After nine months of back-and-forth public debate, big corporate bail-outs and strained political ties amongst members of Congress, the shock of the new economy and all its moving pieces has officially worn off. But healthcare still dominates our national agenda at a time when few of us can afford to be without. Whether or not the so-called “Public Option” becomes part of any finalized healthcare bill signed into law, the average American will have some vital decisions to make about when, where and how they seek coverage. The old rules of group coverage no longer apply in the new economy.No Safety in NumbersJust as fast as the U.S. housing meltdown completely redefined what it means to live within our means, so too are the days when finding a good job guaranteed you’d find affordable health coverage where you work. Companies of all sizes are cutting back benefits now that they’ve cut back their workforces. As a result, the old-school “pool” insurance model is proving less and less sustainable. The good news is while debate still rages on Capitol Hill, health insurance providers are restructuring their product portfolios to make coverage more affordable for millions of individuals — no matter if they’re employed or not.”Next to salary, health insurance is the largest expense any company has,” says Larry Johnson, a human resources officer with Nashville, Tenn.-based Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), the nation’s largest for-profit hospital company. “The reality is that individuals can go online and out in the open market now and get low cost, low deductible health coverage on their own. Lots of times it’s cheaper than what we can provide our own employees.”Inside OutIn the same way telephone companies broke themselves up into smaller, regional providers in the 1980s (to address government concerns that telecommunications had become a monopoly of a few big providers), health insurance companies are breaking themselves up from the inside out. It was clear several years ago, says one industry health insurance executive, many healthcare companies saw the governmental reform train coming down the tracks.”Changing an entire product set, expanding a marketing strategy and creating a new pricing model for an industry that’s been pretty much self-regulated up until now doesn’t happen overnight,” says Miami-based independent health insurance agent Jerry Sommers. “Public option or not, this has been in the corporate pipeline for years before it ever got into the media or Congress. It’s only going to get more confusing before it gets better. I’m quoting a lot of policies for people who are scared of what we might end up with when the government gets done.”
Anyone who has picked up a newspaper or turned on the news over the past few years has surely heard quite a lot about healthcare reform. It has been one of the hottest topics surrounding President Obama’s term and continues to play out in the news. It can be a bit complicated to follow, but it is important for everyone to understand the reform since it will affect each citizen.One of the reasons that the news has covered healthcare reform so extensively is that it was the first major achievement of President Obama’s term. Like most major achievements, it has also been one of the most controversial issues with which his presidency is associated. The press has tried to present both sides of the issues so that American can take an informed stance.Another reason that the reform has been so newsworthy, aside from the fact that it affects everyone, is that it is an issue that has been tackled by many presidents before Obama. Presidents Truman and Clinton both tried to tackle national healthcare and failed. Passing any legislation on the issues, whether or not it is popular, marks a significant place in history for President Obama.There has been quite a lot of controversy surrounding the reform and it has extended beyond commentary in the news. Challenges to the legislation have been filed across the country, especially concerning the individual mandate factor. This element requires that every citizen have health insurance or pay a fine if they choose to forego it.Most news outlets have tried to remain impartial and present both sides of the health reform debate. Some people are against it because they believe it gives the government too much control over private healthcare. Those who are in favor of the reform believe that it will make much-needed healthcare available to those who otherwise would not be able to afford it on their own.Whether or not someone agrees with the recent healthcare reform legislation, they cannot deny that it has marked a major event in American history. There is more than enough news coverage on the topic and most sources have tried to help Americans draw their own conclusions by providing unbiased information about the policies. It is likely that this will continue to be a prominent topic in the news and all American citizens should be sure to stay well informed on all new developments.
