Welcome to The Avidity Medical Design Blog

Sheila D. McCray, MS, CCS, CCS-P, is the principal of Avidity Medical Design Consultants, LLC, and Avidity Medical Design Academy. She holds a B.A. in Journalism with a specialization in advertising from Temple University, and an M.S. in Instructional and Performance Technology from Boise State University.  She also holds certifications in inpatient and outpatient medical coding, medical transcription, medical claims processing, clinical trials research for pharmaceutical development, microbiology, desktop publishing, and other specialties. Based in Texas, she has worked in the healthcare field since 1987, beginning in Pennsylvania, and continuing in Virginia. ​As a certified professor, she has taught for several online universities throughout the country. As a healthcare instructional designer, she teaches and develops hybrid curriculum for online students and online instructors, in all areas of allied health and health information management. She also develops her own line of online courses for Avidity Medical Design Academy. ​Follow the Avidity Medical Design Blog to stay up to date on the latest developments in healthcare. For instructional design consulting services, visit http://aviditymedicaldesign. To take an online healthcare course, or to review current course offerings, visit http://aviditymedicaldesignacademy.com. Check back regularly for updates on future healthcare courses currently being developed.

The Role of Healthcare in the Presidential Election (and What It Means to You)

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The upcoming election is filled with questions and concerns about the pandemic. Many people criticize the Trump administration’s response and look to Biden to provide a better alternative. However, COVID-19 is not the only issue concerning Americans. The role of healthcare in the presidential election has made voters concerned about topics like insurance coverage, prescription costs, reproductive health services, pre-existing conditions, and political influence. Let’s examine each of these topics in detail, and how each healthcare topic plays a role in the upcoming presidential election.

Insurance Coverage

A continued Trump administration will likely put an end to Obama’s Affordable Healthcare Act. According to one study, this would result in 21 million people losing their insurance coverage over the next year. In contrast, Biden would expand eligibility and establish a public option for federal health insurance. Trump has promised to replace the AHA with a better healthcare plan but has yet to deliver. 

Prescription Costs

Another hot button issue for many Americans is the extremely high cost of prescription medication in the United States. President Trump has signed an executive order to reduce drug costs, but it is unclear how effective this has been. He has often cited the cost of insulin as proof that his actions are working. Fact-checkers dispute this and say the cost is relatively the same. Both candidates openly support lowering drug costs, but voters want to see results. 

Reproductive Health Services

Access to birth control and abortion rights are always contentious issues stemming from religious and personal convictions. This election cycle is no different, and reproductive health remains an important issue for healthcare in the presidential election. A Trump administration could see pro-life decision-making and lessened access to birth control. Democrats have traditionally been the more pro-choice party and supported employer-provided contraceptive coverage. 

Pre-existing Conditions

On the debate stage, pre-existing conditions have played a role in garnering votes for Biden because of the Affordable Healthcare Act, which provides coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions. Trump claims he will not deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, but again, he has delivered no plan. 

Political Influence

Lastly, Americans are tired of healthcare based on politics rather than science. Some don’t trust that a COVID-19 vaccine will be safe because it was pushed through by the President. Others are unclear about the benefits of wearing masks because of contradicting information from political leaders and medical professionals. It’s a mess, and President Trump has communicated poorly. Of course, it is unclear how Biden would handle his political influence in the healthcare world, but he has said he would, “Listen to the scientists.”

If the topics above don’t concern you, you can rest assured that healthcare in the presidential election is still a powerful issue for all Americans. The next elected U.S. President will affect your healthcare in some manner. It may be in the services that are covered by your insurance, or it may be in the money you pay for your policy.  There are many subjects to consider when voting this year, and healthcare is certainly a worthy one.   

For more informative healthcare topics, follow the Avidity Medical Design Blog. To take a healthcare course, visit Avidity Medical Design Academy.

