2006-10-24 00:00:00

Blue Tomatoes? Could Have Health Benefits.

SALEM, Oregon (AP) — Oregon State University researchers are fine-tuning a purple tomato — a new blend of colors and nutrients. The skin is as dark as an eggplant. But it doesn’t just look cool — it could be better for you.

The novel pigment contains the same phytochemical found in blueberries that is thought to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Six years in the making, the purple hybrid could hit salad plates in two years.

Genetic origins are not at issue. The purple tomato traces its roots to a wild species in South America, not a petri dish.

Jim Myers, the Oregon State professor overseeing the project, said he doesn’t see it changing the world, but it may entice gardeners and commercial growers to try it.

Although locals can’t buy the hybrids yet, several got to sample them at farmers markets around the Mid Valley this summer, and a handful got a sneak peek at a local nursery.

Barbara Taylor, of Monmouth, marveled at its color when she saw the tomato last month. “Wow,” she said. “It’s definitely different.”

Filed under: — @ 2006-10-24 00:00:00
2006-10-17 00:00:00

Major medical mistakes that doctors make

Errors made by doctors in office settings play a role in almost 60 percent of situations where patients are injured by missed or delayed diagnoses, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

An examination of more than 300 medical malpractice claims revealed that 181 involved diagnostic errors.

Most of the cases involved cancer of one type or another, and 30 percent concerned situations that led to the death of the patient.

Mistakes by doctors included:

Failure to order appropriate diagnostic tests
Failure to create a proper follow-up plan
Not obtaining an adequate patient history
Not performing an adequate physical examination
Incorrect interpretation of tests
The leading factors that contributed to errors included failures in judgment, vigilance, memory, knowledge, patient-related factors or handoffs.

Commentators on the study have said that physicians need to err on the side of caution when it comes to diagnostic tests, detailed records and follow-up. Others have said that the research shows that doctors need more help in making decisions, whether from better electronic records, better evaluation techniques, or more use of nurse practitioners to ensure follow-up.

More: Annals of Interternal Medicine

Filed under: — @ 2006-10-17 00:00:00
2006-10-12 00:00:00

Western States Chiropractic College awarded historic grant!

Western States Chiropractic College in Portland has been awarded one of the largest grants in the history of chiropractic medicine to study treatment of one of the most common ailments for which Americans seek care: lower back pain. The grant is the largest given to a single-study project by the complementary medicine arm of the National Institutes of Health, the nation?s foremost independent source of funding for biomedical health research.
The $2.8 million federal grant is aimed at giving chiropractors more specific treatment plans, patients a firmer idea of how long it will take before they feel better, and insurance companies guidelines on how many visits to cover.
Four hundred volunteers from the Portland area who suffer from lower back pain will be recruited, beginning after the first of the year. There will be no financial obligation to participants in the drug-free study.
For further information and/or to volunteer for the study on low back pain, call the Research Department at 1-800-678-9072.
Funded by:
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institute of Health: http://nccam.nih.gov.

Filed under: — @ 2006-10-12 00:00:00
2006-10-11 00:00:00

Cola consumption may affect bone density.

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Women who want to keep their bones strong may want to keep their cola consumption to a minimum, a new study suggests.

In a study of more than 2,500 adults, Dr. Katherine L. Tucker of Tufts University in Boston and colleagues found that women who consumed cola daily had lower bone mineral density (BMD) in their hips than those who drank less than one serving of cola a month.

“Because BMD is strongly linked with fracture risk, and because cola is a popular beverage, this is of considerable public health importance,” the authors write in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Studies in teen girls have tied heavy soft drink consumption to fractures and lower BMD, the researchers note, but it is not clear if this is because they’re drinking less milk, or if it is due to any harmful effects of soda itself.

To investigate this question in adults, the researchers measured BMD in the spine and at three points on the hips in 1,413 women and 1,125 men participating in a study of the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis.

While there was no association between soft drinks in general and BMD, the researchers found that women who drank the most cola had significantly less dense bones in their hips. The greater their intake, the thinner the bones, and the relationship was seen for diet, regular, and non-caffeinated colas.

Cola consumption had no effect on BMD in men.

Women who drank more cola did not drink less milk, but they did consume less calcium and had lower intakes of phosphorus in relation to calcium. Cola contains phosphoric acid, the researchers note, which impairs calcium absorption and increases excretion of the mineral. Caffeine has also been linked to osteoporosis, they add.

