Archive for the ‘ High Tech ’ Category

Medication safely online

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I recently learned about a great way to safely purchase medications online & now share with you the NABP information that was conveyed to me.

A new domain, .pharmacy, is now available and awarded ONLY to a website that has been carefully reviewed, is “legitimate and operating legally and meets standards set by a global coalition that includes International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) and NABP, which has supported the United States boards of pharmacy in their goal of protecting the public health since 1904.” .

From now on, “the .pharmacy domain [can be seen] as a secure and trustworthy destination where consumers around the globe can be sure they are buying medications from legitimately operating online pharmacies.”

As a family caregiver, you know how important medications are to those in your care and the ease of shopping for them online; however, it’s important to know that not all online pharmacies are legitimate. I would like to let you know that the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) is spearheading an initiative to identify credible online pharmacies: a new website domain, .pharmacy.  To further help you spot questionable websites, below are tips for recognizing a fake online pharmacy, as well as the dangers associated with medications purchased from rogue sites.

Not all websites that sell medications are created equal. Some operate illegally and may sell counterfeit or falsified drugs and devices, putting your safety, health, and personal information at risk. Some websites even sell fake medicines that contain rat poison, glue, chalk, and other toxic fillers! Other websites do not secure your payment and personal information, leaving you vulnerable to identity theft. Can you believe that some sites even take your money without providing any product, or automatically enroll you in pricey refill scams?

 

Spotting illegitimate online pharmacies

Websites with any of the below characteristics might be selling prescription drugs that are counterfeit, contaminated, or otherwise unsafe.

  • No prescription required
  • Prescription based solely upon online questionnaire
  • No phone number or street address
  • No pharmacist consultation
  • Limited medicines
  • Spam solicitations

 

Do not fall victim. Without a doctor’s prescription or a pharmacist to answer your questions, you also increase your risk of misdiagnosing an illness or experiencing serious adverse reactions with your other medications. To help consumers see through the rogue sites, NABP continually reviews websites selling prescription drugs to determine if they are safe. Of the over 10,800 Internet sites reviewed, NABP has found that nearly 97% of the sites fall in the Not Recommended category because they appear to be operating in conflict with U.S. pharmacy laws and patient safety standards.

The good news is that with the launch of the .pharmacy domain, you can feel confident that you are receiving safe medications when you are purchasing from a website ending in “.pharmacy”.

 

Family Caregivers can help each other stay safe!

  • If you attend support groups, please share this important information with your fellow family caregivers.  Tell your friends and family as well.
  • If you have a blog, please share information about the launch of .pharmacy domains with your readers.  Passing along good tips and resources helps caregivers and carees to make this journey a little smoother.
  • Feel free to share this information with Twitter & Facebook friends: “Safely buy prescription drugs online at .pharmacy website domains http://bit.ly/1BFegTw

 

To find out more about buying safely online, please visit: safe.pharmacy.

We are in this together!  Let’s help each other keep our loved ones and ourselves safe!

 

 

Technology is here to stay, so all of us may as well use it to help us do whatever we do every day.  The boomer population is no exception.  The ladies who have lived past saddle shoes, poodle skirts, go-go boots & disco dresses will enjoy the article below.

Shayne Fitz-Coy, Co-CEO and President of Alert-1, a medical alert system that helps seniors remain safely at home, compiled a list of iPad apps that can put the world at all Golden Girls’ fingertips.  Thank you, Shayne, for contributing this article!

 

 

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The Oscars of Golden Girl iPad Apps — 11 Winners

The iPad means that an older woman with an internet connection has access to almost anything she wants. The Academy Awards may be over, but that did not stop us from handing out awards for the best iPad apps for the tech-wired lady.

The Marilyn vos Savant Award for Most Likely to Make You a Mensa Member — Lumosity ($14.99/month)

Your brain is a big beautiful muscle. Lumosity offers games that will challenge and develop your memory, cognition and attention. Businesswoman and philanthropist Teresa Heinz Kerry credits the app with helping her brain to recover after seizures last summer. Who knows? With a little dedicated use, you might even get your own column in Parade magazine!

The Barbara Ehrenreich Award for Best Management of Financials — Pageonce (Free)

Don’t end up like Marie Antoinette! Use your brains to organize your bills. Pageonce helps you view and manage your account information and schedule bill payment. This app is Verisign and TrustE approved, so you know you’re safe.

The Martha Stewart Award for Best Home Decoration App — Houzz (Free)

Houzz allows you access to a slew of resources that will make the Home Decorating Queen herself turn green with envy. Inside are dozens of drool-worthy design ideas, each completely customizable to your household. High resolution photos highlight specific aesthetics that you will desire in your own projects. Plus, a community of architects, decorators and the Houzz team stand available at your disposal.

The Maya Angelou Award for Thought and Knowledge — Ted Talks (Free)

Facebook COO Sheryl Sanberg’s lecture “Why we have too few women leaders” is just the tip of the inspirational and empowering iceberg. You can browse thousands of TED talks viewable with the TED Talks app. TED gives you access to loads of lectures from contemporary innovators, scientists and thinkers. Themes such as “inspirational” or “courageous” categorize the mood you are looking for. Prepare to laugh, learn, and cry.

The Virginia Apgar Award for Ounce of Prevention — WebMD (Free)

As the old saying goes “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” WebMD helps you pinpoint and specify what may or may not be occurring. Just input your symptoms and WebMD will run a query for possible ailments. WebMD also has a prescription medication identification tool. Take an active role in your health by informing yourself before stepping into the doctor’s office.

The Helen Mirren Award for Flawless Entertainment — Netflix ($7.99/month)

Don’t have anything to watch with that bowl of popcorn? Netflix began with movies but now also has a wide array of television programs, including award winning original series. Take part in the cultural phenomenon with your handy tablet and learn the meaning of “binge watching.”

