Powered by the Mayo Clinic, an attempt at physical API

So instead of this convoluted, consuming, and confusing reform debate, how about something more fun and innovative?  President Obama (+ others, etc.) has routinely cited the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic as models for providing high quality, low cost care.  If they can do it, we ought to be able to learn from them, and roll that model out nationwide, the argument goes.  Well, this is America, and some (including the Mayo Clinic’s Health Policy Center) are (with merit) skeptical, but ignoring that for the moment…

Robin posted an interesting idea (with Noah providing further perspective) inspired by Starbucks most recent attempt to revitalize it’s once proud corporate image where non-branding becomes the branding.

Well, some people think that’s creepy.  Here’s Robin’s insightful take on what Starbucks should be doing instead:

What if Starbucks was offering up a Starbucks API—a set of hooks into a vast, efficient coffee shop support system with incredible economies of scale? You, the local coffee shop owner, simply plug in, and wham, your costs drop by thirty percent because you’re leveraging Starbucks’ insanely optimized supply chain. You can use as much or as little as you want.

The idea: create a “physical API (as Noah termed it, here’s a read-up on API if you’re unfamiliar)” of the Mayo Clinic or Cleveland Clinic. Copy their entire way of doing business and paste it into hospitals around the country.  In a nicely wrapped package deliver their systems for decision-making, integration, coordination, and expertise.  Include their human resources practices, innovation efforts, and technology.  Import their employment model, their bargaining power, and of course brand recognition.  This is a beta release so if anything is left out, it can be included in a later version.

Mix with water.  Implement.  Poof!  Great health care!

Just think about it, Local County Hospital, powered by the Mayo Clinic or Our Lady Health Care System, supported by the Cleveland Clinic; it’s a definite brand extender.

Joking aside, the idea in a (somewhat) more realistic form has some potential.  The two Clinics are very good at what they do (so are other health care systems around the country, for that matter) and widespread importation of  their business and medical practices which allow them to provide quality care at low costs to other delivery systems is an admirable goal.

New business models.

When the conversation begins about a health care delivery model that is unsustainable and then progresses to discussing new business models worth pursuing, the effort of several Miami hospitals shouldn’t be on the list:

Jackson Memorial has teamed up with other local hospitals to market Miami as a health-care destination. The institutions have ponied up $12,500 each for an initial campaign. And they launched a Web site, MiamiHealthCare.org.

People coming to the United States for their health care is a good thing, it’s a good thing for American health care to be perceived as the leader.  And it’s also an understandable effort by the hospitals as it becomes increasingly difficult to sustain operations in the current system.  But the same things that are bringing foreign patients to Miami hospitals (quality health care and cheap flights) are sending American patients to foreign hospitals (plus the promise/execution of lower costs).  That model isn’t sustainable either.

Colliding worlds

Link: Companies find closed internet access policies not good for business.

Duh?  Maybe it’s not that obvious, but it certainly should be.  This article does a nice job comparing other activities employees do to “waste time” offline.

Money Quote: Gary Rudman, president of GTR Consulting, “These two worlds will continue to collide until there’s a mutual understanding that performance, not Internet usage, is what really matters.”

Update: Huh, another connection between education and health care, out-of-whack performance metrics in higher ed.

Courage in simplicity

Garr Reynolds (he of Presentation Zen fame) in an MIT Sloan Management Review piece on design thinking for managers (free sub reqd):

Managers may be afraid to embrace simplicity. In business we are all scared of being called “too simple.” People confuse simplicity, which is hard to achieve, with simplistic, which is easy and usually lacking value. When in doubt, a manager may add a layer of complexity where it is not needed just to be safe. It takes courage to be simple.

(Good/The Right) Education Matters

Organizations (especially those in health care where high-priced, educated talent is required for existence and continued operation) who are able to leverage this reality by building internal, comprehensive education opportunities will win.  Talent = everything.  Education programs created by the organization to complement workers’ skills and abilities will help build and reinforce the culture necessary to create tomorrow’s (today’s? yesterday’s?) health care delivery system.

As I write this, Google is putting every book ever written online. Apple is offering video college lectures for free download through its iTunes software. Skype allows free videoconferencing anywhere in the world. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and many other schools have made course materials available for free on their Web sites. Tutors cost as little as $15 an hour. Today’s student who decides to learn at 1 a.m. should be doing it by 1:30. A process that makes him wait 18 months is not an education system. It’s a barrier to education. (Jack Hough, MSN Money)


Heterarchy: “an organizational form somewhere between hierarchy and network that provides horizontal links that permit different elements of an organization to cooperate whilst individually optimizing different success criteria.”

A potential solution to flattening hospitalsThis paper says that collaboration is the key; and what do we need more in health care given the multiple professional groups, support units, employment structures and tripartite missions (patient care, education, research)?

Medical Utopia: Designing cities to protect against diseases like swine flu

No doubt that if you have consumed any amount of media in the last 48 hours you are aware of the swine flu.  It is, as well it should be, a growing concern.  And something to think about seriously (the smart people/people who work on things like this for a living have been doing so for a while now re: avian flu).

Snarkmarket points to a thought provoking post at BLDGBLOG that combines a cadre of interests on this blog: medicine/public health/urban planning/design/the future.  Number 10 from This Diseased Utopia: 10 Thoughts on Swine Flu and the City:

In the end, then, what spatial form might a medical utopia take, and how could it be architecturally realized?
In 50 years will you be walking around the edges of the city with your grandkids when one of them asks: Why are these buildings out here, so far away from the rest?

And you’ll say: They’re here because of swine flu: we redesigned the city and our diseases went away.

Is it possible to have fun in a health care workplace?

Two things leading to this: 1) a class discussion this week about whether or not it’s possible to have “fun” in the health care workplace (like Southwest Airlines or Zappos); 2) a presentation the following day proving that it is, in fact (and in the correct context), possible:

Here’s an explanation on why they were enjoying themselves so vociferously.

CMS: Open Thyself.

Look at what the Guardian has done with data (thanks, Noah Brier):

We have compiled our top sets of publicly-available data for you to use free. Explore the links below, visualise and mash them together. Then, let us know what you’ve done.

They even have worldwide health care spending data for all to enjoy.

Now take a gander at how the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services shares its data.  There’s no reproducable text worth sharing here.  However, this is what’s important: it’s confusing and it’s not free.

Freely available data allows people to do marvelous stuff.  The mashing phenomenon has been around for awhile now; the fruits of its collective labor have produced some cool things.  The same goes for data visualization.  The Guardian has created its Open Platform to encourage participation.

CMS should do the same.