Nextgen Solutions to Keep Families Healthy

According to KFF, annual family premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance rose 5 percent to an average of $20,576 in 2019. Workers’ wages grew 3.4 percent, and inflation rose 2 percent over the same period. Families were already struggling to keep up with the costs of healthcare before a global pandemic. In addition to cost barriers, some families also lack the motivation or know-how to improve their health. Here we’ll examine how to make family health and fitness more fun and more affordable.

Make it a Team Sport

Working together as a family to be healthier leads to more successful outcomes. Instead of making a healthy diet and exercise seem like a chore, approaching it as a celebration makes it easier to sustain healthy choices over time. Make health and fitness a family effort, so reaching those health goals becomes a fun team activity.

Learning new flavors, cooking together, and finding healthier food alternatives can be a fun family enterprise. Instead of thinking of it as an uncomfortable lifestyle change, make learning new exercise routines or outdoor activities into another form of entertainment. By challenging and supporting each other, family members set each other up to reach fitness goals.

Making health and fitness experiences positive helps strengthen family bonds and helps households grow together instead of apart. The family that plays together stays together. With activities like hiking, biking, walking, swimming, or outdoor games, clans develop new skills and healthy habits that can last a lifetime.

Take Advantage of Affordable Healthcare

When it comes to establishing a relationship with a primary care doctor, families have struggled in the past due to long wait times to see a doctor, the continually increasing costs, and poor customer service. People often forgo seeing a physician because they don’t want to deal with the hassles or feel they can’t afford it.

In recent years, direct primary care (DPC) has emerged as an affordable healthcare alternative to help families stay healthy. Unlike traditional family practitioners, DPC practitioners keep smaller patient panels, so they are available to provide more personalized care. Most are available for same-day appointments, email or texts, and virtual visits.

Direct primary care has also eased the financial burden associated with getting primary care to keep health conditions from developing into more severe disease states if not treated early. DPC is a monthly healthcare membership that allows members to see a primary care physician as often as necessary for a low monthly fee. Members can schedule unlimited appointments with no copay or a minimal cost, depending on their plan.

DPC Doctors Work for You

When doctors must meet insurance requirements, they work for the insurance companies instead of their patients. This requirement translates into rushed appointments that ignore thorough medical history conversations, long wait times due to overscheduling, and unfulfilling customer experience.

With DPC, families get a doctor who will take the time to know them and their medical history. Instead of waiting weeks to get an appointment or a return call, patients get peace of mind from knowing their doctor is just a simple text or call away anytime day or night. They also eliminate the hassles of dealing with insurance requirements, expensive deductibles, and ever-increasing copays.

Research shows that members who maintain an ongoing relationship with a DPC provider have better health outcomes. Milliman, Inc. recently published a study called “Direct Primary Care: Evaluating a New Model of Delivery and Financing.” They found that DPC members visited emergency rooms 40 percent less over two years. They also reported that DPC members were admitted to the hospital 26 percent less over that same two-year period. If a family uses DPC to supplement their insurance coverage, less E.R. visits and hospital stays mean exponential savings.

With DPC, families get economical and reliable primary care services to help maintain health for a lifetime. If you’d like more information on how DPC can help keep families healthy, contact Healthcare2U.

Caregiver Burnout: Tips for Self-Care [How to care for yourself so you can care for others]

Women are beloved for their generous nature, ability to multitask, and selfless care for others. Pouring yourself out to help others can be extremely rewarding, but it can also be taxing emotionally and physically, leading to caregiver burnout. Two out of every three women in the U.S. are caregivers to children, adults, or people with chronic illnesses or disabilities. Women who are caregivers have a greater risk for poor physical and mental health, including depression and anxiety.

It’s known that providing care (informally or as a paid provider) for spouses, partners, children, other family members, friends, or neighbors can take a toll on one’s mental and physical wellbeing. Add in a global pandemic, and you have a recipe for even more stress. Studies show a whopping 40 to 70 percent of family caregivers have clinically significant symptoms of depression. About a quarter to half of these caregivers have symptoms that fall into the category of major depression.

