Fixing Healthcare – Searching for a Healthcare Unicorn

Fixing Health Care is more than Searching for the Healthcare Unicorn

By Brian Holzer MD, MBA, President, Kindred Innovations

[This blog post, originally published on LinkedIn, is based on my personal view and does not in any way reflect the opinions of the current organization I work for].

Last week I came across the article titled, “Cuts threaten rural hospitals hanging on by their fingernails” which reported that 673 rural hospitals were at risk of closing. The data came from the Chartis Center for Rural Health, which also cited that states including California, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Alabama, and Georgia were most at risk with as many as 79% of their rural hospitals facing possible closure.

Reports like these that imply an impending doom of the healthcare system, as we know it are almost a daily event. And the sensationalism of healthcare by politicians and the media only adds further distractions to a system that is starving for patience and unbiased pragmatism. There is also no shortage of articles professing solutions that say nothing more than we need to 1) create a system that ensures that everyone has access to health insurance; and 2) make sure that we contain the huge cost increases.

The real problem we are facing as a society is that Healthcare is a Unicorn…Healthcare is not the same as other markets. There is a widespread lack of transparency about both the costs and the effectiveness of treatments, and many other details that a customer or end consumer might use to make purchasing and utilization decisions in healthcare. If life were as simple as it is often taught in business school classrooms, fixing Healthcare should be as easy as learning from other industries and adopting best practices. So, let’s [apply lessons from] two industries-airlines and auto insurance. Read More …

Wall-E, End of Work, and Universal Basic Income

EDITOR’S NOTE:  I’m reposting this article with new information from a U.N. report that warns countries to prepare for the day when technology, automation, and artificial intelligence replaces jobs. They expect 75% of the world population to become unemployable, and that day is coming sooner than most people realize. It will have immense social consequences.

Wall-E is a fun & warm-hearted animated movie by Pixar that also warns against ignoring environmental pollution and the obesity epidemic. It presents future humans as super-obese couch potatoes living in a robot & technology-dominated world set some 700 years in the future. By then, mankind had so completely trashed Earth’s environment that humans were forced to relocate to spaceships and evolved into large, floating fat blobs – the Axioms.

But the future doesn’t have to be as foretold. We learned that from the classic movie, A Christmas Carol. By knowing the risks of possible futures that our current behavior may take us to, we can change. We can change course to save the environment, improve our health & well being, and find solutions to wide unemployment.

I hope you enjoy the video clips below, as well as the additional links and discussion that follows.

Read More …

Influencing Healthcare Policy – Lobbying, Incentives & Insurance

Benjamin Franklin is credited as saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," but policymakers seem more influenced by the money he's pictured on.

Ben Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” but policymakers seem more influenced by the money he’s pictured on.

By Wayne Caswell, Founding Editor, Modern Health Talk

As President Trump’s administration transitions from the Obama era, a conservative ideological shift will influence healthcare policy, but so will other factors. They are discussed here, based on my response to “The Past, Present and Future of Healthcare Policy” at ReferralMD.

Influencing Healthcare Policy

Although The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as ObamaCare, has flattened the curve to the lowest annual cost increase in decades, it still has not reduced overall costs for many reasons. These include (1) special interest lobbying to protect industry revenues & profit, (2) misaligned incentives, and (3) an insurance middleman that adds more cost than value. It is unlikely that any “repeal and replace” strategy can live up to Trump’s promises because of these three factors. Read More …

US Healthcare System has Cancer. Can Trump Fix it?

By Wayne Caswell, founding editor, Modern Health Talk

Dr. Sudip Bose says, "The epicenter of health care is the doctor-patient relationship."

Opening his January 16, 2017 Huffington Post article, Dr. Sudip Bose said, “One thing is certain about the future of Obamacare, and that is that it will change under a Donald Trump presidency.“ Given his public statements, Trump will clearly make sweeping changes sooner than later, but what those changes will be is anything but clear. That’s why today’s article describes what I hope for, if not what I expect.

The US healthcare system has cancer – a malignant form that started way before Obama became President, and it has taken decades to grow to its current condition, where our very existence is threatened. It’s my hope (remember Hope & Change?) that healthcare reform under Trump will not just treat the symptoms of a growing healthcare cancer, like the lack of insurance competition or price transparency. I hope Trump will recognize the need to treat our healthcare system’s cancer aggressively, naturally and holistically. Will he? Read More …

Make Your Home Safe Again!

