Tips on Improving your Employee Wellness Program

Most people have heard of the term wellness program, normally thrown around the office, but for those that haven’t, wellness programs are put in place to improve and promote health and fitness.

Oftentimes, companies that offer employee wellness programs don’t know how to make them as effective as they could be. My philosophy is that these programs need to be practical as well as engaging. That’s why during National Health Education Week, I wanted to share 3 simple tips to enhance your wellness program.

1. Go smoke-free at your workplace.

Going smoke-free helps create a safer, healthier workplace by not exposing people to the harmful effects of second-hand smoke. This change might also give tobacco users who want to quit more of a reason to do so.

2. Show you competitive side, create a fitness challenge.

This could be something as easy as creating teams and the team with the most steps or miles at the end of the month wins a prize. If your office is small, try doing this individually. You’ll be surprised how many people will turn this challenge into a habit.

3. Have a set kitchen area.

Having an area designated for eating is huge. By supplying a fridge and counter space for a blender or microwave allows people to store and prepare their lunch or snack versus eating out.

Have ideas on other workplace wellness programs that have worked for you? Let us know.

 

Identifying Breast Lumps: 8 Non-Cancer Causes of Breast Lumps

“Is it cancer?” is what most people think when they discover a lump in their breast. But, did you know, not all breast lumps are cancerous? In fact, the American Cancer Society reported that four out of five biopsies of breast lumps are benign, harmless and surely not breast cancer.

The more common non-cancer causes of breast lumps are:

  1. Breast cysts- a fluid-filled sac that’s usually benign
  2. Fibroadenoma- a solid, benign mass that is most common in young women
  3. Fibrocystic breasts- lumpy or rope-like breast tissue
  4. Injury or trauma to the breast
  5. Intraductal papilloma- a benign, wart-like growth in a milk duct
  6. Lipoma- a slow-growing lump made up of fatty tissue
  7. Mastitis- an infection in breast tissue that most commonly affects women who are breast-feeding
  8. Milk cyst (galactocele)- a milk-filled cyst that’s usually harmless

Knowing your body and being aware of how your breasts normally look and feel can help determine any new changes such as an increase in size or change in shape. If there are changes you are concerned about, let your doctor know. They will take more steps to find out what it is.

 

 

Top 3 Things You Should Expect from Your Doctor

Choosing a primary care doctor is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Your primary care doctor essentially acts as your quarterback who helps you navigate the healthcare jungle. Without a primary care doctor, you could be putting your health and well-being at jeopardy. Why you may ask? Your primary care doctor should know your ins and outs in order to provide the best treatment option.  Whether you currently have a primary care doctor or are in the market for a new one, here’s a list of what you should expect from your primary care doctor.

  1. Someone that values your time.

No one likes to wait an hour to see the doctor for them to turn around and only take 5 minutes to review your symptoms. Primary care doctors should be active listeners and want to figure out the root of the problem rather than worry about hitting the patient quota for the day.

  1. Can give you access to them, when and where you need it.

Have you ever gone on vacation and got sick? Or not had time to see the doctor because by the time you get off work the doctor’s office is closed? Rather than turning to the ER or urgent care, you should be able to contact your primary care doctor to discuss your symptoms. That way they can point you in the right direction and help you plan your next course of action.

  1. Have a doctor-patient relationship.

With the internet available at your fingertips, and a lot of bad information out there, it’s hard to decipher what your symptoms truly mean. Sure, you could use an online “symptom checker” to figure out what your medical symptoms could mean, but this is why having a doctor-patient relationship is vital. Before Googling, your doctor should always be your first point to help figure out what your symptoms mean and to guide you through your options. So as a patient, use your doctor as a resource and continue to build on your relationship because having an open two-way communication and full trust in your doctor is really the key to good health.

So, when it comes to choosing your primary care doctor, be picky. After all, this is your health.

Why Antibiotics Aren’t Always the Answer

Antibiotics can effectively kill bacteria. Oftentimes when a patient has a bacterial infection and needs antibiotics, the benefits outweigh the risks. However, there are many everyday situations where antibiotics are inappropriate and can even be harmful. For instance, antibiotics cannot cure colds, flu, or other upper respiratory infections caused by viruses.

Common side effects of antibiotics can include:

  • Rash
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Yeast infections
  • Severe allergic reactions

Other serious side effects include Clostridium difficile (C. Diff.) infection, which results in diarrhea that can lead to severe colon damage and even death.

One less discussed potential risk of antibiotic usage is that antibiotics kill not only “bad”, but also “good” bacteria in the gut microbiome, the microbes in your intestines. Using antibiotics kills a significant amount of this “good” bacteria or stops them from multiplying, thus affecting the normal “ecosystem” and function of the gut microbiome.

