NHS Top-ups, the Healthcare System and Consumers

NHS Top-ups, the Healthcare System and Consumers[EXTRACT]
The decision this week to allow NHS patients in England to top up their NHS care by paying for additional drugs, provided private treatments take place in private medical facilities, is a monumental one with far-reaching implications. Coming after about four months of consultation, the policy will automatically put an end to the old regime in which resorting to a private facility or drugs outside those authorised by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) would result in one giving up access to NHS care.Relying heavily on the need to improve access to medicines for NHS patients, Health Secretary Alan Johnson and National Cancer Director Professor Michael Richards made the new decision public.In the period under which it was debated, various positions were advanced by experts of varying professional backgrounds, including medical practitioners who made clear their position that allowing the policy could weaken the health system rather than serve as a boost. And there were many others who felt it was high time NHS patients were allowed to supplement their care with private fee-paying treatments. In this case too, the need to strengthen the NHS was clearly articulated.

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});
What are the likely implications of NHS top-ups?
One of the very first things that analyst have been clear about is that allowing NHS top-ups could result in many patients, especially those who can conveniently afford it, turn to private medical or health insurance at the expense of the NHS.Let’s not forget that some months ago, when the superbug issue dominated discourses everywhere in the country, many people wanted to opt for what they termed cleaner, superbug-free private medical facilities. Often, people in support of this position argued that the private healthcare attracts fewer people of less diverse backgrounds and are, therefore cleaner. The fact that it could mean paying a lot of money as opposed to the almost entirely free of charge services obtained from the NHS mattered, and still matters, less to these people.But in fairness to many in this category the decision would allow a wider access to treatments, especially for people suffering such very serious illnesses as cancer. While unveiling it, Mr Johnson noted that: “It is an incredibly thorough report and I am accepting all of his recommendations.” The health secretary went on to explain that the policy would lead to “greater clarity, a fairer society and wider access to treatment.”For many that worked round the clock to ensure its approval this is a sweet victory that comes with many advantages. And for those, like insurance companies, who did not make any obvious push towards it but silently prayed for it to see the light of the day, it’s a dream come true.

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});
This, perhaps, explains why some pundits were opposed to it from the consultation period up until now. Experts on this side of the argument still believe that the health system would be hugely undermined and the big insurance firms would be the winners.Whether this will happen or not, the most important thing at the moment, especially for consumers, is to make the most of its advantages and avoid those flaws that would get them into trouble. Often, as in the case of most insurance policies, the essential thing to do is to try shopping and comparing deals as much as possible. With online comparison sites at our disposal all the time, we have no excuse not to find the deals that suit our needs most.Musa has more articles pertaining to health insurance and other insurance related articles.

Healthcare Systems – Accounting Vs Operational

Healthcare Systems – Accounting Vs Operational[EXTRACT]
There are multiple combinations of systems inside a healthcare clinic. There are systems for Master Patient Indexes, Practice Management, Electronic Health Records, Charge Entry and Claims Processing just to name a few. On top of these operational systems, one usually finds an Accounting System. These same clinics will most likely have a configuration where multiple of these systems, probably from multiple vendors, exist and at some level interface amongst themselves.The operational systems mentioned above have a common thread weaved through them. They all capture payments and charges at some level. At first glance, nothing is wrong with this. Operational applications capture accounting transactions. It is a common fact in all IT and not just in healthcare.Here is the issue – when we are making decisions, and those decisions are based on financial data, what applications are we retrieving our data from – the accounting or the operational?The first problem with relying on any operational application for the financial news is that it only paints part of the picture. While many of the operational applications contain current views of the financial picture, they are just that – views. They do not give us the entire picture. This leads to the second much bigger problem. The reliance on the operational application causes the vendors of these products to shift their development resources towards accounting and not towards what their system is supposed to do.

