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Monday, April 7, 2014

Federal Gov't Proposes Risk-Based Health IT Regulatory Framework

On Thursday, HHS released a draft report that includes a proposed strategy and recommendations for creating a risk-based health IT regulatory framework.

The draft report was developed by FDA, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT and the Federal Communications Commission (HHS release, 4/3).


The Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act directed the agencies to develop "a proposed strategy and recommendations on an appropriate, risk-based regulatory framework pertaining to health IT including mobile medical applications that promotes innovation, protects patient safety and avoids regulatory duplication" (iHealthBeat, 10/18/13).

The report was originally due to Congress by January 2014 (iHealthBeat, 3/20). 

Details of Proposed Framework

Under the federal agencies' proposal, health IT products would be classified into three categories based on the function and risk level of the product, rather than on the product's platform.

The first category would include health IT products with administrative functions that pose little or no risk to patient safety and therefore require no additional oversight. Products in this category would include software for billing, claims processing, scheduling and inventory management.

The second category would include health IT products with health management functions, such as software for health information management, medication management, provider order entry and most clinical decision support. Because such products are of relatively low risk, FDA does not plan to focus its oversight on them. Instead, the draft report recommends relying on ONC and private-sector efforts to highlight quality management, industry standards and best practices. The draft report also proposes incorporating testing, certification and accreditation processes for products in this category.

The third category would include health IT products with medical device functions that could potentially pose significant risks to patients if they do not perform as intended. Such products would include computer-aided detection software, software for bedside monitor alarms and radiation treatment software. According to the draft report, FDA would continue to regulate health IT products that fall in this category.

The proposed framework also calls for ONC to work with FDA, FCC, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and other stakeholders to create a public-private Health IT Safety Center. The center would be tasked with developing best practices and providing an avenue for sharing information and ideas related to patient safety.

FDA, FCC and ONC plan to hold a public meeting to collect comments and feedback on the draft report.


HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, "The diverse and rapidly developing industry of health information technology requires a thoughtful, flexible approach," adding, "This proposed strategy is designed to promote innovation and provide technology to consumers and health care providers while maintaining patient safety."
National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo said, "ONC welcomes comment on the draft report and stands ready to collaborate with stakeholders to ensure that health IT is designed and used with both innovation and patient safety in mind."

Matt Quinn, director of health care initiatives at FCC, said, "The draft report reflects FCC's narrow but important role in encouraging new and innovative wireless medical technologies and ensuring that developers and users of these technologies are minimizing the potential for causing potentially harmful interference to radio services," adding, "We look forward to future collaboration with all stakeholders to achieve the promise of health IT" (HHS release, 4/3).

Reprinted from:
iHealth Beat

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Ashland Eagle Becomes a Member of the Cavs

Ashland University Class of 2012 alumna, Angelique Cunningham, is now a part of the Cleveland Cavaliers. When she attended the MAC Career Fair at Quicken Loans arena, alongside Dr. Theodore Avtgis, she had no idea that a meeting would land her a job with one of the big three professional sports teams in Cleveland. The Cavs spared no expense as Cunningham had the opportunity to return to a game with her family and sat in 3rd row courtside seats. One day later she was offered a position with the Cavs as an account executive for inside sales.

Angelique graduated from Ashland in 2012 with a double major in Public Relations and Electronic Media Production.

“As I reflect back on my personal, professional, and academic growth I attribute much of my success to my time spent at Ashland University,” said Cunningham.

She also credited the strong Department of Communication Studies at Ashland University, guided by Dr. Avtgis.
“The communication program built a strong platform for me that not only promoted the value in majoring in communication studies but afforded me the skill-sets necessary to handle communication studies at the master’s level.” 

Following her graduation from Ashland Univeristy, she pursued a master of arts in communication at The University of Akron and will be graduating in May.

“I am a proud alumna of Ashland University and as a communication major there are absolutely no limitations what you can do.”

Congratulations, Angelique, on the start of your new career. Forever you belong to Ashland University and Ashland University belongs to you. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Wright Named Outstanding Sophomore

A big congratulation goes out to Ashland University Sophomore Madison Wright. The Ashland Chapter of the Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society has just named Madison the Outstanding Sophomore of the year. Madison is a triple major in Public Relations, Strategic, and Health and Risk Communication and also minors in History. The sophomore is in the Ashbrook Scholars Program at Ashland and is also a member of the Public Relations Student Society of America.

