How Can We Make Resources Accessible to Everyone?

How Can We Make Resources Accessible to Everyone? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Dr. Judith Flores of the National Hispanic Medical Association discusses barriers to care and ways to overcome them.

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Sasha Tanori:

What specific barriers to care have you noticed that stand out to you?   

Judith Flores:

I’ve been doing quite a lot of work with communities and populations in New York City for over many years, and it’s always the very same thing we look at. We always think in terms of finances, can someone have coverage to access care? But to be honest, once you do have coverage, a lot of the other things have to do with what’s available to you, what is in your preferred language, what speaks to you and to your community.   

Sasha Tanori:

All right, thank you. Why aren’t all resources accessible to everyone, and how can we change that?   

Judith Flores:

I think that’s a very, very important question for us, and it’s a question for us to look at in this country as we evolve health care. We’ve always had a financial barrier in this country. The opportunities are very uneven across the states, and that produces a lot of unequity or disequity from person to person and group to group, even within states, people that may not have access because they don’t know that they are eligible for certain resources due to perhaps language barriers or culturally incompetent practices.

#patientchat Highlights – How Can You Use Technology for Better Care?

Last week we hosted a “How Can You Use Technology for Better Care?” Empowered #patientchat on Twitter. Take a look at the top tweets and full transcript from the chat.

Top Tweets

Which digital applications (if any) do you use to help manage your health and why?

Has technology changed healthcare to benefit patients? If yes, how so?

Closing Thoughts

Full Transcript

There’s an App for That…Or There Should Be: Utilizing Technology for Better Health Outcomes

Health literacy has always been a passion project of mine ever since I was diagnosed with cancer. I stand by the notion that plain language and clear communication leads to better health outcomes. However, communicating with our care team isn’t always easy. How many of us have gone into an appointment only to leave the office 10 minutes later, wondering what happened and what our copay went to? Were all of our issues and questions addressed? 

This is where we have to come in as advocates for our own health, and below are a few ways to do this: 

  • Try and focus on one ailment per appointment 
  • Write down a list of questions you want addressed prior to the appointment 
  • Ask questions during the appointment – you are the expert of your body and health 
  • If something doesn’t make sense, ask for the information to be explained in another way. Patients are found to be more compliant if they know: 
    • How to take their medications properly 
    • Why specific blood tests and imaging are ordered (i.e. if they’re necessary) 

How do we keep track of all of this information, though? There are patient portals that keep track of our appointments and records, but those can often be hard to navigate, and they lack the capability of being able to enter our own information (i.e. about how we’re feeling). Additionally, different health systems have different portals, leading not only to lost passwords, but a missed opportunity for integrated healthcare. This is essentially senseless for cancer patients who have to keep track of multiple appointments and medications, all while trying to keep afloat in a system that wasn’t built for patients and their caregivers. 

However, there’s a role technology can play here. I’ve heard of patients carrying around large binders of their records from appointment to appointment, but if we’re being honest, I don’t believe a physician or other member of a patient’s care team is going to take the time to go through it. Instead, utilizing the power of the device that we’re constantly carrying around and looking at may be the way to go (in addition to a smaller folder or journal for those that are comfortable with paper). 

If we think about it, there’s an app for everything, and having an app to keep track of our cancer journey should be no different. What should this app be able to do? Here are a few things that I think are especially important: 

  • Keep track of: 
    • Medications (dosage, picture of what it looks like, how to take it and what to do if you accidentally miss a dose or take more than what is prescribed, ability to refill) 
    • Blood work (results and what they mean [featuring a scale of what’s low vs. normal vs. high], what to ask your doctor about in terms of next steps) 
    • Imaging (results and what they mean, what to ask your doctor in terms of next steps) 
  • Ability to connect with all members of your care team (primary care doctor, oncologist, nurse navigator even if they work in different health systems) 
  • Ability to connect with caregivers and share information with them 
  • A diary to describe daily thoughts, symptoms, and side effects, flagging specific keywords that can alert a member of your care team 
  • A calendar with appointments (date/time, office location, directions) 
  • Tips to assist with mental health (i.e. offering local or national support groups [both virtual and in-person], counseling that accepts insurance and/or is offered on a sliding scale) 
  • Exercise routines featuring different forms of exercise (yoga, pilates, HIIT, weightlifting, playing a sport, walking and running, etc.) based on you’re feeling side effect- and energy-wise 
  • Information about nutrition through the different phases of a cancer journey (pre-treatment vs. in-treatment vs. post-treatment) that includes recipes 
  • Most importantly, all of this information should be in plain language that’s easy to understand in whatever language the patient is most comfortable reading 

Having an app that features all of these capabilities, I believe, would push the needle forward in patient care, not only creating better health outcomes, but a more satisfied patient. What would you add to the list? 

