Category Archives: Healthcare

Careers in Healthcare Administration

The thought of a career in healthcare may conjure up images of doctors, nurses, and other direct healthcare providers rushing in their scrubs from one emergency situation to another.

While there is little doubt that these direct patient care providers are the key to healthcare delivery, many others are working behind the scenes to ensure the entire process is smooth and seamless throughout the system.

Among these healthcare professionals are health services managers, also known as healthcare executives or administrators.

Healthcare Administration: The Profession

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the primary job of a healthcare administrator is to plan, direct, coordinate, and supervise the delivery of health services in a healthcare facility. A healthcare administrator may manage:

  • An entire healthcare facility

  • A specific clinical department

  • The medical practice of a group of physicians

  • Typically, a healthcare administration degree is required for the job. Depending on the level and type of degree they have, health services managers can find career opportunities in any of the following positions.

  • Hospital administration: The job of a hospital administrator is to make sure the hospital they manage runs smoothly and healthcare is efficiently delivered to those who need it. They coordinate day-to-day administrative activities such as creating work schedules, handling finances, maintaining records, managing inventory, etc. to ensure the business of healthcare continues uninterrupted.

  • Nursing home administration: Nursing homes are residential facilities for people who require constant nursing care. The challenges of managing a nursing home are quite different from those of managing a hospital. Part of a nursing home administrator’s duties is also to take care of the resident patients in addition to managing staff, finances, admissions, and the property itself.

  • Clinical administration: The responsibilities of a clinical administrator depend on the specific medical specialty department he or she manages. They are responsible for formulating and implementing policies for their clinical department, monitoring the quality of care provided to patients in that department, creating budgets, and preparing reports.

  • Health information management: Health information managers have the important task of maintaining and safeguarding patient information from unauthorized access. They work with the latest technologies in information management and security to handle hospital databases. It is, therefore, vital for health services managers in this field to keep themselves updated on evolving technologies.

Healthcare Administration: Training

Individuals interested in this profession are typically required to have a Bachelor’s in Healthcare Administration degree for entry-level assistant roles. Bachelor’s degree programs in health information management are also available for individuals interested in managing this aspect of healthcare.

Some employers, however, may insist on a graduate healthcare administration degree for the role of health services manager. A Master’s in Healthcare Administration degree may also be required for advancement from assistant roles to positions with more responsibility and a higher salary.

For healthcare administrators seeking advancement without having to take a sabbatical from work, an online Master’s in Health Care Administration program may be an ideal fit. An online healthcare administration degree can provide them the flexibility to continue their education and while still working full time.

Meet the Challenges of Healthcare Industry

The healthcare industry is going through a dramatic transformation. This transformation though challenging offers great prospects to improve efficacy and patient outcomes. Amidst several challenges, service providers are finding it difficult to provide quality care and services to patients. The role of IT in augmenting an organization’s efficiency while addressing current healthcare challenges is of paramount importance.

Healthcare software development refers to tools or software that can meet the growing needs of the healthcare industry, i.e. clinics, doctors, hospitals etc. A majority of healthcare companies look for solutions that can provide them with reliability, accuracy and time bound results. This will ensure proper maintenance of medical records.

Healthcare software solutions have changed the way workload was managed earlier. Considering the increasing demand and workload, software development companies have started devising solutions that can automate things and processes. These software development firms are equipped with state-of-the art infrastructural facilities. They make use of the latest systems, software and other advanced technologies to create the best customized healthcare solutions.

Some specific objectives that every healthcare service provider would like to fulfill include:

  1. Augmenting patient outcomes and methods to reduce waiting cycles
  2. Fulfilling significant use and other such regulatory requirements
  3. Improving communication between patient and service provider
  4. Mitigate risks by enhancing processes and quality assurance

Companies offering healthcare software development services constantly track, anticipate, evaluate and implement appropriate end to end solutions.These solutions can be utilized across different verticals such as Enterprise Application Development, Hospital Management System (HMS), Practice Management System, Billing & Coding Solution, Electronic Health Records Systems, Blood Bank Management Systems, Patient Management and Information System, and few more.

These solutions help patients and service providers to connect, communicate, and conform across functional, technical and regulatory aspects. In fact, many such companies are developing customized solutions for their clients depending on their needs.

Healthcare software development services include the following:

  1. Operational analysis and documentation of custom healthcare applications
  2. Technical architecture and designing of user-interface
  3. Development, testing and deployment
  4. Support and Maintenance

The objective of healthcare software development is to make the medical records manageable and accessible. The healthcare software solutions provide the capacity to store, manage and retrieve records for healthcare companies. They also provide solutions for streamlining numerous processes, to ensure hassle-free monitoring of patient’s health information.

Bringing Lean Healthcare

Starting Blocks

Without a doubt, Lean is set to make a big impact on the Healthcare sector over the next few years and many Healthcare organisations in both the public and private sector are already exploring how they could apply it to their patient pathways and administrative processes.

Whilst many of the tools of Lean are familiar to the people in the Healthcare sector, particularly aspects of Process Analysis, the real difference that Lean will bring is a change in the way that improvements activities are implemented rather than the use of the tools themselves.

Many people in the Healthcare sector are looking to people with Lean skills gained in manufacturing to help guide them through the maze of implementing Lean, including helping the organisation to prepare for Lean as well as undertake the specific improvement activities, including Value Stream Events, Rapid Improvement Events etc. Running alongside this is the need to develop the internal capacity of organisations to lead improvements themselves, which is achieved by developing internal Lean facilitators (or Change Agents).

However, as we already know, not every problem in Healthcare can be related to a problem encountered in Manufacturing and there are some significant differences in approach required to make for a successful improvement programme for people more familiar with leading Lean improvements in Manufacturing.

In this article we review some of the key differences that we have found in pioneering Lean transformation in Healthcare and share the structure to Lean activities that we have been developing to ensure that the organisations make sustained improvements rather than isolated Lean ‘ram raids’.

Interestingly, our work to date is also providing some useful learning that can be applied in reverse – from Healthcare back into Manufacturing!

The Same, But Different

As we have already said, Lean will make a big difference to Healthcare and will help them achieve their operational and financial targets but it needs to be applied sensitively within organisations that have been ‘pummelled’ by initiatives and legislation and have a not unreasonable cynicism towards ‘this new initiative called Lean’.

Like in many manufacturing businesses first embarking on an improvement journey, Healthcare employees are concerned about Lean being a vehicle to cut jobs. This feeling has not been helped by the recent NHS guide issued about Lean Healthcare which has chosen to use a Chainsaw as their main logo and was referred to by a Service Improvement Lead within an SHA (Strategic Health Authority) as the ‘Slash & Burn’ guide to Healthcare.

Issues such as this, along with the use of manufacturing focused terminology, photos and case studies when working with employees in Healthcare, has the effect of building up internal resistance and leads to comments such as “My patients are not cars” made by a Renal Consultant we encountered recently.

Additional differences can be seen in the attitude towards risk in Healthcare. In Manufacturing, if you make a mistake with Lean you may increase the risk of accidents but it is more likely it will just reduce productivity or profits. In Healthcare, similar mistakes can impact on Patient Safety (including increasing Morbidity or even Mortality) and can attract significant media attention.

Making this scenario even more complex is the fact that the ‘care pathways’ that patients experience often interact and overlap in a way that Manufacturing value streams do not, with patients switching between pathways and specialities dependent on their specific needs and treatment plans.

