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A No Cost Improvement to America's Healthcare System You Can Make

by Francis P. Koster, Ed.D.

In the world of medicine, a 3 year project has figured out that doing something simple increases patient health and satisfaction, while having the potential to reduce the annual cost to society for healthcare by billions of dollars.   And wonder of wonders, this does not depend on computers, or insurance policies, or politicians of any stripe.

The concept, called Open Notes,[1] is simple - after each visit to the doctor or hospital, the patient is given a copy of what the caregiver wrote in their chart. It is that easy.

Research shows that most patients forget more than three quarters of what the doctor tells them during the visit.[2] And…

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Healthcare Workers Role Model Slim

by Francis P. Koster, Ed.D.

According to the CIA, we rank 51st in the world for life expectancy. [1] Citizens of the number one spot for life expectancy, Monaco, live on average 11 years longer than we do! Even worse, University of Wisconsin researchers announced in March that life expectancy is falling in almost half of the counties in our country![2],[3] This has been traced back to obesity.

Being overweight is the single largest cause of diseases that kill people early. One third of our population is obese[4], and another third is overweight (and headed toward obesity).[5]   Obesity alone adds almost 200 billion dollars annually to America's direct healthcare costs.[6] In North Carolina, when…

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Treating Obesity as the Result of an Addiction

by Francis P. Koster, Ed.D.

When many of us see a child with Down Syndrome or other visible birth defects, we feel pity and a desire to help. But that is often not the reaction when we see a seriously overweight person. We leap to blame or condemnation.

We get a lot of chances to behave this way. Three out of every four applicants to join the United States military are rejected — mostly for obesity[1]and related poor physical fitness. One in five American kids 12-19 are now obese. [2]

The public attitude has been that all these kids simply ate too much, and exercised too little, and that it was entirely their own fault that they were fat.

Science now understands this is not true.

Although slow…

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How to Help Poor People Deny the Tooth Fairy

by Francis P. Koster, Ed.D.

In a recent column I told of my frustrations as I tried to help a struggling North Carolina friend with a toothache find a dentist. I shared my surprise at learning about how hard it is for working poor to get emergency dental care in America.

Readers responded. A few told me of some resources in the community that I had not discovered as I tried to help my friend.   Far more told me stories about the issues elderly or handicapped loved ones were having as they tried to access dental care.  

Many of these stories were about people who were poor not because they cannot find work, but because they are very sick or old.  Under these conditions…

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Heart-Stopping Facts Your Mother Wishes You Knew

Copyright Francis P. Koster, Ed.D.

Readers of my column know that I usually talk about solving national problems by local action. Today I will reverse that – we have a problem with too many local solutions and we need a national one. The reasons for that will break your heart.

Every year, heart disease causes one in every four deaths in America.[i] 720,000 Americans have a heart attack annually.[ii] Half of these heart attacks occur at home, at church, the movies, or supermarket, often in the company of loved ones who don’t know a simple life saving technique called CPR.[iii]

If given quickly, CPR can double or triple a person's chance of survival. CPR is only given to about a third of the he…

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