News

Healthcare Industry

What is People Driven Healthcare?

People Driven Healthcare (PDH) is a fundamental belief that people should be in control of their own healthcare. In this case, “people” refers to patients and providers. In today’s world, healthcare is primarily driven by formularies, algorithms, flowcharts and protocols, typically controlled by third-party companies. Confused? You’re not alone. Not one of those components mention anything about “people,” and how can you have a competitive and sustainable healthcare system without “people?” The answer – you can’t!

PDH gives power and choice back to patients and providers, putting them in the driver’s seat of their healthcare. These choices apply to everything from office visits and treatment, to health insurance coverage. The foundation of PDH is built on transparency, which is achieved through education, and this in turn allows patients and providers to make informed decisions that best suit their needs.

PDH was first envisioned in 2017 by Medvoucher, and implemented through its revolutionary Online Healthcare Marketplace. Here at Medvoucher, people are provided with price transparency as they shop for a multitude of healthcare offerings, available online or through an app (Apple Store | Google Play) on any mobile device. The Medvoucher platform was created with the core belief that patients deserve to know the cost of healthcare services up front, without the worry of surprise bills arriving in the mail weeks, or months, later. For patients, our PDH approach provides the education and knowledge necessary to make informed decisions regarding their individual healthcare needs.

For providers, our PDH approach offers the power and freedom to choose the best treatment plans for individual patients. PDH circumvents hurdles placed by traditional insurance carriers, such as requirements for pre-authorizations, peer-to-peer reviews, denials for patient services, and the uncertainty regarding reimbursement for services rendered. By giving providers the power to make choices and drive healthcare decisions, patients often receive expedited services – at a fraction of the cost. As a result of this expedited treatment, the duration of treatment is often decreased, further reducing the expense for the treatment plan.

Currently, traditional health insurance companies are vying to follow this path. There is chatter that many insurance companies are seeking to create catastrophic-type high-deductible HSA plans that will cover only a limited number of conditions, injuries, and illnesses. This trend is similar to the existing structure of automobile insurance, where consumers have the choice to obtain liability or comprehensive coverage, while managing their limits and deductibles. Health insurance is taking the first steps on a similar path, with the ultimate goal being consumer choice and price transparency, with variable deductibles and certain coverages for certain illnesses. This model minimizes monthly premiums and encourages patients to get the most from their healthcare dollars.

Unfortunately, traditional insurance companies still have a long way to go, and many hurdles to overcome, before they truly offer a healthcare alternative that benefits everyone. Thankfully, Medvoucher and its PDH approach has stepped in to fill the void by providing a free-market healthcare system powered “by the people” and “for the people.”

Healthcare Industry

Why is Healthcare So Expensive?

It’s no secret. The cost of healthcare is rising year after year – at an alarming rate. According to a recent Peterson-Kaiser analysis, the percentage of individual household budgets being devoted to healthcare costs has risen from 5.2% in 1990 to 8.2% in 2017.And the country as a whole is also feeling the strain of these rising costs, with U.S. spending on health care rising 3.9% in 2017 to over $3.5 trillion – that’s an average of nearly $11,000 for every person in the country!2

While the vast majority of Americans have some sort of health insurance coverage to help offset the rising costs of medical care, these plans often come with high deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses. As a result, nearly 10% of adults report delayed care, or not receiving the needed care at all, simply due to the cost.3 It is certainly a sad state of affairs when those in need of medical care can’t afford it!

Naturally, if we spend the most on healthcare we should be receiving the best healthcare possible, right? Wrong. According to the World Health Organization, the U. S. healthcare system ranked 37th in the world, and even worse, the Commonwealth Fund ranked the U.S. last among the top 11 industrialized nations in overall healthcare!4

So, what’s going on here? There are many logical explanations, from an inadequate and overworked system, to simple greed. Here are a few examples:

  1. Administrative Costs. According to some economists, this is the number one reason for skyrocketing healthcare costs. Our existing system needs an extensive support staff to deal with the cumbersome paperwork and billing requirements imposed by multiple insurance carriers. More administrative responsibilities = higher costs.
  2. Drug Costs. In many other countries the government negotiates the costs of drugs for its population. But here in the U.S., Congress created Medicare Part D, which specifically prevents Medicare from negotiating drug prices on behalf of its patients. Medicaid, on the other hand, is allowed to negotiate prices, and thus they pay much less. No negotiation = higher costs.
  3. Defensive Medicine. Due to fear of litigation, many doctors here in the U.S. will order multiple (and often unnecessary) tests during a patient’s care, even when the diagnosis seems obvious. More tests = higher costs.
  4. Expensive Mix of Treatments. The frequent use of advanced testing such as mammograms and MRIs, which require a continual investment in up-to-date technology and functionality drive up the cost of individual healthcare. And maybe even more so, the desire of patients here in the U.S. to be seen, and treated, by “specialists,” who are paid more than primary care providers. More “advanced medicine” = higher costs.
  5. Wages and Work Rules. As mentioned previously, a large and dedicated staff is needed in many locations to deal with the burdensome paperwork that comes with patient care. Of course, this is passed along to the patient in the form of higher prices. More employees = higher costs.
  6. Branding. Perhaps not as obvious at first glance as some other reasons for rising healthcare costs, but have you ever noticed that many patients want to be seen by the hottest new specialist, or be treated at the biggest hospital in town? More demand = higher costs.

