Age 65 you have a disease!The assumption is age causes decline when in fact illness is more often the cause. Ageism also causes complacency in healthcare and affects the quality of care. It is also a serious issue that is perpetuated by our healthcare system, institutions and society in general. According to the International Longevity Center report Ageism In America:1. 60 percent of victims identified from Hurricane Katrina were age 61 or older.2. Within 24 hours following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, animal advocates were on the scene rescuing pets, yet older and disabled people were abandoned in their apartments for up to seven days before ad hoc medical teams arrived to rescue them.3. 35% of doctors erroneously consider an increase in blood pressure to be a normal process of aging.4. Only 10 percent of people aged 65 and over receive appropriate screening tests for bone density, colorectal and prostate cancer, and glaucoma. This despite the fact that the average age of colorectal cancer patients is 70, more than 70 percent of prostate cancer is diagnosed in men over 65, and people over 60 are six times more likely to suffer from glaucoma.Services and Assistive AidsAgeism has a serious affect on the lives of seniors and caregivers. Most seniors have chronic (long term) conditions not acute (short term) conditions. Those you may look to for advice, have little or no training on the aging process (like social workers, therapists and doctors). There are services and assistive devices available that can help the caregiver and those they care for. Your biggest obstacle may be ageism and/or a lack of knowledge by those in healthcare. You have others that may just be looking to make a buck. Then you have home healthcare providers that have little if any incentive to focus on prevention and safety. Ask yourself this question:Why would a home healthcare company tell you about assistive aids or provide other information that could reduce the need for their services?They won’t until they are forced to do so. A perfect example is what Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) did in hospitals with Hospital Acquired Conditions (HAC’s) to improve patient safety. Hospitals had little incentive to prevent falls and infections until CMS stopped rewarding them for causing the fall or infection by paying for it. The same thing needs to happen in home healthcare. We need to reward quality outcomes and prevention not a proliferation of needs often based on greed. Many people will not perform a daily task if they are not encouraged to do it for themselves. It’s a fine line for ability verses actual inability to perform a task. It is also a fine line between need and greed.Those in healthcare are not sensitive or aware of the physical or physiological effects of the tools they recommend. Often the recommender does not know the intended use and many times seniors blame themselves for injuries that are not their fault. Injuries are rarely reported which increases injury risks and promotes the proliferation of unsafe ineffective products. This is another part of how ageism affects the health and welfare of our seniors and caregivers. Misleading marketing is prolific in this arena. Many companies want a piece of the healthcare market without following basic consumer labeling let alone regulations that may apply to products. Assistive aids can truly make a difference yet many lack quality or a design to address needs.Ageism opens all of us up to the affects and consequences of what it creates. It takes a toll on caregivers many of them are boomers raising a family and often dealing with their own health issues. All of which affects lives personally and financially adding to healthcare costs for all. Seniors pay a higher price for the lack of care and concern in their well-being and value. We are finding out where government stands on ageism as they cut valuable services in hard financial times, which creates a higher cost to our society as a whole. Will we learn in time that ageism doesn’t pay!
Healthcare organizations are tight on their budgets today because of so many people that lack insurance and the numbers of emergency room visits or hospital stays that go unpaid. It can be hard for a hospital to remain open to the public, and lean Six Sigma can help to reduce costs so that the financial issues of our healthcare system are not such a burden. When you send employees to Six Sigma courses, they learn how to spend money wisely and how to cut wasteful expenses that are not necessary for everyday operations.Processes can always be improved upon, especially in a hospital system. Patient care is vital when it comes to running lab reports and tests for the doctors. Many of these processes today are run by individuals at a computer. Human error is a factor, and it can mean the life of a patient. The great thing about Six Sigma training is that you will learn how to automate some of these critical processes. Not only can this benefit a healthcare organization in minimizing human error but it can also cut down on labor costs as well.Resources are often limited in healthcare organizations. Lab equipment such as x-ray machines are extremely expensive, and if budget is tight, then departments often must go without. This can slow down productivity and cause patients to have to wait. Six Sigma online training courses offer helpful tools to show you ways that you can make the most use of resources and get the most productivity. This might include repairing broken x-ray machines rather than buying new ones, or redesigning an entire patient floor to make things flow more smoothly.Healthcare organizations really need the ability to cut costs and lean Six Sigma Training is the best option. Six Sigma courses will teach employees and management ways to cut costs by eliminating wasteful processes, equipment, and other things that cause productivity to slow, affecting the patients in a negative way. Six Sigma training will show a healthcare organization how they can begin saving money by automating processes also. Not only will human error be minimized but better use of employee’s efforts can be managed.
