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.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Patients, will your deductible be met?

When you buy insurance, what coverage do you expect to get from it?  Are you looking to get an inexpensive plan and expect full coverage or are you willing to pay a little more and know that your covered.  If you've chosen the inexpensive plan, such as a "bronze" plan, you may begin to find that it wasn't the best option in the long run once you're surprised with an expensive copay after your next visit.  Also, besides the copay charge you may have to pay full price for your visit as well.  Since these issues have been quickly emerging, experts are afraid that patients may be discouraged from following up with their doctors after getting charged full price for their previous visit.  Carl McDonald, senior analyst with Citi Investment Research said, "This could be the next shoe to drop, as people don't realize that if they're buying a bronze plan, they may have to pay $5,000 out of pocket before it contributes a penny." When McDonald said this at a Washington D.C conference last month he was arguing that if you try to save money on healthcare in the moment, it may catch up to you in the long run and cost you more.

What about a plan that is a little more expensive?  Plans such as "Silver" plans, generally have a higher monthly deductible but they do cover 3/4 of doctor visits before the deductible is met.  With this plan, you won't have to worry about being covered when you see the doctor or being surprised by a hefty bill.  Of course, the coverage may still vary if you go to see a specialist for an extreme reason and not an ordinary doctor visit.

However, all new insurance plans are required by the government to cover some preventative services without a copayment as well as not having met the patients deductible first.  Such plans include: "vaccinations, mammograms, other cancer screenings, contraception, birth control pills, and physicals." But charges may be applied if treatment is needed for an illness such as the Flu, a medical condition, or a minor injury.  Also, there is only limited coverage for prescription drugs.  After hearing this which plan do you think is best to get in the long run?  Will you choose to save money in the beginning with a cheaper deductible but have copayments and full bills, OR go with a plan that offers better coverage off the bat even though it has a higher deductible? The next time you look for a new plan, think about your long term coverage so you know you'll be covered.

EVERA. Everyone should feel this good about healthcare.



Saturday, August 30, 2014

Ebola, can we stop it?

Lately all we've seen on the news is updates on the enormous Ebola Virus outbreak in West Africa, but have you heard about the new potential cure?  Since the virus seems to be spreading like wildfire infecting many healthcare workers and natives in West Africa and Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria after starting in December;  scientists have begun to develop a cure that is slowly starting to be tested on patients.  Today numbers have risen tremendously since the initial outbreak in December to approximately 2,600 people infected and 1,500 fatalities.  Will this cure work? or will the outbreak continue spread.  The healthcare workers have been setting up many quarantine stations and health centers to treat newly infected patients, this may be good enough to slow down the virus from spreading even further but it will still take some time to fully implement this newly developed antidote.

EVERA.  Everyone should feel this good about healthcare.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Obamacare, for better or worse?

When you hear "Obamacare" what comes to mind? Helpful or hurtful?  Since Obamacare was implemented in March of 2010 there has been many disagreements between individuals on whether it was good or bad.  A recent investigation has shown that the cause of the website to crash last fall was due to management errors in the Obama Administration.  Failures such as these are what is providing americans with a doubtful opinion of the whole healthcare system as well as the Obama Administration in its entirety.   Some confusion was caused by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) when they continuously changed the marching orders for contractors who built the computerized sign-up system that is used in  This miscommunication ended up causing millions of dollars in additional costs and americans to lose access to the healthcare website.  This investigation heavily exposed major flaws in the Obama Administration from how these mistakes were made when they could have been avoided.

EVERA.  Everyone should feel this good about healthcare.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The ACA could still TANK!