Signs of Caregiver Stress

Women are much more likely than men to report physical symptoms of stress, including headaches and upset stomachs. Women also tend to have more mental health conditions exacerbated by stress, such as depression or anxiety.

Caregiver burnout shows up in several ways. Some of the signs of caregiver stress include:

  • Making repeated mistakes or trouble focusing
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Feeling alone, isolated, or deserted by others
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Gaining or losing a lot of weight
  • Feeling tired most of the time
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Becoming irritated or angered easily
  • Feeling worried or sad often
  • Having headaches or body aches often
  • Smoking or alcohol dependency to cope

If you or someone you know are experiencing any of these warning signs, it may be time to take action.

Effects of Stress on Women

While men and women both experience weaker immune systems, insomnia, migraines, and other harmful effects of stress, there are some ways that stress affects women more profoundly.

  • Women are more likely than men to have anxiety, depression, PTSD, panic disorder, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
  • Chronic stress can lead to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition twice as common in women as in men.
  • The link between stress and weight gain or obesity is stronger for women than for men.
  • Women with higher levels of stress are more likely to have infertility problems than women with lower levels of stress.
  • Women with chronic stress or past abuse may have more severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms or irregular periods.

Caring for the Caregiver

By taking the necessary steps to relieve caregiver stress, you can prevent long-term health problems. Also, taking better care of yourself empowers you to care for loved ones without feeling burnt out and frustrated.

Self-Care Tips for Caregivers:

  • Find caregiving resources in your community.
  • Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.
  • Join a support group for caregivers.
  • Drink lots of water and eat healthily.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol and substance use.

Self-Care is Important

It’s noble to help loved ones and community members navigate a crisis as a caregiver. But as you spend yourself supporting others, it’s also vital to support and care for yourself. To maintain your well-being and to continue reaping the rewards of taking care of loved ones, it’s essential to take time for yourself. Remember to maintain meaningful relationships with family and friends. And don’t forget the golden rule of primary medical care: see your doctor for regular checkups and never ignore warning symptoms in your body.

Optimal Cholesterol Levels Help Maintain Optimal Health

Cholesterol gets a lot of bad press, but it’s necessary for a healthy body. Cholesterol isn’t all good, nor is it all bad. It’s a complex matter worth knowing more about. This fat-like, waxy substance is found in every part of your body. The cholesterol levels in your blood come from two sources: the foods you eat and your liver. Your liver produces all the cholesterol your body needs.

Your body uses cholesterol to make cell membranes, vitamin D, and a number of hormones. Here are some of the vitally important functions of the six steroidal hormones derived from cholesterol:

  • Glucocorticoids aide in the metabolism of carbohydrates. The most important glucocorticoid is cortisol, a powerful adrenal hormone with anti-inflammatory properties that oppose immune hyperfunction.
  • Mineralocorticoid hormones, such as aldosterone, regulate water/electrolyte dynamics through the control of sodium and potassium.
  • Androgenic hormones like DHEA and testosterone control libido, maintain bone density and have anti-aging properties.
  • Progestagens, such as progesterone, are vital for regulating women’s menstrual cycles and gestation.
  • Estrogens, such as estradiol, are vital for sexual development and promote bone and brain health.
  • Vitamin D is technically a sterol, but functions as a steroidal hormone. It has hundreds of vital immune supporting functions and regulates calcium in the blood.

Too Much of a Good Thing

About 95 million American adults have total blood cholesterol levels of 200mg/dl and higher. Of those, approximately 28.5 million American adults have a level of 240 or above. According to the American Heart Association, having too much LDL cholesterol leads to plaque accumulation on the walls of your arteries. When this plaque builds up, it can narrow the blood vessels, straining the flow of oxygen-rich blood throughout the body.

It can also cause blood clots, which can break loose and block blood flow, causing a heart attack or stroke. A healthy HDL cholesterol level can protect against heart attack and stroke, but studies show that low levels of HDL cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease.