“No evidence exists that occasional use of carbonated beverages, including cola, is detrimental to bone,” they note. “However, unless additional evidence rules out an effect, women who are concerned about osteoporosis may want to avoid the regular use of cola beverages.”

SOURCE: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, October 2006.

Filed under: — @ 2006-10-11 00:00:00
2006-10-10 00:00:00

Guest article: 10 ways Social Computing is transforming the Healthcare Industry

I stumbled upon OrganizedWisdom.com, a collaborative health information community, a few weeks ago and was intrigued by their premise of allowing people to “share their health wisdom” in an easy to use manner. It combines professional and user-generated health content with social networking technologies to help people make the most informed health decisions possible. I thought it was such a great idea that I reached out to Unity Stoakes, President and co-founder of OrganizedWisdom.com, to talk about why he thinks social computing matters in healthcare and how we can all participate. Here’s what he said.

Collaboration is nothing new to the health care industry. Scientists, physicians, health organizations, and educational institutions have networked, shared information, and worked together to solve the world???s biggest health care challenges forever. But only recently, as a result of new Internet technologies, have individuals been empowered to join this same discussion in a meaningful, collective way.
Here are 10 ways social computing may be the most disruptive and positive force to ever impact the healthcare industry.

1. Information Windows Have Closed
New health-focused social networks, search engines and content distributors are making it easier for anyone to have access to the same information at the same time. That means the health care industry needs to educate consumer patients at the same time they educate physicians. Consumers now have access to information that was once privileged only to the industry. Social computing makes it possible for almost anyone to quickly arm themselves with information, ask more questions, and take charge of their health decisions like never before.

2. Collaboration is Making Us Smarter
Now that it???s less expensive, faster, and easy for health groups, physicians, health organizations, and consumers to connect and collaborate, everyone is getting smarter. People are learning about new treatments, alternative solutions, less expensive options, and helping each other connect the dots with complicated health issues.

3. It???s Now Possible to Dialog Directly with Patients
For the most part, the health care industry has been based on the ???few to many??? approach to communications, marketing, product development, etc. Technology is making it possible (and necessary) for the industry to connect with all of their constituencies in a more personalized, relevant way. These new direct links with consumer patients, for example, could mean better product design, new treatments, more effective trials, and ultimately more personalized health solutions.

4. Transparency is a Requirement
Social networks are lifting the veil of an often blurry and complex industry. People want to understand more about the companies providing their health care. They are learning about alternative treatments. And they are demanding a more open and forthright culture from the industry. Social networks are breeding savvy consumers, who are giving their trust to those who are opening the curtain and helping communicate in more transparent ways.

5. Word of Mouth Marketing
Friends and family have shared and spread important wisdom since the beginning of time. But now, via social networks, they can do so with a click of a button. This means that industry marketers will need to rethink how they focus their efforts. They must figure out transparent and effective ways to leverage word of mouth marketing in a hyper-connected world.

6. Knowledge Now Lives Forever
Over time community driven knowledge bases will become smarter and more meaningful. Archived information, shared wisdom, and personal experience has a much longer life span than ever before.

7. Wisdom of Crowds
The collective experience from millions can now be assembled to help people see trends, make decisions, and learn what worked (or didn???t work) for millions of other people. Access to this data will change how people make their health care decisions in the future, and perhaps impact the very types of health related products and services that become available.

8. The Long Tail Effect
Health care will open up to thousands of new micro-segments, as the health industry, learns that there is big business in small niche focused health care needs. There will be new treatments and solutions for even the most rare of health conditions. It is also likely, that social networks will make it easier for the health care industry to identify new areas they need to focus on developing solutions for.

9. Costs Driven Down
Over time, education and collaboration will force the industry to find innovative ways to keep costs down. People will get better access to health care at more affordable prices because they will be able to find other options and new solutions.

10. Privacy Fears Replaced by a Culture of Collaborative Action
For many important reasons, personal privacy is critical when health issues are concerned. But as we are seeing online in message boards, blogs, and Web sites, many are standing up and saying: I want to share my wisdom to help other people. Social networks that empower consumers and put them in control of their personal health information, are giving individuals the choice to make decisions about what they share and what they don???t. This new culture of openness will require additional protections, but overall we will all benefit from a more intelligent and collaborative base of knowledge, experience and progress.
It is exciting to see all of the innovation occurring in the health care industry today. New technologies, empowered consumers, and better information, will ultimately help us all. Those companies who learn to participate transparently, and leverage the force of these new networks, will ultimately succeed.

