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A Faint Drumbeat in the Background
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 13, 2010 | Dorothy Jeffress
Reading the Modern Love essay in the New York Times Style section has become a favorite Sunday pastime. A widely diverse set of stories explore the paths that love and relationships have taken over the years. Funny, sad, deeply personal and evocative. I find myself connecting with the writers and their subjects in unexpected ways. This week's essay, Sweetest at the End, shared the story of a beloved and accomplished husband's decline and then death from an atrophy of the frontal brain lobe.

Mind Over Body. Mind Over Money
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 30, 2010 | Dorothy Jeffress
I was captivated this week by the PBS special Mind Over Money. This show featured the contrasting perspectives and studies of economists about how we make decisions about our money thoughts of which apparently light up a deep old part of the brain that also glimmers when either sex or food is considered.

Do Health Threats Migrate?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 7, 2010 | Jessie Gruman
Have you ever gotten one of those phone calls from your doctor the starts out I'm very concerned about what we saw in your mammogram/colonoscopy/echocardiogram?

Will I Do it for My DNA? Can Personalized Medicine Spark Healthier Behavior?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 15, 2010 | Jessie Gruman
The 10th Anniversary of the decoding of the human genome has prompted a whole new round of media coverage on progress toward 'personalized medicine i.e., approaches that use genetic information to prevent or treat disease in adults or their children. Not only will drugs be carefully tailored to our individual genetic profile, we will also be able to reduce risks and enhance our health by taking specific lifestyle-related actions that are determined by our unique constellation of DNA.

Watched, Loved and Now Desired by Millions
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 20, 2010 | Dorothy Jeffress
If popular culture provides clues to social trends then all signs point to an American public captivated by red velvet, carrot, lemon, and raspberry. Fabric, fruits and vegetables? No cakes whether of the cup variety or fancy full-size versions.

Who's Got My Back?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 27, 2010 | Jessie Gruman
Last week The New York Times published a front-page feature about how diagnosing breast cancer can be surprisingly difficult, prone to both outright error and case-by-case disagreement over whether a cluster of cells is benign or malignant.

From the Department of "Gosh! Why Didn't I Think of That?"
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 18, 2010 | Jessie Gruman
For every problem there is a solution which is simple, clean and wrong.- Henry Louis Mencken

Could Less Health Care Be Better for Our Health?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 4, 2010 | Jim Jaffe

Free Aneurysm Screenings: Not All K-Mart Blue Light Specials Are Bargains
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 28, 2010 | Gary Schwitzer
K-Mart, Medtronic, and a bunch of specialty medical groups are sponsoring a campaign called "Find the AAAnswers" - the AAA standing for abdominal aortic aneurysms.

Conversation Continues: Health News We're Watching
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 12, 2010 | CFAH Staff
Slate picks up on news about the recent Lung Cancer CT Scan study, which was also covered by Gary Schwitzer and others, in this Explainer column: Full-Body Scam: Should you ask your doctor to CT scan you from head to toe?

Prepared Patient: Medical Testing: You Need Answers
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 20, 2010 | Health Behavior News Service
Deborah Lewis got a shock when her pain management clinic called about a recent MRI test: They told me I needed to see an oncologist right away, that I had tumors on my spine. An oncologist did a lot of tests even though he said the MRI report didn't indicate anywhere that I had tumors or cancer. In fact, Lewis just had benign tumors common to her chronic medical condition. After a lot of wasted money, time and a whole lot of fear, we learned to question all test results,' she says.

Why Medical Testing Is Never a Simple Decision
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 20, 2010 | Marya Zilberberg
A women goes from healthy to heart transplant patient in just a few weeks. Could this have been avoided? True positives, false positives, false negatives, true negatives'how can we understand and use our test results to make good treatment decisions?

Vaccine Safety
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 6, 2011 | Conversation Continues
Two new books, examine the pseudoscience that created a controversy over vaccine safety, Dr. David Gorski, offers a review on science-based medicine, Andrew Wakefield's study linking autism to MMR vaccines continues to be dismantled and BMJ's Brian Deer compares diagnoses in Wakefield's study to hospital records.