Finally, from a public health point of view, imprudent antibiotic use lead to antibiotic resistance. According to a recent article in BMC Medicine, the rate of antibiotic prescriptions has doubled from 2000 to 2010.  The report further states that “nearly 50 percent of outpatient antibiotics prescribed are unnecessary.” A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that in the U.S. at least 2 million people have serious infections with antibiotic-resistant bacteria every year, and at least 23,000 die directly due to those antibiotic-resistant infections. In addition, at least 14,000 people die each year in U.S. due to C. Diff. infections.

Before asking your doctor for another antibiotic, I would like everyone to think about the potential risks, from a personal and societal perspective. Antibiotics may not be the right answer and oftentimes it is better to wait a few days to see if your body can ward off the infection naturally. The side effects and potential risks of antibiotic usage must be carefully considered, and the prescription of antibiotics needs to be treated with greater gravity.

What is Leaky Gut Anyway?

When our body is healthy our cells lining our intestines should allow the absorption of important nutrients, while keeping substances out that could make us sick. Leaky gut happens when there is an increase of the harmful and inflammatory substances being absorbed because the walls of the intestines have been injured and there are bigger gaps between the cells.  These gaps allow passage of these harmful substances inside the body where they ordinarily would not go.  Unfortunately, when our body is chronically exposed to these substances or bacteria in the blood stream, it can cause local (GI symptoms or malabsorption) and systemic (whole body symptoms) reactions and inflammation.  Some common things that have been seen in association with intestinal permeability are – chronic fatigue syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel disease (IBS), celiac disease, eczema, food allergy, inflammatory arthritis and even psychological conditions.
But how do these gaps get there in the first place? 

They seem to begin for some people following an infection, illness, medical treatment, or other major stressful event. It may happen because the usual balance in the intestine is disrupted. The disruption may be caused by medications (e.g., antibiotics, steroids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) malnutrition, surgery, burns, infection, alcohol consumption, cow milk intolerance, age, or stressful events in your life.  We also know that even for people who do not have celiac or gluten sensitivity, exposure to gliadins (a protein in gluten which is found in wheat, barley and rye) causes a greater increase in intestinal permeability.

How can the gaps be closed? 

We can help heal leaky gut by trying to figure out a little of what might have caused it in the first place – and avoiding it.  So, if it was a medicine or a food, or stress you would want to limit your exposure.  We also want to support our bodies natural digestion and give it the nutrients it needs to heal and calm inflammation and replenish a good balance of bacteria.

For more information, check out the University of Wisconsin site.

The Importance of Breastfeeding Health

There are few things more exciting than a newborn baby. But what’s important is a healthy baby. There are many ways to keep babies healthy and breastfeeding plays one of the most important roles. August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month where the goal is to promote the health and well-being of babies by encouraging breastfeeding.

Part of encouraging breastfeeding is offering the mother proper encouragement. Three keys to this are providing time, space, and family support. While breastfeeding comes naturally for some, it may not for others. It takes patience and time to perfect, which is why paid maternity leave becomes very important. It’s essential for mothers to have areas to breastfeed in private, and spaces where they can rest and be free from interruptions, as family and friends are always eager to greet the mother and new baby.

It’s important that a mother feel supported by her decision to breastfeed. Comfortability will lead to more breastfeeding success in the short and long-term, especially during busy times where a mother may feel like it is not an accessible option.

Finally, breast milk supplies the infant with nutrients made especially for their growth and development. It’s natures perfect food for babies. It’s not only beneficial for the child, but for the mother as well. Per WebMD, the following are the benefits for both mother and child:

For Child:

  • Antibodies in breast milk help fight viruses and bacteria
  • Lowers risk of baby having asthma or allergies
  • Fewer ear infections, less diarrhea and respiratory illnesses
  • Linked to higher IQ scores in later childhood
  • Reduced risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)

For Mother:

  • Faster weight loss (can burn an extra 500 calories when breastfeeding)
  • Lower risks of cancer (breast and ovarian cancer) by about 20%
  • Lower risks of osteoporosis
  • More bonding through skin to skin contact, which stimulates release of oxytocin (a hormone that facilitates bonding)

As you can see, breastfeeding is important for all involved and there’s a need for its continued support. Not only is it a bonding experience, but it offers an abundance of health benefits. For more tips, such as best positions, additional medical considerations while breastfeeding, or if breastfeeding is a healthy option for you, reach out to your doctor for the best recommendation.

