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PHI in the News

Sharing Public Spaces to Improve Public Health

March 27, 2018 | Patricia Leigh Brown | The New York Times

A practice known as "shared use" is increasingly common and significant in poor urban and rural areas where safe, accessible parks are few and gym memberships are either unavailable or unaffordable for many. Shared use is an agreement in which a school, church or similar institution opens its doors to the public for health-related activities, typically led by a nonprofit or a city.

PHI's Cultiva La Salud has spearheaded a shared use deal with the city of Orange Cove in California's Central Valley to make schools available for evening Zumba classes, which is featured in this New York Times article.  more

Liquor is everywhere now in Washington, so why aren't we drinking more?

March 22, 2018 | David Hyde | KUOW Public Radio

Washington State has the highest taxes on liquor in the country, particularly since the state privatized liquor six years ago. After privatization, the average price for liquor jumped more than 15 percent on many items, according to PHI's Alcohol Research Group.

ARG's William Kerr speaks with Seattle's NPR affiliate KUOW about his research in this piece examining the business process of whiskey makers in Washington.  more

SMART, LifeRing, and Women For Sobriety Are as Effective as AA, Study Shows

March 20, 2018 | Tracy Chabala | The Fix

A new study from PHI's Alcohol Research Group suggests that alternative mutual help groups for people seeking sobriety support seem to be just as effective in treating alcohol use disorders as traditional 12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

“A lot of people don’t like AA, and someone may be deterred from going to treatment if they feel like they need to go to AA, specifically because of the spiritual emphasis... I’d like for people to have choice because I feel like it could help them access and utilize treatment broadly and form the kinds of networks they need in order to recover,” said ARG's Sarah Zemore in this in-depth article.  more

Image: cyclonebill (Spejlæg) / Wikimedia Commons

Trump Said He Wants To Spend Money On “Great Commercials” To Scare Kids Off Drugs. But Ads Haven’t Worked In The Past.

March 19, 2018 | Dan Vergano | BuzzFeed News

Although public health experts applauded many of the steps in Trump’s “Initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse” unveiled on Monday — such as expanding the use of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone and allowing Medicaid to pay for more beds at addiction treatment centers — one of the proposals they questioned is his calls for making anti-drug ads intended to scare young people.

“In general there hasn’t been much evidence for the effectiveness of trying to scare the pants off kids,” Lori Dorfman, director of PHI's Berkeley Media Studies Group, told BuzzFeed News.  more

Marin regains rank as state’s healthiest county

March 14, 2018 | Richard Halstead | The Marin Independent Journal

Marin County has regained its status as healthiest in California, according to the ninth annual County Health Rankings released this week. Last year, after seven consecutive years of being ranked No. 1, Marin slipped to No. 2 behind San Mateo County. The rankings make clear that good health is influenced by a number of factors beyond medical care.

“To address health, we must address housing, education, child care and other social determinants. And to address those, we must face the impact of racism, income inequality and immigration policy in communities,” said Mary Pittman, president and CEO of PHI, which helps disseminate the rankings in California.  more

Cummins initiative seeks to boost women; program will focus on empowerment, breaking down barriers

March 08, 2018 | The Republic

On International Women's Day, Indiana-based power company Cummins, Inc. accounced a multi-million dollar investment in programs designed to empower women and girls, including PHI's Rise Up. This partnership with the Cummins Powers Women initiative will expand Rise Up's global reach in enabling girls and women to transform their own lives, communities, and countries through advocacy and policy change.

Rise Up Founder Denise Dunning was featured as the keynote speaker for Cummins' Global Women’s Conference for Leadership in Indianapolis, where the Cummins initiative was announced.   more

Image courtesy of Refinery29

Michelle Obama Talks To A Girl From Guatemala About Why Education Is Vital

March 07, 2018 | Refinery29

For International Women's Day, former First Lady Michelle Obama held this Q&A with Alejandra Teleguario Santizo, a girl leader with PHI's Rise Up, and three other young women to highlight their efforts empowering girls around the world.

