Category Archives: Healthcare

Healthcare Executive Leadership

Healthcare executive leadership has gone global. As a result, a growing number of opportunities are becoming available for individuals whose career planning efforts have prepared them for the extraordinary challenges and the long-term rewards that an international assignment offers. However, the expectations are high when it comes to making Healthcare executive leadership placements into a foreign market, and a prospective executive must be fully prepared to meet those challenges head-on.

“Well done is better than well said!” is a quote from the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady (and Ben Franklin) and it summarizes the mindset of global investors and global operators as they recruit individuals to lead foreign or multinational business entities. In other words, a successful track record delivering superior financial and operational results will help your achieve your international leadership goals far better than merely words and potential. This is why personal global career planning pays off in the long-run.

We recently helped sponsor the “2007 Strategic Investing in Healthcare Forum.” This was an invitation only, one-day conference that brought together members of the Harvard Business School and the Argyle Executive Forum, plus 150 senior operating executives from public and private Healthcare firms, select private equity and hedge funds, prominent research fellows, and key senior advisors. And, as a result of these discussions, I now find myself thinking about ways that up-and-coming Healthcare executives can best prepare themselves to achieve their global career planning ambitions.

I should mention that over the course of this one day event, Healthcare leaders shared their focus and innovative approaches towards booming global markets, the financially-stretched domestic market, and the global demographic trends that will either clobber economies or empower businesses to solve complex issues. Speakers for the event included representatives from Apax Partners, GE Healthcare, GE Healthcare Financial Services, Bain Capital, Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe, The Blackstone Group, CCMP Capital Advisors, Merrill Lynch, GTCR Golder Rauner, Ropes & Gray LLP, Bank of America, and Epstein Becker & Green, P.C.

All of the speakers were extremely candid and informative. However, here are just two examples of the broad array of globally-focused topics that were discussed:

Buddy Gumina, a Partner at US Healthcare – Apax, discussed coverage, consumerism and convergence as it relates to managed care, healthcare services, provider transparency, interactive technology, preventative medicine and outsourced pharma. Apax has a thirty year track-record as a global private equity firm with a strong healthcare presence.

Joe Hogan, President and CEO of GE Healthcare, stated that the company’s basis for growth and the focus of its global-leading $17 billion business is to continue to drive innovation and world-class dominance across IT and diagnostics. The breadth of opportunities for GE Healthcare is tremendous as a result of the exploding second and third world markets where infrastructure and utilization are the focus for the design and development of full-scale digital hospitals.

Other speakers focused on the current strategies that healthcare investors and operators are pursuing as providers, payers, investors, patients and technology converge. And, through this convergence, I am fortunate to play an active role in finding the outstanding Healthcare executive leadership talent that international Healthcare organizations will require to achieve their aggressive business goals.

As a result of my ongoing involvement in the Healthcare leadership arena, I have three career planning suggestions that aspiring international executives would be wise to adopt as they strive to develop the knowledge and skills to lead a global Healthcare business.

  1. Use Coaches and Mentors. Tiger Woods has used multiple coaches over the years to help improve his game. Similarly, you need to identify two or three senior individuals who are interested in taking an active role in your executive leadership development. Whether as coaches or mentors, these individuals can provide you with invaluable insight and global career planning guidance. In addition, you can select your own informal mentors by watching Healthcare executive leaders who are currently successful in the roles you are striving to achieve. Study their successes and their mistakes. In completing more than 225 Healthcare retained searches, those who have achieved the greatest corporate success have aggressively pursued mentoring relationships throughout their career.
  2. Be Seen and Be Known. Financial investors and operators who are deploying tens and hundreds of millions of dollars in new capital are consistently looking to hedge their bets through the recruitment of experienced, well-referenced and well-known executives. Show a keen interest in your industry, in your businesses fundamentals, and in your opportunities and obstacles in order to deliver stellar results and develop relationships with influencers. Through your efforts and success you will find interest from those within your industry to invite you to speak, present or join an industry panel on key issues and trends. The value of your business success can lead you to exceptional personal contacts, which in turn can significantly improve future business opportunities. Your business acumen and success can take you to the door of a global Healthcare executive leadership opportunity. Having strong industry relationships can be what actually opens that door and allows you to enter.
  3. Do your Best Work Today. Without a doubt, ambition is required for the level of success you desire. However, focusing too early on your next opportunity can cause you to lose sight of your current business goals and responsibilities. This can negatively impact your trajectory. Outstanding performance is recognized and should always be your primary objective.

Establishing yourself as the winning executive for a global Healthcare executive leadership opportunity requires strong foundational skills, a successful track-record, solid relationships, keen industry insights, and much more. Global career planning presents new opportunities. Therefore, keep pushing yourself forward in your professional growth and remember, “Well done is better than well said.”

Paul Frankenberg is President, CEO, and Principal in Kraft Search Associates, a retained Executive Search Firm specializing in the recruitment of high-value Executive Leadership throughout the Healthcare Industry. Paul has completed more than 225 Senior Executive and Corporate search assignments during his 12-year career and is known for search process thoroughness, commitment to project success, focus on client business plan achievement and candidate retention rates that are among the highest in the industry. In 2007 Modern Healthcare magazine ranked Kraft Search Associates one of the nation’s Top 25 Healthcare Executive Search Firms. Paul is a frequent writer, guest speaker and panelist on leadership, executive development, entrepreneurship and recruiting industry topics.

