Tuesdays during Morning Edition and All Things Considered

The brainchild of University of Tennessee professor Dr. Carole Myers, HealthConnections brings the often-abstract world of health care, coverage and policy to a human level. What is access? How do marketplaces work? What's the future of health insurance? In this biweekly series, Dr. Myers and WUOT's Brandon Hollingsworth sort through these issues and more, all to give you a toolbox for understanding what you hear on the news, or to separate fact from fiction in the health care debate.

Health and homelessness are closely related. People with chronic, expensive health issues are more susceptible to becoming homeless. And people who are homeless typically have greater risks to their health and well-being. In this edition of HealthConnections, we offer an overview of those relationships and the demographics of homelessness in Knox County.

The Affordable Care Act is nearly a decade old. In its lifetime, the expansive health care law has been challenged, altered, nipped and tucked, and spared the ultimate fate of dissolution. At least for now. A lawsuit challenging the entire ACA is making its way through the federal court system, and President Trump has promised a brand-new plan, though no specifics have been revealed.

According to the American Heart Association, 475,000 Americans die each year from cardiac arrest. Many of those cases occur in homes, at offices, or in public spaces - in other words, outside the immediate reach of trained medical personnel.

What, then, can you do until help arrives? Bystander CPR is an option. When done properly, CPR can help save someone's life, or prevent serious brain damage. But CPR alone is unlikely to restore the heart's normal functions. For that, defibrillation must be employed.

You've heard it for years: "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day." For decades, breakfast has been presented as the keystone in daily activity, cognitive function, energy and overall health. Your parents probably insisted you eat something before heading off to school. Commercials implore kids and adults to chow down for better grades and more pep through the day.

But dietician and psychologist Hollie Raynor says the claims about breakfast's benefits aren't rock-solid.

At the core of health care, medical professionals are human beings caring for other human beings. Throughout a person’s experience with health care, they interact with many people, including doctors, nurses, lab technicians and housekeeping staff. Those points of contact can shape the patient's own feelings and medical outcomes. Today, people in medicine are working to improve the patient experience, which includes changing the doctor-patient interaction to get better results.

Obesity rates in Tennessee are high - higher than national averages, in fact. And that extends to demographic breakdowns, too. One in three men in Tennessee is considered obese. The same is true for women. Tennessee children are considered the heaviest in the nation.

Describing the parameters of the problem is a start, but not the solution. The University of Tennessee's Dr. Carole Myers says addressing obesity requires multiple steps and multiple players, from individuals, to social groups, to companies, and even governments.

Nine years after the Affordable Care Act got Americans thinking more deeply about health care, insurance and related topics, Democratic presidential candidates are talking about even more change. A group of proposals commonly grouped under the heading "Medicare for All" propose major changes for the healthcare industry, a significant chunk of the U.S. economy.

Each year since 2010, the University of Washington Population Health Institute has released the County Health Rankings.  The 2019 report came out not too long ago, and in this edition of HealthConections, we explore the rankings and what they can tell us about East Tennessee's health.

Safety net health providers offer behavioral and physical treatment to low-income patients that typically are uninsured, and have poor health. Right now, doctors and clinics can’t keep up with the demand, a problem that may grow worse in the near future. Governor Bill Lee says he wants to add millions of dollars to help bolster that safety net. What the governor’s plan might mean for providers, patients and Tennessee, on this edition of HealthConnections.

For centuries, doctors, patients and even philosophers have thought of mind and body as two separate realms. And in American medicine today, that's usually how they are treated: separate doctors, often at separate facilities, and at separate times.

But a growing awarness of the connected nature of human health is changing that old model. It's called integrated care, and its advocates say it can help people lead longer, better lives.