Archive for May 2009

Uses for Alcohol-Based Mouthwash

Mouthwash is advertised as an effective liquid that kills the bad germs in your mouth and gives you clean-smelling breath. However, mouthwash is like many other household products. It has many more uses than the use it was originally intended for! Here are unique uses for alcohol-based mouthwash that can make your life a little easier:

1. Clean Minor Cuts and Scrapes With Mouthwash:
Mouthwashes such as Listerine® brand contain a hefty amount of alcohol, at least twenty percent. Since alcohol is an effective germ killer, you can use a mouthwash that contains a lot of this ingredient to clean minor cuts and scrapes on your skin.

2. Keep your Toothbrushes Sanitary:
No matter how clean you strive to keep your bathroom, it's one room in your house where germs still float around on a daily basis. For example, did you know every time your toilet is flushed, the germs that spray from the bowl can travel more than six feet? That's why it's important to keep your toothbrush inside a medicine cabinet and not sitting out in the open air. To kill any germs and bacteria that still may be lurking on your toothbrush, you should still use a mouthwash such as Listerine® to sanitize it every time before you brush your teeth.

3. Kill Nail Fungus With Alcohol-Based Mouthwash:
Nail Fungus is an infection of the nails on the hands and/or on the feet. It can cause your nails to turn thick and yellowish in color. Another unique use for alcohol-based mouthwash is to mix up a 50/50 solution with vinegar. Use a clean cotton ball to apply the solution to the affected nails two to three times a day. It will kill the fungus and make your nails healthy again.

4. Mouthwash Can Help Relieve Bruising:
Have you ever run your arm or leg into a door and thought, "Ouch! That's going to cause a bruise!" Accidents like these happen every day. The next time this happens to you, you can help relieve the bruising. Just reach for your mouthwash! Massage the injured area with a generous amount of mouthwash such as Listerine® brand. The alcohol will lessen the intensity of the bruise that will appear. In fact, the injured area of your skin may not even bruise!

5. Use Alcohol-Based Mouthwash After Getting Tongue Pierced:
After you get your tongue pierced, rinsing your mouth with salt water can help promote healing. However, if you rinse your mouth with a solution of alcohol-based mouthwash mixed in tap water after every meal, it will help kill harmful bacteria that can cause infection. Stir two ounces of mouthwash into a cup of tap water.

6. Use Listerine® as a Hand Sanitizer:
Do you carry those purse-sized bottles of hand sanitizer to kill harmful germs and bacteria? They're rather pricey to buy. Their main ingredient is usually alcohol, that's what sanitizes your skin. You can save money by using an alcohol-based mouthwash to clean your hands instead. Just pour some in a small bottle or leakproof container and use it as an effective, yet inexpensive hand sanitizer.

7. Dry-Up Itchy, Blistered Poison Ivy:
Another unique use for alcohol-based mouthwash is to use a clean cotton ball to generously apply it to patches of Poison Ivy. Do this several times a day and the mouthwash will help relieve the itch and inflammation. It will also dry up the Poison Ivy so it can begin to heal.

8. Use Alcohol-Based Mouthwash As A Mosquito Repellent:
Fill a spray bottle with alcohol-based mouthwash to spry lawn, spray around childs play areas, water puddles, outdoor chairs and picnic tables, spray around porches and patios, and inside dog houses. It will keep mosquitoes away for several days.

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DISCLAIMER: All material on this Blog is provided for your information only & may not be construed as medical advice(s) or instruction(s). No action(S) or inaction(S) should be taken based solely on the content(S) of this information(S). Instead, readers should consult appropriate health professional(S) on any matter relating to their health & well-being.

The information & opinions expressed here are believed to be accurate, based on the best judgment available to the author; and readers who fail to consult with appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries.

In addition, the information & opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Blog author. Blog author acknowledges occasional differences in opinion & welcomes the exchange of different viewpoint(S). The publisher is not responsible for errors or omissions.

Herbal Supplements: What to know before you buy

Rules governing manufacturing of dietary supplements don't take full effect until 2010. Until then, here's what you should know before you buy.

Herbal supplements are rapidly growing in popularity, but are they right for you? That depends on the herb, your current health and your medical history.

