Archive | January, 2010

Why Can’t I Text My [Application]

I forgot to grab a receipt earlier today when I used my debit card.  Since I keep a record of all my transactions in Quicken, I quickly realized that I needed to e-mail myself the amount so I could enter it when I got home.  That got me thinking…why couldn’t I just text it to home home PC.  The PC is on the web.  It could “listen” for my message; receive it; and integrate it. 

I’m sure there’s more to it, but this could work for healthcare updates – weigh, blood sugar, blood pressure.  Sure, ideally my bank would update my Quicken and my bluetooth connected WiFi health monitoring devices would do it for me.  BUT, in the interim…

How Quickly Framing Changes Your Perception of Information

After I posted my weak attempt at humor (I should learn to never try) about Dogs versus Kids (sent to me by someone else), I was thinking about it last night, and I figured out a connection.  It’s a great example of framing. 

Before you have kids, your perception of people with kids is very different.  When you’re in the grocery store (and you don’t have kids), you wonder why those parents can’t control their kids and why their kids are crying uncontrollably for some cereal or some other thing they want.  After you have kids, you realize that you can’t give in just to shut them up in public.  You might stop and tell them no.  You might even put them in timeout, but if you give in to their temper tantrum, then it will be worse next time.

So, what does this have to do with healthcare communications?  Well, it’s a simple question of framing.  We all have a frame of reference for how we receive information.  Before you’re diagnosed with a disease (e.g., diabetes), you may hear facts about the condition but they generally go in one ear and out the other.  After you’re diagnosed (or someone close to you), you start to listen differently to that same information. 

While for general communications, our segmentation may be relatively static and tied to things like education, geography, or income there are many other drivers in healthcare – plan design, condition, length of time with condition, …

Top Predications for Healthcare from Columbia Business School

These are from Cliff Cramer, Director, Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Management Program at Columbia Business School
[with my comments in brackets].  

  1. Multi-national pharmaceutical and medical technology companies will increase their investments in emerging markets, notably China and India, to access cost effective human capital and a growing middle class of consumers better able to afford more advanced medical products. [Seems pretty logical. Global expansion. I expect pharma expansion will be much easier than technology expansion although SaaS (Software as a Service) my make it easier. I don’t see some of the “cool” Health 2.0 tools gaining traction and becoming viable businesses just because of broader reach.]


  2. Information technology will make greater strides in a healthcare industry which has been slow to adopt, driven by financial incentives (e.g., government subsidies) and employees and consumers demanding better and more accessible information (e.g., transportable e-records) as their share of healthcare spending increases. [Again, I think this is pretty logical and driven by some of the government initiatives. I expect healthcare technology and services will be a hot industry for the next 5 years. At the same time, there has been lots of carnage on the road to make EMRs and PHRs and other tools work over the years. Will this be the time? Maybe.]
  3. Healthcare reform will continue across developed (U.S. and EU countries) and developing (China) markets, focused on increasing access to affordable and quality patient care. These initiatives are likely to be incremental due to political and economic (budget) considerations. [I’m not so sure I see this. Other countries are down a very different path. I think they will wait a few years to see what our reform efforts bear before engaging on massive reform efforts.]
  4. Consolidation will be a major theme in 2010 as insurers and hospitals seek additional leverage in contract negotiations, and pharmaceutical companies explore transformational mergers to broaden product lines, strengthen geographic breadth (emerging markets) and seek to manage earnings given major patent expirations in the near term. [An economic certainty.]

These were definitely interesting, but it left me lacking. What about health reform – will anything change in 2010? What about personalized medicine? What about health 2.0? What about consumer engagement? What about chronic conditions like obesity and diabetes?

IT growth; reform; consolidation; and international investment could apply to almost any industry.

Dog or Kids (fun)

I usually don’t stray too off topic, but I thought this was funny enough to share.

Which would you choose?  [Of course the only one that believes this is reality are those without either… at least most of the time]

Does Technology Make You More Efficient?

If you’re like me the answer is “of course”, but I realize that it isn’t always true for people.  Look at the people who get sucked into things like SecondLife or people who play games for hours on Facebook.  That certainly isn’t efficient time.

