Category Archives: Healthcare

Issues and Opportunities Your Health Environment

The healthcare industry affects the lives of virtually everyone in the United States. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), healthcare expenditures will account for approximately 17% of the Gross Domestic Product this year. Many activities in the healthcare industry result in land, water or air pollution. Much of the waste is recyclable and consists of paper, cardboard, glass, plastic and metals. There are two other types of solid waste in healthcare: regulated medical waste and hazardous or chemical waste. Additionally, hospitals discharge large amounts of wastewater and release air emissions from their facility operations.

Oftentimes, hospital services are decentralized, departmentalized, or even managed by contracted services. There may be little or no centralization of efforts. There may be minimal regard, knowledge or control over minimizing waste or environmental impact. If healthcare organizations really want to decrease costs and reduce their carbon footprint, they must embrace sustainability with the full support of top management. They must pay close attention to what they purchase and what they discard.

There are many variables affecting healthcare waste minimization:

* The types of products and materials purchased

* The types of waste segregation systems

* The degree to which wastes are identified

* The locations of the waste generation

Healthcare wastes can be categorized as:

* Municipal

* Recycling (Pennsylvania Act 101, for example)

* Regulated medical waste (Bio-hazardous or Red Bag Waste)

* Hazardous waste (listed and characteristic waste, commingled waste, pressurized containers and ignitable gas, and universal waste)

* Universal Waste (Batteries, Fluorescent Bulbs, Electronics, Mercury-containing Equipment)

* Waste water, Storm Water and Air Emissions

Municipal Waste:

The United States healthcare industry generates 6,670 tons of waste per day, most of which is solid or municipal waste. Of this solid waste, more than half is composed of paper and cardboard. Hospitals with excellent recycling programs recycle over 40 percent of their total municipal waste.

Recycling:

Many states mandate commercial and residential recycling of a wide range of materials. For example, Pennsylvania Act 101 mandates recycling in Pennsylvania’s larger municipalities and requires counties to develop municipal waste management plans. The goals of the Act are to reduce Pennsylvania’s municipal waste generation; recycle at least 25% of waste generated; procure and use recycled and recyclable materials in state governmental agencies; and educate the public as to the benefits of recycling and waste reduction.

Municipalities must collect at least 3 of the following materials: clear glass; colored glass; plastics; aluminum; steel and bimetallic cans; high grade office paper; corrugated paper and newsprint. Commercial, municipal and institutional establishments are required to recycle aluminum, high-grade office paper and corrugated paper in addition to other materials chosen by the municipality. Leaf and composting are required to be separated from municipal waste. Businesses, including hospitals, are encouraged to help reduce waste by purchasing products that are durable, repairable, recycled, recyclable and/or have minimal packaging, and to find other uses for surplus goods instead of throwing them away.

Regulated Medical Waste:

Industry best practices for red bag waste are between one and three pounds of red bag waste per patient day, yet many hospitals still treat 25 to 30% percent of their total waste stream as infectious. Bio-hazardous waste includes sharps, pathological waste, blood and blood products, blood-soaked items, and non-regulated chemotherapy waste. Most patients in medical-surgical rooms generate little, if any, infectious waste, however, there may still be reluctance on the part of hospitals to “source-separate” the bio-hazardous waste at the patient’s bedside or at the place of treatment. Some healthcare organizations still consider all waste generated in a patient’s room as red bag waste even when the waste contains no visible blood. Hospitals may fear that they will be cited with a violation should an item of trash be discarded improperly.

Progress in pharmaceutical technology has reduced the need for surgical interventions. Changes in healthcare reimbursements have decreased the length of stay in hospitals and increased home care and outpatient healthcare. Healthcare products are being packaged more efficiently and the use of plastics instead of glass has lessened the weight of many products. Despite all these advances, the widespread purchase and use of “disposables” in healthcare has created large amounts of waste that cannot easily be recycled. Many “single-use” medical devices can be safely sterilized and reprocessed and used many times. This can save healthcare organizations significant dollars by minimizing their need to purchase single use items.

Hazardous Chemical Waste:

The healthcare industry generates only small quantities of hazardous chemicals relative to the amount of municipal solid waste or bio-hazardous waste. Hospitals that own research laboratories generate greater volumes and more diverse types of hazardous chemicals. Healthcare laboratories that perform diagnostic testing often use a large volume of a few chemicals such as xylene, alcohol and formalin in their processes. Some labs recycle and reuse chemicals to avoid the cost associated with hazardous waste disposal and repurchase of new materials. Other labs are equipped with chemical analyzer systems with reagent reservoirs that reduce the total amounts of chemicals used and waste generated.