Management of these processes and pathways is complicated by the need to balance clinical concerns (such as patient safety and medical best practice) with ‘business’ concerns (availability of resources and finance), and the often uneasy balance that has to be struck between senior clinicians and organisational managers on these issues.

Whilst this sort of complexity is not alien to manufacturing, where there is a constant need to balance cashflow against sales (for example), the fact that this balancing and the resulting management of risk in Healthcare is so prevalent leads to a very different style of management – being more consultative and inclusive than Manufacturing, which slows decision making and involves a lot more analysis than many Manufacturing decisions, and the need to prove things first to sceptical clinicians.

This constant need for balance between clinical and operational concerns leads to one of the biggest differences we encounter, namely the difficulty in engaging the right people for the right amount time to make the improvements sustainable. This is not a new problem in Healthcare with many improvement initiatives having fallen foul of changing priorities, the allocation of insufficient people to an improvement process or simply having failed to move from discussion into action quickly enough.

One final difference between Manufacturing and Healthcare that we thought useful to highlight is simply the differences between what ‘customers’ think of as Value Adding in the two sectors. Giving comfort and advice to a patient is highly valued (for example, a nurse accompanying a patient being taken to theatre) but does not translate easily into a manufacturing equivalent activity.

A Holistic Approach
To counter these issues, introducing Lean into Healthcare requires a holistic approach that takes into account the following points:

1. Understanding Customer Value

Whilst the patient is the obvious (and most important) customer in a process, they may not be the only customer in a Healthcare environment; with others including (say) a Primary Care Trust that has commissioned a Hospital to undertake some activity on a patient and which will be invoiced for the activity.

However, in exploring what customer think of as value adding we do find some customers (patients) in Healthcare have become conditioned by their experiences to date. In one example we were speaking to a patient who attended clinics weekly as part of their treatment plan and was required to wait at every appointment for up to two hours. When we discussed what they valued and whether a reduced waiting time would be beneficial, they said they had come to expect the wait and would place more value on access to free coffee and better magazines to read!

2. Scoping Effectively

Identifying a compelling need for the improvement process is absolutely essential. The need to improve productivity or finances are often driving improvement initiatives in Healthcare but a compelling need based on saving money will rarely engage people from across the pathway.

Often a successful compelling need will focus on improving patient outcomes and achieving the statutory targets within public Healthcare (such as achieving an 18 Week maximum lead-time from referral by a GP to the start of treatment) as well as the need to achieve best practice rates for activity. Because of the importance of this step in the process, we have shown what we believe are the key elements required to successfully scope an improvement project in the text box opposite. It is worth stating that to be truly successful, the scoping of Lean improvements relies on having representation from across the pathway – even if, as is so often the case, that means including people who have never considered themselves as co-workers before, such as the GP and the Hospital Porter we had sitting next to each other at a recent Scoping session.

3. Effective Sponsorship

Leading a Lean project that spans such broad patient pathways requires a high degree of influencing skills. Even seeking to improve a simple administrative process like a Patient Discharge for example, could require the Project Sponsor to liaise, cajole and drive change across several stakeholder groups including GPs, consultants (the real custodians of the NHS), ward staff, medical secretaries, pharmacy staff, IT, social services and porters!

The Sponsor’s belief in Lean will be tested daily by such a large group of interested parties and so their capacity to maintain enthusiasm and motivate the Change Agents is vital. The secret weapon at their disposal, once the Scoping session has been completed is that an agreed Compelling Need will create “clarity of purpose”. Ultimately, if they engage enough people with the same message enough times, the followers will start to assemble.

4. Building Awareness & Capacity

Given the concerns of many in Healthcare that Lean is going to be used to shed jobs, it is essential that there is thought given to the communication of the ‘Compelling Need’ – what Lean is, what it is not and what will happen. Running alongside the raising of awareness will be the need to focus on developing the capacity of individuals within the organisation to enable them to lead Lean improvements.

In addition to initial awareness activities, there is also a need to build on-going communication activities to report on progress, involve others in the design of new processes and ensure that the organisation embeds the improvements achieved before (or alongside) moving onto the next challenge.

Our experience of this shows that at the start of the process a lot of people think of Lean as being just about ‘Process Mapping’ and there is a certain cynicism about it in many areas. This is quickly overcome but can be quite demoralising when first encountered and this confusion about Lean underpins the need to develop broad awareness within the organisation of what Lean truly can deliver.

In terms of capacity, many Healthcare bodies are keen to build internal capability to develop themselves as Lean organisations. Performance Improvement Teams are popping up all over the place and we have found that a large part of our work has been focused on helping these teams of change agents develop the facilitation skills and leadership attributes that will enable them to not only deliver change but make it sustainable.

5. End 2 End Understanding

We mentioned earlier that one of the ways that Lean in Healthcare is different to Lean in Manufacturing is that the pathways (value streams) interact in a different way. Another problem is often encountered through isolated events in one area having an unexpected (and often negative) impact either upstream or downstream in the pathway. Given the risk associated with making changes in different parts of Healthcare, we believe it is essential to develop an understanding of how the pathway operates from End 2 End and to review its critical constraints, current operating performance and the impact that likely changes might have elsewhere before seeking to create a suitable ‘Future State’ and implementation plan.

6. Embedding the Change

Much like Manufacturing, a large percentage of Lean projects in Healthcare are going to fail to deliver the results that organisations hoped for and many of these problems are related to the challenge of embedding the changes. So, having gathered support for an improvement programme and achieved the changes (through Focused Improvement Teams, Rapid Improvement Events etc), it is critical to also conduct the activities that will assist the embedding of the changes including

Healthcare Proposals Impact Medical Travel

American Healthcare & Medical Travel

Today, more than 48 million Americans are uninsured, while millions more learn they are underinsured when they become sick. America spends more than $2.3 trillion, or 16% of GDP, annually on healthcare costs. By the year 2016, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services forecasts that health spending will be $4.3 trillion or 20% of GDP.

Though America spends more than any other country on healthcare, it is ranked 37th in overall quality among the world’s healthcare systems by the World Health Organization. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, healthcare spending accounted for 10.9% of the GDP in Switzerland, 9.7% in Canada and 9.5% in France, all countries ranked higher than the U.S.

A recent Wall Street Journal-NBC Survey reported that the cost of healthcare is Americans’ number one economic concern. Growing numbers of underserved patients are turning to healthcare delivery alternatives such as traveling to foreign hospitals for necessary treatment. While the medical travel phenomenon started with cosmetic surgery, successes have emboldened patients who need joint replacements, cardiac surgery, spinal fusions and bariatric surgery to reach beyond America’s borders for alternatives. At the same time, health insurers and employers are noticing the opportunities for cost savings by outsourcing and the ability to reach new markets with tailored healthcare products.

Republicans and Democrats agree that current trends in healthcare are not sustainable. Not surprisingly, both presidential candidates, Senators Barack Obama and John McCain, have proposed equally radical remedies for America’s broken healthcare system. Though neither candidate addresses medical travel specifically, their healthcare plans suggest the likely impact on the medical travel market.

McCain’s Healthcare Plan

Sen. McCain would ask Americans to take on greater personal responsibility for their healthcare choices and rely on market forces to meet today’s healthcare challenges. According to Sen. McCain, increased competition and less government involvement will improve the quality of health insurance with greater diversity among plans, lower prices and portability.

Specifically, Sen. McCain would seek to make insurance more available by increasing variety and affordability of private plans. The Senator’s revolutionary idea is to eliminate the tax break that workers receive from employer-sponsored health plans, treating the benefit as taxable income, offset by a new tax credit of $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families. If the tax credit is more than the amount a person spends on healthcare premiums, the excess can be placed in a health savings account.

