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Publicyte is Microsoft’s corporate blog where technology, entrepreneurial principles, and pop culture inform us about innovation in the public sector and civic progress.
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This is a guest post by Deanna Pogorelc, a Cleveland, OH-based staff writer for MedCity News, where this article originally appeared. Reprinted with permission.
Healthcare social media has a new player in a two-year-old startup that’s just raised $5 million in venture capital and launched an online community specifically for physical therapists. Therapydia was created to connect physical therapists, facilitate the exchange of ideas and mobilize PT around key issues like reimbursement and direct access. PTs fill out a profile on the site and then can add blog posts and earn reward badges for being active on the site.
One feature aggregates content from more than 300 news sites, journals and blogs. A Social Pulse feature combs through the Web (the member’s social media accounts, blog and reviews on Yelp and Healthgrades) to generate a score that’s indicative of a PT’s online visibility and brand, and then offers resources for improving them. The Promote PT section of the site lets members engage in conversation about policy issues.
Therapydia’s founder, Ben Dehan, has some experience building and exiting a social site. He was the founder and former CEO of Foodbuzz, a food blog community that was acquired by Federated Media in 2010. That experience may have helped Therapydia in raising its $5 million series A this summer from Peterson Ventures, de Anda Capital and Western Technology Investment.
A company rep said the business model was still being developed. Eventually, the company says, the site will expand to include patients, referring physicians and related wellness practitioners. Incorporating others into the network would be a key move for the company, as doing so would likely provide more direct benefit to users by opening the door for potential referrals and patient engagement.
The launch comes on the heels of the news last week that physician social media network Sermo was acquired for an undisclosed amount by WorldOne.
This is a guest post by Mike Strand, a Business Relationship Manager for Microsoft IT based in Bellevue, WA.
Since my last post “Micro-Leadership Through Enterprise Microblogging: A Modern View On Managing Bureaucracy”, much has happened in the world of social for the enterprise. Namely, my own company, Microsoft, recently completed acquisition of Yammer. As I am a strong advocate for the power of microblogging in the modern enterprise, including for customers in the public sector, I’m excited about immediate and long term impacts of such an important investment. I figured this recent milestone was good cause for an update on my journey embracing and heralding enterprise microblogging.
When discussing enterprise microblogging with the uninitiated, the conversation usually begins with a discussion of basic how-to’s, features, and usage scenarios. This goes along well enough until rest assured someone inevitably asks, “what’s the ROI on this?” -- and that's where the fun begins. With this easy-to-ask, hard-to-answer question, people are seeking quantifiable evidence of a positive cost-benefit relationship of social media in the enterprise.
In the case of companies using social platforms to connect with external customers there’s a growing library of quantifiable business results. However, in the case of within-enterprise use of social tools like microblogs, the quantifiable evidence is not as easily tied to incremental revenue (or reduced costs). Instead, common metrics cited are more indirect to the bottom line – and center around employee satisfaction and increased collaboration. For many the lack of a black-and-white direct linkage to increased hard dollar value is a limiter in adoption or investment. At this point, I like to engage my audience in a discussion of the following ideas.
What's the ROI on your office's weekly staff meeting?
Take for example the ubiquitous one hour weekly staff meeting. Assuming 2,000 work hours a year, 10 participating employees earning an average of $75,000 a year, the annual “cost” of that weekly staff meeting is almost $19,000. But that’s just one team’s staff meeting. Span that across an organization of say 10,000 and conservatively assuming everyone attends only one staff meeting, the company-wide cost is almost $19 million per year! Could you show me a quantified ROI on staff meetings in a 10,000-person enterprise? Yet, managers around the globe routinely schedule weekly staff meetings. Why? Because driving cross-team and cross-organization alignment is a top priority for all managers and leaders – and staff meetings are viewed as such an effective method of driving alignment that no formal ROI analysis is necessary.
Through this lens, we see daily choices across the modern enterprise with high monetary costs and no accompanying ROI. Think about the resources consumed for a 2 hour “All Hands” meeting with 300 participants. Similarly it’s not uncommon for a large organization to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on internal conferences. And while in the case of the GSA, this was a bit of a public scandal – in corporate America it happens quite often. Finally, if you work in government or a large enterprise I suspect you’ve been required to take a mandatory training in the last year. I’m highly confident that almost all these allocations of resources are done without a formal ROI.
