Healthcare Schools Online

As demand for healthcare services continues to increase, it takes a specially trained person to run the oft-overlooked position that some people don’t think much about – that of a healthcare manager. That’s where healthcare schools online come in: they offer courses that train a person to be management material when the time comes for a promotion or a new job. Healthcare managers are the brains behind the operation and they ensure that things run smoothly. Healthcare schools online are a great resource for a person that needs the training, but may not have the convenient hours that other less demanding jobs can afford.

Those in healthcare management keep the day-to-day operations of any type of patient facility running efficiently. They make decisions on patient healthcare and treatment. They also work in conjunction with nurses and other administrative workers to ensure that the quality of healthcare is up to regulations and medical records and reports are accurately kept or given. These men and women must always be ready for new healthcare implementations – anything from new technology to new methods of patient care. They are typically very busy and may be called upon at all hours for advice and/or assistance in a problem. They also travel to attend healthcare conferences, or to meet with the government or private affiliates and owners of a company.

Healthcare managers work in all sorts of environments. Anywhere there is a facility that treats patients, no matter old or young, in-patient or out-patient, there is a manager that makes sure everything is carried out in a respected and efficient manner. Managers can work in hospitals, for example, but there is probably one that works in every ward who also answers to the manager in charge of the entire hospital. In a nursing home, there is one main manager, and a few managerial assistant managers to help keep the workload manageable. This type of management system is seen in all aspects of healthcare.

On a day-to-day basis, the variety of people whom a healthcare manager works with is vast. They work with nurses and nurse’s aides, medical recorders and information analysts. Every day brings a whole pack of problems to solve, but also an equal amount of reward. A great hospital with satisfied patients and workers is a sign of a great healthcare manager, who at the end of the day, is a people-person that aims to make everyone happy while keeping care effective and up to standards. Healthcare managers also have to answer to their own bosses. They must attend conferences that inform and advise them on new and effective ways of managing and on the developments that constantly happen in the healthcare industry.

Getting into this oft forgotten administrative job usually requires a master’s degree at minimum. It can be in healthcare administration, but there is also a combination of other degrees that could put the candidate in the right spot for a promotion. This could be an MBA with combined experience in the nursing field, for example. Another good example is experience and an advanced degree in a specialized field, combined with a graduate certificate in healthcare administration.

This combination of degrees and experiences places a candidate in a good position. Another common route is earning the Masters in Healthcare Administration (MHA) through an accredited college. Nowadays, more people than ever are turning to the benefits of healthcare schools online to gain this degree. With the work load and schedule of a normal healthcare employee often times unusual and demanding, many, if not all, healthcare employees would not be able to attend a traditional ground school without having to cut hours (something they may not want to do for financial reasons). Healthcare schools online offer healthcare management degrees at the graduate level for these ambitious, but time-pressed, individuals.

By earning your healthcare management degree online, you’ll prepare yourself for an exciting and rewarding career in healthcare management. It’s definitely as demanding as the nursing or patient-care professions, but it has other added benefits like seeing employees succeed and having your place of employment ranked well amongst others. Healthcare schools online is a great way to earn a degree that will have a lasting impact on your career and ultimately, the well-being of others.

Healthcare And Capitalist Evangelism

The success of any society is ultimately determined by how well its population lives and dies. Within this paradigm of “successful population” are two fundamental elements – individual and collective wellness. A successful society therefore embodies the notion that both individuals and the overall population are well, and these two measures are reasonable assessments of the wellness, and hence the success of any given society.

In other words, the success of a society can be assessed, characterized, and understood through these two main measures. To break it down, individual wellness consists of answering the question: does the society reasonably allow and encourage individuals to be well? Secondly, does the society allow and encourage wellness for the entire population from birth to death? To the latter question, the most important component of population wellness and hence, societal success, is the degree to which the sum of individual wellness creates collective wellness. The single-most important component of population wellness is a high level of population health, measured by the numbers of individuals who are well or have reasonable access to being well.

The four scenarios below represent a summary snapshot of healthcare systems currently in existence in the Western Hemisphere. The scenarios are predicated on the reality that the cost of healthcare is (next to purchasing a home) the most expensive cost one will experience during his or her lifetime and that these costs are expected to continue to escalate over time as new technology, treatments, and pharmaceuticals continue to drive costs. These four main approaches to healthcare are:

1. No healthcare programs (other than free market)

2. Universally funded programs

3. Insurance company funded programs

4. Combinations of the above

These four healthcare approaches are summarized below with respect to how well they represent the ability to create a successful society. Remember, a successful society is one that encourages, promotes, and allows for both individual and collective wellness, as measured by population health.

1. No Healthcare Programs: Countries which have no healthcare programs generally have lower than average population health. While some members of the population in these societies (namely the very rich) who are able to afford healthcare may be healthy indeed, the overall population health is often quite low. It is important to note that socioeconomic status is generally a good predictor of population health. In countries where no healthcare programs exist, and the reason for these lack of programs is lack of finances, then population health is usually comparatively low. Using our definitions of societal success, the success of these societies would be low, or unsuccessful.

