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6 Tips to Beginning a Healthy Lifestyle

Jul 14 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

Adopting a healthy lifestyle sometimes requires a support system. Working out can be much more fun when you’re accompanied by someone else. And if you lack self-motivation, a solo workout and healthy eating can be challenging. If you’re ready to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle, you’ll need to adopt some healthy habits to help you reach your goals. Here are six tips to help you adopt a healthy fitness and lifestyle regimen.

1. Plan your workout schedule. Plan out your weekly schedule just as you would with work. Make yourself and your health a priority. Schedule in workout sessions on a daily basis just as you would a meeting for work. Commit to going to your workouts.

2. Get a workout buddy. Family and/or friends are a great place to start. Having a workout buddy can help motivate you, push you and guide you during workouts. In addition, working out with someone else helps keep you accountable. You’re more likely to stay on track when you’ve got someone else counting on you for a workout.

3. Find a class that inspires you. What type of exercise will get you to the gym? What’s most important in the beginning and throughout your healthy lifestyle is to participate in workouts and activities that inspire you to move. Do you love cardio dance classes, body sculpting class or boot camp at your local gym? Determine which activity you would like to do most and gravitate to that activity. In addition, classes are a great way to start working out. Classes provide an instructor that will help motivate you and keep your workouts safe to avoid injury.

4. Get involved in an activity or club. Have you ever thought of getting involved in an activity such as tennis, swimming, golf, softball or a running club? Organized sports activities and clubs provide a great environment for working out with like minded people. In addition, sports groups and clubs are the perfect way to keep you interested, involved and on a training schedule.

5. Set short and long term goals. First and foremost, it’s important to be realistic with your goals. Whether your goals are to lose weight, improve endurance, excel at a sport or simply to become more active, goals can be a great way to keep yourself on track. Make sure to track your progress as well. Whether you journal your steps toward your goals or create a calendar or use an app on your phone, keep a record of the steps you are taking to reach your goals and by what date you would like to reach your goals. Each person is different and each person’s goals should be specific to you and your fitness level and lifestyle.

6. Adopt healthy eating habits. Not only are your workouts important but so is healthy eating. If you want to improve your fitness level, lose weight and become healthier, you’ll need to fuel your body properly. Make sure to hydrate, eat whole fresh foods and try to eliminate processed foods from your diet. Plan your weekly meals, journal your food daily and remember to reward yourself at the end of each week for all of your hard work. Remember, it’s about lifestyle – not deprivation.

A healthy lifestyle doesn’t happen overnight. But with a consistent workout routine, healthy eating and healthy habits, you’re one step closer to your goal. Sit down and devise a workout schedule and a healthy eating schedule. Being prepared can help you stay on track and ensure you stick to your new healthy regimen.

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Is Team Training Effective at Healthcare Sites?

Jul 14 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

In the June 2016 issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology the authors Eduardo Salas, Lauren Benishek, Megan Gregory and Ashley Hughes in an article titled “Saving Lives: A Meta-Analysis of Team Training in Healthcare” set out to answer the question as to whether team training is effective in healthcare, whether it leads to reduced mortality and improved health outcomes.

Their research stated that a preventable medical error occurs in one in every three hospital admissions and results in 98,000 deaths per year, a figure corroborated in To Err is Human. Teamwork errors through failure in communications accounts for 68.3% of these errors. Thus, effective team training is necessary to reduce errors in hospitals and ambulatory sites.

The authors used a meta-analysis research method to determine whether there are effective training methods in the healthcare setting that can have a significant impact on medical errors, which would in turn improve outcomes and reduce costs by eliminating the costs associated with the errors. A meta-analysis is a broad research of existing literature to answer the research questions posed by the research team or authors.

The research team posed three questions to answer:

1. Is team training in healthcare effective?

2. Under what conditions is healthcare team training effective?

3. How does healthcare team training influence bottom-line organizational outcomes and patient outcomes?

The team limited its meta-analysis to healthcare teams even though there is a great deal of research available about the effectiveness of team training in other industries and service organizations. The team believes that healthcare teams differ significantly from teams in other areas in as much that there can be much greater team fluidity in healthcare. That is, team membership is not always static, especially at sites such as hospitals and outpatient surgical centers. There are more handoffs at these sites.