Healthcare Industry is Growing

The healthcare industry is continuing to create jobs despite the global economic downturn. Medical training will be an utter necessity in order to provide services to the increasing geriatric population. Unemployment rates have been going up in most other sectors like retail and construction. Job cuts and recession are the biggest concern in everybody’s mind today. Healthcare schools have seen to contribute for thousands of medical industry jobs every month.

Healthcare training in pediatrics and obstetrics have high hospital demands to cater. There is a distinct upward trend in job creation with the medical and health care industry worldwide. Healthcare schools are set to thrive with the sustained increase in national healthcare spending. Medical schools play a key role in providing the skilled professionals in order to handle the aging baby boomer population. Healthcare industry has added two million jobs in the last eight years. This is considerably higher than most other private sectors. Local medical and social assistance services add to about forty thousand healthcare jobs every month. This is in significant contrast when compared with the considerable private job losses in other industries.

The healthcare industry is known to have a minimum job growth of thirty-forty thousand per month. Government policies aim to increase on the annual spending of healthcare programs. This money works to pay for the services of in-demand medical personnel. Healthcare training programs can increase employment opportunities in the hospital sector. Healthcare training programs assure job readiness with solid scopes for permanent employment. The high risk to public health crisis due to the shortage of healthcare professional is increasing in most regions around the word. Government healthcare programs can be undermined in quality from shortage of trained medical workers. A severe crunch in medical manpower arises from the increasing demand of medical services.

Healthcare schools work to reduce the growing disparity in demand for medical services and the available personnel. Healthcare program graduates will be in high demand over the next several decades. The fastest growing employment category is with geriatrics and nursing. Career growth potential with education from the medical schools is said to double. Healthcare programs that work to train nurses are struggling to meet the increasing demand for qualified professionals. There is a chronic international shortage of four million trained healthcare professionals in the current year. Medical healthcare programs that offer graduate degree in healthcare have the highest job potential for the next five years. Healthcare providers continue to hire, as there is no risk to shrinkage in their end market. Government medical programs for the public are immune to the budget constraint measures. The costs of healthcare services continue to grow higher than the average national income. Major job-reports and labor statistics identify healthcare as a recession proof sector.

Online Degrees in Healthcare

Candidates aspiring to enter the healthcare industry need to go for a degree that kick starts their chosen career or the job position they want to achieve. Today, people not only go for campus degrees in healthcare, but they prefer obtaining online degrees as well. Online degrees not only save time, but they save people thousands of dollars as well. To become eligible to enter the healthcare industry, the basic education requirement is an online associate’s degree in healthcare. There are a number of online degree programs available to get trained in healthcare education. Most of these healthcare degree programs need candidates to complete 60 credits of coursework from an accredited academic institution.

Popular Universities & Colleges providing Healthcare Degrees Online

Today, candidates can find multiple options for being trained in healthcare. To cater to the increasing demand of professionals in the healthcare industry, more and more colleges and universities are providing accredited online healthcare degrees. Whether you are looking for an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or a doctoral degree in healthcare, you can get a number of options to obtain your online degree. Given below are some popular universities and colleges that offer healthcare degree programs online.

University of Phoenix
Everest University
Ashford University
Walden University
Kaplan University
Ohio University
Regis University
Grand Canyon University

For most the jobs in the healthcare industry, candidates would require a four year college program. Whether you want to become a physical therapist, a registered nurse, a dentist or a physician, an online bachelor’s degree is necessary to kick start your career in healthcare. Most of these online degree programs need students to complete 160 credits. While being trained online, students will receive education health related topics, business management, strategy planning and public relations. Depending on your healthcare career goals, you can further decide to obtain online masters or doctoral degree in healthcare.

Job Prospects for Online Healthcare Degree Holders

An online healthcare degree can land candidates a number of entry level job positions. An online associate degree can prepare candidates for the following healthcare industry job positions.

Dental Assistant
Medical Assistant
Nursing Aide
Office Manager
Home Health Aide
Veterinary Technician

If you want to advance your career in healthcare even more and earn a higher salary, you and get enrolled in an online healthcare bachelor’s degree and be ready to land the following jobs.

Nursing Home Director
Medical Office Manager
Health Services Administrator
Hospital Administrator
Clinical Services Representative

Job Outlook & Earning

The healthcare industry is expected to add 3 million more jobs for professionals through to the year 2016. Looking at this employment growth rate, it is obvious that the job market for healthcare professionals is quite strong. Though an online associate’s degree in healthcare is the basic requirement, an online bachelor’s degree can help you earn even more. Professionals who land jobs in the healthcare administration can earn an annual salary ranging between $60,000 and $100,000. As you grow in experience and skill, you can look forward to earning even more salary.