Keeping It Balanced

While heredity can play a role in cholesterol levels, you can control your cholesterol with a healthy diet, exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight. Diets high in sugar and saturated fats can amplify heart disease as can smoking. Here are some foods that can help lower cholesterol:

  • Legumes
  • Avocados
  • Fruits and Berries
  • Nuts
  • Fatty Fish
  • Whole Grains
  • Dark Chocolate and Cocoa

Doctors recommend getting your cholesterol checked every five years. Preventing heart disease is just one of many reasons it’s essential to establish a relationship with a primary care doctor you trust. Having someone to track your vital numbers and observe trends in your health can keep you on the path of wellness and save you from chronic conditions as you age.

Your healthcare provider will determine your total cholesterol and LDL goals based on other risk factors. For that reason, it’s crucial to have a full lipid profile as part of your health history.

If it’s been a while since you had your cholesterol checked, schedule an appointment with your primary care physician.

Celebrating Women’s Contributions to Healthcare

In 2015, The Lancet published a report that found women contributed around $3 trillion to global healthcare, but nearly half of it (2.35% of global GDP) was unpaid and unrecognized. The report, which highlights women as both providers and as recipients of healthcare, outlines that women’s changing needs in both respects are not being met globally.

The authors concluded that gender equality and empowerment must be an integral part of the policies and interventions used to improve healthcare and human, social, and economic development in the decades to come.

This study underscored the fact that women’s distinctive contributions to society have been under-recognized and undervalued—economically, socially, politically, and culturally—for far too long. Women have held critical roles as members of the healthcare community and as caregivers in their families and communities for centuries. Here we will highlight two of these heroes and their contributions to healthcare.

Rebecca Lee Crumpler, MD (1831-1895)

In 1864, Rebecca Lee Crumpler became the first African-American woman to become a doctor of medicine in the U.S. Born in Delaware in 1831, she was raised in Pennsylvania by an aunt who took care of sick neighbors. Without a formal title, her aunt acted as a doctor in their community. Crumpler was deeply inspired by her aunt and sought to attend medical school.

It was almost unheard of for women or black men to be admitted to medical schools during the 1850s. But heavy medical care demands for Civil War veterans created more opportunities for women physicians during this time. In 1860, she was accepted into the New England Female Medical College while working as a nurse. Because of her talent as a medical apprentice, Crumpler was recommended to attend the school by her supervising physician.

Of the 54,543 physicians in the U.S. at that time, only 300 were women, and none were African Americans. After beginning her practice in Boston, Crumpler moved to Richmond, Virginia. She primarily cared for poor African American women and children as well as freed slaves who were denied care by white physicians.

While working for the Freedmen’s Bureau, she experienced intense racism by both the administration and other physicians. Even though she had difficulty getting prescriptions filled and was ignored by male physicians, she persevered to provide care for as many people as she could.

Ann Preston, MD (1813-1872)

Ann Preston was an American physician, activist, and educator. Born to a Quaker family in West Grove, Pennsylvania, she grew up in a community known as a haven for escaped slaves. Preston began work as a schoolteacher and soon grew interested in teaching women about hygiene and physiology.

Policies against admitting women prevented Preston from gaining admittance to medical schools, but in 1850 she entered the Quaker-founded Female Medical College of Pennsylvania (later changed to Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1867) at the age of 38 as a student in its inaugural class.

After graduating with her medical degree in 1851, she became a professor of physiology and hygiene at the college in 1853. When the Philadelphia Medical Society barred female physicians from training in clinics, Preston helped establish a hospital where women could train. In 1866, she was appointed dean of the medical college and eventually won her students the right to train at the well-established Pennsylvania Hospital. Male students hissed and spat at the female students when they entered the surgical theater, but she remained undeterred. In response to an 1869 campaign to prevent women from studying alongside men, Preston wrote, “Wherever it is proper to introduce women as patients, there also is it but just … for women to appear as physicians and students.”

