I have been considering what is at the core of the issues that we have with the healthcare industry. One of the issues that comes up over and over again is the lack of connection between patients, doctors, nurses, insurance companies, hospitals, etc.

 

Healthcare roles are complicated and many healthcare workers are overworked. Thus, it is not surprising that many healthcare workers don’t understand a lot about other aspects of healthcare outside their specific role. However, that puts the patient in the position of handling their own healthcare inside a system that is full of flaws.

 

Flaws  In The System

 

The flaws in the system start with the paperwork, where the same information is entered over and over. Then, you talk to a nurse or medical technician, who asks you all the same questions. They may or may not enter it into the computer at that time. Now, enter the doctor who asks at least part of the questions again. (And, they wonder why people have high blood pressure.)

 

It make sense to double check some things or verify things where the answer is unclear. However, it makes a patient wonder why they are filling out the forms. Of course, it is sometimes far easier to ask the patient the question than read their handwriting or find the answer among the general history questions that have nothing to do with the problem at hand.

 

Best Interest In Mind

 

Still, I believe doctors and their staffs generally have the patient’s best interest in mind. They prescribe the treatments, surgery, and medicines that they believe will help the patient. The issue is that they have no idea how much these treatments cost the patient. I would really hate for them to make decisions on treatments based on cost. On the other hand, when there are two viable options, the doctor could choose a less expensive option if they knew the cost.

 

Whose Interest In Mind?

 

Hospitals, on the other hand, appear to be focused solely on making money. Patient care is a statistic to meet a government guideline or rule. They are worried about being penalized and/or meeting requirements that are financially beneficial to them. Often these rules are contradictory and not aligned with providing the best patient case despite that being the supposed goal.

 

The pharmaceutical companies and pharmacies also play a role. The pharmaceutical companies decide what to research and how much to charge for the drugs that they create. Like hospitals, they are about making money, which is not a good thing for the patient. They search for ways to address symptoms rather than cure diseases because they have no incentive to find cures.

 

The pharmacies, along with government regulations, decide when you can get medicine that is prescribed to you. The rules are different for mail pharmacies and local pharmacies. In the case of local pharmacies, often you cannot get your prescription refilled until less than a week before you run out. This is a huge issue for patients when living in rural areas where it is miles to town or when someone travels. It is not uncommon in these situations for the patient to be required to take extraordinary steps to get their medication.

 

Codes, Codes, And More Codes

 

Now, enter the insurance companies whose goal it is to limit expenses. They question everything, but generally speaking the staff questioning the need for treatment has little if any medical training. They know nothing of the patients’ situation outside the “codes” and they don’t trust the expert’s opinion.   Thus, someone completely unconnected to the patient and their situation is attempting to alter or limit the patient’s care.

 

This is a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, it means lots of time and dollars are wasted arguing about how much money is going to be spent. The patient, in turn, ends up spending time getting it figured out or making sure that someone is figuring it out. In many situations, the prescribed treatment is approved, but at what cost?

 

In Part II “Connected Healthcare,” we will discuss an alternate healthcare system that connects care to the patient at every step.

 

After the recent flooding in the Midwest, I had to scoff at a politician who claimed that there were towns totally destroyed that would never exist again. Although this is possible, this politician clearly does not understand the mindset and determination of Americans.

 

Examples From History

 

If we look back in time, Chicago rebuilt after a major fire destroyed over 17,000 buildings in the 1870s and San Francisco came back stronger than ever after a 7.9 earthquake hit in 1906. More recently New Orleans is rebounding from Hurricane Katrina. Likewise, Joplin, Missouri is on the mend after a devastating F5 tornado destroyed a nearly mile-wide swath when it plowed through the southern part of the city eight years ago.

 

In all these cases, people died and property was destroyed, but the community survived. The same can be said of countless communities across the country. The key to their recovery is the people. People coming together to help one another is a way of life for many Americans. They fight for their communities even if politicians don’t realize it. Human resiliency should never be underestimated.

