Doctors – Demonetisation is a Signal to Start Better Financial Planning

Most conversations in India over the past month have been singularly about one thing and one thing alone – ‘demonetisation’.  Many of us have indulged in long drawn conversation about the effects of this move – Some accepted it. Some battled it. But at the end of it all, most of us have taken this move in our stride having understood the reason behind this move – to curb hoarding of black money and end the shadow economy. Before dismissing this blog as ‘another blog on demonetisation’ let’s make our intent clear. Our intent here is not to analyse this move but instead, take a look at how some of the busiest people in our country, our doctors, can manage their finances in the wake of intense scrutiny.

Doctors, especially those who run their own private practice and at the same time, consult with a multitude of hospitals always need to ensure that their financial books are in an organised shape. With the move of demonetisation, it now has become imperative that every transaction is accounted for. Given that the doctors are already spent for the time managing their busy schedules, practices, and patient engagements, it becomes all the more imperative to follow good finance management practices to avoid undue scrutiny.

Revenue Management

Doctors today have to ensure that they have a comprehensive revenue management strategy for their practice. Whether it is the hospital that they are linked with or a private practice, it is essential that all transactions are listed out and documented correctly. However, it would be unrealistic to expect doctors who are already running against the clock to be able to manage this along with the work that they are already doing. Leveraging technology and implementing an electronic health management system that easily records and captures all patient related information, services provided and revenue generated is a good place to start in the demonetisation era.

Information Management

Information management is essential for good financial management at this time. All patient related information needs to be filed and documented properly for easy access at the time of assessments. Along with patient information, doctors also need to ensure that all the transactions with vendors, nurses, staff, technician and all other ancillary incomes, expenditures and outflows such as salaries etc. are itemised and enumerated. Proper documentation of transactions with diagnostic centres and laboratories, medical stores etc. also becomes essential in this economic climate.

Clear Accounting Practices

The one thing that doctors have to have in place is an effective billing system. Many doctor’s practices do not have clear and documented collection processes in place. A proper billing system will not only record the transaction that has been processed but will also account for all information related to billing such as insurance claims and denials, proper listing of aging claims, method and mode of payment collection from patients, bad debts and doctor referral charges and fees etc. Having clear accounting practices and adhering to all compliance norms also has become mandatory in this battle against the shadow economy. Inflows from clinics, endorsements, referral fees, consultation fees, daily transactions, and outflows, all have to be properly documented for the taxman given the increased scrutiny on taxation, end of the year audits and increased emphasis on maintaining regulatory compliance.

ePayment Options

The demonetisation drive also places an increased emphasis on electronic payments for record management and transaction tracking. Given that at the present time most people are looking for cashless options for making transactions, providing secure ePayment options to patients to make the transaction process easier and seamless becomes imperative for doctors.

In view of the changing dynamics of the day, doctors, thus, need to have a solution that will help them monitor and manage their finances well and with ease. While hiring external resources is one solution, doctors can also leverage technology to ensure that the day to day financial management happens seamlessly. Having said that, the technology solution has to be easy to access and to use and should allow the doctor to focus on the most important subject – the patient. Using a comprehensive smartphone application, like the MARSPLUS app, that is simple to use and does not demand great technical expertise, allows easy practice and financial management –anytime and from anywhere. It can become the doctors’ best friend to help them navigate the choppy waters of the demonetisation era.

A Cheat Sheet for Winter Skincare

There’s a slight nip in the air and the woollens are out by now already. Unfortunately, to look and feel good, only wearing sweaters and jackets doesn’t suffice. As much as one would prefer covering up and stay warm and cosy, the low temperatures ultimately manage to affect the skin and cause damage. Ideally, following a good winter skincare regime is the way to go. That takes daily commitment for adhering to a schedule, of course. But worry not. If you are hard pressed for time, here is a cheat sheet to still manage to look radiant.

