Tag Archives: healthcare

What is Public Health and Why Should You Be Paying Closer Attention?

The first week in April is National Public Health Awareness week, so we wanted to take a closer look at just how important public health is to us all as individuals, and our country (and planet) as a whole.

What is Public Health, Exactly?

Public health is essentially the science of promoting public wellbeing and safety. It involves informing the public of potential health hazards such as infectious diseases, promoting safety and awareness and helping prevent illness for the general public. The leading public health resource and authority in the United States is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

What Does the CDC Do?

CDC professionals work tirelessly to:

  • Provide credible, thoroughly researched health information.
  • Work with local, state and federal partners to keep watch on and help prevent infectious disease outbreaks.
  • Conduct health research.
  • Warn public of potential infectious hazards, and gives information on what to watch out for and how to avoid particular illnesses.
  • Lead public, front-line health efforts to help control infectious diseases.
  • Help develop and reform health policies.
  • Help disseminate important health-related government information by making it more accessible to general public.
  • Provide a detailed, current database of information about countless diseases and conditions.
  • Ensure the latest health information is always up-to-date.
  • Provide funding for state and national health programs and facilities.
  • Promote healthy lifestyles and behaviors.

All these efforts by the CDC and similar organizations help keep us all safer and healthier.

Public Awareness is Power

By warning the public of various serious or life-threatening contagious diseases, public health organizations like the CDC or the WHO (World Health Organization) can help us learn what symptoms to be on the look out for, precautionary measures to take and other ways to prevent contracting these illnesses. The more we know, the more we can do for our own health.

Which Issues Fall Under the Public Health Umbrella?

Public health usually focuses on issues like smoking, cancer, infectious diseases, healthy living, diabetes and other chronic diseases, recent nutrition and diet information, HIV/AIDS, prenatal issues, climate change, pollution, obesity, vaccines and much more.

What Can You Do to Contribute to Better Public Health?

If you felt inclined to contribute to public health awareness, you can help make a difference by joining the public health movement, ‘Generation Public Health’, or helping raise awareness for certain diseases, causes, or organizations like the CDC on social media, or you can physically volunteer in your local public health sector.

Thanks for visiting DocChat! Stay healthy and happy!

Telemedicine is Often Called in for Tricky Cases

Telemedicine sets the stage for a life-saving collaboration between emergency physicians and faraway specialists for difficult medical cases. Let’s take a look at a few specific examples where telemedicine saved the day:

  1. A Complicated Infection

    When a 74-year-old man living in Utah went to his local ER department for a very stiff and painful neck that wasn’t responding to OTC meds, they were surprised to detect a severe Staph infection around his collarbone. After they conducted surgery, the man met with an infectious diseases specialist who was hours away via telemedicine. The specialist then managed the man’s post-operative care to ensure the complex, invasive infection wouldn’t resurface and to help with the complications it caused. This was conducted through a telemedicine program called Intermountain which has telemedicine equipment set up in over 1000 rooms in 22 different hospitals in Utah to help faraway specialists manage complex cases like this.

  2. A Child’s Gunshot Wound in War-Torn Congo

    Heartbreakingly, a small girl was shot through the hand by armed forces in her village, and doctors who tended to her complicated wound wondered whether or not to amputate the limb. Luckily, telemedicine provided the opportunity for photographs and information about the wound to be sent to a specialist who decided that debriding the wound would be a better move than amputation, saving the girl’s hand. Tragically, many people in war-torn or developing nations suffer multitudes of unfathomable medical emergencies and are out of reach of speciality healthcare. Telemedicine has stepped up to this deficit in recent years, allowing countless lives to be bettered and saved through correspondence with specialists in other parts of the world and the local medical workers.

  3. A Baby’s Life Hanging in the Balance

    A few years ago, a mother from Hudson, New York took her sick baby to a hospital, only to be told it was just a run-of-the-mill virus and to let her rest. When the baby would not wake from her nap, the mother frantically rushed her to another hospital, where a telemedicine conference with pediatric specialist, Dr. Jennifer Needle, was set up. Based on the teleconference, Dr. Needle was able to diagnose the baby with a life-threatening meningococcemia infection and ordered a breathing tube, saving the baby’s life while she was transferred to another hospital for emergency treatment.