How To Rehydrate Fast If You Become Dehydrated

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Like many people, you probably let thirst dictate your fluid consumption. It’s simply too easy to neglect proper hydration when facing the seemingly endless responsibilities and demands of the day. What you may be surprised to discover, however, is that thirst is actually one of the first and most telling signs of dehydration. If you wait to tackle the problem until your lips are dry and your urine is discolored, you may find yourself struggling with lower levels of energy, emotional fatigue, and even dizziness – among many other uncomfortable symptoms. Fortunately, there are a few simple strategies that will help you set things aright fast. This way, you can greet the challenges of the day with good health, high confidence, and optimized cognitive and physical functioning. Read on to learn about hydration in a way that will totally change how you consider and treat this all-important aspect of your daily self-care. Read these four important tips that you can use to become rehydrated fast if you become dehydrated.

1. Don’t Drink Too Much Of The Wrong Fluids.

Drinking too much of the wrong fluids can leave you feeling anxious and unsure. Your body is constantly trying to alert you of problems. This way, you can implement natural mitigation strategies to bring your own health back into balance. When you ignore any early, initial warnings, the alerts that your body sends will become more severe. For example, with many problems, minor aches and pains tend to be replaced with inflammation and swelling, and slight dizziness or fatigue can evolve into fainting spells, vertigo, or other serious issues.

In the case of dehydration, thirst gradually evolves into dry mouth, cracked lips, and fatigue. If you don’t pay attention to your body at this point, your symptoms can escalate to include intense anxiety. If you’ve been suffering from severe anxiousness that lacks an apparent cause, check your hydration levels. Often, when dehydration is the cause of anxiety, we aren’t simply failing to drink fluids. Instead, we’re attempting to get by on the wrong fluids. Take note of how much coffee, sugary sodas, and energy drinks you’re consuming. The caffeine and excess sugars that many of these beverages contain can cause anxiety. Severe dehydration on its own can lead to heart palpitations and extreme nervousness. Calm your rapid heartbeat and frayed nerves with beverages that will actually restore hydration, rather than oppose it.

2. Eat Fresh, Water-Dense Foods to Rehydrate Fast.

Eating fresh water-dense foods is a great way to preserve your electrolyte balance and rehydrate fast. People who love the taste of water rarely get dehydrated. These individuals seem to always request water at restaurants in lieu of colas or iced teas, or they constantly carry their own water bottles with them. Conversely, those who routinely suffer from dehydration tend to prefer alternative beverages. In fact, many even have a self-professed aversion to water. The good news is that drinking more isn’t always the best solution. That’s because more than needing water, your body is crying out for electrolyte balance. This is the balance of minerals that determines blood pressure, blood viscosity, clotting abilities, and many other key factors of your health and well-being. If you drink too much pure water – you can develop a sodium-related condition called hyponatremia. Over-hydration is a common result of guzzling too much pure water too fast, and absence of the minerals that your body requires.

Fresh, nutrient-dense and water-dense foods provide the perfect balance of both hydration and electrolytes. Eat more berries, melons, apples, oranges, stone fruits, grapes, and watermelon. Fill your plate with lettuce, carrots, celery, leafy greens, and tomatoes. These foods will perfectly supplement the water that you are drinking by bringing a diverse array of minerals into your system. Eating for proper hydration is one of the fastest and most effective strategies for bringing your body back into a state of good health and optimum balance. If dehydration has caused constipation, hemorrhoids, or any other problems affecting the digestive system, the added fiber in your diet will quickly resolve these problems as well.

3. Consider Drinking Coconut Water to Rehydrate Quickly.

Coconut water is the world’s most effective natural energy drink. One little-known fact about coconut water is that it naturally offers the perfect balance of electrolytes for the human body. In fact, the mineral composition of coconut water is so similar to that of human blood plasma that it has been successfully used during wartime as a plasma substitute. If you want to rehydrate your body fast, sip on several ounces of coconut water. Make sure that the brand you choose does not have added sugar or any other added ingredients. Unlike sports drinks and energy drinks, pure coconut water lacks caffeine, excess sugars, and any additional additives that diminish its nutritional value. If you’re attempting to rehydrate after a night of drinking and partying, drinking coconut water is the best course.

