Vital Record » Public Health http://news.tamhsc.edu Your source for health news from the Texas A&M Health Science Center Fri, 28 Aug 2015 14:01:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The computer will see you now. Could technology replace doctors? http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=the-computer-will-see-you-now-could-technology-replace-doctors http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=the-computer-will-see-you-now-could-technology-replace-doctors#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 16:57:58 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=24217 Wearables are turning our daily health routines into a game, simultaneously making it easier for us to track and share our health data. According to experts at Texas A&M Health Science Center, such devices could ultimately revolutionize the way we treat patients. ]]>

It’s true. Health care technology is transforming at record speeds, almost at pace with Apple’s release of a new iPhone. A digitally globalized world means more power than ever is in the hands of the patient. Around one in 10 Americans wear some form of technology on a daily basis, whether it’s a smart-phone or a device to track medical information.

Stethoscope on computer.

Will wearable technology revolutionize the way we treat patients? According to Mark Benden, C.P.E. Ph.D., the answer is quite simple. Yes.

It may sound like the premise of a science fiction film, but Mark Benden, C.P.E., Ph.D., associate professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health, director of the Texas A&M Ergonomics Center and member of the Center for Remote Healthcare Technologies and Systems, believes wearable technology is rapidly approaching the point where devices become omniscient about a patient’s needs and personal habits.

“We see wearable devices on a daily basis. The most common devices – like the Fitbit –are built-in mechanisms that communicate with your cell phone. Soon, we will have devices in all environments – they will monitor us in our homes, while we’re at work and during our personal lives. As these different devices ‘talk’ to each other, they will be able to know people’s habits and practices. Essentially, they will coach and motivate patients,” Benden said.

And in health care, this type of scientific advancement is powerful. With more than 140 million Americans living with at least one chronic medical condition, these devices could keep patients out of the hospital and monitored on a routine basis.

Some of these devices are already a reality. According to Benden, clinicians use devices for type I and type 2 diabetes that monitor the conditions non-invasively. “There’s a device called Spire that clips to your waist and monitors stress levels. We’ve also seen doctors use implantable devices in patients with heart disease that monitor, track and record data on the patient’s condition.”

“Wearables are ‘on’ us all the time,” Benden said. “But, in three to five years they will be on and ‘attached’ to us. I expect we will see progress like a transdermal tattoo to monitor blood sugar and nicotine levels, or contact lenses that detect biomarkers for certain conditions. We will also see a rise in implantable devices powered by movement, blood flow or breathing.”

For Benden, the potential in technology is especially important for disease prevention. “Right now, health care in our nation really consists of ‘sick-care.’ While there are many conditions that can’t be prevented, the majority of the health care world is focused on diagnosing and treating bad outcomes, and we don’t put enough focus on the prevention side of health care,” he said.

And prevention is where technology could be a game-changer. Most people have the knowledge of what they need to do to make a change, but they often don’t follow through. “In five to 10 years I think the majority of devices will be sentient and omni-present,” Benden said. There are a variety of triggers for different conditions, but with the interconnectivity of technology, our devices will be able to intervene before we perform the undesirable behavior or unhealthy outcome.”

Benden said one such example is a device that could help a person who is struggling to quit smoking. “Current tech that detects cigarette smoke and warns the person not to smoke is helpful, but for prevention, we need devices that recognize a habit or routine that is leading up to us taking a smoke break and then intervening before we get to the point of lighting up. We make daily choices for our health, and the key is making the right choices consistently. Most things we treat ­– like lung cancer caused by smoking – are preventable. Devices will help encourage us to make the correct choices for our health.”

How will the rise of the machine affect relationships with our doctor? Benden believes remote medicine is part of the future of health care.

“Many people don’t think to tell their health care provider about conditions or situations impacting their health. If they wear a device, the tracker will automatically know all of their habits 24/7 and a computer algorithm can record these habits,” Benden said.

According to Benden, we can expect a doctor to be on the receiving end of this data, and the bulk of the work will move from the doctor to the computer. “The computer will be able to provide much more data analysis and will outshine our greatest clinicians’ diagnostic abilities due to its ability to process and integrate huge streams of data,” Benden said. “The potential for this technology is extremely significant and the power of information will be integral for disease prevention and treatment.”

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Texas A&M National Research Cooperative and Major Philadelphia Health System Partner to Combat Health Disparities http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=texas-am-national-research-cooperative-and-major-philadelphia-health-system-partner-to-combat-health-disparities http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=texas-am-national-research-cooperative-and-major-philadelphia-health-system-partner-to-combat-health-disparities#comments Wed, 30 Nov -0001 00:00:00 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=24066 Main Line Health, a five-hospital teaching health system in suburban Philadelphia, recently became a member of the Center for Health Organization Transformation (CHOT) at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health]]>
Health care workers

Research will focus on developing new and innovative ways to reduce health care disparities and close the gap in population health outcomes.

