Health Literacy – Not “Feeling” It?

health-literacy

Bernadette Keefe MD

Health Literacy – It’s still not catching on.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines health literacy as

“the degree to which an individual has the capacity to obtain, communicate, process and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions”.

 As a believer in improved general literacy for citizens, I have assumed that health literacy, achieved through quality health information, having been easily accessed and well understood, would be akin to the process of general literacy. But just as education involves more than the conveyance of information, it is similar for achieving health literacy.

Although considerable efforts have been made regarding the formulation and dissemination of health and self-care information, we are seeing little effect on health outcomes. All parameters of health and wellness in the U.S. remain stubbornly poor, including the high incidence of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, mental health, and addiction. Healthcare systems and healthcare professionals continue to tout patient engagement strategies and the importance of health literacy, but as Michael Friedman states in his excellent piece on the topic:

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Robots/Robotics in Healthcare

Pepper

Bernadette Keefe MD

Introduction

Robots, through their combined “otherness” and “sameness”, capture the human imagination. However, the purpose of robots, and use of robotics, has always been, essentially, practical. Humans have used robots to do work since ancient times. It’s the capacity of robots to produce, on a consistent basis, over and over again, which makes them valuable. Now, with sophisticated software, robotic applications have shifted from the purely industrial uses, to include the service industries. With elegant algorithms, speech and facial expression abilities, and recognition, robots are increasingly interacting with us, on a more personal level, in everyday life.

The healthcare industry is under significant pressure from many sides. The major causes include: out of control costs and prices, labor shortages throughout the ranks, a continuous explosion of information and technology, and an increasingly sick and aging population. The promise of robots and robotic applications to help ease the labor gap, and improve efficiency and safety, has captured the attention of many in the healthcare sector.

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{Ultra}Processed Food: Too Sexy for Our Own Good?

FrenchFries

Bernadette Keefe MD

“If we are what we do and what we eat, we’re potatoes: couched and fried.” – Ellen Goodman, Wall Street Journal

Introduction

Fast Food has a rich and storied history. In Roman times, through the middle ages, fast food, sold by venders, was a necessity, as many dwellings had no kitchen.

The British “Fish ‘N Chips” was popularized in the mid-1800s by coastal towns that needed to service the large trawling industry. The undisputed King of the Fast Food Industry, however, is the United States. With the introduction of the automobile in the early 1900s, there was ever greater access to fast-cook restaurant fare. America fell in love with “White Castle” hamburgers; the rest is history. America has the largest fast food industry, and, has peppered the world’s landscape with Subway, McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Burger King, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Wendy’s among others, whose outlets can be found in over 100 countries.

Due to its worldwide dominance of the Fast Food Industry, U.S. citizens are particularly immersed in the fast food culture, and sadly have “drunk the cool-aid”. While this essay addresses the effects of fast food and other ultra-processed food in America, similar consequences are occurring around the globe.

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The Power and The Glory of Walking

walking-image

Introduction  

Walking

Definition: to move at a regular and fairly slow pace by lifting and setting down each foot in turn, never having both feet off the ground at once.-

Synonyms:  stroll, saunter, amble, trudge, plod, dawdle, hike, tramp, tromp, slog, stomp, trek, march, stride, sashay, glide, troop, patrol, wander, ramble, tread, prowl, promenade, roam, traipse

Wikipedia

“What if a simple act could change the world?” – Born to Walk: The Transformative Power of the Pedestrian Life

Born to Walk – Trailer

Walking for Health 

The U.S. Surgeon General regularly announces public health campaigns, “Calls to Action”, which are deemed particularly important for the overall health of the nation. A “Call to Action” is defined as “a science-based document to stimulate action nationwide to solve a major public health problem”.

For 2015, the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek H. Murthy chose walking as the focus, when he announced the ‘Step It Up’ campaign. The ‘Step It Up’ campaign was designed to promote walking and walkable communities. Here is the video which accompanied the launch:

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Time to Decouple Fear and Health

FearBlog?

Bernadette Keefe M.D.

“Pseudo-dangers represent further opportunities to avoid problems we do not wish to confront….” – Barry Glassner, The Culture of Fear

Introduction

For a while now, I’ve been concerned about the increasing role that fear has played as a tactic in persuading patients to choose certain treatments in healthcare, and to adopt certain habits. Fear is also, often a dominant driver for patients in their health decision-making process.

