How wildfires can threaten your health

By the time Thomas Dailey woke up on Tuesday, smoke from the Mendocino Complex Fire had drifted 150 miles south to his pulmonary practice in Santa Clara, staining the sunrise blood red.

For many Californians, the crimson sky was another reminder of the 19 wildfires burning across the state, a larger and more destructive threat than in recent years. It could become the worst fire season in state history.

info graphic for article, How wildfires can threaten your healthFor Dailey, a pulmonologist who has treated asthma patients for 29 years, it also signaled a growing health risk for his patients and the public. As wildfires burn through forests, vegetation and homes, they expel smoke and toxic pollutants, sending fine particulate matter into the air.

“It’s pretty sobering as soon as you see that,” said Dailey, whose asthma patients at his Santa Clara office recently began complaining about tightness of breath when they go outside. “You know there’s a lot of particulates in the air.”

[SEE FULL ARTICLE HERE]

SmokerStop App Review: A Motivational Tool for Your Patients

Douglas Maurer, DO/MPH/FAAFP | August 2, 2018

Tobacco use remains the #1 preventable cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States and worldwide. Overall, cigarette smoking among U.S. adults (aged ≥18 years) declined from 20.9 percent in 2005 to 15.5 percent in 2016. Still nearly 38 million

smoking cessation info graphic for article, SmokerStop App Review: A Motivational Tool for Your PatientsAmerican adults smoked cigarettes in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Smoking remains the leading cause of cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). National efforts have included tobacco taxes and smoking bans which have both proven effective.

More recently, the prescribing of apps for cessation has been utilized and shown to be effective. We recently reviewed and praised the outstanding QuitMedKit from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. The app includes nearly everything the primary provider would want to have to aid patients in tobacco cessation: the 5A’s approach, information on medications for cessation, tips on motivational interviewing, graphics to assist in cessation, and links to online resources.

The QuitMedKit app does not include much information tailored to patients regarding personal health and financial goals. The SmokerStop app by Dr Titus Brinker in Germany uses personal motivation as its primary smoking cessation technique. The app uses data input by the patient to calculate health information such as reduction in blood pressure, lung cancer risk, as well as financial goals such as when an ex-smoker will have enough cash for movie tickets, an iPhone, etc. The app also allows patients to put in their own goals. All of this information is tracked by the app and reminders are periodically sent to to the patient to help keep them motivated.

[SEE FULL STORY HERE]

Off Your Mental Game? You Could Be Mildly Dehydrated

Expanding the Paradigm of Occupational Safety and Health: A New Framework for Worker Well-Being

An article recently published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine titled Expanding theWorker Well Being Logo Paradigm of Occupational Safety and Health: A New Framework for Worker Well-Being describes NIOSH’s newly developed conceptual framework for worker well-being. Historically, worker well-being has been measured through job satisfaction, employee engagement, positive emotions, and good mental and physical health.

This framework seeks to define and operationalize the concept of worker well-being through the following domains:

info graphic for article, Expanding the Paradigm of Occupational Safety and Health: A New Framework for Worker Well-Being

  • work evaluation and experience,

  • workplace physical environment and safety climate,

  • workplace policies and culture,

  • health status, and

  • home, community, & society.

This framework can make a valuable contribution to the efforts of researchers, policymakers, employers, workers, and communities as they take steps to better investigate, understand, and improve the well-being of workers. To learn more about the framework and what it means for applications in occupational safety and health, please see the full article HERE.

6 Effective Claim Handling Tips For Undocumented Employees

July 24, 2018 by Michael B. Stack

farm workers for article, 6 Effective Claim Handling Tips For Undocumented EmployeesInterested stakeholders in workers’ compensation need to pay attention to the changing workforce as immigration continues to change the composition of the American workforce.  This includes being mindful of immigration laws and making good faith efforts to comply with the Immigration Reform and Control Act and the employment of individuals authorized to work within the United States.  Notwithstanding these efforts, people without such proper documentation enter the workforce and become injured.  This creates problems for employers and insurers that can add costs to a claim.

