Better Living Through Technology
Finding good advice in these days of economic recession is not always easy and often requires letting common sense instinct be your guide. Judging from two recent health studies which we share in this Winter 2009 TMIS eNewsletter, keeping your cool could be one of your best overlooked assets. Many Americans are learning that health resources on the Internet can be a great help in saving costs, not only for people with no health insurance or poor coverage, but also many others who are finding it difficult to cover out of pocket costs. Another report shares suggestions of ways to cut healthcare costs.
An AARP survey found that mounting health costs are contributing to the financial woes of many Americans. Health insurance premiums for families have increased by 65 percent over the past five years, such that the average cost of health insurance for an American family now exceeds the yearly income of a minimum wage worker. Insurance premiums increased 119 percent from 1999 to 2008, while workers’ earnings only rose by 29 percent. The survey also found that health problems due to financial stress is having a greater effect on individuals of ages 45 to 64 than on those age 65 and over.
In the second study, I was stunned to learn nearly 40 million Americans opted not to get a medicine prescription filled in the past year due to the cost. The report states that many of us are now turning to the Internet as an alternative resource for health management and treatment decisions. In answer to rising concerns that the Internet, even as an excellent resource for patient education and support, does not replace the expertise of a trained medical professional, healthcare providers, pharmaceutical companies, and other organizations are contributing to online content increasingly to inform consumers of the importance of professional medical attention to their long-term health and to raise awareness of patient assistance programs.
Many of the “Ten Ways to Trim Your Health Care Costs” may be useful. In addition to reviewing your health insurance options, negotiating in advance of receiving care, and shopping online at reputable online pharmacies, consider cutting office visit costs by using a retail clinic such as MinuteClinic or RediClinic, or a telemedicine service such as TelaDoc (about $35 per consultation). Other tips and common sense ideas are found in the article. The bottom line is to do a little research and ask questions. You will discover that as a consumer, you have far more control over your healthcare costs than you think, and you will be taking steps to improve both your health and your finances in the coming year.
Health Sciences Online (http://www.hso.info) is a new virtual learning center with browse and search functions, providing free, online linkages to a comprehensive collection of top-quality courses and references in medicine, public health, pharmacy, dentistry, nursing, basic sciences, and other health science disciplines. The portal, which includes more than 50,000 world-class health science resources is a project that was started as a way to remedy the problems of finding free, excellent learning resources on the Internet.
I find all this information encouraging because I believe in the innovative human spirit and our ability to find solutions to problems born of necessity. While it is sad that problems must first exist before solutions can be found, these are indeed “interesting” times and, like you, I am staying tuned for the answers.
I am grateful to be in a collaborative business with many talented and skilled professionals. Additional feedback and recommendations for our products and services at TM Information Services are always welcome.
- Mary M. McLaughlin
From the Front Page of TMIS News
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Economic Stress Taking Toll on Peoples' Health
AARP survey finds financial stress is causing health problems for nearly 20% of 45 plus population. The latest victim of the economic recession could be your health. According to a recent AARP survey, one in five adults ages 45 and older are suffering health problems due to financial stress. The survey details the health care problems and challenges many Americans are facing because of the current economic situation.
"Right now people are increasingly concerned about their jobs, retirement savings and simply being able to provide for their families and it's taking a major toll on their health," said Bob Gallo, AARP Illinois Senior State Director. "It's a harsh irony that worrying about being able to afford health care is actually causing health problems."
Key findings from the AARP survey, Impact of Economy on Health Behaviors, include:
-- 20% of people 45 and older reported health problems due to financial stress
-- About one fifth, 22%, have delayed seeing a doctor due to cost
-- 16% had to use retirement savings or other savings to pay for medical care
-- 21% have cut back on other expenses in order to afford their medical care
-- One in six, 16%, are not confident they will be able to afford health care in the coming year.
Healthcare Costs Prevented Nearly 40 Million Americans From Filling Their Prescriptions in 2008
New York, New York
The Internet becomes an increasingly important health resource for consumers curbing their spending on doctor's visits and medications. Nearly 40 million U.S. adults decided not to fill a prescription medication from a doctor in the past year because of the cost, according to pharmaceutical and healthcare market research company Manhattan Research's Cybercitizen Health consumer study and strategic advisory service. The study found that women and patients with neurological and mental health conditions were the most likely to give up their medication due to cost.
For those struggling to afford healthcare, online channels have become increasingly important resources. Over 145 million consumers are online for health, and this year's Cybercitizen Health study saw the Internet surpass doctors as the top source for obtaining health and medical information.
Top Condition Groups Who Report Not Filling a Prescription Because of the Cost: 1. Fibromyalgia, 2. Inflammatory Bowel Disease, 3. Generalized Anxiety Disorder, 4. Chronic Bronchitis, 5. Chronic Pain, 6. Acute Pain, 7. Adult ADHD, 8. Anxiety Disorder/Social Phobia, 9. Bipolar Disorder, 10. Depression.
Ten Ways to Trim Your Health Care Costs
The one expenditure that a lot of people assume they have little or no control over is health care costs. Yet, a little common sense and a healthy dose of consumerism can reward savvy shoppers with significant savings without sacrificing care, says Devon Herrick, Ph.D., a Senior Fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis.
Insurance options: Check your insurance plan; the end of December marks the end of open enrollment at many companies. For those insured through an employer, review your health plan choices. A Health Savings Account (HSA) might save you money over a PPO or HMO, especially with employer contributions. I have saved more than $9,000 during the past four years by taking advantage of my HSA. If on a non-group plan, shop around and consider increasing your deductible to reduce your premium and still maintain major medical coverage.
