Medications to Treat COPD

Although system cell therapy is very effective, every COPD medications come with their flaws. COPD can be a very difficult disease to live with. Not only is it degenerative, the daily effects can also be exhausting. The effects of COPD can have negative impact on one’s daily routine, from moving around the house to traveling around. Most people suffering from this disease are prescribed the natural medication like inhalers, and oxygen therapy. Every of these methods have its side effect. This brought about the rise of alternative treatment options.

When COPD medication fails, there are a variety of alternative medications available. From inhalers, corticosteroids to oxygen therapy. Although these medications exist to relieve the symptoms of lung disease like inflammation, obstructed breathing, and general fatigue, they also have their negative effects.

Here some traditional COPD medications and their side effects:

Inhalers: This can either be short acting or long acting and are used to create airways to make breathing easier. The short acting inhalers are used for emergency situations while the long acting ones are used for longer-term treatment of COPD and are usually taken once or twice a day. Its side effects include:

Short-Acting:

  • Dry mouth
  • Blurred vision
  • Cough
  • Tremors
  • Rapid heart-rate

Long-Acting:

  • Dry mouth
  • Tremors
  • Dizziness
  • Runny nose
  • Scratchy throat

Corticosteroids: Similar to the inhalers, this traditional medication helps to relieve inflammation within the airways and is used in conjunction with bronchodilators. Corticosteroids work effectively to allow easier breathing within the lungs. Its side effects include:

  • Headaches
  • Sore throat
  • Change in voice
  • Colds
  • Mouth Infections (thrush)

Oxygen Therapy: This treatment is done through the infusion of oxygen using an oxygen tank or concentrator. It is mostly used as the last resort as it can negatively affect the daily routine since oxygen tank is inconvenient and can be hard to carry about. Some of the side effects include:

  • Constriction of blood vessels.
  • Risk of accumulating carbon dioxide

These traditional methods http://copd-medications.com/ of treating COPD are very effective. However, the come with their side effects which can be very damaging. This is why most people prefer the use of the alternative treatment options.

Stem Cell Therapy:

Stem Cell therapy is a treatment method http://copd-medications.com/ that uses use the body’s natural healing mechanisms to treat diseases. The cells are then isolated by a professional, and almost immediately, the stem cells are given back to the individual intravenously.The use of stem cell therapy, as opposed to other traditional forms of treatment, comes with more benefits since stem cell therapy uses the body’s own stem cells, there are virtually no risks of adverse effects.

Changing one’s diet and consistently exercising are among the best lifestyle changes one can adopt to see more positive changes. However, if you’re looking to address COPD progression directly, it may be time to consider stem cell therapy.

Ergonomics: how to position yourself correctly in front of the PC

Many people find that they position themselves correctly in front of the computer while in fact, they are accommodating themselves in a way detrimental to the health of their body. This article aims to give some tips on how to position yourself while using a computer to avoid injuries and other types of problems related to this issue.

Ideal body positioning

A specialist in Exercise Physiology told us about the importance of maintaining a correct posture when sitting at the computer.

Chair

The chair is where attention should begin. You should seek the most neutral position possible, seeking to relieve the pressure on the intervertebral discs. The principal curvature is the lumbar (between the middle of the back and the waist), where there is the highest incidence of problems.

Some chairs have lumbar support, which should be used to support the spine. Keep your lower back always resting on the back of the chairor back support. This support has three height adjustments, so it adapts to anyone without significant problems. You can find a good chair for office to solve this problem.

If your chair does not have the support, it is possible to improvise. A rolled up blanket, for example, can be positioned at the height of the lumbar region.

Head, neck, and shoulders

Your neck and head should always stand erect, your shoulders relaxed and your line of sight should be aligned with the top/center of the monitor screen from a distance of 45cm to 65cm (plus or minus one arm).

Ideally, the monitor should be at the same height as the eyes, so the head is not forced to bend for the best view. If you need to read text on the computer (on a sheet of paper, etc.), try to leave it in a position where your head is tilted (or moved sideways) as little as possible. Preferably arrange a sheet holder that attaches to the side of the monitor.

Arms

The elbows should always close to the body, that is, neither forward (arms extended) nor in flight position (elbows raised). Align your forearms at an angle between 100 and 110 degrees with the keyboard. Think of it this way: if your elbow were the center of a watch, those levels would be equivalent to 12:20 pm. The wrists should always remain straight (relaxed) and aligned with the rest of the arm.

Shoulder, elbow, and wrist inflammations are consequences of poor positioning in front of the computer. Therefore, you should also pay attention to how you move your hand when controlling the mouse, for example. It is best to use the larger joints of the shoulder and elbow than to move only the wrist.

It is important to use the mouse and keyboard supports as they keep the wrist steady without pointing down or up.

Legs

When the legs are too bent, blood flow is compromised and makes irrigation difficult, causing the heart to be forced to beat faster. Therefore, the idea is to keep the leg slightly stretched, and it is better to use a leg rest to improve circulation. Avoiding getting your leg bent or sitting on it also helps maintain proper circulation.