Promising to go down in history books, the President spoke to Congress last month about his thoughts on implementing healthcare reform. Here are some thoughts on the topic.What is it? How will it affect me?Very good questions without any concrete answers yet. Yes, there is yelling on both sides but does that help us in our decision-making process? Absolutely not! There is a lot of talk about “nationalized” healthcare, socialism, death panels and waits for procedures. Are they scare tactics? Maybe but we should take a very careful look at what comes out of Washington.To get an idea of a nationalized healthcare system we could take a look at Canada and Great Britain, there are some issues that we should be aware of. There are 6-month waits for MRIs in those countries. Do you want to wait that long? A close friend recently had an MRI and was mildly upset at having to wait two hours. Do you know there are more MRI machines in Los Angeles County than in all of Canada? The same holds true for many procedures such as kidney, liver and circulation procedures. Does a long wait increase your chances of survival? You will have to make that decision yourself.The other side of the story is that not everyone is covered in the United States. Canada and Great Britain cover all of their residents and that can be conceived as a plus. Depending on who you listen to, there are between 11 and 50 million uninsured people in the United States. Who are these people? It’s a mix of unemployed, those who voluntarily go without coverage, people in the country illegally, and people who have pre-existing conditions.The Government’s proposal would be similar to the care our military servicemen and their families receive. According to a colleague who has experience with this system, “When I gave birth to my son in the San Diego naval facility, I lay in wait for a room…in a gurney, in the hall, with twenty other women – all of us in various stages of giving birth,” said Deanne Hollis-DeGrandpre. “Additionally, I was not able to receive an epidural to block the pain because it was unavailable.” Do we want to wait like cattle to receive health care? Additionally, Medicare and Social Security are on the road to bankruptcy, is this what we want for our healthcare system?No doubt, the current system has flaws. There are a few things that could be done to help solve the issues as alternatives to the current healthcare reform being proposed by Congress. By no means is this a panacea but it is at least a start.How about considering the following:oThose who voluntarily refuse to be covered, (mostly the young) should be held responsible for their medical care. No free ride.oCitizens here illegally, should not receive free care, since they do not pay into the Federal or State tax system. Emergencies should be taken care of but any expensive procedures should be done in their home country.oTort reform! Physicians and all providers are scared to death to make a mistake. Many OB/GYNs are no longer practicing due to the high costs of liability insurance. The patient ultimately pays the price for this in higher insurance premiums. We have to have SOME limits!oA pool of insurers could be set up for those who don’t qualify for insurance due to pre-existing conditions. All insurance companies should share the risk for these citizens and hold down premiums to an acceptable level.oFor the unemployed, one possible solutions is to add a benefit to unemployment compensation with an end date.oIncreased regulations for health insurance companies and access across state lines, so people have more choice.Again, these are just suggestions. Until we see what Congress will finally propose, we will have to wait.