An article “The Internet Ruined My Life” by Pat Regnier in Money Magazine (Jan/Feb 2010) makes some good suggestions.

“When work got stressful – pretty often in this economy – it was all to easy to click over to Facebook.”

He points out that for Americans working over 50 hours per week:

  • 56% say technology has increased their job stress (27% by a lot).
  • 47% say technology has made it harder to focus at work (14% by a lot).
  • 66% say technology has made it harder to forget about work at home and on the weekends (37% by a lot).

I’d say what about the fact that it’s easier to multi-task and watch your kids soccer game during the week and stay in touch.

He makes a few suggestions (all relevant for getting into the new year):

  • Check out the blog.
  • Break the circuit – stop checking Facebook for a week and see if it’s still that important.
  • Be smarter about e-mail.  The more you send; the more you get.  Create better subject lines.  He suggests the book “The Tyranny of E-mail”.
  • Focus on your job (which isn’t to check e-mail…by the way).  He suggests checking e-mail just a few times a day [which is very hard but very efficient].
  • Stay offline in front of the kids [which is hard to do when you work from home].

Looking Back 10 Years Ago

I usually try to spend some time reflecting at the new year looking backwards on what’s been accomplished, what I’ve learned, and how I’ve changed while also setting some goals for the next 1, 5, and 10 years.  Given that it’s the changing of a decade, I’m first going to look back 10 years to see where I was.


  • Living in St. Louis [I’ve moved about a mile down the road.]
  • Working at Ernst & Young LLP [I’ve had 5 different jobs since then… although all of them with people from E&Y.]
  • Wondering if the Y2K work I did would matter [still not sure but the world didn’t crash].
  • Working with managed care companies trying to convince them to build member portals and how the Internet would change their business.  [I think we know where that went although they are still trying to drive traffic there.]
  • Married with no kids and a dog [We now have 2 kids and a new dog.]
  • Never worked out [I’ve since ran 3 marathons and try to work out several times a week.]
  • There was no social media [Now, I’ve got Twitter, blogging, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Plaxo.]
  • Same mobile phone number and carrier although I paid several hundred dollars a month for many less minutes and features.

The decade itself seems full of big events:

  • My kids being born and watching them grow – Amazing!  [I could talk about them and my amazing wife forever, but that’s probably not for this blog.]
  • The dotcom bubble bursting [which impacted the company I was then working for].
  • 9/11 – I can still remember driving to work that morning and sitting at work in sort of a daze [even out in the midwest].
  • Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • New Orleans.
  • The Red Wings domination in hockey.
  • The St. Louis Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox winning World Series.
  • Running my first marathon [and later running with my little brother].
  • Trying to start my own company.
  • Golfing with my wife [our weekly date] … but never seeming to significantly improve.
  • Tsunami.
  • Recession and seeing people I know lose their jobs and have to adjust lifestyles.  [I was glad I experienced this early in the decade and had an appreciation for this.]
  • Seeing my parents really begin to age.
  • Watching my brother and sister get married and have kids.
  • Learning more and more about what I like to do and what I’m good at.
  • Appreciate the power of networking.
  • Actually using the healthcare system – first for the kids and second for myself.
  • Learning a lot about stock markets and IPOs and caring about saving for retirement and college.
  • Seeing the frustrating challenge of changing behavior with physicians (eRx, generic sampling) and later with patients.
  • Getting to do more and more selling.
  • Continued reinforcement of my Renaissance Man philosophy that broad is still a valuable strategy.
  • Learning what doesn’t work and how not to act.  [that could be a whole book]
  • McMansions.
  • Disney.
  • Learning about corporate politics [you could avoid that as a consultant… generally].
  • Learning to play Texas Hold’Em with my friends.
  • Building two houses, finishing two basements, doing remodeling.

I guess in general it’s been a good decade for me.  I’m better off.  I have a great family.  I’ve learned a lot.  I’ve grown in my career.  I’ve made lots of new friends.

At the same time, the world’s been pretty crazy, and I appreciate the sacrifices that many have made in the Armed Forces during this time.  I hope that the next decade will be much better for everyone.

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