2006-12-20 00:00:00

Cold Feet?

You don’t have to be getting married or making a commitment to get cold feet - some people have cold feet year-round. Often this is simply due to cold weather or exposed feet and toes, but some people experience cold feet even when the weather is warm.

If you tend to get cold feet, discuss your symptoms with your doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions. Circulatory disorders, anemia, diabetes and Raynaud’s disease (a circulatory problem in which the hands and feet have hypersensitivity to the cold) may be to blame, and should be addressed if theyare determined to be the cause. If no medical condition is found, try the following - each can help to prevent or lessen your cold-feet symptoms:

  • Sprinkle a small amount of ground cayenne pepper in your socks and shoes.
  • Make time to get regular physical exercise to improve your circulation.
  • Quit smoking: Nicotine constricts blood vessels, disturbing normal circulation.
  • Wear shoes that are comfortable and not too tight in order to avoid restricted circulation.
  • Don’t forget the most obvious solution: A relaxing foot soak in warm (not hot) water followed by a pair of warm socks!
Filed under: — @ 2006-12-20 00:00:00
2006-12-20 00:00:00

Holiday Hangover? Try these simple steps to help you start the year of right.

By Stacey Colino
Health.com
Filed under: — @ 2006-12-20 00:00:00
2006-12-20 00:00:00

Holiday Stress Tips

With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s important to avoid stress. To prevent the parties, shopping, and family visits from taking their toll on your health, follow these suggestions from the National Safety Council:

    1. Be realistic. You can’t do everything portrayed on TV or in magazines. If you try to do too much, you and your children will be too exhausted to enjoy it.

    Be realistic about expectations of family and friends. No one is perfect and the holidays won’t suddenly make them so. Family members willbe the way they always are. If siblings fight, they won’t suddenly stop just because it is a holiday. When choosing which friends to spend time with during this month, surround yourself with the supportive ones. There isn’t time or energy to spend with the ones who agitate you.

    Help your children be realistic about what to expect as well. Model for them that the holidays are about more than gifts. Teach them how to handle envy when a friend gets the toy that they wanted. What should they do when family get-togethers are filled with tension or adults are arguing? Think of ways to help the child who is splitting time between two families in different households.

    2. Reassess. As a family, decide which activities are important and which can be eliminated. Are there things that you do because you have always done them? Have you stopped enjoying them? Have your children outgrown them? Look at how you can do the activity differently or make this the year to let it go.

    3. Start a new tradition. Find one activity the family enjoys and create a new tradition this year. Rituals that occur every year are comforting to children and help create positive holiday memories. Focus on the meaning of the holiday. Talk to your children about what is important to you during this season.

    4. Prioritize. What has to be done and when? Plan ahead on how to use your time. If you plan and schedule activities, you won’t feel so pressured. Some parents find a calendar of holiday activities helpful. Include times to bake those cookies, or a chunk of time for gift wrapping. Start shopping early, so you aren’t trying to find something important the day before you need it. Make a shopping list so you won’t overspend on spur-of-the-moment purchases. Tell your younger children what the final plans are early enough to help them get ready for family visits, dinners or other big events.

    5. Keep your routine. During this hectic time, changing the normal family routine can be stressful to children. As much as possible, stick to regular mealtimes and bedtime. If there is a big activity, make sure your child is rested and fed. Keep a snack handy for an afternoon activity that lasts longer than anticipated. Help reduce the impact of schedule changes by telling your child what to expect. If your child is slow to adjust, tell her what to expect, who will be there and how long you will stay. Once you get to the activity, stay close by until she feels comfortable.

    6. Delegate responsibilities. Ask for help around the house or divide tasks among adults and older children. Can everyone pitch in to help bake the cookies? Make a production line, and you may start a new tradition. Let children wrap their presents for others. The gift may not be wrapped “perfectly,” but children will have fun in the process.

    7. Simplify. Plan easy meals, especially on those days when there are other commitments. How big a holiday dinner do you have to cook? Suggest a potluck with your family and friends, instead of having one person do all the work. Cut down on how many gifts you give. For example, if you get gifts for all your nieces and nephews, consider one gift for the family (like a family board game). When wrapping gifts, choose one or two colors of paper. In our house, each person has a color. It makes it easier to wrap, and easy for all to know “which one is mine.” Do you have to send a holiday card to everyone you know? With so many people having e-mail, how about sending your holiday note electronically this year?

    8. Plan for fun. What do you enjoy? Plan time to go to see The Nutcracker or drive around to see holiday lights or get together to go to a local tree farm. Visit the children’s museum or go to story hour at the library or local bookstore. What activities are low or no cost?