At this point, let me explain that I’m not a ROI-basher. For the record, I have spent much of my career doing quantitative analysis and have both undergraduate and graduate degrees in finance. My wife will tell you I spend way too much time looking at our family finances spreadsheet. (No kidding, I can predict my daily bank balance with 5% accuracy over 3 months out). I love numbers; I love Excel. What I dislike, however, is people selectively requiring hard ROI evidence. I believe that anyone who earnestly adopts intra-enterprise microblogging for three weeks will no longer ask the ROI question.
Social media is not "additive" work -- it displaces less efficient task-completing mechanisms
The idea that social media is not necessarily "additive" is an incredibly important concept, and its why an earnest three week adoption period is so important - particularly for curmudgeons who say, “I don’t have time to do social networking at work.” Such people are often blinded by non-work-related “noise” in the social community that exists even behind firewalls.
While I personally would argue that posts about Taco Tuesdays in the cafeteria actually serve an important purpose (to be saved for a later blog post), it can take time for a skeptic to see the traditional work also getting done in the ecosystem. But once visible, they’ll see it’s the same work that was getting done before Enterprise 2.0, just now being done in a more efficient manner. Conversations that used to take place in e-mail or staff meetings that only benefited a limited audience are now reaching everyone that might benefit. Due to the open, searchable nature of microblogging, employees are unlocking intellectual property otherwise stuck in human or digital “dead ends."
A sometimes shocking, revelatory idea I like to pose to new microbloggers is the following: Before you send your next email, ask yourself two questions:
Still not convinced about microblogging? Try following the #FTW hashtag
One of my favorite enterprise microblogging hashtags to follow is #FTW. In internet-speak, FTW stands for “For the Win" -- code for something great happening. Quora kindly offers more context on FTW and it’s quite an interesting read. As on the broader internet, intra-company microblogs discussing positive outcomes are often given the hashtag #FTW. Here’s a small, slightly-edited and anonymized selection of actual #FTW posts from Microsoft:
The above discussion is a textbook example of individuals without a prior existing relationship or even knowledge of each other connecting across the enterprise via the microblogging platform. Additionally, based on timestamps the above conversation occurred over a period of about 12 hours. Not a bad resolution time in a company with over 80,000 employees.
The above conversation started with a sales professional looking for resources to assist with a customer demonstration. While the original poster got the information requested in a mere 27 minutes, the FTW-respondent was not the original requester. Given the transparency and ease of finding relevant information in across the microblog universe, additional employees benefited from the post 7 days later.
These are just two examples of #FTW's happening every day on Microsoft's internal microblog.
Albert Einstein is to have said, “Not everything that counts can be measured. Not everything that can be measured counts.” In my opinion, there’s sufficient evidence to suggest that Albert Einstein knew what he was talking about – and that enterprise microblogging is worth the investment.
This is a guest post by Arundhati Parmar, Minnesota Bureau Chief for MedCity News, where this article originally appeared. Reprinted with permission.
Cheap communications technologies have brought more muscle to the field of telemedicine, and organizations are looking to leverage these tools in innovative ways to provide care to patients at a distance.
At Children’s Hospital Boston, several telemedicine pilots are currently underway to determine their viability. At the MedCity CONVERGE Conference last week in Philadelphia, Naomi Fried, chief innovation officer of the hospital, provided a brief overview of three promising pilots.
These communications robots go home with the child who has undergone urological surgery at Children’s and remain for a two-week period. The video conferencing robot allows physicians to be able to see the patient at home with the parent and communicate with them.
The program has been so successful that patients have a hard time letting go of the sleek, shapely communications robot at the end of the two weeks.
“They don’t want to give the robot up and they really feel connected to the physician (through it),” Fried said.
Currently there are 5 VGo robots that are getting circulated around.
“What’s exciting about the pediatric patient population is that they are so open to technology,” Fried said. “They are digital natives and they are not intimidated by it.”
The VGo Robots are made by VGo Communications Inc., Nashua, New Hampshire.
Physician-Physician Virtual Consultation
There is real backlog of patients trying to see a pediatric dermatologist because there is simply not enough of these specialists around, Fried said.
To solve this conundrum, Children’s is piloting a program by which pediatricians seeing a patient with a questionable mole or rash can take a photo of it and send it to a pediatric dermatologist at Children’s, who can respond remotely with an answer.
ER physician-to-ICU physician connection
Doctors in the emergency room in community hospitals may often need some expert help when caring for a sick child. That has prompted Children’s to test a program which allows video-enabled communication between one community hospital and Children’s physicians inside the ICU. Specifically, the TeleConnect program links doctors in the emergency department at South Shore Hospital in Weymouth with the Medical/Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Children’s.
