The Future of Healthcare – Electronic Medical Records

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It is almost unheard of to go to a doctor with symptoms and not have gone to a medical information website beforehand and self diagnose. Of course, self diagnosing is quite disturbing to a doctor and many times we are incorrect about our disease/illness. Equally amazing, is to walk into a doctor’s office today and see a paper medical record; often in place of paper is a electronic medical record.

Electronic Medical Records (EMR) is a digital version of a paper medical chart that contains all of a patient’s medical history.  At its best, EMR allows your primary care doctor and your medical team to better manage your medical information, ultimately delivering better care and having a better outcome.  In 2009 the Obama administration gave incentives to push for the implementation of electronic medical records however, “the scope and pace of the implementation has been far beyond the capacity of many medical institutions”.

Benefits of Electronic Medical Records

“An EMR is more beneficial than paper records because it allows providers to:

  • Track data over time
  • Identify patients who are due for preventive visits and screenings
  • Monitor how patients measure up to certain parameters, such as vaccinations and blood pressure readings
  • Improve overall quality of care in a practice”

At its worse,  doctors complain that EMR is time-consuming because implementation to a electronic system is slow and often times two different systems, paper and digital are maintained for awhile, electronic systems are expensive to implement, safety oversight is minimal, a complex medical picture is challenging and extra effort has to be made to avoid errors, computer crashes can cause medical notes to vanish, and there is a potential for mix-ups which can be dangerous and thus, deadly. Recently outlined in  local newspapers are testaments of EMR at its worse. A hospital stated that they had two different systems, paper and electronic and essentially, human error occurred which was deadly. At another hospital incorrect information due to a typing error was entered into a digital system which resulted in the death of an infant. A complex and seriously sick individual created a confusing EMR which resulted in human error.

Although, there has been many peaks and valleys with regard to Electronic Medical Records, in my opinion EMR does improve the quality of medical care by making a patient’s medical history easily available to the treating Physician(s)/medical team. It is my hope that in the next 10 years  the struggles and challenges we are facing today will be behind us and medicine will catch up with the rest of the electronic future.

Communication in the workplace

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Working as a consultant I have had the opportunity to experience many workplace cultures and I have found the common thread in all workplaces that makes the workplace a challenge is the lack of effective communication. Is communication a part of workplace ethics? Yes, it is in my opinion. I would say that workplace ethics goes beyond business ethics. Most companies focus on business ethics because senior management feels as a company, ethical principles and moral or ethical problems constantly arise in a business environment and a set of standards are established and hopefully followed. Business ethics is indeed very important for a company to focus on; understanding and complying with the laws and regulations as it pertains to business conduct keeps a company out of trouble. Business ethics has also lead to the development of corporate policies that govern ethical conduct.

Some companies still do not realize that their most valuable asset is there employee and thus, effective communication in the workplace plays an important role in maintaining good work relations and ultimately having a successful and financially stable company. What is effective communication in the workplace? Effective communication is being clear and transparent. It is communicating negative or difficult information while still maintaining trust and not creating conflict. Effective communication is encouraging attentive listening, two-way communication, trust building, confidence between management and employees, team work and constructive problem solving.
“Communication is an art” both verbal and non-verbal, it does come naturally to some and not so naturally to others. If done poorly it can create misunderstanding, frustration, questioning trust, reducing respect. Unfortunately, I have witnessed workplace communication performed poorly; hiding behind an inappropriate e-mail message or a non-verbal message thus, causing employee de-motivation and high turnover. What is most unfortunate is that most companies – senior management have no idea that they are communicating poorly and feel their lack of effective communication is justified.

Where is the Money – Biotech?

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Investors can certainly make money these days investing and trading Biotech stocks. However, trading stocks is not for the faint hearted and it is an exercise in optimism especially when the promise of success is a long shot or goes up in flames shortly after you’ve invested. One would say that the recent boom in Biotech stocks is because of lucrative new drugs, encouraging research, the Food and Drug Administration’s “breakthrough” designation and their improved communication with Biotech and Pharmaceutical companies. Biotech stocks typically trades high but the question is, are they trading higher than normal because they are overvalued? Thus, the reason why the value of Biotech stocks are falling precipitously and then for no obvious reason shooting up. http://tinyurl.com/p2jwth6.

