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Miscellaneous

Affordable Care Act: Everything You Must Know 

If you are here to know about ACA, that is, the Affordable Care Act, then stick till the end of this blog. 

Affordable Care Act

Affordable Care Act

Let’s start with what is ACA? It is a comprehensive healthcare reform signed into law by President Barack Obama in the year 2010. 

Formally referred to as the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act—and simply Obamacare—this law particularly includes a wide range of health-related provisions. The only intention of this law is to extend health insurance coverage to millions of uninsured American citizens

The Act expanded Medicaid eligibility, designed health insurance exchanges, and avoided insurance firms from refusing coverage (or charging more) because of pre-existing conditions. 

The act even allows children to remain on their parents’ insurance plans until the age of 26.

Understanding ACA Clearly!

The Affordable Care Act was created to cut down the total expense of health insurance coverage for qualified individuals. 

The act includes premium tax credits as well as expense-sharing reductions to aid lower costs for lower-income people as well as families.

Premium tax credits typically lower a person’s health insurance bill every month. Expense-sharing reductions ultimately lower his or her out-of-pocket expenses for deductibles, copays, and coinsurance. 

They can even lower your out-of-pocket maximum—the total cost you pay in a year for covered health costs.

Also Read: Do You Know About AARP

Every ACA-compliant health insurance plan—including plans that are sold on the Health Insurance Marketplace—should cover particular “necessary health benefits” such as:

  • Ambulatory patient services
  • Breastfeeding
  • Emergency services
  • Family planning
  • Hospitalization
  • Laboratory services
  • Mental health and substance use disorder services
  • Pregnancy, maternity, and newborn care
  • Prescription medications
  • Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management
  • Pediatric services
  • Rehabilitative and habilitative services

In addition to this, the Affordable Care Act needs most insurance plans (such as those sold on the Marketplace) to provide coverage at no cost to policyholders a list of preventive services. 

These services mainly include checkups, patient counseling, immunizations, and various health screenings.

Special Consideration

A considerable portion of the Affordable Care Act was an individual mandate, a provision asking all American citizens to acquire healthcare coverage—either from an employer or through the ACA or another source—or accept rising harsh tax penalties. 

This mandate gave out the double purpose of providing healthcare to uninsured Americans and making sure that there’s a sufficiently broad pool of insured people to support health-insurance payouts.

In the year 2017, in his very first executive order after taking office, President Donald Trump highlighted his intention to defund the Affordable Care Act. He even said that the executive agency heads must delay the implementation of any provision or requirement of the Act that will impose a fiscal burden on any State.

The aim of this order signaled the initial phase of Republican efforts to reverse and replace the ACA.

Rolling back the law was one of Trump’s central campaign promises that had the purpose of cutting down the fiscal burden on the government.

Also Read: Everything about Blue Cross Blue Shield

In the year 2017, the government’s attempts to repeal the law completely were not successful. But the government significantly scaled back its outreach plan to aid Americans to sign up for the ACA as well as cut the enrollment period in half.

Numerous amendments were made to the law that addressed some of the objections that were raised by various opponents. They still kept the Marketplace open active for every user. 

For instance, as part of the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, Congress in the year 2017 eliminated the penalty for not acquiring health insurance. 

Starting with 2019 taxes, the individual mandate was cut down to zero dollars, necessarily cutting down the requirement that numerous Republicans had opposed.

By the year 2018, the number of American citizens covered under the ACA severely dropped from 17.8 in 2015 to 13.8 in 2015, as per the report from healthcare research organization KFF.

In the following year, the Trump administration said that it will consider repealing the complete Affordable Care Act.

In a letter, the Justice Department told the federal appeals court that it agreed with a federal judge in Texas who defined the healthcare law unconstitutional and even added that it will support the judgment on appeal.

Also Read: Everything About Colonial Penn Life Insurance

The aforementioned case is anticipated to go to the Supreme Court with a coalition of 21 attorneys general defending the Affordable Care Act. Besides, also in the year 2019, House Democrats presented legislation to support the Act as well as increase the coverage.