A Debt of Gratitude

The talents of men and women are both critical for the success of any society. It’s only by recognizing and celebrating the greatness of individuals, regardless of gender or ethnicity, that industries can benefit from their discoveries and innovations. From moms taking care of scraped knees to the nurses and physicians on the front lines during a global pandemic, find ways to celebrate and appreciate amazing women’s contributions to healthcare.

Healthcare for the Service Sector

Although the service sector keeps our economy going and makes our lives easier, service workers are often the lowest earners in our economy. For example in the United States, the average teacher’s salary is mid-thirty thousand to $40,000; the average automotive mechanic’s salary is $39,857; and according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average farmworker earns between $15,000 to $17,499 a year.

Here are just a view of the professions included in the service sector:

  • Housekeepers
  • Teachers
  • Restaurant staff
  • Agricultural workers
  • Mechanics
  • Hotel Staff
  • Retail workers

If you add up the average cost of living, the reason so many service workers do not have healthcare for themselves or their families comes sharply into focus. The average American spends $7,700 on groceries and eating out each year. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines for a moderate budget, a family of four spends between $10,680 to $12,744 on food annually, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines.

If you’re fortunate enough to be a homeowner, the average mortgage with 10 percent down runs about $14,000 annually. The cost of rent varies by region but averages $600 to $1500 per month in the U.S., or $7,200 to $18,000 each year. That is already about $20,000 annually for food and housing alone. Add in the cost of transportation and everything else required to maintain a household, and you’ve already swallowed up the income of a large segment of those employed within the service sector.

The Cost of Healthcare

Many restaurants, retail, hotel, agricultural workers, and other service employees are not offered health benefits from their employers. For those who do have the option, some still cannot afford to enroll or utilize their health plans due to high premiums and deductibles.

A single person with employer health coverage earning an annual salary of $50,000 spends, on average, $5,250, approximately 11 percent of his income on health care. This expense includes $800 per year in out-of-pocket costs, a $1,400 premium contribution, and $3,050 in state and federal taxes to fund health programs. If a single person earning an annual salary of $50,000 enrolls in coverage on the individual market instead of through his employer, he can expect to spend 20 percent of his income on health care.

A family of four in good health with employer-sponsored coverage and earning a reasonable salary spends about 12 percent of income on healthcare. If the health of at least one family member worsens, household health spending increases to 15 percent of their income.

The Cost of Not Having Healthcare

The Institute of Medicine found that uninsured adults in the U.S. have less access to recommended care, receive poorer quality of care, and experience worse health outcomes than insured adults do.

Studies show the uninsured are less likely than those with insurance to receive preventive care and services for major health conditions and chronic diseases. Twenty-one percent of nonelderly adults without coverage said that they went without needed care in the past year because of the cost, compared to 4 percent of adults with private coverage and 7 percent with public coverage.

An Affordable New Solution

Unfortunately, many in the service sector do not know about direct primary care and how affordable it is for families to get the healthcare they need to maintain good health. Recently, benefits brokers nationwide have endeavored to educate service employers and employees about the benefits of DPC, such as:

  • Unlimited virtual DPC/telehealth
  • Unlimited doctor visits for low or no visit fees
  • Unlimited chronic disease management
  • Unlimited urgent care for a small fee
  • Annual physicals for no out-of-pocket cost
  • Recommendations for generic pharmaceuticals

Direct primary care (DPC) is different than health insurance for several reasons. First, it is not insurance, so there is no expensive monthly premium deducted each pay period. Second, there are no high deductibles to meet before insurance coverage kicks in. With a DPC membership, employees and their dependents pay a low monthly fee for unlimited access to primary care.

The need for healthcare is vast among those who serve us every day. The everyday heroes who keep our transportation, food, schools, and households going must be educated on their healthcare options and should be offered the benefits of affordable and convenient access to primary care.

