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Digital health platform Xealth strikes partnership with another big health IT vendor

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Xealth, a startup working to solve some of the logistical challenges faced by digital health companies, struck a partnership with Cerner. The Seattle-based company makes it easier to prescribe digital health tools and integrate them with health record systems.

The partnership is intended to make it easier for patients and their health teams to keep track of engagement with digital health tools and the effect on patients’ health.

“In order for digital health to have lasting impact, it needs to show value and ease for both the care team and patient,” Xealth CEO and Co-Founder Mike McSherry said in a news release. “We strongly believe that technology should nurture deeper patient-provider relationships and facilitate information sharing across systems and the care settings. It is exciting to work with Cerner to simplify meaningful digital health for its health partners.”

Cerner and venture capital firm LRVHealth also invested $6 million into Xealth. Last year, the company raised $14 million in series A funding, with investors including Providence Ventures and the Cleveland Clinic.

David Bradshaw, senior vice president of consumer and employer solutions for Cerner, said the partnership would give patients the opportunity to participate in their own treatment plans.

“Patients want greater access to their health information and are motivated to help care teams find the most appropriate road to recovery,” he said in a news release.

Xealth had already been integrated into Epic, and with this partnership, it will be tied into the two most widely used EHRs. The company is integrated with more than 30 different digital health solutions, ranging from diabetes management platforms such as Omada and Glooko, to Resmed’s connected sleep apnea machines, and patient engagement platforms like Twistle.

One of the startup’s clients, Providence St. Joseph Health, used Twistle in combination with Xealth’s platform to monitor patients with Covid-19 symptoms at home. It helped them keep track of patients’ temperature and oxygen saturation by providing an easy form for them to record their metrics.

Photo credit: a-image, Getty Images

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Mental health coaching startup Ginger raises $50M

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Ginger, a digital health startup that lets users chat with a mental health coach, raised $50 million in funding in a series D round. Advance Venture Partners and Bessemer Venture Partners led the funding round, with participation from Cigna Ventures, Kaiser Permanente Ventures, and LinkedIn Executive Chairman Jeff Weiner.

David ibnAle, a founding partner with Advance Venture Partners, and Steve Kraus, a partner with Bessemer Venture Partners, will both join Ginger’s board. To date, the company has raised $120 million.

The San Francisco-based startup connects users with coaches through a text-based chat. They can’t provide the same services as a therapist, but they can send users exercises and encourage them to pursue good sleeping habits and meditation, for example.

For patients who would benefit from more care, Ginger can connect them to a video chat with a healthcare provider. The company contracts with psychiatrists and therapists that then work with its coaches.

Like many telehealth startups, Ginger has seen a surge in visits since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the first week of July, it saw a 125% increase in use of its coaching service compared to its averages before the pandemic.

“The goal of this system is to solve for the supply-demand imbalance that exists in mental health,” Ginger CEO Russell Glass said in a phone interview. “Even pre-Covid, there are far more people that have a need that can access it today. It can take weeks to months.”

The service is currently only available to users whose employer or health plan include Ginger as a covered benefit. The company says it has 200 clients, including Delta Air Lines, Sanofi and Chegg. Its insurance partnerships include Optum Behavioral Health, Anthem California and Aetna Resources for Living.

Ginger was initially created in 2011 by two MIT researchers, Anmol Madan and Karan Singh, who started off with the idea of using cell phone activity to predict users’ mental health. For example, if someone was depressed, they might not communicate with others like they normally do, or their daily patterns of going to the work, the gym or the grocery store might change. Novant Health, Kaiser Permanente and 20 other health systems partnered on this early concept.

Since then, the company has pivoted to focus more on providing health coaching and therapy services.  It still uses information “for proprietary analysis and development of personalized behavioral profiles,” according to its privacy policy.

Ginger is one of a number of startups providing mental health services using digital tools. Competitor Lyra Health raised $75 million  earlier this year, and struck a partnership with Starbucks. And UnitedHealth’s Optum subsidiary was reportedly planning to acquire mental health startup AbleTo for $470 million.

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INVEST Pitch Perfect winner spotlight: Luma Health keeps patients connected between visits

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Luma Health’s platform automates scheduling and referrals via text message. Screenshot from MedCity Invest

Often, a painful experience will spur founders to start a new company.

For Luma Health CEO Adnan Iqbal, it was tearing his ACL during a soccer match. He was told that he would have to wait three weeks before he could even get in for an appointment. But after calling in several times, he was able to get in and get to surgery within that week.

Luma Health CEO Adnan Iqbal

He relayed his experience over lunch to his friend and co-founder, who was finishing a radiology fellowship at Stanford. He, too, was facing scheduling problems.

