#MakeHealth was AMAZING – Hashtags of the Week (HOTW): (Week of August 18, 2014)

It’s always a delight to have the opportunity to show off a University of Michigan event in these posts. It’s even more of a delight to show off an event of which I was so intimately a part, even though I have to confess I feel like I did very little and it was the community that really drove this magical event! I was just lucky to be among the core team at the front, along with the incredible Joyce Lee and Emily Hirshfeld! There are so very many incredible people who were involved I can’t possible thank them all.

One thing you’ll notice in these tweets is the range of media included — many photos and videos that may or may not display. To get a more engaging sense of the event as displayed in the tweets you may need to click through.


Keeping Patients in the Dark – Hashtags of the Week (HOTW): (Week of June 30, 2014)

The legal and ethical implications of KEEPING PATIENTS IN THE DARK
Summer Institute for Informed Patient Choice: The legal and ethical implications of keeping patients in the dark: http://siipc.org/

You shape your Twitter experience through who you choose to follow. Everything else derives from this — the tweets you see, the suggestions for people to follow, the hashtags listed as trending, all of it. For me, by far the majority of the people I follow are somehow connected to healthcare. Last week the hashtag that was vibrating through my Twitter feed was #SIIP14, which turned out to be for a biannual event on patient choice held at Dartmouth College. From what I was seeing, it sure looked as if they had some exceptional speakers and great conversations. There was also ONE particular tweet and slide that seemed to sum up the most important thoughts of the conference, on how to tell the difference between “informed consent” and “shared decision making.” Trust me, if the image doesn’t show up in the embedded tweet below, you really need to click through and see this one.

The discussion centered around that one tweet was rather insightful, especially with respect to how “informed consent” may be perceived by actual patients. Here are just a few selections (excluding some of the strong language that accompanied people’s passionate responses).

That side conversation is, however, only part of the exceptional thoughts that circulated through #SIIPC14. Historic context, overdiagnosis, the child’s view of the doctor, unwanted surgeries, access to information and research articles, respecting the accommodation needs of patients who attend healthcare events (and when is the doctor a patient?), with much more.

Note – in this image, the doctor is the one with their back to the rest of the room, typing away furiously on the computer.





Make Health Fest Coming August 16!

Detroit Maker Faire 2013#UMSIMakerfest !!!Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire 2013
Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire 2013Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire 2014Detroit Maker Faire 2013
Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire 2014Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire 2014Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire 2013

We Make Health Fest
Saturday, Aug 16th, 2014
University of Michigan
Palmer Commons, Great Lakes Rooms

Short Description
“A collaborative event for a local and virtual community interested in health, technology, and participatory design. Join us for a full day of health themed design and maker activities!”

Longer Description
Many types of events are being triggered by the creativity of the Maker Movement — maker faires, mini-maker faires, maker camps, maker festivals, maker fests and makerfests, make-a-thons and createathons (also spelled makeathon or makethon), open make events, maker madness events, maker shows — and they come in all sizes, flavors, and themes. What does that mean? Think of it as a mash-up of science fair PLUS Hands On Museum or Exploratorium PLUS do it yourself! It’s all about learning and creating and problemsolving through a combination of Show+Tell+Do! Here at the University of Michigan, many people on campus are partnering on taking the “maker culture” energy and applying it through a lens focused on health to promote participatory and collaborative strategies in healthcare. Come, have fun, learn, make stuff, but more than that, meet other interesting and creative people who are interested in using what they have, know, and can do to Make Health!

Learn More!

Make Health: http://makehealth.us/
Twitter: @MakeHealthUM
Google Plus: Make Health UM

A project of HealthDesignBy.Us
Twitter: @HealthByUs
Blog: Introducing @HealthByUs

We Make Health

World Immunization Week

Vaccine Preventable Disease

WHO Table 1 Vaccine Preventable Disease

Immunize for a healthy future – Know. Check. Protect.

This week marks World Immunication Week 2014.  World Immunization Week is designed to remind people about the effectiveness of vaccination.

According to the World Health Organization:

  •  2 – 3 million deaths are avoided through immunization
  • vaccine preventable diseases include: anthrax, measles, rubella, tetanus, mumps, rubella, rabies and more…
  • measles vaccination resulted in a 78% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2012 worldwide

The World Health Organization has assembled a list of Myths and Facts about Vaccination that include information like:

Myth or Fact?
Better hygiene and sanitation will make diseases disappear – vaccines are not necessary. – MYTH

FACT: Diseases we vaccinate against will return if we stop vaccination programs. While better hygiene, hand washing and clean water help protect people from infectious diseases, many infections can spread regardless of how clean we are. If people are not vaccinated, diseases that have become uncommon, such as polio and measles, will quickly reappear.


