Examining The Future of Medicine

Health care is a field with remarkable growth potential. It seems that no matter what we do, people still get sick and people still get hurt. From there, we get a steady demand for all the nurses, technicians, therapists, pharmacists, and so on. Of course, at the center of it all are the doctors who oversee the patient's care.

The Fine Line of Professionalism: Why Doctors Should Connect With Patients

A good doctor-patient relationship is crucial to ensuring the patient doesn’t switch. Patients need to feel like they can trust their doctor to put their health first and address all of their concerns without feeling rushed. Doctors need to take time to learn how to make their patients feel heard and respected by focusing on strong doctor-patient relationship.

Disruptive Innovation in Healthcare

With 11 billion dollars wasted annually by hospitals, it will take unparalleled creativity and innovation to turn things around. Who will have the power to bring new, disruptive ideas to this dire situation? See below to learn about how, like with most other industries, the digital revolution is making waves in healthcare:

Genetic DNA Testing and Your Health

If you watch any sort of medical drama, eventually you will see an episode that revolves around a character who has lost a loved one to a terrible disease and then has to struggle over whether or not to find out if he/she too carries the gene responsible for causing the disease. In Grey’s Anatomy it’s the Alzheimer’s gene. In…a lot of other shows it’s Huntington’s. For me, it's Hashimoto’s Disease and Thyroid Cancer.

My Mother was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease when I was still in elementary school. For those of you who don’t know, Hashimoto’s is an auto-immune disease that attacks a person’s thyroid which then causes adverse effects on different parts of a person’s body. It went after my Mother’s thyroid function and her reproductive system, sending her into premature ovarian failure at the ripe old age of thirty three.

My Mother isn't the only woman in my family to have to deal with thyroid and reproductive issues. My maternal grandmother had (and beat) thyroid cancer. My paternal grandmother’s thyroid gland dissolved. My oldest female cousin needed fertility treatments before each of her children. 90% of the women in my family have developed some form of thyroid or reproductive issue.

Even so, and even though I've been tempted, I still haven’t gotten the test.

It isn't because I can’t afford it. If I wanted, I could call up my doctor tomorrow and schedule my blood draw. Still, I’m not sure I want to know (though I know I should).

Psychologists call this "avoidance coping" and, apparently, this behavior is at the root of most anxiety-based disorders. According to the pros, the best things I can do are learn to self soothe and to face my fear. In this case I guess the "fear" is knowing whether or not I’m prone to these diseases.

On the other hand, there is the psychology of "waiting." A few years ago, David Maister published a paper called The Psychology of Waiting in Lines. It turns out that waiting for something we are anticipating to happen actually causes us more stress. That stress is compounded if there is no "end date" to the waiting. According to these principles, the knowing that I’m going to be dealing with these things but not knowing when would be more traumatic than simply not knowing and hoping for the best.

So I’m choosing to wait and hope for the best. Why?

Because if I do have genetic markers for thyroid issues or Hashimoto's disease, there isn't a lot that I can do about it. It isn't like finding out will give me the opportunity to fight off these diseases before they have the ability to take hold. Hashimoto’s disease is auto-immune. I can’t fight it off, the best thing I can do is figure out the best way to deal with it if it shows up.

This is where I get twitchy. While it is relatively easy to treat (typically it can be treated with oral medication), it took my Mom years to get her hormones leveled out. Those were not fun years. She basically had a decade of constant and severe PMS. When I talked about this fear with my doctor he said that things move much faster now. He told me that doctors and clinics partner with companies like Millennium Labs genetic testing services to help specialize medical treatments for all sorts of issues ranging from physical to psychological and that medication can now be based on DNA evidence, which would require far less tweaking than the “trial and error” method my Mom had to deal with. This is comforting—you know, if I end up changing my mind about wanting to know.

And cancer…well…who wants to be staring down the cancer clock? We've written before on this site about the different things a person can do to prevent cancer. Science has proven over and over again, though, that cancer is wily. I can do all of the right things and still find myself fighting it.

