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Count Down to Sunday!

January 30, 2015

FullSizeRenderMCN’s Seattle-based corporate office staff share a quick morning break and show their excitement over the Seahawks’ second straight Super Bowl appearance this coming Sunday.

Though our 26 offices nationwide may be fully integrated in terms of training, security policies and procedures, and of course one operational database, we also recognize that many of our team members live in the northeast including in New England. Abby PatsSo thank you Abby and JeffJeff patriot for sharing your spirit with us and our many New England-based clients. We welcome your visits in mid-May when the Red Sox are in town!

Not to be outdone by the corporate office, members of MCN’s client services staff and NW operations management, as well as team members in Tri-Cities (Richland, Eastern Washington) and family members Hunter (pictured with family friend Russell Wilson) and Baby Beau show their colors!seattle

baby Beauhunter with russell wilsonseahawkseastern wa

One Way Other Countries Have Lowered Prescription Med Costs

January 27, 2015

european pharmacyWhat if we didn’t require insurance companies to cover all drugs? As this article suggests, companies are taking advantage of a mix of laws in the US that force insurers to include essentially all expensive drugs in their policies, and a philosophy that demands that every new health care product be available to everyone, no matter how little it helps or how much it costs.

Many European countries say “no” to a handful of drugs each year. For those of you who worry this would eliminate availability to crucial medications, of the 29 major cancer drugs included in the study that are available in the United States, about 97% and 86% are also available in Germany and France, respectively. As a consequence of the stand taken by those countries, prices in Europe for prescription drugs are 50 percent below what we pay in the US.

Because they can say no, “yes” is not a guarantee the drug will be covered, so drug companies are pushed to offer competitive pricing to ensure coverage.  A recent survey of cancer drug policies revealed you don’t have to say no very often to get discounts for saying yes, as demonstrated by Express Scripps and CVS Caremark. Read more…


The Age of Mindfulness

January 23, 2015
Photo from ESPN

Photo from ESPN

A quick Google of “mindfulness” pulled up about 121,000,000 results (0.28 seconds), from Harvard Business Review to the Seattle Seahawks.

Mindfulness is not meditation per se, (though it may incorporate meditation techniques and has some origins in Buddhist teachings) but rather includes many ways of being involving slowing down, awareness, and stress reduction. It includes a set of tools, techniques and exercises to facilitate paying more attention to one’s surroundings and being here in the moment.

It can be as simple and rewarding as driving to work in a mindful way, letting the traffic around you just be, experiencing the moment rather than being upset at that careless pedestrian or person not using their turn signal. It may require giving yourself the time to not be hurried — by leaving a few minutes early for example. It is relevant to business in that a number of businesses are providing the opportunity for staff to be exposed to it in the context of wellness.

Which brings us back to the Seahawks, an excellent approach to coaching and life to ponder as the Super Bowl draws near. “Lotus pose on two,” published by ESPN during last year’s pre-season reviews the process of change and mindfulness approach brought by coach Pete Carroll. The article ends with this quote, one that those of us in Seattle are particularly enjoying about now: “Man, that’s just what I was thinking,” the coach said. “Let’s not just win one Super Bowl. Let’s win multiple.”

MCN Announces Record Performance Metrics in 2014

January 21, 2015

MCN is proud to announce continued gains in client-facing performance metrics. While the company has always met or exceeded industry benchmarks, at the end of 2013 we resolved to do better. The key was and is a shift in how we view quality; moving from inspection and correction and rework to the highest quality input from our consultants. This was achieved by engaging all MCN staff and consultants in the process of examining how we get things done, and making a number of changes to reduce error and rework. We also continued to develop our information infrastructure to support these efforts with workflow enhancements including our recent launch of an updated Provider Portal.

Well the results are in and significant. Key metrics include a reduction in total turnaround time from ordering of reports to delivery, to fewer than 17 business days (note that all numbers are aggregate along all product lines, clients and regions – individual results vary). Turnaround from day of examination/review to delivery is less than 7 business days. We have included graphic data illustrating these achievements. We have also markedly reduced the need for rework and clarifications by consultants.