Main Line Health, a five-hospital teaching health system in suburban Philadelphia, recently became a member of the Center for Health Organization Transformation (CHOT) at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health – an industry-university cooperative research center funded by the National Science Foundation and other health care organizations.

CHOT’s mission is to conduct and support research into major health care innovations in the areas of management, clinical care and information technology. As a member, Main Line Health will work with CHOT and will also leverage their new partnership between Lankenau Institute for Medical Research and Jefferson College of Population Health in Philadelphia to develop new and innovative ways to reduce health care disparities and close the gap in population health outcomes.

Despite spending more per capita than the vast majority of countries, health care disparities continue to persist among racial and ethnic minorities in the U.S. In fact, studies show that these populations experience a lower quality of health services, are less likely to receive routine medical procedures, and have higher rates of morbidity and mortality than non-minorities.

“Our membership in CHOT will not only help advance the nation’s understanding of health care disparities and how to reduce them, it will also provide us with valuable information about patients in the communities we serve,” said Phil Robinson, President of Lankenau Medical Center, a member of Main Line Health. “Our first project will focus on identifying the key drivers of disparities in 30-day readmission among our patients and implementing evidence-based interventions that could significantly reduce these disparities.”

Bita Kash, Ph.D., M.B.A.

Bita Kash, Ph.D., M.B.A.

“The partnership between Main Line Health, CHOT and researchers at the Jefferson College of Population Health, will be highly effective in answering important health disparities questions in the U.S.,” said Bita Kash, PhD, MBA, CHOT director and associate professor at the Texas A&M School of Public Health. “We hope to advance our knowledge base in the field of population health outcomes and health disparities while gaining a better understanding of the important role healthcare organizations and health systems play in achieving population health targets.”

The first CHOT research project in the Philadelphia region will be led by Alva Ferdinand, Ph.D., J.D., assistant professor in Health Policy and Management at the Texas A&M School of Public Health, and will focus on building a disparities-of-care predictive model for hospital readmissions that takes key market and geographic factors as well as the diverse populations served by Main Line Health into consideration. This unique population approach will allow Main Line Health to formulate evidence-based strategies toward closing health disparities gaps.

About CHOT

CHOT is one of the National Science Foundation’s 70 Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers (I/UCRC) in the U.S. and the only I/UCRC focused on innovations in healthcare delivery. Through their cooperative research model, CHOT researchers and industry members from across all spectrums of health care work with university faculty and graduate students to conduct research on strategies for improving health and transforming health care delivery.

About Main Line Health

Founded in 1985, Main Line Health (MLH) is a not-for-profit health system serving portions of Philadelphia and its western suburbs. At its core are four of the region’s respected acute care hospitals—Lankenau Medical Center, Bryn Mawr Hospital, Paoli Hospital and Riddle Hospital—as well as one of the nation’s premier facilities for rehabilitative medicine, Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital; Mirmont Treatment Center for drug and alcohol recovery; and HomeCare & Hospice, a home health service. Main Line Health also consists of Main Line HealthCare, one of the region’s largest multi-specialty physician networks, and the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, a non-profit biomedical research organization located on the campus of Lankenau Medical Center. Main Line Health is also comprised of four outpatient health centers located in Broomall, Collegeville, Exton and Newtown Square. Main Line Health Hospitals, with more than 10,000 employees and 2,000 physicians, are the recipients of numerous awards for quality care and service, including System Magnet® designation, the nation’s highest distinction for nursing excellence. Main Line Health is among the area’s leaders in medicine, providing advanced patient-centered care, education and research to help our community stay healthy.

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Mehta awarded innovative mental health research grant http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=mehta-awarded-innovative-mental-health-research-grant http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=mehta-awarded-innovative-mental-health-research-grant#comments Wed, 05 Aug 2015 23:35:20 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=24058 According to the World Health Organization, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and depressive disorders rank among the most common health problems of the U.S. workforce. Ranjana Mehta, Ph.D. has been awarded a grant to study the impact of major depression on precision motor control and associated functional changes in the frontal brain regions]]>
Depressed Woman

The project will use a novel approach to understand brain-behavior relationships during precision motor action in adults with major depression.

Ranjana Mehta, Ph.D., assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health, has been awarded a grant from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health. The grants fund promising and innovative mental health research, and Mehta’s project will study the impact of major depression on precision motor control and associated functional changes in the frontal brain regions.

