Archive for September, 2008

Employee Centered Care

September 27th, 2008

There is a very popular book, DVD, and pop culture hit entitled “The Secret.”  Only two days ago I made a 12 hour round trip to Syracuse, New York to speak to a group of Human Resource professionals from New York State.  (It was faster than flying from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia to Syracuse.)  It struck me that my presentation could have been called The Secret.  It could be, but truthfully it really is no secret at all.  Most probably it would have been better to have named it “Common Sense.”  

The speech was all about treating  employees as well as the patients.  Employee empowerment,  physical wellness, communications, emotional health, the use of integrative health techniques, employee personal growth, dedication to fun, and, most importantly, the elimination of bullies from the workplace are just a few of the major topics that we discussed with our audience.

Interestingly enough, the outcomes generated from these actions are not only remarkable, they are, in fact, predictable.  Exceptional stability in the workplace with barely a 10% turnover rate; impressive HCHAPS scores,  high employee satisfaction ratings, low infection rates, extremely low settlement rates from lawsuits of any kind, and high profitability created from a word of mouth chain of endorsements that results in enormous increases in the patient count. 

So, it is all about common sense. If you treat your employees with respect, and love, they will do the same for the patients.  If you nurture them, care about them, assist them, pay attention to them, and are open and honest with them, they will do the same for you and for the patients. 

Wanna know more about this revolutionary new way of caring for employees, just give us a call.


How Will the Current Economic Meltdown Impact Healthcare?

September 22nd, 2008

Not long after the attacks of 9/11, the pundits began to attempt to discern their impact on our every day lives. No one fully understood the domino effect of these actions both nationally and internationally. Who could have predicted the over negative blows on all forms of air travel; the economic spin down, the billions in investments needed or reportedly needed to protect us; and finally, the breakdown of our personal freedoms?

Similarly, as we watched the large investment and mortgage related financial institutions begin their minute by minute trip into no- man’s land, we could only shudder with concern over things like pensions, business investment opportunities, ownership of our homes, and the future of our overall economy. As our government began to move from deregulation to government control and ownership, the hollow words of the past certainly rang out like a clapper-less bell.

Allow business and industry to be free, deregulated, uncontrolled, and we will all be better off, or will we? As we see the results of the cheaters, the liars, and the snake oil salesmen, it becomes abundantly apparent that left unregulated our current business culture is filled with those who don’t play correctly, ethically, or reasonably. As the great grandson of prominent and trustworthy Quaker merchants, it pains me to observe the obvious corruption, corner cutting and lack of ethical conviction present in today’s business world. It is reminiscent of Henry F. Potter from “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

How will this impact your health? The slide has already begun. As reported in the Wall Street Journal by Vanessa Fuhrmans, “As the credit crunch threatens to throw the economy into a deep slump, Americans are already cutting back on healthcare spending, a sector once thought to be invulnerable to recession.” Visits to physicians, purchases of prescription drugs, and preventive tests are all measurably decreasing. Some people are cancelling their own health insurance to cover the costs of gasoline and consumer goods. Others are just avoiding what they know to be appropriate medications and screenings.

Quest Diagnostics reported in this article that the number of tests ordered for the uninsured fell 8% in the second quarter compared with their normal 1% quarterly growth. OB/GYN visits, according to the same article, dropped 6% in the first quarter alone this year.

It’s not just the uninsureds who are cutting back. “A recent analysis of claims from 250,000 people in several dozen mid-Atlantic employer health plans suggests even people with coverage are cutting back on care.” They reported nearly a 19% cut back in elective knee surgeries, a 6% decrease in pap smears, and a drop in prescriptions for anti-depression of 29%. Actually, that one was the most mystifying for me. It would seem that there would be exponential growth in this area.

This particular snapshot of the future also presented this query: “What’s next: Doctors and health-policy experts worry that by delaying care in the short term, patients will end up paying more in the long term if their health deteriorates.” Deregulated health care which will lead to deregulated health?


A view from both sides of the street

September 17th, 2008

What do you do when you don’t have enough money to do what you need to do for you or your family’s health? I know, it’s a redundant question? You go without, delay or borrow from your future in the form of debt. According to Reed Abelson and Milt Freudenheim of the New York Times in their recent article Even the Insured Feel the Strain of Health Costs, as employers struggle to keep up with mounting costs to cover their employees, the average cost of an annual health care premium for that employee has nearly doubled since 2001, from $1800 to nearly $3300 a year.

