Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Free Mobile App to Improve the World’s Cardiovascular Health

Top Cardiologist Dr. Valentin Fuster on a Mission to 
Promote a Full “Circle of Health” Around the Globe

Newswise, December 29, 2015— Leading cardiologist Valentin Fuster, MD, PhD, has developed a free mobile application called “Circle of Health” to empower individuals around the globe to take action to comprehensively assess and enhance their daily overall heart health. 

Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of mortality in the world. Dr. Fuster has created “Circle of Health” for the daily promotion of cardiovascular health worldwide and to reduce the epidemics of coronary artery disease, heart attack, and stroke.

The now internationally available mobile app was developed in English and Spanish by FundaciĆ³n Pro CNIC in Spain, in collaboration with Dr. Fuster and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.

Overall, cardiovascular diseases are acquired and largely preventable. The vast majority arise due to one or more of six risk factors that can be prevented or reduced with daily lifestyle and behavior modifications. These six risk factors are: high cholesterol and diabetes (chemical), obesity and high blood pressure (physical), and smoking and lack of exercise (behavioral).

“These abnormal risk factors account for 90 percent of heart attacks and strokes,” says Valentin Fuster, MD, PhD, Director of Mount Sinai Heart and Physician-in-Chief of The Mount Sinai Hospital, General Director of the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares (CNIC), and past president of the American Heart Association and World Heart Federation. 

“Each person needs to pay close attention to these six risk factors and maintain them daily to remain heart healthy and reduce their chances of atherosclerosis, heart attack or stroke.”

“If you want to have good cardiovascular health, you must know what risk factors you have,” adds Dr. Fuster. 

“Simply downloading the new ‘Circle of Health’ mobile app right on your smartphone or tablet can help you.”

Using the mobile app, users learn directly from Dr. Fuster about the six variable risk factors, how to prevent or better manage them, and how to live a healthier and longer life. It assists adults on how to properly measure, prevent, fight, and reduce their risk factors.

The mobile app, developed FundaciĆ³n Pro CNIC and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York in collaboration with Wake App Health, has a unique, multimedia and interactive circular format which creatively incorporates video, audio, and educational graphics. 

It works by comprehensively evaluating your health with an initial questionnaire to assess and measure your baseline cardiovascular health, empowering you with health information and prevention heath tips you need to succeed, and weekly and monthly motivation to establish good habits, reduce bad habits, and providing you with challenges to get more physically activated to improve your health.

“This mobile app is for those people who want to improve their health and lifestyle habits including diet, exercise, and others—and it’s also a very useful tool for those that have or have had any heart attack, stroke, or artery disease to gain knowledge on how to reduce their chances of a future event,” says Dr. Fuster.

“Knowledge is power and you have to make a commitment to take care of your heart and yourself. It’s that simple,” says Dr. Fuster. 

“Cardiovascular disease can be prevented and you are capable of doing so. You now have the ability for no cost to have a tool in your hand that will help you to follow a healthy lifestyle and protect your heart from the ravages of heart disease.”

Currently, there are more than 6 billion people in the world with mobile phones, and nearly 2 billion with smartphones. Given the growing popularity of smartphones and tablets and the mutually growing global threat of cardiovascular diseases, Dr. Fuster believes there is no better way to reach people than via their mobile devices to prevent and reduce the risk factors of heart disease.

“Preventing and managing your heart disease should be as simple as reaching into your pocket or briefcase for a little motivation and support from your mobile device,” says Dr. Fuster. 

“Together you and your mobile device can work together to maintain your own daily ‘Circle of Health’. Don’t wait any longer and start your journey with the ‘Circle of Health’ today.”

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai gratefully acknowledges Sesame Workshop for making available the Sesame Street characters and content from its Healthy Habits for Life programs for use in educating children and their families in connection with this Project.

About Mount Sinai Health System

The Mount Sinai Health System is an integrated health system committed to providing distinguished care, conducting transformative research, and advancing biomedical education. 

Structured around seven hospital campuses and a single medical school, the Health System has an extensive ambulatory network and a range of inpatient and outpatient services—from community-based facilities to tertiary and quaternary care.

The System includes approximately 6,100 primary and specialty care physicians; 12 joint-venture ambulatory surgery centers; more than 140 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and 31 affiliated community health centers. 

Physicians are affiliated with the renowned Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, which is ranked among the highest in the nation in National Institutes of Health funding per investigator. 