The days of endless charting and piled papers, is just around the corner for those in the healthcare field. There is an increased demand for technology in the Michigan healthcare system, and with that increased demand come both benefits and drawbacks. There are a wide variety of advantages of increasing the technology and embracing the advances that have made in medical system software and systems this far. Those medical facilities who refuse to take advantage of these new possibilities will soon find themselves obsolete as the rest of the businesses around them continue to advance.Advantages of an Increased Demand for TechnologyWith an increase in technology within the Michigan healthcare system, will come advantages such as easier to access records, faster automatic billing capabilities, and even automated support and call center capabilities that are routed to the appropriate professionals. This improved technology-based access to information will have a significant impact on healthcare. It will save time, money, and ultimately even lives.No more waiting precious minutes to find out what little Johnny is allergic to when he needs immediate treatment and you can’t find his chart. There will also be an end to clients being pestered by insurance information about treatment, which has yet to arrive from the doctor’s office. Everything will be done faster and more effectively with the new technology that is being developed.Disadvantages of an Increased Demand for TechnologyWith an increase in technology, will also come a need to keep up. To do this, you will need to advance with the times and develop a system that is on par with those being used by other local business. That is just one of the disadvantages of an increased demand for technology in the Michigan healthcare system. Luckily, with the help of an IT specialist company, you can have a state of the art system that runs seamlessly, and is monitored on a daily basis.With all new technology come bugs and kinks that need to be worked out. If you are going to advance with the times, then it will be essential to enlist the help of an efficient and productive IT group. Outsourcing IT work can be very advantageous. By outsourcing your IT work, you can obtain the services you need at the lowest possible cost without being negatively affected.There is an increased demand for technology in the Michigan healthcare system, and this increase is leading to both benefits and problems for healthcare companies. If you own a business that deals in the medical profession, then you have begun to realize the benefits to developing a system that can compete with those developed for other companies.In order to compete, you will need an updated system of your own, which can be accomplished with the help of a dedicated IT company such as AccuTech International. Once you understand the importance of outsourcing this work, and developing your company further with the use of the latest technology in the field, you will begin to see your business thrive while conserving money at the same time.
In a Youtube address just over a year ago, President Obama cryptically alluded to his administration’s acknowledgment of the healthcare fraud epidemic with phrases like “rooting out waste” and “unnecessary spending” and promises to “make drug makers pay their fair share,” calling on doctors and hospitals to cease “unnecessary treatments and tests-but like most politicians he offered no concrete plan for a solution. On March 21 of this year, he signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, H.R. 3590 – which contains a number of potential fraud-fighting measures-but still there was no stated benchmark and no roadmap from the White House to eradicate fraud and abuse in the healthcare system.On June 8, however, a letter was sent by two of the President’s top cabinet members – Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Siebelius – unequivocally stating the first benchmark in the fight against healthcare fraud: cut the Medicare improper payment rate in half. The letter was sent to the attorney generals in every state, inviting them to coordinate healthcare fraud enforcement efforts and promising to use every weapon available to meet the goal. “Building on our record of aggressive action, we will use the new tools and resources provided by the Affordable Care Act to further crack down on fraud,” said Holder and Siebelius. “These include new criminal and civil penalties, enhanced information technology to track and prevent fraud in the first place, and new authorities to prevent bad actors from billing Medicare and Medicaid.”Accordingly, we can expect to see efforts to combat healthcare fraud doubled and more regular cooperation among federal and state authorities. To that end, on July 16, the first in a series of fraud prevention summits will take place in Miami, co-hosted by the Department of Justice (DoJ) and HHS and designed to integrate state health care fraud enforcement with actions by the federal Health Care Fraud Prevention Enforcement Teams (HEAT), a program established a year ago as a joint task force between DoJ and HHS and rolled out in certain high-fraud areas throughout the country.Likewise, DoJ has directed all 93 U.S. Attorneys to convene regular “health care fraud task force meetings” exchanging information with both private and public sector anti-fraud partners. The first such meeting in each federal judicial district is to take place by August 16, 2010. Presumably these meetings will include state Medicaid Fraud Control Units, state attorneys general, and members of the health care fraud bar.This directive comes on the heels of the delegation of authority for issuing Civil Investigative Demands (CID) to the 93 U.S. Attorneys – a powerful tool that can, among other things, force the targets of civil fraud investigations to respond to document requests, interrogatories, and appear for deposition. The majority of state attorneys general in states with false claims acts already have CID authority, but such authority is a new arrow in the quiver of local federal law enforcement. CID authority is empowered through the federal and various state false claims acts, arguably the most effective statutory scheme in the fight against healthcare fraud.Under the respective federal and state false claims acts, whistleblowers may file actions on behalf of the federal government to recoup Medicare false claims and on behalf of certain state governments to recoup Medicaid false claims. Most false claims act statutory schemes require that treble damages be paid for fraudulent billing and up to $11,000 per false bill be levied as a penalty. Actions brought by whistleblowers are known as qui tam lawsuits and result in a whistleblower award of between 15-25% of any recovery based on credible, first-hand knowledge by the whistleblower. In cases where the whistleblower is permitted to proceed alone against the fraudfeasor, the whistleblower share can be as high as 30%.In the last 18 months, nearly $6 billion has been recovered in state and federal False Claims Act cases (including criminal penalties). As federal and state enforcement officials coordinate and redouble their efforts and commit to work together to fight health care fraud, we can expect to see more and more healthcare fraud litigation and larger and larger Medicare and Medicaid false claims act recoveries.© 2010 James F. Barger, Jr.