For more about these trends, visit the OrganizedWisdom blog at http://wisdom.blogs.com or their new site at http://www.organizedwisdom.com.

Filed under: — @ 2006-10-10 00:00:00
2006-10-10 00:00:00

Guest article: 10 ways Social Computing is transforming the Healthcare Industry

I stumbled upon OrganizedWisdom.com, a collaborative health information community, a few weeks ago and was intrigued by their premise of allowing people to “share their health wisdom” in an easy to use manner. It combines professional and user-generated health content with social networking technologies to help people make the most informed health decisions possible. I thought it was such a great idea that I reached out to Unity Stoakes, President and co-founder of OrganizedWisdom.com, to talk about why he thinks social computing matters in healthcare and how we can all participate. Here’s what he said.

Collaboration is nothing new to the health care industry. Scientists, physicians, health organizations, and educational institutions have networked, shared information, and worked together to solve the world???s biggest health care challenges forever. But only recently, as a result of new Internet technologies, have individuals been empowered to join this same discussion in a meaningful, collective way.
Here are 10 ways social computing may be the most disruptive and positive force to ever impact the healthcare industry.

1. Information Windows Have Closed
New health-focused social networks, search engines and content distributors are making it easier for anyone to have access to the same information at the same time. That means the health care industry needs to educate consumer patients at the same time they educate physicians. Consumers now have access to information that was once privileged only to the industry. Social computing makes it possible for almost anyone to quickly arm themselves with information, ask more questions, and take charge of their health decisions like never before.

2. Collaboration is Making Us Smarter
Now that it???s less expensive, faster, and easy for health groups, physicians, health organizations, and consumers to connect and collaborate, everyone is getting smarter. People are learning about new treatments, alternative solutions, less expensive options, and helping each other connect the dots with complicated health issues.

3. It???s Now Possible to Dialog Directly with Patients
For the most part, the health care industry has been based on the ???few to many??? approach to communications, marketing, product development, etc. Technology is making it possible (and necessary) for the industry to connect with all of their constituencies in a more personalized, relevant way. These new direct links with consumer patients, for example, could mean better product design, new treatments, more effective trials, and ultimately more personalized health solutions.

4. Transparency is a Requirement
Social networks are lifting the veil of an often blurry and complex industry. People want to understand more about the companies providing their health care. They are learning about alternative treatments. And they are demanding a more open and forthright culture from the industry. Social networks are breeding savvy consumers, who are giving their trust to those who are opening the curtain and helping communicate in more transparent ways.

5. Word of Mouth Marketing
Friends and family have shared and spread important wisdom since the beginning of time. But now, via social networks, they can do so with a click of a button. This means that industry marketers will need to rethink how they focus their efforts. They must figure out transparent and effective ways to leverage word of mouth marketing in a hyper-connected world.

6. Knowledge Now Lives Forever
Over time community driven knowledge bases will become smarter and more meaningful. Archived information, shared wisdom, and personal experience has a much longer life span than ever before.

7. Wisdom of Crowds
The collective experience from millions can now be assembled to help people see trends, make decisions, and learn what worked (or didn???t work) for millions of other people. Access to this data will change how people make their health care decisions in the future, and perhaps impact the very types of health related products and services that become available.

8. The Long Tail Effect
Health care will open up to thousands of new micro-segments, as the health industry, learns that there is big business in small niche focused health care needs. There will be new treatments and solutions for even the most rare of health conditions. It is also likely, that social networks will make it easier for the health care industry to identify new areas they need to focus on developing solutions for.

9. Costs Driven Down
Over time, education and collaboration will force the industry to find innovative ways to keep costs down. People will get better access to health care at more affordable prices because they will be able to find other options and new solutions.

10. Privacy Fears Replaced by a Culture of Collaborative Action
For many important reasons, personal privacy is critical when health issues are concerned. But as we are seeing online in message boards, blogs, and Web sites, many are standing up and saying: I want to share my wisdom to help other people. Social networks that empower consumers and put them in control of their personal health information, are giving individuals the choice to make decisions about what they share and what they don???t. This new culture of openness will require additional protections, but overall we will all benefit from a more intelligent and collaborative base of knowledge, experience and progress.
It is exciting to see all of the innovation occurring in the health care industry today. New technologies, empowered consumers, and better information, will ultimately help us all. Those companies who learn to participate transparently, and leverage the force of these new networks, will ultimately succeed.

