I know what you’re thinking; why is Mitch talking about health care? I’ll answer this in two ways. Whereas it’s not my normal topic, truth is I am a health care finance consultant, I’m a caregiver, and I’ve been a patient here and there. Sometimes one has to diversify their blogs and speak on a topic that hits them; this is that time for me.
Some of you have probably noticed I’m not writing at the same pace that I normally do. Once again life has gotten in the way, this time with my grandmother falling and breaking her hip and my having to be out of town to support my mother.
It’s been interesting, frightening and frustrating over the last bunch of days. The interesting part was when I called 911 and they sent the fire chief and two firetrucks before the ambulance arrived; my grandmother would have loved watching that spectacle if she could have moved as she loves sitting in the window watching the day.
The scary part was first trying to figure out just how badly she was hurt, learning she had a broken hip and required surgery, and trying to determine what kind of surgery she needed. Turns out it was only the hip and a fracture, which only required 2 screws, and the surgery and initial recovery only took about 3 1/2 hours; whew.
Then the frustrating part, which leads to the title of this post. I went back home because they said all was going to be well, so to speak. Then the next day I get a call saying she’s nonresponsive and won’t eat. This is frightening because she’s 90 and hadn’t eaten in 3 days. I drive back to get Mom and go back to the hospital, worried that these might be the last days for her and wondering if anything could have changed things. Not that she’s been the physically strongest person over the last few months but this just seemed to come on really fast.
We get to the hospital and she’s sleeping. We let her sleep while trying to let a few people know what might be going on. Then the nurse finally shows up and says they tried to get her to eat but she wouldn’t respond to them and wasn’t talking. So I try and indeed she’s not talking, but she’s responding to yes and no answers with, well, yes and no sounds. I ask what we can try to give her and after hearing it all I suggest we run with the lemon ice, since I know she likes lemon.
I get it open, put a little bit onto a spoon, say “Miss Hazel, here comes something you might like” (yes, I call my grandmother Miss Hazel; she likes that), put the spoon on her lips, and she opens her mouth and takes it in.
Mom was stunned; the nurse was stunned. I wasn’t stunned. What I was is frustrated and irritated because of the scare I’d had with the phone call. See, something that working in hospitals teaches you is the patterns of people with certain responsibilities. My mind had been thinking that something nurses really don’t fully understand is that sometimes a person just can’t feed themselves for whatever reason. The talking is one thing, but as I said, she’s 90 and hadn’t eaten in 3 days, has had surgery and anesthesia and was kind of weak to begin with; what were they expecting, miracles?
Actually, yes. See, hospitals aren’t equipped to be nursing homes; it’s not in the make up of the people that work there, nurses or anyone else. They don’t think about trying to feed people; they don’t have the time. But I knew I had to give that a shot because it would tell me whether she was alert or whether she had decided it was her time. She consumed the entire cup of lemon ice; I had my answer.
So here we are at the dilemma stage, although it’s kind of a foregone conclusion. She has to be moved to either a skilled nursing facility or a nursing home. She needs rehab, but right now she also needs someone to feed her. Mom can’t handle either of these at this stage, and hospitals aren’t equipped to do it either.
Everyone at the hospital has been nice and everyone has played their role the way it’s supposed to be played. But I need to now make them step up and make themselves seen, as the only doctor I’ve seen in the time I’ve been there was the surgeon; that’s not going to get it done. But I know how to do it; funny, but there’s a swagger one can have when they work in certain types of places, and I noticed I had that swagger yesterday, as if I was still at a level to demand and request certain things without question. What a feeling!
So, I’m hoping I’m close to not being as sporadic with so many things as has been the case over the past week. I’m so far behind on work and blogging, but family always takes precedence. And I hope through this little story I’ve given you a little more education on how hospital people think.
Of course, I understand the concepts of social media marketing well. I’ve followed my own advice when it comes to that, and it’s helped to a degree. My biggest problem is that my main business doesn’t do online stuff all that well. You may remember that along with a lot of other things I’m a health care finance consultant. Many more hospitals have a web presence now, but that’s about as far as it goes.
I rank number one for my search terms, but hospitals don’t go online to research vendors (that’s what they call us; I prefer the term ‘corporate partner’) for services. Instead, they go to events and ask people they’re not afraid to share information with who they might recommend or who they’ve heard of. Now, by ‘afraid’, I mean to say that hospitals really don’t like other hospitals that are located close to them to ever know they might have some type of problem. It’s kind of stupid because almost every hospital has the same types of issues but that’s the way the world goes.