2. Government Sponsored Programs: Countries with government sponsored and funded universal healthcare programs generally have a collectively higher level of healthcare than other countries. Again, if the one applies the definition of success of the entire population as the sum total of the wellness of all individuals within that system, then countries which offer healthcare programs that collectively confer benefits on the highest number of individuals are, by definition, successful. Since one cannot be more than well, there is no incentive for individuals to access more services than are required in order to be well. Leaving aside preventative programs and social marketing costs as key aspects of overall population health, health and wellness can be accessed within government sponsored programs up to a certain level depending on the aggregate overall need of the population. Therefore, by definition, and in spite of incentives and disincentives within the system, the societies that employ these systems are successful.

3. Insurance Company: Healthcare programs sponsored by insurance corporations can work well, provided that the insurance coverage provides all members of society with at least basic coverage and coverage through catastrophic illness. Nobody plans on getting leukemia, or ALS, or meningitis, or lupus, for instance. If you are well-educated and have a position with health benefits with a corporation or you have been successful in your career or business, then it is likely you will be able to afford the costs of healthcare. However, since healthcare and profit-motive are mixed within the same crucible, there is a strong incentive to cheat or to create environments where profit supersedes care if the two vie for supremacy – much as suggested in Michael Moore’s movie, Sicko. The active removal or denial of healthcare is a logical and inevitable outcome of a for-profit, insurance corporation controlled system of care delivery – particularly where the population is aging. Also, there is no compelling motive for insurance corporations to cover individuals susceptible to high healthcare costs (i.e., those with catastrophic physical illness; mental illness; the frail elderly; new mothers and infants), period. The outcome of such a system would be to spiral into category 1 – No healthcare programs – (mediated by a very few insurance companies) wherein the richest segments of society would be able to access services. The irony is, the richest citizenry often require much less healthcare than others. The upshot is this: there is an increasing disparity in the number of people who are able to access healthcare in the face of age and cost escalations. One needs to question the current and future success of these social systems.

4. Combinations of Above: Combinations of the above become extremely complex and difficult to assess. There are certainly advantages and disadvantages, as well as incentives and disincentives for a hybrid of the above systems. Each of these advantages and incentives (or lack of) are inextricably connected to the socioeconomic class you and your family belong to or are transitioning into as well as a host of external and internal factors. A government funded universal system provides healthcare to everyone, including those who are disadvantaged and could not possibly access care without subsidization. It also provides care to those who are charged by some who would abuse care (though unclear who this group might be as people do not consume unlimited healthcare once they are well). Alternatively, the system dominated by large insurance companies provides very high quality, responsive care to individuals who can pay or who are insured by corporations who in turn can pay. This system works well where individuals insured are reasonably healthy and young. A problem occurs when the population of employees becomes older and insurance premiums are either hiked to cover extraordinarily high costs (insurers will only cover healthcare costs where the profits of covering healthcare costs actuarially calculated costs) or removed entirely. Countries in which no healthcare programs exist (presuming healthcare is available) results in costly but accessible services for the very few. There is no need to get into the obvious personal suffering and strife in this latter healthcare system.

To summarize the four systems discussed:

1. The richest members of society will continue to receive care regardless of the system in place.

2. The poor will suffer the most in instances where there is either no system in place or where insurance corporations are the primary arbiters of healthcare delivery.

3. The government funded universal system provides care to the greatest number of individuals in society, despite any shortcomings.

4. Profit motive and linkages to incentive to constrain services and limit accessibility becomes increasingly prevalent as the workforce ages (and healthcare benefits supplied by employers become accessed more frequently).

5. Societal Success = providing the opportunity for wellness for the greatest number of people that make up the society.

In conclusion, the success of a society is correlated with the individual and collective wellness of that society. Wellness of the society is inextricably linked to the overall health of the population within that society.

Societies that provide healthcare to the highest number of individuals to an established floor (as opposed to ceiling) level of care (inclusive of the most downtrodden and indigent) are successful. A ceiling level of care is redundant when referring to healthcare, since, with the exception of only an extremely rare and unusual incidence, people only access healthcare up to the amount which will result in wellness. For instance, unlike other goods or services (e.g., Ferraris, Rolex watches, massages, Gucci handbags), obtaining healthcare in excess amounts is both redundant and ridiculous and counterintuitive to human nature.

It is therefore reasonable to suggest that a system of care which provides for the greatest number in society (e.g., everyone), the most vulnerable in society; as well as those at the highest rungs of the socioeconomic ladder and everyone in between could reasonably be argued as the most effective. To those who would charge or decry a system that would benefit everyone as inefficient or unaccountable and therefore untenable, it is important to ask where they, themselves, fit into the healthcare-socioeconomic landscape. Secondly, are they interested in the societal success, will their approach move the society toward success, or are their own parochial interests – however they are justified – masquerading as societal success. You be the judge.

