Some telling statistics were released just before the New Year. First the New Jersey Hospital Association declared a startling 40% of the Garden State’s hospitals are now operating in the red. Then the American Community Survey named New Jersey the most affluent state in the country. Juxtaposed, those stats beg the question, how could the richest state in America have a hospital system that’s in such dire financial straights? 

Read more: Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen

It’s not a silver bullet for the woes of all struggling community hospitals, but it’s something worth considering. I’m talking about the new network of doctors on Boston’s South Shore called Signature Healthcare, developed by Brockton Hospital to keep more patients local.

Read more: Staying Local

Problem employees represent 3% to 8% of many hospitals’ payrolls. Yet their actual cost to the organization is approximately eight times their payroll cost in excessive lost time, medical claims, quality problems, lower productivity, and negative morale impacts. Can you afford these people?

Read more: Problem Employee or Problem Manager?

I’ve resolved to do my part in the battle to lower the nation’s skyrocketing healthcare tab. So put some extra cheese on my Big Mac and supersize those french fries, would you please? And I can’t wait to light up that unfiltered after-dinner cigarette. In case you missed it, a new study just turned one of the most basic premises of healthcare reform on its head. According to the Netherlands’ Institute for Public Health and the Environment, thin, healthy adults actually cost more to care for than adults who smoke or are obese. 

Read more: An Ounce of Prevention

So I finally got around to watching Michael Moore’s healthcare opus, “Sicko.” I held out for so long because I’m familiar with Moore’s work and frustrated by his penchant for, shall we say, painting in broad strokes? “Sicko” is classic Michael Moore, and that’s both a compliment and a criticism.

Read more: Meet Me in the Middle

It seems that at least some health insurers are waking up to the fact that it’s less expensive to keep people healthy than to treat them after they become ill. A new program called LifeSmart represents a venture between UPMC Health Plan and Heritage Valley Health System to help prevent diabetes in Heritage Valley’s service area.

Read more: The Way It Should Be

Michael Jordan was famously quoted as saying he didn’t worry about whether the Bulls would win a championship at the end of the season. He focused instead on whether he had worked hard enough in today’s practice. We often think of an organization’s results as its output, but a better view is to think of results as a downstream, dependent variable. The variability, good or bad, depends on upstream processes that precede it.

Read more: Management Flight Check

This quote from the great physician-poet perfectly suits my sentiments regarding CMS’s work in progress, the Hospital Compare consumer Web site. When I first surfed over to Hospital Compare many moons ago, it was about as inviting as your friendly neighborhood department of motor vehicles. I saw little to nothing an average consumer could pull from the site, and it was nowhere near the ballpark of the “Travelocity of healthcare” HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt describes as his vision.

Read more: The Right Direction

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