Artificial intelligence (AI) has contributed to significant advances across many industries. Now, many people are using it as a tool for self-diagnosis or to get answers to health-related questions.
Self-diagnosis is a growing practice, as people’s primary access point for health care information has shifted from professionals to the internet. Given the rising popularity of AI as a source of information for health-related questions, you may wonder if it’s a good resource for self-diagnosis and medical information.
Generative for Health Care
Generative AI is a type of technology that produces content such as text, images or audio. Common tools used for this purpose include OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Med-PaLM. Amid a shortage of health care workers, chatbots like these could help answer your questions. Initial tests by researchers so far suggest these AI programs are more accurate than a standard Google search.
Pros of Using
Using AI tools for medical self-diagnosis can potentially reduce costs for patients and health care providers. Possible benefits of using generative AI include the following:
Improved health literacy
More efficient triaging
These factors can enhance patient experience and improve engagement. Additionally, chatbots are easier to use than online symptom checkers.
Cons of Using
Although generative AI has the potential to help you with medical self-diagnosis, this technology has limitations and pitfalls, such as:
The potential to provide false information
The ease of misinterpreting information
Ethical concerns (e.g., data privacy and bias)
The risk of ignoring medical advice
Therefore, some chatbots have disclaimers that they should not be used to diagnose serious conditions, provide instructions for curing conditions or manage life-threatening issues.
Considerations for Using AI for Self-diagnosis
While generative AI tools may help you quickly answer health-related questions and self-diagnose conditions, solely relying on them for information or medical assistance could be unsafe. However, these tools can be a useful resource to help you obtain accurate and timely health advice and information, as long as you understand their limitations.
Contact your doctor for the most accurate and personalized health care information and guidance.
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As we move into summer, many will want to exercise outdoors to stay active and get some fresh air. That’s great news, as health experts recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week. Also, moving your exercising outdoors can boost your mood and improve your concentration.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that walking is the most popular type of exercise
Trails, exercise parks, sports fields and stairs provide endless opportunities to switch up your workout. However, working out in hot and humid weather can put extra stress on your body, so consider the following tips to safely exercise outdoors:
Avoid the hottest part of the day. If possible, plan your workout before 10 a.m. or after 3 p.m. to dodge strong sun rays.
Wear light-colored clothing. Dark colors absorb the heat, while light colors reflect the sun. Lightweight, loose-fitting clothing will help air circulate and keep you cool.
Apply sunscreen. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that’s at least 30 SPF. Reapply every two hours, even if the label says it’s sweatproof. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat can also protect your face from the sun.
Stay hydrated with water. Drink water before you head out and try to take sips every 15 minutes during your workout—whether you’re thirsty or not.
Replenish your electrolytes. Instead of reaching for a sports drink after a workout, consider replacing your electrolytes with foods like chia seeds, kale, coconut, or fruits and vegetables.
Listen to your body. If you’re feeling dizzy, faint or nauseous, stop exercising immediately. Sit in the shade and drink water until you’re feeling better.
How Nutrition Impact the Brain
Nutrition plays a critical role in brain function, as the brain is one of the most metabolically active organs in the body. The brain requires a constant supply of nutrients to maintain its structural and functional integrity, and a deficiency in any of these nutrients can significantly impact brain health.
Certain nutrients have been shown to have a positive impact on brain function. For example, omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish (e.g., salmon and tuna), nuts and seeds have been shown to improve cognitive function, memory and mood. The B vitamins in leafy greens, legumes and whole grains are important for producing neurotransmitters that regulate mood and behavior. Antioxidants, which are found in colorful fruits and vegetables, protect the brain from oxidative stress and inflammation. Overall, a well-balanced diet rich in nutrients and low in processed foods and sugar is essential for optimal brain health and function.
Talk to your doctor if you have questions about brain health.
http://www.clearyinsurance.com/wp-content/uploads/Cleary_Logo.jpg00Carol LaCombehttp://www.clearyinsurance.com/wp-content/uploads/Cleary_Logo.jpgCarol LaCombe2023-07-14 14:48:292023-07-14 14:48:30Safety Tips for Exercising Outdoors and Brain Health
Workplace well-being transforms every day, so employee wellness initiatives will continue to grow this year. All signs indicate that employee well-being will become a primary focus for employers in 2023. And in a general sense, many organizations will have a renewed focus on employees as people. Employees want to be treated like human beings—not just resources. More than ever, workers want to feel like they belong in the workplace and feel recognized, appreciated and safe. Correspondingly, when employees’ well-being is thriving, they often take fewer sick days, increase their job performance, manage stress better and experience less burnout, all of which directly impact organizations. Thus, employers can yield positive benefits by caring for their people.