Although there is greater fluidity in team membership at healthcare sites, roles are well defined. For instance, a medical assistant’s role at a primary care site is well defined even though different MA’s may be working with one physician. These roles are further defined and limited by state licensure. As the research team stated in their article, “these features make healthcare team training a unique form of training that is likely to be developed and implemented differently than training in more traditional teams… “

The team assessed their research of articles using Kirkpatrick’s model of training effectiveness, a widely used framework to evaluate team training. It consists of four areas of evaluation:

1. Trainee reactions

2. Learning

3. Transfer

4. Results

Reaction is the extent to which the trainee finds the instruction useful or the extent to which he enjoys it. Learning is defined as a relatively permanent change in knowledge, skills and abilities. The authors note that team training is not a hard skill, as learning to draw blood. Rather, it is a soft knowledge skill. Some researchers question whether it is possible to measure the acquisition of these soft team skills effectively. The team of authors effectively argue that it can.

Transfer is the use of trained knowledge, skills and abilities at the work site. That is, can team training be effectively applied in the work setting? Results are the impacts of the training on patient health, the reduction of medical errors, the improved satisfaction of patients and a lowering of costs in providing care.

In order to assure that the changes in these four areas were ‘real’ the team only used literature that had both pre-assessments and post-assessments to see if there were statistically significant changes in the four areas.

Using this assessment rubric the team was able to answer the three questions that it posited. First, team training in healthcare is effective. Healthcare team training closely matches training in other industries and service organizations.

Secondly, training is effective, surprisingly, regardless of training design and implementation, trainee characteristics and characteristics of the work environment. The use of multiple learning strategies versus a single training strategy does not matter. Simulations of a work environment are not necessary. Training can occur in a standard classroom.

Training is effective for all staff members regardless of certification. Training of all clinical personnel as well as administrative staff is effective. Team training also is effective across all care settings.

Lastly, the team’s meta-analysis shows that within the Kirkpatrick rubric team training is effective in producing the organizational goals of better care at lower costs with higher patient satisfaction. In the rubric trainee reactions are not nearly as important as learning and transfer in producing results. It is important that trainers use both pre-training assessments and post-training assessments to measure whether there learning of skills, knowledge and abilities were learned and whether these were transferred to the work site. Effectiveness of training should always be assessed in order that training programs can be consistently improved.

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Baby Boomers – 4 Elements of a Healthy Lifestyle

Jul 14 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

For anyone born during the post-World War II Era, up until the Vietnam Era, you have been automatically labeled a Baby Boomer. This generation had proven to be the largest in quite some time, and as they get older, more of a focus has been placed on becoming much healthier.

The Baby Boomers have seen the toll that hard work, lack of proper sleep, and poor nutrition have had on both their parents’ and grandparents’ generations, and this has been motivation to make a difference in overall lifestyle choices.

First and foremost, everything we do to our bodies has some kind of impact, whether it is positive or negative. But what we eat can sometimes help us to improve our quality of life, and make it possible to add several years to our lives. Good nutrition is significant, because it can release antioxidants for heart health, or help us to feel more energized so we engage in more activity throughout the day.

As long as we are practicing good nutrition, the next step would be to exercise. Whether you go to the gym every day of the week, or simply walk a mile a couple of days a week, physical activity has proven its benefits, especially to people over the age of forty. Getting the body moving increases blood flow for heart health, releases endorphins for mental health, and allows the body to sweat, releasing toxins that are extremely bad for the skin and other organs.

Another element that the Baby Boomers should consider is the impact of cigarettes and alcohol on personal health. This generation grew up in an era where nothing much was thought about smoking several cigarettes a day, and imbibing alcohol was a regular occurrence in many homes. It seems like such obvious advice, but giving up smoking, and limiting the amount of alcohol you consume can really add years to your life. But really, the way you feel will improve one hundred percent.

The last element of a healthy lifestyle for Baby Boomers would be a good night’s sleep. So often, working adults feel that they can get through the day on only a few hours, and be fine. Yet, what they do not realize is that, even though they may be able to function at the office that does not mean that this behavior is healthy.

Looking and feeling great involves taking care of your body, and taking the time to relax and fall asleep in a timely fashion often falls to the wayside. But many people of this generation are beginning to realize the need for sleep, and taking steps to ensure they fall asleep quickly at a decent hour, to wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day.