It seems that as of late there hasn't been much talk about the ACA.  People got sick of hearing about it, it wasn't really working or not working, and there was nothing that could really affect the future of the ACA to talk about.  Well, apparently one the most important mechanisms of the ACA is illegal.  The law does not permit subsidies on a Federal Exchange.  Personally, I believe this will get tossed out of court within the next few days. However, in the rare occurrence that this is taken seriously it could have a detrimental effect on the ACA and basically diminish the law all together.  It would wreak havoc in the health care industry, millions of people would be without coverage overwhelming the state insurance exchanges. I have been totally against the ACA for a long time, I wanted to see it fail simply because I believed that the republican party had a much more realistic and obtainable goals for the industry. They were more focused on increasing accessibility and decreasing cost rather than just subsidizing and charging people based on income. But at this point, it would do way more harm than good after all the majority of us just want to see as many people with coverage as possible.

EVERA. Everyone should feel this good about healthcare.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Tele Medicine Friend or Foe?

The thought of being able to call, text, or skype with a doctor to get diagnosed and receive prescriptions sounds marvelous. It's inexpensive, an efficient use of time, and has proven to be effective.  Like all new discoveries and concepts people have their doubts, but with a model like this that has the potential to lower healthcare costs tremendously across the board as well as increase accessibility we need to explore every possible option to make this work.

Tele medicine is not a particularly new concept, it has been around since the 1960's.  There have been many laws restricting its use and occurrences that have slowed its progress over time. However, timing is everything. I believe the time is now! With the technology and data we have at our fingertips on a everyday basis there is no reason that we need to driving to sit in a doctors office full of sick people to get a prescription for strep throat when we've gotten it once a year for 10 years straight.

The problems that have previously occurred and many critics think will continue include fraud, privacy, and abuse.  An understandable conclusion based on the past but as we all know, times change.  We need to innovate and make sure these services are used for the right reasons.  

How do we do that?

 Knowledge is power, and that knowledge is more accessible than ever before. All the data is there it just needs to be unified and readily available for a doctor who is servicing a patient remotely.

Like anything else, there are always going to be people that abuse privilege. If a person has a history of prescription drug abuse or has been found guilty in committing fraud using a service such as this justice needs to be served. I am by no means a lawmaker but I would not be upset if fines were associated with crimes like this, but at the very least placing the offender on some sort of blacklist disabling them from having the PRIVILEGE of using telemedicine would suffice.

-Scope of Work
There needs to be strict limitation on the assortment of treatments and the types of prescriptions that can be written using telemedicine. We can't be prescribing pain meds to everyone that calls saying their back hurts. However someone who has high-blood pressure or another chronic disease should not have to visit a doc in order to get the medicine they need.

Medical documentation is extremely personal and with it flying back and fourth across the Internet it's very easy for it to end up in the wrong hands.  It's currently the biggest setback for telehealth right now and steps need to be made to solve this issue before we see any real progress.

-No Shortcuts
Providers of telemedicine need to be monitored. Proper protocol needs to be observed. Ethics and proper patient care needs to be on top of any telehealth providers priorities.

If we work to fix these bugs with the currently flawed system we will be well on our way to decreasing cost, increasing accessibility, and saving patients and doctors valuable time.  Anyone that follows the healthcare industry can see that it needs changing and this is a region that has serious potential.

EVERA. Everyone should feel this good about healthcare.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Theranos. Simply Amazing

Do you remember when smart-phones were car-phones and they were the size of a brick? Or how about when TV's were GIGANTIC and took up half a room. Now we have computers in our pockets and giants screens taking up only space on the wall. In a few years we will be looking back and saying "remember when we had to give big tubes of blood for each test and it was so expensive".

Thanks to Theranos we now only need a single drop of blood for up to 30 tests! The company has recently raised $400 million and has been valued at about 9 billion dollars. Elizabeth Holmes founder and leading shareholder at 50% has been building this company since she was 19 years old. She dropped out of Stanford in an attempt make actionable healthcare available to everyone. She is well on her way, the cost of all of the tests that Theranos covers are all published on their website and other marketing materials. They are less than half of what the standard medicare and medicaid reimbursement rates are. If ALL blood testing were done through Theranos it would save Medicare and Medicaid over 200 Billion over the next decade! I think the actual number will be considerably less because Theranos is still a relatively new company and needs time to grow and implement their testing facilities into the market. Eventually it they should be doing all testing.

