Announcing the Launch of The Health Tactics Social Network

Today our team is launching the Health Tactics Social Network.

The Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, has been in place now for several years and it has withstood a number of challenges, including at the Supreme Court.

Even within this structure, however, prices have begun to rise, significantly for some. And we are beginning to see news reports about local exchanges failing financially and large insurers questioning their continued participation.

We at Health Tactics do not take a political stand. Instead, we believe that whichever path our health system takes, much will continue to fall on the individual and those who love and support them. Not just the measurable costs that appear on a bill, but things like rides, meals, errands, simple love and emotional support. And yes, items that cost money and are not covered. Sometimes lots of money.

This is where the Health Tactics Social Network comes in.

We are not here to complain, or to be an advocacy organization. We accept that “it is what it is”, even if we want more. What we are here for is to help people find each other, care for each other and deal with reality. And by doing this, we can help those in need put their lives back together.

Consider:

    Several people with the same condition have more collective knowledge about that condition than all but the most specialized physicians. Pool that knowledge.

    Much of what it takes to fully care for yourself or someone else actually falls outside of the structured medical system- everything from exercises to nutrition to a good nights sleep. And this is where people helping people will succeed in cases where the for-profit system has either failed us or abandoned us when the approved visits run out.

    And many times, there are those special, wonderful doctors and hospitals, and the rest of us need to know who and where they are. And not because we saw their advertisement, but because someone we trust who was in a similar situation told us about them. The true message gets lost in all of the marketing noise.

People helping people- that is what the Health Tactics Social Network is all about.

How does it work?
Almost everyone is in Facebook. And when you have professional networking needs, most people think of Linked-In. Beginning today and in the future, when you have personal health care needs, think of The Health Tactics Social Network.

A group in our network is designed solely to support the health care needs of the member. You can use a group differently, but this design is what makes us unique.

In the illustration below, 12 people join Mary’s Care Group. The sole purpose of the group is to care for Mary.

MarysGroup

Members of the group can upload documents or images for other group members to see. Mary, for example, might upload a list of her medications so others in the group have that information.

Mary could also create two groups, and have her private medical information available to one group, and other things like a food shopping list or a list of important phone numbers available to the other group. Her spouse might want to be in both groups.

The Health Tactics Social Network will also work well for athletes. Paul is a runner on his school team. In this illustration, 11 people join Paul’s Training Group. The sole purpose of the group is to support Paul’s training.

As before, members can upload documents, such as a schedule, or images, such as a map of a running trail.

PaulsGroup

How do you set it up?
This is a very easy, three step process:

First, as in any social network, everyone involved must join The Health Tactics Social Network.

Second, as in any social network, people who want to engage on any significant level must be “friends”.

Third and finally, you must create your group (easy!) and invite those friends that you want to join it.

That’s it! Group members can immediately begin providing support to their friend or loved one.

Some tips:
When creating your group, you will have some choices, as below:

GroupChoices

We strongly suggest that new users select “by invitation only” and “group creator only”.

Otherwise, friends will be able to join your group at will (and since this is your health, not all of your friends should see everything), and participants will be able to invite other people (same issue).

These choices are available because some people create groups that they want to grow large and without their effort, such as a general membership discussion group. Members are certainly free to do this, but there are other social networks that support general membership discussion groups if that is the true goal.

Important note on HIPAA regulations and patient privacy: The Health Tactics Social Network and the entire Health Tactics site are built and designed around the core principle of consumer (patient) control of their own situation, which includes their own information. When patients choose to disclose their own information, HIPAA concerns have been met. However, when patient information is stored or handled by people or institutions other than the owner (patient), HIPAA concerns can and do arise.

For this reason, our user agreement contains language not found in most social networks. Users are strongly encouraged to read this language and understand it, as it discusses your disclosure of your own health information. It includes a disclaimer that specifically states neither Health Tactics nor The Health Tactics Social Network will bear any responsibility for personal health information that is initially disclosed by you, regardless of what members of your group or others may subsequently do with that information.

And finally…

Expert Scenario:
Pam is a Discharge Planner at a community hospital. She joins the Health Tactics Social Network and begins to “friend” patients she is working with in her professional capacity at the hospital. As people leave the hospital and recover they “move out of her view”, and as more patients enter the hospital, they “enter her view”, so Pam is constantly “unfriending” those who have been discharged and who have recovered, and “friending” new patients who will soon require discharge.

Pam encourages these patients to create a care group, make friends with her- either party can initiate the friend request- and invite her to join. Patients are free to decline Pam’s recommendation. This is all up to the consumer (patient). And of course, Pam, as a professional, should obtain written consent from the patient.

