Houston Medical Times

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U.S. Federal Privacy Bill Unveiled

Members of Congress recently released a draft bipartisan, bicameral federal privacy bill, the American Privacy Rights Act. The goal of this legislation is to be “a national data privacy and security standard that gives people the right to control their personal information.” As drafted, the legislation draws from many of the current state comprehensive privacy laws, though there are a number of nuances.

What data is protected under the draft American Privacy Rights Act?

“Covered data” is protected by the law. “Covered data” is information that identifies or is linked or reasonably linkable to an individual or device that identifies or is linked or reasonably linkable to one or more individuals.

“Covered data” does not include, however, de-identified data, employee data, publicly available information, and information in a library, archive, or museum subject to specific limitations.

and certain non-profits) are subject to the law. Service providers to such covered entities are also subject. Currently excluded from the definition of covered entity are government entities (and their service providers), small businesses, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Certain fraud prevention nonprofits are generally exempt except for data security obligations. Entities subject to and in compliance with other Federal privacy laws, including

Privacy Rights Act require?

As drafted, the legislation draws from many of the current state comprehensive privacy laws. Covered entities and service providers acting on behalf of such covered entities are subject to provisions related to:

The goal of this legislation is to be
a national data privacy and security standard that gives people the right to control their personal information.

Who is subject to the draft American Privacy Rights Act?

As currently drafted, entities that, alone or jointly with others, determine the purposes and means of collecting, processing, or transferring covered data and are subject to the FTC Act (as well as common carriers

the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and HIPAA, are deemed to be in compliance with the related privacy provisions of the draft American Privacy Rights Act, though they must still comply with the law’s security provisions. What does the draft American

• Data minimization: In general, covered entities and service providers are prohibited from (1) processing covered data beyond what is needed to provide or maintain a product or service requested by an individual or provide a communication reasonably anticipated in the context of the relationship; or (2) processing covered data for a purpose other than those expressly permitted by the draft legislation. Additionally, the draft legislation includes restrictions on the processing of sensitive data and biometric or genetic information.

• Transparency: Similar to other comprehensive privacy laws, the draft American Privacy Rights Act requires covered entities and

May Edition 2024 Volume 14 | Issue 5 PRSRT STD US POSTAGE PAID PERMIT NO 1 HOUSTON TX Memorial Hermann to Begin Drone Delivery Service for Prescriptions and Medical Supplies See pg. 9 Inside This Issue Not Every Runny Nose Is an Allergy See pg. 10 INDEX Oncology Research ........ pg.3 Mental Health pg.5 Healthy Heart ...................... pg.6 Financial Forecast pg.12 see Privacy Bill ...page 14
By Lisa Acevedo, J.D. Allison Dressel, J.D. Polsinelli, PC
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Oncology Research The Benefits of Meditation for Cancer Patients

ancer treatment usually brings to mind conventional treatment options such as chemotherapy or radiation. However, today’s cancer treatment can include a holistic approach called integrative health.

Integrative health combines conventional treatments with complementary approaches to provide more comprehensive care for body, mind, and spirit, with an emphasis on treating the whole person.

Meditation is a common mind-body practice often used alongside conventional treatment to help manage cancer-related symptoms and deal with the feelings that accompany the disease. Meditation

and stress reduction practices have also been shown to improve the immune system recovery of cancer patients.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology, National Comprehensive Cancer Network, and Society for Integrative Oncology have all recognized the ability of meditation to improve mental and physical health and overall quality of life when used within an integrative health approach.

Anyone can begin a meditation practice at any time, and evidence shows it can have many benefits for one’s general health and well-being.

Forms of meditation

When one hears the word meditation, they might picture someone sitting peacefully under a tree, cross-legged with their eyes closed. While this is indeed one form of meditation, it is not the only one.

Meditation techniques can include:

• Breathwork

• Gratitude practice

• Loving-kindness and compassion

• Movement meditation, such as

• Progressive muscle relaxation

Patients may benefit from one or several of these techniques and the various options may be helpful when dealing with different symptoms or side effects from treatment.

Symptoms addressed by meditation

In a survey to understand the impact cancer has on self-perception, body image, and mental and emotional health, 43% of respondents said they felt unprepared to deal with the physical side effects experienced during treatment and 56% felt unprepared for the mental side effects. When asked if patients sought out support to help cope with the mental or physical side effects of cancer treatment, only

one-third sought out resources.