I have no doubt in my mind this company is going to continue to grow exponentially. This is EXACTLY what we need to see more of in the healthcare industry. People working and being creative to decrease cost and increase accessibility. This is going to help so many people and it will most likely eventually save you a few dollars a month on your healthcare bill whether or not you actually get blood work or not.

EVERA. Everyone should feel this good about healthcare.  


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Urgent Care is Exploding!

Urgent care clinics have been around in the United States since the 1970's. For the most part they have been successful and now, they are becoming the preferred choice for patients across the country.  The reasons behind this are plentiful, these facilities accept walk-ins, they treat a broad spectrum of illnesses and injuries, are equipped with licensed physicians, they are open long hours, and are typically conveniently located.

Two of the most prominent flaws with the United States healthcare industry are COST and ACCESSIBILITY. Below are a list of some of the more common treatments that would previously be performed in an ER. You can see that visiting an urgent care will save a patient on average of about 75%!

So not only will you save money by going to an urgent care, you will also receive quality treatment in a more timely fashion.

Have you ever loved a musician or a band for years and they finally make it big and get some real recognition? This is what is happening to the urgent care sector of the healthcare industry. One reason the urgent care sector is gaining so much traction is because investor owned companies, private equity, and other financiers are putting their money into immediate care because lawmakers are pressuring hospitals to treat out-patients more inexpensively. This is making urgent care companies a hot commodity. Humana the health insurance powerhouse purchased Concentra an urgent care company with more than 300 clinics nationwide for a whopping 790 Mil in cash. Dignity Health bought US Healthworks acquiring 172 clinics for 450 Mil back in 2012. Since then USHW's has grown to more than 200 clinics with no sign of slowing down. Below are some other notable urgent care companies that have been purchased by big players in the industry.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that these companies are continuing to grow and prosper. It's capitalism, when you can offer something people NEED with the same or better quality at a more inexpensive price you win. These facilities will continue to grow until a better more efficient model is achieved. For the time being this is EXACTLY what people need ACCESSIBLE, AFFORDABLE, CONVENIENT, care right around the corner from their home or office.

EVERA. Everyone should feel this good about healthcare!


Thursday, July 3, 2014

How Can You Keep Your Staff Healthy?

So I’ve briefly mentioned wellness programs in an earlier blog, but now lets get a little bit more in depth. Obamacare has increased the percentage of health-coverage costs that companies could use to reward employers for participating in wellness programs from 20 percent of total health coverage costs to 30 percent. The supporters of these programs believe that it has the potential to lead to healthier overall workforces that are less likely to use expensive medical benefits. Obviously this seems logical right? If you’re keeping healthy and treating your body well then the chances you will have to use those pricey benefits should decrease. From a Businesses point of view, you’re doing your employees a kindness. Results from a new poll from Kaiser Health shows that seventy-four percent of people said these programs are great. In addition, the support from the people who actually receive employer provided health insurance was even better at eighty percent. However, there is also a large majority of people that oppose penalizing workers for not participating and/or meeting the goals of wellness programs. In my opinion, workers who don’t accept these programs shouldn’t be forced to pay higher deductibles and premiums. You can’t force people to change and do things they don’t want to. It is their right to say no. Nonetheless, if they aren’t going to take the help offered to them to improve their health and cut costs for both themselves and employers than higher premiums and deductibles it is. 
But what businesses can do is to offer incentives that are hard to pass up. For example, money, money is one of the best incentives out there. Sure, you can put forth the benefits of becoming healthier, happier, and overall obtaining a better lifestyle but when it comes down to it people want something more. Maybe even offer a luxury vacation package. Businesses need to be creative with these incentives if they want people to participate. As of now, many U.S. companies do offer financial incentives and no penalties, but that could change in a few years. I personally don’t think employees and unions alike will let this happen, but one cannot predict the future. On average, participation in these programs is low according to Kaiser, but they predicted through their survey’s that companies will, by 2016 be offering more incentives, and more penalties such as higher premiums and deductibles for people who don’t meet their health management requirements. 

