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Showing posts from December, 2009

Computational Thinking

Improving Competitiveness For Less Than $100 Million

Does $100 million secure your competitive future? Maybe. A hospital I know quite well just announced a $100 million expansion driven by the need for more private rooms, all in the quest to "remain competitive."

I don't doubt that "remaining competitive" is important. It should be. The alternative is a long, slow slide into irrelevance. And this hospital is far from alone in leveraging-up its balance sheet to eliminate the anachronism of semi-private rooms.

And, yes, facilities have finite life spans. A former boss of mine was fond of saying "Never miss an opportunity to tear down an old building!" Sometimes it has to be done.

But what if that kind of "build a better box and they'll come" thinking is terminally flawed?

Flawed by health care's thundering herd?
"Are we doing this because everybody else is so we must do it too or suffer the consequences?"
Flawed by the behavioral limits of "bounded rationality" - i.e…

Microsoft Doesn't 'Get' Consumers (But It's Not Alone)

Back in October, I mocked Microsoft's Steve Ballmer for saying he wanted his company to "...invent everything that's important on the planet."

They'd better get busy, as writer and tech forecaster Mark Anderson notes in Strategic News Service (via the New York Times BITS blog):
"Except for gaming, it is 'game over' for Microsoft in the consumer market. It's time to declare Microsoft a loser in phones. Just get out of Dodge."

"Walk the halls at Microsoft and you can see it is not a place that gets consumers."Walking the halls - a deceptively simple research strategy yet still capable of producing occasional flashes of insight. Try it yourself. Next time you're walking the halls of your local hospital, see if you can figure out what it is they 'get.'

The Bigger They Are...

Interesting juxtaposition of marketing impressions during today's travels. First, a billboard from a large health system (full disclosure: a prior place of employment) advertising robotic surgery. I formed several opinions during the 1.64 seconds the billboard was in view.

From least-worst to most:

Questionable: a marketing tactic based on the theory (if the word 'theory' isn't granting too much credit) that motorists speeding down one of Chicago's busiest expressways really care about having their prostate reamed robotically. Personally, I'm not persuaded.

Worse: the billboard's profusion of words, typefaces, fonts, logos and images. So many as to be confusing and, ultimately, ineffective.

Utterly wretched: the copy's light yellow colors on a white background. Hard to read in the daylight and nearly invisible under sodium vapor lights at night. Who does yellow on white billboards anyway?

All in all, a nice way to waste $100k plus the agency's c…

What Do Baby Boomers Want From Technology?

Futurist Michael Rogers thinks he knows. In a research project funded by AARP and Microsoft, Rogers gathered baby boomers in four cities for discussions about their "attitudes toward, use of and expectations for technology." Rogers' intent was to elicit some so-called "weak signals" - new and revealing insights about future trends in technology use and adoption.

From the NY Times BITS Blog, there are some interesting implications for health care:
"Boomers, Mr. Rogers predicted, are also going to be the driving force behind the use of information technology in health care. The dinner attendees who had access to electronic health records, he said, were “just ecstatic” about the benefits of setting up appointments online, e-mailing doctors and reviewing their records over the Web. As they age themselves, the incentive for using technology tools to manage health and wellness programs grows as well."Let's hope the health care industry's level of &q…

"If You Could Ask Any Question About Your Population..."

Imagine having masses of real-time data at your fingertips - medications, treatments, diagnoses, outcomes - all knitted together with "Google-esque" technology, available anytime, anywhere to improve care and outcomes.

From Cleveland, Ohio via MedCity News:
"Steve McHale and Charlie Lougheed want to help medical researchers and physicians get together to make sense of burgeoning patient data, leading to innovations in health care.

"Now, McHale and Lougheed are creating Explorys Medical Inc. to develop a Google-esque technology that enables researchers and physicians to noodle questions by querying databases of medical information in real time, leading to their next discoveries."Venture capitalists and physicians from The Cleveland Clinic are providing start-up capital.

As a health care planner, I've always been frustrated by rigidly-structured databases and canned reports. Much more enlightening is the ability to "cruise" the data, asking spur of…

What If: Quarterly Stakeholder Meetings?

Thanks to the web, organizations have unparalleled access to new ideas and diverse viewpoints. Technology makes it easy to listen, learn and form new connections. And social media, including blogs, Twitter, Facebook,, amplify customer voices to the point where anyone - not just the loudest or most important - can be heard.

A good thing? Well, that depends on how interested you are in what your customers have to say.

CEOs of publicly traded companies host annual shareholder meetings and regular conference calls to update anyone interested in the company's performance. Hospital CEOs aren't under the same legal obligation, but nothing prevents them from hosting regular "community meetings" to engage stakeholders in new and insightful ways.

What if...
You organized a community relations & outreach blog to invite dialogue and spread your message of community engagement?You scheduled regular meetings, maybe smaller meetings every quarter and a large annual m…