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Miscellaneous

4 Ways COVID-19 Is Impacting Women & Women’s Health Policies

COVID-19 impact on women’s health

We all know the importance of hand-washing and staying inside to stop the spread of the global pandemic. Meanwhile, in the United States, four women’s health problems have emerged as the country experiences the realities of living in the time of coronavirus:

  • Tax breaks on menstrual products
  • The rise of telemedicine for routine care of pregnant women
  • The lack of access for women who seek to terminate unwanted pregnancies using medication
  • Numerous states declared that abortions re not essential medical procedures, and the closure of clinics that perform abortions in 6 states

Also Read: 3 Best Telemedicine Apps You Must Use

Here are four significant ways how the coronavirus outbreak is shaping the lives of American women.

Use Pre-Tax Dollars To Pay For Period Products

Recently, legislators signed $2 trillion to aid American citizens who experienced economic loss during the coronavirus crisis. It will provide money to people who face certain income thresholds, thus giving a bit of relief to some in light of job loss, and help people who are trying to repay student loans or make contributions to retirement funds, among various other measures built for helping stimulate the economy.

One aspect of the new plan: Items such as menstrual pads, tampons, and period or menstrual cups can be paid for with pre-tax dollars. People with a health savings account (HSA) or a flexible spending account (FSA) can set aside some funds to pay for particular medical items. For the first time in history, menstruation products are a part of these items.

This is indeed a positive outcome. The relief package mentions “menstrual products,” and the wording leaves open the possible interpretation that it applies to related products, including period-specific underwear.

Also Read: Menopause: Here’s Everything You Must Know

Weiss-Wolf has been persuading for period reform for many years. While not every woman can access an HSA or FSA plan, the designation itself is a vital acknowledgment to make sure that there are feasibility and accessibility for menstrual products and that they are a medical necessity. The concept of what is necessary has been turned on its head today.
Telemedicine Visits Are Now Covered By Numerous Health Insurers, Including Prenatal Care
Since early to mid-March, various health insurers started paying for virtual visits between patients & healthcare providers, using FaceTime, Skype, and other everyday communication mediums to provide telehealth visits.

The ob-gyn department at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor has recently changed how pregnant women are seen during the coronavirus era. In order to limit potential exposures, the department has cut down one-to-one visits as well as in-person care and replaced them with virtual prenatal care.

The center even gave suggestions for blood pressure monitoring machines to buy for at-home use and provided links of certain apps to help monitor fetal heartbeat rates.

Various Other aspects of prenatal care including weight gain, can also be handled through video visits. Pregnant women are advised to check with their ob-gyns or other healthcare professionals.

Abortion Pills Restriction Remains

Normally, people who wish to terminate early-term pregnancies can consider a medication known as mifepristone. This medication can be prescribed using telemedicine, however, patients still require to go to a clinic, medical office, or hospital to get it, according to a recent report. This implies patients cannot acquire the drug at their homes, as per the United States Food and Drug Administration’s rules for the use of the drug, mentioned under its Risk Evaluation & Mitigation Strategy.

Also Read: Why A “One-to-Many” Telehealth Model Is Essential Today?

With such limitations in place, women willing to abort are forced to leave the comfort of their homes and connect with others while traveling to and from a clinic, thus risking possible COVID-19 transmission en route and at the clinic itself.

There are various other limitations as well. They exist in the 18 states that need a healthcare provider to be in the room when the medication is taken.

According to several physicians, the only solution to this problem is the telemedicine provision of medication abortion.

Banning Abortion In Multiple States

Governors & attorneys general in Ohio, Texas, Mississippi, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Alabama have closed abortion clinics in their states. They recently claimed it as a nonessential service, though various ongoing lawsuits have tried to block these measures.

The effort is an example of how “anti-abortion politicians, as well as activists, are shamelessly exploiting the current pandemic to push ideological agendas & further enshrine discrimination and inequity in the healthcare system.

If you made it till here, congratulations! We hope this blog helped you to get a clear picture of how the coronavirus crisis is affecting both women and women’s health policies.

Also Read: Maternity Insurance Coverage

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Miscellaneous

Here’s How You Can Save Money On Drugs

Save Money On Drugs

Save Money On Drugs: Well, if we give you a situation where you have limited cash and you have to choose between purchasing groceries and filling a drug prescription, what will you choose? We are sure that 80 percent of people will skip taking medication due to its high cost.

Millions of American citizens feel the burden of increasingly expensive prescription drugs and this, in turn, forces people to not choose medication, thus jeopardizing their health.

In the present time, the consumers pay out-of-pocket for prescribed drugs that are rapidly escalating, from about $25 billion in the year 2000 to a projected $67 billion in the year 2025. To make it even worse, many people do not own health insurance. That means they must pay for all prescription medications themselves. 

