Thursday, August 29, 2013

EHR Systems Are Being Emphasized by Some Lawmakers

EHR systems are problematic for many medical practices. But some experts believe that EHR systems can be beneficial. It is believed that when implemented correctly, the systems can help reduce health care costs and improve health care quality. Because the systems have the potential to reduce costs and improve quality, EHR systems are drawing attention from many quarters, including the U.S. government.

Indeed, over 30 EHR related bills have been introduced by the U.S. Congress since January of 2013. And two congressional representatives, Diane Black (R-Tenn) and Mike Honda (I-California), have asked the CMS administrator, Maryland Tavenner, and the National Coordinator for Health IT, Farzad Mostashari, to allow hospitals to give EHR technology to physicians.

It is felt that donating the technology to physicians will "boost health IT interoperability" and help physicians with the costs of the technology. Hospitals need permission for the donation to avoid violation of laws that prohibit payments that encourage referrals and laws that ban kickbacks.

Lawmakers' efforts to increase EHR system usage may not be viewed favorably by everyone since many don't like government involvement. On the other hand, a push by powerful forces may be necessary, since a number of physicians, who are unhappy with their EHRs, could abandon the technology. Further, some physicians may be reluctant to implement EHR systems because of associated problems.

In fact, physicians are dropping out of the incentive programs the U.S. government established to entice physicians to adopt EHRs. And those who plan to stay with EHR technology want to replace their existing EHR systems.

Still, in a recent blog post, we indicated that EHR systems could benefit bariatric physician practices because as a specialty, these practices are less complex than, say, a primary care medical practice. Therefore, bariatric specialties can make maximum use of the features EHR systems offer. Therefore, the push by lawmakers can be viewed as a positive by those specializing in obesity medicine.

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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Childhood Obesity Does Not Have to Lead to a Major U.S. Security Problem

Of course childhood obesity continues to be an important issue in our society. Obese children may suffer from type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. And since obese children often grow up to be obese adults, there is some concern that childhood obesity may put our country’s security in jeopardy.

In 2009, a military group looking at the issue of childhood obesity and its effects on the military concluded that ‘About 1 in 4 young American adults is now too overweight to join the military. Being overweight or obese is the number one medical reason why young adults cannot enlist.’ And the problem continues to be a concern today.

However, some actions appear to provide positive results in the fight against childhood obesity. For example, a recent study showed that by living a healthy lifestyle rather than just talking about a healthy lifestyle, parents can motivate their teenagers to also live a healthier lifestyle..

Further, with the appropriate home environment, the normal defensiveness that an obese child might show can be reduced. When this reduction in defensiveness is combined with family  support and encouragement, a child's likelihood of achieving a healthier lifestyle is increased

Also, approaches suggested by Michelle Obama’s "Let's Move" program can be used to lessen the dangers childhood obesity might engender for our military. The suggested approaches outlined in the program include: encouraging parents to set a good example by modeling a healthy lifestyle, which was mentioned above.

The suggestions also include:  “Encourage schools to create a healthy learning environment for children and youth, and to incorporate nutrition and physical education into the school day; urge community leaders to initiate and coordinate activities that promote healthy living;  aim directives at elected officials, health care providers and food prep professionals that address the roles that they can play in reducing childhood obesity."

Indeed, childhood obesity is a problem that could make a large percentage of the U.S. population’s young adults ineligible for the military. So childhood obesity puts limits on the number of persons who could potentially join the military. But there are actions being taken that may lessen this danger. And obesity medicine providers should play a major role in lessening this danger.

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