The Rachael Ray Award for Queen of the Kitchen — Epicurious (Free)

With Epicurious, you can access a trove of recipes and search for new ways to make your old favorites. Filter the recipes based on skill level and bookmark the best ones for future reference. The app makes one stop shopping easy. A grocery list feature lets you access desired ingredients while on the go at your local supermarket.

The Cinderella Award for Best Chore Reminder — HomeRoutines (Free)

Earn your insignia in good housekeeping with HomeRoutines. This app creates checklists for your chores. Daily or monthly reminders will keep you on top of your must-dos. The tasks reset once they’re checked off. You won’t need a fairy godmother’s help when you’ve got HomeRoutines on your side.

The Aung San Suu Kyi Award for Best Nonprofit App — iKiva (Free)

Channel your inner Melinda Gates. Donate your resources to make would-be business people’s dreams come true. Kiva is a micro-lending nonprofit organization that helps you support entrepreneurs in the developing world. With iKiva, you can dictate your repayment terms, search for lenders and keep track of your account. A little from you here can go a long way over there.

The Diane Sawyer Award for Remembering Everything — Evernote (Free)

Do you have a to-do list that rivals Oprah’s? Are you concerned with balancing Carrie Bradshaw’s social calendar? Evernote is a personal organization tool for the woman who never wants to forget anything. Take notes, make voice recordings, capture images, and create to-do lists. Access your information from any technological platform, including PC, Mac, or iPhone.

The Michelle Obama award for multi-tasking — Dragon Dictation (Free)

If you’ve ever had a fleeting thought that could get as lost as Alice in Wonderland at any given moment, use Dragon Dictation. Record your musings, letters, thoughts, and ideas with this personal secretary. Just speak out loud and the application will capture your words faster than your speedy fingers can type them. Pool your notes together and send reminders to yourself.

Everyone knows that older women have the whole world in their hands. With these award winning iPad apps, her hands just got a little more powerful.

 

About the author

Shayne Fitz-Coy is the Co-CEO and President of Alert-1, an aging-in-place technology company headquartered in Williamsport, Pennsylvania with offices nationwide. Shayne has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Harvard College and a Masters in Business Administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Shayne hails from Maryland, and now calls the Bay Area home.

The ways in which healthcare is carried out or delivered is changing as technology evolves.  The world has grown closer and more accessible as devices are invented and used to connect patients with medical professionals near and far.

Logan Harper, Community Manager for Masters of Public Health program from The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, discusses one such technological advance, telemedicine, in his article below.

Thank you, Logan, for sharing this article!

 

 

Telemedicine and Its Implications

 

As the world has become more mobile, so too has the world of medicine. Through telehealth, also called telemedicine, medical professionals utilize telecommunications and technology to treat or advise patients from long distances. Telehealth can also be used for public health education. In addition to reducing the skyrocketing costs of health care, this novel approach makes doctors more accessible to people. Though telehealth includes a wide variety of technology, it mainly utilizes teleconferencing, streaming, imaging and the Internet. The growing popularity of telemedicine —about half of U.S. hospitals use it in some form — is a testament to its growing impact on the health care industry.

 

 

 

Changing the World of Health Care

Arguably, increased accessibility is the most drastic effect telemedicine has had on the field of health care. Not only can increasing numbers of people in remote areas or third world countries access doctors in cities, but now more people can have access to a specific specialist or to the advice of a particular expert without having to travel to where that person physically works.

 

 

For example, if a patient has an MRI or scan done, the technician can use the “store and forward” technique. This means that the image is scanned and sent to wherever the radiologist is located, whether that’s down the hall or across the world. The scan — using, for example, a portable ultrasound machine — can be done in a remote town in North Dakota and sent to a specialist in New York City.

 

 

Telemedicine is able to lower — if not completely remove — the barrier of geography from treatment and diagnosis. Perhaps more valuable, telemedicine allows for doctors to consult face-to-face with other physicians who may be half a world away. With some advanced robotics, it might even be possible to do remote surgery. Telemedicine means that the best doctor or specialist is available to more patients regardless of physical distance.

 

 

This is especially beneficial in rural areas that lack offerings in certain medical specialties. In fact, one specialty that is utilizing telemedicine is psychiatry. Due to the general lack of mental health care access, rural and senior populations often face challenges in receiving adequate care. Telemedicine is able to provide some relief via teleconferencing. Telemedicine has also been beneficial to dermatology and radiology, but has the potential to radically change all medical fields.

 

 

What Does It Mean?

Those are the dramatic examples, but on a more day-to-day level, telehealth can be quite beneficial to home caregivers and patient monitoring. The next step with telemedicine is to create technology that is capable of monitoring the status of a patient — either at home or at a facility — and sending it back to a nurse or doctor at a central location. This is beneficial for two reasons. One, it allows for round-the-clock monitoring, and if something goes wrong, immediate access to some form of medical help. Two, it has the potential to reduce the cost of care by eliminating the need for a full-time nurse in some situations. The peace of mind of constant monitoring is a huge benefit, but the information will also allow for better preventative and emergency treatment.

 

 

Telemedicine has the potential to greatly reduce the cost of health care. It is logistically less expensive with regards to travel and staffing, and it also allows for better all-around patient care, which results in shorter hospital stays and improved health.
Many patients are excited for this change in the medical world. Telemedicine may provide a less expensive, but more effective way of offering medical care. It allows for improved communication between medical teams, better communication between patients and providers and, most importantly, more options for the patient. As the technology continues to advance and progress, the possibilities for telemedicine are practically endless.

 

 

 

About the Author

Logan Harper is the community manager for MPH@GW, the online Masters of Public Health program from The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services.

 

 

The number of people who need caregiving is on the rise. So is the way that families are providing care to their loved ones, thanks to the creative minds that have applied the latest technological advances to caregiving.  That includes Satish Movva, Founder of CarePredict and creator of CarePredict Tempo.  This new device, which is scheduled to become available in Fall 2014, learns the wearer’s routine.  Any deviation from the norm prompts an alert to the caregiver.  In addition to this, Tempo also helps to identify a decline in health that could go undetected.  Forewarned is forearmed!  With Tempo, family caregivers can discuss subtle health changes with the doctor and take action if necessary.

