Services in Healthcare

Origin of the Word
The word ‘ancillary’ comes from the Latin word, ancilla, that means maidservant.
Many doctors do not offer diagnostic tests or procedures in their clinics. They refer their patients to a facility where professionals skilled in the respective field conduct these tests or procedures, the results of which are provided to the doctors. The services that these facilities provide are called ancillary services. They are supplemental healthcare services provided by professionals other than doctors and surgeons. These service providers are an important part of the healthcare sector.

The different types of ancillary services include diagnostic, therapeutic, and custodial. Ancillary services can be provided in a medical office, an ambulatory service center, a freestanding diagnostic center, or a hospital. In a hospital, ancillary services can be provided in its different departments. These services can be provided in a private office outside the hospital if the professional has all the equipment and machines available. Ancillary services can also be provided in a freestanding facility like a laboratory or therapy clinic. The in-office ancillary services have led to faster diagnosis and treatment of patients, helped improve skillfulness in healthcare, and urged patients to act in accordance with their healthcare provider’s treatment recommendations.

There are rules for ancillary service providers in many places. They cover the skilled personnel performing the service, the equipment which is used, and the services that are required. Ancillary service providers are bound by the same rules and regulations as the primary providers. They must be able to maintain a satisfactory service performance according to the ARRA of 2009 or face severe punishments for the same. Described below are the various types of ancillary services in healthcare.
Diagnostic Services
Diagnostic ancillary services bring about timely, cost-efficient, and high-quality care. These services include x-ray services, ultrasounds, Doppler testing, clinical lab services, audiology, vision repair solutions, chiropractic services, dental services, radiology, radiation oncology, pulmonary testing services, and others.

A diagnostic service can be carried out only when the doctor has told the patient that he or she needs a specific test to be done. It is provided to help a physician know about a patient’s medical condition or health.

Diagnostic services are also useful when the patient is following up with the provider regularly for the particular medical condition to know how the treatment is going, based on the reports of the previous visits. For example, if a diabetic patient is making a follow-up visit, he will know how the medicines are working, based on the previous reports.
Therapeutic Services
Under the therapeutic ancillary services, services such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, psychotherapy, cardiac rehabilitation services, transportation services, cosmetic services, nutrition education, and others are included.

A speech therapy is given to a patient with communication and swallowing disorders. The therapy improves the patient’s understanding and expression of language. The services provided by the therapist must be suggested by a physician and agreed by the insurance company.

Occupational therapy is a treatment given to develop, maintain, and normalize the daily activities of an individual. These therapists develop a plan of treatment to improve independence in everyday activities. They may recommend special equipment that would help the patient gain independence. Occupational therapists usually function with experts in physical therapy, speech therapy, nursing, social work, and the community. These therapists start with the treatment after referring a physician and making sure that the insurance company has accepted it.

Professionals involved in physical therapy help improve mobility and treat injuries of patients. Injuries may include those of the knee, shoulder, or back. A physician has to suggest physical therapy to the patient and the insurance must agree with the service.

Psychotherapists are professionals who identify and resolve troubled thoughts, feelings, and behavior concerns of a patient to improve his well-being, and so that the patient can function well. This therapy is used to treat depression, anxiety, phobias, and abuse.

Cardiac rehabilitation services or cardiac rehab programs are those which help patients to recover from heart attacks, heart surgery, and others. These programs provide education and counseling services to improve the physical fitness of patients and reduce the risk of heart problems. They can be given only when a cardiologist tells a patient that he needs a session on cardiac rehabilitation and when the insurance company agrees with the service.

Cosmetic services involve surgeries which change the appearance of a person. They include facials, botox treatments, skin care advice, and others.

Transportation services are provided by hospitals to carry the patient from one hospital to another. They may also provide patients with transportation to their home or elsewhere.

In a hospital, a dietary assistant provides a menu to each patient from which one can select meals. Dietary education is given to people so that they receive proper nutrition. These assistants work with the medical staff to make sure that the patient’s nutritional needs are met on a daily basis, depending on his or her medical condition.
Custodial Services
Custodial services involve the care and support to a patient who is unable to perform daily work without external help. This non-medical care helps the patient to carry out activities such as bathing, eating, dressing, and others.

Custodial ancillary services focus on living accommodations, home health, or nursing home care.