By Maggie Drag

As we age, we often forget that our homes should age with us! As more and more people aged 65 and older (90 percent according to AARP to be exact), choose to stay in their homes, many don’t follow the proper steps to make their homes safer.

Just a few updates will prevent falls and tragic accidents down the road, so take a look at our list of tips on how to make your living space safer, comfortable and convenient for life!

Stop trips for good

Place a non-slip pad under throw rugs.

  • The number one cause of trips in homes are slippery throw rugs, so make sure to make each rug slip proof with sticky pads or slip-proof tape.
  • If you have hardwood or tile floors, make sure that the surface isn’t too slippery. Either use slip-proof flooring or apply slip-proof coatings.
  • Try installing longer power cords for your electronics, lamps and appliances that you can tuck along a wall to avoid trips in the future.
  • Many homes have thresholds, a small raised edge, between two doors. This can cause trips and make it difficult for those in wheelchairs and walkers. Remove barriers like this with automatic door bottoms that act like special bridges that move across a difficult edge or barrier between doors, different rooms and other surfaces.

Read More …

Disrupting Healthcare with Functional Medicine 2.0

Disrupting Healthcare with Functional Medicine 2.0

By Dr. Shaiv Kapadia, Chief Medical Officer and Co-Founder, Iggbo

The United States has the best and worst healthcare system in the world. Let me explain. If you are having a heart attack or stroke or a victim of an accident, there is no better integrated system of acute care delivery on the planet. Chronic disease, however, is a completely different story. [EDITOR: The medical industrial complex spends twice as much on political lobbying as the military industrial complex, to avoid disrupting healthcare as they know it. That’s because cutting costs to match what other advanced nations pay per capita would mean losing over $1.5 trillion/year in profits – profits that today mostly come from treating symptoms.] Read More …

Who Should We Believe about Longevity & Other Claims?

Who should we believe about how long we can REALLY live?Who should we believe about how long we can REALLY live?

Controversy and catchy headlines help sell magazines and advertising, and that makes writing about outrageous claims profitable. The more outlandish, the better. The news media loves it, and so do the readers, whether it’s political controversy or in how long we can live.

The LA Times, in When, and why we must die, is just one of the many news outlets to pick up a story about two scientists who recently published study results concluding that humans can’t live beyond age 122. They’re entitled to their opinion, but I don’t buy it. Read More …

The Future of Healthcare? It’s In The Past

The future of healthcare is impacted by the ripple effects of past developments, trends, market drivers, and market inhibitors

The future of healthcare is largely affected by politics and population health successes of the past, including vaccines, clean water, safe food, sewer systems, public education, and the environment, each causing its own set of ripples in the system. But dampening these positive effects is special interest lobbying aimed at protecting profits. (Wayne Caswell, mHealthTalk editor)

By Tim Perry, MPA, MS, CPHIMS, PCMH CCE, CISSP

Look Back to See Where We Are Going

To celebrate its 200th anniversary, the New England Journal of Medicine published an article in June 2012 titled, “The Burden of Disease and the Changing Task of Medicine“. The authors did a wonderful job of looking not only at clinical data on disease but also shed light on changes in society that affected the prevalence of diseases. A particularly interesting part of the article is a chart depicting the Top 10 Causes of Death in 1900 vs 2010. Notice the changes. Read More …

What to ask Clinton and Trump about Healthcare?

I responded to a Huffington Post article about proposed changes to Medicare and questions that should be asked of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, but I went deeper into the serious healthcare issues, citing an article I posted yesterday about The Ideal Healthcare System. It referenced differences between public and private sector organizations but primarily spoke of the need to better align incentives to the nation’s health goals. Therefore, my questions to Presidential candidates relate to that larger view of health and healthcare.

What to ask Clinton and Trump about Healthcare?

What would YOU ask Clinton and Trump about Healthcare? (please comment below and share with others)

Read More …

The Disruptive Force of Technology in Healthcare

A LinkedIn discussion of mHealth argued that, “Technology is Just a Tool. It’s Not The Solution to Healthcare’s Problems” — I couldn’t disagree more and posted this response…

Those in the Ivory Tower should worry about the disruptive force of technology in healthcareMy Editorial Opinion

Okay, Technology is not the end-all, but it’s MUCH MORE than just a tool for solving healthcare’s problems. The accelerating pace of tech innovation is a disruptive force that’s breaking business models and helping to move us away from the fee-for-service model that’s primarily responsible for Americans spending twice as much as those in other advanced nations for healthcare. (See Moore’s Law and the FUTURE of Healthcare.)