Understanding the Basics

The Immigration Reform and Control Act controls employment practices in the United States.  Under this law, only American citizens or non-citizens with the proper work permits are allowed to perform work legally.  However, employers continue to employ people without proper authorization – in some instances knowingly engaging in this type of employment practice.

A state’s workers’ compensation law defines eligibility for benefits.  In many instances, one’s legal employment status does not serve as a bar to benefits after following a work injury.[1]  The issue of hiring someone not legally allowed to work in the United States is not going away.  The only true way to deal with such issues is to make good faith efforts when verifying someone’s work status.  The reality is even if an employer undertakes these efforts, people not legally allowed to work will continue to seek employment.

[SEE FULL STORY HERE]

6 Opportunities to Improve Your Return to Work Program

July 23, 2018 by 

Lost time from work is a significant driver in workers’ compensation claims.  Consider some of the following statistics:

  • On any given workday, up to 5% of the total US workforce is off work;
  • Lost wages and productivity account for $267 billion per year – with roughly $88 billion of that amount attributed to work injuries; and
  • Time off from work due to injury accounts for additional stressors on employees, employers and the claims management team. This includes increased workplace dissatisfaction, loss of workplace morale, increased overtime (including mandatory overtime costs) and a reduction in the quality of work one performs.

Return to Work icon for article, 6 Opportunities to Improve Your Return to Work ProgramThe bottom line is nobody wins when an employee is off work due to an injury.  Based on these factors, interested stakeholder seeking to improve their workers’ compensation programs and improve efficiency should seek to return injured workers to work – and do so as soon as possible.

 

Opportunities to Return Employees to Work

Quick and effective return to work benefits all interested stakeholders.  There are countless ways to return an employee to work following an injury.  It takes time and energy, but it has many benefits to the program’s bottom line.  This requires a plan that needs to be in writing and strictly followed to drive program efficiency.

  • Prepare a written RTW policy: This policy should encourage all employees regardless of their age, tenure with the employer or position to return to work following a work injury.  It should require contact between all interested stakeholders.  One key consideration is the number of weeks an employee can perform light duty work with the date of injury employer.  Doing so tends to motivate employee’s to return to return quickly to work.
  • Prepare a written job description: When it comes to job descriptions, the devil is the details.  Important information should conform to the state’s workers’ compensation act and what is considered “suitable gainful” employment.  Items that need to be defined include both the essential and marginal functions the employee will perform.  The wages and hours and employee will work are also important;[SEE FULL STORY HERE]

Diet soda and colon cancer: What you need to know

Michael Joyce is a writer-producer with HealthNewsReview.org and tweets as @mlmjoyce

It doesn’t help matters when a news release opens with a quote like this from one of the study’s lead authors:

Artificially sweetened drinks have a checkered reputation in the public because of the purported

info graphic for article; Diet soda and colon cancer: What you need to know

health risks that have never really been documented. Our stu

dy clearly shows they help avoid cancer recurrence and death in patients who have been treated for advanced colon cancer, and that is an exciting finding.

Actually, it’s not that clear at all.

Mainly because this is an observational study suggesting that colon cancer patients who regularly drink diet soda have a lower risk of their tumors coming back, or of dying from their cancer. With this type of study it’s inaccurate and misleading to imply this is a cause-and-effect relationship.

Two other reasons make it not so clear:

First, the data on diet soda consumption are drawn from participants trying to accurately fill out food and drink questionnaires mont

hs after the fact. This sort of self-reporting has been shown to be highly unreliable.

Second, the study could not determine if other risk factors — such as diet, activity level, smoking, and other lifestyle choices — might contribute to lower cancer recurrence and mortality.

We were glad to see these limitations included in a HealthDay news story, but it’s not good journalistic practice to reprint quotes regarding the touted benefits directly from the Yale news release, which the story did.