Herbal supplements have active ingredients that can affect how your body functions, just as over-the-counter and prescription drugs do. Herbal supplements may be particularly risky for certain individuals, and herbal supplement labels are often vague, confusing and of little help when it comes to making a selection. If you're considering herbal supplements or other dietary supplements, educate yourself about any products you intend to use before purchasing them and talk to your doctor about any supplements you're considering taking.

Are herbal supplements safe?
Until recently, government oversight and consumer protection were very limited for dietary supplements. But in 2007 the Food and Drug Administration, the federal agency responsible for overseeing the safety of U.S. food and drug products, was given the authority to oversee the manufacture of domestic- and foreign-made dietary supplements, including herbal supplements. The regulations require supplement manufacturers to evaluate the identity, purity, strength and composition of their dietary supplements to ensure that they contain what their labels claim and are free of contaminants. The regulations are being phased in over three years, however, so not all supplements are currently tested. It is also important to note that these regulations don't change the fact that dietary supplements unlike medications are not required to obtain FDA approval before going on the market.

What the label tells you?
You can expect certain information to be included on the labels of all herbal supplements, which should help you understand what's inside the packaging. This information includes:

* The name of the herbal supplement, such as St. John's wort
* The net quantity of contents, for example, 60 capsules
* In certain cases, a disclaimer: "This statement has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease."
* A Supplement Facts panel, which includes serving size, amount and active ingredient
* Other ingredients, such as herbs & amino acids, for which no daily values have been established
* The name and address of manufacturer, packer or distributor

Manufacturers typically refer to herbal products by their common name and the part of the plant used to make the herbal supplement, such as root, stem or leaf. If you don't understand anything on an herbal supplement's label, ask your doctor or pharmacist for clarification.


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DISCLAIMER: All material on this Blog is provided for your information only & may not be construed as medical advice(s) or instruction(s). No action(S) or inaction(S) should be taken based solely on the content(S) of this information(S). Instead, readers should consult appropriate health professional(S) on any matter relating to their health & well-being.

The information & opinions expressed here are believed to be accurate, based on the best judgment available to the author; and readers who fail to consult with appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries.

In addition, the information & opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Blog author. Blog author acknowledges occasional differences in opinion & welcomes the exchange of different viewpoint(S). The publisher is not responsible for errors or omissions.

Eat Healthy at Office?

Because many of us spend so much time at work, it's probable that you're doing a lot of eating there--but you don't have to pack on the pounds just because you're not near your fridge stocked with healthy meals. Here are some ways to eat right--right on the job!

Instructions

Step 1:
Pack a brown bag lunch. You probably eat lunch while you're at work since it's smack-dab in the middle of the day. So instead of ordering out, try bringing a lunch with you--even if it's just once a week. Include something good like a sandwich, leftovers, a frozen meal, soup or salad.

Step 2:
Get a new perspective on the cafeteria. You may think your cafeteria at work is no good, but give it another look. Maybe they have a decent salad bar and you can make it better by bringing a healthy dressing with you. Consider sandwiches, which offer a diverse number of healthy food options. Skip the greasy stuff and look at other options out there.

Step 3:
Switch your hours. If you've got a flexible schedule, maybe you can work it so you eat breakfast at home and leave early enough to make dinner at home. You're more likely to eat better when it's not on the run. (Even if you don't prepare meals at home daily, cook so that you have leftovers.)

Step 4:
Stash some super snacks. Keep the munchies at bay by stocking up your desk. Snacks like peanuts, pretzels, popcorn, cut-up veggies, fruit and yogurt are great for a healthy fix that will keep you focused. You're less likely to hit the vending machine if you've got options at your fingertips.

Tips & Warnings:
- Go food shopping for snacks solely for work.
- Make a list and go food shopping. Do some smart meal planning so you have the ingredients you need to make meals. If you don't cook much, you can still get better options at the grocery store than ordering out. You'll save money too!
- Start by limiting your take-out food slowly. Go down to one brown bag lunch a week to begin with. Then build it up.


