Sleepio and SHUTi: Online sleep therapy

sleepioWe’re not sleeping enough

Sleeplessness is epidemic in this country.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) consider insomnia a public health issue and report that at least 35% of adults don’t get a good night’s sleep.

Judging from my circle of friends, I think the percentage is much higher than that!

Insomnia and daytime fatigue make life miserable and contribute to chronic illness. Drowsy drivers cause accidents. Drowsy employees cause on-the-job injuries.

Sleeping pills (hypnotics) are the go-to treatment in the US. Drugs like zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta) and suvorexant (Belsomra).

Related post: Belsomra—Use with caution

But they have side … Continue reading

Guts and Bolts – It’s fun, it’s educational!

guts and boltsI just found this great game, Guts and Bolts, while I was surfing around on the internet last weekend!

It’s not new, just new to me  🙂

It’s a creation of BrainPOP, which features all kinds of cool educational games and tools.

The game is kind of a Dr. Frankenstein meets Joe the Plumber as you are introduced to different body parts and organs and learn how they are connected and work together.

As you level up, there are game quizzes that test your knowledge of what you’ve learned. I took these thinking they would be a piece … Continue reading

Costs of Care story contest – Tell your story

And maybe win a prize!

Have you or a family member been the victim of crazy medical expenses? Or are you a healthcare provider who has witnessed again and again unreasonable and unfair healthcare costs?

Have you just been waiting for the chance to share your experience with a wider audience?

If so, then the healthcare advocacy group, Costs of Care, wants you to submit your story to its annual Story Contest.

Your story should be 750 words or less, and it should “focus on experiences that illustrate the challenges or opportunities to make healthcare more affordable.” (Check out… Continue reading

What is RIP Medical Debt?

rip medical debtDebt forgiveness

I recently found out about an intriguing non-profit—RIP Medical Debt.

I’ve posted many times about the high cost of healthcare, even for those of us with health insurance. Medical debt is still a leading cause of personal bankruptcies in this country.

What if those debts could just disappear?

For a lucky few, they can.

RIP Medical Debt, Inc., was founded in mid-2014 by two former collections industry executives, Craig Antico and Jerry Ashton. Having worked for decades in the medical field, the two were acutely aware of the number of Americans who shoulder the burden

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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

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

Do “brain games” prevent dementia?

I like playing the brain games of Lumosity online and on my phone.

I like puzzles and words games in general, and Lumosity offers a fun and convenient way to play and keep track of my improvement in a variety of challenges.

I’ve never paid the costly $15 a month subscription, because I’ve never bought into the idea that playing these “brain games”—Lumosity calls it “brain training”—by themselves is enough to prevent dementia as I age.

But many people, apparently, were influenced by Lumosity’s advertising.

Two weeks ago, the creators of Lumosity settled a $50 million lawsuit with the Federal Continue reading

Medical identity theft – A growing problem

Keeping our money and personal information safe from hackers is an ever-present, and ever-expanding, problem.

Most big retailers and financial institutions are fighting back and making it more difficult for hackers to get our personal and credit info. That’s great, but unfortunately the hackers are just moving to an easier target—our medical identities.

Medical data breaches are expected to be a big problem in 2016.

Medical information is in shorter supply, so hackers can sell it for more. Plus, most people now know to keep an eye on their credit and bank statements for signs of fraud. However, few people

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I love my Fitbit Zip!

fitbit zipI’m not a gadget person, and I don’t embrace the “quantified self” movement, which seeks to keep track of everything measurable about the human body—weight, body mass index, blood pressure, heart rate, calories consumed, miles walked, jogged, biked, etc.

But ever since I wrote the post Why sitting is bad for your health I’ve been more committed to racking up 10,000 steps every day.

Now, the 10,000 steps a day recommendation is not an exact science, but it’s a reasonable goal for a healthy adult. Also, to reach that goal, I have to move a lot throughout the … Continue reading

What if Your Hotel Bill Was Like a Hospital Bill?

I couldn’t help but laugh when I ran across this video from Costs of Care: What if Your Hotel Bill Was Like a Hospital Bill?

I swear I recently had a very similar conversation with a health insurance company regarding the cost of a new wheelchair for my elderly aunt!

Although insurance covered the bulk of the cost (well over $5,000) my aunt still owed close to $2,000. The bill had a list of about 20 items related to the wheelchair, but neither side admitted to knowing anything about exactly what each charge was … Continue reading

A less expensive option for Diclegis

January 2017: Important update on Diclegis! A medical journal recently published a paper questioning the safety of Diclegis, or at least raising concerns about the quality of the research behind its FDA approval.

Although the components of Diclegis can be easily purchased over the counter, as my post shows, it’s very important that ANY drugs taken during pregnancy be OK’ed by your obstetrician first. FN

I don’t usually pay much attention to media’s almost 24/7 coverage of all things Kardashian, but it’s been hard to miss the news tidbits about Kim Kardashian’s second pregnancy.

And to those that follow her … Continue reading

Google Scholar – A better informed search engine

While I don’t think using Google to self diagnose is a good idea, it can give patients access to a lot of helpful, practical information about medical conditions, treatments, drugs and alternative therapies.

Google can help generate a list of questions to bring to the physician or surgeon so patients can be as informed as possible when selecting a treatment modality.

The problem, of course, is there is usually too much information, and much of that is useless or even harmful. It might be scientifically inaccurate and/or trying to sell a questionable product.

But I just discovered Google Scholar! I … Continue reading

What is Guroo?

Earlier this year, a new online health care cost checking tool became available:

It joins a couple other online tools that are meant to increase price transparency and help patients figure out how much a test or procedure will cost before getting the bill.

But do Guroo or the others really help?

If you’re uninsured or have a really high deductible, it’s nice to have at least a ballpark idea of what you will be spending if you need some kind of medical care. But, as Kaiser Health News puts it:

Buying health

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What is Teladoc?

I just received an email from my insurance company, Premera Blue Cross.

Dear subscriber, talk to a real doctor anytime, anywhere!

Set up your account with Teladoc.

And get medical care anytime, anywhere for $40 or less.

You and your eligible dependents can now get care from U.S. board-certified doctors and pediatricians by phone or online video with Teladoc®.

A real doctor? I’m not sure why they felt it necessary to add that adjective.

But aside from that, I was intrigued by the idea that my insurance company wanted to support, even encourage, my family’s use of telemedicine, so I … Continue reading

Tanning beds and skin cancer

tanning beds and skin cancerLast month a nurse posted this selfie on her Facebook page with the following message:

If anyone needs a little motivation to not lay in the tanning bed and sun here ya go! This is what skin cancer treatment can look like. Wear sunscreen and get a spray tan. You only get one skin and you should take care of it. Learn from other people’s mistakes. Don’t let tanning prevent you from seeing your children grow up. That’s my biggest fear now that I have a two year old little boy of my own.

I hope a picture is worth … Continue reading