Wastewater Discharge:

Most healthcare facilities discharge wastewater to Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW). Dischargers are classified as major based on an assessment of six characteristics: (1) toxic pollutant potential; (2) waste stream flow volume; (3) conventional pollutant loading; (4) public health impact; (5) water quality factors; and (6) proximity to nearby coastal waters.

Healthcare Wastewater Best Practices include:

* Limit the use of water discharged through conservation and reusing water wherever possible.

* Train employees to use water more efficiently.

* Post signs at all floor drains and sinks to discourage employees from using drains to dispose of oil, vehicle fluids, solvents, and paints.

* Use non-toxic floor cleaners or “Green Chemicals.”

* Consider capping off unused floor drains.

* Prevent any spills and drips from reaching the drain.

* Know where your floor drains discharge.

* Set up a preventive maintenance program for inspecting and cleaning floor drains, traps and oil/water separators.

Air Emissions:

Hospitals may generate air emissions from boilers, emergency generators, sterilization chemicals (ethylene oxide), air conditioning and refrigeration, paint booths, and laboratory fume hoods.

Boilers: Many hospitals operate industrial boilers, which generate criteria pollutants (NOx, SO2, particulates, CO) as well as hazardous air pollutants. NOx emissions from boilers are the most serious criteria air pollutant generated by the healthcare industry. Click here for information regarding EPA’s new HAP regulations for boilers.

Incinerator emissions: As a result of the Medical/Infectious Waste Incinerators HMIWI rule, most facilities no longer have on site-incinerators.

Healthcare Sustainability:

Through training, education, source-separation, environmental purchasing, energy conservation, recycling initiatives and waste minimization, a green initiative will have a major impact on reducing waste and pollution. Healthcare facilities should organize a multi-disciplinary team of healthcare professionals and establish a sustainability program if they haven’t already done so. A Green Team will reduce waste from healthcare operations while saving money. Paying attention to the little things pays big dividends. It is also an important component of any organization’s public relations and marketing arsenal.

Decision Support System in Health

IT Efficiency: Ontology Programming Holds the Key

The seamless integration of knowledge and data is indispensible to today’s modern healthcare decision support systems (DSS). A healthcare organization that thoroughly understands its patients and is able to respond quickly to their needs, scores highly with them-and this has become an extremely important competitive component in today’s ever-more interconnected world where patient feedback can positively or negatively affect an organization’s reputation and bottom line.

The patient care world is complex, with various information systems being utilized to streamline and automate patient care processes.Fortunately, there is a new approach to IT efficiency vis-a-vis ontological engineering-or ontology programming-that is possibly the most significant benefit to ensuring accurate data integration, which fosters a better understanding of patient needs, thus resulting in better patient care and excellent patient outcomes.

Ontological engineering excels at extracting knowledge and critical information from the various information systems within a healthcare decision support system (or its organizational databases). Ontology programming reduces often difficult data integration issues and promotes data reuse, data sharing, and common vocabularies between the information systems, from patient intake to patient discharge.

For healthcare organizations to understand their patients better, data across the entire organization or spectrum of information systems involved in patient care must to be analyzed. Knowledge from different areas or “domains” (e.g., the patient-entry process domain, hospitalization and treatment domains, and billing and insurance domains) must to be extracted in order to accurately interpret quality of care.

Detailed knowledge is also required to interpret patient responses to the various care options exercised from the time of entry into the healthcare facility through final discharge. In addition, quality healthcare organizations strive to improve their existing processes and analyze post-care data in order to determine areas of improvement and initiate appropriate programs. Therefore, the accurate compilation and correlation of patient data is essential during the care process-both individually and in aggregate with other patient data-to determine potential process improvement steps.

As mentioned previously, healthcare organizations also benefit from their patients’ recovering better and more quickly as a result of higher quality care. This is, in no small part, driven by efficient information systems. Patient care results are reflected in quality reports issued by premier organizations such as JCAHO (Joint Commission for Accreditation for Healthcare Organizations). As of 2009, JCAHO reports include patient satisfaction data, as well, thus making it even more important to understand patient information effectively and utilize to it to render care that leads to better patient satisfaction.

Accurate knowledge across intra-organizational domains can only be extracted when healthcare decision support systems are able to exchange relevant data with each other-which is not always possible with current configurations.Even if the numerous systems within an organization can connect to each other through common computer interfaces, they may have stored patient data differently,rendering information exchange virtually impossible and creating a silo effect. Additionally, the context in which the information is used may vary from system to system,making it even more difficult to correlate data across various platforms and systems within the organization. Finally, data consistency and data integrity issues arise as each silo information system is further customized to optimize the information system’s performance.

Therefore, to achieve a comprehensive and accurate individual patient view across the entire patient care spectrum of an organization, different information systems-based reports may have to be compiled separately with data correlated between them. The results will then need to be represented in a single, coherent report. This type of data correlation may include the mapping of various customer names for a single patient, as an example. Obviously, this type of system is not only vulnerable to error and to data integrity and consistency issues, but it is also quite inefficient and, therefore, needlessly costly.

