Friday, December 31, 2010

Top 10 "BrandInnovator" blogs of 2010

Here are the Top 10 "BrandInnovator" blogs of the year by Page View

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Stinson Brand Innovation helps EMD BIOSCIENCES leverage web tools to search, cite, post, and promote its enhanced citation database

We have been partnering with the EMD Biosciences product management and science teams to search and document scientific research citations of the Top 100 products of their Calbiochem and Novagen product lines.

After finding thousands of citations in journals such as the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Science, and, Cell, we are extending our partnership to the eStrategy team. Together, we will implement a robust search feature that will support customers and sales representatives in finding relevant papers associated with products they are using, or are interested in using in their research.

This new support tool will categorize the citations by product, product number, or key word for quick and easy reference. And, with thanks from our Top 10 Journals, we will be able to provide direct links to the paper and/or abstract.

It is our hope that the customer service we expertly provide to our customers will be replicated online. So, customers can access the right, most up-to-date research and product information on demand.

Read more in the current issue of ACCELERATE about how Stinson is using technology to help clients gain a brand innovation edge.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Total Sleep eMerges onto the eMarketplace with Stinson Brand

Total Sleep, a sleep diagnostics company, has been examining the important implications of Web2.0 for their sleep diagnostics business. It seemed only natural that as they continue to open sleep labs across the country they offer the products they’re prescribing online, on their own eCommerce site.

Stinson Brand Innovation has been engaged to develop an eCommerce site that will not only streamline internal processes, but also offer customers an online shopping experience. We will offer superior design, intuitive shopping, service-driven transactions, insurance integration and claims management, and flexible shipping and returns.

William Guidetti, CEO, says, “This is a significant opportunity for us to expand our services to more customers, via our web portal for CPAP. eCommerce is based on reliable business principles, that we’re applying with incredible technology that allows us to meet the growing demands and expectations of educated consumers.”

Total Sleep will continue to enhance its organic and paid search engine presence to prepare for the eCommerce launch that they expect will draw thousands of users in the first year.

Read more in the current issue of ACCELERATE about how Stinson is using technology to help clients gain a brand innovation edge.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My interview with Crystal Martinez, Director of Fieldwork Webwork, on utilizing online technology for reaching customers

Fieldwork, Inc. is a nationwide provider of focus group facilities and a global provider of recruiting and project management services. We at Stinson Brand Innovation have been partnering with them for consumer, business and medical recruiting efforts.

I talked with Crystal Martinez about the unique perspective she has into both the client and facility side of marketing research.

How was the Webwork group started?

Fieldwork Webwork grew as an extension of our Fieldwork Network, specializing in online marketing research, as well as hybrid projects that include a combination of online and in- person interviews. Managed by staff with experience inside the facility and on the client side, Webwork is taking traditional marketing research into the virtual realm.

How is Webwork different from other focus group providers?

Fieldwork facilities have always been structured so that they are run locally by owner/operators. This places a vested interest close to our clients’ projects to ensure the best possible service. Similarly, Webwork directly manages online focus groups, bulletin boards, video diaries, exit interviews, satisfaction surveys, and much more.

What benefits do online video conferencing/streaming and virtual facilities, specifically Webwork, give researchers over traditional focus groups?

We feel that every research project is different. With that difference comes a required decision on how best to approach the research topic. Our online virtual facility offers the chance to accomplish what cannot be done in traditional focus group facilities. Limited mobility patients, road warriors, geographically dispersed medical specialists -- these are all groups of respondents that would not otherwise be able to communicate with each other face to face, shoulder to shoulder in a focus group discussion. Outside of gathering folks together online, we have found that enhancing teledepth interviews with video can be invaluable to the researcher and cost-effective at the same time. Ethnographies can result in awkward introductions at the front door. Taking a few minutes to meet each other online paves the way to utilize the time you have with the respondent most efficiently.

What are the trends that Webwork is noticing in the online market research segment, and what should we know about the future of online capabilities?

The trend we are seeing is in online communities. These are not just groups of folks who like to participate in research online but catered panels of respondents who act as consultants of sorts to our clients on a long-term basis. We have seen clients who want to pull from our general online panel and some who prefer to siphon off a dedicated group of participants. Either way, they are getting a focused group of experienced customers/consumers and are able to keep the discussions going as their ideas mature.

How can healthcare benefit from the capabilities and services that Fieldwork provides, especially in light of healthcare reform?

