US Healthcare: Consumes 80% of World's Opioid Prescriptions

Prescription painkiller use is at an all time high in America. Eighty percent of the world's opioid prescriptions are taken in the US, yet we make-up just 4.6 percent of the world's population. That means we're consuming 83 painkillers for every one pill the average person takes around the world. So it's no surprise that a recent lead story on WorkCompWire centered on a widow whose husband overdosed on oxycodone (an opioid) and she was able to sue the employer for death benefits. Her husband was prescribed the meds due to a serious work-related accident.


What Type of Ripples Do You Want to Create?

As I have gone through life, I have come appreciate the "ripple effect" and how interconnected the world is.  Every action or choice impacts many other people around you and around them. Most of us know the analogy of throwing a rock in a placid lake, where even a small pebble will make ripples.  These ripples spread and become weaker the further away from the center they get, but the ripples still continue to spread until they reach the shore and then they bounce back.


If Aristotle Ran General Motors

Centuries ago, Aristotle wrote about the four transcendent virtues -- Truth, Beauty, Goodness and Unity. He said these virtues were necessary to achieve good for the individual and society. Author Tom Morris put Aristotle's philosophies to the test in his book, "If Aristotle Ran General Motors" to see if these four transcendent virtues can be applied to our business world today.


Finally...Something for Big Boned People

Everyone knows that the increase in obesity is one of the largest cost drivers in US healthcare costs. For example, medical treatment for workers' compensation injuries can cost six to eight times as much with obese patients vs. non-obese. I tend to gain and lose weight a lot (bad, but my reality), so I was particularly interested to read a new study showing that there is one advantage to having a little more heft when it comes to surgeries.  


The Path of Least Resistance -- It's Downhill

I often see people follow the "easy" path in life.  The "path of least resistance." They avoid hard work. They avoid responsibility. They get by doing as little as they possibly can in every situation. They may survive for a while.  They may fool people for a while.  They may charm people for a while.  Over time, the only steps they seem to take are down.  A little one here; a little one there.  It adds up.  Eventually, their life heads downhill fast and they are "in a hole" and need to climb out.


Encouraging "Flow"

We all have a lot on our plates these days. Email, cell phones, texts, instant messages, Tweets, and Facebook, all allow constant and instant access to us.  This is supposed to increase production, and it does, at times. It also dramatically decreases production on items that require concentration, focus and time to solve issues.  It destroys that zone you get into where your mind is sharp and focused and you're functioning at peak productivity. I call this “Flow.”


Leadership Insight from Amazon

With Steve Jobs no longer with us, a lot of people are talking about Jeff Bezos from Amazon as the best CEO out there. This interview points out the six things that they knew in 1997 that have made their results so amazing today.


Shhhh -- Just Listen to Your Customers

I was speaking with the CEO of an investment holding company and we were discussing the importance of listening to your customer vs. just talking at them about what we think is important.

His holding firm owns many companies, including a sign making company (Dunkin Donuts is a client). He was talking about his sales staff going straight for the sale, focusing on their signs'  benefits, quality, etc.  Meanwhile, the CEO keeps preaching "listen to the client first."


More Consumerism in Healthcare

Here is another article about consumerism in healthcare. It discusses how people who cost the healthcare system more are going to be asked to pay more. I expect this way of thinking to become more common as the costs of healthcare rise and companies can no longer absorb the costs.


If You Are The Smartest Person in the Room ... Find a New Room

"If you're the smartest person in the room ... find a new room." I heard this saying the other day, and it brought a smile to my face.  It illustrates the thought process of a person that will have success in life. Successful and strong people crave and seek out other strong people.  They want to learn more, and can only do so from someone who is better than them at something.


Evolutionary Change vs. Revolutionary Change

I often talk about Evolutionary change vs. Revolutionary change. All products and companies need to change to survive. They need to get better, cheaper and faster at what they already do today.

An effective company develops ways to evolve over time.  Your competition is also evolving.  They do not sit around and do nothing, as much as we’d like to think so.  Designing systems to listen to your customers, gather their feedback data, and react quickly will help you evolve your products faster than your competition. 