Those at the top of the healthcare mountain, especially those resisting more rapid adoption of disruptive technology, are most at risk of obsolescence. As noted in 101 Minitrends in Health Care, 429 of the original [1955] Fortune 500 companies are no longer in business today.

As medical devices keep getting cheaper, smaller, more accurate, and easier to use; more & more functions once associated with doctors in hospitals will move down-market toward consumers at home, office or wherever they are. Telehealth video calls and telemedicine sensor monitoring will extend across town, across state lines, and across international borders as payers (including Medicare) realize that medical tourism often offers better outcomes at less cost.

All of these trends will democratize healthcare, increase competition, and help move the emphasis away from sick care and toward health & wellness. As Benjamin Franklin said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

4 Paths to End of Life – one costs less than we thought

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — There are 4 paths to end of life, but last-ditch, high-tech heroic treatments and days in the hospital intensive care unit is NOT what makes dying in America so expensive. The common belief is that this is where we should focus efforts to spend the nation’s healthcare dollars more wisely, but think again.

4 paths to end of life - This chart shows that having multiple chronic illnesses is far more expensive.

A new study finds that for nearly half of older Americans, the pattern of high spending on healthcare was already in motion a full year before they died. That’s thanks to the care they received for their multiple chronic health conditions — including many doctor visits and regular hospital stays over the year, not just in their final days. Read More …

Why Medicare-for-All is Not Enough

Doctors Prescribe Single-Payer Health Care Reform

Doctors Prescribe Single-Payer Health Care Reform

Dr. David Himmelstein speaks at a news conference about the new Physicians’ Proposal for Single-Payer Health Care on the steps of City Hall in New York, May 6. Photo: Annette Gaudino

Well before Bernie Sanders entered the presidential race, a nonpartisan group of 39 leading doctors set out to fix the glaring problems in the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare). The single-payer plan they proposed, essentially Medicare-for-All, has since been endorsed by over 2,000 physician colleagues and published in the American Journal of Public Health, according to this article in Huffington Post.

The HuffPost article generated lots of reader comments, and I just had to respond because this is the sort of debate I love to jump into. It brings together many different perspectives, especially those of consumers who too often aren’t heard from by politicians. Here’s a summary of my responses and answer to the question, “Is Medicare-for-All enough?” Read More …

Research Funding and Hope for Alzheimer’s Disease?

Is there hope for Alzheimer’s disease?

Can Alzheimer's be stopped? a NOVA broadcast

This past week NOVA aired Can Alzheimer’s Be Stopped? (watch below) The program covered research funded by drug companies as they race to cure Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. The profit potential from discovering a breakthrough cure, as noted at the beginning, is well into the Billions. Sadly, a treatment without a cure may be worth even more. So hence the race, given the large and growing numbers of people affected and the devastating impact the disease has on them, their caregivers, and society. Read More …

Wireless Networks and Electromagnetic Radiation

Schumann Resonance

RESONANCE is eye-opening documentary, revealing the biological harm from and health impact of wireless networks and electromagnetic radiation. The entire documentary is included here with some added comments. Most troubling to me are the long-term effects of electromagnetic radiation on cellular structures, cancer, and Melatonin, an important antioxidant and sleep-inducing hormone. Read More …

New technologies to prevent senior injuries at home

Fall Risk - ActiveProtective's airbags for pedestrians help prevent senior injuries at home

By Daniel Lewis

Airbags for Pedestrians

There’s no doubt that people are living longer now than ever before. That’s largely because of advancements in medicine and technology, and these advancements mean that hundreds of thousands of elderly people can now live on their own and enjoy a more fulfilling life. However, a simple fall can change all that; and falls are the most common way seniors injure themselves. Here’s just one of the new technologies that help prevent senior injuries at home.

It’s not always easy to prevent our loved ones from falling at home, because we just can’t be there all the time to keep an eye on them! Thankfully, however, technology is coming to the rescue again!

Automatically inflated car airbags deploy in microseconds to take the brunt of an impact and have saved thousands of lives. There have even been airbags designed for use when riding a motorcycle. And now ActiveProtective’s smart belt is an airbag for the waist, designed to prevent hip fractures. Built-in 3D sensors can detect when someone is falling and, just like the car airbags, air bags will inflate down the side of the hips to protecting them. Early tests have shown a 90% reduction in the force of impact. The product should be available at the end of 2016. What do you think?

Some related articles about preventing falls include:

Wearable sensors

A relatively new product to the market is the wearable sensor, the most advanced versions of which can monitor heartbeat, breathing patterns and even learn the routines of the wearer. They can send this information to you and, most importantly, tell you if there’s a significant change in normal patterns. This will alert you in case an emergency or other issue; whether they have injured themselves.