Last year, Alejandra began to speak out against sexual violence and street harassment in her community in Guatemala through local radio programs, with the help of Rise Up’s Let Girls Lead initiative.  more

Alcoholics Anonymous works for some people. A new study suggests the alternatives do too.

March 05, 2018 | German Lopez | Vox

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For several years, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and the 12 steps have dominated addiction treatment in the U.S.—turning into the standard option within most addiction treatment programs in the country. A new study from the Alcohol Research Group, a program of the Public Health Institute, has found that other mutual help groups including Women for Sobriety (WFS), LifeRing Secular Recovery (LifeRing), and SMART Recovery (SMART) are viable alternatives to traditional 12-step groups like AA.

The author of this Vox article which highlights the study points out that for people who don’t like AA for whatever reason, this new research suggests that there may be a more complete solution available for alcohol addiction.  more

6 telehealth policy barriers to watch out for

February 23, 2018 | Julie Spitzer | Becker's Hospital Review

Healthcare organizations are increasingly looking to adopt telehealth programs, but they face a number of policy barriers that hinder their plans. This article breaks down each of those barriers, using information from PHI's Center for Connected Health Policy.  more

©2016 Josh Kohanek; photo courtesy of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Kevin Barnett on Community Development and Health in Shelterforce

February 13, 2018 | Kevin Barnett, Public Health Institute | Shelterforce Magazine

Hospitals and health systems can’t solve societal challenges alone, but they can play a key role in mobilizing and aligning joint resources to bring positive changes to low-income communities. In a new piece featured in Shelterforce Magazine, Kevin Barnett, Dr.P.H., M.C.P., a senior investigator with the Public Health Institute, explores the opportunities for collaboration between the health and community development sectors.  more

Image: ThinkStock

Store-and-Forward Telemedicine Services Expand Connected Health

January 27, 2018 | Eric Wicklund | mHealthIntelligence

Store-and-forward, an emerging telehealth modality popular with ophthalmologists and dermatologists, is now increasingly being using in primary care programs. It involves sending data from a patient through a secure e-mail or messaging service to a cloud-based platform for analysis, then a diagnosis and treatment plan are sent back to the patient or provider. PHI's Center for Connected Health Policy researches utilization of store-and-forward and other telehealth technologies across the country. Its 2017 report on the benefits of store-and-forward and regulations of it are included in this mHealthIntelligence feature article.  more

The Insidious Threat of Wildfire—Not What You Might Think

January 24, 2018 | Jeffrey D. Gunzenhauser & Linda Rudolph | The Progressive


Across the nation, wildfires burned more than nine million acres in 2017—one of the worst fire seasons in decades. And as bad as wildfires are now, they are expected to get worse, due to climate change. It is clear that fires can cause far-reaching havoc, even after the blazes are extinguished. Less visible are wildfires’ impacts on public health, which are detailed in this op-ed by PHI's Linda Rudolph and Dr. Jeffrey D. Gunzenhauser, chief medical officer and director of the Disease Control Bureau for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.  more

Advisory Panel Recommends Reducing Blood Alcohol Concentration Limit To Prevent Traffic-Related Deaths

January 17, 2018 | Charmagne Nojas | The Tech Times

Alcohol-impaired driving is a persistent problem in the United States, causing more than 10,000 fatalities each year despite intensified efforts. Since the 1980s, drunk driving has accounted for one-third of all traffic-related deaths and almost 40 percent of these fatalities are victims other than the intoxicated driver. 

"The plateauing fatality rates indicate that what has been done to decrease deaths from alcohol-impaired driving has been working but is no longer sufficient to reverse this growing public health system," explains Steven Teutsch, senior fellow at the Public Health Institute.  more

Is a Federal Junk Food Tax In Our Future?