In essence, evangelizing capitalism to the exclusion or minimization of societal success as measured by population health is tantamount to “cutting off your nose to spite your face”.

Healthcare Enterprise Information Management

The lack of a healthcare specific, compliant, cost-effective approach to Enterprise Information Management (aka EIM) is the #1 reason integration, data quality, reporting and performance management initiatives fail in healthcare organizations. How can you build a house without plumbing? Conversely, the organizations that successfully deploy the same initiatives point to full Healthcare centric EIM as the Top reason they were successful (February, 2009 – AHA). The cost of EIM can be staggering – preventing many healthcare organizations from leveraging enterprise information when strategically planning for the entire system. If this is prohibitive for large and medium organizations, how are smaller organizations going to be able to leverage technology that can access vital information inside of their own company if cost prevents consideration?

The Basics –

What is Enterprise Information Management?

Enterprise Information Management means the organization has access to 100% of its data, the data can be exchanged between groups/applications/databases, information is verified and cleansed, and a master data management method is applied. Outliers to EIM are data warehouses, such as an EHR data warehouse, Business Intelligence and Performance Management. Here is a roadmap, in layman terminology, that healthcare organizations follow to determine their EIM requirements.

Fact #1: Every healthcare entity, agency, campus or non-profit knows what software it utilizes for its business operations. The applications may be in silos, not accessible by other groups or departments, sometimes within the team that is responsible for it. If information were needed from groups across the enterprise, it has to be requested, in business terminology, of the host group, who would then go to the source of information (the aforementioned software and/or database), retrieve what is needed and submit it to the requestor – hopefully, in a format the requestor can work with (i.e., excel for further analysis as opposed to a document or PDF).

Fact #2: Because business terminology can be different WITHIN an organization, there will be further “translating” required when incorporating information that is gathered from the different software packages. This can be a nightmare. The gathering of information, converting it into a different format, translating it into common business terminology and then preparing it for consumption is a lengthy, expensive process – which takes us to Fact #3.

Fact #3: Consumers of the gathered information (management, analysts, etc) have to change the type of information required – one-off report requests that are continuously revised so they can change their dimensional view (like rotating the rows of a Rubik’s cube to only get one color grouped, then deciding instead of lining up red, they would really like green to be grouped first). In many cases, this will start the gathering process all over again because the original set of information is missing needed data. It also requires the attention of those that understand this information – typically a highly valued Subject Matter Expert from each silo – time-consuming and costly distractions that impact the requestor as well as the information owner’s group.

Fact#4: While large organizations can cope with this costly method in order to gather enough information to make effective and strategic business decisions, the amount of time and money is a barrier for smaller or cash strapped institutions, freezing needed data in its silo.

Fact #5: If information were accessible (with security and access controls, preventing unauthorized and inappropriate access), time frames for analysis improve, results are timely, strategic planning is effective and costs in time and money are significantly reduced.

Integration (with cleansing the data, aka Data Quality) should not be a foreign concept to the mid and smaller organizations. Price has been the overriding factor that prevents these tiers from leveraging enterprise information. A “glass ceiling”, solely based on being limited from technology because of price tag, bars the consideration of EIM. This is the fault of technology vendors. Business Intelligence, Performance Management and Data Integration providers have unknowingly created class warfare between the Large and SMB healthcare organizations. Data Integration is the biggest culprit in this situation. The cost of integration in the typical BI deployment is usually four times the cost of the BI portion. It is easy for the BI providers to tantalize their prospects with functionality and reasonable cost. But, when integration comes into play, reluctance on price introduces itself into the scenario. No action has become the norm at this point.

What are the Financial Implications for a Healthcare Organization by maintaining the status quo?

Fraud detection is the focal point for CMS in their EHR requirements of healthcare organizations, Let’s take a deeper, more meaningful look at the impact of EHR. Integration, a prominent component of Enterprise Information Management in the New Approach, brings data from all silos of the organization, allowing a Data Quality component to verify and cleanse it. The next step would be to either send it back to its originating source in an accurate state and/or put it into a repository where it will be accessible to auditing (think CMS Sanctions Auditors), Business Intelligence solutions, and Electronic Health Records applications. With instantly accessible EHRs, hospitals and their outlying practices can verify patients with payors, retrieve medical histories for diagnosis and treatment decisions, and update/add patient related information. What impact to treatment does a review of a new patient’s history have for both patient and practice? Here are some elements to consider:

1. Diagnosis and treatments that are based on previous patient dispositions – reducing recovery time, eliminating Medicare/Medicaid/Payor denials (based on their interpretation as to fault of the practitioner in original treatment or error incurring additional treatment).

2. Instant fraud detection of patients seeking treatment for the same malady across the practices within the organization. Prescription abuse and Medicare fraud saves money not only for the payors, but the healthcare organization as well.

