Completing common healthcare facility maintenance tasks can often drag the hospital’s budget southward. However, the positive impact on the surrounding community when higher quality materials are used is immeasurable, and can end up benefiting the facility’s budget in the long term. How? Community members constantly want better care, more efficient care, and the most up-to-date technical equipment. All patient-care environments are evaluated on these criteria, and all can be tracked to the efficiency and effectiveness of a healthcare facility maintenance team and their plan.Upgrade Existing Equipment Or Materials For Major Cost SavingsMany healthcare facility maintenance crews try to stretch the life of existing systems or materials for as long as possible. Consider having an engineer complete a process-improvement inspection to obtain a benchmark of the current states of all systems. The results of this inspection can then be used to form a plan on how to improve the overall efficiency and cost effectiveness of the entire facility. With proper planning, major cost savings can be found by making systems considerably more energy-efficient, or with better technology to speed up and improve patient care.Promote Environmentally-Friendly Initiatives For Cost Savings And Good WillBeing green is all the rage right now, but for good reason. Healthcare facility maintenance managers can make good use of environmentally-friendly upgrades, and not only experience cost savings, but promote a lower carbon footprint. Utilizing these measures also tends to have an excellent impression on the surrounding community. Certain states or municipalities may offer additional funding if green measures are taken when renovating or doing expansions. Between this potential funding and the community’s support, the facilities can benefit far more than by simply seeing lower energy costs.Don’t Forget About The Aesthetic AppealIt’s easy to focus on mechanical breakdowns and forget about the overall appearance of a healthcare facility. Maintenance crews spend the majority of their time doing corrective and preventative maintenance; cosmetic upgrades are generally left for last. However, don’t think that improving interior and exterior finishes, signage, or even lobby areas is just a drain of funds; it actually improves the overall atmosphere of the building. The fact is, the appearance of a hospital can have a huge impact on the first impression of quality of care expected. Maintaining traffic levels is crucial to keeping hospital doors open, but keeping patrons feeling well taken care of and comfortable is also essential to that goal.Long-Term Maintenance Planning Is KeyWith a proper long-term maintenance plan in place, it’s possible to stretch and allocate even tight budgets to not just maintain healthcare facilities, but improve them. If existing healthcare maintenance staff members are not experienced enough to create and execute such a plan, consider outsourcing the responsibility. Professional building maintenance companies that see a large number of facilities can provide an objective perspective, and they have the experience to best prioritize tasks. Significant cost savings can be seen even in the short term, with exponential improvement over time as efficiency improves.
With the number of joint replacement procedures growing at extraordinary rates, putting extreme pressure on already rising healthcare costs, the healthcare community must ensure that it is adequately equipped to meet the demand by preparing for the rising costs and making sure that there are enough orthopedic surgeons to handle new cases. For their part, medical device companies need to design and manufacture implants with longer life spans to avoid revision surgeries that add to healthcare costs, while exploring alternatives to traditional joint replacement procedures.Record growth in joint replacement surgeries represents a lucrative opportunity for implant makers, but with opportunity comes the responsibility to help hold down increases in healthcare costs before they overwhelm our collective ability to pay. Medical device companies are developing new materials and procedures and working with healthcare providers on preventive measures. Even so, more needs to happen to prevent joint replacement surgeries from overburdening the healthcare system.Joint replacements, which have been performed since the late 1960s, can be highly successful at relieving pain, repairing damage caused by arthritis, and helping people to function normally and remain active. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, about 43 million Americans, or nearly one in five adults, have some sort of arthritis pain. Knees, the largest joints in the body, are usually the most painful. Since obesity is also highly prevalent, cases of arthritis are beginning to onset at a much earlier age in overweight people.Number of Replacements SkyrocketingWith an aging baby-boomer generation, it should come as no surprise that the number of hip and knee replacement procedures have skyrocketed. The Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) shows that primary hip replacements increased by 48%, from 153,080 procedures in 1997 to 225,900 in 2004. First-time knee replacements grew by 63% from 264,331 in 1997 to 431,485 in 2004. According to HCUPNet, 228,332 patients received total hip replacements in 2006, and 496,077 patients received total knee replacements.If these trends continue, an estimated 600,000 hip replacements and 1.4 million knee replacements will be carried out in 2015. It is estimated that by 2030, the number of knee replacements will rise to more than 3.4 million. First-time replacement procedures have been increasing equally for males and females; however, the number of procedures has increased at particularly high rates among people age 45-64 years.According to Datamonitor’s 2006 report, the US accounts for 50% and Europe 30% of the total procedures worldwide. The 2005 revenues for hip implants in the US were $2 billion and $1.4 billion in Europe, while knee implant revenues comprised $2.4 billion in the US and $774 million in Europe.Demand & Technology Drive Cost Increases