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Top 12 Healthcare Buzzwords for 2012

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, January 3, 2012

Originally published December 27, 2011.

This year's crop of healthcare buzzwords and catchphrases includes a handful of terms that are really oxymorons. By oxymoron, of course, we mean one of the words or phrases in the expression contradicts the rest. But if you think about it, that's the very theme of health reform today.

Innovators are looking at their systems and turning them upside down, contradicting old assumptions and turning volume-based care and payment systems into long-term wellness programs. Payment systems are now based on quality metrics and accountability for months and years after the initial visit.

It's a paradox: Doctors and hospitals must work harder so the patient needs them less and costs go down. Certainly, the lingo must adapt.

Last year's lexicon picks was one of our most popular articles, so we know you can't wait to see this year's list:

1.Palliative intensive care. Palliative care is generally perceived as comfort care with morphine or other diligent pain relief regimens to ease the dying process, along with more counseling for loved ones to understand what's happening and accept it. But intensive or critical care means pulling out all the stops, doing everything possible, to keep patients alive.

Now, providers are combining the two. It is said that 30% of all hospital in-patient deaths occur in the intensive care unit, so why not introduce palliative care systems much earlier?

The idea increasingly being implemented within hospitals is to bring the patient and family together with palliative care professionals, when the patient's condition is appropriate, in a much more concerted and structured way than has been the ICU routine.

2. Cultural DNA. Again the contradiction. DNA is something we're born with, it can't be changed with a shift in culture.

But changing an organization's cultural DNA is an expression that increasingly resonates among quality leaders. With this phrase, they're trying to convey the idea that if leaders of a healthcare organization walk the walk and talk the talk, their behavior will gradually osmose into everyday practice.

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