Sen. McCain believes that people who are covered by employer health benefits consume more healthcare services than is necessary. Presumably at least some of those excess services that can be redirected to the uninsured population. Putting patients in control their health spending will encourage competition among providers and insurers, reduce costs and improve the quality and portability of coverage.

Sen. McCain has proposed several policy initiatives to lower healthcare costs. These include: (1) greater competition in the pharmaceutical market; (2) improved systems for chronic disease prevention and management; (3) coordinated care among providers to render better outcomes at lower cost; (4) improved access through walk-in clinics in retail outlets; (5) use of information technology; (6) reforming the Medicaid and Medicare payment systems to pay for diagnosis and prevention but not treatment made necessary by preventable medical errors or mismanagement; (7) anti-smoking programs; (8) state spending flexibility; (9) tort reform to reduce frivolous lawsuits; and (10) improved transparency with better public information on treatment options, doctor records, outcomes, quality of care, costs and prices.

The Impact of Sen. McCain’s Plan on Medical Travel

The impact of Sen. McCain’s healthcare plan is to de-emphasize the employer-based health insurance system that currently covers 158 million Americans. Sen. McCain’s plan will likely encourage Americans to avoid taxation of health benefits and use their new tax credit to purchase health insurance on the open market. Young healthy people would likely be the first to switch from their employer plans and find cheaper alternatives in the open market.

Conversely, sicker older workers may initially choose to stay with the security of their employer-based plans. As the risk pool of employer-based plans becomes older, sicker and more expensive to insure, more employers will stop providing health benefits. Eventually, all workers will likely move to individual health plans.

Due to its focus on competition and free market solutions, Sen. McCain’s plan may encourage the medical travel market. Thus far, medical travel has been a completely consumer-driven phenomenon. By placing patients in control of their healthcare spending, and eliminating the tax incentive for workers to rely on their employers for coverage, patients will be encouraged to pursue treatment alternatives that maximize their healthcare dollars.

Let’s use the average American family as an example. The average employer-sponsored family health plan currently costs about $12,000 in annual premiums. On average, employers contribute $9,000 and workers contribute $3,000 to pay the premiums. Under McCain’s plan, workers will be taxed on the employer’s $9,000 contribution as income (as if the employer paid the $9,000 to the employee as wages), thereby eliminating the tax incentive for an employer-sponsored plan. Instead, the family gets a $5,000 annual tax credit.

A typical high-deductible, low-premium family plan on the open market costs about $10,000 annually ($2,000 less than the average employer-sponsored plan). Workers may use the $9,000 that their employer would have used to purchase coverage, (about $6,000 after taxes) and the $5,000 tax credit ($11,000 total) to pay for health coverage. Money left over after buying health insurance can be put in a Health Savings Account.

Insurers are finding that high-deductible, low-premium plans incorporating foreign providers can be offered to previously uninsured markets. These cheaper plans attract cost-conscious patients or patients with cultural ties to featured providers in Latin America and Asia.

Informed healthcare consumers will demand choice, transparency, high quality and reasonable prices from their providers and insurers. Consumers who receive more complete information and better prices from foreign providers may be persuaded to go abroad for treatment. McCain’s plan encourages consumer-driven market responses.

Obama’s Healthcare Plan

The central tenant of Sen. Obama’s healthcare plan is that everyone should have quality, affordable and portable coverage. His plan reflects the philosophy that government should guarantee affordable healthcare to all Americans. While Sen. Obama would mandate that every child be covered, he would seek to cover adults through a combination of employer and government programs.

Sen. Obama’s healthcare plan encompasses two revolutionary initiatives. First, Sen. Obama would require all employers to “pay or play.” All employers, except small businesses, must either provide quality health plans to employees or contribute (a new tax) to the cost of a public plan available to all Americans. The public plan would be similar to Medicare and provide coverage similar to that given to federal employees.

Sen. Obama’s second revolutionary idea is to create a National Health Insurance Exchange (“NHIE”) where insurers would sell coverage to small businesses and individuals. To participate, insurers would have to disclose costs and benefits of various plans and the percentage of premiums that go to patient care as opposed to administrative costs. The goal is to create a transparent market for health insurance that will improve quality, efficiency and value.

Notably, small businesses are exempt from Sen. Obama’s “pay or play” plan. Instead, small businesses receive a refundable tax credit of up to 50% on paid employee benefit premiums. The Small Business Health Tax Credit is meant to incentivize small businesses to offer quality health plans without hampering their ability to compete in the global marketplace.

Sen. Obama also proposes that hospitals and providers be required to publicly report data on preventable medical errors, nurse staffing ratios, hospital acquired infections and disparities in care. Transparency is required of both insurers and providers and is meant to help patients make better choices. Finally, Sen. Obama’s healthcare plan would allow Americans to purchase medicine from other developed countries offering safe products at lower prices.

The Impact of Sen. Obama’s Plan on Medical Travel

The immediate impact of Sen. Obama’s plan would be to bring millions of uninsured Americans into government sponsored managed care. Sen. Obama’s plan may also encourage employers to avoid the financial risks of raising healthcare costs and opt to pay into the public plan instead. Workers may get better benefits under the government’s plan than their employers can afford. If healthcare costs continue to climb unchecked, under Sen. Obama’s plan, employer plans may disappear.

Under Sen. Obama’s plan health insurers will need to look for ways to reduce the cost of covering previously the previously uninsured. Medical travel offers quality treatment at a fraction of the cost of similar care in the U.S without sacrificing quality. Some may argue that sending a patient abroad for care is itself a reduction in quality. However, foreign providers can demonstrate international accreditation and credentials that rebut such criticism.

Sen. Obama’s 50% tax credit for small businesses may encourage medical travel. Often small businesses operate in local, often demographically homogenous, communities. People with cultural ties to provider destinations may be more likely to travel for care. Small business and insurers can team up to offer customized plans that enhance care while reducing the cost.

In his calls for transparency, Sen. Obama’s plan echoes the philosophy of medical travel. Patients who travel for care demand information about surgeon success rates, infection rates, and nurse to patient ratios. The information empowers patients to make informed decisions. American providers often resist collecting this information to avoid it being used against them in a malpractice lawsuit. Sen. Obama’s transparency initiative encourages consumer-driven demands for more and better information.

Notably, Sen. Obama calls for all health plans to resemble the coverage offered to federal employees. The directive may limit the flexibility insurers need to introduce innovative cost cutting solutions like medical travel. If the government decided that traveling abroad for treatment reduced quality, insurers would have to eliminate medical travel from plans. Further, Sen. Obama has spoken out repeatedly against outsourcing. Medical Travel is the newest form of outsourcing. Given the reluctance of American doctors to embrace this trend in healthcare, it is unlikely that Sen. Obama would openly support medical travel.

Career Opportunities in Healthcare

A healthcare administration career via online healthcare management training requires no medical background. This is the field relating to the leadership, management and administration of healthcare systems, hospitals and hospital networks. Healthcare administration covers a broad area of activities and there is usually a set of factors that determine the types of jobs that need to be done to run any given facility; these often include the size and scope of the facility in question and the kinds of medical/ healthcare facilities they have.