“Patients were waiting five to 10 weeks to see him when he had eight to 10 openings on his calendar,” Iqbal said in a phone interview.

The idea was to create a simple fix to this broken system. Not only would it make for happier patients, but it could also boost health systems, which face unused capacity on a given day.

For most appointments, patients call in, and are told a physician won’t be available for another month or two. Assuming the doctor is busy, patients hurriedly make an appointment. But they’re unlikely to keep it.

“Any patient that schedules more than two weeks in the future is at a high risk of disappearing. Their schedule changes, life changes, they forget to cancel or they’re a no-show,” Iqbal said. “Within a 48-hour window there are such constant changes to a hospital’s schedule and a lot of people fall through the cracks, unfortunately.”

This leaves call centers trying to contact patients to fill last-minute openings, but with mixed results.

Luma’s approach is to send automated text messages to patients that allow them to schedule or confirm a visit just by clicking a link. For example, it can let patients know they’re due for their annual well visit, or that they were referred by their primary care physician for a colonoscopy. Patients receive reminders the day before, including instructions, such as having someone to drive them in for their procedure.

After the visit, it follows up with questions, such as whether the patient is feeling nauseous or light-headed, that can lead to a video visit if needed.

Iqbal said the company sees referrals upwards of 60%, where normally just 15% to 30% of patients follow through with a referral.

The company has been around for five years now, and 16 million patients use its platform. In the last year, the company started to see growing interest in patient engagement platforms, as health systems began to think more about their “digital front door.”

The Covid-19 pandemic only further magnified that, as clinics needed a way to route patients to the right point of care – and fast.

“We started seeing that pull in 2019. Once the pandemic hit, it really accelerated that transformation. It went from a top-five priority to a must-have,” Iqbal said. “It’s been all hands on deck”

The company worked with UC San Diego Health to implement its platform in just eight days. They needed to be able to message a quarter of a million patients on which locations to go to and what services were available.

Luma’s other clients include UCSF Health, public health system Cook County Health and Salud Family Health Centers, a federally qualified health center in Colorado.

In the future, Iqbal hopes to deepen Luma’s work on the clinical side and help stratify patient risk.

“How can we guide them further in the journey than we are able to today?” he said.

 

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CVS builds out digital health program with five more companies

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Last year, CVS Caremark launched a program to make it easier for health plans to implement digital health tools. Since then, it has steadily added a stream of companies to its new Point Solution Management Service, including Livongo, Hinge Health and Hello Heart.

On Wednesday, CVS added another five companies, focused on weight loss and mental health. They include:

  • Daylight, an app to help users manage worry and anxiety
  • Vida, a startup that offers personalized health coaching and therapy
  • Naturally Slim, an online weight loss program
  • Weight Watchers, which has built out its own digital plans
  • And Kurbo, a program designed by Weight Watchers to help children and teens make healthy lifestyle choices.

CVS Caremark CMO Sree Chaguturu shared more about his long-term vision for the program.

“There’s been an explosion of investment and development in digital health applications and solutions,” he said. “But there have been a couple of challenges: how do you know which ones have an impact and are high quality? How do you pay for them? … Those pain points are what we’re trying to address in Point Solution Management.”

Through this model, Chaguturu said health plans can pay for digital health solutions based on how many of their members use a service as opposed to a flat access fee.

Caremark also vets the solutions by looking more closely at their clinical claims and supporting data, as well as conducting a security and business review of each solution.

“We don’t see these solutions as replacing clinical care but as an adjunct and supportive to help patients in self-management,” he said.

Pharmacy benefit managers have recently begun taking a closer look at digital health companies as an adjuvant to traditional medicines. Last year, Express Scripts launched its first digital health formulary, with solutions from Livongo, Omada Health, Propeller and SilverCloud.

Whether these programs will create more widespread use of digital health tools remains to be seen, but it’s a promising first step to help bridge some of the practical gaps toward adoption.

Photo credit:  exdez, Getty Images

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7 Health Reasons Why Ginger Should Be a Mandatory Part of Your Diet

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Known for its spicy, pungent taste, the ginger stem is one that is found in almost every household within the Indian and Chinese borders. It can elevate the entire flavor profile of a dish while also providing a range of health benefits. While the use of ginger within the Indian and Chinese cuisine can be traced back to the olden times, it wasn’t until the 1st century CE, that this spice made its grand entry into other cuisines, starting with the Mediterranean.

A fun fact about the ginger plant is that most people refer to the bulb as the root when in actuality, it is the stem of the plant that is usually added to Indian food. Today, India is one of the world’s largest ginger producers and produces around 385.33 thousand tons annually. 

