Tag Archives: health

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.

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

Lyra Health raises $45M to create a smart network for treating mental health problems

Treating issues with mental health can be a daunting and very sensitive task for anyone that is suffering from any kind of mental illness — but the problem for many is that a lot of patients just don’t know where to start, according to David Ebersman.

mental signpost graphic for article, Lyra Health raises $45M to create a smart network for treating mental health problemsThat’s where Lyra Health hopes to help. The service works with employers to offer a tool to their employees that helps them securely and confidentially begin to understand what kind of treatment they need to seek if they feel like they are suffering from any mental health problems. Employers naturally have a stake in this as they want their employees to stay health, but the goal is to offer a sort of safe space where users can benefit from years of growth in pattern matching and data to help them figure out where to start. The company said it has raised $45 million in a new financing round including Tenaya Capital, Glynn Capital Partners, Crown Ventures, and Casdin Capital. Existing investors that include Greylock Partners, Venrock, and Providence Ventures also participated in the funding round.

“We felt it was important to build an offering that would be helpful to all of the people who work at these companies and are suffering from a mental health condition like depression, or anxiety, or substance abuse,” Ebersman said. “A lot of the people we want to help don’t know where they’re starting. Trying to build and market something narrowly to a subset of the audience requires the audience to know they’re in that subset. Trying to build something more welcoming and engaging for a broader set of conditions felt to us to be a realistic response to the fact that not everyone can self identify. Fortunately technology really helps us with this — we can build a secure and confidential place where an employee can go and answer some questions that relate to their symptoms, severity, treatment preferences and use technology to match them for the right care.” Continue reading Lyra Health raises $45M to create a smart network for treating mental health problems

A push for mental health care at colleges: Depression and anxiety ‘really eat up our kids’

Felicia Mello, CALmatters

When student leaders from 23 California State University campuses came together last fall to set priorities for the academic year, improving campus mental health services received more nominations than any other issue. It beat out even that perennial concern, tuition costs.

Cal State Student Association president Maggie White said she’s not surprised.

“We’re seeing wait times at counseling centers that are exceeding two or three weeks, people turned away after a few appointments because they’ve exceeded the maximum allotment, and students not feeling comfortable going to counselors because no one looks like them or reflects their experience,” White said.

graph showing California college enrollment related to demand for mental health services

As the stigma attached to mental health care fades, California students are increasingly clamoring for more on-campus services that can help them cope with anxiety, depression and the stresses of a contentious political climate and rising living expenses. Several bills pending in the California Legislature would set aside resources for mental health care at the state’s public colleges and universities.

Mental health advocates say on-campus care is especially important because people often first experience psychological problems during their young adult years.

“It’s so much the age when serious mental illness manifests itself, and here we have these institutions that could absolutely be identifying this early on,” said Deborah Anderluh, a spokesperson for the Steinberg Institute, which lobbies for more funding for mental health treatment.

[SEE FULL STORY HERE]

California online community college announces first health care pathway

APRIL 25, 2018 BY ED COGHLAN

California’s health care providers have a workforce challenge. The state is going to need 11,000 medical coders between now and 2024—that’s about 1,600 job openings a year.

keyboard graphic for article, California online community college announces first health care pathwayThe proposed California online community college has announced its first partnership to establish a program pathway in the health care industry to meet needs like more coders.

The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office and the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare West & Joint Employer Education Fund met with reporters Tuesday to discuss the agreement.

The statewide online community college has been proposed by Governor Brown to help California’s stranded workers, those who lack job credentials and skills because they are unable to attend colleges because of family and work responsibilities.

If approved by the Legislature this summer, the college is expected to be activated by 2019.

Medical coders start at $30 per hour and can make as much as $50 per hour. Their task includes reviewing medical charts and assigning codes for insurance billing.

“These are attractive jobs to enter the health care industry,” said Rebecca Hanson of the SEIU UHW-West & Joint Employer Education Fund.

Lorraine Maisonet of Elk Grove, California was on the conference call. She works for Dignity Health and commutes two hours to work every day. She doesn’t have time to go to school but indicated that an online college would let her learn at her own speed when she could.

Alma Hernandez is the executive director of SEIU California, which represents more than 700,000 members. She said that many workers are stuck in dead-end jobs and don’t have access to the education opportunities that are already available. She also pointed out that the for-profit colleges that offer similar certificate programs are expensive and often result in workers being in debt.

“This is responding to the needs of California workers,” she said.

Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley indicated that the system is working on other pathways as the system focuses on how to help California workers improve their economic mobility and rebuild the state’s middle class.

[SEE FULL STORY HERE]

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Can Too Much Exercise Be Harmful?

skeleton on an exer-cyclw

By Kathleen Doheny
WebMD Health News

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD

June 4, 2012 —

“Chronic extreme endurance efforts, like marathons, ultra-marathons, and long-distance triathlons, can cause cardiovascular damage over time,” says researcher James H. O’Keefe, MD, director of preventive cardiology at the Mid America Heart Institute at St. Luke’s Health System, Kansas City.

“Healthier exercise patterns involve not such extreme duration or intensity,” he tells WebMD.

His multi-study review is in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

In another study, researchers found that running at moderate speeds was linked with a lower risk of death from any cause compared to no running. More intense running didn’t yield additional benefit.

That study was reported Saturday at the American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting.

The message is not to fear exercise, but to practice moderation, say O’Keefe and Carl “Chip” Lavie, MD, medical director of cardiac rehabilitation and preventive care at Ochsner Health System, New Orleans. Lavie was involved in both the review and the running study.

“What we don’t want to lose sight of is: People who exercise do better than people who don’t exercise,” Lavie says.

Valentine’s Day Sugar Massacre?

photo of sugar cubes with skull and crossbones poison symbolCan sugar really be toxic? Sadly, yes

Eating excessive amounts of processed sugar is leading to an epidemic in type 2 diabetes.

By Max Pemberton

By the time you have finished reading this sentence, one person in the world will have died from type 2 diabetes. Two more will have been newly diagnosed with it. Yet it is a condition that rarely excites or interests the public. It has a slow, insidious progression that is interlinked with obesity, and as a result this disease is considered an abstract, boring and largely self-inflicted condition. While it’s a killer, it’s not a killer in the dramatic and attention-grabbing way that other conditions such as cancer and infectious diseases can be. But given the huge personal and economic impact it has, we should be taking type 2 diabetes much more seriously.

According to a startling commentary in the journal Nature, by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, sugar poses such a health risk – contributing to around 35 million deaths globally each year – that it should now be considered a potentially toxic substance like alcohol and tobacco. Its link with the onset of diabetes is such that punitive regulations, such as a tax on all foods and drinks that contain ”added’’ sugar, are now warranted, the researchers say. They also recommend banning sales in or near schools, as well as placing age limits on the sale of such products.

I have to admit my first response on reading the headlines generated by this article was to roll my eyes as I tucked into a king-size Twix, and denounce the suggestion as yet another example of health fascism. Sugar? Toxic? Oh, please, give me a break (or preferably a KitKat). But the truth is that there is compelling evidence that sugar is hugely dangerous, because it is a contributing factor in the twin epidemics of obesity and diabetes faced by developed countries.

Continue reading Valentine’s Day Sugar Massacre?