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DISCLAIMER: All material on this Blog is provided for your information only & may not be construed as medical advice(s) or instruction(s). No action(S) or inaction(S) should be taken based solely on the content(S) of this information(S). Instead, readers should consult appropriate health professional(S) on any matter relating to their health & well-being.

The information & opinions expressed here are believed to be accurate, based on the best judgment available to the author; and readers who fail to consult with appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries.

In addition, the information & opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Blog author. Blog author acknowledges occasional differences in opinion & welcomes the exchange of different viewpoint(S). The publisher is not responsible for errors or omissions.

10 Ways to Beat Dry Skin

Skincare is totally seasonal, just like your wardrobe. In summer, you're busy with sun protection (aren't you?), while in winter you may seem addicted to moisturizers because your skin gets so dried out and flaky (this is called "winter itch"). So why the dry skin in winter? Low temperatures, low humidity and strong, harsh winds deplete skin of its natural lipid layer which keeps the skin from drying out. To keep your skin feeling dewy and moist even in the harsh winter weather, follow these dry skin fix-it tips.

Keep Water Lukewarm, Not Hot:
Hot water robs skin of moisture causing dry skin, so it's best to shower in lukewarm water. If you can't bear this rule -- I can't -- try to keep your warm showers short and try showering only once per day. This also means skipping the hot tubs in winter (another rule I simply cannot bear). The hot, hot temperature, combined with drying chemicals, is torture on dry skin.

The same rule applies to hand-washing:
Wash hands in lukewarm, never hot, water (this is a rule I firmly abide by). If your skin turns red, the water is simply too hot.

Moisturize After Showers or Handwashing:
Moisturizer is the key to soft, supple skin in winter. Apply product when skin is slightly damp. For best effect, pat skin dry instead of rubbing with your towel before application.

Antibacterial soap in public places can be harsh on hands, so I like to keep hand salve in my purse (my hands-down favorite: Kiehls). To keep cuticles soft, I massage in olive oil.

Extra Tip: I love keeping moisturizer and facial water on my desk at work. I spritz Evian Mineral Spray (about $11 in drugstores), and then dab on moisturizer. The water locks in moisture and leaves my skin refreshed even in harsh office heat.

Exfoliate on a Weekly or Semi-weekly Basis:
Moisturizer is much more effective on properly exfoliated skin. Use a scrub in the shower and exfoliate facial skin with a mild scrub made for the face.

It's best to scrub skin when it's dry, according to Marcia Kilgore, the founder of Bliss Spa in New York, in InStyle Magazine's September, 2005, issue. Apply scrub to dry skin before you turn on the water (mix with lotion if it's not moist enough). Massage the scrub in for a good five minutes for best results.

Extra Tip: Dry brush skin before a shower with a body brush to remove flaky skin (it's more effective than brushing in the shower).

Invest in a Humidifier:
Furnaces rob air of moisture, leaving very little humidity in the air. I once read that your skin needs more than 30 percent humidity to stay properly moisturized. A room heated by a furnace can have as little as 10 percent moisture. In the winter, consider sleeping with a humidifier in your bedroom. Keep doors closed so the moist air doesn't escape the room.

Skip the Drying Soaps:
Stick with a creamy moisturizing cleanser that contains glycerin or petrolatum, such as Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Wash, or Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash (my current drugstore pick).

Extra Tip: Simply can't skip the bath? Skip the bubbles, which can contain harsh foaming ingredients and opt for bath oils or oatmeal scrubs, which are great for soothing itchy skin.

Baby Your Hands & Feet:
Hands and feet can suffer terribly in winter. Put on moisturizer and gloves BEFORE you head outdoors, and consider lathering up your feet in thick moisturizer and sleeping in cotton socks at night.

Extra Tip: Cover feet in a thick moisturizer, wrap feet in Saran Wrap, then pull on a pair of socks for a couple hours. Try to sit or lie down while the moisturizer soaks in or risk sliding into a full split and pulling your groin muscles. The same treatment can be done on hands, except try plastic bags and keep hands in a pair of socks. A half-hour should do you.

Stay Hydrated But Don't Go Overboard:
Many people believe if they drink more water, they'll hydrate skin. But I've read time & time again that this is a myth & you simply cannot moisturize skin from the inside out.