Microsoft Great Plains fits multiple services market niche and healthcare is not exemption. In the case of Healthcare/Hospital there is usually healthcare patient history tracking system in place and backoffice or accounting application should be integrated on the ongoing basis with the above mentioned system plus often Hospital or association is non-profit organization and non-for-profit accounting specifics should be taken into consideration.o Integration. Great Plains is MS SQL Server based application and SQL scripting/stored procedures is the choice for ongoing integration. The second option is Great Plains Integration Manager – it is end-user tool and it should be considered if the integration volume is low or moderate (up to thousand transactions per day). Usually you do integrate customer billing records and do billing from Great Plains. Great Plains advanced reporting functionality will allow you to control your cost and expenses.o Financial Reporting. FRx is the tool of choice in the case of Microsoft Great Plains. Being healthcare organization you can consolidate multiple companies (hospitals or clinics) and have all standard and advanced financial reports: Income Statement, Cash Flow, Balance Sheet. Reporting tree utilization in FRx allows you to select business units and do performance comparisono Compliance Reporting. Microsoft Great Plains, being SQL application allows you to deploy such tools as Crystal Reports to create healthcare-specific reports for your clients, contractors, state and federal regulation authorities. In Crystal Reports you can create report with the data from Microsoft Great Plains and Patient tracking system., even if the last one if not SQL Server based. Crystal Report can work with heterogeneous queries and stored procedureso Patient Invoices Lookup. If patient calls you and questions the bill – you should have quick lookup from your CRM to Great Plains invoices for this customer. Some Hospitals offer internet bills lookup for their clients. This might become required feature in the following three or five years. You can implement this web-lookups via web publishing from Microsoft Great Plains database.We encourage you to analyze your alternatives. You can always appeal to our help, give us a call: 1-866-528-0577 or 1-630-961-5918, [email protected]
If health care is a business, why as an industry are there so many organic problems? Could these organic problems be as simple as there are too many people making decisions and there is no clear vision for the future of the industry?Have you ever had the opportunity to go to a healthcare conference? There are many people teaching us about best practices, quality improvement, clinical pathways, and customer satisfaction, but who is in charge and who can make these changes?The reality is that there is no one playing nice in the sandbox. Remember when a child was told by the mom please share the shovel and pail when at the playground with the other children? As adults, we need to share or at least come to some common ground. The reality is that hospital administrators are constantly “negotiating” in their communications; with the physicians, and with CMS and other state and local regulators, and of course, labor unions, and their own management team. The understanding needs to be that all of these elements are a TEAM and we need each other to be successful.Close your eyes and “pretend” that you are a Marketing Manager in a fortune 500 company and need to attract customers and grow profits. We start with the definition of business marketing, which is to identify with meeting human and social needs, or another definition for business marketing is to meet the needs of profitability. What is the marketing strategy of healthcare? We have all taken company surveys for example; a new car, a restaurant, a computer, and so on. The goal of most companies is to try to achieve perfect scores. Perfection is the goal and achieving a four out of five is not good enough for most organizations. In healthcare, the logic is to use the mean score as a benchmark, which makes the mean the acceptable score in many facilities. The logic is then that the facility is hitting the norm and there are no critical issues necessitating making changes.All companies have a product to sell and all companies have challengers. The differences in healthcare are that that focus needs to be on creating ownership and until the system realizes someone needs to be in charge there will be conflicts and inferior service.The following statistics were part of a study conducted by the Commonwealth Fund and recently published in the online version of the Health Affairs journal:• The number of people who are underinsured has grown 60% to 25 million over the past four years.
• The fastest growing segment of the underinsured is middle and upper income families. The rate of underinsured for those with incomes of $40,000 or more nearly tripled to 11%.