Meg Baatz’ article below gives us a glimpse of Tempo and of how it can help family caregivers take better care of their aging loved ones.  Thank you, Meg, for contributing this post.

 

 

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How CarePredict is Revolutionizing Elder Care

by Meg Baatz

 

 

THERE ARE PLENTY of medical devices out there.

 

Historically, there have been a ton of bells and whistles designed to help keep seniors safe. But the latest tech is about more than just safety.

 

Picture the situation of your aging mother or grandmother:

 

She’s moved multiple times in her life. She has had deep relationships. But now, she finds herself alive after many of her friends and family have passed away. Her kids have kids. Sometimes she feels she isn’t needed or even wanted around anymore. The world has changed at record speeds, and few people appreciate the things she adores, the memories she carries, and the challenges she’s overcome. And now, her body’s clock is working against her. For younger people, major injury or illness tends to elicit more attention and timely response from others. But for her, when she experiences a slow, gradual health decline, her ailments may be overlooked because they are seen as “normal aging.”

 

These are the factors we must consider when we create technology for our seniors. It’s not just about preserving a body for a little longer. It’s about helping a human being to enjoy health and independence during the last stages of his or her life.

 

But how would one define the phrase “excellent care”? What would it take for us to build a product that helped a senior not just with her health, but facilitated her relationships with her family?

 

Caregivers often struggle to keep up with the demands of working, taking care of their parents, and raising family of their own — among others. That’s why CarePredict Founder Satish Movva created CarePredict Tempo. This device is a wearable health sensor worn by seniors, which tracks not only activity, but also location within the home, learning normal patterns of living of an individual, and alerting loved ones when there is a potentially concerning change in the pattern.

 

Satish Movva created his new system with his own parents in mind, both of whom are over the age of 75 and aging in their own home. As a husband and father of three children, two of whom are infants, Movva is familiar with the challenge faced by approximately 10 million Americans.

 

Not only does CarePredict alert caregivers in the case of an emergency, it also helps detect slow, gradual health decline that may otherwise go unnoticed – even by seniors experiencing such decline. That way, seniors and their caregivers can spot decline and seek proper medical attention sooner rather than later. By tracking the “tempo” of a senior’s daily and weekly routines, this device is leading the way for prevention of slow-acting health issues.

 

In the case of a problem, CarePredict will alert a caregiver via text message or email that a potential issue has arisen, and provide the details of that issue (without infringing on privacy). The caregiver is then prompted to follow up with a phone call to check in. He or she can then discuss with his or her senior about coming to visit, scheduling an appointment with the doctor, or other measures to take.

 

What would it take for someone to say, on his or her final day, “I am thankful and utterly satisfied with the last years of my life”?

 

Many of our seniors may feel depressed or discouraged so they could not say this even if they were cared for perfectly. But there is one thing we can strive to give our seniors even amidst challenges:

 

Peace.

 

How can we adapt our lives, our attitudes, our resources to help our seniors to feel at peace? What can we do to help our seniors know they have capable doctors, trusted caregivers, and a family who loves them? How can we have peace as caregivers, even during the times when we’re away?

 

That is why the work we’re doing at CarePredict is so important. We want to help you be all these things for your seniors. Regardless of a man or woman’s family situation, caregivers can come alongside and help him or her feel loved, respected, and at peace.

 

CarePredict Tempo offers peace to both seniors and to their loved ones alike. Caregivers often juggle dozens of responsibilities to their families, friends, clients, coworkers, and others — not to mention trying to keep their own lives in order. Tempo relieves remote caregivers of the unknowns that often pile anxiety on top of already stressful situations. With the Tempo system, seniors will know they have someone who’s always there for them without feeling like a burden. Caregivers can rest assured that, if a worry does arise, they will be the first to know. And when their seniors are feeling well, they can be at full peace.

 

Allow CarePredict to monitor their health 24/7 so you don’t have to. Instead, you can devote your full attention to the tasks at hand, whether playing with your kids, working with clients, taking a vacation, or paying your aging parents a visit.

 

As caregivers, we are not just interested protecting a body. It’s about being there for someone who has thoughts and feelings, who deserves to feel cared for and appreciated.

 

Our hope is that, no matter where you may be in life — you can be ­there for your senior when he or she needs you most.

 

CarePredict is expected to be brought to market in Fall 2014. Bracelet sensors are $99 apiece, and room beacons are $19 each. For seniors living together, bracelets can sync with the same set of beacons. Pre-orders are already available on their site.

 

About the author

Meg Baatz is on the marketing team for CarePredict, a company that’s revolutionizing life for seniors and their caregivers. CarePredict Tempo is a cutting-edge service that allows seniors to age independently and alerts caregivers before a serious health event occurs. Learn more at www.carepredict.com.

 

 

The human spirit never ceases to amaze me!  The essence of compassion that moves us to action is one of the driving forces that turns a person into a family caregiver.  Without giving the situation a second thought, many family caregivers volunteer to take on the multitude of responsibilities that go along with taking care of someone.  Slowly but surely, new issues arise that need to be addressed: dispensing medications appropriately, health insurance coverage for certain procedures or treatments, the cause of new symptoms, when to call the doctor, special diets, which exercises are all right for your caree to do, etc.

Just as important are ways for both caregiver and caree to see beyond the medical condition.  No matter how dire a situation may be, we must maintain a sense of dignity and compassion.  A person is much more than his or her body.  Our being needs to be nurtured as well.

How can a family caregiver show kindness in a tangible way?  And how does one continue to do so long-term?

 

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Author Elaine Wilkes gives caregivers “101 Awesome Things to Do for Someone Who’s Sick”  She graciously shared her eBook with me in an effort to help family caregivers think of ways to make their time with their loved ones more rewarding.  She provides “meaningful…proven suggestions that have helped or brightened someone’s life.”