Unlike with exercise, nutrition and quitting smoking and drinking, you do not have to do much to practice this method of health. All it takes is lying on the bed, and drifting off into a deep slumber, and years will be added to your life.

By combining all of these positive behaviors, the Baby Boomer generation will demonstrate that they will far outlive the average age of their parents and grandparents. All it takes is four positive steps.

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Pulsatile Tinnitus – What Beat Are You Marching To?

Jul 14 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

Tinnitus comes in several different noise packages, with pulsatile tinnitus being one that is not so common. With general tinnitus symptoms, the sufferer deals with noises that are continuous, such as: hissing, roaring, clicking, ear ringing and other such variations. One thing to keep in mind is that tinnitus is not a disease, but rather a symptom of some underlying condition. It is therefore important to find out what is causing the irritating sounds.

The causes of tinnitus fall into three main categories: hearing damage due to loud noises; hearing damage due to stress or anxiety; and hearing damage due to allergies and sinus problems. There are also two main forms of tinnitus: subjective tinnitus and objective tinnitus.

Subjective Tinnitus: This is where only the one suffering from tinnitus can hear the noises, and the sounds are continuous. But, there is no external evidence of the sounds he/she is hearing, it is completely “subjective”. This is the most common type of tinnitus and almost 50 million Americans deal with it in some form.

Objective Tinnitus: The noises that the person with objective tinnitus hears can also be heard by their doctor, through a special medical instrument.

Pulsatile tinnitus, also known as vascular tinnitus, would be classified as objective tinnitus. It gets its name from the fact that the sounds are not continuous but rather come in “pulses”, keeping rhythm with your heartbeat. This is usually due to the restriction of blood vessels in and around the ear, or even by poor blood circulation. This restriction makes it more difficult for the blood to get through it and disrupts the normal smooth flow resulting instead, in a pulse like flow. That is why some people refer to it as pulsating tinnitus.

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, could also be a potential cause of pulsatile tinnitus, as could any number of factors that alter the regular, or normal, blood flow in and around the ear. One quite common culprit could be an inner ear infection or inflammation, which causes an elevation and thus a disruption, in the blood flow.

Some sounds associated with Pulsatile Tinnitus Are:

  • Clicking
  • High pitched sounds
  • Swooshing or swishing
  • Blowing sounds
  • Low pitched humming, booming or thumping
  • Single rhythmic beats

Pulsatile Tinnitus Treatment

The treatment for pulsatile tinnitis must concentrate on the improvement of blood flow throughout the capillaries and blood vessels. This is done by isolating, and then dealing with, the underlying conditions that are causing the disruptive flow to start with. You could take the conventional, or medical, route for treatments or try any number of alternative tinnitus remedies that offer relief to the sufferer without the bothersome, and sometimes dangerous, side-effects of the drug-based therapies.

1. Conventional Treatment of Pulsatile Tinnitus:

This is through the use of drugs that work to improve the blood flow, which in turn reduces or alleviates the annoying symptoms of pulsatile tinnitis. These drugs are inclusive of those that help reduce hypertension and a spectrum of antibiotics that fight inner ear infections. Angioplasty surgery is sometimes used to un-block the restricted blood vessels, thus improving the flow dramatically and doing away with the “pulse” or “beat” symptom of pustule tinnitus.

2. Alterative Pulsatile Tinnitus Treatment:

For those who shy away from high-potency drugs or invasive surgery, there are many, valid, natural or homeopathic remedies that can bring relief for pulsatile tinnitus sufferers. They also deal with the underlying issues, but without the negative, and sometimes dangerous, side-effects of prescription medications, and of course, without having to go through the trauma of tinnitus surgery.

Here Are Some Alternative Treatments For Pulsatile Tinnitus:

  • Herbal remedies
  • Dietary supplements
  • Homeopathic medicine
  • Exercise
  • Lifestyle adjustments
  • Change of diet
  • Tinnitus retraining therapy

Utilizing an all-encompassing “holistic” approach, by combining the best remedies from each of these alternative treatments packaged together, will offer you the best chance of getting rid of your pulsatile tinnitus once and for all…

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Healthcare Quality Methods

Jul 14 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

Healthcare organizations can employ different health care methods for quality improvement. Since healthcare is not a simple phenomenon, industries find it hard to adopt the controls and standardization of quality improvement methods. However, general methods that define quality, grow improvement measures and identify variation through PDSA cycles and control charts have been successful in the application of healthcare processes. Let’s take a look at some healthcare quality improvement methods.

