You might think Ohio hospital executives would jump at the chance to interrogate Richard Scott, Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp.'s president and chief executive officer, about his plans in their state.
After all, Columbia picked an Ohio healthcare system as its first Catholic joint-venture partner last year. More significant, the company just announced it will buy most of the assets of the state's largest insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Ohio.
But when Scott showed up in Columbus, Ohio, recently to give a speech to the Ohio Hospital Association, hospital folks clammed up.
Scott delivered a 20-minute speech, leaving plenty of time for questions. But nobody had any, and Scott was forced to fill time by posing a question to himself. Finally, two people spoke up.
Outliers wonders whether this silence was a result of reserved Midwestern disposition, Scott's less-than-dynamic delivery or pure fear.
Mary Yost, the association's senior director of public affairs, attributed the silence to rampant rumors about who's talking to Columbia. "I think there are a lot of folks who are careful about what someone may read into their questions," she said.
The Stark files.Never one to shy away from a camera, Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark (D-Calif.) seems to be angling for a new vocation as a television screenwriter.
Stark sent Fox Broadcasting Co. a satirical script idea that had the lead characters of "The X-Files"-who often solve extraterrestrial mysteries-look into why the issue of uninsured Americans has vanished from Congress' agenda.
One of Stark's suggested plots: A race of benevolent aliens carts away America's 40 million uninsured individuals to a faraway galaxy with universal coverage. An alternative plot had the 40 million being eaten by monstrous aliens.
Stark received a reply from Chris Carter, executive producer of the show, who said the idea was "well taken" but "not really `X-Files' fare." Carter added that he was, "flattered and amused that (Stark) would see `The X-Files' as a vehicle to investigate what we also believe is a very serious and important issue."
Communication is key.Adults with limited literacy are less likely to keep doctor appointments or seek help in the early stages of a disease, according to a recently published study by Emory University School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles Medical Center and the Center for the Study of Adult Literacy at Georgia State University.
The study found:
81% of English-speaking elderly and 83% of Spanish-speaking elderly had inadequate or marginal capability in understanding their health status.
35% of English-speaking patients had inadequate or marginal health literacy.
62% of Spanish-speaking patients had inadequate or marginal health literacy.
59% could not understand an informed consent form.
The study of 1,892 English-speaking and 767 Spanish-speaking patients, using the Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults, was conducted at Grady Memorial Hospital, Atlanta, and UCLA Medical Center.
Broadcast docs.As it heads for a 500-channel future, cable television already has a golf network, two channels devoted to Congress, one to courtroom trials, several to home shopping. When it comes to America's Health Network, the only question is, what took so long?
The network provides medical information 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It features live call-in shows, studio audiences and, yes, shopping.
The new network's programming premiered March 25 and is available through basic cable service in many markets.
Among several "Ask the Doctor" shows will be: "Ask the Family Doctor," "Ask the OB/GYN," "Ask the Pediatrician," "Ask the Family Therapist," "Ask the Dietitian," "Ask the Sports Doctor" and "Ask the Veterinarian." These shows will make up 16 hours of original programming each week.
The channel seems to have some strong medical credentials. It gets technical support from Mayo Clinic. The two founders of the network, Webster F. Golinkin and Joseph A. Maddox Jr., are television veterans and have more than 20 years of medical and health programming experience.
And if you have a sudden desire to switch to the Home Shopping Network while watching AHN, stay tuned. Each "Ask the Doctor" episode will consist of brief "Health Mall" segments in which products related to a medical topic will be available for purchase. Channels will vary depending on location and cable company. For additional information call 212-768-7703.
Option D.The makeup of the recently announced fourth Colorado hospital network should come as no surprise.
Many of the hospitals already had established ties through the Medicaid HMO Colorado Access, prompting one group leader to call the new HealthCare Colorado a "stealth network."
Also, all 12 hospitals in the network share an unwillingness-in some cases, an inability-to part with their assets.
HealthCare Colorado is a contracting network involving 12 hospitals, including public facilities 316-bed University Hospital, Denver, and 313-bed Denver General Hospital (April 1, p. 22). Every general acute-care hospital in Denver now belongs to one of four networks.
"Every member of HealthCare Colorado has been contacted by (Columbia/HCA HealthCare Corp.) or someone saying, `Will you sell?'*" said University Hospital President Dennis Brimhall. "The state isn't go to sell. The county isn't go to sell. If you don't want to be in those networks, we're the option. Right now, we're not in any trouble for lack of interest."