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Health Food

Creating a Culture of Health and Wellness

I deal mainly with small-to-medium sized employer groups and every time I broach the subject of creating a company culture that promotes the health and wellness of their employees – I usually get the same response. It goes something like this; “Are you kidding? It’s not good enough that I provide a good paying job with a great employee benefits program, now you want me to promote healthy lifestyles for my employees? Forget it!” Coincidentally, my response is always the same. “As long as you [the employer] have a fiduciary responsibility for your companies health plan, meaning, it’s your name on the plan and you’re the one they ultimately look to for payment – then you have an incumbent responsibility to shield your company finance’s against premium increases. Think about it for a moment. If the majority of your employees are living unhealthy lifestyles (i.e. they’re over-weight, they smoke, live sedentary lives) then you’ll be bearing that burden in the form of higher health insurance premiums year after year.
It’s not just higher premiums that become the negative outcome. It’s also the fact that unhealthy employees tend to be more unproductive than their healthy counterpart employees. They have a higher absenteeism rate and they have a tendency to be less productive even when they’re at work. Ignoring a robust health and wellness component to complement your employer-sponsored health plan just doesn’t make good business sense.
Here are some chilling facts:
A recent analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Survey (NHANES), which is conducted regularly by the National Center for Health Statistics, warns that middle-aged individuals may be at greater health risk than anyone anticipated. In comparing the results of two large-scale studies of the U.S. population in 1988 to 1994 and in 2001 to 2006, the report shows that the number of people aged 40 to 74 adhering to healthy lifestyle habits has seriously declined.
* The percentage of surveyed adults with a body mass index greater than 30 has increased from 28 percent to 36 percent *
* Physical activity 12 times a month or more has decreased from 53 percent to 43 percent *
* Eating five or more fruits and vegetables a day has decreased from 42 percent to 26 percent *
* Moderate alcohol use has increased from 40 percent to 51 percent *
* Smoking rates have not changed (26.9 percent to 26.1 percent) *
*The Vitality Group ” CREATING A NEXT-GENERATION HEALTH AND WELLNESS PROGRAM: Why employers should take the lead, and how to do it
While it’s true that Americans are living longer today (life expectancy for males is 75 years and for females it’s 80 years), it’s also true that more Americans suffer from chronic and debilitating diseases such as diabetes, hyper-tension, acid reflux, heart disease, mostly stemming from too many Americans being obese. In fact, it’s estimated that obesity alone accounts for 147 billion dollars a year in health care related costs. Now, I’m not an economist by any means but I can figure out that if we created a culture of health and wellness in this country that seeks to stem the negative affects of obesity, we wouldn’t need the government to get involved with health care at all.
Business owners, maybe it’s time to make some radical changes in your workplace like, don’t just ban smoking in the building but eliminate the 35 smoke breaks that take place throughout the day. After all, if I came to you with a request to go into the break room to eat something every 30 minutes you would probably suggest that maybe this job’s not for me – and you would have every right to suggest that! Studies have shown that it’s well worth the investment with ROI’s sometimes being $3.27 reduction in medical costs for every dollar spent on health and wellness, as well as, reducing absenteeism costs by $2.73 for every dollar spent. Just some healthy food for thought.
If you would like to learn more about how to cultivate a culture of health and wellness at your company; email me at [email protected]

