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Walgreens Steps Foot into the Telehealth Sector

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Walgreens now provides easier access to your local healthcare providers through their new telehealth application: Find Care Now. This digital health service eases patients with busy schedules by connecting to a live provider from anyplace a patient wishes to connect.

The starting cost begins at $59 without insurance, and already 5 million active members have been introduced with this new link to healthcare services. After hearing about Amazon’s initiative to push into the healthcare industry with their small retail pharmacy called  PillPack, Walgreens partnered with other health care providers to introduce their new mobile health system.

The future of the drugstore industry has shifted with the increasing availability of selling and delivering prescription drugs online. The mobile app has been launched, and currently, Walgreen’s company officials are adding more features to their application and working with 17 other participating providers.

Soon enough, the digital marketplace will reach every household and has the potential to transform the healthcare platform significantly. Patients and physician will both benefit from having the opportunity to communicate with the convenience of being in separate locations.

A predicted number of 7 million Americans will be utilizing the telehealth platform in 2018. It targets underserved populations to provide primary care services for people, with or without insurance. The future of telemedicine is continuing to push boundaries and consumers are anticipating the next biggest technology these companies will soon establish.

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The Human Sugar Project: The Next Major Breakthrough in Medicine- Glycome

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The key explanation of how life works reside in the gene. You may have heard of the Human Genome Project, a major breakthrough in 2003. This international scientific research is now the gold standard to diagnose certain diseases based on their nucleotide sequences. As a result of this unique gene mapping sequence, physicians are utilizing gene therapy to diagnose and treat patients. This depicted a significant advancement in our healthcare industry, but now there is a shift in the current focus.

Today’s emphasis revolves around glycans- the sugar component of DNA. It’s not the usual scientific study of utilizing genomics, the study of genes, or the proteomics, the study of proteins. The term glycomics is used for the study of glycome/sugar components of the cell, and it could soon potentially be the key to diagnose the next set of diseases.

Glycomes are sugars, but not the sweetener which you add to your coffee or components of your candy bar you may be thinking of. They are the powerful sugar structures that scientists have observed to be linked to health problems and autoimmune diseases. Glycomes are made up of long sugar chains of monosaccharides linked by glycosidic linkages. They are usually found attached to another component such as glycoproteins or proteoglycans and generally create a sugar coat around the surface of a cell and modifies the proteins and fats.

In a Nature article,  Dr. Wong and her colleagues found that glycosphingolipids (GSLs) play important roles in cell-to-cell recognition. These are a group of complex lipids linked to a glycan moiety. Malignant cancers show abnormal glycosylation of GSLs, which can be used to find cell surface glycosylation and cancer progression.

Another laboratory is currently involved in research of glycans and its associated attachments sites. Glycans are necessary to modify the proteins and fats on the surface of our cell and are vital for the protection of the human body from bacteria and pathogens. In this study, researchers are attempting to “crack the sugar code” to find the location of glycans on various cell types. With this information, medicinal therapies could be produced and specified for each developing diseases.     

For the next 5 years, the National Institutes of Health are investing greater resources into the area of glycosciences. The understanding of glycan-mediated processes could impact new discoveries for the treatment of chronic diseases related to sugars.

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Depression

Even a Million Dollar NBA Player Has Personal Obstacles to Overcome

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We might see professional athletes as role models who are unstoppable, but they too have their own hurdles to get across. Cleveland Cavalier Kevin Love, an advocate for mental health, described his own experiences of how he balanced anxiety and basketball.

In the Player’s Tribune, Love admittedly said that “I didn’t want to look weak. Honestly, I just didn’t think I needed it.” Last November during a game against the Hawks, Love encountered a panic attack and abruptly had to step out midway. People mostly pay attention to physical health and wellness, especially for athletes, and not towards mental health. Growing up around the stigma that all men needed to be strong without discussing any feelings, Love always felt that he was forced to repress his grievances and hardships. By suppressing his thoughts for 21 years, it just made his mental health more complicated.

He emphasizes the importance of discussing out loud our inner feelings and confronting the fact that “I need help.” He wants everyone to know that “everyone is going through something we can’t see.”

“Everyone is going through something we can’t see.”

