Healthy Habits

January 24, 2009

Nurse Images

Filed under: Uncategorized — windsun1 @ 8:27 am

1.  Nurse Archetype: The archetype or ideal nurse image is traditionally depicted as an angel/superheroine figure.  This visual analogy can be traced historically to the pre-modern era of nursing, when religious orders performed most care for the sick.  However, nursing pioneers such as Florence Nightingale and others helped to cement this image due to their relentless and often voluntary efforts to transform nursing service from an unskilled labor trade to an organized profession.  Born in 1820 to an upper-class British family, Florence Nightingale stated that she had been inspired to enter nursing in response to “a divine calling.”  After studying nursing for several months, she volunteered to the British minister of war to care for soldiers injured during the Crimean War which began in 1854.  The minister placed Nightingale in charge of all nursing services at the war front, and she and her small band of nurses set out to correct the deplorable conditions they found among the wounded soldiers and within the military hospitals.  Their efforts greatly reduced the soldiers’ mortality rates, and Nightingale became hailed as “the Angel of the Crimea.”  These early efforts which began the evolution of nursing into its modern-day form also serve to highlight the profession’s strong military roots, as also depicted in the attached image.  The nurse-angel archetype remains highly embraced by both the the general public and the nursing profession itself.  This quintessential ideal is perpetuated by the numerous nursing emblems which depict professional nursing titles such as “R.N.” (for registered nurse) embedded between a set of gold wings, and also porcelain figurines which portray nurses as cherubic-faced, winged creatures dressed and covered in white.

2.  Nurse Stereotype: The young woman pictured is not wearing a badge or any other identification which would denote her job title, yet many who view this image would instantly assume she is a nurse.  The idea is not only conveyed by many features common to nurses, such as her uniform, the dangling stethoscope around her neck, and her warm smile which she wears much like a badge;  it is more readily connoted by her gender, which for many conjures the stereotype of “nurse” rather than “physician.”  It is true that some stereotypes are gradually changing, since more than 1/4 of all U.S. physicians are women;  this figure is expected to reach 1/3 by 2010.  Perhaps if the young woman pictured had been photographed wearing a white-coat instead of bare-armed, the visual cues might indeed change the overall perception of the image for many people.  Yet the fact remains that despite the growing number of female physicians–and for that matter, male nurses–nursing is still a female-dominated profession.  The predominance of women over men within the nursing field can also be traced historically, as this profession afforded one of the earliest areas of career opportunity and advancement for women beyond the household.  But with so many other career opportunities now available to women, one must wonder what other stereotypes are in force which to continue to attract such large numbers of women to nursing while men are steered elsewhere, and in many cases even shunned away.  Is it the traditional idea that “women are better nurturers and caretakers” that perpetuates this cycle?  Or does society still hold the assumption that some jobs are by their nature “women’s work”?  Many women, who have been taught as very young girls that they are “no good at math and science” might be steered towards nursing from fear that they will not be able to meet the academic rigors of medical school;  many men might avoid nursing due to fears that the rest of society will view them as weak.  How can we erase the stereotypes when the stereotypes themselves are what discourage people of both genders from exploring their full range of opportunities?

3.  Nurse Cliche: The cliche image of the nurse as sex symbol (or “sex kitten,” or “vixen”) is closely related to the Nurse Stereotype (see #2), which holds that nursing is a “female” profession;  or to extend the stereotype even further, that nursing is traditionally “women’s work.”  The ideal that women should be visually alluring and sexually desirable is widely prevalent in our society as well, so it is little wonder that these two ideas have combined to form the logical fallacy that “Women are sex objects, and since nurses are women, nurses are also sex objects.”  This myth has been further perpetuated by the common notion of nurses as “handmaidens,” whose key roles are to serve the needs and whims of both doctors (who are still predominately male) and patients.  As Wikipedia points out, nurses’ duties typically involve direct contact with nearly everly aspect of their patients’ anatomies, including intimate areas.  Though nurses are trained professionally in both legal and ethical standards of conduct, the “nurse sex-symbol/object” is still a widely recognizable cliche as evidenced by the billboard image above, as well as the many nurse-fantasy costumes that are available in specialty lingerie stores and on the Internet.

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December 10, 2008

Research Project–“Universal Health Care: Is America Ready?”

