Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Report] Mobile Social and Fun Games for Health – Summary with Links to Examples of Games

Illustration of the Amazing Food Detective

From the Web site The Incredible Adventures of the Amazing Food Detective  - a free online health game about how to eat right and exercise sponsored by Kaiser Permamente thrive

The report Mobile Social and Fun Games for Health, free through registration, is sponsored by  mobi health news research.

While it focuses on industry trends, it does give some good overviews of how the public views and uses social media and health gaming.

Some insights from the report

  • “Game designer Jane McGonigal argues in her recent book, Reality is Broken, that “games are already improving the quality of our daily lives, fighting social problems such as depression and obesity, and addressing vital twenty-first-century challenges.” McGonigal believes that gamers “will be able to leverage the collaborative and motivational power of games in their own lives, communities, and businesses” to change the world. “
  • There is a growing clinical trial evidence base that shows that games can improve players’ health behaviors and outcomes in areas such as addiction control, healthy eating, physical activity, physical therapy, cognitive therapy, smoking cessation, cancer treatment adherence, asthma self-management and diabetes self- management.
  • “Kaiser Innovation Center’s Dr. Yan Chow  [states] “game thinking gives people permission to fail, and that is new and important in healthcare.” “
  • “The provider community is in need of better educational tools to improve efficiency and lower costs. Care providers of all stripes are interested in employing new ways to help patients understand their diseases and regimens to help them better take care of themselves. to new technology, they see a pressing need to identify and market a new suite of offerings that will function together to improve health outcomes. “
  • The report gives examples of two companies which use multidisciplinary teams to develop and market games.
  •  Tw0 of some examples of games for health in development

“Beating Heart,” which “introduces heart health to young adults by letting them get their heart rate when they touch their iPhone and also allowing them to share this information with friends.” scientists, exercise scientists and physicians working together,” Patrick said. “No one discipline owns more than a minority share.”

“The Magic Carpet” game where the harder the user blows into their phone, the more an interactive magic carpet pictured on the user’s phone moves.

  • Some examples of health games now availableMindbloom – Grow the Health You Want  [uses]a tree metaphor to represent the different branches of a person’s life — health, relationships, lifestyle, leisure, finances, spirituality, creativity and career. Users focus on making small meaningful changes to improve the quality of their lives. There are five elements that drive consumer engagement within this game

    MeYou Health—everyday wellbeing with small actions using community support

    “MeYou Health promotes everyday wellbeing by  encouraging small actions and fostering social ties that drive meaningful behavior change. Daily Challenge is the application that encourages users to take small, achievable steps toward healthy living every day. Getting started only takes a few minutes. Once you sign up, you get an email at 7 am to do one small task, across a wide range of wellbeing domains, from physical activity to eating well to emotional health and more. Feedback includes social proof of action from your personal connections.

    OneRecovery is an online support network for individuals in recovery from alcoholism, drug abuse and eating disorders.  It is a place for members to share stories, work on their recovery and mutually support one another in real time.  The web and mobile program combines social networking technology, game mechanics and evidence-based clinical principals to support sustained engagement and behavior change.

    Vive Coach – A  corporate wellness application.Vivecoach team wellness challenges combine the convenience of mobility, the power of community and the appeal of gaming to get employees excited about doing something good about their health.  Vivecoach challenges include step count competitions, weight loss challenges, and exercise challenges that may appeal to large groups. They also include smaller group or niche challenges called “Cold Turkey” challenges focused on giving up things like soda, sweets, junk- food, or cigarettes. Challenges for flossing and sleeping have also been used. Vivecoach encourages the company administrators or any employee to create new challenges.

    The Amazing Food Detective: Based on a skit developed internally at Kaiser and then produced by an outside game designer, the game utilizes eight short mysteries and 24 fun arcade mind-games. Kids play the role of detectives fighting childhood obesity.Escape from Diab is a sci-fi adventure and video game developed to prevent kids from becoming obese and developing related illnesses as diabetes.”Medical device developers are looking at gaming elements to bring deeper customer engagement with their products to increase sales.”

January 7, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health Education (General Public), Nutrition | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

HealthTap – A Free Interactive Heath Network Staffed by Physicians

Expert_network_diagram

[Please visit the related articles for the pros and cons of HealthTap.
Yes, HealthTap is free and staffed by physicians.
However, the answers are short and may not be tailored to your specific needs. Nothing can replace consulting with a health care provider at an office visit.
The Forbes article below concludes "you’re getting a few sentences of free medical advice from a group of random physicians, with reputations attested to by other random physicians, who are taking the time to answer your question for free either because of a desire to generate new business or a desire to help their Fellow Man."

