Inspiration from Healthcare Podcasts

       In healthcare it’s pretty easy to get stuck in a rut. Sometimes you find yourself doing the exact same things the exact same way every single day. Answering the same questions, doing the same procedures. You find yourself coming up against the same obstacles and feel like you’re beating your head against the same wall over and over.
       One way that I like to fight the rut is listening to digitalhealth and healthcare podcasts. I find it very inspirational to hear about leaders in healthcare who have found innovative and disruptive waves to make healthcare more accessible, more efficient and often with better experiences for patients and providers alike.  It’s always great to hear about the trials and obstacles that other people overcome.  When you yourself are struggling, it’s always nice to hear about the success that eventually happens with  hard work.
       Digital Health Today, The Digital Health Podcast and Relentless Health Value all have some of the best entrepreneurs and leaders in the field Digital Health and medicine.  Whether I’m in my car driving, on the treadmill or if I just need a little break from my day-to-day work, I am usually listening to one of those podcasts.  Check out these podcast and I would love to know about any other good ones you are listening to.
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July 2017 5 Minute Yoga

Title: 5 minute Yoga
 Front page
What it is: A mobile app that provides guided yoga poses
What devices: Android and Apple devices
Cost: Free (with in-app purchases)
Who should use it: Anyone looking to add yoga to their daily routine
Why use it: Performing Yoga on a regular basis has several benefits to ones physical and mental health.  Yoga can improve fitness, flexibility and strength while also relieving stress and improving mood.
       As a physician I often recommend that my patients take a break at work, however brief.  5 Minute Yoga is the perfect app for respite at
 work.  The is designed to be provide guided instructions, both with a cartoon like

Pose

figure that demonstrates the pose and a written description of the pose.
       There are 5 poses to perform each session.  The app recommends using it once daily but could be used multiple times throughout the day.  It is very easy to use anywhere you feel comfortable doing yoga.
       For a small fee, you can have access to more features.  The upgraded features include a broader range of yoga poses, a remainder feature and the ability to add your own music to personalize your workout.
       Overall, 5 Minute Yoga is an easy to use, free app to provide a quick and relaxing workout during a busy day.

May 2017 CardioVisual

Title: CardioVisualfront page
What it is: A mobile app that provides educational videos on cardiovascular topics
What devices: Apple and Android devices
Cost: Free
Who should use it: Physicians, especially Cardiologists, as well as patients
Why use it: One of the most important aspects of a physicians job is to educate.  Physicians must be able to communicate important concepts about disease process and medical procedures to their patients.  The demands placed on every physicians time sometimes makes it difficult to give a patient all the information they would like to.
       For physicians dealing with cardiovascular issues, CardioVisual can provide some much needed help.  CardioVisual is a mobile app that has on demand education videos on many health topics.  The app mostly focuses on the field of cardiology but also has some general health topics like guides to exercise and nutrition.first page
       The topics are broken down into categories: general Cardiac, Electrophysiology,
Structural issues and Peripheral Vascular problems.  Each category includes videos on specific conditions, treatment options and specific devices.
       This type of app could be used in a clinic setting to foster discussion on a new diagnosis or it would also be beneficial in providing more background information in a hospital setting for a patient who needs a cardiac procedure.  One great feature of the app is the ability to draw and write on several anatomic drawings.  Clinicians can explain and inform on the diagram and then print it for the patient – or even email or text it.
       At the CardioVisual website, you can order free cards with a list of topics offered by the app (http://cardiovisual.com/prescription-for-cardiovisual/).  This is a business card sized instruction for patients on which videos their doctor would like them to review or act as a reminder of the videos they had already reviewed with their doctor.
       The app is likely to provide good background for Primary Care Physicians as well.  Any PCP that wanted to be able to know more about specific cardiac procedures can quickly and easily review one of the videos on CardioVisual to obtain a nice overview.  For patients who may need try to explain a new diagnosis or an upcoming procedure to a family member, CardioVisual would be a great resource as well.

       Overall, CardioVisual is a great mobile resource for cardiovascular disease information.

Health App of the Month Will Be Back Next Month

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”

–William Penn

April is almost over and I still have not completed my review of the latest health app I have been using.  The Health App of the Month will be back and better than ever in May. Hopefully, with time, I will have more posts this summer on many Digital Health topics.  As always, if you have any comments, suggestions or ideas for the site, please let me know.

Digital Health – views from around the world

It has been one year and one month since I started this website that focuses on real world applications of digital health.  I have had a lot of fun creating a this site and creating an online conversation about digital health.

The most exciting aspect of the website has been to see all the different areas of the world I have visitors to my website.  This March has been my 3rd best month in terms of total views.  While the majority of the views come from the USA, I have also had visitors this month from Brazil, Serbia, India, Venezuala, Belgium, Jordan and Spain.

