Monthly Archives: September 2017

Investing in the Healthcare Industry – Options for Healthy Returns

Investors looking for opportunities to get in on the huge healthcare market in the United States have several options. Investing in the healthcare industry can be in the form of health insurance companies, hospitals, medical supply companies, pharmaceutical companies, REIT – healthcare facilities, and more. Finding the right investment vehicle for your needs is a matter of deciding what level of risk you can handle, the amount you want to invest, and what type of return you are looking for. Probably the best average return on investment in this industry comes from the REIT – healthcare facilities sector.REIT stands for real estate investment trust. REIT companies are companies that combine investing in the healthcare industry, real estate investing, and stock market investing. A REIT company is a company whose whole business is to invest in real estate. They are companies typically specialized in a specific type of property, like residences, retail, hotels, healthcare facilities, and more. The structure of a REIT is specially formed for tax benefits. At least seventy-five percent of the assets and income has to be in the real estate investments. The corporate profits that would be taxable can be tax free if they are distributed back to the shareholders in the form of dividends. To follow the rules for a REIT, at least ninety percent of the profits must be given out this way.

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The healthcare facilities REIT company industry averaged 24.6% profit margins in 2008. This means that there was a nice hefty profit made by the investors in this field. Investing in the healthcare industry in the area of pharmaceuticals can also be very profitable because pharmaceutical companies have huge profit margins. However, so many issues, like clinical trial results, rumor, public opinion, and current events, effect the rise and fall of stock prices that investors should monitor investments in this sector fairly closely.

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Health insurance companies also offer opportunities for investing in the healthcare industry. This sector is considered to be a stable investment because people need health insurance even in tough economic times. The constancy of the need and structuring of the insurance company can offset the dips in membership due to unemployment levels rising. Many health insurance companies also offer different branches of services like life insurance, dental insurance, accident insurance, and vision insurance, the performance of these companies can also affect the overall value of the company and its stocks.

Chiropractic Patient Appreciation Event

The patient appreciation event is an event every chiropractor should plan for at least once a year. What is the patient appreciation event? A patient appreciation event is an event where the chiropractor simply thanks patients for regularly visiting his practice to address health issues.A recent survey conducted by the US Chamber of Commerce found that the reason people leave their current supplier (in this case healthcare provider) is because of a perceived attitude of indifference. In today’s fast-paced world, most companies and professional practices make the mistake of not simply showing their appreciation to their customers.By simply staging an event to indicate that you appreciate your patients, you will find that you build much goodwill and loyalty with your current patients. It is recommended that the ideal venue for staging such an event would be a lunch or dinner event.

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Following are the steps for deploying a patient appreciation event:-Set a date for the event.-Develop marketing communications to announce the event. The communication should, first of all, express appreciation to customers for visiting your practice. It should also indicate that as part of your ongoing dedication to the health of your patients, you strive to keep current on the latest healthcare practices in order to provide your patients with the very best in chiropractic care.-Place a sign at your front check-in desk announcing the patient appreciation event so that when patients visit your office they were reminded of the event.-Arrange for a location for the event and handle all of the logistics such as deciding on the meals to be served and what else will occur at the event.-It is suggested that during a portion of the event the chiropractor addresses the group and again thank them for being a patient. He should then deliver a short speech with information on the latest healthcare trends and how it affects patient health.-During the event, the chiropractor should announce that he always values feedback from patients on what can be done to provide a higher level of service. He should indicate that he is passing out a questionnaire about rating the level of service provided and to seek suggestions from those attending   to improve the level of service provided.-After the event, a personal thank you note should be sent to all who attended to again express appreciation.

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Staging a patient appreciation event positions a practice in a very positive way. Experience of other chiropractors who staged a patient appreciation event indicates that the impact from such an event on practice profitability and patient satisfaction with services provided can be very positive.Now is the time to begin planning for your first patient appreciation event. After staging such an event, if your experiences are like those of most chiropractors, you’ll find staging such an event is a very positive experience. If you have never staged such an event, you might talk to other chiropractors who have and learn of their experiences and obtain advice from them how to best stage such an event.