Table of Contents

Nutritional Value of Ginger 

For a better understanding of the nutritional value that ginger contains, mentioned below is the nutritional value chart of 1 tablespoon/1 inch piece of ginger: 

  • Calories – 4.8 
  • Carbohydrates – 1.07 grams
  • Proteins – 0.11 grams
  • Dietary Fibre – 0.12 grams
  • Fat – 0.5 grams

In addition to the above division, ginger is also revered for the number of vitamins and minerals that it contains. These include: 

  • Iron 
  • Vitamin C 
  • Phosphorus
  • Folate 
  • Niacin 
  • Vitamin B3 
  • Vitamin B6 
  • Potassium 
  • Magnesium 
  • Zinc
  • Riboflavin 

7 Health Benefits of Ginger 

Since ancient times, Indians have used ginger to treat several conditions ranging from the common cold to sore throat and stomach cramps. Today, hundreds of studies have proven that the health benefits of ginger expand beyond one’s basic ailments. Some of the top health benefits of ginger include:

1. Alleviates Stomach Issues

While ginger has always been used to treat people with digestion issues and stomach pain, there is no medical research to support its medicinal properties. Truth be told, stomach pains are the least of what ginger can help with. It can also be used to ease nausea and reduce the vomiting that usually occurs during pregnancy and after medical treatments such as surgeries and chemotherapy. 

Moreover, it can also relieve period pains, and today, doctors are prescribing it alongside basic period pain reliever drugs like Advil. To support this, a clinical trial was conducted by Giti Ozgoli. At the end of this trial, it was proven that women who ingested ginger capsules four times a day, had the same level of relief as women who ingested drugs four times a day. 

2.Cures Common Cold 

Ginger has always been the number one home remedy for the common cold, and a study conducted in 2013 by Jung San Chang and team, has affirmed its therapeutic capacity. Through this study, it was found that eating fresh ginger could strengthen the respiratory system of the individual and protect them from respiratory viruses like the common cold.

3. Improves Oral Hygiene

Gingerols, an active compound present in ginger, is known for protecting the mouth and preventing the growth of oral bacteria. The growth and spread of this bacteria in the mouth could cause the development of periodontal disease, which is a serious gum disease. Not only does ginger eradicate the bacteria but it also brightens your teeth.

4. Fights Inflammation 

The essential oils present in ginger act as anti-inflammatories and fight against infections that cause stomach inflations. This makes it a great replacement for different drugs that could cause several side effects. 

5. Great For Reducing Blood Sugar Levels

In a study published in 2014, it was proven that individuals with type 2 diabetes who took 1600 mg of ginger powder daily for 12 weeks reported a drop in their total cholesterol and triglycerides while also improving their insulin sensitivity. This means that not only will ginger lower the risk of you developing type 2 diabetes but it will also work towards better management of type 2 diabetes. 

6. Helps Reduce the Risk of Cancer

Ginger is considered to be the powerhouse of antioxidants, and various studies have proven that the addition of ginger to one’s diet can effectively reduce oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when there is a free radical build-up in the body. Free radicals are toxic substances that are formed by the body’s metabolism, along with different factors. If not eradicated, this build-up could cause cellular damage which could eventually lead to cancer. When ginger is introduced to the diet of the individual, it helps eliminate this build-up and thereby reduces the risk of developing cancer.

7. Helps Soothe Sore and Tired Muscles

While ginger doesn’t act as a miracle cure for your tired muscles, it does work towards soothing the pain in the long run. Studies have found that individuals who included ginger as a part of their daily diets were less likely to experience tired muscles the next day as compared to people without ginger in their diets. 

Healthy Ways to Add Ginger to Your Diet

As you can see, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose when it comes to adding ginger to your everyday meal routine and to help you out, here are two healthy ways to add ginger to your daily diet:

1. Ginger Tea

Ingredients:

  • A chunk of ginger sliced into 1/4th inch pieces
  • 1 cup of water 
  • A few sprigs of fresh mint
  • 1 tsp of honey
  • 1 tbsp of loose tea

Method: 

  • Add the ginger, water, tea, and the fresh mint to a saucepan placed over a high flame. Once it starts to simmer, reduce the heat to a low flame and let it continue to simmer for 5 minutes (If you want a strong flavor, simmer the water for 10 minutes).
  • Once the tea has finished simmering, remove the pot from the flame and run the tea through a sieve.
  • Pour the desired amount into your mug and stir in a teaspoon of honey and serve.