Objects used

All frequently used objects should be kept within reach of the hands (without stretching the arms), and in the same plane, that is, at the same height. If you usually write while you are in front of your computer, make sure there is enough space to move the keyboard away (to avoid misplacing the wrists).

If possible, work on tables with rounded edges,otherwise, provide a cushioned support to prevent the table top from disrupting the blood circulation of the arms.

If you need to turn around frequently (to answer the phone, etc.), do not turn the torso abruptly, as this avoids the risk of twisting. Even if you use a table that has drawers, avoid placing any objects, especially heavy ones, on those that are too close to the floor.

Tips

There are certain attitudes that can help prevent injury, fatigue and even bone-muscle diseases:

Avoid spending too much time on the same activity. Every two or three hours, take a walk or change what you are doing. It is important to do simple exercises frequently to minimize the chances of pain in the wrist and cervical spine. It is recommended to stop every hour for five minutes to stretch.

Use a ball in your hand and press it with your fingers for about two seconds, repeating 20 times. This helps to strengthen the muscles of the region and minimize the occurrence of pain.

To stretch, begin by stretching the arm and pull your fingertips upward for 10 to 15 seconds, repeating three to four times. It is also possible to pull the fingertips down, also holding for 10 to 15 seconds. This exercise strengthens the musculature of the forearm.

For the spine, brace the chin in the clavicle bone and lightly press the nape of the neck for 10 to 15 seconds. Change the side and repeat the exercise. It is not necessary to force, just enough to feel the relaxation.

Replace, as much as possible, the number of repetitive movements, such as clicks, by keyboard shortcuts. As you type, keep your fingers relaxed and do not hit the keys hard. Finally, do not hold pens and the like while using your mouse and rest your eyes from time to time (looking in different directions than the one on the monitor).

We hope you enjoy these tips and that they can help you save a lot of doctor visits!

Creating Financial Stability for Healthcare Providers

Tightening cash flows coupled with the likelihood of increased capital spending are a cause for concern among healthcare system executives. In a recent report by the Healthcare Financial Management Association entitled “Financing the Future”, some startling conclusions were reached regarding current capital spending:

o The deteriorating financial condition of hospitals are making capital access more difficult.

o The gap between “haves” and “have nots” are widening as to capital access, creditworthiness, and the ability to finance the future.

As for the predictions of future capital expenditures, the study compiled some interesting statistics:

o 72% of CFO’s expect capital expenditures to increase in the next five years.

o 85% of hospital CFO’s surveyed said they thought it would be more difficult f or their organizations to fund capital expenditures in the future

o 63% responded that they expected to be more dependent on cash from operations to fund capital needs.

Staying as up to date as possible with new equipment technologies and replacing aging plants are a key priority among health providers. These organizations also must spend money on cleaning up old liabilities and build outpatient facilities in order for their operations to be viable in the future. However, expenditures for updated equipment such as over $1 million for an updated PET scanner aren’t being matched by income. Reduced Medicare reimbursements haven’t covered costs. As a result, healthcare systems have had to make up the difference.

From the patient perspective, they don’t want to visit a facility that merely “keeps up”. Patients are paying more out of pocket expenses than ever before. As a result, they expect to be able to benefit from the technological advances they read about in the newspapers.

The gap between what patients need and what cash-starved healthcare providers can provide is ever widening. This gap is likely to remain in effect if factors such as the Medicare situation, escalating malpractice insurance premiums, and technology that is costly, continue to squeeze cash flows.

What should the provider do?

1. Work with financial service companies that really know healthcare. By that, I mean a company that can truly understand the provider’s goals and strategies as well as the particular needs of the patients. They need to work with companies that put forth financial solutions like equipment leasing that don’t sacrifice or compromise other segments of the business.

2. Shed assets that are a financial drain on the healthcare provider. They need to determine which real estate assets are productive for the future success of the business and which are not. For example, medical office buildings are difficult to maintain and manage. Selling the asset to a third party owner can relieve the provider not only the headaches of property management, but can free up cash and improve the balance sheet dramatically.

3. Control expenses and improve operational functions. Although many of the expenses of a hospital or practice are fixed in nature, there are still strategies that can be employed to improve the bottom line. One method is to periodically perform employee reviews to determine which staff members are productive and which aren’t. An untrained or simply incompetent nurse or other staff member can cost the facility a lot of money over time. The analyst should also review the purchasing policy of supplies and surgical instruments. Is the facility taking advantage of quantity discounts? Are competitive quotes received from other medical supply distributors?

4. Collections can likely be improved. When collection staff members follow up on both third party and self pay receivables, rather than just wait until they become considerably past due, days outstanding usually decrease. This can make a tremendous difference in the amount of available cash flow.

It is clear that capital struggles are likely to continue for the foreseeable future and it is critical that healthcare system executives must “think outside the box” to remain competitive and in some cases, survive.

Kent Harlan has been a CPA since 1984 and has provided consulting, accounting and financial services to several industries. He is the owner of Ozarks Capital Funding, LLC, a Springfield, MO based company offering financing in the areas of alternative financing for business and healthcare.