Healthcare administrators are vital to the successful operation of any healthcare system. The day to day running and financial sides to healthcare require dedicated professionals to work on areas from clerical to administrative to financial. Healthcare professionals, also known as healthcare managers or health services managers are regular business managers who plan, direct, coordinate and supervise the delivery of health services. These managers can be specialists in charge of a specific department or managing entire facilities. Healthcare education has recently found a new home on the internet, with thousands of people pursuing online healthcare education and online training in order to improve their professional skills and profiles or to take the opportunity to switch to this lucrative and satisfying career from another field.

The following is a brief description of some of the major areas in healthcare administration for which extensive online health care administration and management education and training is now available.

General Administration

Healthcare organizations, like all other types of businesses, are often profit based businesses requiring the highest quality of managerial oversight. A healthcare unit requires a whole top and middle management team in order to function. Matters related to budgeting, profit and future expansion is also, likewise, a managerial responsibility (especially in larger facilities like hospitals).

Healthcare managers in administration positions normally answer to the board of directors. The workload is higher than for many other areas, with administrators often required to work between 55-60 hours a week, however, compensation and career benefits are attractive and the work itself is stable to a great extent. Growth opportunities are numerous and salaries are also amongst the higher levels, with healthcare administration staff making $40,000-50,000 for a start and improving to $120,000-130,000 within 10 or 11 years.

Human Resource (HRM)

HR professionals specializing in healthcare are responsible to maintain a working, motivated staff for all departments. They are often responsible for the hiring of medical staff (doctors, nurses etc) and generally fulfilling HR duties as in any other organization. These professionals average a salary of around $35,000 to $100,000 per year.

Medical information technology (MIT)

With great advancements in information sharing and technology, healthcare has changed drastically over the last few years. With the continued application of new technology in healthcare, a team of professionals is required to operate and maintain information systems (and networks), diagnostic machines, computer systems and software. They are also responsible for upgrading and problem solving. Professionals in this area earn anywhere in the range of $40,000-$100,000; the job description itself varying with the type of facility.

Public relations (marketing)

PR managers in healthcare are responsible for improving the healthcare facilities’ image in the public eye and to keep the surrounding public informed about the facilities and services offered at the healthcare unit. PR managers are also responsible for providing coordination services and information in the event of an emergency or disaster. PR managers are also the spokespersons for their respective facilities, representatives for the unit, and speak for the organization (for instance in the event of a lawsuit etc). They fall into the same pay grade as MIT or HRM professionals.

Finance

Finance professionals hold a critical importance today for healthcare at a par with doctors and nurses. The cost of healthcare is rising all the time, it is important to keep not only the facility profitable, but also to make healthcare as affordable as possible. These professionals are responsible for detailed financial aspects like budgeting, accounting, auditing and income & expenditure; also finding ways for administrators to cut costs and improve finding. Finance managers in smaller facilities average the same pay-scale as those for HRM and MIT; however those for larger facilities and with more experience can make considerably more than that ($80,000-$200,000 a year).

References:
Bureau or labor statistics – Handbook for occupational outlook – US dept. of Labor.

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DISCLAIMER: Above is a GENERAL OVERVIEW and may or may not reflect specific practices, courses and/or services associated with ANY ONE particular school(s) that is or is not advertised on SchoolsGalore.com.

Can Government Healthcare

Much has been written on this site and others, about the fallacy of a successfully run government healthcare delivery system in the United States.

Whether it is labeled single-payer, socialized medicine, national healthcare, etc., it is all the same and it will never work in America. In virtually every nation where the government runs the healthcare system, costs have risen well beyond expectations; long waits for treatment are commonplace; care is rationed and some treatments are denied; and taxes have increased to pay for the unexpected cost increases. There are no truly successful nationalized healthcare systems, when quality of care is compared to the gold standard: The U.S. healthcare system. By most measures however, the U.S. lags behind many other industrialized nations.

According to the World Health Organization, the U.S. ranks 24th in the world in life expectancy. This statistic alone should be cause for alarm, but upon further examination, we learn that the reasons have little to do with our healthcare system and more to do with the way we drive, what we eat, our violent behavior, our tobacco use, and our substance abuse.

The U.S. spends more on healthcare, per capita, than virtually every other industrialized country. But again, if we examine why, we find that this has much more to do with factors other than the actual cost of healthcare, like legal awards and fees, defensive medicine, malpractice insurance, the high cost of advanced technology, and certainly not least; the high cost that we all incur for the government mandates placed on health insurance companies.

We pay more for prescription drugs than any other country. However, the cost of drugs still remains only about 10% of our total cost of healthcare. Upon further examination, we can thank our own government for this. More on this later.

There is no arguing against significant reform of our healthcare system, but the prescription for the cure cannot be written by our current government. The Democrats in control of the U.S. government have only one fix; more government. They know no other way, it is in their DNA. But even putting aside politics, there is no way for a single payer system to work in America. Here is why…

Our Legal System: The American Bar Association would have us believe that litigation accounts for only 1% of total healthcare costs. This may be true for jury awards, but they are leaving out the biggest drivers of legal costs within the healthcare system. Things like legal fees for the defense, defensive medical practices, and malpractice insurance premiums are not factored in to the ABA figure.

Countries that rank above us in healthcare, according to the W.H.O., all limit plaintiff awards and have nowhere near the medical litigation we have in the U.S. In fact, if we were to just copy the medical-legal reforms of France, we could bring down healthcare costs in a significant way. Healthcare reform without true tort reform is only a haphazard attempt.

Immigration Law Enforcement: Virtually none of the illegal immigrants in the U.S. have healthcare insurance, since one needs a valid Social Security number in order to obtain coverage. Knowing that emergency rooms cannot turn away patients, the illegals have turned so many emergency rooms across the country into their primary care providers and pay nothing. These costs must be paid, so they are shifted to paying customers, driving the cost of an emergency room visit up for everyone except of course, for those who do not pay.

Illegal immigrants get sick, they get pregnant, they get into auto accidents and work-related accidents, they are involved in violent crimes, etc. If one multiplies the likelihood of these events by the millions of illegal immigrants, the result is enormously costly to us all.

Until we take strong measures to secure our borders and rid the country of those here illegally, we will continue to incur these costs.

Drug and Alcohol Abuse: Drug abuse in the U.S. is higher, per capita, than in any other industrialized country. The insidious drug abuse crisis in this country is a major driver of healthcare costs. Emergency room visits, mental health treatment, counseling and rehabilitation, and criminal activity all place upward pressure on the cost of healthcare.

Alcohol abuse is also responsible for a large percentage of serious auto accidents, which puts tremendous pressure on the system.

Government Mandates on Insurance Coverage: When advocacy groups successfully lobby congress or state governments and pressure them to force insurance companies to cover certain illnesses, it affects us all in the form of higher premiums. Many of us pay for coverage we don’t want or need, but they are forced upon us by our own government. One example is mental illness coverage. The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, an advocacy group and lobbyist, successfully coerced government to consider mental illness on par (parody) with physical illness, resulting in the mandate that every health insurance policy must cover mental illness. However, the group didn’t stop there; the scope of coverage was broadened over time to include such things as alcohol counseling, addiction counseling, and medication for shy people (now referred to as Social Anxiety Disorder). Severe mental illness can be catastrophic to the families of the mentally ill. Treating these patients can be very costly and coverage should be available in catastrophic insurance policies. But to mandate that every health insurance policy must cover the mildly depressed or shy or those who have difficulty paying attention drives premiums up for everyone.

The result of this is the expectation that every personality quirk must be treated by a doctor with expensive medicines. This puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the system. Drugs designed to treat even mild mental illness are some of the costliest and most widely prescribed medicines.