#1: Facilitate Adoption

It’s not enough to introduce new ideas to clinicians and discuss case studies. The reason is that it won’t motivate them to follow the improvement initiatives. It’s better to learn the quality improvement theory via hands-on improvement work. In other words, it’s applied to the real clinical setting. Also, identifying important areas for clinicians and develop the platform for betterment can help make the adoption much easier.

#2: Defining Quality & Reaching an Agreement

If we agree on what quality means in a certain context, we can establish the measures and then collect data based on them. Also, the Institute of Medicine made a quality framework based on 6 aims for the systems for healthcare. However, the most important of them is the one that is patient-oriented. In other words, it stresses the provision of care based on the values and needs of an individual patient. Also, it ensures that the clinical decisions are made based on the patient’s values.

The definition of quality refers to what the patient thinks is important. It’s to make sure that the patient is getting the best care possible for their illness.

#3: Improvement and Accountability

Both data and measurement make the backbone for quality improvement. This is the point where it’s difficult to take care of the matters associated with healthcare. Typically, when it comes to quality improvement methods, clinicians think that they involve performance measures that require accountability. However, it’s important to remember the difference between accountability measures and improvement measures.

Typically, the accountability measures are processed to get percentages. An accountability measure, for instance, gathers data about the number of ER patients who had to hang on for over 30 minutes for their turn. And then management is asked to keep the waiting time below half an hour. So, the improvement measure figures out the actual waiting period in minutes in order to find out the system performance and them improve it.

#4: PDSA Cycles and Quality Improvement Framework

For healthcare quality improvement, many frameworks are used:

  • The DMAIC model of Six Sigma
  • Lean methodology
  • The Model of Improvement was designed by the API in 1987
  • PDSA cycles are the most important part of healthcare quality improvement

Given below is the explanation of the PDSA cycles:

  1. Plan
  2. Do
  3. Study
  4. Act

#5 Variation in Data

With a deeper insight into the Mode for Improvement, the plan can help you achieve your improvement goal. Some of this insight comes from getting to know the variation in data and its causes.

Also, healthcare processes include two types of variations: intended and unintended. The intended variation refers to do something in a different way on purpose. And this defines patient-oriented care.

On the other hand, unintended variation happens when many clinicians prescribe different types of antibiotics for a problem at hand regardless of the rationale of the variation. And an out of habit or a free of thought variation is called an unintended variation.

So, this was a description of 5 healthcare quality methods.

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20 Ways to Stay Fit With Minimal Effort

Jul 14 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

Getting fit is not an easy task. It can take weeks or even months of hard training and paying attention to what you eat. Staying fit can be even harder. It is very common to see people meet their fitness goals and then quickly fall off their new healthy lifestyle leading to them reversing all of that progress that they worked so hard for. While staying fit can be hard, there are little things we can do to make the process easier. Try some of these tips for maintaining your fitness level with little effort!

1. Fasting

Fasting is the restriction of food for a set period of time. Fasting can be a great way to increase your fat burn and stay lean! Try intermittent fasting by skipping breakfast and eating lunch as your first meal.

2. Go for a Walk

Taking a break or two during the day to go for a short walk can be a great way to burn some extra calories. This is especially important if you have a desk job!

3. Cutting Carbs

Low carb diets are extremely popular for weight loss and for good reason. Studies have shown that low carb dieting can be a great way to lose weight. It can also be a great strategy if you are worried about gaining weight back.

4. Play a Sport You Love

If you stop being active it will be hard to stay fit. You may not want to spend a couple of hours running on a treadmill, but picking a sport you love like basketball or ice skating can be a great way to stay active while doing an activity you love.

5. Get a Standup Desk

If you are stuck at a desk all day it can be hard to stay in good shape. If your office allows it, try a standup desk. You may be surprised at how much this can benefit your overall health just by standing and using your leg and core muscles to stay fit.

6. Try HIIT Cardio

HIIT or high intensity interval training can be a great way to burn a ton of calories without having to put a ton of time in the gym. Studies have even found that HIIT cardio can allow you to burn more calories over the course of the rest of the day.

7. Split up Your Exercises

If you are burned out on exercising, try splitting up your exercises in the morning and evening. This will allow you to spend less time in the gym per session!

