Can telemedicine save you money?

telemedicineTime is money

Maybe you have affordable health insurance and a doctor you like.

But have you ever had the experience of calling for an appointment for a sore throat, a bladder infection, back pain, or some other minor ailment and being told that the doctor’s next available appointment is in six weeks?

Or you get a same-day appointment, but then have to take time off work, drive to the clinic, perhaps pay for parking, and then wait to be seen by the doctor. For a five-minute appointment.

It’s frustrating, sure, but it’s also costly when you consider the time … Continue reading

Home remedies for allergy eyes

allergy eyesSpring and allergy eyes

I love the sunny days of early spring when the trees are in flower…but then my allergies kick in.

I don’t mind the runny nose and sneezing so much. I can use my neti pot to keep the pollen out of my nose.

But I’ve had a harder time treating the allergy eyes—the itchy, red, watery, ugly eyes that are the byproduct of all that seasonal pollen floating in the air.

Another name for allergy eyes is allergic conjunctivitis.

Try some simple treatments

I can’t avoid spring flowers, but I’ve finally (after many years of suffering) … Continue reading

Hospital safety tips

hospital safetyHospital safety and medical mistakes

A friend forwarded an email to me. It was from a retirement blog he subscribes to, and this particular post was about what the writer, a doctor as well as a blogger, considers “The deadliest place you’re likely to visit this year…”

He’s talking about hospitals. And he’s not being overly dramatic, either.

He knows what many of us in health care know: hospitals can be dangerous to your health. One of my best friends is a physician. We have a pact that if either one of us has to go into the hospital, the … Continue reading

Choose paper towels over air hand dryers

I just came back from vacation. Between airports, restaurants and public attractions, I washed my hands in a lot of public restrooms. I noticed that more places, especially newer ones, have installed high-tech hand dryers rather than paper towel dispensers. Some have both.

I usually use a paper towel because it’s faster and I can use it on the handle of the restroom as I’m leaving.

But I’ve never really considered if there’s a health difference between the two ways to dry your hands. Apparently, there is.

recent study in the Journal of Applied Microbiology compared how many germs … Continue reading

Exercise for brain health

brainThe wellness blog in the New York Times had an article about brain health that has strengthened my resolve to exercise every day.

Walk, Jog or Dance: It’s All Good For the Aging Brain

It turns out that regular walking, cycling, swimming, dancing and even gardening may substantially reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.

The author is referring to a recently published study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

The study looked at 10 years’ worth of lifestyle data, including exercise levels, on 900 men and women over the age of 65. Over the course of those 10 years, the … Continue reading

Be informed – Shared decision-making

Shared decision-making makes better informed patients, and better informed patients use less health care.

…as many as 20% of patients who participate in shared decision making choose less invasive surgical options and more conservative treatment than do patients who do not use decision aids.

Which lowers health care costs.

…a 2012 study…showed that providing decision aids to patients eligible for hip and knee replacements substantially reduced both surgery rates and costs — with up to 38% fewer surgeries and savings of 12 to 21% over 6 months.

[It’s] estimated that implementing shared decision making for just 11 procedures would

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Tips to cut back on medications

cut back on medicationsI don’t think anyone would be surprised to know that Americans are popping more pills than ever.

About 60% take at least one prescription medication. Even more take daily dietary supplements, herbal remedies or other over-the-counter drugs.

And the more drugs you take, the higher the risk of dangerous drug interactions.

A new study published this month in JAMA reports that close to 88% of older Americans over the age of 62 take at least one drug. Of those, the report estimates, 15% are at high risk of suffering from a major drug-drug interaction.

I read Dr. Richard Lehman’s response Continue reading

Prevent sports-related eye injuries

eye safetyIt’s spring and sporting equipment is coming out of the closets!

That’s why April is designated Sports Eye Safety Month.

If you and/or your kids play a sport that involves fast-moving balls, frisbees or sticks, the American Academy of Ophthamology (AAO) wants you to take steps to prevent eye injuries.

