Author Archives

Alexa Ortiz graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Before receiving her graduate degree she was a practicing nurse for five years and has clinical experience in the field of both Cardiology and Neurology. In 2014 she received a Master of Science in Nursing specializing in nursing informatics from Duke University. Presently, she works as a Health IT Scientist at RTI International in the Center for Digital Health and Clinical Informatics. Despite no longer working in a clinical setting, she continues to maintain an active nurse license in the state of North Carolina. Her primary areas of research at RTI International focus on the clinical implementation of health information technology and the evaluation of consumer wearable devices.

The Role of Crowdsourcing in Research

Crowdsourcing is defined as “a sourcing model in which individuals or organizations obtain goods and services, including ideas and finances, from a large, relatively open and often rapidly evolving group of internet users. Crowdsourcing spreads work among participants to achieve a cumulative result.”  Some well-known examples of crowdsourcing include the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, the traffic… Read More »

Five principles for developing digital clinic-based, behavior-change health interventions

 In this post, we describe five principles that guided the development of Positive Health Check, a clinic-based digital health intervention for HIV-positive patients, aimed at making it acceptable and feasible in a clinic setting.

Is your activity tracker a medical device?

Activity tracker technology has come a long way.  The first Fitbit released in 2009 only measured movement, sleep, and calories burned.  In contrast, the Fitbit Ionic smartwatch released in 2017 has a much broader range of functions, including heart rate monitoring, personal coaching, and built-in GPS. Consequently, with this change in functionality comes a change in potential uses for… Read More »

What are compassion practices, and can they play a part in improving healthcare?

Working in the healthcare profession can be both physically and emotionally draining for anyone, no matter their role or job title. Over half of physicians in the US [PDF] experience symptoms of burnout, and studies estimate a large percentage of nurses experience emotional exhaustion and have a higher prevalence of depression when compared to other US workers.  Exhaustion… Read More »

The Aging Physician

There are some occupations where employees are mandated to receive age-based skills and cognitive testing. For example, the National Business Aviation Association has a mandatory retirement age of 65 for airline pilots. Additionally, firefighters, employees of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, air traffic controllers, and nuclear material couriers are all subject to age-based regulations. These agencies impose age-based… Read More »

Mobile Apps to Improve Medication Adherence

What do you use your cell phone for on a daily basis? Many people would say using social media, texting, and placing phone calls– but have you ever considered your smartphone as a tool to improve medication adherence?  Our phones are an integral part of our lives, and consequently, researchers, clinicians, and patients have all… Read More »

How Accurate is Your Activity Tracker?

By | June 8, 2017

The functionality and popularity of consumer-grade activity trackers (such as Fitbit) appear to be ever-increasing.  If you don’t personally own one, you probably know at least one or two people who do.  In an online survey of 1,000 respondents [PDF], conducted in 2016 by PwC, 45% owned a fitness band, with “Health” being the primary… Read More »

The Impact of Social Media in Healthcare

What’s the first thing you do when you get sick? For many people, a cursory search through various online resources is the initial step in gathering information toward obtaining a diagnosis.  The internet places an infinite number of health-related resources at our fingertips, many of which are consumed through social media. Presently, 74% of US… Read More »

Empathy: What We’re Lacking in End of Life Care

The population of the U.S is progressively becoming older; however, healthy aging is no longer an oxymoron.  The availability of preventative medicine and health promotion programs have extended how long people can live healthy lives without chronic disability. Those aged 65 and over are projected to reach 83.7 million by 2050 [PDF].  While modern medicine has become… Read More »

Continuity of Care vs. Nurse Shift Length

By | December 29, 2016

If you have ever been in a hospital, you are probably familiar with what seems like a continuously revolving door of staff members providing care.  With nurses making up the largest occupation in healthcare and the largest segment of hospital staff, continuity of nursing care for hospitalized patients is an important factor in the delivery of quality healthcare.… Read More »

Confusing the Confused: The impact of lacking professional interpretation services

By | November 23, 2016

Being hospitalized with a serious medical condition, surrounded by strange equipment, and listening to medical jargon you’ve never heard before is an intimidating situation for anyone. Compounding the uncertainty and stress of the situation would be not understanding the primary language spoken by your providers, not being able to read your procedure consents, and knowing… Read More »

Could Pokémon Go be your new fitness tracker?

By | September 22, 2016

Do you play Pokémon Go? Well if you don’t, I’m sure you know at least 2-3 other people who do.  Although I hadn’t ever played the game before writing this post, I can safely think of about 4 friends who have invested a significant amount of time and energy into their Pokémon collection thus far. If… Read More »

How do Medical Errors Affect Healthcare Professionals?

By | August 15, 2016

In 1999, the Institute of Medicine released a report called To Err is Human. This report estimated that 44,000 to 98,000 hospitalized patients die each year as a result of preventable medical errors. But how do medical errors affect healthcare workers? A recent article by Van Gerven and colleagues, published ahead of print in Medical Care, addresses that… Read More »

Autism and iPads: An Interview with Speech Language Pathologist Lauren Ross

By | July 14, 2016

In 2014 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that one in every 68 children have autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Consequently, there is a lot of discussion regarding potential causes of autism. However, for this post, I wanted to move away from this more commonly discussed topic and focus instead on how assistive technology (specifically iPads) are being… Read More »

Why aren’t you wearing your Fitbit?

By | May 26, 2016

Nobody can deny that the market for consumer wearable devices (such as Fitbit and Jawbone) is booming.  In 2015, a research firm estimated the number of activity trackers sold in the US to be over 13 million. Personally, I followed the fitness tracker trend and bought a Fitbit for both my husband and father as… Read More »

The Impact of Gasoline Costs on the Healthcare Industry

By | April 28, 2016

The higher the cost of gasoline, the higher the healthcare costs for the treatment of injuries caused by motorcycle crashes. In an article published ahead of print in Medical Care this week, He Zhu and colleagues discuss the association between gas prices in the United States, hospital costs, and utilization for both motorcycle and non-motorcycle related injuries. Remember… Read More »

What might be hindering patient portal usage?

By | February 4, 2016

Personally, I find patient portals to be convenient. It’s an easy way to send healthcare-related questions to my provider such as, “does this medication have any side effects?” or, “can you please refill my prescription?”  I perceive the primary benefit as not having to schedule an appointment or wait on hold for 15 minutes to… Read More »