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Showing posts from October, 2011

Hospital Marketers: TIme To Own the Growth Agenda

Hospitals' salad days are over, at least if you believe the breathless headlines.  Gone are the days when business models could be built simply by chasing Medicare's hot reimbursement du jour
Unfortunately, more than business models were built on such crabbed thinking. Where Medicare led, capital structures, facilities, strategic thinking, indeed the very definition of 'success' were sure to follow. 
And follow they did. Massive was the party. Crushing are the debt loads and mediocre the results. Naturally a pounding hangover ensues, though the remedy - perhaps a 'rescuing'  full-asset merger - is neither quick nor painless.

(Example: Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare's dalliance with Northwestern Memorial HealthCare.  “I think having that new facility is going to be a real challenge for (Elmhurst)  financially,” says my friend Brian Sanderson, a partner at Oak Brook-based accounting firm Crowe Horwath LLP) 
"We've nothing left to cut!" is t…

Marketing LEADS

Some hospital marketers are obsessed with control.  You probably know one or two like that, more's the pity.
"Stop interrupting!" they tell their organizations. "We're working our plan and we know what's best for you!"
Anything outside that neatly packaged world view becomes an imposition, a ripple on the quiet millpond of reality.  "He LEADS" is never said about marketing control freaks because they're never Listening, never Engaging or Adapting, rarely Delivering Strategic Separation (I know that's 2 'S's.'  Humor me.)
Having a plan is fine. Having an opinion is expected. An emphasis on control benefits neither.
LEADS means empowerment, not control.  The best ideas, not MY ideas.  Teaching, not telling.  Learning, not arguing.  Listening, not talking.  'We,' not 'I.'  All of us are smarter than one of us.
Try to be the marketer about whom it is always said "She LEADS."  Everything else is ju…

Seth Godin: "If Committees Told the Truth."

That truth would be:
"Hi, we're here to take your project to places you didn't imagine.
With us on board, your project will now take three times as long.
It will cost five times as much.
And we will compromise the art and the vision out of it, we will make it reasonable and safe and boring."
Or as I always say, committees are where ideas go to die.

An eBay For Purchasers and Providers

BIlling itself as a "health services exchange," Open Health Market offers discounted, fixed, packaged pricing for an episode of health care.

Discounts.  Fixed pricing.  Packaged services.  Easy access.  Transparent quality data. 

From the article:   "...this concept goes flying over the head of four out of five" U.S. hospital executives. "I'm stunned at how difficult it is for most of them to get their minds around it."
Stunned?  Really?

More here at Open Health Market's website.

“He told them it was ugly and too complex..."

From The Daily News Blog: "Bio: Steve Jobs was a details man, even in his Memphis hospital bed."

"In Walter Isaacson’s biography of Apple CEO Steve Jobs that went on sale Monday, there’s some fascinating detail about Jobs’ stay in Memphis during 2009, when he got a liver transplant at Methodist University Hospital’s transplant institute.

"Jobs, who died earlier this month at age 56, was ever the details man, even in his hospital bed.

"There’s a moment in the book’s recounting of Jobs’ transplant when Jobs pulled off an oxygen mask, grumbled about the design and ordered someone to bring him five different choices of masks. He said he’d pick the one he liked.

"Same for the oxygen monitor on his finger.

“He told them it was ugly and too complex,” Isaacson writes of the monitor. “He suggested ways it could be designed more simply.”

So here's a question for you:  before, during and maybe even after Jobs' hospital stay, how many hospital staffers saw thos…

Great PowerPoint Presentations: Oxymoronic?

No, but sometimes they can be rocket science as Edward Tufte shows in "PowerPoint Does Rocket Science--and Better Techniques for Technical Reports." 

Tufte studied NASA's PowerPoint-fueled discussions as engineers struggled to assess the damage, if any, space shuttle Columbia sustained during a 2003 liftoff when a small piece of foam insulation broke off, striking the orbiter's left wing.  We all know how that story turned out.
Thankfully I'm called to deliver presentations with ideas, not lives, hanging in the balance. Still, telling a story clearly, concisely and powerfully never hurts.

Sun Comes Up, It's Tuesday Morning

Not very organized today, so you'll have to put up with a few random things catching my eye...
1.  Distrusting their government's message on nuclear safety, Tokyo residents self-organize and go looking for radioactive hot spots.  Guess what they find?

Watch this "self-organization" trend.  It's coming to a health care neighborhood near you.  Maybe they'll self-organize into a booster club for your current business model...though I wouldn't bet on it.

