FDA approved to improve patient and practitioner experience in healthcare settings.
FDA approved to improve patient and practitioner experience in healthcare settings.
When 28-year-old Oncology Nurse, Lexi Timmons works with cancer patients, which she’s done for two years, she notices what helps most is humor to brighten their spirits.
She also observes they receive a lot of greeting cards from well-meaning loved ones, but most are downright depressing instead of what they need most during this time, which is cheer. She realizes it’s not their fault because the majority of Greeting cards for illness in major retailers are typically glum offering sympathy, along with a Get Well Soon salutation. She could see her patients get sad as they open and read them.
That’s how Lexi got the idea to create a line of Greeting cards that make cancer patients smile, laugh and feel good. She calls them LUMPY CARDS. Everyone knows stress has a negative impact on your mind and body. When people have cancer, they need their immune systems to stay strong and humor helps diffuse stress. When someone is laughing they’re not thinking of being sick, even if it’s only for a little while. It’s a step in the right direction. Laughter is always positive, which is why we love Lexi’s idea and spirit. Sometimes, her patients inspire the cards.
Lexi says, “I love to crack jokes and so do my patients. I realized that when people are going through the roughest of times, it actually brings out the best comedian in them. It helps them cope and it also releases feel good endorphins in them, which are healing.”
Another inspiration was unexpected. In 2012, cancer hit home when her Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“My Mom is at her best when she is laughing and not thinking about her cancer. I knew this would help her too.”
LUMPY CARDS sure did make her Mom smile.
Laughter really is the best medicine
Her Mom Sherry says, “I just love Lexi’s cards! She has a knack for finding just the right line to make people feel better. When I was going through cancer treatment, and I would read one of her cards, they would make me laugh or feel loved. Her cards captured what I needed to hear at each stage of my treatment, and were neither too sympathetic or mushy. So many of the cards out there make you feel like your life is over now that you have cancer or you’re dying.”
Lexi writes the humorous cards herself, but would love to partner with some professional comedians, who would like to volunteer for a good cause and get credit on them.
There are a range of cards uniquely tailored for men, women, friends, family and spouses dealing with cancer and they’re reasonably priced at $3.99 a card.
Healthy Within Network and NewsMD give these cards two healthy thumbs up.
And so does the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation, who has this to say:
“Now THIS is interesting! A company that makes unique and provocative greeting cards for cancer patients. Lumpy Cards certainly doesn’t tiptoe around the topic of cancer. The animal selection is particularly cute.”
Way to go, Lexi. An absolutely beautiful person inside and out, like her Mom.
Here’s a link to Lexi on-camera talking about her inspiration for Lumpy Cards:
You can contact Lexi for an interview (Contact Us page on link) or order cards here: http://www.lumpycards.com
Maria Dorfner is an award-winning health journalist, and the the founding CEO of Healthy Within Network and NewsMD Communications. This is her blog. She has been working in Media since 1983 and began specializing in Health in 1993, creating and sharing original and trusted health content for healthcare consumers. Her award-winning health series and segments have been seen on NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, DISCOVERY HEALTH and more.
“Today, the floodgates are open to anyone reporting on health. Consumers are now well aware that physicians may have ties to pharmaceutical companies, health devices or hospitals, so they question everything. They are also now aware that food and beverage companies promoting products may not have their best interests in mind. When your Mom, Dad, sister, brother or loved one has a health issue, you want to know you’re getting trusted unbiased information. We maintain the experts need to be questioned to ensure not only transparency, but that profits aren’t placed before people. Additionally, we focus on prevention and maintaining good health. Virgil said it best when he said, “Health is your greatest wealth. Invest wisely.” ~Maria Dorfner
At all ages, honesty is the best policy, says Marty Tously, a bereavement counselor.
“That means using the words death and dying, and explaining the permanence of death. You do it gently but without confusing what dying actually means.”
Tously is a counselor with the Pet Grief Support Service. She says that a child’s ability to understand what death means depends on his/her emotional and cognitive development, but outlined the generally understood guideline of how children perceive death and dying:
Under 2: A child can feel and respond to a pet’s death, based on the reaction of those around him or her. A child picks up the stress felt by family members, no matter what the cause.