Data correlation, integrity, and integration issues are not confined within an organization’s systems only. Health care organizations rely on HIE (Healthcare Information Exchange) to communicate with external entities. HIE is used to move clinical information between different information systems from various providers (i.e. test labs, insurance companies, and other healthcare facilities) without losing the meaning of the information exchanged. These systems typically use established standards for data exchange, such as SNOMED CT, ICD-9 and -10, and other HIE standards.

Periodic updates are required, and organizations must ensure that they are in compliance in order to participate in data exchanges with other providers. Naturally, whenever any data changes occur, the cost and time required to modify multiple systems within an organization can be staggering, but without the use of ontological engineering, the higher costs must be borne, as system modifications are mandatory.

Whether the data reside internally or external sources are employed for HIE, a healthcare organization faces the common issues of data mapping, data integration, reuse, and data sharing.  Whenever data change, or new relationships between data are discovered, organizations expend valuable resources in time and money adjusting databases across various systems in an attempt to keep them aligned with each other. This absorbs important resources, taking them away from the core focus and value proposition of the organization-that of providing quality patient care.

When data change, especially internal organizational data, conventional technologies (as in “relational” databases) require changes to their database structures and schemas, potentially leading to major regression testing of the systems after the changes have been completed.  This must be accomplished in order to ensure that nothing is deleted or corrupted after the changes are made, and is quite naturally, another costly step-both in terms of time and resources.

Information Technology departments have tried to respond to data integrity and data integration issues across various systems within an organization by building a data warehouse that acts as a central repository for most, or all, of the inter-related systems. However, the solution is only partially successful. Often times, competing interests from various internal “stakeholders” in different information systems can lead to data that is stored in a manner is favorable to some information systems, but not others. This, of course, potentially compromises data access and reuse by other systems.

In addition, since the entire organization’s data cannot be migrated to a data warehouse simultaneously, some systems are migrated before others, and the entire migration process may take as long as a year or more to complete in a large health care organization. In the interim, data across the enterprise changes, and the whole cycle of re-aligning data must start anew. There have been proposed solutions to address this and other related problems, but they each leave something to be desired.

Ontology programming can help reduce data integration, sharing, and reuse pains to quite an extent. By definition, ontologies are a formal representation of knowledge by a set of concepts within a domain. They not only store data in a database, but also store relationships, including hierarchical relationships, between data.

This ability distinguishes ontological engineering from standard relational databases and provides the flexibility of updating data and relationships between them. Ontologies are also able to add newly discovered relationships without the necessity of significantly changing the core database or requiring extensive programming efforts-unlike typical databases currently in use.  They also excel at removing term confusion and providing data mapping capabilities, which vastly promotes improved data share and data reuse across an organization’s information systems.

For healthcare organizations, as well as other large business enterprises, the practical, time-saving applications of a system built on ontology programming are quite extensive. We know that ontological engineering provides the ability to extract knowledge contained within applications and information systems across the various domains within an organization, but it is also very useful for capturing “real world decisions” made by humans and converting it into computer format. The result of this capturing of knowledge across domains by SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) and healthcare providers leads to much more consistent query results whenever similar conditions are encountered in the future.

Such information system architecture can significantly reduce medical errors and enhance patient care. This can be accomplished, for instance, by the capturing of a healthcare professional’s diagnosis of a particular medical condition and other relevant data. Once the data are entered into the ontological system, it will consistently provide the same results for similar conditions in the future and offer the diagnostics and conclusions as an aid to other healthcare professionals.

Subsequently, a healthcare professional may choose to exercise the same diagnostics (or treat the patient differently according to differences in patient circumstances), but the healthcare decision support system’s information can now provide an important, relevant checkpoint based upon the previous diagnostic information.

In conclusion, the use of ontology programming in the healthcare field provides a significant reduction in data integration issues and-because these technologies are superior extractors of knowledge across multiple information systems and can add new relationships between such systems with relative ease-they provide the flexibility to change data with far less effort and cost than standard systems now require.

Consequently, ontological engineering is able to provide an invaluable component to improved patient care and outcomes by supporting critical healthcare processes and decision-making. The superior integration of knowledge and data within healthcare organizations may at first appear prosaic, but it is nothing short of revolutionary in its potential to affect organizational performance and quality care.

Careers in Health Management

Many of us associate a career in healthcare with nobility and helping others, treating doctors, nurses and other primary patient care providers with awe and admiration. But we forget that healthcare is also a business and like any other business, it needs efficient management and administration to survive. So, who are the people working tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure the delivery of healthcare is smooth at all times? These professionals are none other than health service managers or healthcare administrators trained and qualified to plan, direct, supervise, and coordinate the delivery of healthcare.