CT Scans
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 7, 2011 | Inside Health Care
Our latest Prepared Patient, Medical Testing: You Need Answers, offers guidance on how to talk to your doctor about medical tests and what to consider before and after the test. Here are related thoughts from other blogs-Dr. John Schumann of GlassHospital, Dr. Michael Kirsch of MD Whistleblower, and Anna Sayburn on Consumer Reports Health Blog. Recent feature articles on medical tests from The Wall Street Journal & the ACPHospitalist are also included.

More Questions About Medical Tests
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 12, 2011 | Conversation Continues

Prevention Magazine Pushes High-tech, Non-Evidence-based Heart Screenings More Than Basic Prevention
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 26, 2011 | Gary Schwitzer
The February issue of Prevention magazine has an article, "Surprising Faces of Heart Attack" profiling "three women (who) didn't think they were at high risk. Their stories are proof that you could be in danger without even knowing it." No, their stories are not proof of that.

Guest Blog: Overdiagnosis
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 3, 2011 | Harriet Hall
Dr. H. Gilbert Welch has written a new book Over-diagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health, with co-authors Lisa Schwartz and Steven Woloshin. It identifies a serious problem, debunks medical misconceptions and contains words of wisdom. We are healthier, but we are increasingly being told we are sick. We are labeled with diagnoses that may not mean anything to our health. People used to go to the doctor when they were sick, and diagnoses were based on symptoms. Today diagnoses are increasingly made on the basis of detected abnormalities in people who have no symptoms and might never have developed them.

Prepared Patient: Vitamins & Supplements: Before You Dive In
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 5, 2011 | Health Behavior News Service
At 98 years old, Bob Stewart swears by his dietary supplements as a secret to successful aging. He takes flaxseed and apple cider vinegar pills, along with a Japanese supplement called nattokinase. He has never had a 'bad experience' or side effects, he says. But Betsy McMillan, an Ohio writer, describes her overdose from a vitamin B complex supplement. After a few weeks of taking it'in which she never exceeded the dose recommended on the bottle'her liver began to swell and she was overwhelmed by fatigue. It turned out that the pills contained potentially fatal levels of niacin.

Technical Difficulties: Houston, We Have a Problem'
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 25, 2011 | Patient Perspectives
Advances in health technology have meant that many illnesses now come with electronic devices used to detect, measure, or alleviate them. But, even the newest instrument can be problematic. Here, four patients share their tech-related stories.

Nine Out of 10 of Us Like Health-Related Numbers
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 7, 2011 | Jessie Gruman
It is not just when we are seriously ill that numbers dominate our experience with health care. Advances in technology have made it possible to quantify and thus monitor a seemingly infinite number of physiological and psychological health-related states.

I am Not My iPhone
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 5, 2011 | Jessie Gruman
There is excitement in the air about how mobile phones are the breakthrough technology for changing health behavior. Last Saturday, I was convinced this must be true. In two short hours, I...

Patient Engagement: Expert Judith Hibbard Talks about Challenges
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 24, 2011 | Judith Hibbard
This interview with Judy Hibbard is the seventh in a series of brief chats between CFAH president and founder, Jessie Gruman and experts - our CFAH William Ziff Fellows - who have devoted their careers to understanding and encouraging people's engagement in their health and health care.

Who Gets Preventive Care?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 19, 2011 | Trudy Lieberman
Who doesn't think preventive health care is important? Probably nobody if you ask this question abstractly. But when it comes to getting it - well that's a different matter.

Prepared Patient: Vitamins & Supplements: Before You Dive In
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 27, 2011 | Health Behavior News Service
At 98 years old, Bob Stewart swears by his dietary supplements as a secret to successful aging. He takes flaxseed and apple cider vinegar pills, along with a Japanese supplement called nattokinase. He has never had a 'bad experience' or side effects, he says. But Betsy McMillan, an Ohio writer, describes her overdose from a vitamin B complex supplement. After a few weeks of taking it'in which she never exceeded the dose recommended on the bottle'her liver began to swell and she was overwhelmed by fatigue. It turned out that the pills contained potentially fatal levels of niacin.