Fortunately, there are a number of ways that can potentially minimize the effect that the accelerating prescription drug crisis has on your healthcare. 

In this blog, we will talk about drug pricing as well as discounts, thus providing answers to all your common questions that you must know about. 

Reasons for High Prescription Drug Prices

You will be amazed to know that American citizens pay the highest costs for prescription medications in the world? A person can partly attribute the exorbitant prices to an intricate & extensive drug research and development and approval process, along with an equally complicated healthcare system. 

Without any doubt, we have also been extremely benefited from innovations in disease management for which there were little to zero treatment options earlier.

However, opponents of pharmaceutical organizations argue that only a small percentage of the drug firms’ costs are utilized for R&D in which most of the money is spent on administration as well as brand-name drug marketing.

Companies selling drugs never disclose the whole and actual story behind the increasing price of prescriptions. 

Third-party administrators known as pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) are paid to negotiate prices between pharmacies & large insurers. These PBMs even charge pharmacy providers either a percentage or a flat fee for each prescription filled that further contributes to high drug prices.

Also Read: Reasons for the Rising Healthcare Expenses

Ways To Save Money On Medication

save money on drugs

Nobody likes spending the entire hard-earned money on something. With that being said, it is always important to discover effective ways to save money. The same goes for medication costs as well! 

If you too wish to get a low price on your prescriptions, then here are four easy ways you can consider: 

  • Go For Generic Drug Options 

Over 80 percent of all drugs now are generics that use the same active ingredients as brand-name medicines. In fact, they work the same way but cost a lot less than their pricey brand-name counterparts.

Most importantly, manufacturers of generic drugs do not have to repeat the animal as well as clinical (human) studies that were needed for the brand-name medicines to demonstrate safety & effectiveness. 

In addition to this, the competition among numerous firms manufacturing a generic version of a drug eventually keeps the prices low for consumers.

  • Discover Discount Coupons Online 

This is yet another simple but effective way to save money. All you need to do is Google search for your prescription drug, over-the-counter medicine, or healthcare supplies. This will ultimately show you sites that offer money-saving coupons.

Drug coupons may not lower your copay; however, your pharmacist will apply them to your drug purchase to lower the price.

  • Rely On Apps & Compare Local Drug Prices 

You will certainly find a number of websites as well as mobile apps that help to find the best price available for a prescription drug. One such app is GoodRx! It will help you to compare shops & acquire coupons toward medications. 

GoodRx not just collects & compares prices but also discounts that you didn’t know existed from over 70,000 U.S. pharmacies such as CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens. It even allows consumers to print free discounted coupons or send them to your phone by email or text message. 

You can use a GoodRx discount rather than your health insurance or Medicare Part D or Advantage plan if the cost is lower than your copay.

Also Read: Do You Know How Much The Average American Spends On Health Care?

  • Shop Local Pharmacy Network 

Independent pharmacies beat major chain drug stores, supermarkets, and big-box discounters on price and by an impressive margin. They can even beat membership warehouses as well as clubs.

On the other hand, the preferred pharmacy network (which is a group of chain pharmacies) gives insurance plans a larger discount than any pharmacies.

So, consider the aforementioned points, be a smart consumer, and save your money the next time you purchase drugs!

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Miscellaneous

14 Common Medical Expenses You Must Know!

Common Medical Expenses

According to tax laws, medical expenses are the total costs for diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease, and for treatments affecting any part or function of the body. 

It covers the expenses for health insurance premiums, doctors, hospital stays, diagnostic testing, prescription drugs, and medical equipment. 

And if a person itemizes his or her personal deductions at tax time rather than claiming the standard deduction, then he/she may deduct multiple healthcare as well as medical expenses. However, one can’t take them all: For the tax year 2019, one can only deduct out-of-pocket expenses that are more than 7.5 percent of his/her adjusted gross income or AGI.

Here are the top medical expenses everyone must know about:

Alternative Treatments

Acupuncture is definitely deductible. There are numerous types of alternative treatments as well, particularly if a physician orders them.

Adaptive Equipment 

The total expenses of wheelchairs, bath chairs, bedside commodes, and various other items required for a disability or condition are deductible.

Also Read: How To Buy & Sell Pre-Owned Medical Equipment? 

Expenses for Newborns 

Here, we are not talking about diapers. Breast pumps and various other nursing supplies that assist lactation are deductible. In addition to this, if a baby formula needs a prescription, then the cost in excess of the total expense of the regular formula will be allowed.