Quality improvement is a process and not an end point. We congratulate and thank all of our consultants and staff who work to achieve these milestones. We invite our clients and readers to provide us feedback so that we may learn from you.

2014 basic metrics

Food for Thought

January 16, 2015

brain_foodSo, like many people, your New Year’s resolution is to go on a diet. But what are you doing for your mind? This editorial gives readers something to think about as the author discusses his dietary journey for both body and mind.

Pico Iyer, author of The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere, did not hear from his doctor to cut down on junk  food after an annual physical. And yet nonetheless he did, noticing that his not paying too much attention to his food intake was part of his not paying enough attention to what he put into his overall being, including his mind:

I was, in short, what I’d call an externalist — a person who’ll exercise great care over what he puts into his body and never think about what he puts into his mind. Who will dwell at length on everything he can see, in order to distract himself from the fact that it’s everything he can’t see on which his well-being depends. Who will fill his head with so much junk that he can’t remember that wolfing down Buffalo wings is not the problem, but a symptom.

Food for thought indeed. Read more…

New Year’s Resolution: Don’t Have an Annual Physical

January 13, 2015

annual physicalIt may sound a little odd to suggest not going to the doctor. But this editorial does just that. About 45 million American adults have a basic annual check-up. However, a study has indicated that those check-ups for adults — with no specific symptoms to discuss — are not particularly useful. In fact, the Canadian guidelines have recommended against these exams since 1979.

In 2012, the Cochrane Collaboration, an international group of medical researchers who systematically review the world’s biomedical research, analyzed 14 randomized controlled trials with over 182,000 people followed for a median of nine years. Their findings? Regardless of which screenings and tests were administered, studies of annual health exams dating from 1963 to 1999 show that the annual physicals did not reduce mortality overall or for specific causes of death from cancer or heart disease.

There are many reasons why the annual physical is not productive; it does little to avert death or disability from acute problems; it does little for chronic conditions without significantly useful interventions; and, sadly, an early diagnosis might extend the time patients know they have cancer but is unlikely to extend their lives.

This is not to suggest skipping doctor visits altogether: get your flu shots, stay up-to-date on vaccines, discuss symptoms with your doctor.

But consider this from Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, oncologist and vice provost at U. Penn: Those who preach the gospel of the routine physical have to produce the data to show why these physician visits are beneficial. If they cannot, join me and make a new resolution: My medical routine won’t include an annual exam. That will free up countless hours of doctors’ time for patients who really do have a medical problem, helping to ensure there is no doctor shortage as more Americans get health insurance.

West Point Professor and Iraq War Veteran Weighs in on Disability Pay

January 8, 2015
Photo from the Athens Banner-Herald

Photo from the Athens Banner-Herald

Disability benefits, especially for veterans, can be a difficult, often emotional issue to discuss as is witnessed in this The New York Times article and accompanying comments. Lt. Col. Daniel Gade, a professor of public policy at the United States Military Academy, lost a leg while serving as a tank company commander in Iraq in 2005. He spends much of his spare time publishing essays and traveling the country pushing the idea that the Department of Veterans Affairs should move away from paying veterans for their wounds and instead create incentives for them to find work or create businesses.

“It’s a difficult issue to broach. People immediately think you are trying to shortchange veterans,” he said in an interview. “But I’m in a position to do it because I have skin in the game, literally.”

Colonel Gade wants to avoid a partisan fight over his ideas which says are first about helping veterans and second about saving money: “I think we can show we have a no-kidding better way to help veterans that is cheaper and more effective.”

One comment author summed many points up not just on veterans’ benefits but the disability system in general: “We can say that ‘disability status’ can become a disability in itself, without suggesting any sort of malingering or intent to defraud. This applies to vets and civilians alike. There are many cases of disability where the person really can’t work; gaining disability status is a godsend for them. It enables them to actually be more successfully productive in the community than continually failing in the workplace. BUT…Some people don’t do well being disabled. The status itself seems to undermine their ability to take charge of their lives.” Read more…


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