Posts Tagged ‘patient’

We All Need a Chief Wellness Officer

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

The prestigious Cleveland Clinic has taken a proactive stance on preventative healthcare by creating a Chief Wellness Officer position and putting Dr. Michael Roizen in the job.  Dr. Roizen is well known for his appearances on the “Oprah” show and as the co-author of health and lifestyle books with Dr. Mehmet Oz.  His impressive resume lists the position as the past chair of the Food and Drug Administration’s advisory committee.

small_clevelandmag_docsDr. Roizen has taken on the cause of preventive wellness through the Cleveland Clinic’s Lifestyle 180 program. Lifestyle 180 provides patients with chronic diseases with a proactive approach to improving their health.  Patients are closely monitored and coached to improve their health and well-being through diet, exercise and stress management.  Interestingly, the program has a dedicated space in an old corporate headquarters building  in Lyndhurst, OH.

By all indications, Lifestyle 180 appears to be an excellent approach to educating patients so they can attain improved health.  This raises a question.  Once patients complete the program, where do they go to maintain and continue to put into action the valuable information and lifestyle tools they have received?  Although patients are encouraged to come in for follow-up appointments – which are important – where do they go?

This is exactly where a medically based wellness and fitness center fills this void.  Patients need a comfortable, unintimidating medically directed facility that provides them with the information, tools and resources they need to continue their journey to improved health.

We all could use a chief wellness officer to pave the way to improved health, no question.  We also need a medically directed facility to put into action and maintain the life lessons that we have learned.  Kudos to the Cleveland Clinic for recognizing the need to improve health through comprehensive wellness strategies.  Now, let’s take it a step further and apply this proactive strategy to a comprehensive medically directed wellness and fitness center so we can live this healthy lifestyle forever.

Obama on Healthcare: “Now is the Season for Action”

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

obama_congress_480President Barack Obama’s prime-time speech to a joint session of Congress made a strong case for including a public option,  along with a combination of choices designed to keep the insurance industry in check.  Recalling Theodore Roosevelt’s efforts to reform healthcare during the 1912 election, Obama said “I am not the first president to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last. Well, the time for bickering is over.  The time for games has passed,” Obama said. “Now is the season for action.”

That action includes a provision that protects uninsurable individuals from catastrophic healthcare expenses.  Another proposal is a series of pilot programs that will study how to reform the medical tort process.

Following is a brief summary of the Obama healthcare plan, which has a projected price tag of just under $1 trillion over 10 years (as a point of comparison, the U.S. spends half this in a single year on military spending):

  • Healthcare reform will provide more security and stability to Americans who currently have insurance, and it will provide coverage to those who don’t. It will slow the growth of healthcare costs.
  • Americans who already have health insurance through their employers, Medicare, Medicaid, or the VA, will see their coverage improve. The plan will make it illegal to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. Insurers will no longer be able to place a cap on the amount of coverage a patient receives. Additionally, insurance companies will be required to cover routine checkups and preventive care like mammograms and colonoscopies.
  • Coverage will be portable (if a person changes jobs or starts a small business) through the creation of an insurance exchange – a marketplace that will provide access to health insurance at competitive prices. The benefit to insurance companies is that the exchange lets them compete for millions of new customers.
  • For Americans who currently lack health insurance, Obama proposed a public option where government-subsidies would be available to make premiums affordable. Individuals would be required to obtain coverage, and their employers would have to contribute. Most Senate Republicans and some Blue Dog Democrats oppose this proposal, while Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has said that the House’s version of the healthcare bill will include a public option.

Obama’s flexibility may not please the more liberal members of Congress, but reflects the political reality that exists on Capitol Hill.

Medicare: The Free Market Option

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

Medicare gives patients more choice, and a greater range of free-market options than does private insurance.  While Medicare has had its financial challenges, it is an example of a government-run program that gives patients choice.  Sometimes, private insurers refuse to include physicians in their plans; Medicare does not exclude physicians.

The insurance companies insist the idea of healthcare reform to include a public option – such as Medicare – but it’s important to look at the facts that includes a government-run plan.  According to a recent article in Mother Jones magazine, “Survey results demonstrate that Medicare beneficiaries are less likely than those with private coverage to High healthcare cost, advanced healthcare directivereport negative experiences with their insurance plans – including having expensive medical bills for non-covered services, being charged a lot more than insurance would pay, and physicians not taking their insurance.”

According to a study by the Commonwealth Fund, 37 percent of Medicare patients are completely satisfied with their coverage and report few problems accessing and paying for healthcare.  Only 20 percent of people with employer provided plans reported the same level of satisfaction.

One argument often used against the public health plan option is the following: I want to choose my own doctor, and I don’t want a government bureaucrat making that decision.  That’s wrong.  Under private healthcare plans, your only choice is to pick a doctor who has negotiated costs with your insurance company.  Doctors unwilling to negotiate are excluded.

In seeing the way the healthcare debate has been framed, perhaps the administration would have been better off describing the proposed reform as the extension of Medicare to the entire population.

A public health plan option will not introduce a bureaucracy into healthcare; that bureaucracy already exists.

Physicians Working Longer Hours to Augment Compensation, Increase Patient Accessibility

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

It’s not easy being a physician in these hard times.  Insurance reimbursements have been falling for some time, a situation that is unlikely to change for the better very soon.  Thanks to the recession and the growing number of people who are losing healthcare insurance along with their jobs, patient visits to physicians have leveled off and even declined.open-for-business-courtesy-symlinked-at-flickr-cc

Maywood, IL-based Loyola University Health Center is taking a proactive approach to this dilemma by extending the hours its outpatient clinics in Chicago’s south and west suburbs are open for business.  Loyola’s move to increase patient accessibility is paying off.  In March, clinic visits rose 11 percent to 5,332 after 250 physicians opted to work longer hours.  Clinic visits are up an average of 1,100 each week.

“People really don’t want to leave their jobs and come to our offices (during their work hours)”, said Dr. Paul Whelton, chief executive of Loyola University Health System, parent of the medical center.  “Physicians are making themselves more available.  We need to be more user-friendly.  Our volumes are up and we are gaining market share.”  Some clinics even added Saturday hours for their patients’ convenience.

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, Loyola’s extended clinic hours are part of a national trend.  Of members surveyed, 42.4 percent of physicians are providing extended office hours.