There is a misconception that the Food and Drug Administration is friendlier. It is true they have improved their communications with companies but the FDA still has the final word and can be tough and conservative; look what happened to AVEO Pharmaceutical and Intercept Pharmaceutical. With every boom there is a down fall. Mark Schoenebaum, a top Biotech and Pharmaceutical analyst said this about the rise and fall. http://tinyurl.com/ncfu2np also, see what Geoffrey Porges analyst of Bernstein research said http://tinyurl.com/nlaxpb8

The Big Buyout buzz recently reported is the potential matchup between Pfizer and AstraZeneca; we know how that story ended. However, even though AstraZeneca had rebuffed Pfizer’s offer, that dance is not over yet. Here’s what’s in the news http://tinyurl.com/kakw745. Remember the megamergers of Pfizer and Wyeth, Merck and Schering-Plough, Roche and Genentech, to name a few and of course, I named the most public buyouts. Mega mergers-Buyouts change the industry landscape and some would argue that they “fail to produce the kind of major stockholder value that’s promised by management”. Others would argue that buyouts disrupts Research & Development, stifles innovation and is sure to bring job losses as companies cut redundancy. The positives of these megamergers is that there are opportunities for combination therapies, there is opportunity to potentially increase ones a pipeline and thus, new revenue, cost cutting opportunities and innovative growth prospects. Is there a new blueprint for the Biotech regarding mergers? This was in Forbes magazine a few months ago. http://tinyurl.com/mxm9e2t. The Motley Fool is a good source for me with regard to identifying Biotech stocks to consider investing in. The Motley Fool list the top stocks to watch http://tinyurl.com/n6bzohv

Women Leaders

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When I think of women leaders I immediately think of Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Madeleine Albright, Margaret Thatcher and Sonia Sotomayor. I think of these women not only because of their leadership qualities but first and foremost because they fought the odds by being a leader in a man’s world. However, it is not uncommon today to find women leaders in industries that were once lead by men such as, Mary Barra, newly appointed CEO of General Motors, Sheryl Sandberg – Facebook, Margaret C. Whitman – Hewlett Packard, Ursula M. Burns – Xerox, and Virginia M. Rometty – IBM to name a few. You can see a complete list of fortune 500 CEOs at http://goo.gl/n8SzKl . Who do you think of when thinking of women leaders? In your opinion, what makes them leaders?

In my opinion, a good leader, man or women inspires others to give 110 percent; in my opinion, a good leader is passionate, exudes positive energy, acts rather than reacts and is an excellent communicator. The common traits that allows the women I mentioned above to demonstrate good leadership skills are, their outstanding ability to multi-task, their collaborative approach their excellent communication skills, ability to “seek to find meaning and purpose” through their vision, and their excellent emotional intelligence. I thought of this article regarding a women’s ability to take advantage of Business School to “hone” in on leadership skills http://news.yahoo.com/women-business-… is worth taking a few minutes to read including the imbedded links.

Even with the strides women in leadership positions have made there are still stereotypes that powerful women have to deal with. There was an article in Forbes magazine that speaks about this topic http://goo.gl/H5gOrt

Male or female we all have had to deal with the terrible leader and boss. This is an article well worth reading so that you can head off a disaster waiting to happen and run like the win. http://goo.gl/TPP9VT . I know the long term unemployed just want to get back to work but what’s worse than not having a job, it’s having a bad boss; for the unemployed this article is worth reading http://goo.gl/kSSP9j

 

 

 

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Palliative Care

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The loss of good heath for yourself, friend or loved one, as well as, the end of life is a daunting realization but never the less something that many of us have to face during our life time. It is a very difficult decision for you and your loved ones to initiate Palliative Care but extremely important if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a serious illness. Palliative Care and Hospice Care both focus on improving your quality of life including pain management, providing support to you and your family and providing care by a team of doctors, nurses and other specialist, as well as, providing spiritual support if requested. Although, Palliative Care and Hospice Care are very similar many individuals are most familiar with Hospice Care which is often administered in the home. Palliative Care is often administered in a hospital, extended care facility or a nursing home associated with a  Palliative Care team.