1st Person: At 98, Bob Stewart Would Rather Be Dancing
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 27, 2011 | First Person
Bob Stewart, who will turn 99 this May, began taking supplements in 2000, when he was in his late 80s. The retired podiatrist is also a strong believer in keeping active. He takes exercise classes at least three times a week and participates in numerous community activities, including a local men's chorus.

A New Year and a New Big Picture Look at Weight Loss?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 9, 2012 | Inside Health Care
With New Years resolutions still fresh, weight loss is all over the news, and many Americans' minds are firmly resolved to lose weight. However, their bodies and fast food restaurants may be equally determined that they fail.

Prepared Patient: Small Steps to Big Health Change
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 12, 2012 | Health Behavior News Service
The task of changing our routine behaviors and habits ' even those that may be important for our health ' can seem overwhelming. No wonder: habits become habits because they give us something we think we need. Maybe they make us feel better or they bring comfort, familiarity or convenience to our lives. We also worry that we won't be successful. It turns out, the key to lasting behavior change is taking small steps.

1st Person: Small Steps: Adapting to New Technology for Better Health
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 12, 2012 | First Person
Joan Reder, a person with diabetes, spends her days working as a medical transcriptionist, so you might assume she'd be pretty comfortable with anything involving medicine. But recently, the 59 year-old was faced with the daunting prospect of converting from her familiar daily insulin injections to an insulin pump, which would continuously monitor her blood glucose and deliver insulin to her body when needed.

Guest Blog: Old Public Health Guy's Plea: Don't Wear Your Headphones All the Time
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 27, 2012 | Douglas Kamerow
I propose that people stop wearing headphones when they are out in public...More serious than harming your hearing...it appears that earphone use in public can actually endanger your life.

Guest Blog: Super Bowl Sanitation: "Washed Up" Giants Outpoint Docs
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 31, 2012 | Michael Millenson
Is the New York Giants bathroom more sanitary than your hospital room? Could be. And that player cleanliness may even have helped send the team to the Super Bowl.

Tweetchat with Jessie Gruman Today at 2PM on Overtesting and Overtreating in Health Care
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 1, 2012 | CFAH Staff
Join @jessiegruman, Otis Brawley MD, Executive VP of ACS and other experts on Twitter today at 2PM with ABC's @DrRichardBesser for a Tweetchat about overtesting and overtreating in health care. Use hash tag #abcdrbchat.

Diabetes: 'Valuable Truths about Food and Consequences'
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 13, 2012 | Conversation Continues
From celebrity chefs, to health news journalists, to the National Institutes of Health people are talking about the increasing rate of diabetes, what causes it, and what to do about it.

Will We 'Just Say No' to Screening Tests?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 7, 2012 | Jessie Gruman
Will we - you and me and our parents and neighbors - be a significant force in quelling the tide of over-testing for the early detection of disease?

Teen Smoking: An Epidemic?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 15, 2012 | Inside Health Care
A new report from the U.S. surgeon general's office estimates 3,800 kids light their first cigarette every day and tobacco companies spend more than $1 million an hour marketing and promoting tobacco products.

What Does it Mean if Primary Care Doctors Get the Answers Wrong About Screening Stats?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 22, 2012 | Elaine Schattner
Recently the Annals of Internal Medicine published a new report on how doctors (don't) understand cancer screening stats. This unusual paper reveals that some primary care physicians a majority of those who completed a survey don't really get the numbers on cancer incidence, 5-year survival and mortality.

Getting Kids to Be Active
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 26, 2012 | Conversation Continues
Getting kids to eat well and exercise can be a tough sell. Are so-called "fat-shaming" books and exhibits the answer?

Employee Wellness Programs: The Carrot or the Stick?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 23, 2012 | Conversation Continues
Employee wellness programs can't work if employees don't participate. So, what's the motivation? Incentives or mandatory participation?