Healthcare in Our Recession-Oriented Workplace

The U.S. already spends a greater share of it’s economy on healthcare than any other country in the world. Unfortunately, the over $2.2 trillion per year expenditures have been wasteful, ill-targeted, inefficient and un-fair, resulting in widespread dissatisfaction throughout the healthcare industry.For the most part, many employees find themselves lucky to have any health plan at all offered to them through their employer (especially without unrealistic premiums borne by the employee) . There are rarely any “choices” of plans which, in turn, has led to common dissatisfaction of coverage and a lowered level of usage or full access to adequate medical services. Even “community-sponsored”, local plans seem to provide little relief to the growing problems of a larger portion of the workforce without any coverage or on the verge of losing their coverage due to rising costs, etc.
It inevitably remains that the No. 1 concern of “Health Care Security” has never really been provided to the majority of workers in the workplace.

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In the search for answers, various plans ranging from a single-payor National Health Insurance, to mandates requiring individuals to purchase private coverage under varying assistance options, to instituting Universal Health Savings Accounts, have all been discussed.Due to these increased efforts to control costs and improve efficiency, a wide range of “Health Management (Wellness) Programs” have come into existence. This is primarily due to the employers efforts to translate their health care costs into “increased employee productivity”.As a result, more and more employers (in cooperation with many insurers) are turning to considering these “workplace wellness programs”. Such programs, similar to those currently being conducted by Blue Cross/Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC), frequently include a comprehensive, coordinated plan which provides for on-site clinics, fitness centers, healthy-choice cafeterias, and physically active competitive events all designed to promote “health wellness” for the employee. The theory as explained by Sean Sullivan, JD, the MHE Editor Advisor, at the Institute for Health & Productivity Management, Phoenix, AZ. is “to get ahead of employee illnesses instead of waiting for it to happen”.

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With the “mandatory participation” versus “individual rights” issues set aside, such programs do show signs of promise in some areas. Even these programs, however, do not really solve the true “health care” needs of our workforce.Many new and creative concepts are still being introduced, examined, and tested, all in an effort to stem the tide of the increasingly larger proportion of the workplace that is facing “health care insecurity”.

Single Dads See No Limits on Their College Ambitions

In the wake of revolutionary legislation, the sky is the limit for single dads who want to return to college.As he inked the healthcare “fix-it” bill into law, President Obama did as much to revolutionize higher education as to change the nation’s system for delivering medical treatment. The bill contained sweeping changes to rules and regulations regarding college funding, making scholarships, grants, and loans more readily available than ever before, and assuring access to college study for all students who wish to pursue both pre-professional training and traditional college degrees. As the ink dried on the new law, single dads determined to attend college stopped asking, “How will I pay for it?” and they began wondering, “Now that the sky is the limit, what should I do?”

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The law itself provides college-bound dads to consider degrees that lead to careers in public service: healthcare, of course, has become heavily incentive-laden, and so has teaching. To some extent, the new law encourages students to consider careers in government, and it naturally rewards students who gravitate to “green” careers.Economic incentives complement government programs.The government will pay the bills while single dads determinedly pursue their dreams. After graduation, the economy provides handsome incentives for college-going dads to revolutionize the American system by renovating its manufacturing base. Truly forward-thinking dads may learn to read between the lines in current events, plucking career opportunities from the headlines as readily as “Law and Order” picks its plots. The recent West Virginia mining disaster, for example, calls attention to America’s need for at least two kinds of advanced technology-sophisticated robotics and precision-driven process automation, both of which can make human coal-mining obsolete. Recent events also have called attention to the nation’s continued reliance on coal, especially for generating electricity. Therefore, genuinely “clean coal technology” remains one of the nation’s highest priorities; and well-trained engineers who can remove greenhouse gases from coal-fired power plants will command salaries beyond imagining.

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Where would a bright, ambitious single dad gain the knowledge and skills required for revolutionizing American industry. Because the sky is the limit, how about MIT or Cal-Tech?

How to Get the Most Out of Your Healthcare

Healthcare in the United States is a contentious issue. It seems there isn’t one congressional session or federal/state election that goes by that there isn’t a discussion on healthcare. It is estimated that the American people dole out more than $3,000 for healthcare expenses every year. In total, the U.S. spends roughly 18 percent of its gross domestic product on healthcare costs.Right now, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise commonly known as Obamacare, is headlining news across the country. Whether it’s the negative reports on Obamacare, the numerous website glitches or the White House promoting the healthcare reform law, the ACA is everywhere.Despite whatever side of the issue you may be on, the fact is that more Americans have to take charge of their own healthcare needs, whether they have insurance or not. By performing due diligence, Americans can get the best bang for their buck and receive high-quality healthcare from their doctors, specialists and hospitals by being more involved.