Filed under: Uncategorized — windsun1 @ 2:56 am

The United States’ health care system is globally renowned for the quality of its services.  This reputation for high quality service is mainly attributed to the highly specialized and rigorous medical training programs, the high number of physicians per capita, and scientific research which leads to ever-increasing technological innovation of life-saving medical procedures and medications.   But in spite of all of these quality attributes, there is a key area where the United States gets a low score, and that is accessibility to all citizens.  Over 45 million individuals in the U.S. are uninsured, and therefore lack basic access to this system.  Many public policy experts, as well as consumer/patient  and health care provider groups have launched the debate of universal health care into the national forum.  Proponents argue that universal health care will guarantee basic access to the system, and therefore reduce costs to everyone since people will no longer have to seek unnecessary care in the emergency room or delay seeking care until symptoms are so advanced that they become obvious.  Proponents argue that universal health care will allow these individuals access to the more basic care, such as primary care to prevent illness and early screening tests which will diagnose illnesses before they become well-advanced.  Critics argue that universal health care will not solve the problems of affordability due to spiraling health care costs, and may result in even less access as individuals will become subject to waiting lists.   The universal health care debate has become even more vociferous with the election of a new president, and with an economic recession that has seen several businesses fail and several hundred thousand people lose their jobs, along with their employer-based health care.  This paper looks to explore the major elements of the universal health care argument, including the key players and their proposals to extend coverage to all Americans.

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October 31, 2008

Healthcare 101:Basic Health Literacy as a Basic Human Right

Filed under: Uncategorized — windsun1 @ 6:28 am

With a United States presidential election merely days away, more attention is focused on a recurrent and still hotly contested theme of  the political campaign season–the ongoing domestic and globally-shifting debate of whether universal access to basic health care should be realized as a basic and universal human right to all individuals.   These discussions evolve at the same rapid pace as do our advances in health care technology which have brought us such innovations as e-health and electronic medical records.

Analysts on the different sides of the universal health care debate highlight the pros and cons of the proposed solutions that many argue will help to cure, or at least begin treatment of the many problems created by the current U.S. health care system–which though it boasts superior technology is yet still so costly that some 47 million Americans remain uninsured and without access to basic health care.  Individuals who lack access to the most basic health care, such as regular physical examinations and screenings, will in turn lack access to early diagnoses and treatment of common chronic health conditions.  In more advanced stages, these conditions can lead to worse symptoms that require more complex–and as a result, more costly treatments–such as increased emergency room visits and hospital admissions.  The lack of access to basic health care also affects several hundreds of millions in other parts of the globe, and may involve an increasingly complex web of issues such as remote geographical regions, cultural barriers, and also political and economic forces which lead to a scarcity of adequate health care resources within these societal boundaries.

But before societies and cultures can fully begin to undertake solutions through large-scale efforts such as social, legislative, and economic reforms, we as global citizens should first develop solutions to our most basic problems.  Our first concern should be how to achieve universal access to basic health care on a more individual level; mainly, working towards the primary goal of improving health literacy to all global citizens.   Healthy People 2010 defines health literacy as “the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.“   Access to health information can be limited by several factors which include age, race, gender, environment, socioeconomic status, education level, and cultural background.  Efforts to improve health literacy should focus on methods which will help health care consumers from all backgrounds to explore and develop solutions to health care issues in specific ways so that they will find solutions that are relevant to their own individual sets of circumstances.

From Fear of the Unknown to the New World Reality: How Global Citizens can Work to Achieve the Goals of “Healthcare 101”–Basic Health Literacy as a Basic Human Right

Filed under: Uncategorized — windsun1 @ 6:00 am

On the last day of October, rather than celebrate Halloween, I find it more befitting to my blog’s theme to celebrate the end of October as the drawing-to-a-close of Health Literacy Month.  Despite my extended career as a registered nurse and health care professional, with a solemnly sworn duty and oath to help disseminate the best information available regarding health and wellness to both my patients and to the general public, I was struck by the fact that I did not learn about this annual, month-long celebration until I began to search for credible websites which would shed further insight into the subject of health literacy.  Incidentally, health literacy is a subject which I have found to be one of the integral pieces to the much larger puzzle of how to ultimately achieve universal health care access to all individuals.  During this search, I encountered a website called The Blah, Blah, Blah blog. Though this website is designed primarily for librarians and information science professionals, it certainly  contains a wealth of resourceful information for any concerned global citizen who wants to find ways to expand and improve health literacy among health care consumers.

