Leap forward in dental technology in Kingston

Hey, hobo man, Hey, dapper Dan, You’ve both got your style,

But, brother, you’re never fully dressed without a smile!
—“You’re Never Fully Dressed  Without A Smile,” Annie

Kingston dentist Dennis Oppenheimer has been practicing for 13 years in the Hudson Valley, and he’s always loved his work. (Full disclosure: he’s my dentist, and he rocks.) Since learning and adopting Fastbraces technology in 2013, however, Oppenheimer has become a kind of evangelist for this rising method of straightening teeth. For former braces-wearers who suffered excess discomfort and lengthy treatment and want better for their friends and loved ones, or any adult who desires straight teeth but worries the process might be too painful and/or time consuming, his pitch for Fastbraces, for which his office is the only local provider, is worth listening to.

“It’s completely changing braces,” he says. “It’s one of the few things I’ve looked at in continuing education that really excited me. Compared to traditional braces, it takes half the time, it’s half the cost, and there’s no removal of teeth. At first, I thought, ‘What’s the catch?’ There isn’t one.”

Fastbraces is the brainchild of orthodontist Dr. Anthony Viazis. In the late 1980s, Dr. Viazis was just entering his orthodontics residency. “He was researching why braces fail,” Says Oppenheimer. “Why teeth move back when braces are taken off.”

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School nursing

In the century-plus time that school nurses have taken care of children in school settings, their roles and responsibilities have evolved. There was a time when a school nurse was in charge of reducing communicable diseases, such as the cold or flu, through education of hygiene and intervention, or offering support along with a Band-Aid to children with scraped knees. In today’s world, both these childhood common problems are still on the radar of a school nurse. However whether in a public or private school, a nurse plays a much more complex role today, tackling new complexities in health, both physical and mental.

According to the National Association of School Nurses (NASN), the first nurse entered a school in New York City in 1902 in order to reduce absenteeism from communicable diseases. Students learn better when healthy.

The NASN goal states that, “The school nurse supports student success by providing healthcare through assessment, intervention, and follow-up for all children within the school setting. The school nurse addresses the physical, mental, emotional, and social health needs of students and supports their achievement in the learning process.”

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CrowdMed online diagnosis healthcare


I didn’t even know what crowdsourcing really meant until last week. When I was looking for a logo for a small business I’m launching, my uncle suggested I could save money using a company that “crowdsources.” You submit your specs, he said, and many people bid on the job. They may not all be pros, but for a price lower than what the pros charge you can choose something from the top of the heap of a large group if responds.

Wikipedia offers another example of this process. It offers lots of source material for research that has been contributed by the masses, not by the pros. The information is not necessarily reliable, of course. (I only use it to satisfy idle curiosity, never to research the articles I write.)

Financial crowdsourcing seeks money for such things as investments in creative projects or emergency expenses due to house-burnings or serious medical crises. While not everyone believes in it, crowdsourcing seems here to stay.

But can it work for medical care? Take the fairly young CrowdMed. Although some of its “MDs,” or “Medical Detectives,” are doctors, it is not the traditional professional opinion of one or more physicians you’re getting, but a diagnosis from the collective wisdom of a very large group.

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Obamacare anew in NY

On the eve of the second enrollment period for Obamacare — which begins November 15 — insurers in the state are not getting what they asked for. During the first six-month enrollment period, which ended officially March 31 of this year but was extended due to website glitches, 370,000 state residents were able to sign up for private health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

People can sign up for Medicaid at any time during the year. Though not restricted to the enrollment periods, some 600,000 people signed up during the last one, including many who were previously uninsured. This makes nearly a million New Yorkers affected by Obamacare.

The ACA was instituted to control the health insurance industry. There were 44 million uninsured Americans, the highest in history, and the law was designed to require that everyone be insured, with fines to motivate those who didn’t sign up. People who don’t have coverage by 2015 will pay a penalty of $325 per adult, $162.50 per child or two percent of income, whichever is higher. Other factors in the plan include expansion of the Medicaid program and elimination of restrictions on pre-existing conditions.

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Photo by Flickr user MeddyGarnet/used under Creative Commons license
Photo by Flickr user MeddyGarnet/used under Creative Commons license


Information is like a genie in a bottle. It can be used for good purposes and for bad. It’s good to keep both in mind.

Healthcare has its share of charlatans, incompetents, poseurs and crooks. Does the availability of more accessible information empower these people or disable them? Surely both. But believers in the free market of ideas start with the assumption — call it false optimism if you will — that in the world of ideas good will drive out bad.

Fishkill-based MedAllies, founded in 2001, is in the business of implementing electronic health records (EHR) in order to facilitate physician office redesign, improve office practice efficiencies, and enhance population health. Its thinking has been influential in the ideas contained in the New York State Health Innovation Plan adopted by the state government last year.

Its CEO, Dr. A John Blair III, is also president of the 5000-member Taconic IPA, whose physician members have been at the forefront of transforming healthcare delivery in the Hudson Valley through meaningful use of health information technology and pay-for-performance incentives. MedAllies boasts of now including nearly 2500 healthcare organizations and 40,000 users in its Direct network. It connects to more than 6000 healthcare organizations and 200,000 users.

The company appears to be continuing its expansionary mode. “MedAllies is experiencing unprecedented growth, both internally and in terms of market share,” said Blair recently.

Blair’s a nationally recognized expert in the use of healthcare information. He realizes that information is a tool for change. Revolutionary healthcare transformation, he wrote last month, “required the use of health information technology as a tool, care coordination as a process, and realigned payments as an incentive.” That’s the present New York State plan in a nutshell.

Meaningful Use

American healthcare transformation has been a long slog, as its pioneers are fully aware. The perils of information misuse and abuse are very real. Security and the protection of privacy are real concerns, as any veteran of the health information technology field is well aware. In that regard, MedAllies has put great effort into protecting the users of its network.