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Health Department

Healthcare Challenges With Food Service Design

Food creates emotion. When we add the word healthcare into the conversation, well, one can guess what emotion will arise. Healthcare food services, whether in continuing care retirement communities (CCRC), assistant living, skilled care, hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, daycare or meals on wheels, have the opportunity to improve current outcomes.
As with any emotional challenge, focusing on the problem and drilling down to identify deficiencies will determine which next steps are needed to solve or limit the concern. The reason the word “limit” is used is that in many situations healthcare consumers may not have a choice in selecting their favorite foods based on medical-related restrictions. With this in mind, the challenge starts in developing and designing food service operations that meet the needs of our compromised food audiences.
Thinking about our targeted audiences, I like to start with our CCRC and assisted living operations. These programs require kitchen designs that resemble a traditional table-service restaurant offering a variety of food selections. However, these designs need to be flexible, to control nutritional requirements and overcome physical limitations.
Hospitals and rehabilitation facilities are much more complicated to design than traditional CCRC or assisted living from a food service equipment and layout perspective. The design and capability of the equipment must allow food service personnel to create the perception of food choices. food service staff must also meet the requirements of patients’ nutritional needs, not to mention the 12 or more menu spreads, coordinating med-pass, clinical procedures, meal delivery obstacles and related concerns.
Skilled nursing facilities have historically used hospital-feeding concepts but, over the past few years, have moved away from this approach in feeding residents by creating decentralized buffet-type service programs that help to create more of a perception of choice. Terminology used in the industry is country kitchen or point of service, just to name two. The challenges in trying to offer a buffet food concept include the fact that residents require feeding, frequently wish to eat in their rooms, and limited staffing. The financial abilities of skilled facilities to add staff for meal service is rare, which requires that a food service design maximize staff optimization.
Daycare and meals-on-wheels programs have still other conceptual requirements. Because the audience lives in the community, meal service needs to match the ethnic flavor expectations and social gathering environments of different neighborhoods, which are just two of the factors to which clients are accustomed. This does not take into account the specialty equipment necessary for cooking for table and delivery service, not to mention the skilled staff required to produce the meals.
In each of these examples, healthcare food service designs and concepts need to focus on delivery of service and meeting the expectations of the audience by placing customers at the center of the design and not as an off-shoot of it. Services are not peripheral activities, but are an integral part of society. Just because healthcare has been institutionalized, its food service operations should not lose sight of the service requirements of its varied audiences.…

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Health Gov

Two Recommended Hospitals in Durban, South Africa

Durban is a major city in South Africa and the Durban Metropolitan Area is the biggest city on the African east coast. The city has about 3.5 million people and 2,292 square kilometers and is a major center of export-related industries, transportation, tourism, finance and administration ifor the country of South Africa. Durban has many good hospitals in both public and private sectors. The modern hospitals are operated by the country’s major private health care companies and offer excellent medical care. This is a description of some of the leading hospitals in Durban.
Netcare Parklands Hospital is situated at Hopelands Road in the city of Overport, and is a leading hospital which offers high quality health care service. South Africa’s most reputed medical service provider, Netcare Limited manages this well equipped hospital. The surgery unit for this hospital has eight modern operating rooms and one ESWL theater with facilities for conducting various surgeries in different specialties including pediatric and ENT surgery. It has a a minor surgical ward with 16 beds and a major surgical ward with 36 beds. The modern emergency care division offers round the clock services. In addition, the center has a well-equipped baby clinic and a spacious pre-admission clinic. The hospital possesses a lot of sophisticated equipment including a PET / CT scan. The retail pharmacy is stocked with all types of drugs and medical aids. Warm accommodations are provided in an especially caring environment. Physiotherapy services are also offered in the center. Tel: 27 31 242 4000
Life Entabeni Hospital is another modern health care facility in the city and is located at 148 South Ridge Road, Berea, Durban. This patient focused hospital is one among the 63 hospitals managed by Life Healthcare, one of South Africa’s largest hospital groups in private sector. Like all other Life Healthcare hospitals, this center is also known for having all the latest facilities at unparalleled quality. The hospital has modern departments in all disciplines such as cardiology, internal medicine, dentistry, gastroenterology, neurology, pediatrics and more. Life Entabeni Hospital has an epilepsy unit with a 24 hour video EEG and a lung center for treating breathing problems. The radiology division is provided with a complete range of modern diagnostic equipment like a CT scanner, an MRI and radioisotope nuclear medicine facilities. Tel: 031 204 1300.…

