Tag Archives: Healthcare

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Freestanding emergency departments bring speedier care but higher spending

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A team of researchers at Rice University investigated the relationship between the number of freestanding emergency departments (FSEDs) and local market spending on emergency care. They found that, while FSEDs may reduce wait times in overcrowded emergency departments (EDs), the increasing number of FSEDs into the local market might also increase emergency care usage and overall spending.

In their findings, published in Academic Emergency Medicine, the team found that FSEDs increased local market spending on emergency care in three out of the four states’ markets they have already entered.

FSEDs deliver emergency care in strip malls and in other facilities that are physically separate from acute care hospitals. Freestanding EDs first emerged in the 1970s to fill the need for emergency care in underserved rural areas that could not financially sustain inpatient hospitals, but FSEDs are now popping up primarily in urban and suburban areas.

Proponents claim the FSEDs can reduce overcrowding at hospital-based ED waiting rooms. Others worry that introducing additional freestanding EDs will inflate costs, and surprise patients with unexpectedly high bills not covered by their insurance.

In a recent brief, UnitedHealth Group detailed how FSEDs cost significantly more than physician offices or urgent care centers for common, non-emergent conditions. UnitedHealth Group also noted that consumers do not always realize that FSEDs cost more. In fact, a number of consumers now report receiving high bills for care from a freestanding ED — sometimes as much as double the amount in a hospital ED or as much as 20 times that of a regular doctor’s office.

“Consumers mistakenly thought that freestandings would be low-cost because they look so much like a neighborhood clinic, and facility staff often told patients that their care would be covered by their health insurance, when in fact it wasn’t,” said lead author Vivian Ho, who serves as the James A. Baker III Institute Chair in Health Economics and director of the Center for Health and Biosciences at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. Ho is also a professor of economics at Rice and a professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

Ho and her team of researchers from Rice University wanted to determine whether FSEDs increase spending, which would suggest that freestanding emergency departments might serve well as supplements, rather than substitutes, to traditional EDs.

Rice participates in the Blue Cross Blue Shield Alliance for Health Research, which helps researchers collaborate and explore critical issues in healthcare. This collaboration allows researcher to access HIPAA-compliant data from Blue Cross Blue Shield Axis, which is the nation’s largest collection of medical professional data, commercial insurance claims, and cost of care information.

Using a secure portal, the researchers accessed the de-identified claims data from FSEDs in Arizona, Texas, North Carolina, and Florida. The researchers chose these four states because while freestanding emergency departments have a relatively large presence there, the states had also experienced a significant increase in the number of FSEDs entering the markets there.

The investigators aggregated the information on ED spending at hospitals and FSEDs into 495 different local markets, known as Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMAs), by quarter and year. The researchers merged the spending data with the number of FSEDs by quarter and year in each PUMA, and by demographic characteristics of the population in each local market.

The team used regression analysis to estimate the association between changes in the number of FSEDs and total spending on emergency care, utilization, out‐of‐pocket spending, and price per visit from January 2013 to December 2017. The researchers adjusted the results with controls for state, quarter, and sociodemographics.

They found that bringing a freestanding emergency department into a local market bumped emergency provider reimbursement by 3.6% per insured beneficiary in Texas, Florida and North Carolina. They found no change in spending with the entry of an FSED in Arizona.

The team also found that entry of an additional FSED increased ED utilization in Texas, Florida and Arizona by approximately 3 to 5%. There was no such increase in ED utilization associated with the entry of an additional freestanding ED in North Carolina.

The researchers calculated a 3.6% increase in out-of-pocket payments for emergency care with the entry of an FSED into the local market in Texas, Florida and Arizona. These out-of-pocket payments declined by 15.3 percentage points in North Carolina.

“Health care continues to account for an increasing share of the U.S. economy, and emergency care spending as a share total health care costs is also rising,” Ho said. “Therefore it is troubling that in three of four states, entry of freestanding emergency departments results in higher spending, which may not yield significant health benefits. Given that previous studies suggest that much care provided by freestanding emergency departments could be delivered in lower-cost settings, policy makers should carefully regulate entry of these providers as well as their billing practices.”

