Better Living Through Well Being
We’ve changed the name of our electronic newsletter from “Better Living Through Technology” to “Better Living Through Well Being.” Since TM Information Services began medical communications consulting several years ago, our focus was already shifting from primarily technology consulting, so this just makes it official. Technology is going to be increasingly embedded in the practice of clinical medicine going forward anyway, so we are not really taking it out of the picture. This is a good opportunity to reflect on the definition of technology and what it means to us.
Technology is defined as the branch of knowledge that deals with the industrial arts and sciences, and we’ve always believed that technology is also part of a larger spectrum of human activity and that a society or culture can interact with and shape technologies that are used. In this, we differ from technological determinists who imply that the progression of a technology cannot be controlled and that people cannot change it or stop it once it is started.
In his essay, “Technology as Forms of Life,” Langdon Winner coined the term “technological somnambulism” and he wonders whether or not we are simply sleepwalking though our existence with little concern or knowledge as to how we truly interact with technology. He states it is still possible for us to wake up and once again take control of the direction in which we are traveling.
We acknowledge that there are ethical questions specific to the Technology Age. Far from being a mere tool, each piece of technology is endowed with the ethical commitments given to it by those who made it and have decided how it must be used. For example, in the area of computer security, an innovation is considered as right or wrong before implementing it. Similarly, a scientist has an obligation to consider the implications of nuclear technology that could be unleashed upon the world as a weapon. Ethical questions surround the production of a technology that wastes energy or resources, or manufacturing processes that might inhibit employment or might inflict suffering in the third world. It is easy to see how the ethics of technology quickly breaks down into the ethics of human endeavors. Bioethics grapples with delicate questions exacerbated by the new life-preserving technologies, new cloning technologies, and new technologies for implantation.
We will be keeping this in mind as we present articles under the general heading of “well being.” Articles included here will discuss various topics such as emedicine, health technology, natural health, herbal medicine, complementary and alternative medicine, integrative medicine, bioethics, empowered patients, personal health care, telemedicine, health and wellness, natural therapy, holistic medicine, and patient-centered care.
Articles in this Fall 2011 TMIS eNewsletter:
In anticipation of high demand for healthcare jobs needed to care for an aging population in the United States, Ashford University in Clinton, Iowa has just introduced four new bachelor degrees in Complementary and Alternative Health, Health Informatics, Health and Wellness, and Gerontology. These new degrees are the result of years of analyzing trends for the increase of Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related diseases among the Baby Boomer generation, who consist of 29 percent of the total population. The Alzheimer Association estimates that one out of every eight Baby Boomers will get Alzheimer’s disease after turning 65, at 85 that risk grows to one in two, and there could be up to 16 million people with Alzheimer’s disease by 2050. This means an increased demand for long term care specialties and ways of enabling the elderly to remain living in their own homes. These new models of care will be aimed more at healthy aging, which includes purposeful living, social engagement, physical, spiritual, and psychological aspects of longevity rather than just treatments to it. The job opportunities will be significant.
A recent study by a leading professional healthcare communications agency provides a detailed exploration of the barriers and catalysts to adoption of personalized medicine among physicians. Personalized medicine, also referred to as genomics-based medicine or molecular medicine, is the utilization of an individual’s genomic information for identifying pre-symptomatic risk for developing a disease or condition, screening and diagnosis, disease prognosis and staging, and selection of optimal treatment. For example, genetic markers can help predict whether a person will respond to certain cancer therapies or whether a particular anti-platelet drug will be effective in a coronary patient. By helping physicians and consumers make more informed choices about tests and treatments, personalized medicine has the potential to significantly enhance wellness and the treatment of disease, thereby improving overall healthcare. The study finds the majority of physicians have significant concerns about their own expertise, but expect genomics and personalized medicine to become part of everyday clinical practice. They express a desire for more educational opportunities, yet concerns about the privacy of genetic information, how it is stored and who has access to it, poses a potential barrier to the widespread acceptance of personalized medicine among both physicians and consumers. Such concerns could prevent many consumers from having a genetic test, even though a 2008 federal law is in place to protect Americans from health insurance and employment discrimination based on genetic information. Clearly there is a call for leadership among healthcare companies and medical associations to accelerate the adoption of personalized medicine into everyday clinical practice by providing educational programs to physicians.