 To be considered for Hospice Care you must be considered terminal or within 6 months of death which is determined by a Physician. However, for Palliative Care there is no time limitation and therefore, at any stage in a serious illness you can request such care. Additionally, the Palliative Care team can help you understand your treatment choices and help you navigate the healthcare system.  Palliative Care is “increasingly  used with regard to diseases other than cancer”; those other diseases are, progressive pulmonary disorders, renal disease, chronic heart failure, HIV/AIDS, progressive neurological disorders and other serious conditions.

Facts and Figures

“An estimated 1.5 to 1.6 million patients utilized Hospice and/or Palliative Care in 2012 according to reports provided by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization”. See this information http://tinyurl.com/kkf79d8 with regard to the number Americans utilizing Hospice and Palliative Care. Unfortunately, I could not find more recent figures. Also, online resources are worth reviewing http://tinyurl.com/kpd2a9d

I have given you a very cursory overview of  Palliative and Hospice Care however, it was my intent to at least plant a seed so that you may continue your research.

Medical Marijuana – Its Time Has Come

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To date 20 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use http://tinyurl.com/y2tyn7g. The link I provided gives you the details by State of the State laws, fees, and possession limits of medical marijuana. As you are aware,  medical marijuana is also known as  medicinal cannabis and has been prescribed as a form of treatment and pain relief for the terminally ill and individuals suffering from chronic long-term pain.

There continues to be a lot of debate over the legalization of medical marijuana; Health advocates and legalization groups argue that marijuana is not only less harmful than legal substances such as alcohol and tobacco, but it has been proven to possess certain medicinal properties. A study conducted by John Hopkins University found “no significant differences in cognitive decline between heavy users, light users, and non-users of marijuana.” Some argue, that the use of marijuana really relates to the health problems it creates, like “addiction”, short-term memory loss, energy loss, and even the risk of schizophrenia.  Therefore, it should be treated as a health issue, rather than a crime issue. Lastly, the cost and time of police officers, judges, public defenders, prosecutors, juries, court reporters, and prison guards would be freed up to concentrate on more important things like terrorism, harder drugs, rape, and murder if marijuana was legalized.

Under the Federal Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug. Schedule I drugs are considered the most dangerous class of drugs with a high potential for abuse and potentially severe psychological and/or physical dependence. ” it has been argued that medical marijuana is no different from standard marijuana. Those who are opposed to the legalization of marijuana also stated   “Drugs are addictive. They rob the user of free will. A drug user cannot make an informed and rational decision to continue using drugs because the use of the drug eliminates that user’s ability to think logically”.

A majority of Americans favor legalizing the use of marijuana. A national survey found that 52% of Americans surveyed favored  legalizing marijuana; this is indeed a positive change from a decade ago.

Innovation – 2014

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Because of the patent cliff, generics and the need for Pharmaceutical and Biotech companies to fill the void of lower sales and increased competition, I discussed the importance of innovation in 2013.  In 2014  top decision makers in Pharmaceutical and Biotech companies certainly are speaking of the importance of innovation because it is the primary tool that drives growth and renewal.

An article entitled “How to encourage Innovation in your company”  http://tinyurl.com/npr5wt7 , “Adding more innovation to the 2014 Honda lineup” http://tinyurl.com/n3vbfs5  and “What To Do When Your Boss Won’t Support Your Great Ideas”  http://tinyurl.com/nyyg3og  are examples that innovation is on the forefront of the employer’s mind. The questions that need to be asked regarding innovation are, have we established an innovate process? Are we trying to implement an innovative culture? Do we have defined innovative goals?  Are managers held accountable? Do we have the money in our budget set aside for innovation and are innovations that appear to be viable being evaluated and implemented? ” Programs of organizational innovation are typically tightly linked to organizational goals and objectives. These goals and objectives vary between improvements to products, processes and services”. However, we need to be open to novel ideas or methods that may not be readily tied to a company’s goals that add value.

In my opinion, nothing kills innovation faster than someone losing their job over a mistake or an innovation that does not work or is too costly. I understand that some mistakes are really unacceptable and do not fall under “innovation”; some individuals march to their own drummer. It is important to make certain that all parties involved understand  the team/company rule with regard to innovation, what it is and what it is not.

In 2014 innovation will be all of the buzz for companies and will continue to be their focus. Companies will be interested in adding value rather than just doing the same thing better or working smarter.  Also, in 2014 economic innovation/growth of our cities which will lead to positive economic performance will be an important matter for City Governments to focus on.

 

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