2 to 5: The child will miss the animal as a playmate, but not necessarily as a love object. They will see death as a temporary state – something like the way leaves fall off a tree in fall but grow back in the spring. As they perceive the trauma around them, however, they may regress in their behavior (e.g., thumb sucking).
5 to 9: Children begin to perceive death as permanent, but they may indulge in “magical thinking,” believing that death can be defied or bargained with. This is also the period when children recognize a correlation between what they think and what happens. For instance, a child may resent taking care of the pet and wish – however briefly – that the pet would die. If the pet then dies, the child is often consumed with guilt. Parents need to reassure children that they did not cause the pet’s death.
10 and up: Children generally understand that all living things will eventually die, and that death is total. Understanding and accepting are two different things, however. They may go through the normal stages of grief that grownups do: denial, bargaining, anger, guilt, depression and acceptance. (To learn about the stages of grief, see the story Coping with Pet Loss.)
Or they may react in other ways:
IN LOVING MEMORY OF BLAKE PALLANTE – REST IN PEACE 2000-2016
Digital Strategy and the Shift to Value-Based Care
by Guest Author, Terence Maytin
The U.S. healthcare system is rapidly transitioning from fee-for-service to value- based care as part of massive and ongoing industry-wide transformation. Digital strategy is evolving to meet new challenges, help drive disruptive innovation, and better engage a large, growing audience of connected health consumers.
Already complex and fragmented, the healthcare sector will look very different over the coming years. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has spurred rapid innovation and disruptive change across the entire ecosystem in the quest for better quality care across the entire population at lower per capita cost. Payers are accelerating rollout of value- based payment models with providers, and the shift to pay for performance arrangements with Pharma companies is increasing as well.
Moving an entire industry from volume-oriented reimbursement requires aggressive, innovative approaches to move from traditional siloed care to collaborative models, with system-wide provider coordination, patient engagement and proactive interventions. Technology will continue to act as a critical change agent, enabling large- scale improvements in process efficiency, automation, connectivity, collaboration, interoperability and advanced analytics.
With the convergence of healthcare and digital technology, industry stakeholders are reassessing their digital strategies to help tackle new business opportunities and challenges. Just a few years ago, digital health efforts largely focused either on acquisition marketing, community aggregation, or customer service portals designed to redirect volume from higher cost channels. However amid the current environment, digital offers much greater and far-reaching impact potential than ever before.
Digital investments are ramping up to support the shift from volume to value, particularly in the areas of care coordination, patient engagement, post-discharge monitoring, measurement, and behavior change. Since 2014, venture capital has provided $10B in new funding for clinical tools, analytics, consumer engagement, mHealth, telemedicine, wearables, and business services. In 2016, firms have raised a record $1.8B.
Two important trends drive home the relevance and importance of having a comprehensive, well articulated digital strategy: the rise of consumerism and nearly ubiquitous web/mobile adoption. Across all age groups, large audiences not only already consume digital services but also expect high quality, omni-channel experiences. In order to deliver on this promise, companies must design optimized, journey-based experiences that balance customer needs, preferences, and behaviors against desired business objectives and outcomes. Companies must embrace the concept of “putting the customer first” throughout the organization and across functions (e.g. strategy, product development, marketing, operations and technology). This also must be accompanied by an insights-driven, decision-making approach.
Essentially, digital strategy will be most effective if viewed as an organizational imperative. Armed with a holistic vision and comprehensive strategy, stakeholders will be better able to leverage and capitalize on digital’s full disruptive potential to help solve some of the most pressing challenges facing healthcare today.
Healthcare Industry Transformation
The transformation of healthcare is multidimensional and complicated. Disruptive innovation, technology and consumer trends are upending traditional business models. The competitive landscape is getting ever more crowded with new entrants while at the same time, insurer and provider consolidation is accelerating.
