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Healthcare

Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 oct 2020

According to the new research by doctoral student Sweta Iyer at University of Borås (Sweden), luminescent textiles can be created by using a bioluminescent reaction system. The study was conducted using enzyme immobilization and eco-technology methods such as plasma treatment. The luminescent materials have wide range of applications in areas like biomedicine, biosensors, and safety to architecture and aesthetics. These materials have multifunctional properties such as UV protection and antibacterial properties. Ms. Iyer's doctoral thesis is titled 'Luminescent Textiles Using Biobased Products - A Bioinspired Approach'. Ms. Iyer says, 'Bioluminescence phenomena in nature and their reaction mechanisms have been extensively studied in biology and biochemistry, but previously not applied to textiles. The important research question was to understand the bioluminescent reaction mechanism that exists in different living organisms and the selection of the reaction system. This was important in order to make it possible to use the luminescent effects in textile.' Read on...

University of Borås News: Biobased products can create luminescent textiles
Author: Lena Carlsson


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 sep 2020

COVID-19 lockdowns, with stay at home norm and confinement, has brought about more emphasis on gardens, balconies, backyards etc, as they became refreshing and relaxing spaces. The pandemic will impact the future of garden design and following are some ways to consider while designing outdoor spaces in future - (1) More Emphasis On Optimizing Outdoor Spaces: Before outdoor space has often been considered a luxury but the pandemic brought about its essentiality to the home. In future it will become an integral part of the home design. Landscape designers have to make use of every inch of space and make it more usable. (2) Gardens As A Fifth Room: As open spaces become essential more importance will be given to their design. They will be updated more often and will be reorganized to adapt to different usages throughout the day. 'Transterior' (term used by Jamie Durie and Nadine Bush in their book 'Living Design' to describe the space where the interior and exterior of a home merge) spaces will be more in demand in the future. (3) Bigger Focus On Sustainability And Self-Sufficiency: Urban farming saw a boom during lockdowns as more people took to growing their own fruits and vegetables. The trend has been around, but now it will continue with more urban produce growing spaces. The greater focus on sustainability will also influence building materials used in landscaping. More emphasis will be on durable, natural materials like reclaimed wood, hard-wearing garden tiles and natural stone. (4) A Need For Mindful Outdoor Areas: Health benefits of green open spaces is well known - reducing stress and anxiety, and also promoting mindfulness. Use of homes to create a sense of security and wellness will continue and open green spaces are an important part of it. Garden design in the 'new normal' will be about using outdoor areas to evoke a sense of calm and serenity through thoughtful design. Read on...

Total Landscape Design: The world's 'new norm' and what it means for garden design
Author: Suhayl Laher


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 sep 2020

Senior citizens often find themselves struggling with latest consumer technologies that are evolving at a rapid pace. These technologies on the other hand, are a normal part of the daily life of the new generation. If senior citizens can be made to learn these technologies in an effective senior-friendly way, they can benefit from them immensely and improve their quality of life. COVID-19 pandemic has also brought the issue to the fore with social distancing norms and extra vulnerability of senior citizens to viral infections. A nonprofit, AnewVista, founded by Shalini Gupta and Eric Gee, has been working for the last couple of years with senior citizens to help them overcome the barrier to using latest technologies. Before the pandemic the nonprofit hosted in person workshops at senior centers, retirement communities and centers of trust locally. But now most of the learning classes are happening virtually through video conferencing apps. AnewVista offers 40-50 topics, such as cleaning out email folders, navigating social media and finding reliable news and podcasts, as well as some higher-level concepts. Ms. Gupta says, 'When it comes to these simple devices, which are made for younger people, they struggle. Intellectually, they are very smart, but it's just the hands-on part that gets very hard sometimes - and once you open the wall for them, it's all there for them to enjoy. Basically, we cover all bases, like how they can be safe, how they can be creative, how they can be social and how they can enjoy more things for fun, communication wise.' Mr. Gee says, 'The trick is to really find what's the obstacle for older adults to engage with technology or engage with the digital economy. We invite everybody to enjoy and just learn a little bit more, especially in these times of sheltering in place, which isn't going to end anytime soon.' Read on...

Los Altos Town Crier: Nonprofit helps seniors stay connected with evolving technologies
Author: Marie Godderis