If you’d like more information about how you can bring DPC to the service sector, contact Healthcare2U about their Minimum Essential Coverage partnership with Pan-American Life Insurance Group; or download information on their Limited Indemnity plan here

Prepare for a New Normal

The world-at-large, business, healthcare, and everyday life will not look the same way it did pre-COVID. Some predict we will only begin to recover from the pandemic’s economic fallout by the end of next year. To contain fear during this crisis, timely and honest communication from credible sources is vital. Still, governments and media have struggled to properly explain risk while providing guidance without intensifying the public’s panic. As we wrestle with the best way to rebound from these turbulent times, employers can implement a few strategies to prepare for a new normal. Tactics as simple as remembering your employees’ value, preparedness to evolve, and offering affordable healthcare solutions for recently laid-off or furloughed employees can make all the difference.


Employees Are the Backbone

A business is only as exceptional as the people it employs. No human being exists in a vacuum. If an individual’s mental and physical health aren’t maintained, he can’t perform at optimal levels or represent your company to the best of his ability. In addition to providing safe working conditions, whether in-office or remote, an employer can support employees by offering a robust health plan to help protect its most valuable assets—people.

In addition to a competitive salary, highly qualified employees want the best benefits and will often choose one company over another because of them. Employers can promote a culture of wellness within their organizations by implementing a wellness program that focuses on detection and prevention.

Unfortunately, the employees with the lowest salaries are also the least insured. By putting affordable options like direct primary care (DPC) into a company health plan, employers can make sure all their employees feel cared for when it comes to healthcare.


Evolve with the Times

The pandemic has been a wakeup call for many employers, especially where technology and operations are concerned. Many were left unprepared to work remotely from home as cities shut down one-by-one with shelter-in-place orders. Laptops and other tech equipment went on backorder as companies scrambled to set up home offices.

For those who didn’t have sufficient processes in place, cracks in the foundation emerged. The lesson for all of us has been: you never know what kind of crisis will hit. Use this opportunity to ensure you have the technology to do business anywhere in the world. Our already digital world has gone even more virtual, and there’s no turning back.

Also, take a step back and evaluate the areas of your business where chaos ensued. Talk to staff about how you can you shore up weaknesses, so you not only survive going forward, you thrive.


There’s Hope for the Unemployed

As the unemployment rate continues to escalate, an estimated 10.1 million people will lose their employer-sponsored insurance, according to a recent report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute.

The report says of the 48 million people who will lose their job this year, 34 percent are insured through a family member’s job, while 27 percent have coverage through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). A mere 5 percent enrolled in a non-group insurance plan, and 10 percent are uninsured.

People in the service sector were hit particularly hard, and the job losses may worsen before they get better. It’s no surprise that workers in these industries often lack the benefits or means to get primary healthcare when they are employed, much less unemployed. COVID-19 has sharpened the reality that people need affordable medical care to stay healthy and lower risks for serious illnesses. They also need to be able to see a doctor or access telemedicine at an affordable cost.

This year, Healthcare2U launched an individual direct primary care membership for furloughed or laid-off workers called MyDPCplus. Now employers can work with benefits brokers to enroll employees they have been forced to let go. Knowing that they can still access healthcare for themselves and their dependents has provided peace of mind for many during these uncertain times.

If you’re a broker who wants to help clients who have recently laid-off employees, resulting in lost jobs and healthcare benefits, download this informative brochure.

Tips for a Happy and Healthy Summer

Typically, summer is the time when families come together for reunions, travel to exotic locales, and adventurers take on the great outdoors. While states wrestle with reopening and trying to protect the health of the population, it’s anybody’s guess what this summer will look like.

Even though this is one of the most unusual summers in modern times, finding a way to enjoy life and maintain mental and physical health should still be a top priority. By staying aware of health problems caused by excessive heat and finding safer entertainment options, you can still make this a summer to remember by following a few tips for a happy and healthy summer.

Protect Your Kidneys

Summer is all about the sun. In addition to wearing sunscreen to protect against skin cancer and other damage, taking additional precautions in extreme heat can save you a trip to the E.R. Did you know the risk for kidney stones increases in the summer?

Many doctors see an increase in kidney stone patients when temperatures rise. Kidney stones also show up more often in southern parts of the country and regions close to the equator. The culprit seems to be dehydration.

