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Showing posts from December, 2010

Radiation Therapy: The Crisis Continues

More from the New York Times on radiation safety (or the lack thereof.)  This time it's Evanston (IL) Hospital and problems involving three patients during identical stereotactic radiosurgery procedures.

Investigators found problems that should have been obvious to the rankest six sigma newbie.   Poorly-designed trays and mounts that interfere with an operator's ability to verify settings.  The need to "trick" the machine into thinking it was doing one thing when it was really doing something far more dangerous.  Complex components from multiple vendors, all kludged together.  Moving data from one computer to another and then to a third, each hand-off a failure waiting to happen. 

Says the article;
"(The) system is supposed to work this way: A treatment plan is developed on one computer, then transferred into another software system that, among other things, verifies that the treatment plan matches the doctor’s prescription. The data is then sent to a third comp…

The Week In Ideas, From Knowledge @ Wharton

Feeling the need to innovate?  Spend some time brainstorming alone before you convene that team.  You'll get further before the inevitable group dynamics kick in.

The adoption of social networking makes "crowdfunding" - a style of fund raising that taps support from fans and other interested parties - feasible even for the average citizen with a dream and some creative talent.

(Thanks to Knowledge @ Wharton for the heads-up.)

LifeSpring Hospitals and Acumen Fund: Saving India's Children

As part of their year-long focus on global health called "Be the Change: Save a Life," Good Morning America features Acumen Fund's work with LifeSpring Hospitals, just one of more than 50 Acumen Fund investments that are helping to change the way the world tackles poverty.  Watch the video...





Now ask yourself why the same level of solutions-oriented design thinking couldn't be applied to YOUR community's difficult issues. You may not want to offer an entire episode of prenatal and obstetrics care for eighty dollars but I'll bet you can create a whole lot of value for a whole lot less than the status quo.

Just begin by tossing everything you think you know in the trash.  What you think you know about your customers, their needs and preferences.  About boundaries and constraints.  About where to look for innovation and ideas.  Above all, lose your edifice complex.

Focus on addressing high-priority needs in sustainable ways. And remember, a model where surviv…

Teachers: The Wellspring Of Human Capital

Is human capital important to you and your competitive strategy?  Yes?  A good but incomplete answer.

In "Attracting and retaining top talent in US teaching" McKinsey & Company's Social Sector Practice addresses the questions of who should teach and how to attract more young people from the top tier of college graduates into the teaching profession.
"McKinsey’s survey of nearly 1,500 top-third US college students and current teachers, highlighted in the report, shows that a major effort would be needed to attract and retain the best students to teaching. The stakes are high: recent McKinsey research found that a persistent achievement gap between US students and those in top-performing nations imposes the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession.""...the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession."  Think about it.

Then think for a moment about the SOURCE of human capital. Can you create - through training, hiring or steali…

Thanks For Reading!

To all my readers, Thank You, Best Wishes and Happy Holidays!

Recent visitors include the following domains:
Ketchum Communications Cedars-Sinaithe Core Foundation Drake University HCA - Hospital Corporation of AmericaAccentureUniversity of Wisconsin - Eau Claire Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oregon Adventist Healthcare the Mayo Foundation For Medical Education and ResearchSacred Heart Hospital (Eau Claire, WI) BJC Health System Advocate Health Foote, Cone & Belding Communications McCann-EricksonEast Alabama Medical Center the Izaak Walton Killam Health Centre (Halifax, Nova Scotia) Edelman PR Harvard University the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative Arlington Hospital (Arlington, VA) Heidrick & Struggles Intl., Inc. Ingalls Memorial Hospital (Harvey, IL) Integris HealthCome back soon.

Quote (and Question) Of the Day

"There was no telling what people might find out once they felt free to ask whatever questions they wanted to." (Joseph Heller (1923 - 1999), Catch 22)

Is your team free to ask whatever questions they want?  No?  Why not?

As a leader, are you afraid of "what people might find out," in Heller's words?  Are answers reserved for your exclusive domain?  Does not having "all the answers, all the time" challenge your self-image? Think about it.

