Blogicon

What you should care about in healthcare today, from the editors of Becker's Hospital Review

  • 10 healthcare buzzwords to ban in 2015

    What term in healthcare would you be happy if you never heard again? We've all been there. You're sitting in a meeting that's probably gone a little long. When the new guy gets up to present, if you weren't asleep before you might as well be now, because the presentation's lingo sounds identical to everything else you've heard. Or, you're talking to a colleague, and he says that one thing that makes your skin crawl. You probably didn't say anything in that meeting or to your colleague. Erring on the side of manners was probably best. Now, it's your chance to let us know: What healthcare term drives you nuts? Following a short poll of our editorial team, we've made our own list. The words below have been everywhere we've looked in 2014 and, for one reason or another, really rub us the wrong way. Feel free to let us know what's on your list in the comments below. 1. Disruption. This is the top pick from our editorial staff. If disruption is the new normal, can you disrupt disruption? And what qualifies you as a disruptor, anyway? "Disruption" is descriptive enough that it piques interest but vague enough that it leaves you feeling let down when you realize it could pertain to pretty much anything. Plus, whatever happened to teamwork? 2. Innovation. Disruption's less-vexing cousin, innovation is another word that just can't catch a break. Innovate? Inno-wait! Just because something is new doesn't mean it's worth this much attention. There has got to be another fitting word somewhere to describe that new idea/invention/process, etc. 3. Accountability. We sure hope accountability in healthcare goes without saying. The fact that this term is thrown around so often (We assume everyone is reminding one another?) is slightly nerve-wracking. We would hope accountability, a.k.a. responsibility, is assumed into one's decision to join the healthcare field, enough so that reminders would be unnecessary. 4. Big data. At this point, there's so much data out there that the term seems like a bit of a misnomer. "Cloud" seems like it deserves a mention by proxy, but then it's more specific, and probably more important. After all, it's where the big data lives.Read More...
  • Can you really be a good boss to your friends?

    Having positive relationships at work is an important part of making a possibly stressful environment a more enjoyable place. Taking breaks, establishing open communication and even spending time socializing with co-workers outside of the office can lead to better relationships and more positive attitudes in the workplace, according to Forbes. Establishing friendships at work can make for an overall better work environment, but what happens to these relationships when a former co-worker becomes the new boss? Friendships that developed between peers can be strained when one is promoted to a position of authority, especially if multiple people in the department competed for the same job. On top of other challenges, new bosses need to learn how to delegate and discipline employees while still maintaining their trust. But can they do this and still hold onto friendships? Managers have to change their friendships with their former peers into boss-employee relationships to remain professional and establish authority. Adjusting to new social dynamics can be one of the most difficult parts of a managerial promotion, according to The Wall Street Journal. Often, former co-workers will be reluctant to treat a new boss as such, whether out of jealousy or habit. Or, friends will demonstrate misplaced enthusiasm about a co-worker's promotion and expect special treatment or extra slack, according to WSJ. Even though a newly promoted boss might want to maintain positive relationships, it's important not to give into these pressures; now he or she will have new peers to establish relationships with, and it's important to gain their trust and respect as well. Most often, it's the employees who create the distance between themselves and their new boss, not the other way around, according to WSJ. Many employees don't feel comfortable initiating conversation unrelated to work or socializing outside of the office with their boss, even if they used to be peers. The various social and professional challenges associated with promotions to manager roles pose several questions. While an existing employee might make a good candidate for a leadership position, is internal promoting always the best idea? And while general challenges are expected in any work scenario, how do internal promotions specifically affect those in a healthcare work environment? According to a survey of hospital leaders published by The HealthCare Initiative, an affiliate of MRINetwork, two-thirds of hospital leaders responding to the survey reported they believe promoting employees to leadership roles from within an organization is a bad idea because of the strain it puts on existing relationships and changes in authority. One-third of respondents think internal promotions are a good idea, but only if the promoted employee has access to a strong mentorship program for leadership guidance.Read More...
  • 25 comments from readers: The good, the bad and the ugly