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Survey: Over 40% of job candidates say ‘bye’ if employers won’t negotiate

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We’re currently at or close to full employment, and companies need to be more flexible if they want to snag desirable job candidates.

According to a recent Robert Half survey, applicants aren’t afraid to walk away when companies aren’t willing to negotiate — and not just on salary. In the survey, 43% of respondents said they lost interest in a job offer because the company was unwilling to negotiate elements beyond salary.

So, what are the other areas that job applicants want to negotiate?

  • Professional development
  • Benefits
  • Remote work or scheduling arrangements
  • Job title

“I wasn’t very surprised with these findings given the competitiveness of our current hiring market,” says Steve Saah, executive director of Robert Half Finance & Accounting. “If companies are too rigid when it comes to job offer negotiations, they risk losing qualified candidates to businesses who are willing to be flexible.”

With unemployment rates at 50-year lows, Saah says managers need to realize that workers have the upper hand in the hiring market. “Job seekers realize that if one company isn’t offering them what they want, another firm may be willing to.”

However, the survey also reveals that executives are willing to be flexible when negotiating with job candidates:

  • 63% are flexible negotiating salary
  • 52% are flexible negotiating professional development/training reimbursement
  • 47% are flexible negotiating benefits
  • 45% are flexible negotiating remote work or scheduling arrangements
  • 38% are flexible negotiating job title
  • 2% said they are unwilling to negotiate with job candidates

A few notes: professional development can range from graduate school to continuing professional development to inhouse training.

Benefits typically include health insurance, paid time off, dental insurance, a retirement savings plan, and vision insurance. Other types of benefits include wellness programs (physical, mental, financial).

Remote work is rising in popularity for a variety of reasons. Another Robert Half survey reveals that 50% of workers believe their commute is stressful, and 45% feel it’s too long.

Advice to help managers negotiate

To be an effective negotiator, Saah says you need to know what you’re prepared to offer and where you draw the line. “For example, are you OK with a rock star candidate who requests a remote work arrangement due to a bad commute? Or someone who requests quarterly learning opportunities?”

You’ll need to determine what you’ll lose if the best candidate gets away. If the best candidate is far superior to your other options, is it worth it to save a few thousand dollars in professional development costs?

Also, remote work can mean the difference between the very best candidate and the very best candidate in a 25- to 50-mile radius. “In a separate survey, 43% of senior managers said their company offers flexible scheduling to avoid peak traffic times and 40% offer telecommuting to help alleviate employees’ stressful trips,” Saah says.

“Think about what’s feasible and what you’re prepared to offer to land your top choice.”

He also recommends shifting your mindset regarding what you’re offering. “Job offer negotiations are often two-way conversations that take into account both parties’ requests.”

Advice to help employees negotiate

When negotiating, Saah says job candidates should know what is most important to them going into the conversation and weigh all aspects of the offer. “Enter negotiations with a solid understanding of current compensation trends for your position and location.”

That’s because the salary for you position can vary based on industry, experience, city, and a variety of other factors. He recommends sources such as Robert Half’s Salary Guides to ensure you have realistic expectations.

“If the hiring manager offers a lower amount than you expected, bring up other things you can negotiate, like a flexible schedule or opportunities to learn and grow with the company,” Saah advises.

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Why you need to know about telomeres

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Many of us know that long-term stress can affect our health, but did you know that it can also impact aging and longevity?

Welcome to the world of telomeres.

According to an article by The American Institute of Stress, “Telomeres are little caps at the end of chromosomes that prevent loss or injury to genetic information during cell division. Each time a cell divides, part of the telomere is lost and it becomes shorter. When a telomere eventually disappears because of repeated cell divisions, chromosomal damage prevents the cell from accurately reproducing itself. This shortening and eventual erosion of telomeres are prevented or reduced by telomerase, an enzyme in cells that preserves their length. Many believe that telomere destruction and reconstruction is related to the balance between aging and cancer and explains why cancer is more common in the elderly.”

In addition to cancer, shorter telomeres have also recently been associated with a whole host of other diseases, including cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and diabetes.

I first learned about telomeres in 2016, when I worked for a human potential physician that specialized in optimizing health through lifestyle changes. He was one of the first physicians in the country that built his practice around the awareness that lifestyle and behaviors impact one’s genetics.

