Our Thoughts

Popper and Company Ponderings on the Year Ahead in Healthcare


December 22nd, 2014
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At this time of year, many folks look back at the year that was. And indeed 2014 was an interesting year in healthcare.

We, however, prefer to look forward. Every fortuneteller brings her point of view to table. We do, too! We believe that healthcare can be improved by taking a macro and a micro view…one innovation at a time…but always focusing on improving overall efficiency and increasing customer satisfaction. Healthcare is rapidly adopting the imperatives of other markets…so maybe it’s not such a unique industry after all!

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Streaming ECG Technology Could Keep Athletes’ Heartbeats Going


November 21st, 2014
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According to Running USA’s annual marathon report, in 2013 more than 541,000 runners finished over 1,100 marathons, which is a 140% increase in participation since 1990. Increasingly women are joining this running class and now represent almost half the participants. Also adding to this group is a growing number of older runners— those ages 40 and above.

The benefits from running are endless, including reduction of heart disease, increased lung capacity, weight loss, improved bone density, stress reduction and improved mental health. With all of the good news associated with running, there is also a bit of bad news – a small risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD). We are often shocked to hear of an athlete’s death during a race or game. During the 2009 Detroit Marathon, for example, three men died of SCD. The youngest SCD victim was 26 and the oldest 65. SCD events are rare in athletes – about 1 in 50,000 to 1 in 200,000 annually. These deaths generally occur during or after short intense bursts of energy. SCD events effect more men and more non-Caucasian individuals. Sports that require short bursts of activity — basketball, football, soccer, etc. – seem to pose a higher risk of SCD.

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New Biology Fosters New Business Partnerships


November 6th, 2014
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You may have read the announcement this week of the joint venture between the preeminent medical genetics lab of Baylor College of Medicine and Japan-based Miraca, a holding company operating in the healthcare sector.

I am delighted to have had the opportunity to shape the strategy for this relationship and look forward to rolling up my sleeves and helping with the implementation.

Why do I think this is so exciting and interesting?

Through this venture, world-class academic science meets the commercialization capacity of a global multinational business organization.

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Johns Hopkins mHealth Report Shows Technology’s Impact in Developing Countries


October 20th, 2014
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My friend Alain Labrique, director of the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Global mHealth Initiative, recently issued the initiative’s 2014 Annual Report, and I’m not at all embarrassed to share my initial response upon opening it:

Wow!

From its work with Maiti Nepal to use mobile technology to prevent human trafficking; to improving maternal health by providing remote education, advice and services; to collaborating with policy leaders in South Asia to enable evidence-based mhealth innovations – all 130 projects supported by the initiative are inspiring. The JHU report provides proof that digital and mobile technologies can indeed help resolve what had been seen as intractable health problems, in resource-constrained countries. For infectious disease, nutrition, and social issues that are enormous problems in the developing world, digital tools can enable fundamental epidemiology research, and begin to overcome persistent problems of unequal access to healthcare.

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Dodging Product Development Failures, Part 3 – Integrated Team Work


October 16th, 2014
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There are many elements that lead to a successfully developed product; we’ve already covered two important factors: 1) Assessing all risks and going beyond prototype development and 2) developing an uncanny customer insight. In this post, I’ll discuss a third key element, the importance of teamwork.

Pitfall: Team activities that are not integrated
Product development depends on many different disciplines, including engineering, regulatory, marketing, manufacturing, finance, sales, and quality control. While these specialists bring a depth of expertise, you’ll need to integrate all of them. While a specialist will certainly be able to identify a task and complete it, she or he may balk at attending team meetings where the discussion is far outside her or his specialty. But the best teams are made of people who know how every discipline connects to the product. Only with an integrated team will you know what a customer really wants, have a superior sense of priorities, and gain the ability to shift attributes like price, time to market, or specific product features. Unfortunately, many groups who call themselves teams don’t have this level of connectedness.

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EHRs Must Find Zebras Among the Horses


October 10th, 2014
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This post is originally published on InformationWeek Healthcare, October 8, 2014

 

EHRs should be adaptive, so that when something like the Ebola outbreak occurs, the overworked ER doc has help catching the one critical piece of information that wasn’t as relevant a year ago.

