medical advances

Gearing up IT for future growth…

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This blog post is a look back at topics I’ve written about this year with a look towards 2012. At the start of this year I had set a goal to cover some areas. In my current job I have been able to work with clients to help solve problems across these areas.

The table below summarizes the topics I’ve written about in my blog.

This is the time of the year when predictions are made and the trends that I see for Life Sciences and Healthcare are as follows:

  • Social Media – the industry has to come to grips with how to leverage these tools to create and effective means of communications to patients and doctors. I expect to see a move from one-off projects around Twitter and Facebook to a more ‘integrated’ approach to the use of social media (a more popular term being used is ‘social enterprise’).
  • Cloud Computing – given the tight IT budgets this offers the best avenue to quickly change existing business processes to meet the needs of the organization.
  • Mobility – the explosion in smart phones and tablets will drive the need for IT to give access to analytics and the data to help accelerate decision-making. Companies are making rapid strides in this area and are looking for ‘productivity’ improvements in the Sales and Marketing areas (impacting traditional CRM solutions).
  • Business process improvements – I’ve discussed supply chain management yet there are opportunities to further integrate existing customer relationship management (CRM) and product life-cycle management (PLM) solutions. Now that Life Sciences and Healthcare companies have implemented their IT solutions there is still a need to find more productivity savings.
  • R&D and Clinical Development – there is a huge shift in the way drug development and clinical trials will be performed. The traditional models have not worked and you can expect to see smaller investments and reduced team sizes with the focus on ‘rapid’ drug discovery and development. WE started to see how this is impacting the IT solutions necessary to do these processes.

There is economic uncertainty as we end this year. I am looking to focus on these topics to help IT organizations improve the chance for ‘growth’ in the new year.

So in 2012 I hope to also focus on these topics since they are important to me:

  • Diabetes – this has affected both family and friends. Managing this disease continues to be a challenge for a lot of folks so how can IT solutions improve the lives of those touched by this disease.
  • Personal Health – I have brother who continues to do well as a kidney transplant survivor and partners that are aging. What systems are being developed to help patients gather, watch and keep up their ‘personal’ data? I’ve recently started using “fitbit ultra” a device that helps check my health and log personal data. I’ll update you on the use of this device at some point in 2012.
  • Sponsor a child – we live in a great country and I have searched for a way to help others. Earlier this year I sponsored a child through “food for the hungry” organization based in Phoenix, AZ. A great organization. They connected me with a boy from Nicaragua and my sponsorship pays to help improve the education of this child. I’ve done a lot investigation and would recommend this organization based on their commitment to making this a better world and the way they use these funds. You can find more information on: .

On a personal note I really appreciate my LinkedIn and Twitter network. I would also like to thank my colleagues and partners who have helped make 2011 both a successful and interesting year.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and have Happy New Year.



The Need for Storytelling

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What does ‘storytelling’ have to do with leveraging technology for improving Life Sciences processes? In today’s rapidly changing world of technology you owe it to yourself to learn about and practice the ‘art of storytelling.’ In this blog post I want to give you a summary of why it is a vital skill to learn and practice, some basic do’s and don’ts, and a great reference on this topic.

Why it’s vital to hone your ‘storytelling’ skill

Selling technology is more difficult these days because of the way your audience process information. You’ve got more competitors looking to compete for the same business. Companies continue to ‘innovate’ and how do you offer these new ideas to the market?

Throughout your career you’ve learned to become an ‘expert’ in a given technology. Ask yourself what distinguishes you from your competitor who happens to be in the same field? I’m in IT services where success does not always mean that you have the lowest rates/cost. I constantly receive feedback that while the competition has the best price they fail to deliver on improvements to the business. Can you tell a story around why your company can do a better job delivering the same IT service?

Basic do’s and don’ts

When we prepare for bid defense or engage with a net new client I’ve often discussed how many slides we should use in a typical presentation? Many of you have ‘off-shore’ resources that can do a wonderful job in applying graphic skills to improve the look of a presentation. So here are some basic things to look out for that will hopefully improve your delivery of your ‘story.’


  • Go through a process of gathering ideas and developing a timeline for your pitch.
  • Know your audience – who are you selling to….
  • Manage the time to deliver your message.
  • Practice your timing. Your slides should be a reminder to the audience of your topic.
  • Finish early and look to engage in a Q&A.


  • Do not use your presentation as a document. I’ve seen off-shore resources offer lots of text on each slide (simply move this to your notes section).
  • Avoid the use of small fonts on your slides.
  • Resist the temptation to develop your story in PowerPoint. Use a drawing tool (Visio) or Word to outline your ideas. If you collaborate with your team make full use of posit notes to organize your presentation.
  • Avoid acronyms and abbreviations, and do not take for granted that your audience is ‘technically’ at your level.
  • Read the text from your slide. I know this is basic presentation training. Yet I’ve seen too many presentations where this continues to happen.