Career Opportunities in Healthcare

A healthcare administration career via online healthcare management training requires no medical background. This is the field relating to the leadership, management and administration of healthcare systems, hospitals and hospital networks. Healthcare administration covers a broad area of activities and there is usually a set of factors that determine the types of jobs that need to be done to run any given facility; these often include the size and scope of the facility in question and the kinds of medical/ healthcare facilities they have.

Healthcare administrators are vital to the successful operation of any healthcare system. The day to day running and financial sides to healthcare require dedicated professionals to work on areas from clerical to administrative to financial. Healthcare professionals, also known as healthcare managers or health services managers are regular business managers who plan, direct, coordinate and supervise the delivery of health services. These managers can be specialists in charge of a specific department or managing entire facilities. Healthcare education has recently found a new home on the internet, with thousands of people pursuing online healthcare education and online training in order to improve their professional skills and profiles or to take the opportunity to switch to this lucrative and satisfying career from another field.

The following is a brief description of some of the major areas in healthcare administration for which extensive online health care administration and management education and training is now available.

General Administration

Healthcare organizations, like all other types of businesses, are often profit based businesses requiring the highest quality of managerial oversight. A healthcare unit requires a whole top and middle management team in order to function. Matters related to budgeting, profit and future expansion is also, likewise, a managerial responsibility (especially in larger facilities like hospitals).

Healthcare managers in administration positions normally answer to the board of directors. The workload is higher than for many other areas, with administrators often required to work between 55-60 hours a week, however, compensation and career benefits are attractive and the work itself is stable to a great extent. Growth opportunities are numerous and salaries are also amongst the higher levels, with healthcare administration staff making $40,000-50,000 for a start and improving to $120,000-130,000 within 10 or 11 years.

Human Resource (HRM)

HR professionals specializing in healthcare are responsible to maintain a working, motivated staff for all departments. They are often responsible for the hiring of medical staff (doctors, nurses etc) and generally fulfilling HR duties as in any other organization. These professionals average a salary of around $35,000 to $100,000 per year.

Medical information technology (MIT)

With great advancements in information sharing and technology, healthcare has changed drastically over the last few years. With the continued application of new technology in healthcare, a team of professionals is required to operate and maintain information systems (and networks), diagnostic machines, computer systems and software. They are also responsible for upgrading and problem solving. Professionals in this area earn anywhere in the range of $40,000-$100,000; the job description itself varying with the type of facility.

Public relations (marketing)

PR managers in healthcare are responsible for improving the healthcare facilities’ image in the public eye and to keep the surrounding public informed about the facilities and services offered at the healthcare unit. PR managers are also responsible for providing coordination services and information in the event of an emergency or disaster. PR managers are also the spokespersons for their respective facilities, representatives for the unit, and speak for the organization (for instance in the event of a lawsuit etc). They fall into the same pay grade as MIT or HRM professionals.

Finance

Finance professionals hold a critical importance today for healthcare at a par with doctors and nurses. The cost of healthcare is rising all the time, it is important to keep not only the facility profitable, but also to make healthcare as affordable as possible. These professionals are responsible for detailed financial aspects like budgeting, accounting, auditing and income & expenditure; also finding ways for administrators to cut costs and improve finding. Finance managers in smaller facilities average the same pay-scale as those for HRM and MIT; however those for larger facilities and with more experience can make considerably more than that ($80,000-$200,000 a year).

References:
Bureau or labor statistics – Handbook for occupational outlook – US dept. of Labor.

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DISCLAIMER: Above is a GENERAL OVERVIEW and may or may not reflect specific practices, courses and/or services associated with ANY ONE particular school(s) that is or is not advertised on SchoolsGalore.com.

Copyright 2009 – All rights reserved by Media Positive Communications, Inc.

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What Are Healthcare Software Solutions

The healthcare industry has seen tremendous change and growth in the recent past. With healthcare reforms implemented, the dynamics of the industry has seen volcanic change that drives the need of custom automated solutions for healthcare companies. Talk about insurance companies, hospitals, insurance agents, and government agencies: Everybody needs to leverage its effectiveness through various types of software solutions to cater to the needs of information dissemination, guideline compliance and being up-to-date for the consumers.

Healthcare industry comprising medicine, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy and allied health need automated healthcare software. Going by global healthcare industry’s standard classification, the healthcare has been classified including, biotechnology, diagnostic substances, drug delivery, drug manufacturers, hospitals, medical equipment and instruments, diagnostic laboratories, nursing homes and providers of health care plans.

Health IT will see a major boost with the implementation of healthcare reforms. Till now, there has not been too much investment in IT sector by the healthcare industry. But with the requirements asking for more focus and attention, Health IT will get increased funding.

It goes without saying that The IT departments of healthcare industry suffer from poor infrastructure. The need of custom automated software is there but the investment needs to be made. Without doubt, investment is made when there are some chances of return. But as the healthcare companies and entities would need to comply with the new healthcare standards, they will have to cut their costs in other areas and try to invest in this.

If you want to go for some statistics, let’s consider a report by Commonwealthfund. The report says that the adoption of electronic health records could produce efficiency and safety savings of $142 billion in U.S. physician offices and $371 billion in U.S. hospitals till 2020. But cost of around $156 billion over five years, with an additional $48 billion in operating costs is also associated with it. But this is something that can be pursued given the betterment it offers to the industry.

