Since health care insurance was established, the cost to have it has increased exponentially in the United States. There is much evidence to support the health care providers have not been efficient in the way they provide service. Ordering unnecessary tests. Requiring in office visits for every single ailment. Billing for multiple services and in some cases, over billing. There was a time when insurance companies would reimburse these providers for every single billable item causing the cost of insurance to skyrocket. Increasing costs of healthcare insurance has made it so expensive that it is unattainable to millions of Americans. While reform will decrease the amount of money going into the pockets of providers and other companies, it is the only course of action that will make health care within reach of millions of Americans.It is not uncommon for someone to pass away from a condition that could have been prevented had it been caught it the early stages. There are hundreds of thousands of cases that escalate because the patient did not visit the doctor during early stages of symptoms due to lack of healthcare insurance. Most bankruptcy cases include medical bills. In fact, medical bills affect many American’s credit score. Why are medical bills such a burden to so many in the United States? Physicians not being held to a standard of efficiency that is cost effective. This is where health care reform is important and steps in to lower the cost of healthcare so that it is affordable to all.The government is stepping in and holding health care providers accountable to make sure they are not over billing patients and having ethical relationships with manufacturers of healthcare products. This means that the billing of medicare and medicaid patients is being scrutinized to make sure doctors are running unnecessary tests and performing unnecessary procedures. Healthcare providers are being held accountable for the quality of care given to patients. No more billing insurance companies for readmitting a patient multiple times within one week for the same illness. In the past, manufacturers of drugs and devices would offer perks to physicians for “trying” their new product. Health care reform is put in place to regulate those kinds of relationships that prove to be unethical.Health care reform is such a controversial topic because money is involved. Health care providers are, not only, going to see a decrease in net profits they will also have to make significant changes in the way they are practicing medicine. Change is a difficult thing for many to embrace. However, these changes will allow American citizens to access the medical care they need, when they need it without breaking the bank.
One of the issues we all have to face eventually is the rising cost of healthcare. During our recent presidential election, many promises had been made, so we will see shortly if anything actually will be done to help lower the costs. We have all heard these promises before about how the healthcare system is broken and some political office wannabe is going to jump in and fix it.As I turned 50 a short while ago, this is becoming a major factor in my life. For those of you younger than I, you probably had the same feeling of invincibility that I once had and healthcare issues are the farthest thing from your mind. For those of you over my age, the prospect of healthcare costs somehow becoming affordable is a pipe dream.Recently, I have discovered a great resource available to everyone that can help. The web site is a wonderful wealth of information to anyone with concerns on healthcare costs. You can lookup current costs for surgeries, office visits, hospital room charges and many other medical costs to find out if you are being charged a fair amount for these medical services.I quickly discovered that these medical costs are NOT set in stone and I am NOT at the mercy of the medical billing department. These costs are completely negotiable, just like looking for the best deal on an automobile or a television set. You can take control of these costs upfront before a medical procedure is done and set the price for that procedure.
There’s a lot of excitement today in the health care field about the benefits that Lean practice can bring. This is especially critical in an environment where patient care needs are climbing while the pool of skilled resources and reimbursement for services shrink. Lean Advisors Inc. is working in the healthcare industry to help them implement Lean in order to be able to do more with less while doing it better. The key is to apply Lean methods in an environment driven by the unique values that surround patient care.As in other industries, the customer should come first. In healthcare that customer is the patient and the patient drives the definition of value. The product (test results in the laboratory) or service (patient care) can make the difference between life and death. That one element takes Lean to another level of importance in this industry.The needs of the patient are paramount and give new meaning to Lean focus on the customer. The working environment is one driven by shared values and passion in delivering top quality products and services to the patient. Without Lean, healthcare will continue to have difficulty meeting the pressure to serve an increasing number of individuals at less cost.As the population ages, healthcare must find new ways to meet the demand for their services. Turnaround time becomes a primary measurement that must improve whether it is in the hospital facilities or their testing laboratories. Further, space is at a critical premium in running all the functions within a hospital facility. Only Lean can provide a solution to space issues without either downsizing staff or incurring large scale capital building costs.Lean PrinciplesOf course, all of these improvements can’t compromise the quality – in fact, the quality must improve while working to serve patients faster. This is the real challenge – and, as noted, it can be a matter of life and death.The Lean principles of customer focus, speed of delivery, increased quality, and flexibility in meeting ever-changing demands fits ‘perfectly’. Hospital and technical laboratory professionals are surprised to see similarities with other industries when they sit down and look at the benefits of applying Lean methods in their environment. Once they have the ‘right’ Lean knowledge, and know how to apply the tools properly, they are able to see that Lean implementation is imperative in order to meet the needs of patients in coming years.Lean Advisors Inc. has recently begun work with the laboratory service division of a world-renowned Clinic. We have seen the power of adapting Lean to the health care environment and its values driven processes. The results in only a couple of months have been phenomenal. They have been able to reduce lead times so Doctors can receive critical test information even more quickly than the organization’s previous world leading delivery pace. These health care professionals accomplished this without adding more staff and without any large capital outlay or increase in space. The impact has been immediate and patients are being serviced faster and better. And there is every indication that the change is sustainable over the long term.You need passion for improvement to be successful when transforming your organization to a Lean Enterprise. Dedicated healthcare staff has plenty of that passion and this facility was no exception. They are passionate about their work and they, more than anyone, know the importance of speed and quality in meeting patient’s needs. The missing ingredient was learning the ‘right’ way that Lean could be applied to make the transformation in a hospital environment.