2. Paneer with Sweet Ginger Sauce

Ingredients: 

  • 250 gm fresh paneer, cut in 1-inch squares
  • 1 cm piece of sliced ginger
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 cup spinach leaves
  • ½ tsp dried chili flakes
  • Cooked rice (to serve)

The Marinade

  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method: 

  • Using a toothpick, create a few holes in the paneer and cut it into bite-sized cubes.
  • In a bowl, add all the ingredients needed for marination and mix.
  • Add the paneer to the marinade and set it aside for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Over a high flame, add half of the oil to a pan and heat until it starts smoking. Once done, add the ginger and stir fry for a few seconds. To this, add the spinach leaves and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add a little water to this mixture and cook for another 2 minutes. Once the leaves wilt and the stems get slightly cooked (they should still have a little crunch to it), add a little salt and pepper to it and transfer it to a plate.
  • Add the rest of the oil to the pan. When the oil begins smoking, add in the marinated paneer pieces and stir fry till evenly browned. Add the remaining marinade. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, and let the gravy simmer and reduce. Sprinkle the chili flakes and spinach to this and toss.
  • Serve hot with steamed rice.

Summary

Ginger is quite literally the spice of life and can not only boost the flavor of your food but also improve your immunity. From treating muscle and joint pain, cold and flu symptoms, stomach pain, menstrual cramps, to skin burns, ginger is one ingredient that is beneficial in curing most ailments. Adding ginger into your daily foods will never be a disappointment when it comes to keeping diseases at bay, strengthening your immunity, and maintaining overall well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can ginger help you ingest food?

A. Yes, Ginger stimulates saliva secretion and helps with digestion.

Q. Is it Safe to eat ginger when you’re pregnant?

A. Yes in very low doses (1 gram/day) and natural form, ginger is safe to consume in pregnancy.

Q. Is adding ginger to your breakfast shake enough for your daily intake?

A. Yes, but it also depends on what benefits we are looking for, in general, the recommended intake of ginger in its natural form is about 4 grams.

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Jada Sezer on Looking After Mental Health Post Lockdown

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POPSUGAR UK columnist Jada Sezer, is the definition of a multi-hyphenate. The British model and social media influencer is also an actor, content creator, writer, and equality advocate — with a master’s degree in child psychology and over 290K followers on Instagram, a platform she uses to inspire, empower, and talk about important issues such as gender, sexuality, body positivity, mental health, and child well-being. Sezer runs marathons — in her underwear no less — hosts podcasts, poses for top brands like Adidas, Mango, and L’Oréal, works with UN Women UK as an ambassador, and, most recently, launched a YouTube docuseries titled Instant Fame. Ahead, she shares how she’s looking after her mental health whilst adjusting to the new “normal”, as lockdown restrictions ease around the UK amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

As the world starts to open up during the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown rules loosen, so will your behaviour. It’s easy to slip back into your old routine — the returning to the long slog to and from work, running on nothing but coffee all day. But I personally refuse to go back to the old way I ran my life. Here are some important new habits I’ve picked up before in an effort to take care of my mental health but have now reformed and made a priority to practice fully as I step back into the soon-to-be fast-paced world again.

1. Connecting with the people I love more often.

This pandemic has shown me how fragile life is, which has led to more intimate conversations and closeness with my friends and family. Taking the time to fully invest in deeper, more meaningful relationships with people you love and trust will give you a greater sense of security that lots of surface-level friendships won’t. Having a strong support network who can offer trusted advice helps you to thrive in a world where so much is uncertain.

2. Reclaiming a work/life balance.

Many of our productivity levels rose whilst working from home because we could make lunch instead of wasting time wandering to the local supermarkets. We weren’t tired from the long commute, and if we wanted a quick midday siesta or wait in for a parcel, we could! As most of the world ground to halt, many of us clocked off at 6 p.m., and the weekends were ours. For many of us, our overall quality of life increased because it hasn’t felt like Groundhog Day, all day every day. We had Friday nights for Zoom catchups or takeaways, and then a full rest and reset on Sunday. This much-needed variation has allowed me to show up and dedicate my full attention rather than being half-hearted or feeling rushed or tired.

3. Falling in love with the simple moments.

Whether it’s been cooking your favourite dish, or having a cinema night under the duvet, we’ve all spent much more time at home and have a new found appreciation as our homes quickly became our safe bubble. I, for one, have grown my own crops and transformed my small little outdoor concrete patio into a slice of heaven — my little safe haven. In this safe zone the simple moments held an even more powerful sense of appreciation. When you put love, time, attention, and energy into something, you can definitely feel it.

4. Maintaining boundaries.

People know this is my favourite word because its sets the tone for most things going forward, including how you want to return back into the world. Delivering a clear “no” when the world starts opening back up and as more duties fall into your lap will allow you to manage and maintain control of your life without feeling too overwhelmed of burned out before doing so.