The New Approach to Healthcare Enterprise Information Management – EHR, EMR, EIM

The lack of a healthcare specific, compliant, cost-effective approach to Enterprise Information Management (aka EIM) is the #1 reason integration, data quality, reporting and performance management initiatives fail in healthcare organizations. How can you build a house without plumbing? Conversely, the organizations that successfully deploy the same initiatives point to full Healthcare centric EIM as the Top reason they were successful (February, 2009 – AHA). The cost of EIM can be staggering – preventing many healthcare organizations from leveraging enterprise information when strategically planning for the entire system. If this is prohibitive for large and medium organizations, how are smaller organizations going to be able to leverage technology that can access vital information inside of their own company if cost prevents consideration?

The Basics –

What is Enterprise Information Management?

Enterprise Information Management means the organization has access to 100% of its data, the data can be exchanged between groups/applications/databases, information is verified and cleansed, and a master data management method is applied. Outliers to EIM are data warehouses, such as an EHR data warehouse, Business Intelligence and Performance Management. Here is a roadmap, in layman terminology, that healthcare organizations follow to determine their EIM requirements.

Fact #1: Every healthcare entity, agency, campus or non-profit knows what software it utilizes for its business operations. The applications may be in silos, not accessible by other groups or departments, sometimes within the team that is responsible for it. If information were needed from groups across the enterprise, it has to be requested, in business terminology, of the host group, who would then go to the source of information (the aforementioned software and/or database), retrieve what is needed and submit it to the requestor – hopefully, in a format the requestor can work with (i.e., excel for further analysis as opposed to a document or PDF).

Fact #2: Because business terminology can be different WITHIN an organization, there will be further “translating” required when incorporating information that is gathered from the different software packages. This can be a nightmare. The gathering of information, converting it into a different format, translating it into common business terminology and then preparing it for consumption is a lengthy, expensive process – which takes us to Fact #3.

Fact #3: Consumers of the gathered information (management, analysts, etc) have to change the type of information required – one-off report requests that are continuously revised so they can change their dimensional view (like rotating the rows of a Rubik’s cube to only get one color grouped, then deciding instead of lining up red, they would really like green to be grouped first). In many cases, this will start the gathering process all over again because the original set of information is missing needed data. It also requires the attention of those that understand this information – typically a highly valued Subject Matter Expert from each silo – time-consuming and costly distractions that impact the requestor as well as the information owner’s group.

Fact#4: While large organizations can cope with this costly method in order to gather enough information to make effective and strategic business decisions, the amount of time and money is a barrier for smaller or cash strapped institutions, freezing needed data in its silo.

Fact #5: If information were accessible (with security and access controls, preventing unauthorized and inappropriate access), time frames for analysis improve, results are timely, strategic planning is effective and costs in time and money are significantly reduced.

Integration (with cleansing the data, aka Data Quality) should not be a foreign concept to the mid and smaller organizations. Price has been the overriding factor that prevents these tiers from leveraging enterprise information. A “glass ceiling”, solely based on being limited from technology because of price tag, bars the consideration of EIM. This is the fault of technology vendors. Business Intelligence, Performance Management and Data Integration providers have unknowingly created class warfare between the Large and SMB healthcare organizations. Data Integration is the biggest culprit in this situation. The cost of integration in the typical BI deployment is usually four times the cost of the BI portion. It is easy for the BI providers to tantalize their prospects with functionality and reasonable cost. But, when integration comes into play, reluctance on price introduces itself into the scenario. No action has become the norm at this point.

What are the Financial Implications for a Healthcare Organization by maintaining the status quo?

Fraud detection is the focal point for CMS in their EHR requirements of healthcare organizations, Let’s take a deeper, more meaningful look at the impact of EHR. Integration, a prominent component of Enterprise Information Management in the New Approach, brings data from all silos of the organization, allowing a Data Quality component to verify and cleanse it. The next step would be to either send it back to its originating source in an accurate state and/or put it into a repository where it will be accessible to auditing (think CMS Sanctions Auditors), Business Intelligence solutions, and Electronic Health Records applications. With instantly accessible EHRs, hospitals and their outlying practices can verify patients with payors, retrieve medical histories for diagnosis and treatment decisions, and update/add patient related information. What impact to treatment does a review of a new patient’s history have for both patient and practice? Here are some elements to consider:

1. Diagnosis and treatments that are based on previous patient dispositions – reducing recovery time, eliminating Medicare/Medicaid/Payor denials (based on their interpretation as to fault of the practitioner in original treatment or error incurring additional treatment).

2. Instant fraud detection of patients seeking treatment for the same malady across the practices within the organization. Prescription abuse and Medicare fraud saves money not only for the payors, but the healthcare organization as well.