My former boss told me that his high stress levels during his medical training had severely shortened his telomeres and that he was working hard to reverse that by optimizing his own health as well as that of his patients. Not only was I excited to learn about this, but it was also inspiring to learn that there were ways to undo previous damage.

The foundation of his approach was based on measuring stress levels and then teaching people through biofeedback to regulate breathing and heart rate. He then added personalized recommendations based on individual genetics for additional stress-reducing and health-enhancing lifestyle changes, including diet, exercise, meditation, sound therapy, acupuncture, etc.

My former boss was in good company. A number of researchers and physicians were studying how lifestyle changes could reverse telomere shortening. One of the first studies was published in 2013 by Dean Ornish, a physician, best-selling author and head of the Preventative Medicine Research Institute at the University of California in San Francisco.

There is now a lot more information available versus 2013. A best-selling book, “The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer,” was published in 2017 and was co-authored by Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, who originally discovered the role of telomeres on aging, and psychologist Dr. Elissa Epel. Here’s a wonderful passage from the book:

“To an extent that has surprised us and the rest of the scientific community, telomeres do not simply carry out the commands issued by your genetic code. Your telomeres, it turns out, are listening to you. They absorb the instructions you give them. The way you live can, in effect, tell your telomeres to speed up the process of cellular aging. But it can also do the opposite.”

The book is full of helpful information. For optimal health, the authors recommend a plant-based diet of nutrient-rich foods that are high in antioxidants. In addition, they also recommend focus, mindfulness and meditation as stated here:

“One study has found that people who tend to focus their minds more on what they are currently doing have longer telomeres than people whose minds tend to wander more. Other studies find that taking a class that offers training in mindfulness or meditation is linked to improved telomere maintenance.”

The benefits of making healthy lifestyle choices are well-known. However, knowing that you can greatly increase your chances of living longer and becoming healthier in the process because you’re changing your genetic expression is pretty amazing.

Since we’re almost at the end of 2019 and about to begin a new year, this might be a perfect time to implement some new lifestyle choices, especially now that you know that your telomeres are listening.

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How can healthcare companies protect themselves from data breaches?

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Healthcare remains the most breached industry in 2019. Thirty-two million healthcare records were breached in the first half of this year, which is double the total for all of 2018. There are no signs that cyberattacks in the healthcare industry are going to cease.

It seems that the size of an organization doesn’t matter, as both large and small healthcare providers get breached. The difference is that big organizations have more data that hackers can sell, whereas small companies lack security resources, which makes them easier targets. But why has healthcare overtaken financial institutions as the top target for hackers?

Cyberattacks against healthcare institutions are so popular because hackers see a great opportunity to get a ransom for their stolen information.

Medical records are very private and sensitive data, so no one wants theirs to get leaked and posted online. Earlier this year, confidential data, including the medical status of more than 14,000 people diagnosed with HIV, was stolen and leaked online in Singapore.

Besides private medical information, criminals can get their hands on other very important data.

Some data is even more sensitive than uncomfortable pictures or your medical history. That includes contact details (email, phone number, home address), social security numbers, and banking information. If stolen, this data can lead to financial troubles and even identity theft.

Healthcare organizations make ideal prey for hackers, as many of them use outdated security software and continue to underinvest in cybersecurity. The healthcare industry invests only 4 to 7% of revenue in digital security initiatives. In comparison, the financial sector puts 15% of its revenue into cybersecurity.

To avoid a bad reputation and legal action, healthcare organizations must make cybersecurity their top priority. Here are four main tips on how to protect your healthcare organization from getting hacked:

Employee training.

Human error, or employee negligence, is one of the main reasons that makes organizations susceptible to cyberattacks. To prevent various failures of compliance, healthcare companies should invest in cybersecurity training.

Employees should learn about data breaches from experts and get regular updates on recent trends. For example, members of staff need to get an understanding about phishing emails.

They should know not to click on any links, open any attachments, or perform any requests that come from questionable sources. This will prevent them from downloading malware or sharing sensitive information with impersonators.

Better password management.

Passwords play the most important role when protecting a company’s files and data.