Healthcare management is an ideal career choice for individuals who want to take advantage of the growing job opportunities in this sector, but away from direct patient care. Interested? Then read on to find out more about the different healthcare management careers.

Educational Qualifications

The first thing you need to do for a healthcare management career is to get appropriate training. A health services manager is much like a manager in any other business unit who should have strong business and management skills as well as the ability to communicate effectively. A solid academic program definitely helps you acquire some of these skills. To work your way up the corporate ladder, a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration degree would be a best suit for you. However, the standard credential for more senior positions in the field is a Master’s in Healthcare Administration degree.

Career Paths

Technological advancements and complex medical regulations have made the job of a healthcare administrator both exciting as well as challenging. As described earlier, healthcare managers are involved in planning and supervising the healthcare delivery system of a facility. Depending on its size, expertise and experience levels, they could lead an entire healthcare facility or be part of a team of health service managers working under a top administrator. Their day to day activities include management of finances, personnel, operations and admissions.

Other healthcare management careers that can be considered are clinical management and health information management. Clinical managers are trained and experienced in a particular clinical area, and are responsible for taking care of that respective department in the healthcare facility. To become a clinical manager, you need to have a degree in a related field. You can supplement your education and boost your career with a Master’s in Healthcare Administration degree.

Health information managers, on the other hand, maintain patient records in a secure manner in keeping with the federal government regulations. Health information managers need to have completed an undergraduate or graduate program in health information management.

Employment Opportunities

According to 2010-11 edition of the Department of Labor’s Occupation Outlook Handbook, the employment opportunities for healthcare managers should be good, and the profession is expected to witness a “faster than average” growth through 2018. The writing on the wall is bold and clear. This is the time to enter healthcare management careers. Undeniably, it’s a choice that requires considerable investment of time, money and effort. But equally irrefutable is the fact that you will soon see your investment turn into gold. Like a wise man once said – as you sow so shall you reap!

How Does the Job Assistant Health Work?

There is a common misconception that staffing factoring is a complicated type of financing. In actuality, the factoring process is actually quite simple. All it takes is five easy steps…

Step One: Sell Healthcare Staffing Agency Invoices to a Factor

Technically, the first step in the healthcare staffing factoring equation happens when the agency’s customer (presumably a medical facility) has a shift open and requests the agency to fill that position. Once an agency employee works the shift, the agency is able to invoice the facility for the hours worked. At any time after the agency has invoiced the medical facility, it also has the ability to sell the invoice to a healthcare staffing factor.

The actual sale of the invoice is usually accomplished electronically, in that the agency emails or faxes a copy of the invoice along with corresponding signed timed sheets to the healthcare staffing factoring agency. The invoices and timesheets must be accompanied by an Assignment of Accounts Receivables form, which lists out all the invoices the agency wishes to sell to the factor and includes a signature from an authorized employee of the agency.

Step Two: New Debtor Credit Check

Once the healthcare staffing factoring agency receives the schedule of invoices and timesheets, an account manager reviews it for new customers. If there happens to be new customers (a.k.a. debtors), the account manager will conduct a brief credit review in order to establish a line of credit for that debtor. Typically, the credit review process can be completed within 24 hours of receipt. Once a new debtor has been approved for funding, the account manager will notify the debtor’s accounts payables department that when they receive invoices from the agency, the payment should be remitted directly to the factor.

If there are no new debtors included with the schedule, then the account manager simply moves on to step three of the healthcare staffing factoring process, which involves verifying the submitted invoices.

Step Three: Healthcare Staffing Agency Notifies and Verifies Debtors

Because a healthcare factoring firm is advancing cash based off of services that have already been rendered, it’s customary for the factor to follow-up with the debtors to be sure that they were satisfied with the staffing services, and they intend to pay the invoice.

The level of detail involved with verification varies from factor to factor. For example, some factoring firms verify every single invoice, confirming with a DON (Director of Nursing) that “Employee X” from ABC Staffing worked a 12-hour shift the prior week. Whereas, other factors might conduct “spot verifications,” in which account managers will select random invoices to verify within each schedule. Regardless of how often a factoring firm verifies invoices, it’s important for staffing factoring agencies to remember that factors will not advance money on an invoice unless they are confident that the invoice will be paid.

Step Four: Healthcare Staffing Agency Receives Cash

After the notification and verification procedures have been completed, the healthcare staffing factor is able to purchase the agency’s invoices and advance cash. In this day and age, healthcare staffing factoring firms generally send money electronically via same day wires and/or ACH (automated clearing house) transfers, which is basically an overnight funds transfer.

