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Showing posts from March, 2010

The Thousand-Year News Story

We're drowning in news and information, hype and hysteria. Yet despite the screaming headlines, not all news is equally important. What's a planner to do?  Sorting the "critical few" issues from the "trivial many" gets more difficult by the day.  If everything matters then nothing does. 

Which of today's news stories will matter in 10 years? 100 years? 1,000?
Here, Kirk Citron suggest news with long-term importance. I'll let you decide whether or not Michael Jackson's death makes the cut.
Kirk Citron: And now, the real news | Video on

Meals On Wheels...Bike Wheels That Is

I'm not really sure how this applies to health care, but it's very "Portland" and cool on so many levels.  From Springwise, here's a start-up business offering organic soups, sourced locally and delivered weekly, by bicycle of course.  10,000 soup orders since start-up, delivered to 300 subscribers.  

A nice update of the tried-and-true "Meals On Wheels" concept, don't you think? 

Innovative Companies and Technologies In Health and Medicine

What will the future look like?  Grasp the possibilities by watching what the innovators building the future do TODAY.

From OneMedPlace, here's the latest New Companies & Technologies Report covering innovative companies and technologies in health and medicine.

Innovations are profiled in the following areas:

Vertigo and motion sickness - "...a non-drug, non-invasive treatment for spatial disorientation and motion sickness."Aortic intervention and endoscopy - "an array of cardiovascular grafts, in critical care antibiotic impregnated catheters, and in endoscopy the first endoscopic ultrasound system."Implantable prosthetics - "...various implantable prosthetics for the hip, a knee reconstruction system, soft tissue repair products, rotor cuff repair system, and a neurological disorder sector that contains drug pumps, shunt systems, and neurovascular coils."Diabetes - " infrared skin thermometer to diagnostically prevent progressive diabet…

Is Your Work Worth Paying For?

The short version of a question for hospital planners and marketers: Is your work worth paying for?

The longer version:
"What have you done lately to earn the trust of your customers in the quality of your services, in your abilities as strategists, systems thinkers, communicators, builders of competitive advantage and a world-class repository of strategic knowledge?"Not always an easy question to answer. You take things for granted as, in a sense, you become your organization's captive agency and, without the ability to choose otherwise, its leaders represent your permanent "clients."

But what if your employer suddenly threw open the doors to competition from anybody, anywhere? What if your "clients" could buy from you or go outside for better, cheaper, smarter, faster service?

Would your "clients" prefer YOUR ideas and expertise even when they're free to work with Joe Blow from Kokomo? How well would your team compete in that gr…

Wondering Where Your Underwriting Job Went?

Is the inward focus on underwriting on its way to being replaced by an outward focus on the customer experience? Maybe.

Should you be concerned about your underwriting job? Perhaps.

From Jay D'Aprile's blog "Insurance Industry Talent Tracks" here's how healthcare reform may affect your career in insurance underwriting:
"In the end, healthcare reform will force health insurance companies to compete on their ability to control costs and provide effective delivery of medical care. Health insurance carriers will have to refocus their business strategies away from underwriting “good business” to crafting strategies that instead rely on improving margins through implementing efficient network strategies, lowering administrative costs and creating strong customer service experiences. Unfortunately, for people in underwriting positions this does not add up to good news. Healthcare reform is going to eliminate the underwriting function in the health insurance indus…

Dr. G's Fundamental Rules Of Budgeting

"Our annual battle with mental constipation" is how I used to refer to our interminable budget preparation sessions. For years I struggled, unsuccessfully, to find the right "laxative." Then one particularly grim season Dr. G., our new VP - Medical Affairs/CMO joined the team.

Dr. G was a newly-retired general surgeon and someone I'd always found more than a little intimidating. He was impatient, opinionated and occasionally blunt to point of rudeness...and absolutely the surgeon you'd want operating on yourself or a loved one.

The sessions dragged on, the days turning into weeks as we pursued those elusive EBITDA points. Though a careful observer, Dr. G said very little. Yet I noticed him taking lots of notes, sometimes with wry, little smile. As the sessions drew to a close I asked for his observations on the process.

