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October is Health Literacy Month!

October is Health Literacy Month! While the Tech Lister blog generally focuses on cool improvements in the way things and people work in the 21st century, I’m going to highlight an area that doesn’t work so well for anyone – our healthcare system. A recent column in the New York Times illustrates the strange and frustrating obstacles to simply refilling a needed prescription for a chronic illness experienced by the author. That this author, Aaron Carroll, happens to be a physician well-versed in the idiosyncrasies of American healthcare emphasizes the opacity of the system for everyday folks.

To recap the author’s experience: Dr. Carroll lives with ulcerative colitis, a chronic bowel condition that before his recent drug therapy necessitated such life-limiting exigencies as planning his days around bathroom trips. Finally his doctor recommended an off-label use of an older immunosuppressant drug, which is available in generic form. Happily the drug not only relieved Carroll’s symptoms, it was also relatively inexpensive. Problem solved? Not quite – enter the U.S. healthcare system to complicate matters.

When his three month prescription for this beneficial drug runs out, Dr. Carroll must get a new prescription from his doctor. Before he can get that new prescription, he has to have lab tests to make sure the side effects of the drug aren’t causing anemia. The labs where he might obtain the testing are not all covered by his insurance, and those that are covered are subject to change, necessitating new lab testing orders from his doctor. This leads to frequent miscommunication with his doctor’s office, which faxes the old lab order to the new lab facility not realizing they won’t accept anything but a newly written order. Other foul-ups occur in the reporting of the lab results, changes in mail-order pharmacy requirements, and getting the pharmacy the payment before his prescription runs out. Stress of course exacerbates his condition, and he must go through this very stressful process four times a year.

In Dr. Carroll’s words: “There is no bad guy here. I love the drug company that created this medication. The price is more than reasonable. I love the doctor who prescribed it to me. My insurance company has never refused to cover my care, and has always been honest with me. The laboratory personnel are professional and competent. It’s the system – the way things work or fail to work, together – that’s the issue.”

What does all this have to do with health literacy? Remember that the definition of health literacy (according to the Affordable Care Act) is, “the capacity to obtain, communicate, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions.” If the healthcare system is unnecessarily complicated and cumbersome even for healthcare professionals, it cannot help but make it that much more difficult for all of us to make appropriate health decisions based on our understanding of the information and services at hand. So, it is vital that all of us – healthcare providers and administrators, educators, caseworkers and community activists and leaders, as well as individual patients and family members – work together to identify and address those areas of healthcare that do not work seamlessly for the patient or provider. Only then can we hope to improve general health literacy beyond the current 12% proficiency level.


New! EndNote Manuscript Matcher

Are you planning to finish a journal article or two this summer? Are you curious about which is the ideal journal to publish your work?

EndNote’s new manuscript matcher tool will generate some best-fit journals for your manuscript.

  • Simply enter your titles and abstract.  For better results, put the references in your manuscript into an EndNote group and select it.
  • EndNote uses patented algorithms based on Web of Science to generate a list of suggested publication with key metrics like JCR Impact factor.

Click on the image below to watch a short video demonstration and explanation of Manuscript Matcher.


If you have EndNote, you can access Manuscript Matcher through your EndNote online account. If you do not, you can create a free EndNote Basic account.

If you have questions, Ask a Librarian. We are happy to help!

Hooks: Notifications (mostly about TV but still useful)

I don’t know about you but I don’t like a lot of alerts and notifications on my phone.  Please don’t tell me every time I get a new email, I’m stressed enough.  However, since I am stressed, there are things I’m missing.  Hopefully, not important things but things I would like to know about.  For example, if my Mom doesn’t send me a message about it, it may be two or three days before I think to wonder how the Cubs are doing (19-15 but we just swept the Mets in a 4 game series so I’ll take it) and check.  Most apps do have notification settings but at install I almost always (ok, always) default to the, “please don’t push anything to me, I’ll let you know if I want it” option.  All apps are different though and figuring out how to set up the notifications is easily put off.  Welcome Hooks.  Hooks is only for the iPhone (sorry Androids) but is a free app that allows you to set up all kinds of interesting notifications.  Such as

hooks rain


hooks isbell


hooks cubs

You can browse popular notifications

hooks popular

or create your own.

