Articles

Patient safety center steers clear of the blame game: New approach modeled after aviation industry

Indiana hospitals are drawing inspiration from the aviation industry for their latest push to reduce medical errors. The Indiana Patient Safety Center, which opened July 1, will foster a blamefree approach to reporting errors, much like the environment promoted by the Federal Aviation Administration. The result will be a culture that encourages system analysis to fix flaws that lead to an error, rather than one that merely heaps blame on the person who committed it, said Bob Morr, vice president…

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New law puts brakes on nursing home construction: State pushing other forms of long-term health care

Families want more long-term-care options for their elderly loved ones these days, and Indiana officials are trying to lend a hand. The state will begin a year-long moratorium on nursing home construction July 1, shortly after the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration starts a marketing campaign called Options to let Hoosiers know they have choices outside of stashing Grandma at Shady Acres for a couple of years. Indiana also will boost Medicaid reimbursement for these options, which include assisted…

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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Health care cost ‘solutions’ only worsen the problems

As an economic forecaster, I am almost always optimistic. But that’s not a personality trait. It’s the nature of the business. The economy around us is doing amazingly well. We’ve had much longer economic expansions, steady job and income growth, and less frequent recessions for more than two decades now. So when you deliver an optimistic forecast these days, you stand a pretty good chance of being right. But if there’s one area where my optimism vanishes, it is this-how…

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From Ukraine with love: Helping the elderly remain independent and at home is the fundamental goal of home-health-agency founder

When Etelka Froymovich immigrated to Indianapolis in 1977, the Ukrainian-born pediatric nurse found the only job available to her was as an aide at Colonial Crest, a local nursing home later purchased by Arkansas-based Beverly Enterprises. She had never worked with the elderly, but quickly found her life’s passion. Twenty years after arriving in the city, Froymovich opened Home Services Unlimited, a licensed home-health care agency on the northwest side that provides care for elderly and developmentally disabled people. Overcoming…

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Golf club member tees off investors: Lawsuit over $7.4M in losses casts light on little-regulated world of penny-stock promotion

By the time he graduated in 1985, Tony Altavilla ranked third in career touchdown receptions at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, an all-male institution that likens itself to the best conservative liberal arts colleges of New England. His star rose again recently, when the member of Carmel’s Crooked Stick Country Club led a committee that helped the Pete Dye-designed course score the 2009 U.S. Senior Open Championship. But the Wabash man and golfing buddy of the affluent now finds himself in…

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EYE ON THE PIE: What if we moved the elderly out of state?

“Don’t write about this,” Sid Simpleton told me. He is the state’s social policy director. “People who have recently experienced the loss of a loved one do not like death discussed without appropriate gravity.” “I’ll warn them not to read the column if they have recently had such a loss,” I said. Sipping gin and tonics on a warm spring afternoon does make the troubles of the world seem less serious. “OK, if you think it’s safe,” Sid said. “This…

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“No habla ingles”: Immigrants who want to advance find many programs to help them learn English

No habla inglesImmigrants who want to advance find many programs to help them learn English Osvaldo Escobedo was hungry to learn English. It was bad enough when he couldn’t advance at the Nissan Motor Co. plant in Aguascalientes, in central Mexico, because he couldn’t converse in the business language of English. Later, when he came to the United States, he couldn’t eat much more than what he could pronounce. “When I go to restaurant, I ask [for] ‘coffee and doughnuts….

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2005 sees another drop in health insurance complaints: Regulators work to refine method for tracking problems

Complaint totals sank steeply last year for many Indiana health insurers, partly because the state insurance department continues to revamp its often-maligned method of tracking them. Regulators recorded 1,232 signed complaints last year, a 30-percent drop from 2004, according to figures published on the consumer section of the Indiana Department of Insurance Web site. The drop from earlier years is even steeper. The department recorded 3,133 complaints in 2002 and 1,848 the next year. Many of Indiana’s largest insurers also…

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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Beware of battles brewing among health care giants

Coming up with simple metaphors and images that faithfully represent the issues involved in the way we pay for health care in our country is a challenge. But one keeps coming to my mind: the kitsch Japanese sci-fi classic “Godzilla vs. Rodan,” where two giant monsters duke it out breathing fire and smashing buildings as the residents of Tokyo quake in fear, waiting to see who will win. Some similarly big battles are brewing in the health care business these…

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Standard Life turns page, rolls with changes: A year after sale, firm improves rating, makes profit

Standard Life Insurance Company of Indiana has much to celebrate as it passes the one-year anniversary of its sale to Capital Assurance Corp. Profitability, a rating upgrade and product launches all are among the positives the company can tout since it gained new life and left behind old owner Standard Management Corp. last June. Standard Life notched a $15.8 million profit last year, due mostly to a gain from the sale of its life insurance business. Subtract that, though, and…

