Why Online Doctor Consultation Is the New ‘In’ Thing in Healthcare

The human body with all its capabilities, is a fragile thing. It is prone to diseases and the ravages of time. Man had to start experimenting with ways to beat back these factors and hence, medicine started evolving with the first stones of civilization.

History has revealed records of medical illnesses and ways to treat them, which dates back to thousands of years ago. With the passage of time, medicinal advance has grown in leaps and bounds. Medicine was treated as an art in the early ages and was heavily tinged with shades of religion and philosophy in certain cultures. Medicine men were considered as spiritual healers who would chant prayers while applying concoctions of herbs on patients to rid them of maladies. Roman and Greek physicians came up with a meticulous system of treatment according to four bodily fluids known as humors. The excess or deficiency of humors would bring with it diseases. In India, Ayurveda was used to treat people as far back as 1500 BC with in-depth knowledge of the human anatomy as well as surgical procedures.

In modern times, medicine is still considered an art, such as the skill required in complex procedures which can only come with practice. However, today medicine walks hand in glove with science instead of religion. Once man had technology in his grasp, medicine has grown exponentially. There’s no need to cut a body open to examine its insides, we have machines for scans which reveal the innermost workings of the human body, which was earlier shrouded in mystery. Machines perform complex operations with exact measurements in tiny spaces on delicate tissues in the body. We’re still developing systems to save lives and keep diseases at bay with more convenience and it has brought us today to the future of online doctor consultation.

Online doctor consultation can have profound effects on the medical landscape. Will it be possible to receive a diagnosis without physically consulting a doctor using online reports? Will healthcare lose its personal touch as gadgets step in instead of caring hands? Is online doctor consultation the revolutionary healthcare method we need, to go with our fast paced lifestyles?

How’s it going to help you? Here are some pros and cons you can mentally weigh before you go in for tete-a-tete with a doctor online.

Cost-Effective

For those who need a second opinion or a follow-up consultation with a doctor, it isn’t economically viable to go in for a visit and pay the full amount. Since time slots and its corresponding fees are fixed, they normally tend to be lower than the fees of a walk-in appointment. Follow up queries are easily solvable over text.

Medical help is expensive and without medical insurance, people have to bear the full brunt of long bills. Online doctor consultation is a cheaper alternative for those without medical insurance to get the help they need.

No location or time restrictions

Need to get that mysterious back pain checked out but your 9 to 7 job won’t allow it? Simply pick up your phone and ask for a doctor. You can text your concerns to your doctor in the comfort of your home, in your car or even at your desk in office.

Most jobs don’t allow for a lot of time on hand. If you’re one of the lucky ones with a two day weekend, you’ll find that a lot of doctors aren’t available on weekends. With online consultations you can talk to a doctor around the clock whenever you can spare a few minutes.

Even if we do manage to get ourselves to a clinic, we’re always scared we’ll end up catching an infection from that sniffling guy sneezing violently beside us. Straining to not breathe in any germs and all that nerve-wracking waiting actually adds to mental stress which may aggravate any illness we might have. It definitely helps to sit in the comfort of your home and calmly put forward any concerns you may have.

Breaching distances

The distance from your home to a healthcare center is often one of the biggest challenges that you have to face. Some are ill equipped to travel long distances to a healthcare center, some have homes removed from any healthcare providers in the vicinity but might need urgent answers to problems they are experiencing. If you’re lucky enough to own a car you have to account for the expenditure on petrol, waiting in mind-numbing traffic and stressing about getting a parking spot. For those who don’t own a car, waiting for public transport is another issue they need to deal with before they can get the care they need.

Online medical consultation can give you answers to health questions even as you sit on your couch in your pajamas. Responses are almost instant which are good for those who need urgent answers. Rural areas where medical resources are scarce will especially benefit from online consultation. Those in rural areas in developing countries have to travel to cities to get adequate healthcare. Online consultation will prove helpful in such cases, as they can receive advice from specialists as well.

Avoiding Self-Diagnosis

The first thing we do when we start sporting a mysterious pain in our bodies is googling the symptoms. Like many before us, the results most often than not come up all boding fatal diseases which freak us out. With countless health tips and articles online, people end up following things they’ve read off the net which more often than not are written by people with no expertise. This can prove dangerous as self-medication can go horribly wrong. Online doctor consultation enables us to put forth these queries to verified medical experts who can give you prudent advice on what to do and what not to do.

Using e-prescriptions

Nowadays doctors can send e-prescriptions to pharmacies and you can go directly to the pharmacy to pick up your medicines. This is especially useful for people who are on treatment plans which need refills every now and then. Your doctor can send a prescription remotely without you having to physically go and pick up a prescription for refills. This makes life easier for those who are on asthma medication or need birth control pills.

The system of e-prescriptions encourages interactions between pharmacists and doctors. With physical prescriptions, doctors are usually unaware about whether their patients are getting the prescribed medicines or store-recommended alternatives in case the prescribed medicines are unavailable. The alternatives might not suit a patient. In many cases, doctors using the e-prescription system can see whether the patient can afford the prescribed medicines or suggest cheaper alternatives.

Security and privacy

A lot of people with problems they deem embarrassing hesitate in going to medical practitioners and getting the help they need. In such cases, they can be guided through online consultation. They can avoid a face to face conversation and open up about their problems to doctors, knowing that their privacy is intact.