That said, a small study recently published by the University of Hamburg (& reported in Allure magazine), suggests people who drink relatively little water could see a significant benefit in skin hydration if they started drinking nine eight-ounce glasses of water per day. What does this mean? Probably that dehydration does affect skin, but a normally hydrated person isn't going to see major benefits by drinking even more water. My advice: don't expect bottled water to save you from winter itch.

Don't Forget Your Lips:
Licking your lips will not moisturize them & instead will help dry them out. Lips retain less moisture than other parts of the body, so they tend to dry out more quickly. A simple lip balm2 helps, as does my all-time favorite lip trick learned in high school from "Seventeen" magazine: moisturize your lips with Vaseline. Take a toothbrush and "brush" your lips in a circular motion. This will remove dead flakes and leave your lips soft and supple.

Try: Kinerase Lip Treatment3 (about $38).

Your Face Needs Extra Care in Winter:
Cold winter wind can wreak havoc on skin. To keep your face supple in winter, apply moisturizer to your face before going out into the cold and cover your face with a scarf in harsh wind.

If you have super, duper sensitive skin, consider avoiding rinsing your face with tap water, which can contain harsh minerals that are especially drying to the skin (Dr. Dennis Gross once told me New York water contains a lot of harsh minerals, while Seattle water, for example, does not. Go figure).

Instead, do like the French and cleanse skin in winter with a cleaner that does not require rinsing, like Pond's Cold Cream. You can also rinse with special water that contains selenium and chamomile, suggests beauty expert Valerie Monroe in the September, 2006 issue of O, the Oprah Magazine.

Extra Tip: Try spritzing your face with facial water (Evian Mineral Spray, $11, works great) before applying moisturizer several times during the day in the office. The water locks in moisture and leaves skin refreshed even in harsh office heat.


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DISCLAIMER: All material on this Blog is provided for your information only & may not be construed as medical advice(s) or instruction(s). No action(S) or inaction(S) should be taken based solely on the content(S) of this information(S). Instead, readers should consult appropriate health professional(S) on any matter relating to their health & well-being.

The information & opinions expressed here are believed to be accurate, based on the best judgment available to the author; and readers who fail to consult with appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries.

In addition, the information & opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Blog author. Blog author acknowledges occasional differences in opinion & welcomes the exchange of different viewpoint(S). The publisher is not responsible for errors or omissions.

Body Hair Removal Tips

If you desire to have a smooth, hairless skin all over your body without any pain & harm to you the following hair removal means will be of great interest for you.

Plucking:
This technique works with the help of tweezers. A specialist stretches the skin, grips the hair close to the root, pulling it out. The effect is achieved for 3 to 8 weeks. One of its advantages is its low cost. Hair growth will stop within one to four months. Thus you achieve soft and smooth skin.

However this hair removal method has its minuses. Firstly it requires much time; only one hair is pulled out for one time. Secondly, it is painful. That is why it is better to use plucking only on small areas, for instance eyebrows, upper lip, and chin areas. In addition this techniques results temporary red bumps.

Depilatory Cream & Lotion:
Depilatory creams and special lotions remove hair from the surface of the skin. The effect is achieved for several days to 2 weeks

The advantages of this treatment are as follows. You may apply it by yourself in home conditions. It is quick to do and quite cheap. It is better to use depilatories on the leg, underarm, and bikini areas. Special depilatory creams may be also used on the face and chin.

The minuses of this technique are as follows. Some people dislike the smell. You may get an allergy due to chemical component included in the cream. As a result you may suffer from a rash or inflammation.

Waxing:
Here your spread a sticky wax on the area of unwanted hair. Then you cover this waxed area with a cloth strip rip it off in no time. Thus, you manage to take the hair root along with dead skin cells. Waxing can be made either at a salon or at home. The effect is achieved for 3 to 6 weeks

Its advantages are the following. This treatment makes the waxed area smooth. The hair growth after this method looks lighter and it is not as noticeable as it is does after other treatments.

One of the minuses is the pain that a person feels once the undesired hair is ripped off. In addition, this treatment may cause temporary redness, inflammation, & bumps. If you use the service of a salon it will be not so cheap. Note, diabetics cannot apply this method of hair removal due to their susceptibility to infection. In addition it is not for teenagers who have skin irritation from sunburn would.