These are just a few of the numerous individual cases whereby lives were saved and bettered by telemedicine. Thanks for visiting DocChat! If you have any medical inquires or issues, feel free to sign up today for a teleconference with one of our board-certified physicians.

Medical Technology Allows Med Students to Perform Virtual Surgery

Medical cadavers are a freaky thought for many, but for decades, they were the only available method of surgery practice for med students. However, rapidly advancing medical technology has come up with an alternative: virtual surgery on a 3D digital model of the human body. Cool! It is a hotly debated subject in the medical community, as virtual surgery has clear drawbacks, but it presents itself as a viable complementary alternative for med students. Let’s take a closer look:

How Does Virtual Surgery Work?

To view a VR hologram of a cadaver, the medical student wears 3D active shutter glasses that utilize liquid crystal technology that is synchronized with the image projector. The amazing anatomically accurate 3D models were developed for the Visible Human Project, whereby participating scientists and technological developers created over 5000 TIFF images taken of a person’s cadaver (externally and internally). They used one male cadaver and one female that were preserved for medical science purposes since the 1990s. Students can hone in on any one the digital cadaver’s organs and use surgical tools to simulate cutting into it. Some VR surgery rooms have multiple motion sensor cameras that tap into the 3D glasses that allow the student to walk around the body, viewing it from different angles in the round. This makes the experience even more like reality.

Some of The Pros Of Digital Surgery For Medical Students

VR can provide med students amazing tools that were never before available to help train them for surgery. Some of the many pros of digital surgery include:

  • Students can access a cadaver at any time to practice surgery techniques or interactively learn about anatomy.
  • Virtual surgery can build the students’ confidence by giving them a platform on which to continuously learn and perfect their knowledge of the human body.
  • It can help the student develop and hone psychomotor skills.
  • It can help build teamwork skills as several students can view and “work on” the digital cadaver at once.
  • It can reduce the number of cadavers that must be obtained and kept on hand for medical training.

Will Technology Make Medical Cadavers a Thing of the Past?

Some medical professionals and professors believe virtual surgery has too many limitations and doesn’t provide the hands-on nitty-gritty experience needed to educate them on real-life surgery. However, many disagree with this viewpoint, believing technology is the future for medical science and training. In an interview about this subject in Forbes magazine, New York’s Dr. Robert Glatter wrote, “VR can open up an entirely new world of possibilities to experience the tense, real-world clinical situations which require rapid thinking and quick analysis for management of critically ill patients”.

Digital Surgery Can Help Supplement Traditional Training

We examined some of the pros of digital surgery for medical students, however it does have drawbacks. Clearly it cannot completely provide the hands-on training that performing surgery on an actual medical cadaver would. It is important students still have access to cadavers for some parts of their education, but digital surgery can provide top-tier supplemental practice and training for them as well. The benefits that digital surgery can provide for students cannot be refuted, however, a mix of both would likely provide the best overall training experience.

Boy, isn’t medical technology astounding? Thanks for visiting DocChat!

Telemedicine – A Convenient HealthCare Choice for Winter Problems

Of all seasons, the convenience of telemedicine shines brightest in the winter. Who wants to venture out in the snowy cold to deal with a day of doctor’s appointments or ER waiting rooms when you can see a telemedicine doctor in under 15 minutes? There is no reason to risk a slip-and-fall on the way to the doctor if you can see one from the comfort of your own home. Let’s take a look at some common winter health issues that can easily be treated by telemedicine:

  1. Skin problems – The cold dry air of winter can exacerbate many skin conditions such as eczema and xerosis (extremely dry skin). Sometimes a prescription cream such as a topical corticosteroid is necessary to help winter-related skin flares, but why spend a whole day dealing with a doctor’s appointment or walk-in clinic in the cold when there is another option? You can be connected with a board-certified doctor in minutes who can take a look at your skin via video or photos and prescribe the exact cream you need in minutes flat.
  2. Colds and Respiratory infections – Cold and flu season brings with it more cold germs and infectious bacteria than any other time of year. Do you find you can’t shake the sniffles or worried you may have a sinus infection? Telemedicine can help! Our doctors are emergency experienced and ready to help with any of your sniffling, coughing and sneezing needs!
  3. Too-cold extremities – Do your hands or feet change color in winter and refuse to warm up? You may have Raynaud’s (or another circulation problem), so why not have a telemedicine doc take a look at your skin and deliver a diagnosis along with any necessary treatment? Or, has your skin looked different since you stayed out in the cold too long? If you’re worried you may have gotten a little frostnip (the first stage of frostbite), and want a doctor’s opinion, there’s no quicker or more opportune way to get it than via telemedicine.
  4. Sore throats – If you’ve had a sore throat for a few days and want to make sure you don’t have strep throat or another type of contagious illness, give telemedicine a try. Board certified doctors will look at your photos and look at your throat via high-definition video technology to determine whether you need prescription treatment or not.
  5. Arthritis flares – For reasons not completely explained by medical science, many arthritis sufferers experience flare-ups in the cold winter months. If you’re one of these people, avoid venturing out on the dangerous ice where you could slip and hurt yourself further. Telemedicine doctors can help with chronic condition management, so give it a try today!
  6. Chronic respiratory condition flares – if you have COPD or asthma, you probably find the winter cold to be extremely hard on the lungs. If so, your symptoms likely increase in the winter. Telemedicine doctors can assess your condition and alter your prescription treatment as necessary to help you get through the winter a little easier.

Are you convinced? Give telemedicine a try today! Thanks for visiting DocChat, we hope you’ll return again soon.







Frequently Asked Questions About AIDS (Part 2)

AIDS is a life-threatening devastating condition that has claimed nearly 35 million lives worldwide since the first outbreak decades ago. Luckily, because of medical advancements, the prognosis for people with HIV and AIDS is much better than ever before. We looked at what AIDS is and how it can be spread in Part 1, now for prevention and screening:

Can AIDS be prevented? 

The only sure-fire way to prevent contracting the HIV virus is to either abstain from high-risk behaviors such as vaginal or anal intercourse with partners of unknown status or using any type of needle that isn’t given under medical supervision. Aside from abstinence, you can drastically reduce your chances by only have sex one monogamous partner who has been tested negative for HIV as well as using a condom or dental dam for all of your sexual encounters. The CDC recommends people in the high-risk category for HIV take PrEP.

What is PrEP?

Pre-exposure prophylaxis is when a high-risk person takes daily antiretroviral HIV medicines daily to help prevent contracting the disease. It is a relatively new and effective preventative measure against the HIV infection. PrEP can actually stop HIV from successfully infiltrating the body if it is taken as prescribed.

Who Should Consider Taking PrEP?

The CDC recommends that people who engage in ‘risky behaviors’ that fall into the following high-HIV-risk categories take PrEP to help prevent HIV infection:

  • HIV-negative people who are in sexual relationships with an HIV positive partner.
  • A gay or bisexual man who has had intercourse without a condom or been diagnosed with an STD in the past 6 months.
  • Heterosexual people who don’t regularly use condoms during relations with partners of unknown HIV status.
  • People who have sex with other high-risk partners (such as those who inject drugs or women with bisexual male partners).
  • People who have injected drugs in the last 6 months or shared needles.
  • If you are considering becoming pregnant with a partner who is HIV positive PrEP can help protect you and your unborn child.

If you are HIV positive it is your legal and ethical responsibility to disclose your HIV status to any potential sexual partners. If you need help on how to start that tricky conversation, check out the CDC’s HIV resources.

Who Should Get Screened for HIV?

Everyone who has sexual partners of unknown HIV status or is sexually active but not in a committed monogamous relationship with a known HIV-negative person should get screened for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases regularly as 1 in every 8 HIV-positive people don’t even know they are infected. The CDC has extensive screening guidelines on their website including how often people at different risk levels for HIV should be tested.

That concludes our look at HIV/AIDS prevention and screening, thanks for visiting DocChat! If you have any medical questions, our board-certified physicians are standing by 24/7/365 to assist you.

Telemedicine: Helping Healthcare Switch From Reactive to Proactive

For decades healthcare has focused more on treating the fallout of health problems after they had become full-blown issues as opposed to screening and preventing future health problems from arising in the first place. Luckily, this is changing as telemedicine and other technologically driven medical advancements make it much easier to screen, check up on and preventatively treat certain health issues like diabetes, heart disease and blindness before they fully develop or become too severe.