#patientchat Highlights – How is “Value” Defined in Healthcare?

Last week we hosted a “How is “Value” Defined in Healthcare?” Empowered #patientchat on Twitter.  Take a look at the top tweets and full transcript from the chat.

Top Tweets

How do you assess “value” in your care?

#patientchat top tweet

How does measuring value vary from all involved in healthcare such as patients, caregivers, physicians,  health systems, etc.?#patientchat top tweet

As the definition of value continues to evolve in healthcare, what steps can you take to ensure your voice is heard? Do you have advice for other patients who are struggling to have their voices heard?

#patientchat Top Tweet

Full Transcript

Finding Value in Your Care: Take Action Checklist

1. Am I getting the best care or even offered the best?  

  • Is the care appropriate for my age? My condition?
  • Am I being given more than one option, if at all possible, with the pros and cons explained to me?
  • Is my provider willing to recommend me to a colleague for a second opinion if I feel that I need one?
  • Does my healthcare provider care for me as an individual or do I feel lumped together with other patients?
    • Do I feel comfortable asking questions? 

2. Are the ordered scans and blood work helping me in my care or are they ordered “just because?”

  • Does my provider explain the reasoning behind these orders (i.e. what information we’re looking for, how this will help progression of my care, etc.)?
  • When the results come back:
    • Do I have access to them? If so, are they easy to find?
    • Are they explained to me in a way that makes sense?

3. Is insurance providing me coverage or am I consistently receiving denials/is my provider having to do a peer-to-peer? 

  • Does my coverage make sense?
    • Are providers transparent about how much something may cost?
  • Are terms explained?
  • Can I easily receive access to a care representative?

4. Does my employer offer benefits that fit what I need? 

  • Health insurance 
  • Short-term and long-term disability 
  • Options for FSA and/or HSA accounts 
  • Employee assistance programs 

5. Are the medications that are prescribed working as intended? 

  • Do I understand how to use them correctly? 
  • Do I feel comfortable telling my doctor if I have any side effects and need to switch to something else? 
  • Are they affordable or are there alternatives? 

6. Is a patient portal available and easily accessible? 

  • Is it easy to find what I’m looking for? 
  • What capabilities does the portal have?
    • Can I message my provider?
    • Can I view lab and imaging results?
    • Can I schedule appointments and see upcoming appointments?
    • Can I see visit summaries of previous appointments? 

Hail to Kale: Spicy Sausage, Kale, and Goat Cheese Pizza

Hail to Kale: Spicy Sausage, Kale, and Goat Cheese Pizza from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Recipe: Spicy Sausage, Kale, and Goat Cheese Pizza

  • 1 lb. pizza dough
  • 4 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 large leaves Tuscan kale, ribs removed, leaves torn into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. chicken broth
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 links spicy sausage, casings removed
  • 1 ripe tomato, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 5 fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp. crumbled goat cheese

History of Kale

Enjoying a resurgence in popularity in recent years, kale has some controversy between scientists about its exact origins. Kale is said to have originated in Asia Minor and Europe where it has been eaten for almost 4,000 years. But others claim that kale was grown in Europe, especially in Greek and Roman lands, over 2,000 years ago. Some claim that up until the Middle Ages, kale was the most popular vegetable that was eaten. No matter its origins, kale arrived in the United States in the 1600s.

Medical Properties of Kale

Kale boasts a standing as one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables around. Exceptionally high in vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin C, kale also supplies nutrients like manganese, potassium, copper, calcium, vitamin B6, and magnesium. Kale is a source of antioxidants that help fight cancer. And zeaxanthin and lutein along with vitamin A in kale help fight degeneration of eyesight and against the formation of cataracts. Kale contains the flavonoids kaempferol and quercetin that studies have shown to be helpful in lowering blood pressure, fighting inflammation, protecting the heart, combatting depression, and in fighting viruses and cancer. Studies have also shown that cholesterol can be lowered by substances in kale that bind to bile acids and then prevent their reabsorption by the body. With its high water content and low amount of calories, kale can be a helpful addition to aid in losing weight.

Surprising Facts About Kale

As a winter vegetable, kale grows well while withstanding cold temperatures and even frost. Encountering frost during its growing process is actually known to improve the flavor of kale. Farmers try to harvest kale after the first frost that converts some of the starches into sugars for better flavor. Previously known as pheasant’s cabbage, kale was used by Greeks in ancient times to sober up and to fight hangovers. As a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, kale is related to collard greens, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage.