Laser Hair Removal:
The laser hair removal gives good results if applied for people with light skin & dark hair. The effect is achieved for about 6 months.

A big advantage of this technique is that is long lasting. In addition, at the same time it can be applied to large areas of skin.

The big disadvantage is in its high cost (one treatment procedure may cost $500 or even more). This expensive method of hair removal may also result inflammation and redness.

Prescription Treatments:
One of the effective prescription treatments is a facial cream called Eflornithine™. It should be applied two times per day until the hair becomes softer & lighter. This treatment may also cause skin irritation & acne.


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DISCLAIMER: All material on this Blog is provided for your information only & may not be construed as medical advice(s) or instruction(s). No action(S) or inaction(S) should be taken based solely on the content(S) of this information(S). Instead, readers should consult appropriate health professional(S) on any matter relating to their health & well-being.

The information & opinions expressed here are believed to be accurate, based on the best judgment available to the author; and readers who fail to consult with appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries.

In addition, the information & opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Blog author. Blog author acknowledges occasional differences in opinion & welcomes the exchange of different viewpoint(S). The publisher is not responsible for errors or omissions.

7 Fish Oil Benefits Proven by Research

1. Less Pain and Inflammation.
Omega 3 fatty acids, particularly EPA, have a very positive effect on your inflammatory response. Through several mechanisms, they regulate your body's inflammation cycle, which prevents and relieves painful conditions like arthritis, prostatitis, cystitis and anything else ending in "itis."

2. Cardiovascular Health.
Omega 3 fatty acids have also been proven to work wonders for your heart and the miles and miles of arteries and veins that make up your cardiovascular system. They help to lower cholesterol, tryglicerides, LDLs and blood pressure, while at the same time increasing good HDL cholesterol. This adds years to your life expectancy.

3. Protection from Stroke and Heart Attack.
When plaque builds up on arterial walls and then breaks loose, it causes what's known as a thrombosis, which is a fancy way of saying clot. If a clot gets stuck in the brain, it causes a stroke and when it plugs an artery, it causes a heart attack. Research shows omega 3 fatty acids break up clots before they can cause any damage.

4. Better Brain Function and Higher Intelligence.
Pregnant and nursing mothers can have a great impact on the intelligence and happiness of their babies by supplementing with fish oil. For adults, omega 3 improves memory, recall, reasoning and focus. You'll swear you're getting younger and smarter.

5. Less Depression and Psychosis.
Making you smarter is not all omega 3 does for your brain. Psychiatry department researchers at the University of Sheffield, along with many other research studies, found that omega 3 fish oil supplements "alleviate" the symptoms of depression, bipolar and psychosis (Journal of Affective Disorder Vol. 48(2-3);149-55).

6. Lower Incidence of Childhood Disorders.
Just to show how fish oil fatty acids leave nobody out, studies show that children (and adults) with ADD and ADHD experience a greatly improved quality of life. And those with dyslexia, dyspraxia and compulsive disorders have gotten a new lease on life thanks to omega 3 oils.

7. Reduction of Breast, Colon and Prostate Cancer.
And finally, omega 3 fish oil has been shown to help prevent three of the most common forms of cancer รข€“ breast, colon and prostate. Science tells us that omega 3s accomplish this in three ways. They stop the alteration from a normal healthy cell to a cancerous mass, inhibiting unwanted cellular growth and causing apoptosis, or cellular death, of cancer cells.

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DISCLAIMER: All material on this Blog is provided for your information only & may not be construed as medical advice(s) or instruction(s). No action(S) or inaction(S) should be taken based solely on the content(S) of this information(S). Instead, readers should consult appropriate health professional(S) on any matter relating to their health & well-being.

The information & opinions expressed here are believed to be accurate, based on the best judgment available to the author; and readers who fail to consult with appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries.

In addition, the information & opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Blog author. Blog author acknowledges occasional differences in opinion & welcomes the exchange of different viewpoint(S). The publisher is not responsible for errors or omissions.