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Health Facts

HIPPA, Healthcare Insurance Portability And Accountability Act: Part 1

First introduced in 1996, it created guidelines governing employee benefits, fraud, security of patient information, and electronic transactions involving billing and claims processing. In 1999, it was amended to also address Internet security and electronic signatures. Then in 2001, the Bush Administration approved HIPAA with a 24-month implementation period in phases for full compliance by providers. The categories of regulation and compliance include transaction standards, code sets, health care identifiers, electronic signatures, physical security, and privacy issues.
Each category will take effect on different dates during that 24-month period.
Covering Your Bases
Covered entities include: health plans, billing services, and all health care providers engaging in electronic transmission of claims, payment, and insurance. Included are business associates, other doctors in your office, and contract workers or independent contractors. All Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM) providers will also need to comply. With the growth of CAM and an increase in fraud, CAM providers will especially be targeted for HIPAA compliance. If you are a covered entity, it is important that you protect medical records or face the consequences of HIPAA law.
Entities covered by the privacy and security regulations of HIPAA will face many hurdles, some of which could be very costly. You may be required to pay for risk assessment to identify areas of noncompliance and physically redesign your office for compliance as it relates to securing records. You will definitely have to update your computer with HIPAA compliance software. A word of warning here-make sure to buy HIPAA compliance software and know the vendor. To date, there are very few, if any, software programs on the market that will allow you to become HIPAA compliant, and when available, may be extremely expensive. Also, you will have to train your staff and periodically re-train them and change office procedures and how you store records. Make sure to retain an attorney familiar with HIPAA regulations to guide you. Although you may not have a computer and therefore do not bill electronically, you must still comply with HIPAA in all other areas. Electronic billing will become the way to do business with all insurance companies, who will also need to be compliant with HIPAA. If you are not, compliant, then your claims may not be paid or even allowed to be submitted other than electronically. Insurance contract plans have certain guidelines for participation on the panels. If these guidelines, one of which may be HIPPA compliant, are not met, then you will not be allowed to take part. On the insurance panel.
Paper Trail
As a covered entity, there will be increased paperwork in the areas of medical consents,
written patient authorizations, privacy notices-posted and given to patients, and creation of policy and procedures covering disclosure of treatment by you, any other contract worker, independent worker or associate doctor in your office.
Consent forms for treatment must also include HIPAA language as to treatment, payment, or other provider services. Although consent to treat and authorizations may be on a single form, it must be signed separately. Authorizations must be signed by the patient if the provider uses patient information for purposes other than treatment.
Privacy policy notices must be posted in your office and a copy given to all patients. Your computer and data files are the lifeline for the practice. You must protect patient information and uphold office policies and procedures as to who has access and how information is obtained. There must also be a secure area for medical records, keeping access private and a designated person should be assigned to view those records. Business associates, independent contractors, and associate doctors must also be HIPAA compliant. Securing these workers on a contract basis as other types of persons or entities for access to medical records may be necessary. Presently, personal injury and workers compensation attorneys are exempt as they represent the patient and not the provider. Compliance, although difficult, is a far better choice than noncompliance, as will be discussed in part two.…

