Archive for April, 2009

Focus on the Positive

April 29th, 2009

Okay, who wants to be the first one to have written about a pandemic?  Unfortunately, I know way too much about this stuff.  Guess it’s that old hospital CEO mindset.  Prepare for the worst, and expect it.  Well, let’s all pray that this thing settles down before more people die.  My friend, Dr. Matt Masiello wrote an E-mail today that could probably help a lot of people.  A public health message with a level of calm urgency.

Dr. Matt MasielloBased on the cumulative experience of the scientific and health promotion/disease prevention staff at WRI, we began a more active approach in  preparedness then what had been recommended by WHO/CDC and the local EMS. We feel that with WHO now raising the alert level to 5 our actions were appropriate. May I suggest the following.

1.    Prepare and distribute a letter to parents asking them to keep their children home if they have a cough, fever, headache. If someone in the family has the same signs and symptoms the children should also stay home until  the illness by the family member is confirmed not to be Swine flu.

2.    Place a small table with sanitizer bottles at the entrance ways of the school buildings.

3.    Encourage staff to carry on their person the small hand sanitizers.

4.     Instruct your teachers to review with the students advice on handwashing and use of the sanitizers. Teachers should remind students throughout the day of the importance of handwashing as well as keeping their hands away from their face and the importance of coughing into their sleeves. Wash/sanitize hands afterwards. I would encourage formal, scheduled trips to the BR to wash hands and when ever necessary.

5.    Place the attached sign in key locations and encourage staff and familes to take them and post at home as a reminder. Wash hands prior to and returning from work/school/play.

6.    Get plenty of rest, eat well and exercise.

7.    Open windows for better movement of air, when and if possible.

8.    Minimize social gatherings. The canceling of social events may come as  a formal recommendation via the CDC in the very near future.

Matt

So, that’s the official word from the United States’ representative to the World Health Organization.

Now, onto life.  Last night we completed a list of services that we are helping to provide to hospitals, schools, hotels, newspapers,  businesses and anyone else that might be interested.  Rather than list each business individually, let me list their services, products, and work, and, if you’re interested, give me a call.

  • Technology Solutions for Government
  • Sophisticated market research
  • Physician billing/Pre-certification and approval of payments for doc offices.
  • Telemedicine and medical device marketing analysis and launch
  • Food Services for hospitals and long term care centers
  • Education Programs and Leadership Solutions
  • Continuing Medical Education for physicans and nurses
  • State and Federal Lobbyists and Business Development Experts
  • Personal Healthcare and Corporate Wellness
  • Crisis Response Communications
  • Construction solutions (REIT)
  • HR and House Wide Quality System for Job Descriptions
  • Translation services (Contract pending)
  • Specialized Cancer Laboratory Services
  • Removal and disposal of hazardous waste, a green company
  • Economic Development and ECAP green initiative
  • The Doctors’ Doctor – Physician office mergers, acquisitions and general business operations consulting, and Hospital Physician strategic planning

Obviously, each line represents a company that we represent, and even more obviously, SunStone Consulting is your answer for all of the financial challenges that hospitals face.

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A Different Kind of Saturday Night Fever for Some

April 25th, 2009

In August 2006, I was inspired to write a disconcerting blog post regarding the potential outbreak of the avian flu.  It was a disturbing post not only because it contained potentially negative statistical mortality outcomes on an international basis, but also because, as a relative insider, it was clear to me that we were not ready at all for this type of pandemic.

Churchgoers in Mexico City | Photo Credit: AP

Churchgoers in Mexico City Sunday | Photo Credit: AP

With new grandbaby Zoey safely here on earth less than a week ago as the youngest member of the family,  today’s opening story of a potential influenza pandemic made my blood run cold.  The rate and speed with which this type of pandemic could overtake our world is almost immeasurable, and, having flown from San Francisco, to San Diego, to Richmond to Pittsburgh in the last week, it was clear that,  if I had been a carrier, literally hundreds of people could have been infected simply by my presence.

Those who are realists or pragmatists will simply say, it is Mother Nature’s way of “thinning the herd,” but herd thinning in our case is something that is uncomfortable, especially in such a random way.  During the pandemic of 1917/1918, mass graves were dug not ten miles from my home, and undertakers were not even permitted to prepare the bodies for burial.

My previous blog focused on the avian virus, but this morphed virus that appeared in Mexico, not China, not the Far East as originally predicted, is a combination of human, swine, and avian viruses.  No one has ever seen or found cures for this type of radical new flu yet.


View H1N1 Swine Flu in a larger map

The World Health Organization came out today with only a level three warning, but when they described this level of warning, they indicated that it was simply because they did not yet have enough information to take it to level six.  There are confirmed cases in San Antonio, San Diego, and one report even indicated that New York had two cases, and over 68 are known dead in Mexico.  Fever, sore throat, coughing, nausea, body aches, headaches, chills and fever are some of the symptoms presenting with this flu that can result in pneumonia and respiratory failure.

