The Lybbaverse / health  

It’s All In The Data: Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Gets Wonky To Transform The Health Of Its Community

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iStock_000022532736XSmallLybba’s partner, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC), was recently featured in Forbes’ Profiles in Innovation, a weekly series of interviews with pioneering health leaders who are improving both population and individual health. CCHMC, renowned for children’s cancer care, is now working tirelessly to reduce health disparities in the local Cincinnati community. Its Community Health Initiative, led by program director Robert Kahn, is using comprehensive data collection to implement preventive measures against injury and illness.

An early example from this data collection indicated that particular Cincinnati neighborhoods had high rates of childhood asthma whereas other neighborhoods had virtually none. Neighborhoods with more asthma cases tended to have poor housing conditions, and more families without medical insurance and access to medicines. Since such factors are difficult to detect during a 10-minute conversation in the exam room, CCHMC’s Community Health Initiative partnered with the Cincinnati Health Department and Legal Aid to provide home inspections and legal advocacy. Preliminary data collection, therefore, enabled pattern recognition which led to problem solving and a larger, more sustainable impact on the community.

CCHMC’s commitment to health, not just health care, extends to their James M Anderson Center for Health Systems Excellence where a dedicated team of individuals is re-thinking chronic illness care. For the past several years, Lybba has been working side-by-side with CCHMC’s Anderson Center on the Collaborative Chronic Care Network (C3N), which is using software-based data collection tools to enable patients with chronic illness to become more active participants in their health and to spread discovery amongst doctors and hospitals.

C3N has reported significant increases in remission rates for patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), without the use of new medications. A few weeks ago, C3N was awarded PCORI funding to continue their transformative work in IBD. To learn more about C3N and Lybba’s involvement, visit c3nproject.org.

Read the Forbes article here.

How Dr. Nick’s cancer diagnosis spurred a weight-loss movement

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MyBigFatGreekDietLast year, I met with Dr. Nick Yphantides in San Diego to discuss regional access to medical data, which led to a mention of the effectiveness of crowdsourcing his diet strategy. What emerged was this story of how he inadvertently created a flourishing social network by simply committing to a new approach to his own diet and life, and sharing it with others.

In 2001, Dr. Nick Yphantides was a 500-pound physician practicing what he calls board-certified medical hypocrisy“Here I was, constantly having to tell people do as I say not as I do,” he recalls.

Initially, being obese seemed almost an asset. He explains, “I don’t want to say I was obese on purpose, but I rationalized my obesity by having this jovial larger-than-life disposition. I was this jolly, generous-hearted, big, comfortable, 500-pound binky to my community." 

He admits making it part of his reputation and image, "When I ran for public office weighing nearly 500 pounds, my campaign slogan was ‘Big problems need big solutions. Vote for Dr. Nick the big man for the big job.’"

Now, 12 years later, Dr. Nick is known as a fit 200-pound physician, author and creator of an online social network for weight loss, Healthstewards.com.

But how did he get here?

It all started, suddenly and tragically, with a cancer diagnosis.

Dr. Nick reveals, “Everything came crashing down when, completely unrelated to my weight, I was diagnosed with cancer. It was cancer that finally connected the silos of my heart and my mind--because they were silos; you don’t need to tell me as a doctor, intellectually, that being so unfit was unhealthy for me."

He finally realized he was taking his health for granted by rationalizing his obesity, something he actually could control, as opposed to a cancer diagnosis, which he could not. This prompted him to change the things he was able to, and to commit to being personally responsible for his own health.

The first thing he did was visit baseball stadiums.

Most people would not equate visiting baseball stadiums with weight loss. Yet, Dr. Nick had always loved baseball and decided to make it part of his road trip back to health. He took his medically guided diet plan across the country, visiting all the major stadiums and shedding pounds along the way.  

Little did he know that he would bring legions of baseball fans with him on his personal quest. He says, “There were so many people that had an interest in my journey that I basically set up a website and started doing weekly updates and posting pictures.” Dr. Nick rapidly gained thousands of followers.