So, for me—I’d rather not know. Otherwise every time I hiccup I’m going to wonder if I’m a few minutes away from hormone replacement therapy and cancer treatments. Who wants that?

What do you think? If you had the opportunity to find out that you were going to potentially have to deal with something later but not knowing when—would you want to know about it one way or the other?

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Reducing the Risk of Bloodstream Infections

Anyone can get bloodstream infections but there are those that are more vulnerable to acquiring it. It is dangerous to get this type of infection as they are potentially fatal especially if it is not diagnosed and treated in time. However, if hospitals and other heathcare institutions implement and practice infection control measures, then the risk of bloodstream infections can be reduced drastically. Here are some steps they can take to ensure this.

Central Venous Catheters

Newborns are among the most vulnerable when it comes to bloodstream infections. Since their immune systems have not yet fully developed, it is easy for them to get sick especially during prolonged hospital stays where they are prone to catching other illnesses. In a new study done by Johns Hopkins Children's Center investigators, it shows how the risk of dangerous bloodstream infections--in newborns with central venous catheters (CVC)--can be reduced. The study suggests that the clinicians should end the use of CVC as soon as possible instead of waiting for the signs of infection to appear. It also suggests that caregivers should weigh every baby’s risk infection everyday and consider it against the CVC’s therapeutic benefits. You can read more about this study in this article.

Computerized Checklist

Can a computerized safety checklist that will automatically pull data from a patient’s electronic medical record help in reducing the risks of bloodstream infection? According to a study by researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford, it certainly does as results show a significant drop in a serious type of hospital-acquired infection that usually begins in central lines. This automated checklist with an interactive dashboard style interface makes it faster and easier for caregivers to adhere to the national guidelines on how to keep patients’ central lines free from infection. The system works by combing through all the data in the electronic medical records and sends alerts to doctors and nurses whenever a patient’s central line is in need of care. The results of the study was publish in the journal Pediatrics.

Disinfecting Port Protectors

Since needleless IV connectors became popular in the 1990s, the standard method for valve disinfection was usually manually scrubbing the luer of access valves using an alcohol pad before every access. Due to various reasons, it’s almost impossible to monitor if health care professionals have been complying with the scrub-the-hub protocols. There are cases of lapses, which is dangerous especially if these result in bloodstream infections. Even the most vigilant individual can have some lapses, so in order to avoid these risky incidents, a good option would be for passive disinfection instead of manual scrubbing techniques. Curos access port protectors act as a disinfecting cleaner between iv access ports effectively preventing contamination. This requires less time compared to manual cleaning techniques, preventing lapses through passive yet consistent disinfection. The bright green cap is also helpful in monitoring disinfection compliance auditing. When the valve is not in use, it prevents contamination by acting as a physical barrier.

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How to Negotiate With Your Doctor and Reduce Your Medical Bill

For many patients, one of the biggest decisions when finding the best possible care for their situation comes down to affordability. But what many patients don’t know could dramatically reduce their healthcare costs the next time they visit the hospital. 


Insurance companies are known for haggling with the medical facility over the cost of care. And an increasing number of individuals are realizing that the ordinary patient can bargain with the billing office, too. 


Know Before You Go

Some research and price comparison before you go in for your appointment can win you a significant amount of savings when the bill comes later. Calling the doctor’s office beforehand and asking for a list of projected fees can help you compare options. Websites such as Healthcare Blue Book are free consumer guides to show fair prices in your area for differing medical services. 


Forbes Magazine reported on one financial planner from Minneapolis who researched several different hospitals before choosing where to schedule his orthopedic surgery. This resulted in thousands of dollars in savings. 


With a list of potential fees from the hospital, patients can then call their insurance provider and discover how much they will be required to pay. Equipped with this information, you can then contact the billing department and try to negotiate. 


Check an Itemized List

If you have already had your procedure and were readmitted to the hospital after passing out from the shock of an astronomical hospital bill, then there are also some effective ways to approach the billing office and still negotiate your actual payment. 