The practice of integrative medicine, a combination of both traditional and holistic approaches when treating people, is becoming more widely known in the medical field. Integrative medicine focuses on caring for a person as a whole rather than just treating symptoms or attacking a disease at the expense of a patient’s vitality. Physical, mental, emotional and psychospiritual health, along with dietary and lifestyle choices, are all addressed in an integrative treatment protocol, resulting in highly strategic, individualized programs that offer much greater opportunities for successful clinical outcomes and optimal healing. The fact that Dr. Isaac Eliaz, a world renowned integrative medical doctor, was chosen to be the keynote speaker for this year’s annual congressional cancer reception is monumental.
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From the Front Page of TMIS News
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Demographic Earthquake to Shake Healthcare Industry: Courses Address Future Jobs for Treating Aging Baby Boomers and Beyond
San Diego, California
Ashford University has recently introduced several new online healthcare degrees to position its students to compete for high-demand healthcare jobs created by the aging population. The degrees are Bachelor of Arts in Complementary and Alternative Health, Bachelor of Arts in Health Informatics, Bachelor of Arts in Health and Wellness, and Bachelor of Arts in Gerontology.
"Aging Baby Boomers are going to cause a demographic earthquake that shakes the foundation of our health care system to its core and the workforce needs to be prepared," said Alice Vestergaard, Ed.D., executive dean of the College of Health, Human Services, and Science at Ashford University. "There are nearly 78 million Baby Boomers between the ages of 47 and 65 years old in America and they comprise 29 percent of the total population. They are entering a time of critical healthcare needs including age-related disease such as osteoarthritis accompanied by societal trends like obesity, of which 39 percent are afflicted."
Ashford introduced the degrees after years of analysis and careful planning. The goal: to provide students with degrees that may be unmatched among educational institutions, either traditional or online, in their depth, breadth and relevance to future healthcare needs. The curriculum includes programs addressing the technological revolution toward electronic health records and wireless healthcare.
"Americans are living longer and rather than thinking about putting them into the equivalent of assisted living warehouses, we need to create a workforce that is attuned to the new positive aging movement," said Vestergaard. "Envision skilled caregivers who can meet future human needs for aging in place, such as an existing residence, rather than in an institution. This is essential if the system is to deal with the millions of Baby Boomers who will soon suffer from Alzheimer's disease."
Study Highlights Role for Personalized Medicine
Ten years after the mapping of the human genome, the biologic blueprint that makes each of us who we are, US physicians admit being ill-prepared to address the day-to-day challenges of this rapidly emerging area of personalized medicine. That is one of the surprising conclusions of a landmark study of 800 US physicians conducted by CAHG, a leading professional healthcare communications agency. While 8 in 10 physicians agree that personalized medicine will ultimately influence the medical profession in general and their practice specifically, most also admit that their current knowledge is extremely limited. Only approximately 10% of primary care physicians and cardiologists and 30% of oncologists say that they are very familiar with current issues and advances in personalized medicine.
In addition, physicians express low confidence in their ability to use and apply molecular diagnostics testing within their practice, a particularly concerning issue given the critical role of these tests in personalized medicine. Only about half of primary care physicians and cardiologists are confident in their ability to identify appropriate patients for testing, choose the right test, and understand, interpret, and explain results to their patients. Moreover, all three physician specialties express low confidence in choosing which labs to send tests to, determining if the test is covered by insurance, and knowing which insurance code to use. Despite these concerns, 9 in 10 physicians are interested in learning more about personalized medicine, and 7 in 10 find it inherently interesting, whether or not they will ever be able to apply it in practice.
