CVS Caremark discusses role of HIT
Concerning the effort to shift the nation’s healthcare system away from paper records and handwritten prescriptions toward a fully coordinated system linked through health information technology, CVS Caremark apparently gets it. The company’s leaders have shown a firm grasp of the potential for reaching patients — and keeping them involved in their own health and wellness regimen — through Internet-based tools like Google.
The U.S. healthcare system has evolved over more than two centuries from largely agrarian and small-town roots, where doctors made house calls and “chemists” compounded medicines and plasters for individual patients. Today, it’s a massive, complex patchwork of thousands of physician practices, hospitals, testing labs, clinics and pharmacies, most of which don’t talk to each other.
The result is a sprawling network of silos, most of them linked only indirectly with one another. Each may have a partial understanding of the patient’s condition, prescription drug intake, ancillary conditions, diet or lifestyle habits, but it’s rare for any single point of contact along that health care chain to have that patient in complete, real-time focus.
It’s like the old saw about a group of sightless men trying to describe what an elephant looks like by touch – one describes only the trunk, another only the flank, a third perhaps an ear. The picture that emerges of any patient within this uncoordinated health network is distorted and incomplete.
The strategists at CVS Caremark know that has to change. The company’s partnership with Google was a groundbreaking advance in health IT and integrated care, and its use of the web to survey employers and patients themselves is innovative and cutting-edge. No doubt, the company’s pharmacy and technology gurus will continue to come up with new ways to exploit the power of electronic recordkeeping and connectivity.
Study finds that high protein, fat diet can lead to health problems
ST. LOUIS A new study in the April issue of Cell Metabolism, a Cell Press publication, shows that in some cases, diets that are high in both fat and protein can lead to health problems.
The researchers, led by Christopher Newgard of Duke Medical Center, reported that rats fed high-fat diets supplemented with extra branched chain amino acids don’t have to eat as much or gain as much weight to develop insulin resistance, as do chubbier animals fed a high-fat diet alone. Moreover, those ill effects of branched chain amino acids, which include 3 of the 20 amino acids that are the building blocks of proteins, occurred only in the context of a high-fat diet.
“We’ve all made a big deal out of the fact that people in the United States eat too much fat and sugar, but we’ve underestimated the protein component,” Newgard said.
Surveys have shown that most people who overeat don’t show any particular prejudice toward one food group or another.
By comparing the metabolic profiles of obese versus lean people in the new study, the researchers found that key among the many differences between the two groups were elevated levels of BCAA in those who were overweight. They also showed that BCAA tend to climb along with insulin resistance, a condition that is a precursor to diabetes.
Sensei announces launch of mobile diabetes guide
BOCA RATON, Fl. Sensei on Wednesday announced the launch of its My Diabetes Guide mobile phone application, a program that takes patients step-by-step through the keys to healthy living with diabetes.
“My Diabetes Guide goes beyond blood glucose tracking and nutritional information research,” stated Robert Schwarzberg, Sensei CEO. “It is a comprehensive tool that takes patients, and those involved in their care, one screen at a time through all fundamentals of diabetes management. Physicians, dietitians and diabetes educators from Joslin reviewed the diabetes content, and our tech experts built an application that gives users the best chance to succeed in the evolving person-centric healthcare system.”
All content is downloaded directly to the mobile phone — the iPod touch and iPhone application is now available for download at the App Store in iTunes for just 99 cents. My Diabetes Guide will soon be available on other mobile phones as well, the company reported.
The application was designed by Sensei, a wholly owned subsidiary of Humana, in collaboration with the Joslin Diabetes Center, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School.
“We at Joslin are exploring every avenue to improve the self-management capabilities of people with diabetes,” stated Martin Abrahamson, medical director of Joslin. “With the proliferation of mobile phones in America, we believe this is an important avenue to reach people with diabetes.”