Featured Posts

<< >>

Happiness and health

If you’ve followed Cracking Health Costs for long, you’ve read articles stressing how unhappiness and job dissatisfaction can be the root cause of much illness and even mortal hazard. I’ve written about how the Blue Zone studies, the New England Centenarian Study, the British Civil Servant Study, etc, have

Americans living longer and longer despite wellness warnings

An article in the WSJ (subscription required) has a story by Ron Rapoport about a report by the Society of Actuaries saying Americans are living about two years longer today than 15 years ago. Whoa! If you read the dire warnings by wellness/prevention vendors, you’d think Americans today would

Cancer-Risk Debate Didn’t Halt Surgeries Part 2

It seems some doctors will sell out their ethical standards for pretty cheap prices. We recently posted an article called Cancer-Risk Debate Didn’t Halt Surgeries. That story was based on a WSJ article. The WSJ just posted a followup article entitled How Disfavored Hysterectomy Device Got Doctor Group’s Blessing,

The High Cost of Free Checkups

Al Lewis wrote a great article by this title that was published in the Huff Post. More and more data is piling up that routine checkups are worthless at best and harmful at worst.  “Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel — one of the architects of the ACA

Cancer-Risk Debate Didn’t Halt Surgeries

The WSJ did a telling story (subscription required) on carelessness in surgery techniques at Brigham and Women’s, a well known Boston hospital. The author is Jennifer Levitz. She writes, “Doctors at a (Brigham and Women’s) hospital continued to use a surgical tool during hysterectomies for two years after compiling

Happiness and health

If you’ve followed Cracking Health Costs for long, you’ve read articles stressing how unhappiness and job dissatisfaction can be the root cause of much illness and even mortal hazard. I’ve written about how the Blue Zone studies, the New England Centenarian Study, the British Civil Servant Study, etc, have shown that career misery and unhappiness in your personal life can lead to an unhealthy and short life.

One of my beefs with workplace wellness is that it medicalizes peoples’ lives but rarely, if ever, deals with the true causes of illnesses such as metabolic syndrome.

Jonathan Clements, a popular writer on personal financial wellbeing wrote an interesting article in the WSJ (subscription required) that hits on these topics.

He cites studies showing about 12% of people have job dissatisfaction and another 37% are only moderately happy with their jobs. Further, “just 33% described themselves as very happy and only 27% said they were satisfied with their financial situation.”

Writes Clements, “These numbers haven’t changed much over the past four decades, despite a doubling in inflation-adjusted per capita disposable income.”

My points are these: 1) if your company is stressing your employees and adding unhappiness to their lives with things like excessive time demands, you’re making your workers unhealthy, something workplace wellness cannot improve, and 2) making more money probably won’t improve peoples’ happiness in life.

__________________________________________________________________________ Tom Emerick is a consultant and co-author of the book Cracking Health Costs, an Amazon trade best seller. Tom is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth.

Americans living longer and longer despite wellness warnings

An article in the WSJ (subscription required) has a story by Ron Rapoport about a report by the Society of Actuaries saying Americans are living about two years longer today than 15 years ago. Whoa!

If you read the dire warnings by wellness/prevention vendors, you’d think Americans today would be dying early in record numbers from complications of obesity, high blood sugar, and other “chronic” conditions. Yet the opposite is happening. Hmm.

Writes Ron, “In its first revision of mortality assumptions since 2000, the Society of Actuaries estimated the average 65-year-old man today will live 86.6 years, up from the 84.6 it estimated a decade and a half ago. The average 65-year-old woman will live 88.8 years, up from 86.4.”

Before the wellness/prevention sellers take credit for this growth in life expectancy, one has to remember only a small minority of US citizens have worksite wellness/prevention. Excluded are the elderly, stay at home spouses, children, retirees, the self-employed, college students, the unemployed, military, disabled, casual workers, prison populations, illegal immigrants, the millions and millions of workers whose employers do not offer wellness at work, etc.

I’d guess only about 15% of people in America have workplace wellness, or about 50 million. The other 270 million or so don’t have it. Yet again life expectancy just keeps on getting longer and longer.

So despite the chronic disease “Sword of Damocles” hanging over all of our heads we’re living longer and longer. We might have been living even longer if wellness vendors weren’t making us worry so much.

 

__________________________________________________________________________ Tom Emerick is a consultant and co-author of the book Cracking Health Costs, an Amazon trade best seller. Tom is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth.

 

Cancer-Risk Debate Didn’t Halt Surgeries Part 2

It seems some doctors will sell out their ethical standards for pretty cheap prices.

We recently posted an article called Cancer-Risk Debate Didn’t Halt Surgeries. That story was based on a WSJ article.

The WSJ just posted a followup article entitled How Disfavored Hysterectomy Device Got Doctor Group’s Blessing, describing how a doctor on an approval board, called the, American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists, was being paid by the company that made the flawed device about which the FDA had posted warnings. Use of the device caused serious cancer side effects in women.

Doctors who follow AAGL’s advice didn’t know “…an AAGL executive officer who received consulting fees from a morcellator maker had weighed in before publication.” The offending board member, New York surgeon Arnold Advincula, clearly violated the group’s conflict of interest rules. Advincula refuses to comment on queries to him.

Seems Advincula sold out his ethical standards, which resulted in womens’ deaths, for a pretty cheap price: $50k. Shame.