It’s clear that our current healthcare system is broken. Is there a solution on the horizon for patients? While many believe the solution is for our government to take a more active role in negotiating healthcare costs on behalf of patients, there are an equal number of people who believe (and always will) that government is already too involved in our everyday lives. And of course, we can’t forget all of the “special interests” and lobbyists who may be looking for work if we ever get a healthcare system that actually works to the benefit of the people!

Thankfully, there is Medvoucher. We work directly with providers to offer the best healthcare services and products at reasonable, affordable, and transparent prices. Our marketplace provides patients the power to control individual healthcare without jumping through hoops imposed by traditional insurance carriers.

For a few helpful tips that may help you avoid excessive debt from surprise medical bills, click here.

 


 

Sources

https://www.healthedeals.com/blog/save/why-is-healthcare-so-expensive/

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/080615/6-reasons-healthcare-so-expensive-us.asp

https://www.bankrate.com/credit-cards/preventing-debt-from-surprise-medical-bills/

1 https://www.healthsystemtracker.org/indicator/access-affordability/spending-relative-household-budgets/

2 https://www.cms.gov/research-statistics-data-and-systems/statistics-trends-and-reports/nationalhealthexpenddata/nationalhealthaccountshistorical.html

3 https://www.healthsystemtracker.org/chart-collection/cost-affect-access-care/#item-about-1-in-10-adults-report-that-they-delayed-or-did-not-get-care-because-of-its-cost_2017

4 https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/080615/6-reasons-healthcare-so-expensive-us.asp

Healthcare Pricing – No Longer “Clear as Mud”
Healthcare Industry

Healthcare Pricing – No Longer “Clear as Mud”

Did you know the actual costs prior to your recent hospital visit or surgical procedure? If you answered “No,” you’re not alone. Healthcare pricing is a gray (very dark gray) area for most patients. Thankfully, as we head into 2019, there are steps being taken to make healthcare pricing more transparent.

Based on a new federal rule that took effect January 1, 2019, all hospitals are required to post a list of standard charges for any service they offer. Hospitals are required to posts these lists online, and in a format that is easily downloadable and accessible for patients. While hospitals were always required to have a “price list” available for patients, in most cases those lists were only available to patients that “asked” for them. Under the new rule, hospital pricing is now available to everyone, at any time, at the click of a button.

This new rule will give patients a better understanding of the financial implications of any service they receive at a hospital, and will also allow them to “price shop” among multiple facilities in their area for the best value for the care they need.

It probably comes as little surprise that most hospitals are not welcoming this new rule with open arms. According to a recent poll (https://bit.ly/2DktwvS), 92% of providers are concerned about the new hospital price transparency requirement. It seems the basis for these concerns is “public perception” – or simply put, “sticker shock.” In other words, providers are worried that patients now have easy access to how much they are being charged for services!

In another, much needed, step towards providing transparent pricing for patients, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) launched a new tool in late November that allows patients to compare Medicare payments and copayments for certain procedures performed in hospitals or ambulatory surgical centers (ASC). This “Procedure Price Lookup” tool displays the national averages for the amount Medicare pays the hospital or ASC and the national average copayment amount a beneficiary with no Medicare supplemental insurance would pay the provider.

According to CMS Administrator Seema Verma, “the Procedure Price Lookup will help patients with Medicare consider potential cost differences when choosing where to have a medical procedure that best meets their needs.” The Procedure Price Lookup tool is available here.

For too long, the majority of patients have been kept in the dark when it comes to healthcare prices. How much is this going to cost me? How much is my insurance going to cover? Is there a cheaper alternative? Thankfully, some of these questions are now being answered, and as a result, the power of personal healthcare is being returned to the people – where it belongs!


Sources:

https://www.nola.com/news/2018/12/all-hospitals-required-to-post-prices-online-starting-jan-1.html

https://www.aha.org/news/headline/2018-11-27-cmss-online-tool-shows-cost-differences-certain-surgical-procedures

https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/new-online-tool-displays-cost-differences-certain-surgical-procedures

https://revcycleintelligence.com/news/92-of-providers-concerned-about-hospital-price-transparency-rule

Healthcare Industry

Why easy access to patient record increases patient care and patient satisfaction

Why easy access to patient records increases patient care and patient satisfaction

There is an ever increasing need for healthcare information in the community. This is why 52% of the patients are using patient portal to access their health records. The importance of a healthier nation has pushed the government to introduce legislations such as the MACRA Act; which specifically focus on the quality of healthcare administered. MACRA has introduced four quality measures through the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) program which include the following:

  • Quality,
  • Cost,
  • Improvement activities
  • And Advancing Care Information measures

Such programs help in improving the overall quality of healthcare delivered.