If the member agrees, Pam and the hospital benefit from this wealth of individual care and home related information that is stored in one place- the individual patient groups, and which they have obtained consent to access.

The members of The Health Tactics Social Network- Pam’s patients- benefit from a smoother, higher quality hospital discharge and an improved transition to home care and recovery. The member’s family will better understand what is needed, and know where to find the key information they will need in caring for their loved one.

How to get going:
Visit www.healthtactics.com.

At the main site, select “Network” and you will be taken to The Health Tactics Social Network sign in page. Signing up is easy. After you have signed up, find friends and create your groups as described above.

The rest of the site:
The main Health Tactics site has eight sections, clearly visible on the navigation menu:

These eight sections are:

Home, where you can find the home page (pictured) and a description of the company;

HomePage

Network, which allows you to link directly to The Health Tactics Social Network;

NetworkPage

MediPilot, our own secure, private online personal health record.

MediPilotPage

Surveys, an embedded survey tool where we implement surveys and polls;

Blog, where we will post helpful tips about using the Network, posts from guest health care experts and other interesting content. You are at the Blog page now;

BlogPage

Forum; our online discussion forum where users can talk to each other;

Links, where we organize a wealth of health care related resources; and

Store, where we make available high quality health and lifestyle related products from 3d party vendors. This is what allows us to operate the rest of the site for free.

Everything at the site is absolutely free, except products purchased through the store. You will not see any ads or solicitations of any kind outside of the store. And we do not track, sell, monitor or mine your personal information in any way.

We hope that you enjoy and make valuable use of the site, and The Health Tactics Social Network!

#Obamacare- The focus needs to be on Costs.

Now that an estimated 6 million + people have signed up for Obamacare, how have we done?  Is 6 million enough? Is the mix of young and old the right mix? Did enough previously uninsured people sign up?

Long term success will hinge not on any of the above questions, but on what we do about costs.

I am not talking about the cost of the insurance premium.  After all, if you insure something expensive, the insurance policy will be expensive.  Rather, I am talking about the costs of the underlying products and services- physicians, hospitals, pharmaceuticals, devices and supplies.

Here are several steps we can take that will decrease the costs of care:

-Allow Medicare to use its purchasing power to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies

-Implement tort reform

-Expand the scope of practice of physician extenders

-Open more retail clinics

-Allow, and reimburse more at-home care

-Encourage, and reimburse, more remote home monitoring

-Allow the sale of insurance policies across state lines

-Encourage more price transparency.  Increase the publication of prices.

Every one of these suggestions is either not done today or is limited in order to protect the finances of a particular interest group, be it physicians, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, insurers or attorneys.  And in all cases, it is the consumer who suffers, either through lack of access, higher prices or higher taxes.

Don’t misunderstand me- I support Obamacare.  I am glad to see it happening.  But we need to focus on costs. Aggressively.  Now.

The Trend Towards Adult Day Care

A recent article in the New York Times describes a trend where elderly patients can be treated through a home based managed care model, rather than in a nursing home.  This model is generally referred to as “adult day care”.

It’s about time!  Why should patients be required to spend their entire existence in a nursing home, at much higher cost, when they can live in their own homes and receive visits from medical professionals and other caregivers?  Moreover, it has long been known that people much prefer to be cared for in their own homes, including during their final days- yes, people prefer to die at home than in an impersonal institution.

The luxury of being treated (and dying) at home has long been reserved for the well-off, who can afford private nurses and all of the related home-based equipment.  The thinking has long been that if the government is paying (Medicaid), then you need to be in an institution.

Too bad that it has taken a financial crisis- state budgets under pressure, led by Medicaid costs- to get state programs to relent and allow people to be cared for in an environment that is less expensive, more comfortable and inherently safer- the home.

Should home health care budgets be increased (supported through legislation and payment), decreased or left alone?

An interesting part of the health care discussion concerns home health care.  It is unquestionably less expensive to treat someone at home, particularly someone who needs a lot of nursing care and assistance with eating/ dressing/ bathing.

However, many states, as the grapple with high Medicaid costs, seem to want to reduce funding for home care.  There is also some fraud in the home care sector, as there is throughout the health care industry.

Reducing or eliminating home care services forces patients to seek more expensive in-patient care in hospitals and nursing homes.  Reducing funds for home care seems to be financially short sighted.  So what should we do?  What do you think?

Should funding for home care be increased, decreased or left alone?

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