Fear, however, is an unwanted distraction when making decisions. In contrast to a calm state of mind, it creates added anxiety and stress, in a citizenry already burdened with increasing stressors. How can adding to this be constructive, or further, even moral? How can healthcare decisions, made from fear, be in any way conducive to optimal health outcomes, or conducive to sustainable well-being throughout our lifespans? 
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Popping Pills: A Drugged Nation

 pill-bottle-bannerBernadette Keefe MD

Excerpts from ‘Limitless’ The Movie (Trailer)

You (can) access 100 % your brain

A tablet a day and I was limitless

What’s your secret? Medication

A perfect version of ourselves…..power…..

What would you do???


The ‘Limitless” Trailer  

Introduction: A pill for every ill.

From teenagers to granny, to the pro-athlete, and everyone in between, the United States is the most drugged nation in the world. A staggering:

70 Million Americans are taking legal mind-altering drugs

Nearly 70% of all Americans are on at least one prescription drug and 20% are on at least five prescription drugs Continue reading

Tribes and Silos, and, Tribes VS Tribes in Healthcare

Silos-as-Tribes

 Bernadette Keefe MD

“the point is to be together, to mix our differences”

                          @Bionicohand at @iMaginationCtr

 Introduction

If there is one movement that describes the current wave of disruption in industries from media to healthcare and in-between, it is the breakdown of barriers and democratization of processes. However, to accomplish a smooth transition to more workable, inclusive systems that will serve all, there must be a change in culture, a meeting of the minds.

In the healthcare field, there are many stakeholders/ “tribes”, each holding disparate positions. In order to evolve together, we must tear down our walls and silos and form bridges between our tribes. Such radical action is necessary as many errors and misunderstandings in healthcare are, at their core, communication issues  arising from stakeholders speaking and acting from isolated positions.

Amidst ongoing conversation about healthcare silos and the problems that they might be creating, comes the timely release of Gillian Tett’s, “The Silo Effect: The Peril of Expertise and the Promise of Breaking Down Barriers”. While Gillian Tett comes from a financial background (as U.S. Managing Editor and columnist at the Financial Times) she has been more widely recognized as a superb thinker and writer. (See NY Times book review and APM interview)

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Boomers, Got Fit (bit)?

Boomers – Got Fit (bit)?

Best-activity-trackers_banner-r1

Bernadette Keefe MD

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”                              

 (credited to by not said by W. Edwards Deming)

 Introduction

If you are 50 years of age or older you are a baby boomer, that means by 2030, there will be 77 Million people over the age of 65 in the U.S. alone. The U.S. National Institute of Aging has designated September as a Go-4-Life month: a national exercise and physical activity campaign for people 50+. The goal is to empower older adults to become more physically active. The last week in September marks the beginning of Active Aging Week (September 27 – October 3) for the United States, Canada and Australia. Each day is devoted to a specific healthy life habit: from walking to nutrition to social connection.

The importance of our lifestyle/behaviors, to overall health is now undeniable. It is thought that 70% of chronic disease is caused directly or indirectly by the poor lifestyle choices we make. Now we can seamlessly measure our daily behaviors through fitness trackers. Continue reading

Falls Prevention Day 2015: Will the real ______________, please stand up!

              National Falls Prevention Awareness Day ~ September 23, 2015

                                        “Take a Stand to Prevent Falls” 
fallPrevention

 Bernadette Keefe MD

 “One of every three older adults falls each year, but less than half talk to their healthcare providers about it.” – Lawrence Z. Rubenstein MD, MPH Chair Geriatrics – U. of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center

 Introduction

Tomorrow, September 23, 2015, the U.S. will celebrate the 8th Annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day. The announcement on the National Council for Aging (NCOA) Falls Prevention Day website reads:

“The 8th annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day (FPAD) will be observed on September 23, 2015 – the first day of fall. The event seeks to raise awareness about how to prevent fall – related injuries among older adults. The 2015 theme is Take A Stand to Prevent Falls and the official twitter hashtag for this year’s event is #FPAD15 Continue reading

Our (Cultural) Sugar High

Sugar-comparisons HIGH

Bernadette Keefe MD

‘We need to start talking about how our food supply is making many of us sick.”

 “Sugar high” is the term used to describe the cascade of responses after eating a sugar load. A high sugar load, especially a pure sugar load, triggers is a rapid release of insulin to counteract the high blood sugar. With that response, glucose is absorbed into cells and the blood sugar plummets. We feel hunger with the low blood sugar and if we consume a sugary snack or meal, the cycle restarts. The taste of sugar is also ‘addictive’ over time. At this time we have a cultural sugar high, a palate tuned to the taste of sugar, across our nation and indeed the world. It has led to unprecedented levels of Type 2 diabetes and obesity. Continue reading