3. The Association of Fraud Examiners states that 9% of a Hospital’s revenue each year is actually lost to fraud.

One overlooked but common impact is in the cost of managing patient records. Thousands of file folders in storage with new instances being added each time a new patient enters into the system. Millions of pieces of paper capturing patient information, payer data, charts, billing statements, and various items such as photo copies of patient IDs, are all stored in those folders. The folders are then stored in vast filing cabinets – constantly being accessed by filing clerks, nurses, practitioners and assorted staff. Contents of the files being misplaced or filed incorrectly. Hundreds, if not thousands, of square feet being consumed for storage. The AHA projects that an enterprise leveraging Electronic Health Records will recover no less than 15,000 square feet of usable space. That space can be used for additional services, opening up new channels of revenue. The justification is easy: how much would it cost the hospital to build out 15,000 square feet for a new service? The average cost to build space utilized for Health Services is $65 per square foot, or $975,000 total. An EIM solution through the New Approach would be less than 20% of that. Not only has the EIM solution reduced dollars lost to fraud, lowered the days for payor encounters to be paid, increased cash on hand, but it will also open up new services for the patient community and revenue back to the healthcare organization.

Electronic data is costly in its own way. Bad aka “Dirty” data has enormous impact. Data can be corrupted by error in data entry, systems maintenance, database platform changes or upgrades, feeds or exchanges of data in an incompatible format, changes in front end applications and fraud, such as identity theft. The impact of bad data has a cause and effect relationship that is pervasive in the financial landscape:

1. Bad data can result in payor denials. Mismatched member identification, missing DRG codes, empty fields where data is expected are examples of immediate denials of claims. The delay lowers the amount of Cash on Hand as well as extends the cycle of submitted claim to remittance by at least 30 days.

2. Bad data masks fraud. A reversal of digits in a social security number, a claim filed as one person for the treatment of another family member, medical histories that do not reflect all diagnosis and treatments because the patient could not be identified. Fraud has the greatest impact on cost of delivering healthcare in the United States. Ultimately, the health system has to absorb this cost – reducing profitability and limiting growth.

3. Bad data results in non-compliance. CMS has already begun the architecture and deployment of Sanctions Data Exchanges. These exchanges are a network of data repositories that are used to connect to health healthcare system, retrieve CMS related data, and store it for auditing. The retrieval will only be limited to the patient encounters that show a potential for denial or fraud, so the repository will not be a store of all Medicare and Medicaid patient encounters. But, the exchange has to be able to read the data in its provider data source in order for CMS to apply certain conditions against the information it is reading. What happens when the information is incomplete or wrong? The healthcare system is held accountable for the encounters it cannot read. That means automatic and unrecoverable denials of claims PRIOR to an audit, regardless of claim legitimacy.

The Price Fix by Big Box Healthcare Technology Firms

Are the major healthcare software and technology vendors (Big Box) price gouging? Probably not. They are a victim of their own solution strategies. Through acquired and some organic growth (McKesson, Eclipsys, Cerner, etc), they find their EIM solutions lose their agnostic approach. This is bad…very bad for health systems of all sizes. With very few exceptions, the vast majority of healthcare organizations DO NOT BUY all applications and modules from a single stack player. How could they? Healthcare systems grow similarly – some organic, some through acquisition. When a hospital organization finds over the course of time, an application that is reliable, such as a billing system, there is tremendous reluctance to remove a proven solution that everyone knows how to use. Because the major technology providers in the healthcare space act as a “One Stop Shop”, they spend most of their time working on integrating in their own product suite with little to no regard to other applications. Subsequently, they find themselves trapped: they have to position all products/modules to maintain the accessibility and integrity of their data. This is problematic for the hospital that is trying to solve one problem but then must purchase additional solutions to apply to areas that are not broken, just to be able to integrate information. That is like going to the hardware store for a screwdriver and coming back with a 112 piece tool set with a rolling, 4 foot cart built for NASCAR. You will probably never use 90+% of those tools and will no longer be able to park in your own garage because the new tool box takes up too much space!

IT resources – including people – must be utilized. In today’s economy, leveraging internal IT staff to administer a solution post-deployment is a given. If those IT resources do not feel comfortable in supporting the integration plan, then status quo will be justified. This is the “anti” approach to providing solutions in the healthcare industry: the sales leaders from Big Box technology firms want their sales people in front of the business side of the organization and to stop selling to IT. While this is a common sense approach, the economy in 2010 mandates that IT has to at least validate their ability to administer new technology solutions. The prospect of long-term professional consulting engagements to follow post installation has been shrinking at the same rate as healthcare organizations profit margins.

Empowering the healthcare organization to utilize its existing IT staff to administer and develop with the new products is not part of the business plan when Big Box players market to the industry. It is the exact opposite – recurring revenue from lengthy, and sometimes permanent, professional services consulting engagements is part of the overall target. The initial price quote for a Big Box solution is scary enough, but the fact remains that it is still not representative of what the ongoing cost to maintain through consulting arrangements. This is a variable cost, which is difficult to predict, and drives finance managers and executives crazy.

Solving the Dilemma – A Better Solution through a New Approach at a Fraction of the Cost

When Healthcare Business Experts combine talents with Technology Architects, EIM Solutions cost drop dramatically. This is the New Approach to Healthcare EIM, providing the way health organizations will be able to provide successful solutions at significantly reduced costs – opening the door for health systems of all sizes.