The entire health architecture is transforming rapidly, bringing along benefits one could only imagine. Let’s go through some of the perks which the patient portal has to offer:

More control over their health:

Patients remain updated with their progress, since they can view their lab results, immunization histories etc. They can take steps to improve on their health, remember the important dates and do so much more. Reviewal of allergy lists enables them to be involved in preemptive care, and take caution of the unexpected triggers by themselves.

Effective engagement:

Research suggests that about 51% of patients use the patient portal to obtain their physician’s opinion on the most concerning health issues. 24 hour access prevents the proliferation of symptoms to something sinister in the longer run. People might send an email or an IM to contact, but that only adds to the confusion. Through the communication channel provided by the patient portal, conversations are more structured and providers have the option to add clinical notes to the messages.

Swift patient registrations:

Before the introduction of the patient portal facility, people had to wait for hours just for registration purposes. Now, easy scheduling of appointments facilitates patients in the entire checkup process. Whenever the need arises, patients can simply use the portal to obtain effective care.

Reduced last time cancellations:
Some of the EHR solutions available in the market allow physicians to send text messages to their patients. Multiple reminders are sent to the patients in the form of messages. This feature prevents patient absences from scheduled checkups.

Secure means of communication:

Patient portal acts a gateway for patient-physician engagement, allowing the sharing of information with different labs, insurance companies and other stakeholders of the industry. Patients can book appointments, ask for physician’s opinion and view clinical notes.

Better Outcomes:

Through the 24/7 access of patient data, people can view health histories and act in accordance with the necessary actions. This helps in adherence to medications and administration of vaccinations, with the option of constant monitoring of health statistics.

Booking an appointment

Getting an appointment hadn’t been this easy. Patients simply have to select the time of their choosing and visit the practice. Now they don’t have to wait as they had to do before.

Integration with EHR systems:

Patient portals go hand in hand with EHR systems, enabling providers to make better decisions due to availability of first hand data. Provider notes are seamlessly shared with patients, pushing them to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

Author Bio:

Alex Tate is an expert health care marketing and consultant who specializes in promoting tools and resources so physicians can do better care.

https://www.nursingtimes.net/increasing-access-to-patient-records/5062710.article

https://patientengagementhit.com/features/how-patient-health-data-access-drives-patient-engagement

https://patientengagementhit.com/news/patient-portal-access-use-reach-52-of-healthcare-consumers

 

Personal Wellness

Why You Need A Gratitude Routine

Gratitude is one of the simplest and most effective ways to practice mindfulness. And with that being said, it’s also one of the easiest things to forget about or procrastinate on a daily basis. Having a routine that you can fit in your everyday life, regardless of how big or small, can help keep you on track and focused and it can become one of the best ways to start your day.

Here are some of the easiest gratitude routines to implement to ensure you are practicing gratitude on a daily basis.

  • Journal.

    • Option 1: Each morning make a list of five things you are grateful for. This way you remind yourself of all of the positive things in your life before you go out to start your day. (To make sure you do not feel rushed and skip over it, try setting your alarm a little earlier than normal!)
    • Option 2: Create prompts for yourself to help realize different things you are grateful for. The easiest way to do this is to write “I’m grateful for 3 things…” and you could say “that are blue” or “I can smell”, “in my home.” You can take it whichever way you’d to help keep it interesting if you get tired of doing the same thing each morning.

  • Gratitude Jar. Find a jar (decorate it if you would like). Then each day write three things down that you realize you are grateful for as the day goes on, and then at night put whatever you wrote on in the jar. Then if you ever need a quick pick me up you can take a few out and read them to remind yourself of the positives in your life.

  • Gratitude letter. Pick a family member you deeply care about and write a detailed letter to them talking about how glad you are to have them in your life. (If you want to give it to them in person it can give you extra positive feelings when you see their reaction!)

  • Meditation. Instead of concentrating on breathing like normal meditation, concentrate on the things in your life you are grateful for.

 

Are there health benefits to doing a gratitude routine?

Yes! Lots of them!

  1. It can help you feel more grounded and emotionally stable throughout the day. Constantly looking at the positives in life instead of dwelling on the negatives allows for a more consistent day emotionally.

  2. A gratitude routine can make you more productive in a shorter amount of time. Being more positive gives you more energy which allows you to do more in a shorter period of time!

  3. It can give you more a more confident and less fearful mindset. If you are thinking about all of the good things in your life, you will be more confident. You’ll think you already have all these good things, and you will not be afraid of going to get them. Doing things for people has shown to improve your mood due to an increased positive affect.

  4. It can improve your relationships. Having a positive energy infects those around you, and makes others feel better as well, and a gratitude journal gives you that positive energy. It has been shown that people who gratitude journal show more support to others, and people think they are more pleasant to be around as a whole.

  5. Being positive can help make lasting friendships. Studies have shown that people are more wanting to be in long term friendships with people who say “Thank you.” As a bonus, studies have shown that you have a lesser chance of heart disease if you have a stronger network of family and friends!

  6. It can even improve your physical health! People have reported feeling less aches and pains, and feel better about their health as a whole when they have a gratitude routine. Gratitude routines have also been shown to lower blood pressure and improve immune function. Oxytocin, which is released when we feel emotional warmth, is released during a gratitude routine. It has been shown to reduce inflammation in the cardiovascular system, meaning it literally makes your heart healthier! Studies have also shown that grateful people exercise 33% more per week!

