Blogs: Health / medicine

Photo of pills and bottle (by Sponge, via Wikimedia Commons)Have you noticed that you’re paying different prices for the same medication, depending on where you buy it? Drug prices are not consistent from store to store and it can be really hard to find information on pricing. One resource you can use to find prescription drug prices is called GoodRx.

GoodRx is free to use; the site is funded by advertisements and fees from pharmacies and discount providers. Enter the name of your medication and your city or zip code, and click the Find the Lowest Price button. From the next screen, you can choose whether you’d like to see generic or name-brand prices and you can choose the dosage and the quantity. You can also limit your results by type of pharmacy; do you need a pharmacy that’s open 24 hours? That delivers by mail?

Consumer Reports “Best Buy Drugs” project (a tool that allows you to search by drug or condition, and recommends “best buy” drugs based on their effectiveness, safety, side effects, and cost) tested the GoodRx mobile app (which is available for iPhone and Android devices) and found that it did retrieve the lowest price (of two tested apps) for the cholesterol-lowering drug, Lipitor.

If you need more information about a drug or supplement, have a look at MedlinePlus, the National Library of Medicine’s consumer health information site. You can find information on drug and food interactions with your medication, generic/brand names for a drug, side effects and more.

Information from these sites can help you stay informed, but you should include your health care professional in any medication decisions.

Questions? We are always happy to help!  Just Ask the Librarian.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare, aka the Affordable Care Act) was passed into law in 2010, Photo of a stethoscopebut the reforms that it requires are spread out over time. You can get all sorts of information about the law on a federal level, including the full-text of it, at www.healthcare.gov, a website created by the United States Department of Health & Human Services.

A major aspect of the law that will go into effect soon is the creation of Health Insurance Marketplaces in each state. These marketplaces will provide information on insurance plans for consumers to compare, with costs laid out up-front. According to the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Srvcs., “most people will be able to get a break on costs through the Marketplace.” Information about coverage and enrollment in health insurance through these marketplaces is required to be provided beginning in October 2013. Coverage will start in January 2014.

The marketplace for Oregon will be called Cover Oregon. Visit their website to learn about the marketplace, sign up for email updates, and use a calculator to estimate if you will qualify for financial assistance. There is also a frequently-asked-question section with answers to many questions that you might have about the program.

There are also several other health care programs that already exist and provide assistance to individuals who qualify: the Oregon Health Plan and the Healthy Kids programs are both administered by the Oregon Health Authority. The Oregon Prescription Drug Program is a program to help uninsured or underinsured Oregonian get access to discounted prescription medicine. A good way to find more assistance programs is to call 2-1-1, a statewide, free referral service.

At the end of this post is a list of books that explore the history and debates around health care in the United States. If you still have any questions about health care, remember that you can always ask a librarian! We are here to help you find the answers that YOU need.

Update, 7/28/13:

You may have seen ads on Trimet buses around town, advertising health coverage from “Oregon’s Health CO-OP”. This is not the same thing as Cover Oregon. The Oregon’s Health CO-OP is going to be a new nonprofit health insurance provider which will begin enrolling customers on October 1, 2013, and will begin providing health insurance coverage on January 1, 2014. Funding for new, consumer-owned (co-op) health insurance providers is part of the Affordable Care Act - each state was originally required to have one of these nonprofit providers (although this requirement has since been removed), but Oregon is going to have two of them! The Oregon’s Health CO-OP and another co-op called Health Republic were both approved by Cover Oregon and will be offered along with other health insurance providers in the new Cover Oregon marketplace.

You can read more about these co-ops in this 5/13/13 article from Oregon Live: “Oregon upstart health co-ops to challenge mainstream insurers”.

“Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” We’ve all seen and heard that ad on TV. But if you decide to get a medical alert device, or are helping an older friend or relative get one, you might be ready to scream “Help! I need a device but can’t decide which one to get!”

Here’s some tips to make things easier. First, make a list of features you want the medical alert to have. The Federal Trade Commission has some good advice about things to consider. An article called “Personal Emergency Response Systems” from CRS – Adult Health Advisor (June 2012) also gives a checklist of possible concerns [ Note: to read the article, you may have to enter your library card number and PIN]. This blog post from Huffington Post, Post 50 examines three major designs and providers of each kind.

It’s hard to find unbiased reviews. For example, AARP offers a discount to members, available through ADT Companion Service, but this comparison by a competitor, Life Station, makes some arguments against it.