But, in the true spirit of Halloween (and in compliance with the assignment outlined by my professor), I will also divulge my five biggest fears in regards to the issue of health literacy–or the lack thereof–which is now recognized as one of the biggest hurdles that must be overcome before we can adequately tackle the much larger issue of universal health care.  Through the identification and filtering of Internet websites, I will also discuss possible solutions that are proposed on the most credible websites that I discovered through my web research.  As a result, we can see that this topic certainly qualifies as an issue of global technological/communication concern, in view of our continued evolution into a global society that depends on an infinitely connected digital network which allows us to accomplish even our most basic and fundamental daily goals. My own fears will resonate with those who use digital technology as a staple in their daily diets of continuous media consumption.  My fear is  that as we become a more globally connected society, we will discover that the disparities and inequalities which were previously defined in terms of local, state, or national concerns will begin to permeate their way into the innermost realms of the globally-connected digital network as well.  Simply put, our problems will grow even bigger.  As our world becomes larger, so do our societal problems that will  need to be further addressed for an even larger number and more diverse group of people.

Below, I have listed my five biggest fears in regards to the pervasive problem of health illiteracy, especially as it pertains to an ever-increasing, ever-evolving, and ever-confusing digital information-based society, as well as reliable websites which address each fear and also offer proposals for potential solutions:

Fear #1: In a larger and faster digital information society, the harmful health effects that result from the “pre-existing condition” known as health illiteracy will grow even faster when combined with the effects of Internet illiteracy. The unforeseen measurements of the potentially harmful effects of health illiteracy are outlined on a webpage maintained by the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, which discusses the problem as it pertains to our current national health care goals, as well as the possible implications for the future of health care delivery throughout the nation and rest of the world.

Fear #2: In a larger and faster digital information society, patients and health care consumers will become even more vulnerable to unreliable health information found on the Internet, due to both their lack of health literacy and their  lack of adequate knowledge and research tools with which to judge whether or not a health website can be considered useful or trustworthy. There are websites, such as that provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which provide sets of guidelines which health care consumers can use to judge whether health websites can be considered as reliable sources of health information.  Sites such as these become increasingly important as health care consumers must learn crucial skills to navigate the web, and learn how to change an endless maze of data (which through a quick Google search may comprise millions of unvetted sites) into a targeted map of reliable resources for accurate health care information.

Fear #3: In a larger and faster digital information society, as even more technological advancements are realized in the health care sector, so will the level of health care knowledge expected from patients.  Only the most “savvy” Internet users will have the opportunity to become the most “savvy” health care consumers.  An article entitled  “Decoding Your Health” , available on the NY Times Health website, offers information on how nearly all health care consumers, through the use of the Internet, can increase their own knowledge as it pertains to their own health.  Health care consumers should not require advanced medical knowledge or training in order to make well-informed health care decisions that are based on facts rather than opinions.

