Archive for category healthcare reform

We’re Listening…

There are lots of opinions out there regarding healthcare reform. I received a great email the other day from a friend of mine who also happens to be an orthopedic surgeon. I felt it would be appropriate to share his concerns about the current debate surrounding health reform. He has graciously agreed to allow me to post his thoughts on our blog.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that you — surgeons, support staff, device reps, and administrators — still have a voice. Your voice can make a difference. Ask for what you want. Stand up for what you believe. We are counting on you and your expertise to lead us into the future of healthcare. We’re listening to you.

Here is what Dr. Woods had to say:

Doctors are not very politically active as a group and we mostly hope that if we do a good job taking care of our patients everything will work out for the best.

That includes the 2AM drunk biker who crashes and gets hauled in on the helicopter so we can all get out of bed and fix him (or her) up. We put up with that scenario where we work on these people and follow them along for substantial amounts of time and never get paid a dime. Again, most of us figure that it will all be OK, and it’s part of our job. Oh yeah, I almost forgot…we also have federally mandated regulations with financial and possible jail sentence penalties if we refuse to treat an emergency patient based on lack of ability to pay us. That also goes for the hospitals as well. So, essentially, we are forced to work for free. Isn’t that called slavery? The “loss” associated with writing off the fees charged for those “free procedures” represents tens of thousands of dollars per year, just for me alone. It is also illegal for me to deduct those losses on my business tax returns. So if any or all of the above could somehow be fixed we doctors would love that.

Also, if something goes wrong with that patient, or if he just doesn’t like his outcome, he can and frequently will sue everybody; me, the hospital, the anesthesiologist, the implant manufacturer. It doesn’t matter that he was the one who rode his motorcycle drunk and crashed. It doesn’t matter that we all did our best to put him back together. He and his attorney want somebody to pay for his situation. It would also be nice to regulate that broken system.

The other big problem that physicians have is that for the most part we are unable to set our own fees for our procedures. We cannot even discuss what we charge with another colleague; that has been deemed illegal by the feds. The insurance companies that eventually pay us on behalf of patients, however, are able to discuss what they are going to “allow” as a “reasonable” fee. Who decides what a reasonable amount of money is for taking someone’s spine apart and putting it back together? Answer: a CEO of an insurance company somewhere. Want to guess who makes more money: the guy that does the work or the guy that controls the money. This is a huge problem in this country, and really is THE big problem with health care costs. These gigantic companies charge more each year for insurance premiums and pay the guys doing the work, physicians, the same or less each year.

Where is all that excess cash going? If it’s not being paid out to physicians, and employers and patients are paying more each year, it’s obviously staying in these gigantic companies. Much of it is being paid out in equally gigantic bonuses. A ton of that money is also being used to lobby the feds as well. That hasn’t changed a bit with the new administration and congress. It doesn’t matter who’s in power…money talks!

Buy the way, Medicare pays us as much or less for many procedures than they did in 1994…I kid you not!

We all signed up for this when we decided to go to medical school, so I guess somehow it’s our own fault…See my first statement about being politically naive. However, if the Feds and these private insurance companies step in and further regulate how I do my job and pay me less and less, you can bet that many doctors will not be able afford to keep their offices open. Many more of us will decide that it’s not worth the legal exposure and the late nights and will simply refuse to do it anymore. At some point doctors as a group will say “Enough!” and that may happen very soon. Let’s watch a CEO or a Senator or a plaintiff’s attorney fix a broken femur at 2AM!

Further, any bright kid coming up that is intelligent will not want to put in the effort required to become a physician. This is already happening and will get much worse if the current reforms take place. This obviously will have far reaching consequences for us Boomers as we get older and sicker.
So how do we fix all this…Sorry…I’ll bet you were hoping that I’d have an answer…unfortunately I don’t.

I can tell you that the current cluster that is occurring in Congress will NOT EVEN COME CLOSE to fixing any of the above scenarios, and will make the problem much worse. Until somebody reigns in the malpractice attorneys and the CEO’s of those big insurance companies the above scenarios will get worse, not better. You can write to your congressman, but they are mostly part of the problem, not the solution…as long as the big money lobbyists have their ear.

It will likely take a literal “revolution” by the medical community to change this, and my prediction is that it’s coming sooner than everybody thinks. I probably sound angry…and if I’m honest…I really am. But I am not the only doctor that feels this way…I would say that the majority of physicians have similar feelings to this. Recent surveys have shown that 65% to 70% of practicing physicians would not go into medicine if they had to do it over again…that’s a sad statistic.

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Press Release: Case-Connect Selected as Force.com Forty Innovation Showcase Finalist

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona (November 16, 2009) – During the past year, software powerhouse Salesforce.com has been seeking the best innovators in the cloud computing industry. After viewing hundreds of demonstrations, the expert panel at Force.com has selected Case-Connect as one of the top 40 innovators of the year. The overall winner will be featured this week at Dreamforce 2009, the premier cloud computing event of the year.