    9. Explore how other cultures celebrate the season. What are some other holidays that are different than yours? Are there unique ways other countries or cultures celebrate the same occasion (like Christmas)? Check out a CD of songs from around the world, or learn a new recipe from another culture’s celebration.

    10. Carve out time for yourself. This time of year, parents find themselves committing to others; but not scheduling time for themselves. Make a little quiet time - maybe a long bath or a walk by yourself or time to read. Make sure you are getting enough rest. A short nap may help you be energetic for that evening party. What about a special day or evening time for you and your partner or a good friend to reconnect? Children also need some unscheduled downtime to recuperate from all the running around. They too will enjoy time with a best friend to just play, without doing a holiday activity.

    Finally, roll with the punches. Even though there will be days when things won’t work out as you planned, try to find the humor in the mishaps. One year, our family got to the woods to cut a tree and realized we had forgotten the ax. We ended up using what tools we had in the back of the truck. It is one of the more humorous stories that we still retell. And remember, in another month it will be over. Do what you can to make the holiday season a pleasant memory for your family.

Filed under: — @ 2006-12-20 00:00:00
2006-12-20 00:00:00

Holiday Tip: Trim Your Tree With Care

(HealthDay News) — While decorating for the holiday season, keep in mind that a live tree, electric lights, and some ornaments can pose safety hazards.

Here are suggestions from the National Safety Council on how to enjoy a safe holiday:

  • Reduce the risk of fire by checking all light strands for broken bulbs or exposed wires.
  • Never plug more than three sets of lights into one extension cord, and never leave Christmas lights turned on when you’re asleep or away from the home.
  • Don’t place lighted candlesnear trees or other holiday decorations.
  • Keep breakable ornaments high up on the tree, out of reach of curious children and pets.
Filed under: — @ 2006-12-20 00:00:00
2006-12-17 00:00:00

Open Source Health Care Summit

The Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE) has announced plans to host an Open Source Health Care summit as part of their upcoming 2007 conference, SCALE 5x. The event will be held on February 9, 2007 at the Los Angeles Airport Westin Hotel. Here’s what they say about it:

The focus of this event will be on the use of open-source software in the health care industry. The goal of this event is to foster an awareness of the availability of open-source options to medical organizations, private practices, and hospitals.

Topics to be covered at this workshop include:

  • Relevance of Open Source software and Open Standards for the Health Care industry.
  • Integrating proprietary systems with Open Source software.
  • Case studies of using Open Source software in health care environments.
  • Open Source software in the private medical practice.
  • Open Source software in regional health information organizations.
  • Current and future growth of open source in health care.
  • Birds of a Feather discussion sessions for IT, medical and business users in the medical space.

The call for papers for this event can be found online at: http://www.socallinuxexpo.org/healthcare07/oss-healthcare2007-cfp.pdf

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

Open Source Health Care Summit

The Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE) has announced plans to host an Open Source Health Care summit as part of their upcoming 2007 conference, SCALE 5x. The event will be held on February 9, 2007 at the Los Angeles Airport Westin Hotel. Here’s what they say about it:

The focus of this event will be on the use of open-source software in the health care industry. The goal of this event is to foster an awareness of the availability of open-source options to medical organizations, private practices, and hospitals.

Topics to be covered at this workshop include:

  • Relevance of Open Source software and Open Standards for the Health Care industry.
  • Integrating proprietary systems with Open Source software.
  • Case studies of using Open Source software in health care environments.
  • Open Source software in the private medical practice.
  • Open Source software in regional health information organizations.
  • Current and future growth of open source in health care.
  • Birds of a Feather discussion sessions for IT, medical and business users in the medical space.

The call for papers for this event can be found online at: http://www.socallinuxexpo.org/healthcare07/oss-healthcare2007-cfp.pdf

Filed under: — @ 2006-12-17 00:00:00
2006-12-15 00:00:00

Are you protecting Patient healthcare data on discarded equipment?

Given the increase in computer usage to track patient data and that we’re all now going through new cycles of computer purchases (especially with Vista coming soon) discarding older equipment is something we do often.

