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Showing posts from November, 2010

Advertising: The Best (Or Worst) Of Times

Does advertising have a future?

Mad Men or just mad?  From Bloomberg Business Week: "We're not dead yet!" say the "lumbering advertising behemoths."

Boot Camp for digital immigrants.  From Fast Company: A moment of unsettling disruption filled with possibilities.  "There's never been a better time to be in advertising...or a worse time."

The Week In Ideas

First: the new age of nanomedicine.  "This type of imaging verges on Star Trek territory." (Medical News Today)
Why not...   Embrace the emerging opportunities provided by molecular imaging and photoacoustic tomography to improve the management of high-risk patients with life-threatening disease?  And ask whether this technology would be additive to your roster or what it might replace.

Next: artists and musicians will work for health care, exchanging their art for treatment.  An intriguing idea, though difficult to scale and not a long-term substitute for insurance. (Business Week)
You could try...   Replicating the O+ Festival in your community.  Or building an on-line exchange to connect artists with willing caregivers.
Finally, overhauling the states' long-term care delivery systems using innovation roadmaps from the Center for Health Care Strategies. (Medical News Today)

What if...   Care was transformed by learning from the examples of a few pioneering, boundary-pushin…

What would happen if employers walked away from health coverage?

Kaiser Health News reviews the scenarios and they aren't pretty; 
"The question, then, is how the reduction in business' health coverage subsidy -- $400 billion a year in the example here -- would be replaced, and what might happen if it isn't.

"...consider that a new dedicated tax of $400 billion per year would be an astounding five times the bailout and economic stimulus that, earlier this year, rightly or wrongly, raised the fury of the American people. Will we also be willing to bail out the health care industry, because it is "too big to fail?" (emphasis mine.) Finding the dollars to keep the current health system and the industry afloat would require a new national commitment of historic proportion, far greater than the recent Wall Street bailout.

"Either of these scenarios could result in massive public conflict and, equally importantly, significantly diminished resources for the health care sector. An inability to continue funding the indus…

Defusing Health Care's Ratings Bomb?

Back in September I posted an item, linking to a question from consultant Dan Beckham, about whether health care is the next big "ratings bomb."

The November 20-21 Wall Street Journal announced that Meredith Whitney, a prominent banking analyst, plans to set up her own credit-rating firm and is in the process of applying for a license to be a "nationally recognized statistical rating organization," or NSRO.

The article doesn't say whether Whitney's new firm will rate tax-exempt health care debt, though it'd be nice to see the Big 3 credit raters (Moody's, S&P, Fitch) facing some independent, intelligent  competition.

I think Beckham is right - there is a timer ticking in the health care debt market.  Too many hospitals adding too much debt chasing demand that even the dumbest politician now recognizes as unaffordable and unsustainable.  Anybody else worried? 

If history is any guide, the usual suspects will announce a crisis nine months after th…

Competition For Thee But Not For Me!

Venture Capital Returns To Health IT

From AIS's Health Business Daily:  Health care's venture capital chill may be thawing.

Lisa Suennen, a cofounder and managing member of Psilos Group says there's "tremendous interest" in the IT sector, though uncertainty about health reform and pending reimbursement cuts makes it "nearly impossible to determine which types of companies will thrive."

Investment sweet spots include:
Automating sales and support processes to reduce insurers' overhead and administrative costs.Patient safety applications, particularly those with potential to reduce medical errors.Assisting the newly insured with access to care issues, possibly in an OpenTable model .Helping employers transfer retirees from group coverage to private Medicare plans.Improving member health in the Medicaid population, estimated to increase by as much as 20 million beginning in 2014.Supporting Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) once the funding model becomes clearer.(Please be aware that, t…

Creativity Under Siege

From Harvard Business Review, via Business Week magazine, blogger Teresa Amabile outlines the factors that keep creativity and innovation flowing.  Not surprisingly, her formula turns out to be pretty simple: the right people working in the right environment.

Says the article:
"We all wince at the thought of how Xerox utterly failed to innovate on PARC's inventions, allowing Apple and Microsoft to run away with most of them. But there's no denying how world-changing those inventions were. The organization that gave birth to them illustrates—by way of contrast—why so many of today's organizations are creatively sterile.

What made PARC so different from organizations where creativity falters? An abundance of all three key ingredients: Smart people who think diferently.Passionate engagement.A creative atmosphere."Amabile concludes by asking whether, 40 years after the birth of PARC, workplaces have gotten better at fostering that sort of brilliance?  For all the tal…

Medicare Cuts Pose Credit Risks For Some Health Care Companies

From the WSJ Health Blog: "Certain industries stand to face the sharpest cuts in government money, Moody’s says, namely home health, as well as oxygen and durable equipment companies. Hospice care, nursing homes and specialty hospitals are also expected to lose millions off what they receive now." 

A risk of building business models around chasing Medicare largesse is that this year's generosity has a habit of becoming next year's cost-cutting priority.  Better to focus on adding long-term customer value, assuming that what Medicare gives with one hand is soon taken back with the other. 

Now might be a good time for a cash-rich hospital or health system to round out their service portfolio with a couple of newly-inexpensive acquisitions.

