The Potential of P4 Medicine

November 19, 2011 by  
Filed under health

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Have any of you heard of the term P4 Medicine? The term was coined several years ago by biotech pioneer Leroy Hood. Following a complex recipe of the integration of biomedicine, information technology, wireless and mobile, a new phase of digital medicine is being born. The shorthand for P4 Medicine – Predictive, Preventative, Personalized and Participatory – is already in play. Right here, right now, we are witnessing the transformation of how we will receive and experience health care, and it is amazing. How is that happening, and how will it affect us?

The vision of P4 Medicine is that instead of waiting for clinical symptoms to appear, like a growth spotted on an ultrasound after it has spread, physicians will be able to see early warning signs of malignancies from a tiny bit of blood analyzed by genomic instruments and software. If the genes and proteins are really predictive, then physicians could take early action, or patients can focus on prevention via lifestyle. All of a sudden, the focus of medicine goes from reaction to an investment in wellness.

And then there is the technology portion. There are currently over 20,000 different mobile apps available which merge your phone and diagnostics. For example, you can now measure your blood glucose on your and send it to your physician, which, in turn, can help you better understand your blood sugars as a diabetic. (Already, this has covered Personalized and Participatory.) Once this information is predictive, it can also be preventative as well. And that’s just for starters.

The booming field of mobile-health technology is only one part of an equation that is playing into this transformation. For example, GE Healthcare manufacturers a portable ultrasound device about the same size of a cellphone. It’s called the Vscan, and it allows a physician to look directly into the heart of a patient. Here, both the patient and the physician can see the muscle, the valves, the rhythm, and the blood flow. Already, we are touching on the Participatory and Personalized element of P4 Medicine. When we have the experience of witnessing what is happening inside our own body, we can start approaching medicine differently. No longer is your physician simply informing you about news which you may feel slightly removed from. (The language is medical. You may feel a disconnect.)
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For those of you who, like me, have had the overwhelming experience of seeing your developing fetus via ultrasound, you can remember what that experience was like. For the first time, you are drawn that much closer in, witnessing life inside you. Similarly, physicians expect that patients who witness their own health in real time will be propelled to take charge of their own health care. It stands to reason that patients are more willing to make lifestyle changes that keep them healthy when they can monitor the consequences of their actions in real time.

Here at oomphtv, we aim to be a great communicator of new age 21st medicine, so stay tuned. Dr. Hood, in particular, believes that this transformative new idea in healthcare is near the tipping point. Timing is everything – we are blessed to be a witness.

If your curiosity is piqued, check out theP4 Medicine Institute for more information.
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Revealing German Study on Runners and Lifestyle

December 22, 2010 by  
Filed under health

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A German study recently published in the latest issue of Deutsches Arzteblatt International reveals a link between lifestyle and exercise.

Sports scientists have revealed that impairments to health and physical performance are not primarily a result of aging but of bad lifestyle habits and lack of exercise.

Dieter Leyk and his team analyzed the stamina of more than 600, 000 marathon and half marathon runners and asked them about their lifestyle habits and their health.

Marathon running is particularly suitable for studying because participants have to put in sufficient training hours for the competition, and the athletes accommodate this into their day accordingly.
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The scientists found that unfavorable characteristics such as obesity, smoking, and lack of physical activity were rare in runners, and reductions in physical performance were more likely to be the result of biological aging processes.

These reductions make their presence felt only after the 54th year of life and are but slight. More than 25 per cent of 50- to 69-year-olds had taken up running only in the preceding 5 years and participated in a marathon nonetheless. You can see this connection highlighted in the short video on oomphtv.com about the 94 year old runner Jack Kirk-The Dipsea Demon.
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Something to think about when making your New Year’s resolution.

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A Slight Shift Towards Prevention?

November 10, 2010 by  
Filed under health

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Many agree that the recent historic overhaul of the nation’s health care system does a lot of things, but it may be more challenging to understand how the legislation will make an impact on us as individuals. While some will not see much change in their coverage, others will be greatly affected, depending on if insurance is provided through work, or if one has pre-existing conditions. As the mother of two girls in college, the benefit that allows them to stay on my insurance past the age of twenty three was one element that I could deftly recall.

Most agree that the bill can be divided into two major categories: It tightens regulation of the insurance industry, and it expands access to care for the poor and for low-income working people. But what does this reform actually do for you, as a consumer, taxpayer, and a patient?

Like many of you, I tend to make annual appointments towards the end of a calendar year, hoping my deductible has been met. Thus, with the last few months of 2010 upon us, I had scheduled a few preventative screenings, even though my insurer’s coverage would be minimal at best as preventative services are minimally covered. Regardless, some of these exams are important. As a newly minted fifty year old, the annual ob/gyn appointment is a must for me. I added a trip to my opthymologist (it’s been way too long), along with a mammogram. The colonoscopy exam is one more thing that I’ve thought about, but haven’t scheduled. Three appointments is plenty for December, right?
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But wait. Perhaps the newly passed insurance legislation affects me in some small way. And thus began a phone call to my health insurer to ask that very question. After enduring sixteen minutes on hold, I was politely greeted by a young sounding voice who was all too eager to answer my question of how the new law impacts my specific insurance plan.