Selling Screening Tests
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 8, 2012 | Trudy Lieberman
A few weeks ago, a letter arrived from the Life Line Screening company enticing me to come in for a 'simple, potentially lifesaving screening' to assess my risk for strokes and other vascular diseases.

Reading, Writing, Weight Control?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 15, 2012 | Conversation Continues
"If you believe this is a massive national problem, you have to deal with it in a systems way," says, Dan Glickman, chair of an Institute of Medicine panel/report, "Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention".

Banning the Big Gulp: Bold Initiative or Bad Idea?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 14, 2012 | Inside Health Care
"Who should be responsible for the health of Americans?" "What's the best way to break society's bad habits?" Questions like these poured in following New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's recent proposal to ban sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces.

Uncomfortable with being Comfortable
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 19, 2012 | Chris Gibbons
Fitness maven Jeanette Jenkins recently tweeted that to see big results you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. In other words, making change happen, inevitably leads to emotional or physical discomfort. If you are serious about change you must be willing to endure a lot of discomfort.

The Hard Truth: There's No Such Thing as Truly Preventive Services
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 10, 2012 | Barbara Bronson Gray
If only there really was such a thing as a "preventive service." With all this talk about the Affordable Care Act these last few weeks, the inclusion in the law of "free preventive services" has been billed as a big plus.

Prepared Patient: Do You Need a Yearly Checkup? (Updated Version)
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 3, 2012 | Health Behavior News Service
We've all heard about well-baby visits, but if you're a healthy adult, you probably have no plan to see a doctor. When there's nothing to complain about, many of us go years without a comprehensive medical check-up, maybe to save money or time off from work or because we don't want to be lectured about our diet or exercise habits. But should we give up the time-honored tradition of the yearly physical?

Too Much Medical Care: Do We Know It When We See It?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 11, 2013 | Kenny Lin
If I didn't object to receiving what I recognized as too much medical care, it should not be a surprise that, according to one study, many inappropriate tests and treatments are being provided more often, not less.

False Alarms and Unrealistic Expectations in Preventive Care
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 28, 2013 | Kenny Lin
Shortly after we moved to Washington, DC, my wife and I purchased a basic home security system, the kind with a programmable keypad, multiple door alarms and a motion sensor. All things considered, it's hard to argue that the benefits of this preventive measure have outweighed its cumulative harms.

Latest Health Behavior News
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 25, 2013 | Health Behavior News Service
Brought to you by CFAH’s Health Behavior News Service: Depressed teens have rocky twenties | Gym benefits, yes. Extra costs, no thanks | Church goers look to ministry for health advice | Just say no to smoking in public housing

Do Corporate Wellness Programs Work?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 5, 2013 | Trudy Lieberman
On a recent trip to Lincoln, NE, I visited Lincoln Industries, a company that makes chrome trims for Harley-Davidson motorcycles. I was curious about the firm’s award-winning wellness program, especially since more employers are penalizing workers by making them pay more for their health insurance if they fail to meet certain health goals.

Cumulative Burden: The Real Barrier to Adherence for Complex Patients?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 26, 2013 | Donna Cryer
Recently, I participated in an excellent meeting, (Patient Summit USA 2013), whose primary theme was patient adherence. Thankfully the other speakers had all moved beyond the notion that "patients forget to take their medication" and that adherence can be solved by fancy pill caps or bottles; yet I was struck that most did not yet fully appreciate the challenges of a complete adherence picture, particularly for patients on multiple therapies.

Latest Health Behavior News
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 26, 2013 | Health Behavior News Service
This week in health news: Men opt for PSA test, despite guidelines | Obesity an added burden for people with disabilities | Minorities not getting mental health care | Economic downturns affect preventive care

Latest Health Behavior News
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 20, 2013 | Health Behavior News Service
In this weeks health news: Group exercise alleviates college stress | Maintain your weight in a matter of minutes | Education may be the key to fighting obesity | Men who binge at risk for cardiovascular disease.