6 Examples of Predictive Medical Technology

“Predictive technology” comes to patients today in such readily accessible forms as:

  1. Intelligent phone apps that can take a patient’s vitals and transmit the info to a doctor
  2. Healthcare alerting engines like SARA (Situational Awareness and Response Assistant) help lessen the workload of overburdened nurses, doctors and care attendants by helping monitor and attend to hospital or nursing home patients.
  3. CISOR patient monitoring systems.
  4. Wearable smart technology such as fitness sensors that monitor a person’s normal vitals and routines and can help get them back on track when they deviate a healthy path.
  5. Telemedicine advancements such as mobile retinopathy screening devices that can detect early eye diseases before they become problematic.
  6. Advanced types of screening for silent diseases like lung cancer.

How Telemedicine Companies are Helping Make the Shift

Telemedicine companies like DocChat are help improve healthcare accessibility and affordability which in turn can help patients receive care in a timely manner instead of letting a health problem worsen while waiting months or longer for access to healthcare. Telemedicine companies also act well as a method of screening which problems require immediate medical assistance and which are not serious. Telemedicine is also excellent for monitoring and managing chronic conditions to ensure the patient’s state isn’t silently deteriorating or worsening.

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the impressive strides medical technology is making. Thanks for visiting DocChat! Our board-certified physicians are standing by 24/7/365 to assist you with any of your medical queries!



Telemedicine is Improving Healthcare for Veterans

Our veterans have done so much for our country, but unfortunately they haven’t been adequately taken care of by our healthcare system. Over 3 million veterans are dispersed across rural areas that are inaccessible to the proper care. Many have disabilities or serious health conditions that make it difficult for them to travel to hospitals and clinics that are miles away. Moreover, those who are willing and able to travel still have to wait months for an appointment. But luckily telemedicine has been answering their call for better and quicker healthcare.

Gaining More Ground With Veterans

Telemedicine has been helping struggling veterans for some time now (DocChat for example works with several), but unfortunately most veterans weren’t even aware of the option until recently. It was actually the long, tiring, traffic-laden commute from West Los Angeles, where many veterans live, to the V.A. outpatient clinic in Oxnard that prompted the V.A. to start focusing on telehealth as the solution to problems like this.

The Veterans of Ventura County 

Over 6,000 of the 60,000 veterans living in Ventura County are already starting to use telemedicine to eliminate wait-times, commuting and the hassle of doctor’s appointments that are so far out of reach. Many of them consult with their Oxnard doctor via skype. Some of their local clinics are even set up with machinery such as electronic stethoscope and ophthalmoscope attachments so the corresponding doctor can take blood pressure and other vital information while consulting on skype. Hopefully more and more veterans will become aware of the option to use telemedicine services like DocChat or consult with certain doctors via skype so they are increase the quality of their care. What can’t technology do?

Thanks for visiting DocChat! If you are a veteran who is interested in telemedicine, sign up today to try a video consultation with one of our experienced, board certified physicians!

Breast Cancer Causes and Risk Factors

Breast Cancer Causes and Risk Factors

Breast cancer develops as a result of mutated breast cells. In approximately 10% of these cases, the mutations are acquired through genetic predispositions, while most cases of breast cancer are influenced by a combination of environmental, lifestyle or hormonal risk factors. In many of these cases the exact cause of the cell mutation will never fully be known.

Risk Factors Versus Causes

The direct causes of breast cancer are not well understood as it is a very complex disease, however we do know that common risk factors often play important roles in the development of different types of cancer. Having one or more risk factors doesn’t necessarily mean you will develop breast cancer, nor does being a carrier of certain genes, however risk factors do put you at greater risk of eventually developing the disease.

Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

Some of the known risk factors that may contribute to the development of breast cancer include:

  • Inheriting certain genes such as BRCA1 and BRCA2
  • Having a close relative with breast cancer
  • Aging. While some women develop breast cancer at a young age, generally your risk increases as you get older.
  • Being female
  • Ethnicity. Research illustrates that African-American women are at a slightly higher risk of getting breast cancer than Caucasian women.
  • Being exposed to radiation
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Drinking alcohol regularly
  • Undergoing hormone therapy
  • Having already had breast cancer
  • Early menstruation or late menopause – It is thought that estrogen exposure has something to do with breast cancer development.
  • Never becoming pregnant or having children late in life
  • Smoking increases the risk of most types of cancer, including breast cancer as there are over 70 known carcinogens in cigarette smoke.

