Virtual Summit to Empower Caregivers

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 8:31

Please join us today, February 11, 2014 for a virtual summit for caregivers.

Impact80 Virtual Summit is the first global conference, to be held online with 1 goal in mind – to support and reach as many women & men who work full or part-time while caring for a sick, disabled child or aging parent. Impact80 Summit will provide caregivers with mental health, caregiving, patient engagement resources, tips and information they need.

Goldina Erowele, PharmD, RPh, is a caregiver, clinical pharmacist, editor-in-chief of the award nominated (SeniorHomes, WegoHealth & HealthLine) CareNovate Magazine for Caregivers and is the founder of Impact80 Summit.

 Barbara Ficarra Impact80Summit Speakers

The summit begins at 11 a.m. EST (10 a.m. CST and 8 a.m. PST) with opening remarks by Dr. Erowele.

Speakers and topics include:

How to keep your dreams alive while caring for others by Ozioma Egwuonwu, CEO | Founder | Inventor BurnBright International LLC, Inventor, Day for Dreamers
Twitter: @bblifeworks, @dayfordreamers

Supporting Caregiving in 2014 & Beyond. What You Need in Your Caregiving Toolbox by Denise Brown. Founder & Caregiving Coach, Twitter: @caregiving

Health Advocacy: 10 best tips for patient/caregiver engagement By Martine Ehrenclou, Founder, author, health care advocate, The Take Charge Patient Founder, Author, The Take Charge Patient. Twitter: @Med_writer

Mental Health Check Up for Caregivers. What Have you done for yourselves lately? By Dr Tanya Douglas-Holland, Physician, Founder,  Unplugged. Twitter: @DrTanyaMD

Impact of Health Care Social Media on Patient & Caregivers Engagement by Barbara Ficarra, RN, Journalist, Founder, Healthin30. Twitter: @barbaraficarra

The Conversation Project & end-of-life care. Kelley Connors, President, KC Health & Host of Real Women on Health

Top 10 Medication Safety Tips- Over The Counter Medications, Herbals and Prescriptions by Dr. Goldina Erowele

Impact80 Virtual Summit:

Use the hashtag = #Impact80



You may register using this link:

Join the Summit via this link

I hope you’ll be able to join the conversation. Thank you for your time.

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 TEDMED Great Challenges-Medical Communication-Barbara Ficarra



Sharecare Helps to Engage and Empower Consumers with Mobile Health App-AskMD

Thursday, December 12, 2013 13:51

By Barbara Ficarra, RN, BSN, MPA

Woman using smartphone for AskMD post on Healthin30

From digital to doctor with a click on your iPhone or iPod touch

Self-diagnosing is not a good idea, but arming yourself with accurate, credible and trustworthy information is a great idea.

It’s such an exciting time in health care today. Digital technology helps to empower and engage consumers to take charge of their health, and it fosters consumers to be active participants in their healthcare.

One way to become empowered is to research health information so you can arm yourself with necessary information you need. However, due to the massive amount of information flooding the web, searching for health information online can be confusing and overwhelming. Unfortunately, not all information is accurate; there is a plethora of inaccurate and misleading health information out there. If you’re like most of us, you have searched for health information online.

According to Pew Internet and American Life Project 72% of internet users say they have looked online for health information and 77% of online health seekers say they began their last session at a search engine such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo. (Eight in ten online health inquiries start at a search engine.) Additionally, 85% of U.S. adults use the internet and 56% of U.S. adults own a smartphone.

A new mobile health app developed by Sharecare is more than a symptom checker.

AskMD Image Sharecare for Post Healthin30

If you’re an iPhone user, you can now let AskMD, an iOS free app, developed by Sharecare, give you the tools you need to easily obtain information about a health condition, and so much more.

Sharecare, a trusted source of health information, has been answering your health questions since its launch in October 2010. Founded by the brilliant Jeff Arnold (founder of WebMD) and Dr. Mehmet Oz, Vice-Chair and Professor of Surgery at Columbia University, and Emmy-winning talk show host, Sharecare is a health and wellness social engagement platform connecting consumers with health information from national experts, interactive tools and local healthcare providers. [Full Disclosure: I’m a member of the Advisory Board and Health Educator at Sharecare.]

