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Showing posts from October, 2009

If Wishing and Hoping Could Make It True...

In a quote that makes me question his understanding of innovation, from the NY Times, here's Microsoft's Steve Ballmer, on software: "I want us to invent everything that's important on the planet."

Really? Everything? He'd better get busy, since Microsoft's NEXT invention will be their FIRST. And it's borderline comical to think that a single company can invent everything important, even in a single industry sector like software.

An Innovation Video From C.K. Prahalad

What if...? Why not...? Medically indigent or market opportunities?

What if everything you knew about the world's poor was wrong? What if you re-framed the issue instead of thinking about them as 'someone else's problem' (assuming you thought of them at all?) What if you cast off old notions about global poverty and discarded shop-worn solutions? What if everywhere you looked, you saw, not problems, but challenges to innovate?

Here's a short Fast Company video featuring C.K. Prahalad discussing GE's development of a new, lighter, cheaper EKG machine...

Why not apply the same thinking to YOUR community's indigent care 'problem?' Why not take a blank sheet of paper, cast off everything you know about health care as 'big business' and unlearn all you know about spider webs of regulation and strangling systems of guilds and castes?

Why not, for a moment, ignore that thick binder of policies and procedures, the attitude of 'we're so sm…

Sg2 Forecasts Decline In Hospitals' CV Volumes

From Sg2's Edward Winslow:
"(Cardiovascular) remains the largest service line, but it is the only major service line for which Sg2 forecasts an inpatient (IP) decline. Sg2 projects modest inpatient growth in other major service lines from 2009 to 2019, and the net effect will be a scant 1.7% increase in IP volumes over the decade."I expect we'll hear that old, familiar quote trotted out as hospitals plan CV strategy. You know, the one about not having to outrun the bear, just your hiking buddy.

Hospitals and Social Media: More Stories of Luck and Pluck

"How Hospitals Are Quietly Leading the Way With Social Media" is the headline from Rohit Bhargava, writing in Ogilvy's Fresh Influence blog. Interesting that the article's first example of a hospital "leading the way" is really nothing of the sort. Rather, the hospital appears to be the passive beneficiary of a patient, acting on her own, sharing her cancer story via YouTube.

Sometimes you get lucky, but don't call that leadership.

Cisco Systems Announces I-Prize Competition

From the Wall Street Journal: Networking giant Cisco Systems announced a repeat of last year's successful I-Prize competition. Winners take home $250,000 and years of Cisco's support - in-house development, funding and staff - as Cisco hopes to turn the idea into a concrete business initiative.

Last year's winning idea, chosen from more than 2,500 submissions, was aimed at improving energy efficiency in the home. This year, Cisco has identified video, clean tech, education and health care as priorities. Business plans are due over the winter, with a selection named by spring 2010.

Minimally Invasive Prostate Surgery: Not Always Better

Today's NY Times reports on a JAMA article comparing outcomes from various types of prostate surgeries. The study found that increasingly-popular minimally invasive techniques have more of the complications men worry most about: impotence and incontinence.
“People intuitively think that a minimally invasive approach has fewer complications, even in the absence of data,” said Dr. Jim C. Hu, the study’s lead author, who is director of urologic robotic and minimally invasive surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “Men who were well educated and had higher incomes were actually more likely to embrace this approach, often due to aggressive marketing by hospitals that had spent $1.5 million to acquire the robots. I think the technology has been oversold.”

Dr. Peter Scardino, chief of surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, said the study was important because it reported on data that did not come just from one medical center or one region.

“At the end of the day,” Dr. Scardino…

"Connected Care" Telehealth Program Comes To Rural Colorado

UnitedHealthcare and Centura Health have announced pilot locations for the Connected Care program in Colorado, giving patients in three rural communities expanded access to specialists using advanced teleconferencing capabilities.
"The Colorado program is among the first in UnitedHealthcare`s work to build a national telehealth network. Connected Care links patients with physicians and medical specialists located hundreds of miles away, using advanced audio and
video technologies and health resources to create an experience remarkably
similar to an in-person doctor visit."Something you ought to be thinking about if you're an academic medical center in a state with a large swath of rural areas populated with Critical Access hospitals.

Chrysalis Ventures - Betting On Lowering Costs While Helping Patients

Where are the investors from venture capital firm Chrysalis Ventures putting money to work these days? They're searching "...for health care start-ups that make treatments more productive or make information about health care more cost-effective and accessible to patients." according to Claire Cain Miller, writing in the NY Times BITS blog.