I loved her eBook and all the creative ideas presented! From “stay[ing] in the now” to enjoy this very moment – sometimes, tomorrow is uncertain – to reminiscing with favorite songs to “adopt[ing] a Granny and Send[ing] Flowers, too,” the eBook is full of sweet and touching stories and tips to make caregiving days more pleasant.

The key is to help the care recipients feel like a person, not only like a patient.  Often, someone who will listen is all they want, a “friendly and familiar face amongst all that [hospital] sterility.”  Whenever possible, this can be achieved by bringing him or her some favorite pastimes. These could be video games for younger ones, movies or CD’s to while away the hours serenaded by some handsome crooner!  Using a laptop or other tech device, they could watch TED.com‘s thought provoking presentations or learn about a variety of topics like Humanities, Design, Business or Sports, among others, at Udemy.com.  They could also stay in touch with family and friends using Facebook, Twitter or CaringBridge.org.

The eBook offers many more great ideas to lighten up your caree’s spirit.  The magical thing about this is that your caregiving spirit soars, too!

I recommend Elaine Wilkes’ “101 Awesome Things to Do for Someone Who’s Sick” to all family caregivers and to all families.  You won’t run out of things to do for your loved ones, for sure!

 

 

About Elaine Wilkes

“Elaine has a Ph.D. in naturopathy (alternative medicine)-graduated with honors, a master’s degree in psychology and degrees in nutrition and communications. These all synergistically work together to help the body-mind-soul connection.”  Her eBook is the result of “wanting to do something to show we care, but many times we don’t know what.”

 

(Disclosure: Elaine Wilkes provided me with a copy of her eBook. The opinions expressed in this article are my own and believe that her book can help family caregivers make the most of their time with their loved ones.)

 

Teamwork is essential to successful caregiving.  Equally important is for organizations involved in all aspects of health care to join forces in their effort to support family caregivers.  The synergy achieved by sharing their resources and expertise can better provide assistance and solutions for this growing and dedicated group.

Such is the case for My Cancer Circle™, a collaboration between Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and CancerCare® in conjunction with Lotsa Helping Hands. The article below discusses how this online resource can help family caregivers who are taking care of someone with a cancer diagnosis to manage and to coordinate care more effectively.

Thank you, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., CancerCare® and Lotsa Helping Hands, for providing a useful tool for cancer caregivers.

 

 

My Cancer Circle™ – an effective way to organize and to coordinate cancer care

Overview:

If you have cared or are caring for someone with cancer, then you know the great rewards of being a cancer caregiver – you also know how overwhelming it can be. To help support caregivers and their important role, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. collaborated with CancerCare® to bring My Cancer Circle™, a free, private online community, to caregivers who support patients affected by cancer. Powered by Lotsa Helping Hands, My Cancer Circle is a simple and customizable online resource designed to help caregivers of cancer patients organize their daily activities and coordinate support from their community and family members. To learn more about My Cancer Circle or to create a circle of your own, visit www.MyCancerCircle.net.

 

1.  How can MyCancerCircle.net make life better for cancer caregivers?  What is its goal and how does it work?

  • My Cancer Circle gives caregivers the support that results from the power of community, giving them time to focus on what’s important: Caring for their loved one with cancer.
  • It is a simple and customizable online resource designed to help caregivers organize their daily activities and coordinate support from their circle of family and friends, and a practical solution to the question: What can I do to help?
  • You can visit the My Cancer Circle website for more information and an overview of how it works:www.MyCancerCircle.net.

 

2.  Many people in their 50’s+ are not very comfortable using computers for more than email or searches.  Is My Cancer Circle™ easy to use?

  • We understand people have many different levels of comfort in working with computers. That said, the service was designed to be simple to use and easy to understand.  In addition, we created a video with Lotsa Helping Hands to explain how My Cancer Circle works. You can locate it by visiting the My Cancer Circle website or by accessing this link: mycancercircle.lotsahelpinghands.com/demo. Also, anyone with questions can contact the Member Support Center at Lotsa Helping Hands to receive help and to get ideas on using the community. Simply emailsupport@lotsahelpinghands.com with questions.

 

3.  Does My Cancer Circle™ provide information and resources related to cancer and its treatments?

  • My Cancer Circle’s main focus is supporting caregivers in their role, and, therefore, does not provide specific resources related to cancer and its treatments. Since every patient is different, caregivers and patients should speak to their physician to learn more about their diagnosis and treatment options. Within the private community, we do display resources from organizations providing support to caregivers of those coping with cancer.

 

4.  Are there specific challenges that cancer caregivers face?  How does My Cancer Circle™ help cancer caregivers to address these challenges?

  • We feel addressing the needs of caregivers is an important part of addressing the needs of patients with cancer. A cancer diagnosis profoundly impacts family members and others close to the person facing cancer. Caregivers can often become overwhelmed trying to manage their day-to-day lives while providing the best care possible to their loved ones.
  • Just as every patient is different, so are their needs around their treatment management and recovery.  My Cancer Circle was designed with the need for personalized care in mind.  Features offered through My Cancer Circle include:

 

  • Help Calendar – helps caregivers organize volunteer schedules and enlist the help of friends and family who can sign up for tasks such as cooking meals, driving to medical appointments or helping with household chores.
  • Message/Photo Board – allows friends and family to post photos and words of encouragement and for primary caregivers to share updates.
  • Resources – links to the many services provided by CancerCare including counseling services, support groups, and educational workshops.

 

5.  What happens if a caregiver is helping more than one person?  Is it possible to have more than one personal website at My Cancer Circle™?  Can the caregiver coordinate tasks among different circles?

  •  A caregiver helping more than one person can create multiple communities. In fact, many members participate in more than one.  When participating in more than one My Cancer Circle community, members need to use their same email address and password so that they can easily switch between communities.