Notifications appear or you can go to the tab to view them.

Hooks notif


Clicking on one of the notifications takes you to more information, a website or app usually.  So far I’ve been happy with it and would recommend exploring the options to see what you might be interested in adding.

P.S.  I used PushBullet to quickly send these photos from my phone to my computer.  If you haven’t tried this yet, don’t delay!

Have you tried Canva?

My favorite new tool is Canva, a graphic design tool that makes it super easy to create images for social media, flyers for sharing, and cards for printing. You can choose from free or $1.00 templates, photos, or icons to create images or PDF’s that you can download or save in your design stream.  Check out some of the images that I have created to publicize our Pet Therapy Study Break, Afternoon Tea, & other messages for Twitter and Facebook posts. One nice feature of Canva is that you can choose the size of your image to fit perfectly into posts on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram as well as headers for social media and email. Canva also offers helpful tutorials on design plus inspiration from cool designers to follow on Instagram. Join the over 2 million members on Canva and start creating your own super designs.


GOOD LUCK2sunshinegood luckMolly3

The Weird Joys of Home Automation

Alexa was delivered to our house on December 9, 2014. She’s small, thin, black, cylindrical, and sits on our china cabinet, and waits for someone to say her name.  She’s always listening.

“Alexa, play Nirvana.”

Shuffling for…Nirvana

“Alexa, what’s the weather tomorrow?”

            Tomorrow, in Birmingham, you’ll see…

“Alexa, set a timer for 25 minutes.”

            Setting a timer for…25 minutes.

As I do with most of the tech that my husband, Brian Moon, brings into the house, I met his description of Alexa with a slow blink and raised eyebrows. But after living with her for a week, I like her. When I cook, I ask her to set a timer for me so that I don’t have to stop whisking to grab my phone to wake up Siri, or mess with the unreliable timer on our 1970s-era oven.

If there’s a draw back to Alexa it’s the way you have to talk to her. I feel a bit rude and demanding, but she accommodates politely with her sophisticated accent. Every time I tell her to set a timer when I put food into the oven, I say thank you to make myself feel better.

We introduced Alexa to our friends on New Year’s Day. My friend, Janet, had the best reaction. She looked up in the direction of the voice and blue light, and with something like a Poltergeist warning uttered, “Oh my God, it’s happening.”

Xbox, Meet Us

I’ve had about 32 years of experience in turning the on the television, but now I have to ask the X Box—“X Box, On”—and still I have to press a button. It’s known Brian since he installed it, and now it knows me since I took to the time to properly introduce myself by registering my face.

The Xbox encourages you to build a relationship with your TV. It signals hello by chirping and popping up a message from Brian’s mii that says “Hi Brian!” I can tell you that he’s completely delighted every single time. Me? I think it’s an odd choice to have a cartoon version of myself saying hello to my human self, and so I feel like a mean girl…”Whatever, Xbox…Hey.”   But the whole thing is completely entertaining. I laugh at Brian over his delight, and he laughs at me about my judgment.

I asked Brian how he feels when the Xbox welcomes him to the living room. He says, “Well, I can say that I don’t feel any emotion related to it. It is more about convenience and seeing a glimmer of what could be possible with technology.”

Real Implications & Connections

I was helping a UAB School of Nursing class with an article appraisal assignment and the topic was Ageing In Place. We explored ways that technology could help the elderly stay in their homes longer and more independently. We discussed studies on the use of home monitoring devices, the use of video surveillance, and other seemingly intrusive gadgets. How we introduce technology to our everyday lives is becoming more and more culturally relevant to how we care for our loved ones and ourselves.

Whenever Brian introduces these things to our lives, I immediately think how unnecessary it all is. Then he goes out of town, and I send him a text that it’s cold in the house. Because I know that he can control the thermostat with his phone, I wait on the sofa, in the living room where the Xbox just said hello to me with a bit too much enthusiasm, for the sound of the heat to come through the vents. He texts back, “Better?”

Dare I ask? “Alexa, play a love song.”