2.  The Regenstrief Institute (IN) launches an initiative to encourage innovation, naming John Duke, M.D., the Institute's first Innovation Officer. "We are encouraging everyone associated with the Institute to come forth with ideas. Traditionally researchers develop ideas and then pursue funding. Learning from successful organizations such as Google, Facebook and Netflix, we are both accelerating and democratizing the idea process. We are encouraging everyone, from established researchers to fello…

Social Media In the C-Suite

C-Suite denizens have had difficulties warming up to social media.  Most are used to being, if not the entire conversation, at least in charge of what's said, when and to whom.  Social media's democratizing effect threatens that neatly-ordered world.
And it's humbling to learn that your thoughts and opinions aren't crystalline, brilliant or even very persuasive.  Readers talk back, using adjectives like idiotic and clueless, sometimes alone or in very creative combinations.  (Happens to me all the time, in case you're wondering.)
A critical (though common) misperception is that social media is about "Me talk.  You listen.  Me talk more.  You do what I say!"  That never worked with my daughters and I doubt it'll work for many hospital CEOs.
In "Social Media in the C-Suite: Listening, Learning and Creating a  Strategy from the Top Down" Knowledge @ Wharton interviews author Michael Lewis about the opportunities and pitfalls in implementing a …
Randy Lewis writing in the LA Times, discusses a little-known aspect of Steve Jobs' legacy: 
"Stevie Wonder said Thursday that he sought Jobs out late in his life to express his gratitude for matters that went well beyond what he and his company did for music.

"The one thing people aren't talking about is how he has made his technology accessible to the blind and the deaf and people who are quadriplegics and paraplegics," Wonder, 61, said. "He has affected not just my world, but the world of millions of people who without that technology would not be able to discover the world.

"His company was the first to come up with technology that made it accessible without screaming out loud 'This is for the blind; This is for the deaf.' He made it part of the actual unit itself. There was application inside the technology that allowed you to use it or not use it.

"The iPhone, iPad touch, iPod touch, all these things, even now the computer, are acces…
David Leonhardt writing in the NY Times: "Health care is far larger, with the United States spending at least 50 percent more per person on medical care than any other country, without getting vastly better results. (Some aspects of our care, like certain cancer treatments, are better, while others, like medical error rates, are worse.) The contrast suggests that a significant portion of medical spending is wasted, be it on approaches that do not make people healthier or on insurance-company bureaucracy."

This May Hurt A Little Bit: Entrepreneurs Can Fix Health Care

Washington Business Journal WBJ BizBeat:  "Former Kaiser CEO:  Entrepreneurs can fix health care."
"Entrepreneurs — not the government and surely not established industry players — will be the ones who ultimately fix the deeply flawed American health care system, said Dr. David Lawrence, the retired CEO of Kaiser Permanente."“The problem with incumbent medical care systems is, they don’t change,” Lawrence said. “What they tend to do is capture the innovation, the entrepreneurial activity, and either slow it or they transform it to what their needs will be, and they often bastardize what are very, very important innovations.”

Lawrence predicted pain as the system evolves.“To do these well is going to require disrupting traditional medical relationships with patients, it’s going to require disrupting sources of income for the traditional medical care system, and it’s going to require disrupting the relationship of the consumer to the medical care system," he said.…

Why The Next Steve Jobs Will Never Work For Your Hospital

Your hospital has thousands of employees, but could you use your very own version of Steve Jobs?  Probably, but don't kid yourself. He'd never get past your H-R department's first line of defense, with his attitude and his iconoclastic views and his wardrobe. Someone would scrawl "Weird and Possibly Dangerous" across his resume and that'd be that.

But don't fret.  I'm pretty sure the feeling would be mutual.  And that's why your hospital's branding tagline really ought to read "We're no worse than anybody else."

The NY Times' David Pogue on Steve Jobs: "Imitated, Never Duplicated:"
"Here’s a guy who never finished college, never went to business school, never worked for anyone else a day in his adult life. So how did he become the visionary who changed every business he touched? Actually, he’s given us clues all along. Remember the “Think Different” ad campaign he introduced upon his return to Apple in 1997?


Doctors Learning to Speak "Iowan"

From Iowa Public Radio: Doctors Learning to Speak Iowan at Mercy Medical Center in Mason City, IA.
"Learning to speak English is one thing, learning to speak Iowan may be something else entirely. Iowa, especially in its more rural areas, has many foreign-born physicians practicing in clinics and hospitals. On today's program, we’ll find out about an innovative program in Mason City that helps doctors understand our state with courses like "Topics for Small Talk with Iowans." We'll talk to the teachers in the program at Mercy Medical Center North Iowa, Univ. of Northern Iowa professors Mark Grey and Michele Devlin. We'll also hear from the man who devised the program, Dr. David Little, and Family Medicine Residents Dr. Sreevalli Dega and Dr. Anileen Prabhakaran."