connecting to students

 

 

When I was in high school, I was lucky to have a young math teacher who loved math, loved teaching, and was very dedicated to his job. He was exceptional and it showed in the results at math competitions. We competed at several competitions each year, including one large competition where 60 or more schools competed.

 

The school’s success was reflected in the comments of students and faculty from other schools. On multiple occasions students from other schools made comments, such as, “I was hoping you guys wouldn’t be here” or simply shook their head and said, “Oh, no!” I remember one time when someone asked me how kids from my school were so good at math. I simply pointed to our teacher.

 

After All These Years

 

Years later when several people in my class connected on Facebook, math and this particular teacher came up in discussion. Everyone remembered him well. He wasn’t the easiest teacher. He gave plenty of homework and didn’t let people get away with anything in his class. But, he was remembered and a beloved teacher. I have never heard anyone from my high school speak of any other teacher the same way.

 

Retiring!

 

This month, he is retiring after teaching for 50 years at my high school. He has won many competitions for the school (over 100 first place finishes per fortscott.biz). However, this is a minor contribution to the community compared to his other contributions. Numerous of his students have followed in his footsteps and become math teachers themselves. Other students, like me, majored in math, but went down other career paths. And, others report being successful in college math classes because of their strong math background.

 

Connecting To Students

 

Still, I believe his greatest contribution as a teacher is simply connecting with his students. None of the above accomplishments would have been possible without that connection. It is that connection that has people remembering him so fondly so many years later. Somehow he was able to relate to the students, remain in control, and get kids to understand math – all at the same time.

 

P.S. Happy Retirement, Mr. Shinn!

 

 

 

 

In Part I “Unconnected Healthcare,” we discussed the many disconnections in healthcare today. In this article, we will flip the tables and discuss what the healthcare system would be like if it connected care to the patient at every step.

 

Complete Connection

 

Imagine if you will, a world where healthcare was completely connected to the patient. In this world, the goal would be to provide the  best healthcare at the lowest price possible. This would apply to doctors, hospitals, pharmaceuticals, regulators, and insurance companies.

 

This would greatly change our current system. It would still be a free-enterprise system, but with common goals and a complete twist to the existing priorities. In this world, everyone would all be on the same page trying to address the health of people.

 

Transparency

 

In this system, costs would be transparent.  I recommend a fix-cost system where the cost of the treatment or drug is the same to all people.  For those insured, the insurance plans could be simple. Perhaps the plans could be based on paying a certain percentage or nothing if the item was completely covered. the Those without insurance would simply pay the stated price.  However, a reduce price would apply for certain people with an inability to pay.

 

With information about costs, the doctor and patient could work together to decide on the direction of treatment.  The patient would no longer suddenly being surprised by overwhelming medical bills. Different facilities could charge different amounts, but all the information would be available to everyone. Thus, if a person’s heart surgeon is associated with two hospitals, they could choose the one with the lower cost.

 

Saving Money

 

The insurance company would save money by not attempting to overturn every decision that a doctor made (okay, a bit of an exaggeration). Instead, they would trust the expert who is familiar with the patient’s case to make the best decisions for the patient. The insurance companies would run periodic audits on doctors and healthcare facilities to ensure that they are treating appropriately. This would be a win-win for the doctors and the insurance companies, not to mention the patient.

 

Likewise, hospitals would drive decisions based on doctor’s recommendations for the patient rather than some government goals or regulations. Thus, if the doctor thinks  a woman who has recently given birth needs to stay a couple of extra days, they would make that decision.  No one would need to jump through hoops and hope for approvals to make it happen.

 

Flexibility

 

Additionally, the ability to get medication would be made easier. The total amount available would remain the same, but if you needed medicine two weeks before you ran out, you could get it. The date of the next refill would remain a month or the specified interval after it would have been if you filled it on time. Thus, if the refill is due on the first of the month, it would remain the first of the month for the next refill no matter when you last refilled it. In this case, trust is shown that the patient will use it appropriately. If they do not, they may run out or have other issues, but that is a separate issue that should not be managed by limitations on all patients.