World Immunization Week is marked every year on the last week of April.  For more information, visit the World Health Organization World Immunization Week website at: http://www.who.int/campaigns/immunization-week/2014/en/

Chemical Concerns : What is in My Makeup?

I was at the Ann Arbor YMCA the other day and overheard two women questioning the safety of chemicals used in makeup and other over the counter personal products. This conversation was prompted by someone’s sunscreen running into their eyes, making them partially blind for a few minutes, causing her to wonder if there are any chemicals in there she should be really worried about. I thought I would do a search for information about the safety of chemicals in makeup and share my results since it seems to be something people are interested in:

  1. A good place to start is this FDA Fact Sheet article. It’s a quick two page PDF that has excellent tips on makeup use and regulation.
  2. Womenshealth.gov put out this great guide to cosmetics. It answers questions like “what’s in cosmetics” and “how can I protect myself against the dangers cosmetics?”
  3. Interested in how the government regulates cosmetics? Check out this informative website on the process.
  4. Here’s an entire webpage dedicated to the safety of eye cosmetics. Anyone who has spent the day with irritated eyes might find this very useful
  5. Test your knowledge and take this FDA online quiz. I took the quiz and got several wrong- you might be surprised by the answers too!

Those are just a few links to get you started. MedlinePlus always has tons of material on health issues too. Check out this page if any of your questions are still unanswered!

“Smoking & Health” Turns 50 — Hashtags of the Week (HOTW): (Week of February 24, 2014)

PT's Half-RezDay Party: Rezday Boy

It’s pretty interesting that there have been so many different reports from the Surgeon General’s Office, but if people simply say, “the Surgeon General’s report” they mean the first one, from 1964, on Smoking and Health. I’m glad to see that the SGO is taking advantage of the 50th anniversary to release a new and updated report as well as sponsoring several events. Of course, there is a hashtag — #SGR50.

Searching Your Symptoms: Three Things You Should Know


Internet by The Noun Project, Public Domain

We all search our symptoms. We want to understand what’s happening to our health and figure out what the next steps are. Rest and fluids? A trip to the doctor’s office? There’s lots of debate on the implications of this common practice, so I’ve singled out three things that the literature tells us to be very careful of when searching while sick

  1. There’s a decent chance the internet will misdiagnose you. A recent article published suggests that only 14% of websites gave a correct diagnosis after searching Google, Bing and Ask for common diagnoses. The majority of websites included the correct diagnosis as a potential culprit, but few singled out the correct condition.
  2. Your searches are personalized to YOU. Also known as the Filter Bubble, many of the major search engines track what you’ve searched and tailor your search results to you. In other words, two people could search the same symptoms but get different answers. We know that the major search engines do this, but I don’t think anyone knows the extent of it. Last November I was in a classroom with about 20 students who conducted an identical search in Google and all received nearly identical results, with the exception of users who visit primarily websites written in a different language (their results were all in their preferred language). Take this little “experiment” with a grain of salt, of course.
  3. Your searches might be used for secondary research. This one isn’t necessarily bad, just something we should to be aware of. Google Flu calculates flu trends by keeping track of the number of people who search the flu and all it’s flu-like symptoms. What does this mean for you? Google is keeping track of what you are searching and using that data for secondary purposes, in this case Google Flu.

Next time you do a bit of web-sleuthing and Google your symptoms, keep in mind that your results are likely biased and imperfect!

Science in the News: Stop Taking Multivitamins

This blog post has two themes: 1.) Recent studies show that taking multivitamins doesn’t actually have any positive impact on health outcomes 2.) Isn’t it annoying how science is reported in the news?

This morning as I was going through my twitter feed, I followed a tweet from the Detroit Free Press that said “Stop wasting money on vitamins, supplements, report says” with a link to an article about an editorial in Annals of Internal Medicine that describes recent studies on taking the actual effects of taking multivitamins. The article in the Detroit Free Press started with a summary of the editorial, then gave a few quotes from the respected Johns Hopkins researcher who authored the piece, Eliseo Guallar. Finally, after at least 250 words (and everyone moving on to another article), they discussed the studies that this bold proclamation is based on.