“This allows critical care experts (in the ICU) to advise doctors in the community hospital and view the patient and other relevant images,” Fried said.
These three pilots have been ongoing for a few months and the goal is to collect data.
“Telemedicine is a strategic health initiative at Children’s Hospital Boston,” Fried said, noting that it represents a “paradigm shift” in healthcare delivery.
Photo of V Go robot credit: Vector Blog
This is a guest post by Tony Tai, who's part of the Office 365 team at Microsoft.
Cloud computing can help governments increase productivity and improve collaboration while reducing IT costs. But which cloud productivity solution should you choose: Microsoft Office or Google Apps?
Microsoft has decades of experience working with government at all levels, in over 100 countries. After weighing the options, governments from the State of Minnesota in the United States to the Northern Ireland Assembly in Europe to the Western Bay of Plenty in New Zealand have decided that Office 365 is the right solution for them. With Office 365, government workers use familiar tools to maximize their productivity, take collaboration to a new level, and better serve citizens.
The infographic below shows what a day in the life of a government worker is like using Office 365 versus Google Apps. From more effective organizing and sorting of email to perfect document fidelity when moving from desktop to cloud storage, Office 365 comes out on top, creating real impact for a better government.
You can download the original infographic here at the Why Microsoft blog.
At the recent MedCity CONVERGE health innovation summit, a panel discussion about online collaboration opined that many "futuristic" innovations in health and life sciences already exist, but are simply not part of the regular workflow of doctors, bioscientists, and other health professionals. To tweak author William Gibson's famous phrase, the future of healthcare innovation is here, it's just not evenly distributed yet. What will get us there?
Toward the end of CONVERGE, an interesting panel titled "Online Collaboration: Where the Puck is Going" discussed the future of healthcare and how it would incorporate advances in things like crowdsourcing, social media, cloud computing, and more. The panelists were Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, the founder of THINK-Health (moderator), Dr. David Delaney, the Chief Medical Officer of SAP America, Dr. Harry Greenspun, a Senior Advisor to the Deloitte Center for Healthcare Solutions, and Joel Selzer, the CEO and Co-founder of Ozmosis.
Greenspun, the most dynamic and hilarious of the bunch (I couldn't possibly quote all his one-liners here), began with the premise that, "Healthcare is becoming a team sport involving multiple locations and many people," making it inherently a collaborative process between patients, families, various kinds of specialized doctors, various assistants like nurses, and other professionals - pharmacists, say, or people who write for and edit resources like WebMD. This is collaboration, all right, but it's complicated -- we're not talking about crowdsourcing funds to start a chair design business, or working on a Google Doc to get your group homework done on time. We're talking about human bodies, complex diseases, and literally life-of-death.
At some point during the conversation, Sarasohn-Kahn even mentioned that doctors and patients more than ever are "co-creating health," an interesting phrase to contemplate.
The future of healthcare is like the present day of other fields
So if healthcare is gradually becoming more open and collaborative, and is gradually incorporating technological innovations to make it so, we can ask, What does the future of healthcare look like? Interestingly, according to Greenspun, it looks a lot like the present day of virtually any other industry.
Greenspun did a small experiment with the audience, asking them: "How many of you use OpenTable? How many of you have online banking?" (probably about 80-90% of hands raised). But then he also asked, "How many of you can make an appointment with your doctor online? How many of you can access your health records online?" (significantly less hands, but actually a surprising number - perhaps 40% raised...of course, this was a sophisticated healthcare-oriented audience). He concluded, "And we don't go ballistic about this kind of thing."
When it's put in those terms, it makes you wonder why indeed it's so easy to get online services from Citibank and Bank of America, and how easy it is to get restaurant services from OpenTable and Seamless, but why a visit to the doctor's office is so...old fashioned. Paper forms that need to be filled out after you arrive, files that need to be transferred to other doctors offices, conversations taking place between a patients' healthcare providers on the phone without being documented, stored, and accessible by a patient or future doctors, and so on.
Selzer summed it up nicely: "Everything we have in social [media] is nice to have but not necessary until we integrate social into the healthcare workflow." The technology is not the hard part. The hard part is finding the right sticks and carrots to create incentives for experimentation, risk-taking, and change in what is a relatively conservative and high-stress field of endeavor. How can "connected care" become more of a reality for more people?