8. Try Lower Calorie Desserts

Everyone wants to enjoy dessert, but if you are trying to stay fit some of these high calorie creations can be a problem. Look online for low calorie desserts so you can indulge guilt-free.

9. Switch to a Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet has been shown to improve metabolism by allowing for more fat burning. This diet allows you to eat bacon and stay fit!

10. Take the Stairs

This is a small change that can make a big difference. Rather than taking the elevator, try taking the stairs a couple times a day. It will only take a few extra minutes and can play a big role in keeping you fit.

11. Drink Water before Your Meal

If you are coming off a diet, hunger tends to be much higher. This can lead to overeating which will make maintaining your fitness that much harder. Try drinking a big glass of water before your meal to help you feel fuller and prevent you from overeating.

12. Eat a High Protein Breakfast

Studies have found that those eating a high protein and higher fat breakfast burn more fat during the day compared to those consuming carbs. Reach for some eggs rather than that banana!

13. Eat More Fiber

Fiber can be another great way to make you feel fuller and prevent yourself from overeating. One of the best ways to get fiber is through vegetables or fiber supplement like Quest bars.

14. Get a Good Night’s Sleep

This is an often overlooked aspect of health and fitness. Not getting a good night’s rest can wreak havoc on your metabolism making it much easier to gain weight.

15. Use a Step Counter

Using a step counter can be a great way to see how active you are. Shoot for a step goal hit it every day to maintain your fitness.

16. Fit in 20 Minutes of Activity

Life can be busy which makes staying in shape that much harder. If you set aside time every day to be active, even for just 20 minutes, you may find that staying fit is that much easier.

17. Use a Ball Chair

Using a ball chair can help you work your core during the day while working at your desk. This way you can train your abs and still get your work done.

18. Take Your Phone Calls on the Go

If your job entails many business calls, try taking your business calls while taking a walk. A thirty-minute conference call can turn into a 30-minute walk and that can help you stay in shape!

19. Don’t Pair Carbs and Fat

Plan your meals so you aren’t eating a lot of carbs and fat at the same time. Research has found that this can lead fat storage which will not be beneficial for staying fit.

20. Try a Little Caffeine

Caffeine can be a great way to not only give you more energy but also burn a few more calories. If you find yourself feeling lethargic and sedentary, drink some coffee to wake up and start moving!

You’ve worked so hard to get fit, staying fit should not be as difficult as we often make it. Of course if you go back to a life full of junk food, sitting on the coach, and no exercise, these tips won’t work for you. However, if you are still trying to life that healthy lifestyle, these tips could be just the thing to make it that much easier to stay fit!

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Bent Penis: Due to Blood Pressure or Medication?

Jul 14 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

Peyronie’s disease is a condition in which a man develops a severely bent penis, and is a definite penis health concern. While some curvature of the penis is common in many men, with Peyronie’s the degree of curvature is significant and often to an extent that it may cause pain or prevent a man from successfully engaging in sexual activity. Men with high blood pressure are thought to be at an increased risk of developing such a severely bent penis. But is it the hypertension itself that raises the risk or the medicine used to treat the blood pressure?

More about the bent penis

In Peyronie’s disease, the curvature is believed to be due to a build-up of plaque in one or more areas of the penis. This often occurs after the penis has received trauma, especially repeated trauma in the same area. When the penis is injured, scar tissue forms over the injury and aids the healing process. But scar tissue lacks the elasticity of normal penis skin. If enough of this scar tissue forms in the same area, it inhibits the ability of the penis skin to stretch fully to accommodate an erect penis. So, for example, if the scar tissue is on the top of the penis, when the penis starts lengthening, it will hit a “snag” on the top. The bottom and side tissue will lengthen as usual, but on top, it will cause the penis to bend upward.

Depending on where the scar tissue is located, a man’s penis may bend up, down, to the left or to the right. In some cases the bending can approach 90 degrees.

Blood pressure

As mentioned, men with high blood pressure are at greater risk of developing such a bent penis situation. At first, it was assumed that the high blood pressure itself played a role; however, in more recent years, it has become accepted that the real culprit may be medications used to treat the blood pressure problem. Specifically, the class of medication known as beta blockers seems to raise the risk of Peyronie’s disease.

