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Archive for the ‘medical device industry’ Category

Can Hospitals and Medical Device Companies Ever Be Friends?

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Maybe. If conversations start with shared goals like reduced readmissions

 “…days of relying on glossy brochures while hiding unpublished clinical data are fast disappearing.”

Image by Glen Stubbe/StarTribune

Image by Glen Stubbe/StarTribune

And so Suzanne Belinson, executive director at BlueCross BlueShield, took the medical device community to task at the recent LifeScience Alley annual meeting, at least as recorded in yesterday’s Star Tribune (“In era of growing risk, emphasis grows on medical device data,” by Joe Carlson). The sin of selling will no longer be tolerated and hard data trumps happy smiling faces, so don’t be coming round with your “marketing presentations” and corporate pens with clever logos.

We will not be swayed.

Actually, the days of relying on glossy brochures have been gone for decades (and perhaps such “reliance” existed only in the fever dreams of ad agency execs). Most physicians have long demanded data and journal articles, most company representatives knew this. Of course, baddies in the mix will always re-interpret data (published and unpublished) to fit their promises to sales managers or shareholders.

So…data it is.

And the bigger the better. That seems to be a theme everywhere these days, from politics to education to fast food. We are gonna get to the truth of things by sifting the data. Because data does not lie: especially if your group “lives and breathes data.”

Of course, there will always be persuasion. If not glossy brochures, then the recommendations of thought leaders or interpretations and caveats of naysayers. There will always be data sources we pay attention to and data sources we dismiss. But we’ll be the judges as we do the numbers.

Two things strike me:

  1. We (the big collective we, as in everybody) need to pay attention way more than we do today to do an adequate job on the numbers. Can we all dive into the data to properly satisfy ourselves? Not likely. Life is just too busy.
  2. There must be trust at some point. Even those doing the numbers need help doing the numbers. And so we come to trust the white-smocked number-keepers to tell the truth. Do we really have time to not trust?

Maybe this is a place for “both/and” not “either/or.”

Let’s do the numbers as best we can and learn to trust, too.

And here’s a step toward trust: reducing hospital readmissions together is one very obvious data point.

The ACA penalizes hospitals if too many patients “are readmitted with 30 days after being hospitalized and discharged.” As hospitals and medical device firms approach the same goal, each from their perspective, we’ll find that “sharing risk” is likely to cause each party to spill a bit more of what they know. It is the transparency we foster in our conversation, as we both move toward the same goal, that will build trust.

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Image credit: Glen Stubbe via Star Tribune

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Protected: LC Portfolio: Refreshing a Medical Device Brand

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Written by kirkistan

November 21, 2014 at 11:42 am

Should a Doctor Blog?

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Only if they want to grow their practice. Or connect with other physicians. Or with patients. Or provide thought-leadership.

Greg Matthews, author of Missing the Forest for the Trees, has been studying the online presence of physicians for years. He’s found that the credibility of their position and the connections within that position can translate to large and devoted followings today.

But all that was counter-intuitive in 2007.

Back when Mr. Matthews was formulating his questions about physicians online.

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Back then he was sure—we all were sure—that talking about health information online would never fly. It’s just too personal. What kind of nut would diagnose and prescribe in public/online?

Plus, well, HIPAA.

But some physicians found a way to talk with regular folks (that is, us non-experts who live on the web) about pressing topics. Diagnosis and prescribing on the web was a non-starter, but presenting topics in a way that made sense to regular people did happen. And as we all took to the web to sort our maladies, these authoritative, personal voices became trusted sources of information.

According to Mr. Matthews, today 61% of physicians access social media weekly, 5000 physicians post daily to blogs and Twitter, and 50 physicians are followed each by more than 500 other physicians.  Some physicians even feel “ethically obligated” to share on the web.GregMatthewsReport-10222014 Download Mr. Matthews PDF for more stats.

In this blog (conversation is an engine) we talk about conversation. We’ve noted how conversation is a two-way street: not just in words exchanged, but actually causing conversation partners to go and do different stuff. We leave our best conversations changed and with new resolve for the most important things facing us. It’s a sort of speech-act theory for anyone willing to take a dumb-sketch approach to life.

And even physicians and even patients can gain from this. And what they both gain is far more than mere information.

It makes me wonder what paths might open for collaborative conversations in lots of different work settings.

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If a Customer Shouts in the Forest and No Customer Service Rep is Around to Hear it…

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Should she post a comment on Yelp?

Nancy Beiersdorf of Medtronic’s e-Commerce and global strategy hinted (in this SAP talk) at the medical device company’s evolution from a product company to a solutions and service company. One important ingredient in this new recipe will be hearing from the people with problems (people in need of a solution) and helping them solve those problems (that is, service).

But hearing from customers is not easy—even for other customers.

If you’ve ever used Yelp to locate a restaurant while traveling through a new city, you know to toss 30-50% of the comments as someone having (a) evil intent or (b) a bad day. Even our favorite national parks suffer from poor Yelp reviews:

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Sorting fact from fiction has been a traditional problem with hearing from the customer. Customer service must wade through long, rabbit-trail narratives to finally get to the actionable item. That is the way of human conversation—sometimes it takes a while to get to the point. All this unquantifiable blather plays havoc with our quality systems. Surely customer service will soon chart a metric like “Time to actionable issue” and pay employees accordingly.

Hearing from customers is an inherently messy business. Especially for Medtronic: where reps once talked only with cardiologists and electrophysiologists now there will be all sorts of real people on the phone (or more likely, placing orders and comments on a web site).