When we talk about Health IT, it could include, electronic medical records (EMRs), electronic health records (EHRs), personal health records (PHRs), payor-based health records (PBHRs), and electronic prescribing (e-prescribing). All these systems need to be developed in a robust manner to ensure that the dictums of healthcare reforms are fully complied to.

Some features of HIT include:

* Electronic Health Records (EHRs)
* Electronic Medical Records (EMR)
* Personal Health Records (PHRs)
* Payor-based Health Records (PBHRs)
* Electronic Prescribing (e-Prescribing)
* Financial/Billing/Administrative Systems
* Computerized Practitioner Order Entry (CPOE) Systems

Apart from these, healthcare software outsourcing could mean: cardiology software, clinical software, dental practice software, electronic medical records software, EMS software, health care software, health insurance software, healthcare case management, healthcare contract management, medical appointment software, medical billing, medical equipment software and medical staffing software, etc.

The healthcare reforms do not simply ask healthcare companies to comply with some norms but also the insurance companies, which provide financial stability and securities to consumers.

Healthcare reforms ask every state to build a health insurance exchange, which is a huge challenge, given its newness and wanted functionality. The states will be depending upon big or innovative healthcare software companies to come ahead and provide the solutions, set up systems who could sustain the operations of these exchanges and run them smoothly, and also provide customer care to the consumers who come and do business with these exchanges.

All this mean that the software companies could on a real big business opportunity where healthcare companies, health insurance companies, and state governments would be their clients. In professional terms, this opportunity would be termed as a B2B market.

The development of software for healthcare industry is pretty much custom based. It could vary according to some norms or law, or it could be state specific. At the same time, different healthcare companies could have their own software designed for specific purposes. All this generates tremendous business opportunities for software companies. The idea of tapping this opportunity can be harnessed by the software development companies for a good reason.

Without doubt, the emergence of healthcare software solution would mean work all around. The one who taps it or caters to it will get most of the benefit.

Healthcare Staffing Business Opportunity

Have you ever wondered how hospitals staff their facilities? Of course you haven’t. Hospitals have a human resource department that screens, qualifies and hires healthcare professionals that fit the facilities needs right? Well sort of. In reality most healthcare facilities are staffed using nursing registries or healthcare staffing companies. You’ve probably never heard of a healthcare staffing agency (also called a medical staffing company) but these companies provide a great service to hospitals and other acute care facilities. Staffing companies help save hospitals time and money by screening, qualifying, and paying healthcare professionals.

Often when people learn about what a healthcare staffing company does, they react by saying “wow I’ve never heard of that before. What a great niche.” However, recent events beg the question, is this really a niche business or could medical staffing be the quiet gorilla in the room of the growing healthcare industry? Obama’s healthcare reform and the aging population will drive up demand for healthcare in the United States. A core realization of an increase in demand for healthcare is the need for more healthcare professionals. However, while we are seeing the potential for large demand for nurses, nursing assistants, and allied healthcare workers, we are not seeing enough growth in these employment sectors to keep up with demand. This point bring us back to the question; is healthcare staffing a niche business or a business on the verge of breaking out into something bigger than its 8.8 billion dollar size already entails?

The answer to this question is yes. Healthcare staffing represents a great business opportunity in the growing healthcare industry. Hospitals and other care facilities will turn to staffing companies and nursing agencies as the hospitals become swamped with people taking advantage of the healthcare reform and our older population who will require more hospital visits. The demand for medical staffing will only increase as the demand for healthcare increases. Medical Staffing represents a business that is poised to become huge.

You may be wondering, “How can I take advantage of the potential in the medical staffing industry?” Healthcare staffing offers many job opportunities to people without a healthcare background. You could become a recruiter and enjoy your day recruiting and finding qualified nurses to work as your agency’s healthcare work force or you could enjoy the fast paced work of a staffer who quickly matches a hospitals needs with a qualified healthcare professional. However the great thing about this business is that with the proper training and support, most people can run their own healthcare staffing office.

A great way to get the proper training and to have the support for all the questions and concerns you may have from running your own business is to buy a healthcare staffing franchise. There are many healthcare franchises out there but only a few medical staffing franchises offer the proper training and support you need. Find a franchise opportunity whose training staff is approachable and has experience in the medical staffing industry. These veterans have experienced it all and will be able to guide you through owning your own franchise.

Healthcare Staffing is already a big industry. However, the room to grow is enormous. This business is no longer a small niche. It really is a breakout business teaming with opportunity. If you do your research you will find that healthcare staffing is the fast paced, interesting business with amazing potential that you may never even have heard of.

Healthcare IT Solutions

The healthcare industry is under rapid transformation, the old belief that technology has nothing to do in the healthcare industry is dying. As like any other field, information technology has also found its application in the healthcare industry. Healthcare IT solutions are providing multiple benefits by not only speeding up the process but always by improving quality of service and patient safety. IT is often believed that the healthcare IT solutions are mainly for the benefit of healthcare professionals and hospitals. Healthcare IT systems only save time, money and ultimately add to the “returns” of the practice. However, the truth is something different, healthcare IT systems are equally beneficial to the patients as well.