In response, he handed me his notes, now typed and titled "The Fundamental Laws Of Budgeting." Believe it or not, they're…

For Strategists: 15 Key Factors Affecting Hospitals' Longer-Term Outlook

"Never make predictions, especially about the future." (Casey Stengel)

From Becker's Hospital Review, here's 15 Key Factors Affecting Hospitals' Longer-Term Outlook. (The parenthetical comments are mine.)
Promise fades for more paying patients. (You were expecting otherwise?)
Reimbursements lag further behind inflation. (Ditto.)
Number of paying patients in long-term decline. (Mega Ditto.)
Overcapacity of beds in some areas. ("But ours are shiny and new!")
Negotiating strength moves to insurers. (BOHICA)
Insurers may not need to be tough negotiators. (Yeah, but it's a tough habit to break.)
Patients continue shifting to high-deductible plans. (Get ready for "What's your price for an EKG?")
Hospitals forced to become more efficient. (As competition transitions to price and value.)
Payors move to bundled reimbursements. (Allocating the bundle among hospitals and physicians is, of course, the sticky wicket.)
Providers coalesce into integrated…

Question Of the Day

From where do ideas spring? Does improving your organization's connection with customers take fancy techniques or expensive research? It might, but more often it's enough to simply pay attention to the good, the bad and the ugly of everyday experience.

Every trip to the store is an opportunity for what consultants call "ideation" - a fancy name for personal learning. Add to that an explorer's heart, a heart asking "What if...?" "Why not...?" and watch what happens.

It's the weekend. You're out shopping, recreating, recharging. What pleased you? Why? What delighted you? How? What piqued your curiosity? Where?

What made you look and then look again? What worked better than you expected? What took LESS time today than last week? Was that the result of real improvement or a random walk through the post office?

Now the real question: from all this, what ideas can you take back to the office on Monday morning?

Look. Listen. Obs…

Are You An Embarrassed Innovator?

If it takes a decade for you to learn something from another industry and apply it to your own health care organization, you should be issuing apologies for taking so long, not press releases.

I recently Facebook "friended" a certain west coast hospital (though not because they're doing anything interesting with social media. So far their Facebook presence is limited to shoveling press releases out the electronic door.) But my daughter works there and I figured it'd be a nice way to keep up with events in her life as a newly-minted RN.

Yesterday this hospital announced the opening of in-lobby registration kiosks, complete with a user's rave review. And there right in front of me, in 500 breathless words, was everything I find so frustrating about innovation in health care, a term that seemingly becomes more oxymoronic by the day.

Looking outside your industry is an excellent place to begin the search for innovative ideas. Good for them (or maybe their IT vendor…

Making clarity, transparency and simplicity a national priority.

Keep things simple urges branding expert Alan Siegel in this TED talk.

Says Siegel, "It's incumbent on us to make clarity, transparency and empathy a national priority." A national priority, or a competitive advantage for those few organizations willing to challenge the old ways of thinking and communicating.

Instead of waiting for simplicity-mandating legislation to be passed (a bill that's certain to exceed 1,000 pages...) why not move aggressively to turn your hospital into one known as the EASIEST to do business with? Might that resonate with at least a few key market segments?

What if you redesigned all your forms to be clearer, simpler, shorter and more understandable? What if you issued a "No fine print" edict?

Are your bills incomprehensible because you prefer it that way? Because your competitors' bills are just as bad and you're comfortable being no worse than anybody else? Or is there an opportunity here to educate, connect and inform?…

Does Your CEO Love Your Social Media Strategy?

1-2-3 Buy-In for Social Commerce - From the C-Suite and Beyond - ClickZ
How do you get your CEO to buy into a social media strategy? Start by focusing on what matters - business results.
"...getting initial executive-level buy-in to launch a social commerce program - and maintaining that buy-in across all levels of the company once you launch the program - isn't that difficult. Like many things, it's a simple and obvious approach that can make progress. And the simple answer is focusing on business results. For example, instead of presenting your boss with a report on how many Twitter followers or Facebook friends you plan to amass, lay out a clear roadmap for which marketing methods you'll use to attract those people; which exact promotions and messages you'll use to turn those people into buyers; and how you'll integrate social programs with larger marketing and business goals."