As always, what if...?  Why not...?  Follow me on Twitter.

PHOs As Transitional Models For ACOs

Still operating that PHO - Physician-Hospital Organization?  It may be a relic of 1990's-style managed care but I'll bet you learned many hard-won lessons along the way.  Don't give up now.

Instead, use it as a stepping stone to a successful Accountable Care Organization (ACO.)  Improve your risk-sharing models, add healthy doses of transparency and physician leadership, and you just might have something there.

While I'm at it, I spent yesterday in Chicago's western suburbs with a full day of meetings and networking. On one entrepreneurial project specifically, the discussion pointed out that my thinking on possibilities and potentials was WAY too constrained, by a factor of 10. Funny. I usually have the opposite problem, but in this case I'm thrilled to think millions, not tens of thousands. Thanks to all who helped with ideas and alternatives.

And the day concluded wonderfully in a meeting with a hospital that truly understands what "competing on analyti…

Am I Leader Or Legend?

Never mind the faulty math, the Big 10 conference re-brands itself as six 'Leaders' and six 'Legends.'   Let's see.  I'm a Wisconsin alum so I should care most about...Leaders...and which teams are those again?

As an audience, physicians can be pretty tough.  But messin' with college football fans takes real courage, especially with such a questionable idea.  Somewhere a branding consultant is frantically shopping for a Kevlar athletic supporter.

Isn't it amazing how many re-branding efforts go comically awry?  I recently gave Drake University a D+ for their recent re-branding, mostly because that's the grade they gave themselves.  What grade should we assign the Big 10?  Maybe an 'F' for the math and an 'Incomplete' because I predict they'll soon ditch 'L-squared.'

What might have happened here?  Well, notice Commissioner Jim Delany's comment in the Tribune article linked above:
"I know us. I think what we did wa…

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do...

...says the song.  Brand breakups resemble the fallout from failed romantic relationships, says Time.

Brand break-ups are worst when former fans (cults, anyone?) become angry at their one-time favs for misbehaving...and with themselves for ever believing in the brand.
"The people who lashed out the most...tended to see themselves reflected in the brands they once cherished and got the most hurt when the relationships ended as a result. “Those who felt that the brands were theirs had the most to lose essentially,” says (study author Allison) Johnson, a business professor at University of Western Ontario. “They became those same brands' biggest enemies.”'In short, it's the feeling of being made the fool that motivates some brand exes to turn mean. They'll trash the offender just to provide the necessary disassociation.

So, yes, build those brand loyalists.  Just don't ever let 'em down.

Privacy And Strategy: The Logical Link

Syllogism. (n) "A form of deductive reasoning consisting of a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion."

From AIS's Health Business Daily, medical privacy as a strategic syllogism: Major premise: Improving patient satisfaction is a strategic imperative for hospitals.Minor premise: Increasingly, patient privacy is "a key driver" of satisfaction.Conclusion:  Therefore, patient privacy is a strategic imperative for hospitals.Get it?  A strategic imperative, not just another unfunded mandate, a compliance issue, a problem for IT or Patient Relations to solve, something on which JCAHO insists or yet another "dumb, low-priority thing the government's making us do."

Strategy.  Strategic.  Imperative.  Interesting that legislators and regulators knew it before physicians and hospitals did.

More posts on HIPAA and medical privacy:

"What Part Of 'Give Us Our Damn Data' Do You Not Understand?"

The Parable of the High-Deductible Health Plan and the Careful Shopper

I carry - and pay for - my own health insurance now that I'm self-employed and don't have some rich health system footing the bill.  Though generally healthy, I do take meds for cholesterol and seasonal allergies, wear contact lenses and faithfully keep up with the routine screenings recommended for an old fart. 

My plan is a Blue Cross high-deductible plan where I carry the first $2,500 of financial responsibility.  Man, overnight that turned me into a different kind of patient and health care shopper.