Quality of healthcare service has always been a concern all across the healthcare industry. Patients have always been worried about the availability of the quality of service. If we go with recent studies, medical negligence in some form has become the third highest cause of death in the United States. This is something very serious and alarming… healthcare IT solutions are providing new hopes in bringing about improvement in the quality of healthcare service, thereby ensuring patient safety and life security.

It is true that healthcare IT solutions will definitely save time and money for the healthcare professionals, which ultimately is going to add to the revenue of the practice. However, the bigger role that healthcare IT systems has to play is to put a control on medical errors. Healthcare IT systems like claims management software, billing software, practice management software and more are designed in a way to capture up-to-date patient information with a large number of functionality that can ensure improvement in the quality of healthcare service and patient safety.

Management of healthcare practice is a complicated process; it involves a large number of tasks right from patient registration to recording patient history, diagnosis, treatment, lab tests, and claim submission and so on. The process is so lengthy that there are always chances of committing errors, which can ultimately prove to be very fatal for the patient. Often, incomplete patient history, wrong information or delays in the availability of the information at times of emergency are major reasons for medical negligence.

Healthcare systems ensure quick and proper recording of patient data. The information is stored in a scientific manner, making it more meaningful for the healthcare professionals. The information is not static in nature, however, a number of advanced functionality ensure processing of data into some meaningful information that can be utilized in drawing the line of treatment. All these capabilities of healthcare IT solutions result into improvement in the quality of healthcare service and patient safety.

Two Way Radios in Primary

Communication plays a crucial role in healthcare. Timely dissemination and sharing of information is critical for acute healthcare providers. Similarly, primary healthcare can be easily administered by using practical and handy communication channels. However, there are several factors that need to be taken into account before deciding upon an effective mode of communication in both primary and acute healthcare institutions. Reliability, coverage and confidentiality of transmitted information along with the institution’s capacity in handling the equipment, play an important role. Healthcare institutions can largely benefit from a mobile clinical staff and two way radios can provide prolific results if used effectively for sharing information.

Functionality and Build of Two Way Radios

Two way radios allow only one function at a time – either receiving or sending the signal. This helps the users efficiently communicate without interrupting the interlocutor. These devices are helpful in exchange of crisp information, rather than constant communication. Two way radios are also known as transceivers or walkie talkies.

Two way radios are simple devices made of primarily six components: power source, receiver, transmitter, microphone, speaker and the crystal. This implies that running and maintenance costs for these devices are not too high. Two or more communicating devices operate on the same radio frequency and a push-to-talk button switches the device between receiving and transmitting modes.

Primary Healthcare and its Challenges

There is a growing emphasis to offer primary healthcare to one and all. This requires creating an environment where equal emphasis is laid on healthcare for all individuals. However, shortage of trained medical practitioners poses a serious threat to achieving this objective. Medical planners have to focus on the use of technology to make the maximum use of the available resources.

Isolation of patients is a big problem that surfaces in primary healthcare. Patients who need medical attention are usually dispersed, especially in rural areas and may not have access to medical facilities. The supply of drugs and medical tests are difficult to conduct and this defeats the very objective of primary healthcare. Lack of communication is another major problem in administering primary healthcare.

A quick exchange of information offers a suitable solution to meet all these challenges. Two way radios enable exchanging of crucial medical information and gradation of current medical practices. The absence of advanced technologies in many locations also increases the importance of two way radio communication devices.

Using Two Way Radios in Primary Healthcare Settings

The most important use of two way radio in delivering primary healthcare is in connecting local medical practitioners with hospitals in cities and more advanced areas. This is critical to diagnosing a patient as well as for prescriptive purposes. A timely decision whether the patient must be referred to a hospital with advanced facilities can be crucial in saving lives. The hospital can also monitor the condition of a patient at another location through two way radios.

How well two way radio technology is implemented for primary healthcare will be dependent on medical and health protocols. Doctors in some countries contact health aides and monitor the situation of the patient by use of two way radios. The medical structure of a community and the country determines how effectively the two way radio can be used for primary healthcare.

Emergency situations can also be addressed by using two way radio. Lack of good transportation and communication facilities can jeopardize a community in case of a medical emergency. Two way radios can be used to send news of such medical exigencies to hospitals or district headquarters and help save many lives.

In some countries, two way radios are used to connect fieldworkers with doctors who are constantly on the move. Use of airplanes helps attend to critical patients in a very short time as soon as the news is delivered by way of two way radios.

Two way radios can also help in training field workers who play an important role in primary healthcare. It depends on the level of existing competence of the medical workers and the desired levels of training. Moreover, field workers can listen in to the conversation of co-workers with physicians and learn by observing the standard medical practices adopted in different cases.

