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Better billing? Healthcare can learn from other industries

With more patients being pushed into high-deductible plans, hospitals are increasingly dependent on collecting bills. They’re also confronting a patient population, schooled in electronic consumerism, that is no longer willing to put up with…
Modern Healthcare Breaking News

How to keep travelers from ignoring health risks

Any vacation trip is a risk—regardless of how tame the destination might seem.

Most people know that travel to exotic or underdeveloped countries should come with a battery of vaccinations, but this year health officials warn of outbreaks in more-conventional vacation spots.

Specifically, Europe has the measles.

NPR’s Goats and Soda blog writes :

The [measles] — which kills almost 400 kids each day worldwide — is hitting Europe hard this year.

Romania is fighting a large outbreak with more than 3,400 cases, including 17 deaths. And Italy is seeing a big surge in cases, with at least 400 already in 2017, the World Health Organization reported last week.

The outbreak is only going to get worse.

“Preliminary information for February indicates that the number of new infections is sharply rising,” WHO wrote.

The spike in cases of the deadly disease is linked to a drop in vaccinations worldwide.

NPR reports :

“Over the past five years, measles vaccine coverage around the world has stagnated at around 78 percent,” [ Dr. Seth Berkley , who leads the nonprofit Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance] says. “That in combination with the European outbreak is worrisome.”

For the measles, it’s not enough to have 78 percent of a population vaccinated. You need about 90 to 95 percent to stop outbreaks, Berkeley says.

Because measles is one of the most contagious diseases on Earth. One sick person spreads it to 18 others, on average. The virus literally floats around in clouds through the air, seeking out the unvaccinated.

“You don’t even need to be in the same room with a sick person to catch measles,” Berkley says. “If you were to leave a doctor’s office and someone came an hour later, that person could catch measles just from the virus left in the air.”

Travel vaccines are nothing new for communicators who have been working to inform the public about health risks associated with overseas adventuring. However, recent declines in public trust in vaccines are a worrisome trend for public health professionals.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has done research into why travelers decline their vaccinations. The CDC tweeted its findings:

The results point to a messaging problem, as the study suggests that most people who refuse vaccines are simply unconvinced of the danger of infection.

The CDC suggests that clinicians should be ready with facts to combat apathy when working one on one with patients.

These reports come amid continued anxiety surrounding the Zika virus and its effects on travelers to tropical climes. The CDC continues to warn pregnant women not to travel to areas where Zika has been reported.

It has also published a map with Zika outbreak areas.

Beyond just Zika, the CDC curates a comprehensive directory of every travel destination and its associated risks.

There are other concerns for global travelers beyond viruses and vaccinations. Travelers can be vulnerable to a wide variety of health issues, from blood clots to food poisoning.

Travel guru Rick Steves shares these basic tips on his website :

Take precautions on the flight. Long flights are dehydrating. Eat lightly, stay hydrated, and have no coffee or alcohol and only minimal sugar until the flight’s almost over. Avoid the slight chance of getting a blood clot in your leg during long flights by taking short walks hourly.

Eat nutritiously. The longer your trip, the more you’ll be affected by an inadequate diet. Budget travelers often eat more carbohydrates and less protein to stretch their travel dollars. Protein helps you resist infection and rebuilds muscles.

Use good judgment when eating out (and outside Europe). Avoid unhealthy-looking restaurants. Meat should be well cooked (unless, of course, you’re eating sushi, carpaccio, etc.) and, in some places, avoided altogether. Have “well done” written on a piece of paper in the pertinent language and use it when ordering.

Keep clean. Wash your hands often, keep your nails clean, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Hand sanitizers, such as Purell, can be helpful. However, since they target bacteria, not viruses, they should be used as an adjunct to, rather than a replacement for, hand washing with soap and warm water.

Practice safe sex. Sexually transmitted diseases are widespread. Obviously, the best way to prevent acquiring an STD is to avoid exposure. Condoms (readily available at pharmacies and from restroom vending machines) are fairly effective in preventing transmission. HIV is also a risk, especially among prostitutes.

Get enough sleep. Know how much sleep you need to stay healthy (generally 7–8 hours per night).

Additionally, On Call International put out an infographic on travel health risks.

 

Communicators, how are you warning of the inherent health risks of overseas travel?

HealthCareCommunication.com

11 Things Patients Want From Their Doctors

11 Things Patients Want From Their Doctors

Patients trust doctors with their health. When we think about the patient-doctor relationship in this light, we realize just how important it is for the relationship to be a healthy one. When the relationship is strong, your patient’s health will improve. When it is not, the patient may suffer from a lack of clarity about the disease and diagnosis.