5. Walking in nature.

My daily walks were my special, sacred one hour a day that I valued so much. When you’re not absentmindedly walking past the world in a rush to the next destination but rather stretching it out because you don’t want to return home quite yet, it gives you the chance to really soak in nature and your surroundings. It also provided me with a sense of calm and perspective, that even in a pandemic the trees will grow and life goes on.

6. Supporting my local community.

As travel wasn’t permitted and cooking at home increased, my local grocery store saw me more then my own family. Not only did we build an affiliation but equally I was also putting my pennies into independent stores that are on the brink of extinction from the giant conglomerates. Win-win. Shopping locally, I also discovered new shops in my area which I would have walked past before. As the lockdown eases and we start to shop again, take time to explore and vote with your money.

7. Keeping Up With Hobbies.

During lockdown, I fell back in love with art, painting, and sketching. I created care packages with carefully crafted cards of joy for all of my friends. Drawing was my escape and a hobby that I didn’t make time for before, but it’s meditative and gets you out of your head (not to mention helps time fly!). Having a hobby and blocking out structured time for it also helps maintain that ever elusive work/life balance.

8. Taking stock.

It’s easy to be busy for busies sake, but do we ever stop to think, ‘Is this really what I want to be doing?’ For me, hitting pause allowed for a long moment of clarity and a chance to refocus on my goal and my purpose. This reset time allowed me to reassess where I am going and if there are any changes I want to make with my current situation. This is a practice that is especially hard to do when you have a packed schedule and constant distractions but one I will carve out time for regularly in the future, so that I am wisely focused.

9. Letting go.

We have all grieved during this pandemic, whether for a loved one or a life we once knew. The pandemic has swept us off our feet, and there’s nothing we could really do about it. Letting go allowed me to accept and lean into the uncomfortableness of the unknown, which then let there be space for something new to enter. For example, instead of worrying when I would work next, I rolled with the tides because that’s all I could do.

10. Honouring your needs.

This sounds obvious but the pandemic, and the resulting virus, has shown us more than ever that our bodies — and in turn, our responses — are considerably different from person to person. This also means we will all be responding to reentering back differently, too. Feelings of guilt, pressure, angst, and fear may be true for you yet not for others, this is fine. We have just spent nearly four months in lockdown — this new lifestyle will take time readjust to.

Image Source: Jada Sezer



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Nutritional Facts, Health Benefits, and Potential Drawbacks

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Cashew, a significant member of the family of nuts, is native to Brazil, South America, and was brought to India by the Portuguese, who took it to Goa. Produced on a tropical evergreen tree, these nuts are sweet in taste and have a creamy consistency. Raw, roasted, salted, unsalted, you can find cashews in any of these forms. This nut also manages to find its way into a variety of dishes, some of which are an inseparable part of Indian traditions and festivals, be it curry, kheer, biryani, or even kaju katli! Aside from being an easy addition to a wide spectrum of dishes, these tree nuts have been used to make certain dairy alternatives like cashew milk, cashew butter, and cashew cheese too.

In addition to having a variety of health benefits, like helping with stomach and abdominal illnesses, Cashews, also ensure that you have hair and skin that is desirable. Furthermore, through this post, we will dive deep and have a better look at the nutritional structure of cashew, its health benefits, and some of its possible drawbacks.

Table of Contents

Nutritional Facts

Just like any other important nut, cashews are a storehouse of energy and essential nutrients. They help your body in significant ways and work towards making you a healthier individual. To have the exact information about the nutritional contents of cashews, the measurements of 1 serving of cashews (28.35 grams/ approx 18 cashews) is given below:

  • 157 calories
  • 8.56 g of carbohydrate
  • 0.9 g of fiber
  • 5.17 g of protein
  • 12.43 g of total fat
  • 1.68 g of sugar

Other Nutrients include:

  • 10 mg of calcium 
  • 0.62 mg of copper
  • 1.89 mg of iron
  • 1.64 mg of zinc
  • 83 mg of magnesium 
  • 168 mg of phosphorus
  • 187 mg of potassium
  • 3 mg of sodium

Apart from these nutrients, one can also find Vitamin B and C in cashews. They are also a great source of proteins in one’s diet and contain good amounts of unsaturated fats.

7 Health Benefits of Cashews

This festival-favourite nut appears to be a source of nutrients that can mitigate many health conditions. We will take a look at a few top health benefits here: 

1. Great for natural eye-protection

Improves natural eye protection

With Indian cities ranking amongst some of the most highly polluted cities across the world, we know how bad the environment has become for us. From the never-ending traffic jams to the harmful UV rays and our screen time increasing every day, the stress on our eyes is getting a lot. Cashews contain a strong antioxidant pigment that is directly absorbed by the retina. This helps in the formation of a layer on our eyes which protects us from harmful UV rays. 