A common question which arises frequently with regards to online consultation is whether confidential information of both doctors and patients is safe. Most online services comply with HIPAA or Health Accountability and Portability Act which ensures that health information is protected in terms of privacy and security, digital or otherwise. Most countries have health laws in place which safeguard the privacy of health information provided to medical practitioners. Other than that, healthtech platforms normally have security systems and servers to make sure that your information is not preyed upon.

Knowing your body better

In some cases a doctor might ask you to examine your body symptoms to afford more clarity as to what the problem might be. As such, you will learn how to probe that suspicious looking lump or examine your swollen sinuses. You’ll be able to assess better as to what kind of help you need in case such problems crop up again. Though it’s always better to have a doctor examine you personally; in the absence of such means you’ll be able to have access to some guidance with regards to worrying symptoms.

While it’s definitely recommended that any medical issues be checked out personally by doctors as that will yield a more accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Minor issues can be a warning sign for something serious which need careful, physical examination. However, for health issues that are not very urgent, online doctor consultation can cut out many hassles involved in getting adequate care. Most of the doctors online are verified experts who have their practice offline but also operate online.

Uses and Benefits of Lemon

Lemon, a citrus fruit when tasted brings a sour expression on your face. Though not consumed separately, the taste of lemon is unique from others. It has many kinds as well – Bonnie Brae, goes in San Diego, USA, Eureka, a common all place lemon, also called Four season because it has the capability to produce fruit and flowers together all year long, Femminello St. Teresa, that is found in Italy, Yen Ben, resident of Australia. Did you know that lemon is a native of Asia. Lemon though comes into the category of fruit, but is a part of every recipe. Be it fruits or salads or chicken or vegetables or fish, lemon could be added in almost everything and bring out a better taste of it. Name one dish whose taste will not be improved after the addition of lemon in it (with tea as an exception). Lemon is an absolute all-rounder with endless benefits. Apart from its culinary qualities lemon can be used in a lot of things.

  • Lemon is basically the home of Vitamin C. C is the vitamin that your body requires most. It helps in maintaining the functions of the body and regulates immune system. Lemon also produces juices that are needed in digestion.
  • As it also purifies your blood lemon can be used during cholera and malaria as treatment.
  • Lemon Juice is also highly recommended by doctors. After a session of workout, drinking lemon water can replenish body salt. It also has anti-bacterial properties.
  • Lemon juice has also been proved effective in weight loss. Mix lemon juice and honey in a glass of lukewarm water and drink it every day you will soon notice a loss in your weight.
  • You can use lemon as a preservative for many things like apples, avocado, banana where the acid in the lemon can prevent them from changing color or turning stale. Just apply lemon juice on the sliced parts.
  • If your rice becomes sticky then just add lemon juice and separate them and make them fresh again. Lemon juice also helps maintaining pH levels in your body.
  • Lemon zest is also very good for the skin. It lightens skin tones, eliminates scars and pores.
  • Not only lemon zest, but the leaves of the lemon plant are also very useful. You can use lemon leaves in tea, fishes and other seafood, chicken.
  • You can use lemon oil for aromatherapy, it will soothe your body and provides relaxation.
  • Apart from aromatherapy, lemon can be also used to relax your feet. In a bucket take warm water and squeeze lemon into it. You can also add baking soda if you want. Soak your feet in it for 10 to 15 mins. You will feel relaxed and your feet will be softened.
  • By applying coconut oil mixed with lemon juice you can get rid of dandruff.
  • The amount of citric acid present in lemon is more than other fruits like grapefruit and orange. Lemon contains two times more citric acid than grapefruit and five times more than orange juice.

Lemon is an essential ingredient of almost all recipes. Visit our site to have a look at some tasty and healthy recipes which would satisfy your tastebuds.

Medical and Healthcare Answering Service

Making a call to a healthcare answering service helps you in locating the most appropriate specialist at the earliest and this will assure the fastest treatment for any ailment that befalls you. Remember that some medical situations call for immediate attention from a reputed surgeon or physician. Any delay could be the cause of intense distress or even may lead to a life threatening condition. Therefore it is imperative that everyone keeps a tab on the nearest answering service that deals with bringing you in contact with medical personnel. There are thousands of such centers spread all over the nation and in almost every nook and corner of the American cities including the State of Florida.

The purpose of an answering organization is to ensure that you reach the right service with minimum loss of time for availing whatever facility you desire. One can always look up any service including medical category on Internet or the telephone guides, however it is sometimes tiresome to browse through hundreds of pages and locate the right service. This is where the answering call centers come into play who manages to keep a vast database of diverse services for various accounts. The need of database is very necessary for a place or state that attracts not only business contacts but also is one of the most important tourist locations in the US. The medical answering service in particular is highly specialized and staffed by experienced paramedical or medical counselors who believe in serving the populace to alleviate all distress related to sickness and emergency situations.

Healthcare is an important socially oriented though commercial business and those planning to join this extremely noble cause must be inclined to be friendly, compassionate and well spoken. The people involved in this service should also be knowledgeable of the available medical facilities in the cities and locales so as to advise the patient of the easiest course of action in case of need. If you browse through the websites of a few answering services in the medical field you will find that they have a large database of specialists, hospitals, paramedics and medical stores for you to easily make a choice of the best that suit your needs.

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.

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.

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.