Noteworthy 1.1

I know I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again: So much to blog about, so little time. Here are some highlights from the many tidbits that have crossed my desk recently:

– Yahoo! recently issued its year-end list of the top searches for 2010, and pregnancy was at the top of list for health searches, followed by diabetes. The rest of the top 10, in order: herpes; shingles; lupus; depression; breast cancer; gall bladder; HIV; fibromyalgia.

Among the top searched questions on Yahoo! in 2010 was how to lose weight. A top obsession? Bedbugs, which came in at No. 7.

– Here’s an interesting report from In a rush by professionals to escape leases for high-priced cars, male doctors are at the head of the pack.’s analysis looked at cars valued at $40,000 or more that were being dumped on the marketplace by customers who were downsizing their finances. Male doctors were ahead of lawyers and even financial executives in ridding themselves of expensive leases for Maseratis, Mercedes and BMWs. The report suggests that declining reimbursement and uncertainty surrounding the future of health care are prompting some physicians to cut back on their personal spending.

– Will Santa Claus be delivering the latest electronic gadget to the children in your household? Don’t let them strain their eyes by peering too long at digital devices, warn eye experts.

There’s actually a name for it: “computer vision syndrome,” or CVS, which includes back and neck pain, dry eyes and headaches. Some nuggets of advice: Use proper lighting, remind your kids to blink often and to give their eyes a rest every 20 minutes or so, and make sure they wear their prescription glasses if they have them.

– For all the national clamor about obesity, there’s one age group that seems to be overlooked - the 18- to 35-year-olds. The University of Minnesota is launching a new clinical trial to look at ways of using technology and social media to engage young adults. The CHOICES trial (Choosing Healthy Options in College Environments and Settings) will test a for-credit course model that uses web-based social networking to prevent unhealthy weight gain among 44o student participants.

It’s being offered at Anoka-Ramsey Community College, Inver Hills Community College and St. Paul College. Trial participants will be given cooking demonstrations, exercises for stress management, and other information and activities to help their improve their sleep, eating and physical activity patterns. Half the participants will be randomized into a control group with fewer interventions and no social networking. At the end of the two-year trial, results will be compared to see which group fared better.

The study is part of a five-year national initiative to test innovative, technology-based strategies for helping young adults avoid unhealthy weight gain. Six other studies, besides the one in Minnesota, are under way.

– There’s nothing like a mystery shopper to shed painful light on how organizations sometimes fall short in their customer service. A news release from the Baird Group, which is a member of the Mystery Shoppers Provider Association, offers an inside look at some of the discoveries that mystery shoppers make in health care: A receptionist yakking with a coworker while a patient stands waiting at the counter. Employees taking a smoking break under a sign that says “no smoking.” Staff members ignoring a patient or visitor who is obviously lost.

Although “patient-centered” is the concept du jour, Kristin Baird, whose group works exclusively with health care organizations, says many organizations are “anything but.”

What qualities have she and her mystery shoppers seen in the best organizations? “What I see in these is a concerted focus on making service expectations real through communication, inspection, accountability and action,” she said.

– Finally, the American Pharmacists Association sent out some practical advice for people to manage their medication regimens during the excitement of the holidays:

If you’re going to travel, bring more medications than you expect to use and store them in their original labeled containers. Be aware that some medications, such as insulin, need to be kept cool. If you plan to be in your car for a long period of time, bring a cooler so you can store your insulin inside (but not directly next to ice). Some medications also might require special equipment such as needles or pumps, so be sure to remember all the prescribed parts of your routine.

If you’re flying, keep your medications in a carry-on bag. Check your airline’s regulations, because liquids in some quantities are prohibited on planes. A pharmacist can provide you with smaller bottles if this is an issue.

Have a plan for adjusting your medication regimen. And don’t forget to bring an up-to-date list of all your current medications and vaccinations. Although no one wants to end up in an emergency room or doctor’s office while they’re traveling for the holidays, having a complete and accurate medication list can help make it a little less stressful, both for you and for the providers who need to know about your current treatments.

HealthBeat photo by Anne Polta

One thought on “Noteworthy 1.1

  1. Pingback: The weekly rundown, Dec. 8 | HealthBeat

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