Ebola Communication Network (ECN)

For better or worse Ebola’s presence in the United States has definitely increased awareness of the hazards of ignoring infectious disease in developing countries as something that “can’t happen here.” It has also raised the profile of global public health efforts. The Health Communication Capacity Collaborative, or HC3, recently launched an online collection of Ebola resources, materials and tools for prevention and control of this deadly disease, the Ebola Communication Network (ECN).


A major focus of the ECN is on the use of social and behavior change communication to help residents, healthcare workers and community leaders know how to prevent illness, how to recognize Ebola signs and symptoms and how to care for the sick safely. There are posters, brochures and infographics available for download, as well as demographic information and professional articles for health workers. The site is responsive to mobile devices and optimized for low bandwidth situations.

The ECN allows searching by language, publication type, topic and audience. Users may also upload their own materials, which are posted after a brief review process.


The Ebola panic in the US has subsided somewhat, but the epidemic in Africa continues. The ECN may prove to be an important tool in providing useful, timely and understandable information to populations dealing with both the disease itself as well as the fear of the disease.

Do you know Stanford Medicine X?

Stanford Med X logo

Medicine X brings together patients, providers, researchers and technologists to move health care and emerging technologies forwardway forward.

Medicine X just held their 4th annual conference in September.  To get an idea of how diverse their program is, check out the schedule.  You’ll quickly see that the 2014 schedule is not just a list of speakers and abstracts, but a way to connect to the conference and the speakers even if you weren’t there.  Many of the contributors to Medicine X are ePatients (meaning expert patients)–some are also well-established bloggers, blogging about their illness or chronic disease.

The conference is styled very similarly to TED Talks–the stage is flashy, no podium, speakers are cool, casual and inspiring.


Image (YouTube) of Brit Johnson delivering a talk about her experience with autoimmune arthritis at a Medicine X Conference at Stanford University. You can follow her blog @hurtblogger.


There is a list of Medicine X’s selected talks made up of conference presentations and weekly LIVE discussions that are designed to be watched and followed on Twitter (#MedX) every Tuesday & Thursday.  (NOTE:  The site seems to be behind in their promotion of upcoming LIVE discussions, but there are plenty archived on their YouTube Channel.)

As mentioned before, patients play a big role at the conference, ePatient Scholarships applications can now be submitted for the 2015 conference.  If you are or know a good candidate, this looks like an amazing & fun opportunity!



Does sex matter?

Learn about sex and gender differences from The Science of Sex & Gender in Human Health online course


“Sex…is an important basic human variable that should be considered when designing and analyzing the results of studies in all areas and at all levels of biomedical and health-related research.” —Institute of Medicine, Exploring the Biological Contributions to Human Health: Does Sex Matter?

Learn all about sex and gender differences from this online course developed by the Office of Research on Women’s Health, Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health and the Office of Women’s Health, U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Three free courses are offered:

  • The Basic Science and the Biological Basis for Sex- and Gender- Related Differences
  • Sex and Gender Differences in Health and Behavior
  • The Influence of Sex and Gender on Disease Expression and Treatment

Each course includes 5 or 6 lessons and takes about 5 or 6 hours to complete.  New users must register for access to the courses.

The course was developed for researchers, clinicians, health care professionals, educators, and students who wish to gain a basic scientific understanding of the major physiological differences between the sexes, the influences these differences have on illness and health outcomes, and the implications for policy, medical research, and health care.

Continuing Education Credit

Eligible candidates can earn continuing medical education (CME) credit, continuing nursing education (CNE) credit or continuing pharmacy education (CPE) for successfully completing Course 1, Course 2, or Course 3.

Learn more

about research and resources in sex and gender differences at UAB and beyond in our Women’s Health Resources GuideThe guide was developed as part of the “Women’s Health Resources Dissemination Outreach Project” through funding provided by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

More information on NIH’s requirement that drugs be tested on animals of both sexes


7 ways to make your (finals) week less stressful

1. Find a stress buster event on campus near you

Take a break from studying and join Campus Recreation, the Counseling and Wellness Center, and the Student Nursing Association for our FREE Stress Buster Program!  Enjoy chair massages, blood pressure screenings, yoga classes, and stress relief handouts. There will also be free blue books, scantrons, and stress balls!