Costs Related to Diabetes

Blood-testing kits along with blood strips and batteries come under the deductible. So, too, is insulin even if it is not typically considered as a prescription drug. 

Conditions Related to Eye & Ear Conditions 

The expense of eye exams, contact lenses, contact lens insurance, and prescription glasses (even sunglasses) come under the deductible, assuming a person’s insurance does not have a vision plan. So, too, is eye surgery, such as LASIK, that corrects one’s vision issues. Braille books are also deductible. People with hearing problems can deduct the expenses of exams as well as hearing aids including batteries.

Home Improvements 

If you decide to install permanent features to accommodate a disability such as wheelchair ramps, handrails in bathrooms, then the cost becomes fully deductible. But the total cost of renovations in the home to address a health condition is considered deductible only for costs above any increase they might give to the home’s value. 

For instance, putting in a swimming pool or steam room costing $25,000 will not be deductible if it will add $30,000 to the worth of your home. 

Also Read: The Reasons for the Rising Healthcare Expenses Explained

Lodging To Acquire Medical Treatment 

If your treatment is out of town, then a hotel or motel stay is deductible up to $50 per night. And if a parent accompanied his or her child who is receiving treatment, then the per-night dollar limit applies per person to both parent and the child, which is $100 per night. This deduction only applies to the lodging itself and not meals.

Attending a Medical Conference 

The total expense of admission as well as transportation to a conference on a chronic condition that a taxpayer, spouse, or dependent suffers from is considered deductible. As mentioned earlier, meals and lodging expenses are not deductible here as well.

Organ Transplants 

Not only are the expenses of the organ recipient deductible but also the expenses for the donor such as testing, hospital stay, and transportation are deductible.

Personal Attendant Expenses 

For people who are not able to manage the tasks of daily living such as bathing, dressing, taking medications, toileting, then the cost of caregiving help is considered deductible. 

Typically, the deductible portion is limited to personal assistance with feeding, dressing, etc. and the cost of housecleaning and various other chores (although this will be difficult to separate out, frankly speaking) are not included. But the total cost of meals for a personal attendant can be deductible.

Also Read: Why A “One-to-Many” Telehealth Model Is Essential Today

Rehab Treatment Programs 

The total cost of in-patient, as well as out-patient treatment plans for alcohol, drug addiction, and various other medical problems, is deductible.

Cost Related to Reproduction

This expense includes the cost of birth control pills, pregnancy test kits, abortions, vasectomies, and even fertility treatments such as in-vitro fertilization or surgery to reverse a vasectomy. 

Smoking-Cessation Programs 

Here, deductible costs include doctor-prescribed treatments. Also, over-the-counter gums, patches, and various other such treatments are not covered.

Special Diets 

A doctor-prescribed diet to treat a medical condition such as celiac disease, obesity, or hypertension is partially deductible. Just the total expense of special foods that exceed the cost of regular foods is deductible.

Also Read: Effective Tips To Strengthen Your Immunity Naturally

There is more to it! But the aforementioned are the most common ones. We hope we helped you to get a clear understanding of each one of them. 

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Miscellaneous

The Reasons for the Rising Healthcare Expenses Explained!!

Rising Healthcare Expenses

When it comes to healthcare expenses, we all panic a little! A citizen of America spends a large chunk of money on healthcare every year. There are a number of expenses included in health and wellness that includes high insurance premiums and deductibles, copays, and various other out-of-pocket costs. 

One of the foremost reasons for rising healthcare expenses is government policy. With the establishment of government healthcare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid that are basically designed to aid people with no health insurance, providers have ended up increasing the prices. But this is not the only reason behind increasing healthcare expenses- there is more to it! 

So, let’s dig deeper and know how much cost the United States spends on health expenses as well as what are the factors that shape prices in this industry. 

Keep reading!!!

Overall Expenses of Healthcare 

Over the past several years, healthcare expenses have drastically spiked up in the United States. According to a recent study conducted by the JAMA, the total healthcare spending in the United States increased more than a trillion dollars between the years 1996 and 2015.

Also Check: How Much The Average American Spends On Health Care?

Furthermore, the study also reported that healthcare costs in the United States during the year 2017 was $3.5 trillion, or $11,000 per individual. And by the year 2027, all these expenses are also predicted to rise up to $6 trillion that is roughly $17,000 per individual.

