While politicians and pundits continue to debate the future of health care reform, there is progress. Extending health coverage to age 26 for many young people and eliminating barriers for pre-existing conditions are beginning to show positive effects. Many employers adding or enhancing their wellness activities are lessening the increase in benefit costs.

Smart Business learned more from Barry Arbuckle, Ph.D., the president and CEO of MemorialCare Health System, about how businesses can implement changes to have a real effect on health care costs.

Are prevention and wellness good investments?

The work force is as critical to your bottom line as the quality of products and services. Costs of workers at high risk for chronic conditions are three times that of healthy employees. Healthier lifestyle programs in the state could save $1.7 billion annually, according to California Endowment. Research shows that two-thirds of the nation’s work force is overweight, and each overweight employee costs businesses an additional $500 to $2,500 in medical expenses and work loss. Wellness activities can save $1.49 to $4.91 for every dollar spent, reduce absences 30 percent and help recruit, retain and increase productivity. It can be as simple and relatively inexpensive as offering pedometers, walking programs and sessions on achieving better health.

How has MemorialCare’s Good Life initiative made a difference?

As a leader in employee health and wellness, we implemented The Good Life to build a culture of excellence that encourages healthier daily choices for staff. Focusing on such areas as hypertension, high cholesterol and weight control, our hospitals provide walking trails, fitness centers and nutritious, less expensive cafeteria food. We offer wellness fairs, newsletters, tracking tools and incentives to improve health. Our data suggests a 2 percent movement from chronic to improved health can save us more than $600,000 annually.

Is there evidence executive physicals work?

The stress of heavy commitments, constant challenges and long hours can result in lack of exercise, skipped doctor visits and unhealthy diets for busy leaders. Physicals offer preventive care including comprehensive evaluation, screenings and physical exams that are personalized, convenient and meet schedules of busy executives. Studies show executives undergoing physicals had 20 percent fewer health claims and missed 45 percent fewer workdays than those who did not.

Can implementing Lean initiatives help?

With declining revenues, escalating costs and demand for increased value and quality, implementing management systems and workshops such as Lean make a difference. They create a sense of purpose, team problem solving and long-term thinking by proactively engaging staff.  In four years with a new ‘lean’ attitude, our hospitals eliminated hundreds of unnecessary process steps and reduced distances staff travel to carry out their jobs by thousands of miles. We expect $195 million in net revenue returned over a decade. Most importantly, we’re improving patient care.

As one of only 29 employers worldwide to receive the Gallup Great Workplace Award, how important are engaged employees?

According to Gallup, the thing that makes a successful workplace is engaged employees — those wanting to know the company’s expectations so they can meet and exceed them. They use their talents and strengths to perform at consistently high levels, charging enthusiastically toward tough tasks, working with passion, driving innovation and moving companies forward. Engagement of passionate workers is a powerful factor in creating new ideas and catalyzing ‘outside-the-box’ thinking to improve business processes and customer service. We are honored to be the only employer in Orange or Los Angeles County to receive this prestigious award.

How are electronic medical records (EMRs) improving care?

Our digital EMRs allow clinicians to have immediate access to a patient’s health and medical history, minimize waste and inefficiency of paper-based processes, maximize clinical quality and patient outcomes at points of decision-making, reduce medical errors and improve patient care. Physician offices can link to our hospital EMRs, and patients can access records through an online portal.

What about retail health centers?

Retail health clinics offer convenient and affordable care for consumers seeking treatment for common medical conditions, immunizations and basic health needs. Our clinics in ALBERTSONS/Sav-On Pharmacy stores in Huntington Beach, Mission Viejo and Irvine are staffed by highly trained nurse practitioners and have close physician oversight. They provide treatment for common illnesses like colds, flu, sore throats, earaches, sinus infection, skin conditions and minor wounds, and also offer school physicals.

How can employers promote wellness?

Companies can partner with MemorialCare to offer worksite education, health fairs, screenings, health prevention and immunizations. Our experts help employers identify cost reduction strategies through benefit audits and partnerships to achieve competitive prices. The memorialcare.org online guides and physician referrals help your work force achieve a healthier lifestyle. Our Presidents’ Partnership programs inform and engage employers and seek solutions to health costs and challenges. Working together, we can identify improvements and advocate for better care for our communities.

Barry Arbuckle, Ph.D., is the president and CEO of MemorialCare Health System. The not-for-profit MemorialCare Health System includes Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach, Community Hospital Long Beach, Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley and Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills and San Clemente. For additional information on excellence in health care, please visit memorialcare.org.

Published in Orange County

While politicians and pundits continue to debate the future of health care reform, there is progress. Extending health coverage to age 26 for many young people and eliminating barriers for pre-existing conditions are beginning to show positive effects. Many employers adding or enhancing their wellness activities are lessening the increase in benefit costs.

Smart Business learned more from Barry Arbuckle, Ph.D., the president and CEO of MemorialCare Health System, about how businesses can implement changes to have a real effect on health care costs.

Are prevention and wellness good investments?

