Friday, January 23, 2009

Health elucidation to encourage lifestyle changes

If one’s New Year’s decision involved living healthier and safer in 2009, then this weekend is a immense time to get a solid establish.
From Thursday to Saturday this week, at the Knoxville Convention Center, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee will be holding its Healthy Living Expo, which promotes healthy living in all aspects of life.

Karen Ray and her partner Harry Tindell, a Tennessee state representative who works with Blue Cross, started the Blue Cross Healthy Living Expo five years ago. Ray’s company, Corporate Services & Events, helps businesses in Knoxville organize and plan special events such as the Women’s Today Expo and the Knoxville Auto Show.

Ray said working for this company gave her the experience to start the expo.

“We decided since we had the experience to do events and I was on a personal health journey and with many people currently interested in better health, we should start our own health and fitness expo,” Ray said.

This year, Ray said the events and booths are diverse.

Expect a “huge variety of information on health, fitness, nutrition and safety,” Ray said. “It’s like the Health and Fitness Mall of America.”

Throughout the three days, more than 200 exhibits will be at the expo, including booths from companies such as Rita’s Water Ice, In Synergy Yoga, Dick’s Sporting Goods and the cosmetic company Sephora. The expo will exhibit an assortment of food companies, many of which will be giving out free healthy food samples.

Ray said the expo will feature various give-aways, some with large prizes such as a Nintendo Wii or a six-month membership to the Rush Fitness Complex.

OUTLIVE, UT’s newly founded program to help raise money and awareness for cancer, will be holding a quarter-mile walk with several UT Athletes and selling fundraising T-shirts. At the indoor track, attendees can join gold medalist, track Olympian Deedee Trotter for a quarter-mile walk.

Other exhibits include a rock climbing wall and rowing equipment. A 30-day free membership to The Rush will be given away just for attending the expo. Also, the event will have more than 30 free health screenings.

Tindell said he encourages all to come and experience the opportunities the expo has to offer.

“Just for the health of it, try it,” he said.

The expo will be open from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Thursday and 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Tickets will be $6 per day at the door.

Determinants of Health
"Individuals and their health cannot be understood solely by looking inside their bodies and brains: one must also look inside their communities, their networks, their workplaces, their families and even the trajectories of their life" (Prof J Lomas, CEO, Canadian Health Services Research Foundation).

The best health care system in the world, alone, will not improve health and wellbeing. A person's health cannot be adequately explained by health behaviours and risk factors alone, but result from a combination of a multitude of factors.

A person's health and wellbeing is dependent on:
A GOOD START - Genes, food, water, shelter, air, housing, space, safety, transport, behaviour and lifestyle
A GOOD FUTURE - Education, skills, work, income, self esteem

GOOD CARE - Life skills, health care, community services, government policy

GOOD SUPPORT - Parents, family, friends, social connections

These influences are known as the determinants of health- the social, economic and environmental factors that determine whether or not we enjoy good health and well being.

The relationship between the determinants and actual level of health is complex. Because health determinants are inter-related and interdependent, outcomes of one determinant will influence and produce other outcomes.

For example, low income can result in lower levels of education, which influence where people live, their social contacts, their behaviours, lifestyle and overall health status.

Outcomes are also cumulative. Individuals or groups who experience low income, low educational attainment, lack of control, lack of social supports and inadequate coping skills have a poorer health status than those with fewer health risks.

New technologies are promising to save money and improve services

The Future Of Health Care

It's not just automakers, finance firms and state coffers that stand to gain from government loans and stimulus spending. If President-elect Obama is able to pass a stimulus package early next year, rumored to cost $850 billion, it could be a boon for the health care industry as well.
In addition to funding an expansion of state Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program, the Washington Post has reported there are plans to allocate upward of $10 billion to implement a nationwide, interoperable electronic medical records (EMR) system. The investment could jump-start a flurry of spending on health information technology (IT).

In Depth: The Future of Health Care
If well funded and adopted widely, many different technologies--from electronic records to algorithms to remote monitoring devices-promise to streamline the health care system, saving money and improving services.
"I think we'll look back and see the real reflection of change," says Paul Keckley, executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, of these technologies' potential. "We will not be having the discussion about electronic medical records. [That] will be standard."
The end result, he says, is a future in which health care is more personalized--and frequently delivered outside of the doctor's office and hospital.

A Costly Proposition
This sounds ideal, but it's an expensive proposition. Campaign for America's Future, a liberal think tank based in Washington, D.C., expects a nationwide electronic medical records system to cost $7.6 billion a year over 15 years.
The high cost is due partly to the fact that few providers currently use health IT. By 2006, only 12% of America's physicians and 11% of its hospitals had adopted computer applications to help modernize their record keeping, according to the Congressional Budget Office.