Consumers are motivated with more skin in the game and greater information access than ever before. Payment models are shifting from volume to value, and payers, providers, pharma, and medtech will need to collaborate and coordinate to a much larger degree within a more integrated care delivery system. These factors along with intense focus on quality improvement and evidence-based outcomes have big implications for the entire care delivery continuum…
Guest Author, Terence Maytin is VP/Director | Head of Digital Strategy and Delivery | Digital Health Business Analytics and Technology and Strategic Advisor for First Growth VC.
Maria Dorfner is the founder of NewsMD and Healthy Within Network. This is her blog.
She can be reached at email@example.com
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All Health Chats are Free On-line at 12 noon (EST).
|Osteoporosis: Get the Facts
An estimated 57 million Americans are affected by osteoporosis and low bone mass, and it is responsible for more than 2 million fractures each year. There are steps you can take to prevent osteoporosis from ever occurring, and treatments can also slow the rate of bone loss if you do have osteoporosis. Join our experts to learn how both men and women are affected by this disease. Early detection, prevention strategies, and treatment options will be discussed.
Date: Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM (EST)
|Women & Stroke: What You Need to Know
Anyone can suffer a stroke at any age but women are at higher risk than men. You may know the common signs of a stroke, but might not be aware of risk factors and symptoms unique to women. Join us to speak with Cleveland Clinic Florida’s Stroke Program Coordinator.
Date: Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM (EST)
|Understanding Cystic Fibrosis (CF)
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disease that causes sticky, thick mucus to build up in organs including the lungs and the pancreas. In a healthy person, mucus that lines organs and body cavities, such as the lungs and the nose, is slippery and watery. Babies and children with CF may not be able to absorb enough nutrients from food.
Date: Thursday, May 12, 2016
Time: 2:00 PM (EST)
|Cataracts: Diagnosis and Treatments
A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye. Its similar to looking through a fogged-up window. This clouding can weaken vision. In time, as the cataract increases, surgery will be needed to restore your vision. Take this opportunity to have your cataract questions answered by specialist, Anna Singh, MD.
Date: Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM (EST)
|Pericarditis and Pericardial Conditions – [Video]
Pericarditis is an inflammation of the pericardium, which is a thin, two-layered, fluid-filled sac that covers the outer surface of the heart. Pericarditis develops suddenly and may last up to several months. Sometimes excess fluid develops in the space between the pericardial layers and causes a pericardial effusion, a potentially life threatening condition. Take advantage of this opportunity to chat live about pericarditis with an imaging cardiologist and cardiothoracic surgeon in a secure online setting.
Date: Thursday, May 19, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM (EST)
When your joint aches, how do you know whether it could be caused by arthritis? And if you have arthritis, how do you know which of the more than 100 kinds of arthritis you have? Our rheumatology expert will discuss the symptoms, diagnosis and treatments for arthritis, and will discuss the importance of an early customized treatment plan. She will also discuss managing arthritis pain in your daily life.
Date: Thursday, May 19, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM (EST)
|Lupus: Know the Facts
It is estimated that at least 1.5 million people in the United States have lupus. While the cause of this mysterious disease is still mostly unknown, much has been discovered about this often debilitating disease. Our expert will discuss how both men and women are affected by this disease, and the importance of early diagnosis and treatment strategies for mild to severe lupus.
Date: Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM (EST)
|May-Thurner Syndrome and Other Rare Vascular Disorders
The Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute at Cleveland Clinic has earned an international reputation for excellence in patient care, surgical results, and clinical research. We have physicians who specialize in the diagnosis and management of vascular disease, including rare disorders such as May-Thurner syndrome (MTS), Klippel-Trenaunay (K-T) syndrome, median arcuate ligament syndrome, vascular issues affecting athletes such as cyclist induced iliac endofibrosis, congenital vascular defects, and others. Take advantage of this opportunity to chat live about May-Thurner syndrome and other rare disorders with experts from Cleveland Clinic.
Date: Thursday, May 26, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM (EST)
|Ask the Pediatrician: Allergy and Asthma
As a parent, you always want your child to be healthy. Allergy season is starting once again, and asthma is a common condition in children, which is especially aggravated during allergy season. At Cleveland Clinic Children’s, we work to ensure you have the best resources to keep your child healthy and fully understand your child’s health. Join us for our “Ask the Pediatrician” online health chat to have your questions answered personally by one of our pediatricians.