3. The Association of Fraud Examiners states that 9% of a Hospital’s revenue each year is actually lost to fraud.

One overlooked but common impact is in the cost of managing patient records. Thousands of file folders in storage with new instances being added each time a new patient enters into the system. Millions of pieces of paper capturing patient information, payer data, charts, billing statements, and various items such as photo copies of patient IDs, are all stored in those folders. The folders are then stored in vast filing cabinets – constantly being accessed by filing clerks, nurses, practitioners and assorted staff. Contents of the files being misplaced or filed incorrectly. Hundreds, if not thousands, of square feet being consumed for storage. The AHA projects that an enterprise leveraging Electronic Health Records will recover no less than 15,000 square feet of usable space. That space can be used for additional services, opening up new channels of revenue. The justification is easy: how much would it cost the hospital to build out 15,000 square feet for a new service? The average cost to build space utilized for Health Services is $65 per square foot, or $975,000 total. An EIM solution through the New Approach would be less than 20% of that. Not only has the EIM solution reduced dollars lost to fraud, lowered the days for payor encounters to be paid, increased cash on hand, but it will also open up new services for the patient community and revenue back to the healthcare organization.

Electronic data is costly in its own way. Bad aka “Dirty” data has enormous impact. Data can be corrupted by error in data entry, systems maintenance, database platform changes or upgrades, feeds or exchanges of data in an incompatible format, changes in front end applications and fraud, such as identity theft. The impact of bad data has a cause and effect relationship that is pervasive in the financial landscape:

1. Bad data can result in payor denials. Mismatched member identification, missing DRG codes, empty fields where data is expected are examples of immediate denials of claims. The delay lowers the amount of Cash on Hand as well as extends the cycle of submitted claim to remittance by at least 30 days.

2. Bad data masks fraud. A reversal of digits in a social security number, a claim filed as one person for the treatment of another family member, medical histories that do not reflect all diagnosis and treatments because the patient could not be identified. Fraud has the greatest impact on cost of delivering healthcare in the United States. Ultimately, the health system has to absorb this cost – reducing profitability and limiting growth.

3. Bad data results in non-compliance. CMS has already begun the architecture and deployment of Sanctions Data Exchanges. These exchanges are a network of data repositories that are used to connect to health healthcare system, retrieve CMS related data, and store it for auditing. The retrieval will only be limited to the patient encounters that show a potential for denial or fraud, so the repository will not be a store of all Medicare and Medicaid patient encounters. But, the exchange has to be able to read the data in its provider data source in order for CMS to apply certain conditions against the information it is reading. What happens when the information is incomplete or wrong? The healthcare system is held accountable for the encounters it cannot read. That means automatic and unrecoverable denials of claims PRIOR to an audit, regardless of claim legitimacy.

The Price Fix by Big Box Healthcare Technology Firms

Are the major healthcare software and technology vendors (Big Box) price gouging? Probably not. They are a victim of their own solution strategies. Through acquired and some organic growth (McKesson, Eclipsys, Cerner, etc), they find their EIM solutions lose their agnostic approach. This is bad…very bad for health systems of all sizes. With very few exceptions, the vast majority of healthcare organizations DO NOT BUY all applications and modules from a single stack player. How could they? Healthcare systems grow similarly – some organic, some through acquisition. When a hospital organization finds over the course of time, an application that is reliable, such as a billing system, there is tremendous reluctance to remove a proven solution that everyone knows how to use. Because the major technology providers in the healthcare space act as a “One Stop Shop”, they spend most of their time working on integrating in their own product suite with little to no regard to other applications. Subsequently, they find themselves trapped: they have to position all products/modules to maintain the accessibility and integrity of their data. This is problematic for the hospital that is trying to solve one problem but then must purchase additional solutions to apply to areas that are not broken, just to be able to integrate information. That is like going to the hardware store for a screwdriver and coming back with a 112 piece tool set with a rolling, 4 foot cart built for NASCAR. You will probably never use 90+% of those tools and will no longer be able to park in your own garage because the new tool box takes up too much space!

IT resources – including people – must be utilized. In today’s economy, leveraging internal IT staff to administer a solution post-deployment is a given. If those IT resources do not feel comfortable in supporting the integration plan, then status quo will be justified. This is the “anti” approach to providing solutions in the healthcare industry: the sales leaders from Big Box technology firms want their sales people in front of the business side of the organization and to stop selling to IT. While this is a common sense approach, the economy in 2010 mandates that IT has to at least validate their ability to administer new technology solutions. The prospect of long-term professional consulting engagements to follow post installation has been shrinking at the same rate as healthcare organizations profit margins.

Empowering the healthcare organization to utilize its existing IT staff to administer and develop with the new products is not part of the business plan when Big Box players market to the industry. It is the exact opposite – recurring revenue from lengthy, and sometimes permanent, professional services consulting engagements is part of the overall target. The initial price quote for a Big Box solution is scary enough, but the fact remains that it is still not representative of what the ongoing cost to maintain through consulting arrangements. This is a variable cost, which is difficult to predict, and drives finance managers and executives crazy.