• The highest rate of underinsurance is in families with incomes under the poverty level (about $20,000), at 31%.Based on the national average in 2008 the average cost for health care per person was $8,000 with employers paying on average $4,479 (Easey, 2, 2011).Using these statistics, if healthcare was a for-profit business how would the organization try to capture these opportunities. Marketing is about meeting the needs of the customer and until we start asking the customer what he or she wants and needs, we will not be able to formulate a competitive business strategy.There needs to be a fresh approach and creation of a culture that believes and lives the vision of the healthcare business. In many circumstances, the vision is not clear and until we live the vision at all levels within healthcare we will continue to have problems. We need to get back to basics and business fundamentals.The business model starts with how we address our consumer. If we all started calling the consumer a customer instead of a patient or resident that would be a start. Thinking as owners will allow us to focus on the needs of the customer and then apply marketing strategies that will lead the way in a new approach and will set the path for improvement.Customers respond not only to the product but also to how he or she is being treated, the follow up to treatment, and consistency. Programs need to be regimented with defined results, with service recovery techniques that correct the problem. The solution is having a no tolerance policy that is supportive of good behavior, but not to be punitive. Focusing on why these changes are necessary for our mission, along with showing that these changes will bring success and profits is a start in a culture change path. A multi-disciplined approach is required to serve customers in any business. Someone must “own” the customer’s needs and follow up proactively. Whether it is the Food and Nutrition department, Nursing, or Security, using the most prominent customer “ownership” focused strategies is paramount in leading the way to great customer service results. Building on success stories, recognition, and rewards around hospitality is also required for this needed cultural change.Marketing strategy, organizational culture, and customer satisfaction are the basic building blocks to successful businesses. Customer satisfaction is not a task; it is a state of mind. Every health care encounter these days, as a customer, reminds us we that are accepting this inferior business model. How we got here is not as important, as how we find our way back on to the path of successful healthcare business leadership.
In my last article, I briefly introduced accounts receivable factoring as a viable financing option for nurse staffing agencies who are just starting up or who are in the midst of a rapid growth period. Rather than waiting weeks or months to be paid, a healthcare staffing company can receive cash immediately by selling its invoices at a discounted rate to a factor.I went on to explain the three main categories of factors: general factors, who are large and operate nationally, accepting clients from a multitude of industries; geographic factors, who specialize in funding clients who are proximal to the factor’s location; and industry-specific factors, who base their clientele around one specific business niche (i.e., healthcare staffing financing). PRN Funding is an example of an industry-specific factor because we focus on healthcare staffing invoice funding, namely for medical staffing agencies, medical transcription services, medical coding companies and medical supply businesses.After deciding which kind of factor would be the best fit for your agency, the next logical question is, “How much does healthcare staffing factoring cost?” Before jumping in blindly and talking numbers, it’s a good idea to have a general understanding of how the factor’s fees are structured. Allow me to elaborate.Discount Fees. When a factor advances you money on your receivables, they are actually making a legal purchase of your invoices at a discounted rate. This discounted rate can be a one-time flat fee, or it can vary depending on how long the factor owns the invoice. It’s important that you know upfront how the factor determines its fees to make sure that you are getting the best deal for your invoices. And of course, it all boils down to how your own company operates, how long it takes for your customers to pay your invoices and what you feel comfortable paying. In general, discount fees can be affected by a number of things, including the length of the contract to which you are willing to commit, the average monthly purchase volume of your account, the average size of your invoices, the number of account debtors (customers) you do work for and the credit quality of those debtors.Advance Rates. You should also consider the factor’s advance rates. Advance rates are the amount of money that a factor advances you up front upon purchasing your invoices. Currently, the industry norm is 80 percent. Of course this rate can vary, and oftentimes factors determine their advance rates on a client-by-client basis. Most factors ask that you provide a current accounts receivable aging report during the approval process to see how long it takes for your customers to pay and if they generally pay in full. Quick payments and payments made in full will increase your chances of having a higher advance rate. In addition, some factors will increase the advance rate over time as your business grows and the factoring relationship solidifies.On the other hand, if your customers routinely short-pay or take longer to pay, your advance rate most likely won’t