Partnership Announced Between Direct Primary Care Leader and National Insurance Captive

PHILADELPHIAAug. 29, 2018 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ — R-Health and Pareto Captive Services (“Pareto”) announced a partnership to bring enhanced primary care to Pareto’s clients (“captive members”). R-Health and Pareto, both based in the Philadelphia area, recognize the need to provide innovative solutions to tackle ever-rising healthcare costs facing employers and individuals.

R-Health is a national leader in enhanced primary care, supporting or managing over 40 practices in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Pareto forms and manages employee benefit group captives that allow medium-size employers to mitigate the year to year volatility of self-insuring their health benefits. Nationwide, Pareto has more than 600 captive members, constituting more than 150,000 covered lives.

Through this new partnership, Pareto captive members will have access to R-Health’s growing number of Direct Care practices. In addition, the two companies plan to open four new practices in the Greater Philadelphiaarea in 2019. These innovative Direct Care practices will deliver enhanced primary care to Pareto captive members in the region, as well as other employers.

R-Health and Pareto are also partnering to launch two locations in the Kansas City area in September 2018, serving Pareto captive members in that market. With captive members located nationwide, Pareto and R-Health plan to launch other locations as dictated by need and growing demand.

“At R-Health, we believe that independent, relationship-based primary care is the foundation of transformational healthcare delivery,” said Mason Reiner, R-Health Co-Founder & CEO. “By partnering with Pareto, we can leverage our unique combination of clinical expertise and technology to provide patients with consistent access to their personal doctor, while achieving significant cost savings for employers through clinically integrated care delivery and innovative data analytics.”

“Pareto saw that our captive members needed a better primary care option for their employees, yet for most medium-sized employers, on-site clinics are not financially feasible and, often, can lead to further fragmented care,” said Andrew Cavenagh, Pareto Captive Services’ Managing Director. “By partnering with R-Health to create near-home practices, we can fill that void by offering better access to primary care and more time with their physicians. These offices offer convenient and comprehensive primary care to employees and their family members.”
Enhanced primary care can lower healthcare costs in many ways, including:

  • Reducing unnecessary emergency room and urgent care visits.
  • Better managing and therefore reducing the cost of chronic and high-risk conditions.
  • Offering longer appointments, that allow for more time for the patient and provider to interact.
  • Providing referrals to high-value specialists.
  • Increasing compliance with care plans by making many prescriptions available on-site.
  • Reducing costly complications by identifying and supporting high-risk and at-risk individuals.

About R-Health
R-Health delivers more effective care and a better patient experience – all at a lower cost. We partner with employers, unions, insurance companies and TPAs to offer primary care that’s truly collaborative. This is accomplished through the traditional core values of convenient, personal primary care; our innovative data analytics and patient engagement platforms that streamline care, delivering better outcomes, lower costs and a refreshing patient experience; and the proactive management of chronic conditions. R-Health delivers value-based healthcare two ways: through R-Health Direct Care, our innovative enhanced primary care model, and R-Health Accountable Care, our commercial and Medicare ACOs. For more information, visit https://www.R-Health.md.

About Pareto Captive Services
Pareto Captive Services forms and manages employee benefit group captives. The captives mitigate the year-to-year volatility and risk that is inherent in self-insurance, thereby allowing employers to focus on reducing healthcare costs. Members of Pareto captives gain access to an exclusive suite of risk management and cost-containment initiatives to help them in their quest to provide affordable and effective healthcare to their employees. Pareto continually seeks new and innovative solutions to employers’ healthcare benefit dilemmas and when solutions do not already exist, Pareto creates them. For more information, visit https://www.paretocaptive.com.

Media Contact
Carrie Hartman
carrie.hartman@r-health.md
Cell: 215.704.0917

 

SOURCE Pareto Captive Services

Vaccines Are What You Need

Every August, the health community celebrates National Immunization Month. This period aims to showcase the importance of vaccinations and their role in preventing illness, long-term health issues, and even death. From adolescence to adulthood, vaccinations are always recommended since some can wear off over the years, while others may become available as you get older.

To further highlight the importance of vaccines, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) listed some of the top reasons to be vaccinated.

  • Vaccine-preventable diseases haven’t gone away
    • Illnesses from dangerous viruses and bacteria are still be passed on to those in frequent contact.
  • Vaccines keep you healthy
    • Vaccines are as important as diet and exercise, as they protect you throughout life from many infections.
  • Vaccines can prevent death
    • Approximately 55,000 adults die from vaccine-preventable diseases in the United States.
  • Vaccines won’t give you the disease
    • Vaccines contain killed or weakened viruses designed to prevent you from catching the disease.
  • Vaccine-preventable disease can be expensive
    • Illnesses like the flu, or other diseases like hepatitis are not only expensive to treat, but may also keep you out of work for an extended period of time.

