Tag Archives: Hospitals

Hospital Tech: The Johns Hopkins Stroke Center

The mantra of The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s Comprehensive Stroke Center is “time is brain.” Innovations and teamwork help ensure that this mantra applies to all stages of stroke recovery. Take a peek into the multifaceted treatment strategies offered by the center’s team of experts.

These include stroke risk screenings, hyperacute emergency treatments, innovative hospital care such as digital therapeutics, early rehabilitation, programs to ensure smooth transitions to home, and cutting-edge clinical research. The Stroke Center team is on a mission to improve the life of every patient who has had a stroke. #Stroke #JohnsHopkins

VIEWS: IS U.S. HEALTHCARE SYSTEM BROKEN? (HARVARD)

Here’s a question that’s been on my mind and perhaps yours: Is the US healthcare system expensive, complicated, dysfunctional, or broken? The simple answer is yes to all.

Below are 10 of the most convincing arguments I’ve heard that our system needs a major overhaul. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Remember, an entire industry has evolved in the US just to help people navigate the maddeningly complex task of choosing a health insurance plan.

The cost is enormous

  • High cost, not highest quality. Despite spending far more on healthcare than other high-income nations, the US scores poorly on many key health measures, including life expectancy, preventable hospital admissions, suicide, and maternal mortality. And for all that expense, satisfaction with the current healthcare system is relatively low in the US.
  • Financial burden. High costs combined with high numbers of underinsured or uninsured means many people risk bankruptcy if they develop a serious illness. Prices vary widely, and it’s nearly impossible to compare the quality or cost of your healthcare options — or even to know how big a bill to expect. And even when you ask lots of questions ahead of time and stick with recommended doctors in your health insurance network, you may still wind up getting a surprise bill. My neighbor did after knee surgery: even though the hospital and his surgeon were in his insurance network, the anesthesiologist was not.

Access is uneven

  • Health insurance tied to employment. During World War II, healthcare was offered as a way to attract workers since employers had few other options. Few people had private insurance then, but now a layoff can jeopardize your access to healthcare.
  • Healthcare disparities. The current US healthcare system has a cruel tendency to delay or deny high-quality care to those who are most in need of it but can least afford its high cost. This contributes to avoidable healthcare disparities for people of color and other disadvantaged groups.
  • Health insurers may discourage care to hold down costs. Many health insurance companies restrict expensive medications, tests, and other services by declining coverage until forms are filled out to justify the service to the insurer. True, this can prevent unnecessary expense to the healthcare system — and to the insurance company. Yet it also discourages care deemed appropriate by your physician.

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Dr. C Commentary:

Please refer to the DWWR Posting on “concierge doctors” for my rant on the current healthcare system, which I will not repeat.

The truth is more nuanced. All countries are having trouble of one sort or another with their healthcare systems. This is due to the inherent expense of today’s top flight medicine. The very best care requires costly high technology and drugs that are intrinsically hard to produce. And you have to know where to look. I am very thankful for my medical degree, and that I have kept up with current advances.

You would probably need a Government entirely of physicians to develop the willpower to do something for health, which always starts with PREVENTATIVE MEDICINE, A hard sell, given that you must spend money and effort to block something which will probably, but may not always, occur.

There is low hanging fruit. Why are sugary drinks not heavily taxed, since they produce obesity which causes a lot of costly medical disorders, such as diabetes, inflammatory diseases, and cancer, but not everybody all the time?

Why is efficiency of telehealth not more widely embraced, but stymied by moneymaking lobbiests and lawyer powered difficulties, in addition to Patient’s and doctor’s old habits?

And then there are the jealously guarded  American freedoms to do stupid things, such as avoid vaccines and masks, even in a prodigiously expensive and dangerous Covid  epidemic.

Given human nature, a complete solution would seem to be impossible, and we should content ourselves with minor victories wherever they can be attained.

Embrace sleep, diet, and exercise, and KEEP HEALTHY.

–Dr. C

THE DOCTORS 101 CHRONIC SYMPTOMS & CONDITIONS #5: SCIATICA & BACK PAIN

Chronic back pain and sciatica are very common, and increasing in prevalence. The human back does not seem to have been designed for obesity coupled with sedentary habits. I have had both back pain and sciatica . My wife had surgery in an attempt to control her back pain, my son successfully controlled his back pain with medical treatment, and an 87 year old friend recently had successful micro-neurosurgical treatment.

I will summarize these stories and will finish with some generalizations I believe will help those wanting to avoid a lot of misery. The sooner you start the better.

My back pain developed after an ill-advised use of a shovel to get rid of some grass intruding on my asphalt driveway, and caused me to miss work for the only day in 35 years of practice. Sciatica then developed on my left side. I could not sleep flat, and would sit all night in a comfortable chair. A hospital bed helped me outlast the impressive calf pain.

My wife developed severe back pain eventually leading to a “laminectomy and fusion”. Some level of back pain and incapacity plagued her the rest of her life.

My son developed severe sciatica and went to an Orthopedist. After a CAT scan revealed a rupture disc, he was penciled in for surgery. When asking about alternative treatments, the doctor told him, half laughingly, to lose 20% of his body weight and to start swimming. He went on a 30 day, 1000 calorie/day diet and lost 30 lbs. He has been swimming daily for the past 10 years. He has had no more back pain.