Using Two Way Radios in Acute Healthcare Settings

Clinical information in a hospital can be shared with the help of two way radios. A mobile unit of clinical staff will be more efficient in dealing with day-to-day problems faced by patients and in specific cases where a patient requires immediate attention. A patient who undergoes a complicated heart surgery may require constant monitoring for a few hours after the operation. However, it may not be possible for the doctor who operated on the patient to stay by his side all the time. Two way radios can prove to be a handy solution for helping healthcare institutions, solve such critical operational issues. A nurse attending on the operated patient can inform the doctor about the patient’s progress or whether the patient needs immediate attention, using two way radios. This will not just update the doctor on the patient’s condition but also help him take immediate decisions based on the available inputs. The healthcare industry has successfully tested and used two way radios for acute healthcare. Hospitals make wide use of two way radios for exchange of information among healthcare workers.

Two Way Radios: Advantages

Two way radios provide for a cost effective medium of instant communication. Healthcare industry requires rapid and extensive sharing of information in the most cost effective and efficient manner. A large healthcare institution can be brought under the ambit of wireless radio communication without running up high costs. Moreover, radio signals are quite reliable as compared to mobile networks, where one must depend on the network strength and connectivity. Also, issues of interference do not surface often. Maintenance costs for these devices are also considerably low.

Two Way Radios: Standard Practices for Operation

Some of the standard practices followed for using two way radios in healthcare institutions are:

  • The devices are used in “receive only” mode in patient areas.
  • Medical staff is advised to leave the patient area if the device has to be used for outgoing communication.
  • Two way radios must be kept at a distance from highly energized medical devices.
  • Lowest possible setting must be used to avoid any interference if the device so permits.
  • In case of malfunctioning of any medical equipment, the use of radio devices must be stopped immediately.
  • Unnecessary use of two way radios may distract a medical practitioner during surgery. Therefore, such devices must be used only when required to avoid any delay in patient care.
  • Using Two Way Radio Systems: Interference and Other Issues

Two way radios do not generally interfere with other medical equipment. Research studies have proved that hospitals can safely use two way radios for communication purposes. These devices can be safely used at a distance of 0.5 meters from most medical equipment. The reason is that these devices operate at high frequencies and do not cause any interference. However, the use of two way radios is discouraged in highly sensitive medical environments like the ICU.

Some of the other issues with two way radio systems include problems, like poor maintenance, lack of power, non-availability of spare parts and poor training of the medical staff regarding the usage of these devices. Any compromise with the quality of the device can prove disastrous and defeat the entire purpose of setting up two way communication radios.

Planning and Design of Behavioral Healthcare

Behavioral Healthcare Facilities: The Current State of Design

In keeping with most districts of healthcare, the marketplace has seen a boom in the construction of Behavioral Healthcare facilities. Contributing to this increase is the paradigm shift in the way society views mental illness. Society is placing a heavier value on the need to treat people with serious addictions such as alcohol, prescription and elicit drugs. A large percentage of people suffering from behavioral disorders are afflicted with both mental and addictive behaviors, and most will re-enter communities and either become contributors or violators.

These very specialized facilities do not typically yield the attention from today’s top healthcare designers and their quantity accounts for a small fraction of healthcare construction. However, Behavioral Healthcare projects are increasing in number and are being designed by some very prominent architectural firms such as Cannon Design and Architecture Plus. Many are creating state-of-the-art, award-winning contemporary facilities that defy what most of us believe Behavioral Healthcare design to be.

Changing the Way We Design Behavioral Healthcare Facilities

As with all good planners and designers, A+D (along with facility experts) are reviewing the direct needs of patient and staff while reflecting on how new medicine and modern design can foster patient healing rates, reduce environmental stress, and increase safety. This is changing the face of treatment and outcome by giving the practitioner more time to treat because they require less time and resources to “manage” disruptive patient populations.

The face of Behavioral Healthcare is quickly changing. No longer are these facilities designed to warehouse patients indefinitely. And society’s expectations have changed. Patients are often treated with the belief that they can return to their community and be a contributor to society. According to the National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems (NAPHS), depending on the severity of illness, the average length of stay in a Behavioral Healthcare facility is only 9.6 days.

What has changed?

Jaques Laurence Black, AIA, president and principal of New York City-based daSILVA Architects, states that there are two primary reasons for the shortened admission period:

1. Introduction of modern psychotropic drugs that greatly speed recovery

2. Pressures from insurance companies to get patients out of expensive modes of care

To meet these challenges, healthcare professionals are finding it very difficult to effectively treat patients within the walls of antiquated, rapidly deteriorating mental facilities. A great percentage of these facilities were built between 1908 and 1928 and were designed for psychiatric needs that were principled in the belief to “store” not to “rehabilitate.”

Also impacting the need for Behavioral Healthcare construction is the reluctance of acute-care facilities to provide mental health level services for psychiatric or addiction patients. They recognize that patient groups suffering from behavioral disorders have unique health needs, all of which need to be handled and treated only by very experienced healthcare professionals. This patient population also requires a heightened level of security. Self-harm and injuring staff and other patients are major concerns.

The Report of the Surgeon General: “Epidemiology of Mental Illness” also reports that within a given year about 20% of Americans suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder and 5.4% suffer from a serious mental illness (SMI ) – defined as bipolar, panic, obsessive-compulsive, personality, and depression disorders and schizophrenia. It is also believed 6% of Americans suffer from addiction disorders, a statistic that is separate from individuals who suffer from both mental and addiction disorders. Within a given year it is believed that over one-quarter of America’s population warrants levels of mental clinical care. Even if these statistics were cut in half, it cannot be denied as a serious societal issue.

