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Lean Healthcare Using Kaizen – Healthcare

Using the much acclaimed Japanese theory of Kaizen as its basis, lean healthcare encourages hospitals to make small improvements to its processes on a continuous basis. This exercise not only reduces waste and increases efficiency, but also provides enhanced value to customers and boosts the healthcare facility’s bottom line.For example, applying lean healthcare in point of care testing might mean equipping nurses with two or more supply bins. As soon as all the supplies in one bin are used up, it could be sent for replenishment. Meanwhile, instead of anxiously waiting for fresh supplies, the nurses could use the supplies in the second bin. This approach would eliminate the need for overstocking, resulting in reduced storage space requirements and reduced waste.Thus, the same fundamentals that have made Kaizen a hit amongst manufacturers can help to create more efficient point-of-care diagnostics as well.Kaizen involves three levels of application: brainstorming, innovation and standardization.BrainstormingImplementing Kaizen for point-of-care testing requires extensive idea generation.To begin, the facility needs to identify the areas where maximum waste occurs. To pinpoint these, every event from the time a patient enters a hospital to the time when he is finally discharged should be examined.For example, instead of adding personnel to a department, upgrading the equipment used might prove to be an effective way to increase the number of patients treated by existing department members. In addition, upgrades may cost less than recruiting, training and making place for new specialists.Opposing this view, some caregivers believe that having less staff available for point-of-care diagnostics would create an unsafe environment for patients.However, lean healthcare addresses this by reducing only unnecessary tasks. In fact, crucial tasks would be made more efficient so that caregivers can deliver better quality treatment to their patients.InnovationBy using its property in innovative ways, a healthcare facility can increase customer satisfaction along with its own profits.Statistics show that surgeons are often overworked all week long while hospital beds go empty over the weekend. By performing more surgeries on a Friday, patients could be given recovery time on a weekend. In this way, surgeons could have a more relaxed week while patients would miss fewer days of school or work.Also, certain kinds of treatments involve a patient visiting multiple rooms for different tests and diagnoses. Having related rooms nearby reduces transit time, thus expediting the treatment. Creating multi-purpose rooms for point-of-care testing also saves space and helps a healthcare facility to expand.StandardizationStandard processes reduce errors and costs. For example, designing a uniform operation theater cart would reduce time spent in creating it. The standardization would reduce errors made by the preparation staff and avoid overstocking as well.This said, no solution is perfect since each healthcare facility and the industry as a whole keeps evolving. Staying true to the spirit of Kaizen, lean healthcare requires a hospital to make continuous improvements, while always bearing the patients’ welfare and its own processes in mind.