4. Sip Your Water Bottle Rather Than Gulping It Down.

If dehydration is a persistent problem for you, you may be tempted to engage in an intense, water-drinking challenge. For instance, there are countless people documenting and touting the benefits of drinking a full gallon of water per day. However, just as dehydration can be problematic to your health, over-hydration can prove troublesome as well. When it comes to giving your body the water it needs, balance is everything. Thus, one of the easiest and most effective strategies for rehydrating is to keep a water bottle with you at all times. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to try gulping a ton of water down. Instead, sip at your water bottle throughout the day, and keep your diet filled with fresh, water-dense foods. 

For more important articles on healthcare, follow the Avidity Medical Design Blog. To take a healthcare course, visit Avidity Medical Design Academy.

How COVID-19 Has Changed the Field of Healthcare and What It Means to You

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There are a lot of lessons to be learned from what went wrong and what went right in the early days of the COVID-19 crisis.

COVID-19 has affected every industry in the entire world. As a global pandemic, the effects of the virus have been far-reaching. Perhaps no industry has been impacted as much as the healthcare industry.

Let’s take a look at how the healthcare industry has been affected by COVID-19, and what changes the industry will make for the future.

COVID-19 Has Changed the Career Outlook for Healthcare Practitioners

While a career in any medical profession has always been stable, lucrative, and in very high demand, the coronavirus has increased the demand for skilled healthcare workers, and made it clear that healthcare workers are truly essential workers who are on the front line in hospitals. If you are on the fence about starting a career in medicine – whether as a doctor, nurse, or something else, jump in and go for it. The need for healthcare workers will always be there, and the coronavirus has proven that the need will only increase, especially in times of healthcare crisis and healthcare emergencies. Even if you are not directly on the front lines in healthcare, your skills are still in demand, as the coronavirus has created a shortage of skilled healthcare workers to replace those who are working directly with patients, if they become infected with the coronavirus.

COVID-19 Has Placed the Focus on ICU Bed Utilization

Hospital crisis teams were developed in order to get the most out of ICU beds. With COVID-19, traditional emergency rooms are being used and reorganized in non-traditional ways. Outpatient surgery centers have now become emergency rooms, and other areas of hospitals have been restructured in order to deal with the challenges of treating patients with COVID-19. If you are new to the field of healthcare, or you are considering a career in healthcare, you can read new case studies pertaining to how COVID-19 has reshaped the healthcare landscape. These new case studies will be used as an educational tool for decades to come. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from what went wrong when treating patients diagnosed with the coronavirus, and what went right in terms of how ICU beds, ICU ventilators, and other supplies were used in the ICU in the early months of COVID-19.

COVID-19 Has Led to a Reevaluation of Medical Treatment Strategies

Medical treatment strategies was an area that was in flux for a while during the early days of the virus. Since COVID-19 was a new virus, healthcare practitioners had to learn the best way to treat patients. There was a lot of trial and error as healthcare practitioners adapted to the challenges of treating patients diagnosed with coronavirus. There is no doubt that the treatment strategies for COVID-19 will be put into medical textbooks and studied for decades to come, leading to better preparedness in the unfortunate event that another pandemic occurs which may be similar to COVID-19.

COVID-19 Has Led to an Emphasis on Preventative Measures

The vaccine to prevent COVID-19 has not yet been developed. Drug companies are furiously working to create this vaccine, which could go a long way to returning the world to a “new normal.” More than ever before, the pharmaceutical industry is taking off. Money is being poured into these companies for work towards the vaccine. 

For more information, take a look at the Avidity Medical Design Blog. You also might want to consider enrolling in a course offered by Avidity Medical Design Academy.

How to Check Your Heart Rate Using Your Own EKG Monitor

Doctor holding a digital tablet with a live recorded ecg on it. On the desk in the background is a stethoscope.

The healthy lub-dub sound of your heart valves is one that many people take for granted until they experience or are diagnosed with a heart condition. Things like arrhythmia (irregular heart rate), valvular disease (damage or defects in one of your heart valves), or a history of heart attacks can cause you to become concerned about your cardiac health. As a result, you may want to become more proactive about monitoring your heart rate. Thanks to medical technology, you no longer have to go to the doctor to have an electrocardiogram. You can purchase your own EKG monitor and use it in your own home at your convenience.

What is an At-Home EKG monitor?

