Jason Polan

I read this article in The New Yorker about Jason Polan and his Taco Bell Drawing Club, shortly before moving to the city.

The drawing club inspired me, for what purpose I’m not sure yet, but it was just a cool idea.

Anyway, I was sad to see that he died this week. His friend Austin Kleon wrote something nice about him.

Continue to wash your hands

Some good news re: H1N1 lately:

U.S., Australian Researchers Say Single H1N1 Vaccine Dose Protects Adults Against Virus

Earlier Release Date Planned for H1N1 Vaccine

The below are intended to provide some Monday morning enjoyment.

Fast Company:


New York Times via MSNBC:

greeting risk

Remember: the most effective way to stop the spread of flu until a vaccine is ready is to wash your hands…often.

Health care again adds jobs

Health care added jobs in July (as it has continued to do) according to the latest BLS report (pdf).  Two reactions:

  1. Good.  We need employers to add jobs.
  2. It increases health care costs, especially not such a good thing as the economy continues to struggle.

The Health Blog reports that total health care employment has risen from 13.3 million to 13.6 million jobs, with grown seen throughout the industry.

Ahhh, competition?

The Health Care Fed idea was one of the best in the now waste of $10 Daschle book (Amazon tags it a BARGAIN PRICE, go figure; any lawyers want to start a class action filing to get our money back?).

Anyway, aren’t the “Me-too” drugs and devices critical to competition?

What we need is a “health-care Fed”: A panel of independent experts, consumers and ethicists who would make these tough decisions based on scientific evidence about what works, and what doesn’t.

Technologies that are real advances would go on the “A list” and be covered in full. “Me-too” drugs or devices with modest benefit for patients would only get partial coverage. And forget about treatments with unsubstantiated efficacy.

Making them more expensive (to the paying party) than the first movers defeats the purpose of competition.

The promise is on paper, fingers crossed?

Execution! “The last 98%.”

Groups representing hospitals, health-insurance companies, doctors, drug makers, medical-device makers and labor … will promise to help reduce the growth of national health-care spending by 1.5 percentage points in each of the next 10 years. (Wall Street Journal)

Cynicism aside, it’s a good first step.  Certainly a far cry from Harry and Louise (though even their views have changed).  But remember, a reduction in health care cost growth still means health care cost growth.  The left is optimistic, the right is trying to get organized.

Trying to learn from their (our) mistakes

Henry Mintzberg in Toronto’s Globe and Mail had some interesting thoughts on our current economic issues.  Like the complete failure of “management:”

What we have here is a monumental failure of management. American management is still revered across much of the globe for what it used to be. Now, a great deal of it is just plain rotten – detached and hubristic. Instead of rolling up their sleeves and getting engaged, too many CEOs sit in their offices and deem: They pronounce targets for others to meet, or else get fired.

On “planning:”

To get bailed out yet again, the auto companies have to offer plans. No problem: American companies specialize in making plans. It’s the execution that’s been the problem. (Remember those grand auto shows, with all their exotic cars that never made it to market? That was “planned obsolescence.”) These companies couldn’t succeed by doing, so how are they supposed to succeed by planning?

And on the approach to “fixing” it (health care metaphor noted):

What we have is a government that palliates: It provides geriatric medicine to its oldest, sickest enterprises in a country that requires pediatric and obstetric medicine for its young and vibrant enterprises, the ones that create the jobs, not eliminate them.

Here: 1) get out of the office and walk around; 2) stop planning, start doing; and 3) innovation works, encourage it.

Catching up…

Blogging has slowed while on vacation but reading hasn’t; sharing good stuff is always a priority.  So I’ll try a Noah Brier inspired linkdump since I’m in the throes of another rain-soaked Germany day.

Remember flattening the health care organization?  Well a one-man software company has committed to becoming a completely open company.  It’s a very interesting read (the comments, too) with some potential health care lessons.  This may be the most important:

It used to be hard to imagine that anything serious could be build without the creation of large hierarchical organizations. But if one thing has really been shown in these recent years, it is that self-organizing groups in many cases can outperform traditional organizations.


Wouldn’t it be cool to present a cool idea at TED some day?  Well, here may be an opportunity akin to the minor leagues: TEDx—an independently organized TED-style conference.  From the website:

In the spirit of “Ideas Worth Spreading,” TEDx is a program that enables schools, businesses, libraries or just groups of friends to enjoy a TED-like experience through events they themselves organize, design and host. We’re supporting approved organizers by offering a free toolset that includes detailed advice, the right to use recorded TEDTalks, promotion on our site, connection to other organizers, and a little piece of our brand in the form of the TEDx label.

In another TED-related link, this conference (via Berci) has the potential to be zen-like.  Although the cost may prohibit some (most? maybe that’s where TEDx comes in…) who truly need to be there from going, it’s down the right road.


Wayne Smith needs your help (via Good Community Blog) in finding an organization to partner with to start a giving program through HSAs:

Basically, this is a social business model. The idea allows people to give small amounts of their pretax paycheck each week to pay for others’ health care without any incurred risk and by bypassing government channels. It is privatized health care philanthropy administered on an individual payout basis.

0.1% (or some other small amount) will be the default giving level. Members of the HSA will be signed up automatically and informed that they may choose to opt-out or increase their giving. The objective is to set the default option low enough that people will not be motivated to opt-out. There is also the opportunity to allow individuals to donate the balance of their HSA to the program at the end of the year (potential default option), and to the program as the beneficiary upon an individual’s death (another potential default). The idea may also be able to leverage the Cass & Sunstein idea of Give More Tomorrow, since the contributions will be withdrawn from pretax individuals’ pay.


My vision of a truly useful personal health record.


So Ohio State is giving medical students the use of an iPod Touch/iPhone.  Maybe EHRs will truly be embraced by the health care establishment when they make providing care easier (i.e., handheld devices helping provide care); another step in that direction reported by PSFK:

But two new devices for the new iPhone OS demonstrate just how the iPhone is going to make monitoring your health both more immediate and interactive. One app can control a blood-pressure cuff that plugs in to your iPhone, and Johnson & Johnson revealed a similar app and device that tests blood glucose levels.

Technology assistance

BusinessWeek‘s Gene Marks feels sorry for doctors because of the way they are being forced to purchase technology.  The issues facing independent physicians:

For example, right now there are dozens and dozens of companies offering technologies that claim to provide electronic health records. And guess what? None of their systems talk to each other. Surprise! And none of them have the same architecture. And they don’t exchange data with all the same hospitals. That’s because most hospitals’ systems are all over the place too. What, you think those big hospitals actually have their act together?

Has such a high tech industry ever had so much trouble implementing personal technology?  Feel bad for physicians, yes.  That financial benefits of an EMR accrue to payers, hospitals, and to the larger system is but one reason.  But sooner or later, a minimum level of technology in the exam room is the price of entry, right?  So the U.S. federal government is on board with the stimulus bill—should assistance to physicians in purchasing technology end there?  Does the mandate preclude participation by commercial payers and hospitals?