It’s important to keep in mind that the criteria for receiving a same day wire may differ from that of receiving an ACH. For example, some factoring firms may institute a specific funding cut-off time, requiring healthcare staffing agencies to send in their invoices and time sheets before a specific time in order to be funded the same day.

Step Five: Healthcare Staffing Factoring Firm Receives Payments and Remits the Reserve Back to the Agency

If you recall from step three, the healthcare staffing factoring firm notifies an agency’s debtors to remit payment directly to the factor the first time it purchases an invoice for that debtor. At the time a factor receives payment on an invoice, it retains its fees for advancing cash and then remits the difference back to the healthcare staffing agency. In factoring lingo, the difference that is remitted back to the agency is called the “Reserve.”

When it comes to how often a healthcare factoring firm releases reserve, there are many different positions. Some factors conduct automatic reserve releases on specific days each month, while others only release reserve upon request. Some factors require a minimum balance to remain in the reserve account at all times. Whatever the case, it’s important for healthcare staffing agencies to be aware of the factor’s reserve release procedures.

As previously stated, it’s a common misconception that healthcare staffing factoring process is a complicated. Although the exact procedures may vary from factor to factor, the basic healthcare staffing factoring model does not change.

Health Franchising, More Than Just Senior Care

With the start of the new decade and the sense that the road to recovery has been found, people are starting to look for new opportunities to advance their career or for a change in their life and occupation. One place many people turn to when they look for a change in their life and occupation is franchising. Buying a franchise offers a sense of empowerment and the potential for a real change in a person’s lifestyle and potentially earnings. Nowadays, when a person looks at a franchise to buy into, he or she has many options from the old fashioned food services to new ideas like green office solutions. However, if there is one industry in the franchise world that has captured everyone’s attention, it’s the Healthcare Franchise industry.

Healthcare Franchises offer potential franchisees the chance to help out people in their community while joining the fastest growing industry in the United States. Most people have the read the writing on the wall by now; people are living longer and requiring more care, our population over 65 is expected to double, and the demand for healthcare only increases with this aging population. The decision to get into the healthcare industry is somewhat easy. Deciding what sector of the healthcare industry you want to take part in is where things become interesting.

Most healthcare franchises people buy into are senior care franchises. A typical senior care franchise business model centers around providing non-medical in home care to senior citizens who need the care and assistance of another person but who’s family typically has time constraints which prevent them from taking care of their elderly family member full time.

Most in home care franchises tend to be non-medical opposed to medical because of the strict requirements and regulations over the medical home health care industry. Home Health business owners need to have years of medical experience and can take years to get licensed while non-medical franchises require no medical experience and are regulated but to a lesser extent.

The non-medical senior care franchise market is flourishing; however it is not the only place to look for a healthcare franchise. A newer entrant to the healthcare franchise industry but with a long history of use in healthcare in general, is healthcare staffing. Healthcare Staffing involves the staffing of Healthcare professionals such as nurses on a temporary at need basis at hospitals or other medical facilities.

Healthcare Staffing franchises offer the same benefits of helping your community and working in the healthcare industry that senior care franchises offer. The difference is in your business model. As a healthcare staffing franchisee, you would market your services to hospitals and other medical facilities who are your clients. This target market is very different than the senior care industry where the target market consists of households and end consumers.

Healthcare Staffing offers an alternative route into the healthcare industry. It is a necessary service that hospitals have been using for decades and will continue to use with the foreseeable nursing shortage. If you are interested in learning more about healthcare staffing or medical staffing franchises as they are also known look them up on franchise portals or go to directly to their websites.

IT Health: An Emerging Sector

The importance of healthcare IT companies have grown manifold after the new healthcare Act emphasized on the importance of technology in healthcare and made mandatory the use of certain software and technology in the health sector.

However healthcare IT is a relatively new industry and most companies are start-ups. The Affordable Care Act may have given the industry but the success of a healthcare IT company will depend on a lot of other factors.

– Healthcare is an amalgamated market of various small sectors particular diseases, cures, healthcare providers, information technology, healthcare software, insurance, etc. Each of these is a separate industry in itself and what works for one may not work for the others. Companies will have to develop separate ideas and business plans to deal with each of these sub sectors.

– Healthcare IT is neither healthcare nor IT. Healthcare IT companies need to understand their domain completely. The regulations are stricter and the guidelines different. Companies will have to be careful about the regulatory bodies, rules and laws that can vary from state to state.

– Since the federal government has already given guidelines about the software and technology that needs to be implemented, the product will remain more or less the same across companies. However it is the additional features and innovations that will transform your product from ‘nice to have’ to being a must have. And it is this change that will make all the difference

– Though the use of certain healthcare technology is mandated, the customer should be convinced that his business will benefit more financially by using the product from your stables than without it. It is important to make the customer understand that investment in healthcare technology could be costly but the returns would be even more profitable.