Dr. Isaac Eliaz Gives Keynote Address at Annual Congressional Cancer Reception
Isaac Eliaz, M.D. L.A.c, M.S., a world-renowned integrative medical doctor, shares the latest findings in prevention and treatment of breast cancer at The Tigerlily Foundation's Young Women's Breast Health Day on Capitol Hill and Congressional Reception. The annual event is hosted by Tigerlily Foundation, a breast cancer non-profit organization whose mission is to "educate, advocate for, empower and provide hands on support to young women under 40, before, during and after breast cancer." The rates of breast cancer among younger women have increased significantly over the last two decades. Younger women typically face greater challenges with this disease than women over 40, partly because historically, breast cancer was mainly a disease that occurred in older women. Although there are more cases of younger women being diagnosed, cases among this population are generally not detected as early as they could be because physicians and the young women themselves are often unaware of the risks.
"Dr. Isaac Eliaz is the first integrative medicine doctor to give a keynote address during our event. He really made an impact on our audience with a clear message of why integrative medicine is incredibly important to women, especially breast cancer survivors," says Donna Kaufman, Vice President of Tigerlily Foundation.
What is Integrative Medicine?
Integrative medicine combines both traditional and holistic approaches when treating people. It is patient driven, unbiased and individualized. The practice of integrative medicine is becoming more widely known in the medical field and on Capitol Hill. "I had the remarkable opportunity to share the podium with speakers such as Dr. Otis Brawley, Chief Medical Officer of The American Cancer Society, physicians from Johns Hopkins, Georgetown University and more. There were a lot of mutually-supported points amongst the speakers. I think it's symbolic that many health centers of excellence are recognizing the importance of integrative care and engaging Members of Congress to discuss the underlying issues of cancer care," says Dr. Eliaz.
Fertility & Yoga: How Ancient Healing Methods Can Help You Get Pregnant
San Diego, California
More and more women are combining medical fertility treatments with holistic therapies, but do they help? As they have gained acceptance both in the popular culture and in the medical community, natural healing remedies such as acupuncture and yoga have become supplemental fertility treatments. This makes sense because some infertility issues are lifestyle-related while others are biological. You too can take advantage of these natural fertility boosters.
Why Yoga? Tending to your sense of well-being is an important consideration as you set out to conceive, and any stretching or meditation practice that relaxes your body and lowers your stress level will help your body to be healthy. Yoga is one way to reduce stress, according to the Mayo Clinic. Other natural therapies, such as fertility acupuncture, also boost your chances of conception considerably. Yoga, when compared with other treatments like acupuncture, is both inexpensive and practical - a healthy yoga routine can be done almost anywhere.
How Yoga Helps
Yoga devotees rave about the rewards of a regular yoga practice, and the evidence to support their enthusiasm is mounting. While the strength and flexibility gained from fertility yoga present obvious advantages in giving birth and recovering from pregnancy, yoga's positive effects begin long before conception. The relaxation and improved circulation that result from a few sessions each week serve to regulate the menstrual cycle. More than that, yoga poses designed to open up the hips may align the uterus properly as well, making conception much more viable.
Dr. Catherine Ulbricht Discusses Alternative Medicine on the Dr. Oz Show
New York, New York
Elsevier is the leading global publisher of scientific, technical, and medical information products and services, and Natural Standard, the Authority on Integrative medicine, providing high-quality, evidence-based information about complementary and alternative therapies. Dr. Catherine Ulbricht, Chief Editor of Natural Standard appeared on the Dr. Oz Show. On the episode "The Dr. Oz Show. Why your doctor is afraid of alternative health. Should you be?" experts investigated why some healthcare providers may be cautious of alternative medicine and discussed whether common therapies may be safe and effective.
"There is a lot written about alternative medicine, including herbs and supplements, and much of it is not evidence-based, which is one of the reasons some healthcare providers may be skeptical," said Dr. Ulbricht. "Often anecdotal tales of effectiveness are not supported by science. Our mission is to consolidate available data and apply a validated, reproducible research methodology to establish consensus on which therapies may be safe and effective." "The Dr. Oz Show" is a multi-topic, multi-segment health and wellness talk show that offers topical, newsworthy information and inspiring stories in an upbeat and entertaining format featuring Dr. Oz's unique point of view.
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