The kidney filters your blood to remove toxins and other intruders that shouldn’t exist, and those toxins exit the body through urine. If you get dehydrated, your urine can become concentrated to the point where stones form. One of the best things you can do to help prevent kidney stones is to drink eight to 10 glasses of fluid a day. Avoiding the overly salty, processed foods and meats that tend to show up around summertime can also reduce the risks.

Seek the Shade 

Don’t forget to take extra precautions when it comes to working, playing, and exercising in the heat. During the summer, doctors see a lot more illnesses related to hot temperatures. They range from heat exhaustion (being overtired from being out in the heat) to heat syncope. Heat syncope is fainting or dizziness that usually occurs with prolonged standing or sudden rising from a sitting or lying position. Contributing factors include dehydration and lack of acclimatization.

In more severe cases, people suffer from heat strokes, which can lead to coma, seizures, or death if not treated properly. Risks increase for the young and elderly, people on certain medications, and people who don’t have air conditioning. Taking breaks in the shade and staying hydrated can help prevent heat strokes as well.

Choose Safe Entertainment Options

Can we still have healthy summer parties and barbecues? The CDC recommends making some adjustments if you want to host a soiree. If having a virtual party doesn’t cut it for you, use the following precautions to increase safety.

  • Limit groups to eight people or less.
  • Wear cloth face coverings when not eating.
  • Arrange seating to allow for six to eight feet of social distancing between people.
  • Don’t share food or utensils.
  • Clean bathrooms and other high traffic areas often.
  • Clean and disinfect high touch items like doorknobs, light switches, and faucets regularly.

Travel Virtually

Travel restrictions and safety concerns have made summer travel precarious at best. It’s understandable why many don’t want to put themselves or their children in harm’s way to have a good time.

To help us avoid the summer doldrums, Google has put together a list of 10 museums around the world that offer virtual tours. New York, Paris, London, and Berlin are just a few of the stops included. Most wouldn’t have the opportunity to visit 10 of the world’s most breathtaking museums in one summer any other way. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in culture and encourage your children to do the same within the safety of your own home.

From the Luxury Travel Expert, to a host of other travel vloggers, online travel content abounds. It may not be as exciting as going yourself, but you may find some titillating locations you never considered before. Planning a future trip to an obscure destination with your friends and family can give you something to look forward to.

Take Care of Yourself

There’s no denying this summer will be memorable for reasons none of us expected, but practicing self-care is still important. Taking a 30-minute walk each day, meditating, and eating healthy foods are just a few ways to stay on track. Finding safe entertainment options may require a little more creativity, but learning new things and keeping a positive outlook for the future can do wonders for mental health.

A Solution for Disparities in Healthcare

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) sought to provide more insurance coverage for groups with a higher risk of being uninsured. Although the ACA led to more covered people, there are still disparities in healthcare with a large segment of the population who lack access to healthcare and experience worse health outcomes.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

As of 2018, Hispanic people are two and a half times more likely to be uninsured than white people (19 percent vs. 7 percent). Individuals with incomes below poverty are four times as likely to lack coverage as those with incomes at 400 percent of the federal poverty level or above (17 percent vs. 4 percent).

Unfortunately, health disparities between Black and white people still run deep. Black people have higher rates of diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease than other groups, and black children have a 500 percent higher death rate from asthma compared with white children. Geography plays a significant role in the health of a population. Where we live determines opportunities to access quality education, employment, housing, fresh foods, or outdoor space–all contributors to good health.

Money Matters

Perhaps the most critical source of disparities in healthcare is income inequality. As of 2018, the wealthiest 20 percent of households had an average income of $234,000, while the bottom 20 percent of households had average earnings of $14,000 – nearly 17 times lower.

The real median income for African American families decreased from $43,380 in 2000 to $41,692 as of 2018. For Hispanic families, real median income increased from $48,500 to $51,450 during the same time frame. The median income for white families increased from $66,712 to $70,642. And Asian families topped the group with an increase from $79,502 in 2002 to $87,194 in 2018. Only time will tell what those numbers will look like in the wake of the pandemic and economic upheaval that has marked this year so far.