  7. It also can improve your mental health! A gratitude routine gets you thinking positively, and this puts you in a better mood. If you can consistently see the positives in a situation and think about all the good things going on in your life, you will be a happier person.

  8. Your mental strength can benefit in addition to your health! It has been shown to make for an easier time recovering from trauma, hard times, or stress. It is much harder to fall from being happy to being depressed than it is from being sad to being depressed. If you have a positive attitude it will not take you as long to bounce back to normal happiness levels.

  9. A gratitude routine has shown to reduces aggression and increases empathy. Gratitude routines have shown to reduce the chance someone retaliates against someone, and increase the chance they react in a positive way.

  10. Improved sleep can also be a benefit! A gratitude routine has been shown to help you fall asleep faster, and then have a longer, more relaxing sleep. Studies have also shown that grateful people on average sleep a half hour longer each night.

  11. Lastly, a gratitude routine can enhance your self-esteem. Showing appreciation for others accomplishments allows you to be grateful. This shows you how much other people are doing things for you, big or small, and gives you a sense of you must be doing something right if everyone is being nice to you.

 

Sources:

http://www.theunbrokensmile.com/gratitude-exercise-in-the-morning-helps-to-develop-a-positive-mindset/

https://www.jordangrayconsulting.com/2016/04/why-you-should-have-a-morning-routine/

https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/gratitude-exercises/

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-27654/gratitude-can-prevent-disease-heal-your-mind-heres-how.html

https://www.quietrev.com/6-science-backed-ways-being-kind-is-good-for-your-health/

http://drdavidhamilton.com/the-5-side-effects-of-kindness/

https://positivepsychlopedia.com/year-of-happy/benefits-of-gratitude/

 

Woman Doctor Taking Blood Pressure
Marketing

25 Ways to Improve Patient Retention

Patients are what make a practice successful- and you want to ensure that those patients keep coming back and that your patient retention stays high. Here are 25 surefire ways to make sure your patients stick around for the long run.

  • Phone calls. Make sure your phones are answered, and that missed calls are returned in a timely fashion. Answering when a patient calls or returning their calls quickly gives a good impression and shows you care. Also, make sure the employee answering the phone sounds happy, and knows answers to basic questions people may ask. If the person answering the phone sounds rude, people will not want to come. 

 

  • Information. Make information available and known before a patient arrives. This saves the patient time so they don’t have to wait as long, and gives you less to worry about. Some examples are pre-approving insurance, informing the patient of the paperwork they will fill out before they arrive, making the paperwork available online so it can be done before arrival, and giving patients an estimate of how much time they should set aside to come in.

 

  • Set yourself apart. Patients need to clearly see how you are better than your competitors, otherwise there is nothing stopping them from leaving. The solution is treating your patients like family. This makes more a more enjoyable experience for the patient. It also gives you that edge over the competition that keeps patients coming back.

 

  • Simplify things. People get worried when going to the doctor because most people don’t understand what is going on. Going the extra mile to explain test results in a manner patients can understand helps the patient listen more because they can follow what you are saying. Before or during the actual procedure, explaining what you are doing and why you are doing it in terms the patient will understand will help calm a patient’s nerves.

 

  • Listen. Listen to the patient. The patient can explain the issues they are having and give you a better understanding for how to treat them. Not letting a patient talk or talking over them is rude and makes a patient think you don’t care about them. If a patient is given the impression they are no different than someone else they’ll find another practice that treats them like they are important.

 

  • Survey patients. Send an online survey to your patients after they leave. Getting feedback on the patient experience is critical. It gives insights as to what your practice does well, and what could be improved upon. This allows you work on improvements where needed to improve your practice as a whole, and give patients more of a reason to keep coming back. To incentivize people to take the survey, you could give a small gift or a coupon for their next visit for completing the survey.

 

  • Appointment confirmations and reminders. Send appointment confirmations and reminders. People are busy, and tend to forget things. Send a confirmation email when the appointment is made so the patient has it available as a reminder. Once the appointment gets close send an email and/or text message to the patient as a reminder they have an appointment scheduled and the details for it. Sending a reminder for an appointment is quite useful, as the patient doesn’t have to stress as much, and if the appointment was made months in advance can remind the patient they made it.

 

  • Be thankful. A patient is not forced to come to your practice, they make that choice. At the end of the appointment, thank the patient for coming to your practice. After a procedure, it means a lot to a patient if you follow up. Depending on the procedure, the patient may be in pain or not feeling well, and getting a call from their doctor shows the doctor cares about them. Patients are more likely to stay with and recommend that doctor if they show that level of care.

 

  • Birthdays. Keep track of patients birthdays and wish a Happy Birthday when it comes time. Showing that your office remembers their birthday and cared enough to reach out and say it shows how much you care about your patients. It also allows for a promotion or marketing opportunity.

