Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Using Your Smartphone to Lose Weight (and other interesting things you can do with a smartphone)

Texting on a keyboard phone

Image via Wikipedia

From the May 5, 2011  Cornflower blog item (The Blog of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine Greater Midwest Region)

Today in Chicago, it is currently 48 degrees at 10:00 am.  Not exactly beach weather.  However, it will be soon time to take off those winter jackets and replace it with t-shirts and suntan lotion.  So, did you know you can use your smartphone to help you lose weight? (Not saying you need it! You look marvelous!) Duke University researchers are using Android smartphones and wireless weight scales for a weight loss study.  It’s not just that you connect with a scale wirelessly and it adds your weight to a chart on your phone; the app on your smartphone will keep track of your weight and depending how it is trending, send you messages.  Hopefully they aren’t messages like “lay off the cookies, Max!” Because I love cookies too much.  Anyway.  This article came out a few days ago and you may find it interesting: http://www.imedicalapps.com/2011/04/duke-researchers-android-phones-bluetooth-weight-scale/.

Sort of on the same wavelength about getting messages from your phone – there are a growing number of services that will communicate with you to remind you of appointments, to take medicines, or in the case above, maybe even give encouragement.  Some examples:

There is a Health Literacy Out Loud Podcast on this topic: http://www.healthliteracyoutloud.com/2011/04/26/health-literacy-out-loud-57-texting-important-health-messages/

Other developments:

  • In Denver, Co, the hospital group Denver Health has teamed up with Microsoft and EMC on a project to send patients text message reminders about upcoming appointments in a diabetes program that aimed to help patients better self manage their condition.  They ask patients to text in their daily glucose readings.  They hope that this will improve condition management, reduce admission rates and reduce costs.  Read more about this project.
  • Getting teens and tweens to be more complaint with eczema treatments with texting: http://www.skincarephysicians.com/eczemanet/texting.html

For more clinical research see the following:

There’s more where these came from in PubMed.

What is your organization doing with mobile technologies? Does your hospital have ER wait times available via a mobile device? What about appointment reminders?

P.S. Don’t forget about the NLM “Show Off Your Apps” Contest! http://challenge.gov/NIH/132-nlm-show-off-your-apps-innovative-uses-of-nlm-information

P.P.S. (or is it P.S.S.?) Don’t forget about all of the mobile sites and apps available already from the NLM: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/mobile/

May 4, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Librarian Resources, Public Health | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Paid Caregivers Struggle to Follow Doctor’s Orders

Struggling to follow doctor’s orders
Paid caregivers may lack the skills to take on health-related tasks in senior’s homes

From a February 22, 2011 Eureka news alert

CHICAGO — Paid caregivers make it possible for seniors to remain living in their homes. The problem, according to a new Northwestern Medicine study, is that more than one-third of caregivers had difficulty reading and understanding health-related information and directions. Sixty percent made errors when sorting medications into pillboxes.

The study will be published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. It has been published online.***

In a first-of-its-kind study, nearly 100 paid, non-family caregivers were recruited in the Chicago area and their health literacy levels and the health-related responsibilities were assessed, said Lee Lindquist, M.D., assistant professor of geriatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

“We found that nearly 86 percent of the caregivers perform health-related tasks,” said Lindquist, lead author of the study. “Most of the caregivers are women, about 50 years old. Many are foreign born or have a limited education. The jobs typically pay just under $9.00 per hour, but nearly one-third of the caregivers earn less than minimum wage.”

Lindquist found that despite pay, country of birth or education level, 60 percent of all the caregivers made errors when doling medication into a pillbox. This is an alarming statistic, because patients who don’t take certain medications as prescribed could end up in the hospital, Lindquist said.

“Many of these caregivers are good people who don’t want to disappoint and don’t want to lose their jobs,” Lindquist said. “So they take on health-related responsibilities, such as giving out medications and accompanying clients to the doctor for appointments. Most physicians and family members do not realize that while the caregiver is nodding and saying ‘yes’, she might not really understand what is being said.”

Right now there isn’t a standard test family members or employment agencies can use to gauge a caregiver’s ability to understand and follow health-related information, Lindquist said.

“Currently we are developing tests consumers can use to evaluate caregiver skills as well as studying the screening processes caregiver agencies use,” Lindquist said. “But, if you really want to know if the caregiver is doing a good job and is taking care of the health needs of your senior, start by going into the home, observing them doing the tasks, and asking more questions.”

###

The title of the study is “Inadequate Health Literacy Among Paid Caregivers of Seniors.”***

For suggestions on how to get this article for free or at low cost click here.

 

 

February 23, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

U of M Widget Translates Medical Terms

From an October 1, 2010 Cornflower news item

The Plain Language Medical Dictionary Widget is a project of the University of Michigan Taubman Health Sciences Library (THL) as part of the Michigan Health Literacy Awareness Training Program (http://guides.lib.umich.edu/healthliteracy).

A team at THL developed this Plain Language Medical Dictionary Widget that can be embedded on websites and blogs. This tool uses plain language definitions to common medical terms from a little-known PDF that was created by the US government but never widely utilized. The original source for these definitions can be found in the Plain Language Thesaurus for Health Communications, Draft 3, October 2007. National Center for Health Marketing, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services, United States of America. #07-151(NE)/092607.

This dictionary widget makes plain language translations more available, accessible, and discoverable in support of health literacy initiatives and outreach. To browse dictionary terms, click on the drop down menu to select from a list of high-level medical terms. Once a word or phrase is selected, the plain language translation will appear in the box. Please visit (http://bit.ly/apl5wc) to learn more about the tool and to get the code to add it to your own page.

October 6, 2010 Posted by | Health Education (General Public) | , | Leave a comment

Health Care Reform: Will It Empower or Perplex Consumers?

Choosing health plans, managing chronic conditions requires basic health literacy
(Part one of three-part series)

A large part of the recent health care reform package centers on uninsured adults making complex choices through state insurance packages. This is requiring people to have a high level of health literacy to obtain, understand, and process information so that they can make informed choices that are safe, cost-effective, and high quality.

Health organizations and insurers are being encouraged to communicate their information through plain language, graphics, and graphs. Non traditional methods being tested include the use of text messages and iphones.

September 9, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: