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Staying Alive: The Best Patient Experience of All

This is the title of an excellent article by Kathleen Bartholomew that appeared in Medline. Seems hospitals are hiring a new type of employee called Patient Experience Officers who make up to about $300,000 annual salaries.  “Meanwhile,” writes Kathleen, “nurses and physicians struggle to keep patients alive knowing

Skip your annual physical

That is the title of a good NYT article on the “sacred” annual physical exam.  The author is Zeke Emanuel, MD. Evidence has never really supported the notion of an annual physical exam.  Writes the author, “From a health perspective, the annual physical exam is basically worthless.”

Another prevention myth bites the dust

Those who feed themselves extra antioxidants do not live any longer than those who do not.  That is according to a Reuters report by Kathryn Doyle. Says lead author of a new study, Annlia Paganini-Hill of the Clinic for Aging Research and Education at the University of California,

To Patients With Heart Conditions, It’s OK For Your Cardiologist To Take Time Off

That is the title of a fascinating NPR story. According to a Harvard Medical School study, “…the mortality risk for patients with certain acute heart conditions was not negatively impacted if they are admitted to the hospital when a cardiologist isn’t there.” Yes you read that

Startling cancer study out of Johns Hopkins

The WSJ carried a surprising story about causes of cancer (ex breast and prostate cancer that were not included) from a study done at Johns Hopkins. (Subscription required.)  The author is Jeanne Whalen. According to the study, “Poor lifestyle choices and inherited genes are known to

Staying Alive: The Best Patient Experience of All

This is the title of an excellent article by Kathleen Bartholomew that appeared in Medline.

Seems hospitals are hiring a new type of employee called Patient Experience Officers who make up to about $300,000 annual salaries.  “Meanwhile,” writes Kathleen, “nurses and physicians struggle to keep patients alive knowing that hospital errors are the third leading cause of death in America; and that one in every three or four patients will experience preventable harm. The gap between what we need, and what we have, could not be wider.”

The best patient experience may very well be the one in which the patient is not killed by an avoidable error.

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Tom Emerick

Cracking Health Costs, the book, an Amazon best seller, is available on Amazon at a deeply discounted price. Click here: Cracking Health Costs: How to Cut Your Company’s Health Costs and Provide Employees Better Care by Tom Emerick and Al Lewis.

Tom Emerick is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth. In December 2012, Tom was listed in Forbes.com as one of 13 unsung heroes changing healthcare forever. In 2009, Tom was named by Healthspottr as one of the top 100 innovators in healthcare in the US for his work on medical ethics. Prior to consulting, Tom spent a number of years working for large corporations: Walmart Stores, Burger King, and British Petroleum.

 

 

 

 

Skip your annual physical

That is the title of a good NYT article on the “sacred” annual physical exam.  The author is Zeke Emanuel, MD.

Evidence has never really supported the notion of an annual physical exam.  Writes the author, “From a health perspective, the annual physical exam is basically worthless.”  You read that right…basically worthless.  It gets worse, but you should read the full story.

In short the annual exam, most often recommended by loopy company wellness vendors, is yet another failed, and even harmful, wellness notion.

Further, the highly respectable US Preventive Services Task Force, “… does not have a recommendation on routine annual health checkups. The Canadian guidelines have recommended against these exams since 1979.”

“… Researchers have long noted that screening healthy people who have no complaints is a pretty ineffective way to improve people’s health.”

Some HMOs today have to pay for annual exams but no longer recommend them to patients.

This is not news. I read an article saying the same thing back in about 1980.  The author was with Harvard Medical school.

__________________________________________________________________________

Tom Emerick

Cracking Health Costs, the book, an Amazon best seller, is available on Amazon at a deeply discounted price. Click here: Cracking Health Costs: How to Cut Your Company’s Health Costs and Provide Employees Better Care by Tom Emerick and Al Lewis.

Tom Emerick is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth. In December 2012, Tom was listed in Forbes.com as one of 13 unsung heroes changing healthcare forever. In 2009, Tom was named by Healthspottr as one of the top 100 innovators in healthcare in the US for his work on medical ethics. Prior to consulting, Tom spent a number of years working for large corporations: Walmart Stores, Burger King, and British Petroleum.

Another prevention myth bites the dust

Those who feed themselves extra antioxidants do not live any longer than those who do not.  That is according to a Reuters report by Kathryn Doyle.

Says lead author of a new study, Annlia Paganini-Hill of the Clinic for Aging Research and Education at the University of California, Irvine, “Most double-blind randomized clinical trials – the gold standard of medical evidence – have found that antioxidant supplements do not prevent disease….”

Numerous purveyors of one or another Elixir of Life, that mythical food or beverage that will prolong life or prevent aging, sought by mankind for 3,000 years or so, make varies diet claims of which 99% are proven false.  Many have been proven to be harmful as well.

Antioxidant supplements are yet another.

Truly the closest thing to a valid Elixir of Life is to eat a balanced and moderate diet.

If you eat only when you’re hungry and stop eating when you’re full, you’ll likely lose weight, or at least stop gaining.

 

__________________________________________________________________________

Tom Emerick

Cracking Health Costs, the book, an Amazon best seller, is available on Amazon at a deeply discounted price. Click here: Cracking Health Costs: How to Cut Your Company’s Health Costs and Provide Employees Better Care by Tom Emerick and Al Lewis.

Tom Emerick is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth. In December 2012, Tom was listed in Forbes.com as one of 13 unsung heroes changing healthcare forever. In 2009, Tom was named by Healthspottr as one of the top 100 innovators in healthcare in the US for his work on medical ethics. Prior to consulting, Tom spent a number of years working for large corporations: Walmart Stores, Burger King, and British Petroleum.

 

 

To Patients With Heart Conditions, It’s OK For Your Cardiologist To Take Time Off

That is the title of a fascinating NPR story.

According to a Harvard Medical School study, “…the mortality risk for patients with certain acute heart conditions was not negatively impacted if they are admitted to the hospital when a cardiologist isn’t there.” Yes you read that right. If go to a hospital with a heart attack, you’re just as well off if no cardiologist is on duty.

Actually the death rate is lower if no cardiologists are around. Per Dr. Anupam Jena who reported on the study, heart “...patients who are hospitalized during the dates of cardiology meetings do dramatically better.”

Stunning no? While stunning this is not really new news. I recall a study years ago that showed how health attack survival rates are higher in communities with no cath labs. We may be cathing people to death in America.

Do you remember when doctors in Southern California went on strike and patient death rates declined dramatically?

The moral to this story: have your heart attack during cardiology conventions.

__________________________________________________________________________

Tom Emerick

Cracking Health Costs, the book, an Amazon best seller, is available on Amazon at a deeply discounted price. Click here: Cracking Health Costs: How to Cut Your Company’s Health Costs and Provide Employees Better Care by Tom Emerick and Al Lewis.

Tom Emerick is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth. In December 2012, Tom was listed in Forbes.com as one of 13 unsung heroes changing healthcare forever. In 2009, Tom was named by Healthspottr as one of the top 100 innovators in healthcare in the US for his work on medical ethics. Prior to consulting, Tom spent a number of years working for large corporations: Walmart Stores, Burger King, and British Petroleum.

Startling cancer study out of Johns Hopkins

The WSJ carried a surprising story about causes of cancer (ex breast and prostate cancer that were not included) from a study done at Johns Hopkins. (Subscription required.)  The author is Jeanne Whalen.

According to the study, “Poor lifestyle choices and inherited genes are known to raise a person’s risk of developing cancer. But new research concludes that the majority of our risk across cancer types is due to another factor: bad luck when our cells divide.” (Emphasis mine.)

Bad luck simply trumps both heredity and lifestyle. Random genre mutations are...” the major contributors to cancer overall, often more important than either hereditary or external environmental factors.”

This turns upside down what the wellness true believers have been saying about cancer for 25 years, and is an important reason why wellness has failed to show real ROI’s. Most cancer seems to be caused by bad luck…alas.

PS Most doctors I’ve talked to about this over the years have always understood this anyway.

__________________________________________________________________________

Tom Emerick

Cracking Health Costs, the book, an Amazon best seller, is available on Amazon at a deeply discounted price. Click here: Cracking Health Costs: How to Cut Your Company’s Health Costs and Provide Employees Better Care by Tom Emerick and Al Lewis.

Tom Emerick is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth. In December 2012, Tom was listed in Forbes.com as one of 13 unsung heroes changing healthcare forever. In 2009, Tom was named by Healthspottr as one of the top 100 innovators in healthcare in the US for his work on medical ethics. Prior to consulting, Tom spent a number of years working for large corporations: Walmart Stores, Burger King, and British Petroleum.

Why ‘wellness’ program scams cost employers and harm employees

This is a headline in an LA Times article written by Michael Hiltzik and is yet another major mainstream media hit on corporate-sponsored wellness.

He writes, “Perhaps the most popular fad at large today in the employee health benefit world is the ‘wellness’ program.”  

Doubts about the efficacy of wellness are popping up left and right. “Now there’s more evidence that the programs don’t save companies money….”

Writes Hiltzik,  “Despite these emerging data, the Kaiser Family Foundation has calculated that more than half of all companies with more than 200 workers offer health screening programs; 8% of those offer an incentive to participate or a penalty for refusing.” Wellness can even backfire and harm employees through false positives, etc.

Corporate sponsors of wellness had the noblest of intentions. However, now it’s high time for corporations to take a good hard steely-eyed look at their wellness programs.

This is my mea culpa: in my career in managing benefits for large companies, i implemented programs that looked promising but didn’t work.When the facts showed they didn’t work I simply stopped them. The only thing worse than implementing a flawed program, is keeping it around when the facts show it is a failure.

__________________________________________________________________________

Tom Emerick

Cracking Health Costs, the book, an Amazon best seller, is available on Amazon at a deeply discounted price. Click here: Cracking Health Costs: How to Cut Your Company’s Health Costs and Provide Employees Better Care by Tom Emerick and Al Lewis.

