Top 12 Healthcare Buzzwords for 2012

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media , January 3, 2012

The 10 are: ambulatory patient services, emergency services, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance abuse disorder services including behavioral health treatment, prescription drugs, rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices, laboratory services, preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management, and pediatric services including oral and vision care.

By allowing states flexibility in how each defines essential benefits, what is considered an "essential" drug or service in one state won't be declared one in another, perhaps more conservative or budget-challenged climate.

Look for this phrase to be extremely controversial. Many consumer advocates are already questioning whether the Department of Health and Human Services is fulfilling the PPACA mandate which says, "the Secretary shall define the essential health benefits" and "ensure that such essential health benefits reflect an appropriate balance among the that benefits are not unduly weighted toward any category."


7. Day 31. With hospital Medicare payment penalties for higher rates of 30-day readmissions and 30-day mortality on the horizon, some healthcare providers are quietly wondering what their healthcare systems might look like on Day 31.

Will repeat patients who perhaps should have been hospitalized on Day 29 have their readmissions postponed a few more hours or placed into observation? Might an arguably preventable death that is now inevitable be postponed one or two more days? Certainly Medicare auditors will be watching.

8. Getting to genba (or gemba). Okay, not exactly a new phrase but we predict much more frequent use of this Lean-derived expression in virtually all aspects of healthcare. Anyone with "chief" in his or her title will be compelled to leave the safety of the office and go to genba, a Japanese word meaning the place where crucial work takes place.

It may mean that a hospital CEO will view the patient's discharge process, or a nurse manager will go to a patient's home to see how preventive care is provided there. It may mean a physician whose patients are frequently
readmitted through the emergency room will go to that ED to watch the next time the patient falls.

The idea is that by going to where the work actually happens, costs may be reduced, care could be streamlined, and patient care might very well improve.

9. Gamification. In a column earlier this year, our former tech editor Gienna Shaw described one possible way to ensure patient compliance and improve health literacy:

"Developers are banking on techniques like 'gamification' (a horrible word to describe health-related web sites that have game-like interfaces and qualities) as a way to get folks to learn about their health and use their healthcare data to improve it," she wrote.

Think of an iPhone app that lets one notify, or even compete with, friends on Twitter or Facebook how far and fast everyone ran today on the treadmill. There might be games in glucose checks for diabetics. Calorie counters may not just log in the day's tally, but also show with a pinball machine interface whether those meals hit all the food groups.

Game on.

10. Engagement. As in physician engagement, board of directors engagement, c-suite engagement, and patient engagement. It's not exactly a new phrase, but the increased frequency of its use in healthcare settings is.

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