Health Care 2.0 Is Truly Underway

Saturday, June 2, 2012
What if you could tweet your symptoms to a doctor and receive an immediate diagnosis? With the international medical community expanding their innovative use of Web 2.0, this might not be too far off.

At the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), patients are already conducting a virtual visit to the doctor's office on their iPad or iPhone by accessing the online "HealthTrak" portal established by UPMC a few years ago to serve its 20 hospitals, 400 doctors' offices and outpatient sites, and 1.4 million health plan members. Users can schedule appointments, renew prescriptions and view medical records and test results, and even conduct a virtual visit to the doctor's office. Designated for patients with non-pressing, common place health problems such as back pains, rashes, sinus infections, headaches and colds, an "eVisit" entails answering a series of questions about your condition then awaiting a response from the doctor. With approximately 600 new users joining HealthTrak each week, UPMC expects to have 100,000 users by the end of the year. UPMC's chief medical information officer G. Daniel Martich, MD, anticipates Web 2.0 playing an expansive role: "Eventually, care will evolve using a whole range of technology: chatting, texting, apps."

There are also individuals who are proving just as inventive as mega-hospitals on the social media frontlines. John Brownstein, an epidemiologist and researcher at Children's Hospital Boston, invented HealthMap, a website and mobile application that scours the blogosphere, news outlets and social-networking websites to track global disease outbreaks. With the ability to access tens of thousands of web pages in a single hour, HealthMap was able to detect a new pattern of respiratory illness in Mexico in 2009 before public health officials even realized it was there.

Brownstein also created Outbreaks Near Me, a smart-phone application that allows users to enter information such as if a family member falls or if there is a line-up at a local clinic in order to help researchers identify patterns and possible outbreaks.

Use of social media is not only expanding among medical professionals but patients as well. According to the National Research Corp. survey one in five Americans utilize social media (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, MySpace and FourSquare) as a source of healthcare information.

With the limits of social media being constantly pushed and pulled, its increasing role in the healthcare, pandemics and emergencies could potentially shape an entire new definition of medical interaction around the world.

Things To Do With Your MBA: Healthcare Administration

Friday, June 1, 2012
A hospital is often a monolithic building, or, if not, a campus of related buildings. Either way, it's big. Not only does it cover a lot of square footage, but there are a myriad of different groups at play, including doctors, nurses, facilities staff, security, volunteers, patients, visitors, etc. All of these people are carrying out hundreds of different tasks all in the same space, and it is essential that all these different actions achieve some sort of working harmony. That is the job of the Hospital Administrator.

The goal of hospital administration is to not only coordinate space, resources and scheduling of different departments, but to also keep an eye on the overall business administration of the entire complex. It's all about organization, efficiency, and controlling chaos. Unlike most other businesses, running a hospital involves constantly being exposed to emergencies and life or death situations. It creates a sense of urgency that few other jobs can match.

Most administrators have a Masters of Business Administration degree with a specialty in Healthcare. Although, there is a new Master of Healthcare Administration that is gaining some market share. The MBA focuses a bit more on the management and business aspects, while the MHA caters more toward overall healthcare policy. Either of these degrees, combined with years of experience, prepare the director for the responsibilities of the job.

The most important aspect of surviving this job is leadership. There are so many passionate individuals with strong personalities involved in the medicine. They all feel that urgency, and as a result, they all push forward the needs of their patients with vigor. It takes a person with strong leadership to be able to keep all these people working together and accomplishing all their goals.

A good deal of this work is done with policy setting. Drafting solid policies creates the rulebook for a hospital. Those policies should focus on the promoting the care of the hospital, the staff, and the patients. Like any business rules, in the day to day, they serve more as guidelines than absolutes.

The life of a hospital administrator can be an exciting and a stressful one, but ultimately rewarding. After all, it is the business of caring for the health of others. Beyond that, the position becomes just like any other life or death, high end management position. Every day is filled with a delicate balance of implementing and refining policy, adapting to business needs, dealing with staffing issues, and trying to move the organization's goals forward

Fastest Growing Allied Healthcare Careers

Some of the fastest growing professions in the country are allied healthcare occupations. But what exactly does allied healthcare mean and how is it different from healthcare? Allied health refers to the services outside of the three main healthcare disciplines of medicine, dentistry, and nursing.

Allied healthcare covers a whole gamut of services including physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, home health aide workers, dental assistants, medical sonographers, speech pathologists, laboratory technicians, etc.

The list is by no means comprehensive and there are tons of other allied health professions that are growing in demand. However, there are a few that stand out because of their minimal training requirement and immense potential. Some such fast growing allied healthcare careers are:

Medical Transcription: Medical transcriptionists held about 95,100 jobs in the year 2010.* The medical transcription practice involves listening to recordings of doctor dictations and converting them into factually and grammatically correct written reports. Being able to understand medical terminology, typing efficiency and editing skills are the core competencies required for this job. Medical transcriptionists may work at hospitals, offices of physicians, or firms that provide transcription services. Many of them are also self-employed and work from home.

To start a career in medical transcription, it's important to complete a postsecondary training program in the field. It's also desirable, though not mandatory to have a Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT) or Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT) certification awarded by the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI).

Pharmacy Technician:Pharmacy technicians are professionals who assist licensed pharmacists in performing a number of clerical, administrative and pharmacy-related tasks. A typical work day for a pharmacy tech includes completing tasks like helping pharmacists in filling prescriptions, responding to patient queries, mixing medications, maintaining patient profiles, managing cash register, packaging and labeling bottles, etc.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected growth in employment of pharmacy techs in the 2010-20 decade is 32 per cent**, much faster than average for all occupations. Formal training requirements are none, but completing a pharmacy tech course and getting certified will definitely provide aspirants to this career a competitive edge in the job market.

Medical Coding and Billing:Medical coding and billing specialists use various classifications systems to assign codes to treatments, diagnoses, tests, and other clinical procedures performed on patients. These coded documents are used for healthcare reimbursement purposes as well as to maintain patient records, medical histories and hospital databases.

According to the Department of Labor data, the annual median pay of medical coding and billing specialists in 2010 was $32,350.Postsecondary medical billing and coding training and professional certification from organizations like the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) are the credentials typically required for gaining entry in to the field.