be as high. For example, some hospitals insist that all of their employees take a 30-minute lunch break. Even if a temporary nurse works through his/her lunch break, and the nurse staffing agency ends up paying him/her for that 30 minutes, the hospital will not pay for that portion of the invoice. Another example occurs when you sign a contract with a hospital that is net-60, and the hospital is notorious for paying 30 days late. Since it becomes harder to collect on invoices the longer they go unpaid, a factor that knows your clients pay in 90 days will not feel as comfortable advancing you a high amount on your invoices.Of course there are both positives and negatives for high and low advance rates. For example, a factor advancing 95 percent upfront will probably charge higher discount fees, but you have the benefit of receiving funds for the entire invoice amount. On the other hand, a factor that advances 75 percent will charge lower discount fees, but you won’t be able to receive as much money up front.Extra Fees. I should mention that there are also numerous other possible “extra fees” a factor could add into their fee structure. Some examples of these fees include application, origination and due diligence fees. These charges are often to cover the costs of running credit and background checks on your customers, compiling and shipping legal documentation and putting a lien in place once you become a client. Other factors will add in administrative fees for postage, long-distance phone calls, or computer time. Then there are fees associated with funding procedures, identifying set prices for a same-day wire to your bank account or an overnight transfer of funds. Most of the remaining costs can be bunched into the category of “penalty fees,” for misdirected payments, aged invoices or an early termination of your contract.Although advance rates and discount fees tend to be the main concern when business owners are shopping factors, I hope this article has helped you realize that there are other types of fees that may or may not be tacked onto your healthcare staffing funding deal, depending on the factor. In addition, like I stated in the previous article, depending on the volume your company is invoicing on a monthly basis, where you are located and how much of a niche you have in the medical staffing industry will all play a crucial role in your overall decision-making process.If you need healthcare staffing invoice factoring, I encourage you to read the third and final article in this series to explore the legal documentation involved with a factoring deal. The length of time you are willing to commit to selling your invoices as well as the type of guaranty you are willing to sign are important aspects to consider when looking for the factor who will best be able to meet your healthcare staffing company’s needs.
Do you think that 5 years or perhaps 20 years from now the demand for nurses in the country will be the same? Looking back in the year 2011 the demand of nurses in our country has been very high that our own country has to outsource foreign nurses. However, as technology and drugs evolved so does the need of nurses. Perhaps 20 years from now our health care system will never need too many nurses as we do today. There will come a time when the roles and the functions of a nurse will be done by robots, machines or health gadgets. These scientific breakthroughs will replace human work of a nurse. There is even a talk of having smartbeds that are able to monitor the blood pressure, heart beat and other important information of the patient, another in-the-making medical technology is a gadget that will automatically dispense appropriate medicine for the patient.The fact that our country is short of qualified nurses the government and the healthcare industry are doing its best to meet the country’s demands. They have come to think that outsourcing nurses from other countries would be the answer. But, with the population’s awareness of the perks and benefits of being a nurse, there is a growing number of citizens studying to be professional nurses. Being able to meet the country’s high demand of nurses will be beneficial for all. Firstly, we all know that the nurses are super stressed out considering that they have to work hard because of the fact that hospitals and other healthcare facilities lack RNs, however, if the numbers of nurses needed are met it would mean that RNs have more time to relax and to rest.Once these smartbeds and other medical healthcare gadgets are introduced into the market and are utilized in the healthcare facilities, more people will definitely be attracted to work in this kind of profession knowing that the RNs are not overworked. If the time will come when no more RNs are needed in the healthcare facilities, the job opportunity of teaching in colleges and universities both online and in local communities will be given importance which simply means that RNs will never have a hard time finding a job.If you are hard working, caring and understanding you can definitely be an RN in less than 2 years. It may sound impossible to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in less than 2 years but with the advent of technology it is now possible to finish a degree in nursing in 2 years or less. How? You can enroll in online nursing degree, there are countless well known universities and colleges that offer online nursing degrees and these degrees can be finished in less than 2-3 years depending on several factors.Before you enroll to a nursing online degree program you have t o be evaluate yourself if this is really the kind of job that you want to take up. Once enrolled, there is no turning back.