Fear #4: In a larger and faster digital information society, decreasing numbers of health care professionals will search for unique ways to reach patients who do not possess either adequate health literacy, or the technological access or skill to learn as much as they need to before they can become well-informed participants in their own health care. As an educated health care professional with a vast mental repository of both clinical and research experience, I can appreciate the fact that as health care professionals become more sophisticated in their own knowledge and use of the Internet as a tool to both gather and disseminate health information, they may consequently lose sight of the fact that not all health care consumers are “created equal.”  Health care professionals such as physicians, nurses, rehabilitation specialists, and health care policy experts often communicate in a language that is only understood by those trained to decipher the unique medical jargon.  Though this language may be viewed as acceptable when communicating amongst their own peers and colleagues, health care professionals should simultaneously increase their own awareness of the potentially dangerous results that occur due to providers’ unclear communication of health information to their patients.  Health care professionals should take the initiative in this area by educating themselves on better ways to reach clients who may not understand the often complex messages that they receive from their health care providers.  An important website that I discovered that addresses this issue is the site for Health Literacy Studies at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Fear #5: In a larger and faster digital information society that is increasingly global and increasingly dependent on Internet technology which connects us to more remote corners of the world, individuals who lack sufficient literacy skills will become even more vulnerable to the Internet connectivity gap known as the “digital divide.” As more members of the global population learn to rely on the Internet as a source of the most current and relevant information on nearly all topics, even more of these users will look to the Internet as the premier source of the most current and reliable health information as well.  Those health care consumers without any, or with very limited access to the Internet may not be privy to the variety of helpful health resources that are widely available on the web.  These health care consumers may suffer more deleterious health effects as a result of more advanced progression of conditions or symptoms which may have been prevented or treated much earlier if the person would have had access to accurate information that is widely accessible on the web–such as warning signs, tips on monitoring, or self-care methods.  One website that I found which addresses this topic can be found at Viswanath Lab, affiliated with the Health Communications concentration/division of the Harvard School of Public Health.  This article discusses the digital divide, particularly as it pertains to health literacy and health communications.  The complete website also discusses the lab’s own research efforts to study ways to increase Internet literacy among vulnerable populations, and ways to apply this research towards the development of health websites that will be tailored to the unique needs of these health care consumers.

As election day draws nearer, so do our fears and anxieties about what the future holds for our nation and our increasingly connected (albeit through technology) world.  The above websites and web resources show us that through the expansion of available and accessible information via the Internet, the possible solutions to the problem of health illiteracy are endless:

1) Increasing the public’s awareness of the grave dangers that are posed by health illiteracy among patients and health care consumers;

2) Teaching patients and health care consumers of ways to protect themselves from false health care claims that are spread via the Internet, and ways to distinguish credible sites from those that are unreliable;

3) Offering more simple explanations, via the Internet, of how to interpret the confusing and often conflicting medical information received from healthcare providers;

4) Teaching and emphasizing to health care professionals the importance of clearly articulating and delivering health information to patients, as well as offering resources (via the Internet) to help health care providers meet the needs of clients who do not possess adequate health literacy skills;

5) Working to find better ways to bridge the digital divide, so that the Internet does not serve as an additional barrier to the elimination of health disparities, but instead contributes to the ultimate improvement of health care outcomes to global populations.

Through broader access to, and the more widespread dissemination of the vast amount of health information that is available on the Internet, each of us has the potential to discover better solutions to a myriad of complex health problems.  This conclusion is based on the idea that the power to change society does not solely depend on our government institutions, but can be realized by global citizens who discard their personal fears through the realization that reformative action begins with one person–who works toward the solitary goal  of making a positive difference in the life of just one person–even if that person is one’s own self.

Happy Halloween everyone!

October 4, 2008

Interesting Topics from Class Weblogs: Post #3

Filed under: Uncategorized — windsun1 @ 5:15 am

Nadine’s website, Relative Care, is a topic that many of us care to explore as we begin to cope with the tasks of aging parents–particularly in a society that does not always assign proper value to its elderly population.  Our society centers around the concepts of industry and productivity, and for many, the onset of advanced age brings along decreased levels of these attributes as defined by our culture.  Unfortunately, many of us overlook the degree of evolved wisdom that age often brings, and which often cannot be properly measured in a society based on generating tangible, real-time results.

Nadine’s website hits home particularly because as a health care professional I have witnessed the tremendous and often overwhelming responsibilities that adult children often face when their parents’ physical and/or emotional health declines past the point where they are able to care for themselves without assistance.  NANDA (formerly the North American Nursing Diagnosis Association) defines Caregiver Role Strain as a separate diagnosis that requires assessment and intervention by nurses as they manage patient care to ensure the most optimal health care outcomes.

Many readers can relate to Nadine’s website because it serves as important function of providing resources and support to those who are in similar situations as those that she describes;  the sites also provides links to resources that can provide additional information to novice caretakers who may be looking for a good starting point.

I look forward to reading more of Nadine’s posts, and hopefully being able to provide feedback based on my own experiences caring for patients and their families who eventually had to leave the hospital but still make sure that the individual’s care did not suffer.  I think that Nadine’s site also can provide valuable insight as I seek to research the topic of Universal Health Care;  perhaps I can make a comparison between the government system that is in place to help care for the elderly (Medicare) and the proposals for universal health coverage for all citizens.