Beta blockers are not just used for high blood pressure; they are also used for treating other cardiac-related issues, as well as glaucoma, thyroid issues, anxiety and migraines. But they are perhaps most often associated with blood pressure cases.

Exactly why beta blockers are associated with a bent penis risk is not clear. However, studies have shown that some men do seem to develop increase plaque build-ups in the penis after taking beta blockers for a period of time.

If a man is using beta blockers and develops a bent penis, he should consult with his doctor to determine if an alternative treatment might be available to control his blood pressure. However, it is important to note that ceasing the use of beta blockers will not likely reverse the bending that has already occurred. For that, a man needs to see a urologist to determine what treatment plan might be initiated to relieve the bending issue.

Whether due to high blood pressure medication or another cause, a bent penis can sometimes be accompanied by pain, especially during the erect state. Some men may find some relief through the application of a first rate penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil, which is clinically proven mild and safe for skin). Because the pain is in some part due to inflexibility of the penis skin during erection, using a crème that can help moisturize the skin is desired. A crème with both a high-end emollient (such as Shea butter) and a natural hydrator (such as vitamin E) can aid in properly moisturizing skin. The crème should also include vitamin C. This vitamin has properties which help to support elasticity in penis skin.

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The Evolution of Healthcare Mystery Shopping

Jul 14 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

Patients answer patient satisfaction survey questions based on their perception, and yet there is limited context for the healthcare provider. It leaves one asking the questions – who were they interacting with, what was said, when did it happen, and how capable and reliable was the patient to make those interpretations? So instead of convening a committee to explore the reasons for poor scores, healthcare mystery shopping provides healthcare clients with the research intelligence needed to make real-time improvements.

In an era of value based purchasing with a focus on inpatient stays, I have estimated that over 80% of the lives touched by health systems in this country are not patients at all, but rather family members, visitors, outpatients, and consumers of everything from equipment to Starbucks. By all means make the patient room environment as clean and silent as possible, communicate effectively with the patient, and ensure that they are fully prepared to be discharged, but the emphasis must still be on the patient’s perception. Observations, opinions, and ultimately consumer decisions derive from that source.

The elevated importance of patient satisfaction data means that as the data is digested, more and more questions will arise. For instance, a survey will tell you there is a concern with the friendliness of the radiology staff. Instead of creating a broad-brush customer service program for the Radiology Department, the logical next step is to determine how the department is being perceived by end-users, what the department’s behavioral weaknesses are, and who on the staff is exhibiting those behaviors.

Together patient satisfaction data and healthcare mystery shopping can begin to focus on meaningful solutions that cause providers to say, “We know from patient satisfaction there is a problem and from mystery shopping we know what that problem is and who is primarily responsible.”

While it is recommended that managers look for coaching opportunities by observing their employees in action, expecting them to alter the service culture is less likely since – for the most part – they created the culture. Because this type of research is strictly consumer perception, it provides an unbiased view of a department or organization’s culture. This gives managers a third party perspective that increases coaching opportunities.

Types of Healthcare Mystery Shopping

From those early days of healthcare mystery shopping, healthcare provider requests have gotten more creative, more targeted, and more sophisticated. For example, a client may request something as all encompassing as a 24-hour inpatient stay in which the shopper is admitted for a 24-hour period to evaluate the patient experience from registration to discharge. Or shoppers may be asked to call physician offices to make appointments with the intent of determining how long it will be before they can be seen tying the research to more efficient use of resources.

In 2008, healthcare mystery shopping received significant national press when the American Medical Association attempted to take up a position on the practice. What was not as readily reported was the fact that the issue was tabled indefinitely. In fact, it was already the custom of one of the leading providers (prior to the accusation that healthcare mystery shopping was unnecessarily taking up physician time) to utilize what they call process observations. This form of mystery shopping, which is most effective in Emergency Departments, avoids taking up valuable patient time by having a shopper join a patient as a friend as they go through the patient experience.

Two of the most beneficial types of perception research are: 1) shopping the competition, and 2) evaluating individual employees. Call it spying, many do, but it is important to know your competition’s culture. For example, what do they believe in and how is it transferred to the patient, and can the anecdotal stories you’ve heard be verified?

A great deal of value can be derived from conducting evaluations of individual employees. For a number of reasons – cost certainly being a factor – this works best in a departmental environment and gives managers an apples-to-apples comparison of each employee as it pertains to specific standards, i.e., is Cindy more likely than Jeff to greet patients immediately (setting up a coaching opportunity for Jeff)? Or, does Jeff do a great job of cross-selling services and should be commended?