__________________________________________________________________________ Tom Emerick is a consultant and co-author of the book Cracking Health Costs, an Amazon trade best seller. Tom is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth.

 

The High Cost of Free Checkups

Al Lewis wrote a great article by this title that was published in the Huff Post.

More and more data is piling up that routine checkups are worthless at best and harmful at worst.  “Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel — one of the architects of the ACA and its ‘free’ checkup centerpiece — recently recommended not getting them.”

Further,  “…the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) supports Dr. Emanuel assertion that annual checkups for asymptomatic adults are at best worthless, saying that additional checkups are ‘not associated with lower rates of mortality’ but ‘may be associated with more diagnoses and more drug treatment.’”  In other words annual checkups actually harm some people. Well now, that’s just swell isn’t it?

The big question is why do people and corporate benefit managers persist in believing the annual checkup is a good thing? Who knows? Falsehoods in healthcare seem to have a long half-life.

As a checkup true believer might say, let’s not confuse the issue with facts.

__________________________________________________________________________ Tom Emerick is a consultant and co-author of the book Cracking Health Costs, an Amazon trade best seller. Tom is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth.

 

 

Cancer-Risk Debate Didn’t Halt Surgeries

The WSJ did a telling story (subscription required) on carelessness in surgery techniques at Brigham and Women’s, a well known Boston hospital. The author is Jennifer Levitz.

She writes, “Doctors at a (Brigham and Women’s) hospital continued to use a surgical tool during hysterectomies for two years after compiling data in 2011 that questioned the safety of the device and discussing its risks, said hospital officials and doctors.”

As a consequence a dangerous form of cancer was caused to spread in two women patients there…one in 2012 and another in 2013. That is simply an unacceptable lag. Period.

If a hospital has a big name, like Brigham and Women’s, that doesn’t doesn’t mean it won’t make life threatening errors in judgment.

__________________________________________________________________________ Tom Emerick is a consultant and co-author of the book Cracking Health Costs, an Amazon trade best seller. Tom Emerick is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth.

 

 

 

Less care is better care in many cases

There is a fascinating article in the NYT on this topic. The author is Aaron E. Carroll. The article is in part based on a study published in JAMA.

It turns out that less is often better in health care. Regarding a study of basic life support versus “advanced” life support, writes Carroll, “...about 13 percent of patients who received basic life support survived and were discharged versus 9 percent of patients who received advanced life support.”

Numerous studies have been done on this globally. “Advanced life support does not seem to provide any benefits in the randomized controlled trials, and it’s often associated with worse outcomes in the cohort studies.

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.

WSJ: The Hospital Is No Place for a Heart Attack

Ron Winslow wrote an article by this title in the WSJ (subscription required).

Yes, you read the headline right. “While cardiologists have made great strides speeding treatments to people who suffer a heart attack outside the hospital, scant attention has gone to patients already in the hospital for an unrelated medical problem who then have an attack.”

Oddly, it seems you’re about 3X more likely to die if you have a heart attack in a hospital versus having a heart attack somewhere else and ending up in an emergency room.

When I first read this I was quite surprised, but when I pondered it a bit it makes sense.  So what does this mean? You just don’t want to get admitted to a hospital unless it’s absolutely necessary.

__________________________________________________________________________

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.

Swedish study points our connection between heart disease and workplace stress

A study done at The Sahlgrenska Academy, Gothenburg University, Sweden, shows stress at work contributes to or cause heart disease and heart attacks.

That’s old news, you say? Everyone knows stress causes heart disease and a host of other problems, you say? My answer is you’re right. This is not new news.

Many years ago the famous Whitehall Studies in the UK showed that having a job you hate is one of the top, if not the top, cause of mortal hazard in employees.  That study has been replicated over in Europe. This Swedish study merely confirms anew the Whitehall studies. (Oddly it is extremely hard to get studies like this published in the US. But that will be a topic for another article.)

If an employer wants a wellness program that really works and is effective in preventing heart disease, illness, and premature death, stop pushing failed wellness programs and get about de-stressing the workplace. There are many proven ways to do that. One way is this: when something goes wrong at work, quit looking for someone to blame and start looking for poor processes that permitted the error to occur. Blame poor processes and not people. To do that will require a genuine cultural shift which most companies don’t want to make.

__________________________________________________________________________

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.

Johns Hopkins study: hospital induced infections are quite profitable to hospitals

Did you ever wonder why hospitals don’t clamp down hard on infections rates? An explanation is that such infections generate a lot of profit for hospitals.

An article in HealthManagement.org by Peter Provonost, MD, and senior vp of patient safety at Johns Hopkins, says hospital induced infections generate huge profits for providers.

Provonost writes, “Johns Hopkins researchers report that hospitals may be reaping enormous income for patients whose hospital stays are complicated by preventable bloodstream infections contracted in their intensive care units.”

Further, “Results showed that the hospital’s average profit margin for treating an infected patient was $54,906, while the margin for treating a similar uninfected patient was just $6,506, on average.” That’s nine times more profit!

How do we fix this problem? Simple. If we applied Occam’s razor the solution is to not pay hospitals any extra dollars for patients who have a hospital induced infections. Period.

BTW…this has been known for 40 years or so. Problem is most payers don’t like Occam’s razor.

__________________________________________________________________________

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.

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.

__________________________________________________________________________

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.