An Epidemic of Violence is Spreading Throughout the Healthcare System

Workplace Violence Against Nurses and Other Medical Staff is a Growing Problem

Workplace Violence Against Nurses and Other Medical Staff is a Growing Problem

You are up at 5 a.m. to begin working the early morning shift at the local community hospital. A half-hour later, nurses and two doctors in the emergency room are confronting a patient with a disease for which they never bargained nor are trained to manage. It is being documented in the scientific literature as an epidemic of violence spreading throughout health-care systems worldwide.

Workers are largely left to fend for themselves. Administrators offer little planning and training to prevent violence against medical staff, and the judicial system, including police departments, are not much more help. Violence in medical facilities is viewed as an occupational hazard. Continue reading

Holistic Medicine and the Health-Care System

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Medical Tourism is a Potential Gold Mine

Under the Right Circumstances, Medical Tourism is a Potential Gold Mine

Under the Right Circumstances, Medical Tourism is a Potential Gold Mine

The globalization of business and tourism combined with twenty-first-century health-care self-awareness creates a worldwide medical tourism industry. It is a strategy for economic growth, but it will only succeed if hospitals and countries organize their resources and approach medical tourism like a business enterprise.

More than ten million people a year travel away from home and outside their home countries for medical care, according to the International Medical Travel Journal. They are medical tourists in a fast-growing but higgledy-piggledy global industry. Continue reading

The Doctor Shortage is a Health-Care Global Crisis

The Global Shortage of Doctors is a Healthcare Crisis in Itself

The Global Shortage of Doctors is a Healthcare Crisis in Itself

European, Israeli, and US medical associations predicted more than a decade ago the coming doctor shortage and the health-care global crisis. Recent reports by the OECD, Israeli, and American medical associations suggest their systems are already showing signs of the impact of doctor shortages. The reports document deteriorating quality of care, widening gaps between the rich and poor, growing violence against medical staff, hospital bed shortages, excessive physician burnout fostering early retirement, doctors emigrating, relying on foreign doctors filling positions in higher numbers, draining doctors from developing countries where they are needed to care for their own people, and medical students getting their degrees abroad from schools with lower academic standings.

A 2002 study reported in Health Affairs (21:1) blames the US doctor shortage on constricting entrance requirements to medical school and the slow pace of medical education. Some argue the United States is short 90,000 physicians with the shortfall rising to a doctor shortage of 130,000 by mid-2020. Others believe the shortfall will be less. The argument reminds me of the Cold War rhetoric surrounding the number of nuclear bombs the United States needs in its arsenal. What does it matter when a nation achieves critical mass? I want to be examined and treated when I need a doctor and do not care if the country is short 100,000 doctors or 50,000. My care is going to be delayed because we are short that one doctor I need to see me. Continue reading

The Contribution of Artificial Intelligence to Medicine

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Paying People to Act Healthy

Incentivizing People to Lead Healthy Lives is Common Sense

Incentivizing People to Lead Healthy Lives is Common Sense

I read an article in the New York Times advocating the practice of rewarding people with financial incentives for eating healthy. My first reaction was to cringe, but then the article triggered a question, “Don’t we pay people to do all kinds of activities?” We do, so why not incentivize people to cut sugar and reduce chances for diabetes? Reduce red meat intake and lower cholesterol. Eat more fresh vegetables and fruits and less fast foods, and challenge the trend to obesity.

American corporations and government offer financial incentives for all kinds of behavior. Insurance companies offer lower premiums to safe drivers. My overseas private health carrier pays me not to use them to cover hospital expenses when I can get the bills paid through the government health insurance. Americans can deduct charitable donations from their income, thus saving on income taxes. They can also deduct medical insurance premiums in many cases from income and save on taxes. Corporations enjoy a myriad of tax deductions to improve their competitiveness in world trade battles. Companies reward laid-off workers or those they fire with severance packages to go quietly, not sue, reveal proprietary secrets, or bad-mouth the management.  Continue reading

Legalized Marijuana is Coming to your Neighborhood

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The Future with Digital Medicine

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The Future of the American Hospital

The American hospital, and for that matter hospitals in most advanced countries, is changing rapidly. It is increasingly difficult to predict what hospitals will be like in the rest of the 21st century. They need to take a lesson from how retail businesses build customer loyalty and brand themselves to build similar loyalties.

Business plans and marketing strategies need to change if hospitals are to remain solvent and relevant to their communities. Revenue sources paying for heads in beds are changing. The more people pay as they go, the more free choice they have deciding where to shop for their medical care. Self-payers are increasing, but so are service demands, with the advent of the Affordable Care Act and changes in workplace health-insurance programs. Continue reading

Time to Work Getting Obamacare to Work

Poet, artist, and songwriter Shel Silverstein wrote a collection of poems, Where the Sidewalk Ends (copyright, 1974). It’s a book for dreamers, “A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer…,” personifying those wanting to build an inclusive US health-care system.

Obamacare is not a fix of a broken system. It is more akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The health-care system is a mess, but it is time to get Obamacare to work after the June ruling by the US Supreme Court that ensures longevity. Continue reading