    Here at Becker's Hospital Review, the reporters value the opportunity to open an insightful dialogue with our readers through comments posted at the end of articles. Support, criticism, questions and discussion are all present, and we appreciate our readers for their engagement! Based on readers' comments, the following 25 articles include some of the most well-received or disputed content, or incited the most interesting conversations. See the list below for the good, the bad and the ugly — and keep commenting. 1. House Republicans sue Obama administration over PPACA: 5 things to knowAva: What a bunch of fools. Congress wanted President Obama to postpone the employer mandate. This Congress is so ineffective and spends America's money on stupid lawsuits instead of getting the work of the people done....How about if they work on immigration, jobs, infrastructure, or heck, practically anything else instead of wasting our time and hard earned money on ignorant political stunts? 2. Is executive compensation aligned with health system strategy? 10 findingsDr. No: Anyone who thinks compensation for healthcare execs should be higher must be FIRED. We should go back to the old system of having nuns run hospitals. The privilege of serving patients is the compensation. Overpaid C-suites are the main problem in health care; along with consolidation, acquisition, overbuilding, overtreating, overinvestment in useless technologies - LOOK AT OUTCOMES. Cut the fat right off from the top! What was I just saying about barring men from running anything for 100 years? 3. Union accuses Prime of overbilling Medicare by $93MTodd: These unions should not be in Healthcare. Hospitals are not sweat shops. This particular union is known for its unscrupulous activities. Our tax dollars are being pilfered by the SEIU. 4. The problem to be solvedBonnie: As always, David Pate has hit the nail on the head! Whether you call it health maintenance (1990s) or population health (2014), the focus in health 'care' needs to shift from 'sick' care to 'health'. Until we figure this out we're only putting bandages on a very sick system. Clinicians take accountability: These "buckets" are not new, clinicians have been slow or reluctant to react to the changing conditions of healthcare. The business model has always known that "cost control" was not handled very well by senior leaders. I would disagree with Dr. Pate, it is the healthcare model that needs to adjust to the the business model of healthcare. No one wants to say this out loud, but has been the clinical side of healthcare that has created this out of control spending, not the business side. Lynn: I agree with all 3 buckets, but the naked emperor wants to know "What is our proposed business model for 'health'"? I've heard this question asked in many forums. Apparently, the answer is "there is none". When we are healthy, healthcare costs drastically reduce/disappear. So how do we motivate the healthcare industry to put themselves out of business? Dr. David Pate: Bonnie- Thanks for your kind comment. Totally agree. "Clinicians take accountability" - I understand your disagreement (I think), but the "clinical side" is reacting rationally to the business model and incentives that exist. I don't know of any healthcare economist or policy expert that does not agree that ability to pay (including insurance) + unequal decision-making and lack of transparency in favor of the clinician + fees paid for every service rendered drives increased healthcare spending. It is not the sole cause, as my article suggests, but I don't know anyone else that thinks the business model has not contributed to excess healthcare spending. Dr. David Pate: Hi Lynn: I think that there is a model that will work. In my opinion, a successful model would have to evolve to providers having access to the insurance premium, whether they become the insurer or simply turn the current insurance company-provider relationship on its head. Then, all of our services become cost centers, providers will right-size their operations, providers will be relentless in the pursuit of waste and in reducing cost and in eliminating low value/no value services, the incentive will be on promoting, maintaining, and restoring health, we will engage in more meaningful discussions about end-of-life care, we will shift people into new roles (health coaches, care coordinators, etc.), we will use team-based care to deliver services and thereby relieve the pressure on certain shortages of healthcare professionals, and we will finally be rewarded, instead of penalized, for our investments in health, fitness, wellness, prevention, and early detection. There is so much disease in the pipeline due to childhood obesity, personal health behaviors, and current disease burdens, that there won't be any overnight reduction in the need for acute and chronic healthcare services, and so as we begin to improve health, there will be plenty of time over an extended period of time for the healthcare professional markets to right-size without the need for more drastic measures.Read More...
  • 3 thoughts on U.S. healthcare (Sons of Anarchy), foreign policy (Homeland) and the interest rate policy (not what Ben Franklin envisioned)