  • Hydration is the key. Dry weather can cause flaking and itchiness. This is even more prominent for sensitive skin. A simple trick for this is to stay hydrated. Though winter doesn’t make us feel as much thirsty, drink at least 8-10 glasses of water each day. Dry skin aggravates skin ageing so it is imperative to keep it moist internally.
  • For cleansing, use a cleanser with Aloe Vera as it helps restore moisture. It doesn’t have any harsh properties and, therefore, post cleaning leaves behind a soft feeling. For very dry skin, avoid soaps. If you follow the daily facial cleansing-toning-moisturizing routine, it is important to use an alcohol-free toner to avoid excessive drying. Look for ingredients such as chamomile and calendula when buying skincare products. These are non-irritants and have natural anti-inflammatory properties.
  • When choosing a moisturiser, someone with an oily skin tone should opt for a light moisturising body lotion whereas; for a dry to normal skin, a thick cream (but non-greasy) should work well. Apply lotion post a shower while the skin is still damp and refrain from excessive towel drying. It helps lock in the moisture. The best routine is to reapply a thin layer of moisturizer as and when you can throughout the day. Massage your hands and legs with argon oil before going to bed to wake up for a supple skin.
  • Speaking of showers, never take a very hot water bath during winter. Of course, the cold weather may want you to increase the water temperature a little more than normal. But that could cause more harm than comfort. Too hot water causes the skin pores to open up exposing them more to the cold air. Hence, go for lukewarm water. Use a detergent-free cleanser, again to avoid dryness.
  • Apply and re-apply a lip balm as and when possible. The thin skin on the lips cracks easily so applying natural protective oils will prevent chapping. The most easily available in this regard is the olive oil. Apply a little at bedtime so the lips too get their share of care.
  • For feet care, apply a thick moisturizer or even Vaseline on those cracked heels, nails, and all over the foot, actually, and wear socks at bedtime. At the salon, opt for a paraffin wax pedicure. Even for hands, for kitchen cleaning, use gloves whenever possible to avoid direct contact with detergents. Also, when you wash hands post some task, pat them dry instead of rubbing hard. For cracked hands and feet, Shea butter creams work wonders. Apply liberally and leave them overnight so they get enough time to recuperate.
  • Sunscreens are a must even during winters. UV rays cause havoc at any point in time and hence, use a broad spectrum sunscreen (for UVA and UVB protection) with minimum SPF 30.
  • If you have access to a humidifier, use one for creating warmth and putting moisture back in the air you are breathing. This also significantly helps in reducing nasal congestions and throat irritations, common due to the dry coldish air. People suffering from sensitive, dry skin completely vouch for the comfort they feel when around a humidifier.

Things to particularly avoid – excessive intake of salt and sugar, and err, alcohol. These will dehydrate your skin and are best to stay away from or at least limit their consumption to a minimal level. Instead, you can drink green tea with natural anti-oxidant properties to stay warm from within.

So get ready for all the New Year celebrations just around the corner. Remember to pamper your skin with all the hydration it needs and let it help you glow in turn.

Learn How to Breathe – Yes, There Is A Right Way!

One of the functions of our body which we rarely, or probably never, pay attention to is breathing. Breathing is a sub-conscious activity which our body carries out for 24 hours every day. But did you know that there is a particular type of breathing pattern which is right? Yes, breathing wrongly can cause side effects to your body and has the capability to cause a lot of disadvantage to it in the long run. Without being aware of it, you may be harming your sleep, mood, digestion, brain, muscles, nervous system, heart and even your teeth and face structure!

In order to avoid these problems and keep your body feeling healthy and fit, you need to learn the right way of breathing. Once you learn the right technique, you will inevitably feel less anxious, stress-free, relaxed, in harmony with yourself and lead an overall happier life. Firstly, you need to breathe in a manner that is physiologically optimal for your body. The problem is that no one ever teaches us how to. Most of us end up over-breathing, holding our breath or engaging in shallow breathing. This leads to a shortage of oxygen and energy in the body.

The human body takes approximately 25,000 breaths per day. The better you take each of these breaths, the more positive will be the effect on your body. Here are some steps you can follow to ensure that you are doing it right:

Rhythmic Breathing

Just like the ocean, breathing also has a particular rhythm which your body follows. The rhythm is measured by getting an EEG (Electroencephalogram) of the body and is similar to the rhythm of your heartbeats or hormones in the human body. When this rhythm gets affected or disrupted, it causes some strain on the body. Activities like coughing, snoring, sniffling can tend to do that. When these occur for long periods, the natural breath falls out of pattern and becomes irregular. The right way to deal with this would be to breathe consciously as much as possible and be aware of how you breathe during different parts of the day. If you want to keep a proper check, set an alarm for every hour on your phone and check your breathing every time it rings. This will help you breathe in a relaxed and silent manner throughout the day.

Breathe using the diaphragm

It is important that the air you breathe through your nose should go all the way down to your stomach. It is only then that your body will feel at sync and you will feel an overall cleanse in your system. Your breathing pattern consists of not only the nose but even your neck, chest, abdomen and shoulders. Almost 70-80% of your breathing should be done through your diaphragm so that it is deep. This will positively affect your lungs, liver, stomach, and intestines and give them a rhythmical balance.

