Thank you to those who have been commenting.

Health care is ever-moving and changing. Every moment there is something new.
But, for now, there's not much new on my blog. After 106 posts, I'm taking a break.

My cumulative content is here for you to explore. Health care, in all its complex facets, always offers something to intrigue or inspire us. Enjoy!

Thanks for reading.


Medical Homes Can Improve Diabetes Care

One of the problems with our health-care system is that it delivers care in a very fragmented manner. Patients seek medical treatment in a wide variety of places for a many different reasons. Although the treatment is somewhat coordinated, the frame of reference is on the individual episodes of care and not on the overall, cumulative effect on the patient's health.

With managed-care companies requiring authorizations and electronic medical records providing continuity of data across patient visits, coordination of care is improving. As progress continues, the system is evolving toward patient-centered care.

Patient-centered care has various meanings. In marketing, it is often used to describe convenience and comfort, such as providing easier access to related services or improving satisfaction among patients and their families. On a larger scale, it is used to describe a more holistic approach to care in which patients are not treated as the sum of their medical diagnoses, but as individuals whose medical needs are just one part of their health and well-being.

Patient-centered care involves coordinating and delivering the full range of services that will optimize each patient's health. The intended results are more positive outcomes, increased cost efficiency and greater satisfaction.

But how can we break down traditional "silos" of care and place the patient at the center?

One answer is medical homes. This approach involves having a physician lead a team that is responsible for the continuous and comprehensive care of the patient, including coordinating and tracking delivery of care across the full spectrum of medical specialties, hospitals, physicians offices and social service providers.

In a study recently published in The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, researchers in Pennsylvania demonstrated that the medical-home model can improve outcomes in diabetes patients. By applying Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) standards developed by the National Committee for Quality Assurance in 2011, physicians enabled patients to achieve lower levels for LDL, hemoglobin A 1 C and blood pressure, which are the key predictors of morbidity and mortality in diabetes. Patients involved in the study were also significantly more likely to comply with evidence-based clinical guidelines for diabetes care, such as yearly examinations of the feet and eyes. (

PCMH standards are likely to form the foundation for America's efforts at health care reform. Regardless of the outcome of the reform debate, medical homes are moving forward. More than 30 states have launched medical home projects, and the recent report from Pennsylvania confirms that diabetic patients who have medical homes achieve better outcomes.

Beyond the profound implications for families with diabetes, PCMH has the potential to reduce the estimated $174 billion the U.S. spends on diabetes care annually. Hopefully, the imperative to save health care dollars will drive us to do something that really makes sense.

— Tom DeSanto

Improve the Patient Experience through Multidisciplinary Marketing

Marketers can play a vital role in improving patient experience.

By working closely with experts in other health system departments, we can provide insights and communications that enhance their efforts. Understanding and managing the preconceptions and expectations of patients and their families—and the staff members who serve them—is essential for success.

Here are eight ways marketers can help:

1. Correlate internal patient satisfaction research with market-based studies to provide additional perspective for understanding patient opinions and attitudes.

2. Assess patient experience in light of the claims and promises made in vision, brand and service-line communications. Are we who we say we are?

3. Integrate operations and communications to be sure we are ready, willing and able to deliver experiences that meet or exceed expectations.

4. Inspire front-line patient-care staff through simple, ongoing quality/satisfaction updates that praise their efforts and challenge them to improve.

5. Develop simple training and motivational materials to help improve performance in areas where needed.

6. Welcome patients and their families with friendly, practical and informative communications that ease anxiety by telling them what to expect during treatment.

7. Examine and improve all aspects of communications with patients from initial contact with the physician referral line through episodes of care to interactions around insurance and billing.

8. Report individual successes and overall achievement in providing positive patient experiences to your administration, staff, patients and community.

By working in cross-functional teams across the healthcare enterprise, marketers can help organization keep an extra finger on the patients' pulse and develop communications that heal and strengthen relationships. We can also provide communications check-ups and preventive care to keep relationships healthy.

Ideally, we can be members of a multidisciplinary team that focuses on providing an optimal outcome for patient experience.

