Initiative Gives Health Care Dose of Transparency

By giving patients access to their doctors’ notes, the OpenNotes initiative seeks to improve health and health care.  Danville-based Geisinger Medical Center was one of three health systems to participate in a national study, and officials there were so pleased with the results they’ve already expanded the program.

“Patients really seem to love this and physicians – for the most part – really don’t seem to mind all that much,” explains Dr. Jonathan Darer, Geisinger’s Chief Innovation Officer. 

82% of the patients participating in the trial actually opened their notes, and 77 – 87% of them reported that access to their doctors’ notes made them feel more in control of their health care. 

“Here we have an innovation where all we did is share information and patients feel like they’re getting better care,” Dr. Darer tells Radio PA.  “How cool is that?”

In light of the study’s findings, Geisinger has expanded the OpenNotes program to more than 500-doctors and roughly 130,000 patients. 

Darer envisions the day when the initiative will be ubiquitous, not only at Geisinger, but throughout the health care industry.  Adaption will be even faster, Darer says, if future studies can confirm that this sort of information sharing improves clinical outcomes in addition to getting patients more involved in their care.

RadioPA Roundtable

Radio PA Roundtable 05.24.13

On this week’s Radio PA Roundtable, Matt Paul discusses new legislation that would create letter grades (A – F) for all of the state’s public schools, and examines a new law designed to expand community health clinics in the state.  Also, have you ever wanted to actually see your doctor’s notes?  Many Geisinger patients are alreading doing it.

Please have a happy & safe Memorial Day weekend, and remember to take some time to consider the true meaning of the holiday.

Radio PA Roundtable is a 30-minute program featuring in-depth reporting on the top news stories of the week.

Click the audio player below to hear the full broadcast:

High Heels

The High Risk of High Heels

Long-term, repeated use of high heels can cause problems from the hip down to the foot, according to Geisinger Medical Center podiatrist David Troutman, and he says studies continue to reinforce that fact. 

For instance, a study recently published in the Journal of Applied Physiology finds that high heels strained the calf muscle, even when the subjects were no longer wearing them.  “If they would take their heels off and work out, they were more susceptible to strains and sprains because their foot was still functioning that,” Troutman says.  “So that was the real interesting key to this study.” 

The new study examined women who wore a significant heel at least 40-hours a week for two years. 

“Wearing a high heel shoe once in a while is not terrible, but I think it’s the more repeated, chronic use of it where people get in trouble,” Troutman says. 

He recommends that women limit the height of their heels to two inches, and to alternate high heels with more sensible shoes.  “I think the more that you can alternate, wear a little bit better shoe here and there, you’re going to be fine.”

Tips for Coping with the Back to School Blues

On the calendar, its summer for another month, but for school kids, the season is coming to an end.   If you’re youngster is not eating much and seems out of sorts or your college bound teen is irritable, it could be a sign of the back to school blues. Transitions involve change which can lead to some anxiety.

Dr. Nicole Quinlan, a licensed psychologist at Geisinger Medical Center, says practicing the first day of school routine with younger children and talking it out with those of any age can help them and you deal with that anxiety.  She says parents can help by practicing the first day of school routine, talking about what the child might expect, and having their things together ahead of time, such as backpacks and binders.

Dr. Quinlan says helping kids get to know other children if it’s a new area or new school, finding out more about the school, and practicing a walk-through of the new school, if that’s possible, can be helpful.

 Dr. Quinlan says a parent can empathize with their child, talking through the kinds of things they’d want their child to know to cope.  She says this will also help parents who may be anxious over the transition.

Dr. Quinlan says students heading off to college for the first time can also show some signs of anxiety She says for teens headed to college for the first time, talking it over and spelling out expectations ahead of time can be helpful.  If parents have more serious concerns, colleges have support services on campus.  

To learn more about back to school anxiety, parents can get tips at the Pennsylvania Psychological Association’s website the National website