Why You Should Find a Doctor Who You Can Get Along With

It is always important to deal with people who you can easily get along with. When it comes to medical issues, this is not any different. You should find someone who you are very comfortable speaking to as this is the very first step to great communication. This is also the best way to ensure that you can express your health issues and get help as soon as the need arises. When you can communicate with your doctor, you will access medical advice easily. You can have solutions that suit your daily habits and values. Such a doctor can also connect you to any other health care specialists and providers that you may need.

For those who do not have a doctor, or anyone who wants to make a switch, then you should find one. Regardless of why you need to talk to a doctor, you should always find someone that you can talk to freely and one that you can trust with your issues. There are some of us who will stick to one doctor just because we do not want their feelings to be hurt. However, every doctor understands that everyone has got their own needs and how important it is for a patient to find someone that they are comfortable dealing with.

Decide exactly what it is that you need

This should be the first step. You should list all the qualities which matter most to you. Is gender of importance to you? Do you need someone that is available in the evenings too? Do you need someone speaking your own language? Do you need someone with their own practice? Find out all the qualities that you want before anything else.

Identify a couple of doctors

When you have identified your categories, you can ask medical specialists, relatives, and friends for some recommendations. Ask about the kind of experiences they have had with such a doctor. When you are given the same name several times, it means that the possibility is quite strong.

Consult the available reference sources

There are several databases that can help you in finding the kind of doctor you want. There are several bodies, depending on your location, that have the mandate to make this information available. Such a website may not recommend an individual doctor, but rather will have a list of the doctors that are worth considering. You can access different directories that can really help. When someone is recognized by such bodies, then you will be certain that they are qualified to handle the position. You need to get in touch with your local medical society so as to find out if there have been any complaints filed against a doctor that you may be considering.

Board Certified Doctors

When a doctor is board certified, it means that they have received some extra training after graduating from medical school. The areas of such specialty include orthopedics, gynecology, geriatrics, family medicine, and general internal medicine. Find out about the doctors who have this certification in your area if you need more qualifications.

Reasons Why Even Healthy People Should Go for Routine Blood Tests

People these days are becoming increasingly health conscious. From customized services offered by doctors to nutrition tracking apps, your good health is now in your own hands. However, blood tests are a totally different ball game altogether.

Blood tests have often been associated with a reactive approach. It is only when you notice symptoms is when you go for a test. However, have you ever realized that by taking routine blood tests there are so many diseases or infections you can fix at the onset or even avoid?

Here are some of the reasons why you should consider regular blood tests, even if you are healthy.

  • Why wait for the symptoms to show up?
    Is it not better to know as early as possible if a disease is brewing in your system? Most chronic risks can be detected through blood tests, so why wait for things to go horribly wrong? Think of all the pain and discomfort you can avoid by being proactive about it. Most blood test types will tell you how your regular lifestyle such as eating habits, exercise, diet etc. is impacting your well-being. By knowing what is wrong, you will be able to take corrective measures while you still can.
  • Don’t assess your health by how you feel
    When the question is about health, the answer should be absolute. Never trust how you look and feel when it comes to evaluating your fitness or general well-being. You need to know exactly how your body is on the inside. Believe it or not, as many as 40% people who are non-obese are suffering from cardiovascular diseases or diabetes.
  • Eliminate the guesswork
    If you have noticed an unreasonable amount of weight gain, don’t just blame it on eating recklessly. Something more sinister may be at play inside your body. You may be experiencing high levels of cortisol that is associated with weight gain and cortisol levels are a sign of stress. You may be addressing a whole different problem by not knowing exactly what is wrong. Without a blood test, you will be fixing the wrong errors, leaving yourself exposed to the risk irrespective of your efforts.
    Routine blood tests allow you to detect not just infections and diseases but also deficiencies. If your body has lack of vitamins and minerals, it can affect the healthy functioning of your body. When certain mineral and vitamin quantities are lower than required, they can cause issues like a headache, muscle cramps, insomnia, fatigue, constipation etc. A lot of these problems can be avoided completely by knowing what is amiss. Which micronutrients are deficient in your body will help you change your diet accordingly.
  • One size does not fit all
    We are all made up of different biochemistry. You and your sibling cannot follow the same nutrition guideline. Since our bodies are different, our approach to our health should also be specific to our body needs. A blood test determines how you should tweak your lifestyle to best meet the needs of your body.

