Thursday, May 22, 2008

Your Health - Help Me Help You.

Aaahhh yes to be young and healthy again! You hear this all the time from those that are either not healthy and/or older than you. Your health is incredibly important to you and all too often taken for granted until you don't have it one day. And while there are many hardworking nurses, therapists, physicians, and pharmacists like myself doing their best to make you healthier when you need us your health is primarily your responsibility. Let me repeat this - your health is primarily YOUR responsibility.

There's a barrage of topics I could cover that could help you improve your health and well being but in this specific post I'm going to focus on something that drives all of us health care providers insane on a daily basis. And that is the lack of health information available in a organized fashion for us to use when treating a patient as yourself. Unfortunately information regarding a patient's medical history in the health care field is about as organized as the chaos that surrounds a Mardi Gras celebration on the streets of New Orleans in February. Currently all the different health care providers (physicians, hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, etc.) are not readily sharing your medical history with one another to make things easier when attempting to treat you. Why you ask? Because we don't know every place you've seeked out for medical attention and our computers don't "talk" to one another since they are all set up separately by each and every different health care facility. This invariably leads to a health care system that is under performing and extremely inefficient.

This is where you come in. You can be a major asset in helping us get you back on your feet again. The way you do this is by organizing your own Personal Health Record (PHR). A Personal Health Record is basically an organized file of information on your entire medical history. This can either be compiled the old fashioned way in a binder with a bunch of paperwork or better yet in an electronic form such as on your computer or online.

To learn more about the basics of a PHR you can watch this video

There are also a couple of podcast audio files available to explain what a PHR is and how it works here - and

I personally recommend starting a Personal Health Record in an online format. There are many different vendors out there offering free PHR sites. To help you get started in choosing an online PHR website I would suggest you read this short article with some very good tips on what to look for -

I would also use the website made by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) - I found this site extremely helpful and easy to use. You can search for a specific PHR vendor here -

I would like to make it clear that the majority of PHR websites are not HIPAA covered. That means that they are not legally required to follow the privacy act put in place by our federal government. Only actual health care providers and institutions (hospitals, clinics, insurance companies, etc.) are legally required to follow HIPAA rules and regulations. However, some of the websites do everything in their power to abide by all the rules and policies set forth by HIPAA. They are referred to as being HIPAA compliant. Make sure you take the time to actually read the websites privacy policy and that you are comfortable with the level of security and protection that they give.

With your help we can make health care much more efficient and eliminate costly mistakes because of the lack of information available about ourselves as patients when services are provided by the many talented health care providers out there. I urge you to take action now and spread the word about this wonderful opportunity so that one by one we can make our world a healthier place.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Fine Print

I'm sure I'll push a few of my readers buttons with this post but I'm happy to engage all those incredible minds out there reading this. Anyway, here goes...

I gladly and very patriotically filled out my application for the chance at being sequestered to jury duty in my current state of residence (FL) this morning. After I get done writing this I'll walk to my mailbox and drop my application off in the outgoing mail slot. As a side bonus I also get the right to vote in Florida! Woohoo!! It's funny how the fine print on my voter registration application says nothing about involuntarily giving up my mind and body at the state's discretion to serve on a jury whenever and wherever they please to use me. It has a lot of stuff on there about having a valid ID but nothing about the fact that you could serve on a jury at any time. I also never knew there were so many forms of ID you could use to vote - drivers license, military ID, passport, Sam's club membership, student ID, employee badge, paycheck, utility bill, retirement home ID, etc. But then it said later on that anyone over the age of 65 years old is exempt from having to show an ID. Hmmmm??? What's up with that? Does that mean whenever someone turns 65 that there's no possible way they could be an illegal alien or felon by virtue of age? I can't wait until I'm 65 because then according to my state government I can commit a felony and just show up to my voting precinct later on during election time and vote without them knowing who I am. Sweet!! Way to go Florida. You're on top of that one.

I haven't been registered to vote since I last presided in my home state of Montana. The last election I voted in was when Ross Perot ran for president. I remember because I voted for him. I thought his graphs were pretty slick. I was 18 and wasn't quite adept at looking at the whole picture. Ross would have made a swell president from a budget wielding patriarch standpoint but I have a feeling looking back on it that our foreign relations would have crumbled before our eyes if he had been elected. Anyhow, I'm getting sidetracked.... what I really mean to drive home today is that the political field over the last dozen years has been worthless and I finally feel that someone is capable of heading us in the right direction - Barack Obama.

He's exactly what a leader should be. He believes that the only way to make massive change is to start from the ground up. I've yet to hear any politician genuinely state this and believe in it. I, myself, have always told others that I'm only as good of a pharmacist as my best technician allows me to be. You know a great leader listens and acts on behalf of the little people. A great leader shuns big money and radical special interests groups and backs this up by not accepting funds from these people. A great leader formulates plans for the issues most affecting the people he leads. A great leader acknowledges that he is human when he screws up and accepts responsibility for his actions in an effort to learn from his mistakes and move forward. A great leader says "Yes we can!" when others say we'll try our best. And most importantly a great leader is able to inspire and motivate everyone working with him to collaborate for the good of the whole even when it means giving up portions of their own interest. This is Barack Obama for those of you who don't know. This is the voice of the next President of the United States of America.

