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  • 16 Mar 2023 9:05 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    COVID-19 is known to cause some people to lose taste and smell, and to instill "brain fog," as well.

    Now, new research published in Cortex, links it to face blindness – or prosopagnosia -- the inability to recognize faces. [MedScape] 

    "Self-report survey data from 54 respondents with long COVID showed that a majority reported reductions in visual recognition and navigation abilities," researchers wrote. "COVID-19 can produce severe and selective neuropsychological impairment similar to deficits seen following brain damage, and it appears that high-level visual impairments are not uncommon in people with long COVID."



  • 15 Mar 2023 3:35 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    We are sharing an webinar coming up this Friday, March 17, 2023 at Noon CT hosted by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. 

    According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 3,013 individuals died of an opioid overdose in Illinois in 2021, which is a 2.3% increase from 2020 and a 33% increase from 2019.This nationwide increase is largely due to the rise of synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, as reported in the Statewide Semiannual Opioid Report from May 2022. The rate of opioid overdose fatalities has increased disproportionately among non-Hispanic Black individuals who are 45-65 years old.2 

    To address this public health and health equity issue, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois is sponsoring a presentation to providers on resources for the treatment of opioid use disorder, specifically medication-assisted recovery.

    The following speakers will present at the event:

    • Nicole Gastala, MD, board-certified in Family Medicine and Addiction Medicine and currently serves as the medical director of the Substance Use Prevention and Recovery Division of IDHS.
    • Tanya Sorrell, PhD, PMHNP-BC, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Rush University College of Medicine and the Director of the Rush Substance Use Disorder Center of Excellence.
    • Seth Action, Project Manager at Providers Clinical Support System (PCSS).

    Register today!

    1Illinois Department of Public Health Statewide Semiannual Opioid Report - May 2022.  
    2Illinois Department of Public Health, Illinois Opioid Overdose Epidemic During the COVID-19 Pandemic.


  • 14 Mar 2023 8:40 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Every day in Illinois, specialists like Sadler are called in to schools, hospitals and homes to make these decisions. They’re on the front lines of the state’s child mental health crisis. Simmering for years, it’s been supercharged by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    In Illinois, mental-health emergency room visits by kids have spiked since 2020

    Emergency room visits by children 5-17 years old indicating a diagnosis of attempted suicide, self-harm or having suicidal thoughts have increased since 2020 [with the pandemic]. 

    Full article> 


  • 13 Mar 2023 6:31 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    The collection, use, and meaning of race in biomedical research is complicated by the tension between the requisite interrogation of health disparities associated with race and the risk of continued insinuation of race as a biologic entity when interspersed with health outcomes.1-3 As a social construct, the literature supports that, assessed at the individual level, race as a category has a nontrivial change with repeated assessment. For instance, 12.5% of childrens’ US census records had a changed racial category from 2000 to 2010 at the individual response level.4 Thus, given the duality of race as important yet mutable, we sought to quantify the frequency of change in race category in the electronic medical record (EMR) of a pediatric population. [JAMA Network] 

    Download PDF or article here>

    Full paper here>  


  • 10 Mar 2023 8:51 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Still timely considering IOMC's webinar on Resistance to Adopting Childhood Vaccines- Is this a Rising Public Health Issue? 

    The University at Buffalo (UB) is one of five universities that received a grant from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the Centers for Disease Control and Preventive (CDC) to dispel medical misinformation and vaccine hesitancy around the nation. [Patient Engagement HIT]

    Medical misinformation has become a significant threat to healthcare, especially as more people turn to social media for medical advice.

    The volume of medical misinformation has dampened the public trust in the COVID-19 vaccine. Additionally, studies have shown that people who greatly rely on family, friends, and social media for COVID-19 information have the lowest knowledge about COVID-19 and are among the least likely to engage in protective behaviors like social distancing or mask-wearing.



  • 9 Mar 2023 10:51 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Public health agencies that communicated clearly, led with science, and provided protective resources were able to build patient trust more than those agencies that appeared to be politically motivated, according to a new report in Health Affairs obtained via email. [Patient Engagement HIT]

    The challenge? Perceptions of how agencies communicate are certainly in the eye of the beholder. While one individual might see advice for universal masking as science-based public health communication, another might see it as politically motivated, setting the scene for the public health trust problem the US has faced since the pandemic’s onset in 2020.

    “Public trust in government and other major institutions across US society has been declining for decades, and the pandemic has raised concerns about trust in public health agencies in particular,” the Harvard University researchers wrote in the study. “Opportunities for misinformation to take root in the current social and traditional media environments raise concerns that trust will decline further.”