Healthcare mystery shopping also gives managers concrete examples of the specific behavior that “turns patients on.” This sets up the perfect opportunity to present to staff the behaviors the organization would like emulated while giving kudos to the employee who displays them.

Quantitative and Qualitative Appeal

Healthcare mystery shopping appeals to managers and administrators whether they are left brained (numbers focused) or right brained (narrative focused). On the one hand, mystery shopping is about story telling. Fred Lee wrote in If Disney Ran Your Hospital, “What seems to be a major component of both loyalty and dissatisfaction are stories. A satisfied person has no story to tell.” Stories are important in articulating the who, what, when, where, and how of the patient or consumer experience. The right brain approach to mystery shopping allows clients to clearly discern the difference between a completely satisfactory experience and all the various facets that went into it, and those elements of an experience that triggered displeasure or frustration. At the same time, healthcare mystery shopping is an effective compliance tool. Standards that are specific to the healthcare industry, and therefore can be benchmarked, are mixed with organizationally specific standards to create a quantitative amalgam that can be data spliced in any way necessary. Healthcare mystery shopping primarily answers the following question – How well does your organization perform on the behaviors and processes you told your people are important? In addition, it lets organizations measure those standards against perception-based goals.

The Flexibility of Healthcare Mystery Shopping

Patient satisfaction surveys are, for the most part, static. They are unchanging for a reason. Conversely, healthcare mystery shopping is much more flexible. It can be designed as a program that measures the same standards or processes over time, or studies can be developed to determine exactly what behaviors or processes are being performed.

Healthcare mystery shopping can also be redirected ‘on the fly’ if the desired objectives are not being met. For example, to their surprise, a physician practice that was asking shoppers to make appointments found out they weren’t accepting new patients. Another practice that was evaluating the customer service of their registrars discovered that none of the calls were being answered by a ‘live’ person. In both instances, the practice put on the brakes until they could fix the issue. One hospital was having shoppers go to their website to look for specific information and then having them request a response. What this uncovered was that the requests were accumulating on a PC that was not being used. This finding allowed the hospital to avoid upsetting hundreds of consumers who felt they were being rudely ignored.

How does one know if a service initiative is really working? Healthcare mystery shopping is an excellent complement to any service initiative. It can be directed in such a way that it provides real time verification that the initiative is being effective. Anything from a discharge process to valet service can be shopped at various times to ensure that the initiative’s message was received and implemented.

Flexibility does not, however, extend to internal programs. Sometimes in the name of saving money, healthcare providers will launch a do-it-yourself program. They attempt to get employees or volunteers to perform the same function that professional healthcare mystery shopping firms do. This rarely if ever works for any duration for obvious reasons. Insiders have internal biases and, despite their best intentions, are no longer able to be objective. The other reason this is not effective is that employees (and even volunteers) can think of a million things they should be doing or would rather be doing. And the lack of staying power for a do-it-yourself program puts a tremendous burden on the manager assigned to administer the task.

What Clients are Looking For

Hospitals, health systems and physician practices seek out healthcare mystery shopping vendors for a number of reasons. In some cases, they want to validate “good news.” For example, one health system client entered into a long-term relationship with the primary goal of proving that their services were superior to the competition that was also shopped. A recent wayfinding study of over 300 ‘shops’ conducted for a large hospital on the east coast concluded that less than 76% of their employees received a top box score of five for greeting consumers with a smile. This finding was indicative of a culture that was not treating consumers in ‘a personal and memorable way.’ However, healthcare mystery shopping afforded them the advantage of validating their original concern, isolating where this concern is most prevalent, and using the shopper’s language to convey to staff why greeting people was critically important to overall perception. Much like satisfaction surveys, healthcare mystery shopping is able to monitor improvement over time, but with the added benefit of story telling to pinpoint issues. It can also be instrumental in determining the specific nature of the concern and identifying where weaknesses exist.

