Critics have long complained that managed care encourages assembly line-style healthcare.
Now they really can say that about one organization that has gone out of its way to differentiate itself from the penny-pinching ways of HMOs.
Kaiser Permanente, the well-regarded, not-for-profit healthcare network in Northern California, last month agreed to shell out several million dollars for a huge, technologically advanced Oakland warehouse formerly occupied by bankrupt online grocery delivery service Webvan.
According to the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News, Kaiser will pay $2.65 million for the software technology that runs the facility and links inventory management systems to the handheld computers carried by Webvan's delivery drivers. For "well over" $1 million more, the newspaper reports, Kaiser gains control of carousels, conveyor belts and other heavy machinery moving merchandise in the warehouse.
Kaiser says it will use the building to stock medical supplies and pharmaceuticals for distribution to its clinics and hospitals around the San Francisco Bay Area.
Will physicians show up in delivery vans, demanding c.o.d.?
Keeping current. It was hard to ignore a press release we received last month from a Scottsdale, Ariz., company called Government Liquidation.
The release begins: "I am writing to introduce you to Government Liquidation and the large stocks of military surplus medical equipment available to physicians and surgeons exclusively through Government Liquidation, LLC."
It was dated Oct. 12. As in one month and one day after Sept. 11.
Perhaps the company was unaware that the U.S. military might actually need some of that medical equipment, seeing that the country happens to be at war right now.
Fear strikes out. We know you've lost countless nights of sleep wondering what exactly is keeping you from success. Well, grab your blankie and get comfy, because there's an answer: public speaking.
According to the Book of Lists, people's top fear is addressing a group. And, you guessed it, there's someone who can help you overcome this. And, just coincidentally, she has a book you can buy.
Natalie Rogers is the author of The New Talk Power: The Mind-Body Way to Speak Without Fear. She is the only expert in her field who frees people from the devastating effects of the fear of public speaking, and in just one weekend, according to a press release.
"Every day thousands of doctors across the country face what seems to be an insurmountable challenge--overcoming their fear of speaking in public," the release says.
And you thought HIPAA, Medicare compliance, billing and negotiating rates were problems.
Cyber-connectedness. An enterprising consult company is filling a commercial niche by helping doctors and pharmaceutical reps meet via online appointment calendars.
Crestview Hills, Ky.-based Time-Concepts has set up a Web site allowing doctors to set up password-protected calendars that show when they are able to meet with reps for consults. Reps then target those with whom they want to consult and schedule visits via the site.
E-mail confirmations are sent, docs and reps meet, and the physicians fill out an "impact analysis questionnaire."
The drug companies pay a $105 fee for each consult, with $50 going to Time-Concepts, $50 to the doctor and $5 to charity. Everyone benefits, claims Time-Concepts, including the doctors' patients--presumably through doctors educating the reps as to their needs.
Maybe patients should just e-mail the reps themselves and leave out the middlemen.
Get the message. Online instant messaging brings millions of people together from around the world, so it's not surprising that businesses are trying to get in on live Internet chats.
That's what healthcare informatics firm A.D.A.M. had in mind last month when it announced a partnership with ThePort Network, a developer of customer relationship management software.
The two Atlanta-based companies will co-market the PortPlayer, which they describe as "a unique system for delivering personalized information and services to an end user--outside of e-mail and the Web browser." They want healthcare organizations to adopt the software component as a means of offering two-way online communication with patients.
Only problem is, PortPlayer is a stand-alone module that must be downloaded and installed on each user's personal computer.
If our technology survey is any indication, the public rarely uses the e-mail accounts they already have to communicate with their physicians.
And these companies think people will install a separate program to receive healthcare information?