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IU Students Form ‘March Madness’ Volunteer Group to Spread Information on Obamacare

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The Indiana University and Ivy Tech students of the Affordable Care Act Volunteers of Monroe County are starting a new campus organization.

The group is launching a March healthcare campaign called “Madness” that will help students learn more about health insurance and the Affordable Care Act.

David Meyer, president of the ACA Volunteers of Monroe County, says this campaign will have campus-wide events, but want to focus on social media.

“We have a couple of students who are co-leads on the campaign,” Meyer says, “They divide up the responsibilities between social media and public events and direct outreach. Since so many students are deeply involved in social media, that’s a major way to provide them with information.  It’s still in the early stages, but we’re focused on getting this going right now because the deadline for signing up for coverage is March 31.”

Meyer says the cost of health insurance may be less expensive than the penalty students will have to pay if they do not get health insurance by March 31.

Students who are claimed as a dependent on their parents taxes will not have to pay the penalty, but their parents will.

Meyer says he hopes the campaign will help answer questions about the ACA that differ from questions that older adults may have about healthcare.

“We have a couple of students who are co-leads on the campaign,” Meyers says, “They divide up the responsibilities between social media and public events and direct outreach. Since so many students are deeply involved in social media, that’s a major way to provide them with information.  It’s still in the early stages, but we’re focused on getting this going right now because the deadline for signing up for coverage is March 31.”

The next event for the ACA Volunteers of Monroe County is the Health Insurance Community Fair. The fair is next Thursday, March 6 at the Monroe County Library from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Meyer says the event will give students and community members a chance to pair with trained volunteers that will help them answer questions they have concerning the ACA.

Local Volunteers Spread the Word About Affordable Care Act Information to Local Faith Leaders

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The Affordable Care Act Volunteers of Monroe County Incorporated launched their Faith Neighbors Campaign on Sunday. The campaign is designed to directly contact each faith community in Monroe County. David Meyer is president of the group.

“The Faith Neighbors Campaign is an outreach effort to all communities of faith in Monroe County,” Meyer says, “We count about 155 of them, and we send them packages that include takeaway information at our free public events.”

The ACA Volunteers of Monroe County  will provide information to those in need at various congregations. Their goal is to help community members learn more about the Affordable Care Act and how it will affect them.

“Ultimately, it’s about cutting through both the political and controversial new cycle on the Affordable Care Act,” Meyers says, “We want to get down to what it means for us and have a practical discussion about the ACA.”

Meyer says that they have reached out to 400 so far, and are hoping to reach out to over 1,000  people in the next four weeks.

IU Researchers Receive Grant to Prove Advantages of Data Mining for Healthcare

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Artificial intelligence in hospitals working with doctors to prescribe treatment sounds like something straight out of the movies. Researchers at the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University are working to make this a reality.

The process, which uses data mining and a method called machine learning, could lead the way to a cheaper, better healthcare system. The research being done now is a collaboration of separate research started in 2010. Assistant Professor at IU Kris Hauser is one of the Principal Investigators.

“This was started a few years ago by one of my students who is now a part of this project and he had access to some good data with Centerstone research,” Hauser says, “We got together in my artificial intelligence class and we designed a system to try to recommend when and how much to treat people with mental health disorders. This new project is an attempt to expand that into new clinical domains. That includes cardiology, E.R. readmissions, and to improve the existing application.”

Hauser received his PhD. In Computer Science at Stanford University and won the CAREER award last year from the National Science Foundation.

The research centers mostly around a mathematical framework that can mine existing data to detect patterns. What this means for healthcare is that computers could access a patients complete medical records and suggest a treatment plan that wouldn’t conflict with any past conditions.

One of the obstacles in getting this framework to be effective is the lack of uniformity in hospitals nationwide with their electronic record keeping. Hauser says that until the historical quirks get worked out, they have to work very closely with their data providers to be able to use the data. Once it becomes easier to access the data, the machine learning framework will be able to access more and more data to make more complex treatment plans.

“You can’t really see a pattern unless you have enough data,” Hauser says, “So that’s what the A.I. is trying to do, look at patterns in the data to try and predict how new patients will behave. The more data you get, the more of a complete picture you get of a new patient. While every person is, to some extent, unique, there are some patterns as well in how your disease is progressing and how you might respond to a treatment. The more people we have like you as a patient, the better our predictions will be.

The other Principal Investigator of the research, Sriraam Natarajan, has worked closely with data in the fields of artificial intelligence and its application to bio-medical problems. He explains how this data mining and learning is something we see in our daily lives and that it could easily be harnessed to use in healthcare.

“I think that many people do not clearly see the impact data can have on their day-to-day lives,” Natarajan says, “Of course they see it when Google uses their data to better provide a service, like giving better search results for a movie to watch or a product to buy. I feel that the impact could be similar in terms of healthcare where data can aid in improving the quality of life and treatments, and hopefully lower the costs.”

The goal of the research is not to replace doctors but rather help them in their decision-making. Hauser says the reason this would be so helpful is because doctors don’t always have the time to look at all the data a computer could. In this instance, time is certainly money and Hauser says this research would not only improve the quality of healthcare but also bring down the cost for the patient.

“Our medical system is filled with billions and billions of dollars of wasted opportunities for treating people in a cost-effective way,” Hauser says, “Doctors over-prescribe medicines, they over-prescribe treatments, and they may not be doing the most effect treatments because they may have missed something about a person’s medical history. The information here is to let the doctor make the most informed choice. Doctors already don’t have a lot of time to spend with a patient and the medical history. This has the opportunity to digest the information for them and present it in a user-friendly way, then we have to see a better outcome.”

The research just received a $686,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant will help the researchers work towards trying out the intelligent computer frameworks on real patients in a real hospital setting.

“This provides the opportunity to save money, even in a single-disease scenario,” Hauser says, “Clinical depression, for example, is a multi-billion dollar industry. If we even save one percent of costs, this is paying back the investment many, many times over.”

Part 2 of Health and Education with Glenda Ritz and Rob Stone

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On Saturday November 23rd The Brown County Democratic Party invited the public to join a brown bag lunch session with Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz and the Director and Founder of Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan Rob Stone, M.D. The event was free to the public, and included a question and answer period. Part 1 focused on Education and Part 2 explores Health issues here in the Hoosier State. This event was recorded on location at The Seasons Lodge Conference Center in Brown County by Community Access Television services for Standing Room Only, on WFHB.

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