We have all heard the expression, "It's a marathon, not a sprint."  Let's look at Evolutionary change like a long race - take the 2011 Tour de France for example.  The winner took 86 hours, 12 minutes, 22 seconds (310,342 seconds). Second place was 1 minute, 34 seconds behind (96 seconds). That isn't a difference of one percent. That isn't a difference of 1/10 of one percent. That is three one hundredths of a percent. The race is 3,479 kilometers and it goes over 20 stages. One tiny little rest in all those days and miles and the winner is no longer a winner.


Entitlement in Society (Part 3): Diminishes Quality of Life

"From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs,” a slogan Karl Marx popularized.  This is not a new enlightened idea; it’s the basis of communist philosophy.  It sounds almost identical to what I am hearing in the CNN article “Are Jobs Obsolete?” , which prompted this three part blog series. It's an idea that destroys happiness, stunts growth and ultimately diminishes quality of life. For the article to make any sense, we have to assume that the benefits of society (our GDP) will be divided among workers and non-workers so everyone’s needs are met.  Need, therefore, is the thing that gets rewarded, not execution, not production and not performance.


Entitlement in Society (Part 2): Stunts Growth

In my last post we introduced the disturbing CNN article, "Are Jobs Obsolete?," and discussed how the premise that most Americans don't need to work would negatively impact individuals' happiness and self-esteem.  Now, in the second of a three-part blog series on entitlement in society, we'll discuss why making jobs obsolete would stunt our country's growth.

The article makes an erroneous argument about how increased technology, automation and efficiency kills jobs. During the Industrial Revolution, machines were supposed to eliminate all laborers and the tractor was supposed to eliminate farm workers.  Yet it didn’t happen and unemployment was below 5% almost 100 years after these innovations. Why weren't more jobs eliminated?


Entitlement in Society (Part 1): Destroys Happiness

I recently read one of the most disheartening news pieces I have ever seen: "Are Jobs Obsolete?"  Not only was it on the front page of CNN’s website, but more than 37,000 people "liked it" on Facebook.  The article's premise boggles my mind: the US is so productive that we shouldn't worry about unemployment rates. In other words, most people could just sit around watching soaps all day, while a few highly trained people and robots work, and our GDP can be divided up to support everyone "just fine."

The article clearly points out the problem this country is having with Entitlement and with people espousing flawed economic and social logic to drive public policy. For three basic reasons this “logic” is not in the best interest of individuals or society, entitlement: destroys happiness, stunts growth and diminishes quality of life. In this blog entry, I’ll address the first: why entitlement destroys happiness.


The Beginning of a Healthcare Market

For years, I have said that the issue with healthcare is it does not act like any other market.  Other industries have competition based on price and quality.  If your price is higher, but your quality or product is better, some people will buy it.  If your price is the lowest, some people will buy it.  If your price is in the middle, but it is a good value, some people will buy it. 

It's hard for any product to have quality stray too far from the highest point, or price stray too far from the lowest point and stay viable. Therefore, companies become more efficient and improve quality over time. Today the price per transaction is actually less for most products than it was when I started in the industry more than 20 years ago.  The value and service quality is way better.  We have had to improve and automate every year to stay viable.


Steve Jobs: Good Enough Was Never Good Enough

We lost one of the great business leaders and innovators of our lifetime. His sister's eulogy captures his private life as a father, a husband and a brother. For me, Steve Jobs' passing was the loss of a personal inspiration and an intense competitor (explained below). Everyone talks about Jobs' amazing impact on various industries. And it's true, Steve Jobs helped revolutionize so many industries. Here are just a handful of ideas Jobs turned into fruition that have changed the world we live in and how we function today:


ICD-10: Healthcare’s Y2K?

Injured while crocheting? Hurt at the opera house? Dinged on the squash courts? From hidden perils to the most random brush with nature, when injuries strike in the future, there will be a code so specific to your injury it is almost comical.  Today, hospitals and doctors work with 18,000 codes, but that number is growing nearly eight-fold to 140,000 codes.


The Cash Flow of Business

One thing I learned starting a business is the government games all the numbers to make a business look like it's making as much money as possible. That way the government can collect taxes at the highest rate as soon as possilbe. While I have no experience with large corporations that can lobby the government for tax breaks -- and there's a lot to solve in the tax break area -- I do understand the smaller business model that makes up the majority of America's job creation.  What if I were to tell you a first year company that made a million dollars could go broke? It's very true. Let me show you some numbers.