The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked as one of the nation’s top 10 hospitals in Geriatrics, Cardiology/Heart Surgery and Gastroenterology, and is in the top 25 in five other specialties in the 2015-2016 “Best Hospitals” issue of U.S. News & World Report. Mount Sinai’s Kravis Children’s Hospital also is ranked in seven out of ten pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report. 

The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked 11th nationally for Ophthalmolgy, while Mount Sinai Beth Israel is ranked regionally.

For more information, visit 
www.mountsinai.org or find Mount Sinai on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Why Online Doctor Ratings are Good Medicine

Newswise, December 8, 2015— A growing number of health consumers are consulting online physician-rating sites when choosing doctors even if the value of those sites—whether they’re reliable sources for information, or capable of driving improvements in health care—is in dispute.

Some studies have shown how letting patients grade their doctors can lead to over-testing and over-treatment as doctors, hoping to improve their scores, bend to unreasonable patient demands.

But a new study in the December issue of Academic Medicine bolsters research linking good patient satisfaction scores with good patient outcomes. And it sheds light on another, unspoken benefit by showing how openly sharing patient satisfaction metrics created a culture of empathy, communication, trust and shared decision making between patients and providers at a health system in Utah: University of Utah Health Care (UUHC).

“Everyone, from payers and policy makers to patients, yearns for reliable, understandable information about the cost and quality of care, and it’s our duty as the region’s sole academic medical center to respond to that demand,” said UUHC’s CEO and the study’s lead author Vivian S. Lee, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A. 

“What we underestimated was how being transparent with our scores would be such a force for cultural change within our organization—a catalyst for engaging physicians in patient-centered care and the glue to further cement the physician-patient relationship.”

The article was co-authored by UUHC’s Chief Medical Officer Thomas Miller, M.D.; Patient Experience Director Chrissy Daniels, M.S.; former Senior Director for Interactive Marketing and Web Brian Gresh, M.P.A; and Lee’s predecessor Lorris A. Betz, M.D., Ph.D.

Betz was the architect of the University’s “exceptional patient experience” initiative. Launched in 2008 with the mantra, “medical care can only be truly great if the patient thinks it is,” the effort culminated in 2012 when UUHC became the first academic medical center in the country to put its patient reviews online, complete with unedited comments and an accessible five-star ranking.

The University didn’t initially set out to go public with its scores. The goal was to improve service and patient care. In 2008, UUHC was saddled with patient complaints about delays in the scheduling of appointments, poor communication and lack of professionalism, among other things. 

Federal patient satisfaction scores placed the system in the 34th percentile nationally, and its quality metrics were average compared to other teaching hospitals.

Yet as the article states: “What began as a patient satisfaction initiative evolved into a model for physician engagement, values-based employment practices, enhanced professionalism and communication, reduced variability in performance, and improved alignment of the mission and vision across hospital and faculty group practice teams.”

Over the past seven years, patient satisfaction has markedly increased. Half of UUHC providers now rank in the top 10 percent when compared to their peers nationally, and 26 percent rank in the top 1 percent.

Neither the quality nor the cost of care has suffered. In fact, for six years running UUHC has placed in the top 10 of the University HealthSystem Consortium’s rankings, a comparison of the nation’s teaching hospitals based on quality and safety. What’s more, UUHC has managed to bend its cost curve even as costs nationally continue to rise.

Employee satisfaction also improved, revenue and patient volumes are up and malpractice litigation declined, resulting in a drop in premiums. 

“This has been truly transformative for our organization. Change didn’t happen overnight, and we faced plenty of challenges,” said UUHC’s Chief Medical Officer Tom Miller, M.D. “But we overcame the challenges, and the solutions we devised are adaptable to other institutions.”

"Creating the Exceptional Patient Experience in One Academic Health System" was published in Academic Medicine online on November 24, 2015

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Technology Meets Society: New App Helps Seniors Live Better

Newswise, November 19, 2015 — A new technological solution developed by researchers from the University of Notre Dame is aimed at enhancing the physical health, vitality and brain fitness of seniors residing in independent living communities.

One of the traditional challenges of these communities is how caretakers and nurses can provide support in an environment where they have many patients.

Unlike many available apps for seniors that merely track data, this app, developed by the University of Notre Dame’sInterdisciplinary Center for Network Science and Applications (iCeNSA) and called eSeniorCare, creates a personalized socio-ecological construct around the senior.