There are many health, medical and fitness apps flooding the market. According to Research2Guidance (March 2013), “currently there are 97,000 mHealth applications in major app stores…” How do consumers sort through the maze of apps to know which are reliable? One way is to make sure the app developers are a reputable source.

Sharecare is trusted name in health and it’s a highly regarded resource. Take a look here at Sharecare’s advisory board. Also, a few of the many partners include the American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, Harvard Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, John Hopkins Medicine, American Heart Association, Mount Sinai Health Systems and AARP.

A Symptom Checker Plus So Much More

With AskMD, an app developed by a reputable source, gives you personalized information based on the data you enter. Not only is it a symptom checker, it’s a health management tool. It stores your health information, including medications, insurance information, and contact details for all your doctors and specialists.

Other symptom checkers may provide you with only general information about a health condition, but AskMD takes your experience further. It takes you beyond your digital encounter; it takes you through to the real-life doctor visit and arms you with valuable information to help you communicate clearly and succinctly with your doctor.

Initiated with voice activation, AskMD organizes information about your symptoms. You simply use your voice to initiate a series of questions relevant to your issues, including medications. The app uses Pattern Recognition Technology and matches your answers to a clinical platform and provides you with results specific to you.

Based on your medical needs, you will be directed to find a doctor or specialist based on a robust physician directory, The Little Blue Book, which Sharecare acquired in 2012. You will be given a list or area map filtered by insurance, specialty and distance. Directly from the app you can call to make an appointment. The user experience doesn’t end here.

Doctor/Patient Relationship

Once you complete your “consultation” you will be given a summary of your results with details which you can access, print or share from the app. This information will allow you to ask the right questions during your doctor’s visit. Not only does the app keep track of your health including height, weight, cholesterol, blood pressure and any known conditions; you can create multiple health profiles. That’s great news especially if you care for other members in your family.

Communication – Patient Engagement

Engaged, empowered and proactive consumers; that’s what health care is about. Having access to the right information at the right time can help empower you to communicate with your doctor and other health care providers. Communication and shared decision-making is a must in health care today.

Remember, prevention begins with you. Be proactive and in charge of your health.

Your turn
We would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below and if you’ve downloaded the AskMD app, we would love to know what you think. Share your experience with us. Also, you’re welcome to share your comments on the Healthin30 Facebook page as well.

As always, thank you for your very valuable time and thoughtful comments.

Life-Threatening Emergencies

Always call 9-1-1 if you experience a medical emergency such as chest pain or severe bleeding, severe shortness of breath, facial drooping or weakness in an arm or leg, suicidal or homicidal feelings, severe burns etc.

To find out when to call 9-1-1 and to see  a list of other life-threatening symptoms, please go to the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).

AskMD for iPhone® is available exclusively on the App Store. Download it now for FREE and let it take you right to your appointment.

AskMD iTunes



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 TEDMED Great Challenges-Medical Communication-Barbara Ficarra

Image courtesy of Ambro/


Brief Recap of Tweets for The Great American Smokeout

Wednesday, November 27, 2013 14:52

By Barbara Ficarra, RN, BSN, MPA

The Great American Smokeout Twitter Chat presented by Sharecare was ongoing spirited conversation for five hours filled with valuable information. The Hashtag #quitforgood led the chat. Every third Thursday in November The American Cancer Society marks the Great American Smokeout.

First, thank you to all the participants. Thank you to all the smokers who were involved in the conversation. Whether you recently quit smoking, were looking for information on how to quit smoking or you just wanted to quit for that one day, thank you. The American Cancer Society states, “By quitting — even for one day — smokers will be taking an important step towards a healthier life – one that can lead to reducing cancer risk.”