Lean MethodsThe healthcare workers in this facility are used to change. Their profession is constantly adapting to new technologies, processes, regulations, and tools – they have learned to expect rapid change. These participants were more than willing to listen and learn about something new that could make patient care even better in a world of shrinking resources.The passion we saw in how they dealt with patients transferred to the application of Lean in the same way they approached every other aspect of their jobs. They used what they learned as they learned it and quickly became totally committed to Lean. Our challenge was, and is, keeping them on Plan and completing their projects in the correct order so as not to create ‘exciting chaos’, all too easy under the pressures of day-to-day emergencies and deadlines. ‘Exciting Chaos’ happens when you apply tools in the wrong sequence and fail to improve the system as a whole. Incremental or ‘point’ improvements are, as we know, a recipe for disaster.In healthcare, cost containment can be critical, but patient quality, care, and service have to be a priority. The industry faces growing financial constraints. The number of patients is dramatically increasing and the cost of the improved technology is rapidly going up. Administrators of facilities are being asked to accomplish much more with less and less. Lean methods are critical in bringing needed cost savings.What we often see in health care are the same short-term, knee-jerk responses to reduce costs that we have seen in the traditional industries such as manufacturing. There is an immediate impulse to cut assets and labor resources. While these shortsighted responses may allow them to meet an annual budget, they certainly don’t create better service or long-term solutions.
Lean ResultsLean doesn’t focus on cutting people or assets; it focuses on improving activities and processes in the system as a whole. In order for any business or organization to get better, they must learn how to remove the ‘waste’ in their system and create value without adding staff or resorting to large capital outlays.When done properly, Lean removes ‘wasteful’ activities and allows the professionals and staff of hospitals, labs, and clinics to focus on more patient value-based activities. The result is doing more with less – more people can be assisted with the same number of people, the same (or less) space, and reduced costs of providing services. Lean methods are indeed the answer to the challenges facing healthcare organizations and their staff.The Clinic we talked about in this document has proven that it can be done. They are now expanding it to all their labs. They are engaging their physicians, administrators, scientists, lab professionals, and technicians. The people in this Clinic are pioneers and have paved the way for others in healthcare to follow. They have proven that with a passion driven by patient-focused values, the ‘right’ knowledge, and a proper plan, the tremendous challenge facing them can be more than met today and well into the future.
If you are part of the ever-growing array of healthcare facilities, you already know that your liability risks are great. You also realize that your exposure to liability demands a specialized commercial insurance policy. With the industry at the crossroads of expansion and modernization, you need tailored risk management answers that work with any protective coverage as well.Speaking to an experienced independent insurance agency will give you the clarity you require to best make decisions in procuring an appropriate related plan up to the limits that are available for your particular line – both in the business aspect as well as the commercial auto aspect.Healthcare Insurance Options – You need them if you are:• a home healthcare agency
• a hospice facility
• a medical staffing company
• a lithotripsy center
• a student health center
• a dialysis center
• an imaging facility
• a physical, occupational, or speech therapy center
• a county health department
• a medical school for doctors
• A dental center
• An ambulatory surgery center
• A community health center
• A rehabilitation facility
• A mental health center
• A medical or dental clinic
• A lab
• A pharmacy
• A cancer treatment center
• An optical company
• A durable medical equipment enterprise
• A blood bank
• A non-emergency transportation company
• A dieting center
• A health and wellness center
• A correctional health care facility
• A fertility center
• A stem cell therapy center
• A telemedicine facility
• A genetic, DNA, or forensic testing site
• A sleep disorder or sleep apnea clinic
• A humanitarian medical relief organization
• A related medical institutionAside from standardized coverage, the healthcare industry can benefit from the following plan options:• Management protection liability, employment practices liability, fiduciary liability and fidelity and private as well as not for profit organization crime insurance
• Healthcare privacy and network security liability
• Healthcare premises pollution liability insurance
• Property insurance coverage
• Mid-size and large construction project builders risk insurance
• Commercial automobile coverageOf course, your ultimate decision in procuring the right type of coverage should also weigh in with the financial strength of the company. Your healthcare institution should choose between the offered protective plans based on fiscal stability as well as the terms presented. In addition, your team should determine if the related business policy is backed by an experienced staff that highlights customer service and comprehends the distinctiveness and thorny challenges intertwined specifically with your industry. After all, in the best case scenario, the insurance company that you choose will end up being your long-term partner for time to come and that certainly means a lot.