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April 24, 2019

The fear of receiving bad news at the doctor’s office can set people on edge, and part of a medical professional’s job is to put a patient at ease. Take some time today to learn about why patient satisfaction matters and how you can work to improve the relationship between you and your patients.

 

Why Patient Satisfaction Matters

With the evolution of primary care and the development of patient rights, patient satisfaction has become one of the cornerstones of modern medicine. The Internet has drastically changed the patient-doctor relationship by providing a patient with a wealth of information and a higher level of transparency.

Patient satisfaction has become the primary concern of many healthcare providers because it dictates various success metrics for hospitals and physicians. It affects everything from clinical outcomes and patient retention to financial support and even publicity.

 

Putting the Patient First

A patient’s medical journey encompasses the initial phone call or online search, the waiting room experience, and the face-to-face interaction with the medical provider. Employees should embody positivity, patience, and respect for all individuals. Timeliness and alertness are traits patients often value most during their medical experience, both on the phone and during the appointment. In fact, over half (53%) of patients who reported limited access to healthcare said they had left an appointment because the wait was too long.

Patients can become frustrated if they feel uninformed about a diagnosis, a treatment, or—worse—if they feel ignored. Educate your patients, and don’t assume they fully understand all procedures and medical terms. Unfamiliar medical equipment, such as an EchoTable™ or a mammography chair, may heighten anxiety and lead to distress. Find the weak spots in your own chain of information, so you can validate your patients’ concerns and provide the answers they need.

A medical provider’s ability to reliably convey information is a key aspect of patient satisfaction. For various reasons, some patients may not be comfortable speaking directly to a doctor about their ailments. A confident and capable nursing staff is critical to not only manage patients, but also step in when a doctor’s communication abilities are limited. Nurses often spend more one-on-one time with patients than doctors—inquiring about the nurses’ perspective on their patients’ physical and emotional status will make you a better doctor as well.

March 22, 2019

From state-of-the-art echo tables to machines that can track the movement of individual blood cells, heart disease is becoming more and more easy to diagnose early and treat.

Early Detection

Recent developments in understanding the mechanisms of cardiovascular disease provide doctors insight into vital tests that can delay the spread of the disease. Early detection is vital in order to prevent the disease from advancing to late stages, in which the patient will experience shortness of breath, accelerated heart rate, fatigue, and lung congestion resulting from heart failure. For many, early detection means the difference between a long life or an abrupt and painful end.

More obvious symptoms of cardiovascular disease develop after the disease begins wreaking havoc on the body. Luckily, doctors can now use tests to diagnose atherosclerosis, the hardening and narrowing of heart arteries, years before symptoms cause obvious health problems. A CT scan detects calcified plaque in the arteries, and a CT angiogram can then use X-Rays to provide detailed pictures of the heart to observe early warning signs of cardiovascular abnormalities.

People with elevated levels of cholesterol or high blood pressure benefit from calcium scans, the purpose of which is to prevent the development of cardiovascular disease later in life. Such health-screening tests have a significant impact on patient treatment and outcome. In order to stay healthy and aware of any developing problems, doctors can perform the tests to diagnose conditions prevalent in heart disease patients including:

  • Blood Pressure: High blood pressure is directly linked to higher instances of heart attack and cardiovascular illness.
  • Cholesterol: Excess amounts of cholesterol in your body build up in your blood, clogging the walls of your arteries and preventing blood flow.
  • Weight: Studies show that weigh loss in obese populations restored overall heart health in four functions: blood pumping effectively, the tissues ability to relax and the thickness of heart muscle and carotid artery walls.
  • Blood Sugar: People with diabetes are twice as likely to die from heart disease, which results from high blood glucose levels that damage arteries.

Risk Factors and Treatments

About 47% of sudden cardiac deaths occur outside a hospital. This suggests that many people with heart disease don’t act on early warning signs. In fact, most risk factors for this disease are environmental and can be controlled or eliminated with proper intervention. Risk factors for heart disease include:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • High Cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Family History
  • Age

The impact of behaviors such as unhealthy eating, inactivity and smoking are the root causes of many chronic diseases that destroy people's lives. In fact, many studies demonstrate that lifestyle affects cardiovascular health even more than genetic predispositions to chronic diseases. Incorporating healthy eating habits including food low in trans fats, sodium and alcohol will have a substantial impact in reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Sometimes lifestyle changes aren’t adequate, which is where modern medicine plays a crucial role in treatment. Different medications treat heart disease according to the severity of the condition. Anticoagulants thin the blood and are used to prevent blood clots from forming and causing more severe problems. ACE inhibitors expand blood vessels, allowing the blood to flow more easily after being diagnosed with high blood pressure or heart failure. Beta-blockers impede certain chemicals from stimulating the heart, and are commonly prescribed after one has suffered from a heart attack, heart failure, arrhythmias, or high blood pressure.