The work force is as critical to your bottom line as the quality of products and services. Costs of workers at high risk for chronic conditions are three times that of healthy employees. Healthier lifestyle programs in the state could save $1.7 billion annually, according to California Endowment. Research shows that two-thirds of the nation’s work force is overweight, and each overweight employee costs businesses an additional $500 to $2,500 in medical expenses and work loss. Wellness activities can save $1.49 to $4.91 for every dollar spent, reduce absences 30 percent and help recruit, retain and increase productivity. It can be as simple and relatively inexpensive as offering pedometers, walking programs and sessions on achieving better health.

How has MemorialCare’s Good Life initiative made a difference?

As a leader in employee health and wellness, we implemented The Good Life program to build a culture of excellence that encourages healthier daily choices for staff. Focusing on such areas as hypertension, high cholesterol and weight control, our hospitals provide walking trails, fitness centers and nutritious, less expensive cafeteria food. We also offer wellness fairs, newsletters, tracking tools and incentives to improve health. Our data suggests a 2 percent movement from chronic to improved health can save us more than $600,000 annually.

Is there evidence executive physicals work?

The stress of heavy commitments, constant challenges and long hours can result in lack of exercise, skipped doctor visits and unhealthy diets for busy leaders. Physicals offer preventive care including comprehensive evaluation, screenings and physical exams, which are personalized, convenient and meet schedules of busy executives. Studies show executives undergoing physicals have 20 percent fewer health claims and missed 45 percent fewer workdays than those who did not.

Can implementing Lean initiatives help?

With declining revenues, escalating costs and demand for increased value and quality, implementing management systems and workshops such as Lean make a difference. They create a sense of purpose, team problem solving and long-term thinking by proactively engaging staff.  In four years with a new ‘lean’ attitude, our hospitals eliminated hundreds of unnecessary process steps and reduced distances staff travel to carry out their jobs by thousands of miles. We expect $195 million in net revenue returned over a decade. Most importantly, we’re improving patient care.

As one of only 29 employers worldwide to receive the Gallup Great Workplace Award, how important are engaged employees?

According to Gallup, the thing that makes a successful workplace is engaged employees — those wanting to know the company’s expectations so they can meet and exceed them. They use their talents and strengths to perform at consistently high levels, charging enthusiastically toward tough tasks, working with passion, driving innovation and moving companies forward. Engagement of passionate workers is a powerful factor in creating new ideas and catalyzing ‘outside-the-box’ thinking to improve business processes and customer service. We are honored to be the only employer in Los Angeles or Orange County to receive this prestigious award.

How are electronic medical records (EMRs) improving care?

Our digital EMRs allow clinicians to have immediate access to a patient’s health and medical history, minimize waste and inefficiency of paper-based processes, maximize clinical quality and patient outcomes at points of decision-making, reduce medical errors and improve patient care. Physician offices can link to our hospital EMRs, and patients can access records through an online portal.

How can employers promote wellness?

Employers can partner with MemorialCare hospitals and physicians by offering classes on reducing calorie intake, teaching desk exercises that become part of workplace routine, moving from unhealthy to nutritious foods in the cafeteria and vending machines, scheduling healthy meal preparation lessons, and providing programs that reward those losing weight, lowering blood pressure and other health risks, and more. MemorialCare offers worksite education, health prevention, screenings, health fairs and immunizations. Our experts help employers identify cost reduction strategies through benefit audits and partnerships to achieve competitive prices.

The memorialcare.org online guides and physician referrals help your work force achieve a healthier life. The MemorialCare Presidents’ Partnership informs and engages employers large and small on issues they all face and seeks solutions that address the challenges and costs of health care.

Working together, we can all identify improvements and advocate for better care for the communities we serve.

Barry Arbuckle, Ph.D., is the president and CEO of MemorialCare Health System. The not-for-profit MemorialCare Health System includes Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach, Community Hospital Long Beach, Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley and Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills and San Clemente. For additional information on excellence in health care, please visit memorialcare.org.

Published in Los Angeles

For many Americans, cancer is the most feared diagnosis. Yet, thanks to significant advances and preventive measures, the numbers of cancers are declining.

To learn more about treatments and prevention, Smart Business spoke to Jack Jacoub, M.D., hematologist/oncologist and medical director, thoracic oncology program at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, and Moses Kim, M.D., Ph.D., urologist and specialist in robotic cancer surgery at Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills and San Clemente.

What causes cancer?

While causes are unknown, research is helping identify causes and cures. Since different cancers have different risk factors, understanding these risk factors can help in prevention. Fortunately, some risk factors — like not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and diet, and getting plenty of exercise — help reduce your risk of cancer.

Other risk factors — age, ethnicity, family history and inherited genes — cannot be changed. Genetic counseling services help patients determine their risk for diseases that can be inherited, including colon, uterine, breast and ovarian cancer.

Any family with higher than expected numbers of cancer cases may benefit from our Hereditary Cancer Risk Assessment consultation.

Why are the rates declining?

Screenings such as pap smears to detect cervical cancer, colonoscopies to identify colon cancer and PSA tests to determine the likelihood and treatment of prostate cancer are examples. Laws that restrict smoking and education on its associated risks are stemming lung cancer. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can reduce onset of cancer.

Vaccines like those used to prevent cervical cancer in women may be effective in other cancers as well. Emerging treatment technologies, techniques and drug discoveries continue to help us more accurately treat cancer, and with fewer side effects.

Can we access these advances locally?