History Behind Cloud Computing in Healthcare – Healthcare

Cloud computing has come a long way across various phases. Clients can utilize web-based tools or applications through a web browser just as if they were programs installed locally on their own computer. Healthinformatics the wiki of Florida State University says “The term ‘cloud’ was coined as a metaphor for the Internet which originated from cloud figures representing telephone networks, then later followed by depicting Internet infrastructures in computer network maps/diagrams.”Going back in time, we had the grid and utility computing, the application service provision (ASP), and then Software as a Service (SaaS). However, if you look back, the true concept of delivering computing resources through a global network is really rooted in the 60s. In the year 1969, J.C.R. Licklider through his article Intergalactic computer Network enabled the development of ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network). He seemed to project a vision that everyone on the globe be interconnected and access programs and data at any site. Others give credit to computer scientist John McCarthy who proposed the idea of computation being delivered as a public utility.Since the 60s, cloud computing has evolved over a timeline. Web 2.0 being the most recent evolution. Point to note here is, the Internet only started to offer a significant bandwidth in the nineties. Hence cloud computing for everyone has been something of a recent development. If you have to trace a timeline it looks somewhat like this:1999 – Salesforce.com (delivering enterprise applications via a simple website)2002 – Amazon Web Services (providing a suite of cloud-based services including storage, computation and even human intelligence)2006 – Amazon Elastic Compute cloud EC2 (allowing small companies and individuals to run their own computer applications on a commercial web service)2007 – Google Docs (Web-based office suite, and data storage service)There are several other factors that have enabled cloud computing to evolve. These include the virtualization technology, universal high-speed bandwidth, and established standards of universal software interoperability.Increased storage, flexibility / scalability, and cost reduction are some of the valuable benefits that can be derived, as the prospect that almost anything can be delivered from the cloud, becomes more and more a reality. However security, data privacy, network performance and economics are still concerns that are being addressed through various models of cloud platform delivery such as the Private Cloud, Public Cloud, as well as the Hybrid Cloud solutions.This brings us to Cloud’s footprints into Healthcare. While, as we have seen above, cloud computing has been around for decades. Hospitals and healthcare systems only recently began to adopt the flexibility, interoperability and affordability of cloud technologies, especially as they implement plans to utilize the federal government’s $20 billion-plus Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) financial incentive programs.The cloud computing model is very well suited to healthcare applications due to the volume and varied sources of information, that is necessary to be accessed quickly and from any location. After all you have lives at stake. Whether it is for maintaining health records, monitoring of patients, collaboration with peers, prescribing medication, even analysis of data, we will see more and more of healthcare tapping into the cloud. With more attention on the security aspects of Cloud, compliance to Data Privacy standards, advanced interoperability and data sharing, and with a proper DR in place, the cloud can have a real positive impact on Healthcare.

Good, Bad, and Indifferent Healthcare Reform – Healthcare

After working in the insurance field for several years and learning the curves, legal jargon, and attitudes of industry leaders nothing ever seems to amaze me. Under this new format and re-structuring of the affordable care act laws, known as Healthcare Reform, more than enough people are being helped. Though, the plan has many flaws that needs to be revised, overall many people who once were unable to have coverage can now have affordable health insurance and care thanks to this mandate. A plan that was introduced by Mitt Romney in the state of Massachusetts, has been implemented by our current President Barack Obama, although much mockery and the smearing by political leaders and tea parties to attempt to spoil something good for the American people, good always prevails over evil.The best thing we can do as consumers is to educate ourselves and to realize that to control cost we must change our lifestyle and behaviors. Once, the rubber truly hits the road which is in this case our finances, then many of us will pay better attention to how our money is being spent and what is expected of us as consumers. The insurance industry is transferring the cost itself to consumers overall to help cover the cost due to the fact that everyone has to have coverage regardless of their health conditions; pre-existing conditions no longer matter. The industry is moving towards to having consumers pay higher deductibles and premiums thanks to no longer being able to rate or deny coverage altogether.In all actuality insurers’ have just hiked their prices higher to attempt to absorb the cost of healthcare not knowing who they will cover under the new healthcare reform law. As a whole the entire health insurance industry will experience higher cost, because more people than ever before who have been denied, will now be able to receive coverage no matter their economic situation.If someone is economically challenged and are eligible for a tax credit also known as a subsidy, then, the federal government will help pay insurers, so every individual can have coverage if he or she chooses to take advantage of the tax credits that has been implemented from this current administration. This tax credit will help consumers who are unable to pay for insurance own their own, they will receive a certain amount of money monthly as a credit that will go directly to the insurer to offset the difference if they need financial assistance. For individuals who are living in poverty and has no income or money altogether; then they will receive state Medicaid to provide health insurance and care for themselves.Overall, this will increase the cost of insurance for all. The government as a whole whether on local, state or federal levels controls every industry regardless of its kind. The politicians on every level of government should stop accusing the other with all the rhetoric, and begin to do their jobs for the American people especially those suffering in this country due to a lack of finances. The stupidity and arrogant ways of some politicians’ who are in authoritative positions and abusing their authority as leaders in society is unacceptable.All the bickering,backstabbing, and uncooperative spirit to work together for the common good of others must come to an end. We all will give an account of how we have lived in this life, the rewards will be limited or lost to those who are using their position of authority to abuse their status in society. Our current President Barack Obama has done a tremendous job with having a heart for people, his accomplishment of succeeding with Healthcare Reform, though it has many flaws and needs to be revised; is truly a blessing to many people who have never had the opportunity to be able to afford affordable healthcare. His efforts will not go unnoticed and he should be applauded for this massive undertaking and accomplishment.

