme disease. When the Lyme disease test came back positive, she was relieved, because finally she knew what was wrong, could seek treatment and begin to get healthy again.

Michael S. is a typical 55 year old American man. He knows he doesn’t eat that well, too many quick stops at the McDonald’s on the way home from work and too much time sitting on the couch. He really should start working out, but life kept getting in the way. He felt OK, not great, but there wasn’t any reason to get to a doctor. His wife kept pushing him to get to the doctor, so to save time he just went into a direct access testing laboratory for some basic tests to get his wife off his back. He was shocked to discover that his cholesterol levels were in the upper 200s. He knew it was really time to lose weight and get moving. (more…)

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Consumer Engagement through Patient Portals and Innovative Care Delivery Models

connectedThe upcoming Connected Health Summit: Engaging Consumers, September 9-10 in San Diego, will examine the growth of the connected health market through analysis of new devices, technologies, and integrated platforms and its consumer-oriented focus.

2014, the first year of the conference, was a significant year in the evolution of this market. A record number of ACOs formed to deliver accountable care, and it was also the maiden year for health insurance exchanges, which are now attracting more private insurers as the current healthcare model solidifies. Large CE companies, including Apple, Google, and Samsung, officially entered the consumer health and wellness market, leading to record sales of connected fitness trackers, the emergence of Fitbit as a market leader, and an influx of new consumer brands in the wearables market targeting health and wellness applications. Parks Associates’ consumer research finds nearly 30% of U.S. broadband households now have a connected health device.

To have value in the connected healthcare market, technology must demonstrate its worth for both consumers and healthcare industry stakeholders. (more…)

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Newly Minted Doctors Begin Their First Jobs In July: Should You Be Afraid?

Val Jones, MD

Today’s post first ran on Better Health on July 4.

The short answer, in my opinion, is yes.

The long answer is slightly more nuanced.  As it turns out, studies suggest that one’s relative risk of death is increased in teaching hospitals by about 4-12% in July. That likely represents a small, but significant uptick in avoidable errors. It has been very difficult to quantify and document error rates related to inexperience. Intuitively we all know that professionals get better at what they do with time and practice… but how bad are doctors when they start out? Probably not equally so… and just as time is the best teacher, it is also the best weeder. Young doctors with book smarts but no clinical acumen may drop out of clinical medicine after a short course of doctoring. But before they do, they may take care of you or your loved ones.

It has been argued that young trainees “don’t practice in a vacuum” but are monitored by senior physicians, pharmacists, and nurses and therefore errors are unlikely. While I agree that this oversight is necessary and worthwhile, it is ultimately insufficient. Let me provide an illustrative example. (more…)

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  • July 6th, 2015 Pope Francis’ Visit and Philadelphia Healthcare
    By Glenna Crooks
  • July Man of the Month: Farzad Mostashari, MD

    Casey Quinlan

    July 4 is Independence Day in the United States. Every year, we celebrate an unruly bunch of guys – the ones we now call the Founding Fathers – who, fed up with draconian rule from far away, decided to plant a new American flag and say “we’re running this show from here on out!”

    farzad_mostashariThere are plenty of analogies that can be drawn between the patients’ rights movement, healthcare reform, and our Founding Fathers. One of the champions of “data liberación” – the battle cry of healthcare open data efforts – Dr. Farzad Mostashari has consistently called for people, the ones commonly called “patients” by the healthcare system, to have equal rights within the system purportedly designed to help them maintain or achieve health.

    From the stage of Health Datapalooza 2015, Farzad threw down a gauntlet to the entire healthcare industry, encouraging every American to declare #dataindependenceday this July 4 by accessing their medical records online.

    “We believe that right now is the moment when patient demand for their records will be the ‘unknotter’ of the problem that we have — of the lack of access for patients to take their data and do what they want with it.” ~ Farzad Mostashari, MD (more…)


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    Let Freedom Ring

    Regina Holliday

    The following post ran on May 3 on Regina Holliday’s Medical Advocacy Blog.

    This winter was hard for me. Winter always is.  In my mind, I walk through yesteryears and live through the months I lost my husband Fred.

    I had a bad cough in January and February just like I had in 2009.  My cough was pertussis this time, not a chest cold.  This time it was my ribs that broke from explosive coughs, instead from metastasis as Fred’s had.

    This winter I felt I had to finish my memoir, so while coughed I wrote.  I tied together the story that I have been working on for five years.  This past week it became available on Amazon and it is called The Writing on the Wall.   I had wondered why I felt so frantic about quickly finishing my book on the importance of patient data access, but I have learned not to question such feelings.  I just act on them.