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 aug 2020

Collaborative and coordinated efforts by multiple agencies and institutions are needed to manage, control and overcome a crisis like COVID-19 pandemic. Team from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is partnering with Commonwealth of Pennsylvania agencies and stakeholders in the areas of public health, economics, and emergency management, to create data-based tools for informed decision-making and strengthen planning efforts of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf to re-open the state's economy. Some of the main criteria to determine when a region is ready to re-open and return to work will include - The incidence rate of COVID-19 cases per capita will be evaluated and several public health requirements must be met; A region need to have an average of less than 50 cases per 100000 individuals over the course of 14 days to return to work; Enough testing available for individuals with symptoms and target populations; Robust case investigation and contact tracing infrastructure need to place; Identification of an area's high-risk settings must be made and would include adequate healthcare facilities with sufficient safeguards and equipments. The model dashboard developed through the collaboration will take a regional and sector-based approach to re-openings, the easing of restrictions and response. This data-driven decision support tool will help to better understand the current health and economic status, as well as the inherent risks and benefits to re-opening certain businesses and industry areas. Using data that considers worker exposure and spread risks, health care capacity, economic impact and supply chain impact, the administration will prioritize re-openings where it has the potential for the most positive impact on the economy for workers and businesses, while mitigating risk to public health and safety. Ramayya Krishnan, dean of CMU's Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy and director of CMU's Block Center for Technology and Society, says, 'The purpose is to provide important information to the governor's team to make data informed decision. For example, all indicators could point to opening a specific county, but other factors, such as population density around a hotspot, availability of supplies to ensure workers are protected, or Department of Health criteria could make the county unfit to open.' The multidisciplinary team from CMU involved in the project include - Laurence Ales; Kasun Amarasinghe; Scott Andes; Gary Franko; Rayid Ghani; Jared Kohler; Tim McNulty; Illah Nourbakhsh; Roni Rosenfeld; Randy Sargent; Richard A. Stafford; Chris Telmer; Anne Wright; Ariel Zetlin-Jones; Xuege Zhang. Other contrubutors to the project include - Beibei Li; Lee Branstetter; Jon Caulkins; Karen Clay; Baruch Fischhoff; Marty Gaynor; Joel Greenhouse; Po-Shen Loh; Dan Nagin; Rema Padman; Wes Pegden; Lowell Taylor; Hai Wang; Peter Zhang. Read on...

Carnegie Mellon University News: CMU Dashboard Will Help Inform State Decision-Makers During Pandemic
Author: Jason Maderer


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 jun 2020

COVID-19 has brought to the fore the issue of medical textiles as masks, gowns and other personal protective equipment (PPE) are necessary for safeguarding healthcare workers against virus infections. The use of mask specifically became more widespread among general public and the debate centered around the type of material of the fabric that can minimize spread of the virus from person to person and also be affordable. As the demand for PPEs rose the challenge for the scientific and manufacturing community has been to find a way to provide better protection while allowing for the safe reuse of these items. Team of researchers from University of Pittsburgh - Anthony J. Galante, Sajad Haghanifar, Eric G. Romanowski, Robert M. Q. Shanks, Paul W. Leu - has created a textile coating that can not only repel liquids like blood and saliva but can also prevent viruses from adhering to the surface. Their research titled, 'Superhemophobic and Antivirofouling Coating for Mechanically Durable and Wash-Stable Medical Textiles', was recently published in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. Lead author of the paper, Mr. Galante, who is the Ph.D. student in industrial engineering at Pitt, says, 'Recently there's been focus on blood-repellent surfaces, and we were interested in achieving this with mechanical durability.' The coating is unique as it is able to withstand ultrasonic washing, scrubbing and scraping. Prof. Leu, co-author and associate professor of industrial engineering, says, 'The durability is very important because there are other surface treatments out there, but they’re limited to disposable textiles. You can only use a gown or mask once before disposing of it. Given the PPE shortage, there is a need for coatings that can be applied to reusable medical textiles that can be properly washed and sanitized.' Prof. Romanowski, Research Director at Charles T. Campbell Microbiology Laboratory, says, 'As this fabric was already shown to repel blood, protein and bacteria, the logical next step was to determine whether it repels viruses. We chose human adenovirus types 4 and 7, as these are causes of acute respiratory disease as well as conjunctivitis (pink eye)...As it turned out, the adenoviruses were repelled in a similar way as proteins.' Prof. Shanks, Director of Basic Research in the Department of Ophthalmology at Pitt, says, 'Adenovirus can be inadvertently picked up in hospital waiting rooms and from contaminated surfaces in general. It is rapidly spread in schools and homes and has an enormous impact on quality of life - keeping kids out of school and parents out of work. This coating on waiting room furniture, for example, could be a major step towards reducing this problem.' The next step for the researchers will be to test the effectiveness against betacoronaviruses, like the one that causes COVID-19. Read on...

University of Pittsburgh News: Pitt Researchers Create Durable, Washable Textile Coating That Can Repel Viruses
Author: Maggie Pavlick


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 may 2020

A group of researchers led by Prof. Raul Gonzalez Lima and Prof. Marcelo Knorich Zuffo at the University of São Paulo's Engineering School (POLI-USP) in Brazil have developed a mechanical ventilator that costs only approximately 7% as much as a conventional ventilator. Prof. Lima says, 'Our ventilator is designed to be used in emergencies where there's a shortage of ICU (Intensive Care Unit) ventilators, which are more monitored, but it has all the functionality required by a severe patient. It also has the advantage of not depending on a compressed air line, as conventional ventilators do. It only needs an electric power outlet and piped oxygen from the hospital or even bottled O2.' In developing the ventilator, the researchers needed to analyze the range of oxygen flow rates and levels it could offer patients. For this purpose, they simulated the various breathing frequencies of human lungs using a gas analyzer and gas flow meter in a lab headed by Prof. Guenther Carlos Krieger Filho, also a professor at POLI-USP. Animal tests were conducted under the coordination of Denise Tabacchi Fantoni and Aline Ambrósio, both of whom are professors at School of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science (FMVZ-USP). The tests were performed at Medical School's (FM-USP) anesthesiology laboratory (LIM08) under the supervision of Professor José Otávio Costa Auler Junior, in collaboration with Denise Aya Otsuki, a researcher in the lab. The first human trials involved four patients undergoing treatment at FM-USP's Heart Institute (INCOR). They were led by Auler Junior, with the collaboration of Filomena Regina Barbosa Gomes Galas, the supervisor at INCOR's surgical ICU, nurse Suely Pereira Zeferino, and physical therapist Alcino Costa Leme. The researchers are now preparing a clinical trial with a larger number of patients. This will be one of the last steps before production of the ventilator is approved by ANVISA, Brazil's national health surveillance authority. Read on...