Extended Exhale

When you exhale, try to extend it as much as possible as this helps make your breathing deeper and more rhythmical. The right kind of breathing will involve an inhale that is 2-3 seconds long and an exhale that is 3-4 seconds long, followed by a pause for 2-3 seconds. Extending the exhale also helps make the inhale deeper, further making your breathing more efficient and relaxed.

Body Consciousness

Be aware of your body and keep a check on how tensed or relaxed it is an any given point of the day. The more you are aware, the more you will be able to feel the breathing and regulate it on your own. Always try to maintain a straight posture. Upright posture provides a body with healthier breathing since the diaphragm gets more space to function. It makes it easier for the body to breathe through the nose and also affects your thoughts and feelings in a positive manner.

Deep Breathing

Doctors recommend 10-20 minutes of deep breathing on a regular basis. But even if you manage to practice it for a minute every hour, it can show a considerable change in your body and provide you with a feel-good factor. If you manage to do it right, you will see great changes in your mental and emotional state. Deep breathing also provides a lot of physical benefits to the body, it reduces acidity and makes the body more alkaline. Chronic acidity in the body tissue can be avoided by regulating your breathing and maintaining its level.

While knowing how to breathe properly is the first step, implementing it in your life on a daily basis is what is important. The right amount of practice and determination can help you achieve it and provide all the health benefits your body can acquire.

 

Allergic Rhinitis – Here Is What You Need to Know

A multi-centre study conducted by the Asthma Epidemiology Study Group of the Indian Council of Medical Research found that allergic rhinitis is prevalent among 3.5% of the population in India. In another study, 21.27% of school girls between the ages of 4-17 years were seen to be suffering from allergic rhinitis. So what exactly is allergic rhinitis? Allergic rhinitis, commonly known as hay fever, is a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system of the human body. In layman’s terms, it is caused due to how your body responds to specific allergens. An allergen is a normally harmless substance that tends to cause an allergic reaction in your body. The most common allergen is pollen.

Symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis

Symptoms of allergic rhinitis include sneezing, coughing, frequent headaches, excessive fatigue, itchy and watery eyes, a runny, stuffy and itchy nose, dark circles under the eyes and extremely dry, itchy skin that often causes blisters. You may see one or more of these symptoms after your body comes into contact with an allergen. Severe headaches and fatigue are extreme symptoms which may occur only if your body is exposed to allergens for a long time.

Causes of Allergic Rhinitis

Many times, it may not be easy to decipher the cause of your allergic rhinitis. Essentially, it is caused due to the release of histamine in your body, which occurs when your body comes in contact with an allergen. Histamine is a natural chemical which defends your body from the allergen. Along with pollen, few other things that can cause allergic rhinitis are grass, dust, pet hair, animal dander, dust mites, and cat saliva. Perfumes, smoke from cigarettes and diesel exhaust can also tend to trigger hay fever in the human body. Although tobacco is not directly related to allergic rhinitis, a study on MedIND showed that 55% of people suffering from allergic rhinitis were tobacco users. In some cases, allergic rhinitis occurs due to a family history of allergies. Cold temperatures, humidity, the wind, air pollution, hairspray, and fumes may also trigger or worsen the situation of allergic rhinitis.

Types of Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis can be categorized into two different types – seasonal and perennial. Pollen-based allergies are usually seasonal and occur around the summer season. This kind of allergic sensitivity may even be caused by allergens from grass, trees, and weeds. Perennial allergic rhinitis, on the other hand, shows symptoms all your year round. It is caused due to substances you may come in contact with on a daily basis such as dust mites, pet hair, or cockroaches. At times, hidden food allergies may also result in perennial nasal symptoms.

Diagnosis of Allergic Rhinitis

If you experience any of the symptoms of allergic rhinitis, you can visit your doctor for further diagnosis. The doctor can check the inside of your nose to spot nasal polyps. These are fleshy swellings that grow from the lining of the sinuses, the small cavities inside your nose. Another common method of diagnosis is the skin prick test in which the doctor places the allergen on your arm and pricks the surface of your skin to let it enter it into your immune system. This is done to check how your body reacts to it. If you are allergic to it, a small itchy spot will appear. Another way to go about the diagnosis is through a blood test. This helps in checking the immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibody in your blood. This antibody is produced in your immune system in your response to a suspected allergen.

Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis

Mild allergic rhinitis can be treated by the intake of antihistamines. Regularly cleaning your nasal passages with a salt water solution, also called as nasal douching or irrigation, can also help. You can consider using eye drops or nasal sprays as they help in relieving the itchiness and other symptoms for a short time.