Facial to Lighten Dry Skin

Milk contains lactic acid, an AHA. Regular use of milk helps lighten skin gently, leading to fairer skin. Lactic acid may irritate sensitive skin though. Although milk is soothing for most people, you still should test it on the crook of your arm to see if it irritates your skin. If no irritation occurs, then proceed.
Before you star

Wash your hands with soap and water.

Wash all the bowls, whisk, utensils, spoons, cups and whatever equipment you will be using for this facial with soap and water. Sterilize these with boiling water. (Note: do not boil glass items as these can crack and the splinters can injure you. Certain plastics can melt if boiled so watch out for that). Make sure all surfaces you use for preparing this facial are clean. Remember. For home facials, hygiene and cleanliness is all important.

Soak 2 cotton pads in rose water.

Prepare 3 large sterile strips of cotton wool. The 1st strip should be large enough to cover your neck. The 2nd strip should be able to cover the lower part of your face from below your ears across your face under your nose. The 3rd should cover the rest of your face (Leaving a gap for your nostrils so that you can breathe.) Soak these pads in buttermilk.

Put a handful of rose petals into a bowl.

Fill a kettle with water and set that to boil.

Wear a hair band or shower cap to keep your hair off your face. Get ready some cotton pads and a clean towel an 1 tablespoon of skim milk.

Now you are ready for your facial.


The facial

Dip a pair of clean cotton pads into a bowl with 1 tablespoon of milk and 1 teaspoon of almond oil. Use these pads to wipe your makeup off your face. Discard leftover mixture.

Wash off the milk and oil with lots of water.

Mix 1 tablespoonful of milk with the almond flour. Use that as a scrub to cleanse your face. Discard leftover scrub.

Wash off the scrub with lots of water.

Dry your face with a clean towel.

Pour boiling water into the bowl of rose petals.

With the towel forming a 'tent' over your head and the bowl, keep your face about 20cm above the bowl. (Caution: Skip this step if you are an asthmatic. The steam could trigger an attack. Skip this step if you have thread veins. The heat could worsen your condition )

Relax and let the steam cleanse your face for 10 minutes.

Put 1 pad soaked with rosewater over each eye

Soak the 3 large strips of cotton wool in buttermilk. Apply that on your face as a mask, avoiding your nostrils so that you can breathe. Put the strip across your neck first, then the strip under your nose, followed by the largest strip above your nose over the rest of your face. Be sure to leave your nostrils uncovered so that you can breathe easily. Discard leftovers.

Relax with the mask for 30 minutes.

Remove the pads and cotton wool.

Wash off the residue with lots of water.

Dip 2 new cotton pads in the witch hazel and use it as a toner to clean your face further.

Apply your favorite moisturizer and you are set to go.

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DISCLAIMER: All material on this Blog is provided for your information only & may not be construed as medical advice(s) or instruction(s). No action(S) or inaction(S) should be taken based solely on the content(S) of this information(S). Instead, readers should consult appropriate health professional(S) on any matter relating to their health & well-being.

The information & opinions expressed here are believed to be accurate, based on the best judgment available to the author; and readers who fail to consult with appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries.

In addition, the information & opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Blog author. Blog author acknowledges occasional differences in opinion & welcomes the exchange of different viewpoint(S). The publisher is not responsible for errors or omissions.

Top Ten Of the World (P1)





Top Ten Of the World (P2)






Top Ten Of the World (P3)





Lessons from a Frugal Innovator

The rich world’s bloated health-care systems can learn from India’s entrepreneurs

ENTER the main cardiac operating-room at Bangalore’s Wockhardt hospital on a typical morning, and you will find a patient on the operating table with a screen hanging between his head and chest. On a recent visit the table was occupied by a middle-aged Indian man whose serene look suggested that he was ready for the operation to come. Asked how he was, he smiled and answered in Kannada that he felt fine. Only when you stand on a stool to look over the screen do you realise that his chest cavity has already been cut open.

As the patient was chatting away, Vivek Jawali and his team had nearly completed his complex heart bypass. Because such “beating heart” surgery causes little pain and does not require general anaesthesia or blood thinners, patients are back on their feet much faster than usual. This approach, pioneered by Wockhardt, an Indian hospital chain, has proved so safe and successful that medical tourists come to Bangalore from all over the world.

