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wellness digest—week of october 3

October 12, 2011

in wellness digest

a roundup of last week’s news that caught my interest.

1. U.S. panel says no to prostrate screening for healthy men

you may recall when routine mammography screenings were no longer recommended for all women over 40. there was confusion. expect there to be confusion again, and talk with your employees about your point of view and coverage.

“Healthy men should no longer receive a P.S.A. blood test to screen for prostate cancer because the test does not save lives over all and often leads to more tests and treatments that needlessly cause pain, impotence and incontinence in many, a key government health panel has decided.”

2. what does an explanation of benefits (EOB) actually explain?

nothing, if you ask the average employee. these notoriously hard-to-read and even harder-to-understand explanations have been the source of much aggravation and angst. as david e. williams writes, the times they are a-changin’, and it’s time that EOBs did too.

“They may have done their job in the day when their only purpose was to let a member know they owed money, but they’re woefully inadequate in the era of consumer driven health care and transparency.”

3. can text messages be used to improve health outcomes?

the poor text message. it’s simple, plain face gets overlooked for the much sexier, snappier app. but like the too oft told tale of a duck that becomes a swan, text messages are increasingly being recognized for their winning ways.

“Within mHealth, text messaging seems to offer some inherent advantages. It is relatively cheap (in the US, texts cost 2-10 cents apiece, and unlimited plans make them even cheaper), fairly ubiquitous (most simple analog phones offer texting services), and allows healthcare professionals to connect with users on an ongoing basis. Texts can also be used in a variety of ways. In addition to sending motivational anti-smoking messages, they can be used to remind people to take their medicine, schedule regular doctor appointments, and check for certain abnormalities.”

4. the state of food insecurity (infographic)

it’s hard to be healthy when you can’t put healthy food—or any food—on the table.

5. making healthy places: an essential tool for urban designers (book review)

while the making health places website misses the point of website design, their book sounds like one that should be on all our bookshelves.

Making Healthy Places brings together doctors, planners, health experts and others, delivering solid research and information that ‘explain how design, land use, and transportation decisions can promote health and improve quality of life in a community.’”

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