March 22, 2019

Heart disease is a general term that broadly refers to conditions affecting the heart, such as coronary artery disease, arrhythmias, and congenital heart defects. We can attribute many cases of heart disease to a condition called atherosclerosis; this is when plaque builds up in the artery walls and narrows the artery channel, severely impeding blood flow. Luckily, modern technology has provided us with numerous procedures to test for such grave conditions and save lives in the process. Learn more about the common procedures and treatments for heart disease.

Common Procedures

Electrocardiogram (EKG)

Electrocardiograms, also known as EKG, assess heart rate and rhythm using electrode patches placed on the surface of the skin. This is a non-invasive, quick procedure that is prevalent in detecting heart disease. EKGs can also detect an enlarged heart, abnormal heart rhythms, and ischemia, which refers to the inadequate blood supply to the heart.

Echocardiograms employ transducers, which send ultrasonic waves (an ultrasound) that bounce of the heart muscle and displays its movement. This procedure can provide a clear picture of the heart valves and chambers to see exactly how the blood pumps throughout the heart. Echocardiograms identify a range of disorders, including coronary artery disease, aneurysms, heart enlargement, and congenital heart disease. 

Myocardial Perfusion Imaging (MPI)

Myocardial Perfusion Imaging, also known as MPI, is a non-invasive imaging test that shows how the blood flows through the heart muscle. The MPI test is performed during exercise which is typically done via treadmill or exercise bicycle. However, if exercise is not possible, medicine is delivered to the patient to stimulate blood flow to the heart.

The MPI test is commonly used with patients who report chest discomfort to determine whether the discomfort stems from poor blood flow or not. A possible cause of obstructed blood flow is angina, which is the narrowing of heart arteries. MPI cardiology tests are also instrumental in detecting possible heart damage or scarring from past heart attacks. This test is an instrumental diagnostic tool and helps dictate a patient’s wellness or need for further care.

The use of these diagnostic tools varies on a case by case basis, according to the specific symptoms the patient experiences.

Heart Disease Treatments

Heart disease is a significant contributor to heart attacks. In fact, every year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. Doctors continue to push the boundaries of medicine in order to change this statistic. Thanks to their determination, there are currently a few treatments available for heart disease patients.

Angioplasty

For severe blockages in coronary arteries, an angioplasty procedure improves blood flow to the heart muscle. A medical professional will insert a balloon connected to a mesh tube, which helps push the blockage out. Angioplasty manages the symptoms but does not treat the underlying causes of heart disease.

Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery

Unfortunately, heart surgery remains the only option for those with very advanced heart disease. Coronary artery bypass surgery utilizes a grafted blood vessel, providing an alternate path for the blocked artery to get blood to the heart. Sometimes, doctors will completely replace the diseased valves with either mechanical or tissue valves.

By making healthy lifestyle choices, people can diminish or completely eliminate the possibility of contracting some form of heart disease. Eliminating alcohol, limiting consumption of saturated and trans fats, and exercising regularly are all excellent steps to take to avoid atherosclerosis and live a life free of heart disease.

 

March 12, 2019

©[Chayathorn]/Adobe Stock

Repetitive stress injuries, or RSIs, are relatively easy to diagnose, but individuals continue to suffer unnecessarily as their strains and aches go untreated. Becoming familiar with the common types of RSIs will help you ensure your body’s optimal functioning and long-term prosperity.

What is an RSI?

Repetitive stress injuries are injuries sustained when one motion is carried out over long periods of time—a phenomenon that is growing more common as our bodies adapt to a modern, technologically-focused lifestyle. Your body is obviously susceptible to injury, but the extent of the damage depends on various environmental factors, such as where you work, your activity level, and your amount of technology usage. Today, the main causes of RSIs are manual labor, office work, and the overuse of computers, leading to injuries localized in the upper body. In fact, nearly 2/3 of all occupational injuries are caused by repeated trauma or movement in the upper body, such as the shoulders, wrists, and elbows.

You may notice a continued throbbing sensation in muscles or joints that leads to swelling and restricted mobility. Other symptoms of an RSI include muscle weakness, numbness, or tingling in the affected joints. While repetitive stress injuries are caused by the overuse of a particular muscle group, it can be aggravated by certain other factors. Working in cold temperatures or with poorly designed (non-ergonomic) equipment, as well as engaging in taxing physical activities like high-level sports, tend to cause further discomfort.

