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On ‘Sound Medicine’: Doctor/patient communication, Timmy Global Health, and Patents for Humanity


INDIANAPOLIS — The award-winning “Sound Medicine” program for May 5 includes segments about the philanthropic endeavors of Indiana natives to improve health globally and how patients can improve communication with their doctor. Please check local listings for broadcast dates, times and stations.

“Sound Medicine” covers  topics in ethics, research studies and the day-to-day application of recent advancements in medicine. It’s also available via podcast and Stitcher Radio for mobile phones and iPads and posts updates on Facebook and Twitter.

How can we improve doctor/patient communication? Almost 80 percent of all medical diagnoses can be made from a patient’s history and current symptoms. When doctors don’t actively listen and patients are passive, the wrong diagnosis can be made. According to Leana Wen, M.D., patients often describe their symptoms but don’t tell their entire story. Because doctors have limited interaction time, patients should tell their story clearly and concisely. She suggests patients practice their story with friends and family before going to the doctor, allowing them to focus on key points while leaving out extraneous details. Dr. Wen is an emergency physician at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital; she is also the co-author of, “When Doctors Don’t Listen.”

What’s new with Timmy Global Health? At the 2012 American Giving Awards, Indianapolis-based Timmy Global Health won third place and $250,000. Timmy Global Health, founded in 1997 by Dr. Chuck Dietzen, has a dual mission statement: to provide health care to some of the most  deprived communities in the world and  empower the next generation of health care providers to tackle global health challenges. According to executive director Matt McGregor,  the $250,000 prize money will be used to create a scholarship fund to help offset the costs of students working with global health initiatives and to help expand patient access to health care. Recently Timmy Global Health has opened a clinic in the Dominican Republic, partnered with Microsoft to create electronic medical records in Ecuador and launched local service initiatives across Indiana.

How is malnutrition being reduced in developing countries? The United States Patent Office recently awarded a prestigious “Patent for Humanity” to Sustainable Nutrition International for developing supplements that help reduce malnutrition in developing countries. Sustainable Nutrition International focuses on the first few years of life, from conception to lactation and through childhood. Glenn Sullivan, Ph.D., a former professor of food sciences at Purdue University and co-founder of Sustainable Nutrition International, says the organization has created a rice bran supplement powder that can be stirred in milk. In a pilot program with 67,000 children and 1,500 lactating mothers, Sustainable Nutritional International reduced malnutrition rates from 38 percent to 5 percent in 10 months. The eventual goal is to license the supplement powder and sell it to the developing countries.

What are health impact assessments? Ten percent of health is determined by medical care, 20 to 30 percent is determined by genetics, and 60 to 70 percent is determined by other factors such as living, working, social and economic conditions. Jonathan Heller, Ph.D., is the co-founder of Human Impact Partners, a company that conducts Health Impact Assessments. The assessments, which evaluate how proposed projects or policies could affect community health, can be done for small projects like senior living centers and metropolitan transportation, or for large projects like educational policy changes and incarceration policies.

Can breast milk be transported on a motor bike? At Birmingham Women’s Hospital in England, a local charity bike service called Midlands Freewheelers has switched from delivering blood to delivering breast milk. The hospital used to rely on mothers bringing donated breast milk to the hospital but found that new mothers were too busy. So the Midlands Freewheelers go directly to the mothers, who are screened for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, and they must be nonsmokers. After the milk arrives at the hospital, it’s put into small bottles, pasteurized and frozen. The Midlands Freewheelers has been so successful that it  is looking to expand to other hospitals.

“Sound Medicine,” co-produced by the IU School of Medicine and WFYI Public Radio (90.1 FM) and underwritten in part by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, is aired on the following Indiana public radio stations: WBSB (Anderson, 89.5 FM), WFIU (Bloomington, 103.7 FM; Columbus, 100.7 FM; Kokomo, 106.1 FM; Terre Haute, 95.1 FM), WNDY (Crawfordsville, 91.3 FM), WVPE (Elkhart/South Bend, 88.1 FM), WNIN (Evansville, 88.3 FM), WBOI (Fort Wayne, 89.1 FM), WFCI (Franklin, 89.5 FM), WBSH (Hagerstown/New Castle, 91.1 FM), WFYI (Indianapolis), WBSW (Marion, 90.9 FM), WBST (Muncie, 92.1 FM), WBSJ (Portland, 91.7 FM), WLPR (Lake County, 89.1 FM) and WBAA (West Lafayette, 101.3 FM).

“Sound Medicine” is also broadcast on these public radio stations across the country: KSKA (Anchorage, Alaska), KTNA (Talkeetna, Alaska), KUHB (Pribilof Islands, Alaska), KUAF (Fayetteville and Fort Smith, Ark.), KIDE (Hoopa Valley, Calif.), KRCC (Colorado Springs, Colo.), KEDM (Monroe, La.), WCMU (Mount Pleasant, Mich.), WCNY and WRVO-1 (Syracuse, N.Y.), KMHA (Four Bears, N.D.), WYSU (Youngstown, Ohio), KPOV (Bend, Ore.) and KEOS (College Station, Texas).