Following the lead of Pope John Paul II, the king and queen of Spain and the Baltimore Orioles, healthcare will soon make an official visit to Cuba.
Market research firm Richard K. Miller & Associates, Norcross, Ga., is organizing what it believes is the first healthcare trade mission to the island. The March 24 to 28 visit will feature meetings with government officials and facility tours. Of course, being a healthcare mission, it will also feature golf and sightseeing. The cost per person is $2,450, not including hotel and airfare.
The firm recently began promoting the trip by direct mail. Up to 30 travelers can be accommodated.
The trip is billed as "research and humanitarian," but the underlying aim is trade, particularly if the communist regime in Cuba goes the way of other Latin American governments that have privatized their healthcare systems.
"We're anticipating one-half of the group will be hospital types," says firm President Richard Miller. "I think people would be trying to get their foot in the door so when trade does open up, they'll be there."
Approval for the trip is expected soon from U.S. and Cuban authorities.
Hospital for a new millennium. "This isn't your father's hospital room" could be the slogan of the rebuilt University of California Los Angeles Medical Center, whose lead architect is the visionary I.M. Pei.
The cramped, semiprivate room will be a vague memory when the new $1.3 billion hospital opens in 2004, replacing an 856-bed facility that was extensively damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake. The hospital will boast 525 private rooms, each a 315-square-foot behemoth drenched in natural sunlight from 5-by-7-foot windows.
But size isn't just for the comfort of patients and their visitors. Wheel in some extra equipment, flip an airflow switch, and the room immediately converts to an intensive-care unit. A "power column" over the patient bed provides all the necessary hookups.
"We're so short of ICU space all the time in the current hospital that this was considered a feasible way to address that problem," says UCLA Health Sciences spokesman David Langness.
As a result, few patients will face the long trek on a gurney to an operating room. Except for open-heart surgery and some other intensive procedures, most operations can take place in the room, Langness says.
Name game, part I. A PPO trade association by any other name wouldn't tap Americans' antipathy to HMOs as successfully.
That's the philosophy espoused by the American Association of Preferred Provider Organizations, which reclaimed that title Jan. 1 after three years of being known as the Association of Managed Healthcare Organizations.
The Fort Lee, N.J., trade group represents PPOs and other "network-based" managed-care organizations, such as independent practice associations. Its 143 members voted overwhelmingly last month to reinstate the original name, according to AAPPO officials.
The vote clearly supported the group's efforts "to differentiate PPOs from HMOs and other health plans," says Brad Kalish, executive director of the 16-year-old association.
Name game, part II. United HealthCare Corp., which saw its proposed merger with Humana fall apart last summer, has unveiled a new corporate moniker.
As of last month, the Minneapolis-based managed-care company became UnitedHealth Group. Its primary HMO unit, which has projected 1998 revenues of $12 billion and about 5.5 million managed-care enrollees, is now known as UnitedHealthcare.
Five other business units also have new names, as part of an attempt to position United as an entrepreneurial organization, says Chief Executive Officer William McGuire, M.D.
In less than 10 years, McGuire notes, United's overall revenues have increased from less than $1 billion to an estimated $17 billion last year. "The new names underscore the breadth of our activities."
Seeking diversity, out there. You've got to respect the Association of American Medical Colleges for trying to get out in front on issues like diversity.
Problem is, the AAMC's main spokesmen for equal opportunity are white men.
Consider "Expanding Women's Leadership Roles," an article in the AAMC Reporter's January edition. The author was Arthur Rubenstein, a middle-aged white man.
An earlier edition of the AAMC's monthly publication featured an article on bringing more minorities into the healthcare professions-again, penned by two white males.
The AAMC either needs to start asking women and minorities to express their view on the topic of diversity or stop running mug shots of the authors.
Another casualty. Sex researcher June Machover Reinisch says she is "incredibly surprised and saddened" that Journal of the American Medical Association Editor George Lundberg, M.D., was fired earlier this month for publishing her study on the meaning of sex. But Reinisch, former director of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University, hopes the controversy will generate more funding of research on sexual practices and attitudes.
Lundberg's firing for publishing "Would You Say You `Had Sex' If. . .?" in the Jan. 20 issue of JAMA touched off the AMA's latest public relations debacle. AMA Executive Director E. Ratcliffe Anderson, M.D., says Lundberg's ill-fated decision to publish the piece was based more on politics than on medicine or science. The 1991 survey of college students found that 60% agree with President Clinton's belief that oral sex is not really sex.
Reinisch tells Outliers that the study gets at the heart of "technical virginity and technical fidelity." She hopes to conduct fresh research once the furor of President Clinton's impeachment trial quiets down.