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Six tips for staying healthy in a world of germs – Black Press USA

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Photo by: Imani | Unsplash.com














By Dr. Charles Crutchfield III MD

Dr. Crutchfield, it seems like everyone at work is sick. What can I do to protect myself from getting sick at work?

Here are some tips on protecting your health in the workplace in spite of all the germs that may be lurking there.

Tip 1: Wash your hands.
As you entered your office, you probably touched one of many common surfaces just teeming with germs. These common surfaces include elevator buttons, escalator railings, and door handles. Whenever possible after such contact, wash your hands for 15 seconds with warm, very soapy water.

I was at a professional sporting event this weekend and the men’s bathroom was extremely full. I counted 30+ people. I paid very close attention, and half the people did not wash their hands.

The ones who did attempt to wash their hands did so in such a poor manner that they really only wasted their time. Many just splashed or rapidly rinsed their hands under the water for less than five seconds. No soap. It was almost like a theatrical performance or a gesture of washing hands so as not to look bad in front of the other bathroom patrons. They did not engage in a significant, worthwhile, useful hand-washing event.

Remember, you should engage in at least 13-30 seconds of hand washing with warm, soapy water. True story: When I did wash my hands, I did it properly, and the man behind me commented, “Dude, you’re washing your hands like you’re a doctor!” Wow, did that bring a smile to my face.

Also, be sure to keep a bottle of hand sanitizer handy. Make sure it contains at least 60 percent alcohol. It can be almost as effective as washing your hands with warm, soapy water.

When it comes to your desk, the area is mainly contaminated with your own germs, so they are unlikely to make you sick unless you brought germs in with you (as from doorknobs, elevator buttons) and did not clean your hands.

Also if you have other people who may work in your personal work area, like an IT person working on your computer, then you should clean your area. This is best done with commercially available disinfectant wipes. Keep these handy and use daily or whenever someone else works in your space or uses your computer.

Tip 2: Try not to touch your face.
This is much easier said than done, but with practice and concentration, you can minimize or decrease how much you touch your face. Studies have shown that most people touch their face 60-100 times per day, and some people even much more.
Your hands carry germs, and they can enter your body through your mouth, eyes and nose. Minimizing the number of times you touch your face will minimize how often you get sick.

Tip 3: Keep your distance.
Maintain a safe distance from your co-workers. You can’t control if your co-workers arrive sick, but you can control the distance between you. Most germs, including the flu virus, are unlikely to spread beyond three feet.
For good health, be sure to stay three feet away from co-workers, especially anyone who is sick. Wearing a mask may seem safe, but in most work environments it is not practical.

Tip 4: Sneeze into your elbow.
In the old days, we were taught that when sneezing we should do so into our hands to prevent propelling germs into an aerosolized cloud that could contaminate those around us. Unfortunately, our hands subsequently touch many surfaces like telephones, coffee pot handles, refrigerator door handles, doorknobs, vending machine buttons, etc.

Sneezing or coughing into our hands just allowed germs to spread differently, not to mention transmission by shaking hands. Coughs and sneezes should be done into one’s elbow or a tissue.

Tip 5: Get vaccinated.
Vaccination is one of the best things that you can do for your good health. It protects you and also those around you, including people who can’t get vaccinated, like infants or those with weakened immune systems.
Sure, there are all kinds of cold medicines that can make you feel better if you are sick, but the best strategy is to prevent getting sick in the first place. Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables that will help boost your immune system — and get vaccinated.

Tip 6: If you are sick, stay home.
You will recover faster at home and not spread your illness to your co-workers. The rule of thumb is that if you have a fever, do not go to work. If you are ill but not feverish and can work, this is the one time to wear a mask and keep your distance from coworkers.

Remember, you can’t completely eliminate getting sick at work, but you can do many things to minimize your risk of getting sick that will protect both you and your coworkers.

This article originally appeared in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.