A married couple in their fifties should not be forced to pay for maternity coverage; they should be allowed to negotiate it out of their policy in exchange for a lower premium. Shouldn’t we be able to choose which coverage we want based on our individual needs? Unfortunately, government usually forces onto the majority, what is demanded by the minority.

In a single payer system, could the government roll back some of these mandated coverages without a revolt? Or would it simply continue to treat these illnesses and pay for it with mammoth tax increases? Probably the latter.

The Great Melting Pot: As preposterous as it sounds to the educated among us, the diversity that makes America unique will also make it nearly impossible to implement a nationalized healthcare system. Let me explain.

The United States is the least homogeneous country in the industrialized world. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but when we fail to see ourselves as Americans first, we have no inherent vested interest in the country. America is perhaps the only country in the world that insists on hyphenated labels for everyone. We cannot simply be Americans of African descent, or of Asian descent. No, we must be African-American, or Asian-American. Are there African-Austrians or Asian-Canadians? I don’t know, but I have not heard of any. My point is the great sense of nationalism and American pride that used to exist in America has been under assault for much of the last forty years. During this time, the tide has turned; instead of the U.S. Government playing the role of the great unifier to unite many groups into one great nation of Americans, it seeks to divide us along racial lines. The political Left has successfully segregated our society into a bunch of victim groups with their politically correct social engineering. In one of the greatest speeches of our time, John F. Kennedy implored us to ask not what our country can do for us- ask what we can do for our country. Over time, JFK’s own party has completely turned his appeal to Americans around 180 degrees.

This has rapidly created an entitlement mentality among a large percentage of our population. Nowhere is this entitlement mentality more evident than in the realm of healthcare.

We have already seen the havoc wreaked on our healthcare system when care is provided by the government. Studies of the Medicaid system have shown the average Medicaid patient accesses the healthcare system about ten times more than those on private plans or self-pays. In addition to free healthcare, we provide a cab ride to and from the provider’s location.

The Cost of New Medicines: There is no disputing the fact that Americans pay more for their prescription drugs than any other nation. To change this, we must first examine the causes. A certain amount of greed does exist on the part of the pharmaceutical industry, but this greed is what has given us some of the most innovative advances in medicine. It is a fact that most of the life-saving and life-changing molecular compounds have been developed with the hope of a profitable return on the investment, and without the superior economic landscape of the United States since World War II, finding and creating these compounds would be less likely to be a profitable endeavor. We can thank greed for our current quality of life and the dramatic decrease in infant mortality.

The very government that seeks to find a cure for the rising cost of prescription drugs is mostly to blame for these costs. In most other countries, one can go to the local pharmacy and purchase many of our prescription medicines without a prescription. Like any other government agency, the FDA does not like to give up control. When it reluctantly does however, we see a dramatic drop in drug prices. A case in point is the drug, Prilosec. Prilosec was at one time, a $5 billion a year cash cow for its manufacturer, AstraZeneca. Has anything changed in the ingredients or strength of Prilosec since it became an over-the-counter medicine? No; other than the fact that people can afford it now, and a doctor visit is not required to obtain it, it is the same drug that required a prescription before its patent expired. There are several classes of medicines the FDA knows are relatively safe, but chooses to keep them classified as prescription drugs.

The approval process for prescription drugs is a costly and arduous one for pharmaceutical companies. It requires three phases of testing, and once a compound is submitted for approval, the patent protection clock begins. Although pharmaceutical companies make their best educated guess as to which discoveries to submit for approval, the FDA approves about one out of nine submittals, on average. $300-$900 million later, a drug may make it to market. This is the preponderant reason that a pill which costs ten cents to manufacture is priced at five dollars. The fact that many in Congress do not understand this should be troubling to all of us.

In a single payer system, will the government simply set the prices of prescription medicine? If so, we can forget about any more innovative advances in drug treatments. Of course one could argue that the pharmaceutical industry appears to support the public option, currently being debated. The reason is simple; a short-term revenue attitude is pervasive among the industry leaders, who are beholden to stockholders. If forty to sixty million new potential patients are being written new prescriptions, simple math shows a huge potential windfall for the industry. The same reason caused the industry to climb on board the Medicare Modernization Act, signed by President Bush; a whole new market opened up.

Race Baiting: There exists today, an entire industry of race baiting for financial and political gain. After watching Barak Obama’s inauguration speech, I breathed a sigh of relief, believing that we now have overcome a giant racial hurdle by having as our president a black role model, who is a devout and educated family man. I refused to believe Rush Limbaugh’s assertion that racial tension would increase, not decrease as a result of Obama’s presidency. After all, how could we be a country of racists when 52% of the electorate voted for a black man for president? But this is why Mr. Limbaugh is smarter than I; he looked past the obvious and foresaw what the Liberal White Americans would resort to when their guy is backed into a corner. Now, the race card is dealt to any American who publicly opposes the current administration’s policies. Dissent was patriotic under Bush, but it is racist under Obama.

Now imagine a healthcare system that does not provide immediate and superior care to minorities. Never mind that we would all have to put up with slow and inferior care in a government healthcare system, there would be cries of institutional racism from the race pimps who depend on racism for their living. Just like a whole new market would open up for pharmaceutical companies, the new market for the race industry would be enormous.

Crime: violent crime accounts for a large percentage of costly, emergency trauma treatment in urban areas. Will we be required to pay for this treatment in a government-run system? Of course we will. With our current rate of violent crime, this could easily break the bank.

Liberal Sacred Cows: Congress has already begun taxing certain behaviors that may place a financial burden on the healthcare system, like tobacco, and will not stop there. We are sure to see tax increases on sugary soft drinks, food with high fat content, alcohol, etc. Will we see a tax on homosexuality? HIV is a significant burden on the system, especially in certain areas of the country. What is a major cause of HIV in America? Unprotected gay male sex. What about abortion? Will all Americans be forced to pick up the tab for a procedure most are morally against? We all know the answers to these questions.

Often times, a new product is test marketed on a small scale prior to a national rollout. Government-paid healthcare has been test marketed already, and it has failed everywhere it has been tried in the United States. Medicare is always on the verge of insolvency, until taxes are raised to pay for shortfalls. Medicaid is on life support in nearly every state in the nation; only tax increases keep it afloat. Our Veteran’s Administration healthcare system is a perfect example of a U.S. Government run system which fails its members on almost every level. In Tennessee, Tenncare, a program which sought to expand state coverage to an additional 500,000 people using managed care organizations, eventually the program ran out of money, was ripe with fraud and abuse, and was completely revamped on a much smaller scale. In Massachusetts, the shortfall is so great that the state may have to end its state healthcare system or raise taxes in an already heavily taxed state.

The sales pitch usually begins with slick politicians promoting a “pay-as-you-go” or “revenue neutral” plan. Remember, to liberal Democrats, every program is revenue-neutral when they are using Monopoly money to pay for it. There will never be cuts in any budget other than defense. If costs rise, which they will, tax increases and care rationing will rule they day.

The Democrats know a single-payer system will not work but clearly, implementing a successful program is not their goal. It is evident that total government control is the endgame for the Liberals in Congress and President Obama. Government already controls about half of all healthcare expenditures with the efficiency of…well, insert any government agency name here.