Solving the Dilemma – A Better Solution through a New Approach at a Fraction of the Cost

When Healthcare Business Experts combine talents with Technology Architects, EIM Solutions cost drop dramatically. This is the New Approach to Healthcare EIM, providing the way health organizations will be able to provide successful solutions at significantly reduced costs – opening the door for health systems of all sizes.

The EIM Firm (using the New Approach) versus Big Box Healthcare Technology Providers:

Smaller, more agile firms bring many benefits to Healthcare Organizations of any size. The benefits:

1. They are focused on specific verticals – just like the Big Box Health Technology providers. Subject Matter Experts (SME) in the smaller firms typically are industry veterans with years of experience and success in their approach who see their resume as a service offering better utilized when they are able to apply their methods for successful strategy planning as opposed to learning the methods of a Big Box player. Their income is better since their revenue is applied into a smaller operating cost, extending lower pricing for solutions that are MORE EFFECTIVE and offering stronger client/vendor relationships as the SME limits themselves to a certain number of clients.

2. Solutions built on proven approaches and strategies. Again, the firm’s SMEs are able to define a methodology that can be re-used or re-configured in each client instance. This saves time and money for the client as delivery is accelerated and the cost of architecting is eliminated.

3. The firms themselves develop solutions and methodologies agnostically. Their understanding of the diversity of systems that exist in the technology of a healthcare organization allows them to not only develop adaptable solutions but also add a Business Process Management Plan (BPM). The BPM will define for the organization EXACTLY how information is received, processed, cleansed, stored, shared and accessed. It also will define an action plan for training IT for administration and support as well as end users at all levels on how they will leverage it going forward. BPM planning in a healthcare organization is a low six figure investment with an outside consulting group. The EIM firms will include it in the cost of the solution. Basically, it is the difference in being told what is wrong and here are the recommendations to fix it versus here is what is wrong and this is how it will be fixed with the new solution.

What is a typical EIM Firm solution?

1. Solution Assessment, noting the current systems, data sources and methods of sharing information as well as business processes, key personnel identification that are gate keepers if information, timeliness of providing information and overall effectiveness in leveraging enterprise information for strategic business planning. See figures 1 for an example of the information process flow visual component of an actual assessment.

2. EIM solution that contains an integration engine that accesses all data sources – reading and writing back to the database or application, providing data quality services and maintaining HIPAA as well as HL7 requirements. See Figure 2 for a diagram.

3. EHR Data Warehouse. A repository to build Electronic Health Records through the integrated data flow.

4. EHR Portal for patient entry (when additional information needs to be added) via a browser.

5. Business Intelligence Dashboards for metrics, AD Hoc analysis and Performance Management Scorecards on organizational goals and objectives.

6. Onsite implementation and integration of the EIM solution.

7. Onsite training during installation for IT and end users. Ongoing training provided via webinars, documentation and technical support staff.

8. Relationships maintained by the Subject Matter Experts for the life of the solution.

9. Stimulus “HITECH” Act pays $44,000 per physician for an EHR solution implemented. The SME creates the grant request to be submitted so the healthcare organization receives Stimulus funds to pay for the total EIM solution

Key Element of the Solution

Onsite Delivery and full time support are key. But, the most important element is training. Why? As noted earlier, it is paramount that existing IT investments, namely personnel, be able to not only administer but also conduct development as the need arises. In Healthcare, CMS managed Medicare/Medicaid is already margins that are in the negative. As private payers follow suit, the number of uncollectable encounters will increase, impacting current profitability models and increasing future cost for treatment. By mitigating IT costs, the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) qualifier should actually evolve to a Return on Investment (ROI). ROI is immediate for this solution approach, but it is sustained year over year by leveraging internal IT to support and develop. Now, the Healthcare Organization has eliminated costly professional service consulting engagements and re-investments into new feature licensing. This takes a variable cost every year and makes it a fixed, yet smaller amount – a sensible financial approach to accomplish a proven strategy.

Summary –

Why EIM? Whether it is Omnibus, “Obama”-care or an edit (not overhaul) of the Healthcare industry, Healthcare Organizations know these truths:

1. Electronic Health Records are necessary for the Fraud detection unit of CMS. Each organization must comply with accessibility, HIPAA and format. Fraud reduces overall revenues for a hospital by 9% (ACFE)

2. EHR/EHR have proven to be highly effective in eliminating internal waste, patient fraud, practice fraud and paper overhead. Vast amount of space within the facilities that had been used to store patient records in hard copy can now be utilized to provide additional services and open new revenue streams.

3. Bad or “dirty” data in electronic or hard copy format is costly. According to the AHA (September, 2008), the average cost of a patient record with good or accurate information is $343 annually. The annual cost of a patient record with bad information is $2,054 annually. On average, 18% of patient information within a healthcare organization is bad.