Webwork provides an opportunity to reach out to a broader audience, making your research more inclusive. It also allows you to reach physicians and patients who would otherwise be unavailable for a traditional in-facility interview. Now we have a chance to learn just as much from Kim in New York City as we do from Sam in Spokane. We are able to interview both healthy patients and those who can’t leave their home. We can reach the big city Cardiothoracic Surgeon in Chicago and connect him with the PCP in Miami. All this without leaving your home or office.

Read more in the current issue of ACCELERATE about how Stinson is using technology to help clients gain a brand innovation edge.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

2011 Life Science conference planning

What life science conferences are you planning to attend in 2011? 

Our friends at Comprendia, LLC created a list of resources for you, including a Google calendar which you can add to yours with reminders for major conferences and their due dates for abstracts, etc. 

There is also editorial calendars and media kits for traditional publications.

Click to see the list and links on Comprendia's blog -- and add more in the comments if you'd like.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

6 issues form the changing landscape of Pharma: 2011 industry report from PwC

A new paper from PwC, entitled “Top Health Industry Issues of 2011,” foretells of change in the coming year due to health reform and other issues that are keeping the industry on its toes.
“The new health reform law will prompt most organizations to do strategy makeovers  as they react to and prepare for new rules and payment models in 2011,” says the opening line of the PwC report. “Industry changes wrought by health reform are far from over. In fact, they’ve only just begun.”
For this Top Industry Health Issues report, PwC’s Health Research Institute asked consumers their point of view on several issues related to reform. Of those surveyed, 50 percent said they would stay within an ACO-like organization for all of their care, and nearly three-fourths said they would trade employer-sponsored insurance for higher pay. Less than half of consumers know what a health insurance exchange is, and 86 percent do not access their medical records electronically.
Also of note is the fact that more than one-third of consumers said that costs and waiting times would increase as a result of healthcare mergers. The survey also found that consumers seek health information from media companies more than from government, healthcare companies, and consumer companies combined.
These 6 issues form the changing landscape of Pharma over the next few years, according to the PwC report:
  1. Booming business in health information technology
  2. Gearing up to redefine health insurance: From MLRs to insurance exchanges
  3. ACOs: Is this the next big thing or not?
  4. Nowhere else to cost shift: Consumers could continue to reduce utilization
  5. M&A: Deals will bond the familiar and unfamiliar as organizations look to fill strategic gaps
  6. Follow-me healthcare: Patients look to health organizations that are always on
To download a free copy, click to

An example of our ETHOS of Learning

With the speed of recurring business changes and disruptive technologies, learning must keep pace – especially in an innovation organization like ours at Stinson Brand Innovation.

Understanding one’s reactions to change is a first step in dealing with it. And an ethos of learning is our starting point. That’s why I encourage our team members to study the “pharmacology” of change as an effective way to understand reactions to new technology and to provide leadership guidance through the adoption cycle.

Among our team just in the last month, we have people who have attended industry programs, professional development seminars, university courses, MBA classes, online training, and partner agency webinars. And we don’t just show up; we write about what we’re learning, like in our daily postings here on this blog.

In our work with clients to advance brand innovation, we’ve seen teams pass through the phases of denial, resistance, exploration, and commitment. That’s why we devote so much time and energy to learning the behaviors that either facilitate or inhibit change initiatives. Only then can we effectively develop strategies to master and lead change.

One example of my own learning was a meeting earlier this year with the Idaho Technology Council. I learned about the ITC’s resources related to funding, starting, running, and managing innovative companies. It is advocating for innovative policies that can spur the growth and adoption of technology. We discussed ways to strengthen research capabilities from state, federal and private sources through commercialization of intellectual property.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

CAP engages our ForwardFast to brand quality management educational program

Stinson Brand Innovation is helping the COLLEGE OF AMERICAN PATHOLOGISTS establish a unique brand identity that captures and communicates the promise of its CAP 15189 Quality Management Education offering.

Using the proprietary tool ForwardFast we looked at brand associations that would resonate with their key audience, Laboratory Quality Managers, help market education as a competitive advantage for laboratories.

The new brand name QMEd and brand platform were launched at the American Association for Clinical Chemistry this year.

Read more in the current issue of ACCELERATE about how Stinson is using technology to help clients gain a brand innovation edge.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

1st to use iPad for convention market research, STINSON clients gain innovation edge through technology

My team here at Stinson Brand Innovation worked with Zerion Software, developer of the exZact data collection platform, as one of the first to deploy the iPad data collection solution. Stinson and our clients were first to use the iPad and its exZact Pro application for health science market research.