According to research from The PwC Health Research Institute, patients are expecting the same facilities and customer service from their medical practitioner as they would from a bank, hotel or airline. The PwC Health Research Institute surveyed thousands of patients to gauge their opinions of healthcare and found that active listening and transparency are the top priorities for patients when it comes to choosing a medical practitioner.

Getting a warm welcome when checking into a hotel shows friendliness, but in the doctor’s office, it can be a game changer. Today, patients are twice as likely to choose or reject a doctor on the basis of staff friendliness and attitude. While 70 percent of patients want doctors to offer multiple services under one roof, nearly 65 percent will appreciate the option to exchange information through smartphones.

However, the good news is that price is not a primary driver for most patients when it comes to choosing healthcare. A patient is more than twice as likely to prefer personal experience over price when selecting a doctor or medical facility.

A patient’s experience matters more than ever, not only because your doctor wants you to be well, but because policies and awareness are driving healthcare like never before. So patients have rights, including the right to participate in their healthcare rather than being an inactive patient. Here is a list of what patients expect and deserve from their doctors:

1. Transparency: It is acceptable if a physician does not know everything about their illness or diagnosis, but patients expect their doctors to share as much as possible. Uncertainty is okay, as long as patients are aware of the truth. Also, patients understand that doctors are humans, too, and that medical errors do occur. While patients usually never demand retribution, they do want a confession of the error and an assurance that the doctor is trying to fix the error. You must always educate your patients on the success rate and the risks involved with related procedures.

2. Active listening: When your patients leave your office after an appointment, do they feel like they are leaving a speech or a conversation? This is because conversations, and not lectures, will be helpful in improving your patients’ health. Patients want a doctor who respects their opinion, listens as they describe health issues and symptoms and asks follow-up questions in order to understand the cause of their illness. If you are always rushing through appointments, it can never be beneficial to anyone involved. Your medical should listen to your patients without interrupting them or making them feel rushed.

3. Trust: If a doctor is an active listener, patients will feel comfortable sharing every piece of information, including sensitive topics, assumptions, related myths and much more. In order to develop the best patient-doctor relationship, your patients must find you trustworthy enough to talk about other factors that affect their health. If they do not, you might not have made enough effort to earn their trust.

4. Care and connection: Patients instantly recognize the obvious signs of overtreatment, and they understand that more care is not equal to better care. Most patients stay cautious of ulterior motives of medical professionals and know that much money gets made in this profession. Patients want to be sure if they are getting the right care, without financial incentives getting in the way. Also, patients crave face-to-face interaction with their doctor. They want you to listen to them. Listening to your patients’ medical history is only the start; they also want you to connect with them on an emotional, physical and spiritual level.

5. Respect: If your patient is feeling cold, arrange for a blanket. If thirsty, get some water. Without addressing these underlying human needs, impressive offices and state-of-the-art equipment are useless. So forget the fancy ceiling and lighting and hire medical staff who will treat your patients with compassion and dignity. Also, patients will wait if they get what they want. Patients are not unhappy because they had to wait 30 minutes but because they did not get what they expected during their appointment with you. Do not make your patients wait for 45 minutes and then spend five minutes with them during the appointment. Such acts will make your patients feel ignored and disrespected.

6. Effective communication: Illness can suffocate even the bravest of souls. Diagnosis and procedures can be complicated, and a patient often feels vulnerable and helpless in your office, irrespective of their reason for being there. So the last thing they would expect is to walk out of your office without understanding a word you said. As a doctor, it is your responsibility to explain everything in a way your patient can understand. Don’t get upset or lose patience if you are asked to repeat or clarify instructions.

7. Time: Accept that some patients demand more time than others. Instead of rushing and handling five things in 10 minutes, pay attention to what your patients are saying. You must learn to value their time. You should allow ample time for your patients to ask as many questions as they want during an appointment.

8. Empathy: You can easily relate to your patient by asking about the daily schedule or eating habits. This kind of interaction creates a sense of connection, which will show your patient that you care. Always try to know and develop great relationships with your patients. If the patient is comfortable, feel free to ask personal histories, daily routine and lifestyle preferences. The medications that you prescribe may have side effects, and it is your duty to educate the patients about the potential risks and benefits. Also, patients are more likely to follow your instructions and return to your practice if they feel connected to you.

9. Access: If your patient is sick and wants to be seen, you must see him or her – even if that means working late or working through lunch hours. If you are not available when they need you, what good are you to them? Similarly, your patients should not have to wait for weeks for their lab results and make numerous calls to your office to receive them. You must consider electronic health records. EHRs may not be perfect, but they are helpful in simplifying communication and access-related issues. As a doctor, you must make sure your patients have access to their healthcare information.

10. Clear instructions: During an appointment, don’t make the mistake of rushing through instructions at an unintelligible pace. Be accurate and clear, and try to type out instructions that the patients can pick up when they leave. Always take the time to explain and simplify technical and medical terminology.

