Syncing Personal Health Data with Big Data to Reduce Healthcare Costs

health data cloud illustratedby 

Many see big data as a way to reduce healthcare cost by managing patient oriented outcomes through analytics.

Can high risk patients be identified and targeted for earlier interventions?

While this is the norm for most institutions, the ability of integrating specific technology to mine big data and analyze it allows for the scaling up of healthcare to a larger population.

At the mHealth + Telehealth World 2013 Congress in Boston, MA, I had the opportunity to listen to a great discussion regarding the implication of data on healthcare. It was titled, “The Financial Impact of Technology, Electronic Tools and Data Mining.” The speaker was Philip Fasano, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Kaiser Permanente.

One of the most interesting comments Mr. Fasano made was that Big Data is not necessarily an IT thing, rather it has roots in financial services and banking. These institutions have been using data to analyze problems and create solutions that lead to innovative products for awhile. Rather, big data for the healthcare industry offers the opportunity to perform patient assessments, research, and studies on a larger scale.

Continue reading Syncing Personal Health Data with Big Data to Reduce Healthcare Costs

A Blinding Glimpse of Functional Impairment

book cover: Barkley Functional Impairment ScaleBy Robert Wilson 

There is a college in northwest New Mexico that has a Health & Human Performance Center on its campus. Within that center is a large, well equipped fitness facility, which is available to the public for a nominal fee. I have used this facility numerous times over the years when visiting relatives in the area. It is very well run, and is absolutely the cleanest such facility I have ever seen.

They have an employee at this center who has been there for years. I have seen him working virtually every time I have been there. He does janitorial work, cleaning aerobic equipment, bathroom fixtures, drinking fountains, doors and other associated items in the facility. Everything he cleans is spotless; immaculate would likely be a better word. He never seems to leave a single spot on anything. I have watched him methodically work, wearing his gloves; carrying his spray bottle and cleaning rags. And he also carries a white cane.

Because he is blind.

He is an outstanding example of a person with impairment who is not totally disabled, instead choosing to be functional in society. I could refer to him as functionally disabled, but that doesn’t feel quite right. Disabled implies an inability, where in this case ability is being demonstrated. We can say he is functionally impaired, although that term is usually aligned with the concept of disability. I prefer it be separated from that negative connotation, and therefore am very open to more positive sounding suggestions.

As I have written before, and will continue to promote, impairment does not have to always equal disability. Our fitness center maintenance friend is an outstanding example of this. I understand that he has been blind since birth, so likely for him he is simply working in the world he has always known, yet he functions within the sighted world with excellent results.

Continue reading A Blinding Glimpse of Functional Impairment

Could You Use Brochure Explaining Affordable Health Care Act Minus the Gobbledegook?

Affordable Care Act - Simplified Consumer Guide





For most people, not in the healthcare or HR professions, trying to explain upcoming healthcare options creates a condition commonly known as “glazed eye syndrome” (GES).

We just came across this independently produced brochure that breaks down the options in a breezy, well illustrated format.

Click the image or HERE to DOWNLOAD a PDF version.

Mobile Makes Its Mark on Healthcare Professionals

Providers turn to mobile devices when in search of information

Thanks in no small part to a federal government mandate, electronic health records (EHRs) are now commonly used by US healthcare providers. While these caregivers have initially managed EHRs on PCs, mobile healthcare software company Epocrates found that mobile devices are quickly being incorporated into their work behavior.A May 2013 survey of US healthcare practitioners found that 86% of them had used a smartphone for professional purposes in 2013, up from 78% the previous year. Just over half had used a tablet in 2012, and just under half had relied on a mix of PCs, smartphones and tablets.

The informational needs of doctors and other healthcare providers have likely helped to push the adoption of mobile devices—their ability to put a number of resources at practitioners’ fingertips is surely invaluable. Unsurprisingly, doctors with a need for clinical information reported the highest use of multiple devices. Oncologists reported the highest use of all three devices at 59%. Cardiology was not far behind at 54%, followed by primary care physicians (48%), psychiatrists (44%), nurse practitioners (40%) and physician assistants (30%).

Healthcare providers using PCs and tablets were most often using those devices to manage EHRs, take notes or make electronic prescriptions. Smartphone users displayed somewhat different behavior, with searches being the most popular activity for professional purposes.

