HealthWise By Diana Hendel
October 8th, 2013 – Welcome to the first column of HealthWise. In each issue, members of our MemorialCare family at Long Beach Memorial, Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach and Community Hospital Long Beach will share what’s new, next and best in health care. We will cover news on health care reform’s challenges and changes; ways employers can create a healthier workforce; the latest medical treatments, techniques and technologies; real-time access to patient information via electronic medical records, and much more. Our goal is to arm you with information so together we can positively impact the health and wellness of the community.
One of the major transformations in health care just opened for business. Online marketplaces, better known as Health Insurance Exchanges, represent the biggest change in health care since the advent of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.
Millions of Americans started signing up on those Exchanges – many without health insurance, others previously unable to join a health plan due to pre-existing conditions and a number looking for more affordable care. They were joined by scores of small businesses with 50 or fewer employees seeking competitive rates on the Exchange.
As politicians and pundits continue to debate the merits of reform, everyone agrees on the need to ensure access to the best health care available. Study after study demonstrates that individuals and families with health insurance typically do not delay needed medical care until the condition may be more difficult to treat. Those insured are more likely to go to their doctor or urgent care when minor illness or injury occurs, rather than the ER.
We are so fortunate that the Greater Long Beach region is home to world-class physicians, nurses and health professionals. Many innovative, pioneering preventive, diagnostic, treatment and rehabilitative care were started by our own medical pioneers. Within Long Beach, there are great hospitals and health care agencies with the newest and best technologies and treatments that detect diseases earlier; provide an array of treatment modalities; and offer evidence-based medicine and superior clinical outcomes that result in improving, extending and enhancing lives for our communities.
When our hospitals see a need, we do our best to address it, often in cooperation with other health care organizations and community resources.
As employers, there is much you can do to improve the health of your workforce, their families and community. Partner with hospitals to learn more about the health care business and how to lower your benefits expenditures. Encourage the uninsured and underinsured to consider the Covered California (coveredca.com) Health Exchange. Offer programs and incentives that improve employee health and wellness like vending machines with healthy food and snacks. Give employees a pedometer and promote meal time walking programs and sessions that share advice and activities for health improvement and coaching to reach and maintain goals. Identify employee advocates who can motivate others to follow their lead and offer testimonials. Whenever possible, engage the employee’s family (who are typically included in the health coverage) to extend healthy habits at home. And partner with every community health resource available – from the local public health department and hospital to organizations like the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society and American Lung Association.
We have so much to celebrate about the past and the future. Like everyone, we dream of a healthier community where we will share in the celebration of controlling and curing disease and a longer, healthier, more fulfilling life for all. Each new day is a rebirth of the spirit of our founders and the thousands who have made our hospitals among the best anywhere.
Our promise of the future is a simple one – to provide the best care for all entrusting their lives to us, today and for many centuries to come.
The prospects of improving health have never been so bright. Together we will keep the light bright on the path to optimal health.
(Diana Hendel, PharmD., is the CEO of Long Beach Memorial, Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach and Community Hospital Long Beach.)