We had heard the Apple iPad’s new look, screen size, and enhanced features being described as “magical and revolutionary,” so we immediately planned to leverage the iPad with its ease of use, affordability, and large screen – combined with exZact – for our plans to conduct surveys.

The week the iPad was introduced, we debuted it at a specialty medical conference and have since used it at a large physician congress and a targeted patient convention.

For us, the question was not whether our clients should pursue this mobile option, but how soon could we get our work onto one.

Sze Wong, president of Zerion Software, adds, “With the great form factor of the iPad, combined with the flexibility of the exZact platform, our clients in all industries including medical and market research, will see measurable benefits, and achieve greater job performance.”

The Stinson team used the iPad to survey healthcare professionals about their diagnosis and treatment using current therapies, plus their interest in a new medical device. Using the exZact Pro application allowed for efficient data collection, recording of audio verbatims, and nearly instant reporting.

We have additional plans to use the iPad and other applications with physicians, lab directors, clinical trial investigators, as well as field sales representatives and clinical liaisons.

Read more in the current issue of ACCELERATE about how Stinson is using technology to help clients gain a brand innovation edge.

Monday, December 20, 2010

3-part blueprint for constructing a new development model with market access insights

The development model for biopharmaceutical companies must shift from two divergent paths based on clinical-medical and commercial information, to one convergent path that combines clinical and commercial resources with market access strategy, information and capabilities.

This according to a new white paper from Quintiles authored by John Doyle, vice president and practice leader of its Consulting Solutions team.

In “A Blueprint for Clinical/Commercial Convergence” Doyle writes that, traditionally, clinical development of new medicinal products has been driven by the clinical-medical leads in a biopharma development organization.

In the New Health landscape (Quintiles’ description of the fast-morphing world of biopharma, where companies are under relentless pressure to drive innovation and add value to drug development while continuing to enhance safety, ethics and stewardship), biopharma must converge the clinical-medical foundation with a fact-based understanding of the new constellation of stakeholders who control access to today’s markets – policy-makers, more empowered regulatory entities, payers and provider groups. The post-reform market will demand deep understanding of the root interests, networks and decision drivers of each these stakeholders.

And, Doyle says, dramatic benefits will be realized by companies who develop a differentiated understanding around the confluence of stakeholder needs early in the development phase and then continuously use this data throughout the life cycle.

This paper examines the obstacles to achieving the convergence of clinical development and commercialization, and offers suggestions on how to develop and deploy a “Clinical-Commercial Product Blueprint” to compete in the New Health.

Click here to download a copy of the paper.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

6 boxes of old record albums have found new turntables

We just finished donating the last of our record albums.

Great music,
great memories,
great liner notes,
great cover art.

Now we share them with others who can appreciate them again.

What were some of your favorite albums?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

"Change Agent" Kenichi Ohmae on cyberleadership in generating and implementing new ideas

When clients of Stinson Brand Innovation need to help their teams navigate change, we recommend our motivational offering called Change Agent®.

With Change Agent®, we focus on:

  1. Relevance – defining the need or reason for change with communications strategies
  2. Risks – delineating the potential consequences of change and preparing for what’s next
  3. Roadblocks – overcoming obstacles to change using specific messages and measurable tools
  4. Reward – training to embrace and execute their specific change event responsibilities, even helping prepare for new change opportunities

So, I appreciated this video from Kenichi Ohmae, widely known as “Mr. Strategy.”  He is one of the world´s most highly regarded management gurus. Here he discusses the emergence and development of what he terms “cyberleadership,” which he perceives as critical to the generation and implementation of new ideas.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Twelpforce: what changing the customer's brand experience tweets like

Best Buy's Twelpforce launched an army of Best Buy tech pros to address consumer problems and inquiries via Twitter (directed to @twelpforce).

It changed the client's business and reimagined the customer-service experience. The phrase that came up with this piece was that it was a 'business-changing idea." Not only is it game-changing, but it changes the business of the client. It is useful, usable and delightful. This piece hit all those points, especially the last -- it put delight back into customer service.

It's a big idea that can move the industry forward with how we tie into physical space, retail, channels, associates and service. The simplicity of the idea also contributed to its brilliance.
It understood the basic core functionality of Twitter in a way that was really organic and authentic.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Carter Center making great strides in health initiatives

A couple of weeks ago, Susie Hubbard from The Carter Center stopped by our office.  She presented us with an honorary medallion from the Carter Presidential Library re-opening.