 

6.  How can people find out about My Cancer Circle™?  (How are you letting the general public know about My Cancer Circle™?)

  • We spread the word about My Cancer Circle in as many ways as we can, including posting to social media, circulating information to community newspapers, and sharing information with doctors at medical meetings so they can tell patients and their families about the resource. We work closely with CancerCare and Lotsa Helping Hands as well, as both organizations promote the My Cancer Circle service to the audiences they serve. People can find out more about My Cancer Circle by visiting the website, www.MyCancerCircle.net, or watching the “how it works” video, mycancercircle.lotsahelpinghands.com/demo.

 

7.  Can a family caregiver / member Skype or face time with others through My Cancer Circle™?

  • At this time, video capabilities are not offered through My Cancer Circle.

 

8.  What happens to the personal website when caregiving ends (as a result of death or remission)?

  • The private community website can be active for as long as it is needed. In the case of a death from cancer, many communities may choose to keep the community active to coordinate arrangements and extra help for survivors. In the case of a remission, many communities stay active so that members can stay up to date and be available for the family should a new need arise.

 

9.  Is there anything else that cancer caregivers should know about My Cancer Circle™?

  • My Cancer Circle is Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceutical Inc.’s way – along with CancerCare and Lotsa Helping Hands – of helping caregivers with their invaluable role. We are happy to announce that, since its launch in May 2012, more than 1,800 communities have been created to support a loved one facing cancer. We hope that My Cancer Circle continues to be an invaluable service for the many caregivers that do so much every day.

 

 

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CancerCare

Lotsa Helping Hands

 

One of the key ingredients to successfully managing caregiving is to get organized.  If your desk looks remotely like the one below, it is time to implement a way to keep your paperwork in order.  Not only will ridding yourself of the unsightly clutter result in a more inviting place to do your work, but you will also reduce the stress associated with not ever being able to find anything when you need it!

Austin Brandt, from RecordCollect.com, which has medical release forms to help patients obtain their own health records, provides some useful tips to get your caree’s health records in order.  Thank you, Austin!

 

 

 

 

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How to Organize your Medical Records

Here in the US there’s a movement taking root that is all about “patient engagement.” Many people have different definitions of what this means exactly, but The Society for Participatory Medicine defines this new approach in healthcare as:

“…a model of cooperative health care that seeks to achieve active involvement by patients, professionals, caregivers, and others across the continuum of care on all issues related to an individual’s health.”

For the 90,000,000 US adults who care for a sick or elderly family member1, this just describes another day in the life. When you’re responsible for a loved one’s health, you’re constantly involved with Primary-Care Physicians, home health aids, post-acute facilities, specialists, and more. According to Dr. Wayne Giles, Director of the Division of Population Health at the CDC, a typical Medicare beneficiary receives care from 2 different Primary-Care Providers, 5 different specialists, between 4 different healthcare organizations2. And that’s just the average; individuals with 5 or more chronic conditions see up to 16 different physicians during any given time. That’s a whole lot of different doctors to try and coordinate between.

So when it comes to organizing a loved one’s medical records, a basic tenant of the patient engagement movement, caregivers have their work cut out for them. Here are two different strategies you can use to organize the medical records you have:

Go old-school, use a 3-ring binder

Despite all of the press about Electronic Medical Records, most physicians still provide patient medical records strictly on paper. This makes a simple 3-ring binder a great choice for organizing your loved one’s records. There’s one basic guideline you should follow, though, to maximize the usefulness and efficiency of your binder.

Whatever you do, you must resist the urge to create a separate binder for each individual physician. This would make sense on the surface, but all you’re doing is making it more difficult for each physician to provide coordinated care. Instead, split up one single binder into sections based on different types of health information. Medical records differ between patients, but the basic sections to expect are:

  • Lab results
  • Vital signs
  • Demographics
  • Doctors notes
  • History & Physical
  • Medications
  • Medical history
  • Referrals to specialists
  • Radiological images
  • Follow up instructions

By organizing your binder into different sections based on type of health information, your loved one’s full and comprehensive health record is easily read by any one physician.

Use an electronic Personal Health Record

There are many, many, many options available for organizing medical records electronically. Too many to even possibly list. There are three different types of PHR to consider though.

  1. Physician-based PHR. Among many other things, Obamacare is forcing physicians to offer what are called “patient portals.” One very popular example is Epic’s MyChart. These are basically websites operated by the physician or hospital that gives you basic access to your medical records at their specific facility. These types of PHRs are convenient and free, but are very limited in usefulness if you’re a caregiver dealing with many different healthcare organizations. Physician-based PHRs suffer from a “walled-garden” problem.
  1. Insurance-based PHRNot to be outdone by physicians, most major carriers of insurance have some sort of electronic PHR available to their subscribers. This includes Aetna, Cigna, UnitedHealth, and others. These overcome the “walled-garden” problem since they are not tied to any one physician or hospital. The problem is that they really tend to lack in features. Insurance companies are not in the business of creating beautiful, usable software (compared to Google, Apple, and others). What they lack in usability, they try to make up in convenience. You already have a relationship with your insurance companies so it’s easy to get signed up with their PHR.
  1. Independent PHROutside of the usual healthcare organizations, there are dozens of different independent companies all trying to win you over as a PHR customer. Some of them are paid, most of them free. One of the most popular options right now is Microsoft’s HealthVault. It’s relatively easy to upload and organize your paper medical records, and since it’s made from Microsoft, you know they’re trustworthy. The best part is that if you already use a Microsoft product like Hotmail, then you already have an account and can sign right in. You can even manage multiple family members from your one account.

Summary

How you choose to organize your loved one’s medical records is a matter of personal preference. The most important thing is that you just do it. Trying to manage your loved one’s health without a set of organized medical records is like wandering around with a blindfold. Use one of the method above to set out on a new course.