Interesting Topics from Class Weblogs: Post #2

Filed under: Uncategorized — windsun1 @ 4:42 am

In the era of what may be remembered as one of the most defining presidential elections in U.S. history, Betty Dishman has designed a weblog entitled Election 2008: Transpartisanship Movement in American Politics. I had not been acquainted with the term prior to the debut of Betty’s blog as a project for our Global Communications and New Technology course at UNC-Chapel Hill.  I think that Betty has hit on an important topic that has much potential for research development as nearly all professional fields, including political science, move and evolve into an era that is based on global interconnections rather than local customs and traditions based on regional/ethical affiliations.

Betty’s website addresses the glaring absence of coverage by the mainstream media of “third-party” candidates in their bids for national public office.  Even though political contests have traditionally been a “beauty contest” between the two main American political parties, this election cycle has focused even more exclusively on the platforms of these two parties’ candidates, with hardly any attention paid to the candidates of the lesser known candidates.  This to me presents a type of “chicken or the egg” dilemma;  does the “mainstream media not cover these candidates due to lack of public interest, or does the public lack interest because the media tends to shun coverage of candidates who are not affiliated with the two major parties?  Does the media shun coverage because they feel that the public is not interested, or is because (as many suspect) that these “minor” parties do not adequately represent the corporate interests that supposedly drive the media’s news cycles?

Through her blog, Betty has presented a unique opportunity to allow her readers to focus on and explore this topic in a manner that they might not otherwise be inclined to without her guidance and web filtering tools.  Betty’s blogroll also links to several transpartisan websites that web searchers who are unfamiliar with the topic might not have otherwise been aware.

Interesting Topics from Class Weblogs: Post #1

Filed under: Uncategorized — windsun1 @ 4:22 am

Publish at least THREE posts to your weblog about any interesting information that you read on the other weblogs from our class. You can also use your posts to discuss About pages and blogrolling and to explore these questions: How important is evaluating an author’s qualifications?  How is a blogroll different from other media, how similar  How do you think blogrolling will evolve?

One of my colleagues’ websites that  I find particularly interesting is  Far Audience by Kennedy Elliott.  Even in nursing school, my favorite subject has always been English.  When I went back to school to complete my Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing, I also completed a minor in English–partially in order to fulfill credit hour requirements, but more importantly to fulfill a long held passion for further study in this subject.  I am probably in the minority, but I personally believe that English is the most romantic, resonant, and expressive language spoken on any continent in the world today (I will admit, I am a little biased).

As part of my studies of the English language in college, I took courses that examined the evolution of the linguistics of English, beginning from its birth to its currently modernized state.  Kennedy’s website seeks to explore the ways that various languages have developed, and how their users of “endangered languages” have found the Internet to be a useful tool to preserve these languages in the face of a globalized society that often assumes that English should be viewed as the primary language to fulfill the tasks of global communication.

I found particularly interesting these comments from Kennedy’s website:

“I would also like to delve further into what activism is taking place to encourage minority languages to create an Internet niche – either by blogging, producing electronic newsletters, engaging online petitions, or simply creating a communal website.”

As a student of my own language and its impact on how both society and culture are defined, I look forward to reading more of Kennedy’s descriptions of these “minority languages,” and what their potential impacts are on the Internet as it increasingly expands into becoming a tool which connects users on many different levels.  It will also be interesting to explore how we as citizens of the global Internet network overcome the challenges that occur due to language barriers.

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Filtering and Gatekeeping: Thoughts and Considerations (Post #3)

Filed under: Uncategorized — windsun1 @ 2:49 am

What problems or issues have you encountered in reading blogrolls on various weblogs?

Some of the main problems that I have encounterered from reading blogrolls on various weblogs is that many of them are “dead links”;  when clicked on, these links lead to an error page (ie, could not connect to server or some variation).  Many of the posts which link to these sites are themselves no longer active.  Many of them show last posts submitted over twelve months ago.  Many of them have abandoned their efforts due to lack of readership, or lack of further development of insight into the initial topic or concept.

What problems or issues have you encountered in reading blogrolls on various weblogs?

Issues that I have encountered include: uncertainty regarding the credibility of the website’s listed sources of links, as well as the aforementioned dead links to sites that are no longer active.