Ask about cash rates and discounts: If uninsured, negotiate in advance of receiving care; check the Internet for discount card programs that lower costs at hospitals, pharmacies, labs and retail clinics.
Shop for better prescription deals: There are many ways to reduce prescription drug costs. For example, consider therapeutic alternatives and/or generics. Compare prices among local pharmacies and reputable online sites. Rxaminer.com has free pharmacy cost comparisons. Numerous pharmacies now have generics for as little as $4 per monthly supply, and $10 for three months. Even if you have insurance, these low prices can sometimes beat the negotiated insurance rates.
First Authoritative, Comprehensive, Free, and Ad-Free Resource for the World's Health Care Providers
Health Sciences Online (http://www.hso.info) is the only site where anyone can search for and find more than 50,000 courses, references, guidelines, and other expert-reviewed, high-quality, current, cost-free, and ad-free health sciences resources. Free and accessible to anyone, the up-to-date, authoritative information is aimed primarily at health care practitioners and public health providers, enabling their training, continuing education, and delivery of effective treatments to patients. The information is delivered by powerful search technology from Vivisimo, Inc., which allows users to easily see comprehensive search results and quickly find the answers they need with an intuitively navigated graphic interface. Through integration with Google Translator, users can search and read materials in 22 languages.
Former CDC Director Dr. Jeff Koplan calls Health Sciences Online (HSO) "a visionary undertaking" and the World Bank heralds it as "globally democratizing health science knowledge." HSO is expected by the World Health Organization (WHO) "to make a considerable contribution to the advancement of e-learning worldwide." HSO is a portal that includes more than 50,000 world-class health-sciences resources, selected by knowledgeable staff from already-existing, reliable, professional sources and resource collections. These include medical specialty societies, accredited continuing education organizations, governments, and universities such as Cambridge, Columbia, Harvard, Hopkins, McGill, MIT, Penn, Stanford, and Yale. Founding collaborators for this site include CDC, World Bank, the American College of Preventive Medicine, and the University of British Columbia, and financial support has come from WHO, the NATO Science for Peace Program, the Canadian government, the Annenberg Physician Training Program, and many volunteers.
Moms Get Techie in 2009 With New Media and Technology
Pompano Beach, Florida
Today's time-starved, multi-tasking mothers are using more than band-aids and paper-based calendars to manage their hectic lifestyles and growing families. Mothers, now more than ever, are using technology such as video, blogs and wireless devices to multi-task through their busy days, using more than 5 separate technologies daily. 2009 stands to produce a record number of tech-savvy mothers bridging devices together to create everyday solutions.
According to research released by industry expert Maria Bailey in her new book, "Mom 3.0: Marketing with Today's Mothers by Leveraging New Media & Technology," a mom's primary objective in using technology is to stay in touch with her busy family and manage their schedules effectively. In 2009, Moms will delve even deeper into the world of technology as they discover new functionalities of the tools they are already using. Five technology trends to watch for in 2009 in the mom market are cited by Bailey.
Microsoft HUG 2009 Innovation Awards Call for Entries Now Open
Microsoft Health Users Group (Microsoft HUG) and Microsoft Corp. has announced a call for entries for the Microsoft HUG 2009 Innovation Awards. The annual contest, open to any healthcare organization and health technology solution partner, recognizes leadership in the use of technology to improve the quality and delivery of healthcare.
Now in their 12th year of rewarding excellence in healthcare technology, the Microsoft HUG 2009 Innovation Awards showcase organizations that promote breakthroughs by enhancing the quality of patient care, reducing costs, streamlining clinical and business processes, driving interoperability, improving productivity and workflow, and enabling informed decisions.
Eligible solutions must be based on Microsoft technology and enable individuals to measurably improve significant business and/or clinical processes affecting patient care. The awards recognize the healthcare organization, together with any collaborating solutions vendor or systems integrator, that demonstrates industry leadership in each of the following categories:
-- Clinical Records -- Inpatient
-- Clinical Records -- Ambulatory
-- Health Information Exchange (HIE) and Interoperability
-- Microsoft HealthVault Applications
A downloadable submission entry form and full details are available on the Microsoft HUG Web site at http://www.mshug.org/awards. Entries must be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and the release form faxed to the attention of Monika Skibeness at (425) 936-7329 by Feb. 7 at 5 p.m. PST. More information about the awards is available by visiting the Microsoft HUG Web site or contacting Monika Skibeness at email@example.com. Winners will be announced at the 2009 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society annual conference and exhibition (HIMSS 2009), April 4-8, 2009, in Chicago, and will be highlighted on the Microsoft HUG, HIMSS and Microsoft Web sites.
This Could Be the Book that Ushers in the New Age, Author Says
The Mayan Calendar predicts it. The I Ching says it's coming. Mystics, metaphysical thinkers, seekers of truth and the Web Bot agree ... SOMETHING is happening on or about December 21, 2012 ... a catastrophic event or, as many leaders of the New Age movement believe, a shift in consciousness which, if we're not prepared, could leave us behind in, well, we don't exactly know where. Perhaps the proverbial end of the world is heralded by the systematic destruction of the global economy, bit by bit, nibbling at our collective heels, chipping away at our past and forever changing our future. If that's the case, we may be just about there.
It's been 40 years since the musical Hair first introduced "the Age of Aquarius" and a loose knit group of individuals emerged seeking spiritual awareness and expecting the dawn of a New Age that will be accompanied by a higher level of awareness among humans. Now that it may actually be upon us, a new book entitled, "THE TRUTH: What You Must Know Before December 21, 2012," may be the vehicle that helps the rest of us understand. Drawing upon research by impeccable mainstream scientific sources, author Stephen Hawley Martin connects the dots to overturn the twentieth century scientific tenet that awareness and thought are products of the brain.
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