If you’re not up to date on all your vaccines, which ones should you consider? The NFID recommends the following:

  • Influenza*
  • Tetanus*
  • Diphtheria*
  • Pertussis*
  • Shingles*
  • Hepatitis B*
  • HPV*

*– available at R-Health practices

There are many preventable diseases that can severely impact your life. Vaccination could prevent you from their effects that could leave you permanently disabled, out of work for significant time, drive up your medical bills, and even spread to your family and friends. Protect yourself and those around you from vaccine-preventable diseases. Visit your doctor’s office to determine which vaccines you need on a schedule that is based on your health, immune status and lifestyle factors.  Please talk to your doctor about any concerns or questions that are preventing you from getting vaccinated.

What You Need To Know About Hepatitis

One of the biggest health threats in the world is hepatitis. Hepatitis is a very dangerous virus that comes in many forms, but they all have major impact on the liver. Over 300 million people are affected by this disease, many of whom are undiagnosed and untreated. Every 28th of July, organizations celebrate World Hepatitis Day, aimed at raising awareness and finding the missing cases by encouraging people to act on getting tested.

Hepatitis accounts for two out of every three liver cancer related deaths, and overall accounts for over one million deaths per year in the United States. While there are many types (Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E), Hepatitis C is the most common form. It is most commonly transmitted through sharing needles, contact with infected blood, and less commonly, sex. However, it can also be transmitted through tattooing, piercing, and acupuncture.

Though in some instances symptoms may not appear, according to WebMD there are a few common symptoms for all types of hepatitis.

  • Dark urine
  • Stomach pain
  • Yellowing of skin/eyes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Pale or clay-colored stool

WebMD also supplied a few additional facts on Hepatitis C. Unlike hepatitis A and B, there is no current vaccine for hepatitis C. Although there is no cure, there are a few techniques that aid in prevention.

  • Never share needles – Though this plays a bigger factor for drug users who are at greater risk, even simple things like sharing a straw can pass on the virus.
  • Avoid direct exposure to blood – Particularly for healthcare professionals, it’s important to take steps to avoid direct contact with blood and be sure all tools used to extract blood are discarded or safely sterilized.
  • Don’t share personal items – Items like razors, toothbrushes, nail clippers, etc., can easily be infected with hepatitis C due to their constant exposure to blood.
  • Choose parlors wisely – Make sure tattoo or piercing shops are sanitary and their items used get cleaned or disposed for new customers.
  • Practice safe sex

Although World Hepatitis Day has passed, make sure to go out and get screened. With over 300 million cases left undiagnosed, you could be one of many living with the virus with no symptoms. If you have any questions be sure to reach out to your doctor, and they’ll be able to provide more information on hepatitis virus and ways to protect your liver.

The Appointment Pre-Check

Longer appointment times with your doctor are almost viewed as a myth. Given the current state of healthcare, most doctors only spend an average of 20 minutes – or in many cases even less – with each patient before moving on to the next patient. Having such an abbreviated time with your doctor can be frustrating, especially if you come in with concerns and leave with more questions than answers.

This is not the case with Direct Care. With smaller patient panels, this removes the shuffling from patient to patient, providing the doctors with the opportunity to spend more time with a patient – listening, answering questions, and coming up with a diagnosis. This not only makes for more pleasant visits, but also it creates a great foundation towards your doctor being a partner in your health.

Nevertheless, with this added time in the Direct Care model, you have to know how to make the most of the time with your doctor and be sure to have all your questions answered. What type of questions should you ask? While it’s all depends on your specific concerns, Time Magazine shared some of top questions you should ask your doctor.

  1. What are the different treatment options?
    • Decisions should be made jointly with your doctor, so be sure you’re aware of all options.
  2. Do we have to do this now, or can we revisit later?
    • Some tests can wait, and added time can also give your doctor more time to diagnose your patterns.
  3. What outcome should I expect?
    • It’s important to know if there will be any changes that may affect your lifestyle.
  4. What are the side effects?
    • Whether you’re undergoing a procedure or taking new medication, it’s important to know about side effects beforehand to determine if you want to alter your treatment
  5. How will I hear about my results?
    • Be sure to get an adequate timeline from your doctor on when to expect your results.

It’s important to take advantage of the longer appointment times with your doctor afforded by Direct Care. Questions for your doctor can help give you more clarity on your health status and provide the answers you need to guide your next steps.