Meet Dr. Paul from http://www.drpaul.com/ . He is the first online pediatrician in the world who is bridging the gap by connecting the media and parents with health professionals. DR. PAUL produces state of the art educational health resources, which are trustworthy, accessible and informative. DR.PAUL believes that the future of health care is in communicating health information in a variety of media formats, thereby making it accessible to the largest audience possible. We sat down with Dr. Paul to meet the person who is changing the face of health care and the internet.
QUESTION: You are a library of information for parents. How did you decide to specialize in Pediatrics?
DR.PAUL ANSWERS: I have always loved children and believed that communication/education is a very important part of being a doctor. Early on in medical school I realized that this was particularly relevant in pediatric practice. Unlike treating adults, we are dealing with parents and rely on them for obtaining information and in many cases, administering treatment. I refer to this as “medicine by proxy”. I really enjoy this aspect of pediatrics, as it fits in with my zeal for empowering parents and child caregivers with credible, proactive, practical and easy-to-understand information so they can be as comfortable as possible in taking care of their kids. This is what I mean when I coined the phrase:”Knowledge is Comfort”.
QUESTION: You are the founder and former director of the Montreal Children’s Hospital’s Asthma Centre and Pediatric Consultation Centre. You were aware that the day-to-day monitoring of a child’s asthma is integral for its successful treatment. Was this what inspired you to bridge the gap between health professionals and the media?
DR.PAUL ANSWERS: I founded the then innovative asthma program in 1990 to specifically prove that education is key to successfully monitoring and managing asthma at home on a daily basis. At that time, childhood asthma was the leading cause of preventable admissions to hospital. So I saw this as an opportunity to implement my vision of embedding education/communication tools into a medical treatment plan delivered by a multi-disciplinary team, including an “Asthma Educator”. This approach really made a difference! Once parents understood the cause and symptoms of asthma, how it relates to allergies and the environment, and how/when to use medication, the asthma became controlled. In fact, once we opened the centre, we almost immediately saw a decrease in re-admissions and repeat emergency room visits for asthma. This was real-life proof of the relevance and importance of bridging the gap between health care and communications/education. It was a combination of using face-to-face education as well as other available media platforms to provide this information. This model is transferable to many other conditions and even to day-to-day care of growing and developing children. With the emergence of digital technologies the opportunity to bridge the gap is even greater!
QUESTION: How important is it to teach our children about positive life choices in order for better health and wellness?
DR.PAUL ANSWERS: Children tend to mimic what they see around them. So parents are really their models for a wide range of behaviors. Healthy choices like active living and healthy eating are very important especially when childhood obesity is on the rise. I believe that parents need to positively “role-model” healthy lifestyle choices/behaviors as early as possible. The earlier a child starts practicing healthy choices in regard to lifestyle, the more it becomes entrenched as a life-long behavior. In other words, it’s easier for a young child to learn and adapt a healthy lifestyle choice than it is for someone to change bad habits to good ones in middle age.
QUESTION: Tell us about the Ask Dr. Paul section of your website…
DR.PAUL ANSWERS: I started writing and creating video and audio programs and articles before the internet was available. In 1995, when the internet was in its infancy, I realized its huge potential and became the first pediatrician in the world to have a web site: DR.PAUL’s CHILD HEALTH AND WELLNESS INFO SITE( www.drpaul.com) . I was initially frustrated because it was on dial-up modems, long before high-speed and streaming was possible, so the information was limited to text and simple pictures. Nevertheless, I started to get questions and comments from around the world through my ASK.DR.PAUL section. It came to a point that I was receiving hundreds of questions weekly, many of which were similar. I was not able to answer them all individually, so I started the ASK DR.PAUL library where I would select a commonly asked question and post a new 500 word article every week. This built up the library to hundreds of articles. I also continually expanded the various sections of the site and even created handy fact sheets for easy printing and sharing. As I added topics, the site grew to its current state and I keep adding and updating it. In fact, I have now added a new section that I call “DR.PAUL’s Snapshots”. In this section, accessed by the DR.PAUL ANSWERS button, I have indexed questions that I have answered in a few sentences. I have collected hundreds of these snapshots and I am slowly adding them. In many cases I have answered them or there is an article or section elsewhere my site…the new search utility will help parents find what they are looking for.
QUESTION: Please Tell us About Your Book: Baby Comes Home.