A healthcare mystery shopping executive, who is undergoing therapy for breast cancer, wrote in a blog recently, “What matters to healthcare organizations are things like how many steps it takes to check a patient in, scripted greetings for frontline employees, record keeping for correct billing, and clinical training for new safety measures. However, as a patient, I notice if the person checking me in for chemo is smiling and greets me because she cares, not if she delivers a scripted sentence. Next, I notice if the nurses in the chemo area are working as a team and greet me personally (they should know me after two months). But what is most important to me is whether or not the clinical staff is aligned with my recovery goals.”

While this executive may be more attuned to her surroundings than most patients and able to articulate what it means to her, the goal for any healthcare mystery-shopping program is to use the shopper’s heightened sense of awareness and their ability to effectively communicate their experiences in a way that is clear and concise.

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Living a Healthy Life – The 5 Ingredients to a Healthy Lifestyle

Jul 14 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

If you are like millions of other people in the world, you probably want to live a healthy lifestyle. While many people are able to achieve this lifestyle, there are even more that are looking for ways to improve their health. Here are 5 ingredients to help you put together a healthy lifestyle.

1. Healthy diet

The food that you eat on a daily basis plays a huge role in what type of lifestyle you live. If you are eating fast food every day, you’re obviously not creating the best diet. There are a plethora of different diets you can put together to maintain a healthy lifestyle depending on your body. However, the safest route to take is to eat a little from each of the food groups during every meal. This consists of eating your vegetables, fruits, breads, meat and even some snack foods once in awhile.

2. Water

Staying completely hydrated with drinks is crucial, but water is by far the most vital drink. Water can help clean your system out and keep you energized throughout the day. It may seem like a lot, but on average you should be drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day.

3. Exercise

Whether its lifting weights or jogging or riding a bike exercise is a vital piece to a healthy lifestyle. The type of exercise you do and the duration will depend on your motives. But just getting out and exercising a few times a week will lift your spirits, maintain a healthy body, and raise your energy level.

4. Have fun

Having fun is certainly something that many people don’t consider when they are trying to live a healthier lifestyle. Getting out and having fun is crucial because it helps relieve the many stresses that are bottled up on a daily basis. Go out to a movie with your friends once in awhile. Go to the park and enjoy a nice sunny day. Or if you are more about relaxing, take time away from your hectic schedule to lie down and read a book.

5. Sleep

Without enough sleep, our immune system will be shot and it will be difficult to get through the day. Getting a good night’s sleep can make the world of a difference in how you feel and how much you can do the next day.

When putting together a healthy lifestyle, there isn’t exactly one thing that can help you achieve this. By accommodating the five aspects listed above into your life, you will be able to better fulfill your goal of living a healthy lifestyle.

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Is EFT An Alternative Treatment For Depression?

Jul 14 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

According to the NHS information centre the number of prescriptions for antidepressants have increased by 28% in the last three years. So, are we turning into a nation of prescription junkies?

The cost of depression to the NHS

Depression is an illness and those suffering from depression need help but when are we going to stop relying on prescription drugs? Depression is costing the NHS £11 billion per year in prescriptions, lost earnings and care. The amount of prescriptions have risen from 34 million in 2007-08 to 43.4 million in 2010-11.

In a recent article The Independent newspaper reported that Jo Swinson, the Liberal Democrat MP who commissioned the research said: “Failure to tackle depression hurts us all. It makes a misery of the lives of sufferers, costs the NHS in time and medication, and hampers business by forcing some people out of work.”

So is the NHS looking in the wrong place?

Could the NHS save money by addressing the fact that prescriptions are treating the symptoms rather than the cause? To some people antidepressants are a lifeline but to others who have been on them for years maybe the time is right to look elsewhere.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of the mental health charity Mind, said the tough economic times may have contributed to more people experiencing depression, but improved public awareness may also mean more people are seeking help.

Where else can people find help?

The ‘alternative therapy for depression market’ is growing. Therapies such as EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and Yoga are proven to provide an alternative to the prescription drug market.

One client with a history of depression had this to say about EFT:

“I did not know too much about it and didn’t think it would, or indeed could, work very deeply. How wrong I was. It helped me release a lot of pain that I had been carrying (that I was aware of but couldn’t access). It was quite remarkable. It was a very easily, powerful and a very healing experience. I was very impressed.”

In the words of Emer O’Neill, chief executive of Depression Alliance: “These uncertain economic times are linked to an increase in the number of people with the illness.”

Alternative therapies offer depression sufferers an alternative to prescription drugs. Perhaps the NHS would do well to take notice too.

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