Category Archives: Healthcare

Improving Health Outcomes among Head and Neck Cancer Patients

Tomorrow (2.17.12) – Free lecture/Seminar at Temple University

Improving Health Outcomes among Head and Neck Cancer Patients

Carolyn Y. Fang, PhD
Associate Professor and Co-Leader of the Cancer Prevention & Control Program
Fox Chase Cancer Center
941 Ritter Annex (Public Health Conference Room)
February 17, 12-1 pm

Studies of head and neck cancer patients have noted that the social environment may be associated with various cancer outcomes, including survival. To date, the potential mechanisms that may underlie such associations have not been well-studied in this population. This seminar will present data from our studies that highlight key pathways linking the social environment with biological processes that may impact cancer outcomes in this patient population. In addition, directions for future interventions designed to enhance survivorship will be discussed.

Sponsored by the Social & Behavioral Health Interventions (SBHI) lab and the Department of Public Health, Temple University

National Health Center Week

Community health centers are one of the many new frontiers of public health and health care. “With continued growth at fifteen percent annually, Health Centers will serve 44 million patients by 2020, and all medically disenfranchised patients by 2026.”* That’s why it’s great to see that there is a whole week dedicated to these health care outlets.

This week is National Health Center Week (August 8th-14th, 2010). It is dedicated to recognizing community health centers and their mission to provide high quality health care to those most in need. The non-profit I work for, Clean Air Council, is proud to partner with Greater Philadelphia Health Action (GPHA) to provide free information on environmental asthma management, indoor and outdoor air pollution, tobacco cessation, waste and recycling programs, public transportation programs, etc.

For more information on community health centers visit the National Association of Community Health Centers.

* Shin P, Markus A, and Rosenbaum S. Measuring Health Centers against Standard Indicators of High Quality Performance: Early Results from a Multi-Site Demonstration Project. Interim Report. Prepared for the United Health Foundation, August 2006.

Asthma Community Network – New website!

I usually like to reserve this blog for research news, but I also like to focus on asthma since that has been my research and career focus for the past few years.

A new online community website has recently caught my attention and deserves recognition:
Asthma Community Network – Communities in Action
ACN web screen shot
“The Network is supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in partnership with Allies Against Asthma, a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Merck Childhood Asthma Network, Inc. (MCAN), a nonprofit organization funded by the Merck Company Foundation.”

They just refurbished the site and it’s one of the best, if not the best, online resource for asthma care professionals, community organizations and patients. The site is extremely user friendly and well organized. Finding materials on a specific topic or resources in your area couldn’t be easier. Highlights of the site include:

-Resource Bank
-Webinar Catalog
-Program Search
-Discussion Forum
-Events Calendar
-Mentorship for program development

Like the name suggests, this website is meant to be an online community of asthma champions, it will only get better the more people use the site. I want to commend the organizations that support that website and encourage those involved with asthma, community education, or anyone suffering with asthma to visit this website!

Health Impacts of Energy Usage Influencing Policy: Coming soon to political theater near you!

The production and usage of energy is accompanied by “hidden costs” such as the health care needs that results from the use of these energy sources. For example, coal may be cheap, but using it to produce electricity causes respiratory illness, impacts cardiovascular disease, etc, which puts unnecessary strain on our health care system, our economy, and has a negative impact on our collective health, productivity and quality of life. Currently, the prices of oil, coal, natural gas, wind, solar, nuclear power etc do not reflect the health effects imposed by their production and usage.

Coal plant = disease and health care costs

That is about to change thanks to a new report from the National Research Council. The NRC, which serves to “improve government decision making and public policy, increase public education and understanding, and promote the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge in matters involving science, engineering, technology, and health”, has taken account of the hidden health costs associated with the production and usage of various forms of energy. The report found that in 2005 the United States incurred $250 billion dollars in hidden costs associated with energy production and use. The majority of the cost can be attributed to “health damages from air pollution associated with electricity generation and motor vehicle transportation”.

These reports provide policy makers with a more complete picture of the advantages and disadvantages associated with particular energy sources. It seems the government is starting to take a more holistic view of our energy usage, and the state of national health and economy.

As statistics like these become more visible and pertinent, the reasons to support clean energy mount (and the continued use of dirty energies starts to seem, well, idiotic).

Reasons to use and support clean energy, like wind and solar:
1. Abundant/Available/Renewable.
2. Minimal negative impact on health and environment.
3. Reduces dependence on foreign oil supplies (increases national security and national independence).
4. Could support manufacturing sector in the United States, creating jobs, supporting the economy.
5. Sets a good example for the rest of the world/helps re-establish the U.S. as a legitimate leader in the global community.

Reasons to continue supporting and using dirty energy, like coal and oil:
1. It is too risky to invest in clean energies when the economy is in a fragile state (??)
2. ?????

It may cost more in the short-term to support new energy technologies. But, in the long-term making these difficult decisions can ultimately serve our greater interests in public health, the economy and national security. As we move forward (the U.S. and humans as a whole), it will be interesting to see if research like this is put to use, in policy formation and decision-making (governmental and public/individual).

Not’s Newt all that bad!

I’m back.  Let’s get down to business.

This wouldn’t be a proper health blog without some discussion of the newest push for health care reform.

With all the arguing, yelling and misinformation surrounding the current push for health care reform it’s really nice to see people getting along.  Here’s a positive statement from former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich regarding the new plan.

“One of the biggest components missing in the current health debate is health. We must ensure that health is always the driving focus of any reform effort. We at the Center for Health Transformation call this “health-based health reform.”

Exactly!  Seems intuitive, but obviously this stuff gets messy once existing programs, insurance, etc all get thrown in.

One aspect of the new reform that is inherently “health-based” are the preventative care measures.  Preventive care, at it’s core,  has the goal of optimal health in mind.  Preventive care measures ignore the messy parts and shoot directly at improvements in health (pro-actively, which is something the American health care system desperately needs, a switch from reactive to a proactive stance on health). A major component of the proposed reforms include preventive care programs.  Newt goes on:

“I give President Obama high marks for his recent letter to Sens. Max Baucus and Edward M. Kennedy which noted that health reform must entail more than insurance coverage. He stressed the importance of finding what works and then creating incentives for its widespread adoption. What he needs to do is put specific policies behind his words.”

That’s right.  No one wants to reinvent the wheel. But it is tough to see where the plan’s rubber meets the road.  To do this, I think, they should emphasize  the smaller changes to the system, those that will more directly lead to cost-reduction AND improved outcomes (e.g. making ALL medical records electronic, making coordinated care the standard, etc).  These are a far cry from socialism or a fully government-run health care system.

Why are people so eager to ignore these aspects of the proposed reform?  I guess they like paying nearly double what most developed countries pay for care.