Managed-care pioneer Mickey Herbert is plowing proceeds from the recent sale of his Trumbull, Conn.-based HMO, Physicians Health Services, into a start-up minor league baseball team.
Herbert says he expects to invest as much as $3 million of his $13 million take in the Bridgeport (Conn.) Bluefish, which is part of the fledgling Atlantic Professional Baseball League. Play begins May 21.
It was a natural move for Herbert, a former All-American fast-pitch softball player and the top U.S. hitter in the 1984 World Fastpitch Tournament. Starting the Bluefish was "a wonderful use of the proceeds," says Herbert, who intends to be an active owner. "It's a lot more fun than managed care."
But at age 53, he's not giving up on healthcare. After running PHP for 21 years, he's negotiating a possible job with the new owner, Foundation Health Systems. His term as chairman of the American Association of Health Plans ends in June.
A lifelong love of baseball didn't obscure Herbert's business sense. He and his partners in the Bluefish astutely negotiated for the profits from concession sales. "It turns out in minor league baseball, that's where you can really make some money," he says.
Under the microscope. Researchers are tapping the World Wide Web in the race to identify bacteria that have grown to resist antibiotics.
Resistance Web allows doctors and other medical professionals to query regional and national susceptibility patterns of bacteria to specific antibiotics. The free site is designed to deter overprescribing. Also, institutions are encouraged to submit their own data for review.
The site, at http: resistanceweb.mfhs.edu, is run by the Clinical Pharmacokinetics Laboratory, which has tracked resistance data for 10 years. The lab is a joint venture of Buffalo's Millard Fillmore Health System and the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Pharmacy.
"It takes seven to 10 years to develop a new antibiotic and bacteria just a few months or years to develop resistance to it," says lab Director Jerome Schentag. "We're simply using the Web's immediacy to speed the process between identifying a resistance problem and reacting to it."
Electronic AAdvantage. Was it the cost savings of submitting claims electronically? Or was it the miles?
That's what people could be asking about doctors, administrators and other healthcare professionals who sign up for a program promoting the use of an Internet-based transaction processing service offered by Dallas-based Claimsnet.com.
The business is trying to lure new customers by making them eligible to earn up to 25,000 miles credited to the American Airlines frequent-flier program. Providers must enroll by June 30 and will continue to receive AAdvantage Miles for claims processed until Dec. 31.
There's one catch: The miles will begin to pile up at the rate of one for every processed commercial claim, but only after the provider passes the 1,000-claim mark.
Learning to look. Some Yale University medical students are leaving the operating room for the art gallery.
The 28 students are studying visual cues in artwork at the Yale Center for British Art, with the hope the lessons will make them more observant when dealing with patients.
The program, developed by dermatology professor Irwin Braverman, M.D., of Yale Cancer Center, teaches students to judge how thoughts and feelings are communicated visually.
"For years, I've been trying to get residents to look at rashes, to look at the fine details to pick up the diagnosis," Braverman says. "It occurred to me one day that maybe the best way to do this was to have them look at a piece of art. If you're asked to describe it, then you pay attention to all the fine details."
Says first-year medical student Leo Kim: "Like very detailed paintings, the human body is very complex, and learning to look and really see all the details of a painting helps."
Throwback. Is your hospital having trouble hyping its stake in cyberspace? A return to the good old days of paper could fit the bill.
A quarterly magazine called ehealth, launched in February by Phoenix-based McMurry Publishing, is being circulated by five hospitals in the Midwest and Southeast. McMurry tailors the magazine to each hospital client, with ads touting the facility's World Wide Web site and signed editorials by its executives.
"It's been an unqualified success in terms of generating attention," says Chris McMurry, chief operating officer for McMurry Publishing, who added that he's negotiating with more than a dozen other hospitals to sign on. "Most hospital marketing departments have a very limited budget to promote their Web sites, and they tend to be underutilized. This gives them an opportunity to interest the community at a low cost."
In the case of North Oakland Medical Centers in Pontiac, Mich., key executives at the 222-bed hospital are on ehealth's masthead, along with a signed message from Robert Davis, North Oakland's president and chief executive officer. An article about the hospital's recent affiliation with a local cancer institute is in the front of the 25-page issue, the rest of which focuses on general health information.
Other copy includes healthy recipes and a cover piece about back care.
Other hospital clients include 828-bed University of Alabama Health System in Birmingham; FFI Health Ser-vices in Macedonia, Ohio; 286-bed Columbia Trident Medical Center in Charleston, S.C.; and 371-bed Hinsdale (Ill.) Hospital.
Circulation for the free magazine is about 550,000, twice the initial expectations, McMurry says.
Quotable."I've been trying to think of what you grow in New Mexico other than hydrogen bombs."-Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.) to Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) as the committee debated Domenici's plan to use federal tobacco-tax revenues exclusively for Medicare or offer some assistance to tobacco farmers as well.