 

I can tell you that my father and father-in-law are prime examples of people who would be there any time for anyone. And, there are countless others like them. During the recent Nebraska flooding, for example, a farmer lost his life when he was taking his tractor out to help someone in need.

 

A Little Help

 

People overcome tragedy on a regular basis. Some get more attention through the media than others, but that does not diminish the effort. There are millions of situations where people help each other every day. It can be as simple as the neighbor who clears another neighbor’s sidewalk and drive after a snowstorm. We’ve had neighbors do this for us and vice versa. The neighbor of my father-in-law offered a portable heater upon learning that he needed something to heat his back porch to keep stuff from freezing.

 

A Lot of Help

 

Sometimes the help is more substantial. For example, in his earlier years, my father-in-law raced to the scene of a fire to save a family’s home, took a tractor through two-feet of snow to get mail for the entire neighborhood, and did mechanic work on a semi on Christmas Eve so that the driver could get home to be with his family for Christmas.

 

Other times people risk and sometimes lose their life to save a friend, a neighbor, or even a stranger. People do this for each other. It is human nature to help those around you who are in need.

 

If we stop for a moment, each of us can recall with examples of how someone has helped our families or us. Likewise, we can remember ways we have helped others.

 

Gratitude

 

Even though there are times it is challenging to express gratitude, especially when the gift is anonymous, I believe most of us are grateful for those that help. Most of us have seen heart-warming videos of someone graciously giving their time and effort to help others in need. Those videos are very touching to us as a third-party. The person who was the recipient of the help, is likely extremely touched and grateful.

 

I for one am very grateful for human resiliency. I am proud to be a part of a community and a country where people help others in times of need. The world could be an even better place if we focused more on the wonderful gift of human resiliency.

 

 

A few years ago, I was shopping in a hobby store when I noticed a group of men dressed in suits.  This was highly unusual. A vast majority of people who shop in the store are women and it is a rare occasion that I see anyone dressed up in the store.

 

I spent several minutes watching the men, who appeared to be analyzing the product displays. Finally, I decided to approach the men as I had a burning question on my mind. After one of the gentlemen confirmed that they were indeed analyzing the product displays, I asked, “Why aren’t there any women in the group?”

 

No Women

 

The man replied that there weren’t any women interested in the job.  He said that women didn’t want to move up in the company. Well, I knew that was just a story and was in not in any way based on fact. I was quite sure that lots of women would be interested in the job.

 

I went on to explain to the man that given their clients are probably 90% female. Given that, women should be involved in how they displayed their product. If nothing else, the average height difference between men and women makes a huge difference in the perception of a display.

 

Although the gentleman was polite and listened to my point of view, it was clear that he really wasn’t listening. I stressed to him that they needed to reach women if they wanted to make sales.  I also explained that a woman’s perspective was critical to making that happen. In the end, the conversation was very unsatisfying.  I believed I could redesign the displays to attract more sales in my sleep.

 

Lack of Connection

 

Yet, I was intrigued that the man didn’t seem to care if they connected with their customers. Given the corporation had sent a group of men to do the job, it would appear that the corporation didn’t understand either. I assume that they really did want to sell products, but somehow they got a bit off-track without realizing it.

 

A disconnect or partial-disconnect with customers is a common occurrence. It is actually rare that a business is fully connected with their customers and potential customers. If you find a business that has numerous 5-stars out of 5-stars reviews, it is likely you have found a business fully connected with their customers.

 

Connecting

 

For a majority of your customers to feel connected to your business, the business must attract the right customers. Thus, the business must strive to draw in customers whose needs match the company’s goals. Alternately, the company may choose to define their goals around the needs of a group of potential customers.   To have great success obtaining and maintaining customers, the company can never lose sight of this connection.

 

 

 

When people think about teams, they typically think about sports teams. However, many businesses also use the concept of teams to focus individual workers on common goals. Teams, however, go far beyond athletics and our work lives. They don’t even have to be officially designated as a “team.” A team can be any group of people acting together with a common purpose.