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Here are five important tips to get the most out of your healthcare:The Right One
Although it has become difficult over the past few years to have one, selecting a primary care doctor is important to your healthcare needs. It is crucial because the doctor will know about your past, your current state of health and provide future care without having to seek the aid of other doctors.If you don’t have a primary care physician then opt for a walk-in clinic for your medical care needs. If there is one in your vicinity select that one and go there for most of your healthcare needs.Information
It’s best to never conceal anything from your doctor that might affect your health. Be honest, open and transparent about what you feel, how you feel about a recommended treatment and any family history of a certain disease or illness. By hiding significant information, it may hurt your overall health.Insurance
Since Obamacare is composed of a series of mandates, subsidies and insurance exchanges to expand coverage and affordability, it’s best to know what your health plan or insurance covers exactly. Relay this information to your doctor or his/her administrative assistants.Records
In a box, storage container, cabinet or drawer, maintain an extensive health record, such as healthcare benefits, a list of appointments and bills or payment notices from healthcare providers or insurance companies. This way, you will have a lot of documentation in the event of an emergency or mistake.

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Lifestyle
If you experience constant heartburn, chest pains, headaches or back spasms, consult your doctor about improving your overall lifestyle – aside from further medications. A medical professional can offer a list of changes to your lifestyle to improve your health, recommend health education classes and provide preventive care services.You can also perform your own research into this matter by learning what you can do right now to adjust your lifestyle accordingly. The best options to take today would be to maintain a nutritious diet, get plenty of exercise, quit smoking and take charge of your healthcare.

VoIP Implementations Potentially Beneficial For Healthcare Industry

As Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) increasingly becomes a more popular communications solution for all types of business, it’s also being incorporated into many hospital systems. Wireless devices that are equipped to manage medical-related data, such as the Motorola enterprise digital assistant, are replacing beepers, PDAs and other equipment carried by hospital staff. With this upgrade in technology, patients and caregivers alike are considering the possibilities and potential pitfalls of VoIP use in hospitals.Benefits and Potential to Medical CommunityWhile reducing the number of devices needed for communication and patient record management, VoIP also assists healthcare workers with choosing and providing appropriate treatment. Nurses and doctors can manage patient medications, host video conferences and quickly contact nearby staff members in an emergency-all from VoIP-enabled communication devices, many of which are mobile.

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Never before was it so easy and affordable for a physician to contact colleagues halfway around the world when another’s medical expertise is in immediate need. In the event of an emergency with a new patient, staff is also better equipped to quickly receive the person’s records and history from another location. With video conferencing, hospital personnel from around the globe are able to host meetings, discuss advancements in medical interventions, and converse about management issues-all without the costly expense and time needed for travel.Patient Benefits from VoIPMedical costs remain a constant concern for much of the nation, for those with and without health insurance coverage. Because VoIP is often more efficient and affordable than traditional communications systems, patients may see a slight reduction in medical bills as the hospitals incur lower expenses. Regarding personal physical health, this technology could prove to be a lifesaver for some. In the event of an emergency, immediate transmission of medical records can alert acting physicians to any severe conditions or allergies the patient may have.Possible Concerns with VoIP Use in Hospitals

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As with all Internet-based communications, there may a possibility of security breaches with this technology. Some devices such as the abovementioned Motorola are in compliance with HIPPA regulations, which enforce and protect patient confidentiality, yet this doesn’t necessarily guarantee that wireless transmission of patient information is wholly secure.Seeing as how Google Street Maps accidentally intercepted wi-fi transmissions that contained passwords and other personal information, it’s not unimaginable that patient files could be intercepted, be it intentional or not. However, as it currently stands, it appears that VoIP services provide more benefits and possibilities than potential pitfalls to the healthcare industry.