The Bottom Line

These are not the only risk factors, for example, research suggests that women with chronic nutritional deficiencies, exposure to toxins or who suffer chronic inflammation may be at greater risk for developing breast cancer as well. While certain risk factors such as age, ethnicity and genetics are unchangeable, others such as weight or lifestyle choices like drinking and smoking are modifiable. Therefor, it is important to make all the healthy lifestyle choices you can if you wish to put yourself in a lower risk category for breast cancer development.

That concludes our look at the risk factors that can help contribute to breast cancer, keep an eye out for future posts on the topic. Thanks for visiting DocChat!








Telemedicine for Minor Immediate Issues

Did you ever have to spend all day in pursuit of a last minute doctor’s appointment or emergency care just for a simple complaint that was easily rectified? We’ve all been there. But luckily, there is a quicker and easy one-word answer to these small health inquiries – telemedicine!

While telemedicine is great for helping control chronic conditions like arthritis as well as to diagnose and treat most common medical issues (up to 78% of complaints, according to the AMA), telemedicine especially excels when it comes to quick problems.

When we say “quick problems” we are talking about such one-time ailments as:
•    Sunburn or small minor burns
•    Uncontrolled dandruff
•    Quick medical questions (such as medication interactions)
•    Heartburn or diarrhea
•    Skin infection
•    Yeast or urinary tract infection
•    Sore throat or cough
•    Rash
•    Conjunctivitis
•    Suspicious bug bite
•    Fever

Basically, we’re talking about problems that may be easily fixed with an antibiotic prescription or special pharmacological cream. It is one thing to spend hours waiting for a same-day appointment or emergency care for something serious and complex, but isn’t life too short to waste precious time, money and patience on appointments for things that can be easily handled in the comfort of your living room?

Thanks for visiting DocChat!

10 Reasons Why Telemedicine Is Only Now Taking Off


Even though the concept of telemedicine has been floating around for decades, it is only really beginning to soar as of late. Why, if we had this revolutionary concept right underneath our noses, are we just beginning to utilize it? There are many reasons for this, some of which include:

  1. Technological growth is perhaps the primary reason telemedicine is finally getting its due. With all our modern advancements, the digital stage is now set for telemedicine to shine. With faster internet connections, wi-fi available almost anywhere and better software being manufactured, a video conference is as smooth as butter nowadays. Can you imagine having a video chat back when dial-up was commonplace?
  2. Privacy concerns are finally being eradicated. Great strides have been made in the arena of privacy and patient information protection so that people can confidently access online care without the worries that existed years ago. For example, DocChat uses top-tier AES-256 bit encryption which has proven unbreakable.
  3. Reluctance on part of doctors and patients to welcome change and advance with the times has prevented telemedicine from flourishing for decades. Luckily that is finally starting to change.
  4. Obstacles like legality, software development and logistics are only now being ironed out and surmounted. Telemedicine was used broadly before, but now has the potential to be used in very detailed ways that suit patients much better.
  5. Insurance companies like Medicaid are finally opening the door to let telemedicine in. They are beginning to recognize and accept the growing popular demand of telemedicine healthcare.
  6. Smartphones and tablets are opening up possibilities by making healthcare accessible virtually anywhere. Gone are the days of bulky stationary desktops. Now there are telemedicine apps available to allow people to see doctors from anywhere.
  7. Baby boomers are less mobile now and more ‘tech-savvy’ than ever, so even though people think of millennials as the primary users for telemedicine, don’t discount the baby boomers! Older Americans aged 60+ comprise the fastest growing social media demographic, and are getting hip to all kinds of digital trends and opportunities.
  8. The state of the healthcare system has patients frustrated and finally seeking alternatives to crowded germy waiting rooms. People are noticing that certain problems can be circumvented by telemedicine such as travel, wait-times and exposure to germs.
  9. Healthcare costs can be effectively slashed by utilizing telemedicine as well. For example, DocChat video consultations with board certified physicians cost only $50 a pop, with unlimited follow-up for a week! You can avoid travel costs as well as lost work days by using telemedicine.
  10. Triage effectivity. Telemedicine offers an excellent mode of triaging non-critical medical issues. This can cut down on ER congestion countrywide as well as mistakes made by overworked doctors. People are starting to see that they needn’t cart their sick selves all the way to the ER or a clinic to wait around for a prescription that can be obtained in their very own living rooms.

Well that’s our look at why telemedicine was waiting in the wings until now! Thanks for visiting DocChat, we hope you’ll return again soon.