The EIM Firm (using the New Approach) versus Big Box Healthcare Technology Providers:

Smaller, more agile firms bring many benefits to Healthcare Organizations of any size. The benefits:

1. They are focused on specific verticals – just like the Big Box Health Technology providers. Subject Matter Experts (SME) in the smaller firms typically are industry veterans with years of experience and success in their approach who see their resume as a service offering better utilized when they are able to apply their methods for successful strategy planning as opposed to learning the methods of a Big Box player. Their income is better since their revenue is applied into a smaller operating cost, extending lower pricing for solutions that are MORE EFFECTIVE and offering stronger client/vendor relationships as the SME limits themselves to a certain number of clients.

2. Solutions built on proven approaches and strategies. Again, the firm’s SMEs are able to define a methodology that can be re-used or re-configured in each client instance. This saves time and money for the client as delivery is accelerated and the cost of architecting is eliminated.

3. The firms themselves develop solutions and methodologies agnostically. Their understanding of the diversity of systems that exist in the technology of a healthcare organization allows them to not only develop adaptable solutions but also add a Business Process Management Plan (BPM). The BPM will define for the organization EXACTLY how information is received, processed, cleansed, stored, shared and accessed. It also will define an action plan for training IT for administration and support as well as end users at all levels on how they will leverage it going forward. BPM planning in a healthcare organization is a low six figure investment with an outside consulting group. The EIM firms will include it in the cost of the solution. Basically, it is the difference in being told what is wrong and here are the recommendations to fix it versus here is what is wrong and this is how it will be fixed with the new solution.

What is a typical EIM Firm solution?

1. Solution Assessment, noting the current systems, data sources and methods of sharing information as well as business processes, key personnel identification that are gate keepers if information, timeliness of providing information and overall effectiveness in leveraging enterprise information for strategic business planning. See figures 1 for an example of the information process flow visual component of an actual assessment.

2. EIM solution that contains an integration engine that accesses all data sources – reading and writing back to the database or application, providing data quality services and maintaining HIPAA as well as HL7 requirements. See Figure 2 for a diagram.

3. EHR Data Warehouse. A repository to build Electronic Health Records through the integrated data flow.

4. EHR Portal for patient entry (when additional information needs to be added) via a browser.

5. Business Intelligence Dashboards for metrics, AD Hoc analysis and Performance Management Scorecards on organizational goals and objectives.

6. Onsite implementation and integration of the EIM solution.

7. Onsite training during installation for IT and end users. Ongoing training provided via webinars, documentation and technical support staff.

8. Relationships maintained by the Subject Matter Experts for the life of the solution.

9. Stimulus “HITECH” Act pays $44,000 per physician for an EHR solution implemented. The SME creates the grant request to be submitted so the healthcare organization receives Stimulus funds to pay for the total EIM solution

Key Element of the Solution

Onsite Delivery and full time support are key. But, the most important element is training. Why? As noted earlier, it is paramount that existing IT investments, namely personnel, be able to not only administer but also conduct development as the need arises. In Healthcare, CMS managed Medicare/Medicaid is already margins that are in the negative. As private payers follow suit, the number of uncollectable encounters will increase, impacting current profitability models and increasing future cost for treatment. By mitigating IT costs, the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) qualifier should actually evolve to a Return on Investment (ROI). ROI is immediate for this solution approach, but it is sustained year over year by leveraging internal IT to support and develop. Now, the Healthcare Organization has eliminated costly professional service consulting engagements and re-investments into new feature licensing. This takes a variable cost every year and makes it a fixed, yet smaller amount – a sensible financial approach to accomplish a proven strategy.

Summary –

Why EIM? Whether it is Omnibus, “Obama”-care or an edit (not overhaul) of the Healthcare industry, Healthcare Organizations know these truths:

1. Electronic Health Records are necessary for the Fraud detection unit of CMS. Each organization must comply with accessibility, HIPAA and format. Fraud reduces overall revenues for a hospital by 9% (ACFE)

2. EHR/EHR have proven to be highly effective in eliminating internal waste, patient fraud, practice fraud and paper overhead. Vast amount of space within the facilities that had been used to store patient records in hard copy can now be utilized to provide additional services and open new revenue streams.

3. Bad or “dirty” data in electronic or hard copy format is costly. According to the AHA (September, 2008), the average cost of a patient record with good or accurate information is $343 annually. The annual cost of a patient record with bad information is $2,054 annually. On average, 18% of patient information within a healthcare organization is bad.

4. Strategies developed by healthcare organizations without 100% of the information they own that is also timely and relevant are ineffective. Objectives cannot be defined, successful processes cannot be identified and improvement plans have little to no metrics in which to determine success.

5. Stimulus/HITECH Act pays $44,000 per physician when EHR is part of the EIM solution. With the smaller EIM firms, Stimulus pays for the entire solution.

Why a New Approach EIM Firm?

1. Subject Matter Expertise from consultants that have proven methodologies.

2. Agility to adapt to the client need instead of the Big Box approach of the client adapting to their product limitations.

3. A Better Solution at a Fraction of the Cost. Their solutions are based on needs and not features.

4. Relationships with the vendor, resulting in improved services, maximum values from vendor solutions and a focused approach to the client needs and goals.

5. A Return on Investment as opposed to a Total Cost of Ownership. Clients need to see solutions that immediately pay for itself and then recover lost revenue while offering channels to new profit centers.