When it comes down to it, I agree more with businesses. If they are offering services (especially with incentives) that could help to reduce both theirs and the employees medical expenses, and improve their health then the employees should willingly accept. They shouldn’t be penalized immensely for not accepting these programs, but being made to pay higher deductibles and premiums seems to me like a fair trade off. 

EVERA. Everyone should feel this good about healthcare!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Laughter Is A Lot Better For You Than You Might Have Thought.

I’ve always heard that laughter was good for a person, but I didn’t know that it was essentially a medicine. As it turns out, laughing might actually just be one of the best medicines available. We all know that laughing is good for you, it make us feel good and is a sign of good health. However it is especially beneficial when dealing with memory loss related to age. A new study from Loma Linda University found that “humor may reduce brain damage caused by the "stress hormone" cortisol, which in turn, improves memory”. We all become stressed out at one time or another, and it’s amazing how harmful it is to our bodies and brain. High levels of stress can cause many damaging effects on your body such as allergies; weight gain, fatigue, and its consequences have even been linked to mental illness. Past research shows that having stress at an older age is correlated with serious health complications such as heart attacks but also increases memory loss and learning ability. Therefore the evidence in this research shows that we need to laugh more, and start spending our free time doing things that we enjoy. There is literally no downside to laughing. It’s a stress reliever and free medicine whose effects can last your whole life. It makes you feel good, especially when you are stressed out, and as we now know, it can help you maintain and strengthen your memory and learning abilities throughout old age. In short, it is essential for us to take some time and go see a funny movie or whatever it takes to make you laugh. It could end up being just what you need.   

EVERA. Everyone should feel this good about healthcare!


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Coffee, Improving Workouts & Overall Health

This morning I came across a great article. One that made me think my love, or what some would say addiction, to coffee made it all okay. Through numerous studies, it has been proven that coffee has a plethora of health benefits. This means to all you coffee lovers like me out there, we have been doing it right. Research from International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that athletes who take in about 12 ounces of caffeine before their workouts (about one cup) burn 15 percent more calories than those who don’t. In addition, a Japanese study found that drinking a 5-ounce cup helped improve circulation over a 75 minute time period. This means more oxygen to the muscles, which is exactly what we need to have a successful workout! If this isn’t enough to convert you to becoming devote coffee lovers, how about the fact that scientists from the University of Illinois found that two to three cups of coffee consumed around an hour before an intensive 30 minute workout can lead to reduced muscle pain. So basically, it can help you push a little harder during your workouts and result in more muscle strength and endurance. But wait, there is more. A Johns Hopkins University study discovered that caffeine enhances memory up to 24 hours after being consumed. Lastly, by consuming caffeine, it has been revealed that it helps to offset the loss of muscle strength that arises from aging, and increases 66 percent of muscle glycogen four hours after an intense work out. “Glycogen, the form of carbohydrate that gets stockpiled in muscle, serves as a vital energy “piggy bank” during exercise, to power strength moves, and fuel endurance.” Now don’t get carried away here. Overdoing it on the caffeine can be harmful as I talked about in the previous blog. The maximum amount recommended to enhance and improve your workout is about 16 ounces. Overall, coffee can be a great addition to anyone’s day, as long as they are smart and drink responsibly.  It’s not a replacement for the good old H2O, so keep chugging that water and stay hydrated during those workouts.

EVERA. Everyone should feel this good about healthcare.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Are You Really That Tired?