The Coming Explosion of Home Healthcare – Healthcare

As the parents of Baby Boomers enter their golden years, the average age of the population in the US is quickly rising. The statistics show that the senior population will steadily grow over the next few decades, and reach 80 million by the year 2050, as all of the Baby Boomers themselves reach senior status. According to recent data, 82% of people said that they would prefer to stay in their homes as long as possible, much preferred over the other options of hospitalization or living in a retirement community. However, it has become impossible for many working families to provide the adequate care that their elderly loved ones need in the home. This has created remarkable interest and growing demand during the decade in home healthcare for seniors.Of course, there are many considerations involved with both your patients and also their loved ones when choosing between a nursing home and home health care. These concerns can be based upon the seriousness of the condition, and how much care is needed for the affected individual. But a facility is often not necessary, and in-home care allows these senior citizens to maintain their independence and peace of mind in the comfort of their own home, with less expense, a critical component of reducing the cost of healthcare in this country. Home care also has better patient outcomes and quality of life on average than other options.As the home healthcare option becomes more mainstream, the number of questions that are popping up within families are also growing. One of the most common myths of home healthcare is if the family is already helping, there’s no need for additional care. However, people who are physically or emotionally exhausted or guilt-ridden because of their own shortcomings simply cannot provide the best care. According to the research provided by the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide, family caregivers should neither expect nor try to be “on-call” 24 hours a day. Every caregiver needs respite and periods of relief.Another belief is that if the senior can’t do their own shopping or housework, they simply shouldn’t do these activities anymore. Everyday tasks, like dishes, vacuuming or rearranging the basement or cleaning the garage, can be quite tedious for a senior with arthritis for example. Basics, such as organizing a closet, can be extremely exhausting for a cancer patient. These tasks are never ending and, if they become more difficult during post-op, or due to treatment or age-related conditions, they can take precious time away from patients in an already very busy schedule. But completion of these tasks is necessary for a high quality of life for your patients. When even the most basic daily tasks become overwhelming, or loved ones just need a helping hand, a qualified care provider is the best option to step in and help.Another myth is that until the senior knows what services they need, they shouldn’t consider in-home assistance. But patients don’t need to know what care they need up front, that’s what qualified homecare professionals are for. Any reputable agency will perform a needs assessment, that will ensure the patient’s needs are accounted for and the attending Doctor’s Plan of Care is followed. Waiting until needs are quite obvious to all is not usually a recommended path.Seniors may also be reticent to invite a stranger into their home. Safety is always a legitimate concern for seniors, especially considering the relatively rare but highly sensationalized stories that highlight patient abuse or breaches of trust. From a security standpoint, when you deal with well qualified care staff, from a reputable agency, this can help provide the peace of mind that patients and families need when arranging help in the home setting.From a medical/patient outcomes standpoint, various studies show that in home care can be safer than the alternatives, and not only because of the one-on-one care. One recent study indicated that about half of infections could be linked directly to hospital care. Another study reported that, given they are seeking the appropriate treatment for their condition, patients with chronic heart disease fare much better at home compared to the hospital. And, ultimately, remaining home can be less stressful because it is familiar, which fosters a sense of comfort and calmness for your patients.There comes a time for most ailing seniors to decide if they want home care or want to be in a nursing home. When factoring in the many benefits of staying in their own homes, added with the stress and apprehension of moving to a new home or facility (difficult at ANY age), it’s easy to understand the exploding demand for home healthcare.