 

Team Formation

 

Some teams, such as a college basketball team, have an official charter.  Meanwhile, other teams don’t have a formal designation. In the latter case, people may work together for some common cause or purpose without officially forming into a team.  For example,  people often work together to free someone trapped in a car after there is an accident. In this case, there is a common purpose of saving someone’s life even though no one stopped to declare the rescuers a team.

 

When people come together with a shared purpose, clear agenda, and strong leadership they can plan and coordinate in a manner that creates amazing results. If we look at Apple, for example, Steve Job’s leadership and his development teams changed how most of us live our daily lives.  This is true even for people that use competing products.

 

The Common Enemy

 

Sometimes leaders struggle to get the results they desire from their teams. To focus the team on a goal, the team leadership may identify an “enemy.” In the basketball example, a coach may target another team as an enemy.  Often, the coach is trying to create or leverage a rivalry. However, they may have other motivation for selecting a specific team to target.

 

The focus on one enemy can have amazing results. During World War II,  the Allies joined forces to stop the Axis Powers. People came from diverse socio-economic backgrounds, cultures, races, and genders for a common goal of defeating Hitler. Everyone was a part of the team.  Some worked in factories, some fought, and everyone sacrificed.  The patriotism and teamwork during WW II is unrivaled to anything experienced today.

 

However, having a common enemy also has the potential to have negative outcomes. In basketball, the team can become so focused on one team that they lose sight of the bigger picture.  They put so much effort into beating one team that they lose games with other teams that they should easily win.

 

By becoming obsessed with beating an enemy, the team’s identity becomes based on the enemy. The team does not have its own identity because all decisions and actions are based on what is perceived to be needed to beat the enemy. They may be working to beat the competition, but if they win or the “enemy” goes away they are suddenly thrown into a new place with no identity.

 

Behavior

 

Another risk associated with defining an enemy is that the enemy becomes the “bad one” and the team becomes the “good one.” By defining one as good and one as bad, the “good” team begins to believe that it deserves to win at all costs. The team may even see themselves as righteous and above others. This can lead to inappropriate, unethical, and potentially illegal behaviors.

 

Using the basketball example, there are certain teams that display less than appropriate sportsmanship. Sometimes these behaviors can even do physical harm to other players.  Yet, they seem justified to the player and sometimes to the coaching staff, too.

 

Often not all players feel the same way.  If they disapprove, other team members have to make a choice.  They can stay with the team and overlook these behaviors even though they do not approve.  Alternately, they can speak up knowing that there may be repercussions.  If they disapprove strongly, they might even excuse themselves from the team.

 

In many situations, team members are pressured into remaining silent.  To make matters worse,  frequently people stand up for the inappropriate behaviors. This often takes the form of excuses and finger pointing in an effort to distract people from the inappropriate behavior.

 

The Value of Teams

 

A team is much more powerful if it has its own identity.  That way the team can stand on their own.  Their competition is less relevant.  They can withstand changes that happen around them and are not reliant on their perception of the competition.  The team is less likely to be overconfident or lose sight of the overall goals.

 

The world needs teams because people who are working together can accomplish amazing things.  If leaders could engage large groups of people in a common purpose, with clear intent, and a coordinated effort, things we never imagined would become possible.  Diversity of thought, discussion, and compromise, would unleash creativity like never seen before.

 

 

 

Whether or not you believe in the Bible and the end of the world as described in Revelations, one must be amused at the people who believe they can predict the exact day and time that the world will end. So far, each one has been a complete failure.

 

The Changing Story

 

The funniest of all are those who change their story as their predicted end of the world date approaches or passes. They have found a slight miscalculation or new information that reframes the actual end to a date five, ten, or fifteen years into the future.

 

Yet, there are many people who are not extremists that believe they see signs that the world is ending. This has happened throughout history. Like the predictions from fanatics, these signs have proven not to be actual signs over and over again.