With the increase in demand and improved implant materials and surgical techniques, the cost of these procedures is also increasing. According to NIS, Medicare was the major source of payment in 2004 (55.4% for primary hip replacements, 59.3% for primary knee replacements). Private insurance payments experienced a steeper increase. In 2004, the national bill for hip and knee replacements was $26 billion. Hospital cost accounted for $9.1 billion, and the amount of reimbursement was $7.2 billion (28% of hospital charges or 79% of hospital cost).Another study from Exponent, Inc. analyzed Medicare data for hip and knee replacements from 1997-2003. It was found that while procedural charges increased, reimbursements actually decreased over the study period, with higher charges observed for revisions than primary replacements. Reimbursements per procedure were 62-68% less than associated charges from primary and revision procedures. It is evident that joint replacements have the potential to be highly lucrative, but the burden on patients and our healthcare system must also be considered.Behind the Growth TrendAn aging population and increased incidence of obesity are primary causes for the increase in joint replacements. Nearly 65% of the US population is overweight, and arthritis is highly prevalent among this group. With more patients receiving joint replacements at an earlier age, there is much higher probability they will outlive their artificial joint.A recent study in Wales tracked joint replacement procedures since 2003 and found a revision rate of 1-in-75, which was considered to be a fairly good score. In the US, 40,000 knee revisions and 46,000 hip revisions were performed in 2004. However, knee revisions are expected to increase sevenfold, and hip revisions to more than double by 2030.Revision surgeries are problematic for several reasons. In addition to the extra recovery time for patients, revisions are tougher operations that take longer and cost more. There is often a reduced amount of bone to place the new implant and there is a much higher complication rate.Why Implants FailWith hip replacements, the most common problems are postoperative instability and repeated dislocations. Surgeons must consider many risk factors before the initial surgery, including age, gender, motor function disorders, dementia and prior hip surgery. The surgical approach can also affect the risk for dislocation and leg-length discrepancy, so proper pre-operative planning is a must.Components design and positioning may also contribute to instability. Dislocations are often caused by movement outside the normal range of motion, so it is important for patients to take the proper precautions following surgery. A study by the Mayo Clinic showed that in the case of repeated dislocations, the hospital fees for treatment and revision surgery end up costing, on average, 148% of the cost of the initial replacement. The decision to undergo a revision surgery is typically made based on repeated dislocations and the patient’s health. Patients that have undergone previous hip surgeries or have poor abductor muscles are at greater risk for failed revisions.Revisions of knee replacements may be required when patients experience infection, osteolysis, implant loosening or misalignment, knee injury or chronic progressive joint disease. Decisions to undergo revisions are made based on previous knee surgeries, current health and radiographic examinations. Patients with poor bone quality, unresolved infection, peripheral vascular disease or poor quadriceps muscles or extensor tendons are at greater risk for a failed revision.Preventive MeasuresWith the unprecedented growth in replacement procedures, measures must be taken to prevent this phenomenon from overwhelming our healthcare system. This can be accomplished through better preventive care, alternatives to total replacements, and by ensuring that primary replacements are successful. Reducing obesity and treating arthritis at earlier stages will help reduce the numbers of procedures. In addition, many have called for a national joint replacement registry such as those in Australia, Great Britain, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden, which track high failure rates associated with some joint replacement procedures.Alternative procedures are available that have improved dramatically over the past 10 years. For example, partial replacements are less-invasive, with smaller scars and shorter healing times because only the diseased compartments are replaced. Minimally invasive procedures are available for total replacements in some patients. There are also new options available for women needing total knee replacement, known as “gender-specific” knees that are slimmer and contoured to more closely imitate the female anatomy. Hip resurfacing is another procedure gaining in popularity because it conserves more bone than a traditional total hip replacement. This type of implant will last longer than a traditional hip replacement.New biomaterials and component designs also increase the lifespan of implants, and computer-assisted surgery can improve the success of joint replacement by allowing more accurate and precise implant alignment. Several studies have shown this type of procedure to be more cost-effective by preventing the need for revision.Looking AheadFor medical device companies, the record growth in joint replacement procedures presents a lucrative opportunity. However, manufacturers need to work with the medical community to help ease the burden of this epidemic by increasing the success and longevity of their implants and exploring alternatives to the traditional joint replacement procedures.Undoubtedly, national joint replacement registries have proven useful in other countries. The medical community needs to demand that a registry be put in place in the United States, and it needs to do a better job of educating society on prevention. It is important that the medical community, including device companies, come together with a plan for preventing the potential burden this overwhelming surgical load could have before it takes a toll on our healthcare system.