It not only helps empower and engage the seniors, but also provides a continuity of care allowing health workers to proactively reach out to at-risk seniors when they need help, while still allowing them to maintain their independence. Seniors can connect with care providers by sending concerns and questions as text or voice recordings.

A physical health component of the app allows seniors to track a variety of health goals. They can set goals, such as eating less fast food or drinking less caffeine, and maintain a record of various activities in support of such goals and send the records to resident health administrators for guidance, reflection and personal motivation.

The app also features medication scheduling and management, medication history, medication reminders and medication adherence. Medication reminders have textual, audio and video components.

Because the app is interactive, caretakers can see when medications aren’t being taken correctly or renewed on time and can quickly intervene to remedy the problem.

One of eSeniorCare’s most popular features with seniors is brain games designed to enhance cognitive health and avoid impairment of mental function. A variety of crossword and Sudoku puzzles and other games provide the opportunity for mental stimulation.

As might be expected, when seniors first begin using the tablet app, there is a degree of trepidation. However, they quickly become not just comfortable with technology but also enthusiastic about using it. This transition is being further helped by pairing seniors with high school students as they are first learning how to use the app.

In collaboration with Beacon Health System, eSeniorCare was first rolled out at two senior independent living facilities in South Bend. In a pilot study following implementation of the app, the researchers tracked the medication management component for three months and the daily activities component for seven months.

They found that seniors’ technology comfort and literacy increased, and one participant saw a decrease in depression risk. There was also an increase in interpersonal interactions among all participants.

“eSeniorCare empowers our residents to maintain their independence by providing a framework for medication, nutrition and pain management,” Kimberly Green Reeves, community benefit investment coordinator for the Beacon Health System, said.

“It fosters productivity by giving them the opportunity to track their goals, with encouragement along the way. The eSeniorCare portal has the potential to increase access and communication between our staff and the senior residents by providing real-time feedback on health data, self-reported by the seniors, so that their needs are addressed in a timely manner.

Ultimately, eSeniorCare helps sustain and support independent living and the well-being of elderly residents with limited income.”

In a second pilot study currently underway at additional independent living communities, the researchers are tracking the brain games, activity and health data and medication components of the app.

Their initial results reveal high engagement with brain games; patients reporting a sense of purpose and increase in mental stimulation; and the use of the communication component to connect with care providers and maintain positive relationships.

“It is about personalized health care,” Nitesh Chawla, director of iCeNSA, said. “It is about the individual. It is about how we can bring data and technology together to help empower the aging population to live healthy, independent, social and productive lives. It is about making a difference.”

The app is being pilot tested at senior independent living facilities in the South Bend area and is not yet available to the general public.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

New Research Shows Social Technology Associated with Better Wellbeing for People 80 and Above -- But 27 Percent Are "Virtual Shut-Ins"

October 14, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Seniors 80 and over yearn to be connected but many are not, causing a more than quarter of them to become "virtual shut-ins." 

While a new survey shows use of social technology is linked to better wellbeing for people in this age group and demonstrates its potential for combating isolation, it also reveals their frustration and need for assistance in becoming part of the digital world. 

These findings come from a "Rewiring Aging" survey supported by Brookdale Senior Living, conducted by Kelton, a leading global insights firm in collaboration with the Stanford Center on Longevity. 

It is the first in-depth study of how online social networking and similar tech-based activities affect the quality of life among America's fastest-growing demographic segment.

Experience the interactive Multimedia News Release here:  http://www.multivu.com/players/English/7617951-brookdale-seniors-technology/ 

Fifty-eight percent of seniors surveyed believe technology can improve communication with family and friends. 

This belief is borne out by the findings; respondents who indicated they interact with loved ones through social technology report having higher life satisfaction and health and being more likely to attain life goals than those who do not use social technology.

However, few people 80 and above surveyed are actually experiencing these benefits. Only one-third use a personal computer at least once a month and fewer than one in five utilizes text messaging. 

Twenty-seven percent can be considered "virtual shut-ins" who do not use any technological devices, apps or programs. A major reason is the perceived difficulty; nearly half say it takes too long to understand and keep pace with new technology.   
The negative impact of isolation for seniors unable to physically go out into the world due to physical or cognitive conditions is well known. 

The "Rewiring Aging" survey reveals a similar impact for those who are "virtually shut-in." Those seniors reported lower overall life satisfaction, poorer physical health and greater loneliness than the survey group as a whole. 