4. Strategies developed by healthcare organizations without 100% of the information they own that is also timely and relevant are ineffective. Objectives cannot be defined, successful processes cannot be identified and improvement plans have little to no metrics in which to determine success.

5. Stimulus/HITECH Act pays $44,000 per physician when EHR is part of the EIM solution. With the smaller EIM firms, Stimulus pays for the entire solution.

Why a New Approach EIM Firm?

1. Subject Matter Expertise from consultants that have proven methodologies.

2. Agility to adapt to the client need instead of the Big Box approach of the client adapting to their product limitations.

3. A Better Solution at a Fraction of the Cost. Their solutions are based on needs and not features.

4. Relationships with the vendor, resulting in improved services, maximum values from vendor solutions and a focused approach to the client needs and goals.

5. A Return on Investment as opposed to a Total Cost of Ownership. Clients need to see solutions that immediately pay for itself and then recover lost revenue while offering channels to new profit centers.

Healthcare Reform

Even with a bill passed in both houses of Congress, Healthcare reform and the issue of a universal or national healthcare system continues to dominate discussions on the hill. There is talk of repealing the bill and potentially leaving millions more Americans vulnerable and uninsured. Some argue that repeal is for the best because the current bill gives the government too much power and circumvents our individual rights and freedoms. Still others argue that the bill does not go far enough to grant every single American the right to healthcare services. These views are polarizing both the Representatives on Capitol Hill and their constituents who live on main-street.

Nurses and physicians work in the field taking care of the insured, the under-insured, and the uninsured. These healthcare professionals see first-hand how the ability to pay for healthcare services shape people’s perception of illness and their willingness to seek medical assistance in a timely manner. Given how highly charged the issue is, it is important to know what these nurses and doctors think of all the hoopla that still surrounds the issue of healthcare.

Healthcare Workers’ Viewpoint:

The opinions in this article are those expressed by the nurses and physicians at a Dallas hospital. For confidentiality reasons the names of said nurses and physicians, as well as, the name of the Dallas area hospital where they work will not be used. Based on their experience in the system, these healthcare workers pointed out their frustrations with the current system, reform, and universal healthcare. The issue is healthcare reform and universal healthcare. How do nurses and doctors view this?

CONs:
On the other hand, there are some nurses and physicians who vehemently oppose the idea of universal healthcare and reform that have been passed. These healthcare workers state the following:

  1. Healthcare is not a right. It is the responsibility of each individual to work hard and pay for the care they require. Many people do not think their hard earned money should be syphoned to take care of individuals who are not pulling their own weight. A system that provides healthcare for all rewards people who are not contributing members of society. Even more, those who oppose healthcare reform and universal healthcare insist that it is not their place to take care of individuals who are lagging in their duties to self and society. These people become a drag on the system. Universal healthcare encourages the weaker members of society to stay weak and non-productive. If people had to pay for the services they receive, they are motivated to find work and everyone wins.
  2. Paying for such a system will require an increase in taxation. This means more money taken from hard working Americans; money they can use to take care of their families, co-pays and deductions, as well as anything they think necessary. Increased taxation also limits funds available during retirement.
  3. Some physicians and nurses believe that Medicare is a blithe on the healthcare system. In a free market society, insurance companies should be allowed to compete freely without a government run system that undermines the free market. Ideally, a free market will take care of pricing and completion will reduce the overall cost of healthcare. Hospitals and insurance companies that meet the demands of society will prevail. People who work hard will have access to healthcare services.
  4. It is common knowledge that physicians in the United States earn more than physicians in other industrial nations. Extensive training and hard work is rewarded by respectable pay checks. Many worry that their living standards will drop if a national healthcare system is passed. Moreover, current reform advocates preventative care which may live certain specialties out of the loop. After years of training to be of service to society, these specialties may become obsolete.
  5. Many people like to know that if they are insured, the care they need will be available to them when it is needed. It is perceived that extending healthcare benefits to all will lead to long waiting lines and if this were the case, many individuals are rightfully afraid of the cost to their lives and quality of living.

PROs:

  1. Patients are more likely to get preventive care if they are insured. Healthcare services cost a lot of money. Many people have been bankrupted as a direct result of their inability to pay medical bills, which include hospital stay, physician and auxiliary care visits (home health nurses & therapists), as well as, pharmaceutical aids and medical supplies. This means that the health and financial well-being of patients are affected by any laws that offer improved access to healthcare services.
  2. Preventative care saves hospitals and tax-payers money. Although not a primary concern for nurses, they were quick to point out that the under-insured and uninsured patients who make it to the hospital only arrive when they are so sick that they may never be completely healed from a disease that could have been prevented with the right out-patient care. Due to the advanced progression of their illness upon admission, these patients stay longer in hospitals and respond less to conventional therapies. The result is a very high cost for the care provided. Since these individuals cannot pay, in many instances, the hospitals are stuck with the bills. In order to pay off debts accrued the hospitals increase the cost of care for those who can pay. It is a logical solution that now affects law abiding tax payers which could have been prevented.
  3. People that are chronically ill cannot work and pay for healthcare. Some end up homeless and become society’s problem relying on assistance from private parties or city government. If everyone was insured, many people who require frequent medical care will be taken care of, thus reducing the number of homeless people in society.
  4. The U.S. is the only industrial nation that does not offer healthcare coverage to all its people.
  5. In a system that relies solely on profit motivated insurance companies to provide compensation, access to certain needed therapies become limited if they are not approved by the patient’s insurance company. These used to be most prevalent with the introduction of HMOs and have since improved. Still it is a stain many organizations prefer not to discuss. As people whose sole reason for being is the care of patients it is no wonder that many will like a system where compensation did not play such an indelible role.