Secondly, below, please find a very small sample of Tweets from Otis Brawley, MD-American Cancer Society, CDC, Mount Sinai Hospital, and myself Barbara Ficarra, RN, BSN, MPA, Editorial Advisory Board/Health Educator at Sharecare. For a complete list of the health experts who contributed, please click here.

Otis Brawley, MD, Chief Medical Officer for the

American Cancer Society

Twitter Chat The Great American Smokeout Otis Brawley for Healthin30 Post

American Cancer Society-Otis Brawley

  • #quitforgood nicotine is more addictive than cocaine. Do not risk the addiction
  • #quitforgood nicotine is as addictive as cocaine even 2 cig/day can also cause lung disease
  • #quitforgood 2nd hand smoke in childhood causes crib death, asthma, bronchitis and later can lead to lung cancer
  • #quitforgood Smokers should know risks and benefits of lung screening. There are risks. Make an informed decision.
  • #quitforgood flavored tobacco, menthol especially has been used to lure folks into smoking. Nicotine is then the handcuff of addiction
  • #quitforgood It is far easier for light to moderate smokers to quit. Heavy smokers need help from addiction specialists.
  • #quitforgood no data show ecigs help smokers quit.


 Barbara Ficarra, RN, BSN, MPA, Health Educator, Editorial Advisory Board for Sharecare @BarbaraFicarra

Twitter Barbara Ficarra for Healthin30 Post

Barbara Ficarra, RN, BSN, MPA

  • Delighted 2 join #quitforgood @OtisBrawley @AmericanCancer @CDCgov @DrFriedenCDC @Sharecarenow @HopkinsMedicine @MountSinaiNYC @RMillerMD
  • Each year about 443,000 people die prematurely fr smoking or exposure 2 secondhand smoke #quitforgood
  • Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death in the US #quitforgood
  • It’s never too late to quit, but the sooner the better. You can do it! #quitforgood
  • Prevention is key-Must focus on preventing tobacco use among youth! #quitforgood
  • Per CDC Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body… #quitforgood
  • The cigarette industry spends billions ea year on advertising/promotions #quitforgood
  • When smokers quit, the risk for a heart attack drops sharply after just 1 year #quitforgood
  • When smokers quit, risk for dying of lung cancer drops by half after 10 years #quitforgood
  • Quitting gives your body a chance to heal the damage caused by smoking #quitforgood
  • Do you want to quit? Write down the reasons-Acknowledge-Take action! You can do it! @Sharecarenow Guide  #quitforgood
  • There’s a smoking quitline 1-800-QUIT-NOW 1-800-784-8669 #quitforgood
  • Be empowered and take charge of your health! You can do it! #quitforgood

 CDC Tobacco Free

Twitter Chat The Great American Smokeout CDC Tobacco Free for Healthin30 Post

CDC Tobacco Free

  • For most, it takes several attempts before succeeding at quitting smoking, but don’t give up trying to #QuitForGood.
  • More than 1/2 of Americans who have ever smoked have already quit & 70% of current smokers say they want to quit. You can #QuitForGood.
  • Tobacco smoke is a toxic mix of over 7,000 chemicals & compounds. Inhaling it causes short & long-term damage. #QuitForGood
  • Make a list of reasons for quitting. Keep handy & read it when you get the urge to smoke. #QuitForGood
  • The younger kids begin smoking, more likely to become addicted. Quit now, or better yet- don’t start. #QuitForGood
  • Tobacco smoke is a toxic mix of over 7,000 chemicals & compounds. Inhaling it causes short & long-term damage. #QuitForGood
  • Call quitline & speak to smoking cessation counselor who can provide advice, support, & help you make a plan. #QuitForGood
  • #Smokers are 2-4x more likely than nonsmokers to develop heart disease. Be heart-healthy & #QuitForGood

  Mount Sinai Hospital

Twitter Chat The Great American Smokeout Mount Sinai NYC for Healthin30 Post

Mount Sinai Hospital

  • It ages your face. Makes your teeth yellow & effects your entire body. #quitforgood
  • Ask to create smoke free environments at work & public places. Heart attacks decrease as soon as these bans are in place #quitforgood
  • Even if you’re not a smoker, you can still be at risk for #LungCancer. Assess your risk at @DrOz #quitforgood
  • The sooner you #QuitSmoking, the sooner your #HeartDisease risk will decline! Learn tips from Dr Myerson #quitforgood
  • Even if you’re not a smoker, you can still be at risk for #LungCancer. Assess your risk at @DrOz #quitforgood

Lastly, I’ve never been a smoker so I can’t imagine what you’re going through. It must be very hard to quit. However, According the American Cancer Society, “research shows that smokers are most successful in kicking the habit when they have support.”

