In lieu of a "regular" blog, we encouraged employees to publicly share some of the things they are thankful for. Because we recognize how fortunate we all are, and we ARE thankful. Every single day.
Up at 5AM: The 5AM Solutions Blog
Tags: thankful, Thanksgiving, tofurkey, Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Steve Jobs, clean water, language, reality TV, fat sick and nearly dead, forks over knives, the great pumpkin, Theobroma cacao
Next week is Thanksgiving (already?). My family is descending on my house to enjoy time together, veggies, pie, and Tofurky (that’s how we roll). The country’s Surgeon General, Regina Benjamin, will mark the day as the seventh annual “National Family Health History Day,” to encourage all American families to learn more about their family health history.
Here are three reasons why it’s useful to know your family health history:
1. Because we all know that diseases can “run in the family”
Most of us are marginally aware that family history can play a role in many common diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. Some of us think about our grandfather's heart attack before we eat that cheesesteak. And we've all completed the form at doctor’s offices - the chart where you put check marks to link diseases with your family members. The reason doctors collect this information is because it gives them a quick glimpse into the disease history within our families, which they then use to consider our risk of developing certain diseases.
Every day, the family history is used by physicians to assess disease risk, determine whether screening is required, and help us understand our risks of passing diseases to our own children. It’s valuable information, worth collecting.
And knowing our history can help us change our habits. In my case, my grandfather’s early death from heart disease and my mother’s high cholesterol were factors in my decision to become a vegetarian. Knowing the truth about the family’s health is often enough to compel many people to change smoking, drinking, diet, and exercise habits.
2. Because it’s proven that family history is the best predictor of disease risk
The concept of a disease “running in the family” is real. A study last year found that a family health history is better at predicting disease risk than genomic screening: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Wellness/family-history-predictor-disease-risk-genomic-screening/story?id=12055615
In his book The Language of Life, geneticist (and HHS head) Francis Collins writes that “family health history turns out to be the strongest of all currently measurable risk factors for many common conditions, incorporating as it does information about both hereditary and shared environment…Surely the kind of information you and your doctor should know and incorporate into your own health care.”
The bit about “shared environment” is especially key – not only do we share genes with our family, but we tend to live with or near our families (at least some of them). So regardless of whether a disease’s cause is hereditary or environmental, the history can tell us a lot.
3. Because it’s easy
Whether by jotting down a note that Aunt Edna died of breast cancer, or using more sophisticated paper or web-based tools to collect your family health history, or going all the way with personal genetic services like 23andMe, many people now are taking their health information into their own hands, assembling, recording, and saving their family health history for the benefit of their own health and that of their family members. Because it’s easy, and because it makes sense.
While you’re chowing down next Thursday, expressing thanks for all you have and are, take a couple of minutes to gather your family’s health history. It’s a simple way to understand the story of your own health.
Here are some ways and means to do so:
Mayo Clinic: Compiling your medical family tree – basics on how and why to collect the history
The Surgeon General’s My Family Health Portrait - an online tool that lets you track, print, and save your family’s health history. P.S.-5AM developed this tool
It Runs in My Family - another online genetic tool
Family Helix - a nonprofit, provides an online way to track and store your family's health history
Genetic Alliance’s Guide to Family Health History/Guide to Understanding Genetics and Health - booklets provide information and resources on the topic
CDC’s http://www.cdc.gov/Features/FamilyHealthHistory/ - covers the basics on how and when to collect you family’s history (...Thanksgiving!)
NHGRI’s Drawing Your Family Tree - describes how to create your own pedigree chart (a great visual expression of diseases in a family)
Go deeper (and geekier!) with personal genomics services like 23andme and deCODEme. Even these sophisticated tests will back up their data by collecting your family history!
Happy Thanksgiving from 5AM--Share stories, thoughts and comments, on family history or Tofurkey, by commenting below.
-Leslie Power, 5AM Solutions
Tags: family health history, electronic health records, health IT, genomics tools
When you hear the word “cancer,” the type that often rests front of mind in the modern era is breast cancer. You can’t escape references to it in popular culture because it is everywhere. Entire merchandising lines of pink-themed items, special events, races, walks, fundraisers and friendraisers abound throughout the year. There is support, there is acceptance, and there is undoubtedly awareness—all leading to ample financial backing for research and treament.
Tags: cancer, cancer research, cancer awareness, Movember, no-shave November, cancer statistics, prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mens cancer, Movember foundation
On October 26th, I attended a session on Lean and Kanban practices at AgileDC, a conference that brings together Agile software development enthusiasts. The session presenter was Jon Terry, COO at LeanKit--the namesake being a Kanban based management tool for software development projects. During his presentation he brought up the subject of EHR's, which, as a member of 5AM Solution's Health IT practice, caused me to immediately perk up my ears. He shared a story about HCA, a large hospital management company that decided to implement a new EHR management software solution at all of their hospitals and offices nationwide. In a company that utilizes a "waterfall" model, this project would be addressed by conducting a routine audition of different vendors and gathering requirements before eventually purchasing one. At HCA, however, they decided to take a decidedly more expensive approach. HCA purchased products from four vendors and had them installed at a few pilot locations at the same time. The goal here was to have the doctors and staff use the various software packages in order for them to test them out in real world situations and to have the employees provide feedback to management on which one worked the best. The Agile principle at work here is not that they did a large scale deployment of multiple systems, but rather that the users could interact and experience the products hands-on. The result was an enterprise deployment of Meditech, the "winner" of this vendor contest, which Terry said has increased productivity and employee satisfaction dramatically.
Tags: EHR, electronic health records, agile, AgileDC, lean