Run, You Little Zombies!

Clinical trial looks at the impact of prescribing popular fitness apps to kids.

Perry Payne, MD/JD/MPP | October 5, 2015

Plants vs. Zombies toysUsing mobile device to improve physical fitness and dietary behaviors is a goal shared by numerous app developers and their health professional teams.

From garages in Silicon Valley to major research institutions throughout the world, great minds are focused on wondering how a device that people have nearly 24 hours a day can change how much people move and what they put into their bodies.

One need only search for physical fitness on the app store, or witness Wall Street’s initial response to FitBit’s public offering, to see that there is great interest in solving this problem that could improve the health status of individuals in numerous countries.

In a recent Journal of Medical Internet Research study, researchers from the University of Auckland in New Zealand performed a small randomized controlled trial to determine the impact of two commercially available apps – Zombies, Run! and Get Running – on cardiorespiratory fitness and physical activities levels in young people ages 14 – 17 who were labeled as “insufficiently active” (less than 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity each day). Young people were randomized into three arms, the two apps and a control group. Average age of the participants was 15.7 and the average BMI was a normal at 22.9. The trial was named Apps for IMproving FITness (AIMFIT). The researchers also sought to identify features of app design that may contribute to improving fitness and physical activity levels. Continue reading Run, You Little Zombies!

Accupedo is an Outstanding Pedometer App …

… With Some Evidence to Support Effectiveness

iMedicalApps | November 12, 2015
Review of Accupedo for Android and iOS

screenshot of Accupedo pedometer appEncouraging increased activity amongst patients to promote physical health and well-being is a frequent challenge encountered by physicians.

Designing a program with reasonable goals for physical activity and tracking one’s progress is very helpful, yet finding the right one can be a challenge. Many apps for Android and iOS  offer a variety of exercises routines, activity tracking, and more however, often the most useful tool to promote physical activity may be as simple as a pedometer on a smartphone. Accupedo is one such app, offering a variety of pedometer-related monitoring tools. With this in mind, I have given Accupedo a literal test run on my own Android device and have been pleasantly impressed with its capabilities.

Pedometers have existed since the 1700s, with various iterations consisting of a mechanical switch being activated with each step and an output reporting mechanism. Recently, more advanced models consisting of accelerometers to detect movement have been developed.

Given the reliance of many smartphones on accelerometer technology, it is no surprise that many pedometer apps have appeared on both Google Play and iTunes. Accuracy has been found to be boosted when used in combination with built-in GPS tracking as well, and is even comparable to traditional pedometer tracking, if not better.  However, very few have appeared by name in clinical studies investigating effect on patient activity, helping set Accupedo ahead of the pack.

In addition to smartphone apps, many popular fitness tracking devices include pedometer technology through actigraphy, such as the Fitbit, and have virtually replaced traditional mechanical pedometers on the market.


Here’s How Technology Can Save, Not Ruin, The Family Meal

Gives new meaning to “chips and dip!”


Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Dolmio Wi-Fi Blocking Pepper Grinder
One way to do it: The Dolmio Wi-Fi Blocking Pepper Grinder

Like many modern parents, I face increasing competition for my kid’s attention at the dinner table from technology. Whether it’s that iPad, iPhone or iPod, it’s a challenge to get them to put the screen down and pick up the fork for a family meal together.

And almost just as often as technology threatens to distract us at the dinner table, it also prevents us from getting there at all. There are times my wife or I work late while making sure we can get that last email or document off, often at the expense of family time.

The increasingly negative impact of technology on the family meal is something many families are experiencing.  According to research done in the UK, over one third of kids aged 5 to 15 bring a gadget to the family dinner table. About one quarter – 22% – of families feel technology is preventing them from having conversations. It’s become such as issue that just this week the Pope himself bemoaned how the presence of technology is interfering with the family unit and meal time.


Huh? Prevent Hearing Loss Claims

November 12, 2015 by Michael B. Stack Leave a Comment

Hearing loss claims can be very expensive.  If the loss is great enough to prevent the employee from continuing in the job, or prevents takProtect Your Ears caution signing other employment, there could be life time exposure for benefits.   Most exposure will be for the percentage of the loss caused by the job.

In industries such as mining, construction, noisy manufacturing conditions, and jet airports, hearing loss claims may even be assumed to have come from the job.

Other areas where hearing loss exposure exists and might be assumed to come from the employment are blaring music in stores, restaurants, bars, and amusement facilities.  Employees working in
these areas are susceptible to hearing loss as the noise in some of these establishments has been measured as high as 120 to 140 decibels.