The strength of our eyes deteriorates with age (specifically macular degeneration), but certain studies have shown that a regular intake of the antioxidant provided by cashews can help slow that down too!

2. Helps prevent blood diseases

Cashews are a rich source of copper, which helps in combating any infection and maintaining your immune system. It is widely known that copper, along with iron, helps the body in preparing red blood cells.

3. Boosts and helps prepare a healthy heart

Boosts and helps prepare a healthy heart

It has been proven by multiple studies that nuts, such as cashews, are full of nutrients like protein, antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and unsaturated fatty acids. These help in providing anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and heart-protective characteristics. Adding to this, inflammation and vascular reactions are also kept in check with a regular intake of the nutrients provided by these nuts. Cashews also contain unsaturated fatty acids that help keep cholesterol levels in check, thereby, reducing any hazards like stroke, cardiovascular diseases, and heart attacks.

4. Aids in weight loss

Regular intake of cashew nuts can regulate weight loss and even make it faster. They contain Omega 3 fatty acids that can boost a person’s metabolism. This helps in getting rid of any excess fat. Cashew nuts provide rich fiber and protein content with lesser calories, helping you stay full for long.

5. Improves the health of skin and hair

Healthy skin and shiny hair

Cashews are rich in selenium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, and magnesium, which can be wonderful for your skin. It is also a source of proteins, antioxidants, and plant-based chemicals that aid in keeping your skin healthy and avoid any wrinkles. As it contains antioxidants, cashews promote new cells to grow to ensure that the skin’s elasticity remains intact.

According to various experts, eating cashews and applying cashew nut oil to one’s scalp can help in the production of a pigment known as melanin — the copper present in cashews aids with this. There are also certain oleic and linoleic acids present that lend a silky finish to the hair and improve hair colour.

6. Boosts your gut

Cashews are rich in dietary fiber which helps in the digestion process and also provides food for the gut-friendly bacteria. This helps in good gut health and prevents intestinal issues.

7. Strengthens your bones

Improves Bone Health

In addition to calcium, magnesium is also extremely crucial for healthy bones. Both of them in balance can help in bettering nerve regulation and muscle toning. Magnesium keeps calcium in check, and cashews can act as a great source for it.

Potential Downsides of Cashews

While we have praised cashews immensely for being a storehouse of fantastic nutrients, there are some possible downsides to their consumption.

  • Raw cashews that have not been processed at all can be risky to consume as they have a toxic substance (usually found in poison ivy). If contact is made with it, one can be at the receiving end of skin reactions. Thus, it is best to choose dry roasted or raw cashew varieties.
  • Cashew nuts also contain phytates that can make it troublesome for your body to be able to absorb the minerals and vitamins that the nuts have. However, Soaking nuts can reduce the phytate content.
  • People who are usually allergic to tree nuts can be allergic to cashews as well.
  • Cashews have a noticeable amount of oxalic acid, and if not consumed in moderate amounts, they can be an issue for people who have kidney ailments, and those who are at risk of getting kidney stones.

Summary

All in all, cashew nuts are a super nutritious food that can provide you with amazing health benefits. Right from your heart to your gut, these kidney-shaped nuts seem to have taken care of a variety of ailments all by themselves. With just a regular intake of cashews, you can make sure that you receive many favorable nutrients. Stored properly in an air-tight container, you will be able to enjoy these tasty snacks throughout the year. Just remember that too much of everything is bad and one should keep a watch on their consumption. Other than that, these deliciously creamy nuts are the way to go!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Are roasted cashews better for one’s health than raw cashews?

A. Raw cashews are better than roasted, as roasting can destroy the good omega3 fatty acids which can lower cholesterol.

Q. Can vegans consume cashews in their diet?

A. Cashews are a plant food source and can safely be consumed by vegans.

Q. How many cashews should one eat in a day?

A. 1 serving of cashews is approximately 30 grams or about 15-18 cashews.

Q. Can cashews be bad for your health?

A. Since cashews are high in calories and fat, portion control is important. Also, the anti nutrient compounds in cashews may not be suitable for kidney patients if eaten in large amounts. Cashews are also not suited for anyone with nut allergy.

Q. Is it okay to eat a cashew apple?

A. Yes, cashew apples can be eaten raw or cooked but do not eat the nut attached to it as it contains a toxin. The nut needs to be dried before eating it.

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How four healthcare executives are planning for the future of digital health

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digital health smartphone

Before the pandemic, many health systems had started to devote more resources to digital health. In the last year alone, Mayo Clinic and Kaiser Permanente hired their first ever chief digital officers.