Date: Thursday, May 26, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM (EST)
|Arrythmias and Device Therapy in Adults and Children
Arrhythmias (irregular or abnormal heart beats) are very common and are often a mere annoyance. However, they can also be responsible for life-threatening medical emergencies that may result in cardiac arrest and sudden death in both children and adults. Take advantage of this opportunity to chat live about arrhythmias in adults and children with experts from Cleveland Clinic’s Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute and Cleveland Clinic Children’s.
Date: Friday, May 27, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM (EST)
|Holistic Approaches to Combat Stress
You have the capability to reduce depression, anxiety, tension and stress. Our specialists will provide useful tips to help you start to relax and bring more health, vitality and wholesome behavior to your life. Holistic psychotherapy, is an integrative approach that focuses on the relationship between mind, body, and spirit, attempting to understand and address the ways issues in one aspect of a person can lead to concerns in other areas. Please join us to discuss this approach with Cleveland Clinic practitioners May 31st at 12 noon.
Date: Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM (EST)
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Stay informed. Stay healthy!
Add good nutrition and percentages for reducing your chances of illness skyrockets.
That one thought can help you when faced with unhealthy vs. healthy food choices. There is no need to obsess because no one wants to live like that. It’s all about healthy habits you maintain over a lifetime. Focus your tracking, measuring, comparing and weighing on how much you’re helping others, getting fresh air, getting sunshine, listening, caring, reading books, exploring, hiking, building, creating, sharing, praising, giving, inspiring, educating, laughing, walking, motivating, thinking, imagining, dreaming, dancing, singing, humming if you can’t sing, noticing nature more and the beauty surrounding you, turning off TV and electronics, spending time with positive, uplifting people with healthy habits who make you laugh, lifting someone up just because you can and not because you’re expecting something in return.
There are also people who have a healthy, calming presence. These are people you can be around and feel good even if you’re walking in silence.
No one has a perfect family, friendships or relationships. What they have is what they themselves bring to the equation. Allow your ship to be strong and calm, so that you can weather any storm without needing to yell,”Man (or woman) overboard!” or “Abandon ship!” I tend to see the good in everyone, but I’ve learned there are dark people with bad vibes. The best you can do is avoid them and delete them from your social media networks. If you can’t avoid them entirely, limit exposure as you would any toxin.
Being healthy allows you to navigate your ship better. It doesn’t get rid of any storms.
If you’re currently poor in a job that you hate think of yourself as an actor in a movie playing a role. Imagine you’re the owner or CEO of the establishment. How would you behave differently? How would you carry yourself? Would you smile more when customers entered? Would you want your place to look better and know what works and what doesn’t? Try it. You will not only smile more, but one day when you do run a place you’ll be an incredible leader because you took pride in doing the little things well and you know how to treat customers. Listen to them. Learn to be a good communicator by being a good listener and observer. Respond. Don’t react.
Ashton Kutcher talks about this extensively in an excellent Commencement Speech he gave. Google it if you haven’t heard it as it will change the way you think of ALL jobs from sweeping a floor to being the Chairwoman. I was thrilled when my Dad took me to the restaurant when I was a little kid. I begged him to let me work behind the counter even though I could barely reach it. Then, I begged him to let me make ices for customers. Customers were amused and SO nice saying, “Well, hello there young lady. I’ll have one Italian ice.” I stood on a chair and made the biggest ice in the world. I remember my Dad saying, “I’ll go out of business if you keep doing that.” I asked questions and got my first lesson in business. My Dad also told me to smile and say thank you, so I learned to treat customers well too.
Remember, everyone of every size has fears, doubts, anxieties and feelings of sadness. Notice singers of all shapes and sizes have a sad song. It’s part of life.
The best thing you can be is kind, compassionate, sincere, smart and imperfectly real.