An Urgent Cry for Help

Many social factors account for these discrepancies, but it is clear that health often takes a back seat to daily survival for some. A recent study by KFF found that 17 percent of Black people and 21 percent of Hispanic people didn’t see a doctor when they needed to because of costs in 2018. Nineteen percent of Asian people also skipped a doctor visit because of costs, compared to 13 percent of white people.

At the outset of 2020, the affordability of healthcare was already a chief concern for many Americans. The landscape has now changed profoundly with the COVID-19 pandemic, job loss, and increasing awareness of how racism affects some Americans’ everyday lives. The focus on solutions to solve disparities in healthcare has never been more urgent.

DPC Can Help End Gaps in Healthcare

Direct primary care differs from insurance because it is a monthly membership that provides members with unlimited access to a primary care physician for a low monthly fee. With primary care being one of the underpinnings of optimal health, the implications of DPC are huge.

Teachers, servers, beauticians, and other gig workers who may or may not have insurance often cannot afford to insure their children. Not only can people who historically could not afford to see a doctor now see one, but low rates make it possible for people to include their kids in a DPC membership. By building an ongoing relationship with a primary care physician, families can stay educated about their health and learn how to better care for themselves. Staying informed and proactive helps prevent health issues from escalating to chronic disease states or more expensive acute conditions.

With a nationwide direct primary care provider like Healthcare2U, the barriers to access have been shattered. From Healthcare2U’s inception we have disrupted these disparities through the vehicle of DPC. Our mission is to fill in the gaps for those who lack proper care by addressing affordability, access, and health education for all. To accomplish this, Healthcare2U offers memberships in every state for the same low rate. Regardless of socioeconomic status or neighborhood, families can now connect to care, nationwide.

Addressing disparities in health and health care is essential not only from an equity standpoint but also for improving the overall quality of care and population health. For more information on how DPC can help underserved communities and underinsured populations, contact Healthcare2U

3 Ways Artificial Intelligence is Changing Healthcare

As the world adjusts to an inefficient and overpriced healthcare system coupled with an unstable economy, the healthcare industry is shifting from fee-for-service and reactive care. Providers seek to stay ahead of chronic diseases, prevent costly acute events, and mitigate the deterioration of patients’ health in the most effective ways. Unfortunately, shortages of qualified personnel, as well as skyrocketing costs, sometimes make this difficult. Artificial intelligence (AI) is being used to bridge the gap between the limitations of medical providers and the patients’ needs. AI is also helping physicians be proactive and predictive. This technology is changing the landscape of healthcare by assisting doctors in diagnosing patients faster, monitoring patients’ health through wearable devices, and preventing the spread of infectious diseases.

Diagnosing Patients Faster

Artificial intelligence is easing the administrative workload by creating better interfaces between doctors and patient data, but it also helps providers diagnose patients faster. A significant trend in medicine is using AI in medical diagnosis to detect cancer. A recent study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reported that the AI system has a breast cancer detection accuracy comparable to an average breast radiologist.

Google says its latest research proves that a neural network can be trained to detect lung cancer symptoms earlier and faster than trained radiologists. AI-driven software can also accurately identify indicators of certain diseases in medical images such as MRIs, X-rays, and CT scans.

Having this technology at their disposal can allow doctors to diagnose and make treatment recommendations faster and more accurately. This ability fosters a better patient experience and, hopefully, a better relationship with their provider.

Monitoring Health Through Wearable Devices

From smartphone apps to Fitbits, several wearable devices enable people to track vital health data such as heart rate and physical activity. AI is being used to improve people’s health and well-being by helping them monitor weight goals and track fitness levels.

It also has particularly essential applications for the elderly population. Thirty to 60 percent of older adults fall each year, with 10 to 20 percent of those falls leading to injury, hospitalization, or death. Wearable fall detection devices can help the elderly receive the proper care in the event of a fall. These devices can be lifesaving if someone is unable to call for help.

As technology continues to evolve, and patients choose to share their health data with doctors, more wearable technology applications will be designed to prevent diseases and maintain health.

