Data Mining for Solutions

How hospitals like the Cleveland Clinic are using data to improve patient satisfaction

Data mining for solutions to patient satisfaction

Hospitals and health care organizations are using data to help boost patient satisfaction scores. (Photo: U.S. News & World Report)

Big data is a growing trend in modern health care, and hospitals and other medical facilities alike are starting to figure out how to apply this data to help improve from the inside out. Principles like patient satisfaction, patient communication and employee satisfaction are a top priority, and now health groups from across the country are finding out that data can be used to focus in on these priorities.

The Cleveland Clinic is one hospital that’s finding out how to use data mining to fix key issues within their facility. In 2009, Dr. James Merlino took over as chief patient experience officer. At that time, the Clinic’s patient satisfaction scores had leveled off, and even declined in some cases, and Merlino had a situation that needed to be addressed. He found that analytics helped identify three areas where patients felt most dissatisfied: respect, communications among Cleveland Clinic staff and the happiness of employees.

From there, Merlino came up with a plan to get all of his employees on the right track. Better communication and accountability was critical, but data and analytics were the tools used to solve the problem.

“You have to give physicians data across the care continuum to drive real behavior change,” Merlino added.

Today, patients at the Cleveland Clinic are noticing the difference. Patient satisfaction is up in a big way, with 82 percent of patients giving high ratings to the facility, while 86 percent said they would recommend the Clinic to friends and family. This is an increase from when Merlino first arrived; in 2009 the same criteria came in at 66 percent and 76 percent, respectively.

Big data on a small scale

The trend isn’t exclusive to large health care organizations like the Cleveland Clinic. Beaufort Memorial Hospital in Beaufort, South Carolina is a 197-bed facility that sees 55,000 emergency room visits a year, on top of 200,000 outpatient visits and 10,000 inpatient admissions. The hospital often found that it didn’t have enough beds to keep up with demand, and this was an issue that Edward Ricks, CIO and vice president of information services, wanted to zero in on.

Ricks found that the hospital could save roughly $435,000 a year just by moving patient discharges up by half a day. Earlier discharges meant that new patients could be assigned a room more quickly, which could increase capacity while also allowing the potential for higher revenues from more patients. After applying data and analytics to track patient flow, Beaufort physicians began writing 50 percent of discharge orders to release patients by noon. Management was soon able to up that goal to 9 a.m. with great success. Now, the hospital is using the same technology to improve daily planning for things like prescriptions, wheelchair transportation and room cleaning.

“Our primary objective is reducing length of stay,” said Ricks.

For more information on how hospitals are using data mining for improvement, click here: Cleveland Clinic, Other Health Groups Use Data to Boost Patient Satisfaction.

Since 1981, Havel’s has offered premium quality ultrasound needles and procedure needles for anesthesia, pain control, radiology and biopsy, as well as sutures and surgical scalpel blades, for doctors, hospitals, veterinarians, dentists, dermatologists and other leading medical professionals. To learn more about Havel’s selection of procedure needles, sutures and surgical scalpel blades, please click here: Havel’s Procedure Needles, Sutures and Surgical Scalpel Blades.


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Radiology and Your Hospital: Rethink and Regroup

Ohio hospital strikes innovative new partnership with outside imaging practice

radiology MRI scan

Aultman Hospital in Canton, Ohio has formed a unique partnership with Radiology Associates of Canton with a focus on both patient and physician satisfaction. (Photo: Bigstock)

Patient care and satisfaction is a top priority for many hospitals and healthcare networks across the country, and many facilities are trying new approaches to keep their patients, and physicians, happy.

Aultman Hospital in Canton, Ohio is doing just that. Three years ago the nonprofit hospital faced challenges typical to anyone working in modern-day healthcare — financial pressure, increased competition — and when it came time to renew the contract the hospital had with an outside radiology practice, Aultman’s CEO Christopher Remark decided it was time for a new approach.

For years, the relationship between Aultman Hospital and Radiology Associates of Canton was all too common. Separated, uncommunicative and lacking in transparency, the time for change was obvious. The two parties worked together to develop a shared vision with the best interests of the hospital and practice in mind.

“When you summed it all up, it didn’t look really good, from our standpoint, from an imaging standpoint,” said Remark. “We really felt that we had an opportunity to do something different because it was right in the heat of [health care reform].”