Turns out that if I push off all of my appointments to January of 2011, my insurer will pick up a minimum of forty percent of preventative services, including a diabetes test, vision test, mammogram, pap smear, bone density test and colonoscopy. This came as a great surprise. The representative even offered me a prostate screening test. (Yes, I am female.) Sadly, I explained to her why I’d have to decline this one.

While forty percent of adult preventative services is no windfall, it is possibly enough motivation to get myself and others into a screening mode. This small flirtation with coverage inspired me to find out more about the bill. This is where it gets more complicated. If you’re curious about the particulars, I offer this useful breakdown of the major pieces of the legislation, provided by a website I highly recommend healthycal.org.

The following legislation is categorized by the dates on which they take effect:

Taking effect in 2010:
–Increase in Medicare prescription drug benefits. A one-time rebate of $250 for seniors who have exhausted the first part of their drug benefit and are paying 100 percent of the cost of their medication. The following year, low-income and middle-income seniors would begin getting a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs.
–A high-risk insurance pool for people with pre-existing conditions who have been turned down for regular coverage. This pool would be available until 2014, when new regional insurance exchanges will be created and take over this function.
–Insurers prohibited from imposing lifetime limits on a person’s benefits.
–Insurers prohibited from rescinding coverage when a person becomes sick or disabled, except in cases of fraud.
–Insurers required to cover dependent children on a family policy until the age of 26.
–Subsidies for small business. Tax credits covering up to 35 percent of premiums for employers with 10 or fewer workers and average wages of $25,000 or less. This subsidy would climb to 50 percent of premium costs in 2014 but would phase out as a firm’s number of employees and average wages grows. The credit would end once a company had more than 25 workers or average wages of $50,000 or more.
–Tanning tax. A 10 percent tax on the purchase of indoor tanning services.

Taking effect in 2011:
–Insurers required to spend at least 80 percent of their revenue on medical claims.

Taking effect in 2013:
–Higher payments for doctors who treat the poor. The federal government would reimburse states that increase payments to primary care doctors in the Medicaid program to match what is paid under Medicare. These federal subsidies are intended to entice more doctors into the Medicaid program in advance of major expansions in enrollment in 2014. But the new subsidies to the states expire in 2015.
–A higher Medicare payroll tax rate, adjusted for the first time according to income. The rate would increase from the current flat 1.45 percent to 2.35 percent on income above $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples. These groups would pay an additional 3.8 percent tax on capital gains, dividends, interest and other investment income.
–A new cap of $2,500 on the amount of money people can set aside tax-free to pay for medical expenses.

Taking effect in 2014:
–Individual mandate, requiring most people to buy insurance. People who did not comply would face penalties beginning at $95 a year or 1 percent of their income, whichever was higher. These penalties would rise over time.
–Insurance exchange. States or regions would organize new insurance marketplaces for people who could not find coverage in the private market. There would also be two national plans, including one non-profit. Insurers competing to win customers through the exchanges would have to justify rate increases and could be barred from the exchange if they raise rates excessively.
–Insurers prohibited from charging older people more than three times what they charge younger people.
–Insurers required to offer minimum benefits, to be determined later by the federal government. The minimum plan would cover 60 percent of the costs and limit out-of-pocket costs to consumers to about $6,000 annually for individuals and $12,000 for families.
–Subsidies for individuals. Tax credits would be available for low and moderate income people who buy through the exchange. People with incomes below about $33,000 for a family of four would pay 2 percent to 4 percent of their income in premiums, and health plans would be required to pay 94 percent of the cost of their benefits. These subsidies would continue at a lower level for families with incomes up to four times the poverty level, or about $88,000 for a family of four.
–Employer penalties. Employers would not be required to offer coverage to their employees, but if they did not and their workers used the exchange, employers with more than 50 employees would have to pay a fee of $2,000 for every worker who used the exchange, after the first 30 employees. Employers that do offer coverage would also have to pay a fee if their workers opted for insurance sold through the exchange.
–Expansion of Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California). This government-subsidized insurance would expand to cover everyone with incomes up to 133 percent of the poverty level, or about $29,000 for a family of four. Currently, families with children, the aged and disabled qualify for this system, and at lower income levels. The federal government would pay the full cost of this expansion until 2016, then phase down its contribution to 90 percent by 2020. The state would be responsible for the remainder of the cost.
–Higher reimbursement rates for states that cover children through the program for the working poor, known as Healthy Families in California. The federal government currently pays an average of 70 percent of the cost. This would increase to 93 percent.

Taking effect in 2018:
–A new tax on so-called “Cadillac” or expensive health insurance plans. This 40 percent tax would take effect on individual plans costing more than $10,200 a year and on family plans costing more than $27,500.

You may want to pick up the phone and call your insurer, and ask what, if any, changes will be implemented to your plan.
After all, it’s not like they’re going to tell us. We have to do the asking.
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“The Twist” Yoga Position for Stress

October 9, 2010 by  
Filed under oomph! to go videos

“The Twist” Yoga Position from oomphTV on Vimeo.

Upper Body Strength Exercises

October 8, 2010 by  
Filed under oomph! to go videos

Upper Body Strength Exercises from oomphTV on Vimeo.

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