 

Patterns

 

The question is, “Why do people continue to see these signs?” The answer is simple. People are creators of patterns and see patterns everywhere. Where patterns do not exist or are not obvious, people use their creative mind to invent patterns. Therefore, when events happen in the world, it is easy for those focused on the Bible and Revelations in particular to select events from the world that “match” the events described in the Bible verses.

 

The Signs

 

Wars, volcanoes, storms, and more can easily be interpreted to be the signs that are described within the Bible. But are they? And, does it matter?

 

I am not a Bible expert, but as a thinking person, I have to wonder why one volcano or series of volcanoes would be a sign of the end of times, but another volcano would not. We know that they have been happening throughout time and clearly the world has not ended. However, one website indicates that the end of times started in 1914. They don’t speculate, however, on when the world will actually end. Obviously,

 

The second question has an obvious answer. No, it does not matter if these events are signs of the end of the world or not. If people see parallels and that somehow changes their life, they are making a choice. Their choice has nothing to do with the actual end of the world. It simply means that something triggered that person to live their life differently. It may make the person’s life better or worse depending on the choices that they made.

 

Parallels

 

If there are signs that the world is ending and we totally ignore them that is okay, too. People can and will find parallels between current events and the end of the world. They will also find parallels between the death of President Kennedy and President Lincoln. Likewise, parallels can be drawn between ancient Rome and the U.S.A. today.

 

Choices

 

In reality, life is about choices. You can find connections or parallels between ANY two events happening today or at any time in history. The question is, “Are you going to choose to pay attention to those parallels or not?” And, if so, “What life choices are you going to make? Are they going to improve your life and the lives of others?”

 

 

 

The Internet is full of bullies today. One such person constantly makes negative political statements on nearly everything our shared “friend” posts – no matter what the topic of the post is. He says that he does it to enlighten his friend and to help his friend to look at the world differently. His claims are always that it is out of love. The problem is that it is never presented in a loving way. His comments are simply hate – nothing more.

 

When this person posts, he rarely will offer any supporting facts. You see, facts aren’t a big thing on the Internet. Facts, according to these bullies, are for someone else to find. It is much easier for people to just blast out an opinion or an inflammatory statement that they think will anger people or cause controversy.  If challenged, these people will often change the topic or bring up some completely unrelated “fact,” or revert to name-calling or personal attacks.

 

This behavior can be called “Hit and Run.” The person hits the Internet with some statement. Then, they wait for someone to take the bait so that they can hit again and again. When it becomes clear that they are losing the argument or not getting the person angry enough, they go on a more personal attack. At that point, they often disappear unless you give them the anger and hatred they desire.

 

This behavior is unhealthy for the individuals and for the world overall. It can only lead to negativity and hatred. Yet, it occurs 24/7 365 days of the year. The question is, “Why?”

 

The Internet is the perfect forum for trolls or people that want to spread hate because they aren’t really connected to the people. Without that connection, it is easy to say hateful things. There are no obvious consequences and there are always more people to attack. Even in the case of the so-called friend, there is distance and I am guessing no real connection. I assume the shared friend doesn’t unfriend or block him simply because the shared friend is a good, caring person.

 

Even people that don’t set out to spread negativity, tend to say things online that they would ever say in person. Often they share thoughts and feelings that they would never say to your face. This is especially true in closed groups where they don’t think their actual friends and family will see their posts. Again, it is often a hit and run where the person is “devastated, just devastated,” as Blanche on the Golden Girls would say. It is followed by a lot of conversation, often supporting statements for the person that’s been devastated. Then, the person is off and you never hear from them again until the next time they are devastated. Another hit and run with no real connection.

 

It is no wonder that people have this behavior. They are simply mimicking the news media that throws out a headline without providing the full story or the promised follow up. They, like the news media, are also desperately seeking to be relevant. It is proven in psychology that people will seek negative attention if they aren’t getting positive attention because negative attention is better to the human psyche than no attention at all.

 

So, stay connected to people. Whatever you do, don’t make all your connections through an electronic device. And, when interacting with others online, ask yourself, “Is this how I would behave in person if I were to have a conversation with someone?”

