Category: Uncategorized

Text4Baby provides health information

By Ken Banks, From Flickr.

At the end of February last year, Upstream provided information on a new service related to maternal and child health: Text4Baby.

Text4baby is a free service that sends text messages to expectant mothers or to mothers of babies less than a year old. It provides them with information and reminders that are meant to improve health for the mother and the baby.

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Electronic health records: Funded, but not yet functional

Nurses in class

It's time for health care professionals to learn about EMRs, but who will talk their patients into using them too?

They save trees (less paper), are easy to search and the federal government is throwing billions of dollars behind their implementation. So, what’s the problem with electronic health records (EHRs)?

Patients don’t seem to want them, or know much about them. A survey by PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) found that “only 14 percent of consumers said they get their medical records electronically from their physician’s office, and 30 percent don’t know why they would need to.”

Where is the disconnect between this efficient and potentially life-saving system (medical records can help catch mistakes that humans sometimes miss on paper) and implementation?

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Tobacco warning labels get update in Canada

One of 16 new proposed health warning messages on a cigarette package. Credit: Health Canada, 2011.

Tobacco warning labels around the world vary from gory to containing eyebrow-raising sexual innuendo.

In a move described in Medical News Today as “demonstrating world leadership” by Rob Cunningham, Senior Policy Analyst at the Canadian Cancer Society, the tobacco warnings and messages on cigarette packs in Canada may be getting an update.

Since 2000, health warning messages, health information messages, and information about the toxic emissions of cigarettes have been displayed on cigarette packages in Canada as part of its Tobacco Act.  This week, officials at Health Canada are proposing updated legislation, titled Tobacco Products Labeling Regulations (Cigarettes and Little Cigars) (TPLR-CLC) that will update and expand the requirements.

What’s new?

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Mobilizing the troops: Advocating health funding through communication

Photo by Daniel Borman, From Flickr.

Funding is always an issue for people in the business of communicating health.  Funding is needed to carry out programs, to inform and to educate, but funding related to public health programs is often on the chopping block when tough budget cuts need to be made.

Funding related to teen pregnancy prevention has been one of the areas recently facing cuts, but the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy is fighting it, and they are encouraging individuals to stand up and fight for funding as well.

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mHealth development: Faster fetus photos

Prenatal health care is attracting a lot of attention from the tech field.  Last week we posted on a a smartphone-based portable medical ultrasound unit.

On February 9, 2011 Mobily and Great Connection introduced Mobile Baby, a mobile health (mHealth) application that links directly to any ultrasound machine and enables high-quality, 2D and 3D images and video to be delivered to any mobile device via MMS and email.  While Mobile Baby allows expecting parents to more easily and rapidly share images with their family and friends (which can be argued as either exciting or annoying), perhaps more impressive are the application’s amazing health implications, specifically for those who live in remote areas of the world.

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Shortage of health workers prompts media messages by the Global Health Workforce Alliance

the globeLast month, leaders and innovators in global health from around the world gathered in Thailand to share experiences of and solutions to problems facing health workers. In addition to organizing the meeting, the Global Health Workforce Alliance (GHWA) used a variety of health communications strategies and methods to raise awareness about health workers, the critical shortage of health workers in many countries and potential solutions to the problem.

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Commentary: How does globalization shape health communication?

photo © alles_schlumpf, flickr

Have you ever reflected on how the field of interdisciplinary health communication is shaped by globalization?  Globalization comes with baggage: sometimes, it is perceived as ‘progress.’ Other times, as a oppressive force that keeps the rich, rich and the poor, poor.

Still I reflect on how the process, itself, shapes our research and practice.

Consider this 2003 definition of globalization from the International Labor Office:

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Ultrasounds available with the help of smartphones

Traditional ultrasounds can require big and expensive equipment, like that pictured above, but the new MobiUS requires a lot less. Photo credit: Redjar, from Flickr.

The FDA approved a smartphone-based portable medical ultrasound unit last week, according to an article in Time.

The system requires little equipment—just a wand, some gel and a Windows Mobile-enabled smartphone, according to the article.

Because of its small size, MobiUS could be helpful in remote or rural locations, and could provide opportunities for easy sharing of information with other doctors or with patients, according to the article and a statement by Mobisante, the creators of the unit.

The cost of the system is significantly less than that of traditional ultrasound units—it costs between $7,000 and $8,000 for the entire system, which includes the software and phone as well.

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Clown gets 16 percent more women pregnant

For many women struggling to get pregnant, in-vitro fertilization (IVF) has proven to be a viable yet not guaranteed effective option.  Researchers have worked to find ways to improve the success rate of IVF, which is currently at about 20 percent for most women.

A recent study of 229 Israeli women undergoing in-vitro fertilization published in Fertility and Sterility found that a 15 minute visit from a trained “medial clown” directly following embryo placement in the womb increased the chance of pregnancy by 16 percent, a strong statistically significant difference (p=.008).

It’s no secret that stress can affect infertility. 

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Public pronouncements, money might help you StickK to goals uses monetary incentives and public pledges to motivate people to lose weight, quit smoking, and even learn a foreign language. Would it motivate you to do what you've been putting off? Photo from

Lawyers know that a capital letter “K” stands for a contract. But users of the popular website StickK might see the “K” as a kick in the behind – a binding declaration of commitment that, when combined with a wager of a chunk of change or piece of pride, will help them reach their goals.

The New York Times reports that StickK users have put millions of dollars on the line, many for health-related goals;

There are more than 63,000 StickK contracts — and more than $5.9 million at stake (wagering is optional). Peruse the site and you’ll find perennial resolutions about exercise and money management, but also gems like “no more dating losers,” “quit Dr Pepper” and “speak more slowly to foreigners in New York City.”

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