Filtering and Gatekeeping: Thoughts and Considerations (Post #2)

Filed under: Uncategorized — windsun1 @ 2:19 am

How does technology ease or make
difficult the dissemination of information?

I never gave much thought to this question until I enrolled in the graduate certificate program in Digital Communication and Technology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  To be quite honest, I was a little fearful of the Internet before I became employed in my current position at a managed care organization–which thrives on the dissemination of information contained in electronic health records, and also as a student in this program which has taught me more about the Internet and the World Wide Web in seven short weeks than I think I could have ever learned in seven years of exploring the Internet on my own.  This is due to the simple fact that in most of my previous years of employment I had very little chance or reason to explore the Internet.  I worked in direct patient care, which involved patients being admitted either to a hospital, skilled nursing facility, or home health care program for the management of  acute or chronic conditions.  The patient’s primary care provider, in conjunction with other medical specialists, would direct the patients’ care during their hospital stay.  Nurses like myself were responsible for monitoring the  patient’s responses to both the diagnosis/condition itself as well as to the treatment regimens prescribed by the patient’s health care provider(s): ie, how they responded to medications, surgeries, or interventions such as physical, occupational, or speech therapy, wound care, dietary restrictions, etc.  In other words, in the hands-on world on hospital nursing, I had little opportunity, much less time to explore alternative treatments that were available to patients assigned to my care.  The doctors (or nurse practitioners or physicians’ assistants) wrote the orders and I had a duty to follow those orders (unless they were felt to be egregiously unsafe–which was an extremely rare occurrence amongst the esteemed professional colleagues with whom I had the chance to work).

I began my career as a nursing assistant at the age of eighteen.  I then attended a one-year diploma program at a local community college which allowed me to sit for the state nursing board exam to become a Licensed Practical Nurse.  I soon realized that the real “prestige” came with being a Registered Nurse, who were the only nursing professionals that were licensed to make critical decisions regarding patient care.  I then obtained my Associate’s Degree in Nursing from a local community college, which allowed  me to sit for the state nursing board exam to become a Registered Nurse.  Both of these programs centered on training their students to provide direct patient care in a manner that first and foremost ensured patient safety.  These programs, due to their shortened length, placed very little emphasis on research;  instead, the programs emphasized how to recognize immediate signs and symptoms that would require further intervention by a primary health care provider (ie, MD, NP, or PA).  True to my form and nature, it was only a matter of time before I began to reach for the next level of professional development by obtaining my Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  It was here that I discovered the true difference between nurses who are prepared with an Associates’ degree vs.  those with a Bachelor’s degree: nursing students enrolled in baccaulareate programs receive much more training which focuses on how to analyze and conduct professional research that involves studying the responses to treatment not only of individual patients, but on entire population groups.  In today’s digital society, this research inevitably involves developing some familiarity with the Internet and the tools needed to discover reliable information sooner rather than later.

Now that you are all intimately familiar with my own personal background (whether you wante to be or not), I will now begin to answer the aforementioned question as it pertains to my research topic of Universal Health Care.  My only familiarity with the topic of Universal Health Care coverage prior to my entry into UNCG’s BSN program and later this Certificate program involved the failed proposed Clinton health care plan of the early 1990’s.  Like most Americans, I considered it a novel idea to find a way to provide guaranteed health care coverage to all Americans.  However, when it failed, I like many other people just filed it away as an issue that just could not be solved, no matter how hard we might try.

When I entered the field of managed care six months ago (after I got “burned out” from a long stint of working in intensive care–fodder for a separate post), I  began to reexamine the argument for Universal Health Care in a way that I never had before.  Before I entered this field, I had little reason to consider who bore the cost of health care.  As a bedside nurse, I focused only on what my patients needed to allow them to get better.  When consulting with a doctor to obtain orders for treatment, neither he/she nor I ever brought up the topic of who would pay for the services.  Our goals were altruistically centered on saving lives and preventing lifelong complications.  As a managed care nurse, it became my job to consider what options were both medically and financially feasible with regards to the organization for which I worked.  In other words, I began to adopt the concepts and tenets of managed care into my own health care ideology.