Know there are professionals out there who can help you if you need it. Once you choose to quit, carry on. Be empowered. Be in charge of your health. You can do it! I wish you all the best.

Your turn

Are you a smoker? Did you participate in The Great American Smokeout Twitter Chat? What tips do you have to quit? Please share them in the comment section below. As always thank you for your very valuable time.

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Sharecare Presents: The Great American Smokeout Twitter Chat

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 16:07

By Barbara Ficarra, RN, BSN, MPA

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 43.8 million people (18 years or older), in the United States smoke cigarettes. What’s even more astounding is that cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Every year in the United States more than 440,000 deaths occur. Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, and lung diseases (including emphysema, bronchitis, and chronic airway obstruction).

The Good News–Ask your questions now @Sharecare and use Hashtag #quitforgood

More than half of all adult smokers have quit, and millions of people have learned to face life without a cigarette, and you can too. What’s so exciting is that you don’t have to do it alone. You can find valuable information in real time by taking part in the The Great American Smokeout Twitter Chat presented by Sharecare. The experts from the American Cancer Society and Sharecare will answer your questions and provide you with resources to help you.

Sharecare Twitter Chat American Cancer Society #quitforgood


Sharecare Twitter Chat The Great American Smokeout - Experts American Cancer Society, Sharecare, CDC, Johns Hopkins Barbara Ficarra


Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, Director Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC

Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Sharecare Presents: The Great American Smokeout Twitter Chat

Quit smoking for good with live help from the American Cancer Society.

When: November 20 & 21, 2013
Where: Right here! And on Twitter!

Ask your questions in advance on November 20!

Have a question about how to quit smoking? Just starting to quit and need tips and tricks? Wondering about ways to improve your health once you quit? Want to know how lawmakers can help in the fight against tobacco use?

On Wednesday, November 20, ask your question on Twitter to @sharecarenow using the Hashtag #quitforgood. Go online Thursday, November 21, 11 am to 4 pm EST to see the answers roll in from the American Cancer Society and other experts!

Ask away and follow #quitforgood – I’m thrilled to participate in Sharecare’s Twitter Chat. Start asking your questions now.

More information on the Sharecare Twitter Chat may be found here.

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Are Doctors Writing Prescriptions for Fruits and Vegetables?

Monday, November 18, 2013 16:00

Fresh produce program gains momentum in weight-loss fight
Fruits and Vegetables Healthin30

By Christine S. Moyer

More doctors are writing prescriptions for a proven weight-loss treatment with no negative side effects — fresh vegetables and fruits.

The initiative, known as the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program, was started by the Connecticut-based nonprofit Wholesome Wave in 2010. The organization aims to improve access and affordability of fresh, locally grown produce to underserved communities.

The program targets overweight and obese children and pregnant women. It requires that they use physician prescriptions that are redeemable for produce at a local farmer’s market.

On July 24, New York announced it is implementing the program at Lincoln Medical Center in the Bronx and Harlem Hospital Center in Manhattan. It’s the first time the program will be available at a major hospital system, according to Wholesome Wave. The program also is being used at clinics in Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C.

The program “is a creative approach that … will enable at-risk patients to visit any of our 142 farmers markets and purchase the fruits and vegetables that will help them stay healthy,” said New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, MD, MPH.

By focusing on children and pregnant women, the entire family’s eating habits and resulting health will improve, said Boston pediatrician Shikha Anand, MD, MPH. She is the co-founder and medical director of the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program.