Flu Shot Options: A Test of Patient Engagement?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 26, 2013 | Anne Polta
Talking about the flu vaccine used to be straightforward. But with the proliferation of vaccine options, it has become much more complicated. More options for consumers = better for everyone, right? Well...

You're Not as Invincible as You Think
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 21, 2013 | Laurie Edwards
I see firsthand the sense of invincibility that accompanies youth. My students have little reason to believe the long days, the all-nighters, and the jam-packed academic and social lives they lead will catch up to them. It is easy to dismiss patients with chronic illness as the elderly — those who have lived long enough to acquire the inevitable diseases of longevity. This is an incomplete picture of the chronic illness population, however...

Quelling the Tide of Over-Testing
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 24, 2013 | Conversation Continues
Lately it seems that more health care insiders are advocating for a "less is more" approach for some screening tests. Cancer, dementia and kidney disease are a few examples. But will we just say "no"?

Is Everything We Know About Nutrition Wrong?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 31, 2013 | Inside Health Care
Millions of dollars are spent on dietary research, but are we any closer to understanding what a truly healthy diet consists of? A few new studies are turning long-held recommendations on their heads.

This Doctor Treats Poverty Like a Disease
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 6, 2013 | Trudy Lieberman
What would you think if your doctor handed you a prescription that recommended filing your tax returns or applying for food stamps instead of the usual medicines for high blood pressure or diabetes...

The Costs of Being a Patient and a Doctor
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 19, 2013 | Jane Liu
My ultrasound came back "likely benign" with the recommendation that I follow up in six weeks to be sure. Over the next few weeks, I received one bill after another that totaled $1,000. Unable to pay, I felt abandoned by the system to which I had committed my career and did not call to schedule a second ultrasound...

Reducing Obesity: It Takes a Village
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 20, 2013 | Trudy Lieberman
During my recent visit to Canada, I had a chance to meet obesity expert and medical director of Canada's Bariatric Medicine Institute, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff. What he had to say was somewhat surprising...

For Many People with Diabetes, Lifestyle Changes Trump Medications
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 21, 2013 | Milly Dawson
Three key patient engagement themes emerged from this year's 'Diabetes + Innovation 2013' conference in Washington, D.C., organized by Joslin Diabetes Center at Harvard Medical School...

Should Patients Be Responsible for Physician Hand-Washing?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 26, 2013 | David Williams
For the past few years I’ve heard suggestions that patients should take a more active role in their health care by asking doctors to wash their hands. I strongly disagree...

Healthy Eating...Help!
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 27, 2013 | CFAH Staff
It isn't breaking news that exercising and eating a healthy diet can help improve your overall health and fitness, but that doesn't make it any easier for most of us to follow suit. These resources from CFAH's 'Be a Prepared Patient' can help...

Color Us Stressed – How to Deal
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 2, 2013 | Jane Sarasohn Kahn
Coast-to-coast, stress is the norm for most Americans: 55 percent of people feel stressed in everyday life, and far more women feel the stress than men do. It will take a village to help manage stress, including but not limited to our doctors.

Wellness at Work
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 5, 2013 | Health Behavior News Service
Is your company one of the many that are now offering "wellness programs"? Our latest Be a Prepared Patient article, Staying Well at Work, looks at a few of these programs in action and offers tips for maintaining a healthy work/life balance...

Advice for People New to Health Insurance (Part 1): Getting Covered
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 23, 2013 | CFAH Staff
In part one of our series, we look at the basics of picking a health insurance plan that's right for you, your family or a loved one. Our 'Be a Prepared Patient' resources can help you find the best coverage at the best price for your health needs...

Advice for People New to Health Insurance (Part 5): Do You Need a Yearly Checkup?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 30, 2013 | Be a Prepared Patient
In part five of our series, we look at the yearly check-up and offer resources for people who are trying to decide which preventive care services are right for them...

