Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Premium Support: A Primer (A Brookings Institution Paper)

From the 18 December 2011 Report

The major cause of the federal budget crisis, which is still in its early stages, is the relentless growth of Medicare spending. The two biggest causes of Medicare growth are the retirement of the baby boom generation, thus increasing the number of people on the rolls, and the persistent increase in the per person cost of medical care. The retirement of the baby boom generation is just beginning and the per person growth of Medicare, even though it has moderated slightly in recent years, tends to be well above economic growth, the growth of wages, and overall inflation. Unless something is done, Medicare will continue to consume an increasing percentage of the federal budget. According to the Medicare Actuary, Medicare will grow from 3.6 percent of the nation’s GDP in 2010 to 10.4 percent by 2080. Moreover, the interest on the money borrowed to pay for our programs, one of the most rapidly growing of which is Medicare, will greatly exceed even our spending on Medicare. Unchecked, growth in spending on Medicare and interest on the federal debt will bankrupt the country….

…If the reluctance of politicians to incur the wrath of voters can be overcome, and if the internecine fighting between the parties can be quelled, analysts and policymakers have developed two broad choices for constraining the growth of Medicare costs. The first is to call on health professionals and other experts to identify reforms that would contain costs by adopting measures such as reducing the use of redundant or unnecessary tests, reducing the use of treatments that evidence shows are not effective, increasing the use of generic drugs, and increasing the effectiveness and use of preventive care…

…The second way to contain Medicare growth is to adopt policies that harness market forces to control costs. Although controversial, premium support is perhaps the most credible approach of this type developed so far….


December 18, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

How Making A Plan Can Help You Meet New Year’s Goals

From the 17 December 2011 Medical News Today article

When making New Year’s resolutions this year, committing to a specific plan for when and where you are going to accomplish each goal will make you more likely to succeed, says a Wake Forest University psychology professor.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Assistant Professor E.J. Masicampo found that committing to a specific plan to accomplish a goal not only makes it more likely to be done, but also gets it off your mind so you can think about other things.

“Once a plan is made, we can stop thinking about that one goal,” says Masicampo, who studies goal setting and will power. “This frees our minds to focus on other tasks or simply enjoy the current moment.”

But, not just any plan will work, he says. “The ones that work specify exactly what you are going to do, including when and where you are going to do it.”

He describes four essential elements of a successful plan:

1. Specifies exactly what you’re going to do and in what situation (where and when)

2. Is under your control and not dependent on someone else’s actions

3. Includes specific opportunities to meet the goal in situations likely to occur

4. Focuses on a goal you are motivated to accomplish…

Read the entire news article


December 18, 2011 Posted by | Psychology | , | Leave a comment

How Happiness Impacts Choice

From the abstract at Full Text Reports

Consumers want to be happy, and marketers are increasingly trying to appeal to consumers’ pursuit of happiness. However, the results of six studies reveal that what happiness means varies, and consumers’ choices reflect those differences. In some cases happiness is defined as feeling excited, and in other cases happiness is defined as feeling calm. The type of happiness pursued is determined by one’s temporal focus, such that individuals tend to choose more exciting options when focused on the future, and more calming options when focused on the present moment. These results suggest that the definition of happiness, and consumers’ resulting choices, are dynamic and malleable.


December 18, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Treating Stress, Speech Disorders With Music : NPR

Dr. Concetta M. Tomaino, DA, MT-BC, LCAT

Image via Wikipedia

[On a somewhat related on my read next..
Harnessed- How Language and Music Mimicked Nature and Transformed Ape to Man]

Treating Stress, Speech Disorders With Music : NPR

From the 16 December National Public Radio story

More and more hospitals and clinics now offer music therapy as a supplementary treatment for everything from anxiety to Alzheimer’s, but its efficacy varies for different conditions. Neurologist Oliver Sacks and several music therapists discuss the science and practice of music therapy….

FLATOW: Thank you for being with us. Connie Tomaino is the executive director and co-founder of the Institute for Music and Neurological Function at the Beth Abraham Family of Health Services in the Bronx, New York. She’s also here in our studios. Welcome, Dr. Tomaino.

CONCETTA TOMAINO: Pleasure to be here.

FLATOW: And Joke Bradt is an associate professor in the Creative Arts Therapies Department at Drexel University in Philadelphia; she joins us from the studios of WRTI. Welcome to the show, Dr. Bradt.

DR. JOKE BRADT: Thank you, and thanks for having me.

FLATOW: And we’re going to be talking with Connie – what exactly, how do you define music therapy, Dr. Tomaino?

TOMAINO: Well, music therapy is the use of music and the components of music to affect function, either cognitive, psychological, physical, most psychosocial and behavioral function, through interaction with a professional music therapist. Many times people assume something to be music therapy, but it really isn’t if it isn’t provided by a music therapist.

FLATOW: And that’s a good point, Dr. Bradt, is it not? It has to be somebody who knows what they’re doing, a trained musical therapist.

BRADT: Absolutely, and music therapists are actually trained at different levels. They can be trained at a Bachelor’s level, Master’s or even Ph.D. level. But as Dr. Tomaino just pointed out, it’s very important that music is provided by a trained music therapist because music truly plays a primary role in the therapeutic process, to strengthen the client’s abilities as well as to address their needs….