Risky Business – Self-Insurance, Healthcare Trusts Gain Favor

Ford hasn’t always had the best relationship with the United Autoworkers Union (UAW). Back in 2007, the company’s employee healthcare costs were eating up the carmaker’s meager profits. After posting quarter after quarter of disappointing earnings, stockholders were putting the big squeeze on America’s pioneer of the modern automobile. That was before economists noticed (or perhaps, acknowledged) that sub-prime mortgages were a bad thing.

To dig out from under its messy employee obligation to provide ongoing, long-term healthcare to its retirees, Ford reluctantly agreed to begin depositing cash into a trust fund that would be administered and operated by UAW once $6.5 billion piles up. By New Years’ Day, Ford had not only met the monetary benchmark, but exceeded it by another half-mil.

“The transfer of these health care liabilities to the VEBA trust is the culmination of several years of work and will significantly improve our competitiveness in the United States,” Ford CFO Lewis Booth said in a statement. “We also have shown confidence in our liquidity…by pre-paying $500 million of debt.”

At the time the arrangement was made, Ford’s public tone was far less positive when it came to its future outlook. Its cars were considered tired, quality suffered and continuous public spats between Henry Ford’s great grandchildren (who held controlling public interest and managed the company) and the stockholders were routinely covered in national headlines. Now the company has not only rebounded, refusing to accept any part of a public government bailout that its peers would later have to extend payment on, but Ford has become a trend-setter in automotive design. Can industry analysts expect the automaker to extend its leadership into the boardrooms of health insurers as well?

When a company or large organization becomes a self-insured entity, the company is assumed to have amassed enough financial liquidity to assume its own risk and the financial risk associated with its employees’ health insurance. In Ford’s case, the company accepted responsibility for its retiree’s healthcare in a long-term buy-out agreement so management could reduce its workforce quickly and stave off continued losses.

Traditionally, only public / government businesses had the financial pull and employee base to justify funding its own health insurance plan. But as planned federal healthcare reforms become law, self-insurance may be more common among smaller corporations and those not typically self-insured today. That’s because one of the most controversial provisions in the Senate’s health reform plan provides for broad new taxes on commercial insurance companies.

Healthcare Staffing Companies Poised For Growth Amid Nursing Shortage

The United States is currently facing a healthcare staffing crisis, based primarily in a shortage of nurses. There is a growing need for nurses, especially travel nurses, and the problem is anticipated to become more acute in the next year. Since 2006, patients have won significant settlements from hospitals for negligence due to nursing shortage, and as the cost of hiring too few nurses comes to outweigh the cost of adequately employing, healthcare staffing companies should have definite growth.

People who feared that healthcare staffing would slow in today’s shaky economy and sold their shares in such companies now regret the decision, as these businesses have jumped in value. Shares of several companies providing travel nurses and temporary physicians initially fell due to fear in our current recession, but have since rebounded sharply.

According to BMO Capital Markets analyst Jeffrey Silber, “an aging population and advances in medical technology should drive demand, while supply may be constrained as caregivers age with few replacements coming through the pipeline. This should bode well for healthcare staffing supplier stocks.”

Silber estimated a travel-nurse staffing revenue of $2.5 billion annually, which is 21 percent of total healthcare staffing revenue. The growth forecast for travel nurses is set particularly slow as tough times push people towards stable jobs at home. He also pointed out that growth in the travel-nursing segment is estimated at 3.5 percent in 2009, compared with 8 percent in 2006.

This has not, however, affected many healthcare staffing companies. For hospitals to even maintain current (depleted) numbers of nurses, they must continue to hire new nurses on a regular basis. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median age of registered nurses (RNs) was 45 years in 2007. Also, another study reported that a third of all current nurses plan to leave their job within the next year.

Furthermore, staffing companies specializing in travel nurses are expected to continue to do well financially because of the nature of the job of travel nurse. These healthcare workers are employed by hospitals from around one to four months, so staffing companies increase their profit margins because of the rise in billed rates.

Healthcare Schools Online – Call the Shots on Your Career

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.

How Accounting Software Can Reduce Operating Expenses For Healthcare Organizations

Technology is front and center for healthcare organizations in 2010. Especially prominent is the HITECH Act of 2009 and its substantial impact on finances, human resources, Medicare payments, and the technology requirements to support these areas. Increasing federal regulatory compliance, accompanied by a heavy burden of standards and mandates, can make it seem overwhelming to weigh all issues and needs regarding technology for healthcare organizations.

Every industry experiences periods of transformation around their IT infrastructure and the business automation that introduces new efficiencies. The healthcare industry is now in the midst of its makeover. Substantial investments and change have already been made in medical and patient technology; however, the same level of change has not been duplicated in the business infrastructure of many healthcare organizations.

With so many technology demands to consider around electronic health records and healthcare IT, why should finance executives in the healthcare industry scrutinize their accounting software in 2010?