For severe allergies, a lot of doctors recommend immunotherapy or allergy shots. This begins with taking the shot one to three times per week for three to six months. This is called the build up phase. This is followed by the maintenance phase where you visit your doctor once in a month for a course of three to five years. Once your body starts getting used to shots, the allergy symptoms will start fading slowly and eventually disappear altogether. Another popular method of treatment is sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT). This involves placing a tablet on your tongue, which contains a mixture of several allergens. This method may have some side effects such as itching in the mouth or irritation in the throat.

The best way to keep your allergies under control is to keep yourself and your environment as clean as possible. Identify the things or situations which cause you allergies and try to stay away from those. Don’t let the symptoms hamper the quality of your life – Remember, prevention is always better than cure.

Digital Detox is Not Just a Fad. Here is Why All of Us Need It

Before we even complete that first yawn in the morning most of us are already staring into our smartphone screen doing a status check. It could be checking our emails or seeing the latest crazy cat video on Facebook or Snapchatting away before we even brush our teeth. Somehow, before we even start our day, our gadgets consume most of our waking hours. Most of us will immediately reach for our smartphone as soon as we hear the ‘ding’ of a message. Even at work, our minds are continuously multi-tasking, shifting between the task at hand and the distractions of our favorite gadget. While technology and the great digitization are supposed to help us become more productive, we give them complete control over our lives. As we get increasingly drawn into the world behind the screen, most of us find ourselves frazzled, less productive and even unhappy (yes, studies link heavy use of social media to depression!)

We simply cannot look away from the fact that digital addiction is just as real as any other form of addiction that gives a dopamine hit. So if you find yourself increasingly addicted to your digital devices to plan your life or to even keep your entertained, a digital detox might be in order. In this blog, we take a look at why a digital detox is a good idea.

The Physical and Mental Impact

Excessive use of devices not only have a behavioral impact but also affects our bodies in a negative way. For starters, increased device use impacts our sleep quality as the glow of the devices delays the release of the sleep-inducing hormone called melatonin. It’s not just our sleep that gets affected by heavy device use. Some other physical implications of heavy gadget dependence are listed below:

  • Excessive use of electronic devices can lead to brain restructuring and lead to shrinkage of gray matter, inhibit white matter’s ability to communicate, impede cognitive performance, and increase cravings.
  • It increases the risk of Metabolic Syndrome which is a combination of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure. The effects of sitting down still in one place for a long time cannot be undone easily. A study published in the Journal of Public Health establishes the relationship between screen time and metabolic syndrome in young adults and shows that “screen time was associated with an increased likelihood of MetS in a dose-dependent manner independent of physical activity.”
  • Excessive texting or playing games on tabs or smartphone can lead to soreness and cramping in the fingers, forearms, and wrists and lead to pinched nerves and muscle strain.
  • Staring at your smartphone increases the stress on your cervical spine and lead to its early wear and tear, spinal degeneration and might need surgical intervention. On an average, people spend over two to four hours hunched over their smartphones. That amounts to approximately 1400 hours of excessive stress on your spine as every inch that your head tilts forward, the pressure on the spine increases. Pinched nerves, herniated disks, and change in the natural curve of the neck are just some of the effects of increased screen time.
  • The blue light from digital devices not only keeps us awake but also damages the retina. One study published by the Review of Optometry shows that increased exposure to Blue-Violet Light causes the maximum death of retinal cells.
  • Increased screen time leads to attention problems, increased anxiety, and depression, especially amongst children and young adults.

The Behavioral Impact

The need to ensure a charged phone so that you don’t miss a late night text might seem harmless enough but sends your stress levels through the roof. Our bodies need some solitude to recharge and by constantly staying glued to our devices we are depriving our bodies of that much-needed alone time. A report by Digital Trends reveals, “People in the U.S. check their Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts a staggering 17 times a day, meaning at least once every waking hour, if not more”. It further goes on to reveal that the average American spends more than 4.7 hours a day on the phone…that’s approximately one-third of our awake time!

When people get overly attached to their devices, they start spending more time on their devices and less on human face-to-face interactions. The need to spend time with their devices supersedes attending to essential activates such as work or even spending time with family. When checking emails or messages becomes a greater priority than completing a task at hand, when your smartphone relationship begins to have a productivity impact and when you see yourself getting defensive about your digital behavior and find yourself checking your smartphone every hour or feel the need to respond to or at least check your email as soon as it hits the inbox, it might be time to consider a digital detox.

Going in for a digital detox has many advantages…the foremost ones being giving an opportunity to reconnect with yourself and the real world, increasing your capacity to self-govern and giving yourself the opportunity to actually do things that can make your happy and fulfilled. Taking a break from the digital world helps you reclaim your time, your health and your life. It’s a break that’s worth exploring.