HEALTH

Continua Health Alliance advocates eCare use at House subcommittee meeting

BY Michael Johnsen

BEAVERTON, Ore. The Continua Health Alliance last week testified before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health regarding the use of personal connected healthcare technologies to increase veteran access to quality health care.

Rick Cnossen, Continua president and chairman, advocated the use of eCare — a class of health information technologies that can facilitate any kind of virtual visit or electronic connectivity outside of traditional office visits — and personal connected healthcare devices that can provide lower-cost access to quality care.

“We are excited about Continua’s efforts to remove geographical barriers and provide efficient and affordable access to health care for veterans,” Cnossen said. “Personal connected health care offers many beneficial clinical capabilities, such as the ability to track vital signs and other important health data that can be shared with healthcare providers through secure systems on a regular basis, ultimately increasing the likelihood of catching health changes early and preventing illness. These are not currently available to the majority of rural-area veterans.”

Continua has made progress in the development of interoperable healthcare devices and services, but there still are barriers to integrating eCare into care plans, Cnossen noted. To ensure veterans and clinicians will receive full access to optimum health care, Continua recommended the House Committee on Veterans Affairs establish a federal organization focused on eCare, develop eCare payment reform, create blueprints for the use of eCare in states and communities, incorporate eCare as part of “meaningful use,” and make home broadband adoption for all Americans a top priority following recommendations in the FCC’s National Broadband Plan. If they are implemented, the Alliance’s recommendations will help guide the transition and adoption of eCare, making it available to U.S. veterans.

Continua Health Alliance is working to implement a system of care that enables personal connected health with an in-home or mobile broadband device that assists providers in tracking and trending healthcare data. The alliance seeks to help the nation harness the benefits of this technology to allow healthcare consumers and providers to use real-world, remotely collected data to make more informed healthcare decisions on a continual basis. This model helps empower individuals in their care, and allows caregivers to intervene as needed for more effective and efficient care.

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Survey participants have gut health misconceptions

BY Michael Johnsen

CINCINNATI A recent GfK Roper "Gut Check" survey, sponsored by the Align brand, revealed that approximately 1-in-4 survey participants experience occasional digestive upsets, and of those, 1-in-5 have been told that these disruptive upsets are caused by their attitude or emotions, Procter & Gamble announced Wednesday.

"I see the frustration occasional digestive upsets cause my patients," stated Roshini Rajapaksa, a gastroenterologist at NYU Langone Medical Center. "The first step to building a stronger inside is to better understand how your digestive system works and what you can do to keep it healthy,” she said. "To help improve both their health and lifestyle, I teach my patients that it comes down to simple science — it is important to have the right balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. When we replenish the good bacteria with probiotics it helps maintain a healthy digestive system."

 

Although probiotics, or good bacteria that provide a health benefit, have been in use for more than 100 years, the survey also found that people still have misconceptions about their gut health:

  • 43% of those surveyed believed that most types of bacteria are not helpful for the GI tract;
  • More than 40% believed that all probiotics essentially have the same benefits and are not strain specific; and
  • A large majority (77%) thought that probiotics found in supplements are not as natural as those found in foods.

 

 

The "Gut Check" survey findings also showed that digestive upsets can interrupt daily life. Of those who experienced occasional digestive upsets, more than half felt their upsets impacted their self confidence. Eight-in-10 tried to go about their day normally, but most still made adjustments to their activities. Nearly half missed an event or trip or avoided a social situation because of an occasional digestive upset, and more than one-third of survey respondents changed their diet to deal with their digestive upsets.

 

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Adult obesity rates rise in 28 states, report finds

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON Adult obesity rates increased in 28 states in the past year, and declined only in the District of Columbia, according to "F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2010," a report from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released Tuesday.

More than two-thirds of states (38) have adult obesity rates above 25%. In 1991, no state had an obesity rate above 20%.

Adult obesity rates for African-Americans and Hispanics were higher than for whites in at least 40 states and the District of Columbia; 10-out-of-the-11 states with the highest rates of obesity were in the South, with Mississippi weighing in with the highest rates for all adults (33.8%) for the sixth year in a row; 35.3% of adults earning less than $15,000 per year were obese, compared with 24.5% of adults earning $50,000 or more per year.

"Obesity is one of the biggest public health challenges the country has ever faced, and troubling disparities exist based on race, ethnicity, region and income," stated Jeffrey Levi, executive director of TFAH. "This report shows that the country has taken bold steps to address the obesity crisis in recent years, but the nation’s response has yet to fully match the magnitude of the problem. Millions of Americans still face barriers — like the high cost of healthy foods and lack of access to safe places to be physically active — that make healthy choices challenging."

The report also included obesity rates among youths between the ages of 10 and 17 years and the results of a new poll on childhood obesity conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and American Viewpoint. The poll showed that 80% of Americans recognize that childhood obesity is a significant and growing challenge for the country, and 50% of Americans believe childhood obesity is such an important issue that we need to immediately invest more to prevent it. The survey also found that 84% of parents believe their children are at a healthy weight, but research showed nearly one-third of children and teens are obese or overweight.

 

Additional key findings included:

  • Adult obesity rates for African-Americans topped 40% in nine states, 35% in 34 states, and 30% in 43 states and D.C.;
  • Rates of adult obesity for Latinos were above 35% in two states (North Dakota and Tennessee), and at 30% and above in 19 states;
  • Ten-of-the-11 states with the highest rates of diabetes are in the South, as are the 10 states with the highest rates of hypertension;
  • The number of states where adult obesity rates exceeded 30% doubled in the past year, from four to eight — Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia; and
  • Northeastern and western states had the lowest adult obesity rates — Colorado remained the lowest at 19.1%.

 

 

The full report with state rankings in all categories is available on TFAH’s website at HealthyAmericans.org and RWJF’s website at RWJF.org. The report was supported by a grant from RWJF.

 

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