After winning the award Wright began to work with Dr. Vickie VanDresar and LeeAnn Larson on submitting her application to the national outstanding sophomore competition. “I am honored to be the one chosen to compete in nationals for Ashland University and the recognition of the work I have completed thus far has motivated me to continue putting all of the time I have into the University,” said Wright on her award.
As for all those who have helped her along the way Madison said “my main supporters have been my parents and professors who have pushed me to maximize my potential and drive. Without the professors giving me their time and believing in me, I would not have been aware of half the activities I am in.”

On behalf of all of us here in the Department of Communication Studies at Ashland University congratulations Madison on this great achievement, and best of luck in the national competition. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Concussions Causing Serious Concerns

by Halee Heironimus

Would you believe that sports are the third leading cause of concussions?  Believe it, because over the past three years, concussions have reached a more serious level that could consequently affect the future of sports.

Coaches and officials are beginning to experience the challenges that concussions bring to sports. Head football coach Lee Owens expressed his concern for football.

“The future of the game is in danger because of head injuries,” he said.

On Monday, March 24, Secretary of the Sport Communication Club Megan Salatino held a forum regarding concussions. Students and faculty gathered in the Student Center Auditorium to receive information and get their questions answered from six panelists: Owens, Mark Hamilton, Dariela Rodriguez, Melissa Snyder, Dennis Gruber and Mike Millward.

Questions included the myths, treatments, and studies of concussions over the years. The myth concerning how concussions happen is well-known; one has to be hit in the head to be concussed. That’s proven not always true, though; concussions can also occur by a severe jolt of the body.  

Another myth about treatments is that people shouldn't rest, that they should awake every four hours.  Panelists disagreed with that myth. It’s suggested that one must rest in a dark room for at least 24 hours with no phone, television or exciting music. Any activity that raises one’s blood pressure and heart rate raises symptoms.

Rodriguez, an assistant professor of Communication Studies, compared concussion symptoms as a “grey area” because every individual’s reaction is different.

One certainty, though, is the signs of concussions: dizziness, nausea, headache and the biggest sign, emotion instability.

Millward and Gruber, Director of Athletic Training, stated the impact concussions have on emotions.
“Players will say ‘My headache is gone, but I don’t feel like myself,’” Millward said.
Dr. Gruber said, “Emotion is the last sign to resolve.”

So how many concussions are too many? When is it time to quit? Again, it’s individualized, depending on the severity and recovery.

Panelists’ stated that each concussion you have, you are more likely to have a second one. Concussions tend to get worse after the first, and symptoms last longer. Multiple concussions, or even one severe, cause the brain to deteriorate, resulting long-term consequences such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, hearing loss, behavioral issues and even death.

Thankfully, the awareness of the severity with concussions has spread over the past few years. People are beginning to realize the long-term consequences and taking “the bell was rung” more seriously. For Ashland University, staff members conduct computer testing, also known as a neurocognitive test, a balance test, an impact test and a question test on all athletes.

“We now have a better understanding of what we need to do on our end,” said Gruber.

As for Coach Owens, he’s struggling with the progress. He reflected on how the game has changed over the last two to three years in order to prevent injuries, including limited contact during practice.

“It feels like we’re taking the physical part of the game away,” he said, “But if we don’t be proactive, we will lose the game completely.”

Millward compares the progress from a different perspective.

“It’s like warriors went to battle and got betrayed for what they went to battle for,” he said.

When it comes to concussions, many factors come into play. One thing is for certain, though, and that’s to take care of head injuries right away.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Scary Scene on Dallas Ice

Daniel Greenway

Monday night at a National Hockey League game between the Dallas Stars and the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets, a scary scene unfolded as the Stars’ center, Rich Peverley, collapsed on the Dallas bench. Peverley collapsed due to a reported heart problem; he had surgery prior to this season for an irregular heart beat ESPN Dallas reported. The game was postponed as neither team felt like finishing it, at the time of Peverley’s collapse the Stars trailed the Blue Jackets 1-0 early in the first period. Peverley was conscious as he was taken off the bench and rushed to a local hospital; Dr. Gil Salazar stated that they treated Peverley for a “cardiac event” using chest compressions and a defibrillator to bring rhythm back to his heart was successful (ESPN Dallas). 

The scene in Dallas is a perfect example of risk communication at its finest. The Dallas Stars play in an arena (American Airlines Arena) where a defibrillator is mandatory. Having quick access to the defibrillator as well as a swift action by the team and staff saved precious seconds that are critical in these situations. Understanding risk communication and how to create a crisis plan is crucial in these life-threatening situations. The sports industry is always looking for educated and experienced individuals who understand risk and crisis communication principles.