With a growing population, effectively designing in accordance with such measures is at the heart of public health.

Understanding the Complexity of Behavioral Healthcare Design

Therefore, like Corrections, leading planners and designers specializing in Behavioral Healthcare are delving deeper to better understand the complexity of issues and to be the activist to design facilities that promote treatment and healing – and a safer community.

The following is a list of key design variables that are being studied and implemented:

1. Right Sizing

2. Humanizing Materials and Color

3. Staff-Focused Amneties and Happiness

4. Security and Safety

5. Therapeutic Design Tenants

Bringing Lean Healthcare

Starting Blocks

Without a doubt, Lean is set to make a big impact on the Healthcare sector over the next few years and many Healthcare organisations in both the public and private sector are already exploring how they could apply it to their patient pathways and administrative processes.

Whilst many of the tools of Lean are familiar to the people in the Healthcare sector, particularly aspects of Process Analysis, the real difference that Lean will bring is a change in the way that improvements activities are implemented rather than the use of the tools themselves.

Many people in the Healthcare sector are looking to people with Lean skills gained in manufacturing to help guide them through the maze of implementing Lean, including helping the organisation to prepare for Lean as well as undertake the specific improvement activities, including Value Stream Events, Rapid Improvement Events etc. Running alongside this is the need to develop the internal capacity of organisations to lead improvements themselves, which is achieved by developing internal Lean facilitators (or Change Agents).

However, as we already know, not every problem in Healthcare can be related to a problem encountered in Manufacturing and there are some significant differences in approach required to make for a successful improvement programme for people more familiar with leading Lean improvements in Manufacturing.

In this article we review some of the key differences that we have found in pioneering Lean transformation in Healthcare and share the structure to Lean activities that we have been developing to ensure that the organisations make sustained improvements rather than isolated Lean ‘ram raids’.

Interestingly, our work to date is also providing some useful learning that can be applied in reverse – from Healthcare back into Manufacturing!

The Same, But Different

As we have already said, Lean will make a big difference to Healthcare and will help them achieve their operational and financial targets but it needs to be applied sensitively within organisations that have been ‘pummelled’ by initiatives and legislation and have a not unreasonable cynicism towards ‘this new initiative called Lean’.

Like in many manufacturing businesses first embarking on an improvement journey, Healthcare employees are concerned about Lean being a vehicle to cut jobs. This feeling has not been helped by the recent NHS guide issued about Lean Healthcare which has chosen to use a Chainsaw as their main logo and was referred to by a Service Improvement Lead within an SHA (Strategic Health Authority) as the ‘Slash & Burn’ guide to Healthcare.

Issues such as this, along with the use of manufacturing focused terminology, photos and case studies when working with employees in Healthcare, has the effect of building up internal resistance and leads to comments such as “My patients are not cars” made by a Renal Consultant we encountered recently.

Additional differences can be seen in the attitude towards risk in Healthcare. In Manufacturing, if you make a mistake with Lean you may increase the risk of accidents but it is more likely it will just reduce productivity or profits. In Healthcare, similar mistakes can impact on Patient Safety (including increasing Morbidity or even Mortality) and can attract significant media attention.

Making this scenario even more complex is the fact that the ‘care pathways’ that patients experience often interact and overlap in a way that Manufacturing value streams do not, with patients switching between pathways and specialities dependent on their specific needs and treatment plans.

Management of these processes and pathways is complicated by the need to balance clinical concerns (such as patient safety and medical best practice) with ‘business’ concerns (availability of resources and finance), and the often uneasy balance that has to be struck between senior clinicians and organisational managers on these issues.

Whilst this sort of complexity is not alien to manufacturing, where there is a constant need to balance cashflow against sales (for example), the fact that this balancing and the resulting management of risk in Healthcare is so prevalent leads to a very different style of management – being more consultative and inclusive than Manufacturing, which slows decision making and involves a lot more analysis than many Manufacturing decisions, and the need to prove things first to sceptical clinicians.

This constant need for balance between clinical and operational concerns leads to one of the biggest differences we encounter, namely the difficulty in engaging the right people for the right amount time to make the improvements sustainable. This is not a new problem in Healthcare with many improvement initiatives having fallen foul of changing priorities, the allocation of insufficient people to an improvement process or simply having failed to move from discussion into action quickly enough.

One final difference between Manufacturing and Healthcare that we thought useful to highlight is simply the differences between what ‘customers’ think of as Value Adding in the two sectors. Giving comfort and advice to a patient is highly valued (for example, a nurse accompanying a patient being taken to theatre) but does not translate easily into a manufacturing equivalent activity.

A Holistic Approach
To counter these issues, introducing Lean into Healthcare requires a holistic approach that takes into account the following points:

1. Understanding Customer Value

Whilst the patient is the obvious (and most important) customer in a process, they may not be the only customer in a Healthcare environment; with others including (say) a Primary Care Trust that has commissioned a Hospital to undertake some activity on a patient and which will be invoiced for the activity.