This is when a question arises, where does all this money go? According to research, healthcare spending can be divided into a total of 11 categories:

  • Hospital care (32.7%)
  • Physician services (15.6%)
  • Other personal health care costs (15.1%)
  • Prescription drugs (9.5%)
  • The net cost of health insurance (6.6%)
  • Nursing care facilities (4.8%)
  • Investment spending (4.8%)
  • Clinical services (4.3%)
  • Home healthcare (2.8%)
  • Government public health activities (2.5%)
  • Government administration (1.3%)

Why Are Healthcare Expenses Spiking Up?

Healthcare Expenses Spiking Up

As mentioned earlier, the JAMA study examined how five key factors are affecting the rising healthcare cost over time. The 5 key factors are as follows: 

  • Population growth
  • Population aging
  • Disease prevalence or incidence
  • Medical service utilization
  • Service price and intensity

The researchers found and further stated that service price as well as intensity, including the rising expense of pharmaceutical drugs, made up over 50 percent of a spike up. There are several other factors that affect the rest of the expenses, which are varied by type of care as well as the health condition. 

Inefficiency & Lack of Transparency 

This is a serious factor! Due to a lack of transparency as well as underlying inefficiency, it is really challenging to determine & understand the exact expense of healthcare. 

Every other citizen of the United States is well-versed about the rising expense of, but due to insufficient details as well as complicated medical bills, it is not an easy task to analyze what a person is actually paying for.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported about a hospital that found it was demanding more than $50,000 for a knee-replacement surgery, which normally costs only between $7,300 and $10,550. In this case, if hospitals are unaware of the actual cost of a particular procedure, then patients are the ones who face difficulty shopping around.

And talking about the overall transparency, a survey conducted by NEJM stated that only about 17 percent of care professionals think that their institutions had either “mature” or “very mature” transparency.

Also Check: 5 Health Insurance Plans You Must Know About

Patients Avoiding Care 

This is yet another reason for increasing expenses that is all those people who intentionally skip medical care completely. And the reason they do that way is not that they have a fear for doctors, but because they are afraid of the hefty bills that are coming along with healthcare. 

A poll that was carried out by the West Health Institute and NORC at the University of Chicago concluded that 44 percent of American citizens refused to visit a doctor due to the expense concerns. And about 40 percent of the respondents revealed that they skipped numerous tests or treatments for the exact same reason. And in several cases, people who refuse the treatment have medical insurance.

So, all the aforementioned factors contribute to increasing healthcare expenses. Rising expenses for medical services affected by both a growing as well as the aging population also play a vital role. 

And so do various other factors including the increasing headcounts of chronic disease, rising expenses for outpatient & emergency room care, high premiums & out-of-pocket expenses. All these aspects are intensified by inefficiency as well as a lack of transparency in the world of medicine.

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Miscellaneous

How To Buy & Sell Pre-Owned Medical Equipment? 

Medical equipment is indeed very expensive, especially if a patient is already paying large medical bills. In this case, most patients consider buying used or pre-owned medical equipment. This way, they save themselves a good amount of money as they don’t pay extra for equipment. 

Buying & selling pre-owned medical equipment is a profitable deal, particularly when the person has a clear idea of which type of equipment he or she needs to buy and sell. And if that person is dead, then it becomes easier and hassle-free to sell their equipment as they are not there to object or question. 

Buy & Sell Pre-Owned Medical Equipment

There are a number of methods to buy pre-owned medical equipment and further sell it to an individual who requires it.

Take a look!!!

Rely On Online Sellers To Find Medical Equipment

First things first, don’t expect a fast response/reply if the person is dead as they will not be able to respond. 

When you search online, you will find a number of online sites that sell pre-owned medical equipment at feasible prices. From general online selling sites such as ebay.com or craigslist.com to various specific sites selling used medical equipment including medibid.com, dremed.com, or usedhm.com, you are likely to find a good range of online sellers. 

Before selecting any of these sites, you must do a search and acquire a good understanding of them. This way, you will not just know their authenticity but also the availability of specific equipment you are searching for. 

Remember, take enough time and search for more than one online site at a go. This will help you to compare and choose the best site selling equipment at competitive prices. 

Read More: How To Improve Patient Safety?