News-Medical.Net: Brazilian researchers design low-cost mechanical ventilators
Author: Emily Henderson


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 15 apr 2020

COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecended disaster that is simultaneously affecting all parts of the world. Global healthcare infrastructure has been found wanting to effectively face the challenge of the outbreak with some of the best healthcare systems struggling to cope with the deluge of patients. On the economic and social front the impact of the pandemic will continue even after the direct health threat has subsided. World has to proactively strategize and plan to stop such outbreaks from escalating and individual countries have to better prepare their healthcare systems to tackle them. The current pandemic will provide lessons and bring subsequent changes to the global healthcare systems - (1) Reskilling of health workers will be taken with focus on infectious diseases. Changes in health education and training are expected to better prepare for such outbreaks. Global health governance will need further improvement. (2) Global governance organizations like UN and OECD need to coordinate and work better in such circumstances. Global organizations need a rapid realignment of roles to respond in global pandemics and disasters. (3) Maintaining strategic stockpiles of essential goods and medical supplies will prove advantageous. (4) Greater government control over essential pharmaceutical production and medical equipment manufacturing. (5) More emphasis on vaccine research with focus on its availability to all. (6) There will be bridging of the traditional divide between the developed and developing world in terms of global health practice. Developing countries will start investing in building their own public health capacity with long-term focus. (7) Universal Health Coverage (UHC) should become the top priority in the global health agenda. More investments are required in health and there is need to build strong primary healthcare system. Read on...

Moneycontrol: COVID-19: 7 changes to expect in the global healthcare system
Author: Philip Mathew


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 mar 2020

Designers are utilizing their creative expertise to find innovative solutions to fight against COVID-19 pandemic. Italian architects Carlo Ratti and Italo Rota designed a series of interconnected intensive care unit (ICU) pods from shipping containers. A prototype of the pods is now being built and is called Connected Units for Respiratory Ailments (CURA). Industrial design brand Dyson also announced that it has developed a CoVent ventilator after UK PM Boris Johnson requested the company to fulfil the hike in demand. Danish startup Stykka has created a design for a simple flat-pack workstation that can be easily assembled from three pieces of folded cardboard. Architectural designers Ivo Tedbury and Freddie Hong have developed a 3D-printed device that can be attached to door handles to enable hands-free opening. Ukranian architect Sergey Makhno forecasted the changes in living spaces in the aftermath of the pandemic that include people preferring houses over apartments, wanting to become self-sufficient with their own water supply and heating, and more attention placed on creating a workplace at home. Dezeen's editor Tom Ravenscroft predicted that the huge amount of people being forced to work-from-home will have long-term impacts on how companies approach remote working. Graphic designer Jure Tovrljan recreates iconic brand logos to highlight current situation. Cartoonist Toby Morris and microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles created playful animated illustrations and graphs to depict social distancing necessity. Read on...

Dezeen: This week, designers created objects and structures to help fight coronavirus
Author: Natashah Hitti


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 oct 2019

Nonprofit organizations and employees operate in a challenging environment and the human resources issues can be different from the for-profit sector. According to the 2017 Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey of 420 nonprofits by nonprofitHR, 28% of nonprofits said the top challenge they faced was hiring qualified staff, and 81% of nonprofits said they can't get the staff they do hire to stay. Moreover, nonprofits are unable to do much to address the human resources problems. According to 2019 Talent Management Priorities for Nonprofits survey of 488 nonprofit leaders and HR professionals by nonprofitHR, three reasons employees give for leaving nonprofits are - dissatisfaction with their career opportunities, compensation and benefits, and workplace culture. Prof. Kim Brimhall of Binghampton University, The State University of New York, explains her research on nonprofit human resources and finds out that when employees feel valued and that their colleagues and bosses appreciate them, talented staff members become more likely to stick around. Lower salaries and compensation in nonprofits are not the only factor that makes it difficult to retain talent. Prof. Brimhall says, 'I recently completed a study regarding how managers at hospitals can improve employee performance through greater inclusivity. Inclusion...is also about helping employees feel appreciated as unique individuals and helping them feel valued as key members of their team.' According to 2018 State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey of about 3400 nonprofit leaders by Nonprofit Finance Fund, more than half of all nonprofit jobs are in the health care field and even though nonprofit hospitals generally pay their workers better than other nonprofits, they also have trouble hiring and retaining qualified staff. Prof. Brimhall recommends nonprofits to make their workplace more inclusive and to adopt the following best practices - Engage and involve employees in important work-related decision-making; Appreciate feedback of all employees irrespective of their position; Consider and treat each employee as a unique individual and provide regular training and opportunities to enhance their career; Communicate a shared sense of purpose and inspire a collective vision of the future. Read on...