Do You Know the Reasons for Using CT Scans in Dentistry?

Diagnosing dental infections is not an easy task. The normal eye cannot identify some of the oral infections easily. The dentists must rely on special equipment to diagnose them. The use of X-Ray imaging has improved dental diagnosis and treatment. However, the X-Ray images are insufficient. They do not give a full view of all areas within the mouth. That resulted in the growth of cavities and dental infections in hidden areas. To solve the insufficiencies of the X-Ray, the dental CT scans were adopted by the dentists.

The CT scans provide a clear view of the teeth, soft tissues, jawbone and nerve pathway in 3D. All this is captured in a single scan. The imaging process is very simple. The CT scan equipment produces a cone shape X-Ray light. The beam rotates around the head of the patient. That enables it to produce 200 2-dimensional images. The images will be taken to specialized computer software. The software converts the 2-dimensional images to 3-dimensional images. The 3D images provide a better view of the teeth, gums and other mouthparts. Thus, diagnosing oral infections will become easier. The imaging scan is useful in the diagnosis and treatment of the following complex conditions:

  • Dental implant placement
  • Reconstructive surgery planning
  • Examining the jaw, nerves, nasal cavity and sinus cavity
  • Surgical plans for impacted teeth
  • Diagnosis of oral disorders and TMJ

Most dentists have adopted the use of CT scans. However, they are not encouraged to use it for every patient. That is because exposure to radiation is not safe. Listed below are reasons why the dental CT scan is gaining popularity.

Accurate diagnosis

The dentists need an accurate diagnosis of the oral conditions of their patients. That would determine how they will fight the infection. Apparently, diagnosis precedes treatment. Inaccurate diagnosis will lead to incorrect treatment. The diagnosis process will be inaccurate if a proper oral examination is not done. The CT scans reveal every part of the mouth. Nothing can be hidden from the scan. Due to its accuracy in diagnosis, the scan will enable the dentists to provide the right treatment. That will completely destroy any kind of oral infection. The patients will benefit from it. After the treatment, they will enjoy good oral health.

Quick dental procedures

The CT scan helps to speed up the diagnosis and treatment of oral infections. The imaging machine takes a very short time to capture the images. Due to the clarity of its images, dentists can detect oral infections much faster. That enables the patients to receive treatment faster. The dentists, on the other hand, are able to serve more clients. That will aid in boosting their revenues and profits.

Practice Transformation

It is time for healthcare providers to transform into practices that are able to deliver better care at a lower cost with higher patient satisfaction-the Triple Aim. This is what payers-both private and governmental-want. They have no other choice, as we shall see. Those providers who understand this and are willing to work with payers to meet these goals will probably be more successful as time goes on. The practice transformation will be long and hard but those who are willing to ‘perspire’ while focusing on the Triple Aim will succeed and the staff, both clinicians and support staff, may enjoy the journey as their patients become healthier.

It is my goal in this newsletter to explain why the transformation is necessary and to share some ideas about the ways that a practice may take in order to succeed. In newsletters in 2018 I will also address some other approaches that practices can take to be successful. Some of these will be based upon my experiences in helping clients to transform and others will come from literature that I read frequently as well as from my contacts with local provider networks.

In the late 1970’s and in the 1980’s payers began contracting with providers to form HMO’s. The hope was that they could reign in the ever-rising costs of providing care. These costs were being passed on to businesses that provided health care to their employees and families as well as to individuals. Payers contracted with providers whom they thought could provide better care at lower costs. This arrangement did not work and patients were upset that they could not see providers of their choice. Costs continued to rise for payers and the costs of contracts with businesses continued to rise steadily. Businesses reacted by raising deductibles and copays in their contracts; more costs were shifted to employees and individual buyers. This rise in costs to individuals has continued to the present. One of the problems with HMO’s and other narrow networks then was that physicians were still being reimbursed as fee for service without much regard to quality of care. Today, the continued rise of costs to businesses and individuals cannot be sustained or only the very well-off will have good healthcare coverage.