Inspirational Fight: Cancer Survivor Makes NY Giants Roster

I love a story about overcoming challenges.  They put life and the “possible” in perspective for all of us. One of my favorites involves a young football player whose story is still evolving today.

The best overall college linebacker I have personally watched is Mark Herzlich. How good was he? Dominant. In 2008, his junior year, he was a first-team All-American and the ACC defensive player of the year. He always seemed to be in the right place at the right time.

was a projected top five pick in the
NFL draft but, instead, he choose to come back for his senior year at Boston College.
Going into his final season, Herzlich was on the Butkus Award watch list, given to the top linebacker in college football. Then, suddenly, everything changed...


The Difference Between Wisdom and Intelligence

"Intelligence is the ability to learn from your mistakes. Wisdom is the ability to learn from the mistakes of others." - Anonymous

I think about this quote often. I'm not sure if that is the exact definition of both words, but it is a powerful concept either way.  Let's say the definition above is true. Intelligence is critical.  People who notice "patterns" more quickly than others and learn from their own mistakes or successes are those we consider intelligent. Over time, by learning from what is occurring around them, they can react more quickly and accurately than the average person. 

Intelligent people gather "knowledge" and "ability" through daily life and their own experiences.  It takes a certain level of humility to allow your own preconceived notions to be challenged, and let unmitigated information mold your beliefs.

There's only one issue... life is too short!


Remembering 9-11 and the Man in the Red Bandana

This weekend is the 10 year anniversary of the most tragic day in my lifetime: September 11, 2001.  Like most, I will never forget where I was when it happened. I will never forget the chaos and the rumors that spread beyond the attacks on the Pentagon and Twin Towers. I remember the numb and disconnected feelings as I watched person after person jump to their death from 100 stories to avoid the pain of burning to death. I remember thinking it had to be a dream. I remember watching in horrified awe as the Towers collapsed. 

Then came the weeks of fear for the people we knew working in New York and the Pentagon, trying to track down and make sure everyone was alive and well. Work was forgotten; small issues were no longer important; September 11 put life into perspective.


HUG Away the Evil E's

One of my pet peeves is people that point out a problem without offering a solution. Too many people get ahead in life nitpicking other people or things, without being able to do any better themselves. So, since I pointed out the Evil E's (Ego, Envy, Entitlement) -- behaviors that destroy teams and cultures -- I better have a solution. HUG stands for the following:


The Evil E's: Entitlement Defined

Now to the final Evil E: Entitlement. When something that was originally a positive in life becomes the norm, Entitlement happens.  It no longer adds value to your life if it happens, it's just expected.  If it does not happen, you become sad, depressed or angry.

Entitlement is actually very ingrained in human nature. Out of the other Evil E's -- Ego and Envy -- I find Entitlement the least purposefully malicious, but the most pervasive.  It's very destructive to a company or team of people.


The Evil E's: Envy Defined

Let's continue with the Evil E's (Ego, Envy and Entitlement) and move to Envy.

"Envy is the most stupid of vices, for there is no single advantage to be gained from it." - Honore de Balzac

I love that quote, because it tells it like it is. Envy is based on comparing yourself to others one subject at a time as your sole basis for happiness and self-esteem. Using that logic, it's impossible to ever be happy. Someone is always "better at" or "has more of" something.


The Evil E's: Ego Defined

I often refer to the Evil E's. I started using this term to refer to behaviors in people that were destructive to a team. The Evil E's are: Ego, Envy and Entitlement. Let's start with Ego.
Everyone has an Ego; it's
 natural and necessary, but it can grow out-of-control. When it causes a person to stop acting in the best interest of the team, it's one of the most destructive, dysfunctional behaviors possible. People with a destructive Ego will often display the following three behaviors:

1.) An inability to listen to any idea other than their own. They lock in on their opinion. Even worse, they will jump into a situation and undermine others because the decision was not theirs. Making the "right" decision is less important than making sure it's "their" decision. They slow down innovation and progress to make sure they have made their mark. They talk about needing to control resources, but avoid accountability.This behavior drives out other strong teammates who do not want to be dominated and want to be heard. This behavior also stifles the voice and drive of the teammates who stay, reducing the brainpower and effort working to make the team great.  The net effect is a lack of trust, a talent drain, fewer ideas, and even fewer vetted ideas. 


