It’s Time to Engage

When afforded access to great healthcare, that’s when the real work begins. Your health goals and outcomes aren’t solely reliant on the doctor, but that responsibility also falls on you. Patient engagement is the first step towards the management of your health. According to the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine, increased patient engagement leads to better patient outcomes, a higher quality of care, and lowered health care costs. It also helps in developing prevention and chronic disease self-management programs that many new practices are modeled after. However, let’s further discuss the upsides of patient engagement.

Increased communication – Physicians and patients can communicate with one another more often and provide updates and timelines on a patient’s conditions

Increased patient satisfaction – With open dialogue channels between patient and doctor, patients become more confident regarding diagnoses and conditions since they are privy to more information.

Prevention – We utilize health-related information systems to help improve health outcomes and to identify trends of health and disease earlier.

Furthermore, there are challenges when it comes to patient engagement. However, our R-Health doctors make it easy by having your health as their top priority. Our doctors:

  • Respect your individual needs
  • Lead and manage your care
  • Coordinate your care with other providers and facilities
  • Provide care for short-term and long-term illnesses based on up-to-date standards of care
  • Refer you to community resources that fit your needs

We have a few suggestions on how to stay engaged with your doctor:

  1. Partner with your doctor to develop a care plan (inform your doctor of any illnesses)
  2. Follow your care plan, and let your doctor know if you have difficulty with it
  3. Keep your appointments and contact your doctor if you can’t make it
  4. Check your patient portal for clinical summaries and instructions after each appointment
  5. If you have any question that needs answering, don’t wait, feel free to reach out to your doctor at any time

Despite aids from technology and the availability of your doctor, engagement isn’t effective if you don’t take the initiative to use these tools and seize more control of your health outcomes. With R-Health you have unlimited access to your doctor, so now it’s your turn to get engaged!

Park Appreciation!

Every month we try to highlight new ways to promote a healthy and active lifestyle. July is no different, as this month is recognized as Park and Recreation Month. Across the country, parks are highlighted due to their innate nature of enriching health and wellness, but also their help with community building and conservation efforts.

While you may think parks are great, sometimes you don’t have the time to look for them. Luckily, we have discovered a few close by. In relation to our R-Health locations, here are a few neighboring parks that you can explore:

Moreover, Parks and Recreation Month has been celebrated in July since 1985 with hopes of encouraging people to explore these local parks and engage in outdoor activities. With help from City of Columbia and Plan4Health, here are a few more reasons:

  1. Strengthen community image and sense of place
    • Parks provide a space which allow citizens to gather for festivals to public and private events. Weddings, picnics, and family reunions are all events that gather communities together and uplifts the area.
  2. Supports economic development/local ecosystems
    • Many parks contain sports fields, trails, beaches and other spaces that can play host for tournaments, festivals, and other activities that draw tourism dollars into the respective areas
  3. Strengths safety and security
    • Many recreational areas provide lessons in biking, swimming, etc. It serves as a great way to guide children on how to have fun, safely
  4. Increases children’s chances of success in school
    • Children with greater access to parks are more likely to be active, and studies have shown active children perform better in school
  5. Have a more positive outlook
    • Spending time in areas like parks help reduce stress and improve mental health. Creativity strengths and aggression lessens the more time spent outdoors.
  6. Facilitate Community Problem Solving
    • Many Parks and Recreation departments can not only help solve community problems, but are eager to do so. Reaching out to your locate parks department can facilitate a better overall community experience.

These are simple a few of the top reasons to explore parks, but it’s understood that convenience plays a big role. Fortunately, all the parks listed above are within 10-15 minutes of your R-Health doctor. Therefore, whether you have some free time before or after an appointment, or just on a random summer day, stop by one of these parks and really embrace the nature in your community.

Stay Easy, Breezy

The summer heat can be intolerable to some and indifferent to others. But for the most part, you would find that majority of people prefer not to be bombarded with summer heat waves. While there’s only so many times you can cool off in the pool, we thought it best to share tips on how to stay cool in the summer, and which foods may help.

Keeping cool during high temperatures is imperative. It’s not only about comfort but also the health risks that are heat-related. Per WebMD, there are a few heat-related illnesses:

  • Heat exhaustion – Develops from loss of large amounts of water and salt in body from excessive sweating. May interfere with brain function, and may be susceptible to people with heart, lung, or kidney problems
  • Heat cramps – also occurs when the body loses excessive amounts of fluids and salts. Can result in spasms of larger muscles throughout the body, which may be induced by people who work and/or exercise in hot environments
  • Heat stroke – The most severe of the three listed. Occurs from long, intense heat exposure to the body. Harshly affects the brain that regulates body temperature, disallowing the body to cool down.