In my last article for InformationWeekWill Electronic Health Records Ever Be Usable?, I introduced the American Medical Association’s EHR usability priorities, published last month. This time let’s dig a little more deeply into some of these priorities.

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Dodging Healthcare Product Development Failures, Part 2 – Developing Uncanny Customer Insight


October 8th, 2014
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In product development, a lot of parts have to be working well for the whole project to succeed. In my last post, we talked about the need for a disciplined approach to developing a product, as well as the need to think beyond the prototype and its design. In this post, I’ll talk about another area of enormous importance to successful development—insight. Just as development isn’t just about product design, insight isn’t just about what your customers say.

Pitfall:  Insufficient customer insight
Truly disruptive innovations address a need that customers can barely articulate before being exposed to the product. Examples of this type of successful development abound; from smartphones to intermittent windshield wipers to single-use bioprocessing. None of these new products addressed a known, clearly expressed need, but in today’s world we couldn’t imagine living without them. While listening to customer ideas, complaints and expressed needs is necessary, product development can’t stop there. Many products that sound perfect during customer interviews end up unused (and unusable) in the real world. Developing something truly new and useful depends on an uncanny insight around what customers are trying to achieve, their environments and the capabilities of alternative technologies.

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Will Electronic Health Records Ever Be Usable?


October 2nd, 2014
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This post is originally published on InformationWeek Healthcare, September 26, 2014

 

AMA attempts to address the frustration EHRs create, especially for doctors and other healthcare workers.

 

“It’s easy to use, once you know where everything is,” the instructor said during an EHR training session I recently attended. Most EHR companies seem to believe this is an acceptable way to design software.

 

EHR usability has been greatly ignored by vendors, and last week the American Medical Association issued eight usability priorities in an attempt to address the issue. This directive comes as a result of a joint study by the RAND Corporation and the AMA highlighting EHRs as a significant detractor from physicians’ professional satisfaction.
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What FDA’s MDDT Pilot Program May Mean for Diagnostics Business Leaders


September 30th, 2014
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Recently, FDA announced a pilot program to solicit proposals from companies interested in participating in its voluntary Medical Device Development Tool (MDDT) initiative. This FDA pilot initiative will allow the development of certain standardized tools (e.g., biomarker detection test, methods of measuring clinical endpoints or outcomes, or in vitro animal, human or computer models) to help FDA and device manufacturers assess the safety, performance and effectiveness of devices. In FDA’s view, a validated development tool that has been reviewed by FDA and made broadly available could potentially be used to reduce time and resources needed to develop products, and possibly reduce the number of rejections by the agency.

 

One of the proposed requirements of the MDDT initiative is that the tools be made freely available to the public, an element that has caused industry to balk. Both AdvaMed and Boston Scientific have offered suggestions to make the program more palatable to industry, one of which includes having the tool(s) still reside in the hands of the companies that develop them, but made available to other entities via licensing. In this way, the developing companies can protect their IP while sharing FDA’s interest in seeing the tools disseminated. It remains to be seen if FDA will incorporate these suggestions into the final guidance, which will be issued while the pilot program is underway. This MDDT initiative is yet another of FDA’s well-intentioned efforts to be seen as a collaborative partner in advancing innovation in the healthcare space, and the agency is to be commended for doing this.

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Dodging Healthcare Product Development Failures, Part 1—Risk Assessment Trumps Design Devotion


September 25th, 2014
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A new healthcare product is an exciting thing. It could alter people’s lives, perhaps change the world, and maybe even earn some money. But what comes as a surprise to most people is how few of the many new product ideas actually make it to market.

 

There are a number of reasons why most products don’t survive; the development process is complicated and often counter-intuitive. However, in my experience, there are a few pitfalls that commonly trap product developers, but also ways to sidestep those pitfalls. This is by no means a comprehensive list, because every product is different and many things can trip up development. Often a project can be clicking on five cylinders and you need just one more to make it work. In this three-part post, we’ll look at common ways to kick start that extra cylinder.

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