The MemorialCare Cancer Institutes at Orange Coast Memorial and Saddleback Memorial Medical Centers offer the most advanced and latest technologies, therapies and treatments in Orange County and have achieved national accreditation by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer as comprehensive community cancer programs. These range from genetic counseling and comprehensive screenings and diagnostic services to the most sophisticated radiation oncology programs — and include the region’s only hospital-sited CyberKnife robotic radiosurgery system and advanced radiation oncology treatment centers.

Our MemorialCare Breast Centers screen more patients for breast cancer than any other program in the county; and our physicians also are highly regarded specialists in lung, prostate, brain, spine and other cancers. We are dedicated to early diagnosis, research, treatment and education of patients with cancer or serious blood disorders.  Cancer patients have access to ongoing cancer research protocols and a wide variety of support services. Through the interdisciplinary treatment planning conferences, specialists review new or difficult cases and can develop treatment plans suited to each patient’s specific needs.

What can we expect in the future?

Myriad cancer therapies and treatments are in varying stages of development as researchers continue to learn more about cancer cell biology and new treatment options.

Pharmaceuticals are being created to better kill tumors by cutting off their blood supply. There is hope that therapeutic vaccines might help harness a patient’s immune system. Gene sequencing looks for specific DNA mutations that occur with different types of cancers. The ability to identify those mutations may lead to new treatments.  Physicians are beginning to use knowledge gained by research to look at an individual’s family history DNA to predict cancer risk. Personalized screening for those at higher risk will help catch cancer at its earliest signs.

Doctors will be better able to customize treatment, choosing the most effective treatment and avoiding those that will not work.

How can employers help?

Encourage your work force to take advantage of cancer screenings. Initiate wellness programs.  These can be as simple as ensuring worksite eating places and vending machines offer healthy food, offering exercise tips and providing pedometers to use during breaks and mealtimes.

Partner with your local hospital cancer center to offer onsite education. Our memorialcare.org website provides online risk assessments and tools as well as a wealth of information on cancer prevention, screenings, diagnosis and treatments.

Jack Jacoub, M.D., is a hematologist/oncologist and medical director, thoracic oncology program at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center. Moses Kim, M.D., Ph.D., is a urologist and specialist in robotic cancer surgery at Saddleback Memorial Medical Center. The not-for-profit MemorialCare Health System includes Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach, Community Hospital Long Beach, Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley and Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills and San Clemente. For additional information on excellence in health care, please visit memorialcare.org.

Published in Los Angeles

As the primary caregivers for their spouses, as well as their children and parents, women often neglect their own health needs while tending to the priorities of others. But there is research that demonstrates that when women take care of themselves, the health of their families improves.

To learn more, Smart Business turned to Karen Don, M.D., internist at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center, and Ann Marie Raffo, M.D., obstetrician/gynecologist at Saddleback Memorial Medical Center.

How do symptoms differ among women and men?

Heart disease is a good example. While the leading cause of death for females and males, underdiagnosis and subtle, often silent, symptoms result in more women than men dying from the disease. Women might experience dizziness or nausea; uncomfortable pressure or tightness; squeezing, fullness or heaviness in the chest that doesn’t go away in a few minutes; pain radiating up the shoulders and neck or down the arms or back; cold sweats or pounding heart; difficulty breathing; and/or shortness of breath. Men may experience crushing chest pain, like an elephant sitting on their chest. Regular, moderate exercise, a healthy diet and avoiding smoking can all help reduce the risk of heart disease.

What is the most common cancer?

Lung cancer is the most prevalent and common cause of cancer-related deaths in women. About 90 percent of lung cancers result from use of tobacco, which contains more than 4,000 chemical compounds, many of them cancer-causing. Nonsmokers living with a smoker have about a 25 percent higher risk for developing lung cancer than nonsmokers who don’t reside with a smoker. The incidence of lung cancer in the U.S. is decreasing, thanks to early education about the many dangers of smoking and effective smoking cessation programs.

Have we seen much progress in treating breast cancer?

Education and awareness, coupled with early detection and better treatment, have improved breast cancer survival rates 2 percent annually during the last decade. Like other chronic diseases, it’s important to add prevention to your daily routine by exercising, controlling your weight and limiting alcohol intake. Annual mammograms and clinical breast exams, as well as telling your doctor about any family history of breast cancer, are critical for early detection. Regular self-exams can also help with early detection.

Our MemorialCare Breast Centers are nationally recognized for their comprehensive approach to breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. Each center utilizes the latest technology and techniques to help in early detection and offer the most advanced and coordinated treatment options.

Can you describe female cancers?

Women are at risk for gynecological cancers that attack the tissues and organs of the reproductive system, and include cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal and vulvar cancers. While the symptoms do vary by the type of cancer, they may include pelvic pain, abnormal vaginal bleeding, persistent abdominal swelling or bloating, ongoing bowel changes, like constipation and diarrhea, and unintended weight loss or gain.

Reduce risks by getting regular pap smears, avoiding smoking and limiting

exposure to human papillomavirus (HPV),

the common sexually transmitted virus that in some cases, when left undetected or untreated, may progress into cervical cancer.

Are there other diseases impacting women?

Of those diseases primarily affecting women, osteoporosis, endometriosis and urinary tract infections are most common. One in five American women over 50 has osteoporosis, and about half will have a fracture of the hip, vertebra or wrist. To combat and lessen its effects, ensure adequate consumption of vitamin D and calcium, keep your bones strong with weight-bearing physical activities, avoid fractures, maintain active lifestyles, and discuss with your doctor possible risks and prevention.