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5 tips for self-insurers to up their population health management game – BenefitsPro

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Organizations interested in approaching population health first need to understand the data available, the nature of the data, and the data’s context.(Image: Shutterstock)

Self-insured health systems are adept at looking at individual patients, diagnosing a health problem and pinpointing a solution. Looking across a population to identify and act on health improvement opportunities for their employees is much more challenging.

The reasons for self-insured employers to master population health management are compelling. First, it’s the right thing to do by their employees, helping to keep them healthy and head off any problems that might be on the horizon. Second, these organizations are responsible for their employees’ health care costs, and effective management can slow cost escalation. Third, research substantiates that healthier employees are more productive, and that minimizing absenteeism—as well as presenteeism—has a positive impact on the organization’s bottom line. And finally, they have a wealth of data at their fingertips about their employees, so they can truly be effective at risk identification and stratification, as well as the feedback loop on which interventions work best.

So, how can self-insured employers move past some of the roadblocks they have faced thus far and start to pick up the pace in the pursuit of successful population health management? The key is often in the data.

1. Involve the right people from square one

Recognize that population health management is a business strategy as well as a clinical one, which will dictate the people you involve in the program. The C-suite needs to be involved when the health of the business is at stake. The head of human resources, the chief financial officer, and the chief medical officer should all be part of program creation as it touches on each of their areas of expertise. Collaboration across these areas ensures that goals are aligned and investments in the tools of population management are sustained.

2. Gather and assemble as much data as possible

The more data you have, the more accurate and multi-faceted your insights can be. Ideally, an organization would leverage:

Prescription data: This is probably the single most valuable source of information for risk stratifying a population. First, little lag time occurs between the filling of a prescription and the reporting of that information. Second, individuals with chronic illnesses may not necessarily visit their physician but do tend to take their medications.

Medical claims data: Post-adjudicated claims data is key for visibility into encounters outside the employer’s electronic medical record (EMR) system. Other EMR encounter data can augment the claims data.

Demographic information: This includes age, gender, ethnicity, address, allergies, major diagnoses and general medical history.

Biometric and lab screening data: Indicators such as weight, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels are icing on the cake. Health risk assessment data is also useful.

Data is meaningless without context and analysis. Organizations interested in approaching population health first need to understand the data available, the nature of the data, and the data’s context.

3. Choose (and use) your data analytics tool wisely

With data assembled, an organization needs some analytical power to begin drawing insights. This power goes beyond the standard Excel spreadsheet and should include the following:

A risk identification and stratification methodology. Risk models take the data at hand and use it to assess how sick an individual is; the individual receives a “risk score” that describes the person’s likelihood of using more or fewer services than an average person. Once individuals are scored, they can be grouped into categories from healthy to sick. This stratification process helps organizations know where to focus resources and what type of resources will have the greatest impact. Risk models can also be used to evaluate program success, monitor physician performance, and establish equitable risk-based contracts.

Hierarchical condition category groupers. These tools take the more than 10,000 ICD-10 codes—the alphanumeric codes used to represent myriad diseases, disorders, injuries, symptoms, etc.—and aggregate them into clinically and financially similar groups for easier comparison.

A utilization definition engine. It can be challenging to translate a collection of claims data into a coherent narrative of a medical events. For example, a gall bladder surgery can generate a dozen different bills—one for the anesthesiologist, another for the facility, a third for the surgeon, and so on. An analytics engine must be able to take all those charges, analyze them, and determine: “This was one event. It was gall bladder surgery. Here’s what it cost in its entirety.”

Be careful about technology that creates attractive graphs and charts that present only what happened. To inform change, you also need to know why it happened. Make sure you have skilled data analysts involved in the technology assessment process that can confirm that they will be able to use the technology to reveal the story behind the charts. The best analysts are always looking for cause and effect and often have a financial background. They live by the axiom, “Correlation doesn’t imply causation,” and they are maestros when it comes to handling data.

