As an old-time print journalist, there are things I enjoy and things I'm less than thrilled about when writing for a digital newsletter like H&HN Daily. One of the things I relish is the ability to easily share research, news reports and commentary about health care that have been brought to my attention by readers and that in the print-only days would have required a major effort to disseminate widely. Lately, I've received several pieces relating to my periodic columns about the aging of America and about generational issues within hospitals. Here are five I found particularly worth sharing:
- After reading one of my pieces about conflicts between older and younger hospital staff, a reader sent me an article from the journal Nursing2011 in which the author, Patricia D. Chambers, R.N., describes the principle of "it" in overcoming generational conflict in the workplace. The article, "Tap the Unique Strengths of the Millennial Generation," explains how the "it" factor can ensure that younger nurses are made to feel comfortable in their new jobs and are less likely to run screaming for the exit.
- Kaiser Health News in August ran a fascinating profile of Aiken, S.C., titled "S.C. City's Aging Population Offers a Glimpse of the Future." The article points out that 21.9 percent of Aiken's population of 29,000 is 65 or older; giving it a head start in dealing with issues the rest of the country will face in the years ahead. The city has been proactive in trying to meet the needs of its senior citizens. A commission appointed to advise the mayor and City Council pinpointed nine focus areas, with transportation and health care at the top of the list. Local hospitals work hard to recruit physicians, a free service called Smart 911 displays critical medical information to emergency personnel when a call comes in from a participant's home, and GPS bracelets and anklets track dementia patients who wander. The article was written by Nick Pandolfo, a fellow with News21, a national initiative promoting innovative journalism at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
- American Medical News in August featured an article about the influx of young adults who have been added to insurance rolls under health reform but who have very little idea how the health system works. The article, "Here Comes the 20-somethings," looks at how physicians can reach and manage these new patients. One idea: Greenville Hospital System in South Carolina held a "speed-dating" event in which young adults interviewed one doctor for five minutes, then moved on to interview another and so on before deciding whose patient they'd like to be.
- Kaiser Health News on Aug. 17 ran a disheartening, if not downright scary, piece about a poll in which 66 percent of California voters over 40 said they could not afford to pay for more than three months in a nursing home, 42 percent said they couldn't afford a single month and 85 percent either don't have long-term care insurance or don't know whether they do or not. Forty-eight percent of respondents to the survey conducted for the SCAN Foundation and UCLA Center for Health Policy Research said their household income has declined in the past year and 50 percent said they had to take money out of savings to meet their expenses.
- At the risk of raising the ire of those folks who object to any comparison of American health care with other countries', I recommend an issue brief published in July by the Commonwealth Fund called "Care at the End of Life: What the U.S. Can Learn from England." In 2008, England adopted a 10-year End of Life Strategy that lays out 10 objectives and 6 steps for better meeting the needs and desires of dying patients. Among the goals: Helping physicians recognize when patients are entering a trajectory that may end in death, the use of "death at home" as a metric for measuring progress, improving the skills of caregivers through Web-based training, and developing a national improvement pathway.