Endometriosis, a reproductive condition that affects about 5 million American women — including teenaged girls — can result in pelvic pain, heavy periods and an irregular menstrual cycle. Without treatment, symptoms may worsen and can cause infertility. Urinary tract infections are more common in women, with one in five developing them during their lifetime. Those occurring during pregnancy can lead to premature delivery.

What steps can employers take?

Ask local hospitals to offer wellness activities, education and screenings for your employees and their families. Our MemorialCare Health System provides specialized diagnostic and treatment programs just for women as well as online risk assessments, tools and health information through our memorialcare.org website. Remind employees that taking care of themselves and their families is essential to living healthier, happier and longer lives. When people partner with doctors and hospitals and educate themselves about medical issues, learn about their family medical history, pay attention to changes in their bodies and take even simple steps to improve their health, everyone benefits and the results can be significant.

Karen Don, M.D., is an internist at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center. Ann Marie Raffo, M.D., is an obstetrician/gynecologist at Saddleback Memorial Medical Center. The not-for-profit MemorialCare Health System includes Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach, Community Hospital Long Beach, Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley and Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills and San Clemente. For additional information on excellence in health care, please visit memorialcare.org.

Published in Orange County

Women’s health goes well beyond childbirth, covering all ages and stages of their lives. And research shows that when women engage in healthy lifestyles, the health of their entire family improves.

To learn more, Smart Business spoke to Dr. Susan Melvin, the associate chief medical officer at Long Beach Memorial, and Dr. Sandra Makela, chief of staff for MemorialCare Center for Women at Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach and Long Beach Memorial.

Which disease most impacts women?

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women over age 25 in the U.S. Each year, six times as many women die of cardiovascular disease than breast cancer. The condition affects 10 percent of women between ages 45 and 64, and one in four women over 65 — about 8 million women in all.

Underdiagnosis and subtle, often silent, symptoms result in more women than men dying from the disease. For women, symptoms include nausea or dizziness; uncomfortable pressure or tightness; squeezing, fullness or heaviness in the chest that does not go away in a few minutes; cold sweats or pounding heart; pain radiating up the shoulders and neck or down the arms or back; difficulty breathing; and/or shortness of breath. Men say they feel crushing pain, like an elephant sitting on their chest.

Regular, moderate exercise, along with a healthy diet and avoiding smoking can all help to reduce the risk of heart disease.

What cancer is most prevalent?

Lung cancer surpasses breast cancer as the most common cause of cancer-related deaths in women. About 90 percent of lung cancers result from use of tobacco, which contains over 4,000 chemical compounds, many shown to be cancer-causing. Nonsmokers living with a smoker have a 25 percent higher risk for developing lung cancer than nonsmokers who don’t reside with a smoker. Incidence in the U.S. is decreasing, thanks to early education about dangers of smoking and effective smoking cessation programs.

Can you share the progress in breast cancer?

We’ve seen breast cancer survival rates improve 2 percent annually over the last decade, thanks to better treatment and vastly improved technology, education and awareness that allows us to detect breast cancers at smaller sizes and earlier stages. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of getting annual mammograms after age 40, or earlier if you have certain risk factors. To detect breast cancer early, also have regular breast exams by your doctor and perform self-exams every month.

We are proud that our MemorialCare Breast Centers are recognized nationally for advances in diagnosis and treatment and access to the latest technologies and techniques.

What about female cancers?

Women are at risk for gynecological cancers that attack the tissues and organs of the reproductive system, and include cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal and vulvar cancers. While symptoms may vary by the type of cancer, they may include pelvic pain, abnormal vaginal bleeding, persistent abdominal swelling or bloating, ongoing bowel changes, like constipation and diarrhea, and unintended weight loss or gain. Reduce your risks by getting regular pap smears, avoiding smoking and limiting exposure to human papillomavirus (HPV), a common sexually transmitted virus that in some cases, when it is left undetected or untreated, may progress into cervical cancer.

Are there other diseases that mostly affect women?

Among the diseases affecting women, osteoporosis, urinary tract infections and endometriosis are important to mention. Of the 44 million Americans with highly preventable osteoporosis, 69 percent are women. To combat and lessen the effects of osteoporosis, keep your bones strong with weight-bearing physical activities, avoid fractures, maintain active lifestyles, ensure adequate consumption of calcium and vitamin D and discuss possible risks and prevention with your doctor.

Urinary track infections, or UTIs, are more common in women, with one in five developing these during their lifetime. UTIs occurring during pregnancy can lead to premature delivery. Endometriosis, a reproductive condition that affects nearly 100 million women around the world, causes pelvic pain, heavy periods and irregularity with the menstrual cycle. And without treatment, symptoms can worsen, causing infertility.

How can businesses improve the wellness of their work force?

When individuals join with doctors and hospitals by learning their family medical history, educating themselves about medical issues, paying attention to changes in their bodies and taking even the simplest of steps to improve their health, the results can be significant and can be beneficial to everyone.

Partner with local hospitals to provide education, prevention, screening tests and wellness activities for your employees and their families. MemorialCare Health System offers specialized diagnostic and treatment programs for women. We also have online risk assessments, tools and information at memorialcare.org.