1 Caregiver population statistics

2 Dr. Giles Indiana Primary Care Symposium Presentation

About the Author:

Austin is a Health IT expert specializing in patient access. He has implemented Electronic Medical Record systems in hundreds of physician practices as well as in some of the largest hospitals in the United States. In 2013 he co-founded Chasm Health LLC which operates RecordCollect.com, a service that collects customers’ full medical history for a low-fixed price. Austin strongly believes that engaging ordinary people and helping them take control of their own health will significantly improve the US healthcare system in the 21st century.

 

Technology has radically changed the way we live and do things today.  This is also true for medical procedures. Take a look at the infographic below to see the development of robotics in medicine.

Thank you, Healthcare Administration Degree, for contributing this enlightening post!

(For a larger view click here.)

 

Rise of the Medical Machines

How has social media impacted healthcare? Take a look at the infographic below to see how it’s being used today:

(For a larger version, click here.)

Healthcare and Social Media

 

The editors at Master of Health Administration Degrees decided to research the topic of:

Healthcare and Social Media

Social media often can help bring people together. This is evident in the use of social media by both patients and healthcare providers.

 

What Patients Are Doing

Health-related chatter

People will talk about anything on Facebook – even their surgery or their doctor. Here’s a look at what health-related issues people have reported talking about on social media.
– Supporting a health-related cause – 28%
– Commenting about health experiences or updates – 27%
– Posting about health experiences or updates – 24%
– Joining a health-related cause – 20%
– Tracking and sharing health symptoms or behavior – 18%
– Posting reviews of medications, treatments, doctors or insurers – 16%
– Sharing health-related videos or images – 16%

Getting and sharing information

Social media users are most likely to trust posts by doctors over any other groups. Here’s a look at whom users say they trust the most when it comes to posting health information.

– Doctor – 60%
– Nurse – 56%
– Hospital – 55%
– Patient advocacy organization – 54%
– Retail pharmacy – 48%
– Other patients you know – 46%
– Government organization – 45%
– Health insurance company – 42%
– Drug company – 36%
– Alternative healthcare setting – 36%
– Gym or fitness center – 34%
– Other patients you don’t know – 25%

Patients are also most likely to share information about their health through social media with doctors and hospitals more than other groups or people. Here’s a look at whom they say they’d be most comfortable sharing information with:

– Doctor – 47%
– Hospital – 43%
– Pharmacy – 40%
– Health insurance company – 38%
– Retail health clinic – 33%
– Alternative healthcare setting – 33%
– Drug company – 32%
– Worksite health clinic – 31%
– Other patients – 30%

 

What Hospitals Are Doing

Of the more than 1,500 hospitals with a social media presence, Facebook is the most popular, followed closely by 4Square.

– Hospitals – YouTube – Facebook – Twitter – LinkedIn – 4Square – Blog
– 1501 695 1264 967 651 1116 185

Here’s a state-by-state breakdown of which social media methods are used by hospitals and health-related organizations:

State – Hospitals – YouTube – Facebook – Twitter – LinkedIn – 4Square – Blog
– Alabama – 29 – 7 – 28 – 9 – 6 – 20 – 2
– Alaska – 24 – 4 – 11 – 5 – 5 – 14 – 0
– Arizona – 39 – 11 – 29 – 34 – 10 – 30 – 1
– Arkansas – 3 – 3 – 3 – 3 – 2 – 2 – 0
– California – 103 – 53 – 87 – 65 – 39 – 81 – 11
– Colorado – 30 – 13 – 28 – 20 – 12 – 19 – 5
– Connecticut – 20 – 11 – 19 – 15 – 13 – 16 – 0
– Delaware – 4 – 3 – 4 – 4 – 3 – 0 – 0
– DC – 18 – 7 – 16 – 11 – 6 – 9 – 1
– Florida – 83 – 49 – 76 – 68 – 31 – 56 – 15
– Georgia – 32 – 18 – 28 – 21 – 18 – 22 – 4
– Hawaii – 3 – 1 – 3 – 0 – 2 – 3 – 0
– Idaho – 5 – 4 – 4 – 6 – 2 – 4 – 1
– Illinois – 71 – 34 – 55 – 44 – 34 – 63 – 10
– Indiana – 25 – 13 – 21 – 20 – 13 – 22 – 6
– Iowa – 23 – 10 – 21 – 20 – 13 – 21 – 2
– Kansas – 12 – 5 – 12 – 5 – 3 – 6 – 0
– Kentucky – 18 – 9 – 18 – 12 – 3 – 14 – 3
– Louisiana – 16 – 8 – 13 – 9 – 6 – 14 – 1
– Maine – 8 – 3 – 7 – 6 – 4 – 6 – 0
– Maryland – 63 – 29 – 47 – 33 – 30 – 52 – 10
– Massachusetts – 40 – 18 – 36 – 27 – 29 – 30 – 8
– Michigan – 67 – 32 – 55 – 38 – 24 – 53 – 7
– Minnesota – 35 – 20 – 32 – 20 – 12 – 18 – 7
– Mississippi – 7 – 3 – 8 – 5 – 3 – 4 – 0
– Missouri – 43 – 24 – 37 – 35 – 19 – 40 – 8
– Montana – 4 – 1 – 3 – 3 – 2 – 3 – 0
– Nebraska – 10 – 7 – 6 – 6 – 5 – 8 – 3
– Nevada – 8 – 6 – 8 – 6 – 6 – 8 – 2
– New Hampshire – 13 – 7 – 12 – 8 – 4 – 11 – 0
– New Jersey – 43 – 16 – 37 – 22 – 22 – 34 – 3
– New Mexico – 2 – 1 – 1 – 0 – 0 – 2 – 0
– New York – 119 – 48 – 98 – 62 – 70 – 99 – 8
– North Carolina – 41 – 20 – 32 – 30 – 17 – 25 – 9
– North Dakota – 7 – 3 – 7 – 4 – 2 – 1 – 1
– Ohio – 61 – 26 44 – 41 – 26 – 45 – 8
– Oklahoma – 17 – 5 – 13 – 9 – 2 – 12 – 1
– Oregon – 15 – 3 – 7 – 13 – 4 – 8 – 0
– Pennsylvania – 56 – 29 – 48 – 34 – 29 – 36 – 7
– Rhode Island – 11 – 4 – 9 – 9 – 6 – 10 – 0
– South Carolina – 25 – 10 – 23 – 18 – 8 – 17 – 3
– South Dakota – 6 – 3 – 4 – 4 – 4 – 5 – 0
– Tennessee – 32 – 16 – 31 – 27 – 9 – 21 – 3
– Texas – 92 – 33 – 76 – 50 – 45 – 67 – 14
– Utah – 20 – 10 – 19 – 13 – 4 19 – 0
– Vermont – 5 – 3 – 3 – 3 – 3 – 2 – 2
– Virginia – 29 – 16 – 22 – 19 – 10 – 18 – 4
– Washington – 28 – 15 – 25 – 23 – 14 – 22 – 6
– West Virginia – 4 – 2 – 4 – 4 – 3 – 4 – 0
– Wisconsin – 28 – 19 – 31 – 21 – 13 – 17 – 9

