March 2016 H.E.R.E. Newsletter
Today in public health
Connecting More Dots with mHealth
Photo Courtesy of: UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health
What is mHealth?
In its broadest definition mobile health-mHealth-is the intersection of information and health care via mobile devices (www.himss.org/library/mhealth). mHealth is an expanding and viable option for reaching people where they are, literally, with a mobile device in hand.
A common theme in mHealth discussions is how to harness the power of the individual. On average, if a person spends 100 minutes a year with their doctor or primary care provider, then what are individuals doing with the remaining 525,500 minutes each year to maintain their own health? Public health can affect positive change for individuals and populations through technology-as one of many responses to the shifting culture of how people look for, understand, and use health information.
Is it evidence-based?
In the U.S. and globally, mHealth has grown exponentially over the past decade. This is both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is a relatively limited evidence base for putting mHealth into public health practice. The opportunity is to further build a repository of knowledge and results (www.mHealthEvidence.org).
Is the future now?
Joseph Kvedar, Vice President of Connected Health at PartnersHealthCare in Boston, asks a very relevant question: "How do we use technology to leverage people to change behaviors and improve health?"
If we wait for questions like this to be answered satisfactorily (according to traditional constructs) we will miss the conversation on how to engage specific audiences (namely, younger generations) through mHealth. The CDC has made a few forays into the field with mobile apps, web apps, and responsive design (www.cdc.gov/mobile/).
Inspiring Work From Your Peers
What it takes to have a Successful Public Health Career at the Lab
Chuck Talburt, Training Advisor, at the Washington State Department of Health Shoreline Laboratory, has worked five different positions in his 37-year tenure with the agency. He recently took time to do a Question-and-Answer session with H.E.R.E for the newsletter.
What inspired you to choose Public Health and what helps keep going?
Every day is different in public health-from Zika to Newborn Screening. Infectious disease is of great interest to me and public health is the perfect setting. I have been fortunate to see many advances in the field of microbiology. I am motivated by learning about new diseases and how they affect the world. Legionella was the first "new" disease we had to deal with in the 1980's; then came HIV. I enjoy the investigative nature of our work, and how what we do in the laboratory is so important to the overall understanding of disease outbreaks.
What makes the work you do so unique?
Infectious disease testing at the public health level is so different from in the hospital or private sector because it is limited to those diseases deemed significant in terms of public health, diseases that if left undiagnosed and uncontrolled can cause serious illness and death in large populations. In this age of emerging infections, laboratorians are often the microbial detectives trying to determine the source of an outbreak. It is gratifying to be part of a team that accomplishes so much for the good of the public. Much of the work we do is behind the scenes; as a trainer, I have had the pleasure to hear firsthand how we benefit public health.
Do you see any trends on the horizon in your field?
Much of what I see the future of public health to be has to do with emerging infections. In 2014, I came across research that opened my eyes for the future of public health. A variety of samples including blood, tissue and other fluids were extracted from over 56,000 types of animals including primates, birds, reptiles and amphibians. Over 815 microbes were isolated from these samples, but the interesting thing was that only 169 of these microbes are known. That leaves nearly 650 microbes we know nothing about, including whether or not they could infect humans and/or cause disease. It brings home how important it is to continue developing rapid methods for early identification of microbes. Our recent experience with Ebola and Zika only serve to emphasize this.
New Healthy Weight Gain During Pregnancy Patient Booklet
A healthy baby begins before pregnancy. Healthy weight gain during pregnancy is an important topic. The Office of Nutrition Services Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-ED) received feedback from contractors that the Healthy Weight Gain During Pregnancy material was too difficult for some women to read. Working with our clients to do two rounds of audience testing, we developed a new booklet that maintains the same message without relying so much on words. The new Healthy Weight Gain During Pregnancy booklet contains vibrant images, which are more engaging, interesting, and most importantly, easier to understand. The purpose of the booklet is to empower providers to utilize while engaging in healthy weight conversation with all patients, but especially patients who are low literate or may be English Language Learners. The booklet contains goal setting, nutrition, eating out, physical activity, and postpartum tips for a healthy pregnancy.
What's Happening at the Department of Health?
Injecting Convenience into Public Health- MyIR
We make educated choices about health every day. You may research which car seat has the highest safety ratings, you read food labels, and you talk to your friends and family about how to find quality child care. The choice to immunize is no different. Making an educated choice about immunization is critical to protecting one's health. The Office of Immunization and Child Profile has been working on a project with the Office of the National Coordinator to pilot MyIR, a consumer access portal in the Washington State Immunization Information System. When people sign up for MyIR, they have immediate access to their own and their family's immunization records. They can also print the Certificate of Immunization Status for school and childcare entry.
We inform people who call our office to request copies of immunization records about MyIR and give them the opportunity to sign up. There is information on the Department of Health website about MyIR and how to access immunization records. We're also distributing an insert on MyIR in the Child Profile Health Promotion mailings. We've had a lot of interest so far and will continue to look at ways to get the word out. If you want to learn more about MyIR please contact Lonnie Peterson. If you are interested in signing up for MyIR to get your or your family's immunization records, please call 1-866-397-0337.
Something to think about
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month-a time to spread the word about the importance of getting life-saving screenings, not only to the communities we serve, but also to our colleagues, family, and friends.
In 2012, only 65% of adults in the United States were up-to-date on their colorectal cancer screening. That's where the national 80% by 2018 initiative comes in. The goal of the initiative is as simple as its name-to get at least 80% of people over 50 years of age up-to-date on their colorectal screenings by 2018. Washington State Department of Health employees are making the rounds at state agencies to tell employees about the initiative and encourage them to get screened. Will you be part of the 80%, too?
Why get screened?
Screening is highly effective. It can detect the cancer at an early stage and give your doctor time to remove any growths.
When should I get screened?
You should start getting screened when you turn 50 years old. If you have a higher than average risk for cancer, you should talk to your doctor about getting screened early.
Is a colonoscopy the only way to get screened?
No, there are many different kinds of screening for colorectal cancer, including home screening options.
How can I ensure that clients, friends, and family get screened, too?
If you work in a clinic, the Colon Cancer Screening Resources web page outlines evidence-based strategies to increase screening in clinic settings. With family and friends, share what you know about the importance of getting screened.
New events on H.E.R.E.
For a complete list of trainings, conferences, and webinars or to suggest an event check out our Trainings and Events page.
H.E.R.E. is taking nominations for inspiring work to spotlight!
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