Remind your employees that taking care of themselves and their families is essential to living longer, healthier and happier lives.

Dr. Susan Melvin is associate chief medical officer at Long Beach Memorial. Dr. Sandra Makela is chief of staff for MemorialCare Center for Women at Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach and Long Beach Memorial. The not-for-profit MemorialCare Health System includes Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach, Community Hospital Long Beach, Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley and Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills and San Clemente. For additional information on excellence in health care, please visit memorialcare.org.

Published in Los Angeles

Patients and parents who have been searching for less expensive, quicker and more convenient alternatives for the treatment of minor ailments and routine health care needs are finding comfort and care in retail health clinics — one of the fastest growing segments of the health care industry.

To learn more, Smart Business turned to Marcia Manker, CEO of Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center and Steve Geidt, CEO of Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills and San Clemente.

What is a retail health clinic?

These convenient health care facilities, like MemorialCare’s HealthExpress found in the ALBERTSONS/Savon Pharmacy stores throughout Orange County in Huntington Beach, Irvine and Mission Viejo, treat uncomplicated minor illnesses and injuries and offer preventive services that encourage healthy lifestyles. Providing a convenient health care access point for common health conditions, they’re open seven days a week and staffed by nurse practitioners with close oversight by physicians.

No appointments are necessary, and there is little to no waiting time. Fees are low; and in addition to direct payments, many insurance plans are accepted. The scope of services is limited and not meant to treat complicated cases, or high-risk, unusual or acute conditions.

What services are typically offered?

Clinics like HealthExpress offer walk-in care for common conditions like colds, flu, sore throats, earaches, allergy symptoms, sinus infections, minor wounds and injuries (burns, cuts and bruises, minor puncture wounds and sprains) and skin infections such as acne, athlete’s foot, eczema, insect bites, minor sunburn, shingles and cold and canker sores. Adult and childhood vaccinations are given to prevent the flu, Hepatitis A and B, polio, meningitis, pneumonia, MMR, shingles and tetanus. Responding to the state law requiring whooping cough booster shots for students entering seventh grade or above, MemorialCare HealthExpress has been offering these vaccinations so students can register for school without delays.

Camp, school and sports physicals as well as assessments, screenings and free blood pressure and obesity screenings are also offered.

Why have they emerged?

Retail health clinics are filling a gap in the nation’s health care delivery system as well as responding to a trend in consumer-driven health care. As most consumers are experiencing an increase in out-of-pocket payments for their health care and demand more immediate access for their routine needs, they seek new options for access to care. Retail health clinics attract both the insured and uninsured seeking affordable, immediate health care for minor ailments and common conditions. Busy consumers are turning to retail health clinics as a quick and convenient option for basic medical services.

How do they fit into the continuum of care?

While many retail clinics were launched by corporations and entrepreneurs, more highly regarded health care organizations like MemorialCare Health System are partnering with retailers to meet consumer needs and expand their continuity of care offerings.

Our retail health centers that provide care for children as well as adults in Irvine, Huntington Beach and Mission Viejo, make health care easier for individuals and families, whether they need minor care at a HealthExpress clinic, primary or specialty care with one of our 2,500 MemorialCare physicians, our many outpatient services or acute care in a hospital. These clinics represent another facet of our comprehensive health care in Orange and Los Angeles counties. They also link consumers seeking a health care provider with referrals to affiliated physicians. Each retail health clinic features electronic medical record systems to enhance patient safety by keeping health information secure and allowing medical information to be securely shared with physicians as well as other clinicians.

Together, MemorialCare HealthExpress clinics, physicians and 10,000 employees at our nationally recognized hospitals and outpatient settings offer comprehensive and far-reaching care in order to treat all conditions.

What does the research show?

An online national Harris poll for The Wall Street Journal showed that 92 percent of those who indicated they visited a clinic were satisfied with the convenience, 89 percent were satisfied with the quality of care they received, 88 percent were satisfied with the staff’s qualifications and 80 percent were satisfied with the cost.

What impact do these facilities have on local employers?

Retail health clinics provide an excellent option for a work force seeking easy-to-access and affordable routine care. With minimal waiting time for treatment, these in-store clinics can reduce time away from work, increase your workplace productivity and reduce the employer’s medical and benefit costs.

To further assist local companies in the task of promoting healthier lifestyles for employees and their families, the hospitals of MemorialCare Health System provide educational programs and screenings at the worksite, on the campuses of our medical centers and in locations around the region. Our website (memorialcare.org) offers free online tools, guides and referrals to physicians that can help your work force reach the goal of a healthier life.

Marcia Manker is the CEO of Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center. Steve Geidt is the CEO of Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills and San Clemente. The not-for-profit MemorialCare Health System includes Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach, Community Hospital Long Beach, Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley and Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills and San Clemente. For additional information on excellence in health care, please visit memorialcare.org.

Published in Orange County

If you’ve ever been inside one, you know that children’s hospitals are special, some say miraculous places, where everything is kid-sized and child-friendly, and even the most critically ill children have hope of becoming healthy once again.

To learn more, Smart Business turned to Diana Hendel, Pharm.D., CEO of Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach, one of just two freestanding children’s hospitals in Los Angeles County and among the largest children’s hospitals in the country.

What makes care of children unique?