For more about these trends, visit the OrganizedWisdom blog at http://wisdom.blogs.com or their new site at http://www.organizedwisdom.com.

Filed under: — @ 2006-10-10 00:00:00
2006-10-05 00:00:00

Isn’t it time for the Business Guys to get IT?

For years technology strategists like myself have been working with business folks and C-Suite executives complaining that “you IT guys are too techie” or “you guys just get don’t understand the business”. Many CIOs and architects have been relegated to obscurity because of this perception. In the days when computers were new and technology was not integral to the business, it was ok that the “business guys” were frustrated with the “geeks” if they talked tech but those days are long gone. Tech ignorance among the business suite should not be tolerated because there is almost no area of our economy where technology and its applications like IT are the domain of a single department. This is especially true in healthcare.

Firms lose out when technology staff members are not integral parts of strategy and decision making processes. Given the central role of technology in many organizations, IT folks have some of the most knowledge about the way your business actually works (as opposed to the way it’s perceived to work). Given that many business processes are already automated and many or going to be, it’s only natural that technologists will understand the business because without understanding it they couldn’t have automated it. Of course, I’m not naive enough to believe that all technology professionals are equally adept business folks but it’s time to not treat them as separate groups.

What about the business side? There is equal frustration, well deserved in many cases, that many executives “don’t get technology” and ignore the time-tested and prudent advice of IT folks. We need more execs who value business technology (BT) knowledge, get trained, or at least understand that it’s important. When hiring senior executives, it’s just as important to ensure that they know technology as it is for them to understand the basics of finance and marketing.

Business Technology and IT knowledge is crucial in a competitive environment and senior executives should foster that by including questions about tech in their interviewing and hiring process.

If you’re a CIO or an architect or other senior technology leader you should start holding “brown bag” seminars at lunch once a month or other regular intervals to help train executives on technology topics important to your business. A simple topic like “Web 2.0″ or social computing could be very useful.

The geeks have the responsibility to make sure the business side is armed with BT knowledge but the business side has to do its part by understanding it’s really their own responsibility to realize their knowledge gap and seek help.

HR folks should create a technology staffing plan that would include the task of helping create interview questions and recruitment strategies to ensure you’re getting tech-savvy business folks.

What do you guys think? Am I living in a fantasy world or is the biz and tech gap really something that can be bridged?

Filed under: — @ 2006-10-05 00:00:00
2006-10-05 00:00:00

Isn’t it time for the Business Guys to get IT?

For years technology strategists like myself have been working with business folks and C-Suite executives complaining that “you IT guys are too techie” or “you guys just get don’t understand the business”. Many CIOs and architects have been relegated to obscurity because of this perception. In the days when computers were new and technology was not integral to the business, it was ok that the “business guys” were frustrated with the “geeks” if they talked tech but those days are long gone. Tech ignorance among the business suite should not be tolerated because there is almost no area of our economy where technology and its applications like IT are the domain of a single department. This is especially true in healthcare.

Firms lose out when technology staff members are not integral parts of strategy and decision making processes. Given the central role of technology in many organizations, IT folks have some of the most knowledge about the way your business actually works (as opposed to the way it’s perceived to work). Given that many business processes are already automated and many or going to be, it’s only natural that technologists will understand the business because without understanding it they couldn’t have automated it. Of course, I’m not naive enough to believe that all technology professionals are equally adept business folks but it’s time to not treat them as separate groups.

What about the business side? There is equal frustration, well deserved in many cases, that many executives “don’t get technology” and ignore the time-tested and prudent advice of IT folks. We need more execs who value business technology (BT) knowledge, get trained, or at least understand that it’s important. When hiring senior executives, it’s just as important to ensure that they know technology as it is for them to understand the basics of financeand marketing.

Business Technology and IT knowledge is crucial in a competitive environment and senior executives should foster that by including questions about tech in their interviewing and hiring process.

If you’re a CIO or an architect or other senior technology leader you should start holding “brown bag” seminars at lunch once a month or other regular intervals to help train executives on technology topics important to your business. A simple topic like “Web 2.0″ or social computing could be very useful.

The geeks have the responsibility to make sure the business side is armed with BT knowledge but the business side has to do its part by understanding it’s really their own responsibility to realize their knowledge gap and seek help.