My 87 year old friend developed sciatica on his right side, had no luck with PT and pain meds including opioids. Microsurgery by a neurosurgeon successfully removed his ruptured disc, and he has had little or no pain after the first week.

Sciatica at least has a well defined cause: something is irritating that long nerve which starts in the small of the back and travels to its’ destination in the foot. That something is often an extrusion from an intervertebral disc, a cushion between the block-like vertebral bodies.

This herniation can be confirmed by a CAT scan or MRI, and removed by minimally invasive microsurgery. Beyond that model problem, down through spinal stenosis and ending in chronic back pain, the understanding gets progressively more fuzzy, treatment ever more contrived.

Prevention sounds better and better. The most important thing in preventing back pain is to MAINTAIN A NORMAL WEIGHT. Our backs were not designed for vertically compressive forces. The lock-step increasing incidences of obesity and back/sciatic problems support this idea.

REGULAR EXERCISE is very important. Swimming and walking are 2 of the best forms of exercise. Exercises like running on hard surfaces, jumping in volleyball, and weight lifting seem less optimal.

The ABDOMINAL MUSCLES stabilize the spine, and prevent excessive motion. Walking and swimming both exercise and strengthen the abdominals.

Maintaining FLEXIBILITY and RANGE OF MOTION are important. flexibility will help prevent those unplanned, sudden motions from throwing your back out of alignment, or maybe generating a painful muscle tear.

Finally, getting into the habit of BENDING YOUR LEGS and tensing the stabilizing abdominals when you pick up something on the floor is a help.

I question the wisdom of back surgery for back pain alone, especially if accompanied by spinal fusion. Even when there is sciatica, the statistics show that treatment with surgery is no better than medical therapy after 2 years.

The development of microsurgical techniques may give surgery an edge, however. At the risk of cliche, AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION IS WORTH A POUND OF CURE.

–Dr. C

TELEHEALTH CARE: PATIENTS CAN EXPECT EXPANDED “CONTACTLESS EXPERIENCES”

From Healthcare IT News (June 12, 2020):

Technology-enabled workflows now enable patients to complete most of the registration formalities prior to the visit, be it a virtual consult or a clinic visit. Registration kiosks in hospital lobbies may soon be enabled with facial recognition software to eliminate the need for touching any surface.

Routine examinations are also going virtual, with many diagnostic procedures now possible through remotely controlled devices. Caregivers are beginning to do their patient rounds through virtual visits. This trend will only grow in the coming years.

A vast and growing array of automated communication tools allows caregivers to use rule-based messaging to push everything from health coaching, post-discharge care instructions, and appointment reminders through IVR, text, SMS, and mobile alerts.

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VIDEO: “IS TELEMEDICINE THE FUTURE OF HEALTH CARE?”

The coronavirus pandemic has overwhelmed hospitals, physicians and the medical community. That’s pushed telemedicine into the hands of providers and patients as the first response for primary care. Telemedicine isn’t new to the medical community, however it hasn’t been embraced due to insurance coverage, mindset and stigma. Here’s how it works and what it means for the future of health care.

COMMENTARY

The safety and convenience of Telemedicine have been amply illustrated by Covid 19. It’s place in the future of Medicine would seem to be assured.

Once the epidemic is over, however, some sticky details, waved away by fiat during the early days, must be addressed.

Will Payment parity be allowed by the Health insurance companies (And Medicare) be continued? Will cross-border Practice still be allowed by the states. Will more Doctors modernize? Will lawyers (and litigious patients) restrain themselves?
Stay Tuned!

—Dr. C.

OPINION: HEART AND BRAIN HEALTH ARE LINKED FOR LIFE

Your heart and your brain are your two most vital organs, and if you enjoy life, they should be a top priority. These amazing structures are tethered to life-giving support by your arteries, just as the new you was tethered by your ubilical cord.

Life is fragile, hanging by a thread, or an artery. over the span of your life, These arteries can become plugged by fatty deposits called plaques. A healthy life style-SLEEP, DIET and EXERCISE– could slow down or prevent this atherosclerosis.

But everybody should know about the symptoms of HEART ATTACK and STROKE (1) and how to respond if the arteries sustaining your heart or brain become blocked.

You should be familiar with the hospitals in your area. How close are they? What are their capabilities? Are they Class 1 for heart attacks and stroke? Do they have a CATH LAB?

SPEED is important. Within minutes of the BLOCKAGE of an ARTERY to your heart or brain, vital cells start to die. The goal is to remove the blockage as soon as possible. CALL 911 as soon as you have heart attack or stroke symptoms. Don’t be afraid of the ER because of Covid, since almost all now use TELEMEDICINE SCREENING to keep infected patients segregated.

Alas, for many people, such PREVENTATIVE MEDICINE requires too much SELF DISCIPLINE AND CONVICTION. America has an epidemic of OBESITY and an avalanche of tasty FAST FOODS provided by a CONSUMER SOCIETY that is ever-attentive to the latest fads and trends.

DR. C