Advice for People New to Health Insurance (Part 6): 10 Steps to Making a Doctor's Appointment
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 31, 2013 | Be a Prepared Patient
In part six of our series, you'll find out what key pieces of information you need to know about your new doctor's office. Keep it handy with your personal health records or household files...

Advice for People New to Health Insurance (Part 8): Who's Who In Your Doctor's Office
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 2, 2014 | Be a Prepared Patient
In the eighth and final part of our series, we explain who the various people are in your doctor's office, from nurse practitioners to lab technicians. Knowing their different roles can make your visit go more smoothly...

Lack of Access Still to Blame
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 7, 2014 | CFAH Staff
What's the key to reducing costly emergency room visits and readmissions? People who lack convenient access to a health care provider, with or without insurance, return to the emergency department or hospital out of need and desperation...

What Does It Take to Get 'Better Living Through Medications' These Days?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 15, 2014 | Jessie Gruman
Lately, the public's faith in the safety of prescription and over-the-counter drugs has been making me uneasy. Why do so many of us continue to purchase pills that are not effective in causing weight loss, swallow syrups that promise to cure diabetes, and fiddle with our medication-taking regimens?...

NBC Vastly Exaggerates the Potential Benefits of Lung Cancer Screening
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 16, 2014 | Gary Schwitzer
When we talk about a consistently clear pattern of news stories that exaggerate or emphasize benefits while minimizing or ignoring harms, we are talking about stories exactly like this one...

Welcome Shifts in Primary Care
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 23, 2014 | CFAH Staff
What exactly is primary care? There have been a number of news stories lately that point to shifts in its traditional definitions and in what patients can (or should) expect to receive from primary care providers...

Sticking With Resolutions Is All About Preparation
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 27, 2014 | David L. Katz
Relevant research and conventional wisdom alike suggest that, despite their irresistible perennial tug on our collective conscience, New Year's resolutions generally have about the staying power of Champagne bubbles. In contrast, the science of sustainable behavior change tips convincingly toward "don't go until ready."

The Person Responsible for Your Health Is...
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 27, 2014 | CFAH Staff
Is it our job alone to look after our health? Or do employers, insurers, for-profit companies and the government also share some responsibility to keep us healthy? One person's nanny state is another's public health salvation. There is no shortage of examples of opposing perspectives...

The Other 'F' Word
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 6, 2014 | Jackie Fox
At my six-month checkup yesterday all was routine, other than my blood pressure being 131 over something when it's usually in the 115 range. Ten years ago I wouldn't have shared my fears at all, but thanks to early-stage breast cancer it's hard for my mind not to immediately go to the worst-case scenario...

Do People Really Want to Tech Their Way to Health?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 25, 2014 | Jane Sarasohn Kahn
The hockey-stick growth of "wearable technology" seen at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show begs the question: Will people pay out-of-pocket for gadgets that help them measure their steps, track their sleep, quantify their calories, record their heart rate and feedback their mood? A caveat emptor to investors seeing short-term dollar signs in the digital health sector...

The Goldilocks Approach to Our Health Knowledge: How Much Is Just Right?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 26, 2014 | Jessie Gruman
Most professional health care stakeholders believe that the more we patients and caregivers know about our health and diseases, the better our outcomes will be. When faced with the facts about our health risks and dangerous habits, they think we will rationally change our behaviors and correct our misunderstandings. As a patient, I want to know: At what point do I know enough to reap these hypothetical benefits?

Shared Decision Making: Blending Beliefs and Attitudes With Evidence
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 7, 2014 | Don S. Dizon
My patient, Mary, was a 28-year-old woman who had completed chemotherapy for stage II breast cancer. After discussing surveillance, frequency of follow-up and ASCO guidelines, I recommended against further testing or imaging. Mary was well aware of the evidence, but she had different plans...

Doctors as Coaches, Giving Up the High Horse
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 21, 2014 | Milly Dawson
A recent conference at Harvard Medical School brought together scores of physicians who want to live healthfully themselves and to work as partners with their patients to help them do the same. I've attended many medical meetings but never one as much fun or as health promoting for participants as this one...

