This week I caught up with our friend, Frank Martin, of The Medical Consultants Group. We talked about how his consulting firm can help a wide range of medical practices, from solo offices to multi-site large groups. Frank talked about the variety of facets of a business that is a medical practice improve operations.
Frank talked about strategies for helping patients related to managing their out-of-pocket obligation, including deductible and co-payment. We also discussed how the ACA has placed new emphasis on patient satisfaction and outcomes relating to how the practice (or isn’t) reimbursed. Another requirement is to provide an electronic portal that allows remote access to patient data BY the patient, coupled with a means to transmit/receive relevant information to/from patients.
We discussed the difference between legacy EMR systems (where software was installed on hardware in the office) and cloud-based applications where data and the software exist on a remote cloud-computing-based architecture. The decision-making capability of the cloud-based applications, coupled with security and rapid access to important data, make modern cloud-based EMR applications the wise choice for practices to convert to today. These modern applications do not require on-site updates of the application on every device. Now, the application is updated where it lives, meaning the user’s experience is not interrupted or inconvenienced.
Frank places great emphasis on helping his client practices become better-running businesses. To that end he works with the group to be able to change processes, or software, business plan, and/or other key facets such as office location and office space leasing to operate more efficiently and profitably.
Did you know that as much as 80% of your body’s immune capacity comes from your gut? Neither did we. That’s why we’re glad Dr. Ellie Campbell of Campbell Family Medicine came by to blow our minds(again) with information (The 4 R’s of Gut Health) about ways we can dramatically improve our health. She shared how she progressed from her traditional primary care practice to a Direct Pay model to get away from the pressure to see more patients, faster, in order to make a respectable physician’s income. In her office she doesn’t work with insurance companies. Instead, her patients simply pay a monthly membership fee to have access to her 24 hours a day, 7 days per week (sometimes even when on vacation!). She also wanted to be able to provide care to her patients that is based on best practices and evidence rather than being simply limited to what an insurance company will or won’t pay for.
We talked about the fact that, with limited time per patient, prescribing a medication and moving on to the next patient is often the way physicians must conduct their practice. She shared how allergic responses to foods and other environmental sources are behind many of our illnesses (or mirror many illnesses). We also talked about how important what we eat and drink is in our overall health. Dr. Campbell described how food and beverages have such dramatic impacts on our hormone levels and cellular health that we need to look at what we consume much like drugs one can take in a pill.
Dr. Campbell discussed The 4 R’s of Gut Health, going over foods we should eliminate (or at a minimum significantly reduce) from our diets because they cause inflammatory responses in the gut and vascular system (and elsewhere). Things like wheat and plants from the nightshade family such as tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and eggplant can, for many, create allergic reactions. The challenge is, many of these allergic responses don’t manifest in immediately-recognizable ways. It could be a general feeling of malaise, skin problems, GI problems that can emulate reflux, and more.
The 4 R’s of Gut Health (Explained in greater detail in the interview):
Remove offending substances from the diet.
Replace digestive enzymes, bile salts, immunoglobulins, DAO, and stomach acid where necessary
Re-inoculate the bowel with pre- and probiotics
Repair gastroentestinal mucosa through proper nutritional support
This week we continued our monthly series with Medical Association of Georgia. I sat down with MAG CEO/Executive Director, Donald Palmisano, Jr., and Director of Correctional Medicine, Clyde Maxwell. We talked about how MAG became involved with accreditation of numerous correctional medicine facilities in the state of Georgia.
MAG created its Correctional Medicine Committee in 1975 – following the prison riots in Attica, New York, and just before Georgia State Prison was placed under the jurisdiction of the federal courts for maintaining health care facilities that violated a constitutional prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. The committee was charged with “studying and recommending ways to improve the delivery of health care in non-federal prisons in Georgia.”
MAG developed standards for evaluating health care in jails and prisons in the state as part of a national initiative; these evolved into the standards that are now used by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care.
In 1982, MAG developed legislation to establish an accreditation program for health care for correctional facilities in Georgia. The state began funding the program in 1983, and MAG subsequently started charging application fees for site accreditation visits.
The Medical College of Georgia assumed responsibility for the health services contract for state prisons in the 1990s.
MAG currently surveys eight county jails and 33 state prisons.
A number of major deficiencies have been corrected at jails and prisons in the state as a result of MAG’s site accreditation visits, including some that were related to…
Statistics show that 1 in 6 men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime. The risk for developing the disease rises with age, being most prevalent among men over the age of 60. However, the risk begins to rise after 40 and prevailing medical thought is men should get at a minimum a PSA test (a blood test that can detect prostate cancer) or if possible a digital rectal exam as well around the age of 40. This will provide an early warning if there are worrisome findings on either study that will afford the patient more options for treatment that are much less traumatic and much more likely to be successful than if the cancer is found at a more advanced stage.
Ken shared his own story about how he was found to have a lump on his prostate on an insurance exam but was not actually recommended to have a biopsy until roughly a year later. At that point it was found he did, in fact, have prostate cancer and that it was a more advanced stage. He ended up having a radical prostatectomy, followed by a recurrence of the cancer. To fight the recurrence of the cancer he underwent radiation therapy and more surgeries. After all of that it was found his PSA levels were rising yet again, prompting his physicians to recommend hormone therapy to slow the progress of the cancer.
After his challenging experiences he began to work to increase awareness of the value of early detection of the disease to help his male counterparts avoid having to undergo similar difficulties. He interfaced with the American Cancer Society to lobby for increased information for men about the risks of prostate cancer and the benefits of early detection. He spent some time as a spokesman for the American Cancer Society. He ultimately co-founded the Georgia Prostate Cancer Coalition, a non-profit organization aimed at creating community awareness as well as raising funds to help provide screening (including some free PSA testing) for men in the community. The organization also collaborates with community businesses to help them provide prostate cancer screening for their male employees.
In speaking with Ken it’s clear that we men can do ourselves a big favor and go to our primary care physician or one of the screening events held by the Georgia Prostate Cancer Coalition to get a PSA test done and ideally, couple that with a digital rectal exam. If our lot in life is to be a prostate cancer patient, we can have a large impact on what our journey is like in dealing with it if we endeavor to catch it early.