 

Stats

– 76,000: Mayo Clinic’s jump in podcast listeners in a single month after the clinic started using social media
– 88%: Physicians who use the Internet to research pharmaceutical, biotech and medical devices

Health centers that do it right

– Top five best social media practices among hospitals and health-related organizations

The Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.

– Website offers free advice and expertise from more than 3,300 medical professionals.
– Doctors are encouraged to take part in social media.

Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Ill.

– Doctors dispatched to assist in 2010 Haiti earthquake recovery shared first-hand accounts via text message.

Massachusetts General Hospital

– Emergency department researchers worked to create iPhone app EMNet finder, directing users to the closest ER anywhere in the U.S.

Scott & White Healthcare, central Texas

– During deadly 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Scott & White employees offered constant updates on ER access, hospital status, Red Cross news and more. The facility’s rank of Twitter followers swelled by 78%.
Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha

– Thanks to patient sharing her cancer experience on YouTube, the medical center opened a monthly clinic devoted to seeing patients with her type of cancer. Physicians use QR codes to direct patients to helpful videos.

 

Sources

– http://www.medicalbillingandcoding.org/blog/20-hospitals-with-inspiring-social-media-strategies/
– http://www.fluide.info/social-media-best-practices-for-hospitals-and-medical-professionals
– http://network.socialmedia.mayoclinic.org/hcsml-grid/
– http://www.pwc.com/us/en/health-industries/publications/health-care-social-media.jhtml

Family caregivers are faced with myriad topics to address beyond medical concerns.  One of them is education – how to effectively and appropriately educate our youth when the traditional classroom may not be well suited to allow or to encourage their learning.

In the case of autistic students, online learning may well be the answer.   Allowing them to feel comfortable in the right environment, they are more likely to move ahead with their education and feel more confident about their ability to succeed.

Thank you to Education Database Online for contributing this informative article.

 

Autism and Online Learning: A Guide for Teachers

Republished with permission

Today, one in every 88 American children is on the autism spectrum. Autism affects more than 2 million people in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide. But it hasn’t always been this way. Statistics show a tenfold increase in autism in the past 40 years, and prevalence rates are increasing 10%-17% each year.

With autism on the rise, many schools struggle to meet the needs of autistic students. Often, autistic adults do nottake the next step to go on to college or meaningful employment, even though they may be incredibly gifted. Letting students fall behind should not be an option.

If traditional classrooms struggle to effectively educate autistic students, what can online education offer autistic learners? Tech tools and virtual learning environments present an opportunity to better serve autistic students with flexibility and resources that are well suited to guide them in learning. The more educators learn about working with autistic students, the better equipped teachers and students will be for success.

 

The Needs of Autistic Students

Autism represents a broad spectrum of students, from high-functioning individuals to those with significant disability. “You’ve got some kids who are brilliant in one area and can’t work at all in another area. There’s really a range,” explains autism consultant Lisa Jo Rudy. Each autistic individual is unique with their own set of needs, making it difficult for some educational programs to reach every student. But there are common characteristics that online educators should be aware of and work with, including anxiety and difficulties with attention, communication, and social interaction, as well as a need for multiple learning styles.

Strong feelings of anxiety are common among those with autism or Asperger syndrome. Researchers have found that more than 80% of children with autism have at least one anxiety disorder, and many young adults with Asperger syndrome feel intense anxiety, some to a point that requires treatment. Bullying, being put on the spot, time limits, and win-lose situations can be a source of anxiety for autistic students.

Communication abilities will vary among individual students, but all people with autism experience language and communication difficulties of some kind. Teaching Students With Autism: A Resource Guide for Schools identifies common language difficulties among autistic students, including a lack of eye contact, unusual gestures, a lack of expressive language skills, and a difficulty in changing topics.

Social interaction for autistic students can be a challenge, which makes it difficult for these individuals to participate in class discussions. Teaching Students With Autism explains that people with autism have difficulty reading body language and may not pick up on important social cues. They also typically have trouble understanding the perspectives of others.

Attention difficulties are also common among autistic students. They may find it difficult to give their attention to important concepts, instead focusing on insignificant details. A short attention span, and difficulty shifting attention from one stimulus to the next is also common.

Autistic students often need to be presented with a variety of learning styles. Stephen Edelson of the Autism Research Institute explains, “It appears that autistic individuals are more likely to rely on only one style of learning.” That means autism educators will need to offer multiple learning styles — visual, auditory, and hands-on — to discover the method that works best for each student.

 

Success for Autistic Students Online

The benefits of online education can be life-changing for autistic students. One 17-year-old with autism, Daniel, found success participating in massive open online courses (MOOCs) with Coursera. Daniel took a modern poetry class from Penn, thriving in the exclusively online format. He and his parents discovered that the online learning system worked well with his social skills and attention deficit, and the rigorous academic curriculum required him to stay on task. Says Daniel, “I can’t yet sit still in a classroom, so [Coursera’s online offering] was my first real course ever. During the course, I had to keep pace with the class, which is unheard of in special ed. Now I know I can benefit from having to work hard and enjoy being in sync with the world.”

