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Hospital Finance and the Credit Crisis October 7, 2008

Posted by Who? in Business, Health, Random, technology.
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Last week Rob talked about  how the recession  might affect different sectors within the industry, “More On Health Care and the Recession“.   A hospital, like any business, relies on a variety of financial instruments to maintain operations- both short and long-term.  Naturally, disruptions in the markets that facilitate these transactions can cause some serious headaches for borrowers.

Remarks coming out the the Fed today- “The commercial paper market has been under considerable strain in recent weeks as money market mutual funds and other investors have become increasingly reluctant to buy commercial paper, especially longer-dated maturities.  As the market for commercial paper shrank, rates on the longer-term debt increased significantly, making it more expensive for companies to borrow.” Full article here.

More on the topic from the WSJ HealthBlog– “Hospitals traffic in debt. They borrow money for big construction projects, and they effectively lend money to patients when they treat people without requiring payment upfront.  Unable to borrow money freely or forced to pay a high cost to borrow, employers are cutting jobs and reducing capital investments.”

The credit crunch presents some hurdles for hospitals to overcome but problems can be opportunities in disguise.  The importance of conservative financial management and efficiency are magnified in times like these.  Product and services that increases efficiency start to look a lot more attractive when margins are getting squeezed and every dollar spent is getting stretched further.  Interesting article here on cutting down on “frequent fliers” in the ER– perfect example of an opportunity being capitalized on to improve the efficiency and overall delivery of medical care.

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HealthCare 2020 October 5, 2008

Posted by Who? in Business, Health, Lifestyle Design, Politics, Random, technology.
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What will healthcare look like in 2020?  2020? That’s way out in the future; we’ll probably have Jetson brand pill dispensers in our homes by then. But think about that for a second-that’s barely more than a decade away.  We might not have the pill dispensers, but one thing is for sure- things will be different. Step back 10 years- could you imagine a company not only caring about but paying for you to invest in your health?  Last fall, The Boeing Company encouraged employees to take a Health Risk Assessment and they offered a $50 gift certificate to all that participated.  Over 100,000 people partcipated.  This year, less than a month into the event, over 35,000 people have taken the Assessment and received almost $2 million in gift certificates. 

So let’s start there, healthcare is changing.  From the ways that we seek and consume info and services to the way that we view our role in partcipating in our health and paying for those services.  No matter the outcome on November 4th, 2008, things will be different.

Changing Consumption: Information and Services

The internet is changing the way consumers seek information and this includes health related info.  Three months ago I injured my wrist playing basketball.  You can guess what I did next, right?  I taped it up and finished playing- (It was a close game!!).  But—when I got home that night and my wrist completely locked up after I took the tape off, I got online and Googled something along the lines of “how to tell if your wrist is broken”.  Ended up on WebMD and later found myself at the ER.  That process is very interesting when you think about it and it represents one of the ways that healthcare has and will continue to change.  Without even realizing it, I did a prelimary examination.  I wanted to know if my wrist was broken.  Where do I go when I want information?  Google.  Medical information is no longer solely possessed and distributed by doctors and nurses AND the methods of distribution are changing.  Last week, Charlotte wrote about “telemedicine” in her post “Everything But Touch and Smell“. 

Changing Perspectives

People and even companies are changing the way that they participate in healthcare.  Boeing is just one example.  Not only have they talked the talk, but they have backed it up.  Big company or not, two-million dollars is a lot of money.  Think about that.  Attitudes are shifting from treating symptons and injuries towards wellness, lifestyle and prevention.  Not everyone is going to jump on the Wellness Bandwagon, but it will be a part of the paradigm shift.  The industry, operations and practices have to change; I spent 6 hours in the ER only to have a Physician’s Assistant refer me to my primary-care physician.  You can be sure that next time, that hospital won’t be getting my business.  And that is the key- healthcare is a business.  The table is set for innovators to come in and “wow” consumers with quality, value and efficiency.

How will we get wellness and medical information in 2020?  What will the doctor’s office, wellness center and hospital of the future look like?  Where will it be located?  How will it flow and operate?  Who will the cost-structure look like?  What the system will look like in the future is almost beside the point; the important part is that it will be different and, with the right ideas, better.

HTC and Android: The gPhone September 17, 2008

Posted by Who? in Random, technology.
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Just saw an article about the Google phone.  I’m pretty excited to watch this unfold.  The rumor is that it will be called the HTC Dream but I like calling it the gPhone….iPhone v. gPhone the battle for the universe.

Currently, I have the Blackberry 8830; its got a couple quirks and bugs but, for the most part, it works well.  However, I’d love to upgrade to the new iPhone.  It will be interesting to see how the gPhone compares.  Part of me wants to ditch my phone entirely for a pager in hopes of going on the low-information diet promoted by Tim Ferriss.  But, I probably won’t.

I just can’t let go off the convenience.  Sure it doesn’t help to unwind at the end of the day when someone sends you an email at 10:30, but for now I just can’t give it up.  In no particular order, my top non-communication uses for my BB are: movie times, googling restaurant times/hours/contact info, reading the daily news from 5 different papers, BrickBreaker and note-taking.

The one that I probably could not function without is, surprisingly, note-taking.  If you happen to have the good fortune of knowing me, you know that I’ve always got random thoughts, questions, ideas running through my head.  Did you know that Memo files on the BB’s have a file size limit?  I do hahaha.  There are probably 20 different Memo files on different subjects in my phone.

Another function that I could not live without is the ability to search Google for one purpose in particular.  Settling arguments and bets.  This is a loose recollection of an actual convo- “Man, The Dark Knight was awesome.  Did you like it?”  “Yah it was alright.” “Alright! Are you crazy?” “Yah- I just liked the first Batman better.”  “The first one? What is this the ’80’s?”  “Dude the first Batman came out in the ’90’s.” “You wanna bet???”  And out of my belt holster flew my BB with blinding speed. 

Gooooogle says- 1989.  Winner.  Sweet, sweet satisfaction.  I thanked God and the Academy.  I hope open-source platforms will be the way of the future.  The MSFT/closed source approach to business is the way of the past. Sorry Billy.