The Conversation: Making employees feel welcome and valued can pay off - especially for nonprofits
Author: Kim Brimhall


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 jul 2019

Experts' views are divided on how non-profit hospitals benefit communities. In US, non-profit hospitals received tax-benefits valued at over US$ 24 billion annually in 2011. In exchange for tax exemptions these hospitals provide 'community benefits' like free and subsidized care, investments in public health, community-based health initiatives intended to address the social determinants of health, such as food or housing insecurity. But, many observers argue that hospitals avoid making sustained community investments in favor of counting millions of dollars of 'discounts' to low-income patients as community benefits while aggressively pursuing unpaid bills. Krisda Chaiyachati and Rachel Werner, Senior Fellows at LDI University of Pennsylvania, have recently written two research to add information to this debate. They provide detailed estimates of how much hospitals spend on different types of community benefits, whether community benefits are matched to local need, and what effects community benefits have on health outcomes. Mr. Chaiyachati and Ms. Werner analyzed IRS tax data from over 1600 non-profit hospitals. By law, hospitals report total spending on community benefits, broken out by health care-related spending (e.g. free care), community-directed spending (e.g. anti-smoking initiatives or funds for local community organizations), and research and educational activities. To standardize comparisons, the authors measured all spending as shares of total hospital expenditures. Researchers find out that hospitals still rely on discounted charity care to meet community benefits requirements. In 2014, non-profit hospitals reported that they spent an average of 8.1% (US$ 17 million) of their total expenditures on community benefits, more than 80% of which was health care-related. On average, 6.7% (US$ 11 million) of expenditures were on health care services, compared to 0.7% (US$ 1.2 million) for community-directed contributions. The remainder of community benefits were on educational and research initiatives. The results are disappointing in light of a second study from Ms. Werner and Mr. Chaiyachati, which suggests that community-directed spending could improve health outcomes, specifically, 30-day readmission rates. Readmissions rates are a useful measure of health care quality-capturing in-hospital care, discharge planning, and follow-up. Since the Affordable Care Act, hospitals have been financially penalized for high readmission rates. The evidence from research suggests that increased investment in the social determinants of health, rather than simply writing off free care, has a significant impact on measurable health outcomes. Read on...

Penn LDI Blog: How Do Non-profit Hospitals Give Back?
Author: Aaron Glickman


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 jun 2019

Wikipedia explains 'Spin' as, 'A form of propaganda in public relations and politics that is achieved through knowingly providing a biased interpretation of an event or campaigning to persuade public opinion in favor or against some organization or public figure. While traditional public relations and advertising may also rely on altering the presentation of the facts, "spin" often implies the use of disingenuous, deceptive, and highly manipulative tactics.' Researchers (Paris Descartes University: Isabelle Boutron, Romana Haneef, Philippe Ravaud; Hôpital Hôtel Dieu, Paris: Amélie Yavchitz, Gabriel Baron; Inspire: John Novack; New York University: Ivan Oransky; University of Minnesota: Gary Schwitzer) in their study, 'Three randomized controlled trials evaluating the impact of "spin" in health news stories reporting studies of pharmacologic treatments on patients'/caregivers' interpretation of treatment benefit', published in journal BMC Medicine, found that participants were more likely to believe the treatment was beneficial when news stories were reported with spin. Prof. Gary Schwitzer of University of Minnesota and founder/publisher of HealthNewsReview.org, says, 'This is important research because misinterpretation of the content of news stories due to spin could have important public health consequences as news articles can affect patient and public behavior.' Prof. Schwitzer says that spin can originate in all stages of the flow of information from researchers to the public. Researchers suggest that spin can be managed by taking the following steps - Train researchers to understand how the public uses the media and, in response, frame their communication to the public in a way which is truthful, relevant, understandable and devoid of distortion or hype; Train PR professionals, journalists and other communicators to detect spin and accurately convey research results; Educate news consumers on the resources available to help them critically evaluate health claims; Support research for developing ideal approaches for communicating scientific and health information. Read on...

University of Minnesota News: Research Brief: Evaluating the effect of spin in health care news
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 jun 2019

According to the research study, 'Comparison of Costs of Care for Medicare Patients Hospitalized in Teaching and Nonteaching Hospitals', published in JAMA Network Open by researchers from Harvard University, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston University and Weill Cornell Medical College (Laura G. Burke, Dhruv Khullar, Jie Zheng, Austin B. Frakt, E. John Orav, Ashish K. Jha), 'Total costs of care are similar or somewhat lower among teaching hospitals compared to non-teaching hospitals among Medicare beneficiaries treated for common medical and surgical conditions.' Researchers analyzed data from more than 1.2 million hospitalizations among Medicare beneficiaries age 65 and older at more than 3000 major, minor, and non-teaching hospitals from 2014 to 2015 for some of the most common medical and surgical conditions, including pneumonia, congestive heart failure, and hip replacement. Prof. Ashish K. Jha, Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, says, 'These findings are surprising. We always assumed that we had to trade off the better outcomes at teaching hospitals with higher costs. It appears that, at least as far as Medicare is concerned, their payments for care are actually a bit less when patients go to a teaching hospital.' Lead author of the study, Prof. Laura G. Burke of Harvard Medical School, says, 'These findings support the idea that to truly understand variation in health care costs, it's important to look not at just what happens in the hospital but on total spending for an acute episode.' Read on...