Luckily, Lawserver Online RatingLab’s comparison of medical alerts provides product reviews, advice about comparing them and a ratings chart. You can also go to the Better Business Bureau and do a search for “medical alarms” limited to your zip code, to find how they’ve rated local services.

If you are trying to help an older person who lives out of state, you might also want to find out what is available to them locally. You can use this eldercare locator to find agencies where they live, that can help you.

Be wary of phone salespeople, and online ads; there are lots of scams out there. The resources we’ve listed should help you find a reliable device that will work for you.  Need more help? Contact a librarian and we'll be glad to help. 

 

Where do you go to find a new doctor, or health care professional?  How do you know if your doctor is licensed or board certified?

Here are some resources to help you find information about health professionals.  These tools allow you to search in a variety of different ways - by physician name, by geographic area or by medical specialty.  You can find a doctor's education and training, area of specialty, licensing information, and even malpractice claims.

The Oregon Medical Board licenses physicians and other health professionals such as acupuncturists.  On this site, you can look up a physician or other healthcare provider,  and find out when they were licensed, if their license is active and if they have malpractice claims filed against them.   Be sure to read the information about what constitutes a claim against a physician.

DoctorFinder, sponsored by the American Medical Association, is a physician locator.  It also provides basic professional information on amost every licensed physician in the United States, including doctors of medicine and osteopathic medicine.

DocFinder from AIM, the Administrators in Medicine,  sponsors this site from which you can search for physicians anywhere in the United States.  This list is only as complete as those State Boards that make the information available, however.

MedlinePlus, from the National Library of Medicine offers a comprehensive list of directories on its website.  You can locate a physician by specialty or by geographic area.  You can also find organizations for almost anything medical or health related.  Organizations can be a good resource for information too.  For instance, the American Headache Society has a page to help you locate a headache specialist?

Remember to always evaluate the information you find on the Internet and use websites you trust when researching medical information!

 

Millions of consumers get health information from magazines, TV or the Internet. Some of the information is reliable and up to date; some is not. How can you tell the good from the bad?

First, consider the source. If you use the Web, look for an "about us" page. Check to see who runs or sponsors the site: Is it a branch of the government, a university, a health organization, a hospital or a business? Focus on quality. Does the site have an editorial board? Is the information reviewed before it is posted? Be skeptical. Things that sound too good to be true often are.  Is the site current and has it been updated recently?  Scroll to the bottom of the page for update information.  Is the information factual or does it represent opinion?   You want current, unbiased information based on research.  And finally, ask who is the intended audience of the site—is it consumers like us, or health professionals. 

As you look through the following material about evaluating health information specifically, you will realize that you can use the same criteria to evaluate other information you find on the Web.  Think about bias when you are looking for consumer reports about a product;  think about currency of information when you are evaluating the purchase of a computer;  and think about sponsorship and authority of a site if you are trying to find a lawyer.  

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/evaluatinghealthinformation.html
MedlinePlus offers an overview of evaluating health information and also provides links to more articles to help you find reliable, authoritative health information.

http://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/evaluating_health_information/

University of California San Francisco provides this overview of criteria to use when judging the reliability of health information, including red flags to watch for.

http://www.mlanet.org/resources/userguide.html

The Medical Library Association provides this comprehensive article about finding and evaluating good medical information and includes a selection of “Top 10 Most Useful Consumer Health Sites”.

If you have diabetes, diet and exercise are key to controlling the disease. Learn how following a meal plan and engaging in regular physical activity can help you manage your diabetes.

For more on specific exercises for older adults, check out Go4Life®, the exercise and physical activity campaign from the National Institute on Aging (NIA).

The information on Diabetes was provided by NIHSeniorHealth and developed by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) at the National Institutes of Health.

 

Nutrition is an important component of a healthy lifestyle. On this page we have gathered some resources to help you learn more about diet and nutrition for you and your family.

Organizations are often a useful resource for information. The National Dairy Council, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and Oldways: Health Through Heritage, are all examples of organizations from which you can find lots of current, practical information about what to eat! For instance, Oldways provides recipes based on cultural traditions and heritage. Their mission is to support eating as a family and cultural heritage, and to promote the "old ways" of eating. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) has a section for the public that offers articles about eating right for healthy weight, allergies, and other conditions. The National Dairy Council also offers recipes as well as a special section on child nutrition.