A single payer healthcare system in the U.S. would be a disaster by any measure and must be vigorously opposed . The current plan being promoted by Democrats is another step toward an incremental takeover of the healthcare industry

IAQ in Healthcare Environments

As the economy heads further down the slippery slope of what promises to be a deep recession, and our healthcare infrastructure continues to grow and age, it is a natural progression to see more and more IAQ professionals turn to what some believe is a recession resistant market. From ambulatory facilities to long term care, the buildings that make up our healthcare infrastructure are constantly in need of renovations and repair. This new and promising opportunity for IAQ pros offers many long term rewards but is not without new and complex challenges that must be addressed.

Every IEP realizes the importance of appropriate use of antimicrobials, containment barriers and personal protection. Though often times IEPs find the regulations and guidelines they encounter in healthcare facilities to be daunting to say the least. In traditional remediation environments the focus is to ultimately provide an environment free of dangerous pathogens or contaminants. While attention is give to the methodology, often times the end results dwarf the means of acquiring those results. With a host of accepted methods to address indoor air quality in businesses, homes and public spaces the contractor finds themselves able to select from a variety of methods to deal with each issue. In the end it is the air clearance that counts, not so much which method was used to obtain it.

While the end results are just as, if not more important in healthcare environments; far more attention must be paid to the processes used. As many occupants of a healthcare facility cannot be moved and are highly susceptible to infection, there are very specific guidelines in place that govern all maintenance, repair and renovation work in a healthcare facility. Organizations like CDC, APIC and JCAHO have placed standards that apply to all activities that may have an impact on a healthcare environment. This is done with good reason considering the number HAIs (Hospital Acquired Infections) reported annually due to airborne pathogens like Aspergillus, which is disturbed during common daily maintenance. Nosocomial infections caused from routine maintenance reach into the hundreds of thousands each year. These guidelines and regulations are enforced in a facility by ICPs or infection control professionals.

Hospitals continually adapt to new, more stringent CMS guidelines limiting what medical treatments are reimbursable through Medicare or Medicaid, this has caused hospital administration to look more closely at every aspect of infection control in their facility. Beginning in October of 2008, Medicare and Medicaid began limiting payments made to facilities for the treatment of preventable nosocomial infections or conditions. These new CMS guidelines are driven by Section 5001(c) of the Deficit Reduction Act, which could mean that as deficits climb the list of non-reimbursable conditions are likely to grow. Infections like Aspergillosis, which is caused by airborne A.Fumigatus, are common in healthcare facilities. Aspergillus is one airborne pathogen that is commonly disturbed and distributed throughout a facility after maintenance work or renovations. The argument could be made that Aspergillosis is a preventable condition by ensuring appropriate containment and disinfection of disturbed areas.

Infection control professionals in healthcare environments have become increasingly diligent in monitoring the actions of contractors that work in their facilities. It is ICP’s responsibility to ensure all components of the infection control risk assessment are adhered to. While these key people can complicate the lives of the contractors working in healthcare facilities they are also actively saving lives by doing so. ICP’s will monitor and log details about each project to ensure that all compliance issues are being addressed. Two primary issues that impact infection control and prevention in healthcare settings are disinfection of contaminated surfaces with broad spectrum EPA registered disinfectants and appropriate containment of airborne particulate and pathogens.

Choosing the best disinfectant is one way to ensure the best possible level of microbial control during any abatement project in a facility. Healthcare facilities present the IEP with a unique set of challenges in regards to pathogens beyond the standard fungal and bacterial flora. Many of these pathogens can be highly infectious as well as drug resistant making them far more dangerous to the many immunocompromised patients housed in a healthcare facility. When selecting a hospital grade disinfecting it is imperative to keep several things in mind.

Does your disinfectant have sufficient kill claims to address the microbes you might encounter?
While no disinfectant can list every possible organism, it is important to find a disinfectant with the most possible EPA registered kill claims. Look for efficacy data. Disinfectants that do not show efficacy & testing data often have few or irrelevant kill claims and are not sufficient for the challenges found in healthcare facilities. It is also a positive if your disinfectant has EPA approved efficacy in the presence of 98% soil load as opposed to 5% which is required by the EPA. This higher soil load represents real world conditions. Beyond fungicidal kill claims, other claims that you might require involve infectious pathogens like MRSA, E-coli, HIV, Salmonella and Avian Influenza. You may also want to look for a product that can be used on both porous and non-porous surfaces and has disinfectant and sanitizing claims.

Understand what the active ingredients are in your disinfectant
It is essential to know what type of disinfectant is appropriate. Most common disinfectants are formulated using Alcohol, Phenol, Chlorine or a Quaternary Amine Base. There are arguments for each type of disinfectant and it is important to know the facts about the products you are working with. Each has advantages, but some have dramatic disadvantages that might make you think twice about using them.

Quaternary Ammonium Chloride (Quats) –
Examples Shockwave Disinfectant/Sanitizer, IAQ 2000/2500
Quats are often considered easier to use and safer than other disinfectant bases because they are less corrosive, non-carcinogenic and maintain efficacy for extended periods of time. Not all quat based disinfectants are equal though. There are a variety of products with EPA registered kill claims ranging from just a few all the way to over 130. In a healthcare environment it is important to seek out the latter, as the spectrum of microbes likely encountered in a hospital will be much broader than in common remediation situations. Unlike many other disinfectants quats based disinfectants are excellent cleaners making them ideal for surfaces with a large amount of biomaterial like fungi, blood or human waste. As many MDROs like C-DIFF, MRSA and VRE are transmitted by contaminated bodily fluids and waste this is an important factor in the equation to finding the ideal disinfectant for healthcare environments. Quats are highly stable and maintain efficacy even in the presences of high soil load. This makes them ideal for mold remediation as well as blood or bodily fluid spills.

Many IEPs as well as ICPs prefer the use of a quats because they not only offer a broad spectrum of kill claims, but are easy to work with and more cost effective than other options. In addition most quats do not have the drawbacks associated with chlorine, alcohol or phenol based products on the market.

Alcohol
While not as user friendly as quats, alcohol based disinfectants are considered by many to be easier to use than chlorine or phenol based products. High concentration alcohol based disinfectants can however be dangerous in a healthcare environment because of its tendency to open pores and dry skin. This can create openings for microbes to enter the body if not properly protected.

Though high concentration alcohol based disinfectants are generally highly effective against lipophilic viruses they are less active against non-lipid viruses and ineffective against bacterial spores. Generally alcohol disinfectants are not used for equipment immersion due to diminishing efficacy as the alcohol volatilizes. Alcohol disinfectants cannot be used as cleaners thus making them less effective for practical use on many surfaces. Even though some Alcohol based disinfectants can offer a broad spectrum of kill claims, it can be difficult to maintain appropriate wet contact time due to the rapid evaporation rate.

Chlorine
These corrosive oxidizers are known for cidal action against a wide variety of gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria as well as many viruses. Difficult to work with, these disinfectants are rapidly neutralized in the presence of organic matter making them less than ideal for healthcare and remediation environments.

While chlorine disinfectants are currently used in many facilities, future use of halogens is expected to decline as options like quats and alcohols become more abundant with appropriate kill claims. Sodium hypochlorite is known for causing significant corrosion to metals and other common materials. Chlorine disinfectants are considered toxic, and in 1994 the Clinton Administration called for the ban of all chlorine and chlorine based products.