However, in exploring what customer think of as value adding we do find some customers (patients) in Healthcare have become conditioned by their experiences to date. In one example we were speaking to a patient who attended clinics weekly as part of their treatment plan and was required to wait at every appointment for up to two hours. When we discussed what they valued and whether a reduced waiting time would be beneficial, they said they had come to expect the wait and would place more value on access to free coffee and better magazines to read!

2. Scoping Effectively

Identifying a compelling need for the improvement process is absolutely essential. The need to improve productivity or finances are often driving improvement initiatives in Healthcare but a compelling need based on saving money will rarely engage people from across the pathway.

Often a successful compelling need will focus on improving patient outcomes and achieving the statutory targets within public Healthcare (such as achieving an 18 Week maximum lead-time from referral by a GP to the start of treatment) as well as the need to achieve best practice rates for activity. Because of the importance of this step in the process, we have shown what we believe are the key elements required to successfully scope an improvement project in the text box opposite. It is worth stating that to be truly successful, the scoping of Lean improvements relies on having representation from across the pathway – even if, as is so often the case, that means including people who have never considered themselves as co-workers before, such as the GP and the Hospital Porter we had sitting next to each other at a recent Scoping session.

3. Effective Sponsorship

Leading a Lean project that spans such broad patient pathways requires a high degree of influencing skills. Even seeking to improve a simple administrative process like a Patient Discharge for example, could require the Project Sponsor to liaise, cajole and drive change across several stakeholder groups including GPs, consultants (the real custodians of the NHS), ward staff, medical secretaries, pharmacy staff, IT, social services and porters!

The Sponsor’s belief in Lean will be tested daily by such a large group of interested parties and so their capacity to maintain enthusiasm and motivate the Change Agents is vital. The secret weapon at their disposal, once the Scoping session has been completed is that an agreed Compelling Need will create “clarity of purpose”. Ultimately, if they engage enough people with the same message enough times, the followers will start to assemble.

4. Building Awareness & Capacity

Given the concerns of many in Healthcare that Lean is going to be used to shed jobs, it is essential that there is thought given to the communication of the ‘Compelling Need’ – what Lean is, what it is not and what will happen. Running alongside the raising of awareness will be the need to focus on developing the capacity of individuals within the organisation to enable them to lead Lean improvements.

In addition to initial awareness activities, there is also a need to build on-going communication activities to report on progress, involve others in the design of new processes and ensure that the organisation embeds the improvements achieved before (or alongside) moving onto the next challenge.

Our experience of this shows that at the start of the process a lot of people think of Lean as being just about ‘Process Mapping’ and there is a certain cynicism about it in many areas. This is quickly overcome but can be quite demoralising when first encountered and this confusion about Lean underpins the need to develop broad awareness within the organisation of what Lean truly can deliver.

In terms of capacity, many Healthcare bodies are keen to build internal capability to develop themselves as Lean organisations. Performance Improvement Teams are popping up all over the place and we have found that a large part of our work has been focused on helping these teams of change agents develop the facilitation skills and leadership attributes that will enable them to not only deliver change but make it sustainable.

5. End 2 End Understanding

We mentioned earlier that one of the ways that Lean in Healthcare is different to Lean in Manufacturing is that the pathways (value streams) interact in a different way. Another problem is often encountered through isolated events in one area having an unexpected (and often negative) impact either upstream or downstream in the pathway. Given the risk associated with making changes in different parts of Healthcare, we believe it is essential to develop an understanding of how the pathway operates from End 2 End and to review its critical constraints, current operating performance and the impact that likely changes might have elsewhere before seeking to create a suitable ‘Future State’ and implementation plan.

6. Embedding the Change

Much like Manufacturing, a large percentage of Lean projects in Healthcare are going to fail to deliver the results that organisations hoped for and many of these problems are related to the challenge of embedding the changes. So, having gathered support for an improvement programme and achieved the changes (through Focused Improvement Teams, Rapid Improvement Events etc), it is critical to also conduct the activities that will assist the embedding of the changes including:

 Publicity and communication of how the new systems/processes work
 Celebration of the improvements achieved
 Reviews of achievements (Progress Gates) which look back at what has already been done
 Auditing to ensure the changes don’t slip back to ‘the old way’
 Further events and activities (as one success often breeds further successes)
 On-going Change Agent Development
 On-going, visible Sponsorship.

No Magic Bullet
When we opened this short article, we mentioned that Lean is set to have a big impact on Healthcare as it can address the needs for improved effectiveness as well as reduced lead-times and costs, but that its application is different to the way that improvement activities are led in Manufacturing and has different risks and threats to success than in other sectors.

We do not claim to have a monopoly on good ideas about how to address these points and have written this article from the basis of real experience of delivering improvements to a variety of Healthcare organisations. We would welcome feedback on your experiences.

As a closing thought to Lean practitioners everywhere who are looking to be (or are already) involved in Healthcare – whatever the operational benefits that are possible, no-one wants to achieve these at the expense of patient safety – as it is only by addressing both operational and clinical needs that Lean Healthcare will truly come to life.