11. Collaboration: Your patients understand their body and life better than you do, and therefore you must get their consent before ordering a test or offering treatment. You must talk it through with your patients until they understand the purpose and implications of a test or treatment.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

Small practices receive $20 million from the CMS to help with MACRA

The awards will go to community-based organizations to provide hands-on training and education to small practices, especially those in underserved areas.
Modern Healthcare Breaking News

Rockers X Japan Crossover Stateside With Help From Famous Fans And New Album

‘X Japan’ is considered the biggest band in Japan, yet their music remains relatively unknown to American music lovers. This is about to change as the rockers, who have sold over 30 million albums and singles, make their name known in the states with help from famous fans and a new English album.
Forbes.com: Most popular stories

Food and Drug Administration final guidance protects medical devices from hacks

Device makers should develop “a structured and comprehensive program to manage cybersecurity risks” even after their products are sold. The FDA has been criticized for making suggestions instead of strongly regulating medical devices.
Modern Healthcare Breaking News

Views from the Street: What are your hopes and fears for the Trump presidency?

Source: www.youtube.com – Thursday, December 15, 2016

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9 communications lessons from Bob Dylan

Forget some literary soothsayers’ predictions that an American novelist such as Philip Roth, Thomas Pynchon or Ursula K. Le Guin would win this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature.

Pay up if you bet on an international writer—Albanian poet Ismail Kadare, Hungarian novelist László Krasznahorkai or Israeli author Amos Oz.

This year’s laureate in literature—the award that eluded Lev Tolstoy and Mark Twain—goes to the iconic American singer/songwriter, Bob Dylan. Yet amid the celebrations by fans and expressions of surprise among critics, PR pros and communicators can glean lessons from a rebranding wizard whose songs inspired a pivotal generation—and many thereafter.

Few keepers of shortlists were betting on Dylan in advance. The New Republic’s survey of authors in the running as of last week was headlined with the worst literary prediction of the year. (But hey, at least they thought to include him.)

“Who Will Win the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature?” the magazine stated. “Not Bob Dylan, that’s for sure.”

The writer, Alex Shephard, scurried to reassure us (and perhaps himself) today, “Bob Dylan is a fine Nobel Laureate.”

Which is great, because we’ve rounded up advice from PR pros and other communicators inspired by Dylan:

1. Trust your gut.

Cameron Craig, senior director of global corporate communications at Polycom, cites the Dylan song, “Don’t think twice, it’s all right.”

Recently, he was helping an executive prepare a speech, and the exec drew a point from a deeply personal matter, the death of his father and how it affected his leadership capabilities. Craig says he went with his gut.

“His words were moving to me, and I’m sure they will be moving to the audience hearing his keynote,” he says.

2. Boldly innovate.

Dylan has always been at the forefront of innovation in folk, says Katie McGraw-Paul, vice president of Shift Communications’ health care practice and the Boston agency’s resident Dylan fan.

Proof point: Dylan’s decision in 1965 to go electric at the Newport Folk Festival, McGraw-Paul says. The move from folk to rock ‘n’ roll both shocked and inspired fans and critics.

“His willingness to take change head on and go against the grain is something PR professionals can and must learn from,” McGraw-Paul says. “While we must maintain our media relations creds, we also need to ensure we’re taking intelligent chances and innovating ahead of the data-driven, integrated communications world that we are living in today.”

[FREE DOWNLOAD: 9 ways to prove internal communications’ ROI]

3. Rebrand.

It wasn’t just through music that Dylan embraced change. Though his name is now iconic, he was a master of rebranding, says Jonathan Rick of The Jonathan Rick Group. Born Robert Allen Zimmerman, he found a new name that was not only appropriate—he was influenced by the poetry of Dylan Thomas—but also permanent.

“What’s more, when [Dylan] tried to change his tune/brand, via the Bob Dylan Gospel Tour in 1979-1980, his exposure paled in comparison to his original persona,” Rick says.

4. Embrace your idiosyncrasies.

Dylan has often been criticized for his rough voice, notes James Richter senior content strategist at Walker Sands Communications. He could have taken this to heart and found a vocalist such as Mavis Staples or Johnny Cash to sing his songs, Richter notes. But rather than trying to please everyone, he won a devoted fan base.

Lesson? Organizations should embrace what makes them different, Richter says. For internal communications, a unique style helps everyone feel they’re part of something that outsiders might not understand.

In PR, “if your brand story travels along its own frequency, so to speak, it will likely resonate with an audience that appreciates your company’s unique point of view,” Richter says.

5. Be ye perfect.

“Dylan is a perfectionist—but not in the humblebrag way that most PR pros today claim they are,” says Rick.

