Innovations and Inspirations for Improving Children's Health: December 2016

Posted December 07, 2016 by Josh Grant

Children Sledding Outside In Winter
Innovation is necessary for improving children's health. 

Across the United States, organizations and government agencies are creating new approaches to improve children’s health. Because we support innovation for helping children lead healthier lives, we’ve highlighted some of the most exciting initiatives we’ve seen in the last few weeks. Read on to learn how some groups are addressing critical health needs:

Breastfeeding Comes to Emojis
Smartphone users will soon be able to talk about breastfeeding with emojis. The Unicode Consortium, which regulates emojis, approved a proposed design to be included in its 2017 update. This will be the first depiction of breastfeeding among the mobile graphics, which has become a popular form of shorthand for many smartphone users.

The breastfeeding emoji could help normalize the practice and conversations around it in the United States, and it acknowledges the prevalence of breastfeeding around the world. The proposal was written by Rachel Lee, RN, from the University College of London Hospital. Lee noted that the only representation of feeding was a baby bottle, which is insufficient given the healthcare community’s push to support and encourage moms who choose to breastfeed. Representing breastfeeding through emoji is a small but key bit of inclusivity in everyday communication. 

Telemedicine Improves Accessibility in Rural Areas
The Saint Alphonsus Health System, based in Idaho and Oregon, has released MyeVisit, a telemedicine app for patients. Accessible through any device with a camera, the app connects health system patients with their doctors and other staff members without having to travel to one of the system’s regional hospitals. Healthcare providers can currently diagnose and treat 13 common medical conditions through the service, including offering prescriptions during the remote sessions.

The MyeVisit app increases accessibility for patients and reduces travel time for those seeking medical care. It may also increase affordability; a MyeVisit session is $45 and isn’t subject to the same costs as a visit to urgent or emergency care.

Food Desert’s Schools Become Grocery Stores
The area of Washington, D.C. east of the Anacostia River is considered a food desert; there are only three grocery stores for 150,000 people. To improve children' access to healthy foods at young ages, Martha’s Table, an organization that focuses on children’s welfare, opened Joyful Food Markets in four elementary schools in January 2015. At these pop-up markets, students learn about healthy eating and participate in cooking demonstrations while parents pick up free food items like chickpeas and pastas so they can more easily lead healthy lifestyles at home.

The markets are now hosted in 29 schools when classes are out of session for the day. Martha’s Table wants to expand into 49 schools by 2018. The program is making progress in supporting families – only 29.5 percent of participating in families ate fruits and vegetables before shopping at a Joyful Food Market and 60 percent did eat those foods after shopping. By improving access to healthy food and education about nutrition, the Joyful Food Markets may go a long way toward instilling lifelong habits in the community’s children. 

What children’s health innovation stories have you read lately? Share them with us @NICHQ on Twitter!


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