New Study Reveals the Unexpected Costs of Psoriasis
Jan14

New Study Reveals the Unexpected Costs of Psoriasis

An estimated 7.5 million people in the United States have psoriasis, a chronic condition that is caused when skin cells divide too quickly. A number of symptoms are associated with this common problem, including thick red or scaly patches on the skin and even inflammatory arthritis. However, another, less often discussed consequence of the disorder is the cost of treating it: a new study reports that psoriasis may be costing the U.S. billions of dollars a year. In a review led by Dr. Elizabeth Brezinski of the University of California, Davis, Sacramento, researchers analyzed 22 studies on the costs associated with psoriasis. According to their study, published in JAMA Dermatology on January 7, the direct expenses related to psoriasis range from $52 to $63 billion a year. However, this number refers only to the prices of medication and treatments: other costs, derived from related conditions, lost work and more, exceed $50 billion. These high estimates are likely due to psoriasis’ status as a chronic condition, as well as the fact that there is no permanent cure or treatment. The methods used include over-the-counter moisturizers to prevent cracking, ultraviolet light therapy, medications, biologic drugs which target the immune system, and other options. Unfortunately, none of these treatments deliver effective results for all patients, and they are also extremely expensive: in an interview with NPR, patient Todd Bellos said that one biologic medication cost as much as $25,000 over five years, a prospect he argued would be impossible for patients without health insurance. Since his diagnosis in 1992, Bello has undergone a variety of different treatments, none of which has had long-term results. The treatments have also had some dangerous side effects, such as an increased risk of brain infections and kidney problems. And yet going without these treatments is rarely an option. Psoriasis is both physically uncomfortable and embarrassing, causing the skin to crack and bleed or form in patches that can make others squeamish. In his interview, Bello spoke about how he had to retire on disability when his symptoms worsened, and mentioned being asked to leave a hair salon due to the appearance of his skin. To make matters worse, psoriasis is also associated with several other conditions, including heart disease and depression. Fortunately, research on the disorder may have revealed a solution: several pharmaceutical companies are currently testing drugs that target a molecule in the immune system, interleukin 17, which has been linked to the inflammation associated with psoriasis. Until this product or another is revealed to be successful, however, the U.S. will continue to spend billions of dollars on this surprisingly expensive and harmful...

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Power Outage Temporarily Dismantles Hospital’s Server Room
Jan12

Power Outage Temporarily Dismantles Hospital’s Server Room

Technology plays an ever-growing part in the modern healthcare system, helping medical professionals track patient data, make treatment decisions, communicate with other facilities and individuals, and more. As a result, the sudden loss of this technology could have a potentially devastating impact on hundreds, if not thousands, of people connected to a medical center. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened to one hospital in southern Idaho after its server room suddenly lost power. On Sunday, January 4, the server room at St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center lost power, affecting at least two health centers in the area. The power outage knocked out the phone system, blocked access to medical files and dismantled the time card system at the hospital in Twin Falls, while medical professionals at St. Luke’s clinic in Jerome were also unable to access their data. Fortunately, the clinic’s phone system was not affected. The problems continued until early Monday morning. A hospital spokesperson reported that several of St. Luke’s protocols helped the medical centers continue their services: the hospital, for example, keeps paper records on the treatment of patients in the building every day. Similarly, patients checking into the hospital are asked to fill out forms with their medical and family histories. Staff members were reportedly able to use these resources to help them provide care during the outage. The hospital’s phone systems, however, were another matter: in addition to the compromised phone lines, the power outage knocked out the internet-based interpretation system. Fortunately, Spanish-speaking staff members were on hand to assist patients, and a phone-based service was used for other languages. Currently, hospital representatives say they are still trying to figure out what caused the server problems. Unfortunately, the list of potential reasons is seemingly unlimited: server rooms can be compromised by everything from temperature to a poor arrangement of server rack cabinets, to name just a few. Despite its earlier problems, the St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center and clinic have returned to their normal capacity. Both facilities are accepting...

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New Breathalyzer Can Detect Dehydration and Halitosis
Jan09

