Healthcare Blog

Why Did Healthcare Inflation Slow Down? Why Does It Matter?

Posted by capcityspeakers on August 11, 2016

by Joe Flower

The costs of healthcare turned a corner in 2009. You can see it on any graph of National Health Expenditures, whether by dollars or dollars per capita or percentage of the economy. There is a decided downward bend in the trend line between 2008 and 2009. The line then stays nearly flat, close to or below the increase in the general economy.

This Great Flattening is really interesting, but the reasons why it’s happening are even more interesting — because they tell us something about healthcare’s future.

Robert Woods Johnson Foundation just put out the latest report on this. The line blipped up a bit in 2014, the first year of the full implementation of Obamacare. According to the RWJF analysis, though, it then resumed its near-flat trajectory in 2015. The Great Flattening is not over.

Why is this happening?

Healthcare commentators have given three competing reasons for it. At first, most dismissed it as an epicycle of the Great Recession. Later others claimed that its continuation showed that Obamacare was working.

I and some others had a different idea: The Great Flattening, at least in part and increasingly as time went on, has been the first sign that structural changes in how we pay for healthcare are beginning to make a difference in how much we pay for healthcare.

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Encouraging all members of a medical team to speak up

Posted by capcityspeakers on July 21, 2016

by Suzanne Gordon

The oval, mahogany table dominates the center of the large conference room. A number of chairs circle the table and dot the perimeter of the room. Every week, a group of high level hospital administrators, physician leaders, and leaders of other professional and occupational disciplines—physical therapy, social work, clinical directors of nursing, housekeeping, etc—gather in this room to discuss hospital function. They call themselves a “team” and the gathering a “team meeting.”

Nothing indicates that places at the table are reserved for particular participants. But today, as happens every week, when physicians and hospital administrators enter the room, they immediately occupy the chairs at the table. As nursing and other professional and occupational “leaders” enter the room, they sit around the perimeter, even if seats at the table are empty. The discussion is largely conducted by, and includes mostly, people sitting at the table. Occasionally, someone chips in from the outfield, as it were, but not too often and certainly not with much vigor.

I have been invited to this hospital to consult about teamwork, patient safety, and “professionalism” particularly among the nursing staff. The hospital has sent people to do TeamSTEPPS, a healthcare team training developed by the Department of Defense and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. It has hired consultants to teach people the principles of high reliability organizations (HROs). It is concerned about the fact that non-physician personnel do not speak out about patient safety and, as the Chief Nursing Officer puts it, do not behave in a “professional manner” when at work. Maybe, she muses, nurses would speak up more if they all wore a standard uniform instead of scrubs adorned with flowers or smiley faces. Come and observe us function, and tell us what you think, is my mandate from the executive team.

After the meeting is over, I ask nursing clinical directors and “leaders” in social work and other disciplines, why they do not take a seat at the table when one is empty. They all say they same thing. Read the rest of this entry »

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3 Reasons Why You Must Take a Break

Posted by capcityspeakers on July 14, 2016

by Colette Carlson

keynote-inspirational-motivational-speaker-colette-carlson-shares-3-reasons-you-must-take-breaks-vacationAh…vacations… a necessary part of life for sanity and balance. Yet, research shows that stressed Americans aren’t taking the breaks they have earned despite noting the benefits of downtime. Ninety percent say time off helps them relax and recharge, but forty percent won’t go to avoid a “mountain of work” upon return.  Others may physically leave the office, but end up on a work-cation, constantly checking in rather than checking out.  With only seven weeks remaining before Labor Day, here are three compelling reasons why you must take a break.

1. Breaks now are better than breakdowns later. Be honest. If you just muttered “I don’t have time for a break,” when do you have time to get sick? After all, self-care costs you much less downtime and money than healthcare. True story: An overwhelmed meeting planner no-showed for our conference call. Turns out she had a heart-attack at her desk and luckily survived. Why wait for a catastrophe before putting some much needed and deserved space between you and the office?