Anyway, that makes marketing to hospitals difficult. Overall they’re not close to each other. They don’t like making recommendations that might help a competitor. If you’re an independent you just can’t rely on word of mouth when it comes to hospitals; physicians maybe.
What’s a guy to do? I’ve done the traditional route. I’ve sent letters. I’ve sent flyers. I’ve sent postcards. I’ve even picked up the phone and called, although not that often; I hate doing the cold call thing. That plus, unless you personally know the CFO, you’re not going to talk to them. I’ve had 3 different sales professionals who have tried and each one of them told me the same story, and I already knew it because that used to be my life. Well, except I didn’t have a secretary screening calls for me; if it was from out of town & I didn’t recognize the number, it went to voice mail.
Anyway, I’m always on the lookout for more marketing tips. A good source for me as been my friend Shirley George Frazier’s blog Solo Business Marketing, and right now she’s giving away a pdf called 42 Top Tips For Solo Marketers. That’s the link to her site, not to the download. Her site is replete with tons of information, and I have followed her for a couple of years. I do pick up some things here and there, and I really need to start applying more of what she has to offer. It’s a great resource, and I’m happy to mention her here.
Of course, all of this ties in to other topics I’ve brought up this year and in previous years. The best marketing strategy is to find ways to increase your influence. I’ve been trying to do it a lot through social media, interviews, and networking.
Networking, by the way, is how I’ve gotten most of my health care contracts as well. Through email, I do have a list of people I can network with when I really need to get something. The issue for me is that at my age now I’d love having more projects that are closer to home. Some people might think going across the country is always glamorous; trust me, it’s not. Even flying first class, making 2 or 3 stops to get to your final destination, and those long layovers, is irritating and uncomfortable. Now, if I were on a speaking tour, making $3,000 or more a day, I’d suck it up and be happy about it; who wouldn’t?
Anyway, check out Shirley’s blog, and if you have any ideas on how you market your business to the offline world that’s effective, please share.
The last time I did a rant of some kind, I touched upon a lot of issues that really weren’t related to each other. This time, though it might not seem like it, it’s all mainly about one thing, health care, though I might go off the range a couple of times. It’s time for this, though; I’ve written about it often enough in posts on my other two blogs, but not this one. I just need to clear the air, so here goes; and no, the image has nothing to do with this post, as we all know by now.
On Saturday night, the House Democrats finally pushed through the first stage of what will be a very massive and comprehensive health care bill. Well, at least they pushed through a bill, on a vote of 220 – 215. How comprehensive it will be is still in dispute by everyone outside of the House of Representatives.
Why? Because we have no idea what’s really in the bill. What is it going to cover? We already know it’s not covering abortions, but we have no idea what it’s going to cover. We’ve heard that it’s going to be funded by fees and cuts to Medicare. What kind of cuts to Medicare, and why? What kind of fees? I know that if it still has that stupid provision I heard about back in late September about charging individuals $900 and families $3,800 if they decide not to get onto a health care plan, I don’t support that at all. After all, the President said that any health care bill he signed wouldn’t hurt the middle class; just who do we all think those fines, or fees, will be laid upon? The rich have enough money to not have to worry about it, and the poor have Medicaid.
What I have heard is that they won’t allow insurance companies to not cover someone for preexisting conditions, which is a biggie because I got caught under something like that back in 1984 (and still have my tonsils because of it). They also won’t allow insurance companies to drop you if you’re already sick under the plan, unless insurance premiums stop being paid. That’s actually another good thing. I tell you, in general I don’t trust insurance companies and it’s because of stuff like this. However, in my mind, they should have passed these laws years ago, instead of tying it to a health care plan.
Okay, let me go on the record by saying this; I do believe this country needs to have a health care plan to protect everyone who doesn’t have insurance. Having said that, without knowing what this plan is, I don’t know if this is the plan we signed on for. The President said in his 8 principles that any plan Congress came up with has to NOT increase the deficit. Suddenly, this plan is coming with a $1.2 trillion price tag over 10 years; how the heck is that not going to raise the deficit?
Now, raising the deficit is something the Republicans seem to be hanging their hat on, but those phonies and hypocrites were responsible for getting this country into the mess it’s in now, with unemployment finally reaching 10.2% and more than 15 million Americans out of work. They say that they’re worried about the financial burden on our kids; yeah, they’re worried about the money but they could care less about the environment, which they say doesn’t matter to them and that they don’t believe there’s anything wrong with, as Greenland is about to lose its ice mass and glaciers, Alaska has already lost much of its glaciers, ice is melting at both the North Pole and Antarctica at alarming rates, and the snows of Kilamanjaro are disappearing rapidly. Sure, there’s no threat of global warming; please!