DR.PAUL ANSWERS: This, my first formally published book, is a collection of articles and programs that I have written and collected for the past 20 years! Most books about newborn babies concentrate on handling and feeding, or are mostly about physically caring for a new baby. Uniquely, I take an additional approach, because we now understand from advances in neurobiology, neurophysiology, and gene studies that what happens early on in life can have consequences many decades down the road.
This book, is the first book for parents of newborn babies to incorporate the new science of early child/brain development and the effect of TLC during the first 2 years of life, and to link this period with long term health and psychological consequences and success many decades later. TLC—tender loving care—is not a new concept; we always suspected it was important, and now we have the science to prove it. Studies on the effect of brain and hormone controls by the lack of bonding, healthy relationships, and nurturing during the first few year of life have shown rather worrisome results. Up until now, it was very clear that lack of bonding and nurturing in babies can result in long-term psychological and mental conditions. It is now apparent that this neglect can exacerbate or even cause chronic physical illness such as diabetes and metabolic syndrome even decades later. In addition, the aspects of a child’s development that are interfered with play a role in a child’s future learning and socializing skills, and ultimately their ability to reach their full potential as adults So, investing in a child’s early support not only assures proper mental, emotional, and psychological development at the time, but indeed is a form of chronic disease prevention.
It does not cost anything to respond to, nurture, caress, and give your baby as much attention as you can. Connecting and interacting with baby and establishing a relationship are easy to do and the pleasure you will get back is priceless. At the same time, baby’s brain is feverishly developing and growing well. Soothing baby when upset is one of the most important things to do. Reading to baby, making eye contact, caressing, playing with baby, and giving baby loving attention are things that are very inexpensive and quite easy to do, virtually anywhere, anytime, and under any circumstances. So remember: infant-parent and infant-caregiver relationships and connections do not cost anything; yet, there is so much return!
I also focus on a significant threat, which is injury. Sadly, accidental injury is the leading cause of death and hospitalization in children. As most injuries are preventable, I spend a significant amount of time discussing injury prevention both inside the home as well outside. I place a huge emphasis on ensuring that baby is safe, and grows and develops normally. I describe the ideal conditions for a baby to live and grow in. These include proper nutrition, injury prevention, immunization, and of course, very importantly, the provision of tender loving care. I look at this as a guide to wellness, starting in the first eighteen months and lasting a lifetime!
I begin with the newborn baby period from the moment of birth and offer basic baby care and safety information for the first eighteen months and beyond. This includes addressing frequent parental concerns and describing some of the most common illnesses and conditions seen during the first few years of life. Although the title says A Parents’ Guide, this book can be a helpful resource for any child caregiver, be it a grandparent, aunt or uncle, babysitter or daycare teacher. In addition, many of the topics that I cover will apply even beyond the age of eighteen months.
QUESTION: How important are routines for new parents and a baby?
DR.PAUL ANSWERS: This is one of the biggest challenges for parents of newborns..Routines. Once new baby arrives, our old “grown-up” routines are replaced by new ones that the baby imposes. In fact, what is challenging is that these routines change from month to month as baby grows and develops. Parents need to be familiar with what to expect ahead of time from all routine aspects including growth, feeding and sleeping patterns.
From the point of view of establishing routines, one of the most important one they can establish are good sleep routines. This can be getting baby used to a pre bedtime ritual of feeding, bathing, reading to baby and then going to bed. This will go a long way in helping develop good sleep habits/routines.
QUESTION: How has the internet been a (positive, negative or both) influence for new parents seeking health information?
DR.PAUL ANSWERS: As the first doctor in the world to have a website on child health and wellness, I recognize the very important role of the internet and the related spinoff platforms like social media and mobile technology/applications. Despite the information overload of today, I still think that the internet provides a valuable and unprecedented service to parents, in that they can easily access information and consult/share/discuss with others in similar situations virtually anytime and from anywhere! The only precaution I can advise is that parents should be aware of the sources of their information and NOT rely on the internet to make a diagnosis or treatment plan for themselves or their family.
QUESTION: What do you envision for yourself in the next five years?
DR.PAUL ANSWERS: I want to dedicate the rest of my career to continue to provide child health and wellness information to parents worldwide on any and all available platforms. I also want to continue to stress the importance of the first 18 months of life and to advocate for optimal community support for new parents and their babies. And finally, I want to have more time to do what I love ….play the drums!