 

Share your information, your thoughts, and your feelings, but consider your approach. Are your interactions based in love, anger, hate, facts, or something else? Consider what you gain from your interactions. Remember that although you may never know about it, people will react to your words and your approach.

 

In that light, it is okay to stand up to online bullies when you feel you must, but don’t let them intimidate you. If you decide to respond, interact with them respectfully with facts and in a positive, loving manner. When possible, just ignore them.  It may not stop their hit and run behavior, but you will be more mindful of your mental and emotional well-being, and they will likely seek a more easy target.

 

And, if we all start giving these bullies loving attention, which is likely what they truly desire, maybe their efforts to attack others will diminish over time. Thus, making the world a better place for everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

In our previous blog post Connecting the Dots, we talked about how people are constantly connecting information and creating new understanding. Despite doing this people often rely on habit or minimal information in making decisions.

 

For instance, when a person is in the habit of buying a certain product, they likely don’t give the choice a second thought. The person just grabs the product from the shelf as they hurry through the store. Experience and the pathways ingrained in the person’s brain often results in the person ignoring other similar products.

 

In cases where a person hasn’t created a habit of purchasing a specific item, they may compare prices or check packaging details before selecting an item. They are consciously making a decision about the product. However, they are only considering the limited information that is in front of them.

 

When it comes to large purchases, however, people are more likely to do more extensive research. Before a person buys a vehicle, they may talk to friends and family to find out their experience. The person may also check Consumer Report or other guides.  They may review the  cost to purchase and the expected maintenance cost. The person attempts to do due diligence due to the amount of money involved.  They want to ensure that they make an informed decision.

 

When a person attempts to take a wide variety of factors into account over the lifetime of the product, they are trying to define the total cost of ownership for the item. For example, the vehicle with the cheapest purchase price may not cost the least amount of money in the long-term.

 

In addition, many costs and benefits of  buying decisions are not financial in nature. For instance, a buyer may see value in selecting one vehicle over another for the purpose of portraying a certain image.

 

Hidden or unconsciously ignored costs also come into play. A hidden cost arises when a person doesn’t realize that a shirt that they they are purchasing was made in a factory where people are mistreated. By purchasing the shirt, which may be beautiful and cost effective to purchase, the person inadvertently supports this factory. Thus, the cost is that they unknowingly support something they may strongly oppose.

 

On the surface, the decision on many things may appear to be obvious. It may seem to provide the benefits the person wants for themselves and the world. Yet, if they knew all the underlying information, they might make a different decision.

 

In other cases, the person may support the idea because it sounds like it aligns with their goals even though there is known evidence to the contrary. Most people will deny that they ever do that, but the reality is that all people do that. People pick and choose the experts and reports that they believe based on what they want to be true. The filtering of facts is driven by a person’s existing beliefs and experiences.

 

Therefore, most decisions, no matter how small aren’t what they really seem on the surface. The decisions are connected to other people and actions around the world. Therefore, even when a person tries to look at the total cost and benefit of a decision,  they rarely consider all the facts.

 

Thus, even with the most careful consideration and the best of intentions, people often make flawed decisions. This is why it is important to continually reassess decisions. If a person has already driven the car off the lot, taking it back and trading for a different model may not be practical. The person may have to wait until they are ready to sell the car to make a change. However, it can be applied immediately in other areas of life.

 

If a person learns new information that contradicts their beliefs or views on specific aspects of a relationship, political ideology, religion, or work, they can often make changes immediately. The key is to be willing to look beyond the surface.  A person has to be willing to question even their own beliefs. As long as a person stays on autopilot and looks only at the very surface, they will never understand the actual impact of their decisions.

 

The best thing a person can do is to challenge their own analysis. By doing so, they may discover hidden assumptions based on outdated or incorrect connections that they have built over the years.   In awakening to their subjective thought process, they will hopefully become more open to other perspectives on the world and become more understanding of others. This understanding is key to making better decisions for oneself and the world!