 

Finding Cures

 

Lastly, pharmaceuticals would have incentives to find medicines that cure rather than manage symptoms. They would also be encouraged to look to natural methods and ingredients rather than just focusing on chemical combinations. There would be a focus on limiting side effects.

 

And, companies would not advertise directly to the consumer except in a limited manner for over the counter drugs. This would drastically cut the cost of drugs in two ways. First, the pharmaceuticals would have far smaller advertising budgets. Second, fewer drugs would likely be prescribed since people wouldn’t constantly be told “Ask your doctor if . . . is right for you?”

 

Changing World

 

If all goals were in support of the best quality of care for the patients at the lowest possible cost, many things in the medical world would change. Board of directors would even have a different view on executive salaries. There would no longer be multi-million dollar bonuses to hospital executives that cut cost at the expense of the patients. Instead, patient and staff feedback would drive the business, including bonuses to executives.

 

In a world where all healthcare is connected to the patient, everyone wins!

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

When I was young, I believed that I had lived at least one previous life. I am not sure how I drew that conclusion. It was just something I believed. One day I made the mistake of mentioning this belief to the minister’s wife. She informed me straight away that our religion did not believe in reincarnation. Then she immediately turned and walked way.

 

My first thought was “Wow! That was kind of rude.” I had a hard time with the thought that I was not permitted to have my own beliefs. It was a defining moment that created my views on organized religion. I learned that this was a belief that I needed to keep to myself, but I didn’t stop believing.

 

Evidence

 

Had I not held this belief and continued to believe after being scolded, I would have been totally unprepared for the adventures of being the parent of a child that described his past lives in amazing detail. My wife and I learned of his adventures riding horses and how he had been a guard at a castle.

 

However, we were very impressed when around two years of age he gave us accurate directions for getting to McNichols Arena, a local venue for basketball and hockey.   He informed us that he had played hockey there. We had to believe him because how else would a two-year-old know directions to a sports arena.

 

Our other son never told us explicitly of his adventures in previous lifetimes. However, he had a strong affinity towards World War II and fighter jets. He also had a strong interest in the movie “Gone With the Wind” and insisted on watching the entire series, which is quite odd for a young boy. He also knew information that he hadn’t been taught. We didn’t have cable TV at the time, so that wasn’t the source either.

 

Your Beliefs

 

Now, you can believe whatever you wish about these experiences. Perhaps your religion says that past lives cannot occur. Just be aware that not everyone will believe the same way. If you keep your ears and eyes open, you may hear and see things that will challenge that belief. Until then, don’t stop believing! And, so will I.

 

Coming soon – Part II – Healing Past Lives.

 

 

 

The other day, my wife and I were in a Mexican restaurant and I was searching their extensive menu for something different to eat. Not remembering what a chili relleno was, I asked my wife to describe it. She told me the primary ingredients and suggested that I pick something else, which I did.

 

A few days later, Pioneer Woman was on during my lunch break. Ree was making her version of a chili relleno. My wife said, “See that’s a chili relleno” with the caveat that it was being made differently than what you’d get in a Mexican restaurant. It was sufficient, however, to confirm that I made the right choice the other day in choosing something different from the menu.

 

The Center Lane

 

Throughout the years my family members and I have received answers to questions seemingly through synchronicity. One of my earliest memories of this phenomenon occurred when I was young and riding in the backseat of my uncle’s car.

 

My uncle was driving in the center lane of the interstate through Omaha, Nebraska. My brother asked, “What happens if a car in the right lane changes into the center lane at the same time as a car in the left lane changes into the center lane?” As if on cue, two cars ahead of us tried to change into the center lane at the same time. Fortunately, one or both realized this and retreated to their original lanes. My uncle commented, “Well, I guess that answers your question!”