Healthcare efficiency is a hot topic in the United States. The federal government has recently dedicated over $40 billion dollars to provide incentives for streamlined administrative procedures in the medical field. Case-Connect has entered the marketplace at a crucial time. “We are poised to be a major player in the healthcare IT revolution,” says Mark Roady, founder and CEO of Surgical Data Solutions. “Case-Connect brings new procedures and technologies to the table that will drastically improve the efficiency of surgical offices.”

Case-Connect is a healthcare IT application that helps surgical offices schedule cases using up-to-date technology. “Our goal is to provide surgeons with the tools that will help their practice,” says Roady. “We consistently hear about the scheduling challenges facing surgical offices, and Case-Connect is our way of eliminating most of those challenges.”

Case-Connect is gaining recognition as an important piece of administrative efficiency, right alongside the innovators in electronic medical records (EMR) and other healthcare IT measures. The Force.com finalist selection opens the doors to widespread recognition. Roady notes that “Case-Connect is the only application in the final showcase that is geared toward the healthcare industry. I think we are indeed showing ourselves to be a true pioneer in our niche.”

Salesforce judges will select the top overall application to be presented at Dreamforce 2009. This event is held November 17-20 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. For information about Dreamforce 2009 and the Force.com 40 Innovation Showcase, please visit the showcase website.

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Cloud Computing Brings Big Savings to Healthcare


Whether or not you agree with the new healthcare bill, one thing makes sense – saving money. The Democrats say that there are ways to save up to $500 billion by making Medicare more efficient…Republicans would be happy to save that kind of money from a public program. The argument seems to be what to do with the extra money once it is found. That’s a topic for someone else’s blog. We’re here to talk about saving you money.

What would you do with extra money in your bottom line? Are there ways for you to “trim the fat,” so to speak? There may not be $500 billion floating around in your overhead, but there is definitely some cash that would be better spent elsewhere.

The experts seem to agree that a big chunk of this wasted money can be saved through streamlined processes and technology improvements. The same goes for your practice – efficiency is always good economics. By implementing a few modern procedures in lieu of outdated stand-bys, everyone’s wallet seems to benefit. Savings attained by surgeons, hospitals, and vendors eventually work their way down to patients.

Cloud computing is the modern procedure that will make the most difference; both short-term and for the future. Let’s take a look at the cost and efficiency savings that come through cloud computing (savings that have been enjoyed by other industries for some time now).

Cash-flow
Freeing up cash-flow is paramount to freeing yourself. If you could distance yourself from one more nagging liability on your balance sheet, your world would be a better place. Cloud computing does just that. Since cloud computing applications use web-based platforms, you avoid costly infrastructure and IT costs. Most credible software as a service (SaaS) applications are pay-as-you-go, thus eliminating the need for big, static liabilities.

Instant Implementation
Unlike many software and IT solutions that require weeks or months of initial training, cloud computing options typically hit the ground running. Intuitive design and ease of operation make cloud computing options a great way to save on training costs. Time saved in the implementation process also means a quicker road to efficiency and money-saving results.

Increased Productivity
Working with a cloud computing system will bring your office increased productivity. Let’s take scheduling as an example: Surgical schedulers have been plagued by outdated methods since…well, since the fax machine was invented. A cloud computing service, such as Case-Connect, opens the doors to much-improved productivity. Surgical offices can now schedule many more cases in a shorter period of time. The efficiency of Case-Connect also affects the surgeon’s productivity by eliminating scheduling errors and wasted trips to the OR. Surgical offices are free to book more cases and grow their practice because of their newfound productivity.

Cloud computing may have taken a while to enter the healthcare sector, but it is a welcomed addition. While the politicians discuss healthcare reform in Washington, we can find our own hidden treasures in our own procedures. Cloud computing opens the doors to significant savings – and while it may not bring $500 billion in lost revenue, it will eliminate our version of “wasteful” spending.

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Cloud Computing Making Splash in all Sectors of Healthcare

Cloud computing is nothing new…but it is starting to make headway in the healthcare industry. Cloud computing, or the system of operating using an Internet based system, is widely used in business. Don’t believe me? Do a Google search for Google and see what pops up. Online solutions are running rampant. Until recently, however, healthcare IT hadn’t been able to harness the power of the cloud.

EMR

The old way...There has been a lot of talk recently about making healthcare services more efficient. One of the major tenets of improved healthcare efficiency is converting paper-based files to electronic medical records (EMR). The issue has not been resolved in the past due to security issues and the fact that medical offices and hospitals each have their own internal software setups – few of which are compatible with each other. Cloud computing has allowed for an adequate solution.

Keeping medical records on a centralized, online server is the most secure way to handle sensitive information. It is also the best way to ensure that information is easily shared between hospitals and physicians – competing internal software platforms are not an issue in cloud computing models. While there is still debate about how to bring about this change, most agree that cloud-computing is a viable way to make EMR a reality.

Research

Researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin recently completed a comprehensive study of proteins that resulted in valuable data that could be used across the world. This type of research has been difficult in the past due to outrageous expenses associated with buying and maintaining software programs required to analyze data. With cloud computing, things have changed.

The Medical College of Wisconsin has employed a cloud computing application that allows other research and medical facilities to access a free set of data analysis tools. These medical facilities no longer require the expensive software to study crucial data – they merely need a viable Internet connection!

