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Archive for the ‘Public Health’ Category

Climate Change and the Health of Americans

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015
[Guest post by NLM Outreach and Special Populations Branch]The July 2015 issue of The Nation’s Health features a cover story on the link between climate change and health, new U.S. government initiatives aimed at protecting communities from the health impacts of climate change, and the effort to reframe climate change as an urgent public health issue.“Health officials and scientists warn that a changing climate is leading to more extreme heat, poorer air quality, heavier rainfall, and more frequent and intense natural disasters — all of which have serious consequences for human health. And because children are so susceptible to environmental change, they stand to bear the brunt of climate-related disease and stress.”

The article identifies the need for government, health professionals, and people to act preventatively. It examines recent initiatives from President Barack Obama that relate to understanding, communicating and mitigating the health effects of climate change, including the April 6, 2015 White House Climate Change and Health Summit, and a new toolkit designed to help health care facilities prepare for climate change.

These initiatives are meant to help Americans understand climate change as not just an environmental issue, but also an important health issue.

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) provides many sources of information to assist health professionals with the knowledge and resources they need to assess who is most vulnerable to the health effects of climate change, and teach patients how to minimize the impacts.

The Division of Specialized Information Services (SIS) Arctic Health website is a central source for information on diverse aspects of the Arctic environment and the health of northern peoples. The site gives access to evaluated health information from hundreds of local, state, national, and international agencies, as well as from professional societies and universities. For example, the Arctic Health Climate Change page provides links to websites, publications, and multimedia presentations covering the impacts of climate change on the health, activities, and well-being of people in the Arctic. It includes climate-change observations from both the scientific-research and the traditional-knowledge points of view.

The SIS Environmental Health and Toxicology website features Enviro-Health Links – Climate Change and Human Health. This page provides a wealth of environmental health-related web resources from the U.S. government and other trusted sources focused on climate change and health. Resources include links to information about specific impacts on agriculture, extreme weather, general health, infectious disease, population displacement, preparedness and security, and water quality and scarcity. In addition to topic-related searches of NLM resources, the page offers overview materials, glossaries, information on law, policy, and regulation, links to blogs, news, podcasts and video, and educational material such as the NLM’s Environmental Health Student Portal.

RFI for Health Disparities Research

Monday, June 8th, 2015

 Soliciting Input into the NIH Science Vision for Health Disparities Research

Do you want to help shape the course of health disparities research for the next decade?

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) is seeking comments on key research areas that should be addressed in the “development of a transformational health disparities agenda.”

Comments from stakeholders and the public are welcome. Comments are due July 31, 2015

Request for Information: http://1.usa.gov/1QzNgYr

Improving the Health Experience

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

The HxRefactored Conference brings together designers, health care providers, public health professionals, and others interested in the intersection of design and technology for a cross-disciplinary exploration of ways to improve the health experience. On April 1st and 2nd, I attended the conference in Boston, Massachusetts sponsored by MadPow and Health 2.0

The conference was jam-packed with inspiring presentations on topics including human centered design/usability, technology, health literacy/equity, mindfulness/stress reduction, behavior change, patient activism, electronic health records and organizational design.  Presenters shared ways to use design and technology to improve the health experience.  I hope you find these summaries of keynote presentations food for thought on creative ways to improve the health experience.

Keynotes ~ April 1, 2015

John Brownstein, Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School and the Computational Epidemiology Group at Children’s Hospital, explored the intersection of data and design for disease prevention in his keynote.  He asked, “How do we make everyone a stakeholder in public health?”  He shared real time detection of public health issues through social media platforms like HealthMap; StreetRx; and MEDWATCHER.  He also discussed new technology like iThermometer, a wearable thermometer that alerts parents of their child’s fever on their smartphone.   His presentation made me think about ways librarians can get involved with the development of social media platforms and new technologies to support public health.

Darshan Mehta, from MGH’s Benson-Henry Institute for Mind and Body Medicine, discussed how to build resiliency with an introduction to the relaxation response.  I’ve been practicing meditation since high school.  I enjoyed his guided relaxation.  It was a nice way to start the first day of the conference.  Mehta spoke about how meditation increases the cortical thickness and can change gene expression.  According to Mehta, mind/body practices reduce the frequency of medical symptoms, decrease the severity of psychiatric symptoms, and increase healthy lifestyles.  This presentation may inspire me to initiate a weekly mindfulness meditation group here at UMassMed School.

Keynotes ~ April 2, 2015

Steve Krug, author of Don’t Make Me Think and Rocket Surgery Made Easy, kicked off day two of the conference.  He only had twenty minutes but led a DIY (do-it-yourself) usability testing example with a volunteer from the audience.  His recommended DIY testing, preferably once a month on the same day – and stick to it!  Also, make it a spectator sport and have as many people as possible come watch.  Then, more people on your staff gain skill in usability testing.  For more information, check out his site, Advanced Common Sense

 Deborah Estrin, Professor of Computer Science  from Cornell NYC Tech, presented on small data.  She talked about using mHealth and small health to create data driven feedback loops of health.  She urged us to invest in interoperable and iterative approaches to benefit from reuse of tools and techniques.  She asked us: “How can we help create resources to help patients answer the question: are you feeling better?”  For examples of such resources, she mentioned Paragon Measure (turning mobile device use into actionable insights) and Ginger.io (using smartphones to improve mental health care).  She wrapped up by urging attendees to create an ecosystem around small data.