Digital Signage – Useful Technology

All manner of industry and trade can and do use Digital signage to attract attention to themselves. Take the classic case of the retail industry for example. They set up in-store digital media networks which enable customers to get exposure to targeted advertising, touch screen interface, product information programming, and so on.This process is also very useful in making information known to specific groups. Universities, schools, corporate training centers use these to provide information about faculty, academic events schedule, sports events and so on.The transportation industry can use this technology by way of installing interactive kiosks for tickets, directions, reservations, flight or train arrival or departure information, and so on. Hospitality industry constituents, such as hotels, resorts, casinos, night clubs, and bars use this technology to communicate important messages to their guests and patrons.

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Hospitals, doctors’ offices and other healthcare facilities use signage to communicate vital information to the patients pertaining to the facilities, preventive health programming and so on. In fact almost any organization would benefit from using this technology. Advertising through digital signage has some inherent benefits, which are something like this:
o These are times of fleeting attention spans where holding someone’s attention has become impossible. People hardly have time to watch television, much less the ads shown on them. Thus this techno is a powerful alternative, where customized content across a variety of digital displays exposes the audience to a much more interactive and dynamic interface with the advertiser.
o An indoor signage advertising system works beautifully in areas of high footfalls, such as lobbies, parking centers, escalators, window displays and so on. Choosing the right location is of paramount importance here.
o Outdoor signage on the other hand is a wonderful opportunity to catch moving pedestrian and automobile traffic. Additionally it enables nighttime advertising. That apart the messaging can be changed on demand and in real time reflecting a current event or happening. Advertise breakfast foods in the morning and restaurants at night!

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The range of equipment related to this technology, is quite extensive. In the main, it consists of LED digital signage, plasma displays, LCD displays, digital signage hardware, digital kiosks and digital billboards. Considering that it requires so much of technology to be used, it is important that the firm one engages is well equipped and trained to do the job. For they not only have to consult the client on the best possible, solution, but also install the equipment and train the client in its use. Apart from that, they also have to keep the client within budget. Moreover they need to provide adequate repair and service facilities long after the equipment has been installed.

Crown Jewel Care in Healthcare

Clinicians today face intense competition for consumers’ health care dollars from a multitude of sources. At the end of the day, a successful practice has one important quality to leverage: an outstanding customer experience. Providers in any setting can use this to become more competitive and service their current clients more effectively at the same time.The best way to begin is to perform an internal study of your practice–identify the strengths that highlight the weaknesses of others. When you commit to embracing and promoting the key attributes that set you apart, you can create a successful, “crown jewel” practice, withstanding any competition.Before the VisitEven before a patient walks in your door, consider how visible your practice is in the community. Fortunately, enhancing visibility doesn’t have to be expensive. Get your name out by:

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Joining the local chamber of commerce or other business organizations.
Writing a guest column in the local newspaper, submitting press releases, offering guest lectures, or sponsoring local events to obtain free media exposure
Enhancing your web presence by optimizing your website with key search terms and remaining current with your social media.
Regularly checking whether your pertinent details are listed on managed care sites-address, contact information, providers and treatment specialties. When a patient searches services through insurance websites, your practice has a better chance of being displayed.
During the VisitOnce your patients are in the door:
Enforce proactive systems to collect insurance information to verify coverage for services.
Discuss financial responsibilities with patients to help alleviate concerns, and present different payment options.
Offer patients customized billing services, such as electronic statements, and e-mail/text message appointment reminders for their convenience.
Educate patients on the value of skilled care. When patients understand the value, they’re more likely to remain compliant.
After the VisitThe key to success of any customer retention program is to find the best way to reach your target market; some patients may respond better to one form of communication than others:
Make yourself more accessible to patients as educational resource post-treatment. In the age of the Internet, consumers have more access than ever to health care information. However, it may not always be credible, and can create a considerable gap into which clinicians can step in. Ensure patients understand they can contact you by e-mail, phone or even text messages.
Implement a customer retention program. Send a birthday card, a personal note inquiring on the patient’s status, or clinic news.
Personal e-mail addresses are a great way to begin e-mail campaigns, assuming patients have opted in to receive e-mail marketing.

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Bringing it All TogetherClinicians have many unique opportunities to set their practices apart. Start with a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats), to lay the groundwork for setting yourself apart in the minds of consumers.By highlighting the attributes that make you stand out, you can truly become a crown jewel destination for care.