Specific types of mind-body practices, such as meditation, have been found to effectively address several physical and mental symptoms related to cancer or cancer treatment, such as:

• Anxiety

• Cognitive issues

• Depression

• Fatigue

• Fear related to treatment or fear of recurrence

• Pain

• Sexual issues

• Sleep disorders

Houston Medical Times Page 3 medicaltimesnews.com May 2024
see Oncology ...page 14

Implantable Device Delivers HIV Antiviral with More Potency Than Oral Drugs

Ateamfrom Houston Methodist Research Institute recently showed that a nanofluidic implant delivered an HIV drug that achieved more potency than other forms of drug administration (oral) and other HIV drugs.

The results, published in The Journal of Controlled Release, may lead to a long-acting, refillable implant that delivers an HIV antiviral medication, Islatravir, into humans living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), a chronic yet manageable disease.

Currently, Islatravir is an investigational drug administered once daily or weekly in a combination regimen. This research, led by Alessandro Grattoni, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Nanomedicine at Houston Methodist Research Institute, focused on the potency, efficacy and tolerability of the drug when subcutaneously administered at a low dose in a continuous manner.

“The potency of continuous,

subdermal elution of Islatravir was 5-fold higher than cabotegravir, an intramuscular injectable antiviral for HIV prevention and treatment,” said Grattoni, the study’s corresponding author.

Treatment nonadherence remains a prevalent challenge for many who take HIV medications, which can eventually lead to patients’ inability to tolerate antiretrovirals, an HIV infection prevention protocol that has been around for more than a decade.

However, as with all treatments, combination drugs are needed for optimal treatment efficacy.

The Houston Methodist researchers are also studying this same implant for delivering HIV prevention medications.

The nanofluidic device is intended for long-term controlled and sustained release, avoiding repeated systemic treatment that

often leads to adverse side effects. Additional lab research is underway to determine the effectiveness and safety of this delivery technology,

but researchers would like to see this become a viable option for HIV patients in the next few years.

Houston Medical Times Page 4 medicaltimesnews.com May 2024
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Houston Methodist researchers are getting closer to adding another tool to the treatment regimen of individuals living with HIV that would be able to deliver HIV treatments through a long-acting, refillable nanofluidic implant that delivers an HIV antiviral medication.

Mental Health Minimize Adolescent Stress During Standardized Testing

Standardized tests often cause stress and anxiety among adolescents because of the pressure they may feel from their parents, teachers and peers as well as the pressure they put on themselves. A Baylor College of Medicine psychologist outlines how to manage the pressure during a stressful period.

Students should take important steps to minimize stress and anxiety, especially during testing time:

• Take care of the basics: Get a sufficient amount of sleep, eat nutritiously without skipping meals and engage in a reasonable level of physical activity.

“A lot of people end up thinking they need to spend more time studying or don’t have time for exercise or meals,

“Reflect on if the world will end if you don’t get a perfect score. Maybe you didn’t do as well as you wanted on that test, but you didn’t fail,” Storch said.

• Plan, then act: Instead of procrastinating, make a plan about what is needed for studying then take steps that are required to get there and act on it. Procrastination will lead to more stress and less time for studying.

“When you procrastinate, you take all the time you could have been working and ruin it by having this gray cloud hanging above you,” he said.

Parents and teachers should be aware of symptoms of anxiety or stress in students. Younger children might complain about stomach aches or display clinginess. While older adolescents might also convey similar symptoms, they complain about

but it ends up turning into a vicious cycle of not taking care of yourself, which contributes to worse future performance,” said Dr. Eric Storch, professor and vice chair of psychology in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Baylor.

• Schedule breaks: Make sure to create a study schedule that includes taking breaks to relax and unwind.

• Engage in effective cognitive interpretation: Keep things in perspective – do not think about things in black and white terms of success and failure. Talking to a friend or parent can be very helpful.

them or describe them differently. Other signs of distress among older adolescents include:

• Sleep problems

• Irritability

• Increased emotions

While social media is exciting to teenagers, it can interfere with schoolwork and can cause more stress. If a teenager has trouble putting the phone or tablet down, if they feel distress not engaging in social media or if it is causing impairment, they should visit a mental health specialist. Storch recommends exposure therapy

see Mental Health ...page 14

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Healthy Heart Walk This Way –

It’s Quite Good for You

Walking is sometimes equated with simplicity itself. If your task is a “walk in the park,” it might require little more than baby steps to get things moving.

But putting one foot in front of the other can set you on a path for significantly better health, experts say – even without a lot of heavy lifting or jumping through hoops.

“People underestimate just how important it is to walk,” said Dr. Tiwaloluwa Ajibewa, an assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

Walking can help with weight control and reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and more, said Dr. Kelley Pettee Gabriel, associate

dean for research at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Public Health. For people with heart disease, “it’s really helpful for the management of symptoms and improving quality of life.”