 

  • Extended Hours. People have hectic schedules. Providing extended hours makes it easier for people to come to your practice. Being open late one or two days a week, or being open on one or two Saturdays a month would be ideal. This is more accommodating to patients who can’t leave work or school to come to the doctor, or just have a lot going on in general.

 

  • Be informed. Patients will have questions when they visit. Staying up to date on your field keeps you informed of the latest technology and procedures. That way, when patients inevitable have questions about something they say online, you can answer their question and perhaps give a more well-rounded answer than they were expecting. This shows you know what you are talking about, and gives patients confidence in your abilities.

 

  • Smells. Humans are sensitive to smell, so be sensitive to smells from your office. Strong cologne, cigarettes, and other strong smells like fish that can be repulsive to some people shouldn’t be present in the office environment. If people smell something they think is unpleasant while in your office, chances are they won’t be back.

 

  • Website. It is 2018, most people will look online before going somewhere. If you have an outdated and poorly functioning website, people will not make an appointment at your practice. An easy to use and updated website is great. Being able to easily find information about your practice, make appointments and maybe even have access to the forms they’d need to fill out before they come is a must have.

 

  • Parking. Make sure there is ample parking. Patients don’t want to have to search for a parking spot, so make it easy for patients to park when they arrive. If parking can be competitive with surrounding places, consider making some spots available for only patients of your practice.

 

  • Flexible payments. The biggest reason people don’t go to the doctor is cost. Strictly limiting payment options limits the customers you can have. Giving patients the option to pay with insurance, credit card, cash, or offering a payment plan can set you ahead of the competition. It allows you to see more patients, and the patients who don’t have insurance, or a highly deductible plan will greatly appreciate it.

 

  • Don’t fall far behind. Try and stick to the schedule. The closer appointments start to the scheduled time the better. The worst thing that can happen is patients being forced to wait for a long time because you overestimated what you could handle. Patients are happier if they don’t have to wait long.

 

  • Be honest. If there is a reason the appointment won’t start one time, tell the patient. Things such as car trouble for an employee, or the doctor being stuck in traffic are uncontrollable by the practice. Informing the patient of what is happening instead of having them sit there waiting is appreciated. The patient is usually more understanding if you tell them the truth. If the patient has to come ask what is going on it is not good.

 

  • Free stuff. People love free stuff. Free amenities will be appreciated by patients. It doesn’t have to be big things, just something small such as a bottle of water or sunglasses for a dental exam. It improves the patient experience at your practice.

 

  • Know the patient. First of all, know the name of the patient you are seeing. In addition to that, try and memorize one fact about each patient. Knowing something about the patient shows you care about them because you took the time to get to know them instead of trying to rush them out of the office. It also gives you something to talk about while you are with them.

 

  • Sit in your own waiting room. If you spend around a half an hour in your wait room, you can see what it’s like for a patient. This can show you what can be improved for a more enjoyable waiting experience. Whether you need to buy a tv, put in a water feature, add more magazines, paint, or something else, you might get some ideas for how to improve one of the most important aspects of the office through sitting in it yourself.

 

  • Be realistic. Don’t over promise results. If you tell the patient they will get a certain result despite it not being possible, it hurts your credibility. The patient won’t want to return as they think you didn’t do a good job since they didn’t get the result they were told they would.

 

  • Keep the office updated. Make sure your equipment isn’t out of date, and make sure your computer software is up to date. Replace equipment when it gets old, people can tell when something is out of date, and people want to be treated with the best technology.

 

  • Setup a calendar. Having a calendar so you can reach out to patients at regular intervals. This allows you to touch base with them so they know when they should be coming in. This helps the patient so they don’t have to worry about figuring it out while dealing with their busy schedule.

 

  • Surprise your patients. Every so often giving your patients a gift or something so they know they are appreciated. A discounted service, or a service free of charge could be ways to thank them for coming to your practice, and gives them continued incentive to stay.

 

  • Marketing. Building a sustainable marketing program keeps your practice in the patients mind. Through blogs, mailers, and social media posts amongst other things make sure your patients up to date on your practice, your industry, and remind them they should go to you and not someone else.

 

Sources:

http://www.practicecafe.com/blog/10-ways-increase-new-patient-retention

https://www.solutionreach.com/blog/5-ways-to-build-patient-loyalty-and-increase-patient-retention

https://www.solutionreach.com/blog/patient-retention-10-things-you-can-do-to-keep-existing-patients-happy

https://www.getweave.com/patient-retention/

https://www.practicebuilders.com/blog/8-proven-patient-retention-strategies-that-work/

https://www.patientpop.com/blog/running-a-practice/patient-experience/patient-retention-strategies/

Medical Imaging

A Beginners Guide to Understanding CT Scans

You have probably heard of a CT scan, CAT scan, MRI, and X-Ray, but you may have no clue what the difference between the four are. All these different types of imaging can be easily confused. We wanted to help clarify this, so we created a beginners guide to understanding a CT Scan.

What is a CT scan?

First things first, what does CT even stand for? The answer is Computerized Tomography. A CT scan is a process used to create diagnostic images of any part of your body. It does this through combining a series of x-rays that are from different angles.

How does a CT scan work?