The debate about healthcare reform has heated up, cooled down and is still being debated. The question I think people should be asking is how the healthcare reform will affect them personally. Below are some key point which I think are the major issues people should be looking at with this reform and how it affects them directly.1. Taxing the richLast time you looked at your finances your were maybe living pay check to pay check, but if you make up to $280,000 in a single person household or up to $350,000 as a couple, then you have just been upgraded to wealthy citizen status. Anyway don’t panic yet, there were a lot of complaints by legislators and the figure was moved up to $1 million. Once you hit seven figures, there will be an additional 5.4 percent graduated tax surcharge on your household income to help cover the healthcare reform. Are you affected?2. Tax credit for small business ownersIf you own a small business and you have between 1 and 50 employees, you could benefit from a tax credit. The healthcare reform bills that are being proposed have tax credits that will help small businesses buy health insurance for their employees and will not be penalized if they do not, as would large businesses.The idea is to encourage small businesses to buy health insurance for their staff members by providing the small businesses a cheaper alternative to buy through a national exchange where they would get a better deal considering the small pool of workers they have, to buying directly from insurers. So if you own a small business you will be able to provide healthcare for your people at an affordable rate if the reform goes through.3. Keeping your present health insuranceIf you get your present health insurance from your employer, you already know that even though you contribute something, your employer contributes the lion share. Well, the way the reform is structured, you can keep that insurance as it is and continue to enjoy paying the tortoise share of the premium.However, a lot of reform critics are speculating that this ratio will reverse and you will end up paying the lion share of the premium. It has not been smuggled into the bill yet, so it’s still a baseless speculation.4. Pre-existing medical conditionInsurers do take into consideration if you have an on going medical condition before deciding on what to do with you. That is, insure you or not. Normally if you do have an existing medical condition, the insurer will charge you a higher premium or just will not insure you at all. In the healthcare reform proposal, both proposals prohibit insurers from charging people higher premiums because they have an existing medical condition. However, they allow a system know as “age rating” where older people will not be charged premiums as high as twice that of a younger person.5. Taxing your benefitsPresently when your company covers for example, x amount of dollars on your medical insurance premium, you do not pay any taxes on those funds. But, some of the people working on the reform are suggesting that some of these benefits should be taxed so that the government can raise money from the taxes.It’s not in the proposal, but people are again speculating that it might be added and a common ground will be taxing only those with the expensive health plans, whose policy’s are above $13,000.6. Covering the drug loop holeThe proposed bill will eliminate the loop hole in Medicare’s drug coverage used to cap the expenses of the program. It required a senior to have spent up to $4,350 before coverage kicks back in. Under the new bill, it is proposed that drug drug companies will fill in the gap by providing some discount up to 50% on brand name prescriptions7. The Public optionThis will be available to individuals and families that are not covered through work and therefore will be eligible for the public option and have their insurance costs subsidized. They can buy a policy through the national exchange and qualification to be able to participate will be based on a sliding scale and meeting some income guidelines. This includes income of $43,430 for an individual and $88, 200 for a family of four.I hope this gives you a bird’s eye view of what the reform is all about and how it relates to you and your family’s future health coverage.
