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Friday, January 21, 2011

In the Wake of Tragedy, Human and Medical Triumph

Since January 8th, I’ve been glued to the internet and 24/7 cable news, immersed in the tragic events that took place in Tucson and the chilling tales of loss that have surfaced in the aftermath. I try to imagine the horrific scene. The feelings of anger and hatred toward the killer are only overcome by those of deep sorrow for the victims and their families. As we’ve watched the events unfold, and try to make sense of this moment of darkness, I’m struck by the contrasting stories of hope and triumph that have emerged….and the medical miracles that we’re witnessing.

In a story that has defied medical odds, U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords’ condition was improved from critical to serious this week, with announced plans to move her to a Houston rehab facility today. Though it’s important to express our optimism with caution, one can’t help but acknowledge just how unlikely her recovery seemed in the immediate wake of the shooting that left a wake of 19 victims, six of whom died. Suffering a gunshot wound to the head, Giffords was rushed to the University of Arizona medical center facing the most dire circumstances imaginable: Skull fractures, dead brain tissue that had to be removed, increasing pressure from swelling that could further damage her brain, and fractures in her eye sockets.

But in the midst of the tragedy, great heroism has been on display. We’ve seen the faith of the victims’ families, the brave response of the rescue workers, and ordinary bystanders reacting in such extraordinarily compassionate ways. We’ve all been in awe of the character that’s been revealed, reflecting what is best in the human spirit. But as a member of the healthcare industry, I’ve been particularly inspired by the courage and leadership of the medical professionals who have cared for these victims.

In reading the heroic story of the Dr. Randall Friese, the trauma surgeon that first treated both Giffords and nine-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, gives us a glimpse of the courage required in split-second trauma decisions. Dr. Michael Lemole, chief of neurosurgery, and Dr. Peter Rhee, trauma director, have given the world a rare view of the complexity and razor-thin precision that severe head trauma presents. Beyond exceptional medical skill, their ability to communicate with the public, to help us understand the intricacies of these procedures and the physical and psychological impacts, has been uplifting, truly honest, and candid. Few in our society posses all of these gifts.

Every day as we watch, there have been remarkable steps forward: the lifting of fingers, the opening of her eyes, a gentle rub of her husband’s back, and yesterday actually playing with an iPad. There’s still a long, hard road ahead, but this story illustrates the amazing survival and recuperative strength of the human will, and physical power of the loving bond between husband and wife. But let’s not forget the heroes at work every day in the field of medicine.

Our thoughts and prayers remain with the victims, their families, and the medical professionals who are caring for them.

~ Alex Price

Monday, January 10, 2011

Change the World, Nominate a Nonprofit!

InteractiveMD is deeply focused on providing critical support to nonprofit organizations that address crucial health and social needs. As a healthcare company, we believe it’s vital to impact causes that affect the medical and emotional well-being of the underserved, especially in the communities which our members live and work.

To make this lasting tangible impact, InteractiveMD selects a medical/health-focused nonprofit organization to partner with every 6 months, and then engages our employees, members, and the greater community in support of this organization. Beginning January 11th, we’re accepting nominations from the public for the nonprofit organization we’ll support for the first half of 2011. We value your opinion, and hope you’ll suggest a charity that’s inspiring to you. All you have to do is visit the InteractiveMD Facebook page and post to our wall the charity of your choice and why you believe it should be considered. Soon we’ll announce the selection, and begin to make a difference together!

Our support may come in the form of grass-roots fundraising campaigns, donations of hardware and software, group volunteerism, providing pro bono services in key areas of expertise, and raising awareness for these causes through robust communication initiatives. In Fall 2010, we established our inaugural partnership with the American Diabetes Association, organizing a 40-person volunteer team to participate in their annual StepOut: Walk To Fight Diabetes. InteractiveMD received an award for being the “Top New Team” while ranking in the top 10 for fundraising among all 280 corporate teams in south Florida.

We hope you’ll help us make an even bigger impact in 2011….so let your voice be heard and nominate a nonprofit today!

~ Alex Price

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Online Relationships: It’s All About Trust

Online relationships. It’s a phrase that used to evoke connotations of mystery and masked identity. But today, whether its seeking someone to date, somewhere to bank, or help from a doctor, shifting relationships to an online setting is all about creating a personalized experience where trust can be developed, and having the technology to support that.

A potentially landmark moment in the field of mental health is on the horizon, as InteractiveMD will be announcing the launch of Interactive Psychotherapy and Counseling in 2011. Not only is this really the first large-scale offering of mental health services through interactive video conference, the unveiling signifies the largest and most significant network of providers to be assembled on the web.

As with any “traditional” industry making an anticipated leap into the digital space (think online banking, airline ticket purchasing, book stores), nothing fully hits mainstream until the leading practitioners embrace the technology shift. I think that’s what we’re finally seeing here, as leaders in mental health around the country join this network. While the option to seek counseling online is gaining wide acceptance, there may always remain the occasion when an in-person session is most appropriate. It’s akin to one’s personal financial management, where occasionally you may need to enter a branch to resolve issues, but the vast majority of your banking relationship – the depositing and transferring of funds, ordering checks, monitoring transactions – is being handled from home online. This principal holds to a much greater degree with mental health counseling, however, where nearly all of a patient-therapist relationship can take place remotely without losing any value of the service provided.

The major breakthrough here is the opening of doors for a large percentage of people who will finally consider seeking the support they need. Though mental health counseling benefits millions of regular folks every day, millions more will now have a tool to overcome the perceived social stigma they feel is associated with therapy by opting for care in their own home setting. There’s plenty of skepticism out there in the patient community, which is quite understandable for anything new. How qualified are the providers? How private is the dialog? Is this as effective as in-person therapy? We’re doing our best to answer these questions by providing full transparency into our people and our process. After all, the value of the service is fully dependant on building a trusting relationship with a credentialed expert.

It’s all about trust.

~ Alex Price