HarvardSPH News: Total costs of care similar or lower at teaching hospitals compared to non-teaching hospitals among Medicare beneficiaries
Author: Todd Datz


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 jun 2019

'Medical reversal' is a term that defines instances in which new and improved clinical trials show that current medical practices are ineffective or misguided. Medical reversals often concern medications but they can also affect surgical procedures. A new meta-analysis of 3000 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) published in three leading medical journals over the last 15 years identifies 396 medical reversals (154 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 113 in the Lancet, and 129 in the New England Journal of Medicine). Researchers (Oregon Health & Science University-OHSU: Diana Herrera-Perez, Alyson Haslam, Tyler Crain, Jennifer Gill, Catherine Livingston, Victoria Kaestner, Michael Hayes, Vinay Prasad; University of Maryland School of Medicine: Dan Morgan; University of Chicago: Adam S. Cifu) carried out most of these studies (92%) in high-income countries, while 8% were performed in low- or middle-income countries, including China, India, Malaysia, Ghana, Tanzania, and Ethiopia. Most of the medical reversals occurred in the fields of cardiovascular disease (20%), public health and preventive medicine (12%), and critical care (11%). Specifically, the most common interventions involved medications (33%), procedures (20%), vitamins and supplements (13%), devices (9%), and system interventions (8%). Lead author of the study, Diana Herrera-Perez of OHSU, referring to well-known endeavors to assess the validity of clinical practices says, 'We wanted to build on these and other efforts to provide a larger and more comprehensive list for clinicians and researchers to guide practice as they care for patients more effectively and economically.' Prof. Vinay Prasad of OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, says, 'Once an ineffective practice is established, it may be difficult to convince practitioners to abandon its use. By aiming to test novel treatments rigorously before they become widespread, we can reduce the number of reversals in practice and prevent unnecessary harm to patients. We hope our broad results may serve as a starting point for researchers, policymakers, and payers who wish to have a list of practices that likely offer no net benefit to use in future work.' Co-lead study author Alyson Haslam of OHSU, says, 'Taken together, we hope our findings will help push medical professionals to evaluate their own practices critically and demand high-quality research before adopting a new practice in [the] future, especially for those that are more expensive and/or aggressive than the current standard of care.'Read on...

Medical News Today: Hundreds of current medical practices may be ineffective
Authors: Ana Sandoiu, Gianna D'Emilio


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 sep 2018

According to the 2011 research study published in The American Journal of Medicine, 'Success in Grateful Patient Philanthropy: Insights from Experienced Physicians' (Authors: Rosalyn Stewart, Leah Wolfe, John Flynn, Joseph Carrese, Scott M. Wright - Johns Hopkins University), 'Facing challenging economic conditions, medical schools and teaching hospitals have turned increasingly to philanthropy as a way to supplement declining clinical revenues and reduced research budgets. One approach to offset these diminished returns is to commit efforts to 'grateful patient' programs that concentrate on satisfying patients and their families, especially families with significant assets. Support from grateful patients is the single most important source for substantive philanthropic gifts in medicine.' According to the latest 2018 research published in the Journal of American Medicine, 'Navigating the Ethical Boundaries of Grateful Patient Fundraising' (Authors: Megan E. Collins, Steven A. Rum, Jeremy Sugarman - Johns Hopkins University), 'Health care institutions in the United States receive more than US$ 10 billion annually in charitable gifts. These gifts, often from grateful patients, benefit physicians, institutions, and other patients through the expansion of clinical and research activities, community-based programs, and educational initiatives.' The topic of 'grateful patient philanthropy' raises some ethical issues in patient-physician relationship. There is general agreement that donation related interaction with patients shouldn't happen during the course of their treatment and should be discussed once patients have fully recovered from their medical condition. The study finds that although physicians consider fundraising as their duty but find it difficult to have a conversation with their patients regarding donations. Read on...