New Breathalyzer Can Detect Dehydration and Halitosis

Believe it or not, breathalyzers can do more than detect how intoxicated a person is. With a bit of tweaking, the same technology police use when pulling over suspected drunk drivers can also detect other health issues. More specifically, dehydration and oral health issues, which is precisely what a new device called MINT can do. Most breathalyzers require users to blow for long periods of time to ensure that the air is being drawn from the lungs. The MINT, however, specifically looks at the humidity and Volatile Sulfur Compounds (VSCs) in the user’s breath, using a small fan that draws air from the mouth, which means a user doesn’t even have to blow like they would into a police officer’s breathalyzer. After taking a quick sample, MINT then sends the results to the user’s smartphone, which is connected via Bluetooth. They can see their measured level of hydration, and the levels of hydrogen disulfide, methyl mercaptan, and hydrogen sulfide in their breath — in layman’s terms, just how fresh their breath is. “The intersection of Technology and Health will be (and is) one of the great digital innovation areas of this decade. However the category’s attractiveness brings about a lot of useless and “me too” innovation,” says Tom Ajello, Co-Founder of Makeable. “There was a predecessor to Mint called Breeze. It only measured alcohol level, but It did not sell well. Often smartphone driven devices like this sound new, and interesting but their use cases are very impractical. I suspect that would be the case here.” Though there are other breathalyzers built to check the freshness of a user’s breath, they’re more of a novelty device, and are hardly accurate. The MINT, on the other hand, is powerful enough to spot even more serious oral issues, like tooth decay or gum disease. Unfortunately, eager consumers will have to wait around the end of summer to see just how big of a sweat they worked up in their latest gym session, or police their coworkers’ breath. The MINT will be available sometime near August for about $99, when the final production version is...

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Salem, OR, Auto Shop Donates Vehicles to Those in Need
Jan07

Salem, OR, Auto Shop Donates Vehicles to Those in Need

A recent survey suggests that about 77% of cars are in need of maintenance or repairs, which means that more than three-fourths of drivers may suddenly find themselves with a large repair bill — or without wheels altogether. For those who rely on such a car to get themselves to work, this kind of surprise can impact their entire livelihood. This is one reason that Bob Anderson of AJ’s Auto Repair in Salem, OR, runs the Wheels and Wishes donation program out of his shop. “People really need a car now when they fall on hard times,” Anderson told the Statesman Journal Dec. 26. So when Anderson and his mechanics come across someone who desperately needs or deserves a working vehicle, they fix it for free, or sometimes even offer the owner a replacement car. Holiday Spirit Over the holiday season, house cleaner Carmen Garcia was struggling to keep her 1987 Toyota Camry running so she could get to her clients, who are spread out between Keizer and Silverton. One customer, named Sandy DeLuna, emailed AJ’s. “Carmen is a very good and reliable person who gets to her jobs whether her car works or not,” she wrote. “If you could help Carmen, it would be such a relief to her, and I know she would be so appreciative.” The shop reached out to Garcia and had her car towed into the shop. When the technicians discovered that it might need engine or transmission repair — not worth the expense in such an old vehicle — they offered her a pick of three cars they had in the shop waiting for new owners. Laura Fosmire of the Statesman Journal reported that Garcia “seemed a little embarrassed by the attention” as she gratefully picked out a 2002 navy blue Chevy Cavalier the morning of Dec. 26. And, Fosmire wrote, “after shaking each of the mechanic’s hands and waving goodbye,” Garcia “headed straight for work.” Shopwide Effort Anderson said the program has been running informally for eight or nine years, though it’s been filed as a nonprofit with the state only since April of 2013. “There will be three, four, five cars a year that we do,” Anderson said. “We even have a few cars here, we’re just waiting to hear about people who need them.” Anderson also said it’s a fun way to help out the community that his entire shop can be proud of. “The guys really enjoy doing it,” he shared. “They get more fun out of it than the people who get the...

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Five Tips for Social Media Marketing
Jan01

Five Tips for Social Media Marketing

Although the term “social media” has really only become part of our popular lexicon in the past 10 years or so, there is no doubt that this type of online service is now a major part of our society. From the days of Friendster and Myspace to more recent sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, social media has created an entirely new way for the modern internet user to form relationships and interact with both acquaintances and strangers. But these websites aren’t only for tracking down your old friends from high school or keeping in touch with distant family members: social media also offers numerous opportunities for businesses to connect with users and convert them into loyal customers,many of which have been found to be extremely effective. After all, now that consumers are educating themselves on their own by researching companies and products or services online, companies must target them on the web through the delivery of useful, rich content. Follow the tips below to integrate social media into your overall marketing efforts and make a difference in how your company advertises online. Have a Strategy While there are a variety of websites, tools, services and tips available to help you market your company through social media, they are no help unless you have a plan in place. Before you create accounts on every website or try to implement every social media tool you can find, determine what you want to accomplish and think about how social media marketing can help you succeed. Look To the Future Social media is always evolving due to trends, user behavior and society at large. Because of this, it is important to have both short and long term goals, which you should adjust and improve as the industry changes. You should also consider your options and try to stay current: while sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are popular choices for businesses at the moment, competitors like Pinterest, Tumblr, and others could soon give them a run for their money. Be prepared to change tactics as your customer base — and the social media landscape — shifts. Say No If Necessary While you should be prepared to evolve your social media strategy to best meet the habits of your customers, some trends may not fit your goals or even your business as a whole. Determining which sites and decisions are right for your company will not only save you time, but will also help you build a more consistent brand identity. Integrate Social media shouldn’t comprise your entire marketing strategy, and some parts of your business may not make very good content. But while you should...

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