    This year has been incredibly interesting on many fronts. This article features observations on three of the key dynamics we see, all maddening. 1. Healthcare, akin to "Sons of Anarchy," is riddled with unintended consequences and intrigue. The healthcare system increasingly looks like some kind of version of the fascinating but violent TV show "Sons of Anarchy." There is suspense, there is anger and there are double-crosses. If you have not seen the show, please excuse the reference. The list of problems in healthcare is long. The healthcare exchange sign-ups last year were heavily inflated, and subsidies were provided to millions who arguably are not eligible for subsidies to encourage sign-ups. The taxes borne by insurances companies will be handed off to enrollees, the savings from healthcare reform are nonexistent, and there is very little evidence of improved care quality. Also, there is greater consolidation, which some would say means higher healthcare prices. The only great certainty is one that has been said again and again for more than 100 years: Taxes will rise or have risen. Perhaps the single point of good news is a shift toward consumers being more oriented to the cost of their care. The growth of high-deductible health plans and the transfer of healthcare costs to patients has led to more concern, even though consumers still have a very hard time being cost savvy for non-routine treatments. Nonetheless, we see healthcare taking up a bigger and bigger part of middle class budgets. Ultimately, consumer awareness may be the best hope for actually reigning in healthcare costs.Read More...
  • Giving thanks for these 9 medical pioneers

    Happy Thanksgiving! Here at Becker’s Healthcare, we’d like to give thanks to a few of the many men and women whose pioneering work underpins modern medicine. Medicine is one of the most collaborative disciplines, and without the contributions of these individuals medical care today would be very different. The following individuals are a selection of those responsible for some important firsts in medicine, from the discovery of “germs” to the foundation of molecular biology. 1. Edward Jenner (1749-1823): VaccinesBritish surgeon and naturalist Edward Jenner developed the first vaccine, the smallpox vaccine, in 1796. Jenner was inspired to develop the practice of vaccination after noticing that milkmaids who caught the disease cowpox never developed smallpox. Jenner inoculated the son of his gardener with cowpox, and the boy failed to develop smallpox after being exposed repeatedly to infected smallpox material. This first vaccine laid the foundations for the field of immunology. 2. Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910): First female physician in the U.S. and U.K.This British native was the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States and the first woman on the UK Medical Register, a list of all practicing physicians in that country. After watching a friend die of what was probably uterine cancer around 1845, Blackwell decided to obtain her medical degree. She earned it from Hobart College in Geneva, N.Y., in 1849 and subsequently opened a practice in New York City. She was heavily involved in social change as well as medicine throughout her life and had such famous friends and correspondents as Florence Nightingale, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lady Anna Byron, wife of the poet Lord Byron. 3. Louis Pasteur (1822-1895): Germ theory of diseaseAmong his many claims to fame, French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur was the first scientist to support the germ theory of disease, the idea that diseases are caused by microorganisms, with his research. Pasteur expended a lot of effort investigating what agents caused beverages like milk and wine to spoil, inventing his eponymic process “pasteurization” in the process. After discovering that microbes were responsible for sour wine and spoiled milk, Pasteur hypothesized that microbes also caused disease in the body. He later supported this theory in the mid-1860s by showing that a malady attacking silkworms in Alais, France, was caused by microbes attacking silkworm eggs. 4. Joseph Lister (1827-1912): Antiseptic surgeryBritish surgeon Joseph Lister is best known for applying Louis Pasteur’s work in microbiology to pioneer antiseptic surgery. At the University of Glasgow in the 1860s Dr. Lister experimented with wound treatment with carbolic acid, then used to treat sewage, using Pasteur’s studies of the germ theory of disease to guide his work. After successfully proving that carbolic acid-basedsterilization of wounds reduced gangrene, Dr. Lister went on to promote handwashing and surgical instrument sterilization as a means of reducing infection. His legacy in sterilization is also evident in the naming of a bacteria genus, a slime mold genus and Listerine, all of which are his namesakes.Read More...
  • How email can threaten your career

    Do you send work emails from bed at night or while on vacation? Is your smartphone glued to your hand during a teeth cleaning or haircut? If you've answered yes to any of these questions, keep reading. Two psychology researchers at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb say this behavior may be symptomatic of a new condition they call "telepressure," according to Forbes. Telepressure is the feeling of needing to respond to electronic communication, including emails, texts and voicemails, as quickly as possible to ensure you appear responsive and connected. Larissa Barber, a psychology professor at NIU and lead author of a new study on telepressure said, "Employees pick up on both subtle and not-so-subtle cues in the work environment that imply that fast response times are needed to be perceived as productive workers. This may leave employees feeling like they technically have the option of not being continuously accessible, but that unplugging — even for short periods of time — may be damaging to their careers." As it turns out, this attitude can eventually contribute to reduced quality of performance and even serious health issues. According to Forbes, employees and managers alike who feel subject to a lot of telepressure are more likely to burn out, lose focus and even experience health-related absenteeism. Habits that may have initially formed from a strong work ethic may ultimately be what damages careers. In one survey sited by Forbes, 81 percent of workers have checked work email on a weekend and a third of workers respond to emails at work within 15 minutes. Another survey found 28 percent of employees' days are spent reading and replying to emails. Communication is an essential part of almost any job, but what happens when it becomes too much to handle? According to a Human Solutions study, 52 percent of people who reported feeling stressed out at work said this stress has caused them physical health problems and 42 percent reported suffering from mental health problems. More than half of employees surveyed in the study, 56 percent, said they thought about quitting their job because of the stress they experience, and 75 percent of employees said the quality of their personal or family life suffered because of stress experienced at work. Notably, 64 percent of respondents reported the quality of their work suffered because of stress experienced at work.Read More...
  • Healthcare's foggy and forgettable names

