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!