Mexico City closed it schools on Friday, and more such initiatives are expected as this powerful force of nature begins to take on a life of its own.

How can you avoid getting this flu?  Wash your hands, stay away from infected people, cover your nose and mouth.

In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting

Let’s all hope that this never gets any worse than it did in the 1976/77 cycle when only a very few people died at that time…mortality rate was low with swine, but this is swine, avian and  human combination.

Tonight, say a little prayer.

Also by Nick Jacobs:

Are We Ready for the Avian Flu?
Hospital Impact
August 8th, 2006

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HIMSS

April 15th, 2009

HIMSS, Healthcare, IT, health, information technology

If you’re interested in finding about everything that happened at the HIMSS 2009 Conference and Expo, don’t read on, because I’m just going to focus on four or five companies that captured my imagination there. There were hundreds and hundreds of vendors attempting to do business in the massive McCormick Convention Center in Chicago, and most of the participants were clearly interested in attracting some bailout money. My host for the week-end was Apptis, and a special thanks must go out to them for allowing me to grace their exhibit as an observer.

Genova Technologies
The companies that grabbed my attention were rather unique; neither the largest, nor the most aggressive. Not the end all and be all of IT, but niche players that had their acts together. Dawn Ainger, the President and COO of Genova Technologies was the first to garner my complete attention. She and her people had come up with a software platform that is uniquely positioned to change the entire concept of Continuing Medical Education. Just log onto their product for somewhere around $100 a month, and voila, everytime you research a patient’s ailment online you get CME credits backed by a major university. Next, she plans to expand to nursing education as well. My oh my, will that change plenty of lives? Our typical employed physician used to get an automatic $4,000 a year stipend for CME in our little rural hospital and never got credit for the work they were already doing. Nice job, Dawn.

logo_aclaim
Not that all of the products that captured my attention were produced by companies run by women, but a-claim was, and their President and CEO Mary Dees Griffith had come up with a similarly low cost solution to a major, ongoing problem. Get your a-claim software, and prequalify your patients on line, have them sign the authorization prior to being seen, and then ask them for their check or credit card for the co-pay that you now know will be approved. Nice job, Mary. Every physician’s office in the world should spend $100 or so a month for that one, because it could virtually eliminate their accounts receivables.

logo_lifelinks
As I was walking by Lifelinks, I noticed a butterfly logo and was curious as to what they did. Once again, their basic, get-you-in-the-door fee was about $100 a month, and that will get you access to live human beings on your lap top who can perform sign language interactively with your patients, or, if need be, Lifelinks will get you live and online someone who speaks whatever language your patient needs. Okay, so that’s probably not a big problem in a small town in Western Pennsylvania, but I’m sure it’s perfect for those offices in highly diverse regions of our country. More importantly, their literature pointed out a case in New Jersey where a physician had been sued and the patient won $400,000 because the doc told her he couldn’t afford a translator. Good job, guys. Wesley Waite, the COO, actually hit the keyboard, and a woman came up on the screen to interact with me personally in sign language. Amazing.

Gemalto, health, security, Netherlands
Gemalto,
a Dutch based company really grabbed my attention in the world of cyber security on a small, simple scale. Well, okay, not so small I guess. They have over 100 million of their devices already in use in the EU, but not too many in the US yet. The Gemalto team took us happily through the safety and security they can build into their smart cards to keep you from being hit with a major civil and/or criminal penalty for compromised information.

voalte_iphoneThe wildest display tucked in the back corner of one of the exhibit halls was a lime green and pink booth with the word, voalté across the top of their exhibit. A really nice guy named Oscar in pink scrubs and a black voalté teeshirt was my tour guide through I-phone heaven for nurses, techs, and other hospital professionals. What they have created with this system can only be described as remarkable. It shimmies, it shakes, it crawls on its belly like a reptile. Seriously, paging, messaging, dosing, you name it can all be communicated to your staff via the Apple iphone. No more overhead pages, no more, “I didn’t get that message,” no more I’m busy because if you are, that page keeps being passed along until someone isn’t busy. This Sarasota company is fresh, fun, exciting, and competent.

So that’s my little trip down HIMSS lane. Oh yeah and I got to have lunch with the brilliant Tony Chen of both HospitalImpact.org and SavvyDaddy.com fame. I encouraged Tony to follow his dreams, and he told me today in an E-mail that he is going to do just that. You go, Tony. And Neil Versel, the very talented free lance writer, journalist, and U2 fan nearly knocked me over at the entrance. I met Neil a few years back at a Web 2.0 conference in Chicago, and there were at least two or three other people there I had worked with over my 22 years in Healthcare Management. The biggest outcome?