Check Medical Equipment Liquidation Sales

Medical Equipment Liquidation Sales

Most medical equipment providers have liquidation sales. In these sales, they sell old equipment or pre-owned equipment through a consignment service. To find such providers, you can search online or in the newspaper classifieds section. This will not only help you to purchase your medical equipment but also at a discounted price. 

Search For Pre-Owned Medical Equipment For Sale At Any Medical Facility

In case, if there is any medical center that is shifting or closing in your area, then you can rely on them as well. Enquire to them if they are interested to sell their equipment for sale. 

One can easily find pre-owned medical equipment at feasible prices from such local medical facilities. Most of them don’t take their equipment with them that ultimately helps many people who are interested in buying old equipment. 

Today, many medical facilities also advertise their pre-owned equipment online on various sites. Take some time and find such online sites for medical facilities near you.

Reach Out To Healthcare Providers Who Selling Their Pre-Owned Equipment

This is one of the easiest ways! All you need to do is contact any healthcare provider including your family doctor, and enquire if they have any old equipment they are willing to sell. If they are unable to help you, ask them for reference to other healthcare providers who can certainly help you. 

When you talk to them, make sure that you are very specific and explain every minute detail. They should clearly know what types of medical equipment you want and your budget as well.

Read More: How COVID-19 Is Breaking America’s Healthcare System? 

Check The Condition Of The Equipment

Condition Of The Medical Equipment

Many people don’t prefer online services doubting the authenticity of the sites and equipment. If done right, one can acquire a service/product very easily and conveniently via online sites. 

When you are searching for equipment on online sites, then it is your primary duty to check closely. 

For instance, don’t make a decision by just one photograph, instead, search for advertisements providing multiple photographs of the equipment. This will help you to know the actual condition of the equipment. 

Most people choose equipment in a hurry and end up regretting their decision or blaming the site. Keeping that in mind, be a smart customer and check whether the equipment has any damage, scratches, or marks. Often, online sellers disclose the damage to an item in their ad. 

On the other hand, if you are unable to make a decision by just the images, then you should call the seller directly. You can find their contact details provided in the advertisement. Just give a call to the seller and examine whether he/she is selling the equipment that you are looking for. 

We hope this blog helped you. Consider the aforementioned points and buy or sell old equipment online without burning a hole in your pocket!!

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Miscellaneous

How COVID-19 Is Breaking America’s Healthcare System?

The physician practices in America are facing devastating financial losses following the COVID-19 outbreak. At this point, no one can actually predict what will happen tomorrow. According to many doctors and observers, the government has not taken adequate measures to combat this pandemic. 

In the present time, physician practices across the U.S are experiencing a 30 to 75 percent decrease in patient volume. And talking about the business of primary care practices, it is down by 40 to 50 percent. 

COVID-19 in America

Now, physicians are even more worried as the whole situation can dire if telehealth and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) start covering virtual visits. While CMS has changed its regulation of reimbursement, telehealth has enthusiastically spread across the nation, to a point where it has turned to be a vital part of care delivery. 

Nevertheless, a majority of small as well as independent practices are facing certain challenges ramping up telehealth systems & workflows. In case they are successful enough to master this technology soon, most small practices still have not more than 2 or 3 months of operating expenses in reserve. So, the only way independent practices can survive this crisis is by cutting down physician compensation and/or laying off staff.

Again, not all practices will be able to make it through this. Needless to note, a few practices may not even survive. Without appropriate and immediate governmental actions, the practices across the country will eventually fail. That time is not so far when the U.S. will face an unprecedented crisis of unemployed doctors when the COVID-19 pandemic will be at its peak.

Read More: HOW TO IMPROVE PATIENT SAFETY?

System-Owned Or Independent Practices?

At this time, physicians who are employed with a health care system are in better financial shape than an independent doctor. 

For instance, internist Jeffrey Kagan, M.D., joined Hartford HealthCare recently, which is one of the largest systems in Hartford, Connecticut. He joined it after being an independent practitioner for several years. He became a part of Hartford in February first week, i.e. just weeks after the very first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the U.S

Today, Kagan is really happy that he took the right decision at the right time. People like him have to deal with a decreased volume of patients and still, they are getting full salary without any delay. This certainly means that system-owned is the clear winner here!!

Small Practices Face Threat

COVID-19 in usa

There are also a lot of physicians in the U.S who switched their practice completely to telehealth at the end of March. Plus, they even sent all of their staff homes. However, it is still unclear how long such types of practice will survive in their current form.