2. Breaks create breakthroughs!  One in five small business owners thought up their idea while on vacation because time away from work provides the rare opportunity to think deeply and ignite your creative juices. Such was the case for Instagram’s Kevin Systrom who came up with the idea while walking on a beach in Mexico. Rather than sit at your screen and force yourself to find a needed solution, get off the grid and let the solution find you.

3. Breaks create connection. Should money limit a full-blown vacation, you can still opt for a staycation. Rather than disconnect from the world and binge on comfort foods and Netflix, choose to re-connect with pleasurable activities and people. Taking a walk in nature provides a host of health benefits, and even gardening or putzing around the house allows your mind to quietly wander, bringing you back to self. Spending time with people you enjoy, who make you laugh, or even randomly connecting with a stranger at Starbucks, fills our basic psychological need to feel closely connected to others. If life limits even a staycation, give yourself a break with a stillcation. Sit silently for ten minutes and focus on your breathing. If your mind wanders, simply bring your awareness back to your breath.

Give yourself a break today! Yes, the piles and emails will grow in your absence, but so will your clarity, concentration and productivity as a result.

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Bratwurst, Bad Weather, & Bruises

Posted by capcityspeakers on July 8, 2016

by Vicki Hess

Remember those papers you wrote as kid entitled “What I learned on my summer vacation?” I just got back from a cycling vacation and I’d like to share what I learned and how it might help you at work.

1. Bratwurst
I’m a pretty healthy eater and wouldn’t typically eat anything close to a bratwurst – especially when it’s prepared by a street vendor and I don’t know the contents or origins of the sausage. But, I learned that sometimes the “locals” really do know what’s best and that bratwurst is really good!
Lesson Learned… Maybe the folks in other departments that are serving you their “bratwurst” really do know something you don’t know. Maybe the local knowledge gives them different insights and perspectives that you don’t have. What if you trusted their judgement and tried something new?

2. Bad WeatherGermany Rainbow
I cycled 168 miles in 6 days throughout Germany, Austria and Switzerland. What a glorious way to see the countryside and observe local customs. One challenge was that It rained 5 of the 6 days. UGH! My husband and I could have ridden in the van and hung out in museums but that wasn’t the trip we had in mind so we got up every day and put on our right rain gear and started peddling. Of course it became a joke with our fellow cyclists. We are all better riders now and we still had lots of laughs.
So it was fitting that right after our good bye dinner in Konstanz, Germany we stepped outside to survey the skies. Lo and behold, we saw the most beautiful double rainbow over the city. What a fabulous reward for all the rain!

Lesson Learned… Work can be challenging. Unexpected obstacles arise and you just have to keep “peddling” to move forward. It’s not what you planned, it’s not what you would have chosen – it’s what’s in front of you right now. The bad weather brings the team closer and helps you learn – if you let it. Now you can go look for that rainbow.

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The Patients Just Don’t Get It (Or Maybe It’s You That Doesn’t Get It)

Posted by capcityspeakers on June 30, 2016

by Kristin Baird

Just the other day, I heard a story from a nursing unit manager that really annoyed me. The manager was asked to follow up on a patient complaint where the patient stated he was disappointed that the entire time he was in the hospital, he never had a bath. Having been an inpatient for four days following a total hip replacement, it seemed like a reasonable expectation to have a bath (or four for that matter), so his complaint seemed justifiable.  The problem was, the manager shifted the blame onto the patient. The first words out of her mouth were, “These patients just don’t get it. We give them a bath-in-a-bag every day.”

There is so much about this single comment that bugs me, but let’s just start with, “They just don’t get it.” The tone implies the patient is wrong and you, the care provider, are right. This type of thinking places you and the patient, in two separate camps; the right and the wrong. One or the other. Secondly, it implies that the patient should know better; again, a condescending posture for the sender.