HealthTap seems to be a good tool. However it is  only an information source, and not a substitute for personal care by one's health care provider.]

HealthTap healthtap.com

“HealthTap is an Interactive Health Network dedicated to improving everyone’s health and well-being. We do this by providing free online and mobile answers from thousands of leading physicians to your health questions, and by personalizing health information for you. HealthTap helps people better understand their health, make the best decisions for themselves and their families, and find the best doctors. We also help physicians better serve their existing patients and find new ones, while demonstrating their expertise and helping people everywhere.”

From the 26 2011 blog post  HEALTHTAP: A SOCIAL NETWORK WITH ALL THE (HEALTH) ANSWERS? 

Health Tap puts medical minds at the fingertips of its users. By doing so, it indirectly tailors information to the user’s needs..I was recently sick with a viral infection and my first thought was to type in my symptoms online. According to Google keyword tool, I’m not the only one. For the word “treatment”, Google gets about 37 million searches each month. For each of the words “sick”, “fever” and “symptom” Google receives about 7 million searches per month. The consumer health market is clearly there to support a site like Health Tap.

Benefits for Consumers

If the initial internet search happens regardless, it is more convenient for individuals to get their information from real physicians than from general sites like Wikipedia or Yahoo Answers, the former being too exhaustive and the latter lacking consistent credibility. The breadth of information that is already available on trustworthy sites such as WebMD and Mayo Clinic **will remain there for those who want exhaustive information.

Benefit for Physicians

By using the site, doctors can help people beyond the scope of their practice. They can also manage their professional internet presence in a less time-consuming manner than they can in a full blog. All they have to do is list their affiliations, connect to other physicians, and answer questions thoughtfully….
Added Value to Health Care 

Does HealthTap add value to the health care or the practice of medicine? No, at least not yet. It does, however, adds to the value of social media. Social networks have become a reflection of what is present in the general public consciousness. Health care deserves a spot in that collective consciousness. Social networks are also useful for facilitating communication. Health Tap could support doctor-patient communication, especially between PCPs and their patients. As far as improving the practice of medicine, Health Tap is not there yet. However, if it can gain mass adoption, leveraging its influence to improve the health care system could be incredible.

** For a short list of trustworthy sites, please see General Guides with links (at Health and Medical News/Resources) by yours truly

 Related articles

December 3, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , | Leave a comment

Are Pets Good For Human Health? The Truth Is “Nobody Really Knows”

From the 3 August 2011 Medical News Today article

How often do you read about a study that says a pet is good for your health? Most of us would say fairly often. Apparently, only those that demonstrate health benefits hit the headlines, while others that either have no evidence or reveal some unpleasant data are ignored, researcher Howard Herzog revealed in the August issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science. Professor Herzog, from Western Carolina University Psychology Department, says that prior studies on the impact pets might have on longevity and health have produced a mishmash of conflicting results…

Read entire article here

August 8, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , | Leave a comment

New global health delivery curricula

From the 28 July 2011 Eureka news alert

 

Dr. Paul Farmer, Dr. Jim Kim and professor Michael Porter

Boston, Mass. (July 28, 2011) –Today, the Global Health Delivery Project and Harvard Business Publishing released 21 teaching case studies examining the principles of health care delivery in resource-poor settings. The multidisciplinary body of work spans 13 countries and addresses the complexity of delivering life-saving health care technologies and care. These 21 teaching case studies are available to global health educators, students and practitioners at no cost through Harvard Business Publishing. To access the case studies, visit: www.ghdonline.org/cases.

Dr. Paul Farmer, chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, said, “The publication of these cases—online, and freely accessible to the practitioners, students and educators who will benefit most from them—is an important step toward closing the know-do gap in global health. Increasingly, our feedback loop of research, teaching and service is directly strengthening the care we deliver on the ground and our ability to replicate and scale successes.”……

 

Read the article

July 29, 2011 Posted by | Professional Health Care Resources | , , , , | Leave a comment

Health Communications in Video (in Reducing STIs)

Sexually transmitted disease

From a Posting in Youth Health 2.o “Health Communications in Video” by Kishan on July 17, 2011

The purpose of using videos in reducing the rates of STIs, for example, is to increase “knowledge and perception of STI/HIV risk, promoting positive attitudes toward condom use” and more importantly “building self-efficacy and skills to facilitate partner treatment, safer sex, and the acquisition, negotiation and use of condoms”.

Findings from the study on the effectiveness of “Safe in the City”, show that video based interventions are simple at a “relatively low cost, likely acceptability and likelihood of healthier behaviours being adopted and sustained over time” (Warner 2008)….