These findings represent cause for concern and reveal the potential for changing for the better, according to Brookdale's Chief Medical Officer Kevin O'Neil, M.D.  

"Human connection is crucial for people at all ages, but especially so for seniors," said Dr. O'Neil, a board-certified internist and geriatrician. 

"Loneliness in this age group is associated with shorter life spans, chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, depression and even dementia. That's why engaging seniors with others is a focus of our communities. Helping those in their 80s and above connect through technology is an opportunity to enhance their wellbeing even further."    
Indeed, a third of respondents would like to be able to text or videochat with family and friends; over a quarter would be interested in taking group classes to learn how. Only five percent say they are completely opposed to new technology.

"This study puts data to what we have been seeing on a daily basis across our organization as we help our residents connect through technology," said Sara Terry, Brookdale's Vice President of Resident and Family Engagement. 

The company has been helping those in its care to learn to use Skype and social networking technology with its InTouch computer system, which is designed to be easy for seniors to use. 

The company is also developing an iPad mentor program. "We find that most are very receptive and that it quickly becomes an important part of their lives. It brings wonderful emotional benefits that complement the focus on relationships and connection that is central to our mission."

The "Rewiring Aging" survey was conducted as part of Brookdale's commitment to enrich the lives of its residents through the use of technology. Brookdale is the nation's largest senior living company, with approximately 1,135 communities in 47 states. 

The "Rewiring Aging" survey was conducted by Kelton, a leading global insights firm,between May 21 and June 5, 2015 among 445 nationally representative adults ages 80 and over, using both a telephone and online survey methodology. 

Quotas were set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the entire U.S. population of adults aged 80 and over. With this sample size, the margin of error is +/- 5 percentage points, and the margin of error for any subgroups will be slightly higher.

The Stanford Center on Longevity provided guidance on the design of the "Rewiring Aging" survey, as well as analysis of results. The Center, whose founding director is Laura Carstensen, Ph.D., was established in 2007 atStanford University with the mission of redesigning long life. Researchers Dawn Carr, Andrew Reed and Tamara Sims participated in the "Rewiring Aging" study.

About Brookdale Senior Living

Brookdale Senior Living Inc. is the leading operator of senior living communities throughout the United States. The Company is committed to providing senior living solutions primarily within properties that are designed, purpose-built and operated to provide the highest-quality service, care and living accommodations for residents. Currently Brookdale operates independent living, assisted living, and dementia-care communities and continuing care retirement centers, with approximately 1,135 communities in 47 states and the ability to serve approximately 110,000 residents. Through its ancillary services program, the Company also offers a range of outpatient therapy, home health, personalized living and hospice services.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Living with Confidence and Independence: Tech Start-Up Lively™ Plugs into State Farm® through new Connected Care program

August 23, 2015 -- Advances in home security and technology have allowed people to feel more confident about the safety of their family, pets, and belongings when away from home. 

Products and services available through the State Farm Home Protection and Automation webpage help protect homes and families from the unexpected through exclusive offers and discounts with select providers. The new Connected Care page provides State Farm customers with educational content and exclusive offers for products and services that can help them live in their homes with confidence and independence.

Beginning today, State Farm customers will also be able to take advantage of exclusive products and services offered by Silicon Valley start-up Lively, a medical alert and activity monitoring service that helps people live in their home with confidence. 

The Lively system features four activity tracking sensors, hub and a safety watch that doubles as a personal emergency response system and step tracker.

"At State Farm, we help to protect families and individuals from the unexpected and realize their dreams," said Erin Olander, State Farm Innovation Manager. 

"By growing the presence of the connected home platform to include products targeted at aging adults, State Farm is continuing to help provide diverse solutions to meet a wide range of customer needs."

The Lively system is as simple as plugging in the power hub, placing the tracking sensors around the house, putting on the safety watch and activating the account online. 

Once activated, the system allows the user to receive reminders for medication, track steps, or request emergency assistance via live operators – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. State Farm customers are eligible to receive the Lively system through the Connected Care webpage at a discounted price.

"We are so pleased to be working with State Farm, the leader in the insurance industry. This relationship will only further our mission of helping older adults stay safe and independent longer," says David Glickman, COO and co-founder of Lively.