Conclusion:

Overall, during the interview process that led to this article, it became apparent that most healthcare workers opinions on access to healthcare were greatly influenced by the role they played in the care of their patients. It was quite apparent that the nurse’s role as patient advocate greatly influenced their view on healthcare reform and a universal healthcare system. An overwhelming number of nurses were in support of a system that offered coverage to every patient that walked through the hospital doors. Physicians, who were more likely to voice concerns over structure, efficacy, and compensation, were less likely to provide support of a system that will drastically change the existing landscape.

Healthcare Information Technology

Healthcare Information Technology (IT) has progressed by leaps and bounds in the last decade and today, it can easily save your life or the life of your loved one if you or your family member has to be hospitalized for any reason. Not only can healthcare IT save your life but your money, too.

The wrong medication can easily kill you. You might know you are allergic to a medication and have input that on your patient information forms. There might be a known medication interaction between two medications provided. Unless these facts are compared and taken into account, it is very easy for the wrong medication to be provided in a healthcare setting.

Doctors and nurses are only human. They work long hours; often working double shifts during crises. They get tired; their eyes become weary and they are frequently rushing from patient to patient. Even when well-rested and refreshed, mistakes can be made because these professionals are simply human and no human is perfect. Even with the best training, it is possible to misread a doctor’s instructions, medication allergy information, or the name or dosage of a drug on the often small-print labels. The potential for error is enormous, at best, when human eyes and hands are the only method for dispensing medication to patients in hospitals or other healthcare settings.

One well-known example which received a lot of press was the incident with Dennis and Kimberly Quaid’s twin babies. These tiny infants were given a dosage of Heparin which was 1,000 times the dosage ordered, and while they recovered, death was a clear possibility. There were not the only patients overdosed with this medication. They were just the famous ones that received press.

The solution to this life-threatening problem is added safety measures but no patient wants to pay the added cost of having multiple sets of human eyes check every single instruction and medication. Plus, even with two or three sets of eyes, the possibility of error remains.

So, how are you, as a patient, to be assured you are getting the correct medications while paying the least amount of money? The answer will sound simple but the actual implementation is quite complex. For this reason, let’s look at the simple, easy-to-understand reason why healthcare IT helps assure your health and save pocketbook, too.

Computers do not get tired; they do not become distracted by the phone call from the children’s school or other personal problems. They are, today, perfectly capable of reading medication labels accurately every single time by use of barcodes. Once told of an allergy or possible medication contraindication, the computer never, ever forgets or fails to compare the medication about to be provided to you, the patient, with these facts. And, this process is accomplished within nanoseconds rather than valuable minutes of a human’s time.

Once medication is dispensed by the healthcare IT medication control solution, the computer bills your insurance carrier or adds the medication to your self-pay account. Instead of having many pieces of paper and many hands processing this information, it is handled efficiently and instantly. The right patient is billed for the right medication in the correct amount. The errors historically made of healthcare bills are reduced to virtually zero.

At the same time, the inventory of the medication is reduced by the amount which has been dispensed and, when the inventory becomes sufficiently reduced, a flag is raised and an order generated so that an order is generated for the supplier to deliver more. This way, human error does not result in shortages of critical medications.

The many legally required reports regarding dispensing of medications — especially controlled substances which help you deal with post-surgical or post-injury pain and suffering — are generated. These reports once required hours or days to produce.

It remains true that your healthcare professionals must input your patient information into the healthcare IT system correctly in order for these safeguard to work properly, but the time consumed by this process is only minutes compared to the hours eaten away in past decades by paper-trails and hand-dispensing of medication.

Healthcare IT systems are now being deployed into physicians’ and other healthcare professionals’ offices because they work just as well when prescribing medication to be dispensed at your local pharmacy as when dispensing medication in a hospital.

While these healthcare IT solutions require a substantial initial investment to put into place, the long-term savings to patients is enormous. More importantly, the peace of mind you gain when hospitalized or being treated by a healthcare professional is vast. Just consider what is your life worth when a single medication error could kill you!