The health care infrastructure in the U.S. depends upon children’s hospitals to treat kids with the most complex and severe conditions with highly specialized pediatric specialists and the most technologically advanced, compassionate, children’s-centered care available.

Children aren’t simply young adults. While they often share the same illnesses as adults, children are affected differently with unique medical needs and health issues.

Children need a hospital that specializes in their unique needs with pediatric emergency and trauma services, neonatal intensive care, pediatric surgery, pediatric intensive care, and children’s cancer, heart, orthopedics and blood disorder services as well as outpatient specialty programs for managing chronic conditions.

As children grow and develop, their need for highly trained specialized health care increases as they transition to adulthood. What makes Miller Children’s unique is that it not only includes obstetrics care and one of the nation’s best known and largest neonatal intensive care units for fragile newborns, it’s the state’s only free-standing children’s hospital part of a major health care system, thus ensuring continuity of care throughout a lifetime. In fact, Miller Children’s is on the same 54-acre campus as Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, one of the country’s most highly regarded hospitals.

Why are children’s hospitals so important?

Children’s hospitals are indispensable. They treat the vast majority of children with chronic conditions and congenital abnormalities, including 93 percent requiring cardiac surgery and 71 percent with cancer.

Children’s hospitals take seriously our responsibility to ensure children and their families receive the care and attention they require. Whether through a national consortium or enrollment in a clinical trial, children’s hospitals, physicians and health care teams work to uncover complex intricacies of pediatric illnesses. With our top pediatric specialists, children’s hospitals pioneer new vaccines and treatments for common illnesses, chronic conditions and complex diseases.

How do they differ from adult facilities?

Children’s hospitals play several important roles: we are destinations for children who seek specialized pediatric care; the primary ‘medical home’ for children with chronic or congenital conditions; and a ‘safety net’ for uninsured or underinsured children.

While community hospitals might treat some pediatric patients, free-standing children’s hospitals like Miller Children’s have board-certified pediatric physicians with special training to care for children. They are joined by rehabilitation staff, pediatric trained nurses, social services professionals, nutritionists, educators and various other clinicians.

What services help kids adapt to their care?

For a child, hospitals can be frightening. The Child Life specialists use medical play to explain a procedure or test and provide coping techniques to help reduce the stress of hospitalization. They also offer playrooms, special guest visits and art, music and pet therapy. This minimizes the negative impact associated with illness and injury while promoting growth and development using a family-centered approach to care.

Children’s hospitals are often the first stop on a long journey for families with children who have a chronic illness. Care teams at children’s hospitals understand the vital role of parents and siblings in a child’s recovery or in managing chronic conditions. At hospitals like Miller Children’s we have family resource centers and offer parent education and a parent-to-parent mentor program to ensure that families know how to manage the condition and help them connect with others sharing similar experiences.

How are children’s hospitals involved in the community?

Only 5 percent of all U.S. hospitals are children’s hospitals, so there is a responsibility to protect children. Our outreach efforts include health education, wellness activities and community programs that address common chronic diseases, and safety initiatives to promote injury prevention. For example, at Miller Children’s, pediatric care is also extended to satellite clinics, health centers and schools throughout the region.

In what ways can employers help?

Get involved in the wellness of California’s 9 million children. Advocate for medical coverage for the 15 percent of the state’s children without health insurance. Promote exercise programs as well as healthy foods in schools. Collaborate with hospitals and physicians to offer work force education on how your employees and their families can embrace healthier lives. Miller Children’s Hospital and other MemorialCare medical centers offer scores of family-centered wellness programs at the worksite and in the community.

Diana Hendel is CEO of Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach, Community Hospital Long Beach and Long Beach Memorial Medical Center. The facilities are members of the not-for-profit MemorialCare Health System, which also includes Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley and Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills and San Clemente. To learn more about quality health care, visit memorialcare.org.

Published in Los Angeles

How long do people spend choosing a hospital, doctor and health plan during open enrollment? The average is just 16 minutes. By minimizing time spent making selections, people hope to make the process less painful. But the opposite may happen. Without careful selection, they may end up lacking the choices they will need later on.

Open enrollment is like putting together a complex puzzle. The more employees try to make sense of the options offered, the more they end up confused in the process.

As open enrollment season approaches for numerous businesses, Smart Business turned to Barry Arbuckle, Ph.D., president and CEO of MemorialCare Health System, to learn more.

Why is open enrollment so important?

During this period — typically about 30 days — employees select benefits for themselves and their families. Choices determine the cost, access and quality of their health care for the following year. Whether adding dependents, enrolling in a new plan, selecting a different primary care physician, increasing or decreasing out-of-pocket expenses or other options, consumers should know the facts before making decisions.

What many don’t realize is that when they select a doctor, they determine the entire course of their health care. This includes the hospital they’ll go to for inpatient and outpatient care.

What’s the best approach?

Shop for health care benefits like you would for other major purchases. A wrong decision can be costly in terms of health and financial results. Don’t just sign up for the same plan. Instead, examine benefit options to match your current and future needs.

With HMOs, the doctor (or network) selection determines the specialists one can see. That’s why it’s important to have a big-picture perspective before signing on with a health plan. Are you satisfied with your medical, dental, vision and drug plans? And are you comfortable with your current primary care physicians acting as your gatekeeper or do you want increased flexibility? Review these and other issues before making a change.