A new focus

The end result was a shift in focus for Aultman and Radiology Associates, set around incentives tied to quality, patient satisfaction and most importantly, efficiency. Volume and money took a backseat, and the new goals included growing their outpatient market share, instituting patient-centered imaging services and preparing for new payment models for patients.

The first year of the new agreement was 2013, and it was a major success. One of the biggest successes was dropping the turnaround rate for an MRI brain observation report from 24 hours to two. Employee and physician satisfaction is up for both, which then leads to stronger patient care and better outcomes for all.

“This is the beauty of co-management because we were talking strategically, and as a hospital we were behind in these areas,” said Remark. “It was neat to forge a relationship between the cardiologists and radiologists to really make this happen.”

“This would not have happened without a visionary CEO of the hospital like Remark,” said Syed Furqan Zaidi, M.D. and CEO of Radiology Associates of Canton.

For more information on the new partnership, click here: The Radiologist’s Role in Shaking Up Your Hospital.

Since 1981, Havel’s has offered premium quality radiology needles and biopsy needles for radiologists, doctors, hospitals and other leading medical professionals. To see Havel’s selection of radiology and biopsy needles, please click here: Havel’s Radiology and Biopsy Needles.


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The Most Surprising Misconceptions of Dermatology

Four ways you’re misinformed abut the dermatology profession 

Tablet with the medical specialty Dermatology on the display

A new study reveals that the majority of Americans are misinformed about the dermatology profession. (Photo: Bigstock)

According to a recent survey, most people living in the U.S. have a misconception about dermatology and what dermatologists actually do. Not only do the results express a “lack of understanding of the day-to-day realities of dermatology,” but more importantly some are worried that the misconception could result in people not seeking out the proper care for skin diseases.

Here are the four most common misconceptions the general public has concerning dermatology:

  1. Dermatologists spend the majority of their time working on cosmetic procedures – The survey revealed that 27 percent of Americans think that dermatologists spend the majority of their time doing cosmetic procedures. In reality, about 10 percent of their work involves cosmetic procedures, while the remaining 90 percent is made up of surgery and managing medical conditions.
  2. Dermatologists only deal with medical conditions like acne, skin cancer and melanoma – Although skin cancer and melanoma are some of the most common diseases they diagnose, dermatologists treat over 3,000 different kinds of diseases.
  3. Dermatologists don’t see as many patients as other types of doctors – Dermatologists tend to work fewer hours than other specialties, but report seeing more patients.
  4. Dermatologists are overpaid for what they do – While dermatologists do tend to make more than the average primary care physician, they still earn less than other specialty fields like cardiologists and plastic surgeons.

To read more on the misconceptions of dermatology study, click here: Many Think of Dermatology as Superficial: Survey.

For more than 30 years, Havel’s has offered premium quality sutures and surgical scalpel blades to dermatologists and other medical professionals. To see Havel’s selection of sutures and surgical scalpel blades, please click here: Havel’s Sutures and Carbon Steel Surgical Scalpel Blades.

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3 Uses for Peripheral Nerve Blocks You Didn’t Even Know About

The common regional anesthetic procedure is finding more uses in non-surgical settings

Peripheral nerve blocks can be used in many non-surgical procedures

Peripheral nerve blocks are already used in a variety of surgical and post-op procedures, but the technique is beginning to find more use in non-surgical settings as well. (Photo: Bigstock)

Peripheral nerve blocks have proven to be a welcome relief for patients and physicians alike, with the ability to lessen the need for opioids as well as provide minimal complications during recovery. Now, anesthesia providers and pain management practitioners are starting to use nerve blocks in other non-surgical settings, including use in diagnosing and treating chronic conditions.

Here are three alternative uses for peripheral nerve blocks making the rounds in the medical community:

  1. Shingles - This disease causes a painful rash and can leave what’s called post-herpetic neuralgia, or a burning or aching sensation on the affected skin and nerves. Since the shingles rash and neuralgia often occur in the same area by the same particular neural pathway, patients have begun seeking relief through nerve blocks. Pain management practitioners suggest blocking the nerves early for the best results, saying it might even help to ease the outbreak’s symptoms.
  2. Phantom limb pain - Researchers have found that nerve blocks could be used to quiet phantom limb pain experienced by some patients. A team of Israeli and Albanian researchers concluded that intraforaminal epidural blocks “rapidly and reversibly extinguished” phantom pain, although more evidence may be needed to determine the overall rate of success.
  3. Headaches - Many patients suffering from a traumatic brain injury are probably familiar with headaches, and run the risk of developing them into a more serious chronic condition. But researchers in Canada have found that peripheral nerve blocks administered into the scalp are able to provide an immediate therapeutic effect not only in adult patients, but in pediatric patients as well. The results were published in the May 2014 issue of Headache.

