Archive for the ‘Books’ category

$4.3 Trillion in U.S. Health Care Spending?

May 9th, 2008

“Money doesn’t make you happy.  I now have $50 million, but I was just as happy when I had $48 million.”
–Arnold Schwarzenegger

According to an article in Internal Medicine News by Mary Ellen Schneider, spending on health care in these United States is projected to reach 20% of the gross domestic product on the one hundredth anniversary of my father’s birth, 2017.  Of course that projection is only an estimate made by CMS, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  That estimate is, of course, based upon a continued escalation of nearly 7% each year for the next nine years.  In lay terms, that escalation would mean that the total dollars spent on health care would hit $4.3 trillion…Whatever a trillion is? I still can’t fathom a billion of anything.)

We all should realize by now that this spending in the public sector, Medicare and Medicaid, will increase due to the first wave of Baby Boomers entering the Medicare system in 2011.  My 78 million peers, like the lemmings, are working their way toward the proverbial wall, and for those of you who will have to carry the load until we are wearing our wings, that is not a pretty financial picture.

The same economists from CMS are predicting a decrease in reimbursements to physicians over the next several years while Home Health will likely grow faster than most other sectors except perhaps prescription drugs.

What does it all mean?  We are spending more on health care in the United States than any industrialized country in the world and, truthfully, our overall age of death is significantly surpassed by many of those “spending less” countries.  How can that be?  Well, for one thing, we have 47 million uninsured citizens in this country and no one really knows how many illegal aliens. Why so many uninsured?  They don’t vote.  The vast majority are young, single mothers with small children, and this does not take into consideration the illegal aliens who are also not insured.

Back to the answer. . . prenatal care is inadequate and infant mortality in the United States is still an embarrassment. A few of the countries that do better than us in the world in infant deaths per thousand are:  Australia, Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden Switzerland and the United Kingdom.  Hmmmmmm?  Could it be because we spend 30% of our annual health care dollars on the last thirty days of life, and less than 4% of our monies on preventative and wellness care?

Of course, Hospice would be a tremendous help.  We could reduce expenditures on end of life care, properly care for our babies with the excess funds, and ensure that our uninsured are properly covered as well, but what politician is willing to touch that electric third rail of the electorial subway tracks?

We could begin by putting in a network of sidewalks, bike trails, and walking trails.  We could actually walk once in a while and treat our bodies like a true temple, not the “Temple of Doom.”

HospiceOne of the least often heard issues revolving around these expenditures is the continuation of our archaic hospital system.  It is based on the acute care model, and the vast majority of our diseases are chronic.  We rush the victim to the hospital, patch them up, send them home and then rush them back again without any commitment to behavioral modification.  I have seen individuals reverse their heart disease from diet, exercise, and stress management.  Why can’t we embrace this concept, reward these activities, and change our society?  The millions of bicycles in Europe are no accident.

So, as I’ve quoted in some other blogs, “Change or Die,” or just spend ourselves into oblivion as we attempt to prop up a system that should have gone out with the Industrial Revolution.  Good luck kids, your ole man needs you to keep working to cover my health insurance.


Managers, Smanagers…It’s Over

April 17th, 2008

Kenneth Cloke and Joan Goldsmith wrote a very interesting book entitled The End of Management. In this book, they assert that managers are the dinosaurs of our modern organizational ecology. They go on to assert that the “‘Age of Management’ is finally coming to a close.”  Their treatise is that “the need for overseers, surrogate parents, scolds, monitors, functionaries, disciplinarians, bureaucrats, and lone implementers is over. . . ”

End_of_management_cover_2If, by now, you managers are wondering what comes next, our authors assert that the new need, the true need in modern day business is for “visionaries, leaders, coordinator coaches, mentors, facilitators, and conflict resolvers.”

In a recent conversation with an “old school” manager/friend, I reached out to explain to him why he was alienating his subordinate.  I explained very carefully that management as a self-contained system fails to open the heart or free the spirit.  This approach has truly taken our organization to new heights.  Of course, one can only work within one’s comfort zones, and many managers, especially, old school managers, only know one approach, and that is, the industrial revolution way.

Let me suggest that you analyze the quality of the individuals with whom you work.  Then, step back and realize just how amazing those individuals are with “butterfly” qualities.

Do not penalize your charges because of your insecurities.  Build a team that “has your back” by empowering them to be all that they can be.

The revolution quoted by Cloke and Goldsmith is one of “turning the inflexible, autocratic, static, coercive bureaucracies into agile, evolving, democratic, collaborative, self-managing webs of association.”  From our perspective, the object is to allow those butterflies the freedom to fly.

How do you manage a butterfly?  Work together on the goals and then get out of its way.  Provide it with just the very basic, fundamental needs and goals of your organization, and then trust it, love it, empower it, and encourage it.

If I could possibly find one example that would clearly embrace our success as an organization, it is that of doing everything possible to kill “parent to child management.”  It is not enough to move into the 21st century with our thinking; it is most important to identify those individuals who get it and then give them the space “to do it.”

Are they traditional?  Do they do everything the way you were taught in the “dark ages of the industrialized style of management?”  Nope.  Will it drive you crazy when you look for them, and discover that they are not on the flower where you expected to find them?  Sometimes.  Will they accomplish more than you have ever dreamed if you treat them with dignity, respect, love and freedom?  Oh, yeah.

You see, it is not about control.  Control is only necessary for those who are not trustworthy.  Better than trying to control a non trustworthy individual, simply help them find work somewhere else.  If they don’t get the mission, don’t understand the philosophy, and don’t work to their capacity, they shouldn’t be there.

On the other hand, if they are loyal, trustworthy, committed, and caring, back off and allow them to soar, and you will never see results of the kind they that they will deliver to you or your organization.

If they look at it as a job, if they are only comfortable with myriad rules, time clocks and books of policies, they are stuck in the past.

Leadership means trust.

The End of Management, Kenneth Cloke & Joan Goldsmith