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Showing posts from May, 2009

I Want My $50 Billion Back!

General Motors is projected to chew through $50 billion in taxpayer assistance and STILL enter bankruptcy proceedings. Further proof that Americans usually do the right thing but only AFTER exhausting all other options. And, inevitably, making some consultants, lawyers and politicians rich along the way.

When In Doubt, Deny All Terms and Definitions

Cracking the nut of health care reform may be tougher than once thought.

Last week, in a big, PR-inspired blow-out, health care leaders stood shoulder-to-shoulder and promised to do...well..."something" about cost escalation. President Obama, apparently believing them credible and serious of intent, thanked them for their commitment to the common good and then had the Presidential temerity to request a near-term progress report.

Oops. Now the fun begins, as today's NY Times reports on the back-pedaling:

"We may have (or not) promised to 'control' costs. We may try (or not) to slow the RATE of increase. But don't interpret that to mean we'll actually 'CONTROL' costs! And if we did say it, we certainly didn't mean it. Besides, we never expected progress reports and deadlines and all that other accountability stuff!"

OK, that's my slightly-snarky interpretation, but I'm honestly not sure how you put a reform plan together w…

Quote Of the Day

"Personalized medicine is the Holy Grail of health care. We've practiced personalized medicine for 110 years now. What's different is the toolkit."

— Nicholas LaRusso, M.D., professor of medicine and director of the Mayo Clinic's Center for Innovation, told the audience at a recent World Health Care Congress. (From Specialty Pharmacy News.)

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How Much Does Loyalty Matter?

Chrysler and GM are conducting a giant, real-time experiment to find out. Maybe, along the way, they'll learn a real-time lesson in unanticipated consequences.

Thousands of dealers are being jettisoned as part of Chrysler's and GM's restructuring. I guess it's probably necessary; the consultants told us so.

But beyond those selling a single brand, I don't expect very many dealers to just fold up their tent and disappear. More likely, they'll do whatever it takes to keep the lights on - continuing to sell their other brands and used cars, competing for service and repair dollars, maybe even adding an upstart brand or two. Any new entrant to the American auto market can look at the castoffs and see a ready-made dealer network all set up and ready to go.

So Chrysler and GM are lowering their overhead at the risk of creating several thousand new competitors.

The presumption is that consumers loyal to Chrysler, say, will drive further to buy a car at a larger deale…

140 Health Care Uses for Twitter

Reviving A Brand Takes Strong Leadership

The revival of the Chicago Blackhawks, a once-great brand, thought dead and buried a few years ago (from the Chicago Tribune):
"Back in 2007, Wirtz heard ominous rumblings that hockey interest was dead in Chicago, too far gone to recapture -- the Hawks' season-ticket base had slipped below 3,500.

'"I didn't know," he said. "So I got a blank sheet of paper and I wrote down what I'd do with this team if I was starting from scratch. Step No. 1 was hiring good people and letting them do their jobs."'The Takeaway: As I've said many times before, a great brand is built on what an organization is willing to - and actually does - deliver. As Rocky Wirtz makes clear, THAT takes great leadership. And a few crunching body checks.

Psilos Releases 10-Year Forecast for Healthcare Industry

From OneMedPlace's Med Tech Sentinel;
Healthcare venture capital firm Psilos Group has released their first annual report on the issues that will shape healthcare investing in 2009 and beyond. Psilos expects 2009 to be the start of a 10-year cycle that will transform the American healthcare system. They believe that investment in new medical innovations and business models is critical to addressing America’s healthcare crisis. The report focuses on three areas of opportunity: healthcare services, healthcare information technology, and medical technology.

Healthcare IT is (an) area...primed for investment. According to Psilos, for every $1000 the federal government spends on healthcare, less than $1 is spent on researching electronic medical systems. Inefficiencies in medical record-keeping account for $90 billion in excess healthcare spending annually. In addition, inadequate health IT systems can result in medical errors and patient deaths. The use of electronic medical records…

Google Announces VC Fund For Health Care

From AMNews: Google announces a new venture capital fund with a health care flavor...
"The company has expressed a keen interest in health IT in recent years with the development of its personal health record platform, Google Health, as well as software that will allow the data from home health monitoring devices to be streamlined into Google Health accounts. The company also formed a health care advisory committee in 2007 to explore future products it might want to launch.

"Whether the venture capital fund will look solely at health IT companies, or other facets of the health care industry, remains unknown. Google spokesman Andrew Pederson said the company is working on refining its interests. "We're starting out with a broad focus, and we'll re-evaluate our areas as we go," he said."More from Google, here.

How Mentally Tough Are You?

This quiz is meant for triathletes (like me...) but, change a few words, and the aspiring leaders among us (again like me...) may learn something too.