In addition, traumatic hearing loss from sudden unforeseen explosions or other loud sources will pose the possibility of full exposure.

Some Good News

According to OSHA data, hearing loss claims appear to be declining.  This could be due to improved protective hearing devices, enforced use of protective devices, lowering of the environmental decibel noise by the employer, and elimination of certain industries from the calculations.

In addition, states have begun to amend workers compensation acts.  Some of the changes noted are:

  1. Noise levels need to be at 90 decibel levels or more.
  2. Employee exposure must be at least 90 days.
  3. The loss needs to affect both ears.
  4. Differences in the level of loss for each ear are being considered together.
  5. There must be conclusive medical (by a certified Otolaryngologist
  6. [READ MD) substantiation that the hearing loss is due solely to the job nose.
  7. The hearing loss must be 10% or more in some jurisdictions.


Feeling Emotionally Attached to Work Leads to Improved Well-Being

No wonder I couldn’t keep working as a dishwasher!

I Heart My Job buttonBy
Elk Grove Village, IL

Workers who feel emotionally attached to and identify with their work have better psychological well-being, reports a study in the November Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).

Efforts to increase affective organizational commitment (AOC) may lead to a happier, healthier workforce — and possibly contribute to reducing employee turnover, suggests the new research by Thomas Clausen of the Danish National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Copenhagen, and colleagues.

Affective organizational commitment is defined as “the employee’s emotional attachment to, identification with, and involvement in the organization.” The new study looked at how AOC affected psychological well-being and other health-related outcomes in approximately 5,000 Danish eldercare workers, organized into 300 workgroups.

The results showed significantly higher well-being for employees in workgroups with higher AOC. Workgroups with high AOC also had lower sickness absence rates and fewer sleep disturbances, as reported by workers. Continue reading Feeling Emotionally Attached to Work Leads to Improved Well-Being

Video-Based CPR Training May Be As Valuable As Hands-On

Largest CPR training trial for families of at-risk patients shows success of low-cost teaching method
November 8, 2015
Source: University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Video CPR trainingUsing a video to train family members of patients at risk for cardiac arrest in CPR may be just as effective as using the traditional hands-on method with a manikin, according to new research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

The findings suggest simplified and more cost-effective approaches may be useful for disseminating CPR education to families of at-risk patients and the general public. The results are being presented during the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2015.

Less than 40 percent of cardiac arrests in the United States are treated by CPR delivered by bystanders, a fact which has prompted calls for improved CPR education to empower the public to take action.

While some studies have suggested that using a video self-instruction (VSI) kit including a small inflatable manikin is helpful in remembering the basics of the technique, the cost of such kits is often prohibitive. Further, since kits require use of a manikin, they are limited in their use compared to video-only approaches which can be used to train larger groups. Continue reading Video-Based CPR Training May Be As Valuable As Hands-On

7 Best FDA Approved Health Apps

By Damian McNamara

Star Trek Tricorder vs. iPad QuantumAs the mobile health industry continues to rapidly expand with no signs of slowing down, FDA regulation of health apps has evolved too.

Today, there are more than 100,000 mobile health apps on the market for Apple and android devices, with mobile health revenues projected to jump to $26 billion by 2017, according to Mobile Health Economics.

In February 2015, the FDA announced plans to review mobile medical apps that interpret data and act like medical devices.
(We include examples of companies the FDA warned about this at the end of this post.)

The agency is basically making a call on the safety and effectiveness of certain apps. “Some mobile apps carry minimal risks to consumer or patients, but others can carry significant risks if they do not operate correctly. The FDA’s tailored policy protects patients while encouraging innovation,” said Jeffrey Shuren, M.D., J.D., Director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, in a statement.

The agency does not intend to regulate apps that track a person’s daily steps, enable patients to refill prescriptions or search medical references. Nor will they oversee the mobile devices, such as iPhones and tablets, which can run medical apps.

It’s important to know which apps are worth your precious time and money. Therefore, PYP updated our popular 2013 list of the best FDA approved health apps and devices:

AirStrip ONE

AirStrip ONE evolved from a diagnostic aid that delivers patient data from medical devices, electronic medical records and patient monitors to clinicians – to a platform that enables mobile interoperability. AirStrip Technologies’ platform intends to connect clinicians with patient data and with other providers to share data and promote care collaboration.

Mobile ECG turns your smartphone into an electrocardiogram by snapping on the back of an iPhone. To take cardiac measurements, a person presses the device against the skin over the heart. A new feature allows people to keep a digital journal and track their symptoms, activity and diet.