I was never really the type of person who used energy drinks, and after this article, I’m confidant that I made the right decision. To all of you out there that love-consuming these types of drinks such as Monster, Red bull, and Rock Star you may want to cut down, if not completely give it up after this. Recent studies have show that these types of drinks could be more than just downright bad for you. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Dawn Report, the number of energy drink related emergency visits almost doubled between 2007 and 2011. These drinks are marketed in ways that make consumers, especially teenagers believe that they are good for the body, and will help overall performance. The truth is however these drinks are diuretics loaded with caffeine. They cause the body to lose water, and dehydrate you. This is extremely dangerous, and when people consume too many of these drinks, they are subject to potentially fatal affects. I’ll admit, I love caffeine, my morning, afternoon, and after work cup of coffee is naturally engraved into my routine. However, I also know that too much of it can be horrible and leave you feeling sick. This is why it’s important to watch how much you consume. Coffee has a decent amount of caffeine, but the amount in energy drinks it literally not measurable. What I found most surprising, from this article is that canned energy drinks are not required to reveal how much caffeine is actually in the drinks, they are NOT regulated by the FDA, and don’t come with a health warning. This is something that many people don’t take into consideration when they purchase energy drinks. They don’t know how much caffeine they are really consuming, and it is dangerous. From where I stand, exercise and diet is the best and most safe way to safely and effectively gain more energy, focus, and reduce fatigue than energy drinks. But if that doesn’t sound appealing try drinking a nice cup of coffee!

EVERA. Everyone should feel this good about healthcare.

Health VS Sickness

The article below offers three thoughts about how we can alter our healthcare system in America to be a healthcare system aimed at health instead of sickness.  This is idea that has been mentioned before and that I fully support. We need to encourage people to want to stay healthy instead of only worry about it after it’s too late and their medical expenses soar. The three suggestions from the article are as follows. 1) Institute a common language for measuring health. Very similar to the GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) in the business world, this would mean an easy way to compare healthcare companies and return on health investment. In other words, making information more available and understandable for consumers. 2) Create business models that make money on health not sickness. Here in the U.S. the overwhelming majority of health providers are only compensated when treating sicknesses. This model completely destroys any incentives for new and existing companies to advocate for staying/getting healthy. Luckily, as the article states with new technology and a few new businesses beginning to practice this model, this could all change in a few years. A system where providers can make money on health care instead of sick care is after all a bit more ethical. The third, and last suggestions from this article, is to drive care to lower acuity settings. In other words, inform people as early as possible about what health risks they face, and how to control, monitor and, effectively treat them so they can maintain a healthy lifestyle. The most important factor when it comes to a person’s health is their overall lifestyle, from diet to exercise. Getting people to realize this and to take it seriously is one of the biggest and most critical steps in reforming a healthcare system based on health not sickness. In short, with more access to information, introduction of new techniques and business models, and education and awareness, a new system based on health opposed to sickness is not only plausible, but in the near future. 

EVERA. Everyone should feel this good about healthcare.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Could Wearable Technology Benefit Patients, Businesses, and Insurance Companies?

Lately I have been reading a lot of articles about wearable technology. This wearable technology such as, Fitbit or Jawbone Up tracks individuals; breathing, steps, heart rate, and even sense the beginning of stress or chronic illnesses. There has been a lot of talk about this wearable technology making its way into the healthcare market. Think about what this could mean for you.  Already there are some business’s that are offering incentives to employees who’s data after 30 days or so comes back and shows improved health, or to employees who have been at risk for diabetes and high blood pressure but have taken actions to avoid it. These incentives are becoming more and more used throughout the corporate world being called “corporate- wellness programs”. What if your boss could track your health behavior and offered you lower premiums and other perks? Sound good, right? However, being punished for unhealthy behavior comes along with this, and some companies have even explored different retributions for unhealthy behavior.  