For those that are interested in working in the medical field, they might consider a Healthcare Management Associates degree. This will allow you to gain valuable knowledge to enter into this field in entry level positions. You can even continue on with further courses and move up the career ladder.You will find that these programs can teach you the understanding of working within a professional medical job. This can include hospitals, doctor’s offices and even nursing homes. It is important to gain knowledge of medical procedures and terminology. By learning basic skills in organization, you can learn how to properly file medical charts and other records. This may not seem like an important skill, however with many names that are similar out there, it is very crucial to be able and file properly or make sure the correct information goes in the proper chart.If you already have prior education and or a combination of experience, there are programs that do give credits towards this degree. You can expect about two years to complete the program.Once you are done, you will know basic medical terminology, record keeping, and the key business parts of policies and procedures. There are some programs that even teach anatomy through course and lab work. You can also expect business coursework as well. They might cover human resources, management, finance and accounting, as well as communication.Check for programs that offer internships. This will allow you to get your foot into the door and possibly get hired on after you have obtained your degree. Then are you are able to start using your degree on your career. Many offices look for any experience to prove that you are a viable candidate.Many people choose to continue on with their education in the health field. They typically look for programs that allow them to transfer to a program for a bachelors degree. Most larger administrative jobs will require a minimum of a bachelors degree. If you are working an administrative position in a doctor’s office, they will sometimes overlook the bachelors and accept the associates with experience.You can find programs online if you are unable to attend a school full time in person. Verify what options are out there in the field you are seeking. Even if you have online courses, some may require in person labs or other coursework that requires you to attend. With proper planning you can complete the coursework in a number of ways, and then graduate. Counselors at the school can help with this, and make sense of graduation requirements.You can also check your local colleges for these programs. You will find many offer coursework that is not overbearing and will allow you to work as well if you need to. Why not seek out getting a degree in this field. You will be able to contribute to this field and even have the ability to move forward in this career. It can take you as far as you are willing to put in the hard work and effort.
For healthcare professionals – be it hospital staff, medical representatives or bio-scientists developing new drugs, online learning courses can provide training and support in a variety of ways. For patients and caregivers too, who are at the other end of the spectrum in the healthcare industry, e-learning has a lot to offer. While every healthcare organization has available literature providing detailed information on the above, patients are often not able to perceive or understand them well to take informed decisions. This is where online learning courses can come into play.An illness of any kind is daunting for an individual. For the lack of time, doctors or nurses are often unable to sit with patients and discuss their options at length with them. Misconceptions and myths concerning certain illnesses also hinder an open face-to-face discussion. Online learning courses enabled learning allows patients as well as caregivers to gather information at their own pace and in a secure environment.
A number of strategies can be employed to put the learner at ease and help them understand their options better. For instance, we developed a course on IVF for one of India’s leading IVF specialists, where scenarios were built with real-life people, practical problems and solutions. The learners were informed about IVF, various procedures and their options with the help of these scenarios.
Information and interactivities within an online learning course can prepare patients for the meeting with the doctor. This shortens the time spent on making them understand the mundane necessities and can be better spent in actual face-to-face interactions. For instance, in a course on a debilitating gastrointestinal disorder, we included clinic forms which the patients need to fill to get treatment for the disease. Important portions of the form like healthcare insurance details, details of previous treatments and history of vaccinations were highlighted to make sure that the patients can produce these details quickly and take the minimum time to fill in the forms in a correct manner.
Perhaps the most important benefit of technology-aided learning for healthcare patients is that it makes understanding complex procedures possible, even if he or she is a layman. With e-learning, graphics and 2D and 3D animations can be used to visually re-create complex procedures and break them down to individual steps to aid understanding. The patients have the option of re-enforcing their understanding by reading up the material whenever they need and sharing it with their family and friends as well.
In addition to information on the illness, treatment options and procedures, online learning courses can also provide the much needed mental and emotional support for patients as well as their caregivers. By sharing coping mechanisms, important resources, links and practical insights that is available to patients and their families at all times, e-courses can provide long term support. This is especially important if the treatment options have a long term implication on the quality of a patient’s life.
With the aid of technology, we can also create a virtual community of patients and caregivers. Discussion boards, wikis or blogs can be created inviting patients and their families to share experiences. It can double up as a searchable knowledge repository, where they can search for information and share it further. This will help dealing with their illness better and dispel the feeling of alienation that often accompanies illness. There are many ways of creating a technology-aided solution to help patients and their families. More and more doctors and healthcare providers are turning to these solutions to help their patients better.