Many of you may wonder how I began to reconcile the two issues.  On the one hand, I had to consider how we have patients (and insurance plan members) who, according to their health care providers, require certain services in order to treat and manage their particular ailments.  On the other hand, you have a system (comprised of these same providers) that charges exorbitant amounts to provide these services.  The question becomes–who is financially responsible?  Is it the insurance companies/health maintenance organization who collect premiums from their members through their employers, who tantalizingly offer coverage as a “benefit” of employment?  Or do the members themselves bear some responsibility for these costs which are often direct results of their own ill-informed yet harmful health care decisions–such as tobacco use, alcohol/substance abuse, unprotected sexual encounters, and dietary indiscretions that lead to such common diagnoses as Hyperlipidemia (ie, elevated cholesterol) or Hypertension (elevated blood pressure)?  Criteria has been developed within the managed care industry to determine who meets medical necessity for certain interventions.  But what criteria has been developed to ensure that patients can make informed decisions regarding their own health before they require intervention from a health care provider?

This is where technology indeed plays a key role in easing the disemmination of information in today’s global society.  As we become more digitally attuned to the vast array of information available on the Internet, we also have a responsibility to educate ourselves as consumers of health care products.  In other words, when we visit a doctor we should carefully pay attention to the diagnosis and the doctor’s recommendations of how to treat the condition.  We are no longer in the days when we were allowed to be “passive” recipients of health care.  We have a duty to inform ourselves through taking advantage of the wealth of resources available on the Web.   Technology is a double-edged sword;  through its use the disemmination of information becomes easier in some ways, yet more difficult in others.  A Google search about health care can provide many results–but how can users determine which sites to trust?  It is here where well-researched and well-organized blogs devoted to health care topics can fulfill the greater goal of ensuring that Internet users are directed to the most current and accurate information available on the Web–and through the assistance of its community of readers who can provide fact-checking and insight, as weel as providing their own concepts on what is needed to heal the current health care crisis in the United States of America.

Filtering and Gatekeeping: Thoughts and Considerations (Post #1)

Filed under: Uncategorized — windsun1 @ 1:19 am

 How does technology ease or make
difficult the dissemination of information? What problems or issues
have you encountered in reading blogrolls on various weblogs? What
issues have you encountered in incorporating a blogroll and web
filtering into your own weblog?

Finally, I am given the chance to wax prophetic on a topic that has been at the forefront of my mind ever since I first went to nursing school.  What I did not realize before I became a Registered Nurse is that most serious health care problems that individuals face can be avoided through preventative care, early detection, and early access to a healthcare provider who is trained in the management of common disorders that plague a large proportion of the population.  Some examples are hypertension, cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, and cancer just to name a few.  Though these illnesses are not always preventable, many of the complications that are commonly associated with morbidity and mortality can be avoided through one of the three steps outlined above.

For example, even though the exact physiological cause of hypertension/high blood pressure is not clearly known from a scientific standpoint, what we do know is that certain factors expose many individuals to greater risk of developing this disorder than those who avoid practices such as consuming large amounts of sodium and leading sedentary lifestyles.  Instead of a society that focuses on the individual freedom to constantly consume fast food, why don’t we instead focus on teaching our population–beginning in elementary school–the value of preventative health care measures such as nutrition, exercise, and stress reduction?

Publish at least THREE posts to your weblog
that discuss the concept of evaluating – that is, filtering – web
sites, and the concept of gatekeeping:

Through the assignments for this module, I have indeed begun to recognize the important function of web blogs as devices which can “filter” the vast amount of information found on the Web.  The first example is the assignment which involved finding the five “best” vs. the five “worst” sites for Web research on my chosen topic of Universal Health Care.  I initially had a hard time because as a novice researcher I tend to find some value in all sites that I find on the Internet.  However, upon further examination, I began to discover that “all health care websites are not created equal.”  In other words, many of them have a position that is entrenched in very personal interests rather than engaging others in a debate in a manner that will lead to further discovery and dissemination of information to those who want to hear both sides.  Many of the websites that I encountered were able to walk the line between showing their favor towards a certain position without overtly calling the other side “evil.”  This allows the reader to make up their own minds based on evidence rather than opinion.  Of course, one must always consider the source and methods of the research when evaluating the results;  but in many cases, the presentation of evidence in a carefully researched format can lend more credibility to a position vs. highly charged and opinionated views that do not look beyond the surface.  

 

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