Because the old models of insurance were no longer viable, private payers began to switch to paying for value in care provided. Some of the first examples of switching to value-based care were bundled payments for joint replacement surgery and the formation of Accountable Care Organizations. Two acts from the U.S. Congress also encouraged the gradual change to value-based care contracts. The first was the Accountable Care Act. This forced payers who sold products on the state insurance exchanges to pay for a minimum set of provider services and to provide preventive services at no charge to the patient. The act also established a web site that compared the value of different plans on the exchanges so that customers could purchase the plans with the best value. Businesses also purchased plans with at least the minimum amount of services.

MACRA (the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act) starting in 2017 pressured providers to transition to providing services based upon value. Value indicators were established by the act and some of the reimbursement to physicians was based upon achieving benchmarks that are annually defined.

I think you can see that for the foreseeable future private payers will continue to contract with providers based upon the value of services provided. Providers that provide the best services for the lowest costs will succeed with these payment models.

In my locale, Mercy Health of West Michigan and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan have contracted together to provide care and an insurance product that is very affordable to individuals, including a Medicare Advantage product. Buyers of this product must use Mercy Health Physicians and one of four hospitals in the area. Mercy Health is able to deliver the quality of care that Blue Shield desires as Mercy Health physicians have been certified at level 2 or 3 NCQA Patient-Centered Medical Homes for quite some time. NCQA PCMH’s have been shown to meet the Triple Aim. Mercy Health physicians have worked hard many years to achieve their certification as patient-centered medical homes. Blue Cross and Blue Shield have enhanced their reimbursement for having done so.

For primary care providers becoming certified as a PCMH makes sense economically, according to the article “PCMH accreditation: Is it worth it?” at medical economics. There are several different organizations that certify primary care sites as medical homes. In Michigan Blue Cross Blue Shield has been certifying sites as medical homes since 2009. Practices that qualify received enhanced reimbursement for services, as did Mercy Health physicians. NCQA, a federal department, also certifies sites as PCMH’s nationally. I think that any primary care provider should explore becoming certified as a PCMH by checking with the payers with whom they are contracted to see if there is additional reimbursement. CMS is considering expanding their definition of PCMH to include other certifications outside of their current demonstration project so additional practices can qualify for enhanced reimbursement under MIPS.

Another approach to reaching the Triple Aim is to focus on social determinants of patients. These include cultural background, income level, gender, age, etc. This approach is recommended in the article “Building a Population HEALTH Strategy that Physicians LOVE” in the October 2017 edition of MGMA Connection. Practices should focus on social determinants in order to overcome barriers to good health that an individual may face. Sometimes this will mean that a practice will want to have relationships with local non-profits that are able to provide resources for their patients that will influence the outcomes of the care that the provider gives. Two such agencies that I have experience with that I think would be useful are Meals on Wheels and The Salvation Army.

I recently visited my local Meals on Wheels program and found that one of their primary goals is to help their clients stay in their homes rather than being admitted to assisted living. Clients of Meals on Wheels have limited mobility and have difficulty preparing their own food, besides having limited income. By providing nutritious meals every week to clients, the clients are able to stay in their own homes, which they value. Also, volunteers who deliver the meals are instructed to keep an eye out for any changes to their clients’ health and report it.

I also went along with a registered nurse from Meals on Wheels to a client assessment at the client’s home. The nurse not only collected information about income and family support, but also extensive information about the general health of the client, including number of falls in the past year. From my experience, I believe that a healthcare group may want to formalize a relationship with organizations such as Meals on Wheels as doing so may help in maintaining or improving the health of patients who are clients of such organizations.

Recent history shows that the fee for service model will be disappearing, at least in part, and replaced by value-based care. It will not be known for quite some time whether this new reimbursement model will have a significant impact in slowing down the rise in healthcare costs. Patient-centered medial homes have shown that costs can be reined in while care is improved. For the immediate future providers need to focus on the transformation to value-based care organizations and explore local resources that may be able to help their patients overcome barriers that impede the care that they provide.