This is just one of many innovations in health care that have been devised in India. Its entrepreneurs are channelling the country’s rich technological and medical talent towards frugal approaches that have much to teach the rich world’s bloated health-care systems. Dr Jawali is feted today as a pioneer, but he remembers how Western colleagues ridiculed him for years for advocating his inventive “awake surgery”. He thinks that snub reflects an innate cultural advantage enjoyed by India.

Unlike the hidebound health systems of the rich world, he says, “in our country’s patient-centric health system you must innovate.” This does not mean adopting every fancy new piece of equipment. Over the years he has rejected surgical robots and “keyhole surgery” kit because the costs did not justify the benefits. Instead, he has looked for tools and techniques that spare resources and improve outcomes.

Shivinder Singh, head of Fortis, a rival hospital chain based in New Delhi, says that most of the new, expensive imaging machines are only a little better than older models. Meanwhile, vast markets for poorer patients go unserved. “We got out of this arms race a few years ago,” he says. Fortis now promises only that its scanners are “world class”, not the newest.

Mr Singh is not alone in thinking that many firms in the rich world are looking at innovation the wrong way. Paul Yock, head of the bio-design laboratory at Stanford University, which develops medical devices, argues that medical-technology giants have “looked at need, but been blind to cost.” Amid growing concern about runaway health spending, he thinks the industry can find inspiration in India.

Poverty, geography and poor infrastructure mean that India faces perhaps the world’s heaviest disease burden, ranging from infectious diseases, the traditional scourge of the poor, to diseases of affluence such as diabetes and hypertension. The public sector has been overwhelmed, which is not surprising considering how little India’s government spends on health as a share of national income (see chart). Accordingly, nearly four-fifths of all health services are supplied by private firms and charities—a higher share than in any other big country.

In the past that was more a reflection of the state’s failure than the dynamism of entrepreneurs, but this is changing fast. Technopak Healthcare, a consulting firm, expects spending on health care in India to grow from $40 billion in 2008 to $323 billion in 2023. In part, that is the result of the growing affluence of India’s emerging middle classes. Another cause is the nascent boom in health insurance, now offered both by private firms and, in some cases, by the state. In addition, the government has recently liberalized the industry, easing restrictions on lending and foreign investment in health care, encouraging public-private partnerships and offering tax breaks for health investments in smaller cities and rural areas.


Cheaper and smarter

This has attracted a wave of investment from some of India’s biggest corporate groups, including Ranbaxy (the generic-drugs pioneer behind Fortis) and Reliance (one of India’s biggest conglomerates). The happy collision of need and greed has produced a cauldron of innovation, as Indian entrepreneurs have devised new business models. Some just set out to do things cheaply, but others are more radical, and have helped India leapfrog the rich world.

For years India’s private-health providers, such as Apollo Hospitals, focused on the affluent upper classes, but they are now racing down the pyramid. Vishal Bali, Wockhardt’s boss, plans to take advantage of tax breaks to build hospitals in small and medium-sized cities (which, in India, means those with up to 3m inhabitants). Prathap Reddy, Apollo’s founder, plans to do the same. He thinks he can cut costs in half for patients: a quarter saved through lower overheads, and another quarter by eliminating travel to bigger cities.

Columbia Asia, a privately held American firm with over a dozen hospitals across Asia, is also making a big push into India. Rick Evans, its boss, says his investors left America to escape over-regulation and the political power of the medical lobby. His model involves building no-frills hospitals using standardized designs, connected like spokes to a hub that can handle more complex ailments. His firm offers modestly priced services to those earning $10,000-20,000 a year within wealthy cities, thereby going after customers overlooked by fancier chains. Its small hospital on the fringes of Bangalore lacks a marble foyer and expensive imaging machines—but it does have fully integrated Health Information-Technology (HIT) systems, including Electronic Health Records (EHRs).

