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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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.

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.

February 2017 CDC Vaccine Schedules

cdc-opening-screenTitle: CDC Vaccine Schedules
What it is: A mobile app for all the CDC vaccine guidelines
What devices: Android and Apple devices
Cost: Free
Who should use it: Any healthcare provider or patient who wants to know more about CDC guidelines for vaccination
Why use it:  Vaccines are an effective and easy way to prevent disease and maintain healthy populations.  For many clinicians the source they use the most for vaccine schedules and information is the CDC website.  This CDC Vaccine Schedules app puts all the important information from the CDC website into a convenient mobile app.
    The information is broken down like most of the distributed vaccine information from the CDC.  The age categories include Birth to 5 years, Adolescents and Adults.  While looking at the graphics on a phone or tablet, turning your device horizontally allows for a broader appearance to the timetable.cdc-front-page
    There is also information on catch-up schedules for children, unique guidelines for pregnancy, immunocompromised patients and healthcare providers.  These are in separate listings on the front page of the app but there is also a lot of information available by tapping “note” from the vaccine schedule it self.
    Overall, this is a very easy to use reference from the CDC for all vaccination guidelines in the palm of your hand.

Review of 2016

good-year-1911507_1920     2016 was a very exciting year for me.  I completed my MBA, took on a new role at my institution as Associate Chief Medical Officer and in February I launched this website, Digital Health and You.  This website has been an important outlet for me and I hope  has helped improve the landscape of medicine and digital health.
     This year the website had 11 digital health app reviews published.  These included apps for understanding your lab results, cognitive behavioral therapy, concussion prevention, zika virus and even to help monitor your caffeine intake.
     I am really looking forward to 2017.  We will be discussing EMR’s, PHR’s, more Profiles in Digital Health and of course 12 new Health App of the Month posts.  My readership waxes and wanes, as does my ability to publish often but creating and maintaining this website has truly been a joy.

Evidence of Digital Health Adoption by Patients

       A really exciting thing has been happening in my clinic the last few weeks.  In addition to holiday decorations and the rush year end refill requests, I have noticed an increase in the amount of times patients have talked to me about health apps.doctor-563428_1920
       The March Health App of the Month was Sworkit and I recommend it often.  Those who travel a lot for work or whose busy work schedule limits going to the gym can find good success in an app like Sworkit.  I am receiving good feedback on the impact of Sworkit.  During follow up clinic appointments with several patients over the last couple weeks they had followed my prescription of Sworkit and were using it regularly.  They all travelled extensively for work and found it was easy to have an intensive exercise session from the privacy of their hotel room.  For one patient is was really helping maintain good blood pressure control.
       In my clinic I usually have my diabetic patients come in for appointments a regular basis, around every 3 months.  I recommended to many the use of the MySugr Diabetes App.  Many are finding it a really intuitive and easy way to track their sugar and their insulin regimen.  The visual nature of the blog sugar graphs and the ability to export the data are features that patients appreciate and really use.  Especially when trying to help someone with uncontrolled high blood sugars, the more data points the better.  Since almost everyone has their phone on them at all times, it is easy to log every blood sugar taken, every dose of medication, calories and any hypoglycemic symptoms – and it is easy to look at in the clinic to make clinical decisions.  I have worked with patients to change insulin regimens while we both look at the MySugr App on their phone.
       Any intervention where a patient can see and feel the results can be more impactful and lead more permanent healthy habits.  It is clear that the Sworkit app and MySugr can have that kind of impact.  Physicians need to be more mindful of talking about digital health apps with their patients.  It’s clear that patients will listen.