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Inflating Healthcare Costs Emptying Pockets

You don’t pay $55 for a dozen eggs do you? How about $48 for a gallon of milk? Maybe a nice chunk of change – $134 – for one dozen oranges?

Of course not. That’s ridiculous.

Well, according to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), that’s how much those items would cost today if they inflated at the same rate health care has since 1945. That and similarly staggering information about the costs of health care appear in the IOM’s brief, animated representation of its 2011 report, The Healthcare Imperative: Lowering Costs and Improving Outcomes

Don’t simply sit back, shake your head, and expect someone else to fix this. Get involved. Maybe you already are. How are you working to make our healthcare system better, more efficient, less wasteful?

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The Value of Waiting

I’ve had several reminders this week about the value of waiting. The video below is only one of the many reminders, and it’s worth the nine minutes of your life.

Just for the record, I don’t like waiting. It feels like a waste – a waste of my time, a waste of my energy (yes, it takes energy to wait), a big, fat waste. And I wait all. the. time. I wait for my children to get out of the bathroom. I wait for my breakfast to finish cooking. I wait for my husband to move the other vehicle from behind me. I wait for the carpool load to fill my vehicle. I wait in the drop-off line at my children’s school. I wait in traffic. For a long time. I wait in line to pull into the hospital parking garage. I take the stairs no matter what floor I’m on or what shoes I’m wearing because I refuse to wait for the painfully slow elevator. I wait for my computer to boot up. I wait for people to arrive to meetings. I wait for the microwave to warm my lunch. I wait for meetings to end. I wait for email and telephone responses. I wait for fax transmittal sheets and the copy machine. I wait in traffic. Again. I wait in the bank teller line. I wait to talk to the grocery butcher. I wait for the neighborhood children to clear the mound of toys from my driveway so I can get into my garage. I wait for the pasta water to boil. I wait for my children to brush their teeth. I wait for the next day. I wait.

Most of the time, my “waiting” is anything but waiting. Just in case you forgot, I don’t like waiting, so I fill the empty spaces with other stuff.

But, there is value to waiting – unfilled, waiting space. It is the waiting that transforms my action. It is the waiting that prepares my mind. It is the waiting that calms my heart. It is the waiting that defines my character. It is the waiting that changes me. And even though it seems like wasteful, negative space, I’m realizing it’s actually the productive focus of the larger picture of me and my life.

Valuable doesn’t always equate to fun, though. Discipline is never fun in the moment. The results, however, are often brilliant. Happy waiting. 

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A Little Bit of Frustration Goes A Long Way

FrustrationA little bit of frustration – with the system, the “man,” or whatever – goes a long way. A little bit of frustration is healthy, in my opinion. It keeps us passionate. It keeps us advocating. It keeps us moving forward because we know whatever “it” is shouldn’t be this frustrating.

A lot of frustration, on the other hand, is no good. It’s just overwhelming. It leads to burnout.

Everything in moderation, folks…including frustration. If you have too much at the moment, push back from the table to limit your intake and let things settle and remember that a little goes a long way to effect change.

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R.I.P. NCI Cancer Bulletin

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) emailed a reminder to NCI Cancer Bulletin readers stating the longtime electronic periodical is ceasing publication due to budget changes. All previous Bulletins will remain archived for reference.

The NCI Cancer Bulletin has been a favorite of mine for several years, chock full of current research and hot topics within the oncology profession. It’s now moving to a more social-sharing information model, so be sure to connect with NCI on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

It was bound to happen. So long, NCI Cancer Bulletin; so long.

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Gaming For A Solution to the Future of Hospitals

A new Institute for the Future initiative and game, “Future of the Hospital” asks a provocative question, “What if your hospital wasn’t there when you needed it most?”