While many small practices are still unwilling to accept and consider telehealth, others are efficiently conducting virtual visits for many years now. There are people who considered virtual visits more, even before the pandemic. 

Read More: WHY A “ONE-TO-MANY” TELEHEALTH MODEL IS ESSENTIAL TODAY?

Furthermore, the practice has also been disturbed in-office procedures including thyroid biopsies as well as thyroid ultrasounds. This is because Texas banned every procedure that came as another big financial hit for the practice. 

Plus, in this present time, numerous patients with diabetes and various other metabolic disorders are also afraid to visit Quest Diagnostics or LabCorp for testing. This has also resulted in a drop in patient volume.

Bottom Line

A rapid growth in the percentage of COVID-19 patients has threatened every hospital and intensive care unit across the US. With that being said, the COVID-19 pandemic is not just affecting the economy but also the healthcare system of the United States.

If the absence of robust as well as sustained governmental support still continues, then almost every hospital, be it small or large, will experience financial difficulties. But you know who is particularly at risk? Every small, independent, and rural, hospital out there. 

This is the time when policymakers should come forward and provide dedicated support to all these hospitals. They should be allowed to access CARES Act funds as well as such hospitals must be allocated additional funding to them during this tough time. This will not only support them to survive but also help us as a nation to battle and win over this pandemic as soon as possible. 

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Miscellaneous

How To Improve Patient Safety?

Patient Safety

No matter how much a healthcare organization tries to avoid errors, we can’t overlook the fact that humans are prone to mistakes. 

In the present time, every other practitioner is called upon to make split-second decisions where life & death hang in the balance. During such times, the lack of important data at the right time can lead to potentially incurable mistakes. 

According to a recent study, medical mistakes are one of the top reasons for deaths in the US. Along with promises to not harm patients, it is also equally important that doctors, nurses, and other medical staff acquire all the required information to make a constructive decision at a critical time.

One of the easiest and effective ways that will help every hospital out there to avoid any type of medical mistake is by using patient wristbands. Needless to note that wristbands are actually stealing the show right now. More and more practitioners are using such bands to acquire important data about the patient at a glance, thus cutting down the potential for serious mistakes that can endanger a patient’s life.

For instance, a red wristband can be used to indicate that a patient doesn’t require to be resuscitated or a purple wristband can be used to alert someone that the patient is allergic to XYZ. Such information ultimately helps doctors and practitioners to take quick decisions, especially during emergency times. In simpler words, no individual will have to take a large chunk of time while a patient combats between life and death.

Providing wristbands is not enough! One should make sure that the wristbands are easy to read and avoid infections. Most importantly, it should help hospital staff as they are ones who need to be benefitted the most from the whole wristband strategy. 

Take a look at some tips to increase patient safety using quality wristbands: 

Consistent Color-Coding System

Color-Coding System

Color-coded wristbands are believed to be very effective to prevent medical errors. Such wristbands help to indicate at one glance the most vital patient detail when an urgent time comes up to a doctor. 

Most of the time, doctors, nurses, and other practitioners fumble around, searching through medical charts, instead of treating an emergency patient. Now, we can’t always blame the frontliners as they are doing so to ensure accuracy. Hence, a color-coded wristband is an ultimate solution to prevent such a situation.

Here are a few possible colors and their indications:

  • Red – do not resuscitate (DNR)
  • Purple – allergy to latex
  • Blue – allergy to something other than latex
  • Yellow – restricted extremity

Make Them Easy To Read

Choosing easy-to-read wristbands, as well as labels, also improve patient safety. As it will allow a patient to verify his or her personal details more quickly as well as accurately when he or she first acquires the band. 

On the other hand, medical staff can also easily read the necessary details on bands that will indeed help them to commit any kind of fatal error. 

Consider Sanitation

Sanitization in hospital

Hospital-acquired infection is also the biggest concern. Patient wristbands promote a cleanliness culture. Hence, one should choose a brand with anti-microbial surfaces. This will make sure that they do not carry as well as spread infectious germs. 

Also, durable wristbands can resist alcohol, water, and soaps, ensuring to prevent the risk of infections.

Choose MRI-Safe Bands

Ensuring that patients have no metal objects on their bodies is very essential before permitting them to head towards an MRI scanner for a diagnostic or simple monitoring scan. Hence, choose metal-free wristbands as it helps radiologists as well as others in the radiology department to not worry about any potential danger while preparing a patient for MRI.