Where do I start?

Ensure your chosen hospital is part of a larger system of care like the MemorialCare Health System. A health system with multiple locations and thousands of physicians and employees offers more comprehensive care for all family members. Selecting the best hospital for your care when you are healthy makes good sense. A health system has more access to advanced equipment and procedures. Most hospital admissions involve people who never expected to get sick. By planning ahead, you’ll have access to services that you consider important — and in a facility that meets your standards, if needed. Inquire about a hospital’s clinical outcomes, reputation and patient care philosophy before making a decision.

How are physicians selected?

By selecting a first-rate hospital, you’ll have access to physician experts who work with the hospital to achieve the best possible results for their patients — a hospital that employs a ‘best-practice’ approach to patient care where multidisciplinary teams continually study and implement cutting-edge treatments and techniques in a variety of specialties. Large, highly regarded health systems like MemorialCare are associated with many high-quality medical groups and have websites describing backgrounds, specialties and services offered by their doctors.

What are the next steps?

After selecting a hospital and physician, check the details. Do you understand the benefits covered by your health plan? Are you comfortable with the medical group your physician belongs to? Can you continue to see your favorite specialists? Don’t just select the plan with the best price. Examine your medical needs. Do you need regular prescriptions or doctor visits? Do you have contacts or glasses? This factors into how much coverage is adequate without paying too much. And price out the unpredictable — medical emergencies occur and payment varies from plan to plan.

How can employers improve open enrollment?

Ensure your plans are competitive. The selection of health plans and medical groups to include in your offerings is critical to recruitment and retention of your work force. Employers can work with their brokers or health plans to ensure the networks that are offered provide the best care possible while maintaining affordability.

Improve the process with comprehensive communications, benefit plan meetings and other activities to ensure employees fully understand their options and ramifications of their choices. Explain basic insurance terms, the differences between co-payment and co-insurance, impact of deductibles on premiums and out-of-pocket expenses and costs of out-of-network care.

Orange Coast Memorial in Fountain Valley, Saddleback Memorial in Laguna Hills and San Clemente and MemorialCare HealthExpress centers at Albertsons in Huntington Beach, Irvine and Mission Viejo all offer employers many services. These include benefits and health fairs, wellness programs, executive physicals and information on how to select the best plan, lower benefit costs and access high-quality care.

Barry Arbuckle, Ph.D., is the president and CEO of MemorialCare Health System. The not-for-profit MemorialCare Health System includes Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach, Community Hospital Long Beach, Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley and Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills and San Clemente. For additional information on excellence in health care, please visit memorialcare.org.

Published in Orange County

How long do people spend choosing a hospital, doctor and health plan during open enrollment? The average is just 16 minutes. By minimizing time spent making selections, people hope to make the process less painful. But the opposite may happen. Without careful selection, they may end up lacking the choices they will need later on.

Open enrollment is like putting together a complex puzzle. The more employees try to make sense of the options offered, the more they end up confused in the process.

As open enrollment season approaches for numerous businesses, Smart Business turned to Barry Arbuckle, Ph.D., president and CEO of MemorialCare Health System, to learn more.

Why is open enrollment so important?

During this period — typically about 30 days — employees select benefits for themselves and their families. Choices determine the cost, access and quality of their health care for the following year. Whether adding dependents, enrolling in a new plan, selecting a different primary care physician, increasing or decreasing out-of-pocket expenses or other options, consumers should know the facts before making decisions.

What many don’t realize is that when they select a doctor, they determine the entire course of their health care. This includes the hospital they’ll go to for inpatient and outpatient care.

What’s the best approach?

Shop for health care benefits like you would for other major purchases. A wrong decision can be costly in terms of health and financial results. Don’t just sign up for the same plan. Instead, examine benefit options to match your current and future needs.

With HMOs, the doctor (or network) selection determines the specialists one can see. That’s why it’s important to have a big-picture perspective before signing on with a health plan. Are you satisfied with your medical, dental, vision and drug plans? And are you comfortable with your current primary care physicians acting as your gatekeeper or do you want increased flexibility? Review these and other issues before making a change.

Where do I start?

Ensure your chosen hospital is part of a larger system of care like the MemorialCare Health System. A health system with multiple locations and thousands of physicians and employees offers more comprehensive care for all family members. Selecting the best hospital for your care when you are healthy makes good sense. A health system has more access to advanced equipment and procedures. Most hospital admissions involve people who never expected to get sick. By planning ahead, you’ll have access to services that you consider important — and in a facility that meets your standards, if needed. Inquire about a hospital’s clinical outcomes, reputation and patient care philosophy before making a decision.

How are physicians selected?

By selecting a first-rate hospital, you’ll have access to physician experts who work with the hospital to achieve the best possible results for their patients — a hospital that employs a ‘best-practice’ approach to patient care where multidisciplinary teams continually study and implement cutting-edge treatments and techniques in a variety of specialties. Large, highly regarded health systems like MemorialCare are associated with many high-quality medical groups and have websites describing backgrounds, specialties and services offered by their doctors.

What are the next steps?