I would love to hear from anyone outside the US about what digital and mobile health looks like in your country.  Add a comment to this article, or email me at dranderson@drmatthewanderson.com or reach out on twitter @DrAnderson19.

March 2017 Aspirin Guide App

Title: Aspirin Guide App
What it is: A mobile evidence based medical app for determining the need for aspirin therapy in heart diseaseHeart
What devices: Apple and Android devices
Cost: Free
Who should use it: mostly physicians but also patients interested in knowing more about preventing heart disease
Why use it:  The decision to use low-dose aspirin for the primary prevention of heart disease can sometimes be a difficult decision.  Physicians need to weight the benefit of aspirin against the risks of gastrointestinal problems.  However beneficial aspirin can be, daily intake of an aspirin can lead to abdominal pain, gastritis and gastrointestinal bleeding.
From a group of physicians at Harvard comes the Aspirin Guide app.  This app takes the most relevant evidence based guidelines to help in the decision making process.  Using ASCVD risk score and guidelines from the US Preventive Task Force, the app walks you through a series of questions about a patients medical history.  These include health factors such as smoking status, systolic blood pressure and cholesterol level.
The app then creates a recommendation based on those health factors.  What is really interesting about the apps recommendation it breaks down why it has that recommendation.  It provides the data on Number Needed to Treat (NNT) and Number Needed to Harm (NNH).   Physicians can really see where the risks are and how they compare to each other.  Its also a good way to discuss the risks and benefits with your patient.  There are also links to the medical journal articles for physicians to review as well.
I would caution any patient using this app, not to start or stop low dose aspirin therapy just using the app alone.  Use the information to start a discussion with your personal physician.  You can even email the results with NNT and NNH to your physician but do not adjust your own aspirin regimen without consulting a physician.

If you think fake news is bad for politics, you should try being a physician

This is an article that was originally published on KevinMD.  

       Much of the discussion surrounding the presidential election this year focused on “fake news.”  There were countless stories in newspapers and on television news shows about these obviously biased and fictitious posts that might have affected the outcome of the election. I could not help thinking during this campaign season that if you think fake news is bad for politics, you should try being a physician.

       As physicians, we are on the front line in the fight against fake news and deal with the fall out on a regular basis.  This is nothing new, especially for Primary doctors like Family Physicians, Internists and Pediatricians who have to deal with volumes of fake news within the limited amount of time they actually have with a patient. 

       Physicians are always trying disprove fake news with patients.  We talk about the limited benefits of numerous vitamin supplements in the face of countless publications and marketing efforts that do not have to be evaluated by the FDA.  Red yeast rice is not equivalent to statins for preventing heart disease.  Gingko biloba will not treat dementia, no matter how organic or pure it is, no matter how many people write about its effectiveness. 

       A website recently touted the 25 beneficial uses of Apple Cider Vinegar.  This list included treatments for acne, bad breath, under arm and foot odor, to kill bacteria causing a sore throat, prevent diabetes, lower cholesterol, improve digestion and remove warts.  But wait there’s more! Apple Cider Vinegar can give you healthier hair, whiter teeth and even better tasting barbecue sauce.  This is in addition to its ability to be a nontoxic cleaner for your kitchen and a weed killer for your garden.  This is a list of pure conjecture passed off as facts, and people believe it.  Even the comments section of the article has readers saying “good to know.”

       I have had several patients tell me about all the health benefits of vanadyl sulfate.  Specifically, they have stopped their medications for diabetes because of everything they have read about vanadyl.  Each patient’s course plays out the same way: these patients research for information, completely buy in to this natural supplement, stop their medications and then their A1c goes up dramatically.  But “Americas most trusted wellness doctor” says it works and is willing to sell the supplements to you as well.

       The most egregious and widespread item of fake medical news involves vaccines.  From causing autism to inciting sexual behavior, decades of fake medical news about vaccines exist.  Many times doctors are seen as complicit in pushing this harm on people.  A quick look at twitter for #vaccines, and the news of vaccination harms is overwhelming.  

       The whole fake news complex plays on the vulnerabilities of those searching for the information in the first place, looking for what mainstream media or money-loving, golf-playing doctors won’t really tell you.  You are being held down or missing out on critical information – information someone else doesn’t want you to know.  If you can get this information, everything will be better — your life, your health, your economy, your country.

       As a physician, I try to be a steward of medical information.  I want my patients to seek out good quality medical information on their own.  I steer them to websites such as Mayoclinic.org or Webmd.com and gently dismiss information from sources I do not trust.

       So fake news may have negatively affected the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, but fake news affects every clinic and hospital in America every day.  This is not to say that political news is more or less important than medical information or that either is more susceptible to the “fake news” problem.  Inaccurate statements presented as facts should always be challenged, and the medical community has a unique and difficult responsibility to engage it.