And she shared Mrs. Carter’s latest book on mental health issues.

Stinson Brand Innovation is a member of the Ambassador Circle at The Carter Center.

During her visit, Susie updated us on the progress that The Carter Center has been making over the past few months.  The Carter Center has been making great strides all over the world.  One member of the Center’s Mental Health program recently had an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association about improving the health care of persons with mental illnesses.  President Carter himself has been working to not only strengthen the ties between the US and China, but he has also made it his personal goal to eradicate instances of Guinea worms, which have currently been contained to Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, and Sudan.

We’re looking forward to hearing from Susie and working with The Carter Center in the future.  For more information, visit

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

5 Key Adjustments to Make When Your Marketing Needs Revitalizing

By redesigning, personalizing, and making other small tweaks to your marketing strategy, your chances of increasing both market share and customer wallet share look better and better.  And we get some good tips on execution from Pat McGrew, the "Data-driven Communication Evangelist" of the Eastman Kodak Company.

She writes in DELIVER magazine about five key adjustments that can be made when you find that your marketing campaign could use some revitalizing:
  1. Redesign your bills, statements, and packing slips to mirror the strategy of your direct mail, mass media, and web campaigns.  Design is the best way to connect your mailings, website, and other outlets of communication.
  2. Add information to enhance dialogue in conversations with customers. Consider questions that customers are asking and use that as a jumping-off point. Chances are you’ll answer their questions, in turn reducing the number of calls you receive.
  3. Use targeted educational content to focuses on engaging the consumer’s personal interests, and use it on every bill, statement, or notice you’re sending out.
  4. Bills, statements, and other forms of customer communication can be great platforms for cross promotion, but only if you take the time to get to know your customer and their usage pattern. 
  5. Reengage your current customer care strategy to ensure that you’re not missing any details or common characteristics about your customers. Do a little bit of research and dig deeper into your customer base. More likely than not, you’ll find out key customer information that you may have been missing.
Click here to read more of Pat McGrew's ideas.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

10 visible elements – and 7 invisible ones – of an effective hospital fan page

When taking a wider view of “medical branding,” I can move beyond just pharma and devices to learn a lot from hospital brands.

In a recent blog post by Brett Pollard, an online marketing consultant specializing in web 2.0 strategies, local search, SEO, ORM and social media, the Facebook history and strategy of Children’s Hospital Boston is discussed.

Brett details 17 elements Children’s uses to make their page a shining example of what hospitals can accomplish on Facebook today.

10 Visible Elements of an Effective Hospital Fan Page
  1. Custom URL 
  2. Well-designed profile picture
  3. Fan activity on the wall
  4. Customized tabs
  5. Creative use of FBML
  6. Post frequency
  7. Promotion of other social media accounts
  8. Variety of post types
  9. Clearly defined social media policy
  10. Quantity of fans
7 Invisible Elements of an Effective Hospital Fan Page
  1. Social media management
  2. Analytics
  3. Promotion 
  4. Monitoring
  5. Long-term strategy
  6. Project management
  7. Ideas and testing
Click here to read the full explanation and details of each.

In his summary, Brett says, “Without a doubt, Children’s is helping lead the way with respect to hospitals on Facebook.  It’s refreshing to the see their commitment to social media despite a fear that still seems to permeate throughout the industry.  The team at Children’s has demonstrated that well-defined policy combined with educated professionals can create an environment where the benefits of Facebook clearly outweigh the risk.”

Monday, December 13, 2010

Coral reef as metaphor for innovation environ, including universities

In Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, Steven Johnson draws on seven centuries of scientific and technological progress, from Gutenberg to GPS, to show what sorts of environments nurture ingenuity.

He finds that great creative milieus are like coral reefs – whether MIT or Los Alamos, New York City or the World Wide Web – teeming, diverse colonies of creators who interact with and influence one another.

The coral reef as a metaphor for where innovation comes from leads him to offer other examples of the most reeflike places in the technological realm.
  • One, not surprisingly, is Twitter—not to see what people are having for breakfast, of course, but to see what people are talking about, the links to articles and posts that they’re passing along.
  • Second, and maybe less predictable, is the university system. “As much as we sometimes roll our eyes at the ivory-tower isolation of universities, they continue to serve as remarkable engines of innovation,” he says.
We at Stinson Brand Innovation are glad to be a part of that “coral reef” helping connect researchers at universities with companies who can bring their discoveries to market.