Find out how mentally tough you are by taking this short quiz from Competitive Advantage; Sports Psychology Services and Resources: (note: answer True or False to each...)

1) I frequently worry about mistakes.

2) I get really down on myself during performance when I mess up.

3) It's easy for me to let go of my mistakes.

4) If I start out badly, it's hard for me to turn my performance around.

5) I get distracted by what the coach thinks whenever I screw up.

6) I bounce back quickly from setbacks, bad breaks and mistakes.

7) I do my best when there's more pressure on me.

8) I get too nervous to really perform to my potential.

9) I do better in practice than I do when it really counts the most.

10) I tend to get easily psyched out or intimidated.

11) I can keep myself calm and composed under pressure.

12) I don't want the ball/dread com…

"Wash Your Hands Or I'll Kill You!"

My Mom used to say "No hand-washing, no dinner. End of discussion!" Once in a while she'd say "Wash those filthy hands or I'll kill you!" I'm pretty sure she was kidding, though I was more interested in dinner than in tempting fate.

Now, I've watched hospitals spend countless hours writing and re-writing policies, hanging signs, relocating sinks and educating the troops about hand-washing's benefits. Maybe it's time to learn a lesson from Mom: "...wash your hands or I'll kill you!" Nothing else seems to work.

Same goes for maintaining patient privacy. Hospitals teach and lecture and inservice. They harangue and orient and propagandize. And in true bureaucratic fashion, they make it a policy and procedure issue. Maybe it's time to say "Shut up about all patients - celebrity or otherwise - or I'll kill you." Farrah Fawcett might agree with me. So would Mom.

And I doubt you'd have to cull very many b…

What I'm Reading Now

"Competing on Analytics; The New Science Of Winning." by Thomas Davenport and Jeanne Harris. I was cruising through an airport bookstore last weekend, picked up the book and read the following in Gary Loveman's Foreword:

"...analytic management is impeded by common organizational pathologies:
"A powerful conventional wisdom, often associated with powerful people, is allowed to sustain itself absent critical testing."Decision making, especially at high levels, not only fails to demand rigor and dispassionate analysis, but often champions the opposite as the scarce talent that (separates) CEOs and visionaries from otherwise smart but less inspired people."The organization lacks people who get up in the morning eager to do analytic empirical work and are really good at it. Instead, analytic work is seen as the last resort, undertaken by those unfamiliar with proper methods. And,
"People tend to win over ideas rather than the reverse."Points #1 …

Lean As A Disruptive Innovation at ThedaCare

Sg2's Michael Sachs' thoughts on Lean as disruptive innovation(free registration required.)

As a concept, I'm not sure Lean itself is all that disruptive EXCEPT as it reflects a passionate, organization-wide commitment to improved performance and waste reduction. Add a thirst for new knowledge, pervasive "all hands, all levels" involvement and an executive willingness to stay the course for longer than 2 months, and, yes, it's truly disruptive.

And disruption's very tough to compete with once it's hard-wired into an organization's DNA. But then nobody ever says "We want to be EASY to compete with!" do they?

"Empathy Is Growth" But Not By Itself...

"Knowing the wants of your customers is more important than out-innovating your competitors" says Business Week magazine. Is there really some hierarchical importance here?

What if you're great at knowing the wants but not how to address them? I.e. empathy-driven insights aren't much good without an innovative mindset. You risk leading the way in understanding your customers, only to fall behind more-innovative competitors who excel at bringing solutions to the table.

Alternatively, what value is a great solution to a want nobody's expressed? I.e. where's the benefit of innovation carried out in a empathic vacuum? Occasionally a great leap forward is made by an innovation in search of a problem, and sometimes customers don't really know what they want until they see it. But innovation without a clear link to something customers value is less likely to succeed beyond the theoretical.

The Takeaway: Innovation is where empathy meets execution. Just my two …

"We're So Venal We Serve Only Stupid People!"

Imperious banks treat their credit card customers like dirt. Now Congress is cramming a "Credit Card Holders' Bill of Rights" down their throats. Serves 'em right.

Some mission-starved, dollar-driven NFP hospitals treat patients owing them money just as poorly. Now their tax-exempt status is under review. Serves 'em right too.

Not even the world's greatest logos and taglines can help when your "mission" is secondary to pillaging customers.And don't EVER say, like the banks are, "We've gotta pillage a FEW customers because the alternative is pillaging EVERYBODY!"

The Takeaway: Remember, brands are what your organization delivers, no more, no less. So do us all a favor. If your unstated mission is "we screw customers at every turn because that's our business model..." go ahead and say it. Who do you think you're fooling? Be honest. Quit pretending. You may even find someone who'll do business with you. …