State Farm is promoting technology and innovation to assist our customers around the clock. To learn more about Lively or other exclusive products and services that provide home protection and activity monitoring, visit the Connected Care webpage.

About State Farm® 
The mission of State Farm is to help people manage the risks of everyday life, recover from the unexpected, and realize their dreams. State Farm and its affiliates are the largest providers of auto, home and individual life insurance in the United States. Its 18,000 agents and more than 65,000 employees serve more than 82 million policies and accounts – nearly 80 million auto, home, life, health and commercial policies, and nearly 2 million bank accounts. Commercial auto insurance, along with coverage for renters, business owners, boats and motorcycles, is available. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 41 on the 2015 Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit www.statefarm.com.

About Lively™
Lively is the connected home health platform that provides a medical alert device older adults actually want to wear, passive activity sensors to share activities of daily living and an open system to integrate additional FDA-approved and biometric mobile health devices, like glucose meters, blood pressure monitors, inhalers and nebulizers. Lively was founded by Iggy Fanlo, David Glickman and Keith Dutton in the summer of 2012 and is headquartered in San Francisco. With backgrounds that include working at some of the world's most innovative consumer product companies, the trio has formed a vibrant team of talented individuals who share a passion for changing the way older adults stay connected for improved quality of life.

New AT&T Program Offers Technical Tools, Tips, Guidance for America's Elderly

August 22, 2015 -- Digital You is a new, comprehensive AT&T program that offers tools, tips, apps, guidance and community education events for people of all ages and levels of online experience to learn more about how to have a safe and secure online experience. 

Through Digital You, AT&T has collaborated with prominent national organizations like Common Sense, The OASIS Institute and AARP to increase digital literacy as well as local organizations across the country to assemble and promote expert online safety information in a number of formats.

"We live in an exciting digital world, created by the Internet and encompassing new ways of working, studying, shopping and interacting," said Pamela Lackey, president of AT&T South Carolina. 

"Digital You was developed to help people be responsible digital citizens. It provides information everyone needs to consider in making wise decisions and being safe and secure online, in addition to helping newcomers increase their digital literacy skills."

Launched at a time when people are posting about their summer activities and getting ready to go back to school, Digital You helps teach beginners of all ages the basics of using a smartphone or tablet, keeping online information private and secure and activating accessibility features to support users with disabilities through training resources and tips sheets.

Digital You also brings you Digital Compass™, a free interactive game developed by Common Sense to help teach 6th through 9th graders about the real-world impact of their online choices.

"The digital world presents enormous potential for our kids," said Amy Guggenheim Shenkan, President and Chief Operating Officer of Common Sense. "The key to unlocking the promise is preparing kids to think critically and behave responsibly, respectfully, and safely. These tangible skills of digital literacy and citizenship are essential for success in life and learning in the 21st century."

"Online safety is a high priority for our 50+ audience, whether they are digital newcomers or experienced users," says Marcia Kerz, president of The OASIS Institute. 

"They want to know how to recognize danger signs for scams, protect their identities and shield their computers and mobile devices. This is a dynamic challenge as new threats appear, and we look forward to sharing the latest information on how they can protect themselves."

For more information on the resources available, check out digitalyou.att.com.

About Philanthropy and Social Innovation at AT&T
AT&T Inc. is committed to advancing education, strengthening communities and improving lives. Through its community initiatives, AT&T has a long history of investing in projects that create learning opportunities; promote academic and economic achievement; or address community needs. In 2014, nearly $127 million was contributed or directed through corporate-, employee-, social investment- and AT&T Foundation-giving programs. AT&T Aspire is AT&T's signature education initiative that drives innovation in education by bringing diverse resources to bear on the issue including funding, technology, employee volunteerism, and mentoring.

About AT&T
AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) helps millions of people and businesses around the globe stay connected through leading wireless, high-speed Internet, voice and cloud-based services. We're helping people mobilize their worlds with state-of-the-art communications, entertainment services and amazing innovations like connected cars and devices for homes, offices and points in between. Our U.S. wireless network offers customers the nation's strongest LTE signal and the nation's most reliable 4G LTE network. We offer the best global wireless coverage. We're improving how our customers stay entertained and informed with AT&T U-verse® TV and High Speed Internet services. And businesses worldwide are serving their customers better with AT&T's mobility and highly secure cloud solutions.

Additional information about AT&T products and services is available at http://about.att.com. Follow our news on Twitter at @ATT, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/att and YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/att.