Sure, journalism needs to get to the point fast. And they need to provide personality and human voices in their pieces. And they can’t be perceived as providing medical advice. But, my question is: does that have to be done at the expense of providing rigorous and evaluative background of the studies on which claims are based? As medicine shifts to being very evidence based, shouldn’t media coverage reflect this shift by moving away from heavy reliance on authoritative voices and towards reporting on actual studies? Especially since most people can’t or won’t read original studies that sit behind pay walls. I believe it’s the responsibility of journalists to bring that information to the forefront.

In this particular case, lending authoritative voices to these studies doesn’t do any real harm since the studies are pretty rigorous- a systematic review and two large scale cohort studies- but that’s not always the case. For example, remember that study that claimed to prove the link between autism and vaccines that couldn’t stand up to any form of critical appraisal, and yet created a media frenzy? Many journalists failed to report on the validity and reliability of the study’s findings, and it did real harm to their readers.

To conclude, this is a lament for more science in our science. In addition to highlighting findings, it’s also important to highlight the process!

Providing Dental Care in Remote Corners

Alaska is 1/5 the size of the “lower 48”.  It’s population according to the 2012 census was a little less than 750,000 with large portions of the population living in small communities spread out across areas the size of the state of Oregon.  We have moved forward from the days of Balto and his sled team bringing medicine to the children of Nome; today, care is delivered from planes with air compressors and 500 pounds of gear to village health clinics.  Care is provided not just for medical needs but also preventative dental care and treatment.

Alaska Dental Health Aide Therapists Locations Retrieved from http://www.anthc.org/chs/chap/dhs/ on November 19, 2013

Alaska Dental Health Aide Therapists Locations Retrieved from http://www.anthc.org/chs/chap/dhs/ on November 19, 2013

Dental therapist Conan Murat shares his narrative on providing dental care in the remote Yukon–Kuskokwim delta in the November issue of Health Affairs.  I didn’t realize the distinction between dentist and dental therapist during my first read of the article as the care described appeared to be nothing less than excellent dental care.  Mr. Murat brought the distinction to my attention.

Dental therapists, like me, known in Alaska as dental health aide therapists, are part of the dental care delivery system in more than fifty countries, including Great Britain and Canada…In 2005 the Alaska Native Tribal Consortium (ANTHC), which provides health services to more than 140,000 Alaska Natives and American Indians in Alaska and is the umbrella organization for more than thirty tribally owned health systems, brought dental therapists to Alaska.

Dental therapists are roughly the equivalent to physician assistants in the field of medicine.  Under our scope of practice, we do evaluation, fluoride treatments, cavity excavations, fillings, and simple extractions- the routine work that takes up most of dentist’s day.  We don’t necessarily work in a dental office, but, like dental hygienists and assistants, we are part of a dental team.

There has been pushback from the American Dental Association and Alaska Dental Society against dental therapists for allegedly practicing without a valid state license.  However, the Alaska attorney general ruled in the favor of dental therapists and the ANTHC that they were within their rights to practice in tribal programs under federal authority.  Minnesota is currently the only other state with practicing dental therapists and the University of Minnesota’s School of Dentistry has one of the only dental therapist programs in the country.  The University of Washington School of Medicine also has a Dental Health Aide Therapist Program.

Importantly, Mr. Murat raised the fact that Alaskan Natives are not alone in their struggle for adequate dental care.  He emphasized the fact that dental therapists should be a part of the solutions to America’s oral health crisis with millions of other Americans living in areas without enough practicing dentists to meet their needs or who can not afford a dentist or one who accepts Medicaid.

As someone who has had dozens of dental procedures, including maxillofacial surgery and a tooth implant, I will forever be indebted to the dental professionals who have treated my oral health needs for the past three decades.  While much of the focus in the recent months has been on medical health care services, the health community should not, and can not, overlook the importance of providing quality oral care and prevention services in the United States, all 50 of them, as well.

An Emmy for “Life, Interrupted” videos

Suleika Jaouad was part of the winning team for the Life, Interrupted video series.I’ve posted before about the amazing blog–written & video–that Suleika Jaouad has been composing for the last couple of years, “Life, Interrupted”.  This year, the video segments were nominated by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for an Emmy in the News and Documentary category.  This week, the winner was announced & the team that produced the video series won!

Read more here.