Don’t Forget to Keep Your Eye on Congress

DWFeedburnerApril has been a month of fantastic political achievements. Enrollment for health care insurance has grown to an unprecedented 8 million consumers and President Obama signed two executive orders to increase wage equality between the sexes. While Congress will be in recess until April 28th, that doesn’t mean that you should stop paying attention to the action on the ground.  Here is a quick roundup of proposed bills that you need to follow.

Bills Introduced:

Child Care/Education

H.R. 4481—-Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ)/Education and the Workforce (4/10/14)—A bill to amend the Head Start Act to authorize block grants to states for prekindergarten education. (more…)

Patients Are Actually Customers…Who Knew?

I was finally getting to my giant pile of reading this week when I saw an article in Health Care Information Week that included the following sentence:

As consumer satisfaction begins to have a bigger impact on the bottom line, more hospitals are hiring a chief patient experience officer (CXO) to treat patients like valued customers.

Maybe it’s me, as a born and bred marketing person, but that seems like the weirdest concept in the world. In layman’s terms it basically means this: Hospitals are waking up to the fact that patients are actually their customers (go figure) and failure to notice this fact will reduce their revenue. Another fact: it wasn’t until CMS decided to penalize hospitals for poor patient satisfaction by docking their reimbursement by up to 2 percent that hospitals started to get religion on this topic. (more…)

She Sued NYC and Won

Photo by Graeme Mitchell

I remember one time in high school during the big homecoming game, a bunch of my male classmates painted (the much worshiped) orange and black school colors on their chest, proudly baring them in the 30 degree chill. Even last summer there were hundreds of men on the beach of all ages and weight sizes, naked from the waist up walking proudly. In fact, at no time in my recent memory have I associated the appearance of a bare male chest with anything inappropriate.Yet, for most of us, the thought of a woman freely baring her breasts in public is something incredibly taboo.

You may have heard of the “topless paparazzo” Holly Van Voast or her alter-ego, Holly Van Toast. Last year, Van Voast was arrested and institutionalized multiple times as a result of exposing her bare breasts in high-traffic areas of New York City, including Grand Central, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Staten Island Ferry, and several film premieres. This is despite the fact that no law exists in New York barring a woman from showing her bare breasts publicly- in fact, it is perfectly legal.

Now, a year later after the dust has settled a bit, we sat down with Van Voast, an artist not an activist, to discuss her motivation, what she learned about body image and the perception of beauty, and what she is up to now. (more…)

Everybody Has Plans ‘Til They Get Punched in the Mouth’ Edward Davies of the British Medical Journal attended the recent Lown Institute conference in Boston, he was reminded of some unlikely wisdom from boxer Mike Tyson. In the run-up to a big fight, Iron Mike was being bombarded with media questions about how he intended to deal with his latest challenger. Did he have a strategy in place to cope with their plans? The boxer’s response was simple: “Everybody has plans ’til they get punched in the mouth.”

In boxing terms, as Davies wrote in the BMJ, this is completely literal, sound advice, but as a figurative metaphor for life, it’s not bad, either: “Listening to a patient panel here at the Lown Institute conference, I was reminded that this is a worldview that doctors might do well to remember.”

Most patients diagnosed with a life-altering diagnosis can readily identify with what that metaphorical punch in the mouth feels like. And no matter how competent, how smart, how resourceful we may think we are before a catastrophic health crisis strikes, many of us may suddenly feel incompetent, ignorant and helpless when thrust inexplicably into the stress of such formidable reality. This may feel like being momentarily powerless for some or like a sucker-punch that knocks the wind right out of us for others. (more…)

It’s Time to Think Differently. Have You Prepared a Health Care Budget?

Terri Prof Headshot 0412Have changes in health care hit your pocketbook yet?  In addition to a high deductible insurance plan, are you using a Health Savings Account (HSA) for the first time?

If you’ve gotten new health insurance, a different deductible level due to the monthly premium cost, or if you’ve been taking your chances without any health care coverage at all, you may be in for a big surprise.  Do you know how much your overall health care will cost you and your family this year?  Are deductibles, premiums, maximum out-of-pockets amounts and co-pays clear to you?  If not, you have some planning to do.  You’re going to need to lay out a health care budget so that you know what you can afford.  You may also need to start thinking differently and proactively. (more…)

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