4. Turn insights into action

The risk scores created by the stratification engine are a good place to begin when figuring out which employee groups should be targeted for population health management. Focus on the highest risk individuals from a clinical and financial standpoint, but factor in the organization’s strengths as well. If primary care is strong, zero in on prevention. If the organization has a world-class cancer institute, create programs that concentrate on cancer prevention and management.

Individual behavior is one of the biggest wild cards in any population health program. Building a culture of health awareness and accountability can make all the difference, but organizations need to ensure that this culture is pervasive and reinforced. Creating a walking program or offering incentives such as paying for a gym membership are a start, but they often attract those who are already motivated. We call this the “affinity effect,” because programs like these tend to attract those who already have an affinity to doing whatever is offered. The challenge, then, is to think of ways to build that affinity in your employees by helping them understand that self-care is as important as patient care.

5. Measure and revise

The first thing to measure is engagement: how many employees are participating in the program? Participation comes in many forms, depending on the interventions. Did the employee visit her primary care physician after a high blood pressure reading? Did those employees overdue for breast cancer screenings finally get them?

An organization that achieves a high level of health awareness and accountability has programs that engage 90 percent or more of the adult population in understanding their health status and actively acting to improve. A highly engaged employee population sets the stage for the employers to reap the highest rewards from an effective population health management strategy.

There is no reason to reinvent the wheel: Where applicable, rely on HEDIS® measures as the standard. For non-HEDIS measures, evidence-based standards of care are key. An informed PCP-attribution methodology is also important to assess and evaluate provider panels and patterns. Look for high engagement, improvement in quality and preventive measures, and fewer gaps in care to gauge the near-to-intermediate success of effective population health management.

Costs could go down in the near-term, but be careful in attributing a reduction in cost to the effectiveness of population health management strategies too early in the process. Remember that the primary financial goal of population health management is to avoid or mitigate future high-cost events. Due to the low frequency and high severity of high-cost events, any qualified success needs to be evaluated from a long-term perspective.

Measure often, and revise as needed. Be sure to allow enough time for programs to have an impact, but keep close tabs on their progress along the way so you are ready to shift in a new direction if the data points the way.

The key takeaway

Population health management can improve the health of groups of individuals, especially the most medically needy. To be successful, these organizations must implement programs that make the most out of their data. Doing so requires both sophisticated analytical tools to interrogate, manipulate, and summarize the data and the skilled problem-solvers to wield them.

Case Escher is managing director of Interas, the data analysis and consulting division of The Partners Group, serving more than 600 employee benefit clients in the Northwest with employee benefits, retirement, and investment services; commercial and individual insurance services; data and analytics; and health and productivity consulting.


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Doctor's Tip: Dr. Fuhrman's nutritarian diet – Glenwood Springs Post Independent

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Joel Fuhrman, M.D., one of the giants in nutrition research and practice, will be speaking in Carbondale on April 6 (see box). He is a six-time New York Times best-selling author and has written the following books: “Eat to Live,” “Eat to Live Quick and Easy Cookbook,” “The End of Heart Disease,” “The End of Dieting,” “The End of Diabetes,” “Super Immunity,” “Eat for Health,” “Disease-Proof Your Child,” “Fasting and Eating for Health” and “Fast Food Genocide.”

Dr. Fuhrman is a former world-class figure skater. He is board-certified in family medicine and specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutrition, for which he is internationally recognized. He has a successful private practice, appears on public television, lectures, and puts on conferences for lay people and for physicians. He won a Cardiology Global Health Award for teaching cardiologists nutritional science. He also conducts research and is founding president of the Nutritional Research Foundation. He has written several peer-reviewed journal articles.

For several years Dr. Fuhrman has given a ski conference in Aspen the first week in April, followed by a public lecture. This year, he has agreed to do the public lecture in Carbondale, in the Community Room of the Third Street Center.