According to the World Health Organization, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and depressive disorders rank among the most common health problems of the U.S. workforce. Depressive symptoms such as sadness, stress, disturbed sleep and fatigue can significantly impact physical capabilities, particularly when workers perform critical or complex occupational tasks involving intensified workload and precision demands.

Ranjana Mehta, Ph.D.

Ranjana Mehta, Ph.D.

“Since depression is a critical concern to workplace health and safety, the project will use a novel approach to understand brain-behavior relationships during precision motor action in adults with major depression,” Mehta said. “Outcomes obtained are expected to contribute to a broader understanding of how common daily and/or workplace stressors can influence physical competencies in depressed adults.”

Mehta is among 10 tenure-track assistant professors at eight Texas universities to receive the 2015 Mental Health Research Grants. In addition to research, the grants fund the dissemination of research findings through presentations at state and national conferences and meetings.

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Master of Health Administration Student receives National Scholarship http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=master-of-health-administration-student-receives-national-scholarship-2 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=master-of-health-administration-student-receives-national-scholarship-2#comments Wed, 30 Nov -0001 00:00:00 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=24133 Katesha E. Murrell-Dann of the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health has been selected as the recipient of the 2015 Ellis Bonner Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded by the National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE) to honor high-achieving minority students who ... ]]>
Katesha E. Murrell-Dann

Katesha E. Murrell-Dann

Katesha E. Murrell-Dann of the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health has been selected as the recipient of the 2015 Ellis Bonner Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded by the National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE) to honor high-achieving minority students who work 35 hours or more each week while pursuing their graduate degree in health care management.

Murrell-Dann, a third-year master of health administration (MHA) student, will be presented the scholarship at an awards dinner on October 16, 2015, at the NAHSE Annual Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is currently employed at The Physicians Centre Hospital in Bryan, Texas, and is primarily responsible for matters regarding employee onboarding and employee engagement.

U.S. News and World Reports recently ranked the school’s MHA program as one of the top 35 best graduate health care management programs nationwide.

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Master of Health Administration Student receives National Scholarship http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=master-of-health-administration-student-receives-national-scholarship http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=master-of-health-administration-student-receives-national-scholarship#comments Wed, 05 Aug 2015 21:10:21 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=24062 Elizabeth Arana of the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health has been selected as one of six students awarded the Albert W. Dent scholarship from the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE)]]>
Elizabeth Arana

Elizabeth Arana

Elizabeth Arana of the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health has been selected as one of six students awarded the Albert W. Dent scholarship from the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE). This national scholarship was established in honor of Albert W. Dent, the first African-American Fellow of ACHE, and is awarded to high achieving minority students in health care management graduate programs.

Arana is a second-year master of health administration student (MHA) who works as an administrative intern at Brazos Valley Women’s Center in Bryan, Texas. This position has provided her the opportunity to apply the curriculum taught in the classroom to the routine operations of a private practice.

U.S. News and World Reports recently ranked the school’s MHA program as one of the top 35 best graduate health care management programs nationwide.

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Teach your children about school bus safety http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=teach-your-children-about-school-bus-safety http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=teach-your-children-about-school-bus-safety#comments Wed, 30 Nov -0001 00:00:00 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?p=11320 With the start of a new school year, school bus safety is something parents should discuss with their children, says the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health]]>
Little girl looking out of a school bus window

Teach your children to stand three giant steps (about six feet) away from the curb as they wait for the bus.

With the start of a new school year, school bus safety is something parents should discuss with their children.

Adam Pickens, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health, recommends the following safety precautions to help keep your children safe.

Help your children arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive and remind them to stay away from the street while waiting on the bus. Remind them that as the bus approaches, stand at least three giant steps (six feet) from the curb until the bus comes to a complete stop and to watch for cars.

Emphasize to your children they should stay seated and not put their head, arms, papers or anything else out the window. Also, remind them to wait until the bus comes to a complete stop before getting up.

“Once your child exits the bus, they should always walk in front of the bus where the driver can see them,” says Dr. Pickens. “Staying five giant steps (10 feet) ahead of the bus is a good rule of thumb. Remind your child to never bend down in front of the bus to tie shoes or pick up objects, as the driver may not see them before starting to move.”

There are many good information resources to help keep your child safe this school year, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Texas Department of Public Safety.