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});
We routinely see healthcare clinics rely on the financial reporting in the operational applications for their decision making. In addition to that, we also routinely see the same clinics pushing their software vendors to increase the accounting-oriented functionality and reporting. To make the problem worse, these software companies are complying with the requests.Let’s consider this example. Company X develops and sells a Practice Management (PM) application. It performs scheduling, charge entry, creates claims, takes patient payments and accepts remittance advice from the payors on claims. Multiple accounting entries are entered in this application. The application even exports the data into Microsoft’s Dynamics accounting application. Because it is a mature product, the PM comes with a large amount of reporting built in. Many of these reports are financial-oriented. The Dynamics installation is a couple of years old and has a limited reporting base. The clinic could add more reports to Dynamics, but is strapped on resources. Guess what happens next? The clinic asks (demands) the PM vendor to add to and change their reporting base.While the following statements sound innocent enough, they start a slide down the proverbial slippery slope:
“if this report only had this on it.”
“can we get a report that looks like this except …”
“this report needs this on it so I can do ___”
This cycle starts a disservice to every party involved:o The software vendor pushes their product to become more of an accounting package at the expense of its core competencies and functionalityo Most software vendors have subject-matter experts (SMEs) in the core competency, not accounting expertise, hence making ill-informed accounting decisionso Often times we see the clinics demands are nothing more than conveniences for themselves. It is not uncommonthese demands actually violate accounting principleso The clinic is not getting a full picture of the financials because only part of the data exist in their systemo Cost increase. The license fee starts increasing to cover the expenses or the vendor starts losing moneyThe clinic can take a point-of-view of “not my problem” if the vendor starts losing money on their license. The clinic can probably even get away with taking that position. Is this a good business practice though? Any company, not limited to healthcare, whose vendors routinely loose money by servicing them will start losing vendors.

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});
We do not see enough of the software companies pushing to build interfaces to the account applications and then keeping the accounting functionality where it should be and the operational functionality where it should be.Any well-run company finds the economies of scale in its people, capital and resources. Let the people do what they do best, and not anything else. Doctors should not work the front desk, nurses should not do the accounting and the accountants should not be prescribing medicine. Along these lines – operational systems should run the operation and accounting systems should do the accounting. Behind the scenes the two should be interoperable but functionality separate.Healthcare clinics routinely rely on their operational software applications for their account needs. Not only do they see distorted view of the financial picture from this, they do a disservice to themselves and their software vendors. Healthcare clinics need to step back and evaluate what they are seeing and consider the source.

France Has the Best Healthcare System in the World

France Has the Best Healthcare System in the World[EXTRACT]
As the United States struggles toward a system of universal health care, many have looked at the Canadian health care system as a model. Only a few have looked toward France. That’s a mistake for at least 2 reasons.First, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), France has the best health care system in the world . It has been widely reported that the WHO found the French system to be number 1 while the Canadian system is number 30 and the U.S. number 37.It should be noted here that the WHO rankings actually contain multiple rankings and the numbers generally quoted are the ranking based on the measure that the WHO calls the OP ranking. OP is said to measure “overall performance” adjusted to reflect a country’s performance based on how well it theoretically could have performed. When reporting the rankings of 1 for France, 30 for Canada and 37 for the United States, it is the OP ranking being used.

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});
Why did the French system do so well in the WHO rankings? The French system excels in 4 areas:
It provides universal coverage
It has responsive health care providers
Patients have freedom of choice
The health and longevity of the population
Second, we should be looking more closely at the French system because it has more similarities with the U.S. system than either the Canadian or British system. Many Americans assume that the French system is like the system in Britain. Nothing could be further from the truth or more insulting to the French.Exactly like the United States, the French system relies on both private insurance and government insurance. Also, just like in America, people generally get their insurance through their employer. What is different is that everyone in France has health insurance. Every legal resident of France has access to health care under the law of universal coverage called la Couverture maladie universelle.Under the French system, health insurance is a branch of Social Security or the Sécurité Sociale. The system is funded primarily by taxing the salaries of workers. An employee in France will pay about 20% of their salary to fund the Sécurité Sociale. These taxes represent about 60% of the cost of the health insurance plan.

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});
The balance of the funding comes from the self employed, who pay more than salaried workers, and by indirect taxes on alcohol and tobacco. Finally, additional taxes are levied against other income, both direct and indirect.The French share the same distaste for restrictions on patient choice as American do. The French system relies on autonomous private practitioners rather than a British-style national health service. The French are very dismissive of the British system which they call “socialized medicine.” Virtually all physicians in France participate in the nation’s public health insurance, Sécurité Sociale.Perhaps it’s time for us to take a closer look at French ideas about health care reform.