"King of the Hill" vs. "Mountain Climbers"

I recently spent time with a bunch of young nieces and nephews. I noticed how jealous they become of one another if one of the other kids receives a gift or more attention. They vie for attention to take it from the other kid. The oldest may try to take the toy away from the younger one; the younger one may cry. It reminded me of one of my life philosophies. I think there are really two types of people in this world: “King of the Hill” people and “Mountain Climbers."


The Inefficiency of Multitasking

I've seen people who believe they're able to juggle a lot of items; they pride themselves on the ability to "multitask."  In today's age of easy access to communication tools and instant responses, multiple demands are placed on us at once. It's true, some people handle these demands better than others.


Stepping Up Your Communication

Communication can be difficult. Especially at work where people will disagree and consensus is needed. Remember – everything you want to accomplish in life requires consensus and an aligned team (think about it). What people often do not think about is that most communication is non-verbal. 

I read these ratios:  7% comes from words (what you say), 38% stems from your voice quality (tone/inflection), 55% are non-verbal cues (facial expressions/body language). This may explain why I hate email and talking on the phone so much.  I am missing out on at least 55% of the message.


You are the Sum of Your Actions

I have often wondered in amazement at how unaware some people are of themselves. I have listened to criminals and murderers in interviews who think they are good people with just a "problem." I watch people who often treat their friends poorly and are always looking out for themselves, who feel like they are good people, who occasionally have "bad days."


The Place of Predictive Modeling in Our World

Predictive Modeling is a term that has become a hot button in many industries. Done properly, predictive modeling has the power to improve efficiency and outcomes in almost infinite ways.

Here's an article published in the WorkCompWire about Predictive Modeling that focuses on the workers' compensation insurance industry. The concepts apply to many industries and I tried to lay the concepts out in simple terms so it may be a good read for anyone interested in learning more on the topic.


Transparency in Medical Bill Review

Here's a Rising article published in WorkCompWire. It's on the importance of transparency in a bill review program.

Transparency is about trust. It's amazing to me how often I find programs with hidden or misleading data, and the client tolerates that behavior.  At Rising, if our partner isn't transparent and open, then that partner is not going to be part of our mix for long.


It's Better to Be Respected than Liked

Machiavelli in his famous book, "The Prince," debated whether it was better for a king to be feared or loved.

In today's business world, I think the question can be rephrased as: Is it better to be "Respected" or "Liked."

It is always nice to be "liked."  But, people do business with people they respect, not necessarily with those they only like.  From that perspective, respect is the more important commodity.   


Supply and Demand - Applies to Governments Too

Illinois just passed a law that taxes Internet retailers differently than other states do.  They also increased personal income tax and have some of the highest sales tax in the nation. Here is a video showing how they pushed an Internet coupon company to the breaking point, and they moved across the border to Wisconsin.

California is notorious for their high levels of taxes and cost.  They also passed an Internet law and Amazon.com and others canceled thousands of their contracts, likely putting a lot of small California vendors out of business.  Over a million high earners have moved out of California in the last few years to lower tax states.


Government Spending - How it Impacts You

When we hear debates on spending cuts or tax increases needed for the government, it's sometimes hard to grasp the issue.  
The only way to get a grasp on what’s possible and realistic is to look at historical numbers. After all, when I see that we’re spending taxpayer dollars to continue funding Anthony Weiner's $1.2 million pensionit gives me good reason to take a closer look.


Associate with Greatness

In our Vision document for Rising, I specifically created a section entitled: "Associate with Greatness"

We encourage our employees to find mentors and to continue to develop.  We encourage our leaders to find outside peers to associate with and learn from.

Why? We know associating with the best will drive us to be the best.


"One and Done" - What Does it Mean?

I have a saying I like to repeat over and over: "One and Done."
In our vision for Rising, the concept behind "One and Done" is described this way:

We know that our quality and our ability to evolve and grow depends on constant improvement and doing things right.  If we think we will need to do something more than once in the exact same way, we automate it.  We put significant effort into building and enhancing our products and services (brains), versus adding resources to do them (brawn). 
It’s easy to focus on what’s most important when you work at Rising.


Healthcare and Medicare Fraud

It is very important that the US healthcare system become less conflictual and more "win/win" for the issues we have today to ever be resolved.

I often hear how horrible the insurance companies are, and there may be many times when the stories are right.  I can also say that spending a week or two reviewing the medical bills submitted to carriers will change any person's perspective on the situation forever.

