Oct 20 2013

MEDICAL GROUP MANAGEMENT NOW!

Healthcare Management Problems

                                     

Go Far Beyond Technology Tangles

 

Thanks to what many doctors regard as excessive and medically-uninformed government intervention, excessive and medically-uninformed insurance company intrusion, and financially inept hospital consolidations, America’s private and hospital-based medical practices are suffering from excessive (and medically-unacknowledged) stress.

Doctors and Staffs find themselves having to be caught up with power-play control battles instead of with innovating and nurturing methodologies for improved case management and patient care. This is not a condemnation of medical technology advances by any means. It is in fact an endorsement for more tech exploration while simultaneously getting back to basics.

Positive stress enables healthcare managers to answer the wake-up call for effective practice management to realistically occur on two fronts at the same time. EMR and EHR systems and skills represent focal point one. Case management, patient care, and patient family care, focal point two.

But negative stress (or “dis-stress”) surfaces when one of these (like, for example, the current fad for dedicated insistence on “lean” healthcare) enslaves the other.

Relentless interruptions of non medically-trained government and insurance regulators who seek to satisfy their self-importance at the expense of doctor, staff, and patient stress levels, have the same effect as throwing gasoline on a fire.

Whether rulings require doctors to spend just 12 minutes per patient (likely headed toward 8 minutes!), or to conduct patient gun ownership surveys, the result is negative stress.

Negative stress feeds medical errors. It takes its toll on the lives of trained professionals and their families. Often, patients and patient families suffer needlessly because of mixed or contradictory signals lost in busy day-to-day clouds of smoke.

Even monster teaching hospitals, including the highest-rated in the country, fail miserably at basic communication skill levels. Doctors don’t talk with one another. They are too pressured to take the time to advocate on behalf of the very patients they serve.  And –worst of all– they fail to communicate with their patients and patient families meaningfully and consistently.

Practice Managers get the short end of the stick.

My best guess: Most Practice Managers end up absorbing 3/4 of all the stress generated by the madness of keeping Herculean time schedules, by catering to the administrative needs of the doctors they serve, by managing the daily barrage of staff, task and insurance management issues, and by having to deliver “customer service psychotherapy” to patients and families.

There are solutions, but they are not one-dimensional. Healthcare can never have universal value unless those charged as providers can have the freedom they need to function without constant government interference and insurance company strangleholds.

The first step to fixing a leak is to stop the leak. This means making extraordinary efforts to channel stress productively and to commit to implementing improved personal communications.  CHECK OUT  Medical Practice Managers

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Hal@Businessworks.US

Open Minds Open Doors

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Jun 05 2013

“Lean” Management. “Lean” Leadership.

 WHEN “LEAN” IS FAT!

 

The buzz word in today’s management circles is “LEAN” — not as against a lamppost, but as trimmed back to basics and making the most of computerized technology to produce a measure of quality efficiency. This is a fantastic concept that works in manufacturing (such as with Swiss Screw precision parts, and with automated equipment operations).

Unquestionably, implementing LEAN can make a difference. The problem is that –as with MBWA and Quality Circles and Theory X and Theory Y and JIT and scores of other management and leadership approaches– too many leaders desperate to make a name for themselves by shaking up their organizations tend to latch on to the latest fad, and expect nirvana.

With LEAN, too many advocates of quality leadership in management are attempting to put this square LEAN peg in a round ultimate consumer hole. The result for many of these forced marriages — especially in healthcare (doctors, hospitals, and facilities of every description)– is that they can end up victimizing themselves by a rush to “leanness.”

It’s not unlike cutting back food consumption to lose weight, then ending up dizzy and disoriented. In other words, too much reliance on streamlining the process can easily overshadow the basic thrust of an organization’s purpose.

Consider for example, what the last few letters (hint: Not “EHR” or “EMR”) in healthcare, are all about. All the cost efficiencies and lightning record retrieval systems in the world cannot come close to the only thing that –in the end– really matters:  care.

Of course a LEAN approach in healthcare can mean more accurate, more efficient, more rapidly delivered patient care. But buying into LEAN as if it were the end-all, be-all, ultimate solution to healthcare is like saying that the process of flying the plane is more important than the pilot. And that may well be the case some day but, for now, reality dictates that computer technology apps are simply tools to afford providers the opportunities to provide better quality patient care.