Phenol
Phenol is one of the oldest known disinfectants still in use today and is both commercially manufactured and naturally occurring. Phenols are often effective for use on vegetative bacterial, lipid containing viruses and Mycobacterium tuberculosis but have limited or no efficacy for use against spores or non-lipid viruses. While these disinfectants are effective over a relatively large PH range, their limited solubility makes product residue difficult to clean. These disinfectants cannot be used on food contact surfaces and often require additional PPE like goggles, face shields gloves and protective clothing for application. Phenols cannot be used in many parts of a healthcare facility like neonatal, pediatric ICU or any infant contact surface due to toxic residue. Reports of eye irritation, contact dermatitis/utricaria, and depigmentation of the skin have been tied to phenol and phenol residue contact.

Phenols are commonly found in a host of consumer products and are not dangerous in very low concentrations. Disinfectant strength phenols however are considered a health risk by EPA and NIOSH. OSHA recommendations state that employee exposure to phenol in the work place should be controlled to less than 20 mg/cu m in air determined as a time-weighted average (TWA) concentration for up to a 10 hour work day or 40 hour work week. The NIOSH guidelines also limit exposure to phenols to 60 mg phenol/cu m of air as a ceiling concentration for any 15 minute period. Phenols generally enter the blood stream via ingestion, respiration or skin contact. NIOSH recommendations are just one indicator of the need for PPE when using Phenolic disinfectants. Disinfectants with a concentration of 1% phenol or greater are considered an extreme skin and inhalation hazard and are moderately combustible.

Containment plays a key roll in infection prevention.
While disinfection of surfaces, equipment and touch points plays one of the most critical roles for infection control in a health care facility; another primary responsibility of the IEP working in a healthcare facility is containment. The containment of harmful pathogens and particulate during work in a healthcare facility is essential, especially when working in areas near immunocompromised patients.

Regulations set by CDC & Joint Commission are clear in dictating specific criteria for the elimination of airborne Aspergillus, asbestos and dust. A term that IEPs will hear all to frequently as they make their transition into a healthcare environment is ICRA or infection control risk assessment. These operating guidelines are critical to any maintenance work done in a healthcare facility. APIC has developed guidelines assisting healthcare facilities in developing their ICRA to specifically mandate that dust and airborne particulate must be contained under negative pressure in Kontrol Kube like containment or by using other solid barrier methods.
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For many years hospitals were forced to either temporarily close an entire wing or build temporary solid barriers during mold remediation or asbestos abatement jobs to prevent airborne particulate from escaping the work area. In recent years a new method of mobile containment has been made available making daily remediation, repair and renovation faster and far more cost effective. Kontrol Kube type containment essentially revolutionized the way hospital maintenance was being done by allowing an IEP to quickly roll tools, ladders, chemicals and other equipment into a location and then isolate that area for the duration of the work.

Infection control professionals prefer contractors to use methods like portable containment when possible for several reasons. Mobile containment units are easy to set up and inspect, this not only makes use of the unit easier for the IEP but also makes the inspection process much faster and efficient for the ICP. Knowing that all materials are fire rated and meet NFPA 701 is also important with any sort of temporary barrier material you use. Fire codes and standards are extremely critical in healthcare situations and are a focal point during Joint Commission inspections.

When selecting a mobile containment unit be sure to consider if the unit is made of durable components that will hold up under rigorous daily use. It is also important to know that the unit is easily cleaned and is capable of providing all the functionality needed. Will the unit accommodate an eight foot ladder effectively? Does the unit have a solid yet mobile working platform? Is it highly adjustable, durable and lightweight?

Disinfectants and Kontrol Kube type containment are used in almost every type of daily work an IEP might encounter in a healthcare facility; both are key components to any comprehensive infection control plan. For the individual contractor working in a healthcare facility, understanding what is expected of you could make all the difference between winning a bid and being passed over. The knowledge and expertise shown while in the facility can also ensure future jobs in that facility.

As IEPs progress into the healthcare arena to reap the benefits of this relatively protected market they are not only assuming the role of IAQ professional; they are also assuming the role of infection control professional helping to maintain safe, clean and infection free environments. While the challenges they face are unique and in some cases daunting, the benefits exceed a simple increase in business. When we stop to consider the impact of the work they do in the facilities that care for our sick, our elderly and our very young we can see how each of us does our part to win the battle against infection and disease. With proper education and training, IEPs can make the leap from the private or public sector into the highly lucrative and relatively stable market of healthcare remediation, abatement and repair with ease. Knowing the facts about not only the rules and regulations in healthcare facilities, but also the tools available can help ensure a successful transition into IAQ in healthcare environments.

Healthcare Staffing Business Opportunity

Have you ever wondered how hospitals staff their facilities? Of course you haven’t. Hospitals have a human resource department that screens, qualifies and hires healthcare professionals that fit the facilities needs right? Well sort of. In reality most healthcare facilities are staffed using nursing registries or healthcare staffing companies. You’ve probably never heard of a healthcare staffing agency (also called a medical staffing company) but these companies provide a great service to hospitals and other acute care facilities. Staffing companies help save hospitals time and money by screening, qualifying, and paying healthcare professionals.

Often when people learn about what a healthcare staffing company does, they react by saying “wow I’ve never heard of that before. What a great niche.” However, recent events beg the question, is this really a niche business or could medical staffing be the quiet gorilla in the room of the growing healthcare industry? Obama’s healthcare reform and the aging population will drive up demand for healthcare in the United States. A core realization of an increase in demand for healthcare is the need for more healthcare professionals. However, while we are seeing the potential for large demand for nurses, nursing assistants, and allied healthcare workers, we are not seeing enough growth in these employment sectors to keep up with demand. This point bring us back to the question; is healthcare staffing a niche business or a business on the verge of breaking out into something bigger than its 8.8 billion dollar size already entails?

The answer to this question is yes. Healthcare staffing represents a great business opportunity in the growing healthcare industry. Hospitals and other care facilities will turn to staffing companies and nursing agencies as the hospitals become swamped with people taking advantage of the healthcare reform and our older population who will require more hospital visits. The demand for medical staffing will only increase as the demand for healthcare increases. Medical Staffing represents a business that is poised to become huge.

You may be wondering, “How can I take advantage of the potential in the medical staffing industry?” Healthcare staffing offers many job opportunities to people without a healthcare background. You could become a recruiter and enjoy your day recruiting and finding qualified nurses to work as your agency’s healthcare work force or you could enjoy the fast paced work of a staffer who quickly matches a hospitals needs with a qualified healthcare professional. However the great thing about this business is that with the proper training and support, most people can run their own healthcare staffing office.

A great way to get the proper training and to have the support for all the questions and concerns you may have from running your own business is to buy a healthcare staffing franchise. There are many healthcare franchises out there but only a few medical staffing franchises offer the proper training and support you need. Find a franchise opportunity whose training staff is approachable and has experience in the medical staffing industry. These veterans have experienced it all and will be able to guide you through owning your own franchise.

Healthcare Staffing is already a big industry. However, the room to grow is enormous. This business is no longer a small niche. It really is a breakout business teaming with opportunity. If you do your research you will find that healthcare staffing is the fast paced, interesting business with amazing potential that you may never even have heard of.

Healthcare Reform

Background:

Even with a bill passed in both houses of Congress, Healthcare reform and the issue of a universal or national healthcare system continues to dominate discussions on the hill. There is talk of repealing the bill and potentially leaving millions more Americans vulnerable and uninsured. Some argue that repeal is for the best because the current bill gives the government too much power and circumvents our individual rights and freedoms. Still others argue that the bill does not go far enough to grant every single American the right to healthcare services. These views are polarizing both the Representatives on Capitol Hill and their constituents who live on main-street.