Recommended reading

A few weeks ago I posted on my LinkedIn Reading list a book entitled: resonate by Nancy Duarte. The author dissects ‘storytelling’ from content through delivery. What Distinguishes this book are the examples she uses to illustrate key points. I find myself referring to this book to prepare for various presentations.
I highly recommend this book.



Managing my data…

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Can we trust our health record information to software vendors?

We are not at a point where we can effectively: total, safely protect, easily transport and access our health data. I read a great article by Margalit Gur-Arie entitled, “Trust your life records to an unnamed chain of software vendors” she uses an analogy of our current banking system to emphasize how far away we are from gaining the trust around our health records data. Great article and highly recommended. This got me thinking about how we manage our data today?

The current focus on the use of smartphones and tablets are mainly for the physicians and nurses. We have yet to discuss the needs of the patients? My personal experience in daily work routines, writing my blogs and using smartphones indicates we are still evolving. There are some models of storing data that could promote greater adoption of data management that would help accelerate the use of technology for managing healthcare data.

Unintended consequences
A few weeks ago I had accidentally dropped my laptop. You know those moments when you’re traveling for business and just happened to let your device slip from your hands. This damaged the LCD display rendering my laptop useless as I was not able to use my data. For the next week I struggled to work effectively, and yes I do keep up a back-up of my data. So I had to cart around my portable drive with my files to a desktop with Internet access, and rely more heavily on my smartphone.

Bottom line from this experience is that smartphones are still not the answer to managing my data. I still rely on apps to do my daily work routines. There needs to be alternatives to managing apps and data across several devices.

Managing your health records
My brother is a kidney transplant recipient. In my earlier blog “Fresh start in 2011” I mentioned how thankful I am for his life. Those of you that have a relative who has undergone these kinds of operations you know that there is a daily regimen of medications to keep the body from rejecting the foreign organ. Have you seen the amount of ‘paper’ data from all the specialists and physicians it takes to keep this all in balance? Even with a dedicated intern whose job it is to check and analyze this data still takes a few hours just to make a ‘minor’ medication adjustment!

Paper records

There are some apps on the market that address specific medical data: heart monitoring, diabetes tracking, etc. I would be very interested in a personal health record (PHR) that can sum the data from multiple sources?

Smartphones and Tablets – we’re still developing
iPhone versus Android. The iPad versus the latest set of tablets. Earlier this week I posed several questions at the 2011 mHealth Trends (HIMSS Preview) webinar with Brian Dolan (@mobilehealth) and John Moore (@john_chilmark). These devices are still evolving in the market and while it is getting easier to check health data via individual apps we are not addressing the issue of managing the complete portfolio (or checkbook) of your health data?

iPhone and iPad

Later this year the iPhone 5 will be out on the market. As well as an update to the popular iPad tablet. The market is evolving with devices that are easier to use and much more powerful. We have come a long way since the bag phone and netbooks.



How can we digest all of these changes – what is still missing?
There are ways to manage your data on multiple devices. Mobileme ( from Apple is a good example of how their devices can have data synched via the Internet for email, contacts and files. There are apps like SimpleNote ( that allows you to support ideas using any smartphone and allow you to reach these ideas, in my case, via the laptop. The idea is that with a little effort I can avoid the unintended consequences of the loss on one device leveraging cloud computing as the repository for my data.

We are still not there when it comes to health records. Since the sources of the data come from a variety of sources. Physicians will soon be using electronic health records. Now the challenge will be how do patients aggregate this data? Can’t say I have a good answer for this based on some of the personal health records I’ve tested.

I would be interested if someone has found a ‘true’ personal health record that can be maintained on multiple devices and allow me to summarize my results data. Once this is in place we can then address the issues of security and portability. In the meantime my daily work is in helping Life Sciences companies’ leverage how an individual can use, analyze and get this data via a variety of devices. I am optimistic that we will see a day when software vendors in the healthcare space act like banks and financial institutes. Though I can’t see how the ATMs fit in all this…..who knows?



New Research Model to Accelerate Drug Development

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Online webinar was held on March 25, 2010.

As I was preparing to attend this call I remembered an article that appeared in Pharmaceutical Executive by Emmanuel Le Poul (November 18, 2009) entitled: “Rising to the Challenge in R&D.” So while the country was in the midst of discussing healthcare, the article started off by describing, that the pharmaceutical industry has not been able to improve the number of new molecule entities (NMEs) approved by the FDA. With the debate on healthcare focused solely on costs. The bigger issue is around productivity and innovation and why is it that we have not been able to improve the success rate for new NMEs? Many of you are well aware of the billions of dollars invested and countless clinical trials being performed each year. Is there a better model for drug development?