    Then I went to HIMSS15 in Chicago.  Then I heard CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) was considering cutting a key measure that affected patients in Meaningful Use Stage 2.  Facilities and Providers complained that they were not able to ensure 5% of patients would view, download or transmit their data in the Meaningful Use Stage 2 reporting window.  Anyway, they assured CMS, patients did not want access anyway.  So CMS proposed gutting the legislation, removing the 5% requirement and replacing it with literally “1” patient. (more…)

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    Data Independence Day Series

    my dataOur posts this week will all focus on health data and individuals right to access it in honor of “Data Independence Day”. Data Independence Day initiated by Former National Health IT Coordinator Dr. Farzad Mostashari (you will hear more from him later this week) is a movement that will come to a head on July 4 when the Get My Health Data effort launches. The movement is focused on consumers demanding electronic access to their health information. It began when patient advocates responded to the recently loosened rules governing the “meaningful use” EHR Incentive Program. In April, CMS announced it was changing the provision that requires eligible providers to prove that five percent of EHR users have viewed, downloaded, or transmitted information contained in their patient portal. The change, eligible providers now only need to prove that “equal to or greater than 1” patient has interacted with their record. You can see why patient advocates were outraged. (more…)

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    Women’s Heart Health: What We Don’t Know

    Phyllis Greenberger

    The post below original ran here on HUFFPOST Healthy Living on June 9.

    Women’s Heart Month has come and gone but heart attacks have not. While it is a positive sign that cardiovascular disease in women is finally being recognized — there are successful campaigns educating women about the prevalence of heart disease and its varying symptoms – fewer than one in five healthcare providers – including cardiologists — recognizes women’s hearts as differing from men’s. Many outstanding questions remain about diagnosing and treating women with heart disease.

    Since 1984, more women than men have died of heart disease each year. While women tend to have heart attacks later in life, there are women who experience them in their twenties and thirties. These women are often healthy, in good physical shape, and have no symptoms. Despite this large number of women affected by cardiovascular disease, women and minorities are underrepresented in cardiovascular clinical trials. Only one-third of cardiovascular clinical trials report sex-specific results, making it ever more difficult for researchers and clinicians to know how a particular drug or device will affect women. [1] (more…)

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    Everybody Pees

    The National Kidney Foundation recently launched their new campaign, Everybody Pees. Peeing is important and actually saves lives, since it’s the best way to find out if your kidneys are healthy. Kidney disease is a life threatening condition with 1 in 3 people at risk, and most have no idea they’re in danger. A simple urine test from your doctor only takes a little pee and can determine the health of your kidneys. For more information on Everybody Pees and to watch an informative and cute video click here. Make sure your kidneys are healthy!

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    Bipartisan Policy Center Unveils “A Prevention Prescription for Improving Health and Health Care in America”

    Tim_HeadshotAccording to Dr. Darshak Sanghavi, Director of the Preventive and Population Health Models Group of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, we’re all living one long episode of the Bachelor, at least, as the show relates to how we pay for medical care in the United States.

    The premise of the Bachelor, he said, during a Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) panel discussion last Thursday, isn’t about cultivating durable, fruitful marriages, even though that would be a reasonable long-term endpoint of the show. Instead, the popular reality program thrives on dramatic narratives that attract as many weeknight viewers as possible. Similarly, within medical care, he said, we want to prevent acute or chronic medical conditions, like heart attacks. But the system also incentivizes volume, box checking and short-term wins, and loses focus on the endpoint.

    This issue of payment as a barrier to integrating prevention into health care was one of many points of focus during the discussion, which examined a BPC Prevention Task Force’s report, “A Prevention Prescription for Improving Health and Health Care in America.” (more…)

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    #OwnYourHealth: Health is everywhere, even underground

    Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

    jane 5 1The following first ran yesterday on Health Populi, to see the original post click here.

    Living my mantra of Health is Everywhere, where we live, work, play, pray, and shop, I am always on the lookout for signs of health in my daily life. Today I’m in Washington, DC,  speaking on a webinar led by the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE), discussing the findings in a survey of U.S. adults on self-care health care – my shorthand for healthcareDIY. And the hashtag for the webinar also speaks volumes: #OwnYourHealth.

    Here’s the link to the survey resources.

    On my walk from Farragut North Metro station to a nearby office where the meeting will take place, I came upon this poster in the underground, sponsored by UnitedHealth Group, the health insurance company: “Our reasons to be optimistic about the future of health care.” (more…)

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    “What If 1 Million Americans Asked for Medical Records on the Same Day?”

    Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

    farzadThe following post ran yesterday on Health Populi, see the original post here.

    This was not a theoretical question Dr. Farzad Mostashari, former head of the Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT in the Department of Health and Human Services, asked yesterday at the closing keynote of Day 1 of the Patient Engagement Forum.

    Dr. Mostashari issued a challenged to the community of mischief-makers in health/tech patient advocacy: tell everyone you know to contact their doctors — by phone, email, patient portal, or in-person, on one designated day which he called a “Day of Action.”

    Health IT journalist Neil Versel (disclosure: also a long-time friend in the field) covered this news story here in MedCity News.

    In the meantime, here is my (abridged) transcript of Dr. M’s talk, thanks to my note-taking skills. My own words are between carrots <> to provide additional context. (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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