Yes, you read correctly – the collaborative forecasting game allows experts and “ordinary people” to submit ideas reinventing the community hospital, an institution facing near insurmountable challenges, or so it seems. The game is January 8-9, 2013, but you can whet your innovation appetite with pre-selected daunting questions and challenges via the Game Blog. These are behemoth questions, so tweet your wild ideas to @FutureHospitals, or use the #FutureHospitals hashtag.

Our current solution clearly isn’t cutting it, so why not forget everything you know about the community hospital and start anew? You know you have these ideas sitting at the nurses’ station or in between triaging patients or after a ridiculously challenging shift…”What if…” Go ahead, share those thoughts with us. Spur us to think differently.

Be sure to sign up for the game and to receive the weekly challenge questions in preparation of the game. I look forward to seeing your “crazy” ideas to transform the healthcare landscape.

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One Step Ahead. One Step Behind.

With so many projects going on at work and at home, I often feel like I am either one step ahead of everything or one step behind everything and everyone. It may not seem that way to my colleagues and family members, but that’s how I feel…at least lately. Ahead or behind, it’s just not quite right, and I feel that. I am sure others working closely with me feel it, as well.

Change, no matter how great, is still change, and that thing – eustress – yep, it’s still stress. I’m waiting for my stride to sync where it needs to be – at least my perception of my steps. Anyone else ever feel like that?

Now, to figure out whether to slow down or speed up. Here’s to a rhythmic day!

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Beware the Chart-Audit Roller Coaster

“Hooray! It’s chart audit day,” said no one ever.

Chart audits aren’t typically the highlight of my work. It’s a mundane task. Sometimes it can be quite the downer, as well. I did share the audit improvement points with everyone, didn’t I?

However, there are those occasions when chart after beautifully noted chart pass the marks without difficulty. Yes! I knew they would rock this!

I’ve had both experiences. In the same chart audit day. What’s important is the overall picture, routine audit schedule, and the continuous feedback. I try not to get stuck on the chart-audit roller coaster. There’s always room for improvement, and there are always opportunities to point out the stellar performances.

Whatever it is you do, watch out for the roller coaster.

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Everything Looks Like A Nail

Copyright Gary Huston,

It’s been said, “When you’re a hammer, every solution looks like a nail.” Maybe education or money or people or time or…is your nail solution.

Be aware.

Sometimes it takes a screw or bolt or glue or tie wrap to fix things.

Be open.

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The Right Thing To Do

KONY 2012 via Lego-LM,

It’s easy to look back at moments in history and think, “How could they let that happen?” Now is one of those times our children will look back on, as well.

If you haven’t seen this video, please watch it. Yes, it’s 30 minutes long; yes, I hope it spurs you to action. If you think Joseph Kony has nothing to do with health care across the globe, you are mistaken. Separated by continents and oceans, we have colleagues in the midst of unthinkable war and daily life, people who need our help. Part of what we do as advocates is make the invisible people visible, the unheard heard. Now is no different. Nurses, physicians, pharmacists, therapists, nutritionists, and every other healthcare professional need to take notice and take action. It’s the right thing to do.

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Emotional S&M Nurses

Sadomasochism, or S&M, has its place in nursing as it does within any profession. I’m not talking about physical, sexual S&M. I mean emotional S&M.

Sadist nurses are those that get pleasure – whether they know it or not – from harming others. You could call these nurses the bullies within our profession. They like to see colleagues squirm under pressure, and if you want to leave the profession then, hey, it’s no sweat off their backs. They pile the work onto subordinate nurses, waiting for the tipping point. “Self-care? You don’t need that!”

Then there are the masochist nurses who inflict emotional harm upon themselves. They are always the victims, and they wouldn’t have it any other way. They stay in toxic work environments instead of running in the opposite direction. They fool themselves into thinking there is nothing better within the profession. Either that, or they bury themselves under piles of work, taking on more and more projects until they blow up and people are left wondering what happened. “Self-care? I don’t need it!”

Emotional sadomasochism is prevalent within nursing. Maybe you see yourself above. Maybe you see others. It’s a hard cycle to break; realization is the first step toward any change.