For more information on alternative uses for peripheral nerve blocks, click here: Alternative Uses for Peripheral Nerve Blocks.

For over 30 years, Havel’s has offered premium quality anesthesia needles and pain control needles for anesthesiologists, doctors, hospitals and other medical professionals. To see Havel’s selection of anesthesia and pain control needles, please click here: Havel’s Anesthesia and Pain Control Needles.

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2015, and What the New Year Means for Dentistry

A look ahead at the most important issues facing the profession

Dental predictions for 2015

Predictions for the field of dentistry in 2015 include adapting to changing health care reforms and ensuring quality, affordable dental coverage for seniors. (Photo: Bigstock)

It’s time to look ahead in 2015 and see what issues are going to be the most important for dental professionals across the U.S. This year, two big issues should be on the radar of everyone in the field: changes due to the Affordable Care Act and aging baby boomers impacting the system as a whole.

Enter Bill Chase, vice president of marketing for :DentalPlans. The company is known for keeping up with the latest trends in dentistry, and with that, Chase has some interesting predictions for 2015.

For one, he says that the current changes in health care just aren’t enough.

“The Affordable Care Act does little to solve the dental crisis in America, especially for adults,” Chase said in an interview with DentistryIQ. “As baby boomers lose their employer-sponsored dental insurance and realize that Medicare doesn’t provide much in the way of dental coverage, there will be an increasing demand to address this issue.”

The hardest part may be trying to find the right balance between making dental coverage affordable without hurting the field altogether.

“As a nation, we need to sort out ways to provide affordable, quality dental care to everyone while still enabling oral health-care professionals to run profitable businesses. If we can’t do that, we’ll start seeing a big spike in dental tourism, and sadly we’ll also see many people sickened and worse for lack of access to affordable dental care.”

Another issue facing dentistry this year is the oral health of the aging baby boomer population. Chase mentions that about one in four Americans over the age of 65 has lost all of their natural teeth due to a lack of affordable coverage. In order to change these drastic figures, dental health needs to be at the forefront of the national health care conversation.

“Affordable preventive care would go a long way toward keeping seniors’ mouths healthy and smiling. We need to stop treating dental care as a luxury option and bring it into the mainstream health care system where it belongs.”

For more of Bill Chase’s 2015 dental predictions, click here: What Will 2015 Bring for Dental Professionals and Patients?

Since 1981, Havel’s has offered premium quality surgical scalpel blades, miniature blades and sutures to dentists, oral surgeons, periodontists, endodontists and other leading medical professionals. To see Havel’s selection of surgical scalpel blades and sutures, please click here: Havel’s Surgical Scalpel Blades, Miniature Blades and Sutures.

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Essentials of Peripheral Nerve Blocks

Advanced technology has made placing blocks safer, quicker and more efficient

Regional anesthesia nerve blocks work well with ultrasound guidance

Advances in ultrasound technology has allowed regional anesthesia techniques like peripheral nerve blocks to become more prominent for surgical pain control. (Photo: Bigstock)

Over the years, advances in ultrasound technology has allowed regional anesthesia to become a viable alternative for pain control and pain management. Procedures like peripheral nerve blocks are now a common option for many practitioners due to the effectiveness of ultrasound guidance. The switch to ultrasound-guided regional anesthesia techniques has transformed the field, giving new light to possibilities that were once thought out of reach.

Today, a well-trained anesthesiologist can use ultrasound to place peripheral nerve blocks with the kind of care and efficiency that couldn’t be achieved a decade ago. Ultrasound gives doctors a more complete visualization when placing blocks, giving practitioners the chance to see the needle as it moves along its path. It also lets them see different internal structures along the way, and avoid any further damage in the process. In the end, all of this leads to more successful blocks and better patient outcomes.