Since the first Covid-19 cases were reported in the U.S., that role has undoubtedly changed. Technology became an integral part of many health systems’ response to the pandemic – and served as a lifeline to continue to see patients.

At MedCity INVEST, four healthcare executives shared how they responded to Covid-19, and what they see as the future of digital health.

The panelists included:

  • Prat Vemana, Kaiser Permanente’s first chief digital officer
  • Roberta Schwartz, Houston Methodist’s chief innovation officer
  • Eric Spaulding, director of digital customer experience at Highmark Health
  • Aaron Martin, chief digital and innovation officer for Providence St. Joseph Health and managing general partner of Providence Ventures

Innovaccer’s CTO Mike Sutten and MedCity News Editor-In-Chief Arundhati Parmar moderated the panel. Here are some highlights from the discussion:  

 

Q: What were some of your learnings from your response to the pandemic?

Vemana: Both how consumers adapted to telehealth and virtual care accelerated quite a bit. Earlier, we used to promote telehealth, it was an initiative. Now, it’s here. But the other side is also important from a care team perspective — how they were able to embrace it and adapt.

… The second piece I would say Covid-19 has accelerated is collaboration among different parties. Every conversation required a steering committee and a discussion and whatnot. When I think about what Covid-19 has done, people are learning more toward speed and execution and the ability to have progress over perfection.

Schwartz: I remember in the room we gathered all of our folks who were involved in the Center for Innovation, as well as our IT partners. I just put it out on the table and said, “Tell us every technology that we have that can be turned toward Covid.”

What we realized was all of the ingredients we had sitting out there could pivot just a little bit to help us with the crisis that we had.

… I think what all of us didn’t realize was how quickly adoption could happen. How quickly you could go from 5% to 80% (of visits) on telemedicine. The question that all of us have is when that dust settles, what is the level that’s here to stay for good? What has fundamentally shifted in a period of eight weeks?


Q:   Aaron, (Providence) already had a pretty strong digital presence, so what’s next?

Martin: A few things. One is, I don’t things can stick or accelerate without health systems moving to risk. … We’re on track to do probably 5 million virtual visits this year. That’s a massive number. The problem is, it’s still loaded with friction for both the patient and the provider. So that’s one block of work we’ve got to do.

… We did some math and we said these providers are going to have to do anywhere between three or four video visits an hour to just maintain their income on a fee-for-service RPU basis. And that is just inhuman. We should not have primary care physicians doing fee-for-service work and we’ve got to get to capitation very quickly.

I think that’s actually the core issue. You’ll see us be very aggressive in that space. And also in taking all of the friction out of the process for online scheduling and virtual visits.

 

Q: What are your thoughts on how to deal with patient privacy at this time when there’s so much collaboration happening?

Spaulding: A lot of it from the customer side is making sure we’re incredibly explicit in what they’re signing up for, whether it’s a bot, making sure every single point of digital interaction they know how to revoke consent, that’s a huge part of it.

The other thing is really working and partnering with our legal and privacy team to look at legislation that’s coming out… being able to do the due diligence to say when do we reasonably expect that this is something that will affect us, and let’s get started now.

Sutten: I think there’s was lot of talk about how the regulation on interoperability will kind of open security (breaches), but in fact, it reduces them. The move to APIs is inherently more secure than batch ASCII files, rarely which even have password protection on them. I think the cloud is inherently more secure, if you think about the amount of people — whether it’s Microsoft, Google or Amazon — that are protecting the perimeter and protecting the services within it.

By the way, we’re now asking members and patients if they would like their data shared, and we’ve never gone to that level before.

These interviews have been edited for content and clarity.

Photo credit: Andrey Suslov, Getty Images

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UnitedHealth creates its own digital health program for type 2 diabetes

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As Livongo, Omada Health, and other well-established digital health programs continue to grow, another company is pushing into the crowded marketplace for diabetes management.

The new entrant: UnitedHealth Group.

The insurer is rolling out a new digital health program for patients with Type 2 diabetes to more than 230,000 of its members across 27 states. Called Level2, it was developed internally by UnitedHealth Group Research and Development. The program combines connected wearables with coaching to give participants more information about their health and help them manage blood sugar levels.

Users are equipped with Dexcom’s continuous glucose monitor and a Fitbit activity tracker, and receive app-based alerts. They also receive one-on-one coaching, and can get a specialist consultation through video chat. The program is free, and participants are incentivized with rewards.

Earlier this year, Livongo announced a partnership with DexCom to sync data from its connected glucose monitors with its platform.