Here are four popular employee wellness trends to look out for in 2023.
Expanded Mental Health Resources
Advancement of Health Equity
Increased Focus on Hybrid Work-life Balance
Expanded Financial Wellness Resources
All signs indicate that mental and financial wellness will become significant pain points in 2023. The pandemic further exposed health inequalities and an unattainable work-life balance for many American workers. The most robust 2023 employee wellness offerings and programs will likely be employee-centered, focusing on how to provide the most comprehensive, attainable and affordable benefits. Many employees will not only need resources for handling mental and financial challenges but also support for working in a remote or hybrid setting with blurred lines between their home and work lives. This year, employers are expected to explore programs and initiatives that ensure all employees have access to the physical, mental and financial benefits they need to address the short- and long-term impacts of the pandemic and the current economic landscape.
Organizations can start by evaluating current wellness initiatives and thinking about ways to improve them. To ensure offerings and investments will resonate with the workforce, it can be helpful to survey employees first and see what they find most valuable and necessary for their overall well-being.
https://www.clearyinsurance.com/wp-content/uploads/cardiac-arrest.jpg183276Carol LaCombehttp://www.clearyinsurance.com/wp-content/uploads/Cleary_Logo.jpgCarol LaCombe2023-01-26 11:52:492023-01-26 11:52:49A primer on cardiac arrest
If you’ve ever felt a surge of well-being while listening to classical music, you’re certainly not alone—and best of all, that doesn’t have to be a temporary feeling. Research indicates that this type of music offers plenty of long-term benefits when it comes to your health.
Improved heart health
Should Mozart and Strauss be part of your heart health strategy? That’s the conclusion of a German study that looked at the effects of classical music compared to other genres. A group of healthy participants listened to either pop music or classical music for just a few hours, and those in the latter group showed lower blood pressure and heart rate after listening.
Even those who already have heart issues could see an advantage. Another study looked at the effects of classical music on participants with heart failure and found that 30 minutes daily for three months resulted in better sleep, lower anxiety and depression, and higher quality of life.
Better pain control
There’s an effect called “music-induced analgesia,” which means that music can actually reduce pain in a way that’s similar to pain medication. For example, a study on patients with fibromyalgia—a condition that tends to come with considerable, chronic nerve pain—found that listening to music, including classical music, can reduce pain and even improve functional mobility.
That study noted that the mechanism is likely related to how music boosts dopamine, one of the hormones related to feelings of well-being. When this happens, your brain may reduce pain signals.
Another study reports that classical music may have an effect on acute pain as well. Researchers found that people recovering from surgery were able to be prescribed lower doses of pain relievers when they listened to this type of music, and even tended to have shorter hospital stays.
More mental clarity
With a more comprehensive amount of mental quiet, it’s much easier to concentrate and focus on tasks at hand, and classical music can be a boon for providing that type of ease.
For example, research published in the Journal of Music Therapy looking at the effects of music written by Mozart versus “new age” music found that both types inspired feelings of thankfulness and love, but participants in the classical music group had substantially higher levels of mental quiet, awe, and wonder.
This seems to be true even for kids. A study from the Institute of Education at the University of London assessed the effects of classical music on children aged 7 to 10 and found that after just six listening sessions, they showed higher levels of concentration and self-discipline.
How does classical music stack up against other relaxation techniques? Quite well. One study, published in the journal PLoS One, recruited 60 women and split them into three groups: one that listened to the classical Miserere by composer Gregoria Allegri, one that enjoyed the sound of rippling water, and the last with no sound at all, only rest.
The three groups differed significantly in terms of stress response. While the music group had more stress than the water group while listening, it showed much faster recovery than the other groups. Researchers concluded that because of this, music should be seen as an intervention tool for stress management and stress-related health issues.
That last item is particularly important, because stress has been shown to contribute to a range of health issues, including low back pain, cardiovascular disease, even some cancers. Lowering stress levels in a way that helps you bounce back quickly from stressors can potentially mitigate these risks.