Calorie Disclosures Might Actually Improve Health
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 29, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman
I've long been a skeptic when it comes to disclosing information about how doctors practice medicine, how hospitals treat patients and what both doctors and hospitals charge for their services. But I'm dropping my skepticism about disclosing calories in food. We've been conditioned to think of some foods as healthier than others. Only labels will reveal the truth...

Medication Cocktails: Not Every Mix Is Safe
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 5, 2014 | CFAH Staff
One in every five older Americans takes medications that work against each other. And some interactions between prescription drugs and supplements can pose dangerous health risks. So what must we do to make sure that we benefit from the drugs we take?

How Much Is a Patient's Peace of Mind Worth?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 12, 2014 | Anne Polta
If something is medically useless, does it still have value if it gives the patient (and perhaps the clinician as well) some peace of mind? To many patients, this is no small thing. Unfortunately, it's also often abetted by consumer marketing that plays up the peace-of-mind aspect of certain tests while remaining silent about the limited benefit, the possible risk and the clinical complexity that may be part of the larger picture...

So Much Incorrect Health Information Online
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 13, 2014 | CFAH Staff
How do we know which search results are true and which ones aren't? While you can find high-quality health information online, search results related to nutrition, fitness and preventive health vary widely in quality. And the actions we take (or don't take) as a result of the information we find can be hazardous...

Getting Good Care: 'I Wish It Were More Newsworthy. I'm Afraid It's Not.'
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 21, 2014 | Jessie Gruman
Unfortunately, the nitty gritty of getting good care is not really newsworthy, unless we're talking about how poor it is. However, there are opportunities for journalists and writers to report "news you can use" that would be very helpful to many people, and there is a big gap in reporting on most of these necessary tasks...

Cancer Screening: Understanding 'Relative Risk'
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 3, 2014 | Kenny Lin
I have offered before a few reasons for eligible patients to consider not getting screened for lung cancer. I concede, however, that reasonable people might conclude that the potential harms are outweighed by the benefit of reducing one's risk of dying by one-fifth. The next critical question that needs to be asked is: one-fifth of what?

Stop Expecting Antibiotics to Be Handed Out Routinely: Here's Why
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 10, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman
For years, my colleagues on the Prepared Patient site have preached the importance of being an advocate for your own care. And they've noted that at times it is necessary to push back against doctors' recommendations if a suggested treatment does not seem right. I just returned from a visit to the U.K., which drove home the importance of that advice...

Don't Forget the Hefty Price We Pay to Engage in Health
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 12, 2014 | Jessie Gruman
Media-fueled flip-flops and research breakthroughs on lifestyle and health behaviors are wearing down my usual patience with the provisional nature of science. Even simple dietary recommendations like lower fat/salt recommendations have become complicated as old truisms are overturned by new evidence. So I'm asking: To whom should I turn for meaningful guidance about modifying my risk for illness and boosting my health?

Don't Let the Sun Shine Down on Me (It's Too Complicated!)
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 18, 2014 | Jessie Gruman
I'm impressed by how much we struggle with seemingly simple health decisions when faced with sorting through too much information. Every week we view diverse arrays of products with health, convenience and cosmetic claims competing for our attention. Think yogurt, Gatorade, running shoes, breakfast cereal...Given the ubiquity of such products and the swirl of marketing and science- or non-science-based information surrounding each, I'm wondering three things...

How to Pick a Primary Care Physician
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 7, 2014 | Reed Tuckson
As the former chief of medical affairs of UnitedHealth Group, I'm privileged to listen to the good people of this country talk about their health care. When it comes to choosing a doctor, do you know what I've learned? Most of us spend more time researching our next electronic gadget than researching our doctor. Except choosing the right doctor has significantly more impact on your life than any gadget...

When Does a Patient Need to Be Seen?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 28, 2014 | Anne Polta
You need a refill for a prescription that's about to run out. You've taken the medication for years without any problems and can't think of any reason why the prescription can't just be automatically continued. But the doctor won't order a refill unless you make an appointment and come in to be seen. Is this an unfair burden on the patient or due diligence by the doctor?...