Medical News You and Your Family

Family Medical NewsNatural herbal medicines have been a part of the medicine world for a long time, and different cultures have used them in various ways. Some people use them for therapeutic purposes while others use them for medicinal purposes. The use of herbs is widely known to be safe because the ingredients are natural hence have very minimal to no side effects when they are taken. Nowadays, different doctors are advocating for the use of herbal medicine to treat various conditions and also for the well-being and the health of the body.

Herbal medicines come in the form of tablets, capsules, teas, tinctures, syrup, oils and also powders, and each of them has different ways into which it is used to benefit the body. The ingredients are extracted from plant roots, leaves, stems or even leaves and then used naturally while they are active.

The main purpose of natural herbal medicines is to help the body return to its normal state so that it can be restored whole. Different herbs when taken will work differently in the body systems and hence bring the desirable healing effects. The benefits of taking herbal supplements include:

· Restores the body’s natural balance and health in cases where the body is sick or has low immunity. They work by boosting the immune system function and also promote the well being of the body before any illness sets in.

· Improve cardiovascular health and circulation as they lower the cholesterol levels in the body and also the blood pressure by ensuring that the blood vessels are wide open, and blood circulation is good.

· Opens up the respiratory system, hence very minimal chances of getting colds,flu, allergies, coughs or tuberculosis.

· Used to improve memory as they improve blood circulation to the brain.

· Natural herbal medicines are used to reduce anxiety, depression, exhaustion, stress, insomnia and also irritability as they help your nerves calm down by increasing the melatonin in the body hence the body relaxes and you get to sleep easily.

· Prevent motion sickness, nausea and stomach upsets as they act by blocking serotonin a chemical that is produced by the stomach and brain and causes stomach upsets and nausea. Some will also improve your metabolism.

· Treat persistent illnesses such as migraines, headache and also burns.

· Some of them have antioxidant properties which, when taken will reduce the radical cells in the body that cause toxic effects in the body such as cancer, diabetes.

· Reduce inflammation in the body, hence reduces the chances of getting inflammatory diseases such as osteoarthritis.

For maximum benefits of herbal medicines, different herbs can be:

· Added to your cooking as spices or marinating foods so as to add flavor.

· Mixed with your drinking water or tea as a single herb or mixed with other herbs

· Taken as a whole before eating or traveling either as capsules or tablets.

· Buy only from reputable herbalists and doctors as they know which offer the maximum benefit to the body.

· You can alternatively grow some of these herbs in your garden and ensure that they are readily available when you need them.

Natural herbal medicines cannot be used in cases where the conventional drugs are supposed to be used. It is important to seek medical advice before taking any herbal drugs while taking the conventional drugs so as to avoid any adverse effects on the body. The herbal medicines can also be bought over the counter, but it is also good to consult your doctor so as to get the correct dosage and also the exact type of drug for the particular ailment that you have. It is also good to be in the know of which type of herb you are taking, so ask before taking.

Definition of health varies from person to person. To some it means that nothing is really serious, for some it means not getting any worse, for other it is the visit to the doctor every year to get a nod of “all clear”. Seldom did it mean zero health problems. And so we get by with taking aspirins and painkillers and live with aches and pains that we associate with certain infective bug, overwork, or aging.

The problem with chemically formulated drugs and medicines is that, one; it remedies a part of the body but destroys another, often the liver. Two, it has questionable benefits that simple observation will tell you that if the medication prescribed by the physician is not getting the desired result, an alternative prescription will be given (a physician that has a reputation for having a higher batting average will be called as “good” and so will the physicians fees be). Third, when a part of the body fails to normally function caused by the drug, it will be termed as side effects. Fourth, when the body acclimatizes to the drug prescribed, we are in effect sentencing our body to a lifetime of medication. Fifth, behind all the advances claimed, it does not really increase the average lifespan. Like the rest of the world, we still are satisfied if we hit the magic mark of seventy years. Sixth, it is so expensive to be a hit and miss thing which often it really is. Scientific claims will be otherwise but everybody can claim. Result though will tell you differently.

For most of us, it has not been recognized that there is an alternative to a life sentence of medication. That there are medications not only to cure whatever ails but to build the reserves and boost the system so that ailments are reversed naturally. When the system is made healthier and reserves are built, we could in part avoid the doctor whose typical remedy is give us drugs, when drugs will not work, chop parts of our body, and prescribe drugs more.

In the ancient world, our forebears have already recognized that there are only two kinds of plants, that which is good for food and that which is better for healing. Even animals know this. Our house pets like dogs, cats, and chickens will forage for a particular grass of herb when they are not feeling well. Sooner this is vomited and the animal heals. In eastern cultures, these natural methods have been the basis for healing. Their life average expectancy is not longer than seventy years but ours is not longer either. The difference lies in the money, the trouble spent and for the most part, the absence of chronic pains and suffering.

Herbal medicines, natural medication and healing do just that. Relieve the suffering and health anxiety naturally so we have time to enjoy more of life without the drugs that gives temporary eight-hour solutions until the pain strikes again.