January 11, 2018 | Lela Nargi | Civil Eats

In response to the diabetes and obesity epidemics public health advocates and policymakers have proposed numerous strategies, including education programs, encouraging more physical activity, and developing holistic hospital and community interventions. None of these interventions has generated the same level of response or opposition as soda taxes, says the author of this Civil Eats article. A new study out from New York University and Tufts reports that these taxes work, and are legally and administratively viable—corroborating a PHI study last year showing a 9.6 percent drop in sugary drink sales one year after the sugar-sweetened beverage tax was enacted in Berkeley, CA, in March 2015.  more

The end of net neutrality could make rural broadband a heavier lift

January 09, 2018 | Jim Galloway | Politically Georgia

Within the space of 24 hours last month, a House Republican task force at the Georgia state capitol released its blueprint to extend broadband internet access in rural areas, allowing doctors to treat patients remotely, give students in poor school systems access to advanced courses, and provide employers with a firm and speedy connection to the rest of the world. But one day earlier, the Federal Communications Commission, pushed by its chairman, Ajit Pai, had declared an end to net neutrality. 

“It’s great that Georgia is thinking of extending broadband connectivity to these rural areas. They desperately need it,” Mei Kwong, executive director of PHI's Center for Connected Health Policy, says in this article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Politically Georgia. Kwong says the end of net neutrality, however, means rural communities could be vulnerable to the “pay prioritization” governing a cash-driven internet.  more

Image: Thinkstock

Telemedicine is rural health care safety 'net' that must remain neutral

January 08, 2018 | Dusty Nix | Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Accessing health care in rural areas is a serious, growing challenge in the state of Georgia—a crisis that may now worsen with the FCC's recent vote to end net neutrality rules, saying Columbus Ledger-Enquirer opinion writer Dusty Nix. The lack of high speed connection for telemedicine services that could result are worrying some, including Mei Kwong, interim director of PHI's Center for Connected Health Policy: “Without that connectivity, telemedicine doesn’t work ... You need it on the patient end and the provider end,” said Kwong.  more

Image: University of Victoria

Booze warnings worked in U.S., says researcher after Yukon labels pulled

January 03, 2018 | Laura Kane | Toronto Star

After a study on alcohol warning labels in Canada's Yukon territory was halted due to pushback from the liquor industry, Thomas Greenfield, PhD, scientific director of PHI's Alcohol Research Group, responded that similar labels related to drunk driving and drinking during pregnancy have proven effective in the U.S.

In the U.S., “the industry essentially ended up taking up the position they wouldn’t fight it... So it’s interesting that in other parts of the world as close as Canada, the industry is going back to its former position of fighting everything such as this,” said Greenfield, who was a consultant on the Yukon study.  more

Getty Images/Anilakkus

9 states with telehealth legislation taking effect in 2018

December 27, 2017 | Erin Dietsche | MedCity News

PHI's Center for Connected Health Policy has unveiled a list of telehealth legislation approved in 2017. Here are the 11 pieces of legislation in nine states that will officially take effect in 2018.   more

2017: A Look Back At The Year In State Telemedicine Legislation

December 21, 2017 | Eric Wicklund | mHealthIntelligence

Some 63 pieces of legislation focusing on telehealth or telemedicine were approved by 34 state Legislatures this year, according to PHI's Center for Connected Health Policy. The various bills cover a wide variety of digital health issues, from defining terms like telemedicine, telehealth, store-and-forward technology and virtual visits to establishing care standards before a doctor can use telehealth to serve new patients. This article provides a look at some of the more interesting bills.  more

FCC repeals net neutrality rules, potentially affecting telemedicine

December 14, 2017 | Rachel Arndt | Modern Healthcare

The Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal net neutrality rules established under Presendent Obama prohibiting internet providers from slowing or blocking internet content. This opens up the possibility that internet users could encounter differing connection speeds—something that could hurt telemedicine, says Mei Kwong, interim executive director and policy adviser for PHI's Center for Connected Health Policy.  more

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