America’s newest Nobelist went through 40 pages in rewriting the song “Dignity,” which he then ended up cutting from his album, “Oh Mercy,” Rick says.

“Note to junior account execs: How many drafts did you go through in writing your last press release?” he adds.

6. Don’t fear failure.

Employers, employees and managers alike can’t be content with failure, but can learn lessons from failed projects, Patrick Fiorenza writes in an article for Govloop.com, “Leadership lessons from the curious case of Bob Dylan.”

Fiorenza cites the Dylan song “Love Minus Zero, No Limit,” in which America’s newest laureate wrote, “There is no success like failure, but failure’s no success at all.”

7. Know your organizational culture.

Knowing the organizational culture and lay of the land is crucial to excelling and leading an organization, Fiorenza writes. He cites Dylan’s “Ballad of a Thin Man,” which offers a cautionary counterpoint: “Because something is happening here/ But you don’t know what it is/ Do you, Mister Jones?”

The goal, then is not just knowing what is happening, but “knowing the right way to inspire and empower employees,” Fiorenza states.

8. Find your strategy.

Tracy Pound, program coordinator with an adult literacy nonprofit, sees wisdom in the lyrics, “Some people feel the rain; others just get wet.”

“It speaks to having a well-devised PR strategy so that your audience connects to your message,” Pound says.

9. Never say die.

“When your media outreach feels futile, keep on moving—just like a rolling stone,” says Sarah Erickson, a media relations specialist at Walker Sands.

@byworking

(Image via)
HealthCareCommunication.com

Holocaust Memorial Museum and Auschwitz Memorial ask to be excluded from ‘Pokemon Go’

Pokemon Go has completely taken over the mobile gaming space, but we’re quickly finding out that some places aren’t exactly appropriate locations to “catch them all.”

The game, which uses augmented reality technology that enables users to catch Pokemon characters in public areas, called “Pokestops,” has even crept into hallowed ground.

The Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. and the Auschwitz Memorial, for example, have asked Niantic—Pokémon Go’s creator—to remove them from the list of Pokestops.

“Playing the game is not appropriate in the museum, which is a memorial to the victims of Nazism,” Holocaust Museum communications director Andrew Hollinger told The Washington Post . “We are trying to find out if we can get the museum excluded from the game.”

To make matters worse, disputed reports have surfaced that a poisonous gas-emitting Pokemon character called Koffing can be found in the museum.

RELATED: Keep your cool in a crisis with these tips.

The Auschwitz Memorial posted the following tweet urging Niantic to disallow the game to use its site:

 

Niantic should know better. Previously the company, which spun out of Google, had to apologize for including concentration camp sites in its previous augmented reality offering, Ingreess.

Virtual Summit: The mobile revolution is here. Reach customers in 2016 and beyond on their mobile devices.

Last July, Niantic’s chief executive, John Hanke, said in a statement:

After we were made aware that a number of historical markers on the grounds of former concentration camps in Germany had been added, we determined that they did not meet the spirit of our guidelines and began the process of removing them in Germany and elsewhere in Europe. We apologize that this happened.

Niantic has yet to issue a response to press inquiries about its latest incidents.

(Image via)

HealthCareCommunication.com

Whole Foods under fire from FDA for ‘serious violations’

Think twice before purchasing pre-made meals and snacks at Whole Foods if you live in the northeastern United States.

The Food and Drug Administration has given the high-end grocery chain until the end of the month to correct “serious violations” at a Massachusetts plant.

The FDA released the letter it sent to Whole Foods—and if you’re at all germaphobic, I suggest that you not read it.

I’ll summarize: The FDA alleged that the Whole Foods plant in question has lax standards when it comes to keeping its food safe from contaminates, including an alarming amount of condensation from pipes gets into the food and employees who don’t do a great job of keeping themselves or their utensils sanitary.

Free download: Practical tips and advice on how to overcome obstacles.

That means the chain’s consumers should steer clear of the quinoa cakes.

After contacting the plant in February about violations, Whole Foods apparently didn’t make enough changes. The letter states:

FDA has serious concerns that our investigators found your firm operating under these conditions. Further, your response includes retraining of employees as a corrective action for most of the observed violations but you failed to mention adequate supervision over your specialized food processing operations and how retraining will ensure sustained compliance. We do not consider your response acceptable because you failed to provide documentation for our review, which demonstrates that all your noted corrective actions have been effectively implemented.

In a statement provided to The Wall Street Journal, Whole Foods’ executive vice president of operations, Ken Meyer, said:

We’ve been in close contact with the FDA, opened our doors to inspectors regularly since February and worked with them to address every issue brought to our attention.

(Image via)

HealthCareCommunication.com