Tuesday, December 29, 2015

If Health Care Worked Like Amazon

It's been a busy Holiday season and I've been using Amazon a lot!  The experience is so good and effortless it made me wonder how great it would be if Health Care could be run like Amazon.  Imagine this:
  • Log into your secure doctor's office website and you are recognized..."Hi Toni".
  • The web screen has easy navigation and point and click for "recent labs", "immunizations due", "make an appointment", "email the office", "update insurance info/address/credit card". etc.
  • The web screen provides a link for pricing of office visits, procedures and immunizations with your copay amount depending upon your personal insurance and deductible.
  • The web screen has links for information on how to stay healthy and timely messages from the office that relate to your personal health issues.  (healthy recipes, workout tips, managing high cholesterol or diabetes, exercises for arthritis etc)
  • After a visit or encounter an email arrives with the information your doctor provided all itemized and easy to understand with links if more instructions are needed.
  • Prescriptions can be refilled online with a click request from you and should you request (and pay for) delivery, it will arrive within 24-48 hours to your door.  If it cannot be refilled, you will receive a message and instructions within a few hours.
  • Your medications are listed on your web page with instructions on how to take them and how long to take them.
  • After a visit,  an easy 5 question email survey is sent out asking you to rate your experience.
Unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee quality, medical diagnostic skill and compassion. You can't make a purchase return on health care like you can on Amazon.  True exceptional health care cannot be commoditized like retail, nor should it be.

But certainly we have the technology to provide a better patient centered service than we do. Wouldn't it be great to use the Amazon web platform with its intuitive customer interface and make it work for Health Care.  

     

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Probiotics - They Actually Work


Bacteria in your GUT- Aren't they pretty?
Probiotics are live bacteria and eating or drinking them can have a profound beneficial effect on your health.  Before you say "ewww", let's look at the science and why the right bacteria is essential for our well-being.

The human gastrointestinal (GI) tract is filled with millions of microbes known as microbiota.  Your microbiota is specific only to you and was started at birth when you acquired the bacteria from your mother.  Over the years it continued to evolve depending upon your gender, geography, health and diet.  If you took antibiotics, it probably knocked out your good intestinal microbial environment for at least a month.  Some strong antibiotics affect the gut for up to 4 years.

Probiotics are bacteria found in foods and a number of digestive illnesses are helped by taking them.  They prevent the growth of bad bacteria, they lower intestinal pH (thereby preventing  bad bacterial growth) and they increase the production of mucin which acts as a blockade and prevents bacteria from adhering to the intestinal wall.

Here are some ways Probiotics can help:
  • Can reduce crying time in breastfed babies with colic.
  • Can prevent travelers diarrhea
  • Can help with infectious diarrhea symptoms
  • Can reduce the risk of antibiotic associated diarrhea
  • Can reduce diarrhea in patients receiving pelvic radiation
  • Can reduce atopic eczema and asthma in children
  • Can improve atopic dermatitis in adults
But all probiotics are not the same and different strains and strengths  exist.  They are alive so it is important to know the manufacturer and what bacteria it contains.  Here are some brands I recommend and Whole Foods Market also carries fresh yoghurt and dairy products that are filled with good probiotics.

DanActive or Florastor:  Good to take along with antibiotics (if you MUST take an antibiotic) to prevent diarrhea in 60% of cases.  Start it with the antibiotic and continue for at least a week afterward.  Take it two hours apart from the antibiotic dose.

Activa: 1-2 servings a day for two weeks can help regulate the digestive system

Culturelle : 2 capsules a day treat infectious diarrhea and can be taken during a trip

Align: Good for IBS symptoms of pain, bloating and flatulence.  1 capsule a day

Remember, your GI tract should be in perfect homeostasis with your natural microbiome if you eat healthy.  If it gets thrown off, restoring the bacteria with Probiotics can help.
Read more about your microbiome here!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Healthy New Year

You only need three resolutions for 2015 to become healthier.  Only three!  And research shows that these three are the most important for healthy aging, longer life and feeling better overall.
Are you ready?  (Insert drum roll here)

1.  Quit smoking.  No more excuses. Throw those packs and ashtrays away and become a non-smoker.  Need help?  Go here. 
I don't need to tell you why or coax you more.  You already know it.  If you don't smoke, yippee...you only need two resolutions.

2.  Plan your meals and eat more plants.  I didn't want to say the diet word because it is loaded with meaning for everyone.  We've all tried diets that fail.  We are told confusing things about what to eat and what is a healthy diet.  But planning meals and eating more plants at every meal will automatically mean we are eating healthier.  The worst way to eat is on the fly, eating quick fast food or grabbing what's most convenient.  Because without planning, what is most convenient is processed food like chips, pizza slices, fries and sweets.  If each of us committed to preparing more foods at home, grocery shopping on the edges and not the middle aisles and eating an apple when hungry we would automatically be eating a healthier diet.  Try it and stick to it.

3. Walk 10,000 steps a day.  If you already exercise you can keep doing what you are doing.  But if you have become less active as the years have gone by, this is the time to change.  Walking is something that most everyone can do.  It requires no equipment and only a good pair of shoes.  The step trackers can help.  Park further away from your destination.  Take the stairs instead of the elevator.  Walk your neighborhood and see things you could never see from the car. 

If these resolutions seem elementary to you  because you are already a vegetarian mountain climber or elite athlete, your year can just be doing more of what you already do.  Your resolution might be "be nicer".   For the rest of us, keeping it simple is the way to start.