How healthcare innovation is like the Intelligence Community
The discussion of a traditionally-minded, high-pressure industry resisting widespread adoption of new technologies reminds me a lot about how the U.S. Intelligence Community (the CIA, NSA and about 14 other agencies which do intelligence collection and analysis) has been learning about, experimenting, and adopting Web 2.0 and related technologies during the last five years or so. Although numerous people in their own ways have been responsible for this evolution, perhaps no one has been more visible than a young IC specialist named Chris Rasmussen, who among other things has one of the most popular Top Secret blogs in the U.S. government. No, literally: His blog is classified and you can't see it. (Well, some of Publicyte's readers can see it.)
As author and academic Andrew McCafee wrote about Rasmussen about a year and a half ago,
He had (and still has) a geek’s passion for cool digital tools, and an organizational innovator’s frustration with the status quo – with the IC’s shortcomings in collaboration, knowledge sharing, and expertise location. He was a vocal proponent of Intellipedia and the Community’s other 2.0 initiatives, and came to spend a lot of his time as a kind of internal Johnny Appleseed, spreading the word and delivering the tools throughout the NGA and its peers.
He also kept thinking about how to use technology to better accomplish the work of the IC, and in particular how to address two nagging problems: the huge amount of redundant work...and the fact that for all their popularity and strengths, the Community’s 2.0 tools are still not seen as the ‘finished product’ — they’re not official word of any agency on any topic at any point in time. Intellipedia, in other words, might be a useful non-official input to the work of the CIA, FBI, NSA, ONI, etc., but it’s never their official output. In Rasmussen’s view, Enterprise 2.o at the IC consisted largely of building a digital water cooler where informal conversations could happen throughout the community. This was valuable and robust, but more was possible.
Here are two public videos about some of Rasmussen's (and others') ideas. They are really worth the ~10 minutes to watch both.
The original 'Toward Living Intelligence' video (2009). See also: Using YouTube to Push Intelligence Reform, by Marc Ambinder.
Framework for a 'Living Intelligence System' (2011). Chris Rasmussen is currently the LIS program manager for the IC.
The key point here is that while social media in the form of wikis, blogs, video sharing and commenting and more have been experimented with extensively within the Intelligence Community -- take for example their wiki Intellipedia, which is basically a Wikipedia about stuff related to people, places and things of interest to them -- none of the information within, say, the Intellipedia entry about the Egyption revolution means anything whatsoever for the official, vetted report from a given agency about these topics.
The overarching goal of the Living Intelligence System is put simply at the end of the second video: "We aim to change the underlying process of how content is created, and to get living, breathing, vetted content into the official channels of the intelligence community."
Circling back to healthcare, the same could be said of that industry, except that as a whole it's probably a bit behind the NSA (not considered one of the more open organizations around). While there are lots of experiments with technological and Web innovation in the health community -- take for example Medstartr, a crowdsourcing site for health, or FitBit, essentially a sophisticated health data collection system that goes where you go, or the Your Shape: Fitness Evolved game for Xbox, a collaboration between Humana and gamemaker Ubisoft -- for the most part, the tactical process of how you make a doctor's appointment, fill out forms, get follow up information, pick up prescriptions, deal with health insurance, and so on is pretty much the same as it was 50 years ago.
What the heath industry needs is an internal "Chris Rasmussen" who can envision and relentlessly promote, and perhaps someday take ownership of, a large vision of how to redesign the health care process, not in a way good enough for a science fiction movie, but in a holistic, meaningful way that pushes people a bit out of their comfort zones yet takes into account the issues of different diverse stakeholders and ultimately rises all boats.
On July 10th, MedCityNews.com hosted their inaugural CONVERGE summit for healthcare innovation in Philadelphia, hosting roughly 200 people from across the health industry, including healthcare providers, insurance and related businesses, biotech, and pharma, mixed with a healthy dose of IT people. As CONVERGE host and MedCity News CEO Chris Seper aptly summed up, "The industry is now chasing the app, not chasing the molecule."
In a wide-ranging keynote talk called "Innovation's Long Summer: The Coming Opportunities and Challenges for Healthcare Innovation," Department of Health and Human Services IT innovation chief Will Yu used a metaphor about scurvy -- how it took over 200 years to adopt the practice of sailors eating lemons after its discovery as a cure for the problem -- to discuss how the path from innovative vision to innovation adoption is long and complex and requires a series of incentives along the way. In his view, HHS is supporting efforts of innovators along this long path. He's also bullish: "There's never been a better time in history to be an innovator."
One of the things helping innovators, according to Yu, is the America Competes Act, which gives agencies like HHS the new ability to conduct public challenges, and also collaborate with external organizations like corporations and universities to innovate. In what areas is such innovation likely to happen? Along the lines of commentary about a data-centric, digital-first 21st century government by other government IT innovation policy leaders, Yu commented that among people working on health innovation, "the clear winner is those dealing with data in healthcare...a close second is those companies who help providers engage healthcare populations."