Every year, more than 42,000 people are seen in ERs with sports-related eye injuries, and 13,500 suffer some degree of blindness as a result.

Common sports eye injuries include corneal abrasions, lacerations and bleeding in the eye. Basketball players tend to get poked in the eye with fingers. Tennis and

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PBS – “Ride the Tiger”

Tomorrow night at 10pm, PBS is premiering a documentary about the history and treatment of bipolar disorder: Ride the Tiger—A Guide Through the Bipolar Brain.

It’s hard to find a family that hasn’t been affected by this condition, yet it’s still poorly understood and challenging to diagnose and treat.

The show looks at genetics, diagnosis and treatment, and features many highly accomplished people living with the condition.

The PBS webpage also offers resources for more information about bipolar disorder.

I will certainly be watching!

Sláinte,

Frugal Nurse

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Allergies 101 Infographic

I love infographics!

So when Blink Health invited me to share their infographic on allergies, Allergies 101, I was happy to agree.

Blink Health is one of several health care start-ups I’ve been watching that I think provide innovative ways to help people save money on health care. Blink Health specifically helps patients save money on prescription medications.

Blink Health is the first company to develop a proprietary technology to group millions of patients together, creating the strength to negotiate the lowest prescriptions prices possible. They are also the first company to allow patients to purchase their medications online

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Addyi – Will a new ad campaign really help?

A few months ago I wrote a post about Addyi (flibanserin), the new drug that supposedly boosts the female libido. It’s also referred to as “pink Viagra” or “female Viagra” although it doesn’t work like Viagra.

In fact, it’s debatable whether it works as advertised at all.

Addyi was supposed to a blockbuster drug for Valeant Pharmaceuticals, but it’s had lousy sales since it appeared on the market in August.

More than half a million men got prescriptions for Viagra in its first month on the market in 1998. The number of prescriptions for Addyi, the women’s libido-boosting

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ER tips to keep kids safe at home

As any parent or child caregiver can tell you, keeping kids safe—especially into-everything toddlers—takes a lot of planning ahead. We look around the house or yard and try to think like they do: What will they be attracted to? What will they pick up and put in their mouths? How high can they reach? Etc….

And sometimes we fail.

I just watched two video clips of ER docs talking about some common injuries they see, and what parents can do to make their homes more safe.

The first is from the TV show The Doctors: 3 Dangerous Drugs that Can Continue reading

Harken Health – Betting on primary care

I just read about health insurance giant UnitedHealth’s bold but risky new insurance plan, Harken Health:

UnitedHealthcare is betting $65 million that it can profit by making primary care more attractive.

With little fanfare, the nation’s largest health insurer launched an independent subsidiary in January that offers unlimited free doctor visits and 24/7 access by phone. Every member gets a personal health coach to nudge them toward their goals, such as losing weight or exercising more. Mental health counseling is also provided, as are yoga, cooking and acupuncture classes.

At this time, Harken Health is only available in Chicago … Continue reading

Is drinking good for you?

wineIf, like me, you enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, or a cold beer on a hot day, or a cocktail when out with friends, you probably think a small to moderate amount of alcohol is part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.

So the continuous push-pull in the media about the benefits of alcohol (“Moderate drinking helps you live longer!”) versus the harms (“Moderate drinking increases your risk of death!”) must confuse you as much as it does me.

Why can’t these researchers decide??

Well, there are a lot of problems with this kind of research. First, these … Continue reading

Be informed – Informulary

I love finding websites that provide people with evidence-based health care guidance that is also easy to understand.

Like the law, medicine is full of jargon and tortured language that can leave the most intelligent patient confused about risks and benefits.

Clear communication is especially necessary when talking about prescription medications.

I just ran across a new website called Informulary, which was started with the goal of providing easy-to-use and understand DrugFactsBoxes, similar to nutrition labels on foods.

Since 2009, the Food and Drug Administration has required facts labels on all over-the-counter medications, but so far they have ignored … Continue reading