It’s noteworthy that the quote featured above, from Charles Fuchs MD, MPH (Director, Yale Cancer Center) is at odds with more cautious language he used in the video embedded in the news release. He says:

[SEE FULL STORY HERE]

Overcome 3 Common Return to Work Barriers

info graphic on factors that can be barriers to returning to work, for article: Michael B. StackMembers of the claims management team and other interested stakeholders in a workers’ compensation program need to be proactive when it comes returning an injured employee back to work. This includes being ethical and hardworking when it comes to vocational rehabilitation matters. This is especially the case when it comes to overcoming common barriers in the RTW and rehabilitation process. Failure to do so can result in increased workers’ compensation costs and other added expenses.

Who is Responsible

The employer is the most important and impactful party in return to work. The best practice is for the employer to develop the position of a “RTW Coordinator.” This should be a person who is knowledgeable in human resource matters, state and federal disability and discrimination laws, and accessible to the entire workforce. The RTW Coordinator should also be responsible for all interactions with the injured worker on behalf of the employer and maintain documentation related to a workers’ compensation claim.

Responsibilities of the Employer: This party is responsible for reporting the work injury and helping with the investigation. The employer should take action in letting the employee know their rights, which is often required under a state workers’ compensation law. They are also responsible for identifying available light-duty work opportunities and monitor the employee’s recovery.

Responsibilities of the Insurer: Coordinate with the employer on all work injury matters and pay for all workers’ compensation benefits the injured employee is entitled to under the law. The insurer can also make recommendations on light duty job opportunities and provide education to their insured.

[SEE FULL STORY HERE]

UCSF to Use Dignity Health Digital Platform to Increase Health Access

Partnership Puts Information in the Hands of Patients to Transform their Health Care Journeys

Dignity Health and UCSF Health are collaborating to develop a state-of-the-art digital engagement platform that will provide information and access to patients when and where they need it as they navigate primary and preventive care, as well as more acute or specialty care.

The platform, which ultimately aims to serve as a model for health systems nationwide, will be hosted by Dignity Health. The two health care organizations will leverage technological expertise and cloud-based infrastructure that Dignity Health has developed for its 40 hospitals. As one of the nation’s top-ranked academic medical centers, UCSF Health will contribute its extensive knowledge of the patient experience in specialty care.

The two health care organizations will develop a trusted path of digital access across the patient journey using the proprietary cloud-based platform of Dignity Health, one of the nation’s largest health systems.

“Our collaboration with Dignity Health will empower patients and their families with digital health care and connectivity, while simplifying the provider experience,” said Shelby Decosta, senior vice president and chief strategy officer for UCSF Health. “Together, with Dignity Health, we are opening new pathways for health care organizations to create a superior experience for their own patients and ultimately, for patients nationwide.”

In the first phase of the digital collaboration, UCSF is redesigning the user experience of its web and mobile properties and leveraging Dignity Health’s technical expertise to re-envision how the medical center delivers information to patients. The personalized, mobile-responsive infrastructure is supported by rich analytics and machine learning. In later phases, UCSF’s Center for Digital Health Innovation and Dignity Health will map out the multiple pathways that patients follow in moving from primary and secondary care to more acute care services, to create a robust digital system that connects patients and providers, while providing patients with the information they need throughout the process.

Continue reading UCSF to Use Dignity Health Digital Platform to Increase Health Access

Navigating the ADA Minefield in Work Comp

July 16, 2018 by 

icon graphic for article, Navigating the ADA Minefield in Work CompInterested stakeholders in any workers’ compensation program need to be aware of the many issues when it comes to running an effective program.  One of those includes being aware of how the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) impacts their program and post-injury efforts to return an employee to work.  Failure to do so can result in fines, penalties and lack of good will.  Now is the time to pay attention and prepare.

What is the American with Disabilities Act?

The ADA was passed was signed into law in 1990 as an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The law prohibits certain discriminatory practices based on an individual’s disability.  The law was amended one most recently in 2008, when President George W. Bush signed amendments to the law that expanded the scope of the ADA to include additional areas of coverage.

Important matters to consider in the context of workers’ compensation claims include the following:

  • Disability: This is defined by the statute to include “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities;” and
  • Qualified Individual with a Disability: The ADA only applies to an “individual with a disability who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the employment position.”

    [SEE FULL STORY HERE]