Healthcare Blog

Archive for September, 2012

Giving IS Receiving

Posted by capcityspeakers on September 26, 2012

by Ronald Culberson

A retiring car dealer in Michigan gave each of his employees $1,000 for each year they worked at his 47-year-old car dealership.  As a way of thanking his employees, Howard Cooper gave each a cash payment when he sold his dealership – including one loyal long-term employee who received $46,000.

You can read the article and see a video here:  Retiring Car Dealer

I’m a big believer that giving is receiving.  By giving to others, whether it’s our time, money, or expertise, we receive a gift through the opportunity to share the blessings that we have received…or earned.

Sometimes, our society encourages us to get all we can get and hang onto it as long as we can.  I certainly want to have enough money to last through my lifetime and I want to be able to support my children should they need it.  But I don’t want to die with too much in “the bank” or I fear I will have missed opportunities to give along the way.

I love what Howard Cooper did.  Essentially, he said, “You helped me be successful and I want to thank you.”

To me, he Did it Well.  And he Made it Fun for his employees too!


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The Neurohumor Notebook

Posted by capcityspeakers on September 21, 2012

by Karyn Buxman

In terms of scientific discovery, we’re living in one of the most exciting times ever. Researchers are doing more and more each day to uncover the relationship between the human experience and our physical well-being.

There are complex biochemical responses – things changing within our bodies, most particularly our brains – when we’re exposed to external stimuli that triggers strong emotional reactions. In other words, when we read a thrilling novel or look at a beautiful painting, something happens inside our brain.  It turns out that that something has a significant impact on how healthy we are.

Ready for some link soup?

This CNN article, What the Brain Draws From: Art and Neuro-Science, takes a long look at how the brain responds to different types of art, and why we may be hard-wired to prefer some patterns to others. Smiling human faces are the most popular type of image in the world – almost everyone loves them. I know I do!

This is Your Brain on Jane Austen looks at the types of brain activity generated when people were reading the world’s greatest novelist for pleasure, and then intently, as if studying for an exam. Stanford researchers are suggesting the intent reading does more to stimulate the brain, and can perhaps even promote cognitive health.

The topic of brain fitness and flexibility is becoming increasingly interesting as we, as a culture, look forward to increasing numbers of people facing Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia. As a proponent of humor and healing, I have to say knowing there are steps we can take to keep ourselves healthy is good news.  Knowing those steps are fun and enjoyable? That’s even better.

Today’s Joke:

A vampire bat came flapping in from the night covered in fresh blood and parked himself on the roof of the cave to get some sleep.

Pretty soon all the other bats smelled the blood and began hassling him about where he got it.

He told them to go away and let him get some sleep but they persisted until finally he gave in.

“OK, follow me” he said and flew out of the cave with hundreds of bats behind him.

Down through the valley they went, across a river and into a forest full of trees.

Finally he slowed down and all the other bats excitedly milled around him.

“Now, do you see that tree over there?” he asked.

“Yes, Yes, Yes!” the bats all screamed in a frenzy.

“Good” said the bat, “Because I sure didn’t!”

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What healthcare must learn — from a chain restaurant

Posted by capcityspeakers on September 13, 2012

by Joe Flower

In Healthcare Beyond Reform: Doing it Right For Half The Cost I lay out the five strategies that healthcare must adopt, and is adopting in various ways and places, to make healthcare better and cheaper at the same time.

Strategy Five is “Rebuild Every Process.” It’s about “lean manufacturing,” smart standardization, measurement, “big data,” evidence-based design, teaching the innovation, all the detailed, rigorous, hard attention to intelligent process re-design that healthcare is so obviously lacking — and that is absolutely necessary if healthcare is to improve its abysmal cost/benefit ratio.

Now in The New Yorker writer/surgeon Atul Gawande has done a brilliant turn on this theme, by diving into, of all things, the processes of a restaurant chain, comparing them to the duplicative, chaotic, mistake-prone processes of traditional healthcare, and finally to some examples of smart, rebuilt healthcare processes that drive down costs while killing fewer people.

Gawande shows how The Cheesecake Factory manages to deliver 308 dinner menu items and 124 beverage choices to exacting standards, on time, from fresh ingredients, with only 2.5% wastage, in a linen-napkin and silverware environment, at lower cost, then compares that with the disconnected, uncoordinated, messy environment that is most of US healthcare. He details several examples of how new drives toward standardization and control of processes in the operating room and the emergency department, for instance, are making a difference, lowering costs and improving not only outcomes but the patient experience, all at the same time.

There are still voices in medicine decrying standardization as “cookbook medicine” and insisting that every medical decision and action must be made on the spot, on the fly, on the doctor’s judgment and say-so alone. Yet there are right and wrong ways to do most of medicine. There is no clinical justification for not elevating the head of the bed for a patient with pneumonia on a ventilator; or for not fully covering a patient during a central line emplacement; or keeping a patient on 100% oxygen for longer than absolutely necessary. As one of the docs engineering the standardization of a group of EDs told Gawande: “Customization should be five per cent, not ninety-five per cent, of what we do.”