And, why is it that these same Republicans, the party of NO, the party that just today supposedly came up with its own version of a health care plan that not only isn’t a health care plan, but is something that half the states in the union have already had in place for nearly 30 years, couldn’t decide to work with the Democrats and actually voice their concerns about portions of the bill while the debate was going on? Why didn’t they offer anything? Oh yeah, because their lobbyists would have had a field day and their political funds would have dried up (I just dropped receiving email from the lobbying from my local Chamber of Commerce because these people obviously have no compassion for anyone except businesses). Someone tell me how rich people are supposed to care about anyone else being able to have health care? Heck, months ago a Republican representative said health care was a privilege, not a right; who elected this moron?
Also, just who were these idiots (yes, I’m name calling) who were showing up at these town meetings over the summer and screaming about the potential for a health care plan instead of engaging in some kind of civil discussion. Here’s the thing; no one took you seriously except for the Republican politicians who were hoping that some kind of public outcry would scare people off this plan. Most of you who were being convinced that a health care option would be a bad thing are the very people who probably need this health care. Rich people don’t march, so they didn’t care. You made jerks out of yourselves and no one heard a single thing you said. I tell you this, it’s certainly a good thing I’m not a politician because I’d have walked right up to you, got in your face, and dared you to keep screaming at me. Threatening? You bet! People tend not to act stupidly when they’re called on it.
One final point; this idea of a public option. Folks, let’s just call it what it is; a government sponsored health care plan to compete against other insurance companies. I’m not sure whether I’m for it or against it, but I don’t think it’s needed. Instead. what would spur competition of prices would be to lift the lid on insurance companies across the country to be able to market their insurance in any market they saw fit. Too many communities have only 2 or 3 insurance company options at the most from which to choose from, and all of them have somewhat inflated rates. For all these people griping about how much the government health care plan is going to cost, who hasn’t at least a couple of times this decade had double digit insurance premium increases at work, where the average seems to be at least 8% every year, and the cost of pharmaceuticals going even higher? With more competition, prices would naturally have to come down, and that might solve some of the problems instead of the government funding their own insurance plan, which they already do through Medicare and Medicaid.
Now, if people were complaining that, instead of a health care plan, we should have been concentrating on improving the economy, I’d have gotten behind that. Sure, we had this stimulus package, but most of that was undercover, to the point that some people are just getting their stimulus money, and others have used it in ways that weren’t its purpose. This wasn’t supposed to save jobs; it was supposed to help create new jobs. But, in my opinion, most of these politicians had no idea how to create jobs. I had my ideas on how to create jobs, but no one ever asked me. What happened to our money czar? Oh yeah, she couldn’t take the job because she had illegal help that she didn’t pay any taxes on; sheesh (okay, we actually do have a new money czar, but I was on a roll here)!
By the way, I had my own version of a health care plan that a colleague consultant didn’t like, saying it wouldn’t be effective, and he came up with his own health care plan, which would have been effective. However, in retrospect, my plan over 10 years would have come to $500 billion at the most, while his would have come to $2 trillion; I still win fiscally.
Morally, this country needs a health care plan. Only the United States and Italy don’t have one for its citizens. Financially, I’m not sure we can afford this one, especially if the figures I mentioned earlier are still a part of the plan. And also, if it’s taking money away from Medicare, which is going to end up closing hospitals at the same rate, eventually, that banks are closing now, a health care plan won’t matter because we won’t have anywhere to go. That plus there’s already a shortage of doctors and nurses in this country because reimbursement is too low and malpractice insurance is too high.
I keep wondering if I were in Congress how I would have voted on this bill. This is something that most people don’t think about; these bills that get put before our elected officials almost never have everything we want in them, and sometimes have stuff sneaked in that has nothing to do with the bill. That’s how the anti-gambling statute got pushed in, through another bill that protects our borders, and why every American who’s paying to play poker online is actually breaking the law. With the little bit I know, this bill wouldn’t be close to my first choice. I might have had to hold my nose, but I think I’d have probably voted for it in the end.
Nope, glad I’m not a politician. Certainly glad I’m not a Republican (I’m not a Democrat either, by the way), since it seems that, so far, in this year they haven’t come up with a single proposal to try to advance something. Think that’s the wrong way to look at it? Prove me wrong. At least they did come together last week with the Democrats to vote for an extension of unemployment; can you imagine how bad that would have looked?
Okay, off the soapbox now. I’m not expecting this one to be read that much, so back to the lighthearted fare most of us are used to tomorrow; whew!