Emarketer estimates that the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries will spend $1.2 billion on digital advertising in 2013, with that figure growing to $1.5 billion by 2017.

Corporate subscribers have access to all eMarketer analyst reports, articles, data and more. Join the thousands of marketers who already benefit from eMarketer’s approach. Learn more.


Privacy and Security of Employees’ Health Data in the Era of Electronic Health Records


Big Data, Little Data, Open Data – a burgeoning interest in data is evident, perhaps nowhere more so than in public health and healthcare. Nationally, several major ‘data revolutions’ are underway, including a transition to Electronic Health Records (EHRs) to maintain and share longitudinal patient health data, and the increasing use of data to measure the performance of healthcare and public health programs. Both trends are relevant to Total Worker Health: data are being used in new and innovative ways to measure employee health status and increasingly, occupational health data are being exchanged electronically.

As employers, labor, public health and other stakeholders work together to integrate health protection and health promotion in the workplace, the amount of employee health data being generated, collected and electronically exchanged will only increase. Have you ever wondered what happens to employee wellness data collected by employers or a third party? Are these data treated as ‘confidential?’ Who has access to the data? When an employer has both voluntary wellness and required screening programs for employees, how should the data be maintained to prevent accidental disclosure of the voluntary information? These and other questions emerge when new employee health programs are put in place and/or paper records are replaced by electronic systems. Continue reading Privacy and Security of Employees’ Health Data in the Era of Electronic Health Records

Be Careful What You Stretch For

illustration of a stretching exercise[Note from editor: Although Ed Donahue, our licensed Physical Therapist at Central Coast Industrial Care is a strong proponent of pre-work stretching exercises, whether your doing heavy lifting or office work, he concurs with this article’s author on a careful approach to any stretching routine]

Two recent studies have given new light to the reasons that we stretch and how the practice impacts your athletic performances. These studies both make a compelling argument to the fact that your high school gym coach was wrong about stretching and that it is not, as we all have thought, a necessary and helpful training tool before rigorous physical activity.

The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research and the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports both scientifically proved that pre-workout stretching can lessen strength, stability, and does not contribute to reducing the likelihood of injury. In other words, these studies showcase a compelling argument that pre-exercise stretching should be avoided and is counterproductive.

Why are Post-Exercise Workouts Tainted by Stretching? 

The scientists were not completely confident in explaining why stretching hampers the performance of the body post-exercise. They suspect that stretching has a direct impact on how our muscles react in a way that they are supposed to; by loosening muscles and accompanying tendons. Stretching made the study subjects less able to store energy and maintain explosive levels or strength and power. This can be compared to the elasticity of a rubberband; the more it is used the less responsive force it has.

How the Studies Were Conducted

The Scandinavian Journal study was conducted by researchers at the University of Zagreb, Croatia who initially set out to question if “pre-exercise static stretching inhibits maximal muscular performance.” To test this researchers combed through hundreds of earlier experiments in which volunteers stretched and then engaged in physical activity that tested their muscular strength and power. For these study samples, the scientists only used data from previous studies whose participants used static stretching as an exclusive warm-up; negating any experiments that may have included other warm-up activity such as jogging.

Continue reading Be Careful What You Stretch For

Scientists Boast Benefits of 7 Minute Workout

7-minute workout poster
Click HERE or graphic, for larger version

If you have ever been interested in working out less and getting positive results you will enjoy a new study published by scientists boasting the benefits of a seven minute workout. In the May/June issue of the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) Health & Fitness Journal, guidelines for 12 exercises are laid out that only require seven minutes of high-intensity effort.

The 12 exercises don’t even require any equipment as they are all utilize body weight to help the athletes achieve results. This kind of fast-paced exercising is called “high-intensity interval training” which one of the co-authors of the study, Chris Jordan, describes as providing “many of the fitness benefits of prolonged endurance training but in much less time.”

The study was titled High Intensity Circuit Training Using Body Weight: Maximum Results with Minimal Investment, and was aimed at understanding the health benefits and practical application of a high-intensity circuit training exercise protocol.

Jordan and the other author, Brett Klika, suggest that traditional workout routines separate resistance training, such as weight lifting, and aerobic training, such as running. Although this method can be effective, the authors cite that it may not be realistic enough for time-conscious adults who can’t make time for two to three nonconsecutive days of resistance training and the 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise recommended by the ACSM.