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Entrepreneurs keep day jobs: Moonlighting helps owners mitigate startup risks

Inventions at various stages of development are scattered around Qamar Shafeek’s ranch-style home on Indianapolis’ east side. An unnamed doohickey attached to a curtain rod pulls drapes open and shut along with the sliding glass door. A voice box gadget tells the single father when the garage or side doors open, alerting him to his children’s comings and goings. And a plastic pinwheel with tennis balls attached to the ends is making its way from a napkin-sketch idea to a…

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VOICES FROM THE INDUSTRY: Association health plans are destined for failure

As the cost of health care rises, legislators in Washington, D.C., look for ways to make health care insurance more affordable for everyone. The Indiana State Association of Health Underwriters applauds the efforts of legislators to accomplish this. But the attempt to accomplish this through Association Health Plans, while commendable, ignores history and fails to address the underlying issue-the rising cost of health care. The idea of AHPs has gained in popularity in Washington on the belief that large groups…

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Insurers go to the dogs, cats: Pet policies rise as owners show growing willingness to spend on their animals

Max the golden retriever has lymphoma. But fortunately for him, the disease is not a death sentence. That’s because a pet insurance policy covered most of the $4,000 in chemotherapy and drug treatments needed to keep the canine alive. While the pet insurance industry remains relatively small, it is gaining popularity. From 1994 to 2003, the number of people purchasing health care coverage for their four-legged friends rose 76 percent, according to Veterinary Pet Insurance in Brea, Calif. Dr. Jim…

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Purchase offer expected for Winona Hospital: Three interested parties check out empty facility

Vacant Winona Memorial Hospital could attract a written purchase offer as soon as this summer, and at least three potential buyers are already researching a deal. Among the property’s attributes are a layout that’s well-suited for health care uses, said Gus Miller, a principal with NAI Olympia Partners, an Indianapolis real estate firm listing the site for $8 million. But the layout, with ceiling heights of only 8 feet, also limits the former hospital’s appeal to businesses outside health care….

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Selling change at Lilly: Company overhauls strategy its thousands of sales reps use to tout drugs to doctors

Eli Lilly and Co. is rolling out a new approach to selling drugs, one that aims to build deeper relationships with doctors while cutting the number of sales reps knocking on their office door. The reorganization project, dubbed “sales force of the future,” is just what the doctor ordered, according to Lilly executives. They say physicians want fewer sales calls and a deeper knowledge base from those who still stop by. “Doctors want that primarily because they’re treating patients and…

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INVESTING: Dow keeps climbing, but land mines abound

The theme I’ve been concentrating on-the Dow Jones industrial average’s climb toward a new all-time high at the same time large numbers of stocks are weakening-is playing out in dramatic fashion. The Dow is only 150 points away from a new high, and it may well reach it. What’s working is obvious now (energy, metals, industrials), and I say, ‘Stay with them until they break down.’ But there is a growing portion of the market that is giving people fits,…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Sometimes competition is a bad thing

You are getting older, living alone. You want to continue living where you are. You don’t want to move in with your children and you think they might not want you. You don’t want to move to some assisted-living place and give up so much of what you have known for so long. You are disabled or otherwise unable to cook for yourself. Where do you turn? Your first thought is Meals on Wheels. You (or a member of your…

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Health care with privileges: Boutique medical practices buy time for doctors, patients

Membership definitely has its privileges at the new north-side medical practice launched by doctors Timothy Story and Kevin McCallum. An annual retainer of at least $2,500 gives patients around-the-clock doctor access, medical records they can carry on a key chain, unlimited office visits and refreshments when they arrive. FirstLine Personal Health Care represents the Indianapolis market’s latest foray into boutique medicine, a form of health care criticized for being exclusionary since it popped up in Seattle a decade ago. Story,…

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Bloomington’s Cook tightens women’s health focus: New business unit plans summer product rollout

Privately held Cook Inc. has added a seventh business unit in a bid to strengthen its presence in the growing market for gender-specific health care products, a move that could bring jobs to southern Indiana. The Bloomington-based medicaldevice maker will unveil its Women’s Health unit May 8 in Spencer. The unit actually started operating last September, initially taking on a combination of products pulled from the company’s urological unit, also in Spencer. But Women’s Health leader Christina Anné said it…

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First-class parking: Airport freebie list includes former politicians, other VIPs

Scott Jones could probably afford to buy the 1,800-space parking garage at Indianapolis International Airport, as one who’s earned millions of dollars in patent income from voice mail technology he invented. But why buy the garage? The Indianapolis multimillionaire shows up on a list of nearly 400 politicians and other VIPs entitled to free parking at the airport, a review of airport records shows. Begun as a courtesy to a handful of elected officials decades ago, the free parking list…

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