Use LEAN. But give careful budget and strategic planning consideration to the kinds of staff training and practice development avenues that far override the values of LEAN, such as:

1) Staff, patient and patient family communication. [A world-leading hospital I am intimately familiar with has robots delivering meds to patient rooms, but staff physicians who file endless numbers of computer reports don’t read one another’s reports, or communicate with each other. Few even have direct contact with the nurses dispensing the drugs!]   

2) Staff, patient, and patient family stress management [Did you know that the more relaxed a patient is, the more accurate the diagnosis can be and the better the response will generally be to treatment? The better the odds for reimbursement too, not incidentally! Patients and their families seek trust and  reassurance. LEAN may set that table, but only physicians, nurses and professional staffs can deliver the meal.] 

Target your budget and your process emphasis behind the kinds of communication skills and stress management training that providers and provider support staffs most need and least often get if you really want LEAN to work. Diets are great if you stick to them, and success often reduces itself to maintaining an ongoing dialogue about it with someone who supports your pursuits.

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Hal@TheWriterWorks.com or comment below.

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Feb 16 2013

Is Obamacare Killing Healthcare?

Doctors know where they’ve been

                                                                                     

but they don’t know

                                                                         

where they’re going!

 

Today’s medical professionals are strapped to a rudderless ship at sea that’s being sucked into a raging storm.

Some politicos would have us believe that the scandalous fifteen-thousand-page Obamacare program (and when, by the way, was the last time anyone you know read 15,000 pages of anything?!) need not be such a shocking insult to healthcare consumers because after all, it helps “less fortunate” people to get medical care.

Steamrollered through an inept Congress, Obamacare appears to have little if anything to do with the realities of healthcare. Instead, Obamacare hints at having everything to do with the crippling economic and personal freedom limitations brought on by the relentless White House pursuit of dictating increased government controls on American lives.

The end result? We will definitely end up with fewer competent physicians.

And those who remain will clearly not be providing adequate care –regardless of competency–  because of the restrictions Obamacare piles on top of the restrictions already imposed on them that limit their ability to deliver meaningful health services.

But computerization is what tightens the noose around healthcare necks, some say. Not so. The mismanagement and misappropriation of administrative computerization advances by interfering and uninformed government misfits and ignorant insurance providers is what is at the root of today’s healthcare delivery shortcomings.

The de-humanizing of humanizing services is the characterization that uninformed and manipulative individuals, agencies, and organizations have wrought as they’ve twisted administrative computerization advances into shortcut invasions of patient and physician privacy. Have we lost even having thoughts of human dignity?

When “DOCTOR’S ORDERS” becomes “DOCTORS ORDERS” (as in orders issued to doctors by the White House) to conduct patient gun ownership surveys to build a bigger “Big-Brother-Watching” database universe designed to gain yet more government control, do you think this might possibly get just a bit in the way of doctors performing healthcare services?

Of course EMR (electronic medical records) and EHR (electronic health records) have succeeded at putting patient care over paper care. But are these important advances enough to be really helping doctors to know where they’re going?

And the Internet has fully armed healthcare consumers to be better prepared to understand and manage their own healthcare issues, to be more informed about diagnostics and treatments, and to work more productively with their doctors. But are these advances enough to be able to really help doctors to know where they’re going?

The whole lean organization, lean management fad (where did Quality Circles go?) may be a solution, but is not THE solution. It is simply a band-aid acknowledgement that things have gotten so bad, we can no longer afford for the physician to spare a minute or two extra with each patient and patient family to help heal, and help ensure and reassure a sense of well-being.

More dollars are saved. Care is more efficient. But –at the ultimate point of care– doctors don’t get to spend more time with their patients, so is this increased efficiency really enough to help doctors know where they’re going?

Being preoccupied with efficiency necessitates lower levels of individual healthcare delivery. And last time I looked, healthcare was a profession dedicated to individual care. Perhaps it’s time to redefine the word “care”? The bottom line is that doctors are literally trapped.

Adherence to rules and regulations designed to increase control over their skills and abilities to earn livings commensurate with their training and societal value is squashing the very lifeblood out of healthcare. And Obamacare will surface as the culprit when it’s too late to matter — unless enough small business owners and practice administrators and doctors start to make waves

. . . NOW.

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Hal@Businessworks.US   302.933.0911

Open Minds Open Doors

   Make today a GREAT day for someone!

  God Bless You and Thank You for Your Visit!

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