    In order for public health agencies, each at the federal, state, and local levels, to recoup their image, they will need to better understand what influences an individual’s trust.

    In a February 2022 survey of around 4,200 adults, the researchers found that people’s trust differed by agency and how that agency communicated. Generally speaking, trust in any public health agencies was low.

    READ MORE: RWJF: How Public Health Sector, CDC Can Focus on Health Equity

    Trust in federal entities like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Surgeon General, National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) didn’t even reach the 50 percent mark. Trust in local and state public health agencies was even lower.

    Rather, people trusted their doctors and nurses, plus the scientists researching COVID-19.



  • 8 Mar 2023 4:53 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Organizations to reduce social determinants of health barriers in under-resourced areas.

    The American Heart Association, through its Social Impact Fund, will invest $400,000 in two Utah community-based organizations to combat health barriers related to social determinants in under-resourced communities.

    AHA said that while Utah has made significant commitments to advance health equity, the state continues to see health disparities among racial and ethnic groups, which contribute to adverse health outcomes, impacting overall well-being, lifespan, and social and economic mobility.



  • 7 Mar 2023 5:33 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Sufferers’ mental illnesses experience changes in communication, cognition, and behavior, exposing differences in social behavior and relationships. Many who suffer from mental health problems notice that the reduced communication ability leads to social inclusion and distrust of others. Online Mental Health Communities (OMHCs) facilitate a new means of communication between patients and physicians. Based on the trust source credibility framework, trust transitivity theory, social resources and physician-patient interactions, this study aims to evaluate the factors that influence patients’ trust in OMHC's.  [JAMA Network] 



  • 6 Mar 2023 8:12 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

     A new study from the NYU Grossman School of Medicine shows how community health workers helped patients achieve optimal blood pressure control, underscoring the role these non-clinical workers play in chronic disease management. [Patient Engagement HIT]

    The community health worker (CHW) program was effective because CHWs helped promote cultural competence and filled in language barriers, the researchers said.

    “As the demand for patient-centered approaches in clinical settings expands, CHW models have growing clinical and public health relevance in the context of hypertension management,” Nadia Islam, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Population Health, said in a press release.

    “They offer a cost-effective model for chronic disease management among immigrant communities with limited English proficiency who are often underserved by health care systems,” added Islam, who is also an associate director at the Institute for Excellence in Health at NYU Langone.



  • 3 Mar 2023 10:20 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    CMS wants you to be able to use a standard set of quality measures for the myriad value-based care contracts you might be involved in. Dubbed the Universal Foundation, these measures are set to streamline quality reporting in different contracts. The most exciting part? They include social determinants of health screening and the ability to quantify health disparities. [Patient EngagementHIT] 

    The agency outlined the Universal Foundation in a February 1 article in the New England Journal of Medicine, explaining that in their 20-year history, quality measures have become more complex, redundant, and in some cases meaningless to improving clinical quality. Although integral to moving value-based care forward, quality measures can be a headache for many in the healthcare industry.

    “Since there is tension between measuring all important aspects of quality and reducing measure proliferation, we are proposing a move toward a building-block approach: a ‘universal foundation’ of quality measures that will apply to as many CMS quality-rating and value-based care programs as possible, with additional measures added on, depending on the population or setting,” CMS leadership wrote in the NEJM article.

    The proposed Universal Measures include 23 measures ranging from preventive care and screenings, behavioral health, and chronic disease management. These measures, which CMS has made room to iterate in the future, would start as a baseline and some programs might require supplemental measures. The agency emphasized that additional measures would go under strict scrutiny before being added to program requirements.

    To much celebration from Gary Price, MD, the CEO of the Physician’s Foundation, the measures also include two that look at the social drivers of health.



    In some ways, the Universal Foundation is a CMS effort to course correct on quality measures. Quality measures are instrumental to any quality improvement program, including certain value-based care programs. As the old adage goes, you cannot improve what you do not measure.

    But as both CMS and Price indicated, those quality measures had become overly complex. Different programs might measure different outcomes, or they might be looking at the same outcome but use different language when detailing the measure.

    “One of the problems with the quality measures up to this point is that they often weren't aligned with each other either within the coding system itself or between hospitals and physicians or even between different insurers and the way they're coded,” Price explained. “That's become kind of a mess, and I think CMS has signaled that they want to help improve that.”

    Full article> 


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