I had expected this webinar to focus on the ‘science’ aspects of drug development. Instead the focus was on improving the ‘process’ and for me that was truly enlightening. The presentation highlighted the growing ‘disconnect’ between academia and the pharmaceutical industry. We are well aware of the pending patent issues within the industry. The investment costs of $50 billion per year being spent on R&D, and the lack of ROI in terms of new products. The speakers covered the history for how we got to this point, and introduced the Accelerated Research Collaboration (ARC) model developed by the Myelin Repair Foundation (MRF).

The ARC model is a holistic approach that spans the entire drug discovery and development value chain. This offers Pharma the means to make decisions when to license the discovery. I see it as improving the odds for success by closing the gap shown in the graphic on the right.

I’ll summarize the model as follows:

  • The first step is target discovery. This is the basic science conducted in university laboratories. For the most part, the NIH and other disease research organizations simply fund basic science that results in the publication of results in peer review journals. The result is hundreds of thousands of such articles published each year. The ARC model identifies the best scientists, requires them to share data in real time, manages the scientific process to a strategic research plan designed to discover therapeutically relevant targets, and then file patent applications on their discoveries.
  • The second link in the value chain is target validation. The ARC model establishes and manages a network of contract research organizations, better known as CROs, tasked with validating the basic science from the MRF labs to industry standards.
  • The third step in crossing “the valley of death” is drug discovery. The ARC model identifies and engages commercial partners to conduct drug discovery research. The MRF accomplishes this step in the process by entering into partnerships with multiple pharmaceutical partners, each established to move multiple targets through drug discovery and clinical trials.

The sports equivalent of the ARC model is to achieve as many shots on goal as possible, and thus overcome the high attrition rates inherent in getting a treatment approved and available to patients. An essential component of the ARC model is coordinating and being involved with all the players and participants in the value chain, from the academics, other non-profits, patients, physicians and various government agencies, like the NIH and the FDA. The MRF invests and is involved in every step of the process.

If better treatments can be found using this model then we will have achieved success. We have spent too much attention on the cost of healthcare rather than focusing on the patient and developing new treatments through process innovations like the ARC model. I would recommend visiting their site to learn more about this model and the success they have had so far.

For more information on the webinar including the transcripts and slides these can be found on:

Health Care advances and Thanksgiving

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Given all the news about the healthcare reform bill and Thanksgiving (a US national holiday) I read this article which appeared in the Wall Street Journal (24Nov2009) by Melinda Beck “20 Advances to Be Thankful For” and a blog posted on: scientificblogging, science 2.0 by Becky Jungbauer. Thanksgiving is always a time for families to gather and share a common meal. Unlike other holidays, this one always has special meaning for me and each year brings new stories and changes in our family member’s lives. What struck me about this list of scientific advances is that we do have a lot to be grateful for I’ve chosen the following as it has direct impact on me and my family:

  • 62% of all US adults are in excellent or very good health
  • Life expectancy in the US reached an all time high of 77.9 in 2007
  • Death rates from cancer dropped 16% from 1990 to 2006 (this is the second leading cause of death – the first is coronary heart disease)
  • Deaths from strokes dropped 26% from 1995 to 2005
  • Average total cholesterol (in adults aged 20 to 74) dropped from 197 milligrams per deciliter in 2008 from 222 in 1962

The author, Melinda Beck, goes on to state, “The longer you live, the happier you are likely to be. Many older adults find that happiness and emotional well-being improve with time; they learn to avoid or limit stressful situations and are less likely to let negative comments or criticism bother them than young adults, according to research presented at the American Psychological Association conference in Toronto this year.”

I do agree with the article that goes on to share simple “free” tips on taking care of you: getting enough sleep leads to thinking more clearly, helps with weight loss, and fends off infections. Going out and getting at least 30 minutes of sun will give you more vitamin D. Yet there is still more that we need to do to improve health care in this country and around the world. I look forward to seeing Personalized Medicine (targeted treatments) for cancer, new drugs for lupus and memory loss, advances in vaccines for gene therapy and cancer, which leads us to a promising future.

Take a moment and read through the entire article. You may find some reason to be thankful for as health care impacts all of us. Find time to focus on your family and avoid the stress of the job search. Recharge yourself and come back renewed that an opportunity is just around the corner. Yes, by now you can see that I am more than just an optimist. Please do enjoy your holiday.