So, whether you’re a dedicated step-counter or a certified couch potato ready to make a change, here’s what to know. It’s a great first step

If you’re doing any type of walking, you’re moving. That’s both obvious and important, because being sedentary – sitting, lying down – has been linked to an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and premature death. Even a little bit of light activity can help lower the risks.

Beyond being anti-sedentary, walking at a brisk pace counts toward the minimum of 150 minutes

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of moderate-intensity physical activity recommended by federal guidelines. It doesn’t have to be 10,000 steps
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guests, whether staying in the stylish, modern Garden Inn rooms or the extended-stay Home2 suites, have access to convenient amenities such as easy parking in a 500-car garage, state-of-theart fitness center, 24/7 business center, laundry facilities, heated outdoor swimming pool and a complimentary shuttle to the nearby medical center.

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How To Reduce the Stress When Caring for Someone with Dementia

Caring for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s is challenging.

In addition to the financial and physical demands, many caregivers are unprepared for the stress of trying to effectively communicate with a loved one who may be prone to agitation, verbal aggression, and hallucinations.

But there are ways to prevent or defuse communication-based conflict, said Izabella De Abreu, M.D., Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at UT Southwestern Medical Center, who specializes in geriatric psychiatry and the psychological symptoms of dementia and caregiver burden.

“Dementia may start with difficulty finding a word or repeating phrases, and it can evolve into increased reliance on nonverbal communication,” Dr. De Abreu said.

“Communication barriers can be downright scary or anger-inducing for your loved one.”

Dr. De Abreu offered these tips to encourage constructive communication:

• Speak clearly and slowly. Make eye contact and give your loved one your full attention.

• Minimize distractions. Let the person with dementia speak for themself and give them time to respond to you.

• Repeat information to confirm it’s accurate. Offer simple choices of one or two items to avoid overwhelming them and creating additional confusion.

• Ask them to complete tasks. When it’s time to take medication or get something done, ask rather than demand. They are more likely to comply

if they feel in control of the decision.

• Try not to argue. If your loved one confuses nonessential details, like dates or names, stay calm and let it go. Arguing will only confuse and upset them unnecessarily.

The American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry estimates that about half of all patients with dementia

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or Alzheimer’s are currently being cared for at home.

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Houston Medical Times Page 8 medicaltimesnews.com May 2024
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Izabella De Abreu, M.D., (left) is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at UT Southwestern. Molly Camp, M.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry, holds the Jake Tobolowsky Professorship in Psychiatry, in Memory of Helen B. Tobolowsky and in Honor of Dr. David M. Tobolowsky at UT Southwestern.

Memorial Hermann to Deploy Zipline’s Convenient Drone Delivery Service for Prescriptions and Medical Supplies

“ As a system, we are continuously seeking ways to improve the patient experience and bring greater health and value to the communities we serve. Zipline provides an innovative solution to helping our patients access the medications they need, quickly and conveniently, at no added cost to them,” said Alec King, executive vice president and chief financial officer for Memorial Hermann.

Zipline is the world’s largest drone delivery system and recently completed its one millionth commercial delivery. Zipline’s next generation home delivery service, Platform 2 (P2), is expected to deliver up to seven times faster than traditional automobile delivery, completing deliveries in about a

minute per mile. Patients can schedule deliveries for precise times and can track their order in real-time on their phone.

Memorial Hermann will use Zipline’s P2 service, which uses autonomous, electric drones (“Zips”) to deliver to urban and suburban areas quietly and conveniently. Once an order is loaded, the Zip flies to its destination and hovers safely and quietly high up in the sky, while its autonomous delivery droid descends on a tether, steers to the correct location, and precisely delivers to places as small as a patio table or the front steps of a house. Over time, Memorial Hermann may also use Zipline to transport medicine, supplies and lab samples between its system facilities.

“Completing more than one million commercial deliveries has shown us that when you improve health care logistics, you improve every level of the patient experience. It means people get better, faster, more convenient care, even from the comfort of their own home,” said Keller Rinaudo Cliffton, Co-Founder and CEO of Zipline. “Innovators like Memorial Hermann are leading the way to bring better care to the U.S., and it’s going to happen much faster

than you might expect.”

The Zips can quickly and quietly deliver in rain, wind, extreme cold and other conditions that would normally slow down automotive transport like rush-hour traffic, and with zero emissions. Memorial Hermann and Zipline are working together on all necessary approvals to serve the area and will share more information about how to sign-up for the service before it launches.