Ingenious Hospitals Find a New Way to Snag Patients
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 29, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman
A mother takes her teenage son to an urgent care center that is part of her insurance plan's network. A clerk quickly refers him to the emergency room, across the street, which just happens to be part of the same hospital system as the urgent care center. Is this UCC sending some patients to its related hospital ER, clearly a place of high-priced care, to gin up revenue for the system's bottom line?...

Seven Things You Can Do to Help Reduce Prescription Errors
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 4, 2014 | Margaret Polaneczky
I just got off the phone with a very upset patient who discovered that her pharmacy has been giving her the wrong medication for the past five months. Despite all our fancy technology and advances in health care, medication errors can and will occur. So what can you do, as a patient, to be sure that your prescriptions are correct?...

What Policy Makers Told CFAH About Patient Engagement
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 13, 2014 | CFAH Staff
"Since patients don't live in a vacuum, we must also involve the community in which patients live, work, and play. Community resources must be readily available to meet the needs of the population they serve. Also, as we begin to have patients and families engaged in their care and talk to peers and extended family members, they begin to model engagement to others. We are looking for 'engaged communities.'" - Jean Moody-Williams - Group Director, CMS Quality Improvement Group, Baltimore, MD

Clever Hospitals Find Another Way to Snag New Patients
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 13, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman
As I sat on a New York subway one sizzler of a day, an ad for an ice cream cone grabbed my attention. After a closer read, I realized the ad was not touting ice cream but the Center for Advanced Digestive Care, a part of New York Presbyterian, one of the city's most prestigious hospitals and well known for its TV ads designed to cultivate brand recognition. The ice cream cone was an effective attention-grabber. So was the message…

What Health Insurers Told CFAH About Patient Engagement
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 20, 2014 | CFAH Staff
"Most health plans view engagement as important and want to support it. But they recognize that they are only one (relatively weak) factor in supporting patient/consumer engagement... Their customers want their insurance premiums going to medical care, not a bunch of mailings about things they already know they should do..." – Arthur Southam, MD – Executive Vice President of Health Plan Operations, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Oakland, CA

Stress Is US
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 8, 2014 | Jane Sarasohn Kahn
"Reality is the leading cause of stress among those in touch with it," Lily Tomlin once quipped. So it's no surprise, then, that one-half of the people in the U.S. have had a major stressful event or experience in the last year. And health tops the list...

A Doctor's Dilemma of Prescribing for Pain
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 14, 2014 | Kenny Lin
I have complicated feelings about prescribing for chronic pain. On one hand, I recognize that relieving headaches, backaches, arthritis and nerve pain has been a core responsibility of the medical profession for ages. On the other hand, deaths and emergency room visits from overdoses of prescription painkillers have skyrocketed. I believe that addiction is a disease. So why do I find my patient's lies so hard to forgive?...

We Don't Ration Health Care in America. Or Do We?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 29, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman
As narrower insurance networks begin to limit where we can get our care and contradict the American notion of abundant choices, I thought about the Canadian health care system and rumors of its long waiting lists that grab U.S. headlines. Yet, narrow insurance networks, sky-high deductibles, co-insurance and co-pays are ways of controlling our medical expenditures. Instead of rationing with waiting lists, America rations with price...

Food Companies' Masterful Marketing at Odds With Consumers' Health
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 18, 2014 | CFAH Staff
New options from Domino's, McDonald's and Pepsi are putting consumers' food choices to the test. Do we really want nacho-chips-flavored Mountain Dew? Probably not. But health advocates will have to step up their game to compete against these marketing powerhouses...

The Canadian Doctor Who Prescribes Income to Treat Poverty
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 19, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman
The first blog post I wrote about a Canadian doctor who was "diagnosing poverty" received more than 3,000 hits. I wanted to circle back to see whether or not the program had taken root. Indeed it has. "It's been a wildfire effect," Dr. Gary Bloch told me. Why can't the U.S. follow suit?...