“The goal is to target families using a life course approach,” Dr. Anand said. “Our thought is that pregnancy and parenthood are times families might be restructuring eating patterns and thinking of the connection between food and health.”

Some health experts, however, question the program’s effectiveness, due in part to its short duration (four to six months a year), its dependence on regular patient follow-up visits and its sole focus on eating healthy food.

“It’s absolutely true that Americans don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. So any effort … to really promote fresh produce is a positive thing,” said Marlene B. Schwartz, PhD, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. But “I don’t know that focusing just on increasing fruits and vegetables is going to be enough to decrease body weight.”

She said there is a common misconception by the public that if you eat more nutritious food, you automatically will consume less-processed products. That’s often not the case, Schwartz said.

She recommends that when physicians talk to patients about healthy eating, they stress that the individual reduce consumption of processed foods and sugary beverages.

Despite improvements, obesity rates remain too high

Recent data show that improvements are beginning to be seen in the nation’s fight against obesity. For instance, 19 states and U.S. territories reported decreases in obesity among low-income preschoolers in 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

For adults, obesity rates appear to be holding steady after decades of increasing, according to a report issued Aug. 15 by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Despite those improvements, medical experts say obesity rates among adults and children remain too high. More than a third of adults and 17% of youths age 2 to 19 are considered obese, according to the CDC. Researchers are projecting a dramatic increase in adult obesity and related health care costs by 2030 if the trend continues.

“We must continue to strengthen and expand proven strategies that help our children live healthier lives by avoiding obesity in the first place,” said Janet L. Collins, PhD, director of the CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity.

Dr. Anand anticipates that the fruit and vegetable program could be one such strategy.

Prescription for fruits and vegetables

When a primary care doctor enrolls a patient in the program, an appointment is scheduled for the patient to meet with the physician and a nutritionist. During that visit, the doctor gives the patient a prescription for fruits and vegetables that is equal to $1 a day for produce for the patient and each family member. That means a family of four would receive $28 per week to spend on fruits and vegetables at an area farmer’s market, Dr. Anand said.

Patients can get the prescriptions weekly from their physician’s office during the program. They return to see their doctor and a nutritionist once a month to discuss their health and set new goals for nutritious eating. Most of the program is funded through grants, Dr. Anand said.

Physicians who are interested in participating can contact Wholesome Wave and try to identify a local farmer’s market with whom they could partner, she said.

Some measurable success

The program is effective, said Wholesome Wave. Fifty-five percent of patients in the program in 2012 reported increasing their fruit and vegetable consumption, and 38% of children decreased their body mass index, the organization said.

Shopping behaviors also seemed to change — 53% of families in the program report going to their local farmer’s market at least eight times during the 2012 season.

Despite those improvements, some health experts question how the program realistically can be implemented in primary care. Among the challenges many physicians face is limited time during office visits and lack of coverage for discussions on nutrition and weight loss counseling, they said.

Although Medicare covers a series of primary care visits for obesity counseling among patients with a body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or greater, such appointments are not covered by most private insurance companies.

Schwartz said physicians might feel overwhelmed by the program requirement that they reach out to local farmer’s markets. But, she added, for doctors who have the time and interest, the initiative probably will have a significant impact on patients.

“For doctors to be able to tell patients … ‘I’ve been to the farmer’s market. They’re really nice,’ there’s something to that,” Schwartz said. “It would feel like the patient is getting personal and practical advice and not this abstract message, ‘Eat more fruit.’ ”

Image courtesy of amenic181/

External links

Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program, Wholesome Wave (link)

“Progress on Childhood Obesity: Many States Show Declines,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vital Signs, Aug. 6 (link)

“F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2013,” Trust for America’s Health/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Aug. 16 (PDF link)

[Original Post Date Aug. 26, 2013-American Medical News]

American Medical News ceased publication on September 9, 2013 after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession.

American Medical News not only kept physicians informed, it also kept other health care professionals and the health community informed of relevant health issues. Health in 30® has been granted permission by the American Medical Association to use its existing content on the site.


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