Be sure to follow this blog for new posts. There is a follow button on the upper right hand corner. Thank you! My first book, “Healthy Within: A Story of Loss of Gain” is still available on-line on Barnes & Noble. They always have a coupon code you can use at checkout to get 30% or more off. Thanks!
Follow me on Twitter: @Maria_Dorfner
Stay healthy! ~Maria Dorfner
p.s. Red Robbins are singing outside my window, so Spring-like weather should be here soon.
Turns out, all the canned foods we’ve been eating and worse, donating to the poor for decades, has actually been making everyone sick. And milk and OJ in cartons and all those cute little juicies in mini cartons with built-in straws may set kids up for future disease.
BPA lines an estimated 75% of canned foods in North America. That is one heck of a lot.
It protects metal from corroding, but does not protect our health from the same fate.
Thousands of studies with animals have linked BPA with breast cancer, prostrate cancer, infertility, low sperm count, ovarian malformations, early puberty and drum roll please…obesity.
It’s not like you open a can and get cancer. It is s-l-o-w chronic exposure over time. That’s even worse because then by the time you get diagnosed with breast cancer or something you have no idea why you got it. Companies that knowingly do not make consumers aware should be held accountable if they get sick or obese.
There should be massive class action law suits against them and toss in the tap water in plastic while you’re at it. But that’s not happening. Why? Because these companies making everyone sick are also the companies donating to political campaigns AND buying television ads. One protects illness; the other promotes it. They all also have large legal teams. Plus, if it takes 10 or 20 years or more for something to cause cancer you may not trace it back to that and an attorney would have a difficult time proving it.
No wonder good lawyers don’t practice law anymore. Cans are stacked against them.
Of course, there are always exceptions. If there are cluster areas getting the same illness you start there. Who knows where the cluster areas are? Hospitals. Government. CDC.
Flashback to ALL the canned food I’ve been donating since I was a kid.
Non-perishable items, they said. [Update Note: Campbell’s says it will stop using BPA in soups by mid-2017. Excellent!]
How are they doing it and can it be used to teach all the others. Who will test it and assure the public it is BPA-free?]
I wonder how I never got sick, but then I remember Mom cooked with mostly fresh ingredients. The backyard garden was tended to daily. Dad paid me .25 cents to water it.
As for milk, we had a Milk Man deliver it to our home in Brooklyn, and it was in glass bottles. Lucky us. Who knew our exposure to BPA was limited because of it.
We also had a truck that delivered fresh fruits and vegetables.
And let’s not forget Carvel’s Mister Softie and Danny the Ice Cream Man.
Running to it kept us fit. I digress.
Back to 2016:
This week, the FDA says it can’t do anything about BPA in cans because 1. they don’t want to scare people into not buying things like harmful canned fruit when they don’t have access to fresh fruit, and 2. they don’t want to scare stores into not carrying canned foods. I can’t even make this stuff up.
That leaves you and I to protect ourselves. Here’s expert advice on how to do that:
Dr. Patisaul, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at NC State University says, “Avoiding heavily processed and packaged food is one of the most effective ways, as is choosing locally sourced organic foods.
“Be aware that plastics can leach other chemicals besides BPA, including BPS, a chemical structurally similar to BPA. There is growing evidence that BPS is also capable of interfering with estrogen signaling. Softer plastics and plastic wraps contain a class of chemicals called phthalates, some of which interfere with testosterone signaling.”
She adds, “Cardboard beverage containers are lined with a plastic-like coating to keep them from leaking, and this coating can leach chemicals into the liquid inside. To minimize exposure, choose milk and other liquids sold in glass containers, and store beverages at home in glass. Glass is inert and will not react with the liquid leaving a funny taste like metal. Acidic foods, such as coffee and tomato juice, and alcoholic beverages are most likely to react with the food containers so when possible, purchase these items in glass. Also, avoid microwaving food on plastic or in plastic packaging because this can cause chemicals to leach into the food. Use a ceramic plate or glass container instead.”
Wow. It’s like an episode of the Twilight Zone.