Tom Emerick is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth. In December 2012, Tom was listed in Forbes.com as one of 13 unsung heroes changing healthcare forever. In 2009, Tom was named by Healthspottr as one of the top 100 innovators in healthcare in the US for his work on medical ethics. Prior to consulting, Tom spent a number of years working for large corporations: Walmart Stores, Burger King, and British Petroleum.

 

Think twice before choosing knee replacement

The NYT published a terrific article by that title by Gretchen Reynolds.

In that article, she explains that knee replacement surgery is becoming more and more common in the US. “But“, she writes, “some new studies suggest that people may be electing to have the procedure prematurely and, perhaps worse, gaining limited benefit from it.

Further, “Researchers then analyzed the data from a large study of almost 200 men and women with aching, arthritic knees who went on to have replacement surgery within five years of entering the study. It turned out that approximately a third of the subjects would not have been regarded as appropriate candidates by the researchers.” (emphasis mine.)

In my experience with ethical centers of excellence, the type of clinics with which EdisonHealth contracts, we see about the same thing.  About one-third actually need the surgery. Alas.

__________________________________________________________________________

Tom Emerick

Cracking Health Costs, the book, an Amazon best seller, is available on Amazon at a deeply discounted price. Click here: Cracking Health Costs: How to Cut Your Company’s Health Costs and Provide Employees Better Care by Tom Emerick and Al Lewis.

Tom Emerick is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth. In December 2012, Tom was listed in Forbes.com as one of 13 unsung heroes changing healthcare forever. In 2009, Tom was named by Healthspottr as one of the top 100 innovators in healthcare in the US for his work on medical ethics. Prior to consulting, Tom spent a number of years working for large corporations: Walmart Stores, Burger King, and British Petroleum.

 

 

 

Workplace wellness produces no savings

That’s the title of a new article in the Health Affairs Blog.

“Through a review of the research literature and primary sources, we have found that wellness programs produce a return-on-investment (ROI) of less than 1-to-1 savings to cost.”

Workplace wellness was a noble venture, but, alas, more and more hard data are piling up to support this headline. When choosing between hard data and wishful thinking, data ought to trump.

For further reading click here.

__________________________________________________________________________

Tom Emerick

Cracking Health Costs, the book, an Amazon best seller, is available on Amazon at a deeply discounted price. Click here: Cracking Health Costs: How to Cut Your Company’s Health Costs and Provide Employees Better Care by Tom Emerick and Al Lewis.

Tom Emerick is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth. In December 2012, Tom was listed in Forbes.com as one of 13 unsung heroes changing healthcare forever. In 2009, Tom was named by Healthspottr as one of the top 100 innovators in healthcare in the US for his work on medical ethics. Prior to consulting, Tom spent a number of years working for large corporations: Walmart Stores, Burger King, and British Petroleum.

 

 

FDA warns gynecologic device has spread cancer

This is the headline in a scary USA Today article by Karen Weintraub about a device that has actually spread cancer in women.

Says the article, “In the last year, two-dozen women have reported that their cancer was made worse by the device, called a power morcellator, which turned a treatable condition into a life-threatening disease.”  

The device is used to remove fibroids in women through a small incision. That sound nice except for the fact that it is killing women.

“Carefully choosing and informing women about the risks of the surgery will provide appropriate protection” says Dr. Hal Lawrence of The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Really, Hal? So your going to tell a women you can use this handy procedure but that it may give them deadly cancer? Oy.

__________________________________________________________________________

Tom Emerick

Cracking Health Costs, the book, an Amazon best seller, is available on Amazon at a deeply discounted price. Click here: Cracking Health Costs: How to Cut Your Company’s Health Costs and Provide Employees Better Care by Tom Emerick and Al Lewis.

Tom Emerick is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth. In December 2012, Tom was listed in Forbes.com as one of 13 unsung heroes changing healthcare forever. In 2009, Tom was named by Healthspottr as one of the top 100 innovators in healthcare in the US for his work on medical ethics. Prior to consulting, Tom spent a number of years working for large corporations: Walmart Stores, Burger King, and British Petroleum.

Shame: visitor to US gets nightmarish bill for early delivery

According to a story in Yahoo news, a Canadian woman vacationing in America had an early baby delivery.  She got a bill for nearly one million dollars. Yes, nearly one million dollars.

“The family is currently considering filing for bankruptcy”.

This is an example of predatory pricing. Shame on US hospitals for preying on unwary foreign visitors.

Please warn your international friends not to visit the US if they are pregnant. They may end up in total financial ruin.

__________________________________________________________________________

Tom Emerick

Cracking Health Costs, the book, an Amazon best seller, is available on Amazon at a deeply discounted price. Click here: Cracking Health Costs: How to Cut Your Company’s Health Costs and Provide Employees Better Care by Tom Emerick and Al Lewis.

Tom Emerick is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth. In December 2012, Tom was listed in Forbes.com as one of 13 unsung heroes changing healthcare forever. In 2009, Tom was named by Healthspottr as one of the top 100 innovators in healthcare in the US for his work on medical ethics. Prior to consulting, Tom spent a number of years working for large corporations: Walmart Stores, Burger King, and British Petroleum.