There are four reasons why healthcare organizations should evaluate and implement better accounting software this year in order to establish seamless, automated business processes that connect front office to back office and give healthcare professionals more time and resources to devote to their mission – excellent care for patients:

1. Data Integration Across Systems Helps Deliver Affordable Healthcare

With integrated systems, technology increases efficiencies, maintains quality of care and is not simply a way to cut costs. A typical healthcare organization is bogged down by paper-based data collection and runs dozens of disconnected systems and a plethora of patient billing and records solutions. Good accounting software is able to integrate with these systems to bring the information into the back office. You also need to automate the flow of financial information across internal systems and health plans with insurance claims, including a range of government organizations.

High quality service must remain constant amidst continuously evolving technology, but finding ways to reduce the costs of quality care is also imperative. Accounting software that integrates with other systems can dramatically improve operational efficiencies, reduce administrative costs, and ultimately free up cash for better, more affordable patient care.

Providing high quality healthcare takes a unified team of doctors, nurses, specialists and clinicians. A healthcare organization’s technology platform should incorporate the same collaborative approach so all systems, including accounting software, work together and enable automated business processes that streamline the way information is created, collected, accessed and shared.

2. Improve Operating Efficiencies

Accounting staff in many healthcare organizations today are overburdened with increasing pressures from internal and external demands. As other areas of a healthcare organization or practice advance due to technology investments, the organization now expects quicker turnaround on requests and more financial information. Externally, many of the requirements from HIPPA, Sarbanes-Oxley, and HHS-GIO present challenges that are initially often overlooked for the finance team. Today, a top accounting system can help a small finance staff more efficiently address payroll/HR requests, automate expense reporting and purchase requisitions management, provide a paperless workflow around payables management, and much more.

Many healthcare organizations are only using accounting software as a tool to present their practice to external users for financing, tax returns, and owners, rather than as a system to help improve the quality of patient care, reduce costs, or to increase revenues.

A recent study by Ivans, Inc. concluded administrative inefficiency and redundant paperwork account for 18% of healthcare waste. The study also notes many healthcare facilities still operate with older technology infrastructures, and by updating these infrastructures and operating systems they will experience immediate benefits.[1]

In the same way improved efficiency in medical care drives down costs while maintaining excellent patient care, increased efficiency in your business software and operations enables you to provide improved levels of service to patients with fewer resources.

Today’s accounting software lets you do more with less, with a high and rapid return on your investment.

3. Increasing Need for Business Intelligence

The importance of solid business intelligence and the demand for predictive analytics will grow in healthcare over the next few years in order to respond to the needs to increase revenue, reduce costs and comply with industry regulations and standards.

A 2009 Gartner paper predicted, “Through 2012, more than 35 percent of the top 5,000 global companies will regularly fail to make insightful decisions about significant changes in their business and markets.”[2]

It’s not just about having an abundance of data. Good accounting software reveals relationships between data rather than merely making data more accessible. Your data should provide deeper insight to help you make better business decisions. When electronic health records become more pervasive, healthcare organizations will have the ability to do more complex analysis than ever before. Your accounting software should provide strong reporting features with the ability to report by locations, departments, physicians, and service lines.

4. Good Data Quality and Management Ensures Compliance

It is complex and costly for healthcare organizations to comply with government regulations, industry standards, or corporate quality. Powerful accounting software helps healthcare organizations reduce the cost of regulatory compliance, lessens the risk of compliance failure, and protects company assets. Your accounting system should provide strong financial controls and audit trails, as well as the reporting needed for monitoring critical business processes or company assets. A system with built-in business alerts also reports attempts to bypass internal control procedures.

Why 2010 is the Year for New Accounting Software

Your accounting and business software is at the heart of your organization’s success. Now is an excellent time to take a holistic approach with your software applications so they all integrate as seamlessly as possible and provide the detail-rich, sophisticated data and reporting features you need at the lowest cost.

A stable, scalable accounting platform that is the right solution for your organization quickly demonstrates return on investment, drastically reduces administrative expenses, and increases operational efficiencies. Most important, it enables you to invest necessary, crucial funds in the well being of your patients.

[1] IVANS Healthcare Provider Spot Survey: Healthcare Provider Opinions on Reform, Technology and Proposed Medicare Cuts, November 2009

[2] Gartner Business Intelligence Summit 2009, Analysts Discuss Business Intelligence Challenges and Opportunities, January 20-22, 2009, The Hague, Netherlands

Robert M. Callanan, CPA, is President of Business Ready Solutions, LLC. He is an authority in the design, implementation and support of integrated, multi-user accounting and management reporting systems, and is at the forefront of integrating computers and software into corporate accounting services.

Business Ready Solutions, LLC, located in Durham, NC provides Microsoft Dynamics GP software implementation and support along with business process and accounting consulting. Its team of accountants, CPAs, and Microsoft Certified Professionals has the accounting/finance background and technology expertise to improve your business process and maximize your technology investment.

Study MBA In Healthcare Management Online

Due to the fact that healthcare has involved the business factor into its domain, programs like healthcare management MBA course are now in high demand. Graduates that come under these professions are needed to manage the clinics, healthcare centers and hospitals with the involvement of business strategies. This is because to handle and manage the healthcare system that includes a huge load of piled workload, many experienced administrators, professional and managers are required, besides the major experts of nurses, doctors and frontline authorities. So this program is suitable for people to wish to work behind the scenes of healthcare centers.