 

Questions And Answers

 

Many of my questions are relatively insignificant, such as the chili relleno example. However, synchronistic answers can come for meaningful questions as well. These answers are often obvious, but can be overlooked if I am not paying attention.

 

The timing of the answers is not predictable. Sometimes the answers come only moments after asking the question, as was the case when my brother asked about the cars changing into the same lane. However, other answers are delayed until later that day or several days later, like the chili relleno question. In other cases, the answer may not come for some time, but it usually sticks out like a sore thumb when it does arrive. Still, it is amazing the frequency the answer appears relatively soon after asking the question.

 

The Chicken Or The Egg

 

I don’t know if the question surfaces in my mind in anticipation of something happening in the future or if the answer comes because the question was asked. Understanding what is at work in the universe in this situation is a great dilemma. Perhaps I am picking up on future events. Thus, I noticed the chili relleno on the menu when I had never thought to ask about it before. Alternatively, it could be that the universe steered me to turn on the TV at just the right time so that I could get the answer to my question.

 

Dare To Ask

 

Regardless, there definitely seems to be a connection to the question being asked and the answer being received. It seems particularly true when those questions are spoken out loud. It is like the universe is listening and waiting to answer questions for anyone who dares to ask.

 

Just think of the wonderful things we could accomplish if everyone started asking questions about how humans could bring peace and unity throughout the world. The universe just might deliver remarkable answers!

 

 

 

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 you travel, everything generally goes smoothly unless something throws you off schedule. As soon as you miss one connection, it seems that the problem multiplies. It becomes more complicated to reach your destination. You may end up taking more hops and sometimes travel to a city other than your destination and follow that with train, bus, or car travel.

 

Minor Disruptions

 

Sometimes even a minor thunderstorm that lasts only a short time can cause such a disruption if you are flying from a city on the east coast where the skies are often congested. In these situations, if your flight misses its slot, you end up waiting and waiting. Sometimes it is several hours before you are allowed to take off when the storm lasted only fifteen or twenty minutes.

 

When this occurs, you are thrown off schedule. If you have a connecting flight out of another airport, you may find yourself sleeping on the floor waiting for a flight the next day. However, it may also mean that you miss out on sleep or miss a portion of a planned activity.

 

Major Disruptions

 

When a major disruption occurs, such as, a major snowstorm that affects an entire region, the impact on travel can last days. Rescheduling becomes challenging and tempers often flare. One has to remain both determined and flexible to reach their destination. If you are going on vacation, you just have to face the fact that you are going to be spending a lot more of your vacation traveling than you planned. Flying from Denver to LA to get to Miami – no matter how unreasonable that may seem – might now be the only way to get there in the next two days.

 

At times, however, your schedule may no longer allow for the trip or you miss a planned event as you cannot reach the location in time. In these situations, your trip is completely derailed. In some cases, you can take the trip at a later date, but you will never be able to attend the wedding or birthday celebration that you missed.

 

Connections In Life

 

Connections in other parts of our life are very similar to connections in travel. If we miss making a connection, it can throw us off course. Sometimes this lasts for a short time and we are quickly back on track. However, other times, missing the connection can truly alter our lives.

 

Keeping an eye out for connections and paying attention to them when you notice them, is key to gliding through life. When we fail to notice connections or dismiss them as unimportant, bumps occur in the road. We no longer move smoothly through life and can be thrown completely off course.

 

 

The purpose of advertisements is to create a connection between consumers and the product being advertised. They really don’t care if the viewer has no interest in their product or no need for it. Instead, they try to show a connection and a need that will encourage people to buy their product.

 

Not Actors

 

The statement “These are real people, not actors” appears regularly in advertisements. This statement is intended to connect the viewer with the “real people” in the commercial. The idea is to get the viewer to think, “Oh, these are real people like me. If they like it, so will I.”

