Making the Most of Mother’s Day: Five Tips to Consider to Help Support Women’s Health

Mother’s Day is part of the springtime cycle of renewal and rebirth. It’s also an ideal time to think about ways to help improve the health of women in Texas and nationwide, and honor the important role they play in their families’ well-being.

To recognize Mother’s Day and the upcoming National Women’s Health Week (May 12-18), here are five tips to consider to support the health of all women, especially expectant and new mothers: 

Work in a Well-Woman Visit: About two-thirds of women each year receive a well-visit nationally, with the rate in Texas at 61.5 percent. These annual visits can include important screenings, counseling and immunizations based on age and risk factors, while providing an opportunity to discuss with your health professional ways to encourage a healthier lifestyle.  

Mammograms Matter: One in eight American women will get a breast cancer diagnosis at some point in her lifetime, and most cases are detected by a mammogram before symptoms appear. According to the National Institutes of Health, the five-year breast cancer survival rate has increased significantly in recent years, now reaching more than 90 percent. For patients diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, the five-year survival rate is close to 100 percent.  

Take Charge of Your Health: This means eating well, staying active, getting sufficient sleep and limiting stress as much as possible. For expectant mothers, the U.S. Surgeon General advises that no amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy, and smoking is unsafe for you and your baby. For support, your health plan may have programs and online services at no additional cost that can help you adopt a healthier lifestyle or, if needed, improve the management of chronic conditions, which is especially important for expectant women.

Avoid Early or Elective Deliveries: For expectant mothers, it is important to understand the risks associated with elective deliveries before 39 weeks of pregnancy and their potential impacts. Studies have shown that early, non-medically indicated cesarean (C-section) deliveries are linked to a higher risk of complications, including infection, hemorrhage or blood clots, and admission to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Babies born before 39 weeks are more likely to have respiratory problems and developmental delays, according to a published study.

Know Your Maternity Benefits and Rights at Work: If you work full time and plan to return to your job after your baby is born, it is helpful to know your company’s maternity leave policy. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) enables mothers and fathers who have worked at least one year for a company with 50 or more employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off, while many employers offer full or partial paid leave. Under the law, your employer is required to give you the same – or the substantially equivalent – job back after your leave.

We’ve celebrated Mother’s Day for more than 100 years. By considering this information, we can continue supporting the health of women and honor them for their important contributions to our communities.

UnitedHealthcare and Dallas Cowboys Linebacker Sean Lee Team Up to Give Back to Boys & Girls Clubs in Fort Worth

Dallas Cowboys Linebacker Sean Lee recently delighted children with an appearance at the Las Vegas Trails Boys & Girls Clubs after school program at the Cambridge Court Apartments in Fort Worth. Thanks to a generous donation from UnitedHealthcare, he passed out new shoes, clothing and household necessities to the kids as he shared football tips.

Lee was joined by Scott Flannery, CEO, UnitedHealthcare of North Texas and Oklahoma, and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price as they presented a grant from UnitedHealthcare to Sean Lee’s Dreambuilders Foundation.

Daphne Stigliano, President and CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County, said the grant will be used to support the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tarrant County’s after school programs. Fort Worth City Council Member Brian Byrd, whose council district includes the Cambridge Court Apartments, was also in attendance. 

Pictured (l-to-r): Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County President & CEO Daphne Stigliano, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, UnitedHealthcare of North Texas & Oklahoma CEO Scott Flannery, Dallas Cowboys Linebacker Sean Lee and Fort Worth City Council Member Brian Byrd

Digital Health Revolution: Lessons Learned So Far

By Rebecca Madsen, Chief Consumer Officer, UnitedHealthcare

The promise of the digital health revolution is tantalizing: a multitude of connected devices providing personalized feedback to help people improve their health. Yet, some recent studies have called into question the effectiveness of these resources.

While still evolving, many compelling use-cases are starting to emerge for digital health, including a set of best practices that can help guide the maturation of this emerging field. In the near future, many people may gain access to individual health records, a modern medical record that curates information from multiple sources, including electronic health records, pharmacies, and medical claims, to help support physicians in care delivery through data sharing and evidence-based guidelines.  

As these advances become a reality, here are several digital health strategies consumers, employers and health care innovators in Texas should consider:    

Micro-Behavior Change: Part of the power of digital health is the ability to provide people with actionable information about their health status and behavior patterns. As part of that, some of the most successful digital health programs are demonstrating an ability to encourage daily “micro-behavior change” that, overtime, may contribute to improved health outcomes and lower costs. For instance, wearable device walking programs can remind people to move consistently throughout the day, while offering objective metrics showcasing actual activity patterns and, ideally, reinforcing positive habits to support sustained change. Technology that encourages seemingly small healthy habits – each day – can eventually translate to meaningful improvements.    

Clinical Interventions: Big data is a buzz word often associated with digital health, but the use of analytics and technology is only meaningful as part of a holistic approach to care. Through programs that incorporate clinical intervention and support by care providers, the true value of digital health can be unlocked to help make meaningful differences in people’s well-being. For instance, new programs are featuring connected asthma inhalers that use wirelessly enabled sensors to track adherence rates, including frequency and dosage, and relay that information to health care professionals. Armed with this tangible data, care providers can counsel patients more effectively on following recommended treatments. Rather than simply giving consumers the latest technologies and sending them along, these innovations can be most effective when integrated with a holistic care plan.     

Real-Time Information: One key advantage of digital resources, such as apps or websites, is the ability to provide real-time information, both to consumers and health care professionals. This can help improve how physicians treat people, enabling for more customized recommendations based on personal health histories and a patient’s specific health plan. For instance, new apps are enabling physicians to know which medications are covered by a person’s health plan and recommend lower-cost alternatives (if available) before the patient actually leaves the office. The ability to access real-time information – and act on it – can be crucial in the effort to use technology to empower health care providers and patients.     

Financial Incentives: Nearly everyone wants to be healthy, but sometimes people need a nudge to take that first step toward wellness. To help drive that engagement, the use of financial incentives is becoming more widespread by employers and health plans, with targeted and structured rewards proving most effective. From using mobile apps and comparison shopping for health care services to encouraging expectant women to use a website to follow recommended prenatal and post-partum appointments, financial incentives can range from nominal amounts (such as gift cards) to hundreds of dollars per year. Coupling digital health resources with financial rewards can be an important step in getting – and keeping – people engaged.

The digital health market will continue to grow, with some studies estimating that the industry will exceed $379 billion by 2024. To make the most of these resources, health care innovators will be well served to take note of these initial concepts.

Image: Stock Photo