The healthcare industry is one that is growing at a very fast pace, given that the population of the United States is rapidly aging. There will be added pressure on hospitals to provide high quality health care to growing numbers of patients. At the same time, hospitals, nursing homes and clinics will have to find out ways to bring costs down because many people simply cannot afford expensive medical care. Lean healthcare is the best way to address the issue since this enables medical organizations to improve quality at lower costs. If they have higher profits without being dependent upon fees from patients or payouts from insurance companies then they will be able to focus on improving services further.Lean healthcare focuses on simplifying and streamlining the work processes in order to make it less wasteful and more productive. Interestingly, Lean management techniques are generally associated with the manufacturing industry and certainly not with the service or healthcare industries which are very people oriented. The problem is compounded by the fact that the people providing service in the healthcare industry don’t necessarily have experience in management. These are highly qualified nurses, doctors and technicians who are great at their field of medicine but not very good at planning or executing tasks that are outside their specific field.Large hospitals all over the world are beginning to use Japanese-inspired management techniques to study the work flows in different areas in order to find out how they can simplify things. Teams are made up of people from different job profiles in the organization. These teams study various processes in order to identify areas where resources are wasted. This style of management only works if everyone in the organization comes on board, as it is very participatory in nature.Hospitals are investing in training programs in Lean management because this enables them to do far better with available resources than before. Not only do they save a lot of money but employees will also be happier than before. They will be very glad to be free from various emergency situations that arise because of poor management of resources. The increase in employee morale will enable them to go the extra length to look after patients. The hospital will make additional savings since it will be able to retain employees very easily. The people to stand to benefit the most from this are the patients.
It is a story that is echoed throughout millions of American households. A person applies for traditional healthcare insurance and gets denied, often for something silly. From there, they spend the rest of their life trying to avoid doctors and hospitals, in fear of the expense they might incur. However, with a discount healthcare plan, there is hope for the uninsured American. But before you pick one up, you need to think about whether or not such a policy is good for your situation.To begin this process, you need to understand how a discount healthcare plan works. It is not a type of insurance. Instead, it takes a percentage off of any medical bill you encounter. No extensive paperwork is required to be accepted for this type of plan. In addition, pre-existing conditions are not a factor. If you can make a small monthly payment, you will get your discount. All you have to do is show your card at the time you pay your bill.Of course, the downside to this is obvious. With a discount healthcare plan, you must pay for your expenses out-of-pocket. On the upside, when you do pay, the bill will be extremely low. Some people receive discounts of 50 percent or more with these types of plans. If you go to the doctor once a year, this is not a bad deal. A visit that costs $200 might be discounted to $100, depending on how generous the plan was. True, you don’t have insurance, but you were still able to save $100. If you had nothing available, you wouldn’t experience any savings as you would be forced to pay the full amount.The situation is different for people with extensive medical conditions. Even if they can achieve a 60 percent discount, they would still be unable to pay a hospital bill of $20,000. So, in that case, a discount healthcare plan is pretty much useless. But what if a person is experiencing a condition that is under control? If they could limit their doctor visits to every couple of months, and they chose a provider that was cheap to begin with, a discount plan could still be useful. Also remember that these plans extend to prescription drugs. When applied in this manner, the drugs can cost the same amount as if a person had been insured. For many individuals, this factor alone makes the discount plan worthwhile.If you need assistance in locating particular coverages at a pre-determined price, we can help you find a reduce health insurance premium today.