New competitors are also emerging. A recent report from Monitor, a consultancy, points to LifeSpring Hospitals, a chain of small maternity hospitals around Hyderabad. This for-profit outfit offers normal deliveries attended by private doctors for just $40 in its general ward, and Cesarean sections for about $140—as little as one-fifth of the price at the big private hospitals. It has cut costs with a basic approach: it has no canteens and outsources laboratory tests and pharmacy services.

It also achieves economies of scale by attracting large numbers of patients using marketing. Monitor estimates that its operating theaters accommodate 22-27 procedures a week, compared with four to six in other private clinics. LifeSpring’s doctors perform four times as many operations a month as their counterparts do elsewhere—and, crucially, get better results as a result of high volumes and specialization. Cheap and cheerful really can mean better.

But there is more to India’s approach than cutting costs. Its health-care providers also make better use of HIT. According to a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, fewer than 20% of doctors’ surgeries in America use HIT. In contrast, according to Technopak, nearly 60% of Indian hospitals do so. And instead of grafting technology onto existing, inefficient processes, as often happens in America, Indian providers build their model around it. Apollo’s integrated approach to HIT has enabled the chain to increase efficiency while cutting medical errors and labor. EHRs and drug records zip between hospitals, clinics and pharmacies, and its systems also handle patient registration and billing. Apollo is already selling its expertise to American hospitals.


Eye on the Prize

A casual visitor to Madurai, a vibrant medieval-temple town in southern India, would not think it was a hotbed of innovation. And yet that is exactly what you will find at Aravind, the world’s biggest eye-hospital chain, based in the town. There are perhaps 12m blind people in India, with most cases arising from treatable or preventable causes such as cataracts. Rather than rely on government handouts or charity, Aravind’s founders use a tiered pricing structure that charges wealthier patients more (for example, for fancy meals or air-conditioned rooms), letting the firm cross-subsidise free care for the poorest.

Aravind also benefits from its scale. Its staff screen over 2.7m patients a year via clinics in remote areas, referring 285,000 of them for surgery at its hospitals. International experts vouch that the care is good, not least because Aravind’s doctors perform so many more operations than they would in the West that they become expert. Furthermore, the staff are rotated to deal with both paying and non-paying patients so there is no difference in quality. Monitor’s new report argues that Aravind’s model does not just depend on pricing, scale, technology or process, but on a clever combination of all of them.

C.K. Prahalad and other management gurus trumpet examples like Aravind, but do the rich countries accept that they could learn from India? Unsurprisingly, some reject the notion that America’s model is broken. William Tauzin, head of America’s pharmaceutical lobby, warns that regulatory efforts to cut costs could stifle life-saving innovation. Sandra Peterson of Bayer, a German drugs and devices giant, stoutly defends the industry’s record. She argues that overall cost increases mask how medical devices, “like cars or personal computers, give better value for the money over time.” Diabetes monitors and pacemakers have improved dramatically in the past 20 years and have fallen in price—but costs have gone up because they are now being used by more patients.

But those examples are exceptions. Many studies show that America’s spending on health care is soaring, yet its medical outcomes remain mediocre. Mark McClellen of the Brookings Institution, an American think-tank, says that a big problem is the overuse of technology. Whether or not a scan is needed, the system usually pays if a doctor orders it—and the scan might help defend the doctor against a malpractice claim. “The root cause is not greed, but tremendous technological progress imposed upon a fractured health system,” says Thomas Lee of Partners Community HealthCare, a health provider in Boston.

Dr McClellen, a former head of America’s Food and Drug Administration, points out that other innovative industries often sell new products at a loss, and recoup their investments later. In genuinely competitive industries, innovators are rarely rewarded with the “cost plus” reimbursements demanded by medical-device makers for their gold-plated gizmos.

That is why Stanford’s Dr Yock wants to turn innovation upside down. He has extended his bio-design programme to India, in part to instill an understanding of the benefits of frugality in his students. He believes that India’s combination of poverty and outstanding medical and engineering talents will produce a world-class medical-devices industry. Tim Brown, the head of Ideo, a design consultancy, agrees. In the past, he notes, health bosses thought all devices had to be Rolls-Royces or Ferraris. But cost matters, too. Pointing to another recent example of India’s frugal engineering, he says: “In health care, as in life, there is need for both Ferraris and Tata Nanos.”

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