Chiang Mai is mapping out a future as a smarter city by using advanced technologies to help transform its tourism and agriculture industries and create other new drivers of creative economic growth.Linking patient databases and healthcare asset information could help create a hub.The use of technology to build a strong medical tourism sector and improve food production is part of the Smart City programme supported by IBM.IBM defines a Smart City in terms of the improvements in quality of life and economic well-being that can be achieved by applying information technologies to planning, designing, building, and operating urban infrastructure.The company is awarding $50 million worth of technology and services to 100 municipalities worldwide over the next three years. Chiang Mai is receiving $400,000 or 12 million baht to bring in global experts to advise on new approaches, said Parnsiree Amatayakul, the general manager of IBM Thailand.Chiang Mai was chosen based on its 700-year-old culture, abundant natural resources and strategic location in the Greater Mekong Subregion.However, Chiang Mai’s gross provincial product (GPP) is only 1.59% of total gross domestic product, and its growth rate has been low because its economy is not very diversified. It relies heavily on tourism and agro-industry in food processing and agriculture.The government, local universities and the private sector have been trying to improve local economic potential through the Chiang Mai Creative City campaign.IT training and creativity will be fostered through a proposed Software park programme.Nat Voravos, chairman of the local creative city development committee, said improving IT capability was one of the aspects of promoting a creative economy, with the goal of making Chiang Mai an attractive city for foreign investment, living, travelling, studying and working,Mr Nat said technology and innovation could add value to products and services, create more job opportunities and increase productivity.The committee is working with IBM to help develop a roadmap for a Smarter City. It envisions using smart IT architecture to expand the traditional tourism industry with a strong focus on medical tourism. A “Smarter Food” project, meanwhile, will focus on increasing yields and managing production plans for farmers.In the healthcare field, public and private service providers can use real-time location tracking of patients and hospital assets to increase efficiency and build an internationally recognised service identity, said David Hathaway, a project adviser with IBM Corp.Electronic medical record (EMR) technology should also be adopted to standardise information exchanges to link all medical service providers including traditional medicine and spas.Niwate Nuntajit, dean of medicine at Chiangmai University, said the city already had some expertise in serving longstay visitors, especially Japanese. Quality services at low prices are also a major selling point in mainstream healthcare, dental and ophthalmological care and Thai traditional medicine.The university had been awarded 500 million baht to build a centre of medical excellence including robotic surgery and geriatric medicine to accommodate the ageing society of the future.Many countries are promoting medical services to drive their economies. Singapore is working to shift from a healthcare hub to a medical training hub for Asia, Malaysia is encouraging medical tourism to make a customized medical tourism network, India is focusing on alternative healthcare, and Qatar is attempting to persuade Thai businesses to open hospitals in the country.”All these moves signal that the medical industry in Chiang Mai is under pressure and needs to increase its comparative advantage,” Mr Niwate said.For the Smart Food project, knowing what to produce and when, using technology-aided forecasting and planning system, will be the key, said Nathalie Gutel, an adviser with IBM France.The government could create an e-Farmer portal to gather data on all agricultural product categories for each season. It could then use those information to create pricing models under a supply-demand calculation system.The information could ultimately reduce the risk of both shortages and surpluses of key crops.As well, said Ms Gutel, smart irrigation could schedule water utilisation based on specific land use types and seasonal needs to reduce waste.Chiang Mai will choose a district and a fruit for a pilot project to test the new applications. An IMB survey identified longan as the most promising candidate since thousands of northern families grow the fruit.Ms Gutel also said that since mobile phones are now ubiquitous, government agriculture authorities should take advantage of their potential for delivering weather information and disaster alerts.Also growing in importance from a consumer safety standpoint is traceability of food products from farm to table. Technology can help improve traceability, build brand reputation and improve export potential.IBM opened a regional office in the city last year, she said.The city, meanwhile, is determined to capitalise on local strengths in software and digital content development to create new clusters and widen employment opportunities.Martin Venzky-Stalling, an adviser to the creative city development committee, said the city had as many as 150 software and digital content firms, many of them freelance operators specialising in graphic design. Some of them can be found working out of coffee shops along Nimanhaemin Road.”The city has an attractive lifestyle with a lower cost of living. It also produces a lot of graduate students attracting new high-tech entrepreneurs,” he said.The committee plans to work on public-private partnership to establish a Software Park with 2,000 square metres space to provide training facilities and working space for IT and design talent.The Board of Investment is also being asked to declare Chiang Mai a special economic zone with incentives for innovative businesses.Mr Venzky-Stalling said the committee expected to propose at least 10 projects with an investment budget of 200 million baht this year.Chiang Mai has been selected as one of the 10 creative economy cities by the Commerce Ministry.”We are applying to have Chiang Mai join the Unesco Creative Cities Network, aiming to build awareness and attract investment,” he added.