Question Of the Day

Who gets recognized and promoted in your organization?  Those flogging the current business model to yield up its last farthing of value?

Or those pointing the way to the future's new businesses and value streams?

From Crisis...Opportunity

From MobiHealth News: AT&T offers WellDoc's DiabetesManager, a mobile phone-based diabetes management solution, to AT&T employees as part of a strategic alliance to jointly market DiabetesManager to the "entire health care system" including self-insured employers, payers and disease management organizations.

From Clickz: "Great companies embrace social media because they have nothing to hide and welcome everyone to discuss their products, media requires more of a cultural change in companies than a strategic change."

From HealthLeaders Media: Consolidations involving for-profit hospital companies acquiring struggling not-for-profits are a growing and 'favorable trend, says Moody's.  

Seeking grant funding?  Prepare to be accountable for results, says Hospital and Health Networks."Increasingly, foundations are requiring objective evidence of specific changes in health status, behaviors and/or knowledge resulting from prog…

Nice Try! Now Knock It Off.

One of blogging's occupational hazards is comment spam.  In the guise of complimenting the author on his occasional perspicacity, spam comments redirect the unwary to offers for discounted medications and other useless drivel.

My tracking stats tell me that nearly all the spam comes from India, as highlighted by the above image outing a spammer from Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, India...wherever that is (click on the image for a closer look.)   Bangalore, Hyderabad and Ahmadabad, Madras too, all have spammed their share.  So great to see an economic renaissance being put to such good use!

Thanks to Blogger's comment moderation feature, it's easy and quick to wax 'em into the ether where they belong.  They keep trying, I keep deleting.  Still, it's 30 seconds I'd rather spend dreaming up fresh things to say.  30 seconds a day...part of the price we pay for indulging the world's dipwads, apparently.

Change the World!

Starting with your neighborhood!

Architect Jeff Sommers will be a guest speaker for my "Materialism and Idealism" class on November 22, discussing his dream for a reformation in urban residential design. 

Here is a link to an article in Green Bean Chicago about Jeff's current project: a prefabricated, urban home meeting the criteria for LEED Platinum certification.  Meaning: really green and quite cool.  The Urban-C3 is built under climate and quality-controlled conditions in a factory near South Bend, IN, then trucked to the site and assembled in a day.

Forget everything you think you know about prefabricated construction.  It ain't just for double-wides any more!

Other links:
Square Root Architecture + Design on Facebook, including videos of the modules being built in  the factory.Square Root Architecture's blog.Project photos from Curbed Chicago.A Chicago Tribune article describing the project's long journey.A link to the Urban-C3 micro-site.As I've n…

Hospitals Using Social Media To Bolster Customer Service?

Inquiring minds (well, mine at least) want to know how your hospital is using social media as an integral part of a customer service strategy.

Specifically, how are you engaging on-line communities in proactive, problem-solving ways? What are you doing to solve problems before they become full-blown PR nightmares?  And how does your social media strategy support your efforts?

Are you doing it?  Trying it?  Planning it? Thinking about it?  Avoiding it? 

Let me know. Leave a comment or e-mail

ACOs Put Slow-Moving Hospitals At Risk...

From ACO Business News:

"The shift accountable care organizations will bring from pay-for-volume to pay-for-value — and their focus on total population management, closely aligned incentives and a degree of coordination among providers not typically seen in most markets — cuts to the heart of a hospital’s traditional business lines and operating margins. In the cards: Fewer admissions, shorter lengths of stay, fewer emergency department visits, and fewer procedures and tests. And experts warn that if hospitals don’t take a seat at the table, they could be at risk of losing one of their most valuable assets — their physician referral base...."

Are the Bugs Winning?

As bacteria get craftier and deadlier, the Obama administration considers incentives - tax breaks, patent extensions, etc. - to coax Big Pharma back into the antibiotic development business.

Serious stuff.  And next time you're at your doctor's office with what's probably a virus, refrain from asking for a Cipro prescription.  You're just contributing to the problem.  Keep it up and someday it won't work at all, maybe when you really need it.

Certifying Businessess As "Elder-Friendly"

Elders In Action certifies Oregon businesses as "elder-friendly."   Mystery shoppers assess factors like signage and menus that are easy to read, websites designed to be easy to navigate, seating that's convenient and at the right height, customer service able to handle questions like "I don't drive.  How can I get there by bus?"

How many hospitals would qualify, I wonder?

I'm Your Mystery Shopper.

Yesterday I happened to call a hospital where I toiled for 20+ years. You know the one.   It used to be the finest hospital in its area by a wide margin and still thinks of itself that way,  though the state's new quality database says otherwise.  It's doing the usual things passing as hospital strategy - shiny new buildings, highly-paid consultants, scripted customer service programs.  Acquiring hospital practices from any willing seller.  Tweeting and Facebooking.  Branding, logos, taglines.  Heck, they even hosted the Stanley Cup for a day.

Good for them.  Until it's time to execute against that pesky brand promise.

See, the stunningly misnamed "Information" Desk answered and promptly transferred the wrong department. Several transfers later and with each getting further removed from my desired telephonic destination, I spoke with a woman who assured me she didn't know the number I needed, had no directory in which to look it up and, in fact, ha…