For another perspective on the transformation of healthcare to value-based organizations, you may want to read the article “The Road to Affordability: How Collaborating at The Community Level Can Reduce Costs, Improve Care, And Spread Best Practices” found in the Health Affairs Blog of November 14, 2017. It has some good examples of the transformations going on in other parts of the United States.

The Causes of Common Dental Issues

As long as you can remember, you’ve heard the words “cavities” and “gum disease” many times. Chances are you’ve had at least one cavity and one bout of gingivitis (low-level gum disease) so far in your life time. These tend to be the most common dental issues patients are familiar with. As there is a lot that goes on in the mouth as well as a wide range of foods and drinks that enter it throughout the day, many other dental issues can also occur. Some of these you may or may not have experienced:

  • Tooth Sensitivity
  • Chronic Bad Breath
  • Chronic Dry Mouth
  • Canker Sores
  • Tooth and Jaw Pain

Causes of Dental Issues

There are multiple causes of the aforementioned common dental issues. Many causes are things a patient can do something about. Below are the common dental health issue causes:

Poor dental health and hygiene. Poor dental health as the result of improper or sub-par at-home oral hygiene is the most common cause for the majority of common dental issues. The lack of flossing and inconsistency of teeth brushing can leave decaying food particles in the mouth which cause tooth decay and gum disease which can then lead to additional oral health problems such as bad breath, lost teeth and weakened jaw bones.

Trauma. Trauma to the teeth or gums as a result of an injury can damage and weaken protective tissue that can make one’s mouth more susceptible to tooth decay, broken or chipped teeth, jaw injury and lost teeth. Most common accidents to the mouth involve the breaking, cracking, chipping or losing of teeth. Should any of these happen, patients are to go to the nearest dentist or ER room ASAP as prompt treatment is needed to save the teeth.

Underlying overall health conditions. Autoimmune diseases such as HIV and health conditions such as diabetes can put one at an increased risk of dental health issues by making one’s teeth and gums more vulnerable to infection and disease. These aforementioned conditions also lower the mouth’s ability to fight off disease and infection.

Underlying oral conditions. Tooth sensitivity, bleeding gums, bad breath and canker sores can all be the results of tooth decay, gum disease or another oral infection. A sore jaw, dry mouth and chronic bad breath can be the result of TMJ, bruxism (unconscious teeth grinding and jaw clenching) or another dysfunction in the functioning of the mouth.

There are many different causes to common dental issues. Some of the causes can be more easily reduced or dealt with by the oral hygiene habits of the patient. Others are more outside of the patient’s control and will require the help of a trained dental professional.

A Healthy Lifestyle Is Not a New Year Resolution, It’s a Discipline

A healthy lifestyle from the start will decide how you will be in your midlife and beyond. However it won’t happen unless you make the right choices. Work out, eat healthy, sleep well and you will set yourself on the path to success. After about 40, most people have achieved biological adulthood, which is a nicer way to saying you have boarded the slow train to your inevitable mortality. You will start to realize the slow and gradual decline in your response to bodily activities and the resulting resistance in your bodily functions.

Eating unhealthy processed food, irregular sleep pattern and inactivity create low level inflammatory response in your body. This inflammation gradually increases overtime, contributing directly to the germination of every major disease plaguing mankind – obesity, diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease, just to name a few.

The first and foremost thing to focus on is Nutrition – what you eat. Add lots of green leafy vegetables, whole grains, organic poultry, dairy and fruits in your daily diet. Keep your body hydrated. Drink plenty of water and raw fruit juice as fluids help keeping body temperature low and removes toxins through perspiration (sweat) and excretion (urine). Keep a balanced share of carbohydrate, protein, good fats and minerals. These small changes in your diet will contribute to your overall wellbeing. Cut back unhealthy fats from your diet slowly and target on stopping to consume them completely. Unhealthy fats include: dark chicken meat, poultry skin, fatty pork cuts, beef and lamb and high-fat dairies include whole milk, butter and cheese. Common ways to cut back on unhealthy fats are listed below:

  • Instead of frying meat, Bake / Grill / Broil it. Don’t forget to take the skin off before cooking chicken or turkey
  • Instead of butter and cheese on bread, use low fat spreads or slices of tomatoes on it to enhance the flavour
  • Instead of scrambled eggs, eat boiled / soft-boiled eggs. Garnish with a pinch of salt and black pepper to taste best
  • Instead of using sugar in patisseries and desserts, use organic honey to satisfy your sweet bud and stay healthy