Therefore, the best practice would be introducing password managers in your organizations. Such tools will generate strong and unique passwords and safely store them at the convenience of your staff. Passwords shouldn’t be shared among employees.

Encrypt your files.

To protect your company’s documents from prying eyes and safely store them both on a computer and in the cloud, you need to encrypt them.

This is especially handy when sharing confidential information with clients or among members of staff. If you use file encryption tools, like NordLocker, even if a hacker manages to steal important files, they will not be able to access their content.

Use a VPN.

Healthcare organizations usually use an intranet for private internal communications. But when traveling, working remotely, or using public Wi-Fi, employees need a secure connection to access work resources.

Here’s where a VPN (a virtual private network) comes into play. It creates a secure encrypted tunnel between your employee’s device and the internet — or your company’s server. That protects their connection from third-party access, should there be hackers ready to breach the system.

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How to improve your oncology patients’ treatment plans

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Cancer patients being treated at your facility face myriad difficulties, including physical challenges, treatment side effects and emotional stress. As a healthcare professional, you know this well, and are no doubt seeking to make a hospital stay as beneficial as possible for these patients.

The good news is that you can make proactive management decisions that will truly benefit your oncology patients by following this easy but powerful advice:

Focus on ward placement.

Research from Hummy Song at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School earlier this year found that a surprising 19.6% of patients are placed in a ward outside of the area of care they need.

Coordinate your bed rotation carefully to avoid this upon admission as frequently as you can; move patients to appropriate wards as soon as beds open up and make sure out-of-ward patients are placed as closely to the wards where their care is focused as possible.

Utilize palliative care coordination quickly.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that “co-rounding” by oncologists and palliative team members resulted in a 23% decrease in readmissions to the hospital. When patients are open to early palliative care and it’s appropriate, giving this kind of multidisciplinary care can be comforting both physically and emotionally.

Anticipate infection specifically.

A study from the University of Colorado, Denver found that cancer patients who are hospitalized often get E. coli or Klebsiella pneumoniae bacterial infections, but staff are often not prepared for this.

Planning for the possibility your patients may deal with these challenges means your staff can pre-target antibiotic therapies and utilize them quickly.

Gather information.

Find out what your oncology patients are specifically concerned about by checking in multiple times daily with your care teams.

Do you hear a frequent concern or complaint in particular? Work to resolve this concern, be it through additional supplies, new treatment strategies or additional counseling and support.

Be caring.

Introduce yourself to your oncology patients and tell them you are personally available whenever they need you. Compassion is powerful medicine — always give it in big doses.

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Back it up: Let your death inform your life

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Death is the only wise adviser that we have.
— Carlos Castaneda

We’ve all heard about “bucket lists.” You’ve probably got your own. It may include ideas about what we want to see and do and where we want to go before we die. Some folks have thousands of items on their list and manage to get a bunch of them done; others not so much. Many simply dream.

These lists are great — I have a few of my own. At the top is returning to a particular hotel on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Let’s dive a bit deeper, though, and stretch even further. Go straight to your death now. How you wish to be remembered may change how you live your life.

Here are five strategies to get you started:

Write your own obituary

Considering your own death can be daunting. Several of my friends are convinced they will live to be at least 120 years old. I know some brilliant young minds who are opting for cryonics, wanting to be frozen and revived in the future when better technology and medicine exist.

At some point, we will die. By writing your own obituary while you are still alive, you retake ownership of your biography. Imagine reading about yourself in the newspaper after you’re gone. Narrating how you wish to be remembered reminds you how to live.

Write your own eulogy

Why not sing your own praises, recount fond memories and celebrate your life while you’re still here? And share it with your family and friends? While a eulogy is often the speech given at a funeral, you don’t have to wait till then to do your own.

This past birthday, I had no intention of writing anything; my plan was to soak in some contemplative time before all the festivities. Yet, something like a eulogy bubbled up as I meandered in the woods that morning.

Dictating on my phone, it began with what doesn’t “define” me. Later, sharing it with each of the people mentioned within, that process became the best birthday gift — to us all.

Write your own epitaph

What do you want inscribed on your gravestone? My mom has said for years that her epitaph would be, “Peace at Last.” To sum up in so few words what you want to leave behind is quite a feat. Take time to ponder and consolidate your legacy.