After selecting a hospital and physician, check the details. Do you understand the benefits covered by your health plan? Are you comfortable with the medical group your physician belongs to? Can you continue to see your favorite specialists? Don’t just select the plan with the best price. Examine your medical needs. Do you need regular prescriptions or doctor visits? Do you have contacts or glasses? This factors into how much coverage is adequate without paying too much. And price out the unpredictable — medical emergencies occur and payment varies from plan to plan.

How can employers improve open enrollment?

Ensure your plans are competitive. The selection of health plans and medical groups to include in your offerings is critical to recruitment and retention of your work force. Employers can work with their brokers or health plans to ensure the networks that are offered provide the best care possible while maintaining affordability.

Improve the process with comprehensive communications, benefit plan meetings and other activities to ensure employees fully understand their options and ramifications of their choices. Explain basic insurance terms, the differences between co-payment and co-insurance, impact of deductibles on premiums and out-of-pocket expenses and costs of out-of-network care.

Hospitals and physicians can help. Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, Community Hospital Long Beach, Miller Children’s Long Beach and our affiliated physicians and services offer employers assistance through benefits and health fairs, wellness programs, executive physicals and information, data and education on how to select the best plan, lower benefit costs and access the highest-quality health care.

Barry Arbuckle, Ph.D., is the president and CEO of MemorialCare Health System. The not-for-profit MemorialCare Health System includes Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach, Community Hospital Long Beach, Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley and Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills and San Clemente. For additional information on excellence in health care, please visit memorialcare.org.

Published in Los Angeles

The reluctance of men to visit the doctor when they are sick, pursue routine check-ups when they are well and take advantage of preventive measures is taking its toll — helping explain the longevity gap where women outlive men by an average of 5 to 10 years and higher death rates men have for all top 10 leading causes of death.

To learn more, Smart Business turned to Stanley Arnold, M.D., an internist at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center, and Brian Henry, M.D., an internist at Saddleback Memorial Medical Center.

What keeps men away from needed health services?

Reasons include an unwillingness to take time away from work, discomfort with discussing personal issues, feeling invincible and those early lessons from childhood of ‘playing with pain’ and not asking for help.

If men took better care of themselves, they could most certainly stretch their life spans. Physician visits as well as health screenings allow us to discover undiagnosed medical concerns before they become serious, and identify and address risk factors for any subsequent diseases. While women are often more educated about and less threatened by the health care system, men can regularly put their health care on the back burner.

How does the workplace contribute to the problem?

Too often, managers spend so much time taking care of their employees, they forget to take care of themselves and feel guilty about taking time away from the office to see a doctor. Additionally, a stressful work environment can take its toll on your health. Chronic stress may lead to a lack of exercise, poor food choices, inadequate sleep and inattention to preventive screenings and immunizations.

Where should I start?

Research shows that regular screenings and early intervention can alter risk factors and treat medical conditions early on. View screenings as an opportunity to maintain and improve your quality of life, increase productivity at work and improve your likelihood of enjoying a healthy retirement. Doctor visits and preventive measures also give you the peace of mind that you’re healthy and that early detection offers the best opportunity for beating the odds if a disease is detected.

Therefore, the best time to visit a doctor is when you are well, enabling a physician to assess your overall physical condition through appropriate tests and screenings and to obtain a baseline to observe future health. Having said that, it is crucial for men — who too often ignore important symptoms — to schedule an appointment with their physician if they notice anything out of the ordinary about their health. Getting the right screenings at the right time is one of the most important things you can do for your health. As in business, one’s health is better served by being proactive.

What’s typically included in check-ups?

Having regular check-ups and screenings tailored to age, gender, personal and family history and lifestyle can lead to early detection and expedited treatment of many ‘silent’ disorders that can lack obvious symptoms. These include heart and vascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer and orthopedic issues. Test results can warn of problems, such as elevated cholesterol levels, precancerous polyps or any prostate problems, which can allow you and your physician to map out a plan to lower the risk of serious diseases while identified in their most treatable stages.

We know that many of the common medical conditions men face as they age can be controlled or cured if detected early. Don’t duck doctors when faced with symptoms like chest pain and shortness of breath. The odds of developing diseases such as diabetes, which partly result from unhealthy lifestyles that can be exacerbated by stress, can be greatly minimized by adopting healthier habits.

Which other actions are important?

Include activities that raise your heart rate and strengthen your muscles. If you have not been exercising regularly and are over 50, consult a physician before you start any type of rigorous exercise activities. Good nutrition involves a balanced diet that maintains healthy weight. So eat a variety of vegetables, fruits and whole grains while limiting drinks high in calories, sugar, salt, fat and alcohol. And protect yourself by wearing helmets when cycling as well as a minimum SPF 30 sunscreen when outdoors.

Make prevention part of your business. Offer preventive techniques, health programs and screenings at your job site or a convenient community location in partnership with physicians and local hospitals.

Also, Saddleback Memorial and Orange Coast Memorial offer business outreach programs that include onsite seminars, screenings, immunizations and executive physicals. Our memorialcare.org website can provide free online tools, guides and physician referrals that help you and your work force enjoy a healthier life.

Stanley Arnold, M.D., is an internist at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center. Brian Henry, M.D., is an internist at Saddleback Memorial Medical Center. The not-for-profit MemorialCare Health System includes Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach, Community Hospital Long Beach, Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley and Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills and San Clemente. For additional information on excellence in health care, please visit memorialcare.org.

Published in Orange County
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