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Posts Tagged ‘big data

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 “…days of relying on glossy brochures while hiding unpublished clinical data are fast disappearing.”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 Of course, baddies in the mix will always re-interpret data (published and unpublished) to fit their promises to sales managers or shareholders.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.


Image credit: Glen Stubbe via Star Tribune

Big Data Will Never Write a Poem

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Art & Craft in a Data-Driven Age

Big Data FTW.

With all the information we collect from you (and Bob and Carol and Ted and Ciley), we know when you’ll buy beer, buy steaks, invest in a crock pot, buy an engagement ring, get married, get pregnant, get divorced, get pregnant again, get diabetes, get congestive heart failure and, well, pretty much any of the human conditions. We know what kind of coffins people in your neighborhood buy. We know this because we track it.

We track everything from mouse clicks to toilet paper purchases.

Because we track things we can make offers you cannot resist because you just thought of it yourself. You just thought of what we already knew you’d think about.

This kind of knowing is the goal of the big-data wranglers embedded in most any marketing group these days, whether an ad agency, a car manufacturer, a hospital or my city leaders. Knowing all means better decisions—at least that’s the promise.


Years ago all this tracking would have set in motion a web of fears about being controlled. But since most of have agreed with Amazon and Netflix that we really should order this lens next and watch that movie next (because others did), we’re at peace with each day’s granular tracking.

Is there a place for the crafter in a world of analytics? I say “Yes” because despite all the predictive analytics, we still connect best with real people. Brands are not known for calling us back to our senses. As our buying and consuming gets easier and easier—which is not a good thing—we need the artists and the crafters and the writers and barista-poets to call us back to a life outside of consumption.

Big data is not likely to predict the veering humans are known for. Because, as they say: past performance does not guarantee future results.

Plus: big data will never write a poem—at least a good poem.

Long live the intuitives!


Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

September 25, 2014 at 9:48 am

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