Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Ebola, The Spread Continues

As you may know, the spread of the Ebola virus is rapidly continuing as it now spreads into the United States.  Each day more and more victims are affected by the deadly virus, exposing those around them as well.  Since Ebola isn't an airborne virus it is only passed through bodily fluids upon touching others.  One of the best examples is in Liberia where the virus originated, the standard greeting is a double kiss on the cheek which has been one of the top reasons of the quick spread throughout the continent and even to the world.  Lots of family members also comfort their sick loved ones disregarding that they are most likely getting infected and risking their own life.  Because such actions are a common part of human nature also known as "Intentional Comfort Touch"(Dr. Ann Connor, associate professor at Emory's School of Nursing), the fatal virus is continuing to spread like wildfire which is now spreading Ebola farther than just the continent of Africa.  "Humans have an enormous capacity for adaptation," "Im not sure how much adaptation they have left, its as if they were getting hit while they were already down," said Dr. Connor.  The doctors and nurses even take heavy precautions while treating patients by wearing multiple layers of disposable clothing and sealing up the gaps with tape to prevent any chances of exposure to patient contact and bodily fluids.  However, American nurses and healthcare workers down in Liberia have taken many precautions from getting exposed to the virus, but somehow it has still affected a large portion of the workers at an estimated 47% fatality rate; theres  even been cases scattered throughout the states beginning in Texas and Massachusetts.  Who knows how far this deadly virus will continue to spread?  

EVERA.  Everyone should feel this good about healthcare.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Heart Scans, Can They Cause Radiation Risks?

Ever have your heart tested? Well over the past couple decades medical imaging has become more and more when testing, diagnosing or treating patients for heart disease.  Unfortunately, since these tests are producing better results each year, they are also being used more frequently on heart disease patients. Tests that include radiation are nuclear stress tests, cardiac CT scans and fluoroscopy. "Heart imaging procedures account for almost 40 percent of the radiation exposure from medical imaging," said Dr. Reza Fazel, chair of the statement writing committee and cardiologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts.  Now since doctors don't want to perform unnecessary heart scans they check to see if the patient meets a certain criteria through a few questions:
  • "How will the test help diagnose or treat the heart problem?"
  • "Are there alternatives that don't use radiation?"
  • "What are the levels of radiation exposure, how will it affect the risk of cancer later in life and how does that compare to the risk from other common activities?"

After evaluating the patient, doctors will either perform a heart scan or a better treatment with out radiation.  Even though the radiation risk is small, doctors will be able to further minimize risks for the patient.  Other factors to consider are the tests accuracy, availability, cost, convenience as well as other risks aside from radiation.

EVERA. Everyone should feel this good about healthcare.


Friday, September 26, 2014

How Technology Can Help You Manage Your Health.

Have you ever wanted to be able to check your vital signs without seeing your doctor?  Now, you can because of new digital technology that makes it all possible.  Other tasks that may be fulfilled are home tests, as well as, the ability to access their medical information.  This is extremely handy because if you are seeing another physician who does not have your records on file, you will be able to provide them with the necessary information you need to be examined.  Eric Topol, a cardiologist, geneticist and researcher describes how power is being shifted from physicians and hospitals to patients as the world of medicine enters "an age of democratization" in his book "The Creative Destruction of Medicine." 

This change is becoming so rapid because todays society is all wrapped up in social media and digital technology, thus creating a shift in power from physicians to patients who will have all the technology they need in the same place that they can communicate with their friends.  Each year this software advances creating faster and easier ways of checking your health without having to wait in a waiting room.  For example, say your not feeling well, just search your symptoms on WebMD from home and you can at least narrow it down to very few results to what you may have.  If it is something serious that may require surgery, digital technology has progressed enough to create digital  three-dimensional reconstructions of any part of the body to make the procedure easier and faster.  Also, while the body part is digitally reconstructed doctors are able to monitor all of your vitals, brain waves, oxygen concentration in the blood and even mood.  Who would have thought that we would have such advanced technology today that can reconstruct a human digitally with such detail down to granular size!  With such innovations, who knows what we'll be able to do next?!

EVERA. Everyone should feel this good about healthcare.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Concierge Doctors > Traditional Doctors

If you've ever used UBER you know that it's just better than taking a cab. At the end of the day, they accomplish the same thing. The process however, is just elite with UBER. It was created to tend to the needs and lifestyle of people TODAY, not 20 years ago. I mean, do we actually need to make a cash transaction or dig in our pockets for our credit cards? Seems so 2010. So how does this relate to doctors?

In the past, doctors for the most part got paid from insurance companies, medicare, and medicaid. These 3 entities pay doctors for the TASKS they perform. There are many tasks that would benefit the patient that are not included under the list of things doctors get paid to do. So they don't do them! They didn't go to school for 15 years to work for free!

When YOU pay a doctor directly (DPC or Concierge Medicine) for care, there is no longer a list of things the doctor gets paid to do. Now they get paid to take care of you and give the best service/treatment they can. This encourages physicians to use more time effective strategies and go the extra mile for THEIR patients. It becomes a much more personal experience. Doctors will now be more likely to follow up with emails, talk with you on the phone, and even prescribe a more inexpensive medication and tell you which pharmacy has the lowest price. With concierge medicine it's about the patient.

If you want the best care concierge medicine is the way to go.