What about other music?
If you’re not a fan of classical music, good news: Other types of music have also been shown to be beneficial to your mental and physical health, especially if it’s music that makes you feel a deeper sense of relaxation or joy.
For instance, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley looked at the reactions of over 2,500 people to thousands of song samples, and found that multiple types of music prompt emotions like amusement, cheerfulness, desire, dreaminess, and triumph. Although they can also evoke feelings of sadness or annoyance, it depends on what type of music you choose.
The lead researcher noted that music is a universal language, but that we don’t always pay enough attention to what it’s saying and how it’s being understood. Taking the time to incorporate more music into your life—classical or otherwise—could be an important step toward learning this language and supporting your health along the way.
http://www.clearyinsurance.com/wp-content/uploads/Cleary_Logo.jpg00Carol LaCombehttp://www.clearyinsurance.com/wp-content/uploads/Cleary_Logo.jpgCarol LaCombe2022-11-01 10:14:592022-11-01 15:06:20Want a Health Boost? Listen to This Type of Music.
Hybrid work is a big departure from the traditional work arrangement. Switching between two workplaces may be a change, but it doesn’t need to cause your productivity to decline. Here are some tips to consider that may help boost your productivity as a hybrid employee.
Maximize Your Schedule.
Home and office environments are different. Plan tasks based on where you’ll be working. You may find tasks that require focus are best at home while collaborative tasks and meetings are better suited for the office. Different locations may spur creativity and focus in different ways.
Maintain a Consistent Schedule.
Your schedule at home should be consistent with your office schedule. Blocking your calendar each week can help you stay productive and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Mirror Your Office Setup at Home.
Maintain the same organization at home that you use in the office. Keep your items in the same place on your desk. Consider which items are worth having at each location and which ones are worth shuttling between workplaces. This will save you time each day.
Using technology, such as digital communication, project management tools and cloud-based platforms, can make it easier to jump into any project and stay productive from wherever you work.
Continue Communicating With Your Manager and Co-workers.
Hybrid work may cause you to miss out on key information or lose focus of your manager’s expectations. Using company communication channels and regularly checking in with your manager and peers can help you stay connected and updated on the most recent information and expectations.
Connect Regularly With Your Co-workers.
Feelings of social isolation can lead to a decline in your productivity. Find creative ways to have fun with co-workers even when working remotely, like playing games or virtual happy hours. This can re-energize you and counter feelings of burnout.
While no two work environments are the same, these tips are worth considering as you build a more permanent hybrid work routine that is effective and efficient. The hybrid work model is new and evolving. Communicate with your manager about what is working and what could be improved. Make adjustments when necessary, and when issues arise, keep trying.
http://www.clearyinsurance.com/wp-content/uploads/Cleary_Logo.jpg00Carol LaCombehttp://www.clearyinsurance.com/wp-content/uploads/Cleary_Logo.jpgCarol LaCombe2022-07-06 13:34:342022-07-06 13:34:346 Productivity Tips for Hybrid Employees
No matter what age you are, exercising your brain in a focused and deliberate way can provide numerous benefits, from better attention to faster learning, and keeping your memory sharp is a major part of this.
Having good recall is important—you’d never find your car keys or remember birthdays without it—but memory skills can go deeper than everyday function. For instance, a study in the journal Memory found that people with good memory tend to have a stronger sense of purpose overall, and that contributes to better mental and physical health.
Considering the ripple effect that comes with improved memory, that means keeping your memory in shape is crucial. Ready for your brain workout? Consider these five tools as a starting point:
1. Language learning app
Even if it’s been decades since you sat in a classroom, learning another language—or you never had those classes at all—you can still give your brain a major boost by studying a second language.
According to research in Frontiers in Neuroscience, just a few months of a language program can lead to functional changes in the brain, especially among older people. There are plenty of language-learning apps that are easy to use and many offer a free trial, with options like Duolingo, Babbel, Pimsleur, and Rosetta Stone. Apps like these have both reading and listening comprehension, which fires up different parts of the brain.
2. Music player
From digging out your retro cassette player to asking your smart speaker to fire up your favorite playlist, it doesn’t matter you get music delivered, it’s the tunes that provide benefits. Even better? Make sure the music is upbeat.