College student Ryan Fox has experienced similar success in online learning. For Fox, high school was distracting and stressful. He had trouble keeping up with teachers and had to start his school day all over again when he got home, relearning all of the information he didn’t understand or hear the first time around. But when Fox was introduced to an online learning environment, it made him feel “very organized, calm, and safe.” With online learning, he was able to find order and correctness, and knew what to expect, with no surprises and limited changes.

Where Fox struggled in traditional school, he thrives online. He’s able to get his schoolwork done quickly and needs almost no accommodations. Says Fox, “When I was really little, I was curious and loved to learn, but then for a while I got so frustrated I forgot what that was like. I think any student who has certain needs and wants to rediscover his or her love of learning should try online learning. I really believe that in the future everyone will learn this way! We will all be able to learn from the very smartest people on Earth, and we will do it at our own pace every day. Our abilities will matter more than our disabilities.”

 

How the Online Environment Helps Autistic Learners

Online learning can be a good idea for students with Asperger’s or high-functioning autism. “For these students, open-ended time limits, the ability to repeat activities over and over again, and other modifications could be quite helpful,” says Misty Jones, Board-Certified Behavior Analyst with Kids First Spectrum Services.

Studying online can remove elements of anxiety for autistic students. Although cyberbullying exists, online learning tools may allow autistic students to study without fear of negative interaction. The digital environment also offers the opportunity to remove anxiety triggers like being put on the spot and working within time constraints.

Autistic students can benefit from focused communication available in the online learning format. Many struggle to learn in a classroom environment where most communication is verbal. Online, autistic learners can benefit from visual tools, cues, and guided notes, as well as interactive and scenario-based learning. Autistic adult learners may also be more comfortable communicating online, especially through social media.

Online learning is also useful for catering to the social needs of autistic students. Communication is often more black and white, with limited social cues, and a lack of non-verbal communication that can be difficult to understand. Additionally, the typical discussion board format takes away students’ pressure to respond immediately.

Educators can support autistic students’ attention needs with clear, guided online instruction. In the online format, autistic students who may struggle with short attention spans and misplaced focus can be carefully walked through concepts in a step-by-step guide that emphasizes the most important information.

The online learning environment also offers the ability to teach the same material in multiple ways for a variety of students. As autistic learners typically benefit from learning in one specific style, each lesson should be available in multiple formats to allow students to choose the learning method that they can use best, whether they’re visual, auditory, or hands on. This is difficult in the traditional classroom but possible online. Educators can offer lectures in audio or video, written text, or even in step-by-step interactive guides, all in one learning hub.

Additional benefits of online learning for autistic students include the ability to repeat learning materials and interactive elements over and over, flexible course offerings for students with “splinter skills,” and open time limits. Autistic students also appreciate the consistent format of online learning, as it can be difficult to deal with small differences in each individual classroom.

There are many benefits to online learning for autistic students, but there can also be challenges. The online environment is so appealing to the autistic brain that some students struggle with cyber addiction, creating an unhealthy imbalance. Additionally, autistic students who need to develop in-person social interaction and appropriate behavior will not find many opportunities online. “Most of our students need so much real life practice to develop skills that the Internet is more of a leisure activity. It’s supplemental to what they are learning in vivo,” says behavior analyst Jones.

 

Recommendations for Online Teachers with Autistic Students

  • Make use of discussion boards: Being put on the spot can make autistic students feel anxious. But online course discussion boards give them the opportunity to create a planned and well-crafted response. Avoid live chats or group Skype discussions that may cause autistic students to freeze up.
  • Help students build their responses: A great way to improve online participation among autistic students is through planned, guided discussion. Autism consultant Lisa Jo Rudy recommends that online educators “have the conversation ahead of time, and prep them, and actually have them go through and prepare. … Give them a lot of time and a lot of extra prep before the event itself.” An online tool with question prompts that allows students to build responses for later discussion may be helpful.
  • Allow students to try again and again: Autistic students may need to take extra time to process information and complete tasks. They may even need to do activities more than once to understand the concept and focus. You can cater to this need by offering learning materials without limits on time or turns.
  • Carefully monitor for cyberbullying: The online learning environment can make autistic students feel safe, but bullying may bring up feelings of anxiety. Preventing cyberbullying can make all students feel more comfortable and open in online learning.
  • Allow students to pick and choose courses: Autistic students with splinter skills may do well in math but struggle with writing. Rather than restricting students to freshman- or senior-level courses across the board, give students the opportunity to pick the right course level for their skills.
  • Offer multiple learning formats: Encourage autistic students to adopt the learning style that works best for them by providing students with materials that fit different learning styles. Lectures may be delivered in audio/visual format or interactive walk-throughs, as well as in text documents.
  • Guide students on a learning path: Give students the freedom to spend as much time as they need, try tasks multiple times, and allow them to do it all in a variety of different formats, but remember to guide their learning at all times. Keep their focus and attention by always showing them the next step to take.

Online learning for autistic students is largely still in development, but there’s growing potential, especially at the high school and college level. “So much of what goes on in high school is not about learning academics but about fitting in with other kids. If that is what’s standing in the way of a young person finishing school or excelling academically, then online is the way to go,” says Jones. “For those individuals who could go to college if it weren’t for the social aspect, it is a great way for them to get an education.”

What’s next? Dictation tools, resources for turning ideas into outlines, and even exclusive online degree programs for autistic students. Says Lisa Jo Rudy, “A lot of those types of support can be built into virtual learning environments, and probably will be, because they’re not only useful for students with autism, but for any student.”

 

Education Database Online

A comprehensive resource designed to help current and prospective students learn about the many educational opportunities and higher degree programs available within the United States.