Nonprofit Quarterly: Grateful Patient Philanthropy? Some Fundraising Ethics Shouldn't Need to Be Taught
Author: Ruth McCambridge


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 aug 2018

Apparel production is generally linked to environmental issues like water and air pollution, alongwith the land, water and pesticide use related to growing natural fibers. But now research points at the source of another problem created by apparels made wholly or partially from synthetic textiles. Microfibers, a type of microplastic, are shed during normal use and laundering, and remain in the environment similar to plastic packaging that coats so many of the world's beaches, and they bond to chemical pollutants in the environment, such as DDT and PCB. Moreover, the textiles from which they are shed are often treated with waterproofing agents, stain- or fire-resistant chemicals or synthetic dyes that could be harmful to organisms that ingest them. Also, microfibers are being consumed alongwith food and drink. Research review (Microplastics in air: Are we breathing it in? - Johnny Gasperi, Stephanie L. Wright, Rachid Dris, France Collard, Corinne Mandin, Mohamed Guerrouache, Valérie Langlois, Frank J.Kelly, Bruno Tassin) published last year shows that microfibers suspended in air are possibly settling in human lungs. Research led by Richard C. Thompson from the University of Plymouth (UK) in 2004 (Lost at Sea: Where Is All the Plastic? - Richard C. Thompson, Ylva Olsen, Richard P. Mitchell, Anthony Davis, Steven J. Rowland, Anthony W. G. John, Daniel McGonigle, Andrea E. Russell) documented and quantified the occurrence of microplastics in the marine environment. Research by Mark Anthony Browne, one of Prof. Thompson's graduate student, published in 2011 (Accumulation of Microplastic on Shorelines Woldwide: Sources and Sinks - Mark Anthony Browne, Phillip Crump, Stewart J. Niven, Emma Teuten, Andrew Tonkin, Tamara Galloway, Richard Thompson) found - (1) Samples taken near wastewater disposal sites had 250% more microplastic than those from reference sites and the types of microplastic fibers found in those samples were mainly polymers often used in synthetic apparel, suggesting the fibers were eluding filters in wastewater treatment plants and being released with treated effluent (which is released into rivers, lakes or ocean water). (2) A single polyester fleece jacket could shed as many as 1900 of these tiny fibers each time it was washed. Another 2016 study by researchers from UC Santa Barbara in US (Microfiber Masses Recovered from Conventional Machine Washing of New or Aged Garments - Niko L. Hartline, Nicholas J. Bruce, Stephanie N. Karba, Elizabeth O. Ruff, Shreya U. Sonar, Patricia A. Holden) has shown far higher numbers - 250000 fibers. Rosalia Project, a nonprofit focused on ocean protection, led a study of microfiber pollution across an entire watershed (from the mouth of Hudson River all the way to where the river meets the Atlantic in Manhattan). Rachael Z. Miller, group's director, was surprised to find that, outside of samples taken near treatment plants, there was no statistically significant difference in the concentration fibers from the alpine region to the agricultural center of New York state to the high population areas of Manhattan and New Jersey. This suggested to her that fibers might be entering surface waters from the air and from septic system drainfields in rural areas without municipal sewage systems. According to Textile World, demand for polyester has grown faster than demand for wool, cotton and other fibers for at least 20 years. And by 2030 synthetics are expected to account for 75% of global apparel fiber production, or 107 million tons. All textiles, including carpeting and upholstery, produce microfibers. So do commercial fishing nets. But due to the frequency with which apparel is laundered and the increasing quantities of clothing being purchased throughout the world (thanks at least in part to the so-called fast fashion trend), apparel is the microfiber source on which researchers and policy-makers are focusing attention. Krystle Moody, a textile industry consultant, says, 'Outdoor gear is heavily reliant on synthetic textiles due to their performance profile (moisture wicking) and durability.' Jeffrey Silberman, professor and chairperson of textile development and marketing with the Fashion Institute of Technology at the State University of New York, says, 'Price is the big driver behind the use of synthetics in textiles. A poly-cotton blend is generally far cheaper than a cotton one, but doesn’t look or feel appreciably different to most consumers. The motivation is to get natural-like fibers and still be able to get a price point that people are willing to pay.' Katy Stevens, sustainability project manager for the outdoor gear industry consortium European Outdoor Group (EOG), says, 'Initial research suggested that recycled polyester might shed more microfibers. Are we doing the right thing by using recycled polyester that might shed more? It has added a whole other big question mark.' Other studies have found microfibers in effluent from wastewater plants (Wastewater Treatment Works (WwTW) as a Source of Microplastics in the Aquatic Environment - Fionn Murphy, Ciaran Ewins, Frederic Carbonnier, Brian Quinn), in the digestive tracts of market fish (Ingested plastic transfers hazardous chemicals to fish and induces hepatic stress - Chelsea M. Rochman, Eunha Hoh, Tomofumi Kurobe, Swee J. Teh), throughout riversheds (Mountains to the sea: River study of plastic and non-plastic microfiber pollution in the northeast USA - Rachael Z. Miller, Andrew J. R. Watts, Brooke O. Winslow, Tamara S.Galloway, Abigail P. W. Barrows) and in air samples. Two separate studies released in March 2018 revealed that microfibers are found in bottled water sold all over the world. And a study published weeks later revealed that microplastic - chiefly microfibers - were present in 159 samples of tap water from around the word, a dozen brands of beer (made with Great Lakes water) as well as sea salt, also derived globally. Although most research has focused on synthetics textiles, but Abigail P. W. Barrows, an independent microplastics researcher who has conducted numerous studies on microfibers, says, 'Natural fibers such as cotton and wool, and semi-synthetics such as rayon should not be totally ignored. While they will degrade more quickly than, say, polyester, they may still be treated with chemicals of concern that can move up the food chain if the fibers are consumed before they degrade.' The study she led in 2018 (Marine environment microfiber contamination: Global patterns and the diversity of microparticle origins - Abigail P. W. Barrows, Sara E. Kathey, C. W. Petersen) found that in the surface water samples collected globally while 91% of the particles collected were microfibers, 12% of those were semi-synthetic and 31% were natural. Read on...

