Author Archives: Helen

What Is a Healthcare Utility Management Assurance Program?

Along with data centers and police departments, hospitals have perhaps the greatest need for uninterrupted electricity. If a hospital experiences an outage and it doesn’t have generators to supply the missing power, patients could decline and deaths could occur during operations, leading to multiple lawsuits. To avoid this scenario, hospitals implement backup generators and have them properly serviced, a need that draws many hospitals to participate in a healthcare utility management assurance program, a program that focuses on maintaining a hospital’s facility-wide electrical infrastructure in terms of standard maintenance and ensuring that it meets the latest compliance regulations.A healthcare management assurance program involves servicing back up generators, but it also involves an organized approach to meeting a hospital’s broader electrical needs. In addition to preparing for power outages, hospitals must also prepare for when electrical equipment is out of service due to failure or maintenance, as well as vigilantly check their equipment against the latest regulations. To accomplish these things, hospitals have two choices: they could hire in house technicians to form a new maintenance department, or they could outsource the work to a provider of industrial power solutions via a healthcare utility management assurance program, with the latter being the most cost effective and comprehensive option.

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Switch Gear Maintenance and Other “small” ConcernsMost entities that use backup generators can withstand a temporary absence of electricity before generator electricity kicks in, but a hospital can’t. When an outage occurs, or equipment malfunctions, back up equipment must be in a condition that ensures the smooth transition from commercial supply to generator supply before disconnecting from the former, a sequence of events that requires, above all, the proper maintenance of power transfer switches, a specific form of switch gear responsible for switching a building’s primary electric supply to a secondary supply, and then back again when the primary supply returns. Switch gear servicing is a core maintenance practice among providers of industrial power solutions.For many entities that depend on emergency power, the ultimate challenge of generator maintenance is not ensuring that generators receive proper servicing, but ensuring that they receive regular servicing. One of the greatest misconceptions about emergency power equipment is that it’s infrequent use means that it doesn’t require regular maintenance, a misconception that could prove tragic for hospital facilities in the event of a long-term outage. Participating in utility management assurance programs allows hospital facilities to rest assured that their backup equipment is ready for the next outage, that their electrical infrastructure remains current with the latest rules and regulations governing healthcare facilities, and that accomplishing these things through a utility management assurance program is more cost effective than hiring a team of technicians in house.

4 Strategies to Reduce Healthcare Costs For Your Business

While the majority of the healthcare reform provisions do not take effect until 2014, there are several mandates added in 2010 that will drive up premiums. Now is the time to begin to build your long term strategy. Here are several points that will help you keep your increases under control.1. If you currently have a group major medical policy, keep it in “Grandfathered” status if possible. This will permit you to avoid a policy that contains new mandates that will have significantly higher premiums. Beginning in October 2010 there will be a mandate to offer a list of preventative care at no co-pay or deductible. The list is quite long and while it will be a popular benefit it does come at a financial cost. A “Grandfathered” plan will not be required to offer this enhanced list of preventative care.

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2. Consider moving to a Consumer Driven High Deductible Plan as this will be a preferred and cost effective model when the market shifts in 2014. One of the inherent weaknesses of our current insurance structure is that it over insures a large segment of the group. Younger employees tend to rarely go to the doctor but have the same benefits that older employees have. In this case, the employer pays the high cost whether or not the services are utilized. A Consumer Driven High Deductible Plan will cover all employees for a catastrophic event. This plan can be coupled with a reimbursement for some or all of the out of pocket deductible. The advantage is that the employer only pays the reimbursement when the services are actually used. Getting your employees comfortable with the concept will make for a smoother transition.3. Utilize Consumer Driven Individual High Deductible Plans for your employees not on the group insurance policy. This can be done on a tax favorable basis for the employee with or without an employer contribution. These policies are underwritten for health so they are generally much less expensive than the group insurance premium. Many companies will move to offering individual plans in 2014 since they will be required to accept all employees for coverage. Due to the subsidy and penalty system that will kick in, the cost structure will make more sense for the employer and in many cases the employee than the current group health insurance system.

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4. If you do not provide health insurance benefits but want to or are considering dropping your group plan then consider a Defined Contribution Plan. These plans allow the employer to set a controllable budget by setting a fixed contribution for employees. There are no requirements or restrictions to contributions as there are with group insurance policies. With this approach each employee chooses an individual policy that fits their specific needs.

How to Construct a Healthcare Marketing Plan

Even in this 21st Century, many physicians believe marketing is just putting an advertisement in the local newspaper, renovating the waiting room or conducting a direct mailing to people in the community. But, this is not a logical approach and you will not be able to accomplish anything. The key to successful practice marketing incorporates with designing a strategic marketing plan comprising your specific goals and their implementation methods. The plan serves as a road map to assist you achieve practice success. There are major steps required to develop a well-crafted, strategic marketing plan.Define your goals: Once you have decided to make your practice noticeable, you need to take some tough decisions and set practical and accessible goals to achieve over a specific time period. The time span allows you to concentrate on activities around community events. For instance, you can sponsor a marathon to spread awareness about breast cancer or speak at the annual health fair. One way to define goals is to differentiate them into short as well long periods. Take smaller steps first.

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Market Research: Market research is indeed necessary in order to draw a realistic picture of your practice, the community you practice in and your current position in that community. With market research, you will get a fair idea about future growth in the community, identify competitive factors and explore other opportunities. Your research might prove to be a revelation for your practice, as it may stress upon problematic areas in your expertise.Time to analyze the research: After you have completed the research, it’s time now to analyze the raw data you collect and summarize it into meaningful findings. With these findings, you can lay a strong foundation for your practice to deliver the desired results. The research will help you identify what actually it is that your potential patients seek from you. Based on your findings, you can modify some of your goals.Target Audience: With the analysis of your market research data, you can specify the patients to whom you would like to direct your marketing efforts. Your targeted patients may be based upon age, gender, location, payer type or language/ethnicity and those with certain clinical needs. Remember, your target audience should not only be the patients you want to attract, but also those who can make a positive impact in bringing such patients to your practice.

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The importance of budget: Before you step on the gas to what you want to achieve, you need to examine your financial information and come up with a marketing budget. Marketing budgets differ from practice to practice and strategies involved. There’s no boundation on how much you can spend on marketing. Big or small, ensure your investments are worthwhile that will give the community a positive image of your practice.

Healthcare Staffing Agencies – Secrets To Finding Your First Client

Here is a simple technique you can use when starting a healthcare staffing agency with the intent of finding clients. This technique can be used if you are either beginning as an entrepreneur or are an existing staffing agency wishing to move into the healthcare staffing industry.Everybody loves to receive gifts, I have never met someone who will say no to a simple gift. A simple gift can be a cup of coffee, a coffee cup, pens, a nice novelty gift or anything within that realm.

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What you do is make a list of direct mailers. Mail them to a select group of clients you are wishing to contact. Make sure you pre-screen the facility and determine the current need.How do you determine the current staffing need? Simple! Look online and go to the job sites and type in the facility name. You will probably see there current placement need. Use that information to your advantage. Perhaps even custom design the mailer to focus on the needs of each facility.Mail them the mailers and wait a couple of days. Then visit the facilities and drop on in with gifts to give both the gatekeepers and the manager. Make sure you are speaking to the decision makers in reference to who determines the use of outside agencies.

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When you visit the facility and speak to the decision makers, address the mailer, this helps break the ice and identifies you. They may or may not have read the mailer, in the event they did, it only helps your cause.

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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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.