John Halamka, Chief Information Officer at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Chairman of the New England Healthcare Exchange Network, spoke about what’s new in HealthIT in 2015.  I’m sure many of you remember his excellent presentation at the NAHSL Annual Conference.  He discussed the federal interoperability roadmap, meaningful use stage 3, new mobile devices, private security challenges and the return to private sector innovation.  I was pleased to hear him mention National Library of Medicine’s free access to vocabulary standards for interoperability.  I was tweeting during the conference and my tweet with the link to NLM’s free APIs (application programming interfaces) was my most retweeted and favorited tweet of the conference.  Interested to learn more?  Check out how the NLM APIs can be used to support electronic health record certification and meaningful use.

Geoff Williams, of the University of Rochester Healthy Living Center Motivation Research Group, spoke about self-determination theory and how people change. He asked,”Does it come from the inside or outside?”  He told us about the psychological needs to support optimal health such as autonomy, competence, and feeling connected to others.

Jared Spool, author of Web Anatomy and Web Site Usability, declared design, “the rendering of intent.”  He asked: “What is the experience we want them to have?  Are we designing activities or experiences?”  He discussed a design process for the design experience and the importance of facilitated leadership.   According to Spool, “The best design teams worship inclusiveness.”

Julian Treasure, Master of Sound and author of Sound Business, was one of my favorite HxR presenters.  He told us the noise is the number one complaint in the hospital experience, the number one problem with productivity in the workplace, and that elevated noise leads to worse health.  He recommended improving acoustics, reducing noises, and designing soundscapes. He shared acronyms to help us learn to listen better and speak powerfully.  He wrapped up with a vocal toolbox activity.  If you are curious to learn more, listen to his TedTalk.

The HxR conference was full of creative and practical ways to improve the health experience. I left inspired to bring what I learned back to our network.  I learned about some amazing presenters that we might be able to host for regional conferences and webinars. I found it an insightful, useful conference and highly recommend it.  Stay tuned for my next blog post about what I learned at the breakout sessions.

Thanks MadPow and Health2.0 for a great conference!

 

 

National Public Health Week

Monday, April 6th, 2015

National Public Health Week urges US to become healthiest nation by 2030

Communities nationwide to celebrate public health accomplishments, mobilize US to become an even healthier nation

Washington, D.C., April 2, 2015 – The American Public Health Association and hundreds of partners across the country are preparing for National Public Health Week next week, April 6-12, the annual observance to celebrate, educate and advocate on behalf of health issues affecting the nation.

As the United States lags peer countries in life expectancy, obesity, infant mortality, chronic disease and other health outcomes, this year’s theme, “Healthiest Nation 2030” will rally the public health community to make the U.S. the healthiest nation in one generation. This year’s NPHW also marks the 20th year that the American Public Health Association has organized the annual observance.

“We anticipate a week of robust engagement in communities across the country in celebration of public health and its contributions to our nation,” said Georges Benjamin, MD, executive director of APHA. “Particularly this year, as APHA builds a movement to improve health outcomes in the U.S. and address the underlying social determinants of health, we look to our National Public Health Week partners in helping emphasize the importance of prevention, advocating for public health funding and working to ensure that health is considered in all policy decisions.”

The week marks a number of national and local events in observance of National Public Health Week:

  • National Public Health Week live webcast
    NPHW will host a forum discussing existing opportunities and challenges to overcome to create the healthiest nation on April 6, 1-3 p.m. EDT. The event will feature APHA President Shiriki Kumanyika, PhD, MPH; and Vice President for Policy and Senior Advisor of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Gail Christopher, DN. The forum will be held at the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington, D.C. and also made available virtually through a live webcast. Register by Friday, April 3, at 5 p.m. EDT to participate
  • National Public Health Week Twitter chat
    On Wednesday, April 8, @NPHW will host its 5th annual National Public Health Week Twitter chat, which will gather public health leaders, experts, organizations and advocates for a discussion covering topics, including prevention, nutrition and access to health care. This year’s robust conversation will be joined by ABC News’ Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser, CVSHealth, the American Medical Association and many more. Participants can follow the chat using the hashtag #NPHWchat

Each day of National Public Health Week highlights a different theme fostering understanding of current challenges in the nation’s health and ways to improve upon them. This year’s daily themes are:

  • Monday, April 6: Raising the grade
  • Tuesday, April 7: Starting from ZIP
  • Wednesday, April 8: Building momentum
  • Thursday, April 9: Building broader connections
  • Friday, April 10: Building on 20 years of success

In 1995, former President Bill Clinton proclaimed the first full week of April as NPHW. Each year since then, the public health community has celebrated this observance by focusing on an issue that is important to improving the public’s health. Find more on NPHW events taking place in your area.

 

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The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and all communities. We strengthen the profession of public health, share the latest research and information, promote best practices and advocate for public health issues and policies grounded in research. We are the only organization that combines a 140-plus year perspective, a broad-based member community and the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public’s health. Visit us at www.apha.org.

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