When it comes to a healthy lifestyle, the importance of sleep is worth discussing. Get yourself adequate sleep, because internal healing and tissue repair happen only when you sleep. Sleep deficiency contributes to an increased risk of cardio-vascular disease, kidney disease, brain damage etc. Sleep deprivation lowers the metabolic rate of your body, which is linked to weight gain. Studies show that sleep deprived individuals have higher levels of Ghrelin, the hormone which stimulates appetite and lower levels of Leptin, the hormone which suppresses appetite. Hence, good sleepers tend to intake fewer calories.

The last, but definitely not the least is the importance of regular exercise when it comes to a healthy and active lifestyle. No matter which age group you belong to, it is advisable and wise to include a minimum 30 minutes of workout / physical activity of moderate intensity such as running, brisk walking on most, if not all days of the week. As humans, we spend far too much time in our synthetic environment, disconnected from the outside world. This disconnect poses a serious threat to our health and general wellness. Think of your body as a complex machine, which houses equally complex parts (bones) and sub systems (organs) inside. If you let it sit idle, the parts and the sub systems will lose movement capability and eventually get rusted. A few tips to incorporate exercise in your daily routine:

  • Prioritize physical activity
  • Make it fun
  • Get a partner
  • Keep a track of results
  • Set milestones

All these factors put together, will bring noticeable change in your lifestyle and wellbeing. Some changes will happen quickly, some will be gradual. But overall, you will feel the positive change in your health – mind, body and soul.

How to Distinguish Between Policies and Procedures for Social Care Services

The terms policy and procedures are crucial to an organization and are interdependent. However, there is some wide dissimilarity between the two that are important to take notice of. The term policy is a plan for action and it impacts on an organization. It is reactive as it is created with a purpose of getting response to a current pressing problem. On the other hand procedures are footsteps that help one to achieve excellence with the policy.

Differences between policies and procedures for social care services are-

What is a policy?

A policy gives an organization the all-purpose direction provided by a set of rules that is made up by the top executive leadership. It is a general principle that top executives have agreed and each employee being a part of the association will abide by. A policy maker is someone who makes decisions for a collective group or organization. It is a high level rule that is supported by the organizations procedures.

A policy can be both reactive (as mentioned earlier) and pro-active. That means it is a course of action designed to prevent a problem or an issue.

Considering the examples given below-

  • Example of a reactive policy is that for house
  • Example of a pro-active policy is that of government rebates or kickbacks.

The key to good policy making is a good method for top executives to make decisions that set directions for the company.

What should be the characteristics of a good policy?

  • A policy should be clear and simple. It however does not explain how they are going to be achieved.
  • The principle is fortunately well-established in an organization and hence nullifying the need of revising.
  • There can be both internal as well as external policies for different stakeholders.

What is procedure?

The procedure explains the ways a policy work. It is similar to a road map that explains how the organizations comply with the policy. Procedure by its term has the literal meaning of a series of small tasks or steps that one take to accomplish a task. There are also different levels of procedures from higher to lower that summarize the steps that one needs to take while documenting a policy.

What should be the characteristics of a good procedure?

  • It should explain how a company reaches its destination and should also comply with all the laws of company.
  • It reveals the step by step instructions on how a company gets to that destination. The turn-by-turn directions help the company to overcome the barriers in the way of excelling in their policy.
  • It is an algorithm or protocol that one needs to follow for the benefit of the institution.
  • A procedure includes all the tools, means and methods that one uses to meet the policy requirements.

One might think that a policy and a law are somewhat similar. However, the truth is far behind. Policies on one hand guide the decisions of a company or institutions; on the other hand laws implement justice and order.

A policy is a plan of an action and a law is an established procedure or standard that each member of a society must follow. A law widely depends on policies as the latter is used to create them.

Having a set of both standard policy and procedure is essential for a company. On the other hand, the latter defines how one is going to do that. Hence, both policy and procedure are evident elements of an organization that one needs to take care while drafting the social care services.