An at-home EKG monitor is a portable monitor that you can easily use at home. Sometimes, you can just hold your fingers on the device’s sensors to check your heart rate. Depending on the model you choose, your device may be able to send results to your doctor via Wi-Fi, or transfer the results over the telephone. EKG monitors offer convenience and flexibility, allowing you to deliver your results to your doctor without leaving your home.

Popular At-Home EKG Monitors

There are many at-home EKG monitors available on the market today. They vary based on technological complexity, cost, and the way in which they deliver information to medical professionals. Here are a few inexpensive EKG monitors that you can use in your own home:

  • EMAY portable EKG: This EKG is very inexpensive at $99, and it doesn’t require a smartphone for use. However, it does have smart capabilities to connect with your electronic devices and share with your doctor. One physician indicated that a wonderful feature of this device was clear guidelines as to which readings mean a person needs to get to the emergency room. 
  • AliveCor Kardia Mobile: AliveCor’s model is even less expensive than EMAY’s at $89. It also uses finger/hand sensors for easy, medical-grade readings. The company advertises FDA-approved algorithms. Some customers complain that there is an eventual requirement to pay for a monthly service to fully use the device. 
  • SonoHealth Portable EKG: This portable EKG is much more complex and includes finger sensors and chest leads, which can detect a greater number of abnormalities. 
  • ViATOM’s ECG Monitor: ViATOM’s portable electrocardiogram may be useful for some, but others indicated that it picked up a lot of “noise” that interfered with readings. Other positive reviews indicated it was very simple to use. 
  • Vive Precision EKG Monitor: This EKG is also small, portable, rechargeable, and easy-to-use. It’s the least expensive at $79.99 and connects to smart devices. Some reviewers reported inaccurate readings, but others stated it worked as intended. 

When to Go to the Emergency Room

Talk to your doctor about your specific heart condition, and which symptoms or indicators on the EKG monitor will tell you that you need to get to the emergency room immediately. In many cases, a healthcare professional from the doctor’s office will call you and tell you to get to the ER, after receiving an important medical alert reading from your at-home EKG. That is why it is so important to keep a portable EKG at home, so you can monitor your heart rate, and your doctor can monitor your heart rate, anytime day or night, without you having to schedule a doctor’s appointment.

For more informative articles on healthcare, follow the Avidity Medical Design Blog. To take an online healthcare course, visit the Avidity Medical Design Academy website.

What You Need to Know About Continuous Glucose Monitoring Systems If You Are a Diabetic

person's hand holding phone with glucose graph near continuous glucose monitoring sensor placed in upper arm

If you are a diabetic, trying to manage your diabetes doesn’t have to be hard.

Finger prick monitoring shows accurate in-the-moment insulin levels but continuous glucose monitors (CGM) allow you to see trends and observe the impacts of your diet and activities on your levels. Choosing the right continuous glucose monitor (CGM) can be overwhelming, though. Have you found the right one for you? Let’s go over the options so you can reach an informed decision. 

Many of the basic features of CGMs are the same. Let’s review what those are before looking at what’s unique about the most popular options on the market. They all come with a subcutaneous sensor and transmitter which connects wirelessly to a receiver. Receivers have trend graphs, direction and rate-of-change arrows, as well as the ability to log extra data. Sensors are inserted with a device and may be re-usable. Data is sent to the receiver whenever it’s in range. 

Here are the top 4 continuous glucose monitoring systems that you might want to consider if you are a diabetic:

1. Senseonics Eversense CGM

The Senseonics Eversense CGM has the least medical waste, as the transmitter can be changed without removing the sensor, which is guaranteed for 90 days. The sensor needs to be changed at a physician’s office, though and has 24 hours before it is warmed up. It also needs calibration twice daily. There are great functions that keep you informed such as vibrate or audio real-time alerts for out of range, high, low, rate of change, or predictive low. It is also not impacted by acetaminophen. 

2. Freestyle Libre 14-hour CGM

The Freestyle Libre 14-hour CGM doesn’t need daily calibration, is the most inexpensive, and has the shortest warm-up of one hour. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have real-time high/low alerts and without that calibration, is the most inaccurate in low glucose range. The sensor can store up to 8 hours of data and the reader can store notes and events but they must be entered at the time. The low profile transmitter has an adhesive that may not last the 14 days of the sensor life. It can also be impacted by vitamin C and aspirin. 