GreenBiz: Why are our clothes so bad for the environment?
Author: Mary Catherine O'Connor


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 jun 2018

Team of researchers (Prof. José Antonio Rosa of Iowa State University; Prof. Richard J. Vann of Iowa State University; Prof. Sean M. McCrea of University of Wyoming) conducted five experiments to understand how crisis influences motivation and commitment to the goal. Their research titled 'When consumers struggle: Action crisis and its effects on problematic goal pursuit' was recently published in the journal Psychology & Marketing. Prof. Rosa, the lead researcher, says, 'Setbacks are to be expected when pursuing a goal, whether you are trying to lose weight or save money. The challenge is getting back on track and not giving up after a difficulty or crisis.' The research team is working on practical ways to help people stick to health-related goals - specifically, prescribed regimens for medical ailments that require significant lifestyle changes. According to Prof. Rosa, staying committed to a long-term health goal is challenging, because it may feel as if there is no light at the end of the tunnel. He explains, 'These are some of the most difficult goals we face, because the effort has to become a way of life. If you're a diabetic, you have to be thinking about your diet every time you eat. In many ways, it is sacrificial. You must endure this cost and the reward is health.' Prof. Rosa says that action crisis, whether related or unrelated to the goal, is a point during goal pursuit when circumstances change, causing us to question whether the goal really matters. This sets in a process of goal evaluation instead of implementation and can result in the decision to quit, termed by researchers as 'taking the off ramp', and may cause another crisis. Researchers are now working to develop and test interventions for patients on prescribed health regimens. Prof. Rosa says the goal is to provide specific instructions for patients to follow and help shift their mindset from renegotiation or evaluation back to implementation. He adds, 'From a marketing perspective, it is an issue of consumption and making health care more effective for patients. The right intervention will help patients stay on track, lessening the risk for additional health issues and lowering health care costs.' Read on...

Iowa State University News: Crisis can force re-evaluation and derail efforts to reach goals
Author: Angie Hunt


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 may 2018

Consistent communication through various channels both internally and externally is the key for successful public relations. Eileen Sheil, ED of Corporate Communications at Cleveland Clinic, shares her PR experience and suggests key elements that PR teams should be focused on. Regarding her PR strategy at Cleveland Clinic, she says, 'We are trying new communication approaches that better reach our target audiences through the media and to our key stakeholders. Sharing our stories internally and externally about patient care, innovative procedures, medical research, opinions on important healthcare issues, and breaking news will help people know more about the work we do to help patients locally, nationally, and around the globe.' Following is her advice for PR teams - (1) Be Strategic About PR: Know the organization and industry; Know the company's narrative and be consistent in your communication; Conduct reputation research and develop a PR strategy; Know your audience; Research and alter strateg as needed. (2) Go Digital: Traditional media is essential but amplify the communication through latest digital technologies. (3) Measure The Value Of PR: The Barcelona Principles (initially developed in 2010 and updated in 2015) are used to measure the real value of PR; Focus on qaulity of coverage to build better reputation; Learn to use metrics, data and analytics to drive strategy. (4) Be One Communications Team And Build One Strategy: Internal and external communications are merging; Be consistent to all shareholders. (5) Know This Is A Journey: Teams should continue to evolve, learn and make their work better together. Read on...

PRWeek: 5 things every PR team should be doing
Author: Eileen Sheil


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 apr 2018

To apply the basic idea of 'Small Is Beautiful' as propagated by E. F. Schumacher to the social enterprises and create their collaborative network, have the potential to successfully tackle social causes at a large scale and maximize impact. Anne-Marie Slaughter, President & CEO of New America, explains the working dynamics of social enterprises, the challenges of scale, issues of efficiencies when contrasted with private enterprises and how in a democratic setup a network of independent social enterprises can develop a collaborative system for larger impact. She says, 'In the private sector, companies reap economies of scale...In the social and political marketplace, however - at least in democracies - too much efficiency is dangerous. Tyrants are efficient, which is precisely why America's founding fathers built a system of checks and balances designed to favour resilience over efficiency...Outside government, a rich civil society is the bedrock of a well-functioning democracy. Alexis de Tocqueville made this point about the strength of American democracy in the 1830s.' Ms. Slaughter opines, 'Civic engagement requires the energy and innovation of multiple entrepreneurs. Social entrepreneurship is just one subset of a much larger civil society. But a thriving ecosystem of social enterprise cannot borrow wholesale from the capitalist playbook.' Rebecca Onie, co-founder & CEO of Health Leads, developed a model of healthcare that saves money and improves outcomes by attending to social as well as medical needs and achieved scale by convincing the US government to start experimenting with her approach. Ms. Slaughter suggests, 'Another path to scale in the social sector - one that preserves diversity and reduces competition for scarce resources - is through carefully designed networks of small or medium-sized enterprises that are focused on solving the same basic problem and are demonstrably having an impact in a particular community or region. This approach has worked well in global health through consortiums...The network form allows for small size and large scale simultaneously, preserving individuality and innovation while applying common metrics in the pursuit of a single large goal. Individual actors can form groups, connected to a central co-ordinator and cross-fertiliser.' Read on...