Ultrasound guidance is a breakthrough for regional anesthesia. In order to get the most out of ultrasound guidance, here are a few essentials you’ll need:

  1. Training – advanced training is crucial for any anesthesia providers new to ultrasound guidance. Ultrasound regional courses are available throughout the country, and most are often reasonably priced and not too long. The benefits certainly outweigh any extra time it may take for a course or two.
  2. A designated room – ultrasound-guided regional anesthesia is best performed in a designated area with easy access to all the necessary tools and supplies needed for the procedure. Things like adequate lighting and ample work space help make peripheral nerve block procedures even safer than they already are.
  3. Ultrasound machine – of course, what good is ultrasound guidance without the proper machine? A good ultrasound machine is key, and can run anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000. Depending on your preference, many new machines are easily portable and offer high quality images. The more bells and whistles you want, the higher the price may be. In the end, there are many factors to consider before purchasing the right ultrasound machine, and it’s always better to do research to find the perfect machine for your blocks.
  4. Needles – like a good ultrasound machine, placing a peripheral nerve block is impossible without the right nerve block needle. Today, there are a variety of needles to choose from, based on length, gauge, echogenicity, bevel and insulation qualities. With ultrasound, echogenicity is an important factor to consider, and most new needles tend to focus on their ability to enhance visualization under ultrasound.

To learn more about the essentials for peripheral nerve blocks, click here: Basics of Blocks.

Since 1981, Havel’s has offered premium quality anesthesia needles and pain control needles for anesthesiologists, pain management specialists, physicians, doctors, hospitals and other leading medical professionals. To see Havel’s selection of anesthesia and pain control needles, please click here: Havel’s Anesthesia and Pain Control Needles.

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The Economic Advantages of Regional Anesthesia

Peripheral nerve blocks, continuous local anesthetic infusions save time and money

Regional anesthesia is more effective for post-op pain management

Regional anesthesia techniques are being used more for post-op pain management due to the benefits they can provide to both patients and surgical facilities. (Photo:

For most modern-day anesthesia providers, the biggest reason to use regional anesthesia is because of the vast improvements the techniques can bring to a patient’s post-op experience. Improved patient outcomes can result in major efficiency gains, which means saving time and money for the patient and the facility. Overall, it’s a win-win for everyone.

Regional anesthesia’s post-op analgesic effects are known to dramatically lower pain scores in patients, which then leads to a decline in the use of opioids. Opioid use for post-op pain can increase the risk of grogginess, nausea, vomiting and delirium in patients, some of which are the main causes for prolonged stays in a hospital or surgical facility. More time means higher costs for both patients and insurers. By decreasing the need for opioids and using regional anesthesia, patients recover quicker and are discharged much sooner.

“For an outpatient facility, any technique that avoids the use of opioids is advantageous,” said Mark E. Hudson, MD, MBA, associate professor of anesthesia at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

“Under regional, within minutes after surgery they’re having 7-Up and crackers,” added David Rosen, MD, president of Midwest Anesthesia Partners of Naperville, Illinois. “In 20 to 25 minutes they’re dressed. In 30 minutes, they’re in a wheelchair, heading for the car.”

Fast-track to success

It’s no secret that fast-tracking surgical recovery times can be financially rewarding, as long as the techniques are seen as beneficial to a particular patient. Since regional anesthesia has already proven to be just as effective, if not more, for post-op pain management, it’s no wonder facilities are beginning to see the benefits these techniques can provide for them as well.

Although there isn’t a big difference between the cost of drugs used for general anesthesia and the ones used in regional anesthesia, others resources still play a pivotal role in the discussion.

“Anything that reduces the time the patient spends in the facility is going to save the facility dollars,” said Dr. Hudson.

“When people are out in under an hour, as opposed to 2-plus hours, you’re saving a lot of money on your personal costs,” added Dr. Rosen.

For more information on the economic advantages of regional anesthesia, including what you’ll need in order to take full advantage of these techniques, click here: Regional Anesthesia’s Economic Advantages.

For over 30 years, Havel’s has offered premium quality anesthesia needles and pain control needles for anesthesiologists, pain management specialists, physicians, doctors, hospitals and other leading medical professionals. To see Havel’s selection of anesthesia and pain control needles, please click here: Havel’s Anesthesia and Pain Control Needles.


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Money, It’s a Gas: The High Cost of Being a Veterinarian

Rising student loan debt could be plaguing the profession

Veterinarian student loan debt is at an all-time high

Many young veterinarian school graduates are facing an increasing amount of student loan debt.

