FrontPageMag.com’s article “Health Care’s New Entrepreneurs” by writer Paul Howard gives a sucinct yet detail-filled overview of what docs are doing to overcome the obstacles primary care docs and patients face. Paul Howard is the director of the Manhattan Institutes Center for Medical Progress and the managing editor of its web-based journal, Medical Progress Today.
Self-Prescription Glasses for the Poor of the World - From the Guardian: “What if it were possible to make a pair of glasses which, instead of requiring an optician, could be “tuned” by the wearer to correct his or her own vision? Might it be possible to bring affordable spectacles to millions who would never otherwise have them?” What an amazing concept! The inventor “has devised a pair of glasses which rely on the principle that the fatter a lens the more powerful it becomes. Inside the device’s tough plastic lenses are two clear circular sacs filled with fluid, each of which is connected to a small syringe attached to either arm of the spectacles. The wearer adjusts a dial on the syringe to add or reduce amount of fluid in the membrane, thus changing the power of the lens. When the wearer is happy with the strength of each lens the membrane is sealed by twisting a small screw, and the syringes removed. The principle is so simple, the team has discovered, that with very little guidance people are perfectly capable of creating glasses to their own prescription.” The British inventor’s quest is to offer glasses to a billion of the world’s poorest people by 2020.
New Exercise and Sports Regimen Brings New Injuries -The Wii, one of this year’s most popular Christmas gifts has the potential (like almost everything) to cause injury if misused or overused. The golf and tennis games in particular can cause painful sprains and fractures to players and observers when the controller is swung to simulate the swing of a racket or golf club.
How Microsoft Plans to Make Money in Healthcare -One isAmalga, a software system that allows hospitals to gather data stored in multiple silos and access it all in one place. A second is Health Vault, which allows patients to store their personal health information online.
Do Patients Trust Doctors Too Much? – An interesting article with very interesting comments that discusses patients grading physicians on public rating sites. The article points to patients giving good ratings based on the quality of the interpersonal dynamic rather than the quality of the medical care, while commenters discuss what patients base their assessments on.
Sex Chip May Make Viagra and Diet Pills Obsolete – Viagra may one day be history as scientists at Oxford University are working on an electronic sex chip that stimulate pleasure centers in the brain. For past few months scientists have been focusing on an area of the brain just behind the eyes known as the orbitofrontal cortex. This is associated with feelings of pleasure derived from eating and sex.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Ergonomic disorders including CTS (carpal tunnel syndrome), various tendon disorders and lower back injuries, are the most rapidly growing category of OSHA recordable injuries and illnesses.”
According to the site Ergonomics in Healthcare
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) account for $1 of every $3 spent on Workers Compensation in America and affect 1.8 million workers each year which many experts believe represents significant under-reporting of the true incidence of ergonomic injury nationally. Compared to other private industry sectors, the medical, economic, and social costs of work-related musculoskeletal disorders or ergonomic injuries in thehealthcare environmentare particularly serious and warrant special consideration.
To protect your most valuable resource, your employees, follow these guidelines and use the links below:
- Have an ergonomic specialist speak at staff meetings annually to educate your employees on ergonomically sound work habits.
- As a part of orientation, give new employees verbal and written instruction on arranging their workstations so they can be comfortable and safe.
- When an employee asks for a new chair, an ergonomic keyboard or a higher or lower desk, arrange for a professional ergonomic assessment (most physical therapy groups can provide this) to ensure the needs of the employee are correctly met. Ergonomic assessments for all employees is ideal, but not always possible.
- If staff are physically assisting patients or lifting them at all, institute a lift program and make sure you have the correct equipment to protect the staff against lifting injuries. Some private medical practices have a zero-lift policy, which means staff do not lift patients for any reason. Typically, family members and caregivers assist and lift patients in the practice setting.
- Consider wired headsets or wireless headsets instead of handsets for natural neck positioning when talking on the phone.
- Always document all efforts to provide your staff with a safe and comfortable workplace.
While strolling through the Web today I found a wonderful list of 100 health blogs for kids. Some of these sites might be a fit for your patients or to post on your website. The blogs are broken down by Health and Wellness, Child Development and Mental Health, Specific Childhood Illnesses and Diseases, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Food Allergies, Vaccines, Dental Health, Childbirth and Breastfeeding, Podcasts, and For or By Professionals.
