Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Case for Inbound Marketing

One of the better presentations I’ve seen on the case for inbound marketing comes from HubSpot.  In sum, it’s better to be found by your target audience than to bother them with email and advertising.  They are not only tuning you out, but they are unsubscribing from your lists. Companies need to “stop interrupting what people are interested in and BE what people are interested in.”  Customers and prospects will find you so long as you are participating in the conversation with the right content and through the right channels.

This presentation itself provides a great example.  Posted to slideshare over 1 1/2 years ago, it’s still being shared and receiving comments as recently as 1 week ago! That’s useful content, and we’ve all heard that content is king.

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Meaningful Use ‘Malarkey’

While his timing would’ve been a bit off, Joe Biden might have been forgiven if he had smirked and called the October 4th letter asking HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to suspend meaningful use (MU) incentives “malarkey.”  In the letter, four Republican congressmen cite an apparent weakening of thresholds from Stage 1 Proposed to Stage 2 Final Rules as well as a lack of established interoperability standards as contributing to wasted taxpayer dollars.  On the latter point, the congressmen may be a bit premature as Stage 2 appears to advance data and transfer standards such that we may (finally) expect meaningful exchange in the coming years.  On the former point, however, the congressmen might have a legitimate gripe.

The decrease has primarily come during the public comment periods between Proposed and Final rules each time.  As with most legislation, this is presumably due to pressure from large trade organizations (e.g., AMA, AHA and the like) representing their constituents’ concerns.  Regardless of the drivers for decreased thresholds, one thing is certain – while inroads in interoperability are likely in Stage 2, there still needs to be USE of these interoperable EHRs – there must be data to exchange for interoperability to have maximum effect.  This makes the slow march toward 90%+ for certain thresholds a bit curious.  Why would a physician want to enter 60% of medication orders electronically but only 30% of lab or radiology orders electronically.  That’s a hybrid, inefficient workflow.  If you asked physicians which they’d prefer between lower thresholds and hybrid workflows versus efficient systems that help them treat patients, I believe they’d chose the efficient systems.

Ultimately, widespread adoption success will require innovative, disruptive technologies and not just interoperable systems.  Applications and services that change the way we use existing technologies will play a key role.  It’s not enough to make CPOE “better” – better for whom and how is a key consideration.  Traditional desktop CPOE may improve the way a physician places a medication order or they way a lab result is accessed.  Those are examples of individual improvements rather than disruption.  Unifying all patient data and allowing a physician to re-order a lab directly from a result – all from a mobile device while outside of the hospital – is closer to the disruption that’s required.  Simply designing systems that support the way a physician works – non-linear with constant interruptions – is disruptive by healthcare IT standards.

Ultimately, the technologies that break down the silos to create an integrated, physician experience will lead to success – it may even please both sides of congress.  OK, maybe that’s a bit TOO ambitious.

The Yin and Yang of Lance Armstrong

The daily deluge of articles about the fall of Lance Armstrong in the wake of the 1,000 page report from USADA shows no signs of slowing. It’s barely 9am, and already news has broken about Nike terminating their relationship with Lance and a decision by the now former 7-time TdF winning rider to step down as the chair of his own foundation, Livestrong.  Armstrong’s legacy appears to be descending faster than the pro peloton down Alpe d’Huez (sorry, couldn’t help myself).

But Armstrong presents a unique challenge to those of us, especially cyclists, trying to square our own opinions and feelings about where he stands in the pantheon of public figures. Armstrong was hailed as a “person to be deeply admired” for leading the fight against cancer by The Austin American-Statesman newspaper. “The trickier legacy is the one that goes beyond cycling.  If admirable work turns out to be built on a lie, is the lie then OK, the cheating excusable?” according to an editorial.

Coming to terms with his cycling legacy would seem to be the easier task when considering the impressive array of evidence presented by USADA.  When you look at the top finishers of the TdF during Lance’s 7-year reign, however, does this not represent THE best example  of a “new level playing field” where almost everyone (>70% of podium finishers) doped?  It seems the only real choice, sadly, is to basically ignore that era and declare no holder of the yellow jersey during those years – that’s what the director of the TdF appears heading toward.  Ultimately, of course, the right answer ought to be that no matter where the level is set, cheating cannot be allowed or condoned, and we must accept that not all were doping, therefore his cycling legacy is tainted.  Unfortunately, like Barry Bonds before him (another “prickly” superstar athlete), I strongly suspect Lance would’ve distinguished himself as a champion of cycling’s most treasured race without performance-enhancing drugs and techniques (though perhaps not 7-times).

Much more difficult is how we are to view his impact on cancer – the ultimate opponent.  Livestrong has received donations totaling almost $500 million since 1997.  Like many others, I’ve met, ridden next to Lance (hung onto his wheel more like it), and heard him speak in person.  He has inspired countless people, those with and without cancer, to grab (or buy) a bike (ask Trek about his impact) and ride – for exercise, for fun, for life.  We he have inspired the same in us without the victories?  Probably not.  His drive, example and name are clearly the biggest reason for Livestrong’s fundraising prowess.  Nevertheless, one has to wonder whether the organization was preparing for this day back in 2004 when it began the slow march to change the Lance Armstrong Foundation to the Livestrong namesake it’s held since 2009 – a rare example of a parent brand being usurped by its offshoot.  It’s always risky for an organization to be associated with a single person.  Often it’s about what happens to fundraising when the person retires or is no longer in the public eye.  In this case, it’s what will happen when the person remains in the public eye but for the wrong reasons.  Fortunately, it appears that while Nike is ending it’s relationship with Lance, they have “plans to continue support of the Livestrong initiatives created to unite, inspire and empower people affected by cancer.”

It’s far too early to know the impact of the daily events related to his story.  We can only hope that Livestrong will do what Lance himself tells people in his book “It’s Not About the Bike” – “All I wanted to do was tell people to fight like hell.”

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