Article includes podcast and transcript

December 18, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Bringing the social media revolution to healthcare – Lee Aase and the 7th HARC Forum

(Hospital Alliance for Research Collaboration)***

Excerpt from the blog item  by Dr. Kishan Kariippanon at Youth Health 2.0

Have you heard of a person by the name of Lee Aase? His only formal qualification is a Bachelor of Science in Political Science. I heard him say in reference to it that “BS and Political Science go together”, just last week in Sydney. He traveled all the way from Austin, Minnesota so that he can meet and bring the success of Mayo Clinic’s Center for Social Media in the flesh, to dispel the doubts and illustrate how the healthcare revolution will be Tweeted.

An auditorium of interested people from various backgrounds within healthcare and beyond  attended the 7th HARC Forum “Bringing the Social Media Revolution to Healthcare”. Lee Aase may seem like an ordinary person (he has never refered to himself as an expert) but his contribution to health communication innovation is priceless. That is the beauty of social media – anyone can make significant contribution on a global scale….

[From interview with Lee Aase by Dr. Kishan Kariippanon ]

“Social Media University Global (SMUG) started as my personal blog. I would always say “go to my blog” whenever I was asked about social media. Eventually I created a step by step practical or hands on learning space for anyone to learn how to use social media,” subsequently naming himself Chancellor. “It’s not only about or for  healthcare, but we have built on it through the Mayo Clinic Centre for Social Media. There are now 1300 people from 6 continents who join the SMUG Facebook Page“, he says.

“People in low resource and developing countries can also benefit from a blog like this. Having a blog like this creates tools for people with interesting ideas to find others with interesting ideas.”

“Public Health bloggers have an opportunity to find creative ways to raise awareness of issues that have public health impact or huge societal impact. A video that we made called Know your numbers‘ was used to illustrate the importance of knowing your heart related numbers (blood pressure, lipids and BMI) in a fun way. So it is not preachy or talking down to people. Maybe a kind of clever way of getting the word out. We are using basic tools like YouTube and Facebook and blogs to help communicate a message that could make alot of difference for lots of people in helping them prevent a heart attack.”

“Blogs can play a huge role in disseminating information in two senses:

Firstly, in spreading the word about the things that are available in peer-reviewed journals because there is so much showing up in the journals but are locked away. If it isn’t mobile or getting to the frontline practitioners, it’s not doing the practical good that it could. So there is a huge opportunity for these tools.

We do YouTube videos on articles that are published in peer-reviewed journals, where the doctor involved is talking about what was behind the study, what does this really all mean to patients. Then getting the patients who were really active and engaged around a disease to help spread the word too. You don’t have to subscribe to the journal to have access to this information.

The journals are going to be under increasing pressure to move faster in publication. I think that is a great benefit and that there are alternate ways.  There are  other ways of disseminating research information, a good example would be our “spontaneous coronary artery dissection”  that was published on the Mayo Clinic Proceedings. An example of how patients are turning upside down the process in that they are helping to initiate ideas for how research can be done. We are using social media to recruit for more people to be part of a study, especially in rare a disease. A virtual registry can help out and social media is making this possible.”

Related Articles and Blog items

Read more:

Article by Lee Aase on The Conversation: Move over Dr Google, the future of health is social

Medical Observer article: Social media can protect patients


An interview with Lee Aase by Dr Norman Swan from ABC Radio National’s Health Report.

Listen and watch the podcasts:


***From  the 7th HARC forum summary

7th HARC Forum

Topic: “Bringing the social media revolution to healthcare”
Keynote speaker: Lee Aase
Founder and Director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media
Date: 9 November 2011

Social media is used increasingly as a personal and professional communication tool. The purpose of this Forum was to consider how we can improve healthcare delivery using social media tools.

The keynote speaker, Lee Aase, is a pioneer in using social media tools in the hospital environment and an advocate for social media adoption in healthcare. Lee is a founder and Director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, a first-of-its-kind social media center focused on healthcare that builds on Mayo Clinic’s leadership among healthcare providers in adopting social media tools.

Lee’s presentation was followed by responses from two local experts: Melissa Sweet, an independent health journalist and editor of Crikey’s health blog, Croakey; and Hugh Stephens, a social media expert and medical student enrolled at Monash University.

December 18, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , | 4 Comments

4 technologies that will transform eHealth in 2012 (by Microsoft)

4 technologies that will transform eHealth in 2012 (by Microsoft)  (Science Intelligence and InfoPros Blog Item)

(Originally posted by Crounse, Bill…. 4 leading trends and technologies that will transform health and healthcare in 2012 and beyond. HealthBlog, Posted on 15th of December 2011.)


Bill Crounse, the Microsoft’s worldwide health senior director, gives his predictions for leading technologies that will impact the eHealth in 2012.

Among the leading trends for such transformation is the so-called “consumerization of IT”.  Powerful consumer technologies like social networking, smartphones, tablets, cloud computing, digital media, and gaming are opening new platforms and channels for delivering innovative health solutions.  Let me therefore offer 4 solution areas that I believe will deliver real impact for better health in 2012 and beyond.