All this conversation cannot help but change things upstream and downstream. In particular I expect at least two results:

  1. Increasing masses of consumer-to-company interactions will train consumers over time to use certain words and press certain buttons to get what they want. Much in the same way we are conditioned by repetition to bypass our bank’s introductions to get to a real human.
  2. Corporations may grow more sensitivity toward customer voices–the very thing Ms. Beiersdorf  advocates. By that I mean conversations have a way of working backward into the machine-gears of a corporation. As solutions and service show up more clearly on the P&L sheets, people will start to pay more attention to human interaction.

At least that is what I hope.

Let there be more advocates for the customer voice.

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Image credit via Adfreak

Why Medical Device Twitter Feeds are Boring

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It’s because monologue can be enforced. Dialogue cannot.

Twitter is all about the quick, personality-laden human voice. Twitter carries truncated thoughts by design—more like a human talk—one thought at a time.

Official medical device Twitter feeds are boring because the communicators behind those feeds are trussed and bound by legal and regulatory protocols. The feeds are boring because competing lawyers have police scanner-like attention for claims that fall outside of the FDA-vetted matrix. And those feeds are also boring because many of us are not in chronic pain, or worried about going through airport security with a defibrillator or insulin pump or mechanical heart valve. If we were, we might get those medical device tweets instantly on our smartphones and find them very interesting indeed.

I’m glad those tweets are boring. I hope they continue to bore many of us because we don’t need the product.

How could medical device tweets be more interesting? Clearly the human voice must be involved. When Omar Ishrak tweets (@MedtronicCEO), the tweets are at times more personal, like when his daughter runs a marathon:

 

But generally medical device tweets lack the sound of the human voice. They tend to sound like monologue-rich press releases:

 

https://twitter.com/MDT_Cardiac/status/518422795077042177

 

Some companies don’t even try:

StJudeTwitter-2-10082014

 

Ok: SJM does tweet over here: https://twitter.com/SJM_Media

Granted, medical device firms will never sass it up like DiGiorno pizza

 

But surely as we move forward into deepening inter-connections between professionals and regular humans, every company must find a way to sound human or risk not being heard.

Maybe that means special release from the legal/regulatory straightjackets for certain chatty employee/storytellers. Let them tell their stories in ways that are unique to them while continually repeating “My Opinion Only.” Can medical device firms institute official unofficial-storytellers? People who claim nothing but that they work at the place and this is what they see?

That might result in fun tweets that gather an audience and endear a company to a larger public.

The era of siloed communication is fading quickly in the rear-view mirror.

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We Landed a Medtech Account—Now What? 3 Understandings

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Bollixed and castrated and then we begin

Advertising agencies and marketing firms are eager to land medical device accounts. These prestigious accounts are much desired and would seem to enlarge the status of an agency because of the exacting, rigorous work that helps the human condition. It doesn’t hurt that they seem to pay on time. But having worked with a number of ad agencies once they land such an account, there are a few common threads that surprise principals and employees:

GreenGiantCloseUp-4-09152014

  • You’ll need experts: people who know how to work within a regulatory framework (“Claim this.” “Never claim that.”). People who know the words that soothe lawyers while still making sense to humans. And especially people who know their sinus node rhythm from their rhythm method. You will stay on message and every claim must be neatly tied to an article from a respected (first or second-tier) journal.
  • Your creatives are (already) wringing their hands. That’s because creative solutions lie on the other side of a legal/regulatory/corporate culture grinder.
    • Yes: the company has come to you for creative solutions.
    • No: they cannot/will not back-off their own internal legal/regulatory controls. Their own internal machinery will bind and castrate many of those solutions you have used in the past. What a great beginning point!
  • There will be rounds of changes. Many rounds. Way more than you are used to. Far more than you can reasonably put in your bid. They will seem…unmanageable. Taming revisions will take your best customer service manners and may take you deep into the internal relationship structure of the firm. But that is exactly the kind of partnering that is needed

If your agency can come to grips with these three understandings without imploding or driving sane people mad, you’ll begin to build a reservoir of expertise.

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Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Are You In—Or Are You a Loser?

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Is club membership really that critical to you?

Sometimes we observe similarities between work and church. Here’s a way work and church similarly lose momentum with every conversation: making club membership their most important feature.

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At work VPs and managers and employees speak in Dilbertesque code. Acronyms are just the beginning. In the medical device world, there are shorthand words for landmark studies, shorthand words for device features and benefits, shorthand words for certain technological functions. Shorthand words for the management focus of the quarter. Unless you’ve been around the team for a time, you wouldn’t understand 60% of the conversation. That’s why advertising agencies routinely hire translators when they get projects with medical device firms—they just don’t get the gibberish these smart people are talking.

At church we put on holy language and use words that make us seem like we are in the know. We deliver these words calmly as if they were on our minds all the time. The language of doubt is mostly unwelcome in this setting—this is where the faithful come for their weekly booster shot. And so language becomes subterfuge.

The problem with insider language at work or church is that it sets up participants for failure again and again. In both settings, many of the folks in the conversation don’t understand the very words they are saying—and don’t even realize they don’t understand. Or maybe they realize it but the insider current is so strong they are afraid to admit their lack.

Plain speech is a subversive force. Not only does plain speech out those not in the know, it actually forces those who think they know to explain or realize they know less than they thought. Plain speech is a force for progress because it breaks down hidden barriers and destroys a primary rhetorical tool for those who want to sit on their knowledge and keep it for themselves and to protect their kingdom.

This is why…again…no question is a dumb question. The simplest questions often carry great power.

As organizations (like work and church) realize they need to evangelize and draw outsiders in as a matter of survival, insider language must die.

Insider language is dead!

Long live language!

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Image Credit: Kirk Livingston

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