Surgical Scheduling

In the past, surgical schedulers were required to fax information about an upcoming surgery to hospitals, support staff, device reps, and even patients. Never mind the computer sitting on their desk; everyone demanded paper copies via the fax machine. Just like with the EMR upgrade, cloud computing has provided surgical schedulers a better way.

Case-Connect Online Surgical SchedulingCase-Connect, a cloud computing based system of surgical scheduling, streamlines the entire process. All applicable parties to the surgery are notified via online communication and have the opportunity to view pertinent data online. No more lost papers or endless follow-up calls. Surgical offices will reap the benefits of improved surgical scheduling and lower costs.

The cloud computing revolution has taken a bit longer to reach our field, but we should embrace its arrival. It’s about time – we deserve the help!

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Online Surgical Scheduling is the Cure for the “Inefficiency Bug”

The universal healthcare debate continues — the political frying pan is heating up quickly. It’s hard to steer clear of some reference to the topic du jour of our nation. Once again, I remind you that this is not a political blog — you won’t find hostilities or arguments here (there are plenty of those blogs available if that’s what interests you…)

I want to discuss a single talking point that sometimes gets brought up in this debate – “the preexisting condition.” Both sides agree that something has to be done for those citizens with preexisting conditions…what that is, on the other hand, is yet to be determined. These conditions come in all shapes and sizes, but one thing is certain: the people deserve the very best treatment available.

There’s a preexisting condition out there that worries me. It has a virtual stranglehold on thousands in this country, and many of them don’t even know they are sick. There are no telethons, infomercials, or sponsorship opportunities to help the victims – they are often left to fight the battle alone. It occurs in surgical offices, mainly, but I’m sure it rears its ugly head in other places, too.

The condition: Faximus Horrendus – (inefficient scheduling, often involving a fax machine).
The infection rate: severe.
The cure: Case-Connect Surgical Scheduling Software.
The prognosis: excellent.

The onset of this deadly condition can be devastating. Families miss out on rousing dinner conversations because of late hours in the office. Lunch breaks are replaced with a queue of never ending phone calls and monotonous hours standing at the fax machine. Bottom lines remain trapped in the quagmire of mediocrity.

Despite its devastating appearance, Faximus Horrendus can indeed be treated. There are, however, very few “solutions companies” that will take on such a preexisting condition. Some may claim to have the remedy only to reveal later that their cure is merely a sugar pill. Placebos have no effect on this condition.

Not just anyone off the street can prescribe an antidote to surgical scheduling inefficiency. Treating this illness involves tapping into the ever-growing digital age and web-based platforms – many so-called remedies rely on outdated software designed for other industries. (Is a bulky software setup designed for the construction field really going to help your surgical case scheduling?)

Case-Connect is the only product with the strength to rid your office of this ugly condition. Fax machines: beware! There is a new solution in town, and it is taking on all preexisting conditions — no office histories to turn in, no experimental remedy clauses to sign, and no “stepping on to the scale.” Everyone is welcomed.

This is one healthcare solution that can definitely be “universal.” Let the healing begin…

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Breaking News: A Healthcare Proposition We Can All Support

You can’t turn on the television, listen to the radio, log into Facebook, or even walk through the grocery store without hearing something about the rapidly-heating healthcare debate. I’ll leave the debates to the political blogosphere, but I do think we can all benefit from a closer look at the issues.

There are plenty of issues surrounding President Obama’s healthcare plan that provoke argument. Depending on your political persuasion, terms like “single-payer,” “deficit,” “affordable drugs,” or “universal care” will stir up strong emotions and force you to choose a side. Not every detail in the proposal is debated, however.

There are some parts of the idea of healthcare reform that cross political boundaries. One of the things that resonates loudly with both sides of the aisle is the need for streamlined, efficient processes in the medical field. Costs will continue to rise if the bulky, slow, and inaccurate ways of doing business continue.

Here is what President Obama said recently:

“We can no longer afford to put health care reform on hold. Our recovery plan will invest in electronic health records and new technology that will reduce errors, bring down costs, ensure privacy and save lives.”

The need for streamlined practices in the medical field is now the elephant in the room. We know it, and now the world knows it. Our best kept secret (the fact that we haven’t quite hopped on the technological revolution bandwagon) is now being debated on prime-time news. Whether or not the government should show us how to be efficient is not the issue. It’s time for us to change – with or without a government mandate.

Case-Connect is a way for surgical offices to shed some weight…so to speak. Schedulers will find that the digital age has led to time-saving, headache relieving strategies for scheduling a case. Using an online platform for communication with support staff, hospitals, patients, and vendors streamlines the scheduling process. Records, data, and conversations can be sent securely, quickly, and efficiently. No more lists of 30 phone calls to make after lunch…computers will take care of the confirmations. No more fax blunders, either…digital copies of instructions and records are immune to pen leaks, soda spills, and misplacement.

The government may dictate many of the regulations and processes for our industry in the coming months. Whatever happens, we can help ourselves by embracing technology and using it to streamline our practices. That’s a proposal that we can all get behind. All in favor? “AYE.”

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