According to a study in the journal PLOS ONE, listening to music you describe as “happy” can prompt creativity, problem solving, and a positive mood, which all contribute to better memory function. For some people, even having music on in the background can help with memory capacity, especially if you’re listening while learning new information.
3. Jigsaw puzzles
Whether it’s a 1,000-piece puzzle that takes over your dining room table or a simple 100-piece version you can snap together in an hour, jigsaw puzzles have been shown to use multiple types of cognitive function and can even protect your brain as you get older.
Not only are you challenging your memory and concentration, but doing a puzzle can also help reduce stress, according to commentary from Baylor University. That’s particularly true if you make it a social activity, another way to give your brain a break from being busy and overwhelmed.
4. Light dumbbells
Could a pair of 5-pound or 10-pound dumbbells really help your memory? There’s plenty of research that suggests strength training is a big-time brain booster. Although cardio exercise shows benefits as well, lifting weights seems especially protective for memory.
The connection between quality sleep and optimal memory function is well established. In fact, sleep affects all of your brain functions, including mood, judgment, perception, and learning. Research from Harvard University notes that sleep is when your memories get organized and stored, so skimping on your shuteye can have serious effects on both short-term and long-term memory.
No matter what tools you choose, one of the most important aspects of boosting memory function is consistency. Just like building your muscles through strength training, keeping your memory in shape is best done by getting into a regular habit that becomes part of your everyday mix.
http://www.clearyinsurance.com/wp-content/uploads/Cleary_Logo.jpg00Carol LaCombehttp://www.clearyinsurance.com/wp-content/uploads/Cleary_Logo.jpgCarol LaCombe2022-04-19 13:02:092022-04-19 13:02:095 Tools That Can Sharpen Your Memory
Understand Your Rights Against Surprise Medical Bills
The No Surprises Act protects people covered under group and individual health plans from receiving surprise medical bills when they receive most emergency services, non-emergency services from out-of-network providers at in-network facilities and services from out-of-network air ambulance service providers. It also establishes an independent dispute resolution process for payment disputes between plans and providers, and provides new dispute resolution opportunities for uninsured and self-pay individuals when they receive a medical bill that is substantially greater than the good faith estimate they get from the provider.
Starting in 2022, there are new protections that prevent surprise medical bills. If you have private health insurance, these new protections ban the most common types of surprise bills. If you’re uninsured or you decide not to use your health insurance for a service, under these protections, you can often get a good faith estimate of the cost of your care up front before your visit. If you disagree with your bill, you may be able to dispute the charges. Here’s what you need to know about your new rights.
What Are Surprise Medical Bills?
Before the No Surprises Act, if you had health insurance and received care from an out-of-network provider or an out-of-network facility, even unknowingly, your health plan may not have covered the entire out-of-network cost. This could have left you with higher costs than if you got care from an in-network provider or facility. In addition to any out-of-network cost-sharing you might have owed, the out-of-network provider or facility could bill you for the difference between the billed charge and the amount your health plan paid, unless banned by state law. This is called “balance billing.” An unexpected balance bill from an out-of-network provider is also called a surprise medical bill.
People with Medicare and Medicaid already enjoy these protections and are not at risk for surprise billing.
What Are the New Protections if I Have Health Insurance?
If you get health coverage through your employer, a Health Insurance Marketplace or an individual health insurance plan you purchase directly from an insurance company, these new rules will:
Ban surprise bills for most emergency services, even if you get them out-of-network and without approval beforehand (prior authorization).
Ban out-of-network cost-sharing (such as out-of-network coinsurance or copayments) for most emergency and some non-emergency services. You can’t be charged more than in-network cost-sharing for these services.
Ban out-of-network charges and balance bills for certain additional services (such as anesthesiology or radiology) furnished by out-of-network providers as part of a patient’s visit to an in-network facility.
Require that health care providers and facilities give you an easy-to-understand notice explaining the applicable billing protections, who to contact if you have concerns that a provider or facility has violated the protections and that patient consent is required to waive billing protections (i.e., you must receive notice of and consent to being balance billed by an out-of-network provider).
What if I Don’t Have Health Insurance or Choose to Pay for Care on My Own Without Using My Health Insurance (Also Known as “Self-Paying”)?