Click here for the entire posting

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

Health Vs. Fitness: Why Fitness Does Not Necessarily Equate To Health

From the 5 May 2011 Medical News Today article

It is a commonly held belief that the fitter you are, the healthier you are. Is this so? Most experts agree that a certain level of fitness is required for health. However, this leads to several questions: What level of fitness qualifies as healthy? Can you be detrimentally fit? What is the equation for optimal fitness with optimal health? Assuming that the range of fitness runs from total couch potatoes to ultra-marathoners, how is one to determine an answer?

A recent study by researchers at McLean Hospital in Belmond, MA, analyzed the blood of marathoners less than 24 after the race finish and found abnormally high levels of inflammatory and clotting factors similar to the ones known to appear in heart attack victims. Dr. Arthur Siegel, director of Internal Medicine, and the study director said, “My concern is for people who exercise thinking ‘more is better’ and that marathon running will provide ultimate protection against heart disease. In fact, it can set off a cascade of events that may transiently increase the risk for acute cardiac events.” …

…..”Fitness does not necessarily equate to health. Optimal health is a combination of many things-both mental and physical. When mental or emotional stress levels are high, intense physical training may actually add to the body’s stress load, ” say Dian Griesel, Ph.D. and Tom Griesel, authors of TurboCharged: Accelerate Your Fat Burning Metabolism, Get Lean Fast and Leave Diet and Exercise Rules in the Dust (BSH, 2011)….

….Walking may be the ideal exercise. “Walking interspersed with short 30-60 second bursts of running is exactly what we were designed to do and has a most beneficial effect on our heart and circulatory system. Anyone can do it. No special equipment or gym memberships are required,” recommends Dian Griesel, Ph.D. who wears a pedometer at all times to track her mileage.

The Griesel’s remind us that repetitious, monotonous, stressful activities are not requirements for fitness. Rather, they conclude “The search for fitness does not have to take over our lives to be effective. Mowing a lawn, housecleaning or a good game of tag or Frisbee with a group of others count as healthful ways to improve fitness. Maybe we all need to find ways to simply get active, instead of stressing ourselves with trying to run marathons.”

May 6, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , | Leave a comment

Infections in ICUs Plummeting, Too Many Remain in Hospitals and Dialysis Clinics

Infections in ICUs Plummeting, Too Many Remain in Hospitals and Dialysis Clinics

http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2011/p0301_vitalsigns.html

ICUs show that preventing infections is possible; other health care settings must adopt prevention practices

From the press release

The number of bloodstream infections in intensive care unit patients with central lines decreased by 58 percent in 2009 compared to 2001, according to a new CDC Vital Signs report. During these nine years, the decrease represented up to 27,000 lives saved and $1.8 billion in excess health care costs. Bloodstream infections in patients with central lines can be deadly, killing as many as 1 in 4 patients who gets one….

“Preventing bloodstream infections is not only possible, it should be expected. Meticulous insertion and care of the central line by all members of the clinical care team including doctors, nurses and others at the bedside is essential. The next step is to apply what we’ve learned from this to other health care settings and other health care-associated conditions, so that all patients are protected,” said Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., CDC director.

In addition to the ICU findings, the report found that about 60,000 bloodstream infections in patients with central lines occurred in non-ICU health care settings such as hospital wards and kidney dialysis clinics. About 23,000 of these occurred in non-ICU patients (2009) and about 37,000 infections occurred in dialysis clinics patients (2008).

“This reduction is the result of hospital, local, state and national medical and public health efforts focused on tracking infection rates and then using that information to tailor and evaluate prevention programs,” said Denise Cardo, M.D., director of CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion. “The report findings point to a clear need for action beyond ICUs. Fortunately, we have a prevention model focused on full collaboration that can be applied broadly to maximize prevention efforts.”

Infections are one of the leading causes of hospitalization and death for hemodialysis patients. At any given time, about 350,000 people are receiving hemodialysis treatment for kidney failure. Seven in 10 patients who receive dialysis begin that treatment through a central line….

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

HHS issues new strategic framework on multiple chronic conditions

From the December 14 2010 US Health and Human Services news release

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today issued its new Strategic Framework on Multiple Chronic Conditions― an innovative private-public sector collaboration to coordinate responses to a growing challenge.

More than a quarter of all Americans ― and two out of three older Americans ― have multiple chronic conditions, and treatment for these individuals accounts for 66 percent of the country’s health care budget. These numbers are expected to rise as the number of older Americans increases.