Example after example is delineated in the Times article regarding those individuals who just can’t afford the challenges presented by the rising food and gasoline prices. Those featured families and individuals skip meds, wait longer to take sick children to their pediatrician or are facing staggering bills from health care institutions. According to the accounting firm, Deloitte, the average American income that goes toward health care expenses is now approaching 1/5 of their total household spending annually.

As a hospital administrator, it is never easy to listen to the general public throw stones at the medical industrial establishment, but when it comes to fancy, esoteric diagnostic tools, unproven drugs that can cost $6000 a dose or the very best physicians known to man, bring ‘em on becomes the hue and cry as we, the health care consumer wants nothing but the best for ourselves and our families. This is America. We deserve it.

Of course, if you are looking for elective surgery and you happen to live in England, you will wait on average 1.5 years for that intervention, and if you are in Scotland, it will be very close to 2.5 years before that same surgery is available.

My Democratic friends embrace the hope of the future through proposed health plans that insure the masses. My Republican friends warn of the horrible train wreck those plans will cause in hospital emergency rooms as every George, Dick and Conde will make their way to our hospitals with no barrier in place to prevent them from over running our already strained bastions of care.

Regardless of your political bent, it does seem unconscionable that we have nearly 48,000,000 uninsured accounted for by the government. Most of these uninsured are young, single moms and kids who either can’t or choose not to vote. (No one has ever believed that to be a co-incidence.) This figure also does not include the underinsured and quite possibly may not include any of the 50,000,000 illegal aliens. We are the only industrialized nation in the free world that does not have a true health policy for our citizens.

So what is the answer? The iron triangle of the best, fastest and cheapest health care is something that cannot exist in a system that is still hanging on ever so completely to an acute care based model when the vast majority of our health care challenges are now chronic care cases. We 78,000,000 Baby Boomers are taking more pills to control our varied maladies than existed in total just 20 years ago. Ask your pharmacist how many drugs there are now compared to 1988.

One very real answer to this health problem sometimes seems too simple. Our nearly $2 trillion in yearly health care expenditures includes less than four percent of its total dollars for preventative care. Much of our problems are about wellness.

So, wash your hands, drop some weight, exercise, cut out the saturated fats, stop smoking and live a less stressful life by doing something other than stare at the television…or else just wait for that little blue pill that will help you be skinny, tan and sexy, and then sell the family car to pay for it.


A Personal Journey

September 16th, 2008
F. Nicholas (Nick) Jacobs, FACHE

F. Nicholas (Nick) Jacobs, FACHE

Upon making my decision to leave teaching nearly 30 years ago, I interviewed with numerous companies. At the first interview, the human resource director looked up at me and said, “You’re a teacher. You bring nothing of value to the business world. It’s as if you were a drill instructor in the military. That does not help us in any way. We are not interested in you.”

The second interview was a much worse experience. I arrived at the office of the public relations/marketing director of another local firm. He looked up from my résumé, crumpled it in his hands and threw it into the waste basket in front of me and said, “Not interested.”

During the next interview, the HR director looked me in the eyes and said, “If you could do anything in this world, what would you do?” My reply, 29 years ago was, “I would be a writer and speaker.” He smiled and said, “You don’t want to be in retail. Put my name down as a reference and get the heck out of here.”

In the Wall Street Journal, Melinda Beck wrote an inspirational article about rejection and those who are moved in a positive way by denunciation. She talked about actress and singer, Julie Andrews who was rejected as “not photogenic enough for films.” She also talked about the rejection of the Harry Potter books by 12 publishing companies, Michael Jordan being cut from his high school basketball team his sophomore year, and numerous other successful people like Walt Disney, the Beatles, Dr. Seuss and Thomas Edison.

What was it that made them continue to drive forward, to push their ideas and dreams to reality? In the article, Ms. Beck says that the psychologists call it ‘self-efficacy,’ the unshakable belief that they have in themselves to succeed.” “It also is the hallmark of ‘positive psychology,’ which focuses on developing character strengths rather than alleviating pathologies.”

Here was the key point to the article: Those people who succeeded believed that persistence will let them beat the odds. “Sometimes genius itself needs time.”

The good news about this is that, according to Harvard Medical School psychologist, Robert Brooks, “You can develop a resilient mindset at any age.”

Bottom line? Do not allow negative responses to disrupt your dreams. Go for it. No matter what your age is.