As the world watched, it made him even more committed to his goal. He continues, “I was responsible to the community, and what I received was support and encouragement that facilitated my transformation."

Then came the book. 

Dr. Nick published My Big Fat Greek Diet, and with that, his online community exploded into the bonafide social network Healthstewards.com

“That’s really how the whole thing started,” says Dr. Nick. “It wasn’t premeditated. I didn't say, ‘Oh, I want to start an online social network for weight loss.' It came as a result of people emailing me and asking for help and saying ‘Dr. Nick, how do I get support, encouragement and accountability in my life?’”

He brings these lessons to his medical practice and tells people, "When you come see Dr. Nick, you never get a finger waving in your face." He's not only being human but gracious because, according to him, he hasn't always been in the position to have a white-lab-coat superiority complex.

He concludes, "I personally wish that we in healthcare would be willing to be more genuine with our patients. I don’t want to be a healer as much as I want to be an activator.”

C3N: a living, breathing, learning healthcare system

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Chronic illness harms too many and costs too much. The current health system encourages clinicians to focus on individual incidences of illness rather than continuous, collaborative care. The result: while most Americans have at least one chronic condition, we receive only about 50% of the care we need.

That’s why Lybba has joined with the James M. Anderson Center for Health Systems Excellence and ImproveCareNow to create C3N, a new model for devising and testing innovations in clinical care and research.

A founding member of C3N, Lybba is working with nearly 50 pediatric gastrointestinal clinics nationwide to connect patients and clinicians with real-time data. To start, C3N aims to radically improve care for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, then replicate the model for all chronic illnesses.

Lybba is designing tools that help patients track their health between appointments, visualize their health over time via clear and engaging graphics, more easily communicate with their physicians using online and mobile applications and even choose to share their medical data with other patients and researchers. By increasing patient engagement, C3N can transform the experience and outcomes of illness, and accelerate the discovery and application of new knowledge.

Our Lybba design process for C3N began with ethnographic research and persona development, to identify user goals and the ecosystem in which the product would be used. Inspired by the Wagner chronic care model and based on our research, we created representative patient personas and scenarios. We then selected successful prototypes, from dozens, that were identified as most useful given user goals, taking the mystery out of lab results.

Funding for Lybba’s C3N efforts has come from the National Institutes of Health, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality,The California Endowment and individual donors. We need your support to extend the benefits of C3N to even more patient communities.

#Project Announcement: UCLA Center for World Health

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Lybba is pleased to be collaborating with the UCLA Center for World Health, to spread the word about their important work. We’re helping them effectively communicate the essence of their organization and create a plan for their website.

A joint effort of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the UCLA Health System, the Center for World Health’s mission is to improve the health of people and communities throughout the world through education, research, and service. 

We look forward to working with the faculty and staff, to convey their vision of making UCLA a recognized global leader in health education and research, with solid international partnerships and a reputation for excellence in improving the health of the world’s people.

Check back for project updates. 

Five unusual jobs in healthcare

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These unusual careers blend different disciplines to improve patient care.

1)    Art Therapist: Art Therapy stems from the worlds of psychotherapy and art. In this interdisciplinary therapeutic approach, patients create art and reflect on that process to address difficulties such as illness or trauma. 

2)    Medical Illustrator: Artists with extensive training in science and medicine, Medical Illustrators use traditional and digital techniques to visually illustrate medical and biological knowledge.   

3)    Traffic Psychologist: Traffic Psychologists study the relationship between psychological phenomena and the behavior of road users. Using theoretical psychology, Traffic Psychologists work to mitigate traffic congestion, prevent accidents and maximize road safety. 

4)    Travel Nurse: Travel Nurses travel to work in temporary nursing positions to address nurse staffing shortages. Travel Nurses work both domestically, around the United States, and internationally. 

5)    Snake Milker: Snake Milkers extract venom from poisonous snakes to create antivenom medications. These medications are used to treat people who have been bitten by poisonous snakes. 

Which career appeals to you most?

Photo Credit: Art Therapy