Diabetes Manager

This device captures blood-glucose information and transmits it in real-time. WellDoc’s system offers a personalized coach to help patients manage their medication and treatment. WellDoc now calls its device BlueStar, and offers a commercial model that also engages a healthcare team in the management of type 2 diabetes.


Wellness Programs Add Financial Advice To Improve Employee Health

Sheena Calliham is all too aware of statistics showing that millennials have less job security and more student debt than their parents.

financial counsellor and young couple“Student loan debt is a primary financial stressor and concern for my generation,” she says, “and we’ve also faced a challenging job market.”

Calliham is 32, manages healthcare centers in Columbia, S.C, and has a 2-year-old daughter. A few weeks ago, she signed up for a financial wellness program offered by her employer. She says the stress of the debt and the cost of raising a child were affecting many aspects of her life.

“It can be a stressor that I can take home with me,” she says, “and that may cause me to take things out on people that I love.”
About half of all U.S. employers now offer financial wellness programs, although how they define them varies. Many companies have long offered lectures on topics like retirement. But increasingly, say analysts tracking the trend, employers are tailoring their programs to the worker — more like a personal trainer who works on your budget rather than your waistline.

Most large companies are expanding their financial wellness programs this year, says Rob Austin, director of retirement research at consulting firm Aon Hewitt. And employers realize one-on-one counseling is a far more effective way to reach people and address their particular concerns.

“It really goes much deeper and much broader,” he says.

According to Evren Esen, who directs survey programs at the Society for Human Resource Management, more than two-thirds of professionals in human resources say personal finances are having an effect on their employees at work, and that can affect health.


Integrated Absence Management: Promoting Productive and Healthier Workplaces

By Safety National 10/20/2015 04:42:00

Integrated Absence Management graphicAt the 2015 Self-Insurance Institute of America National Conference, Tammy Worthey from Sedgwick and Junia McGraw from Arizona Public Services discussed how integrating your absence management program can benefit both the employer and your workforce.

One of the big challenges around absence management is the silos in which different benefit delivery systems operate. Workers’ compensation usually falls under risk management, and non-occupational disability is managed by human resouruces. There are often different strategies for the different programs, and data is usually not shared.

Most “integrated” absence management programs are coordinated, not truly integrated. A coordinated program still has the issue with silos due to different people having oversight over the different areas, and sometimes there can be different vendors handling the different areas. A true integrated program has one process owner (usually in human resources) and a single vendor handling both areas. The data from the two programs is also integrated which allows for more complete analysis and better decision making.

The key points of integration are:

  • Single intake of new claims. Employees only need to make one call and the vendor makes sure the appropriate claims are set up. The focus is on providing benefits to the worker timely rather than arguing about which silo the benefits should be paid under.
  • Sharing of medical records. This streamlines medical from providers to the claims team and helps to reduce costs by avoiding duplication of efforts.
  • Coordination of payments. This ensures the employee is receiving all the benefits they are entitled to under the different plans and also eliminates duplicate payments. If the workers’ compensation claim is being disputed, benefits are paid under disability during the adjudication of this dispute. By making sure the worker receives benefits it can cut down on litigation and increase the satisfaction of the injured worker.


Microsoft Adds Health Privacy Features to Office 2016

October 12, 2015 | Tom Sullivan – Executive Editor, HIMSS Media

graphic with all the app icons for Microsoft Office 2016When Microsoft unwrapped the latest version of its Office suite, the company injected the software with data privacy and security features specifically designed for healthcare customers.

Practice managers and IT staff, particularly existing users of Microsoft’s apps, might want to know about these.

Here are three of those:

1. PHI recognition: Outlook can now recognize protected health information in an attachment and warn the user before sending to avoid the common mishap of PHI landing in the inbox of someone who should not receive it. And different permissions can be set to stop some users from even sending PHI at all.

2. Smart Attachments: This feature gives users the option of sending a link in lieu of heavy documents that consume a lot of memory. The reason that matters: When clinicians send a link via OneDrive for Business, the security mechanism authenticates the user and Exchange can track whether a recipient even clicked on that link – which could help account for what happens should data be sent to unintended recipients.

3. Encryption, single sign-on and authentication: This is kind of a threefer, admittedly. They are connected enough to group together. In addition to Office, Microsoft injected encryption into Office 365 services, so now both documents and emails are encrypted, while Windows Hello serves as a single sign-on capability and Windows Passport is now being used by third-party apps, such as Allscripts EMR, for facial recognition.

Office 2016 comes on the heels of Windows 10, which also brought new features for healthcare.

Continue reading Microsoft Adds Health Privacy Features to Office 2016