Complete a life review

I first learned of a life review in my hospice work. By looking over your life and reflecting on the good and bad, you can shapeshift and heal the past, forgive and let go.

Though it may take some time and support, this kind of reckoning has the power to change not only yours, but your loved ones’ lives as well.

Discover your life song

Decades ago, I sourced mine at a Shamanic workshop at Esalen Institute. It seems to resurface when I am at my most lost. Listen to Switchfoot’s “This is Your Life” and come up with your own.

It takes clarity, courage and commitment to live your life through the lens of death. Pay attention. Start with your thinking. Take small, doable steps. Reap the rewards.

Back it up and leave this life as you intended.

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Give the healthcare gift that keeps on giving this Christmas: Concierge medicine

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Concierge medicine is on the rise. The number of concierge practices has risen each year by about 3 to 6%. Patients who can afford the fees associated with this practice model benefit from more access to their physician and additional opportunities to focus on preventative health.

If you or a loved one is looking for a doctor that acts more like a “health coach” with a medical degree, then concierge medicine is a terrific Christmas gift this year.

What is Concierge Medicine?

Concierge medicine is a practice model wherein patients pay an annual fee for additional preventative health services not covered by insurance. Concierge practices still accept insurance, and you can expect your concierge physician to do what your primary care doctor does with a few additional perks.

The Benefits of Concierge Medicine

As a patient of a concierge practice, you will typically enjoy:

A long-term relationship with your physician

Concierge physicians have fewer patients, so they will spend more time with you. They get to know you and your healthcare needs. Concierge physicians only treat about six to 10 patients per day — substantially fewer patients than your typical primary care doctor.

Minimal wait time

You can forget about waiting 30 minutes in your doctor’s waiting room. Concierge practices get you in right away. One-third of concierge practices report no waiting time. Others report a wait time of fewer than 5 minutes.

Better service

Reports indicate most patients expect a terrible experience at their doctor’s office, a disengaged physician, and disputes over what their insurance will cover.

Concierge medicine is more customer service-oriented. Patients feel “invited” to engage at concierge practices and enjoy better service.

Longer appointments

Appointments generally last 30 minutes to an hour and are more comprehensive. This particular benefit means less gets missed. Your doctor knows you — and your health goals.

Coordination of care

Concierge doctors help coordinate care with other physicians. If you have surgery, it’s not uncommon for your concierge doctor to personally check on you.

Access to your physician

Concierge doctors are generally available by text and email.

Better preventative services

concierge medicine attracts people interested in disease prevention. Longer appointment times, better patient-physician relationships, and a focus on your health goals help keep significant problems at bay. Also, your annual fee for concierge medicine covers more extensive preventative health tests — ones your insurance won’t cover.

Is there a Downside to Concierge Medicine?

The biggest downside to concierge medicine is the annual fee. Practices will usually charge between $1,000 and $2,000 per person per year.

However, after experiencing concierge medicine, many patients say that the annual fee is worth the cost. Concierge practices generally have fewer missed appointments and less turnover.

An Unusual Gift, But a Very Good One

If you know someone who has expressed frustration with their doctor, concierge medicine may be the perfect gift. Not only is it unique and unusual, but it’s thoughtful, useful, and extremely generous.

Concierge medicine is also an excellent gift for aging parents who may have several medications and conditions to manage. And, if you’re worried that your loved one won’t continue the service next winter, you can always pay their annual fee again at Christmas time.

Gifting Concierge Medicine

To gift concierge medicine, research the concierge practices in your area. Call a few to schedule a meet and greet with the doctor.

When you’ve found a doctor you like, then you can pay the annual fee. However, because medicine is personal, it’s best to involve your loved ones in this process.

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Survey: Healthcare communication is stuck in the past

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Healthcare communication issues are a thing of the present, not the past. Communication remains fragmented, with many healthcare organizations remaining reliant on landline phones, fax machines, and pagers. Furthermore, the adoption of modern communication technology is often happening in silos.

These findings are from technology company TigerConnect in its annual State of Healthcare Communications report, a survey of healthcare leaders and patients detailing the pervasive challenges in healthcare communications.