– In the healthcare industry it is foolish to assume that consumer will wake up one day and start taking better care of him. The growth of your healthcare IT company depends on the brilliance of the product and the creativity in marketing in it.

– Word to mouth publicity is a critical aspect in marketing healthcare IT.

– Involve those who will ultimately use your product- healthcare providers and doctors. Talk them about the problems they face with the current technology and then develop a product that is easy and simple to use and does not alienate them.

– Working in the healthcare industry is not only financially fruitful but socially rewarding as well. Enjoy the experience of working for something that benefits not only you but the entire community as well.

Healthcare IT is an emerging but an important sector. It is just the beginning. Healthcare technology and regulations are evolving and changing by the day. Healthcare IT companies need to be on their toes to respond to the newer demands of the health domain.

Shaun Mike is well known authority on health insurance in the US. He is currently looking to expand his expertise to health insurance and other healthcare software available.

Marketing in Health category

Overview Of The Healthcare Industry

The healthcare industry is quite a fragmented industry with many companies falling into the medical sector and other parallel sectors.

The mood in the industry currently is busy; due mainly to the fact that the population has boomed and resources are stretched. Healthcare funding is always in short supply and due to the current economic difficulties cutbacks are common.

Competition in the healthcare sector is high, and indeed is growing as more companies spring up.

Marketing In The Healthcare Industry

The healthcare industry is very active with its marketing using a wide range of marketing tools both for new business and also brand reinforcement.

Due to the growth and development of the healthcare market, specialist marketing companies have diversified and do concentrate on healthcare marketing. Many work exclusively with healthcare companies and use this as a USP to ensure they stand out as unique. Others have healthcare clients as part of their mixed portfolio of different industries they work in.

What Sort Of Marketing Tools Do Healthcare Companies Normally Use?

The industry tends to work in a specific way and as such do make use of certain marketing tools both for drawing in new business, but also communicating news.

The healthcare sector is unique and in many ways does not operate in the same way as other industry markets (such as retail, IT, recruitment etc.) as it is not as commercial.

Websites For Healthcare Companies

Websites are a big part of marketing for healthcare companies; giving up to date information about new products, services and any industry news.

Most healthcare businesses are quite web savvy and do make use of the internet as a form of communication. Their websites are normally quite basic HTML websites but quite a few do have flash websites to showcase their products in a creative and interactive way.

Internet Marketing also plays quite a big role in the marketing portfolio of healthcare businesses which links in to paid advertising and pay per click marketing.

PR For Healthcare Businesses

PR is a very effective marketing tool for healthcare companies. Used mainly for communicating business news and product launches it ties in well with any web advertising that is being done.

Crisis PR is something that is also used by many companies, as the industry does come under public scrutiny. Whether this is for protecting share prices, corporate espionage, or even problems that may occur within the business.

Telemarketing For Healthcare Companies

Inbound telemarketing is used by some healthcare companies, but the traditional B2B outbound calling is not really used within this industry.

This ties into what was mentioned earlier in this article, that the industry is not as commercial as other sectors that are more aggressive when it comes to their marketing and advertising.

Choosing A Marketing Company

Finding a marketing company that has healthcare marketing experience can be tricky due to the sheer number of marketing agencies around the UK. Something that could be time consuming both in terms of researching and selecting suitable agencies, but also in communicating with them.

Using a price comparison site can help save valuable time both in hunting down marketing companies with relevant industry experience; but also could save money in comparing costs – something that all businesses currently are looking for.

Healthcare Consumers Vs Other Consumers

Healthcare is quite an unique industry, as are it’s consumers. Healthcare consumers share similarities with consumers within other industries, but also considerable differences that healthcare marketers must acknowledge.

Similarities

Although healthcare consumers have various unique characteristics from those within other industries, healthcare consumers also share various similarities.

Discretion

Many healthcare services are elective (i.e. laser eye surgery). Thus, consumers have the option to consider wants vs. needs and decide whether to pursue a service or not.

Demand

Healthcare consumers’ demand can be influenced by many factors such as price or type of treatment. For example, in retail, if the price of a high end product is cut by half, its demand would increase significantly as the lower price would attract buyers. This is considered as elastic demand.

Elasticity of demand is the measure of the change in demand of a product or service in relativity to the change in its price. If demand for a product or service increases or decreases based off of the increase or decrease in its price, then the product s considered to have an elastic demand. If the demand for a product or service is unaffected by the change in price, then the product is considered to be inelastic.
Payment for Services

Although in many cases when medical services are paid by third parties, many are paid out of pocket by the consumer. Whether a consumer has an insurance policy that includes a high deductible or co-insurance responsibility, or a consumer is self pay and is solely responsible the payment of services, consumers’ ability to pay for services greatly influences their demand for them, even if they are medically necessary.