 

Other advertisements try to connect the consumer with things that they desire. A weight loss commercial may show men and women that lost 50 pounds. They are hoping that the viewer will react strongly. Perhaps they will say, “I want to lose that much weight. Maybe I should use their program.” On the other hand, the consumer may say, “I only need to lose 20 pounds. If they can lose 50, surely I can lose 20.”

 

Magic Pill

 

Pharmaceuticals often advertise the magic pill. In commercials, someone suffering from depression magically becomes a happy person after taking the magic pill. Advertisers hope that you will ignore or not even see the fine print that says some people have suicidal thoughts when taking the magic pill. In reality, there are no magic pills.

 

Alternatively, the advertisement may feature a sexy woman or man. Consumers are drawn to them because they want to be like them and they want to have what the person in the advertisement has. The hope is that the consumer will equate the sexiness of the actor with the product. Thus, they are attempting to implant the idea that the fancy car will make the consumer sexier or draw a sexy person into their life.

 

People are driven to see the grass on the other side of the fence as greener, which is fueled by these advertisements. Of course these advertisers don’t tell consumers that they are fine the way they are. If they did then they wouldn’t sell anything. Connecting people with being happy the way they are and with what they have is completely contradictory to advertising.

 

Negative Advertising

 

Advertisements aren’t, however, always presented in a positive manner. In political advertisement, for example, many advertisements paint an opponent in a negative light and contrast themselves as positive. These advertisements may use black and white images of the opponent, shroud the opponent in darkness, and/or use negative verbiage stamped across the opponent. Meanwhile, the favored candidate is presented in color with positive verbiage. These types of psychological techniques have evolved over the years, but are still obvious in commercials today.

 

Be In Control

 

It’s important for us to understand how advertisers attempt to make connections to products, services, and people. By having this understanding, consumers can use their own critical thinking rather than being at the mercy of the advertisers.

 

So, next time you see an advertisement, especially if it seems too good to be true or is very degrading to someone, question it, research it, and consciously choose how you react to it.

 

 

 

 

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?”

 

In today’s world, people take for granted the ability to be connected. People are connected to the world via the Internet, phones, television, and more. Yet, people are more disconnected from others than ever before.

 

Connected, but Unconnected

 

In the world of connection, people have lost sight of what it really means to connect in a meaningful way. They can text a cute remark and an “LOL.” However, how often do people actually have meaningful conversation?

 

I have often witnessed friends or families sitting or standing around with everyone glued to their phones or other electronic devices. They may be connected to something or someone at a distance, but they are missing out on making real connections with the people who are right in front of them.

 

Electronics can help maintain connections with friends and loved ones who may be spread around the world. I am very grateful for technology that allows me to check in with family members regularly. This technology has helped me worry less when my son was in Iraq, when my boys have been on the road, and when family members have been hospitalized.

 

True Human Interaction

 

That said, no electronic device, video game, Facebook friend, or chat room replaces true human interaction. True human connection requires connection that cannot be replaced with a satellite signal. Even video communications are lacking the true human element. Thus, electronic communications can be used to support real human relationships when circumstances warrant it. However, care must be taken not to replace human interactions with electronic interactions.

 

To create and maintain true human interactions, have dinner with someone and don’t look at your phone or the TV during dinner. Have meaningful conversation instead. Find something new you have in common or just listen to what the other person wants to share.

 

Another thing to try for friends at a distance is writing a heartfelt letter. Talk to them like they were with you and tell them about your life. If you really want it to be meaningful, write it by hand instead of typing. They will know you took time to care about them.

 

You can even connect with the shopkeeper or a vendor at a farmer’s market. All it takes is putting down your phone, pausing for a moment, smiling, and saying a few words more than “I will take that.”

 

A Million Ways

 

There are millions of other ways to create real connections with other people. None of them include being so attached to your electronic devices that you ignore the people around you.

 

Try to connect with someone every day. And, don’t forget to connect with yourself!