The research is an effort by the vendor to “better understand the state of healthcare communication today and how technology solutions can foster better communication and collaboration in healthcare.”

The survey found 90% of healthcare organizations still use fax machines, and 39% still use pagers. Another 40% of health professionals say that it’s challenging to communicate with care team members, which creates bottlenecks for patients moving through the healthcare system.

The majority of healthcare organizations — 52% — experience communication disconnects impacting patients daily or multiple times a week. Clinical staff members were nearly three times more likely than nonclinical staff to say communication disconnects impact patients daily.

“Adoption of modern communication solutions has occurred in every other industry but healthcare,” Brad Brooks, chief executive officer and co-founder of TigerConnect, said in a statement. “Even though quality healthcare is vital to the well-being of a society, the shocking lack of communication innovation comes at a steep price — resulting in delays, increased operational costs, preventable medical errors, and can even lead to death.”

Survey findings suggest that healthcare technology remains legacy, fragmented, and non-mobile based. Additionally, communication is fragmented as groups across the health system all using different tools to communicate. Landlines are still used, and landline communication is the top choice of communication when secure messaging is not available — used 29% of the time.

The impacts of these modes of communication can impact care coordination, TigerConnect says, with 39% of healthcare professionals saying it’s complicated or challenging to communicate with one or more groups of care team members. The most problematic causes of delay in moving patients through the system include delayed discharge (50%), followed by consult delays (40%), and emergency department wait times (38%).

Non-synergistic communication means nonclinical staff are 68% less likely to say communication disconnects impact patients daily. Likewise, nonclinical staff members underestimate the impact communication disconnects have on throughput. Clinical respondents selected 3.2 out of five possible bottlenecks, while nonclinical respondents limited their concerns to 2.4 out of five on average.

For the study, TigerConnect conducted an online survey from July 15-31, 2019, with nearly 200 respondents who work in the healthcare industry. Healthcare employees were surveyed from a wide range of roles, including 28% clinical workers (nurses/doctors/ancillary providers), 22% C-level participants, 19% IT professionals, 18% administrative staff, 11% operations, and 2% other.

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What is the future of leadership?

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If everything rises and falls on leadership, are we in good hands, or should we be concerned? While technology is moving at the speed of light and leveling everything in its path, leaders often seem hesitant to change their rather archaic traditions and beliefs. This is causing some uneasiness among employees and other stakeholders.

So, what is the future of leadership, and how can leaders be effective and successful in this brave new world?

The big shift

“The future of leadership is a new mindset, skillset, and toolset for how leaders respond when the future arrives faster than ever before,” says Terence Mauri, who is ranked as one of the top 30 management thinkers in the world by Thinkers50. Mauri is also Entrepreneur Mentor in Residence at London Business School, and author of “The Leader’s Mindset: How to Win in the Age of Disruption.”

We know that AI, nanotech and biotech will transform every facet of daily life. But Mauri says it will also shape the future of work, leadership, and success. “It will change how we gauge the true potential of human intelligence in the 21st century.”

“A recent survey by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology estimated that there was a 50% chance that AI would be better at everything than humans by 2062.” However, while technology and change are accelerating exponentially, he says leadership is changing at a snail’s pace.

“Our mindsets and the way we lead others are still trapped in the 20th and even 19th century,” Mauri says. The problem isn’t a lack of strategies and ideas. “Most organizations aren’t changing fast enough because their cultures, operating systems and processes are frozen in time.”

Command and control are dead

While controlling leadership styles may have worked in the past, leaders won’t find this approach effective in today’s workplace. “Many teams are being overmanaged and underled because of a lack of trust,” Mauri says. “Today, 1 in 5 people would trust a stranger more than their own boss, and according to Edelman’s Annual Trust Index, 58% of people do not trust businesses to do the right thing.”

Obviously, this trend can’t continue if companies expect to be successful. “The best leaders build a ‘leaders developing leaders’ culture where the leadership style is inspire and empower, not command and control,” Mauri explains.

If you want to win in the 2020s, you need to get the best ROI from your talent. “However, it’s not return on investment, but return on intelligence — and you can’t achieve that outcome unless your team trusts you.”