United tested the concept in a pilot with 790 members two years ago, starting with its Medicare Advantage plans. Some of them saw a clinically meaningful reduction in A1C levels within three months, though United didn’t share the full results from the pilot. It said participants with the most significantly elevated A1C levels were able to reduce blood sugars by more than 1% on average, and that participants were able to eliminate the need for 450 prescriptions by improving their health.

“Connected devices such as continuous glucose monitors and activity trackers may be game changers for the approximately 30 million people2 nationwide living with type 2 diabetes. By expanding this innovative new therapy to more members across the country, we are empowering people with actionable information and personalized support,” said Dr. Amy Meister, who worked with UnitedHealthcare’s research and development division before becoming CEO of Level2.

The company is making the program available to fully insured health plans in several states to start. Later this year, United plans to make Level2 available to its self-funded plans.

In the future, United hinted that it might expand the platform “to support people with other conditions beyond type 2 diabetes. Other digital health companies that started with diabetes programs have expanded to other indications. For example, Omada also has programs for hypertension, behavioral health, and more recently added physical therapy to its repertoire with its acquisition of Physera.

Photo credit: screenshot from Level2 website

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The Healthcare Holy Grail: A health plan’s guide to succeeding with their value-based care strategy

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present

There is broad consensus across the healthcare industry that value-based care (VBC) is a positive step towards achieving the “triple aim” of healthcare: better healthcare experiences and improved health outcomes at lower costs. However, as health plans move towards quality over quantity-based reimbursement models, they are under immense pressure to ingest and operationalize new datasets to properly inform and pay the providers that have transitioned to VBC contractual arrangements. If health plans do not better align their data management, payment management and reporting execution capabilities to enable their VBC contractual arrangements, they run the risk of antagonizing or even losing providers – which will torpedo even the best strategy.

To avoid this outcome, health plans need to retool their VBC execution capabilities to ensure swift provider buy-in and include sustainable access to valuable and actionable data. This lofty goal goes well beyond the triple aim to what I’m now calling the quest for the “healthcare holy grail.”

I’ve noticed three common challenges in implementing VBC contractual arrangements from my conversations with health plans. First, many health plans are taking a reactive approach rather than proactive. For example, as part of a VBC initiative, providers are often promised that they will receive bonus payments at the end of the year. Unfortunately, health plans struggle to analyze the data quickly enough to provide bonuses in a timely manner. Health plans need real-time transaction data to be able to effectively analyze a provider’s adherence to VBC contracts, allow them to “course correct” before they miss quality or financial targets and compensate them accordingly and quickly.

Second, health plans are challenged to offer variations to VBC contracts that are personalized for each provider network and, in many cases individual providers. For example, providers that have different geographic reaches or different measurement strategies require unique contracts. To address this variation, some health plans have built “super spreadsheets” to track hundreds of different contracts. But the reality is these spreadsheets are incredibly complex, time-intensive, resource-consumptive and prone to errors. Simple data inconsistencies can alter entire data sets. This operational model can quickly become unwieldy. Health plans need a more efficient way to track and scale contract variation.  Similarly, plans that have built custom solutions often find themselves boxed into an inflexible model that does not allow the plan to adapt to market trends and state value-based mandates.

Third, health plans that are operationalizing these value-based contracts struggle to make the transition away from the long-embraced fee-for-service model transparent to their providers. Often times, providers who have switched to a fee-for-value model do not know how they are progressing towards their contractual goals and ultimately, bonus payments until the end of year or, at best, months later.

This is too late to course-correct and can cause provider abrasion and frustration. Whether it’s a federal Medicare VBC program, a contract signed with a commercial health plan or an experimental VBC program being driven by a state Medicaid agency, the delay in receiving the required transparency and visibility into a provider’s transition and progress is a challenge. In fact, providers performing services under Medicaid VBC contracts with Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) have complained and appealed directly to the state. The major complaint is regarding the lack of visibility into how they are progressing in their contracts and when, and if, they will receive payments from MCOs.

To address these challenges, health plans can benefit from this roadmap to reach the healthcare holy grail:

  • User Experience: Choose a solution that allows all the required health plan business units and providers to collaborate and experiment as a team on VBC contract development.
  • Solution Velocity: Ensure the solution will scale and provide the rapid deployment and support of contract variation demanded by each provider’s unique characteristics.
  • Process and Data Transparency: Empower providers with the required data transparency needed for success from contract inception through contract

Health plans have already begun their triple aim journey down the path of VBC, but often they are building this initiative on an infrastructure that lacks the needed scale, transparency and efficiency. To reach the healthcare holy grail, health plans must choose solutions that can streamline their data processes and execution capabilities, so providers are efficiently equipped with both the right data to be successful contractually and financially, and most importantly, to ensure patients are receiving the highest quality of care at the right time.

Photo: Hong Li, Getty Images

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