As you notice, these are threats that may gravely affect the body if you are not proactive. However, MedicineNet provided a few ways to keep cool:

  1. Alter your pattern of outdoor exercise to take advantage of the cooler times (early mornings or late evenings)
    • If you can’t change, lessen the intensity and/or the duration
  2. Wear loose fitted clothes, preferably of lighter color
    • Cotton clothing will keep cooler than most synthetics
  3. Fill a spray bottle with water and keep it refrigerated, and use for a quick spray when you’re outdoors
    • Also, keep water bottles in the freezer to take with you outside
  4. Fans can circulate air better even in an air-conditioned house
  5. Drink plenty of water, sports drinks, and other sources of electrolytes
    • Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as these will promote dehydration
  6. If you don’t have air conditioning arrange to spend parts of your days in areas that are cool
    • e. Shopping malls, public libraries, movie theaters, etc.
  7. Use common sense – if the heat is unyielding, stay indoors and/or avoid direct sunlight and hot asphalt surfaces

Furthermore, staying indoors and carrying portable fans aren’t the only way to stay cool. There are plenty of foods that are not only healthy but very refreshing during hot summer days. GreenLiving shared some fruits and vegetables that help you stay energized and cool for the summer.

  • Fruits
    • Watermelon – A summer favorite, it contains 90% water and has big amounts of vitamins A and C
    • Cantaloupe and Honeydew Melon – Another fruit packed with water, they are low in calories and high in potassium. Also, a great source for losing weight and helping with cardiovascular issues
    • Citrus fruits – These may include oranges, grapefruit, lemons and limes – keeps you refreshed and looking younger, due to the nutrients that help with healthy skin.
  • Vegetables
    • Cucumber – Another water fresh food that helps flush toxins out of the body and maintain healthy tissue and skin
    • Radishes – They are a great source of vitamin C and have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
    • Leafy greens – These may include spinach, arugula, and herbs like mint, and focusing on the latter, mint has great cooling properties. It can relieve indigestion and inflammation and can be used for a lot of your iced teas
    • *Be mindful, don’t consume any of these foods if you are sensitive/allergic*

As you can see, there are many ways to thwart any inconveniences that come with intense summer heat. Following these tips will surely help and may even encourage you to spend more times outdoors. However, if you have any further questions on combatting the heat, or other foods to consume, be sure to visit your well air-conditioned, R-Health doctor’s office!

Sit Back and Enjoy the Show

Summer is in full swing with Independence Day right around the corner, prime for celebrating. This is time spent outdoors, enjoying the weather and warm company of family and friends. One of the big parts of summer, especially this week, are enjoying fireworks. Every July 4th people fill the outdoors with eyes gazed into the summer night to take in a firework show. However, what’s often overlooked is firework safety, so today we will discuss some risks, as well as how to use fireworks safely.

July is Fireworks Safety Month so it’s important we share information so you’ll the knowledge to make informed decisions before buying and/or using fireworks. Per the National Fire Protection Association, thousands of people (mainly children and teens), suffer injuries while using fireworks.

Just in 2015, U.S. emergency rooms treated nearly 12,000 people for firework related injuries, with children younger than 15 accounting for more than a quarter of them (26%). Additionally, here are some more firework injury numbers:

  • Body parts injured by fireworks by percentage
    • Head, Face, or Ear – 19%
    • Eye – 19%
    • Arm – 5%
    • Hand or Finger – 36%
    • Leg – 10%
    • Trunk or Other – 11%
  • Males account for 74% of fireworks-related injuries.
  • About one in four fires started by fireworks occur on Independence Day

However, fireworks are not all bad, and offer great entertainment when used responsibly. The National Council on Fireworks Safety offered a few safety tips that we’ll discuss below:

  • Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks
  • A responsible adult should supervise all firework activities. Never give to children
  • Know your fireworks; read the cautionary labels and performance descriptions before use
  • Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks
  • Use fireworks outdoors in a clear area away from buildings/vehicles
  • Never re-light a dud firework
  • Always have a bucket of water and a charged hose ready
  • Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and throw in a metal trash can
  • Don’t experiment with homemade fireworks
  • Report any illegal explosives to police or fire department

It’s also noteworthy to keep your pets away from any fireworks to protect them from the sound and/or in case they run off during a firework display.

Sometimes it’s best to leave the fireworks to the experts, simply due to the many types that are potentially harmful. However, if you choose to engage in this activity, remember to do so responsibly. This is meant to be an enjoyable, safe activity so be sure to proceed with caution. Although our R-Health doctors are available when you need them, they would much rather you stay safe and healthy this 4th of July.