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Preventive Health/Medicine/Care: Let’s Give It A Name

It’s a scene that plays out thousands of times every day in doctors’ offices across the country — the moment the doctor shifts from addressing the concerns that brought the patient into clinic to when he or she attempts to make sure everything else is going okay.

Often this happens at the end of a sick visit, after working up an upper respiratory infection or back pain. Sometimes it happens after following up a chronic medical problem such as high blood pressure or arthritis, and occasionally it happens under ideal circumstances, during an annual physical or routine wellness visit. It doesn’t necessarily happen at the end of the visit. Often it sneaks it’s way into various points in the encounter — as when the doctor places his or her stethoscope over a patient’s chest while evaluating for knee pain.

What I’m referring to is so indistinct that it doesn’t even have an universal name, but rather goes by many titles — “preventive health,” “preventative health,” “preventive medicine,” “preventive care,” “healthcare maintenance,” “routine healthcare,” “routine checkup,” “annual physical,” and “health and wellness” — to name a few.

But whatever you call it nearly everyone agrees how important it is. The healthcare reform debate was ripe with calls for more “health”-care not just “sick”-care, and one of the most welcome measures in the new healthcare legislation across both sides of the aisle are provisions to support it. Outside of Capitol Hill, from cereal boxes to magazine racks and celebrity doctors, messages about staying healthy are everywhere, as is the general belief that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at BeyondApples.Org*

Real Reform In Healthcare

“We want our employees to spend their time on real issues,” said Charlie Salter, VP of Benefits at ConAgra. He means it. Charlie and ConAgra have built their healthcare benefits around some simple concepts that are yielding impressive results. How impressive? Close to flat healthcare cost trend since 2007.

Charlie’s work is part of a growing trend among America’s most innovative companies: Designing healthcare benefits in ways that have a real impact on quality and cost. It’s why I [recently] asked Charlie to share the podium with me in Boca Raton. ConAgra is showing it’s possible to control healthcare costs by helping people do the right thing.

The vision behind ConAgra’s programs is simple: Employees have to be responsible for managing their own care. But, says Charlie, this is easy to say, harder to do. “So we do as much as we can to make it as easy for people to do the right thing.” ConAgra gives its employees a significant financial stake in their well-being, through a health plan that has a $1,500 deductible. ConAgra supplements the plan with a health savings account (HSA) that lets workers use pre-tax dollars to pay for the deductible. Like other HSAs, any money the employee doesn’t spend is theirs to keep. It means employees are more engaged in healthcare decisions. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at See First Blog*

Cervical Cancer Screening: The Jade Goody Effect

The Telegraph reports that the number of screening pap smears performed in the UK has declined after an 8 percent blip upwards in 2009 when publicity surrounding the death of Jade Goody from cervical cancer may have led more women to have this important screening test:

NHS laboratories processed 415,497 tests in 2009-2010, about 35,000 fewer than the previous year when 450,522. Miss Goody’s death in March last year prompted a 20 percent increase in the number of Scottish women taking tests. More than 122,000 were processed between April and June last year, the statistics revealed.

The irony of course, is that British reality TV star Jade Goody did have pap smears, but chose to ignore her doctor’s recommendations for treatment when her pap smears came back abnormal.

Nonetheless, the decline in pap smears has led NHS of Scotland to initiate a campaign to reach the up to 25 percent of young women who do not respond to invitations to have pap smears. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at tbtam*

Preventive Health In HD: A Video Just For Men

Check out this darkly humorous advertising campaign from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. How do you convince men to go to the doctor and get the preventive healthcare that’s known to save lives?  You make it all about television. Men + HD TV = “Yes.” This video is funny on so many levels.

*This blog post was originally published at The Happy Hospitalist*

Life Line Screening Promotes Unnecessary Medical Tests

A patient brought in a flyer for Life Line Screening, where for $129 an individual can have their carotid (neck) and peripheral (leg) arteries screened for blockage, their abdominal aorta screened for aneurysm (swelling), and be tested for osteoporosis. The advertisement claims that “we can help you avoid a stroke,” and their logo notes “Life Line Screening: The Power of Prevention.”

Are these tests worth your money? Short answer: No.

Although the flyer correctly indicates that 80 percent of stokes can be prevented, the National Stroke Assocation does not recommend ultrasound as a screening test. Preventing stroke includes quitting smoking, knowing your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers, drinking alcohol in moderation (if already doing so), exercising regularly, and eating a low-sodium diet. Their is no mention of an ultrasound test. Why? Because there is NO evidence that it helps save lives in individuals who are healthy and have no symptoms (except for the following situations). Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Saving Money and Surviving the Healthcare Crisis*

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