Nursing homes that provide custodial care are also an example of ancillary services. Custodial care providers do not need specialized training.
Growth in the Sector
Ancillary services are growing very fast because they are cost-effective and the providers are delivering high-quality services. Moreover, they are a crucial part of healthcare. These services can be provided at a lower cost and they let the doctors access the information they require to diagnose and treat a patient’s health condition. Using ancillary services to provide more help to patients is a growing trend among physicians. According to Medscape’s 2013 Physician Compensation Report, physicians are thinking of ways to create greater revenue by introducing ancillary services to organizations.
The ancillary service sector is one of the fastest developing sectors of healthcare. It is a very important segment of the healthcare delivery system. With the expensive treatment procedures and medicine costs on the rise, ancillary service providers are a cost-saving alternative to outpatient hospital and physician services.

Pros and Cons of Health Care Reform

Good health care facilities are a necessity for every citizen, irrespective of his financial position and social status. In fact, it is a right of every person to get affordable health care facilities to live a healthy life. However, over the years, the cost of health care has gone up considerably making it very difficult for people with low incomes to get sufficient health insurance coverage. The governments across the world too have to face innumerable challenges to provide cheap health care to an ever rising population. The advantages and disadvantages of health care reform have been a matter of great debate. Though many people have appreciated the reforms made by passing the health care bill, there are some critics pointing out to the negatives of the bill.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The number of United States citizens who do not have a health insurance has grown fast over the years. The high prices of premiums quoted by insurance companies is considered to be a major reason for this problem. However, the new health care reforms promise to make health insurance cover available to around ninety-five percent people who are legally staying in the United States of America. Another advantage is that the insurance companies would not be able to deny the payment of medical bills to a person who is unwell and has also lost his job.

The health care reforms have been termed as a positive step by many knowledgeable people, as they would help in reducing the costs of medicines in the coming days. The provisions in the health care bill can intensify the competition between the health insurance providers in the United States market and this can ultimately benefit the consumers, as the companies might consider reducing costs of their services and relax the terms and conditions to be eligible for payment. This health care bill is also useful for the young adults, who will get the benefit of health care facilities through their parents’ health insurance, till they become twenty-seven years old.

However, according to some experts, there are certain problems associated with the health care bill. The main issue is that the government would require to raise a huge amount of money to provide modern facilities to people. The possibility of raising this money by increasing the taxes on businesses and high income families is much more than most other means. There might be an increase in the excise tax for several businesses. Some other experts believe that spending such huge amounts can put a strain on the economy of a country. The citizens who do not wish to have a health insurance policy, might have to pay two percent more taxes than the others who opt for them.

After thinking rationally and studying the entire situation with the help of facts, we conclude that health care reforms would actually prove to be very useful in improving the quality of life. Explaining the advantages and disadvantages to the common public is essential to educate them about insurance. Health care reform facts of underdeveloped countries suggest that still there is much to be done in this field for the benefit of common people. So, it is time that we realize the importance of good health care facilities and take steps in the right direction for a healthy future.

Importance of Computers in the Health Sector

300-79084610-serious-scientistWe are living in a modern, technologically advanced world. The computer age has led to fast globalization and fast access to information and technology. Computers have become an important household item and an invariable part of education, business, profession and service industry. Computerization promotes fast growth, fewer mistakes and better service in each and every field of life.

Role of Computers in the Health Sector

Availability of Information
Internet provides information on everything. New discoveries regarding operative procedures, medicines, study reports, are available on the Internet. You can easily order medicines from any part of the world. You can send medical reports via e-mail and get suggestions immediately from a doctor who is far away from you. Direct, live telecast of operation from a remote corner of the world can be watched in any part of the world. Web conferences help doctors to learn techniques without wasting time in traveling. Lives of critically ill patients can be saved, as time is saved.

Database Management
Importance of computer in hospitality industry is well-known. Booking of hotels, booking of tickets, stock management, is done with the help of computers. Computers have revolutionized the health care industry as well. Database management at clinics and hospitals has become an easy job with the arrival of computers. Computers help to keep track of all the patient’s medical history, stock of medicines, purchases and sales, staff information, everything. The required information is available at the click of a button. Storing medical reports of millions of patients is easier with computers. Storage of data in computers is an eco-friendly way of storing information. Various sites inform about the people who regularly donate blood. Blood of any blood group is thus available within a few minutes with the help of the Internet.

Advanced Technology
Computers provide the base for the technological advancements that are seen in every field. The field of medicine has also benefited from computers. These days, specially designed software and automated machines are used to treat various diseases and disorders. Diagnostic tools like MRI, CT scans, ultrasound tests, radiation technology, require computers. New computerized technologies used during operations (for example, laparoscopic surgeries, use of micro-cameras, laser surgeries, machine cuts, have resulted in very short stays in hospitals post surgery and fast recovery as well. With improved and fast diagnosis, chances of recovery have also significantly increased. Micro-cameras help carry out delicate procedures without much loss of blood. Importance of computers in health care is explained by their use in infertility treatments, DNA research, cancer treatment (radiation), treatment of premature infants, detection of defects in the fetus in the womb, etc. The ICUs in hospitals are equipped with computerized machines which monitor the health of critically ill patients.