HR folks should create a technology staffing plan that would include the task of helping create interview questions and recruitment strategies to ensure you’re getting tech-savvy business folks.

What do you guys think? Am I living in a fantasy world or is the biz and tech gap really something that can be bridged?

Filed under: — @ 2006-10-05 00:00:00
2006-10-04 00:00:00

Sleepless Night Could Be Affecting More Than Your Attitude

Everyone has a different idea on what the right number of hours sleep he or she need to make it through the following day. Some people swear they can get by with four hours while other seem to require a solid nine to face the world.

Could it be that our body’s sleep needs could vary so much from person to person. Obviously people expend different amount of energy throughout the day, so a steel worker might need more rest than a desk jockey.

The average person will sleep 8 hours and 45 min if given the chance. Unfortunately the modern schedule doesn’t always accommodate this luxury. Currently people are getting an average of 7 hours of sleep a night. This is down from 8-9 hours forty years ago.

So how do you know if you are getting enough sleep? “If you’re falling asleep in 1 or 2 minutes, you’re probably sleep deprived,” says Thomas Roth, M.D., director of the Sleep Disorders and Research Center at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. If you find yourself reaching for the java throughout the day to keep your head off your desk, you might be in need of some more zzzz.

Ok, so you get a little tired during the day, that is what we have coffee for right. It appears that sleepiness might not be the worst of the side effects associated with sleeplessness.

A large study out of the University of Chicago showed that subjects who received four hours of sleep for only two night had a decrease in a hormone that tells your body that it is full and an increase in a hormone that increases your hunger. Another study with 10,000 participants found that people who sleep less than 7 hours were more likely to be obese.

Why are people not sleeping? The obvious answer points to stress as the culprit. It is no surprise that people are more stress out now and increased stress leads to decrease in sleep.

The following are some ideas on how to help make sure you get a good night’ssleep.

* Keep a regular schedule. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday, even on the weekends. Keeping a regular schedule will help your body expect sleep at the same time each day. Don?t oversleep to make up for a poor night?s sleep ? doing that for even a couple of days can reset your body clock and make it hard for you to get to sleep at night.
* Incorporate bedtime rituals. Listening to soft music, sipping a cup of herbal tea, etc., cues your body that it’s time to slow down and begin to prepare for sleep.
* Relax for a while before going to bed. Spending quiet time can make falling asleep easier. This may include meditation, relaxation and/or breathing exercises, or taking a warm bath. Try listening to recorded relaxation or guided imagery programs.
* Don?t eat a large, heavy meal before bed. This can cause indigestion and interfere with your normal sleep cycle. Drinking too much fluid before bed can cause you to get up to urinate. Try to eat your dinner at least two hours before bedtime.
* Bedtime snacks can help. An amino acid called tryptophan, found in milk, turkey, and peanuts, helps the brain produce serotonin, a chemical that helps you relax. Try drinking warm milk or eat a slice of toast with peanut butter or a bowl of cereal before bedtime. Plus, the warmth may temporarilyincrease your body temperature and the subsequent drop may hasten sleep.
* Jot down all of your concerns and worries. Anxiety excites the nervous system, so your brain sends messages to the adrenal glands, making you more alert. Write down your worries and possible solutions before you go to bed, so you don’t need to ruminate in the middle of the night. A journal or “to do” list may be very helpful in letting you put away these concerns until the next day when you are fresh.

Filed under: — @ 2006-10-04 00:00:00
2006-10-03 00:00:00

The Role of the Web in Hospital Marketing

Forrester’s healthcare and life sciences group has a new report out called The Role of the Web in Hospital Marketing. Here’s the executive summary:

Hospital marketers are waking up to the new requirements put on them by the emergence of consumer-directed health plans, the growth of health consumerism, the chronic shortage of nurses, and escalating competition among providers. These execs are moving beyond printed brochures and highway billboards and investing more heavily in their Web sites. But organizational and practical problems loom ??? from securing precious budget dollars to prioritizing an endless wish list of features. Forrester spoke with marketing executives at 13 US hospitals to learn about their pain points and plans for the future.

If you’re in the hospital marketing space it’s probably worth paying for but I didn’t plunk down the $775 necessary to read it. If anyone has a copy and would like to comment on it or write a guest article here about what Forrester got from their interviews of 13 hospitals that might be useful to read.

Filed under: — @ 2006-10-03 00:00:00
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