Dr. Fuhrman developed what he calls the nutritarian diet. The idea is that everything we put in our mouths should have the most nutrients possible per calorie. He came up with nutrient-density scores based on identified (some nutrients haven’t been identified yet) phytochemicals (phyto refers to plants); antioxidant activity; and vitamin and mineral content. Following are some scores for different foods on a scale of zero to 100:

• Dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, mustard and collard greens, Swiss chard, spinach: 100

• Other green vegetables, such as romaine, cabbage, asparagus, broccoli, snow peas: 95

• Non-green nutrient-rich vegetables, such as beets, eggplant, mushrooms, onions, peppers: 50

• Fresh fruits, such as berries, oranges, apples, cherries, grapes: 45

• Legumes, such as beans, lentils, chickpeas: 40

• Colorful starchy vegetables, such as squash, sweet potatoes, corn, turnips: 25

• Whole grains, such as old-fashioned oats, barley, brown and wild rice, quinoa: 20

• Fish: 18

• Eggs: 15

• Wild meat and fowl: 15

• Full-fat dairy: 8

• Red meat: 6

• Refined grain products: 6

• Cheese: 3

• Refined sweets, such as cookies, cakes, candy, soda: 0

One can argue with the details, but it’s hard to argue with trying to eat food with the most nutrients per calorie to achieve optimal weight and health. And Dr. Fuhrman has had lots of success in reversing diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, autoimmune and inflammatory disease.

This is not a spoiler, because Dr. Fuhrman’s talk will include lots more information. The title is “Advances in Nutritional Science to Live Healthfully Until 100.”

Retired physician Greg Feinsinger, M.D., is author of new book “Enjoy Optimal Health, 98 Health Tips From a Family Doctor,” available on Amazon and in local bookstores. Profits go towards an endowment to the University of Colorado School of Medicine to add prevention and nutrition to the curriculum. He is available for free consultations about heart attack prevention, diabetes reversal, nutrition, and other health issues. Call 379-5718 for appt. For questions about his column, email gfeinsinger@comcast.net.

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Top 5 Health Tips for Men to rejuvenate and revive their enthusiasm! – New Day Live

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Give your heart some love and relief!

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death for men.  You can give your heart some TLC by making sure to eat fresh fruits and vegetables daily.  An easy way to ensure you are getting balanced nutrition is choose foods that are a variety of colors.  A heart healthy diet doesn’t have to be boring or bland, make sure you’re having enough fruits and vegetables along with the occasional snack or two.

Move your body and get some work done!

Indiana ranks as one of most obese states in the U.S. not just for adults, but for children as well. So is the case for many more states in US and all over the world. The good news is that research shows that just 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise can help improve your health, and running or even normal activity will go a long way in keeping you fit and firm for a long run.

Consult your doctor and make appointments.

The life expectancy for men is 5 years less than women, and men are 100% less likely to visit their doctor for preventative health exams.  Why is preventive care so important?  Preventative care can help you keep up good health, and detect any health issues early before they become a major challenge, which can help you have a better quality of life for you and your family.  Find a doctor you are comfortable with so you can openly discuss all aspects of your health from your mental health to sexual health and your overall wellness, as consulting an expert clears out the dilemmas and the cobwebs in your head.

Quit smoking, NOW!

Whether you smoke cigarettes, vape, or chew tobacco, you already know that tobacco and the additional chemicals in cigarettes can lead to diseases such has high blood pressure, cancer, and more. Did you also know that tobacco can also contribute to poor mental health and opposed to the common belief, it does not relieve stress?  Research studies show that people who stop smoking have less depression, anxiety, and stress and have improved positive mood and quality of life compared with those who continue to smoke, which is ironic but it’s the case now.

Healthy Mind, Healthy Being. Take care of your mental health.

Your mental health is inseparable from your physical health so it’s important to make sure you are taking care of your mental and emotional well-being in order to keep away from the ordeals of life and be more content and happy.  Over 6 million men report struggling with depression, and over 3 million men report struggling with anxiety.  Many times, men are more reluctant to seek help for depression, anxiety and other mental health issues for fear it it makes them look weak or because they feel they should be able to handle it on their own.


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