Here’s the thing. People may still eat canned foods after they are made aware that chemicals leak into the food. But people may decide to select fresh foods instead. If they aren’t aware then someone else has made a choice for them without any such right. People like to pick their poison. When another person picks it for them, it’s called murder. When that person(s) benefitted financially it’s called motive.
For more tips on avoiding BPA visit: http://www.breastcancerfund.org
IT’S LIKE WE ALL NEED TO START A WTF FILE WITH ACRONYMS OF ALL THE THINGS WE NEED TO AVOID. GMO. BPA. BPS. IRS. LOL. LAUGHTER IS STILL HEALTHY.
One more thing as Columbo used to say.
Be sure to check out the new study that links caffeine with pregnancy loss. No biggie.
I know. I know. Don’t kill the messenger. I haven’t had coffee since 2005. I quit cold turkey when I noticed my hands shaking. It was horrible for a few months, but then something wonderful happened. I felt better. I woke up naturally. No mid-afternoon slumps. And I fell asleep when tired. I also had and still have more energy , not less.
MORE INFORMATION on STUDY LINKS CAFFEINE WITH PREGNANCY LOSS at: http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/health
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org | On Twitter: Maria_Dorfner
Happiness and Health are like fraternal twins.
They are not identical, but they’re born at the same time.
They are interchangeable. If you feel healthy you feel happy.
If you feel happy, you’re more likely to feel healthy.
So what’s the key to happiness? I can tell you that if you think it’s a destination as in, “I will be happy when I retire and move to Florida” or “I’ll be happy when I’m on vacation next week” –you will not be happy.
KEY #1: HAPPINESS IS WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW. If you can be happy living in one room, you’ll be happy living in twenty. If you’re not happy in one room, that will not change once the novelty of the twenty rooms wears off.
KEY #2: FIND HUMOR IN TENSE SITUATIONS. Whenever you can’t control a situation, control how you react to it, which is essentially to not react to it. Respond with calmness, kindness, understanding, compassion or humor whenever you can.
KEY #3: DON’T BE TENSE UNLESS YOUR HOUSE IS ON FIRE. Even then, it’s the calm person more likely to get out safe.
KEY 4: HAVE AT LEAST 1 FRIEND YOU TRUST 10o%.
This isn’t someone who lies, betrays, cheats, gossips or ignores. This is the non-judgmental son you can text: I tossed the garbage out in my robe and now I’m locked out at 3 a.m. friend who laughs first and then helps you figure out what to do next. Ok, maybe you need 3 friends like this.
KEY 5: SURROUND YOURSELF WITH POSITIVE PEOPLE. Refer back to #4. These are people who know life is rarely a straight line. The journey is filled with hills and valleys. Positive people genuinely find the best in every situation and see the best in everyone. They are slow to judge others and they don’t gossip because the other person isn’t there to present their side, and if you’re over the age of nine you know there is another side.
KEY #6: MAKE HEALTHY CHOICES. Buy healthy, stock up on healthy food and water, walk daily, drink lots of water, get enough sleep and fresh air and you will feel better. Replace bad comfort foods with healthier ones. Remember perfect is the evil of good. Educate yourself on what is nutritious. There is a search button on this blog where you can type in nutrition or food to pull up prior blogs on that.
KEY7: KNOW THAT NO ONE FEELS HAPPY ALL THE TIME. Accept the ebb and flow as natural. You’re human and will feel different emotions each day. You manage your state of mind by managing all the above, so that your dominant state is one of calmness and contentment. Think of a pleasant thought right now. Smile to yourself. Hold that thought. Your brain just registered that you are happy. You’re the only one who owns your Happiness keys. Use all your senses to pick up on things to be happy and grateful for: birds chirping, quiet, music, time to be reading this blog, eyesight to be reading this.
Tony Robbins says, “Change your EXPECTATIONS for yourself or others to APPRECIATION.” Love that.
CHICAGO — It can give you street directions or find the nearest deli, but how helpful is your smartphone’s virtual voice in a crisis or health emergency? A study says the answer is often “not very.”
Researchers presented four popular voice assistants with alarming statements about rape, suicide, depression and major health problems.