Innovation, according to Wikipedia.com is the application of new solutions that meet new requirements, inarticulate needs, or existing market needs. This is accomplished through more effective products, processes, services or technologies or business models.In healthcare, we are often best at the introduction of innovative products (new drugs, adaptive devices) or technology (robotics, medication delivery systems, medical records). Healthcare is less prolific in the introduction of new services (adoption of evidenced based care, preventative services) and least attention is often paid to innovation in processes (improving billing, throughput in admissions, hiring) or business models (integrated cross continuum systems, different payment systems).Innovation is closely linked to change. Many of us are adverse to change. We avoid change because we fear what is ahead, we avoid change because many feel it must mean they are doing something wrong, and some avoid change because they don’t know which way to go. In healthcare, there is so much externally applied change it often feels best just to plow ahead reacting to the things imposed on us.This leaves us on the treadmill always battling to stay ahead and looking to costs to save us. Employee morale, poor quality and low levels of engagement exist as the status quo in healthcare.Those who embrace innovation often gain significant advantage in their fields. According to R.C. Cooper and S.J. Edgett, in Lean, Rapid and Profitable New Product Development, top innovators across industries produce 5 times greater output with same investment, 12 times greater productivity, and 30% of current sales come from new products released within the last 3 years. Industryweek.com did a study about the effects of innovation on a company and they found that, overall revenue growth (78%), customer satisfaction (76%), growth in revenue from new products or services (74%), increased productivity (71%), and earnings/profit margins (68%) were a result of the impact of innovation efforts.The challenge is to provide access, quality, security and equity to health and health care in a cost effective. All the data that leads us to understand that innovation is one path to long term company or organizational sustainability. Why don’t more peruse it?In our experience in healthcare, we know that it starts simply with a lack of knowledge of the value of health care innovation. Next there is poor understanding of the key components to innovation and finally the ability to implement and follow through with the innovation initiates as their time is taken up elsewhere.The key components of innovation are setting the culture and having a structured process to identify the change and manage it.Set a culture for innovation and do it consistently. Intentionally, develop this skill in all managers in the organization. Encourage “intelligent failure”. Manage projects in a way that will allow your employees to grow from them. Plan them carefully, keep them modest, (or of short duration or intensity), review routinely, and define your assumptions. Failure is crucial to the process of organizational learning and a key to growth and innovation. Failures show you where your assumptions are wrong. Failures demonstrate where you should not go in the immediate future. Failures open the door to insights that lead to your innovation. Learn the characteristics of what did and did not work. Find new eyes to look at the same process, and “fail fast”. Make sure you are not punishing those who try but fail IN ANY WAY. Even a disapproving glance will halt innovation in its tracks when it is first getting rolling.Second, implement a process that manages innovation from the idea to launch. One we have seen work includes phases of idea generation, preliminary investigation, business case development, testing and validation. After each phase, filters are put in place to test strategic fit, product and competitive advantage, market attractiveness, technical feasibility, alignment with the core competencies, and financial reward versus risk. If it passes all filters, it moves on to the next phase. If it does not, it is killed. This process keeps things focused and allows only those ideas that are most closely aligned with the company’s strategy to move forward to the later and more costly phases. The most successful organizations start with an area they have previously identified as one that has high potential value and employees that are excited about it.To begin to make the changes that will support innovation in your healthcare organization, start with these steps: If you have not already taken an assessment that will allow you to understand your behavior’s impact on your company’s success and innovation, we suggest you take one. Innovation must start at the top of organizations or divisions.
Assess the strengths of your leadership team and their willingness and ability to identify, and manage change, and set a culture for innovation.
Develop and train managers where needed.
Implement a system for managing innovation as outlined above.
Identify champions and high potential areas.
Mange and run the first innovation process.
Celebrate the teams successThere are a number of profiles on the market that will allow you to measure your capacities relative to setting a culture for innovation. We have used many of them and have identified and recommend one that is particularly relevant to organizations trying in increase their company’s growth and sustainability through innovation.If you are an organizational leader and you are interested in behaviors that will help support your company’s success through innovation, click here to take a free copy of the profile that we most recommend.