Archive for October, 2009

The experience factor in cancer care.

October 23, 2009

I recently read a Newsweek article that detailed the differences found between elite cancer centers in the U.S. versus local hospitals, in terms of diagnosis and treatment of various cancers. In a nutshell, for most patients the outcome isn’t going to be very different. As a surgeon from the renowned Cleveland Clinic observes, “Eighty percent of cancers can and should be treated in community settings.” Most cancers cases are straightforward, in terms of diagnosis and treatment. The treatment you receive in the community hospital isn’t going vary greatly from what you receive at Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center or Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

The most important factor in these cases is that the patient receives an accurate diagnosis from an experienced physician, or even better, multiple physicians. For the other twenty percent with very serious cases, it was found that the elite cancer centers make a very significant difference in treatment. The factor deemed most important was experience again. In this case, the cancer centers have large teams of very experienced specialists.

Through our Pulse360 research, we’ve found that the reputation of the physicians at a hospital is one of the most important factors for a healthcare consumer when considering a hospital. In terms of promoting cancer care as a service line, showcasing the hospital physicians’ experience in diagnosis and treatment is a smart way to help enhance the hospital’s reputation.

Would you rather be sick or well?

October 20, 2009

Of course, I want to be well. Who wants to be sick? For years, we at The Adams Group have been championing the idea that hospitals should promote overall well being throughout life as a significant component of their services. Instead of just being a place to go when you are ill, be the go to place for health and wellness.

It seems that the healthcare consumer is craving this too. A recent Pew Internet study found that online searches for exercise and fitness jumped 88 percent since 2002. At 38 percent it is now third in all health topic searches behind medical problem at 49 percent and treatment at 41 percent.

People know that hospitals can make them well, but like I said no one wants to be sick. Maybe it is time for them to know that hospitals can also help keep them well. Take the lead for health and wellness in your community.

There’s more to social media than Facebook and Twitter.

October 14, 2009
Flickr user tveskov (@tveskov) cleverly recreated the Fail Whale using LEGOs

tveskov's (@tveskov) LEGO Fail Whale

Love it or hate it social media is here to stay. But with all the talk centered mostly on Facebook and Twitter, there’s a lot out there that’s not being talked about.

Social News Sites
Social news sites like Digg  and Reddit  allow users to submit news stories, articles and media for sharing among their respective communities or the general public. Community members’ interest in a posted item gives it value. StumbleUpon, which I believe I heard Tim say was cool once, is explained very well here.

Niche Social Networks
Whatever you’re into, there’s probably a niche social network for it. One well-worded search can uncork just about anything these days and there are oodles of these sites out there: for knitters, for fitness junkies, people with diabetes and new ones come online every day.

There are national and local opt-in “groups” through Yahoo and Google, and Big Boards tracks the most active bulletin boards and forums currently on the web. Does your child have a medical condition like, say, torticollis? Search the web  or the blogs to get detailed information and insight from others who have been through it or share your experience with others.

Of course, there are billions of blogs, like this one. Blogs are started every day through Blogger, Wordpess, Typepad and MySpace like this one  or aggregators collect them for you by areas of interest, like this and this.

Of course, it’s a big wide web world and I have left tons and tons out of this lil’ old post. Please share your insight in the comments and we can update this post in a few weeks. Til then Traffikd has compiled an impressive list of social media and social networking sites here

Now that thinking social media is mainstream, do yourself a favor. Look outside the Goliaths. There are hundreds and hundreds of Davids just waiting to be discovered. One of them may be just right for you.

Never Underestimate The Power Of Women

October 9, 2009

An excellent piece in HealthLeaders further cemented what we already know: women are the coveted decision-makers in healthcare. But the data behind the article exposed a bigger question for hospitals: What are you doing about it – really?

According to the latest study from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality:

  • Conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth were the reason for more than 1 out of every 5 female hospitalizations in 2007.
  • When combined with stays for newborn infants, these hospitalizations accounted for 1/4 of all stays.
  • Maternal discharges increased 16% from 1997 to 2007, and infant hospitalizations jumped 21% in the same time.

The writer wondered if those who are laser-focused on heart or orthopedic or cancer programs may want to re-look at how they approach women’s and children’s services.

Yes, despite the volume, the average hospital cost for pregnancy, childbirth and newborn conditions are lower. But, they remain third highest overall.

And, we’re not just talking about OB. When pregnancy and childbirth stays are excluded, women still accounted for more stays than men—18.2 million stays vs. 16.2 million stays.

How should that affect strategic priorities for healthcare providers, now and in the coming years?

Time for my mammogram.

October 2, 2009

Up ‘til this week, my biggest experience with a mammogram was this. But now that I am about to turn 40 and have no family history of breast cancer that means it’s time for my first mammogram.

While it’s a seemingly inconsequential milestone, it’s sparked two conversations already this morning.

First, the conversation with my gynecologist. Like many practices, my ob/gyn practice offers mammograms in their office. While I made an appointment for an in-office mammogram next January, I am going to go through the exercise of seeing what my other options are.

Do most consumers do this? My guess is no. It will take time and require phone calls: to my ob/gyn’s office, insurance provider and local facilities that offer mammograms. Once I make a decision, there will be more phone calls to my insurance provider, mammogram provider of choice and then back to my ob/gyn’s office.

When you look at this option, the in-office mammogram seems like a no-brainer. But as I was chatting with Jeff here at work, my motivation to seek out another provider took a different direction.

At first I had the attitude that I would use this milestone for work-related research. I write about healthcare so the more I live it, the better. But as I thought about it, the reality of what is in my hands sharpened.

This is my baseline mammogram. It’s not a research project. It’s something that can help protect me from breast cancer and other breast-related problems. This is the mammogram that my next mammogram will be compared against. It’s what stands against me and breast cancer.

So, although I do appreciate the convenience of that in-office mammogram and it would certainly be easier to do, I am going to do some digging. I want to make sure I am getting the highest quality, best-read mammogram I can get. To me, there’s way too much riding on this mammogram to just take the easy route.

If you’ve had a mammogram or mammograms, what route did you choose? Did you look at different options in mammography or providers?

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