Top Health Stories of 2010

OK, I’ll jump on the “it’s time for a round-up article” bandwagon.

Here are 10 from 2010 that are, did, or will, make a big impact on us:

1. Health Reform – for nearly a century, president after president has been trying to get some kind of national health legislation passed. Obama did it. No, it’s not perfect, and sure, there are going to be legal challenges for years to come – but 35 million Americans can worry a little less about getting sick. Look for more benefits to kick in during 2011.

2. Childhood Obesity – The First Lady spearheaded a national campaign for kids and their parents, focusing on this increasingly prevalent issue. More exercise, better nutrition, less soda and fast food, and parents that set a good example will all make a difference.

3. Healthcare bill for 9/11 Responders — they just got it in under the wire. It’s less than they deserve, but at least they and their families are finally being acknowledged and compensated for the devastating health effects these heroes incurred. Thank you, Senators Gillibrand and Schumer, members of the New York Congressional Delegation who had the foresight to vote for this legislation back in September, and Jon Stewart, for putting his unique spin on getting this bill passed.

4. Concussions – the long-term effects of repeated head banging by pro, college, high school, and even pee wee athletes finally got some notice.

5. Salmonella – a nationwide outbreak prompted the recall of half a billion eggs, after thousands of people reported getting sick after eating them. The contaminated eggs were primarily from two farms in Iowa – sickening people from California to Wisconsin.

6. Cholera epidemic in Haiti — how could anyone not be moved by the suffering of the people of this tiny nation. The effects of the devastating earthquake earlier in the year led to a widespread outbreak of cholera. Poor sanitation, contaminated drinking water, and only a few functioning hospitals combined into a deadly potion for disaster. The epidemic has killed over 100,000 people to date – a global response by medical workers is helping, but it is going to take a long time to get systems in place to prevent the spread of this, and other diseases.

7. Bedbugs — ugh. Where did these creatures come from and how did they get seemingly everywhere? ‘Nuff said. Ewww.

8. New guidelines — screening parameters for mammograms and prostate cancer changed this year. However, the American Cancer Society and some other organizations say annual mammograms over age 40 are still better. Also, men over age 50 should speak with their doctors about PSA tests. The American Heart Association also issued new criterion – revamping the method for administering CPRThis life-saving procedure now follows C-B-A, instead of A-B-C (Compression, Breathing, Airway).

9. There’s an App for Thathi-tech healthcare really made its mark in 2010 with more doctors, hospitals, and payors embracing electronic health records, virtual doctor consults, iPhone apps, and online medical record repositories from Google and Microsoft. What’s next – an implantable chip?

10. Social Media — I could not end this list without mentioning Twitter, Facebook, blogs, websites, and YouTube. News, data, stats, reports, how-tos, what ifs, insight, knowledge, studies, expert (and not so expert) advice… whoever a professional or consumer might want to connect with, build relationships with, whatever you want to know more about, or share, you could find like-minded people to connect with. Social media sites took on a strategic role this year in disseminating health information to the public. It works both ways – SM gives the public a chance to connect with each other, with government and private health agencies, companies, non-profits, providers, and more. Web 2.0 is evolving into Health 3.0.

I hope The Human Factor is one social media site that you will turn to often in 2011, for commentary, thoughts, and ideas on healthcare issues that matter. I have some new plans for this blog in the coming months and look forward to sharing them with you. Have a safe, happy, and HEALTHY New Year!

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