Ashland University’s programs in health and risk communication as well as sport communication look at events such as this to educate their students. Anyone who is interested in the Sport or Health career fields can find their calling at Ashland University, gain valuable real world experience and learn from events such as this in Dallas and apply them in a positive learning environment. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

COM 101 Students Participate in Service Learning Projects

Students in Sherry Bouquet's Human Communication class participated in a service learning project to cap off their fall semester. Given the task of selecting a local organization to assist in solving a problem, students worked in groups and selected four community organizations: Ashland Salvation Army, Ashland Dragons Special Olympics Basketball program, Military Support Group of Ashland, and Wayne County Humane Society. Bouquet is an adjunct professor in the Department of Communication Studies.

Captain Jessica DeMichael at the Kroc Center directed one group to the need for bell ringers. This group then planned to ring the bells and endeavored to get the word out about how students can serve at the Kroc Center as well as the many services offered.

Megan Maguire, Desiree Boyer, Kristen Roch, Kim Pitre,
and Garrett Babcock ring the bell for the
Salvation Army.

Another team of students connected with the Special Olympics basketball program to attend and help at one of their weekly practices. The whole team enjoyed the practice at the Ashland Y and several students in the class are planning to volunteer again in this month. The team prepared flyers to solicit others who like to play basketball and would be interested in coming out to help.

 Emily Harrington, Colt Miers, Madison Spain, Erica Lawhun,
and Jamie Waltz practice with the the Ashland Dragons.
A group working with the Military Support Group focused on awareness and collection addresses of deployed military personnel. The local support group voiced this as one of their biggest needs in order to send care packages out to those who need support. The students were also proactive in suggesting the MSG expand its mission to include veterans in their support efforts.   (Haley Ingle, William Krese, Danielle Lucas, Brianna Holmes)

Finally, pulling on our heart strings with adorable dogs and cats, one team got down and dirty cleaning up at the Wayne County Humane Society. The most rewarding “chore” they took on was to play with the dogs and cats to give them some socialization time. Getting the word out through various social media outlets was suggested by this group to encourage others to volunteer to support this cause.  (Paige Rengert, Tori Casper, Zach Wright, Maggie Lorentz, Coral Nelson)

Understanding the importance of effective group process and communications was made practical for each group as they made an impact on the local community and encouraged others to do the same.  

Monday, October 7, 2013

Salatino Wins Outstanding Poster Award at OCA

Megan Salatino and Dr. Avtgis
Congratulations to Megan Salatino for winning the Outstanding Undergraduate Poster award at the recent Ohio Communication Association's annual conference. Megan, a sophomore majoring in public relations, presented the first phase of her research: "Applying Expectancy Violation Theory in Skin Cancer Diagnosis".

"I chose to do this project after my mom was diagnosed with thyroid cancer last year, and she explained to me that her doctor violated her expectation in a negative way.  Because of this, I wanted to explore and determine violations that occur between a provider and patient when relaying a basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, or malignant melanoma diagnosis to a patient," said Megan.

In taking on this research, Megan hopes to help physicians and patients become more mindful in interpreting non-verbal behavior when delivering a disease diagnosis.

"Patients may become psychologically aroused if their expectations are violated," states Megan.

In the next phase of her research, Megan will be collecting data on how patients perceived their diagnosis and whether or not their expectations were violated.

Megan would like to coach healthcare providers in using verbal and non-verbal delivery techniques so the provider is more aware of his or her behavior when delivering a specific type of diagnosis, as well as adjust to any perceived violations from the patient.

Megan presented her research at the 77th annual Ohio Communication Association Conference, held at Marietta College, on October 4 and 5. During the poster session, judges reviewed the posters in a variety of areas including construction of the poster, presentation skills, and the research presented. The award was presented during the conference's business meeting on Saturday afternoon.

"When I heard Megan's name announced it made me so proud as she is really growing into a budding young scholar. The fact that she is only in her sophomore year makes the honor that much more incredible.  I can't wait to see the quality of research she will put forth in the next two years," says Dr. Theodore Avtgis, Megan's faculty advisor.

"Over the past two years the Department of Communication Studies student research productivity has been incredible.  Through the faculty's commitment to building a "culture of scholarship" we have seen great success from our students in terms of conference papers, poster presentations, book chapters, and peer-reviewed articles. In fact, this is the second year in a row that an AU student has won the top undergraduate poster award. It is clear that both the students are fully reflecting the department motto of 'Leave No Doubt'," said Avtgis.