       Now lets look at this wearable technology in the healthcare industry. Through these devices, insurers could better determine risk profiles on insured workforces and cap the ever-rising costs. “A large portion of today’s $2.6 trillion health care bill is driven by behavior; in particular, bad-diet decisions that lead to obesity and diabetes.”  If insurers use the data gathered by this technology, they could follow what businesses are beginning to do and offer lower premiums and reduce costs for subscribers who are taking action and/or are watching there health behavior. It’s a win-win. In addition, think about how insurance cost is now. Individual premiums usually increase annually, but what if they changed every 30 days or six months according to the data gathered by your wearable gadget?  This could be a potential downside for some, but in my eyes I see a great way to save money and a very good incentive to keep healthy.  But, with all seemingly good things, there runs a risk. Some say this could lead to a system where only the wealthiest people could afford the better technology could eventually have access to the lowest premiums. For this, I suggest maybe having the insurance companies being the ones who buy the technology and distribute it to their subscribers. They will, after all, want the most accurate data. Furthermore, with cyber security concerns on the rise, there is also a risk that the data while being transmitted to the insurance companies could be hacked and used against the subscribers by other markets. To this I say, everything digital is under risk of hackers, but ultimately it comes down to being aware, cautious, and ready for what may, or may not occur. This idea of wearable technology making it’s way into the healthcare and business world and could be just around the corner and from where we stand, it looks like it will benefit our nation as a whole. It has the potential to help fight bad health behaviors and decrease healthcare costs. What more could we ask for? 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Should Doctor’s Pay be Based on Patient Results?

The idea of paying doctors based on the outcomes of their patients is something I’ve heard mentioned before. My first reaction, when hearing this was “well, maybe it could work”. Now, after truly thinking about it I’m completely against it. It’s similar to how part of teachers pay is based on their students’ performance, and I find this to be unfair as well. There are always a few bad apples in the bunch that just don’t care enough to do well. Why should the teacher be penalized for something they can’t control? The same applies to doctors and patients. The large majority of patients don’t follow their doctors’ advice and directions, and this causes them to end up back in the doctors’ office. Should this be the doctor’s fault? I don’t think so.  There is no way to track patients outcomes based solely on what doctors prescribe or way they treat their patients. There is also no way to know if patients are listening to their doctors’ directions and following them precisely. Even if a patient is abiding by the doctors orders perfectly, there are just other variables such as foods, over the counter medicines, and environmental factors that can have an affect a patient’s outcome.  Furthermore, if we attempted to implement a system based on patients’ outcomes, the cost in creating and maintaining such a database would be enormous. I mean, we are trying to cut the cost of healthcare, not increase it. This money would be better spent elsewhere. Perhaps on new technology that could aide in patient treatments. Either way, taking on a project that has a greater potential to fail than succeed and is not financially friendly is not the best course of action. The best way to go is to trust our doctors, and hope they have our best interest financially and health wise at heart. 

EVERA. Everyone should feel this good about healthcare.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Why America Can’t Just Take Other Countries Healthcare Systems.

Way to often then not, when you hear people conversing about the United States Healthcare system, there is almost always a comparison to other nations and how their system is better, more efficient, and how we should be more like them.  Statements like these irk me. The reality is, the United States cannot take healthcare systems from other countries and apply it successfully here.  Our nation is just too big, and too complex. In order to solve our Healthcare problems such as high cost, low quality, and overall inefficient system do to administration encumber; we need to look for new ways. Fresh ideas and creative policy’s that work for America, and the American system.

 As mentioned in the article, healthcare systems need to be based off of countries political, cultural, geographic, and economic environments. By using these as foundations we could successfully build a healthcare system that works. In addition, becoming a system based on preventing sicknesses, rather than a system that treats sicknesses, can only be beneficial. By preventing sickness it not only keeps people healthier and out of the doctors office, but it cuts the cost of medical expenses and opens up more time for doctors to see those patients who really need it. But, how do we make this shift? The answer is simple; we need to increase education and decrease the inequality gap that has been increasing throughout the years. In order to find the money to implement this, we need to stop the spending of billions of dollars on health reforms that in the long run offer no real relief, and “focus on cleaning up the clutter, removing administrative barriers, and allowing physicians to do what they were trained to do.” In the end, the only way to really fix Americas healthcare system is not to implement these constant reforms that offer some small period of relief in the beginning and no real change in the end, or to look at other countries and say ‘hey! It’s working for them why can’t it work for us?’ What we need to do is construct a personalized system based on the political, cultural, geographic, and economic systems of America. Only then will our system truly be able to offer high quality care at an affordable rate. 

EVERA. Everyone should feel this good about healthcare.