This list was compiled by and posted on Nursing Assistant Central, which offers readers information on a career in health care as a nursing assistant.
One of my favorite books of all time is “Effective Phrases for Performance Appraisals, A Guide to Successful Evaluations” by James E. Neal, Jr. I have purchased many editions of this book through the years and I typically supply a copy of it to everyone in my practice who performs evaluations.
The contents of this book include:
- Effective Phrases (in 63 categories including accuracy, development, interpersonal skills, and motivation)
- Two Word Phrases (such as competing priorities, diversified approaches, fully prepared and team performance)
- Helpful Adjectives (such as adaptable, capable, perceptive, and systematic)
- Helpful Verbs (such as accomplishes, adheres, determines, and establishes)
- Performance Rankings (such as exceptional, unsatisfactory, and distinguished)
- Time Frequency (such as always, usually, rarely and seldom)
- Guidelines for Successful Evaluations (rate objectively, use significant documentation and factual examples, plan for the appraisal interview, emphasize future development, and emphasize the positive)
When your patients ask what internet sites your doctors recommend for reliable health information, do you have an answer? Many practices have embedded health information on their websites, or link to sites sponsored by their professional society (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons) or national non-profits (American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association.) Here’s a great article written by physician Patricia M. Hale, PhD, MD, listing her “top 5 safe web sites containing the best tools and resources for health-related information.”
Dr. Hale introduces her list and notes that:
“There are many other useful health resources on the web but it is very important to be sure they are run by reputable medical authorities and contain accurate and safe information.”
Her top five are:
- Medline Plus
- Mayo Clinic
- Center for Disease Control (CDC)
- Merck Source
- U.S. Dept. of State Tips for Traveling Abroad
One of the best ways you can be further reassured that the web site you are exploring is safe is to look for theHealth on The Net Foundation(HON) seal of approval. HON has strict criteria for approval of health related web sites and checks regularly to be sure their rules are followed.
Twitter is a combination of two concepts, social networking and micro-blogging. When combined, they create a fascinating way for people to communicate and keep in touch. Let’s explore social networking and micro-blogging individually first.
This is the Myspace, and Facebook you’ve heard so much about. You already know what networking is – you create, build, and maintain personal and professional relationships to meet people, find opportunities, and learn new things. Successful practice managers are constantly networking to be in the know and stay ahead of the curve. Now add the social aspect of it to the equation. Social networking means starting with people you already know, and using that as a jumping off point. Take your existing network of contacts and digitize them to build an on-line community.
Think about your contact list in your address book, email, phone, or Blackberry. You have everyone in there: colleagues, friends, family. What if you also had access to the contact lists of everyone in their contact lists? There would be duplicate entries but there would also be a lot of people in this “friends of friends” list that you didn’t know before. You would probably see a lot of new names and faces, some of whom you might want to talk to about your organization, their organization, your product, their service, their hobbies, even ask out on a date!
When you walk into a room and see a friend talking to someone you don’t know, you go and say hello to your friend, and introduce yourself to the stranger- you are building your network by social networking!
The differences between various social networking sites (see the MMP post on LinkedIn) will be explored in a later article, but all social networking sites have one thing in common – they are designed to help you meet new people through common friends, interests, pasts, and goals.
It’s blogging, but smaller. But what’s blogging? ”Blog” is short for “web log”, and it is keeping an online journal of writings, pictures, and other multimedia, as well as news items and content found on the web. Some blogs are just places where people write about their feelings and activities so other people can read them. Some blogs are focused on a topic- like ManageMyPractice.com focuses on health care administration. But all blogs are simply websites that are updated by their authors fairly frequently around some common theme.
How does blogging become “micro”? By shrinking it down to its bare essence and relaying the heart of the message, communicating the necessary. How could this be of use to you? What if you set up a system where your kids received updates when you were going to be home later than usual from work, telling them they were allowed to have a soda with their homework before TV, and what would be for dinner when you arrived? Or maybe your kids need to update you when their plans change. What if all your colleagues were updating each other about the goings-on at a professional conference so they could decide on the fly which events to attend, and share their experiences, and decide where everyone would be meeting afterward.
Anything that could be helped by contacting an entire group of people quickly with short message could benefit from micro-blogging.