  1. Tele-Health Services
    Regulatory and reimbursement reforms will stimulate the market to deliver more cost-effective modalities for both preventive services and care.  That will increasingly include the delivery of health information and medical services directly into the home whenever possible.  So much of what healthcare providers do is focused on the analysis of signs, symptoms and results, dissemination of information, and prescriptions for treatment .  Much of this can, and increasingly will be done, “virtually”.
  2. Remote Monitoring and Mobile Health
    Remote monitoring with advanced sensor technologies coupled with mobile devices and services as outlined above, will make it possible to care for more patients in less acute settings, including the home, and to do so at scale with fewer staff.  I am particularly impressed by companies that are working with regulators (such as the FDA) to develop approved medical devices and secure gateways that facilitate clinical information exchanges.
  3. The Kinect Effect and Health Gaming
    Never have I seen such excitement from partners and customers about the possibilities for this technology to transform the way we get health information, collaborate with experts,  and receive certain kinds of services.  One day we may even participate in virtual classes and group counseling using this technology.  It’s not only quite practical, but once again a way to scale services while lowering costs, not to mention increasing convenience for everyone.
  4. Big Data, Cloud and Analytics
    Some people might say our problem isn’t a paucity of information it is too much information.  What we lack are the tools to put all that information to good use.  Cloud computing and connected devices give us the means to access the information we need, whenever and wherever we need it.  Smart devices and powerful software give us tools to make sense of it.  Throw in a modicum of artificial intelligence and machine learning and you have a recipe that finally releases us from the jaws of too much data into a world of understanding and wisdom.


December 18, 2011 Posted by | health care | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Health Care’s Blind Side: Unmet Social Needs Leading To Worse Health

From the 8 December 2011 article by the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation

In new, national survey, three in four physicians wish the health care system would pay for costs associated with connecting patients to services that address their social needs

In a new, national survey, physicians say unmet social needs — like access to nutritious food, transportation assistance and housing assistance — are leading to worse health for all Americans.

As our nation grapples with increasing poverty, joblessness and homelessness, these findings provide new insights into what it takes for Americans to get and stay healthy.

“America’s physicians understand that our health is largely determined by forces outside of the doctor’s office. Housing, employment, income and education are key factors that shape our health, especially for the most vulnerable among us,” said Jane Lowe, team director for the Vulnerable Populations portfolio of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Physicians are sending a clear message: The health care system cannot continue to overlook social needs if we want to improve health in this country.” …


If physicians were able to write prescriptions for social needs, they would frequently prescribe fitness programs, nutritious food and transportation assistance. Physicians whose patients are mostly low-income would write prescriptions for pressing needs such as employment assistance, adult education and housing assistance.

              “Social prescribing refers to the process of linking patients with non-medical sources of support within the community, largely through Primary Care. It includes, for example, arts, learning and exercise on referral, bibliotherapy, self-help materials, volunteering and time banks. As these activities are multi- sectoral, social prescribing therefore has the potential to transcend health and social care, the community and voluntary sectors and private sector boundaries, at a time when changes within the NHS and Local Government attempt to draw these sectors more closely together. “

December 18, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Prevent Emergency Dept Visits – Store Meds Safely and Out of Reach to Children



Put Medicines Up and Away and Out of Sight

CDC Online Newsroom – Press Release: December 13, 2011



From the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Press Release

New educational program reminds parents to keep medication “Up and Away and Out of Sight”

Each year, one of every 150 two–year–olds visits an emergency department in the United States for an unintentional medication overdose, most often after finding and eating or drinking medicines without adult supervision.  To inform parents and caregivers about safe medication storage and what to do in case of an emergency, CDC, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association Education FoundationExternal Web Site Icon and a coalition of partners are launching an educational program, Up and Away and Out of SightExternal Web Site Icon, encouraging parents to follow a few simple steps to protect children.

“Parents may not be aware of the danger posed by leaving medications where young children can reach them. In recent years, the number of accidental overdoses in young children has increased by 20 percent,” said Dan Budnitz, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s Medication Safety Program. “A few simple steps – done every time – can protect our children.”

To protect children, parents and caregivers can:

  • Pick a place children cannot reach.  Find a storage place too high for a child to reach or see.  Any medicine or vitamin can cause harm if taken the wrong way, even medicine you buy without a prescription.
  • Put medicines and vitamins away every time you use them.  Never leave medicines or vitamins out on a kitchen counter or at a sick child’s bedside, even if you have to give the medicine again in a few hours.
  • Hear the click.  Make sure the safety cap is locked. If the medicine has a locking cap that turns, twist it until the click is heard.
  • Teach children about medicine safety. Never tell children that medicine is candy to get them to take it, even if the child does not like to take his or her medicine.
  • Tell guests about medicine safety. Ask houseguests and visitors to keep purses, bags, or coats that have medicines in them up and away and out of sight when they are visiting.
  • Be prepared in case of emergency. Program the poison control number into home and cell phones (1–800–222–1222).

December 18, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , | Leave a comment


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