For a CT scan you normally lay flat on your back on a table. Then you are pushed slowly through a hole in the machine. While you’re being pushed through, x-rays rotate all around you in order to capture images at different angles. All of these angles are then put together by a computer so a doctor can look at either the 2-D image or the 3-D image that is created when all the images are compiled. It is important to be as still as possible during the scan, and sometimes you may even be asked to hold your breath by the doctors. One thing that the technicians may be do to ensure you stay still and in the correct position is fasten you to the table with straps. The reason for this is that if the resulting images come out blurry or unclear in any way, the scan most likely will need to be repeated.

Is a CT scan and a CAT scan the same thing?

These two can be confusing because their names are so close. The reason their names are so close is because they are the same thing! A CAT scan is just another name for a CT scan!

What do doctors use a CT scan for?

Although a CT scan gives off a small amount of radiation, doctors have concluded that the benefits that it gives outweigh the small risk that comes from the radiation. Doctors are able to use CT scans to help diagnose muscle and bone disorders, find the location of a tumor, infection or blood clot, guide various procedures, detect and monitor certain conditions, monitor the effectiveness of treatments, and detect internal injuries or bleeding. This is why a lot of times if an accident victim comes into the hospital they will do a CT scan. It can give them a lot of information in a short amount of time.

Do you have to take a contrast?

A contrast is something your doctor may have you drink or put in your system with an IV in order to better appear on the images. The contrast you’d be given block out x-rays and appears white on the images, better highlighting what the doctors are looking for. That being said, it is not necessary for every CT scan, it just depends on the doctor and what they are looking for.

What can a CT scan show?

A CT scan can show bone and joint issues such as tumors or fractures. It can also show if you have cancer, heart disease, emphysema, or liver masses. CT scans can also show any internal bleeding or other internal injuries that may have resulted from a car accident.

What do you do during the scan and how long should it take?

During a CT scan, you normally lie flat on your back on a table, trying to be as still as you can. Since the table passes through the machine, it is a relatively quick process. Normally a CT scan can be completely finished within 30 minutes as long as the images come out clear.

What should you disclose to your doctor before your CT scan?

Due to the radiation given off during the scan, let you doctor know any of the following. If you are pregnant you should not get a CT scan unless it is absolutely necessary as it can cause damage to the baby. If a child is the one needing the scan, ask your doctor about setting the radiation so it is not as powerful, as children are not as resistant to the radiation given off as adults are. Also, let your doctor know if you have diabetes and are take Metformin, or if you have any sort of kidney issues.

How is a CT scan different from a normal X-Ray?

When it comes down to it, a CT scan is much more detailed in the images it produces when compared to a normal x-ray. Whereas a regular x-ray really just shows bone damages, a CT scan also shows organs, and shows more detail in the vertebrae of the spine.

Sources:

https://www.webmd.com/cancer/what-is-a-ct-scan#3

https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/ct-scan/about/pac-20393675

https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=bodyct

https://uamshealth.com/medicalservices/radiology/ctscanfrequentlyaskedquestions/

http://www.sworthogroup.com/general-orthopedic-faq/25-what-is-the-difference-between-x-rays-mri-and-ct-scan

 

Mental Health

Recovering Mentally From an Injury

When you get injured, there are two parts of recovering- physical, and mental. A lot of times, people forget they need to recover mentally from the ways their injury affected their mental state– and that healing goes far beyond just physical.

Why is it important to mentally recover from an injury?

Failing to properly recover mentally from your physical injury can have lasting effects. When you are physically recovered you may be afraid of re-injury, or may have post-traumatic stress when exercising from when you were initially injured. A few other effects it may have is insomnia, anger, and changes in appetite. When you exercise, endorphins get released in your brain and it gives you a bit of a high. If you are injured and aren’t getting the same amount of exercise, you can easily become irritable, depressed, and have changes in appetite where you either stop eating, or eat very unhealthy foods, oftentimes leading to unexpected weight gain, and in extreme cases, eating disorders. 

How can you mentally recover from injury?

Once you suffer an injury, you are normally limited in what types of activities you can do. There are a number of ways to stay positive, and mentally recover from your injury while you are physically healing.

1. Practice gratitude. While coping with an injury is hard, it gives you some time to think about what has it allowed you to do you weren’t able to do before? Such as get a break from work, read a good book, catch up on a show, or watch movies you have been meaning to watch.

2. Change your perspective. Put the time and energy that you would normally use to workout to recover, and remember that just because you are resting does not mean you are not being productive. Resting allows you to heal, which is productive.

3. Keep a journal. If you find yourself worried about injury or re-injury when you get aches and pains, keep a diary of them, and then log the result of how they turned out. Did it go away? How long did it take? What did you do to get it to heal? This strategy can work to give you more confidence in your body that you are unlikely to have a serious injury from exercising.

4. Start goal-setting. Set new, smaller goals for yourself. If you set yourself smaller goals when it comes to your recovery you will be happy when you put the work in and begin meeting your goals.