Preventing the Spread of Infectious Disease

Since the first case of COVID-19 was recorded in Wuhan, China, epidemiologists have used a significant component of AI, machine learning, to track and prevent the spread. This technology has not only helped them understand more about the virus but also saved lives.

Machine learning is when a computer takes massive amounts of data and learns to detect patterns. This intelligence enables predictive analytics –the ability to predict future outcomes as well as reveal other insights about the data.

One such example is how organizations might be able to predict the number of deaths from COVID-19 for a specific gender over the age of 60. Countries worldwide used these predictive models to implement shelter-in-place and other strategies to prevent the spread of the virus.

For example, during the COVID-19 crisis, the city of Wuhan implemented AI to detect people with fever in large crowds with smart glasses worn by security guards. Bus and train stations also employed surveillance technology to check large groups of people without making contact. Although controversial, officials were able to safely and quickly identify people at risk of spreading the disease, which they wouldn’t have been able to do without using this form of technology.

As we move forward, innovators predict that current AI solutions in medical diagnosis, treatment recommendation, and infectious disease control will improve, and its applications in the field of medicine will continue to advance for years to come.

Prevention is the Best Strategy for Chronic Disease

According to the CDC, 60 percent of Americans suffer from at least one chronic disease like heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and diabetes. These and other chronic conditions lead causes of death and disability in America, and they are also a leading driver of health care costs—to the tune of $3.5 trillion per year. It’s even more sobering to realize chronic diseases are responsible for 70 percent of deaths in the U.S., killing more than 1.7 million Americans annually. When looking at the impact of chronic conditions, the proactive prevention of these diseases is truly the best strategy.

What is a Chronic Disease?

Chronic disease is a physical or mental health condition that lasts more than one year and causes functional restrictions or requires ongoing monitoring or treatment. Some of the more common conditions include:

  • Anxiety
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Blood Pressure
  • Fibromyalgia
  • GERD
  • Gout
  • Hypertension
  • Thyroid
  • CHF
  • COPD
  • Depression
  • Diabetes

Being Proactive is Easier Than You Think

Stress, smoking, lack of physical activity, alcohol, and poor diet are significant contributors to the leading chronic diseases. Being proactive and screening for diseases before they start is one of the best ways to prevent chronic conditions. However, many people fail to establish a relationship with a primary care physician because they think they can’t afford it.

With mounting pressure from insurance companies to limit the time they spend with patients, many primary care providers also lack time to focus on proactive prevention and treatment options with patients. Fortunately, the direct primary care (DPC) model has grown in popularity recently. DPC shatters various healthcare barriers, including expenses that may have prohibited patients from getting primary care in the past. Also, DPC has given physicians the freedom to put patients first again.

Traditional models of health care address symptoms of a disease after it has escalated, but to prevent chronic diseases, we need a more comprehensive approach. This approach is where practical and consistent primary care comes in. By building an ongoing relationship with patients and their families, practitioners in a DPC environment can offer tailor-made solutions.

Primary Care is the Cornerstone

DPC providers have the time and resources to inform patients about their chronic disease risk best and improve their overall health. The idea of healthcare was always for doctors and patients to work together to improve health outcomes by being proactive rather than reactive.

Direct Primary Care offers members access to unlimited primary care visits for a low monthly fee. There are no insurance deductibles or expensive copays to meet. When a patient can spend as many sessions as necessary with their doctor, they can get to the root causes of chronic diseases without going in circles and racking up medical bills they can’t afford.

One of the many functions of primary care is to educate people on underlying lifestyle risk factors as well as create personalized prevention plans. Understanding a patient’s medical history, family history, and lifestyle helps doctors recommend resources, lifestyle changes, and necessary medication to mitigate or control symptoms.

Prevention is Best 

Exercising, proper nutrition, drinking less, and quitting smoking can provide health benefits and a greater sense of well-being. But establishing an ongoing relationship with a primary care provider is even more critical when it comes to preventing and managing chronic disease.

For more information on how DPC can help your clients manage and prevent chronic disease effectively and affordably, contact Healthcare2U.