The primacy concern regarding mental health illness is that it isn’t seen visibly. That is why it is difficult for some people to accept this illness without observing any tangible evidence.

A few months later after Love confessed his situation to the public, Carson Daly conducted a full interview with him on the Today Show. He finally decided to break the silence and opened his heart to the public about how he overcame the stigmas of mental illness. Even though it may be a never ending process filled with dark thoughts and a constant battle in your mind, he found much more support when he spoke openly about mental health to others. Now, Love goes to a therapist and is continuing to combat his internal fight every day. His social media fans are inspired by his actions and are fascinated by his admittance.

It’s not only Love who acknowledges mental illness as a prominent problem; it is a recurring trend where celebrities are opening up about their internal struggles to the public during interviews. Diminishing psychological health is understandable for people who are constantly under high pressure and stress from society. A few months ago, renowned people such as Janet Jackson and Ariana Grande opened up about their personal conflicts in the People’s article. We should respect that these public figures, role models, and celebrities are still human. As humans, we all have individual hardships to conquer; but together, everyone’s support can help bring awareness and care for mental diseases. As more people feel comfortable enough to come out from the dark to discuss their feelings openly, mental illness will soon demand a greater focus in society.

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Insurance and Policy

The Progress Since Dr. Stephen Klasko’s 2014 Prediction

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Dr. Stephen Klasko, CEO of Stevie’s Vinyl Emporium and Implantable Health Chips in Philadelphia, gave a remarkable speech on January 2014 at the TEDx Conference: What Healthcare Will Look Like in 2020? He is one of the pioneers for Leaders of the Optimistic Future in Healthcare Revolution and is a well-respected, transformative leader who promotes healthcare and higher education.

Briefly summarizing his speech, he started by discussing how healthcare appeared before 2014. He revealed that there was no management, no budget, and no real amendments until Obamacare. 37 years later after his last speech in 1977, Dr. Stephen Klasko still finds no improvement within the healthcare system. You might wonder why there is such little progress made, in spite of technological advancements of the Internet and the smartphones.

He was very optimistic when he predicted the next decade from now until 2024. He mentioned that his inspiration came from a sneaker commercial that quoted:

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men and women who find it easier to live the world they’ve been given rather than explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact, it’s an opinion. Impossible is temporary, impossible is nothing.”

Now, Dr. Klasko is ready to challenge the impossible. He mentioned three main goals:

  1. First, to create “docs of the future.” Other than basing med school application by GPA and MCAT scores, the focus should be placed on employing doctors who are “empathetic, commutative, and creative.” An article stated that there is a “lack of empathy, and poor communication drive in many malpractice cases,” but luckily the focus has shifted to teach students more about art and observation. Along with simply giving out an accurate prescription and going through stricter education requirements, doctors are now expected to form an emotional patient-physician relationship. There are increasing numbers of Empathetic programs which future doctors can undertake, and the outcome is expected to be quite satisfactory.
  2. Next, to enhance the patient experience and offering options of telemedicine. Patients can easily access a doctor and obtain a prescription without waiting in line. This easy access and affordable treatment have helped both employers and patients with the new range of services. This global health market is predicted to grow to $34 billion by 2020, which ensures a greater population having access to healthcare. Telemedicine has made our technological era much more advanced, offering millions of people a cheaper and more efficient healthcare system to improve patient outcomes.
  3. Lastly, recognizing the ability to use other industries’ resources such as mathematical modeling. We were able to create a predictive analysis of retention for patients after seeking care. Now doctors are accountable for consumer performance and extend their services, so patient’s don’t get readmitted back to the hospital. Dr. Stephen Kalasko mentioned that 28% of patients have to return to the hospital due to lack of proper follow-ups. With greater emphasis on doctor’s performance and better feedback, there is more accountability to provide a higher standard for healthcare. Precision medicine aims to achieve medical revolution to individualized therapies and aid “patient stratification, monitoring, and treatment designs.”

The perception here today is that we are currently under the premise of a healthcare revolution, with the help of various technological developments. Philadelphia is the epicenter for a community of physicians who are ready to take on new systems built with compassion and creativity. The next decade will surely surprise us with all these transformations to make our public health system much more advanced and opportunistic.

 

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