Health Policy News and Views
Compiled by Benita M. Dodd
A week ago, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation shared the results of a study by our Senior Fellow, Ron Bachman, highlighting Georgia as a leader in telehealth. You can access the study here http://www.georgiapolicy.org/ftp_files/telehealth.pdf.
The news release I sent out for the Foundation resulted in a snarky response from one (perennially snarky) reporter: “Telehealth settles for offering the rural poor a very inferior level of care. Thanks a lot.”
I wonder how the rural poor who currently have limited access to health care feel about having access to health care through apps on their phones, to specialists in the metro area through video or online consultations via charity care clinics and public health centers.
But it’s not just the rural poor who stand to benefit from telehealth, as I’ve written before. What if a doctor could send an assistant to your home and confer with you by video to check on your recovery from surgery or your status as a paraplegic … or even just because you’re at home with two young children and can’t find a baby sitter? What about after-hour consultations because your baby is screaming from what you suspect is an ear infection? Should you have to go to the ER?
Health care costs and access continue to be a serious problem. Fortune magazine reports, “Yet, a glimmer of hope rests in the promise of what digital health holds: empowering consumers to take control of their health while lowering their costs. We believe strongly in the “consumerization” of health care – that is, a shift towards consumers taking control of their own health care costs and outcomes.”
Speaking of taking control: Health care consumerism is important. Employers are asking workers to increasingly shoulder more of their own health care costs – as it should be. Nobody spends your own money more wisely than you do! But that means that while the growth of health care costs is slowing (premiums), out-of-pocket health care costs, defined as premiums plus deductibles, now account for 9.6 percent of median income, up from 5.3 percent 10 years ago. Source: Money
Another take: After the afore-mentioned snarky response, I thought I’d share this positive reaction to the release announcing the Foundation’s telehealth findings:
I wanted you to know that I enjoyed the article, and as a Registered Nurse and educator I do appreciate the value of telehealth in Georgia. The school based health clinics that are utilizing telehealth are a huge asset to parents, students and teachers, enabling students to be seen by specialists and receive the care they need quickly.
I believe it will also greatly impact the absentee rates in schools and cut down on overcrowded emergency rooms. Some of my health care Science teachers (who are all out of industry) are even able t0 utilize telehealth in their classroom, giving their students the opportunity to interact with medical professionals across the country and even the world.
I believe the role and impact of telehealth in health care and in education across our state will only grow more extensive.
I wanted to let you know that we now have a Health IT curriculum available for Georgia high schools. It begins with Introduction to health care Science, and then there are two Health IT courses, and both of tem include telehealth in the course standards. Here is a link to our health care Science curriculum in case you would be interested in seeing what health care career pathways our Georgia students have the opportunity to take: http://www.gadoe.org/Curriculum-Instruction-and-Assessment/CTAE/Pages/cluster-HS.aspx
Our hope is to give students the chance to gain experience and knowledge about health care and see if it is the career that is right for them. Many of our students earn industry credentials while still in high school including: certified nursing assistant, phlebotomy tech, medical office assistant, emergency medical responder, and EKG tech. These credentials can help them gain entry level positions in health care as they continue their post-secondary education and training.
Once again, I enjoyed the article, and I am glad people across our state are realizing the impact telehealth can have on our citizens.
How much is too much showering? After Naya Rivera of “Glee,” suggested this week that showering is a “white people thing,” there was quite a storm. But it turns out that you can, indeed, shower too much. Rivera said dermatologists believe it’s not good for you and she’s right: “Daily showering is a more cultural phenomenon than medical necessity,” confirms Dr. Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital’s Department of Dermatology. “In the U.S., people commonly shower once or even more per day – this can actually be harmful to skin, as hot water strips essential oils and can lead to irritation,” he adds. (Less showering is also a good strategy if you plan to keep you friends close but your enemies closer!)
ObamaCare: Almost 400,000 Georgians are signed up for coverage in the 2015 health insurance exchange, federal officials say, exceeding the state’s 316,543 enrollees during the first open enrollment last year. The enrollment period this year ends Feb. 15. Source: Georgia Health News
I wanted to publicly say how much I appreciate Georgia Public Policy Foundation. For those of you that will be entering the Legislature or are relatively new you may not quite yet appreciate how much we rely on Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s research and work. As you know we’re a citizen’s legislature. We have very little staff. They have been an invaluable, invaluable resource to us. To put this [Forum] on and the regular programs that they do throughout the year make us better at what we do. (At the 2012 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum.)