I find it odd that the only negative things people can come up with on Barack are about mistakes that other people who aren't him have made just because he was associated with them years before. Well that makes complete sense now doesn't it? Why don't we blame you for everything wrong in your life because your uncle was an alcoholic or because a high school friend of yours smoked pot. Are you feeling a little bit chastised by this? Good! For those of you who believe in this form of attack you should be. My favorite is how everybody attacks Barack's lack of experience. I once came straight out of pharmacy school and within a month of being a newly licensed pharmacist was placed in the position of pharmacist in charge of a brand new pharmacy that had to build it's business from the ground up. My store was one of the top performing stores in then entire St. Louis metro area with respect to projected goals put forth by my company for us to meet. Imagine that. A rookie pharmacist leading a successful team to victory day in and day out. I'm a true believer that experience means nothing without the ability to problem solve and make solid decisions. God gave some people the natural ability to lead and display great judgement on behalf of those around him and the situations at hand. Barack Obama is the epitome of this very talent.

Of course our alternative is a long time veteran named Hillary Clinton or John McCain. Don't get me wrong I have respect for the fact that they've made some positive contributions throughout their lives to the good of America. But they aren't fit to be president. Both of them accept and count on big money from PACs and special interest groups to fund their campaigns. I find it more than amusing how Hillary maintains the mindset of a 3 year old throwing a temper tantrum every time something doesn't go her way in life. Now that's exactly what kind of leader we want isn't it?! I scoff at her mere picture. She is the same old political bullshit from same old school of kiss ass D.C. politics. And I like how McCain shows the judgement skills of a mentally retarded monkey by being adamant about staying involved in an all out civil war in Iraq while continuing to watch our national debt skyrocket out of control by funding the war over there and by continuing the wealthy tax cuts that our beloved Bush family put into effect. My answer - Save the trees and get rid of the Bushes (George and John)! Enough said. Barack is the only logical choice!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Needy and The Needed

What would your life be like if nobody needed you? It's not often that we as individuals think of this in our chaotic world of rush hour traffic, drive through dabbles, overfilled schedules, and instant mashed potatoes. I'm just to busy, to busy, to busy most of us say. And I say isn't it nice to be smiling in the midst of all that 21st century madness.

But what if nobody called you? If nobody texted you? If there were no emails in your inbox? If nobody asked you to help them out? If your kids or roommates weren't there to drive you bloody insane? What if there was nothing but silence? Aaahhhh.... finally a moment of peace and prosperity right!? Until it turns to boredom and worse yet loneliness and a hint of despair.

The basic human instinct of being needed by others is so vital and simple in nature to each of us. Yet it's taken for granted by many of us everyday as we get flooded with a half a dozen requests coming from every which way but Sunday. I myself have become very appreciative of this fact over the last 3 1/2 years while living in Florida. For those of you who don't know I moved to the Tampa Bay area without knowing a single soul. I was after my perfect destination of weather, outdoor activities, and wonderful friends. What I've found out is that the weather and outdoor activities were a given. But putting a midwestern boy in the midst of a circus of east coast people lended itself to many challenges when it came to the friends part. All I can say is that I certainly appreciate my family and friends way more than they could ever imagine now. It's also a great thing that I'm good at entertaining myself A LOT and am definitely looking forward to migrating back up north when the bursted housing bubble inflates itself again.

Now my intent is not to receive sympathy or pity from anyone. I've never been one to make excuses for myself and my choices. And I do have a lot of family and friends who really care about me and love me. They just happen to be a long ways away and love the fact that I can provide them a vacation spot in the midst of a white out blizzard in February :) I am, however, going to enlighten you on a new adventure of mine as I play out my final few years here in the Sunshine state. In a quest to quench my own need of feeling needed what better way to fulfill that than by reaching out to others who are even needier than I. Have I completely confused you yet? If not then keep reading and I'm sure I'll manage not to disappoint you.

Hands on Tampa Bay ( is a volunteer organization affiliated with the United Way of Tampa Bay and is the largest volunteer based group in the area. They have hundreds of volunteers and provide thousands of hours of help to those in need throughout our local community. And now they have me! Or should I rephrase that as I have them! In either case, I hope to make this a very positive experience which will keep me from staring at the inside walls of my townhouse for hours on end during my days off and also allow me to help others with much bigger problems than I could ever dream of having.

So the next time your second phone rings while your in the midst of boiling spaghetti for a head count of 5 and you find Fido tugging at your leg with his leash at hand all the while little Johnny is yelling from the bathroom to help him make Mr. Hankey swim down alligator alley just take a minute and remind yourself how awesome it is to feel needed :-)