Private Practice Marketing – Creating A User Friendly Healthcare Website

In September 2006, a Harris Interactive Wall Street Journal Online Poll asked about access to online services for communicating with doctors. The poll found 74% would like the ability to communicate with their doctor by email. And, given the choice, 62% would choose the doctor who could communicate with them by email.In contrast, only 8% said they knew their doctor communicates with patients by email. Of those 4% used it, and 4% did not. While 73% said it wasn’t available, only 19% didn’t know if it was available.From this poll, patients appear more sophisticated with the Internet than many doctors suspect. A search uncovered articles as far back as 1998 suggesting practices need websites now.Your website may not be ready for email communication–yet. Staffing, security, confidentiality, and legal issues may need resolved before you can provide email services.

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A website is an important marketing tool. It’s not free, but is relatively inexpensive. And with the amount of information you can provide on a website, definitely cost-effective.Your website is your virtual office, open 24/7. Potential patients can find it when they want. The information is available for reviewing multiple times if needed, and at a time convenient to potential and current patients or clients.Your website can provide contact information, staff biographies and pictures, and the philosophy or mission of your practice. It can provide directions to your office, and even a map link. Directions plus a nice picture of your office can visually aid new clients or patients in locating your office.Links to sites clients or patients can draw clients or patients to look at your website before doing a search. For example if you have many heart patients, a direct link to the American Heart Association is nicer than the patient finding it on a search engine or typing in a long website address (URL).Be sure links you provide are current, as is all the information on your website. If Dr. A retired 6 months ago, be sure your website is up-to-date.An electronic newsletter (ezine) can be available through your website. You may want to grant access to previous issues through your website also. An ezine can provide information including health tips, information about the practice, and upcoming events.

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Some practices grant access to lab results through their website. Be sure to thoroughly explore confidentiality, security, and legal issues before providing this service. Some practices may never be comfortable granting access to results electronically.Retail sales as an additional source of revenue may be another option worth considering for your website.Today is a great day to start thinking about your website, what it can do for you, and how it can be more user-friendly. And, then start building one!Copyright © 2007 Ina Gilmore LLC

Six Sigma and Healthcare: A Case Study

Six Sigma is a set of principles used to improve business practices to reduce the number of defects or undesirable events within an organization. Undesirable events lead to poor customer service and smaller profits. Companies that want to retain customers, possess a competitive advantage, and remain profitable will implement Six Sigma principles in an effort to maintain a certain standard.All types of businesses can benefit from Six Sigma principles. The concept was originally developed under the leadership of Bob Galvin at Motorola. Since this time, major companies, such as General Electric, have utilized the principles of Six Sigma to improve their organizations.Six Sigma has many implications. The healthcare system is one industry that has benefited from the principles. With more efficient business practices, organizations can become more profitable. A closer examination of a case study will illuminate how companies have used Six Sigma principles to improve business practices.

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Case Study of a Not-For-Profit Major Medical CenterThis hospital wanted to reduce the setup between surgical cases and changeover in the inpatient surgery department. Staff noticed that patient care could be improved by increasing the overall efficiency. An efficient operating room (O.R.) would improve patient care, O.R. capacity and physician satisfaction.The Six Sigma leader conducted an analysis of the current practices within the O.R. The analysis revealed areas of waste. Waste is known as MUDA. MUDA limited the hospital’s ability to be responsive to the patient’s and physician’s needs. Spaghetti diagrams, process maps and observation forms are included in the single minute exchange of dies (SMED) process and can help to improve efficiency through analysis.To alleviate some of the problems in the O.R., visual indicators or Color Coding was used to clarify the process. The new business practices and the standardization of changeover processes helped to improve processes. Employees were trained and teams were developed to accomplish this goal according to the guidelines.With training, the O.R. staff reduced the time spent managing the turnover process by 46 percent. The organization also became 60 percent more efficient within the team. Efficiency is the goal of any company attempting to implement Six Sigma best practices.

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Six Sigma best practices can be used in a variety of settings. From software to healthcare, organizations can benefit for Six Sigma methodologies. This case study demonstrates how Six Sigma can be beneficial even in a clinical setting.Six Sigma is Beneficial in HealthcareSix Sigma best practices can be used in a variety of settings. Six Sigma was not traditionally used in healthcare, but the principles translate effectively into clinical settings. Healthcare professionals have more job satisfaction because patients are served more proficiently and the payment cycles are shorter. Six Sigma can be used in an assortment of situations successfully.