3. Medtronic Guardian3 – 670G or Guardian Connect CGM

The Medtronic Guardian3 – 670G or Guardian Connect CGM has a reusable sensor with a life of 7 days. It has a single button insertion with a 2-hour warm-up time but can cause skin issues with complicated multiple tapes. There are customizable alerts for different times and days with vibrate and audio limited only by your phone’s options. There are real-time alerts for high, low, rate of change, or predictive low/high. It needs calibration every twelve hours to continue data generation. Guardian Connect only works with Apple apps but has real-time sharable data as well as an app that generates reports. It’s also impacted by acetaminophen. 

4. Dexcom G6 CGM

The Dexcom G6 CGM does not need calibration but it is available to improve accuracy. The sensor has a single push button insertion and is good for 10 days. It has customizable alerts including an “always on” feature for if your phone is on silent. It has a high level of waste from the costly sensors and transmitters, and reusing the sensor can be difficult. 

For more information on different healthcare topics, follow the Avidity Medical Design Blog. To take a healthcare course, visit Avidity Medical Design Academy.

10 Ways to Avoid Summer Health Problems During and After COVID-19

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It’s summer. The days are long, the sun is shining, and all the kids want to do is play outside, in spite of COVID-19. However, it’s important to keep in mind that, in addition to the COVID pandemic, summer itself does pose its fair share of health risks, even if you are quarantining in your own backyard. Here are the top ten summer health issues and how to prevent and care for them, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

1. HEAT STROKE

Heat stroke is caused by the body overheating as a result of extended exposure to the sun or other forms of heat. Common symptoms include confusion, dry skin when you should be sweating, racing heart rate, and nausea. If you think you’re experiencing heatstroke, immediately get inside and douse yourself in cold water. If symptoms persist, head to your local emergency room. Avoiding heatstroke is as simple as staying inside on blistering days.

2. DEHYDRATION

When you’re losing more fluids than you’re taking in, your body is dehydrating and weakening. Although it’s more common in young children and older adults, dehydration can occur to anyone spending prolonged periods of time in high heat. Even if you wish you were sipping something sweet, the sugars in smoothies and fruit juices counteract the necessary water your body needs. Dehydration is solved by drinking water, Gatorade, or Pedialyte.

3. HEAT RASH

Exactly what it sounds like: a rash caused by sweat becoming trapped under the skin in humid conditions. Common in both children and adults, there’s no reason to seek medical treatment over the mild itchiness this rash produces. Use calamine lotion and spend some time in a cool location until it relieves itself.

4. SUNBURN

Everyone is at risk for sunburn. People with fairer skin and lighter hair are more prone to redness and peeling, along with people who repeatedly burn themselves on the quest for the “perfect” tan. Sunburns can lead to skin cancer, melanoma, cellular damage, and rapid aging. The easiest way to protect yourself from a sunburn is to use sunscreen frequently, check your skin routinely, and avoid exposure to high UV levels. If you do get sunburned, use aloe to reduce the burn.

5. ASTHMA AND ALLERGY FLARE UPS

If you find yourself wheezing within moments of stepping outside, you’re likely having an asthma or allergy flare up. Check the air quality before you head outside, always carry a rescue inhaler (if you have one) and avoid campfires and windy days that stir up mold and pollen. Ragweed and Bermuda grass are at the height of their terror in July and August; if these are known issues, stay inside.

6. BUG BITES

Mosquitoes, ticks, and spiders thrive in the heat. If you have type O blood, or you emit more carbon dioxide, you may be more prone to attract mosquitoes, ticks, and spiders. Protect yourself by burning citronella candles outdoors, using bug spray frequently, and not spending too long outside around dusk. Most bites will itch for 2-3 days and then fade, but if it persists beyond then and you develop a fever, rash, or other symptoms of infections, see your doctor.

7. FOOT PROBLEMS

Athlete’s foot, sprained ankles, blisters and more; summer offers it all. For many, flip flops seem like the easiest option when visiting a pool or beach. However, for those susceptible to falls and ankle twists, invest in a sandal that provides support. Avoid blisters and athlete’s foot by wearing protective footwear at all times—in showers, on beaches, pool decks, and other public places. If you do find yourself scratching and wincing at painful soles, home remedies such as creams and ice will heal you right up.