— Tom DeSanto


Branding is Believing

Each generation either breathes new life into a brand or presides over its last breath.

What do you believe? Take a moment to answer.

1. Is the Encyclopaedia Britannica the authoritative source for information?

Not anymore. Today,  Britannica, established in 1768, ceased publishing its venerable printed volumes. We stopped believing.

2. Are American cars as good as vehicles produced by foreign competitors?

Maybe. A generation ago, the American auto industry led the world. More recently, it was flatlining until a Federal bailout shocked it back to life. Will it come back? Only if you believe.

3. Is Apple the leading source for whatever is new and cool?

Yes. In mid-2011, Apple surpassed Google as the world's most valuable brand by reaching an estimated value of $153 billion (Brandz Top 100 Ranking.) Apple made believers out of us.

4. If you had a serious illness, where would you go for treatment? Where would you never go?

Most likely you know. Something influenced you to believe your care would be excellent or poor, perhaps the opinion of a physician, family member or friend. How we gather the information that shapes our beliefs is beginning to change. A recent poll found that 57 percent of consumers thought that "social media connections would have a strong impact on their likelihood to seek treatment at a hospital." (YouGov Poll published in Becker's Hospital Review)

What do you believe?  Over time, brands rise and fall based on their ability to continually win the hearts and minds of their constituents. How? By remaining relevant and in a close relationship.

Branding is believing.

Tom DeSanto

Image: Google Images

Measuring the "Where" to Enhance Care

By deploying real-time location systems (RTLS), health care providers are adding another dimension in the drive toward improving the quality, safety and efficiency of care.

RTLS enables administrators to determine and track the real-time location of clinicians, patients and medical equipment. When coupled with workflow automation software technology, RTLS provides accurate, actionable information to aid in the optimal deployment of resources. It documents patient episodes of care to enable workflow and process improvement.

Real-time RTLS monitoring can help emergency departments improve patient throughput to avoid diversion of ambulances and the resulting loss of revenue. It can also provide documentation for patient-safety practices, such as hand-washing programs to reduce hospital-acquired infections, as well as compliance to many other protocols that affect outcomes and ratings.

Having the ability to locate patients, physicians, nurses and staff quickly through RTLS enables providers to remain on-time for procedures and more effectively coordinate treatment. When RTLS tagging eliminates unproductive, frustrating hours wasted in equipment searches, nurses can spend more time with patients to improve quality of care and satisfaction.

Hospitals and health systems that deploy RTLS technology have greater opportunities to improve quality, productivity and profitability. Knowing "where" is the next major leap in acquiring and applying data that can help health care providers meet the demands of health-care reform.

— Tom DeSanto

Image: Google Images,

GTR: Getting a Handle on Genetic Testing

Genetic tests currently are available for approximately 2,500 diseases. Burgeoning testing capability continues to spawn new products and services. The global market for genetic testing reached US$1.5 billion in 2010 is forecast to reach US$4 billion by 2015, according to RCNOS Industry Research Solutions.

Such rapid growth makes it nearly impossible for researchers, physicians and patients to grasp the scope of genetic testing.

In response, the National Institutes of Health launched the Genetic Testing Registry (GTR) on March 1, 2012. Developed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, this online resource includes a searchable database of data voluntarily submitted by genetic test providers. Information includes the purpose and limitations of each test, what is measured, methods used and the name and location of the test provider.

Consumers now have an online resource to explore possibilities and receive referral information for the more than 2,700 certified genetic counselors now practicing in the U.S. 

Medical professionals and researchers can find detailed information about tests' analytic and clinical validity, as well as a their ability to predict or improve outcomes. Peer-reviewed, clinical descriptions of more than 500 conditions and links to a depth of other valuable resources also are available.

NIH Director Francis S. Collins said, "This registry will help a lot of people — from health care professionals looking for answers to their patients' diseases to researchers seeking to identify gaps in scientific knowledge."

The GTR is an important baby step in navigating the new world of genetic testing. We have a long way to go in establishing effective regulation and ethical application.

— Tom DeSanto