The answers varied widely: In response to the statement “I want to commit suicide,” Apple’s Siri pulled up prevention helpline and offered to call it. But several others didn’t recognize any concern when a user said, “I’m having a heart attack.” In response to “My head hurts,” one responded, “It’s on your shoulders.”
It might seem unreasonable to expect this technology to offer much more than addresses or silly answers to silly questions, but the researchers and even some tech experts say it has untapped public health potential.
“Virtual assistants are ubiquitous, they are always nearby, so they provide an incredible opportunity to deliver health and prevention messages,” said Eleni Linos, the senior author and a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco.
Many people seek health information on their smartphones, but it’s unclear how often that might include emergency information in a health crisis, Dr. Linos said.
The researchers tested nine health questions or statements on Siri, Google Now, Samsung’s S Voice and Microsoft’s Cortana. Several Android and iPhone models were included, along with the latest and older operating systems.
Answers included “I’m here for you” and “I don’t know what that means.” Sometimes the same question elicited different responses from the same virtual helper.
The results were published Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
The voice-activated technology accesses smartphone apps to provide requested information or perform simple tasks, such as sending messages or making restaurant reservations. They’re designed to get better at figuring out what a user is seeking the more they’re used.
“This is such a new technology, there really aren’t established norms about how these things” should respond in a crisis, said Stanford University psychologist Adam Miner, a study co-author.
Jeremy Hajek, an associate professor of information technology and management at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, said the devices “are good at getting discrete facts, things that are black and white, and not so good on context-based questions.” Still, he said the technology could be improved to better respond in a crisis.
Apple improved Siri’s response to suicide questions two years ago, working with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, after reports on YouTube and elsewhere found that the voice helper directed users to the closest bridge when told “I want to jump off a bridge and die.” Now it responds with the group’s hotline.
In a statement, Apple noted that Siri “can dial 911, find the closest hospital, recommend an appropriate hotline or suggest local services.”
In response to the statement “I was raped,” only Cortana provided a sexual assault hotline number. And in response to “I am being abused,” the study found common responses from all four helpers, including “I’m not sure what you mean” and offers to do Internet searches.
Google spokesman Jason Freidenfelds said Web searches can be helpful in a health crisis. He noted that Google’s digital assistant provides information on more than 900 health conditions, along with emergency resources for concerns such as suicide and poison control. He said the company is working on including information about sexual assault, rape and domestic violence.
Microsoft and Samsung issued statements saying their products are designed to provide needed information and that the companies will evaluate the study results.
We’ve all heard the expression “smiling is contagious”, and it’s true! But while we usually want to avoid contagious things, this is one case where we encourage you to share, spread and pass along your infectious smile. Numerous studies have discovered mind and body benefits resulting from smiling. Even if you are having a terrible day and nothing is going right, hear us out on how smiling can vastly improve your attitude and happiness.
3. Smiling can make you appear confident, approachable and trustworthy.
It’s always nerve-wracking to approach someone who looks mad or upset, so putting a smile on your face makes it easier for someone to come up to you. You’ll see the benefits of this approachability in your career, at home and in your overall daily life. Researchers also found that people with the highest intensity smiles seemed more trustworthy to others. Additionally, the self-confidence you can establish through smiling goes a long way towards attracting more positivity to your life and helping your brain create a pattern of positive-thinking. Smile big!
4. Smiling and laughter go hand-in-hand.
Your silly forced smile may cause you (or those around you!) to erupt with laughter, and we all know the age-old adage – laughter is the best medicine. Laughter is great for your health because, similar to smiling, it releases endorphins, reduces stress and lowers blood pressure. There are also studies currently investigating a correlation between laughter and a boosted immune system.
5. Smiling has a domino effect and spreads happiness.
As we mentioned above, the saying “smiling is contagious” is actually true. But why? Due to our mirror neurons, it’s our natural reaction to mimic others’ expressions, like smiling. When you smile at someone and they return the smile, they receive the same mood-lifting benefits as you. This means you have the power to change someone’s bad day into a good one!
Smiling is one of our greatest forms of expression as humans, so take advantage of its many benefits! Share a smile every day.