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Addressing public health abroad: Aggies team up to provide health services in Ecuador http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=addressing-public-health-abroad-aggies-team-up-to-provide-health-services-in-ecuador http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=addressing-public-health-abroad-aggies-team-up-to-provide-health-services-in-ecuador#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 15:00:44 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=24050 This summer, an interdisciplinary group of Aggies - composed of students from the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health, College of Medicine, College of Nursing and College of Pharmacy - spent a week abroad providing basic health services to residents of Guamaní, Ecuador. ]]>

This summer, an interdisciplinary group of Aggies – composed of students from the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health, College of Medicine, College of Nursing and College of Pharmacy – spent a week abroad providing basic health services to residents of Guamaní, Ecuador.

A small community of about 39,000 residents, Guamaní lies on the southern outskirts of the country’s capital, Quito. A relatively new, incorporated community, Guamaní deals with many public health issues including water, sewer, transportation, safe recreation and reliable trash removal. The students wasted no time getting to work, and within the first two hours, created:

  • a triage center for medical and dental attention;
  • a pharmacy center for filling prescriptions after seeing a doctor, nurse and/or dentist;
  • an education center to teach positive nutrition and health routines;
  • a child care center;
  • and a public health training and interview center.

Throughout the week, students worked with community residents and leaders to implement a community health assessment, conducted focus groups and visited with families to discuss what public health means to them. Additionally, residents participated in a photo voice exercise, walking the community, photographing and simultaneously commenting on health conditions in Guamaní.

“Being on the ground and learning directly from residents about the public health challenges in Guamaní really allowed us to apply what we’ve learned in the classroom,” said Evelia Castillo, a student in the Master of Public Health program. “Despite the challenges, the people are resilient and resourceful. They are already working to address many of the challenges that were documented. I hope the work we completed in collaboration with Guamaní residents can be used to amplify their current efforts.”

The data will be consolidated in a report and sent to Guamaní leaders and participants for their use in creating and implementing future community health development projects.

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“Shoppable products”—getting the best deals on health care http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=shoppable-products-getting-the-best-deals-on-health-care http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=shoppable-products-getting-the-best-deals-on-health-care#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 18:57:02 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=24036 Insured or uninsured, we all feel the pinch of higher health care costs. Get the most bang for your buck by shopping around. Comparison shopping could save you time and money on routine medical services]]>

Infographic on shoppable health care products

 

Learn more about price transparency

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Innovative preeclampsia research to identify potential biomarkers http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=innovative-preeclampsia-research-to-identify-potential-biomarkers http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=innovative-preeclampsia-research-to-identify-potential-biomarkers#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 13:00:12 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=24007 Brandie DePaoli Taylor, Ph.D. will lead a research team that will study subtypes of preeclampsia with different severity. She hopes to help clinicians get ahead of the illness through a new study to identify biomarkers of the disease with the three-year, $181,507 study funded by The Discovery Foundation]]>
Pregnant woman having blood pressure checked

Affecting at least 5 to 8 percent of all pregnancies, preeclampsia is a rapidly progressive condition characterized by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine.

Preeclampsia is a potentially dangerous complication facing pregnant women and a major cause of maternal morbidity and mortality worldwide. The disorder is characterized by newly acquired high blood pressure and protein in the urine during pregnancy. Despite decades of research, the ability of doctors to predict preeclampsia has not improved significantly.

Brandie DePaoli Taylor, Ph.D., assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health, hopes to help clinicians get ahead of the illness through a new study to identify biomarkers of the disease. In the three-year, $181,507 study funded by The Discovery Foundation, Taylor will lead a research team that will study subtypes of preeclampsia with different severity.

Brandie Taylor, Ph.D.

Brandie Taylor, Ph.D.

Thorough identifying biomarkers in maternal blood during the first trimester of pregnancy, researchers hope to better understand differences in immunological responses between women who will develop early-onset and late-onset preeclampsia as compared to women who go on to have healthy pregnancies. This information will be used for new studies focused on predicting specific subtypes of the disease.

“Preeclampsia is a complex disease that may have several subtypes with different causes, which complicates prediction and clinical management efforts,” Taylor said. “To better understand the role of cellular stress and immunity in developing preeclampsia subtypes, we will examine biomarkers in maternal blood that are present prior to disease onset.”

Preeclampsia is a major public health burden and can lead potentially to fatal damage to a woman’s kidney, liver and brain. To date, the only treatment for preeclampsia is delivery of the placenta. Delivery is often premature leading to health risk for the baby and increasing the possibility of infant mortality. Health issues for the mother extend beyond pregnancy with an increased risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease later in life.

“There is a critical need to identify biomarkers to better understand preeclampsia subtypes for improved prediction and clinical management,” Taylor said. “Given the immediate and long-term risks, advances in preeclampsia research will ultimately lead to healthier moms, babies and adults.”

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