For elective services that are not considered medical necessary, consumers usually have to pay for the service mostly out of pocket, which will certainly affect its demand. In a booming economy, demand for such services would increase, as in a slumping economy demand would decrease.

Differences

Lack of Buyer Discretion

Consumers in healthcare rarely determine their need for services, as consumers within other industries usually determine their need for products and services. Healthcare services, which are consumed by the patient, are usually ordered by a physician. This is unlike any other industry, as the patient is prescribed a service that they must comply with.

Knowledge of Price

One of the most prevalent differences between healthcare consumers and other consumers is that healthcare consumers’ costs are usually covered by third parties (insurance). Because third party payers pay for most of a patient’s medical services, patients themselves are not usually involved in or even aware of the price of service. Patients rarely even have access to pricing information for services.

Evaluating Quality of Service

Most healthcare consumers do not experience the healthcare system until they have a need for services. Thus, when consumers evaluate services they receive, they form their opinions through subjective observations such customer service and the cleanliness of the facility. This is considerably different for consumers within other industries as they form their opinions about products through objective observations such as the quality of the product and the ease and effectiveness of its use.

Knowledge of Services

Healthcare consumers typically have limited knowledge regarding the services they are to receive, as other consumers are usually well informed about the products and services they are pursuing. Most consumers in other industries seek as much information about products to compare one from another.

Because of this, healthcare consumers usually lack the ability to evaluate the quality of service they receive, as other consumers very well can evaluate the quality of the product or service they receive.

Marketing

Healthcare services are usually NOT marketed directly to healthcare consumers as they are not the ones that choose which services to receive in most cases. This is unlike other products and services which ARE directly marketed to the consumer.

Here’s a Web Design for Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals and Medical Brands

Healthcare web design is a varied and huge animal. A lot of healthcare web development companies have difficulty knowing where to start. But really the principles are the same in this industry for any experienced and accomplished healthcare web development professional. But it is how a visitor finds you, sees you and the experience that they have that will truly determine how successful you website is.

Trust

Your healthcare web developments have to encompass trust at their heart. This is going to be the most valuable commodity, especially if you are a new or unknown company or service provider. The sector you are in will also influence how difficult it is to build up online trust. So the diet sector along with a lot of alternative therapy providers will have an uphill battle to win.

The issue you will have is this. Healthcare, like life insurance, car insurance and many other critical areas of our lives screams to our subconscious that we should only trust someone we know or who has been recommended to us by our friends. If you go now to a website and see a life insurance banner, you are probably not going to click it or buy straight away from an unknown supplier.

So How Do You Build Up the Trust Required?

Well as part of your healthcare web design you need to have someone on your side who knows how to build trust. Having someone on your side that has been there and done it is priceless. We ourselves have gone through the pain barrier over the years. This means that we have taken the lessons and successes on board so that you don’t have to.

Building an integrated healthcare web development strategy that gives trust is a two part story. The first part is the impact and first time impression of your site. We know this and are experts at this aspect. On average a visitor will take only about 5-10 seconds to make their minds up as to whether to stay or to hit that back button on their browsers. So you are looking to drop in the quality indicators for that fast scan that holds the visitor and encourages them to explore.

Engaging With the Visitor

To build trust and to retain a loyal reader and potential customer your healthcare website design and quality content has to be engaging on many different levels. It is not just about looking smart and professional. In fact that may actually work against you in some healthcare areas. Sometimes having a more relaxed, non-officious approach can pay enormous dividends. It becomes less about marketing speak and more about satisfying a visitor’s needs.

Ideas for healthcare website design here include multimedia content in the form of videos, webinars or audio interviews and recordings. It could also mean having a blog which is less formal and can take and accept comments. After a while this comment conversation actually generates its own content and power.

Making the Website Experience Easy

If your healthcare web design is terrible then you are not going to keep anyone on site, no matter how good the content or how engaging. The content needs to be logically and well organised for easy access. Nothing should be too many clicks away either. Your organisation is a professional one, so it generally should look as though it was put together by a professional. A very high standard of graphics is absolutely necessary.

Functionality and Security

This is where, as far as healthcare web development is concerned, we come into what is dealt with and regulated by the regulations, such as the ABPI and other professional bodies. The main things to consider are the protection of personal data if you have a forum or membership element, the security of information and the segregation of certain information to restrict access to certain groups of users. For instance this may mean the separation of healthcare data for practitioners and customers.

This is critical for your company. If you do not achieve this in the architecture of the healthcare website design, you put yourself at risk on several fronts. We know the importance of making sure this is done properly. If it is not done correctly it could mean censure or even worse a criminal prosecution or civil proceedings.

