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Healthy Community Planning Means Healthier Neighbors

Nov 17, 2014, 3:44 PM, Posted by Helene Combs Dreiling

5716 Wellness is housed in a historic Albert Kahn-designed cigar factory. 5716 Wellness is housed in a historic Albert Kahn-designed cigar factory.

Too often, U.S. public health policy focuses on treating illnesses after they are diagnosed, instead of encouraging healthy lifestyles to prevent illness in the first place. But architects—my profession—are engaged in a wholesale effort to reverse this focus. Throughout the U.S., right in the buildings where we live and work, architects are incorporating design techniques that can help prevent illness and benefit the local communities that live with their designs.

One of the best examples of this effort—even amidst bankruptcy and a historic unraveling of a once-dominant American city—is the Detroit Collaborative Design Center (DCDC), a nonprofit architecture and urban design firm that offers proof that neighborhoods that facilitate holistic wellness and preventative care are as valuable as doctors who make house calls.

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Every Child Counts: Stopping Infant Loss

Nov 13, 2014, 3:08 PM, Posted by Sheree Crute

mother with son on her lap

“Matthew was born big and healthy, just under eight pounds,” Carol Jordan says.

That’s why it was such a shock to her to lose him on an otherwise average Sunday afternoon.

“We had just gotten home from church. My daughter Taylor and my other son Jacob settled in with their video games,” Carol recalls. “I breastfed Matthew and lay him down on his back in his bassinet. He was 3 and ½ months old. About 30 minutes later, I went to check on him. He was on his stomach and he was not breathing.”

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Babies are Dying in Rochester at Twice the National Average. Why?

Nov 7, 2014, 11:13 AM, Posted by Maria Hinojosa

America by the Numbers series on Infant Mortality Photo by: Paul de Lumen.

Rochester, N.Y., is the birthplace of Xerox, Bausch & Lomb, and Kodak, and home to two top-ranked research institutions, the University of Rochester and Rochester Institute of Technology. Nevertheless, babies die in this upstate New York city at a rate two times higher than the national average, and Rochester’s children of color are three times more likely than white infants to die before their first birthday. Why?

To come up with some answers, Futuro visited Rochester as part of its America by the Numbers series, made in partnership with Boston public TV station WGBH (check your local PBS and World Channel listings to see the series). We went knowing that the U.S. as a whole ranks 56th in the world for infant mortality, by far the lowest of any industrialized nation, despite the fact that we spend more on health care per capita than any other country, and the largest portion goes towards pregnancy and childbirth. This makes Rochester’s statistics even more tragic—an outlier in an outlier.

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A Healthier Denver

Apr 29, 2014, 8:55 AM, Posted by Shale Wong

Bldg a Healthier Denver Members of the Collective - GlaxoSmithKline

I live in Denver. I work in Denver. And as a pediatrician, I’ve dedicated my life to the health of Denver’s kids. It is remarkable to me how connected our health is to our community. In Denver, we have some of the finest health care in the state, yet more and more of our kids are struggling to maintain a healthy weight. It takes much more than having great hospitals in our community for our kids to live a healthy life.

If we want all our kids to grow up healthy in Denver and throughout the United States, we must recognize all of the elements that affect their well-being. That means ensuring our communities are safe, with strong education and ample access to healthy foods and recreational spaces. And it means addressing poverty whether it is tucked into pockets or widespread in our communities.

This connection between our health and our community was affirmed by the release of the latest County Health Rankings and Roadmaps—an initiative of the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The latest installment showed that those of us who live in the least healthy communities in America are twice as likely to live shorter lives as those who live in healthy communities. And these least healthy communities have twice as many kids living in poverty.

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Five Simple Things to Do Today to be Prepared for an Emergency

Apr 7, 2014, 9:00 AM, Posted by Sean D. Andersen

New Jersey American Red Cross Fire Photo

What if your doorbell rings tonight, and a policeman tells you your neighbor’s home is on fire and you and your family must get out of the house immediately?

What if a family member starts choking at the dinner table?

What if a tornado warning is issued at this very moment?

Although scary to imagine, all of the above are realistic scenarios families face here in New Jersey, and throughout the United States. Would you know what to do? Are you prepared?

Disasters can strike quickly and often without warning. Being prepared and knowing what to do in an emergency can make all the difference—it can even save lives.

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Aligning Measures to Improve Quality

Feb 11, 2014, 4:51 PM, Posted by Gerry Shea

Doctors go over a patient's charts in the emergency room.