Nurses and physicians work in the field taking care of the insured, the under-insured, and the uninsured. These healthcare professionals see first-hand how the ability to pay for healthcare services shape people’s perception of illness and their willingness to seek medical assistance in a timely manner. Given how highly charged the issue is, it is important to know what these nurses and doctors think of all the hoopla that still surrounds the issue of healthcare.

Healthcare Workers’ Viewpoint:

The opinions in this article are those expressed by the nurses and physicians at a Dallas hospital. For confidentiality reasons the names of said nurses and physicians, as well as, the name of the Dallas area hospital where they work will not be used. Based on their experience in the system, these healthcare workers pointed out their frustrations with the current system, reform, and universal healthcare. The issue is healthcare reform and universal healthcare. How do nurses and doctors view this?

CONs:
On the other hand, there are some nurses and physicians who vehemently oppose the idea of universal healthcare and reform that have been passed. These healthcare workers state the following:

  1. Healthcare is not a right. It is the responsibility of each individual to work hard and pay for the care they require. Many people do not think their hard earned money should be syphoned to take care of individuals who are not pulling their own weight. A system that provides healthcare for all rewards people who are not contributing members of society. Even more, those who oppose healthcare reform and universal healthcare insist that it is not their place to take care of individuals who are lagging in their duties to self and society. These people become a drag on the system. Universal healthcare encourages the weaker members of society to stay weak and non-productive. If people had to pay for the services they receive, they are motivated to find work and everyone wins.
  2. Paying for such a system will require an increase in taxation. This means more money taken from hard working Americans; money they can use to take care of their families, co-pays and deductions, as well as anything they think necessary. Increased taxation also limits funds available during retirement.
  3. Some physicians and nurses believe that Medicare is a blithe on the healthcare system. In a free market society, insurance companies should be allowed to compete freely without a government run system that undermines the free market. Ideally, a free market will take care of pricing and completion will reduce the overall cost of healthcare. Hospitals and insurance companies that meet the demands of society will prevail. People who work hard will have access to healthcare services.
  4. It is common knowledge that physicians in the United States earn more than physicians in other industrial nations. Extensive training and hard work is rewarded by respectable pay checks. Many worry that their living standards will drop if a national healthcare system is passed. Moreover, current reform advocates preventative care which may live certain specialties out of the loop. After years of training to be of service to society, these specialties may become obsolete.
  5. Many people like to know that if they are insured, the care they need will be available to them when it is needed. It is perceived that extending healthcare benefits to all will lead to long waiting lines and if this were the case, many individuals are rightfully afraid of the cost to their lives and quality of living.

PROs:

  1. Patients are more likely to get preventive care if they are insured. Healthcare services cost a lot of money. Many people have been bankrupted as a direct result of their inability to pay medical bills, which include hospital stay, physician and auxiliary care visits (home health nurses & therapists), as well as, pharmaceutical aids and medical supplies. This means that the health and financial well-being of patients are affected by any laws that offer improved access to healthcare services.
  2. Preventative care saves hospitals and tax-payers money. Although not a primary concern for nurses, they were quick to point out that the under-insured and uninsured patients who make it to the hospital only arrive when they are so sick that they may never be completely healed from a disease that could have been prevented with the right out-patient care. Due to the advanced progression of their illness upon admission, these patients stay longer in hospitals and respond less to conventional therapies. The result is a very high cost for the care provided. Since these individuals cannot pay, in many instances, the hospitals are stuck with the bills. In order to pay off debts accrued the hospitals increase the cost of care for those who can pay. It is a logical solution that now affects law abiding tax payers which could have been prevented.
  3. People that are chronically ill cannot work and pay for healthcare. Some end up homeless and become society’s problem relying on assistance from private parties or city government. If everyone was insured, many people who require frequent medical care will be taken care of, thus reducing the number of homeless people in society.
  4. The U.S. is the only industrial nation that does not offer healthcare coverage to all its people.
  5. In a system that relies solely on profit motivated insurance companies to provide compensation, access to certain needed therapies become limited if they are not approved by the patient’s insurance company. These used to be most prevalent with the introduction of HMOs and have since improved. Still it is a stain many organizations prefer not to discuss. As people whose sole reason for being is the care of patients it is no wonder that many will like a system where compensation did not play such an indelible role.

Conclusion:

Overall, during the interview process that led to this article, it became apparent that most healthcare workers opinions on access to healthcare were greatly influenced by the role they played in the care of their patients. It was quite apparent that the nurse’s role as patient advocate greatly influenced their view on healthcare reform and a universal healthcare system. An overwhelming number of nurses were in support of a system that offered coverage to every patient that walked through the hospital doors. Physicians, who were more likely to voice concerns over structure, efficacy, and compensation, were less likely to provide support of a system that will drastically change the existing landscape.

Healthcare Schools Online

As demand for healthcare services continues to increase, it takes a specially trained person to run the oft-overlooked position that some people don’t think much about – that of a healthcare manager. That’s where healthcare schools online come in: they offer courses that train a person to be management material when the time comes for a promotion or a new job. Healthcare managers are the brains behind the operation and they ensure that things run smoothly. Healthcare schools online are a great resource for a person that needs the training, but may not have the convenient hours that other less demanding jobs can afford.

Those in healthcare management keep the day-to-day operations of any type of patient facility running efficiently. They make decisions on patient healthcare and treatment. They also work in conjunction with nurses and other administrative workers to ensure that the quality of healthcare is up to regulations and medical records and reports are accurately kept or given. These men and women must always be ready for new healthcare implementations – anything from new technology to new methods of patient care. They are typically very busy and may be called upon at all hours for advice and/or assistance in a problem. They also travel to attend healthcare conferences, or to meet with the government or private affiliates and owners of a company.

Healthcare managers work in all sorts of environments. Anywhere there is a facility that treats patients, no matter old or young, in-patient or out-patient, there is a manager that makes sure everything is carried out in a respected and efficient manner. Managers can work in hospitals, for example, but there is probably one that works in every ward who also answers to the manager in charge of the entire hospital. In a nursing home, there is one main manager, and a few managerial assistant managers to help keep the workload manageable. This type of management system is seen in all aspects of healthcare.

On a day-to-day basis, the variety of people whom a healthcare manager works with is vast. They work with nurses and nurse’s aides, medical recorders and information analysts. Every day brings a whole pack of problems to solve, but also an equal amount of reward. A great hospital with satisfied patients and workers is a sign of a great healthcare manager, who at the end of the day, is a people-person that aims to make everyone happy while keeping care effective and up to standards. Healthcare managers also have to answer to their own bosses. They must attend conferences that inform and advise them on new and effective ways of managing and on the developments that constantly happen in the healthcare industry.

Getting into this oft forgotten administrative job usually requires a master’s degree at minimum. It can be in healthcare administration, but there is also a combination of other degrees that could put the candidate in the right spot for a promotion. This could be an MBA with combined experience in the nursing field, for example. Another good example is experience and an advanced degree in a specialized field, combined with a graduate certificate in healthcare administration.

This combination of degrees and experiences places a candidate in a good position. Another common route is earning the Masters in Healthcare Administration (MHA) through an accredited college. Nowadays, more people than ever are turning to the benefits of healthcare schools online to gain this degree. With the work load and schedule of a normal healthcare employee often times unusual and demanding, many, if not all, healthcare employees would not be able to attend a traditional ground school without having to cut hours (something they may not want to do for financial reasons). Healthcare schools online offer healthcare management degrees at the graduate level for these ambitious, but time-pressed, individuals.