5. Focus on the things you can control. Control your diet. Drink more water and eat healthier foods to help compensate for not exercising as much. Depending on the injury you can find alternatives ways to exercise as well. If you have an arm injury, try and do more leg work such as body weight squats.If you injure your leg, try and work your arms. Doing these couple things still allows you to get some sort of exercise or to not lose all of the work you did by gaining weight, and that keeps your mentality positive.

6. Find a hobby. Redirect your energy into something else you enjoy such as cooking, work, or anything that you enjoy that can keep you occupied.

7. Meditate. If you find yourself stressing about not being able to recover as fast as you want, take the time to meditate. Sitting still and concentrating on breathing calms the nervous system and reduces stress.

8. Stick to the rehab program. Doing more rehab than recommended does not make you heal faster, and doing less than recommended slows your recovery, or you do not fully recover.

9. Do not isolate yourself. Try and stick to your normal social routine as much as possible. If you are still regularly communicating and socializing with family and friends you will not feel as down about being injured.

10. Stay positive. Remember that you will get better and not continue to be injured. If you do the recommended recovery and do not rush yourself to heal, eventually you will no longer be injured and can go back to all your normal activities.

 

Sources:

https://www.outsideonline.com/2184916/how-mentally-come-back-injury

https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/what-physical-injury-taught-me-about-my-mental-health-ncna811166

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-power-prime/201512/psychological-rehab-after-sports-injury

omenshealthmag.com/fitness/a19940231/mentally-heal-from-injury/

http://www.ncaa.org/sport-science-institute/mind-body-and-sport-how-being-injured-affects-mental-health

Technology

10 Apps To Download to Help Keep You Happy And Healthy

Our phones play such large roles in our lives. We often find ourselves so busy that we cannot find time to relax or workout. To help you out here are 10 apps that can help you be happier and healthier.

 

Calm

Calm is an app that focuses on helping you relax. You can download it for free on both Android and IOS, with the option to purchase extra features in the app. The most notable free feature in Calm are the guided meditation sessions that are available with different time lengths. Other free features include bedtime stories for adults called “Sleep Stories,” and the ability to play calming nature sounds.

 

 

 

10% Happier

10% Happier is a meditation app. New York Times bestseller Dan Harris and other instructors wanted to simplify meditation through this app. You can download it for free on both Android and IOS. 10% Happier includes a number of free features that include a 7 session info course for mindful meditations, daily teaching videos that simplify meditation, guided audio meditation, quick meditations, and new content each month.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MyFitnessPal – Calorie Counter

MyFitnessPal – Calorie Counter is an app for nutrition tracking. You can download it for free on both Android and IOS, with the option to do the premium subscription once you download the app. MyFitnessPal – Calorie Counter has over 6 million different foods already in the system, and it allows you to create your own food as well. A few of the other free features include water tracking, a barcode scanner to scan foods, a breakdown of the nutrients you’ve ingested, and the ability to set goals for yourself.

 

 

Under Armour Record

Under Armour Record is an app for fitness tracking. It is available for free on both Android and IOS. The features for this app include step tracking, workout tracking and logging, ability to log weight, and the ability to log sleep. In addition to those, Under Armour Record syncs with MyFitnessPal – Calorie Counter to show your calorie intake for the day, and it syncs with numerous other fitness apps if you already have one.

 

 

 

Sworkit: Workouts & Fitness Plans

Sworkit is a home workout app that does not require any equipment. It is available for free on both Android and IOS, with the ability to purchase extra features in the app. Sworkit does have a number of free features. One such feature is custom workouts. The app takes the amount of time you say you have to workout and creates a workout for what you want to work that lasts your set amount of time. The other big feature is the 6 week workout program to get you “Leaner,” “Fitter,” or “Stronger.”

 

 

 

Sleep Cycle


Sleep Cycle is an app that tracks your sleep. It is free on both the Android and IOS app stores. Sleep Cycle uses your phone sensors to analyze your sleep, and then it wakes you up during your lightest sleep stage within the time frame you set. This allows you to wake up with more energy for the day. Like many sleep apps, you can see your “Sleep Statistics” after you wake up. The feature that sets Sleep Cycle apart from other sleep apps is that Sleep Cycle does not require you to have your phone under your pillow.

 

 

 

 

Medvoucher

Medvoucher is designed to save you money on healthcare services. They work directly with providers to guarantee the lowest price possible. You can search vouchers based on cost, location, and what service you are looking for. Their database consists of many different providers, so you can choose the one that is best for you. Medvoucher’s platform allows you to not need to pay costly insurance premiums, co-pays, or deductibles. The price of the voucher is all you pay for your service! There are no extra hidden fees!

 

 

 

 

Journey

Journey is an app that allows you to keep a digital journal. It is available for free on both the Android and IOS app stores. Journey includes a number of great features. They include syncing to Google Drive and other Google apps, a journal timeline, a private journal, it syncs across multiple platforms so you could start an entry on your phone and finish on your iPad, and you can post your entry directly to social media if you would like to share with friends.

 

 

 

 

Day One

Day One is a digital journal app. It is available on the Android, IOS, and Mac app stores for free, with the option to purchase extra features from the app. Free features include a private diary, so you can set a passcode in order to view your entries. Other prominent free features include Flashbacks where it will show you journals you had in the past, and a Memory Calendar that you can add pictures to to better remember th

e day.