Some related articles about wearable sensors include:

OnStar for PeopleUnaliwear Kanega watch can help prevent senior injuries

It is now possible to buy a voice-controlled smart watch for seniors that can be worn all the time, even in water, and that does not need a phone subscription. Unaliwear’s Kanega will start shipping in the summer of 2016 and includes its own cellular and GPS capability. For someone who is lost, the watch provides voice directing the way home. It can connect to an emergency service if needed and even reminds you to take your pills. A built-in accelerometer can detect falls and lack of response and make emergency calls on your behalf, directing first responders to your location. In many ways, this is the latest and most advanced watch to date.

Wireless sensors

It’s become easy to fit your senior’s home with a variety of wireless sensors, connected to either a phone system or the Internet. They can then detect if someone has fallen and automatically alert emergency services. Researchers are also studying how these sensors can give an early warning system by identifying deviations from learned patterns. Sensors can beep when approaching a trip hazard to a fall before it happens.

The same wireless sensor systems that turn on lights or track motion patterns to detect or prevent a fall can also be linked with home security systems to detect an intrusion.

Google's NEST thermostat is just one of the wireless sensors that can help prevent senior injuries at home

PROVO, UT – JANUARY 16: In this photo illustration, a Nest thermostat is being adjusted in a home on January 16, 2014 in Provo, Utah. Google bought Nest, a home automation company, for $3.2 billion taking Google further into the home ecosystem. (Photo illustration by George Frey/Getty Images)

Some related articles about wireless sensors include:

There is no doubt that technology will make life easier and safer for all elderly people. However, in special circumstances your loved one may have to be put in a nursing home. Today’s care homes are no longer cold and unappealing; quite the opposite. There are high-tech facilities with 24/7 surveillance and advanced technology to help your seniors recover and sustain their mental abilities for as long as possible. Why should you risk their wellbeing when you can do what’s best for them and their health? Make a sensible choice and allow these new technologies to prevent your loved ones from getting hurt.

About the Author

Daniel Lewis is interested in writing about health and fitness related issues. He has a deep knowledge of this field and writes for a site (http://www.foresthc.com/) providing elderly care homes and retirement villages.

What is a Sleep Economist?

The Sleep Economist

By Wayne Caswell, Founder of Modern Health Talk and Sleep Economist at Intelligent Sleep

What is a Sleep Economist?

I’m a sleep economist. At least that’s how I present myself when I talk about the economic impact and benefits of sleep, and the science of Intelligent Sleep. But what does that mean? Let me explain.

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), “Insufficient Sleep is a Public Health Epidemic,” and getting enough sleep is an absolute necessity, not a luxury. They also say sleep quality should be thought of as a “vital sign” of good health because of the many ways it impacts us overall. Read More …

HEALTH or SICK Care?

 

Health or Sick Care

Dr. Sachin H. Jain wrote a good article in Forbes calling for Redesigning Health Care to Meet the Needs of Our Sickest Patients, and I’m publishing my response here.

“While I understand the need to improve care of our sickest and most frail elderly patients, my view conflicts with that of the medical industry, which we mistakenly call the “healthcare” industry.  Read More …

Are Our Plates Too Full? A Nation Confronts Addiction

By David L. Katz

Earlier this month, thanks largely to the influence and convening power of Dr. Mehmet Oz, the nation was invited to talk about addiction. Among those weighing in to lend support, on air and via social media, was the nation’s Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy.The National Night of Conversation - about Addiction

The symbol chosen for the campaign was an empty plate, the image meant to convey that this night — the conversation and related food for thought — matter more than the food. Something additional suggests itself to me, however, especially as I try to get this column written (as I promised I would): catch up and then keep up with demands as furious and frenetic as a swarm of bees. Maybe our plates are generally way too full.

I really have no cause to complain on my own behalf. Yes, I am too busy, and yes, I do often feel like Sisyphus. But I have a loving family and plenty of support. Many are not so fortunate. Read More …

Enjoy Aging! And What’s Going On With Your Body

Enjoy Aging!

By Alfred Stallion

Elderly Couple
Aging is a fact of life and part of this is a change in your body’s ability to handle certain tasks, an increase in vulnerability to illness, and a variety of other conditions that can affect your ability to do things that were once straightforward. By understanding the natural changes that occur in your body with age, you can expect them and adjust accordingly, ensuring that you enjoy an active and happy life. Read More …