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Memorial Hermann Health System will be the first health care provider in Houston to deploy Zipline’s instant home delivery service, making autonomous drone deliveries of specialty prescriptions and medical supplies directly to patients’ homes beginning in 2026.

Not Every Runny Nose Is an Allergy

allergy time in Texas, but not every runny nose is due to an allergy. Nor is it necessarily the common cold, or even COVID-19. It may be nonallergic rhinitis causing chronic sneezing, congestion, or a runny nose. Understanding the differences between these conditions is important for treatment .

Nonallergic rhinitis, sometimes called vasomotor rhinitis, doesn’t involve our immune system reacting to an allergen. Nonallergic rhinitis is thought to result from irritants — think environmental factors such as cigarette smoke or smog in the air, spicy foods— weather changes , or even overuse of

nasal allergy medicine. In fact, in many cases, the true cause can’t even be pinpointed with certainty .

Nonallergic rhinitis may cause chronic sneezing, congestion, or runny nose, symptoms similar to those of hay fever (otherwise known as allergic rhinitis) and other conditions, including the common cold and even COVID-19 , so it may be difficult to tell what condition you’re dealing with — and what treatment may work.

Generally, colds cause comparatively mild symptoms and typically don’t result in serious complications. A runny or stuffy nose is a prevalent sign of having a cold. Plus, with a cold, your symptoms usually reach their peak within three days. Worried it may be COVID-19? Sneezing is common for both nonallergic rhinitis and for an airborne allergic reaction, though not as common in cases of COVID-19.

Neither seasonal allergies nor nonallergic rhinitis can be cured , but relief is possible. By avoiding triggers, irrigating your nasal cavity with a saline rinse, or by taking over-the-counter or prescription medications you may alleviate some or all of your symptoms . And because the symptoms are so similar between nonallergic rhinitis and allergic rhinitis, allergy testing may

be recommended to rule out the latter . As with all health concerns, seeking an accurate diagnosis is important to manage your condition appropriately. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms, and they will help you find the right course of treatment — whether that’s prescribed medication, an over-the-counter nasal spray, or just plenty of rest. 

Houston Medical Times Page 10 medicaltimesnews.com May 2024
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Financial Forecast A Caretaker’s Journey

The Unspoken Pandemic

living longer can have many benefits, like spending more time with family and friends, one of the downsides is that both physical and cognitive health often start to fail. Eventually, this could require assistance.

When a loved one needs care, it can impact the entire family, particularly the individual’s primary

accounts to cover their expenses.

Care Planning and Payment Options

When developing a plan for your own or a loved one’s future care, there are some items that should be in place, such as:

− Powers of Attorney


Other Estate Planning Documents

Even with the best of intentions, a care giver cannot be available 24/7. They also may not be qualified to provide all of the care that a loved one requires. So, it is possible that other care options will have to be considered, such as hiring a home health care professional or moving the individual

care giver. Providing care to another individual can take a toll physically, emotionally, and financially. So, it is vital to have help and resources available.

The High Cost of Care Giving

According to AARP, family and friends who provide care to an elderly loved one spend an average of $7,000 out-of-pocket each year. This is in addition to the physical and mental exhaustion.

Many care providers must also either cut back on work hours or quit their jobs altogether, which not only leads to loss of income, but also reduced retirement savings and ultimately less in future Social Security retirement benefits.

Based on a MetLife study, this equates to an average overall financial loss of more than $300,000. In some cases, care givers may even have to take out hardship loans or take early withdrawals from their retirement

into a long-term care facility.

Some possible payment solutions for this can include:

Long-term care insurance


Today’s long-term care insurance policies typically cover a wide range of care options, including skilled nursing home and assisted living facilities, as well as home health care services.

Some plans will reimburse the insured for the cost of care (up to a certain daily or monthly maximum amount) and others will pay a flat daily or monthly benefit. As with other types of health insurance, it is essential to apply for long-term care coverage before one becomes ill or cognitively impaired. Otherwise, it is likely that they will be denied for a policy.

Medicaid is a jointly funded federal and state program that pays

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Continued from page 8

It also can increase the risk of health problems for the caregiver, including anxiety, depression, a weakened immune system, and conditions related to overeating and obesity. It’s important for caregivers to remember to care for themselves.

“No matter how much you love your aging family member or friend, caregiving can negatively

Financial Forecast

Continued from page 11

for certain long-term care services, but only if an individual meets both health and financial criteria, including having a low income and asset level.

affect your physical health, mental wellness, relationships, and finances,” said Molly Camp, M.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry, who specializes in geriatric mental health. Caregivers

should discuss their own physical and mental well-being with a health care provider.