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Zesty Lemon Parmesan Brussels Sprouts

Zesty Lemon Parmesan Brussels Sprouts from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Recipe: Lemon Parmesan Brussels Sprouts


  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
  • 2 to 3 cloves of garlic (minced or pressed)
  • 1TBS fresh thyme leaves
  • 1TBS fresh chopped parsley leaves
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Toss Brussels sprouts in olive oil & sprinkle salt and pepper
  3. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet
  4. Place cut side facing down Bake for 30 minutes
  5. Toss half way through
  6. Serve warm spritzed with more lemon juice and top with parmesan cheese

History of Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts, also known as Brussel sprouts, are named after the city in Belgium. Historians believe that they were first grown there in the 16th century and then were introduced to North America by French settlers in Louisiana in the 18th century. Though the flavor of Brussels sprouts is disliked by some – most likely due to a bitter flavor from overcooking – they have a nutty sweet flavor when roasted. With their resemblance to cabbages, Brussels sprouts are also referred to as mini cabbages and remain a favorite among top chefs like Jacques Pepin and many others.

Medical Properties of Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are rich in several important nutrients for the body including folate, vitamin C, vitamin K, and the carotenoids of beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. They are also very good sources of manganese, vitamin B6, dietary fiber, choline, copper, vitamin B1, potassium, phosphorus, and omega-3 fatty acids. Brussels sprouts belong to the cruciferous vegetable family that includes broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, and cabbage. The processes of cooking and digestion break down to a phytochemical called isothiocyanate that researchers have discovered to have anti-cancer effects in fighting against DNA damage and against growth within tumor cells. Medical experts tout Brussels sprouts for their role in helping with bone and skin health, lowering cholesterol, balancing hormone levels, improving digestion, reducing oxidative stress, decreasing the risk of obesity and diabetes, protecting the heart, reducing inflammation, aiding the immune system, and increasing circulation. Though Brussels sprouts may help fight cancer, experts recommend limiting dietary intake to once a week and to rotate other vegetables into your diet as well.

Surprising Facts About Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are packed with vitamin C, and one serving of them delivers four times more than an orange. Researchers have found that Brussels sprouts contain Indole-3-carbinol that is a libido booster in men but can have the opposite effect in women. Shoppers can sometimes find Brussels sprouts at grocery stores and farmers markets attached to the stalks that they grow on. Keeping the sprouts on their stalks helps to retain moisture and to nourish the sprouts after harvesting.


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Uncovering the Hidden Health Benefits of Garlic

Uncovering the Hidden Health Benefits of Garlic from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Recipe: Hidden Garlic Broccoli and Beef

• 1 1/4 lbs flank steak sliced thin
• 1 TBS vegetable oil
• 2 cups broccoli florets
• 2 TBS minced fresh ginger
• 1/4 cup oyster sauce
• 1/4 cup beef broth or water
• 1 TBS brown sugar
• 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
• 1 tsp soy sauce
• 1 tsp cornstarch
• Salt and pepper to taste

History of Garlic

Though the exact origin of garlic is unknown, historians generally agree that it came from Middle Asia. It most likely means that garlic came from West China around the region of the Tien Shen Mountains to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Ancient Sumerians from the time of 2600 to 2100 BC used garlic for its healing properties, and some believe that they brought the bulb to China. There’s also evidence that garlic was used as a health remedy for its heating and stimulating properties in China as far back as 2700 BC. In the Chinese principles of yin and yang (or that in good there is bad and in bad there is good), garlic falls into the yang category. Also known as the stinking rose, garlic was used in numerous other ancient civilizations including Indian, Egyptian, Tibetan, Greek, Roman, and others.

Medical Properties of Garlic

Has anyone ever told you to eat some garlic when you’re fighting off a cold? Well, it turns out they’re not wrong in giving you that advice after all. Garlic contains the important substances of sulphur and quercetin that help the body in numerous and unexpected ways. It’s been shown to work as an antibiotic, antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, and antihistamine medical agent. And what do all those things mean exactly? They translate to fighting a variety of ailments like the common cold, fungal infections, allergies, and cancer among other things.

Surprising Facts About Garlic

Did you think that was all? No, garlic is touted as a cure-all by many, and the benefits of garlic don’t stop there. Along with these benefits, garlic has also been shown to improve cardiovascular health by turning sulphur into hydrogen sulfide that expands blood vessels and improves the regulation of blood pressure. And if you have skin and hair troubles, garlic can even improve the appearance of your skin and hair. Simply slice a clove of raw garlic and rub it over the affected area of your skin, and the antibacterial properties of garlic help to clear up pimples. Garlic can also help kill bacteria on food like E.coli and salmonella that cause food poisoning, and it is even effective against infections that are resistant to antibiotics like MRSA.


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