As a matter of fact, the online MBA healthcare management program could be one of high demand, considering many economists and analysts have come to claim that the healthcare is one expanding business field. The rising and growth of the number of centers correspond to the need for more profession to facilitate the centers. Existing people working under this industry can consider pursuing into deeper extent by acquiring larger skills and knowledge to aid in their career. The program will educate students on the necessary skills, exposing them to the market’s requirement thus preparing them to serve well to employers in this environment.

Those who are not keen to continue pursuing their studies in a campus site can consider taking up the online healthcare management MBA program offered by online schools. So do not consider giving up the master’s program just because you have an existing job to attend to or some commitment you cannot easily let go. Once you complete the program, you will be led to various opportunities within the healthcare service and with the sufficient skills and knowledge, you can definitely look forward to some rewarding promotion and more successful career in the future.

There are more multiple choices all over the world when it comes to the online MBA healthcare management program available via the internet. They are all accessible by everyone from anywhere. But of course, do check out the criteria of requirement enlightened by those institutions and determine if the school is well credited for their wide acknowledgment of their certificates.

Top 8 Careers With Degrees in Healthcare, Technology and Business

Who doesn’t want to be in an ideal career? After all, you spend most time of the day away from home working to make ends meet. Besides, recessionary times have made many wonder what job is the best in terms of security and lasting employ ability. Considering this, it seems like a great idea to go for a profession that not only offers good pay, but also good growth prospects.

Here’s a list of some careers that rank high in each of the above stated categories, promising a good buck and great employment prospects even 10 years down the road. The best part is that an online degree from a top online college can help you get through to one of these professions.

1. Registered Nurse

This profession has gained tremendous popularity lately due to the great demand for people in this field. As the American population ages, more and more nurses will be required to take care of them, which explains the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job growth projection between 2010 and 2020 of 26 percent for this occupation. And the handsome May 2011 median annual salary of $65,950 is just the cherry on top for aspiring registered nurses. An Associate’s Degree in Nursing, which can also be acquired from one of the top online colleges, is the basic entry-level education into this field.

2. Computer Systems Analyst

Helping an organization maximize on efficiency with the help of computer systems is what these professionals have to do. The job involves considerable interaction with end-users of a system, which can be managers at an organization, software developers and network architects. A median May 2011 salary of $78,770 per year and a 22 percent increase in jobs between 2010 and 2020 are what make it a coveted occupation in the US.Many top online colleges can help you get a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer or Information Science, paving the path towards this career for you.

3. Database Administrators

Office and administrative jobs rank quite high when it comes to job growth prospects and employability, but database administration is a sub-field in this category that is also quite well-paying with a 2010 median annual pay of $73,490. Storing and organizing sensitive and confidential data, to setting up and updating complex databases for companies are some job responsibilities for people in this field. With a whopping 31 percent increase in employment between 2010 and 2020, it is one of those professions that one should strive to get into with the help of a bachelor’s degree in related discipline from either a traditional university or one of the top online colleges.

4. Software Developer

All the mobile phone and computer applications we enjoy these days have been created by these smart, tech-savvy professionals. Developing software, writing its code, and maintaining it are some of their job duties. With a growing demand for anything and everything related to technology, it is not surprising that this occupation has been projected to grow by 30 percent between 2010 and 2020. The icing on the cake is the handsome 2011 median pay of $89,280 per year.

5. Physical Therapists

For anyone who’s suffering from an injury or is in pain because of a medical reason, physical therapists are truly a blessing. After all, these are the people you go to for relieving your pain; they aid in your mobility, and increase strength. Besides making a median 2011 annual pay of $78,270, you will also enjoy greater flexibility for your work and a lower than average stress level. The catch? Some states require continuing education for physical therapists to keep their license. But the good part is that the option of continuing education from one of the top online colleges means they don’t have to necessarily leave their jobs to study.

6. Dental Hygienists

These are the people who coax you into maintaining good oral health. Because people these days are becoming more conscious of the importance of good oral health, the demand for preventative dental services is quite large. And that explains a 2010-2020 projected 38 percent growth for jobs in this field, with a median salary of $69,280 per year.

7. Market Research Analysts

Which products are in demand? What do consumers want and what do they need? How much are people willing to pay for a product? These are some questions that market research analysts help companies to answer. A lot of rigorous data collection followed by careful analysis is what constitutes the most part of their jobs. A median annual salary of $60,250 in May 2011 and an astounding growth of 41 percent in jobs in this field between 2010 and 2020 make this a very promising occupation. A bachelor’s degree is the typical entry-level education for this field, which is offered by many top online colleges these days.

8. Accountants

Dealing with lots and lots of numbers while examining and analyzing financial documents is what these professionals have to repeatedly do. Greater financial regulations have meant that the need for thorough financial documentation has increased, and so has the demand for accountants, who earned a median pay of $62,850 in May 2011. That’s why about 190,700 jobs – a 16 percent growth – are expected to be added between 2010 and 2020 in this occupation.