Keynote speaker Will Yu of HHS
There were many speakers and breakout panels (A full CONVERGE agenda is available here, and more coverage, including product demo videos, is available at MedCity News.) and I won't review them all here. But I'll highlight a couple that I found interesting.
Health IP is different from other kinds of IP
One panel that turned out to be more interesting than I thought walking in was about tech transfer, and the roles of universities and hospitals and their intellectual property (IP) in the entrepreneurship and innovation process. (The panel included: Dr. Don Rose, Director of Carolina Kickstart, University of North Carolina; Dr. Stephen S. Tang, President and CEO, University City Science Center; Dr. Ellen Purpus, Director, Office of Technology Transfer, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; and Deborah Crawford, Senior Vice Provost for Research, Drexel University)
With healthcare, this seems more complicated than in other industries with different types of IP. The pertinent soundbite came from Stephen Tang: "This is a market where the buyers don't know what they want, and the sellers don't know what they have," which seems only moderately frightening. What he proposes in general, and to a large degree is already doing in the Philadelphia area, is having "information intermediaries" who act as a middleman for biological IP. His organization, the University City Science Center, is a nonprofit which has been doing just that -- trying to bring the buyers and sellers together and help them understand each other -- for about 50 years.
It turns out that the question of What can universities do to market the IP they have to entrepreneurs who can use it? (which was asked by an audience member) isn't as simple as it seems, according to Tang.
The topic of understanding, licensing, and using health IP is one which seems somewhat unique to the industry. Health IP like DNA sequences, and their ultimate value, is relatively difficult to obtain, to understand, and to transform into something which is a marketable product on which revenue can be generated. And the issues are very different than with (say) social media startups, where the initial costs are low, the revenue model typically unknown, and the primary goal to do something interesting that will attract lots of users.
Health startup funding is a lot like other startup funding
In contrast to the above, a different panel -- one about venture capital investing in health industry startups -- caught my attention because of how similar it seemed to many people I've heard discuss funding (say) Web startups. (The panel included: Dr. Gary Kurtzman, Managing Director, SafeGuard Scientifics; Dr. Ted Driscoll, Technology Partner, Claremont Creek Ventures; Steven Krein, Co-founder, StartUp Health; and Karen Griffith Gryga, Managing Director, DreamIt Ventures, and Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Venture Funds).
Here are some quotes from Steven Krein of Startup Health, a New York-based national program to help health startups become sustainable businesses. "Lets create 1000 new entrepreneurs who can become sustainable businesses," and to find them he looks for a "sparkle in the eye and a fire in the belly." Gryga mentioned that her biggest pet peeve about entrepreneur pitches was, "Not being able to effectively describe what you do... Within a relatively short space, describing what you're trying to achieve....Entrepreneurs need to think about their communications... Do your research! You need to understand the space you're playing in.... You need passion and strong communication, but also need to be able to listen and take advice."
Sound familiar to anyone? Nothing wrong with this -- I just found it interesting that when it comes to picking entrepreneurs in health and in Web tech, and listening to their business plans and pitches, there are simply some basic rules about the kinds of people investors think will be successful, and the kinds who get funding.
Krein mentioned something else I found really interesting, because it relates to the newly launched Reboot America initiative from Startup DC and Startup America (which I advise). He is going to any big company who he can get to engage with him -- for example, Humana, Wellpoint, Aetna, UnitedHealthcare -- and asking what startups can do to help them innovate. If he "hooks" one by matching startup talent he knows about with the big business problem of (say) Aetna, he may then turn around and go to a venture firm with that new info as an incentive for them to fund a new health startup. With Reboot America, we plan to do similar things across numerous industries critical to the Washington, DC regional economy, including biotech out of the Bethesda / Rockville, MD area.
Online collaboration in health is about social media in the workflow
Finally, I will just briefly comment on a third panel which I found very interesting, so interesting in fact that it will make up an entire subsequent post on Publicyte. The panel was called Online Collaboration: Where the Puck is Going, and featured some very engaging and creative speakers. My biggest takeaway from this panel, whose discussion ranged from social media collaboration using Yammer to ordering doctor's appointments via something that looked like OpenTable, is that the future is already here -- it just isn't evenly distributed yet. More specifically, many, many of the innovations necessary to transform healthcare already exist, somewhere. The problem is not so much inventing new things, but rather taking these early inventions and innovations and making them part of the normal "workflow" of every day doctors, nurses, and other health professionals.