No more Zocor for $90 a month.  Now it's WalMart's generic statin for $5.  (I've always hated WalMart and don't know which is worse; the price of setting aside that hate or the fact that the price is so low.)

No more going where my doctor tells me for lab tests and EKGs.  His in-house phlebotomist is convenient but pricey.  The hospital up the street is service-constipated, their billing is aggressive and nasty and their prices are worse - when they know what t…

World Class Oncology Programs

From the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins (via Becker's Hospital Review) here are seven keys to developing a world class oncology program.

How will you know when you've arrived?  Wondering what a world class oncology program looks like?  Here's Becker's list of 30 Hospitals With Great Oncology Programs. 

You're probably not on that list, but it doesn't mean you can't be.   What's holding you back? 

Top 10 Health Technology Hazards

From ECRI (via the Wall Street Journal's Health Blog) a list of the top ten health technology hazards around which health care facilities should focus their efforts.

In descending order of importance, the list reflects the volume of reported errors, their likely severity, the possibility of mitigation and the "high-profile" nature of the problem.

Interestingly, the report ranks surgical fires #9 on the list and says they're as common as wrong-site surgeries.

Other readings on risks in health technology, specifically radiation therapy:

Radiation Safety and Trust As A Business Strategy.

One In 20 Radiation Therapy Patients Will Suffer Injuries.


"...everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."

(GE's CEO Jeffrey Immelt quoting that immortal philosopher Mike Tyson in an article about GE's recovery and new "making stuff" strategy,  in today's NY Times.)

Wikileaks - implications for EMRs? Definitely, says Dr. Westby G. Fisher.

Wikileaks' - implications for corporate data security?  Absolutely.  More, here, from Knowledge @ Wharton about what's called "...the first really sustained confrontation between the established order and the culture of the internet." 
"For companies, the WikiLeaks case may ultimately serve as a parable on guarding sensitive information. Joseph Turow, professor of communication at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication, says the State Department cables released by WikiLeaks, while controversial, are perhaps more well-thought-out than most internal corporate communications. "If I were a CEO, this would not make me feel comfortable. I would be very concerned that this would happen in my company," he says. "The cables that have been released look incredibly tame compared to the e-mail that people send around corporations."'Though HIPAA …

Trendwatching.com's 11 Crucial Consumer Trends For 2011

Trendwatching.com's latest Trend Briefing outlines "11 Crucial Trends for 2011."  Health care trendwatchers might want to pay attention to Trend #6 - "Wellthy."

What or who are the Wellthy?  They're the growing numbers of consumers who are...
Expecting health products and services in 2011 to prevent misery if not improve their quality of life, rather than merely treating illnesses and ailments.Among the 73% of U.S. consumers who consider being physically fit important to being "well."One of the 500 million people worldwide expected to be using mobile health applications by 2015.The young people currently using the nearly 17,000 available health apps (almost none of which, incidentally, are provider-developed.  Whoops.  Another opportunity missed.) What can you do with this trend knowledge?   Apply it, of course, says the report.
Influence or shape your company's vision.Develop a new business concept, a new venture, a new brand.Add a new service…

Change The Way The World Tackles Poverty: Acumen Fund's Example

Acumen Fund is where problems meet dreams, ideas, entrepreneurs, innovation and "patient capital."

Investments, not grants. Sustainable solutions, not crisis du jour headlines.



Would this approach work in your community? On your big "impossible" problems? Why not?

Are there really any "impossible" problems?  Or just too-timid solutions?

What if...?  Why not...?  Oh yeah, that's me on Twitter. (@whatifwhynot)  Follow me and I'll follow you back.

We don't need a new hospital.  Wait.  What?
"I guess we can all figure out why UH and CCF are trying to out-duel each other, building expensive, redundant facilities that will be an enormous financial burden to our economy and population, both of which are shrinking and in distress."Uh-oh Smedley, I think they're on to us!

From MedCity News:  "One of the biggest issues today in medical technology is not regulatory, or reimbursement, or the burden of clinical evidence; it is the lack of a sufficiently clear understanding of the market and market dynamics."