Many commonly known conditions fit under the umbrella of RSIs. You may be familiar with some of these diagnoses:

  • Tennis Elbow and Trigger Finger: Both are forms of tendonitis, which is an inflammation of the tendons, and they are the most commonly diagnosed repetitive stress injuries. Tendonitis can flare up anywhere in the body, but it most often occurs within smaller muscle groups, such as the wrist, Achilles tendon, elbow joint, and rotator cuff.

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in the wrist that contains the medial nerve. If the tunnel narrows too much, the tendons swell and put pressure on the medial nerve, which causes severe pain and numbness in the hand and arm. Carpal tunnel syndrome heavily affects people who work with computers or mechanized assembly lines in factories.

  • Shin Splints: This refers to pain along the front lower leg, usually near the tibial bone. This injury is common in runners and people who engage heavily in lower body activity.

Diagnosing Your RSI

RSIs fall into two categories: Type I and Type II. A Type I RSI refers to a musculoskeletal condition, the symptoms of which can be easily traced and diagnosed. Typically, these symptoms include the swelling and inflammation of specific muscles or tendons. Type II RSIs have a range of causes and therefore are difficult for physicians to precisely diagnose. Type II RSIs arise when symptoms are non-specific and are accompanied by a general feeling of pain.

Unlike many other disorders, repetitive stress injuries cannot be confirmed via testing. Instead, a doctor reaches a diagnosis via a series of questions, usually about lifestyle, so that the physician may determine the cause of the injury. The questions will be accompanied by a physical examination of the afflicted area to determine the scope of the issue. For certain types of RSIs, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, routine X-rays are run to reveal fractures or arthritis that may be causing further damage to nerves and tendons. More and more medical tables are being designed ergonomically with patient needs and limitations in mind, which is excellent for people who are dealing with a stress injury.

Treatment and Rehabilitation

Treatment for RSIs varies on a case by case basis, and the upside is that there are many options for people dealing with these kinds of injuries. There are simple techniques that you can use to address an RSI, such as taking frequent breaks while performing repetitive tasks, implementing stretching exercises, and altering your body position. Doctors may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication, or simply alternating ice and heat on the area until the pain subsides. Using the affected muscle less is recommended; however, this can be difficult if the motion causing the injury is work-related.

Sometimes treatment of the condition requires further attention and more nuanced care. After consulting your doctor, you may consider undergoing rehabilitation in order to improve your overall quality of life, strengthen your muscles, and reduce the risk of injury going forward. To achieve these goals, rehabilitation programs may include:

  • Occupational therapy

  • Exercise programs to strengthen the tissue

  • Conditioning exercises to minimize future injury

  • Braces or splints to immobilize the area during periods of intense pain

  • Pain management techniques

Various health professionals can be involved in your rehabilitation, including sports medicine doctors, occupational medicine doctors, physical therapists, and occupational therapists. People also report that regular yoga practice, massages, and even acupuncture can relieve the symptoms of their stress injury.

A controversial aspect of RSI treatment is the use of steroid injections. These are commonly used for RSIs like tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome, but there is some contention in the medical field as to whether or not this is a sustainable practice. Cortisone shots are successful in reducing inflammation in inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, tendonitis, and bursitis, but they do not treat the underlying causes of the pain. Additionally, injected corticosteroids (cortisone) has been shown to weaken tendons over time, which could exacerbate problems for the muscles that are prone to injury. These injections are only recommended to reduce inflammation in an affected area caused by a definite condition like carpal tunnel syndrome. Occasionally, the use of steroids injected directly into certain tendons, like the Achilles tendon, can lead to traumatic rupture of the tendon.

In extreme cases, surgery may be considered the optimal treatment. It’s most commonly recommended in order to relieve the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

The cost of repetitive stress injuries can be minimized with the right diagnosis and treatment. Arm yourself with knowledge, and you can return to pain-free living in no time.

 

February 20, 2019

Location: Cinncinati, OH representatives from MPI will demonstrate the capabilities of the company’s unique products, the Stress EchoBed and HUT Table.

The Stress EchoBed, designed for supine bike stress echocardiography and resting echocardiograms features a unique design allows for imaging at the peak of exercise and the removal of the ergometer, increases the mulit-modality value of the product.

The HUT Table provides a safe, reliable platform for head-up tilt table testing meeting all ACC guidelines.