I just returned from a wonderful vacation in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is considered an unincorporated territory of the United States. The United States Congress legislates over many fundamental aspects of Puerto Rican life, including citizenship, currency, postal service, foreign affairs, military defense, communications, labor relations, the environment, commerce, finance, health and welfare, and many others.
In San Juan you would never know you were outside the U.S. However, just a few miles outside of San Juan it takes on the view of a third world country. Puerto Rico has a population of approximately 4 million and has the highest population density of any state or territory. They have a median income of approximately 34% of residents in the US.
Managed Care in Puerto Rico
In 1993 in an effort to improve health care for its residents, they moved to a managed care system. It has resulted in a more evident gap in the financing of health care in which 90% are dependent on Medicaid funding. This was very interesting to me as I am very much involved in sustaining a business in the industry.
Group Purchasing Organizations (GPO’s) in the U.S.
Many of these same issues are becoming evident in the U.S. throughout our poor, indigent, and rural populations. My personal observations in the last year involve the purchasing systems of our hospitals. Many have made drastic changes. This has occurred by negotiating the “best” deals through companies called Group Purchasing Organizations (GPO’s) which contract with large medical suppliers.
This is fine and dandy, however, small businesses are being squeezed out. We have a very niche (small) market and have based our business on innovative products, some of which we have filed and/or received patents on. That leaves us no competition in many areas which would ordinarily be great, however, if you are a small business and have a few products (not thousands) the GPO’s will not even look at you.
Just recently they have said we can apply to bid for spots on the contracts but, I still haven’t figured out how to do this and none of them are very helpful. Most large organizations hire someone to specifically do only GPO contracts. We are a small business and do not have the resources to hire someone whose sole purpose is to simply figure all of this out.
Our other dilemma is we wanted to be fairly priced when we started this business not giving ourselves huge mark-ups. If we have to go through GPO’s, they retain a certain % and we have to discount the products on top of that. This leaves me wondering…. we developed very cost effective products and pass that cost savings on to the health providers without a middle group (the GPO’s who get a percent of the cost savings they get the hospital). If the medical companies and insurance companies took out the middle person and went to the proposed managed health care program with this reduction (which would be the same as going through a GPO) it would save billions.
So I ask you, would this not improve our health care costs? Bring the innovation of small businesses to the forefront? I really don’t know, but it sure seems like a place to start……
This is an interesting topic of which I get many different answers. Women are multitaskers. They take care of family, friends, organize the home, work, entertainment and wonder why they are tired. I have often wondered if I didn’t have all of those things to do would I be bored???
I have worked at a crazy pace for many years and I have to say I need that extra stress to produce my best work. Even at the ripe age of 51 it seems like my memory sharpens and I’m happier when I am under pressure. However when I’ve completed the crazy task I sometimes need weeks to recuperate and then I’m back in the cycle again. Am I bi-polar??? No and as I discuss all this with my sister (the therapist) and other girlfriends I find this is very normal…why?????
While I can’t answer why, I just know that when it gets to be too much I schedule a massage, sit in the bathtub with a book and a glass of wine and relax. I top the pampering of myself with organic soaps, lotions and bath salts. I deserve it!!!! I also get some of my best ideas in the bathtub. I remember reading twenty some years ago about fragrances and chemicals in our soaps and pampering products. I have always used natural ingredients ever since. But, even some of our “natural” stores carry products that aren’t good for you.
The Breast Bar and Breast Lotion
In educating myself about these products I decided I would only use the best I could afford. As I developed new products for our business this has always been in the back of my mind. How could I help cancer patients and educate people at the same time. Thus the “Breast Bar” and “Breast Lotion” products came to existence! This allowed me the opportunity to use the highest quality, organic ingredients; and we could educate people on how to do their Breast self-exams. These are such wonderful products and the organizations that we work with to develop these products are also just the best!!! When your heart is in the right place, all the components come together; and they did.
Supporting Breast Cancer Causes
As an extra bonus we found an organization (The Jill Lamb Foundation) that we wanted to help with the proceeds of the “Breast Bar” and “Breast Lotion” products. We are excited to have many corporate organizations now purchasing these products as give aways for their patients. Ahhh task accomplished!!…now a nice time for a bath.
As we recently received our first 2 patents, (yeah!!!!) I thought I would give a little bit of insight on the trials and tribulations of the patent process. When we started our business we decided that “value” to our company would come via the path of innovation and therefore the “patent” process.
Just to open your eyes don’t even think of starting this process without an attorney and a minimum $5,000 to $10,000. They will always offer the option of a “provisional application” for the first year which is a bit cheaper and it gives you a year to decide if the product will really bring you any value.
The provisional application establishes an early filing date, which does not mature into an issued patent unless the applicant files a regular patent application within one year. A provisional application includes a specification, a description, and drawing(s) of an invention (drawings are required where necessary for the understanding of the subject matter sought to be patented), but does not require formal patent claims, inventors’ oaths or declarations, or any information disclosure statement. What it does do is establish an early effective filing date claiming the priority date of an invention that was disclosed in the earlier provisional application.
Once it is filed as a “patent” it is considered “pending” for review, thus the phrase “patent pending.” This alerts others that it is in the review phase of the patent process. It is usually kicked back by the reviewer at least two times in which the attorneys have to answer what the issues are for or change some wording in the claims etc. This adds on more money and hopefully anywhere from 3-5 years you will either be granted the patent or not.
There are also different types of patents such as a design patent which is granted in a much quicker fashion usually 1-2 years however that only gives you that design of which you submitted no other modifications or claims to other ways to have your product work. You will notice that one of our patents issued is a design patent (the patent number starts with a “D”) .
You also have your options of filing only in the US or International. Of course International is a lot more money again. I did try to file a patent on my own and it ended up getting returned and I had to go to an attorney to get it fixed to re-submit anyway. So my advice is just pay an attorney as the patent laws are only understandable by attorneys!!!
My final word is: You get what you pay for!!! Final cost on these two patents…… a mere $50,000….but they sure are pretty framed!!