Many general health and medical web resources include nutrition information too. MedlinePlus, one of our favorite all purpose health sites, includes a section on food and nutrition. The Mayo Clinic, a well-respected medical institution, offers a section on healthy living which includes articles about nutrition and healthy eating. Nutrition.gov is a comprehensive resource for nutrition information for all members of the family and includes everything from medical information to shopping, cooking and meal planning.

The library subscribes to databases of journal and newspaper articles that focus on specific topics, such as health. Health and Wellness Resource Center is one of the most "user-friendly" databases. Type a search term into the box, or choose from a selection of tabs to find what you need. Alt Health Watch focuses on non-Western medicine, including articles that discuss diet and nutrition. Health Reference Center Academic has a nice subject guide search to help you find articles about diet or nutrition (and any other health or medical subject).

Enjoy browsing some of these consumer friendly resources about nutrition and diet and then check the library's catalog for some great books we have on these topics.

Has your child asked you “Where do babies come from?” yet?  Are you prepared to answer that question?  I was a bit unprepared when my 4 year old son asked me recently.  He saw a woman nursing her baby at the swimming pool and ever since then he has been fascinated by the human body.  I felt that I was only able to give him a cursory answer, which spurred me to check out the library for books.  I found some to read to him and others to help me answer his questions the best I could.  If you have found yourself in this situation with your child or are just preparing for it ahead of time, please check out the attached list for some books I found to help me.  Good luck addressing what can be a touchy topic for parents.

PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is an anxiety disorder that occurs after a terrifying ordeal. Learn about the symptoms of PTSD and find out about medications and types of psychotherapy used to treat PTSD and other anxiety disorders.

Also, see how an older veteran with PTSD is overcoming this disorder.

 

The information on Anxiety Disorders was provided by NIHSeniorHealth and developed by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

The following is a selective list of websites to help you find information about diseases and their treatment.    The sites are sponsored by well-respected associations and organizations.  You can also find information about specific diseases on the websites of organizations such as the American Diabetes Association or the American Heart Association.  The library subscribes to databases that contain articles from health and medical journals.   These are a good source of health information that is both current and authoritative.   You can find these databases on the health topics page under resources.

Cancer.gov

Comprehensive information about cancer and its treatment from the National Cancer Institute.   Information is available for both lay persons and health professionals.  You can also find statistics, clinical trials and the latest research on cancer.

CAPHIS

If you want to find even more health information, try this very helpful list of the Top 100 Health Websites You Can Trust, selected by The Consumer and Patient Health Information Section of the Medical Library Association.   

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A fabulous resource of health information with a focus on public health.   There is  information about diseases but also advice for traveling overseas, lots of statistical reports and epidemiological studies and reports.  If you search the CDC Wonder, you can find reports like Daily Air Temperatures by geographic area and period.  A fun and educational health site.

ClinicalTrials.gov

A clinical trial is a research study in which human volunteers are assigned to interventions based on a plan and are then evaluated for effects on biomedical or health outcomes.  This site lists publicly and privately supported clinical trials on a wide range of diseases and conditions and describes the trial’s purpose, who may participate and contact information.  Used by patients, health care professionals and researchers,  it lists trials from 50 states and 182 countries.

Family Doctor

Sponsored by the Association of Family Physicians, this site is geared for the lay person. It is easy to use, and organized so that you can search by a disease or an age group or a topic. It also includes a symptom checker but remember to check with your health care provider for the most authoritative information about your symptoms.

Kid’s Health

Information about health, behavior, and development from before birth through the teen years.  Kids can find information geared just for them, about their bodies and feelings, growing and developing, in age-appropriate language.  Parents can find information about pregnancy, parenting, kids' health and much more.

Lab Tests Online

Explains clearly and concisely the purpose of many blood tests and other laboratory tests. Searchable by specific test, by age category, and by condition or disease.

Mayo Clinic

Find health information for the whole family on this well-known organization’s site.  You can also watch yoga videos, shop for products or stay abreast of the latest research on diseases and conditions. 

MEDLINEplus

One of the best places to start your search for medical information.  Search by a specific disease or find information under body location, body system or by age group.   The site is a wealth of information,  including  lists of health organizations and associations, directories to help you locate a physician or hospital, information about drugs and health news, and social issues that can affect you and your family's health.  You can even watch a video about your upcoming surgery!   From the National Library of Medicine.

 

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