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The Weekend In Ideas and Innovation

Booz&Co: Middle managers hold the key to reinvigorating a stalled innovation pipeline.

H&HN Daily:  Can your hospital handle the truth? Biotech startup pharmaCline launches its first-aid antibiotic topical ointment venture in S.F.  You're probably not surprised, except here it's Sioux Falls, SD.

NY Times: Medical school should be free.

MedCity News: 27 million Americans battle osteoarthritis. Now, Madison, Wisconsin-based Flex Biomedical may have a "disruptive technology" for improved treatment.  Human trials begin next year as the company seeks $5 million from a strategic investor.

Also from MedCity News: How relevant are VCs and their money to early-stage med tech startups? 

Pharmacogenomics Reporter: Clayton Christensen develops his disruptive innovation theory into a Roadmap for Personalized Health Care.  Look for an online release later this year.  More from Christensen at;
"Companies do not routinely disrupt themselves, simply because doing so often requires actions that are counterintuitive or threatening to their existing, successful business models."
Ann  University of Michigan announces the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, bringing "...about 500 researchers together in one facility, with many more engaging virtually...making it one of the nation’s largest centers of health care policy and services researchers."

Check out's May 2011 Trend Briefing: THE F-FACTOR, highlighting five ways in which consumers' purchasing decisions are changing, with plenty of examples of brands already making the most of this trend.


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Being Disrupted Ain't Fun. Deal With It.

Articles about disrupting healthcare, particularly those analogizing, say, Tesla's example with healthcare's current state, are frequently met with a chorus of (paraphrasing here) "Irrelevant! Cars are easy, healthcare is hard." You know, patients and doctors as examples of "information asymmetry" and all that. Well, let me ask you this: assuming you drive a car with a traditional internal combustion engine, how much do you know about the metallurgy in your car's engine block? I'll bet the answer is: virtually nothing. In fact it's probably less than you know about your own body's GI tract. Yet somehow, every day, us (allegedly) ignorant people buy and drive cars without help from a cadre of experts. Most of us do so and live happily ever after (at least until the warranty expires. Warranties...another thing healthcare could learn from Tesla.) Now, us free range dummies - impatient with information asymmetry - are storming healthcar…

Becoming Consumer Friendly In Five Easy Steps...Or Not

An article at offers hospitals 5 steps to becoming more consumer friendly.

If you still think there's a secret sauce to your hospital becoming more "consumer friendly," these 5 steps are as good a place to start as any.  Unfortunately, it's a little like that old Steve Martin comedy bit where he says he'll teach you how to be rich. The first step is to go find a million dollars.

Step 1 from the article is realizing that "...a Medicare beneficiary with chronic conditions is different from a young mom who brings her kids in for an annual check-up." This is market segmentation for beginners, and, yes, one size decidedly does not fit all. I'm sure your marketing team's been saying this for a while.

Steps 2-5: have a strategy, metrics, a champion and resources. OK. Hard to argue with any of those.

But those things, alone or together, won't overcome culture. They're important components to be sure, but insufficient without a …

The Answer For Lower Healthcare Costs Is...

...Customer Service.

From the New York Times: Seattle's Iora Primary Care is a new model of primary care, seeking national scale and venture capital funding.  Though the ambition may be outsize, the concepts are not new. Daily team huddles. Health coaches. Taking satisfaction surveys seriously and mining results for actionable insights. Employer and payer partnerships. Pay-for-performance not volumes. Loose-tight operations (wellness options are "loose" - i.e. varying from site to
site, while EHR alignment is "tight" and non-negotiable.)

According to the article:
"...small change(s) can make a big difference in a patient’s health — what good is the perfect drug if the patient can’t swallow it? — but the extra-mile work it took to get there can be a challenge for the typical primary care practice in the United States. Harried by busy schedules and paid on a piecework model, many doctors rush from visit to visit, avoid phone calls and emails that …