Twitter puts it all together
Twitter takes these two concepts, and merges the whole shebang with your mobile device. Twitter lets you easily microblog to your social network over your mobile device. You don’t have to use a cell phone or a Blackberry to use Twitter- you can send and receive updates over the web, and through a variety of third party providers.
If you want to get started, go to the Twitter homepage at www.twitter.com, and click the green button that says “JOIN THE CONVERSATION”. You will create a username and password, and start adding contacts and you’ll soon be able to make your first micro-blog post (they call them “tweets”).
On Twitter, anyone you want to receive updates from is someone you are “following”, and anyone who is receiving your messages is one of your “followers”. You can also send messages directly to just one user, or set up groups of people to receive certain updates – your co-workers don’t have to see your notes to your kids, and vice-versa. You can also do fun things, like upload a little picture of yourself to be your icon that people will see when they are on Twittera.
Now it’s time to supercharge your cell phone
But you don’t have to ever go to the site if you don’t want to! The real power of Twitter is that it can let you do all these short internet communications (micro-blogging) right from your cell phone. Basic text messages that you may already use on your cell phone (called “SMS messages“) can be used to send and receive messages from Twitter. Just link your Twitter account to a mobile phone in your Twitter settings, and then you can send your updates as text messages to 40404. Incoming Twitter messages from the users you follow will show up as incoming texts from Twitter, but with labels to show you which user the update is from. You can also customize your mobile updates, so you only get messages from certain users. If you follow some people who are heavy updaters, you might get tired of constant alerts of new text messages. Also be sure you understand your cell phone’s text messaging plan – Twitter is free to use, but if you don’t have unlimited messaging on your phone, it could be easy to run up a big bill.
Once you have your Twitter up and running on your mobile phone things get really interesting, as now you’ve basically turned your cell phone service into an internet chat room. And in terms of business, that gives you near constant connection. Twitter users are often the first people to know the newest information, and love to post updates about it online. It’s an interesting way to see what’s new in the world – finding out what people are talking about literally “right then”. Plus it creates an interesting crowd of which to ask questions: What’s going on tonight? Can anyone recommend good seafood on the north side of town? Is anyone getting anything out of this conference?
The brilliance of Twitter is that it so easily connects people on all different types of computers and cell phone platforms. Twitter can seamlessly create networks of people communicating for mutual benefit, and provide an interesting new way to keep on top and keep in touch.
- Social Networking = networking with your friends’ friends
- Micro-blogging = little missives without all the niceties and all the heart
- Twitter = #1 + #2 (little missives to your friends’ friends’ friends)
- How can you leverage this technology to make your practice more efficient and productive?
Note from Mary Pat: How can Twitter be used in a medical practice setting? Here are a few ways – I’m sure you can think of others. If your doctor is running late, use direct messages to Twitter patients to let them know right away that they can arrive later or reschedule their appointment. Likewise, when an earlier opening is available, Twitter a patient to see if they could fill your appointment time. Twitter your doc to let him/her know about schedule changes that would affect what s/he is doing right now.
And to get you started on Twitter, my Twitter name is “Mary_Pat_Whaley.”
BNET just posted a great video on Google Search tips. I use Google Search a lot, but had no idea how much faster I could search by using some of these ways to customize a search. You can watch the 7 minute video here, or I’ve collected some of tips below.
- To match exact words, put the phrase inside of double quotes. You can also put dashes between each word in a phrase and it will search for the exact words. (Examples: “”physician compensation models”" or physician-compensation-models)
- To search for a topic or phrase, but exclude something, use a minus sign before the exclusion. (Example: physician practice -hospital)
- To tell the search engine not to correct your spelling, put a plus sign in front of your search. (Example: +HIPPA)
- Type information straight into the browser, for instance: flight numbers, package tracking numbers, vehicle identification numbers (VINs), area codes, UPC codes, and patent numbers!
- To get a definition enter “define: and the word”. (Example: define:physiatry)
- Fill in the blank. Enter a sentence and use the * symbol for the information wanted. (Example: There are * family practice physicians in the United States.)
- Use the search box as a calculator. (Try it!)
- Use the search box to make a currency conversion.
- Type in a movie and your zip code to see where the movie is playing and what times it is playing.
And for those readers who want to take Google to the next step, here’s the way to customize your Google:How to search Google Wiki