Whenever I hear the phrase, “They just don’t get it,” I can’t help but think that it’s the sender that doesn’t get it. The comment comes from a posture of superiority and arrogance rather than one of collaboration. What if the nurse manager received the complaint in a spirit of ownership and collaboration? Her response would have been something like, “It sounds like we didn’t do a good job of explaining the bath-in-a-bag. I’ll work on this with my team.”

The other part of this comment that bugs me is the idea that the patient should “get it.” When a patient enters a hospital, it is a foreign land with a foreign language, strange sounds, sights, and smells. This is YOUR world, not theirs. Don’t expect them to just “get it.” It’s up to the caregivers to welcome patients into this strange world, and explain things. The word “bath” in the common vernacular implies a tub filled with water. A bed bath implies a basin of water and a wash cloth. It’s only in today’s healthcare world that a plastic packet filled with moistened paper towels constitutes a bath. So when the patient doesn’t “get it,” simply reposition the lens with which you see the world. Look through the patient’s eyes, then help him understand.

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Changing Your Mental Channel

Posted by capcityspeakers on June 15, 2016

by Kathleen Passanisi

Television has done much for psychiatry by spreading information about it, as well as contributing to the need for it.-Alfred Hitchcock

It’s been called the “idiot box.” It’s been called “the greatest single invention of the 20th century.” Either way, to say that television is a huge part of daily American life is to state the overwhelmingly obvious. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, “American children and adolescents spend 22 to 28 hours per week viewing television, more than any other activity except sleeping. By the age of 70 they will have spent 7 to 10 years of their lives watching TV.” The effects of sleep on mind and body have been well documented. But what comes of all this “tube time?”

How does television affect the mind? In order to understand how television effects our health, we must first understand how it affects the mind. Several studies have shown that the longer one watches television, the easier it is for their mind to slip into “Alpha state.” Here, the brain’s waves are slow and steady. This hypnotic trace-like state is the brain’s most receptive mode. Images and suggestions have maximum impact in this mode. Why else would advertisers spend up to one billion dollars per year on television advertising? But what about what’s between the commercials?

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The Tug of Time

Posted by capcityspeakers on June 2, 2016

by Kathy Brown

Have you felt the tug of “too much to do in too little time” in too many areas of your life?

Temporary is the new “normal” so change is constant. That can be very wearing on our stressed out coping skills as we constantly adjust our lives to fit the variety of needs of our family and work place. Did lack of sleep and time to eat, much less cook something nutritious, get mentioned yet? Throw a pet into the mix just to keep things interesting. Let’s not forget our aging parents who may live near enough to be of some help OR need help themselves. How’s all that working for you so far?

Goal setting should be a lifestyle or it can simply be a tool to ensure progress. We need to constantly learn more efficient ways to work smarter not harder as our areas of responsibility increase . Collaboration of our time and resources both personally and professionally can set a positive emotional environment where we help one another achieve a greater balance while keeping each other accountable! Your joys get multiplied and your challenges get cut in half when you share your needs and goals with others who will support and encourage you.

Laughter ignites a healing balm of happy that soothes our soul and lubricates our lungs. It is both contagious and addicting. Smiles can infect others who willingly join your group of family members and friends who can then start an epidemic of joy. This will stamp out “hurry sickness” which thrives in the petrie dish of doing too much. Start managing and investing your time and energy into things that have the most significance to you. Take a humor break. Leave a legacy of love and laughter. Just be yourself. Everyone else is taken. :-)

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The Secret to Success? Could be a good nights sleep

Posted by capcityspeakers on May 26, 2016

by Barbara Bartlein, RN, MSW

matty

What do Matthew McConaughey, Cameron Diaz and Warren Buffet have in common?

They all believe strongly in the value of a good nights sleep.  It may surprise you to learn that chronic sleep deprivation significantly affects your health, performance, safety, and pocketbook.

Some of the consequences of missing your shuteye include:

  •  Decreased performance and alertness.  Reducing your nighttime sleep by as little as  one and a half hours for just one night could result in a reduction of daytime  alertness by as much as 32%.
  •  Memory and cognitive impairment.  Decreased alertness will impair your memory  and your ability to think and process information.
  •  Stress and relationship problems.  Let’s face it, you just might be crabby.
  •  Poor quality of life.  You may be unable to participate in activities that requre  attention or physical stamina.
  •  Occupational injury.  There is more than a twofold higher risk of sustaining an  occupational injury when fatigued.