The health care system is largely designed to treat one disease or condition at a time, but many Americans have more than one ― and often several ― chronic conditions. For example, just 9.3 percent of adults with diabetes have only diabetes, according to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). And as the number of chronic conditions one has increases, so, too, do the risks of complications, including adverse drug events, unnecessary hospitalizations and confusion caused by conflicting medical advice.

The new strategic framework ― coordinated by HHS and involving input from agencies within the department and multiple private sector stakeholders ― expects to reduce the risks of complications and improve the overall health status of individuals with multiple chronic conditions by  fostering change within the system; providing more information and better tools to help health professionals  ― as well as patients ― learn how to better coordinate and manage care; and by facilitating research to improve oversight and care.

“Individuals with multiple chronic conditions deserve a system that works for them,” said Assistant Secretary for Health Howard K. Koh, MD, MPH. “This new framework provides an important roadmap to help us improve the health status of every American with chronic health conditions.”

The management of multiple chronic conditions has major cost implications for both the country and individuals. Increased spending on chronic diseases is a key factor driving the overall growth in spending in the Medicare program. And individuals with multiple chronic conditions also face increased out-of-pocket costs for their care, including higher costs for prescriptions and support services.

“Given the number of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions, focusing on the integration and coordination of care for this population is critical to achieve better care and health for beneficiaries, and lower costs through greater efficiency and quality,” said Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Donald Berwick, MD.

The Affordable Care Act, with its emphasis on prevention, provides HHS with exciting new opportunities to keep chronic conditions from occurring in the first place and to improve the quality of life for patients who have them.

“We need to learn rapidly how to provide high quality, safe care to individuals with multiple chronic conditions.  AHRQ’s investments assess alternative strategies for prevention and management of chronic illness, including behavioral conditions, in persons with varying combinations of chronic illnesses,” said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, MD.

HHS has taken action in recent months to improve the health of individuals with multiple chronic conditions. Some examples include:

AoA and CMS jointly announced $67 million in grants to support outreach activities that encourage prevention and wellness, options counseling and assistance programs, and care transition programs to improve health outcomes in older Americans.

  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)

AHRQ awarded more than $18 million dollars (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) in two categories of grant awards to understand how to optimize care of patients with multiple chronic conditions.

  • Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE)

As part of an existing $40 million ASPE contract, the National Quality Forum is undertaking a project to develop and endorse a performance measurement framework for patients with multiple chronic conditions.

CDC is supporting a new project ― Living Well with Chronic Disease: Public Health Action to Reduce Disability and Improve Functioning and Quality of Life ― in which the Institute of Medicine will convene a committee of independent experts to examine the burden of multiple chronic conditions and the implications for population-based public health action.

CMS has provided recent guidance to State Medicaid directors on a new optional benefit available Jan. 1, 2011, through the Affordable Care Act, to provide health homes for enrollees with at least two chronic conditions, or for those with one chronic condition who are at risk for another.

  • Food and Drug Administration/ Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (FDA/ASPE)

FDA and ASPE launched a study to examine the extent to which individuals with multiple chronic conditions are being included or excluded from clinical trials for new therapeutic products.

  • Indian Health Service (IHS)


IHS has expanded its Improving Patient Care Program to nearly 100 sites across the tribal and urban Indian health system to assist in improving the quality of health care for patients with MCC.

NIH has committed $42.8 million for a study to determine whether efforts to attain a lower blood pressure range in an older adult population will reduce other chronic conditions.

SAMHSA awarded $34 million in new funding to support the Primary and Behavioral Health Care Integration Program, which seeks to promote the integration of care with people with co-occurring conditions.

For more information about the new HHS Strategy on Multiple Chronic Conditions, go to:http://www.hhs.gov/ash/initiatives/mcc/

 

 

December 21, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items, Medical and Health Research News, Professional Health Care Resources | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Free Databases from the US Government

The Pollak Library California State University Fullerton has published a list of Free Databases from the US Government.
This item came via the Yahoo group NetGold, and was published by the owner Librarian David P. Dillard
Here are the the links to free Health and Medicine resources.

[Flahiff's note: MedlinePlus is a great starting point for consumer level health/medical information. It goes beyond news to give great starting points for information on diseases and conditions. It includes videos (as surgeries), links to directories (as hospital and physician directories), options for email alerts, Twitter, and much more.

Drugs @ FDA is a great source, however, the NLM Drug Information Portal is a more comprehensive resource. This portal includes both consumer level and professional level drug information resources, including Drugs@FDA, MedlinePlus resources, and references from scientific journals as well as toxicology resources.