    Last week, a fellow editor couldn't take it any more. She had to get something off her chest. "You know what system I hate writing about?" She paused her typing, turned to me and named a newly formed health system in the Midwest, which shall remain unspecified. "It has at least four different names. I never know what to call it. And its website is a mess!" I sympathized with her. So many systems have legacy names, operating names, colloquial hyphenated names — maybe more. How strange it feels to call a health system's public affairs department and say, "Hi, can you tell me the name of the organization I just called?" And yet, desperately seeking accuracy, that's just what we do. Even stranger is how long this confusion persists. We're only healthcare journalists who write about hundreds of hospitals and health systems every week. I can't imagine being an employee of that system, hearing people refer to my organization four different ways day after day. Or, worse, a patient — one who doesn't know the strategic reasons why the name and familiar face of her hospital changed overnight. Ambiguity is a bad look in healthcare. Speaking of bad: Health systems adopt some pretty strange names. I once left an article I was writing open on my computer, halfway done, when my friend borrowed it to check movie times. Before she closed out of the story, the health system's name caught her eye. "Nice name," she said. "It sounds like a piece of Ikea furniture. What does that even mean?" It was a mumbo-jumbo moniker, the smashing of words that mean nothing together. I wonder why there aren't more hospitals named after historical figures, medical pioneers, influential nurses, hometown points of pride. You know, names that mean something. Names we have a shot at understanding without reading the health system's annual report. Healthcare system names can be highly disjointed, confusing and downright bad. There's much room for improvement, but there's another strange dynamic at play. Every now and then, a health system fixes a name that is hardly broken compared to the others out there.Read More...
  • Innovation's moral quandary: When am I obligated to reinvent the wheel?

    Healthcare has a lot of problems, and oh, if only problem-solving were simple. When we talk about creating solutions to problems in healthcare, the 'how' is becoming just as important has the 'what.' Often, the question is a helpful one. But recently, the answer to 'how' dissolves automatically, and sometimes meaninglessly, into everyone's favorite buzzwords: disruption and innovation. Let me make one thing clear: Innovation is crucial. Leave anything in an echo-chamber of ideas for long enough, and all hope for progressive movement is over. However, the overwhelming desire to throw the baby out with the bathwater seems to have overtaken the healthcare industry. Not all problems are in need of an innovative fix. Take low handwashing compliance. People can (and do) write books on this simple, but common problem. You're the head of infection control at a major, resource-rich health system, and it comes to your attention that providers just aren't remembering to wash their hands. You had previously considered this problem and already have a reminder program in place, but it's clearly insufficient. Do you a) consult with similar providers and adopt a preexisting program that has proven results at another institution, or b) scrap your current program and build one from scratch? The answer isn't always clear. Maybe you know of another system with stellar handwashing statistics, and you recognize the possibility of adoption and customization. Or perhaps, as director of the infection control program at your resource-rich system, you feel an obligation to create an even better program or technology — one that collects data by itself, for instance. Surely this would be an improvement upon simple handwashing compliance success. What would you do? What should you do?Read More...
  • Hey bosses: Your employees think they can do a better job than you