Sleep just might make you more attractive as well. Swedish researcher say there’s an important link between sleep and your physical appearance.  In a study in the British Medical Journal, researcher John Axelsson and his team at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm found that sleep-deprived individuals appear less healthy, more tired, and less attractive than those who have received a full night’s worth of sleep.

“Sleep is the body’s natural beauty treatment,” Axelsson siad.  “It’s probably more effective than any other treatment you could buy.”

Barbara Bartlein, RN, MSW is the People Pro.  A workplace culture expert, she offers keynotes, seminars and consultation to increase teamwork and productivity.  For more information on her programs and services, please contact Capitol Speakers Bureau.

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Three simple rules in life

Posted by capcityspeakers on May 19, 2016

3 simple rules

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10 Keys to Lifelong Happiness

Posted by capcityspeakers on May 12, 2016

by Chad Hymas

I recently came across a terrific blog post claiming “The 15 Things To Give Up To Be Happy.”  Although I agreed with most of them, some of them I didn’t.  I don’t believe that those same 15 things will work for everyone.  Nor do I believe that the 10 that I will share with you will work for everyone either.

I get asked on a daily basis how I am so happy despite my circumstances.  How did I remain positive through all the changes that were taking place that surrounded my accident?  Let me answer you this, I am happy in spite of my circumstances.  Because of the things that I have learned on this journey, mostly the last 11 years of my life, that I would have never experienced otherwise.  These experiences have shaped my life and made me who I have become today.  There were times right after my accident that I am not proud of and I wish to not even recollect, but throughout that time and more recent times, these are the things that I have found truly work for me.

1. Know Yourself.  How many times have we heard “no one will love you until you learn to love yourself” or “nobody knows you the way you do”?

So get to know the right-now-real you, both the good and the bad, and own it. Write down your qualities, characteristics, values, strengths, and weaknesses. What makes you happy? What drives you crazy?

The good news is that if you don’t like certain aspects of yourself right now, you have it in your control to change that. But to change something you first have to know what you’re working with. So do some serious soul-searching and figure that out!

2. Learn to say “NO!” At the end of the day, it’s about how you say “no”, rather than the fact you’re saying no, that affects the outcome. After all, you have your own priorities and needs, just like everyone has his/her own needs. Saying no is about respecting and valuing your time and space. Say no is your prerogative.

3. Accept What Is.  One of the greatest sources of misery in my experience, is refusing to accept what is. How often do waste your time with questions such as: What if I had done that differently? What if yesterday had turned out differently? Stop turning your back on reality.

If you’re happy, accept that you’re happy. You don’t try to justify that feeling. If you’re upset, accept that you’re upset, don’t pretend you’re not. If you made a mistake embrace your imperfection, don’t beat yourself up.

As you begin to accept what is, you will find that your experiences are exactly what you need at that moment. Sure, life won’t always go according to plan, but at the end you will survive, one experience stronger.

4. Visit a quiet place. Libraries, museums, gardens, and places of worship provide islands of peace and calm in today’s frantic world. Find a quiet place near your house and make it your secret getaway.

5. Find What Makes You Tick.  Some people may not care to admit this, but I honestly believe that we each have something that makes us tick.

While it’s true some people just discover what they love, many of us have to do some searching. Not knowing what makes you happy, is the surest way to remain stuck in a miserable state.

Finding what you enjoy to do is fairly easy. If you enjoy a certain activity (assuming it’s legal of course) continue doing it. I realize that is overly simplistic, but you get the idea.

Don’t worry about what your family or friends think, but rather focus on what brings you joy. I’m not suggesting you be selfish or hurtful in your pursuits, but it’s important you take care of yourself so you can give your fullest to the world.

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