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Health Facts

Do You Have a Case For Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice refers to any negligence that a physician, health care professional, or hospital demonstrates during the course of providing treatment to a patient, and, in turn, causes either emotional or physical damage. State licensed individuals and entities-physicians, dentists, nurses, therapists, technicians, pharmacists, hospitals, clinics, etc-are accountable for injury they cause.
The primary legal determination of medical malpractice is negligence. Without negligence, one does not have a case.
Outcomes of carelessly done medical procedures can be or seem to be terrible. A disappointing facelift might lead to psychological distress. A failed organ transplant can not likely be fatal. But, sometimes t the most tragic and painful scenarios do not automatically qualify as medical malpractice.
Neither medicine, in general, nor any medical professional, specifically, is prefect. The profession, in fact, describes itself as a “practice.” Consequently, no patient can be assured of ideal or even desirable results. Therefore, medical malpractice boils down to negligence-neglect or carelessness-in attending to a patient. Bad outcomes can result from proper care.
How, then, is negligence determined?
First, the health care provider or professional is judged in comparison to his or her peers-health caregivers and providers in the same community, field and/or specialty. A heart surgeon’s treatment, for instance, would be evaluated in light of the treatment plan, procedures, and attentiveness that one should anticipate from similarly qualified and trained heart surgeons. Likewise, a hospital, an outpatient clinic, or other medical facility owes its patients a duty of ordinary care.
In other words, a hospital must extend the kind and quality of equipment, facilities, and trained personnel that are reasonably expected and suited to a patient’s condition if those factors are in place and in general use in comparable hospitals for patients who suffer similar conditions. Therefore, while a small county hospital’s emergency room would not be held to meet the certifications of a major trauma center in a large city, the more modest facility would be required to possess and utilize technology and procedures that other hospitals in its class offer.
The second criterion for determining medical negligence is whether or not a causal connection exists between the injury and the health care provider’s alleged negligence. The injured party must demonstrate that a breach (or violation) of the health professional’s standard of care was a proximate cause of any harm to the patient. If, for instance, a patient falls after hip replacement surgery on the way to the restroom because he did not want to call a nurse for assistance, he cannot blame the surgeon if the bone must be reset.
Damages comprise the third component of medical malpractice lawsuits. The injured party should outline any damages that resulted form the alleged mistake. Tangible costs-such as medical bills and lost wages-as well as intangible consequences-such as pain and suffering-are part of the accounting. To validate your claim, make certain that you acquire all of your medical records as quickly as possible to minimize opportunities for changes and falsifications. Additionally, your experiences should be set out in writing and to have a claim you must obtain an opinion by a medical professional setting out the negligence.
How much money can be awarded in damages?
There are no guarantees or simple answers. Avoid any legal representative who makes grandiose promises about how much he or she will get for you from the physician’s insurance company. The severity of your injury and your health in general will strongly impact how much, if any amount, a jury renders in a verdict or the amount you would receive in a settlement. Be aware that in 2005 Georgia enacted laws that limit verdicts in medical malpractice cases and impose other harsh standards that make it more difficult to prosecute these cases. In March 2010 the Georgia Supreme Court rendered two opinions on these laws.…

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Health Facts

Short Term Health Insurance Savings

Companies are now offering high end insurance plans at short term prices that are lower than many companies are providing for their employees. If you work at a company that is not providing you a lot of coverage, you need to make sure that you’re doing well in regards to a lot of medical coverage. Yes, you need to make sure that you’re not lacking in regards to protecting your family. You’re going to see a brighter future if you’re willing to step up to the plate and look at policies rather than just signing whatever thing you find that covers you for the moment.
If you’re self employed, or recently unemployed you should look into the steady short term health insurance plans that are available to you and your family at a low cost. There are simply too many companies out there competing to get you the best price possible. Seriously, don’t be left behind the curve and don’t let the lights go out on your attempts to make something better than the rest. You need to make sure that you’re making good overall moves in regards to your health and the health of your loved ones.
If you’re not careful, health reform might end your coverage. So make sure your tied down with a great costing high end plan. If you don’t understand the plans terms, ask someone to go over them with you and enjoy the great peace of mind that comes from being protected against medical bills and more.…

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Health Department

Health Insurance Costs

Insurance is one of the most necessary investments of individuals today. Because the world is faced with economic crisis, health care costs inevitably rise too, thereby forcing families to limit their spending to save for their medical needs. Because of this, it is best to get insurance for yourself and for your dependents. Health insurance is a form of insurance that covers your medical needs. It can be purchased as a group, a firm buying such to cover its employees for example, or individually by consumers. This type of insurance can be purchased from the government through social insurance program or through private insurance companies.
The insured are obliged to pay monthly premiums, which are health insurance costs, to secure themselves that the insurance companies will pay for their health care costs. Monthly premiums are developed through an estimation of the total risks of covering medical costs. Both the insurer and insured will agree to the terms of a contract – its premiums and coverage benefits.
Health insurance can be renewed annually or monthly. The insurance policy can explicitly express the type and amount of medical costs that the insurance company will cover. Several individual obligations may also be solicited from the insured. One of them is deductible. Deductible is the amount of cash the insured has to pay before the insurance company finally pays in his behalf. An insured may have to pay several doctor trips and prescription to reach the deductible, making the insurer pay for the next health care costs. Because of this, it is important for employees to understand the provisions of the contract so that they do not get into trouble with this kind of insurance.…