Quote on How to Live Life

I just love this quote by George Bernard Shaw quote.  I have nothing to add.

“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me; it is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”


"We" vs "Me" Teams

Every group of people is really just a tribe. Some are larger or smaller than others. Companies, countries, sports teams. They all function as tribes. When the nuclear disaster struck in Japan, again it struck me how much better their society functioned during a time of crisis than we did during Katrina. 


Some Appreciation for Coding

Most of us have looked at our medical bills with confusion.  I did when I had medical bills piling up.  It is a separate language and art form to understand healthcare billing in our society.  It is critical that someone look at your billing.  It is a sad fact that many medical providers are more profitable from their billing prowess than their medical outcome prowess. 


Move Slow at First to Move Fast

I was talking to someone the other day who conducts leadership training. Once a year, she goes out with a team to work on a training event at a large multi-national corporation.
She was saying that it is always a struggle to get the company to budget a little time to get the training team members engaged and aligned before starting.  Everyone is so task based they want to jump right in.  Even though she has worked with many of these people a year earlier, she still wants some time to re-engage, slowly rebuild trust, etc.


Achieve as a Team

Congrats to the Dallas Mavericks!

This was a team with non-stars or aging stars.  They had less physical talent than the Miami Heat.  They were not expected to win. Yet, they did.  They moved the ball well.  Played great defense.  Looked out for each other.

The better overall team beat the team with better individual talent!  Another life lesson. 


Become a "Legend"

I have spent a lot of time surrounding myself with success.  I love being pushed and inspired by people achieving greatness.  The one thing I've noticed about almost all super successful people, in any form or fashion, is they all have unrelenting standards.  They aim very high in life. Here's a great article on that very topic.

I love the fact that his driving factor in life is to Become a "Legend."  He must keep working hard, even after winning a race or a gold medal, or two, to truly become a "legend."  This is his North Star that keeps him driving forward.

Each step or race is not the outcome.  The "grand plan" is the outcome.  Without a grand vision of where we want to be, it's impossible to achieve our ultimate potential.

There is a great lesson here.  Strive for extraordinary results in your life, your job and everything you do.  It's the only way to ever become truly exceptional.


Being Treated Fairly - It's Nature

Here is a fascinating thing I've learned about human nature. People often would rather be treated fairly, but worse, than being treated unevenly but better overall. What you talking about Jason? 

There is a famous study done of animals showing how perceived fair treatment is ingrained into nature. This experiment was done with monkeys to demonstrate how strong this instinct is in nature. Click here to see it.

4 Basic Human Needs for Happiness

What makes us happy?  At work?  As a consumer?  In life?  Happiness likely has the same triggers in most any part of your life.

It's a fascinating topic that can take a lifetime to master.  Many companies desire a “great customer experience,” but they really put no effort into learning what makes a great experience.


$5 Million Typo - The Importance of Controls

Read this story about a $5 million dollar "typo." Most of us also remember the stock market crash caused when a broker typed 15 billion shares instead of 15 million, which was dubbed the fat fingered market crash.
I recently heard a story from an employee who caught a $500,000 bill that should have been $5,000 by calling the provider who confirmed the one day stay was not a half-million bucks.


Street Value of Prescription Drugs

In many situations, a person who is injured receives treatment longer than expected. This is very common when people are taking prescriptions or pain medications for long periods of time. There can be many reasons: dependence, addiction, misdiagnosed causation, driving up claims costs for settlement, etc.


The Story of Our Logo: Love it or Hate it

I'm often asked about our logo.  At conferences, people will walk up and say they love it, or it gives them a sense of good luck and they wear our t-shirts during sporting events.  Someone even has hit three jackpots wearing a Rising t-shirt and they wear it every time they go gambling now.  Just as many people tell me it is ugly or distracting.  At a recent client implementation meeting, someone from our new account was distracted by our logo to the point they could not focus and asked where it came from. 


Why I'm in the Medical Cost Containment Industry

Many people have a medical nightmare story to tell.  Stories of medical issues that have compromised or challenged their or their family's financial stability. My own brush with healthcare prompted me to get into this industry and eventually to launch Rising.

The video below is edited and leaves out a lot of details (I was a bouncer – but was off duty and tried to break up a fight with strangers – not recommended).  Still, it gives the basic idea.

Tell me your story in the comment section. Or drop me a line.