Then there is the case of social media interaction. If you fail to understand or handle this properly you will come seriously unstuck. Social media is a superb way of encouraging involvement and building your brand and reach. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter have immense power. But there are also dangers that you could fall foul of. The speed with which information can be spread and the huge amount of users who will share it make the whole area very sensitive. Fortunately, we have a lot of experience in managing sensitive and regulated campaigns and making sure they are successful.

Conquering SEO to Increase Visibility

Search engine optimization is a valuable way to promote your site and brand and to provide an additional way of gaining trust and visitors. Healthcare website design should be carefully and fully optimised and promoted with ethical methods to help the site rise to the first page of the search engines. This is a good natural way to gain domain authority with the likes of Google.

Of course you are also at the mercy of those search engines and the way they decide they will assess how important your site is in relation to its content for their searchers. But by building and promoting smart, we are able to give you the stability through any changes that may come.

So as you can see, healthcare web design incorporates a lot of both simple and complicated elements. These involve proper presentation, content and interaction, along with providing the best platform and strategy to promote, segregate and protect your company.

It is essential to ensure that you have someone on board with vast experience and innovative solutions to guide you through this process. This will also mean you avoid the pitfalls of web design and the regulating codes and laws.

Michiel Van Kets writes articles about a small but perfectly formed digital marketing agency that focuses on healthcare web development as well as healthcare website design, helping pharmaceutical, medical and healthcare companies achieve sales and marketing objectives via the practical use of websites, mobile technology and digital marketing. If you work in the pharma, medical or healthcare sectors and you are looking for practical and creative ways to enhance your digital performance, Genetic Digital is a number one choice, providing a friendly team of digital marketing professionals with a proven track record in delivering healthcare web design, digital marketing, search engine optimisation services for your sector. From designing and developing a website or mobile app to help you interact with your target audiences through to creating digital marketing campaigns that enable you to attract more visitors, find out how the experienced web design and marketing experts at Genetic Digital can improve your digital marketing performance today.

Battle Over Health Care in America

Introduction

Or is it “health care”? Or “health-care”? The battle over how to properly use the term “healthcare” has trudged on in America for many years. I have been involved in educating healthcare professionals and students here in New York City and on Long Island for over 27 years. For that entire time I have watched the phrase “healthcare” being grammatically abused by all – even by the largest book publishing companies, dictionary publishers, newspaper and magazine publishers, medical institutions, and government agencies in America.

Who Is To Blame For The Confusion?

But these very same publishers and institutions are to blame for the prolonged confusion. Some of them mandate the using of “healthcare” as one word for all grammatical situations. And some of them still insist on using “healthcare”, as well as “health care”, depending on the specific topic being discussed. To make matters much worse, some publications will even switch around the term and the way that it is used – all within the same publication. Here at our company we have consciously chosen to use “healthcare” as one word, but we certainly understand both sides of the argument. New compound words always seem awkward to use for a while. But eventually, we all accept and conform to the change. Most of us in America have already accepted the change to using “healthcare” as one word. Now it is time for the last few holdouts to accept this change and start using “healthcare” as one word.

Why We Use Healthcare

Why, then, does my medical training and publishing company embrace “healthcare” as one word? Well, “health care” may have technically been two words when the term first came about, but in all rational practicality it was one word. The distinction was a fine one – and way too subtle, obviously, to keep up. Before long, writers and editors alike started dropping that confusing extra space, transforming what had become a purely semantic nuance into no nuance at all. At my company, we have a core belief that we have an obligation to our students and readers to make everything that we teach and publish to be as easy to read and understand as possible. If this means using one word versus two, or using an unpopular or grammatically incorrect hyphen in a word, or splitting an infinitive, or using extra commas, then we will do it. Our first and foremost duty is to our students and readers, not the grammar editors or linguists.

Evolution And Improvement Of Our Language

But can we blame our language for simplifying and evolving? It’s equally possible that American society, in its infinite semantic wisdom, decided not to split hairs – or word phrases – where it is pointless to do so. This isn’t just the inescapable evolution of our language. It actually is a sensible change to make.

“Healthcare” and “Health Care” Defined

We will frequently see the word or phrase “healthcare” and “health care” but are unsure whether they are the same. Many people use each one to mean the same thing – but they were fundamentally different at first. At its most elemental definition, “health care” was a service offered by trained professionals to patients. As one word, “healthcare” meant the system in which the professionals work and where patients receive care. Healthcare as one word referred to a system to deliver health care (two words). Thus, America has a “healthcare system”. In Great Britain, it’s called the National Health Service.

We can easily see why these definitions can get confusing and become commingled. But now, most of us accept that the term “healthcare” is now a generic way of referring to any aspect of medical care – no matter what the topic being discussed. Whether it is a discussion of the diagnosis or treatment of diseases, or how that diagnosis or treatment is delivered, or how they are paid for, is now “healthcare” – one word.