The Financial Times: Thinking big for social enterprise can mean staying small
Author: Anne-Marie Slaughter


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 dec 2017

According to a recent survey by Create, a new marketplace for health systems, local health networks best serve the needs of today's healthcare consumer. The survey took a detailed look at the preferences of individuals when selecting and receiving healthcare. It finds that 1/3rd have received care from more than one health system, or network of affiliated providers. Simeon Schindelman, CEO of Brighton Health Plan Solutions, says, 'This data uncovers that individuals are already taking their own steps to make their care more localized and personalized, but they aren't reaping the cost and quality benefits of such a network model. The survey also finds that there is a strong discrepancy between how loyal healthcare consumers feel they are to their primary care doctors, and how loyal they actually are. Mr. Schindelman and his team observed that 'our current healthcare system simply does not meet the needs and expectations of today's consumer...To enhance healthcare for everyone, we must move away from the current one-size-fits-all health plan, and instead listen to the needs of individuals across the country.' He explains, 'Managed care executives are responsible for managing cost, utilization and quality of care provided, while pursuing strategies for value-driven solutions. As such, hearing the preferences and expectations of today's healthcare consumer is at the center of performing those duties...this survey also uncovers a value-driven solution that has not been explored in the industry: plans that prioritize local, integrated healthcare systems.' Mr. Schindelman suggests - (1) Offer personalized plans. (2) Stop giving people benefits they don't need or use. (3) Explore new ways of lowering costs that don't compromise quality. Read on...

ModernMedicine: Three ways to make healthcare consumers happier
Author: Tracey Walker


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 oct 2017

Over the years the dynamics of relationship between patients and healthcare providers have evolved into customers and healthcare businesses type. Rising cost of healthcare, multiple providers, privatization and technology are some important reasons for this transformation. Brad Dodge, President of Dodge Communications, and Andrew Pelosi, President of Partners & Simons, provide in detail what the patients as consumers of healthcare services expect from providers and how healthcare businesses can develop robust customer oriented strategies and fulfil the role of trusted partner in providing care services. They explain, 'Healthcare consumers have come to the realization that they have options. They don't have to settle for poor service, long wait times, limited hours, or confusing bills. Customer loyalty has to be earned - as in any other business. And consumers make it perfectly clear that if a provider can't deliver a better and more personalized experience, then they will switch to one that can. Moreover, the shift in mentality demands that providers be transparent and personal as much as possible. And from generation to generation, consumers are demanding clear communication and a trusted connection with their providers.' According to the Solutionreach Patient-Provider Relationship Study, 'The Ripple Effect Starts with Boomers', 43% of millennials are likely to switch practices in the next few years, 44% of Generation X are likely to switch primary care physicians in the three years and 20% of Baby Boomers are likely to switch in the next three years. Also, 70% of patients desire the ability to text the doctor's office, and 70% would like to receive text messages from their doctor, especially about appointments. Healthcare providers have to keep in mind expectations of these consumers and provide them personalized experience if they want long-term continuous relationships. Authors suggest - (1) Communication Drives Experience: 'The essence of creating a positive experience is making customers feel that they are heard and important — before, during, and after a transaction. Consistent, relevant communication between your company and customers is the answer to optimize that experience and engender trust. Honest communication with an emphasis on personalization builds the trust that all companies need to grow in this new information-driven, engagement economy.' (2) Entering the Engagement Economy: 'Consumers are demanding a more personalized relationship that requires a depth of knowledge of their wants, needs, and buying behaviors - and, ultimately, the best ways to engage them. Brands that succeed are the ones that manage engagement across the entire customer lifecycle. In most instances, the lifecycle and trust-building process starts very early in the customer's buying decision, even before they are considering a purchase.' (3) Who Are You Talking To: 'Creating a positive customer experience requires knowing your audience, engaging interpersonally, and meeting their needs. Answering those questions helps you develop an understanding that will be reflected in how you communicate with them across all channels, as well as what content you deliver. Also, organizations must be clear and concise; they must also offer up a valuable story; and they must be prepared to tweak that story as the marketplace changes.' (4) Focus on Delighting Customers: 'Focusing on ways to delight customers will go a long way in nurturing engagement and trust in your brand. Again, communicating and delivering valuable information to potential and existing customers can please them, especially when that information demonstrates an understanding of their pain points and goals.' (5) Harnessing Engagement: In an environment where trust is in short supply and customer engagement is spread across a broad digital ecosystem, companies must focus on their customers and on nurturing relationships through effective, relevant communication. Focusing on customer experience, needs, and preferences will not only enable brands to differentiate their products and services in a competitive market but also build the trust that results in loyalty.' Read on...

MarketingProfs: Engaging Customer Experiences Are a Make-or-Break Business Factor - The Case of Healthcare
Authors: Brad Dodge, Andrew Pelosi

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