Free Massages* & Blood Pressure Screenings+

  • M // APRIL 21 // 4-6PM // (COMMONS)*+
  • T // APRIL 22 // 11:30-1:30 PM // (LISTER HILL)*+
  • W // APRIL 23 // 11-1 PM // (COMMONS) + (no massages on this date)

Free Yoga in Studio 1 of CRCT

  • M // APRIL 21 // 4-5PM (KAITLYN)
  • T // APRIL 22 // 12:15PM-1PM (TERRIE)
  • W // APRIL 23 // 4PM-5PM (IHSAN)

2. Take a humor break

Basset Hounds Running

Image source: Buzzfeed Bassett Hounds Running







3. Drink some tea – we’ve all heard that tea drinking is good for you but another benefit it provides is a chance to stop what you’re doing and take a break.  Afternoon tea is a Wednesday tradition that Lister Hill Library has been doing for several years – we know it’s popular with students and it’s been great for us too!  We enjoy hearing what you think about services and resources at the library so stop by, have a cup of tea (and a scone) and tell us what you think!  Wednesdays from 12:30 to 2:30

4.  Go outside – take a walk around the block or just sit outside on the green or at a table on the plaza for 15 minutes.  Turn your phone off and enjoy a few moments to feel the breeze, listen to birds, and breathe.

5. Speaking of breathing, if you don’t already meditate, try spending time each day sitting quietly.

6. Make a list – If you have lots on your mind, it often helps to write down your TO DO list so you can stop worrying that you’ll forget something important.  While you’re making lists, write down what you’re thankful for – it will help to keep things in perspective as you juggle a busy day.

7. Find more helpful hints at Lifehacker, The Joy Diet, & Zen Habits.

iPhone Shared Photo Streams

Are you tired of sharing your life through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram? Or maybe you have privacy concerns about these sites and have avoided them altogether. I recently discovered an easy-to-use, fun, and less public way to share and comment on photos among my closest family and friends: iPhone Shared Photo Streams. Granted, I think this has been around for a couple of years, but if it’s taken me this long to discover and use it maybe it will be something new for someone else out there!

Most of us iPhone users take oodles of photos on our phones. I often either text photos to someone or share them through one of the sites mentioned above. But have you ever noticed the “Shared” button at the bottom of the Photos app? That’s what I want to do (share), but why have I never clicked on that to explore the sharing possibilities?!

The first thing you have to do if you want to use this feature is check your iCloud settings. Make sure you have Photo Sharing set to “on.” (The screen shots in this post show iOS 7, but this is also available in iOS 6.)

Photo Stream Settings

Next, you need to set up a shared photo stream. Go to your Photos app and click the “Shared” cloud icon at the bottom. Click “New Shared Stream,” give it a name, and invite people. (I did have trouble inviting one person. I got an error message saying, “The phone number invited to [shared stream] cannot receive shared stream invitations.” I haven’t figured out why that happened, but iCloud support suggests trying an alternate email or phone number if this happens.) The people you invited should get a invitation to join the shared photo stream. To add photos to your shared stream, tap on the name of your stream (my shared stream in this example is “Springtime!”), tap the + sign, and navigate to select the photos you want to add from your phone.

You can make comments on each photo:


You’ll receive notifications when another person in the shared stream comments, likes, or adds to the stream.

Stream Feed

If you really want to focus on the images in a photo stream, turn your phone horizontally. It cuts out all of the extra white space, comments, etc. and makes a great little personal slideshow!


Another really neat thing you can do with shared photo streams is instantly create a public iCloud website, a URL that’s accessible to anyone. All of those iPhone photos you took on your fabulous trip to Europe? Just create a shared photo stream, turn on the “Public Website” option, and click “Share Link.” This will allow you to email them the URL and see a beautiful display of your images. Check out my example website created from my shared photo stream.

I’ve already started using this for sharing photos of my kids with their grandparents, but I could certainly see this being a fun tech tool to use in the educational setting. I’m thinking group projects in which students go out and capture photos to complete an assignment. Scavenger hunts, photo examples of certain types of architecture, plant identification, documenting before and after of some community project… and those are just the first few ideas that popped in my head! Endless possibilities. Oh, and of course the greatest part would be when students make their photo stream public on an iCloud website to showcase their work. Fun!