EVERA. Everyone should feel this good about healthcare.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Top 5 Issues in Healthcare

When you hear "healthcare issue" what comes to mind?  Does lack of service, quality of service or insurance coverage come into perspective when you think of healthcare issues?  In this post I'm going to talk about five major health care issues our nation is facing today, as well as how each one affects patients.

First, there is too much unnecessary healthcare being provided to the extent that patients needs are accommodated and then some.  This may not sound like an issue at all, but it is creating extra costs for the government adding up to hundreds of billions of dollars annually which is detrimental to productivity.  Second, preventable harm to patients is one of the most common forms of healthcare problems because it is primarily based on the physicians error, whether it be a misdiagnosis or faulty procedure.  This is a growing issue because it can easily be avoided to keep the patients safer as well as save money for the treatment of other patients.  Statistics say that one in every four patients is misdiagnosed which is a staggering number because it is costing insurance providers as well as patients more money in the long run depending on the extent of the treatment.

Next, as i touched upon before billions of dollars of healthcare money are wasted annually.  In a report done by the Institute of Medicine Health they state that at least a third of health costs are wasted every year becoming a rising issue for the industry as a whole.  Another healthcare issue is perverse incentives on patients paying for healthcare.  Usually, health plans with Medicare and Medicaid pay for whatever services are provided for the benefit of the patient.  Unfortunately, as an example, early elective deliveries of babies are encouraged by our industries payment system because they provide the most money for Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) centers which are basically just profit centers across the country.  Many studies suggest that reducing the numbers of these premature births may eliminate as much as half a million NICU centers across the country which will lower health costs for the country but financially hurt hospitals.  Employers and states across the country have begun trying to reverse these incentives but they are still unfortunately the only exceptions that are proving the horrible rule of incentive payments.

Finally, the lack of transparency in the healthcare industry is showing that patients may not know as much as they should when it comes to choosing healthcare.  The prime example of this is once again early elective deliveries because the numbers of these deliveries has continued to rise over the years despite all of the warnings from medical societies.  Not until recently these rates declined from 17% to 11.2% because patients are just starting to become aware of these statistics.  The overall message from this issue is that patients deserve to know what exactly they are getting into when it comes to choosing healthcare providers and treatments to lower costs for themselves and stay safer.

For patients and providers the next big step is to keep up pressure against these deliveries and other potentially harmful unnecessary procedures to hopefully soon inflict real change in the industry as a whole.

EVERA.  Everyone should feel this good about healthcare.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The E-Cig Part 2

About 4 months ago I wrote a post depicting whether or not people who smoke E-cigarettes should be charged more for their health care than people who do not smoke. They 100% should. However, I will be touching on a different but equally important topic today.

Over the course of the last two weeks studies have been completed showing more than 260,000 teens that have never smoked a cigarette now use E-Cigs. Also the number of MIDDLE and HIGH SCHOOL students that are “Vaping” has tripled over the last three years from just fewer than 80,000 to a whopping 250,000.

 This is the root of the problem. Many E-cigs are designed to look cool or flashy to attract the attention of young people. Many young people do not realize or understand the effects nicotine has on their body when inhaling it. For most of them, this will be the most addictive substance they have ever put into their body other than potato chips. In all seriousness, nicotine is highly addictive and they long term effects are detrimental. The negative effects of E-cigs do not end there. It is considered to be a “gateway” drug. Meaning the use of an E-cig will make people more likely to experiment with alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine. Which just creates a whole new list of costly health related issues and even death.

This being said, it’s hard to tell whether or not the E-Cig is a good or bad product overall. Time will tell us if the effects of using an E-Cig will create more positive or negative results in relation to traditional cigarettes. What we do know is that there needs to be restrictions put into place to keep these away from children.  There is no benefit to Vaping!

Evera. Everyone should feel this good about healthcare.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Urgent Care, is it taking over?

Recently theres been a lot of hype about Urgent Care facilities rising up, but are they on the verge of a take over?  Urgent Care facilities have been increasing steadily over the past 20 years, providing faster and more affordable healthcare for patients who are on a budget.  These facilities divert patients from more expensive Private Practices and Emergency Departments which increases healthcare spending because they will treat the same patients for less.  Urgent Care executives, Emergency Department directors, and health plan network managers have all come to the unanimous conclusion that even though the overall cost of Urgent Care facilities is uncertain, it has postitively impacted the healthcare industry by improving access to patients with private plans "without significantly disrupting continuity of care."

Why are Urgent Care facilities starting to take over?  As mentioned earlier the main reason would be that they are more affordable to certain extents.  Costs are driven up when the patient has previously been seen by a private practice physician.  However, many people are beginning to use these facilities as their primary care providers because insurance companies, such as Medicaid, have begun to shift patients from Emergency Departments to Urgent Care facilities because the copay at the Urgent Care facility will be less than Emergency Departments.  Urgent Care facilities are on the rise across the nation reaching a high of 9000 locations.  An Urgent Care executive said, " Somebody like myself, I don't have a chronic illness.  I'm young.  If i need to see a doctor I just go to an urgent care center."  For many patients, you may only need to see a doctor a couple times a year so going to an urgent care facility will be much more affordable than a private practice.

Urgent Care facilities are continuing to become more cost-effective as they are integrating new payment methods supported under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  "UCC's can grow as an attractive alternative," said author Tracy Yee, meaning that Urgent Care facilities are rising up as a good, cost effective alternative to private practices for younger patients as well as patients with new insurance plans.  If you haven't been to one yet, it is definitely something to look into if you're trying to save some money.

EVERA. Everyone should feel this good about healthcare.