    Nearly 85 percent of Americans think they can outperform their manager, according to an international poll recently conducted by Monster.com. This might mean a couple of things. First, the assertion by an employee that he or she could do a better job managing the organization than whoever is currently boss could be symptomatic of plain old lack of respect. If this is the case, Monster career advice expert Mary Ellen Slayter said it might be time to make a change. "If you don't respect your boss, it's time to start exploring options for making a move. Perhaps you would like a lateral move, as you could be a valuable asset to another workplace, working under someone you find more inspiring. Or, if you're feeling ambitious, maybe it's time to start thinking about becoming the boss yourself," she said. Respect is cyclical. Upon closer analysis, the lack of respect some employees may have for their boss may in fact be a reaction to a perceived lack of respect from their bosses. According to a survey by the Harvard Business Review, being treated with respect has a profound effect on employee performance. Respondents who reported feeling respected by their leaders reported 55 percent more engagement, 56 percent better health and well-being, 89 percent greater enjoyment and job satisfaction, 92 percent greater focus and prioritization and 1.26 times more meaning and significance in their work, according to the survey. More than half of employees — 54 percent — reported they don't consistently get respect from their leaders. According to the Harvard Business Review, this can lead to less engagement, more turnover, less productivity and increased healthcare costs. But believing you can outperform your boss isn't always a sign of trouble. Alternatively, employees who reported believing they could do a better job than their managers may instead have a stronger desire for a more significant sense of leadership, personal investment in the success of the organization and, importantly, commitment. In short: These are the people bosses should want on their team. In this case, CEOs, other C-suiters and managers shouldn't feel threatened by or condemn employees' assertions that they could do a better job in their role. Rather, bosses should encourage them. A strong sense of leadership and drive among employees is fundamental for growing a successful organization, for if these traits aren't embedded in the culture, there is no shared motivation to push the organization forward.Read More...
  • 5 traits of "the most ambitious CEO in the universe"

    Fortune has pegged Google's Larry Page, 42, as the most ambitious CEO in the universe. He has helped cement the company's core search business and is now a driving force behind Google's new and bigger bets. So as CEO of a 55,000-person company, what does Mr. Page do differently from other leaders? (Aside from innovating ingestible nanoparticles that may rewrite the rules of modern medicine and designing balloons that can beam down broadband signals, that is.) Here are five of his most remarkable behaviors or traits, as observed by Fortune. 1. He has sky-high expectations that are almost cartoon-like. Setting the bar high and motivating employees to exceed expectations is a cornerstone of good management, but Mr. Page takes this to the next level. For instance, Google was founded with the mission to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful" — no small feat. But today, Mr. Page says that vision is "probably a bit too narrow." That statement conveys the size of his intentions, and the urgency he feels to move technology forward. The individuals Mr. Page oversees are aware of this ambition, and reciprocate in-kind. Take businessman and scientist Andy Conrad, for example. He leads Google X's latest project, ingestible nanoparticles that would monitor people for diseases. He describe to Fortune what it feels like when discussing ideas with Mr. Page: "You feel terrified, inspired and nurtured at the same time." There's also a joke that has made the rounds at Google X, a tall tale in which a scientist wants to show Mr. Page a time machine. "As the scientist reaches for the power cord to begin a demo, Page fires off a dismissive question: 'Why do you need to plug it in?'" 2. He is an aggressive dreamer, but also an assertive executive. Mr. Page was previously part of a three-member executive team: Eric Schmidt ran the company as CEO, and Mr. Page and his cofounder Sergey Brin served as presidents. When that arrangement dissolved in 2011, Mr. Page took on the CEO role. Since then, he has reorganized top ranks twice, eliminated numerous products, integrated the look and feel of those that remained and encouraged Google's engineers to simplify. Google has grown more than 20 percent annually for the past three years. In its most recent quarter, revenue topped $16 billion. This challenges the notion that creative people have a hard time managing or that big-thinkers pay little notice to operational details. Mr. Page is not merely concocting Willy Wonka-like dreams in his C-suite, but acting as a hands-on executive who makes hard decisions. He reigns in his imagination when he must, choosing which pursuits to continue and which to kill. 3. He is committed to consistently reinventing the company. Mr. Page has taken note of tech giants of yore — many companies rested on their laurels and simply kept doing what they did best. Eventually, they grew irrelevant. Mr. Page knows top talent in tech and science do not want to work for one-trick ponies. To keep Google rich with the brightest minds and thriving for generations instead of a couple of decades, Mr. Page continues to push Google to diversify its offerings. The company's "bucket of investments" includes bets of the short-, medium- and long-term variety.Read More...

Subscribe to Our RSS Newsletter

Your Email:  

Top 40 Articles from the Past 6 Months