Using An iPhone To Post ER Wait Times

From HealthLeaders Media, The Hospital of Central Connecticut is increasing efficiency and patient satisfaction by using an iPhone app to post ER wait times.

According to Jeff Finkelstein, MD, chief of emergency medicine at HCC,
"If we are behind at one campus, and no wait at the other, wouldn't it be nice if the patient selected the one with a lesser wait? It's a win-win: We set expectations and let people know, and on the back-end maybe it's going to help us a little bit by smoothing demand."More here about ER wait times, including my experience attempting something similar to HCC's effort, though in the pre-iPhone era.

"FCC to CMS: Reimburse for mHealth."

From Brian Dolan at mobihealthnews, the FCC's National Broadband Plan offers advice to CMS on paying for what's referred to as eCare;
"The FCC had a few suggestions for how the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) could help eCare services, including mobile health, get to market quicker. As we have noted many times in the past, the business model question is one of the biggest hang-ups for wireless health, especially since reimbursement has been slow to come for many wireless health services. The FCC has a few ideas about that. Here are four suggestions from the FCC:

1. HHS should identify e-care applications whose use could be immediately incented through outcomes-based reimbursement.

2. When testing new payment models, HHS should explicitly include e-care applications and evaluate their impact on the models. Where proven and scalable, these alternative payment models would provide an additional solutio…

Hey! We Just Discovered This Cool New Thing Called Benchmarking!

The headline from today's Health Leaders, "Benchmarking For Beleaguered Budgets" is interesting in two ways:

First, it's interesting how hospitals are finding that, used intelligently, benchmarking points the way to performance improvement without resorting to slash and burn tactics like mass layoffs.

Second and even more interesting is the fact that, decades after a raft of books popularized benchmarking as a management tool, this is, apparently, a new insight for some of these organizations.

Keep the Faith. Drop the Fear.

A blind boy sat on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet. He held up a sign which said:

"I am blind, please help."

There were only a few coins in the hat.

A man was walking by. He took a few coins from his pocket and dropped them into the hat.
He then took the sign, turned it around, and wrote some words. He put the sign back so that everyone who walked by would see the new words. Soon the hat began to fill up. A lot more people were giving money to the blind boy. That afternoon the man who had changed the sign came to see how things were.

The boy recognized his footsteps and asked, "Were you the one who changed my sign this morning? What did you write?"

The man said, "I only wrote the truth. I said what you said but in a different way." I wrote: "Today is a beautiful day but I cannot see it."

Both signs told people that the boy was blind. But the first sign simply said the boy was blind. The second sign told people that they were so luck…

Eric Dishman: "Take Health Care Off the Mainframe."

Otherwise known as health care's Y2K+10 problem. From TEDMED,
"(Intel's) Eric Dishman makes a bold argument: The US health care system is like computing circa 1959, tethered to big, unwieldy central systems: hospitals, doctors, nursing homes. As our aging population booms, it's imperative, he says, to create personal, networked, home-based health care for all." According to Dishman, "...the health reform bill is largely ignoring the reality of (age wave demographics) and the implications of what we need to do to change how we pay for care and deliver care in some radically different ways."

" game changing as the invention of the microscope."

One of the best, most provocative presentations I've seen in years. Health care is being re-made by outsiders like Dishman and Intel while, on the inside, highly-paid execs dither over low rates of hand-washing.

What Information Can You Give Away?

When I talk to people about social media, particularly blogging, a common fear is not having enough to say. "I've got one or two good ideas. What'll I say after that?"

From Ink Rebels, here's 100 sources of blogging inspiration to get you off dead center.

Think of it as identifying all that great content locked up in your head that you can package and give away. Think of it as helping spread other people's great content. Think of it as connecting the right content with the right audience.

There you go! Wasn't that easy? I love the smell of inspiration in the morning.

Eric Topol On Medicine's Wireless Future

From TEDMED 2009, are you a hospital CEO investing millions in new inpatient beds? You might want to ponder Topol's prediction that iPhones will make a whole bunch of 'em unnecessary. The tail end of the food chain (where most hospitals reside) gets more uncomfortable by the day.

Question Of the Day

Change your innovation perspective by asking "What can we subtract?" instead of "What can we add?"

As a test, look at your TV's remote control. How many of those buttons do you use? And yet there they are.