8. FOOD POISONING

The food truck right off the beach might seem convenient, but the stomach cramps later aren’t worth it. Food poisoning can occur from improperly cooked food, bacteria in water, and contamination from unsafe cooking conditions. Symptoms of food poisoning include a mild fever, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, sweating, and clutching the rim of the toilet for dear life. Avoid this summer health concern by only eating food you trust and drinking water from safe sources.

9. SUMMER COLDS

You can still develop a summer cold, with symptoms like a runny nose, sore throat, headache, cough, and mild fever, even if you haven’t been diagnosed with COVID-19. Children, or those in constant contact with small children, are at greater risk for developing a summer cold.

The key point to consider: summer colds resolve within a few days, while COVID-19 will take longer.

If you suspect you have symptoms of COVID-19, don’t hesitate to get tested, even though it may take some time to get your test results.

10. EAR INFECTIONS

Due to increased activity in water sports in the summer, ear infections become more common in young kids, those who use hearing aids, and frequent headphone users. Ear infections can be treated with over-the-counter eardrops, pain medicine, and 48 hours of rest. If it’s still a problem, and you can’t keep the kids out of the pool, invest in some earplugs to prevent further infections.

All of these are easily treatable with home remedies. Staying safe this summer is the number one priority, especially in the midst of the COVID-19. To learn more about different healthcare topics, follow the Avidity Medical Design Blog. To learn more about different areas of healthcare, sign up for a healthcare course offered by Avidity Medical Design Academy.

How to Make Your Own Comfortable Hypoallergenic Mask

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With facial coverings being mandated around the country, due to COVID-19, if you have an allergy, you want to look for facial coverings called hypoallergenic masks that can be worn comfortably and don’t cause an allergic reaction. To create your own hypoallergenic mask, all you need is a pattern, your chosen materials, and a little determination.

Here are some things you should consider if you choose to make your own hypoallergenic mask.

Hypoallergenic Mask Materials

One of the most popular materials being used in face mask coverings is cotton. Cotton is naturally hypoallergenic. The thicker the cloth, the more protection it will give you. If you are allergic to dye, don’t use printed materials to make your mask.

Another good material that you might want to consider is linen. Linen is an excellent alternative due to its natural hypoallergenic nature and antimicrobial properties. This material is commonly used in bed sheets because it can absorb more liquid than other materials before becoming damp to the touch. Linen keeps moisture away from your mouth while still being able to stand up to machine washes.

Avoid Elastics and Plastics

If you choose to use plastic elastic bands to hold your mask on, you may experience some skin irritation. Instead, try using tie backs or try making a wrap-around mask. Alternate materials for securing your mask are easy to obtain; you’ll just need a little creativity. Using the same material you used from your mask, you can create a tie to secure your mask and keep it from falling down. If you are not allergic to silk fabric, you can use ribbons to secure your mask.

To avoid strain on your ears, create a wrap-around mask that you can secure at the back of your neck with Velcro. You can use buttons and snaps also to secure your mask at the back of your neck. Use a shorter tieback also to create the same effect.

Alternative to Making a Mask

If you are not able to create their own hypoallergenic mask, there are several options available to buy them. Neoprene and surgical masks are popular for facial covers. Visit Amazon to see the different varieties of face mask that are up for sale. Be cautious when choosing your mask. Keep in mind your own allergies, and ask questions if you’re not sure about the mask you are considering buying.

Regardless of whether you choose to make your own mask, or to buy one online, don’t forget to wash your masks often to keep them clean. Remove your mask using the elastic band around your ears, or the tieback that is holding your mask on. Don’t touch your mask directly with your hands to avoid contaminating it. Make two masks if possible, so that if one needs to be washed, or is being washed, you can use the second mask as a backup while the first mask is being washed.

To stay up to date on the latest news in healthcare, pertaining to COVID-19, quarantining, face masks, and other hot topics, follow the Avidity Medical Design Blog. To take a healthcare course, visit the Avidity Medical Design Academy website.