This year, nearly 4,000 college students completed their veterinary education and started their journey into the profession, which is up from 2,500 in 2010. While this is certainly good news for the veterinary field, a panel at the most recent American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) annual convention titled “Veterinary Oversupply: Issues and Ethics” looked at a number of harsh realities facing the profession, namely, the high cost of student loan debt.

Veterinary students emerging from college can expect upwards of around $150,000 in debt, while only earning a median income of roughly $65,000 in their first year of work. This puts their debt-to-income ratio at 2.4, and when compared to other professions like physicians (1), dentists (1.7) and attorneys (1.7), the problem looks a little clearer, and a lot scarier.

This trend is nothing new. In fact, the last 15 years have shown a disproportionate increase in veterinary student loan compared to an increase in salary. Many veterinary school graduates think pursuing an internship and/or residency program will help in the long run, with the hope of better pay to compensate for the amount of debt accumulated over the years. However, data suggests accumulating interest over a period of time with minimal income doesn’t necessarily help, financially speaking.

So what’s needed to solve the problem? There are a lot of theories, which range from freezing tuition rates to reducing the time it takes to receive a veterinary degree. Above all else, educating the next generation of veterinary students about the realities of student loan debt could help from letting the issue go from bad … to much worse.

To read more about this issue, click here: The Rising Cost of Becoming a Veterinarian.

For over 30 years, Havel’s has offered premium quality veterinary sutures, suture needles and surgical scalpel blades for veterinarians, doctors and other leading medical professionals. To see Havel’s selection of sutures, suture needles and surgical scalpel blades, please click here: Havel’s Veterinary Sutures, Suture Needles and Surgical Scalpel Blades.

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Best Hospitals 2014-15: Honor Roll

16 out of 17 top hospitals rely on Havel’s


U.S. News & World Report released their annual rankings of the nation’s best hospitals.

U.S. News & World Report released their annual power rankings of the nation’s best hospitals. The study covers nearly 5,000 medical centers and spans 16 medical specialties, ranging from cancer to neurology. The hospitals with high scores in at least six specialties received a spot on the Honor Roll, with only 17 hospitals making this year’s top honor. For the first time, Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota took the No. 1 spot on the Honor Roll, followed by Massachusetts General Hospital and Johns Hopkins Hospital at No. 2 and No. 3.

U.S. News also ranked more than 600 different hospitals by state, region and metro area, for people who are unable to travel great distances for care. The best regional hospitals were evaluated using the same standards as the national rankings. U.S. News also published a ranking of the best children’s hospitals in the country, which was released in June.

Out of the 17 hospitals that made the Honor Roll list, 16 of them use Havel’s medical products. These include some of our most popular products, from the EchoStim, EchoBlock and EchoTuohy line of specialty needles to our stainless steel and carbon steel surgical blades and autopsy blades. Havel’s is proud to be serving some of the nation’s best hospitals and medical centers, and will continue to uphold our standards of quality, functionality and care in each and every one of our products.

To see the full list of hospitals and read more in-depth content on the rankings, click here.

Since 1981, Havel’s has offered premium quality specialty needles and surgical blades to doctors, hospitals, veterinarians and other leading medical professionals. To see Havel’s selection of specialty needles and surgical blades, please click here: Havel’s Specialty Needles and Surgical Blades.


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Neck Pain? Try More Than One Option, Together

“Combination therapy” could be the best answer for long-term relief

best treatment for neck pain is combination therapy

The secret to long-term relief for neck pain could be found in “combination therapy,” according to new research from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

A study based on 169 men and women with common neck pain recommends not one but two different forms of treatment used together as the best option for overall relief, according to a group of pain specialists at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Researchers found that a combination of spinal steroid injections and conservative treatment with physical therapy and painkillers could provide the best relief for neck pain over a long period of time. Both steroid injections and conservative treatment work equally well as stand-alone treatments in the short run, but for the best long-term results, a combination of injections, physical therapy and painkillers worked surprisingly well together.

It is unknown why the combination therapy performed better over stand-alone options, and additional studies are needed to determine the exact reason for success. One possibility is that the steroid injections and pain drugs leveraged the effects of each other, while another possibility could be that all the components working together actually complemented one another.

To learn more about the new study, click here: Study Finds Best Way to Treat Neck Pain.

Since 1981, Havel’s has offered premium quality procedure needles for anesthesia and pain control for doctors, hospitals and other leading medical professionals. To see Havel’s selection of anesthesia and pain control needles, please click here: Havel’s Anesthesia and Pain Control Needles.

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