Requesting help rather than demanding in a panic is a good way to begin approaching the office. Author of Heatlthcare for Less, Michelle Katz writes that “People are always more likely to lend a hand when you acknowledge them as fellow human beings, rather than as bureaucrats.” 


Depending on the bill, your negotiating strategy will differ. Ask for a list of charges after a hospital stay and scrutinize the items for possible errors. Hospitals will occasionally charge for included items such as towels and cotton swabs which should come with the price of a room. Extra charges for services that never actually took place or for devices that were not used can also save a bit when brought to the attention of the billing department.


When visiting the doctor in his office, come prepared with cash to pay upfront. Medical facilities are often happy to reduce the bill in exchange for quick payment upfront. “You might win as much as 50 percent off full price,” advises Cindy Holtzman, a medical billing advocate from Georgia, “if you offer to pay quickly by cash or check.”


In addition to price comparison website, there is also a growing number of companies who will negotiate on your behalf in exchange for a percentage of the savings. One such negotiator from Maine, John Gillis, the president of Insnet, claims a 75 percent success rate by being prepared with data in order to discuss specifics with billing offices. 


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Three Ways to Save Money on Health Care

1. Hire a Personal Trainer

One way to save money on health care is investing in physical fitness. People who exercise daily are healthier than those who don’t. 

Find ways to stay active. Between work and friends people have difficulty finding time to exercise. If you need motivation and lack the knowledge about fitness, then hire a personal trainer. Like doctors who design wellness plan for you, personal trainers tailor a fitness plan specifically for your health goals and needs.

They force you to work out, push you beyond your limits, and offer fitness guidance. Some people become best friends with their trainers due to the connection they establish. 

If you can’t afford a personal trainer or don’t want to pay for one, then find a workout buddy. An exercise partner acts fills the role of a personal trainer, but lacks the professional training and knowledge. They keep you motivated and you do the same for them. People exercise more consistently when they have a friend involved.

You could also join a group fitness class. Spin, yoga, zumba, Pilates, and other fitness classes are extremely popular. This will not only keep you active, but there’s a chance to socialize with other people interested in staying healthy as well.

If you like playing sports, then maybe an adult sports league keeps you moving. Adult softball, basketball, soccer, and flag football keep working professionals physically active. The small things like sports force us to stay healthier. When healthier, we spend less money on health care.

2. Take Up Gardening

Nutrition is the other aspect of overall healthy living. You need to eat healthy in addition to exercising. Without one or the other, your personal wellness approach falters.  This failure costs you money.

Some people are deterred from eating healthy since everything "organic" costs more. Don’t let the higher costs affect your eating. Instead, start a garden. Gardeners are healthier since they spend more time outside. Gardening is a physical activity in itself.  

Also, gardeners invest time in growing good natural vegetation. Their acquired knowledge in gardening translates into nutritional awareness. People who garden tend to become more aware of what they eat and where it comes from.

Local produce is less likely to contain harmful chemicals needed to preserve it over long travel distances. Eat local from your backyard, a community garden, or the nearby farmers markets.

Joining a community garden might prove a great option for people who yearn for larger plots of land and a little social interaction. The gardeners you meet at community spots will encourage you to eat better.

Eating healthy decreases the chance of sickness, prevents such illnesses as diabetes and obesity, and saves you money on health care.

3. Use Your Resources

There are a multitude of valuable health resources that saves money. A personal trainer is a great resource. They might also have nutritional knowledge that you can benefit from. 

Community gardens are excellent resources as well. There you meet people who take an active interest in nutrition. They can give you advice, guidance, and improve your eating habits.

Doctors are the best resource for saving money on health care costs.  The best doctors provide you with comprehensive primary care with the creation of a wellness plan. They dedicate their knowledge to keeping you healthy in the long run. 

This includes talking to you about fitness, nutrition, and other preventative measures that improve your overall health. Doctors with a focus on preventative care will benefit you. Their participation in keeping you healthy will reduce hospital visits and save you money.

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