My feet are still killing me.

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Healing and the Mind Revisited

April 8th, 2009

I’m working in Chicago right now, feeling a little overwhelmed by a phone call that I had from one of my very dearest friends about his impending future, about my son-in-law in Baghdad and his family who are living without him at home, and also about the challenges that we individually and collectively face both nationally and internationally during this time of economic crisis and overall unrest. During the midst of my thoughtful contemplation, I received an E-mail from a very dear friend, Savery, with a link to open. I was so moved by it that I decided to post the link on Facebook.

Almost immediately after it went out, my friend, Dr. Dean Ornish, sent me this follow up link from Bill Moyer’s show. For those of you who don’t know this about me, the Bill Moyers series, “Healing and the Mind” was my inspiration for the Planetree Philosophy that we implemented at Windber all those years ago. For some reason, he and I keep intersecting, and here we are again.

So, thanks, Savery, Dean, and Bill, but most of all, thanks to the amazing man who created this wonderful experience that you are all about to have.

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NickJacobs.org???

April 2nd, 2009

Let me open this blog with a little housekeeping chore. Because I’ve retired from being a hospital president (Yes, they replaced me with two great people, count ‘em, two.) , I’d like to change the name of this thing. It’s not that I’ve established a P-Diddy-type Twitter following where 100,000 human beings are waiting with baited breath to see what my next move will be, it just doesn’t seem right to keep calling myself a hospital president. We know who reads this thing, and we are grateful to our loyal, talented, and brilliant followers. We also know that we can link the old blog names to get you here. So, regardless of what you typed, or what gets Googled, our genius social media maven & webmaster, Michael Russell, can help to bring you home to this site.

Okay, so as a transformational advisor, a broker of sorts, most people with whom we have consulted have described me as a person who can fix things that are broken before they actually break. Maybe we should call it the “Break it if it’s not already fixed” blog. I’d love it if it was a name that would generate millions of hits and companies would fight to advertise on it.

My first thought was to use nickjacobs in the title because there is a Nick Jacobs on Facebook who teaches Aboriginal people in Australia, and he seems popular. There is another Nick Jacobs who is a professional organist, and one who is an athlete. There’s a Nick Jacobs who is a consultant and another a paramedic in London, one who had a blog who is a yachtsman, there’s my son, the commercial real estate broker, and finally, there’s a Nick Jacobs who does pornographic movies who is not my son. Actually, that Nick Jacobs’ followers would probably be the most disappointed by this blog.

Since the .com version of nick jacobs was already taken by some guy in England, we captured nickjacobs.org, and that will work for right now.

If you have any ideas, however, that you think would really rock the blogspere, let us know and we’ll check with our domain registrar to see if it is available. In fact, if you are the winner of a Name Nick’s Blog Contest, I’d be happy to consult for free BY PHONE for at least one hour of brainstorming with you about the topic of your choice: music, healthcare, proteomics, teaching, PR/Marketing, the travel business, or even physician recruitment.

Remember, Hospital Impact is already taken, and, because my last three consulting jobs have been with a newspaper, a nonprofit arts oragnization, and a chain of hotels, we don’t want to think too restrictively. Gotta earn a little money, too.

When we ran the breast center, we found that the website got more hits than anyone could imagine. The problem was that the readers were mostly thirteen-year-old boys who probably weren’t too interested in running a hospital. After Miss America had visited us, the hits went up exponentially when those two searches were combined. Somehow, I don’t think that Nick Jacobs’ Breast Center for Miss America would probably get me the type of following I’m currently hoping to attract. On the other hand?

A very good friend recently asked me to write a brief bio about what my new life is like, and it struck me that it is very much like my old life but without any restrictions. This is what I wrote:

While teaching junior high school instrumental music in the early 1970’s, Nick Jacobs made an extraordinary discovery. He learned that, by empowering his students and surrounding them with positive influences, he no longer was providing a service or even an experience for them.

What this entirely unique teaching style resulted in was a method for helping to transform students. By providing with both passion and commitment the tools needed by them to undertake their journey, his involvement with the students became a means of dramatically helping them to make whatever positive life changes they were seeking.

It was during that early period in his career that he also discovered that this formula could work to positively change lives in almost any aspect of living as he ran an arts organization, a convention bureau, and finally a hospital and research institute.

Since that time he has dedicated his personal work to helping others make their lives better, and that is exactly what he is doing in his position as an international executive consultant with SunStone Consulting, LLC.

Maybe that will give you something to chew on? Okay, something on which to chew.

SunStone Consulting. With more than 20 years experience in executive hospital leadership, Nick has an acknowledged reputation for innovation and patient-centered care approaches to health and healing.

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