The Human Genome Project (HGP) is the largest, collaborative biological project in history which has enabled us to better understand the genetic factors in human disease and improve how we diagnose, treat and prevent these diseases.
Check out some facts about the project and its findings:
- The estimated cost is $2.7 billion.
- If all the DNA in your body was laid across, it would reach to the sun and back over 600 times!
- The HGP identified the approximately 25,000 genes in human DNA, which is more than 120 times the amount of bones in the human body.
- There are now more than 2,000 genetic tests for human conditions.
Image courtesy of Marina Maher Communications LLC
ShotTracker calls wearable tech ”the next megatrend,” changing the way we live, work, and play. And it’s for the better, according to 82 percent of users who say it has enhanced their lives.
Wearable tech is dominated by activity trackers and wearable fitness devices (96%).
Just ask MMC’s Allyson Culligan who wears her Jawbone every day – that is, except when it doesn’t match her outfit.
Culligan says, “I’ve found it extremely helpful to track my sleeping patterns, calories I’m burning and energy throughout the day, and during different types of activities. It even reminds me to get up when I’ve been sitting for too long!”
Earlier this month, research published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that most antibiotics prescribed for patients complaining of a sore throat are unneeded.
Almost all sore throats are caused by viruses which are not helped by antibiotics, yet 60% of patients who go to see a doctor for a sore throat leave with a prescription. In fact, just 10% of sore throats are caused by strep bacteria which do require antibiotics to treat. Although serious side effects are rare, overuse of antibiotics can make future infections harder to treat. With this knowledge in hand, how should physicians and patients approach the upcoming cold and flu season?
As a healthcare communications professional, I think maintaining an open dialogue is key for patients and healthcare providers.
For physicians, knowing the right treatment for a patient at the right time is at the heart of all they do. While educational programs have helped reduce the misuse of these medications in hospitals, it seems that the message isn’t yet reaching the average patient. How can physicians deal with patients requesting unnecessary antibiotics?
In those instances, there is an opportunity for doctors to reframe the dialogue with patients through education on how and why a certain medication is or is not right for them. Patients may benefit from a refresher on how to treat sore throats and the common cold at home with over the counter products.
While leaving the doctor’s office empty handed can sometimes be frustrating for a patient, some education and the old fashioned prescription of chicken noodle soup may be just what the doctor ordered this cold and flu season.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock
Listening to the panelists at the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association’s “Women’s Healthcare Innovation and Leadership Showcase” sparked fresh thinking when it comes to our jobs of educating women as healthcare consumers.
Beth Battaglino, RN, President and CEO, HealthyWomen.org noted the evolution of the women’s health conversation: “In the late ’80s women’s health started to get on the front burner. There were Q&As in women’s magazines, but never on the morning news. Now you hear about women’s health on ‘The Today Show’ and magazines have entire health sections.”
The result has been patients like the one Alan Spiro, MD, MBA, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Accolade, referenced: “The mother knew about more than the pediatrician did” because she did all of her research before going to her appointment.
The problem, however, is that women often “don’t go to responsible websites,” as Nieca Goldberg, MD, Medical Director, Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health, NYU Langone Medical Center, commented.
Battaglino remarked, “Women are comfortable talking to their mother or girlfriend before going to the doctor, but they are lacking in knowing how to start the conversation. What are the three questions I need to ask?”
Dr. Goldberg relayed her experience with a segment on her SiriusXM Doctor Radio for Women’s Health show where women called in with medical questions. She found that women were, “Calling in with questions they should have been able to ask questions of their doctors like, ‘I was recommended an angiogram but I don’t know what that is.’”
Perhaps our jobs are evolving to not only provide women with the health information that they should be aware of, but also arming them with the tools to have the medical discussions they need to have.
With all the education available about contraceptive methods, you’d think women would be more knowledgeable about this topic. But new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that 80 percent of women still do not know which birth control is most effective.
Most women do not realize that both oral contraceptives and condoms – while more popular, are less effective than an intrauterine device (IUD) or birth control implant. This “misconception” highlights the continued need to educate women.
“How do I tell my patient there are no other treatments left?” a physician wondered. “How can I explain my pain in a way my doctor will understand?” a patient asked.
At a workshop I attended at Columbia University School of Medicine last week, these and other essential questions were explored by a group of healthcare providers, social workers, writers and faculty.
The topic was Narrative Medicine– a relative newcomer in the field of health that argues that when patients and providers harness the power of storytelling something magical happens. Sometimes it means that a patient is able to better express his or her symptoms or anxieties in a way that a physician will respond to. It might mean that a doctor or nurse takes not just a critical eye but a critical ear to a patient’s case—beyond the chart and the lab tests—and truly understands what it is the patient feels. And at its best, narrative medicine offers a physician, who perhaps has been hardened by years of working among the grieved, the hopeless, and the gravely ill, the chance to experience a renewed sense of meaning that allows him/her to give their best selves to patients.
As a professional who has built a career on helping clients tell stories, I was intrigued by the idea that storytelling and medicine could be inextricably linked, with one driving the outcome of the other. It’s a compelling argument, given how soaring healthcare costs have forced physicians to see more patients in less time, resulting in a diminished quality of conversation and a growing dissatisfaction between the two. Helping patients and providers build the critical skills needed to tell stories—such as active listening, empathy and understanding— will improve the way these groups interact and the standard of care and satisfaction of both parties.
The workshop was a powerful reminder of how every person has a unique and compelling story to share. Patients deserve their stories to be heard and often just need a little direction and nurturing to help pull that voice to the surface. And providers are often more than willing to try new tools that will help them do more with less. I already know that in my next patient initiative where we really want to spark a conversation and generate lots of stories, I’ll remind patients of the power of their own narrative and will do some of the hardest work there is– listening.
Photo courtesy of Merck
On any given day, MMC’s entertainment specialists are busy researching, negotiating or working with a wide range of talent on behalf of our consumer and healthcare brands.
So how do you choose the right brand ambassador for your client – that person who will authentically mesh with the brand and inextricably deliver messages in a way that engages target consumers and media? Research might be helpful, Google some key words that meet your criteria and see what pops up. Or, based on your relationships, you could call the talent’s representative and see if you can get a top-line idea of that person’s connection to your campaign. If you know the talent’s publicist, makeup artist, stylist, etc. very well, you could reach out to them for insights.
Or, you could just ask the talent directly. As part of MMC’s “Meet the Talent” series, celebrities, sports figures and other key influencers stop by and share their interests, ideas and projects directly with key MMC account staffers, who in turn can delve a bit deeper on behalf of their client to uncover potential partnership opportunities. This insider intel has fueled unexpected ideas, created unique launch opportunities and has given MMC clients the edge on not only leveraging talent news, but in some cases breaking it. When a noticeably pregnant Melissa Joan Hart walked into our offices, it immediately sparked an idea for one of our clients with a major maternal health initiative. Fast forward four months later, and after intense negotiations with her agent, Melissa and MMC gave birth to Merck for Mothers’ “Once Upon a Birth” campaign which was strategically timed to break immediately following the birth of Melissa’s third child. Jo Frost, aka The Supernanny, has stopped by to talk about her severe allergies. Heather Graham her latest projects and La La Anthony how she juggles family and a hit show STARmeter. The lovely Mel B is our next scheduled guest.
There are lots of ways you can identify the perfect brand ambassador. But we believe there’s no better way than meeting them.