The quest over the last decade and a half to define and quantify “quality” in health care in the United States has resulted in widespread use of quality measures. Unfortunately, the alignment of these measures among entities in both the private and public sectors has been secondary to the efforts to identify and use good measures. This failure has resulted in a tremendous lack of comparability between quality improvement efforts.

While not surprising, the near total lack of alignment has become a major obstacle in the effort to improve care for patients. It leads to significant burdens for those looking to improve, wastes valuable (and finite) resources and is a drag on overall quality improvement efforts. Additionally, it creates a considerable barrier to efforts encouraging value-based decision making by consumers and others.

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Leveraging the Power of Design and Design Thinking for Public Health

Oct 8, 2013, 10:00 AM, Posted by Matthew Trowbridge

AIGA UVA Design

It is increasingly clear that solutions for our most pressing and challenging public health issues will ultimately hinge on designing environments that encourage healthy behavior choices by making them more available, economical, and enjoyable.

Traditional public health approaches are not perfectly suited to this task. For example, epidemiological studies allow us to measure the association between environmental design features such as parks or sidewalks and walking behavior, but these experimental data are generally insufficient to be either actionable by decision-makers or effective in prompting behavior change. As Jeff Speck, urban planner and theorist, observes in his recent book Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time:

The pedestrian is an extremely fragile species, the canary in the coal mine of urban livability. Under the right conditions, this creature thrives and multiplies. But creating those conditions requires attention to a broad range of criteria, some more easily satisfied than others.”

Public health must improve its ability to develop multi-dimensional interventions to more successfully provide environments and experiences that encourage positive health outcomes.  Put another way, public health must develop its capacity for design thinking.

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#LATISM, a Culture of Health Experiment

Sep 26, 2013, 8:19 PM, Posted by Christine Nieves

Group shot with Christine Nieves

Latinos in Tech and Social Media, better known as LATISM, is a movement that I had heard about, but not yet experienced. That all changed on Sept. 21 and 22, when I joined hundreds and hundreds of Latinos from around the nation at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan for the 5th annual LATISM conference. The focus: business, health, tech, education and advocacy.

For me, it all started six months ago. Andres Henriquez from the National Science Foundation, Rob Torres from the Gates Foundation, and I had a fortuitous encounter in Washington, D.C., as members of the Aprendiendo Juntos "Learning Together" Council. Aprendiendo Juntos Council is a multi-sector group of researchers, practitioners, and policy experts who seek to identify new models and practical strategies to improve educational outcomes for Hispanic-Latino families through the wise deployment of digital technologies. After sharing our concern for underrepresentation of high-quality Latino candidates for philanthropic funding in our respective organizations, we concluded that we wanted to demystify philanthropy. So we embarked on an experiment. What if we could talk about our trajectory–from hardship to philanthropy–with an audience of digital movers and shakers?

And that’s what we did over the September weekend. It was an engaging conversation with Latinos–working in technology, business, education and advocacy–who are ultimately committed to making their communities healthier and stronger. This conversation is just the beginning, and a great way to test my pet-hypothesis: That we will find the opportunity to share a Culture of Health in the places we least expect to find it.

What do you think? Please share your comments and ideas with me here and via Twitter @nieveschristine.

Building a Better EMR

Aug 5, 2013, 9:43 AM, Posted by Kyna Fong

Moyer_100826_00325_RET

As co-founder of ElationEMR, Kyna Fong and her brother Conan hope to revolutionize the way physicians use electronic medical records (EMRs). In this blog post, Fong, a former Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Scholar in Health Policy Research (2008-2010) and assistant professor of economics at Stanford University, explains how her new product helps physicians and nurses embrace the future of medicine. You can read more about how technology is being used in health care settings here.

Caring for patients is becoming increasingly complex. A whopping 68 percent of Medicare beneficiaries have multiple chronic conditions and, of those, 54 percent have four or more.

There is no doubt that innovations in information technology are essential to meeting this challenge and improving the quality and effectiveness of health care. New data streams are creating increasingly rich stories of our individual health—chronicling how we eat, sleep, exercise, and even what our genes predict.

New modes of delivering care are arising as new technologies offer more precise, more accessible vehicles to manage our health, including telemedicine, remote monitoring, connected messaging, and smart devices. What’s blatantly missing in these tools of the future, however, is a full understanding of how to connect with the key individuals who deliver care: physicians and nurses.

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