Discarded equipment may include entire computers or just hard disks, thumb drives, and other storage devices. One thing I’ve been discussing with my clients is their strategy for protecting information on discarded devices and it makes sense to review your own policies. Some questions to ask your team:

  • Does your organization have a policy for destruction of sensitive data within its own environment?
  • Does your organization’s policy extend to your partners and vendors or do they have their own policies?
  • What tools are in use to destroy sensitive data and do they meet the requirements stipulated in your policies?
  • If you do have policies, how are they enforced and documented so that if legal action is required you are prepared?
  • If you’re not disposing of older equipment, where is it kept? Is it inventoried and tracked? How would you know if older equipment with sensitive data is stolen?
  • How to start protecting yourself:

    • Reduce the amount of information available on storage devices by using thin-client software that doesn’t maintain state anywhere except on a server.
    • Create an awareness campaign to make sure patient-sensitive information is stored only on servers and shared file systems instead of on personal PC’s and thumb drives.
    • Create risk assessments, policies, and procedures to ensure you have a plan for addressing discarded devices. Be sure to include third parties (especially oursourcers) and ask them about their data retention policies.
    • Use comprehensive data cleansing tools to erase data, not just the Windows or operating system “delete” commands. None of those basic commands will actually delete data, they only “hide” it.

    If any of you have policy or procedure documents in place that you can share, leave a comment here or volunteer to do a guest post where you can discuss your successes/challenges. It would be useful for us all.

      Filed under: — @ 2006-12-15 00:00:00
      2006-12-15 00:00:00

      Tamiflu - FDA Warns against side effects

      FDA released a warning regarding the use of Tamiflu, they warn of the potential risk for neuropsychiatric events associated with its use. These behaviors have been seen primarily in Japan with over 100 cases that have been reported. Effects of the medication include panic attacks, suicide attempts, hallucinations and delirium.

      For many years Japan has closely followed and documented the effects of flu on their citizens. This explains why these cases have been noticed in Japan first, along with the higher useof the drug amongst the Japanese. Each year an estimated two million Americans take Tamiflu which has been shown to decrease the duration of the flu by a day or two. The flu season has not yet started in the US, so these cases have not been seen.

      For more information:

      WebMD

      NPR - Includes Audio

      Filed under: — @ 2006-12-15 00:00:00
      2006-12-15 00:00:00

      Are you protecting Patient healthcare data on discarded equipment?

      Given the increase in computer usage to track patient data and that we’re all now going through new cycles of computer purchases (especially with Vista coming soon) discarding older equipment is something we do often.

      Discarded equipment may include entire computers or just hard disks, thumb drives, and other storage devices. One thing I’ve been discussing with my clients is their strategy for protecting information on discarded devices and it makes sense to review your own policies. Some questions to ask your team:

    • Does your organization have a policy for destruction of sensitive data within its own environment?
    • Does your organization’s policy extend to your partners and vendors or do they have their own policies?
    • What tools are in use to destroy sensitive data and do they meet the requirements stipulated in your policies?
    • If you do have policies, how are they enforced and documented so that if legal action is required you are prepared?
    • If you’re not disposing of older equipment, where is it kept? Is it inventoried and tracked? How would you know if older equipment with sensitive data is stolen?
    • How to start protecting yourself:

      • Reduce the amount of information available on storage devices by using thin-client software that doesn’t maintain state anywhere except on a server.
      • Create an awareness campaign to make sure patient-sensitive information is stored only on servers and shared file systems instead of on personal PC’s and thumb drives.
      • Create risk assessments, policies, and procedures to ensure you have a plan for addressing discarded devices. Be sure to include third parties (especially oursourcers) and ask them about their data retention policies.
      • Use comprehensive data cleansing tools to erase data,not just the Windows or operating system “delete” commands. None of those basic commands will actually delete data, they only “hide” it.

      If any of you have policy or procedure documents in place that you can share, leave a comment here or volunteer to do a guest post where you can discuss your successes/challenges. It would be useful for us all.

        Filed under: — @ 2006-12-15 00:00:00
        2006-12-13 00:00:00

        Guest Article: Who owns my healthcare data?

        Healthcare data ownership is an important issue and I was pleased to run across Pardalis, a company specializing it. Although they don???t focus only on healthcare, they intrigued me because they appear to be a cross between a nascent supply chain Google, eBay, and author-controlled Wikipedia. That is, they claim to be able to increase availability of on-demand healthcare information (which lots of companies are doing) but they provide real-time control over the process of sharing such information to patients and healthcare information producers (which very few allow today). It???s unique enough that they???ve recently been awarded a couple of patents. Pardalis is company worth keeping an eye on because if they can achieve even part of what they plan it could lead to a practical realization of software as a service that might give more than just lip service to privacy and be able to address the economic realities of ???data ownership???. I invited Pardalis??? founder and CEO, Steve Holcombe, to discuss why he believes healthcare informatics seems be trapped within a technological Tower of Babel. Here???s what Steve had to say:

        Shahid, in this Age of the Internet, patients and consumers are asking how they can easily and securely access and share their personal healthcare information as and when they choose.