For married couples, the asset limit is higher, depending on the state. However, even assets that are jointly titled will count towards Medicaid’s resource criteria for the spouse who is applying for benefits. So, qualifying for

In order to qualify for Medicaid’s financial criteria, a single individual must typically have assets of $2,000 or less. They may keep certain assets and property, such as their home, a vehicle, and term life insurance coverage.

Medicaid can cause financial hardship for the “healthy” spouse, as well.

Additional Caregiver Resources

Some additional helpful resources for care givers include: www.Care.com www.SeniorsHelpingSeniors.com

Discussing your situation with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ can also help, as these professionals can assist you with creating a plan that works for your particular situation and objectives.

Houston Medical Times Page 13 medicaltimesnews.com May 2024
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Privacy Bill

Continued from page 1

service providers to have publicly available privacy policies detailing privacy and security practices, including how individuals can exercise their privacy rights.

• Consumer Controls/Rights and Opt-Outs: Similar to other comprehensive privacy laws, the draft American Privacy Rights Act grants individuals the rights of access, correction, deletion, and portability of their covered data. Individuals also have the right to opt out of the transfer (including the disclosure, release, selling, renting, or licensing for consideration of any kind or for a commercial purpose) of their covered data and to opt-out of the use of their covered data for targeted advertising.

• Data Security: Covered entities and service providers are required


Continued from page 3

chair yoga or walking meditation

• Nature therapy

Mindfulness, stress, and the immune system

Long-term stress can lead to inflammation and weaken the immune system. However, a recent study showed that breast cancer patients who practiced mindfulness stress reduction had more rapid recovery of immune cells. Immune system function is now recognized as one of the pillars of cancer therapy.

Mindful meditation and mealtime

One often missed opportunity for meditation or mindful practice is during mealtime. Cancer treatment frequently changes appetite and taste, which

Mental Health

Continued from page 5

for patients to understand the fears of parting with social media. He recommends putting the phone down to engage in enjoyable activities and evaluating the outcome.

to establish appropriate data security practices as well as assess vulnerabilities and mitigate reasonably foreseeable risks to consumer data.

• Service Providers: The draft legislation, among other things, requires service provides to enter into contracts with covered entities governing the service provider’s data processing on behalf of the covered entity and specifies the content of such contracts.

• Data Brokers: Data brokers, among other things, are required to maintain a public website identifying themselves as a data broker and which includes a tool for individuals to exercise their individual controls and opt-out rights. Who can enforce the draft American Privacy Rights Act?

The draft legislation provides for both FTC enforcement and enforcement by State attorneys general, chief consumer protection officers, and other officers of a State

can make eating and sharing meals with others challenging. A mindful eating practice can help improve the experience of eating. It may offer the opportunity to build new memories and make deeper connections with loved ones over shared meals, even if smells and tastes have shifted.

Time and practice

Just like learning any new skill, meditation is a practice that takes time to master. From breathwork and guided meditations to taking a class online or in person at a local studio, there are a variety of techniques to try.

If one meditation technique isn’t feeling quite right, it’s fine to switch it up. What a patient needs one day may not be the same as what is needed the next, and similarly, what may resonate for one patient may not for another.

It helps to practice meditation techniques on good days as well as

in Federal district court. In addition, individuals may file private lawsuits against entities that violate their rights. In private lawsuits, courts may award plaintiffs actual damages, injunctive relief, declaratory relief, and reasonable attorney’s fees and litigation costs. Will state comprehensive privacy laws be pre-empted?

The purpose of the draft legislation is to establish a “uniform national data privacy and data security standard.” Under the current draft, state laws covered by the American Privacy Rights Act would be pre-empted, with some exceptions, including, for example, consumer protection laws; civil rights laws; provisions of laws that address the privacy of employees; provisions of laws that address privacy of students; provisions of laws that address data breach notification; and provisions of laws that protect the privacy of health information.

“Engage in tests to see what happens if you put the phone down and don’t engage in social media for an hour. Does the world end? Does your social standing plummet?

the more challenging ones. Creating new habits and learning new skills is difficult even when you feel your best. But when meditation is a part of a daily care routine, it’s easier to remember and practice on tough days, too, allowing one to access the benefits of meditation when it’s needed the most.

Let your care team know if meditation is a practice you’d like to add to your care plan. However, keep in mind that because it can increase awareness of your mind and body, past trauma or feelings that have been pushed aside may arise. If this happens, your care team can help you access the appropriate support needed.

Engaging in meditation is a straightforward practice accessible to everyone. For those living with cancer, meditation may hold potential benefits that extend beyond the realm of cancer-related challenges. 

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Let’s start challenging the degree in which you’re engaging in social media,” he said.

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