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Violence and the Media in 2014: Q&A with Lori Dorfman

Dec 18, 2014, 5:59 PM, Posted by Eric Antebi

A Cease Fire volunteer in Chicago hands out bumper stickers that read, "Don't Shoot. I want to grow up." A Chicago bumper sticker.

A culture of violence is the antithesis to a Culture of Health. As Risa Lavizzo-Mourey recently said in a speech to the American Public Health Association, “We will never be a healthy nation, if we continue to be a violent one.”

Violence is always in the news. But 2014 saw several high profile stories about violence dominating news cycles, including major stories about child abuse (Adrian Peterson), intimate partner violence (Ray Rice), sexual assault on college campus, and, of course, the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

Because media coverage influences the social and political response to violence in America, I wanted to hear from Lori Dorfman, who directs the Berkeley Media Studies Group. She has spent decades monitoring how the media cover violence and other public health issues, helping public health advocates work with journalists, and helping journalists improve their coverage. The following is an excerpt of my interview with her.

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Every Child Counts: Stopping Infant Loss

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

A young mother holds her infant son, who has a pacifier in his mouth.

“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

Two medical professionals talk with a disabled child who sits on his mother's lap.

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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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

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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Building a Better EMR

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

Doctors examine a patient at a clinic.

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.

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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