If you don’t have insurance or you self-pay for care, in most cases, these new rules make sure you can get a good faith estimate of how much your care will cost before you receive it.
What if I’m Charged More Than My Good Faith Estimate?
For services provided in 2022, you can dispute a medical bill if your final charges are at least $400 higher than your good faith estimate and you file your dispute claim within 120 days of the date on your bill.
What if I Don’t Have Insurance From an Employer, a Marketplace or an Individual Plan? Do These New Protections Apply to Me?
Some health insurance coverage programs already have protections against surprise medical bills. If you have coverage through Medicare, Medicaid or TRICARE, or receive care through the Indian Health Services or Veterans Health Administration, you don’t need to worry because you’re already protected against surprise medical bills from providers and facilities that participate in these programs.
What if My State Has a Surprise Billing Law?
The No Surprises Act supplements state surprise billing laws; it does not supplant them. The No Surprises Act instead creates a “floor” for consumer protections against surprise bills from out-of-network providers and related higher cost-sharing responsibility for patients. So as a general matter, as long as a state’s surprise billing law provides at least the same level of consumer protections against surprise bills and higher cost-sharing as does the No Surprises Act and its implementing regulations, the state law generally will apply.
For example, if your state operates its own patient-provider dispute resolution process that determines appropriate payment rates for self-pay consumers, and Health and Human Services (HHS) has determined that the state’s process meets or exceeds the minimum requirements under the federal patient-provider dispute resolution process, then HHS will defer to the state process and would not accept such disputes into the federal process.
As another example, if your state has an All-Payer Model Agreement or another state law that determines payment amounts to out-of-network providers and facilities for a service, the All-Payer Model Agreement or other state law will generally determine your cost-sharing amount and the out-of-network payment rate.
An open enrollment period is a short period of time when you can enroll in or make changes to your employee benefits elections. Possible changes include adding or dropping coverage, adding or removing dependents, or enrolling in benefits for the first time.
Open enrollment is your opportunity to take advantage of important benefits, such as health, vision, dental and life insurance, a health savings account (HSA), and a retirement plan.
The decisions you make during the open enrollment period can have a significant impact on your life and your finances, so it is important to weigh your options carefully and to make your decisions during the open enrollment period.
Failure to comply with your employer’s open enrollment deadline could result in a loss of coverage for you and your loved ones. Missing this deadline also means that you could be unable to make changes or enroll in benefits until the next open enrollment period.
One exception to this rule is if you experience a life-changing qualifying event that would trigger a special enrollment period (SEP). Events such as getting married or divorced, having or adopting children, or losing eligibility for other health coverage can trigger special enrollment rights. In some cases, you can also qualify for special enrollment if you become eligible for a premium assistance subsidy under Medicaid or a state Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
If you think you might qualify for a SEP, contact your HR manager. If you have not recently experienced a life event, but have missed the open enrollment deadline, you should also contact your HR manager to find out whether you have any other options.
Options for Obtaining Health Coverage
If you miss your employer’s open enrollment deadline, there are a number of ways in which you can try to obtain health insurance; however, the availability of some options will depend on their enrollment deadlines.
Spousal Benefits—If your spouse receives benefits from his or her employer and the open enrollment period is still open (or coming up), you may be able to enroll in coverage through your spouse’s plan.
Young Adult Benefits Under a Parent’s Plan—If you are younger than 26 years old, you may be able to be added as a dependent on your parent’s plan. If your parent’s plan offers dependent coverage, this option should be available to all children under 26, regardless of whether or not you are employed, married, have children or are a student. However, this option is likely available only if your parent’s work-based plan offers coverage for family members and if the open enrollment period for that plan has not yet closed.
State Insurance Marketplace—Depending on the timing, you can consider buying health insurance from the Health Insurance Exchange Marketplace. Marketplace coverage is only available for purchase during an annual open enrollment period, unless you qualify for a SEP. (See the SEP section of www.healthcare.gov to check). Similar to employer-based plans, a SEP can be triggered if you experience a qualifying life event.
http://www.clearyinsurance.com/wp-content/uploads/Cleary_Logo.jpg00Carol LaCombehttp://www.clearyinsurance.com/wp-content/uploads/Cleary_Logo.jpgCarol LaCombe2021-10-07 09:01:122021-10-07 09:01:12What Happens If I Miss Open Enrollment?