Leaders lead themselves

In addition to establishing a culture of trust, leaders need to lead by example. “My research shows that most people want a cause, a community and a career,” Mauri says.

They’re looking for someone who can model what they seek, which requires leaders to lead themselves. But what does that mean?

“To be a leader of yourself means that you want to activate purpose in your personal and professional life,” Mauri says. “Purpose is the source code for meaning and impact.” He says you need to take control of your destiny, have a vision, and understand that the best way to learn is by doing.

That’s a philosophy shared by Mark Sanborn, leadership expert and author of “The Potential Principle.” He believes that experiences can always make leaders better — if they learn from those experiences.

“Like all of us, you dream of what you want to accomplish in life, who you want to become.” However, Sanborn says the best leaders are driven by the question: how do I reach my full potential?

Part of the answer usually involves helping others reach their full potential. Even if you’re the best of the best in your field, he says there is always room to learn and grow. “How can you bridge the gap between who you are and what you’re truly capable of?”

He says leaders should always be grateful for what they have, what they’ve accomplished, and who they’ve become. “But we should be just as grateful that we get another day to pursue our potential and find out how much better we could be.”

Mistakes are just practices sessions

As you seek to innovate your company or team, Mauri says it’s impossible to innovate without scaling a culture of intelligent failure. Failure is often seen as a badge of shame. “However, the best leaders understand that the only way to build a team of courageous thinkers and doers is to embrace mistakes.”

In fact, Mauri says “fail” is an acronym for “from action I learn.” But how safe is it to fail in your organization? “The new norm is operating in uncertain environments, so stop worrying about the rate of failure because you can afford a lot of failures if they’re cheap.”

He recommends these three simple rules to ensure you’re failing intelligently:

Know what success does and doesn’t look like. “I’m always surprised at the lack of a clear outcome; deciding what not to focus on can also limit the uncertainty.”

Convert assumptions into knowledge and learning. “This is a much smarter use of time than trying to prove how right you are.”

Codify and share what’s been learned. “This involves a process known as ‘After Action Reviews’ (AAR).” Mauri says it was pioneered by the military to ensure continuous learning and includes three questions:

  • What did you intend to happen?
  • What happened?
  • What are the lessons learned?

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Anti-inflammatory agents for major depression: Results of a pooled data analysis

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Major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. An estimated 17.3 million adults had at least one major depressive episode in 2017. The prevalence of major depressive episode was higher among adult females (8.7%) compared to males (5.3%). There was an 18% increase in depression cases between 2005 and 2015.

An estimated 65% of those with depression received combined care by a health professional and medication treatment. Treatment with medication alone was least common (6%). Approximately 35% of adults with major depressive episode did not receive treatment.

According to a pooled analysis, anti-inflammatories, such as aspirin/paracetamol, statins, and antibiotics can safely and effectively control or limit the symptoms of major depression. The effects of these agents are even stronger when added to standard antidepressant treatment.

Although it is thought that inflammation may contribute to the development of major depression, clinical trials have been inconclusive. The agents in this review included non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), omega-3 fatty acids, cytokine inhibitors, statins, steroids, antibiotics (minocyclines); modafinil (sleep disorder), and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), which is prescribed to loosen the excess phlegm of cystic fibrosis and COPD and also taken as an antioxidant supplement.

The researchers studied databases to find suitable studies published up to January 2019. They found 30 relevant randomized controlled trials, involving 1,610 people, which reported changes in depression scales.

The pooled data analysis from 26 studies suggested that anti-inflammatory agents were better than placebo and enhanced the effects of standard antidepressant treatment. These agents were 52% more effective in reducing symptom severity and 79% more effective in eliminating symptoms than placebo, as measured by an average fall in depression scales of 55.

NSAIDs, omega-3 fatty acids, statins, and minocyclines were the most effective at reducing major depressive symptoms compared with placebo. The effects were even greater when one or other of these agents was added to standard antidepressant treatment.

No major side effects were evident, although there were some gut symptoms among those taking statins and NACs. These trials were short term (4-12 weeks), so tracking side effects over a longer period was not possible, which is an important consideration. Still, the results of this systematic review suggest that anti-inflammatory agents play an antidepressant role in patients with major depressive disorder and are reasonably safe.

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