With the movement to reform health care, and the promotion of an undesirable healthcare reform bill, many are looking for solutions, as most people, if not in direct “need” of a doctor, know someone who is. Yet, for some reason, they do not want to pay for that person’s healthcare. I wonder why! I am writing in part due to a death that could have been prevented, if health care was not in the business of big money.Yes, healthcare has traditionally made a business off of people’s sickness, and has not promoted wellness, thus another victim of this insanity has died, leaving 2 little ones motherless.Today’s news is evidence that the law recognizes the rightfulness, the duty, of prevention, even if it is via administration of a necessary vitamin (in this case, mineral), instead of drugging, cutting, or otherwise ineffectively “taking care” of the problem!For those who haven’t heard, I am referring to a 44 year old woman, Caroline Johnston, who died this last week of a lack of potassium. The emergency room personnel had determined that she was dehydrated, and had low levels of potassium in her system, but only gave her the water, not the potassium (her family just won a suit for malpractice). Would it be giving too much credence to the power of nutrition, or is the healthcare industry just not trained in prevention?The healthcare business (and it is a business, it could have been called “wealthcare” for the doctors) addresses the sickness industry, and does not promote wellness. For example, is the person who, because of clogged arteries has a bypass, well? How many people have had to have another bypass? What is the cost of one bypass? How does one bypass affect a person’s financial situation, even if the surgery was totally covered?Compare this with the person who by right eating and lifestyle habits avoids the bypass altogether. What is the cost of eating right, even accounting for extra measures taken, such as joining a health club, or taking antioxidant supplements?My proposed solution is to promote learning and to prevent disease. This would basically call for a total re-focus of the healthcare industry from just treating sickness, to focusing on wellness and the prevention of disease. At the least, it will save millions of dollars, and at the most, trillions, with many lives bettered and saved. Sounds like reform to me! To do something to take back control of your health and finances, visit my website below.
When you want to work in the healthcare industry, you have a variety of options for different types of employment. Although standard healthcare jobs such as nurses and physicians are a possibility, you also have other choices that may not be as known or popular.Medical AssistantsMedical assistants help doctors and chiropractors in different clinical settings. These professionals may also help with administrative tasks in various situations. Diagnosis and treatment are not a part of this position, but medical assistants can perform some medical procedures. Most medical assistants work in doctors’ offices, some are employed in hospitals, and others work in other venues such as nursing homes or residential care facilities.Lab TechniciansLab technicians perform many different types of tests on patients. Some workers specialize in the care they provide. For example, some professionals only draw blood, and others specialize in preparing tissue samples for diagnostics. Lab technicians receive training to operate laboratory equipment such as cell counters and microscopes. Job responsibilities may include examining tissue samples for bacteria and analyzing the test results.Pharmacy TechniciansPharmacists often have pharmacy technicians preparing prescriptions and maintaining health records. Some duties of this position include measuring medication and filling prescriptions, preparing medication for patients, preparing labels for medicines, and maintaining stock on shelves. This professional might work in a hospital, a clinic, a stand-alone pharmacy, or in a pharmacy located within a larger store. People employed in this profession cannot make any changes in medication dosage without the express supervision of a licensed pharmacist.Respiratory TherapyRespiratory therapists and respiratory therapy technicians assist people experiencing various breathing problems, including asthma and cardiopulmonary disease. These two healthcare jobs may sound like the same careers, but they have different duties. Both professionals assist patients with breathing problems, but a respiratory therapist has a higher degree of responsibility, performing more complicated procedures and consulting more frequently with physicians. Both professionals will perform diagnostic tests. After a physician determines the course of treatment, a therapist or a therapy technician would assist with administering medication or conducting therapy.Surgical TechniciansThe staff members working in operating rooms are surgical technicians. They are responsible for preparing patients for procedures and helping physicians during surgeries. These professionals are also responsible for preparing operating rooms with equipment and materials that will be needed during procedures and helping doctors prepare and sterilize themselves. Complicated surgeries require more staff members than simple ones. This staff typically works in hospitals and in some clinics that perform outpatient procedures.Knowing that you want to assist and care for patients may lead you to explore a variety of healthcare jobs. Whether you enjoy excitement or a calmer environment, you can find something that appeals to your needs and desires. After education and training, you can usually find job opportunities almost anywhere, because patients need healthcare in virtually every geographic location. You may also experience positive advancement when employed in this industry.