PubMed is the largest indexer of health/medical articles written by scientists, physicians,and other health care related professionals. Not all of the articles are available for free online. Please click here for suggestions on how to get individual health/medical articles for free or low cost.]

  • PLoS: Public Library of Science
    Full text. PLoS publishes peer-reviewed, open access scientific and medical journals that include original research as well as timely feature articles. All PLoS articles are immediately freely accessible online, are deposited in the free public archive PubMed Central, and can be redistributed and reused according to the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.
  • Cancer Literature in PubMed
    Search the Cancer subset in PubMed.
  • Drugs@FDA
    Search by drug name, active ingredient, application number, and more.
  • PillBox Beta

    Aids  in the identification of unknown solid dosage pharmaceuticals using images to identify pills (color, shape, etc) as well as a separate advanced search (imprint, drug manufacture, ingredients, etc)

  • Household Products Database
    Health and safety information on householdproducts.
  • MedlinePlus
    Health news on 800 topics on conditions, diseases, and wellness.
  • National Academies Press
    Full text books on behavioral and social sciences, biology, computers, earth sciences, education, energy, engineering, environmental issues, food and nutrition, health and medicine, industry and labor, math, chemistry, physics, space and aeronautics, transportation, and more.
  • National Library of Medicine: Databases
    Linds to databases and electronic resources from the NIH.
  • NLM Gateway
    From NIH. Accesses Medline, PubMed, Toxline, DART, ClinicalTrials.gov, and other government databases.
  • NLM/NIH Resources
    Links to NLM, NIH and other federal government resources.
  • Nutrient Data Laboratory Database
    The Nutrient Data Laboratory (NDL) has the responsibility to develop USDA’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference,  the foundation of most food and nutrition databases in the US, used in food policy, research and nutrition monitoring.
  • Nutrient Data Laboratory [USDA]
    Search by keywords to retrieve nutrient data.
  • PubMed
    More than 19 million citations to biomedical articles from MedLine and life science journals. Some links to full text.
  • PubMed Central
    Full text  articles from PubMed, the free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literataure.

December 21, 2010 Posted by | Biomedical Research Resources, Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Finding Aids/Directories, Health Education (General Public), Health Statistics, Librarian Resources, Professional Health Care Resources | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nursing homes are seeking to end the stupor

[Editor Flahiff's note: I remember visiting my great aunt in a nursing home in the early 70's (I was in my late teens) I found the stupor among the residents very sad...this story was very refreshing to read...

My husband can attest to the importance of personal attention...he is retired and goes to senior centers daily for lunch and the "pool halls". He makes it a point to visit with those sitting alone at lunch...and has brought a number of folks out their shells during the past few years]

Instead of treating behavioral problems with antipsychotic drugs, the Ecumen chain of 15 homes is using strategies including aromatherapy, massage, music, games, exercise and good talk. The state is helping out.

From the December 4th Star Tribune article by Warren Wolfe (via a NetGold Posting by David P Dillard )

The aged woman had stopped biting aides and hitting other residents. That was the good news.

But in the North Shore nursing home‘s efforts to achieve peace, she and many other residents were drugged into a stupor — sleepy, lethargic, with little interest in food, activities and other people.

“You see that in just about any nursing home,” said Eva Lanigan, a nurse and resident care coordinator at Sunrise Home in Two Harbors, Minn. “But what kind of quality of life is that?”

Working with a psychiatrist and a pharmacist, Lanigan started a project last year to find other ways to ease the yelling, moaning, crying, spitting, biting and other disruptive behavior that sometimes accompany dementia.

They wanted to replace drugs with aromatherapy, massage, games, exercise, personal attention, better pain control and other techniques. The entire staff was trained and encouraged to interact with residents with dementia.

Within six months, they eliminated antipsychotic drugs and cut the use of antidepressants by half. The result, Lanigan said: “The chaos level is down, but the noise is up — the noise of people laughing, talking, much more engaged with life. It’s amazing.”…

….Medicare spends more than $5 billion a year on those [antipsychotic] drugs for its beneficiaries, including about 30 percent of nursing home residents. Several studies have concluded that more than half are prescribed inappropriately. The drugs are especially hazardous to older people, raising the risk of strokes, pneumonia, confusion, falls, diabetes and hospitalization….

….

Instead of looking for causes of disruptive behavior among dementia patients, doctors typically prescribe drugs to mask the symptoms, he said, because “It’s the easy thing to do. … That’s true in hospitals, in clinics and in nursing homes.”

Federal regulators are cracking down on homes that don’t routinely reassess residents on psychotropic drugs. But use remains widespread….

December 6, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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