HEALTH

Survey: Text service improves healthcare engagement, compliance among expectant, new mothers

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN DIEGO — A free mobile service providing healthcare information via text message helped improve both engagement with healthcare providers and compliance with regimens, researchers revealed Tuesday.

The free mobile service, Text4baby, provided pregnant women and new mothers in San Diego with maternal, fetal and newborn health information via text messages and connected them to national health resources. Funded by the Alliance Healthcare Foundation, the study took place with Text4baby users in San Diego County and included interviews with 38 women and a phone survey with 122 users.

“Initial research indicates Text4baby is increasing users’ health knowledge, facilitating interaction with health providers, improving adherence to appointments and immunizations and strengthening access to health services,” stated Yvette Lacoursiere, of the University of California, San Diego Health System Department of Reproductive Medicine.

Women reported high satisfaction with Text4baby, with Spanish-speaking women reporting even higher satisfaction scores than English‐speaking women. As many as 63.1% of women reported that Text4baby helped them remember an appointment or immunization that they or their child needed. Approximately 75.4% reported that Text4baby messages informed them of medical warning signs they did not know. And 71.3% reported talking to their doctor about a topic that they read on a Text4baby message.

“These results show that mobile technology is an emerging force in health care," LaCoursiere said. "Text4baby provides an easy, free service to patients with a variety of resources that improve the health care of both the new parent and their baby."

The San Diego research team is the first in the nation to evaluate the Text4baby service through partnerships with the National Latino Research Center, San Diego County Medical Society Foundation, Voxiva, Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition and the San Diego Text4Baby Coalition.

To date, more than 2,200 individuals have enrolled and used Text4baby in San Diego. Expectant new parents can enroll in the service by simply texting “baby,” or “bebe” for Spanish language messages, to 511411.


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Hearing loss more prevalent than previously thought

BY Michael Johnsen

BALTIMORE — Nearly one-fifth of all Americans ages 12 years and older have hearing loss so severe that it may make communication difficult, according to a new study led by Johns Hopkins researchers and published in the Nov. 14 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. The findings, thought to be the first nationally representative estimate of hearing loss, suggest that many more people than previously thought are affected by this condition.

The researchers used data from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Surveys, a research program that has periodically gathered health data from thousands of Americans since 1971. The researchers analyzed data from all participants ages 12 years and older, whose hearing was tested during NHANES examinations from 2001 to 2008. Unlike previous estimates, NHANES includes men and women of all races and ages, from cities scattered across the country, so it’s thought to statistically mimic the U.S. population.

Using the World Health Organization’s definition for hearing loss (not being able to hear sounds of 25 decibels or less in the speech frequencies), the researchers found that overall, about 30 million Americans, or 12.7% of the population, had hearing loss in both ears. That number jumps to about 48 million, or 20.3%, for people who have hearing loss in at least one ear. These numbers far surpass previous estimates of 21 to 29 million.

Hearing loss prevalence nearly doubled with every age decade, with women and blacks being significantly less likely to have hearing loss at any age. Lead researcher Frank Lin surmised that the female hormone estrogen, as well as the melanin pigment in darker skin, could have a protective effect on the inner ear and is worth exploring in future studies.


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CRN to host free webinar on supplement regs for Pharmacist Society

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — Dietary supplement usage is up among Americans, according to a National Center for Health Statistics report released earlier this year — half of all U.S. adults supplement their diets, most likely with a multivitamin. And pharmacists are the No. 2 go-to source (behind doctors) for information around those supplements — according to a Council for Responsible Nutrition Survey on Dietary Supplements.

As a pharmacist, are you prepared to answer their questions?

CRN announced plans to host a free webinar on dietary supplement regulation via  the professional networking website Pharmacist Society, an online community sponsored by the Drug Store News Group that enables its members to have easy access to information most relevant to pharmacists.  The webinar is part of CRN’s ongoing initiative through the Pharmacist Society to help provide accurate information about the dietary supplement industry to pharmacists. 

The webinar will be held Dec. 14 and will be presented by Annette Dickinson, CRN consultant and former CRN president. Dickinson has more than 30 years experience in the dietary supplement industry and specializes in regulation.  The webinar will offer an historical perspective, leading up to an overview of current-day dietary supplement regulation. Following her presentation, participants will have the opportunity to ask questions via a live on-line Q&A chat.  Pharmacist Society site is a closed-loop environment for members only; so the webinar will not be open to the public.

“Pharmacists are a very important audience for our industry, as consumers tell us pharmacists are one of their most highly trusted sources for information about dietary supplements," stated Judy Blatman, SVP communications at CRN. "Working with Pharmacist Society is a forward-thinking and efficient way for us to reach this segment of the healthcare community … There’s a lot of misinformation about dietary supplement regulation, and we’re pleased to have the opportunity to help shed some light on the subject for the pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and other individuals who participate in this webinar.” 

CRN joined Pharmacist Society earlier this year, representing the dietary supplement industry. As a member of Pharmacist Society, CRN posts news and background information relevant to pharmacists, conducts online surveys to learn about what’s important to pharmacists, and is available as a resource for its growing number of “friends and followers” to answer any questions they may have about dietary supplements. CRN queried its 2,300 followers to determine which topics would be of most interest for a webinar on dietary supplements: regulation was the most requested topic among the community.  

“CRN’s successful integration into Pharmacist Society has been a tremendous boon to the site and we are pleased that the association is using this unique component of the site to have a real-time conversation with users on a subject of importance to both CRN and the pharmacists,” stated Wayne Bennett, publisher, Drug Store News Group. “This tool is a great way to speak with and engage pharmacists. As with any growing social networking platform, the opportunity is to find fun and interesting ways to make users want to keep coming back."

Pharmacist Society was launched Nov. 1, 2010. Among the many useful applications is the ability to post news and press releases, a message board area to start conversations on topics of interest, a section where users can conduct online polls and the ability to host online webcam chats and webinars. Drug Store News is the multimedia industry news and information leader serving retail pharmacy industry executives, decision makers and influencers in print, online and at events.


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