 

 

 

 

Colorfy

Colorfy is a digital coloring book app. It is available on both Android and IOS app stores for free, with an option to purchase extra features from the app. Colorfy allows you to relax through coloring their numerous designs, and more are added each week. The app offers an offline mode, so you do not need to be connected to the internet in order to use it. Other features include the ability to post your art to social media, and an augmented reality function that allows you to view your art in a real-world perspective.

 

Medical Imaging

Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About MRI’s

Odds are you’ve heard of an MRI, but may not know how it works unless you are a doctor. A MRI, which stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, is a commonly used diagnostic test in medicine. Although it is commonly used, many people do not know how it works or why they need one. This is a beginner’s guide to understanding an MRI.

 

What exactly is an MRI?

First and foremost, what does MRI even stand for? The answer is Magnetic Resonance Imaging. An MRI is a type of scan that doctors use to view an area such as a person’s head, chest, leg or whatever is needed. As is in the name, through the use of magnets in combination with radio waves, images of the inside of the body are created. This allows doctors to view organs, tissues, and even skeletal system all without needing to make any cuts to look inside.

 

How does an MRI work?

The way an MRI works is that you lie down on a moveable table, and it slides you into this tube that is open at both ends, and is surrounded by magnets. The reason this works to produce images is because humans are made primarily of water. A molecule of water consists of 2 hydrogen atoms and an oxygen atom. During an MRI, the radio waves cause the hydrogen atoms to realign for a short time. When the atoms begin falling back into their natural places, they give off a signal. The magnets in the machine are able to pick up these faint signals, and then a computer is able to convert the signals into images that your doctor can read.

 

What do doctors use an MRI for?

Doctors use MRI’s for diagnostic purposes to be able to see and recognize medical issues or healing processes in patients. An MRI is non-invasive which means the doctors do not have to actually make an incision to see what they are dealing with. Doctors can use an MRI for imaging for a lot of the human body.

 

Why may you need an MRI and what can it show?

You may need an MRI because it can help doctors diagnose the issue or see how progress is coming along with treatment to make sure everything is healing as it should. The primary uses of an MRI are checking the brain, spine, heart, blood vessels, bones, and joints. MRIs can also be used to check a woman’s breasts and ovaries, a man’s prostate, along with a person’s liver, kidneys and pancreas.

An MRI on your brain and spinal cord can show evidence of blood vessel damage, cancer, multiple sclerosis, stroke, and brain and/or spinal cord injuries. MRI of the heart and blood vessels can show damaged caused by a heart attack, heart disease, blocked blood vessels and even problems dealing with the heart’s structure. You can also get an MRI on your bones and joints. This can show problems with cancer, bone infections, spinal disc problems, and overall damage to joints.

 

How does an MRI differ from a CT scan?

Both an MRI and CT scan provides diagnostic images, but there are differences. For one, a CT scan uses x-rays whereas an MRI uses magnets and radio waves. Another difference is that a CT scan gives of a tiny amount of radiation, but an MRI does not. The x-rays for a CT scan need a tiny bit of ionizing radiation in order to get the images which is why radiation is given off. A CT scan can also be done much quicker than an MRI can, as they may only take 5 minutes.

 

What do you do during an MRI and how long should it take?

The time it takes to get an MRI varies due to how many images are needed, and what part of the body is being examined. That said, the process of getting an MRI usually takes between 20 minutes and 1 hour. The MRI images are also taken in sequences that last only a few seconds or minutes. This means you aren’t forced to be still for the entire length of the exam, but it is best if you do not make drastic movements. During the imaging sequences, it is important to be as still as possible while the MRI is going on. The more movement there is the more likely it is that the image is not clear and it has to be done again.

 

Is there a difference between an open and closed MRI?

Most MRI machines are “closed” as it has a top and bottom so it is like being inside of a tube. Being stuck in a small tube can understandably be claustrophobic. To solve this, some places offer what is called an “open” MRI. What this means is that instead of completely surround the person, the magnets are just on the top and bottom, allowing the sides to be open.

 

During an MRI why can’t you have any metal on you?

This is a pretty easy question. Simply, the magnets in the machine are powerful, so if you have any metal on you it will get sucked to the magnet. This can cause damage to the machine and to the person inside of it. This is why a lot of times doctors will ask you to change into a hospital gown before you get an MRI.

 

What should you disclose to your doctor before your MRI?

Since an MRI is using powerful magnets, there are some risks. If you have a metallic joint or joints, artificial heart valve,implantable heart defibrillator,pacemaker, aneurysm clips, cochlear implants, tattoos, piercings, a bullet, shrapnel, or any other sort of metal, let your doctor know so they can make a decision as to whether it will be affected by the MRI.

 

Sources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/mri/about/pac-20384768

https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-an-mri#1

https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=bodymr

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/146309.php

https://osmri.com/open-vs-closed-mri/

https://www.viaradiology.com/news/whats-difference-ct-scan-mri/

 

Download Our App

Available @ the App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android)