Make Replacement Easy

A patient should not be made to use a wristband for a long time. With that being said, wristbands should be replaced for any number of times and reasons. In this case, ensuring bands are easy to replace will also improve patient safety as it will make sure that a patient does not go without wristbands. 

In addition to this, when wristband labels are very easy to be customized, printed, and applied to wristbands, no patient will face trouble getting their bands back on time.

By now, you too may agree that patient wristbands can efficiently improve patient safety. 

All a healthcare organization needs to do is a proper use of wristbands in the hospital and it will reap big implications in terms of patient safety. 

Lastly, use them well to decrease the medical error rate in your hospital.

Categories
Miscellaneous

5 Easy and Effective Steps To Protect Patient Data!!

Protect Patient Data

Steps To Protect Patient Data: We all know the importance of protecting patient information but at the same time we cannot overlook the truth that it is equally difficult as well. In fact, it is even getting harder and harder in today’s digital world.

In the year 2019, 9 out of 10 physicians stated that they have switched to electronic medical records or EHR. It is also estimated that in the coming years more than 3.4 billion smartphone & tablet users will download certain health-related applications, which means more ways for patient data to be at risk.

In the last two years, roughly 90 percent of healthcare organizations witnessed a data breach. Surprisingly, there were 253 breaches cases last year alone that further resulted in the loss of more than 112 million health records. 

All of these instances say out loud that there is a major problem that needs to be resolved as soon as possible. But the question here is, how can we stop it? Keep reading to get an answer to this question.

Here are the 5 easy and effective steps to keep your patients’ data secure!

Educating Staffs

The human element “was” and “still” remains the biggest threat to security all around the industries, but especially in the healthcare area. 

A minute human mistake or negligence can lead to disastrous or expensive consequences for the whole healthcare organization. This is when the right education and training come into play. 

There are numerous security awareness training today. Such training helps healthcare employees to acquire the necessary knowledge and understanding. This way, they will be able to make smart decisions and avoid errors while handling patient data.

Restrict Data Access

Restrict Patient Data Access

One should consider implementing access controls to strengthen healthcare data protection. How? Just by restricting access to patient data as well as certain applications. Only people who need patient data to carry out their duty should be allowed to access it.  

Access restrictions also ask for user authentication, making sure that only authorized users are accessing protected data. 

In addition to this, multi-factor authentication is one of the most recommended approaches. This requires users to validate to access any protected patient data. That means authorized users will have to use the following validation methods:

  • Information known only to the authorized user, like a password or PIN number
  • A thing that is only possessed by the authorized user like a card, key, etc. 
  • Something unique to an authorized user, such as his or her biometrics including facial recognition or fingerprints.

Read More: WHY A “ONE-TO-MANY” TELEHEALTH MODEL IS ESSENTIAL TODAY?

Use Data Usage Controls 

The benefits of protective data controls are beyond one’s imagination. It allows accessing control as well as monitor to make sure that sensitive data activity is flagged and/or blocked easily in real-time. 

Healthcare organizations should rely on data controls that efficiently block specific actions involving important data, including unauthorized email sends, web uploads, printing, or copying to external drives. 

Data discovery and classification are also two important factors that support the whole process by making sure sensitive data can not just be easily identified but also tagged to acquire full protection.

Log & Monitor Use 

Logging all access as well as usage data are also equally important. It allows both providers and business associates to know which user is accessing what data, applications, and other resources, the time, and also from which devices and locations. 

These logs help in auditing purposes that help an organization to identify areas of concern as well as improve protective measures when required. 

In case any incident happens, an audit trail will not only help an organization to pinpoint precise entry points and know the exact reason but also, evaluate the overall damages.

Carry Out Risk Assessments

Carry Out Risk Assessments 

While an audit trail helps an organization to identify the reason and various details following an incident, proactive prevention is also a crucial step to be considered.

Carrying out regular risk assessments helps to know every vulnerability or weak point of security in a healthcare organization. One can also easily figure out problems in employee education, the security posture of vendors & business associates, and certain other areas as well. 

When risks across healthcare organizations are evaluated periodically, then it will benefit in identifying and mitigating every potential risk at the earliest. This way, every healthcare organization can avoid costly data breaches as well as various other detrimental impacts of a data breach including reputation damage and even hefty penalties.

Now that you know all the steps to protect patient data, it is time to start with the very first step that is educating staff in the healthcare organization. Go for it!!!