        Hospitals, healthcare clinics, physicians and other healthcare service providers know that there is no sense in developing a healthcare informatics infrastructure to merely warehouse healthcare information. They also understand that building one huge, integrated informatics infrastructure is impractical, to say the least, and probably impossible in terms of getting everybody to first agree on a common set of standards. But they too are nonetheless asking themselves how they can share the patient information they hold in trust between their respective ???information silos??? in a manner that provides them with a direct, on-demand choice to audit and control the use of such information in compliance with HIPAA.

        The ever increasing reliance upon the Internet in general commerce, the increasing usage of unique identification as applied to pharmaceutical products, and the longtime use of unique social security numbers for identifying patients have converged to raise the level of expectation for on-demand, confidential sharing of information by healthcare information producers and patients. But the political and economic question of ???Who owns my data???? is not being answered to their satisfaction and the result is untold quantities of missing, incomplete and untrustworthy information along the complex healthcare supply chain.

        Neither enterprise systems, ERP systems, nor web services have assuaged the cacophony of disparate healthcare information technologies that is today???s status quo. Yes, healthcare informatics as it presently exists is seemingly held hostage within a technological Tower of Babel.

        Why is this so? Probably for the very best of reasons. Existing enterprise systems, ERP systems and web services all manipulate two-dimensional rows and columns of data sets and/or two-dimensional compositions of data objects. It is reasonable for software engineers to make one-step, iterative improvements to the existing systems to securely provide for the sharing of information without giving technological consideration to complicated, three-dimensional political and economic issues. That is, it is reasonable for the software designers to presume that some day the appropriate industry standards will eventually be hammered out and everybody will just ???do the right thing??? in terms of information sharing. It is reasonable for technology officers to think only in terms of getting two-dimensional data sets or data objects from point ???A to Z??? The curious thing is that the cumulative weight of these reasonable decisions have brought us to where we are today.

        The short answer to this overwrought, two-dimensional reasonableness is a technological three-dimensional radicalism.

        Mind you, leave the existing two-dimensional data systems in place. It is one thing to be radical. It is all together another to be foolish. But in thinking about designing a solution for integrating the existing two-dimensional systems, consider addressing first the political and economic issue of ???data ownership??? as also a three-dimensional technological challenge. That is to say that the methods that must radically be addressed before any source code is written should provide the choice of on-demand ???data ownership??? for every patient and healthcare service provider along the complex healthcare industry supply chain.

        Here???s the premise. Radical methods of data ownership must add a sophisticated framework for virtually integrating the participants along the healthcare industry supply chain so that they can easily and cost effectively search for and find in real time - permission being granted by the information owner, steward or custodian - just what they are looking for to make better informed healthcare judgments or increase profits.

        To lay a three-dimensional foundation for achieving this premise, consider the dynamic combination of these three characteristics:

      • Unique identification of every authored data element,
      • Immutability of every authored data element, and
      • Permanently attributing the identity of the each information producer to each immutable, authored data element
      • The result is an electronic pedigree per data element that adds a third dimension of ownership to existing two-dimensional data sets and data objects.

        How might this be practically accomplished? Think of a centralized, organically flexible database containing a ???dictionary??? of uniquely identified immutable data elements. No matter in what data format the healthcare information is originally authored, its import and re-authoring at this central database with these uniquely identified, immutable data elements would drive standardization through the common use of the same healthcare dictionary of data elements by the supply chain participants. Furthermore, the granularity of three-dimensional, uniquely identified data elements would provide the choice of unmatched flexibility in their sharing.

        Other than three-dimensional standardization and granularity, why else would participants along the healthcare supply chain be drawn to this central dictionary? For a dynamic combination of one or all of the following reasons (which I by no means consider to be a complete list):

      • the opportunity to directly transform intangible healthcare information into something much more tangible and, as a result, potentially more valuable
      • the opportunity to bank and use healthcare information in real time in some respects like how we bank and use our own money
      • the trustworthiness of immutable healthcare information including professional validation as part and parcel of its e-pedigree
      • the ability to license temporary access to one or more healthcare supply chain participants, and to track and follow the usage of such information in real-time.
      • the ability to permit access to healthcare information without giving up one???s confidential password
      • theopportunity by healthcare data owners, stewards and custodians to retain long-term control over data mining
      • Shahid, thanks again for the opportunity to comment on your blog. For those readers in the San Francisco area, I will be there the week of February 15-19, 2007 to attend and present at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. For more information, click here. If any of your readers would like to explore an opportunity to meet with me personally, I can be reached directly at steve@pardalis.com.

        Filed under: — @ 2006-12-13 00:00:00
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