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Healthcare Is A Business

At the beginning of my health care management classes, I would remind my students of a simple fact. Health care is a business. In fact, I would say this, "Health care is a Business.  It's a Business.  It's a Business. It's a Business."  I believe a lot of times people want to forget that health care is a business. For some people, it's this idealistic, pie in the sky entity that takes care of people and is always compassionate and caring and has to reach some level of near godliness. Here is the truth. Health care is an exchange of goods and services (aka a business).  It is not simply taking care of patients and hoping for them to get better. Health care makes up close to 18% of the Gross Domestic Product in the United States. Gross Domestic Product is the sum of all the goods and services consumed within our country during the year. Therefore, nearly $1 out of every $5 is spent on health care goods and services. Photo courtesy of The good

Volunteers Serve Important Need

The Volunteer Services department is an important part of many health care organizations. From the minute patients and visitors walk in the door, they may see someone from volunteer services. Most of these individuals are donating their time and talents to meet the hospital’s needs. Volunteering provides a win-win relationship for the hospital, the individual, and the community. Volunteers can be found throughout a hospital beginning at the information desk. The person guiding patients to their rooms, answering, and serving as the first point of contact to patients generally are not employees. They are volunteers. Hospitals may not be able to afford a transporter, so the volunteer takes patients to their rooms in wheelchairs or provides wayfinding assistance. Once in the room, a patient may encounter volunteers when they receive mail, flowers, or other amenities.  Picture courtesy of When waiting for an appointment, the person at the desk may or may not be

Communicating in Crisis

In health care communication, many crisis communication revolves around some serious event, disaster, or another unfortunate incident. As administrators, crises are typically identified as events that occur on a broader, larger scale that could have a direct and long term impact on the health care organization. These events may include the closing of a nursing home, a water main break flooding the hospital, being forced to evacuate patients during a fire, or a medical mishap. However, to patients and their families, the event that brought them to the hospital or health care organization that day is a crisis. For a patient, their family and friends, the crisis occurred at the onset of illness. An issue that may seem routine to nursing and other hospital staff may be a crisis for a family. For example, a 65-year-old woman is scheduled for a total knee replacement. At the hospital, there is a designated floor for total knee replacements, and even possibly a well-designed program su

Health Policy and Politics

The past few years, we have all heard a great deal about Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act. Where ever you stand on this particular issue, the Affordable Care Act, is a great example of health care policy and politics at work. Health care is one of the most regulated industries in the country. Each of these regulations were created as a result of something referred to as health policy. According to the World Health Organization, health policy helps to define goals and set goals for the short and long term. Health policy also builds consensus. Sometimes, though, politics and negotiations in health policy are forgotten. Multiple factors may have come into play in order for a health care law to exist. Before the Affordable Care Act came into existence, many other proposals and laws were introduced and failed. In fact, the Affordable Care Act took a long time to create. Many players, special interest groups, politicians, and citizens all played a role. Several health policy iss

The Role of the Health Care Administrator

Written by Jeanette R. Harrison, MPH When people think of their experiences in a hospital, they often think of doctors and nurses, because doctors and nurses are the individuals they encounter most often.  However, there are also those they may not see that are providing a service to patients indirectly. These individuals are health care administrators. Health care administrators may be managers, directors, vice presidents, department heads, physician leaders, executives and administrators.  They often fulfill a leadership role in a line management position.  This means they are responsible for the work flow of a department and the performance of others in that department.  A health care administrator may manage one person or several hundred people. Photo courtesy of Health care administrators perform a variety of duties within a health care organization.  Their position responsibilities may include strategic planning, managing budgets, supervising employees,

Complexity in the Health Care System

Written by Jeanette R. Harrison, MPH When many people think about the health care system, they often think about their doctor's office and the local hospital.  However, there are many, many components to the health care system in the United States. The different aspects of health care range from private practices to hospitals to insurance carriers to medical equipment providers.  There are many companies involving health care that people really do not think about automatically.  Each of these areas may directly or indirectly affect a patient's care or health care experience. I will illustrate this using an example of a patient visiting their primary care physician.  The patient goes to the provider's office, which is referred to as a clinic, or physician practice.   While there, the patient goes to an exam room and sits on an exam bed.  This is another area of health care, medical equipment .  The provider examines the patient and uses medical supplies . These supplies ar