Recent investments include Achieve, a company helping "...people who are struggling to pay their medical bills create a personalized budget that incorporates their credit card bills and other debt." Down goes bad debt.

And CerviLenz, a device that "...helps determine the likelihood that a pregnant woman will have a preterm birth." Up goes early diagnosis and prevention.

Chrysalis isn't trying to predict health reform's final shape but, rather, betting that simple, cost-saving technologies will be in demand regardless. I'd make that bet, too.

Change By Design

From, Renee Montagne interviews Tim Brown, CEO of innovation and design firm IDEO.

Brown points the way to design-driven improvements in health care:
"One of the problems I think we have in health care is that we tend to be thinking about how do we select from the existing choices that we already have, the existing approaches that we already have? The role of design thinking is to help create new alternatives, new choices, things that we haven't had before, ideas that we haven't had before. And it starts with focusing on people, which is the same thing whether you're designing a computer mouse or you're interested in childhood obesity; it starts with people and then applies creative tools to deliver the solution."Starting "...with focusing on people" requires an observational, open mind and an acute willingness to see what's been right in front of you all along. Or as someone once said, "Walk a mile in my shoes..."

A Value-Based Insurance Model From SeeChange Health

From Health Plan Week (via AIS's Health Business Daily) comes word of a "startup health insurer aiming to incentivize behavior change for both healthy and chronically ill members (beginning to market) its products to small employers in Fresno, CA this fall."

One observer calls SeeChange's model "...the next logical iteration in plan design."

Several interesting things:
Small employers (fewer than 50 employees) are the target market here, a segment more used to being over-looked, over-charged and under-served by larger insurers.
Behavior change is incentivized. Members receive richer benefits if they're screened for - and actively managing - a chronic condition.
Not only does the plan accept the chronically ill and those at risk for developing a chronic condition, but it appears to embrace the possibilities of a new model based on prevention, active management and customer engagement through PHRs (offered through Health Insight), delivered through a narrow, …

"Obama Administration’s Message to Health Care Start-Ups."

From Claire Cain Miller at the NY Times, the Obama administration's message to health care entrepreneurs is...GET BUSY! The message, delivered at Tuesday's Health 2.0 conference in San Francisco by Aneesh Chopra, the nation's chief technology officer, is that as the administration seeks to "...create the market conditions that would inspire game-changing innovations...", entrepreneurs should focus on broader issues than just what's in the current stimulus package.

Chopra says he fully expects to see the next generation of Fortune 500 companies born in this era, as innovative solutions are brought to bear on some of health care's most intractable problems.

Exploring the Patient Experience At Gel Health 2009

The Gel (Good Experience Live) conference series, a seven-year-old event curated by Mark Hurst, is launching a new healthcare event - Gel Health - a conference focused on the patient experience.

Speakers from Johns Hopkins, Beth Israel Deaconess and The Cleveland Clinic, among others, will offer their insights into the patient experience - how to improve it, and who's doing it, in a variety of organizations and companies.

Gel Health will be held on Thursday and Friday, October 22 and 23, 2009 at Scandinavia House, Park Avenue and 38th Street in Manhattan. Tickets are available at for $499.

Confirmed GEL Health 2009 speakers (so far):

* Dr. Bridget Duffy, Chief Experience Officer, Cleveland Clinic
* Dr. Robert Martensen, Author, A Life Worth Living; lecturer, Dept. of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School
* Cathy Salit, Working with Johns Hopkins oncology nurses via Performance of a Lifetime
* Dan Ford, Patient advocate
* Dr. Javette Orgain, Family physician;…

What Gets Measured Gets Improved

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal featured an article on how Pennsylvania's health care has gotten better and cheaper in the twenty years since the state began publishing outcomes data. Further proof (if more was needed) that what gets measured gets improved, I guess.

As I read the article, I searched in vain for an expression of embarrassment from a physician or hospital administrator...

...embarrassment that Pennsylvania's system was forced on a recalcitrant industry by frustrated customers.

...embarrassment that, if it weren't for those customers forcing the issue, undoubtedly health care quality would STILL be pronounced too amorphous to measure, and...

...embarrassment that, twenty years after the fact and despite all the evidence to the contrary, the article is replete with examples of doctors and hospitals still questioning the program's data collection and reporting methodologies.

"You don't understand! Our patients are (a) sicker, (b) older, (c) poorer…