American Hospitals Need to Stop Offering Fast Food, Quick!

heather farthingBan on Hospital Smoking: A Model

In the 1950′s the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published what was, at the time, an incredibly surprising finding: smoking is detrimental to health1. By 1964, the Surgeon General had publically acknowledged the linkage between smoking and cancer and, by the seventies, the smoking-cancer relationship was standard curricula in U.S. medical schools 2. Despite both medical and public awareness, however, hospital policy lagged behind the science; most healthcare centers had little to no official regulation regarding smoking in their facilities2. Reducing Smoking in Hospitals. A time for Action, published in a 1985 issue of the JAMA, declared a forceful criticism of this oversight:

Six years later, the Joint Commission: Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) ordered that all American hospitals be smoke free by the end of 19934. Today, American hospitals are plagued by a bad case of déjà vu. This time the paradox is not the presence of the cigarette at the bedside, but rather the burgers, the fries, and the soft drinks.

What’s Wrong With Fast Food? (more…)

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Sixth White House Conference on Aging: Now It’s Time to Do More. A Lot More.

Anne-Montgomery-PortraitThe post below first ran on Altarum Institute’s Health Policy Forum.

Around the country, people at more than 700 “watch parties” gathered to tune into a livestream of the White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA) on Monday, July 13. Hosted by the White House in the East Wing and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building with an invited audience of about 200 attendees, the sixth WHCOA featured more than two dozen speakers, most notably President Obama. They heard about many accomplishments, a few shortcomings, and a commitment to taking forward some solutions—but not enough. Striking a tone that was both optimistic and pragmatic, the President observed that even as challenges for health care programs and for individual retirement security are “becoming more urgent” due to the sheer size of the Baby Boomer cohort, older adults are “living longer and living healthier. We’re seeing people break athletic records—in their 60s,” he noted with a smile.

Turning to policy, the President called on attendees, policymakers, and citizens to keep Medicare, Medicaid, the Older Americans Act (OAA), and Social Security robust and available, not only for current seniors but also for younger generations. “For Medicare,” he noted, “that means we’ve got to keep slowing the growth of health care costs.” While no blueprint was presented at the conference for how to accomplish this, the Obama Administration waded into these controversial waters last January with an announcement by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell that the agency would attempt to shift half of all fee-for-service Medicare payments by the end of 2018 to “alternative payment models.” (more…)

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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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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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Saving AHRQ: Hope on the Horizon

Whitney Bowman-Zatzkin

You likely felt the ground shake a bit this week when the House Appropriations Committee released its FY16 funding language.

Right there in Section 266 on page 94, the language proposed the termination of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ):


With all of the attention lately about the desires in Congress to invest in research to advance the discovery of treatments for diseases – with hearings, news articles, and patients making trips to DC to be in the headlines across the country – this news came as quite a blow to many in the health research arena.

There is hope on the horizon. (more…)

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Making Research Work Better for Key Audiences

Tim_HeadshotWhen we translate research so that it’s most helpful to policymakers, what steps do we take to ensure the findings actually resonate? This question was at the center of the Disruptive Women in Health Care event on Tuesday, June 2nd, “A Disruptive Health Services MashUp – Moving Research into Policy,” where panelists gave answers ranging from increasing engagement with policymakers, to using simpler language to describe research findings and to even writing a song.

The program during Health Datapalooza 2015 at the Mariott Wardman Park in Washington, DC, featured panelists Lauren Radomski, MPP, Senior Manager, AcademyHealth; Alicia Wilson, Executive Director, La Clínica del Pueblo; and Wen Dombrowski, MD, MBA, Aging, Technology, Social Media Advisor, Resonate Health. Each panelist shared insights into how she and their organizations are reforming the way research is communicated.

“The ability to translate and disseminate research, and all of this information among us here and among stakeholders and other audiences outside of this room and outside of DC is the dream,” said Robin Strongin, Founder of Disruptive Women in Health Care, setting the stage for the panel discussion. (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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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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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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Comparative Effectiveness Research: Through the Lens of Medical Innovation

Randel Richner

Disruptive Women is embarking on an exciting week…Tuesday we head to NYC where we will be emceeing XX in Health as their retreat takes over the boy’s club (The Harvard Club). Then on Thursday we will be talking to women in tech at MassMEDIC. So as we interact with new disruptive women this week we wanted to reflect back and run some powerful posts from the past. Be sure to check the blog all this week for some of our favorites.

The Top headline of FDA News Device Daily today read, “Comparative Effectiveness Research has Benefits, Risks Experts Say”. Why would Device Daily consider comparative effectiveness to be risky? Many obvious concerns come to mind. There are distinct risks that the process imposed on the device industry may stifle growth. Worries abound related to the direction policy makers may employ such as when studies will be required (e.g., at the early stages of development, or later in the cycle of real-world experience), how studies will be conducted (e.g., by the government or a public/private entity), who will determine the type, scope, design and rationale for conducting such studies, what the studies will be used for (e.g., to restrict coverage, to control access). (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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Trend-weaving the 2015 health care trends

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

‘Tis the season for annual health trendcasting, which is part of my own business model. Here’s a curated list of some of my favorite trend reports for health care in the new year, with my Hot Points in the conclusion, below, summarizing the most salient trends among them.

TechCrunch’s Top 5 Healthcare Predictions for 2015: In this succinct forecast, Walmart grows its presence as a health plan, startups get more pharm-funding, hospitals channel peer-to-peer lending, Latinos emerge as a “most-desired” health care segment, and Amazon disrupts the medical supply chain.

Experian 2015 Data Breach Forecast: Healthcare security breaches will be a persistent and growing threat in 2015, with “the expanding number of access points to Protected Health Information (PHI) and other sensitive data via electronic medical records and the growing popularity of wearable technology,” based on this credit/risk management company’s assessment. The value of medical identity threat is very high. As a result, the FBI warned the health care industry that their security systems were insufficient compared with other industry sectors, according to Reuters. (more…)

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Kaiser Family Foundation Understanding Health Insurance & Open Enrollment Resources

The Kaiser Family Foundation recently released the resources below to help people understand insurance and the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces. We found them helpful and hope you do too.

 Understanding Health Insurance: Consumer Resources

  • Understanding Health Insurance: Consumer Resources (Updated Web Page)
  • Health Insurance Marketplace Calculator (Interactive)
  • Health Insurance Explained: The YouToons Have It Covered (Video)
  • Health Reform Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
  • Health Insurance Quiz (Quiz)
  • Health Coverage, HIV & You (Web Portal) (more…)

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