Navigating the Healthcare System

Navigating the Healthcare System[EXTRACT]
Before I was ordained as an interfaith minister and co-founded ‘The International Association of Women Spiritual Leaders, I spent a good part of my career as a registered nurse. So what does this have to do with you as a woman and leader of your business or a ‘spiritual’ practice?At some time in most of our lives, we will encounter the health care system either through our own illness or injury or that of a family member or friend. As you are aware from the articles we have written, we are very much into ‘self care’. In my opinion a major part of taking care of ourselves is having the knowledge about how to do that. In a recent article, Patricia used the analogy of our intuition acting as a ‘GPS’ as guidance when making decisions. I would like to take that analogy and employ it for this article.As we know, a ‘GPS’ (global positioning system), or any navigational system uses ‘waypoints’. A waypoint is a point of reference in physical space and essential to navigation. In my experience, it is essential for us to have ‘waypoints’ should we ever have to encounter and navigate the health care system.

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});
It is a given that our health care system is complex, and when entering it, it can be overwhelming if you don’t have the knowledge necessary to make your way through what can be confusing, at the least and life threatening, at the worst.In order to be successful with the use of your ‘waypoints’, you cannot be passive, expecting that the health care system is patient centered. It is not. Most medical providers would agree that the system is designed, “for efficiency” to revolve around the providers of care. And that doesn’t consider the impact the third party payers have on the system! Accepting that it is essential to be assertive if and when you or a loved one enters the health care system, the following waypoints may be invaluable:Waypoint #1: Have a competent primary care physician, and establish and maintain a relationship. Reputation and word of mouth will assist you in making your choice should you not have a primary physician. That physician may be your advocate, and conduit to the medical care you may need. It also helps to befriend a member of the staff. When a report or other information is needed in a hurry, knowing someone can often expedite the process.Waypoint #2: Acquire and systematize your medical records. Considering that a universal electronic record keeping system is in the future, you have to be the “gatekeeper” of your medical information, including lab reports, radiology tests, surgical procedures, etc. That includes records generated by specialists you may have seen. And what about medications and supplements you are taking? Each physician you consult should know about these.Waypoint #3: Ask questions! If you are not sure you were heard or understood, re-state your concern. It is better to err on the side of caution than to have a misunderstanding result in a mistake, or worse. Communication in our society is challenging anyway. Compound that with the anxiety you feel and sense of the health care provider “being in a hurry” and communication becomes ineffective. Make sure you are heard and understood!Waypoint #4: Research the internet and other sources for information regarding your medical challenge, but don’t rely totally on what you learn. So often diagnoses are missed because someone thought their symptoms “belonged” to another disease or injury. In this age of information, sometime too much is worse than too little. Remember, even physicians and other health care providers seek the advice of the experts when they need it!

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});
Waypoint #5: Arrange today, or as soon as scheduling allows, for someone to be your advocate should you ever encounter a serious illness or injury. This person can be a trusted friend, family member, or nurse case manager. It is beneficial to you if they know how to be assertive. They will be the asker of the questions, the helper in problem solving, and the communicator to you as to what is occurring. When you are dealing with symptoms, and not at your best, your advocate is your stand-in.I trust this information has been helpful, and that you will follow the waypoints, if you don’t already have a system in place for dealing with those unexpected illnesses and injuries.
Love and Blessings for Robust Health!

Healthcare System For Employees – Important Facts

Healthcare System For Employees – Important Facts[EXTRACT]
But getting a reliable insurance plan is a must for employers who want to provide good benefits for their employees. So what’s a responsible but financially hard up business owner to do?What employers must know is that there are health insurance plans designed specifically for small business owners and this is what they should be considering for their employees. There are many insurance companies out there who have ready-made services for small business that have plans that are well within reach of any employer. Some employers think that getting healthcare for their employees is a financial burden. Fact is, business can actually save money in the long run by getting a healthcare system for employees.

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});
The best way to get the most affordable healthcare systems for employees is by performing a through research and survey of all the available insurance plans for small businesses out there. Talk to different insurance agents and ask them about alternatives if the plan that they will present to you is a bit out of your reach. Inquire about how to get tax free insurance policies which will surely be advantageous to you. Many insurance companies offer big discounts when it comes to providing group insurance policies so be sure to ask about it as well. This may seem lot a lot of work for you but the rewards will be tremendous.

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});
You could also benefit from websites that compare different insurance premiums. By logging on to these websites, you will be able to get a quick glance of the available plans to you. It is advisable that you go for the one that provides the most value for money even if it is not necessarily the cheapest.