Medical Imaging
Significance of computer technology in the health sector is actually unquestionable when it comes to medical imaging. The technology and the instruments have helped save lives of millions of people. Various types of techniques help create images of the human body, or body parts, for medical purposes. The modern methods of scanning and imaging like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasonography, mammography, 3-D images are based on advanced computer technology. Storing these images is also easy because of computers. Computerized machines and infrared cameras help get sharp, fine and perfect images.

Computers can inform about the changes taking place inside the human body without a cut in the skin. For example, bone scan, prenatal ultrasound imaging, blood glucose monitors, endoscopy, blood pressure monitors, etc. Computers have brought more precision in medical examinations and diagnosis. Use of computers in the health sector promotes faster detection of cause of the disease, and early but correct diagnosis. Medical alerts help prevent diseases and disorders. All this has resulted in increased life expectancy of patients.

Diversity in Healthcare

Before discussing the relevance and ways of dealing with cultural diversity in healthcare, let’s understand what exactly culture is. In layman’s language, culture can be defined as a set of beliefs, values, behavior, languages, and customs that are common to and followed by people of a particular group, race, or country. Cultural diversity, thus, is these very things that differentiate people belonging to two different groups.

The main job of any healthcare provider is to ensure that the patient trusts him, is open to discussing his problems with him, and takes the treatment suggested by him. This will happen when the patient feels comfortable with the healthcare provider. If the patient belongs to some other culture, the only way a healthcare provider can make him comfortable is by taking into consideration the social and cultural differences between the two, during their interactions.

Managing Cultural Diversity in Healthcare

Today, in USA, there are people from Asian countries, African descents, Muslim countries, etc., living together. They are part and parcel of the diverse American society. All of them have their own ways of living, beliefs, values, etc. So, when a doctor deals with them, prior knowledge of their beliefs and culture will help him provide a better care for these patients. If the healthcare provider is equipped with knowledge of their culture, it will certainly improve his communication with the patient as well as the family. The patient too, on his part, will be able to trust such a healthcare provider, and is much more likely to continue with the treatment.

Let’s take the example of Islamic culture, and see what kind of issues can arise when a doctor is dealing with patients who practice Islam. In this culture, women should not be touched by a man who is not an immediate family member. So, if a doctor knows this, it would help him while dealing with Muslim women patients. Another practice is that people of this culture do not eat pork. As certain medicines such as insulin have pork ingredients in them, a doctor can face legal issues if he prescribes them to a practicing Muslim. However, if the doctor already has some idea of the Muslim culture, he can inform the patient about the medicine ingredients before prescribing it to him, thus avoiding such as an eventuality.

Let’s take another example, this time of the Chinese, to bring forth the relevance of cultural diversity. According to traditional Chinese medicine, a balance of ‘yin’ and ‘yang’ is extremely important to maintain one’s health. Yin represents all things that are passive and cold, while yang represents activity and heat. Both these should be in balance if the ‘Qi’ or energy of the body is to be maintained to ward off illnesses. According to the Chinese, medication too can have a cold or hot effect on the body. So, when a doctor prescribes a certain medicine to them, the Chinese may not take complete medication to ‘balance’ out the yin and yang in the body. They may do this without informing their physician, and it can deteriorate their health condition. So, if a doctor is aware of the Chinese beliefs, he would be in a better position to explain to them the importance of taking the full medication as prescribed by him.

Cultural Diversity Training

As can be gauged from the above examples, cultural diversity training is of utmost importance in today’s diverse society, to get rid of all kinds of barriers to healthcare. A trained doctor is more open to the cultural differences between him and the patient. He does not try to force his treatments on them, rather, he works with them to create solutions. He is more sensitive to the needs of his patients, and does not make any kind of assumptions about them on the basis of their ethnicity or race or cultural beliefs. A trained doctor is already aware of the kind of perceptions the patients might have about his treatment, and tries to explain his viewpoint in the most logical and sensitive manner to the patient and his family. When a doctor is culturally sensitive, the patient on his part, falls in line, and is more likely to agree to his treatment.

As can be seen, understanding cultural diversity in healthcare dispels many misunderstandings and conflicts that can arise between the physician and the patient, thus, leading to reduced legal disputes and better treatment. With the doctor understanding the needs of the patients, and the patients following the treatment and getting well, knowledge of cultural diversity is a win-win situation for everybody.