Thus, Jordan and Klika addressed the time constraints of busy adults along with efficiency protocols and found that using body weight as resistance in high-intensity circuit training (HICT) regimes could deliver significant health benefits. The HICT approach combines aerobic and resistance training into a single exercise routine that last about seven minutes. More seasoned participants can repeat the seven-minute routine two to three times, depending on how fast they progress through the 12-exercise routine.

Sample High-intensity Circuit Training Exercises 

The following is the example program cited in the ACSM report, all of which can essentially be done anywhere. To the right of the exercises are the body group benefitting. Recommended times for each exercise are in the 30 second range with 15 seconds or less of rest. Continue reading Scientists Boast Benefits of 7 Minute Workout

1 in 5 Broadband Households Want Live Chats With Health Experts

By: Aditi Pai | Jul 24, 2013

iPhone showing patient chat with health expertAround 17 million US broadband households are interested in live chat services with healthcare experts, according to a recent survey conducted by Parks Associates.

The study found that 50 percent of US broadband households with access to online services such as prescription refills, real-time video calls with a doctor, or appointments use these services and nearly 20 percent of US broadband households, over 17 million households, are interested in a live chat service with health experts. In addition, 13 percent of households are interested in virtual tools to manage medications, and 15 percent are interested in post-surgery virtual monitoring.

Still, 56 percent of U.S. broadband households are without or unaware of online healthcare services available to them, according to Senior Digital Health Analyst Jennifer Kent.

Earlier this year, Parks released a report that found 5 percent of households with broadband internet have at least one digital fitness device — like a Fitbit, Jawbone UP, or BodyMedia FIT Armband.

The older report also predicted that more than 32 million US consumers will actively track their health and fitness online or via mobile devices by 2016, up from about 15 million in 2011. Online and mobile wellness service adoption will also increase from 14 million users in 2011 to 29 million by 2016, according to Parks.

CA Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan Served More Than 23,000 Californians

Since October 25, 2010, when California’s PCIP began, 23,559 Californians enrolled for at least one month in the program. March 2012 had 1,287 new enrollees, the largest monthly increase in the program’s brief history.

California Pre-Exisiting Condition Insurance Plan enrollment graph

At its highest, during March 2013, the program briefly reached 17,199 enrollees. As of March 31, 2013, California had the largest enrollment, with almost 5,000 more enrollees than the next largest state’s enrollment, which was in Florida. Please see the chart below for a comparison of the monthly new enrollments and the total program enrollments over the life of the CA PCIP.



Should You Get Preventive Shots For Fire Ant Stings?

photo of fireantIf you’ve ever accidentally stepped on a cluster of fire ants, then you must have gotten a few nasty bites. Fire ants originate from the Southeast, which is why they’re also known as red tropical fire ants or imported fire ants. These insects inflict very painful stings. Like many stinging insects, the bite of a fire ant can cause an allergic reaction. Because of this, some people consider getting vaccinated against ant stings.

The pain resulting from the sting of a fire ant is often compared to the pain that you’d feel if you get burned or if you touch the tip of a lit match. The sting hurts for a few seconds, and then it can become both sore and itchy. The challenge is dealing with not just one sting but several. Consider yourself lucky if you’re bitten by just one fire ant.Map of fireant infestation in U.S.

These insects usually attack in large numbers if you step on their mound. In just a few seconds, they will be all over you and tens or hundreds of ants will then be biting you. When a person, most especially a child, is bitten multiple times, this is when a severe allergic reaction might develop. This is medically known as anaphylaxis and someone who is going through such must be brought to a hospital to get immediate medical attention because this can result in death or coma.

Those who’ve been stung by fire ants can either notice common symptoms or experience a serious reaction. It’s expected to feel pain at the site of the sting, and redness and itchiness are also common. After a few hours, pustules could form at the site. The bites will eventually heal on their own. However, individuals who have severe reactions will experience breathing problems, overall swelling, abdominal cramping, tightness in the chest area, and generalized itching or hives, to name a few. Those most at risk are the very young and the very old. In addition, there’s also a very high possibility of people who’ve had allergic reactions in the past to also react severely to another attack.

Allergy Shots & Why People Forgo Them

Continue reading Should You Get Preventive Shots For Fire Ant Stings?