The contrast in the diffusion of innovation is quite stark. The Cheesecake Factory changes some of its menu every six months, and all of its cooks throughout the chain must learn the cooking and presentation of the new items. The chain has a dedicated system for teaching the new items to managing, and then teaching them how to teach them, so that they can propagate the new items throughout the system. Healthcare has no such system at all. When some new fact or technique is established through research (whether the proper use of negative and positive ventilation flows in patient rooms, or a superior wound closure technique, or better post-op therapy after knee replacement surgery) there is no mechanism to propagate that discovery throughout healthcare. Studies show that the average medical innovation takes 15 years to reach even half of patients in the system. That is simply unacceptable. People die and suffer because of such resistance to doing things a better way. We must rebuild every process in healthcare continually, striving for better care, better results, and lower cost.

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Reservations About Humor?

Posted by capcityspeakers on September 13, 2012

by Christine Cashen

When people think about humor, it usually relates to telling jokes, or situations where you double over in laughter. To me it’s more than that – it’s about having (and making) fun in the ordinary and often dull routines in everyday life.

For example, after dropping the kids off at school, I dread coming home to the disaster in my kitchen. Often times while cleaning up breakfast dishes and lunch prep chaos, our chocolate lab will plop down nearby with a heavy sigh.

In my effort to put off re-combobulating the kitchen for as long as possible, I call his name – Murphy – and then I hide behind the counter. When he scrambles to his feet, a chase around the center island ensues. Yes, I play Hide & Seek with my dog. Don’t judge me. It’s great fun and gets the blood flowing — for both of us.

Another fave in our family is the “Restaurant Name-Game.” Last week, I took my son on a lunch date to one of our favorite places, Which Wich. You build your own sandwich, turn in your order and write your name on the bottom of the bag. For kicks, we always put random names, like “Dude,” “Happy,” or “Tired Puppy” (that one would be mine). It is always a kick when the young employee yells out in a bland voice, “I have a turkey for… Tired Puppy.”

This can also backfire. My brother and his wife were going out for dinner and made reservations at their favorite restaurant. Also a goofball, he made the reservation using the name “Hungry,” and mentioned this was a special evening. At the end of their evening, the restaurant brought them a complimentary dessert with (in chocolate writing), “Happy Anniversary Mr. and Mrs. Hungry!”

How can you add fun to your daily routine? One thing is for certain – humor makes memories. Figure out ways to make the mundane into something memorable. Get out there and use humor to make the ordinary extraordinary!

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Now Doesn’t Last Forever

Posted by capcityspeakers on September 7, 2012

by Ron Culberson

It’s Thursday, and our week has been a flurry of activity. Our traditional end-of-the-summer meal was on Tuesday. My son and I played golf yesterday, and last night the whole family attended a baseball game. My wife is taking my daughter to a concert tonight.

You see, we’re frantically preparing to be empty nesters.

On Saturday, my son will join my daughter at college, and they will never again live at home full time. One of my friends says I may be mistaken on that last point.

The irony in my approach to parenting is that I’m always looking toward the future, and then when the future gets here, it catches me off-guard.

When my children were on formula, I couldn’t wait for them to drink regular milk. When they were still in diapers, I could’t wait for them to be potty-trained. And when we were chauffeuring them around to ballgames, band concerts, and Scouts, I couldn’t wait until they could drive.

Now that they’re drinking milk, fully potty-trained, and driving off to college, I finally got what I had hoped for — but it doesn’t feel as good as I expected. While all of these milestones were good, I think I missed something along the way by wishing for them to arrive sooner rather than later.

As Eckhart Tolle, in The Power of Now, explains, “When we’re here and want to be somewhere else,” we’re missing what the present moment has to offer.

Yes, guilty as charged.

But I suspect I’m not alone when it comes to focusing on the future at the expense of the present. It’s easy to do when there are so many things to anticipate and worry about. So, even though I consider myself a work in progress, there are a couple of things I try to do to keep my focus on the moment.

First, when I feel myself reacting because my current situation is not what I think it should be, I remind myself that “it is what it is” and that if I can’t do anything to change it, I should find something to appreciate in it.

Second, when I find myself too focused on something in the future, I ask myself, “What am I missinghere by focusing on there?”

And last, I continually remind myself that while I should take responsibility for the things I can control, I should not feel responsible for the things I can’t control. For more information on this, consider the weather, other people’s opinions of me, and traffic.

When it comes to our empty nest, absence will make the heart grow fonder. And when it comes to life in general, I suspect that presence makes the heart grow richer.

Tonight, my son and I will cap off our evening with a visit to our favorite frozen yogurt shop. I plan to savor every bite… and every minute.

For more by Ron Culberson, MSW, CSP, click here.

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Are We There Yet?

Posted by capcityspeakers on September 7, 2012

by Christine Cashen

On our car trip in Michigan this summer, it wasn’t long before the kids started asking the universal car question –-”Are we there yet??”

Knowing we still had a long way to go, I had to quash this line of questioning straight away. “Yes, we are exactly where we need to be.” This bought us a little bit of silence as they tried to figure out what I was saying. That was my answer the next time as well. They stopped asking.

As annoying as Are we there yet? is when my kids ask it again and again, I’ve found that many adults ask that question throughout their lives. Am I there yet? I will be there when I graduate from college, get a job, get married, have kids, when kids move out, change jobs, make X number of dollars, retire, etc. So many of us wait for a certain event to happen before we believe we’ll reach our destination of happiness and contentment.


You are exactly where you need to be. If you don’t like where you are now, think like a GPS: recalculate and change direction. But whatever you do, take time to enjoy the journey. You’ve probably heard the saying,Wherever you go…there you areAnd you are. Enjoy.


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