Click here to read more on his blog.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

3 aspects of commercially successful product innovations

At STINSON Brand Innovation, we’ve been involved with clients on many aspects of licensing, funding, and other aspects of commercializing new health science and technology. We learn from every new encounter with these deals. And we often collaborate with other business consultants who bring a unique perspective to the planning.

One such collaborator is Technology Commercialization Group.  TCG works with senior executives worldwide to help them launch and develop markets and business operations in the medical device, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, veterinary and related healthcare industries.

TCG recently shared this article on innovation with us.

The authors is Dr. Robert C. Keefer and  Ray W. Swanson of TCG.


In today’s medical world where FDA approval is uncertain and investors shy away from risky ventures, a clever invention with incremental advantages over the competition is not enough. Successful innovation is required to turn good ideas into promising ventures that attract investors, gain regulatory approval, and meet the higher expectations that are common to tough economic times.

True innovation, however, appears to be an elusive goal for many companies, if the results of a recent global survey are any indication. While 84 percent of executives surveyed said innovation is extremely or very important to their company's growth strategy, only 55 percent claimed their company is better than their peers' at innovating. These results haven’t changed since 2008.* Clearly, many companies are struggling with how to be innovative.

Here’s our take on what pharmaceutical and medical device companies need to do to lay the groundwork for commercially successful product innovations:

1.  Know your market

In previous Pulse newsletters and when working with clients, we’ve  always emphasized that conducting a Commercial Opportunity Assessment is the first step to make in developing a new product, a new indication, or a new market or delivery method for an existing product. It’s a critical step. Assessments should be done before getting a patent, determining regulatory strategy, conducting clinical trials or developing a marketing plan. Don’t proceed without it.

A well-executed Commercial Opportunity Assessment will give you a complete understanding of:
  • Market profile: What is the prevalence of the condition your product targets in the country where you want to launch, and how does that affect the market opportunity?
  • Definition of the customer: This includes not only who will use the product, but also who will pay for the product.
  • How the product will be used by medical professionals, and how it will be viewed by payors:How will the product change the treatment paradigm? Will it motivate physicians to change behavior and switch from the current product they have been using for years?
  • Competition: How is your product different or unique, and are these factors meaningful enough to result in a clear differentiation and marketing strategy? How will competitors respond to your product?
2.  Employ an iterative process

If we want to build a product that fulfills an unmet need to the degree that a customer will actually change their behavior enough to buy our new product, our view is that the process to gather the information on what to build is as important as the questions we ask. Truly successful innovation occurs when you take a thoughtful and iterative approach to the entire process. First, start with the basic idea, what you believe is the “unique selling proposition” of your proposed product. Talk to customers and use their feedback to modify the product concept. Then, before you invest more of your company’s resources or time, go back and do it again. Be sure to talk to all categories of potential customers, including the economic buyers, and not just who you believe the users of the product will be.

Done well, this approach, while requiring discipline and a willingness to let go of unfounded assumptions, will give you a chance to learn specifically what you need to do to improve on your idea. Market feedback almost always indicates the need to adjust your thinking, however minor, away from the original preconceived idea for the product. Sometimes, this feedback dictates a need for a more radical approach – requiring that you pivot or turn the product concept towards a completely new direction.

The important thing is to listen to the customer, and then be willing to make the necessary changes in the product or product idea. Following this iterative process ensures all opportunities and obstacles to market acceptance are rooted out before you go to the expense of completing and launching the product.

In addition to needing experience and a well-balanced and fully resourced team, success requires a commitment to objectivity and openness. Sometimes the cold hard facts of truth can be painful to accept. Team members have to be focused yet open-minded enough to recognize the signs indicating it’s time to rethink product design or the customer offering. You can’t wear blinders and ignore signals in the market. If you do, this behavior will ultimately come back to bite you.

There are more than enough examples – and not just in the medical field – of what happens when a management team, even one balanced with commercial and scientific expertise, proceeds too far on their own internal assumptions without adequately listening to the marketplace. Here’s one well-known example: Pfizer's development of inhalable insulin. The company assumed diabetics would rather inhale their insulin than stick themselves with needles. A lot of money was spent developing a device that patients would carry on their belt. It wasn’t until the product was sitting on the shelves and sales were poor that the company learned patients found the device cumbersome and too expensive and doctors wouldn’t prescribe it.

On the other hand, Addrenex Pharmaceutical is an excellent example of a company that took an iterative and market-driven approach to assessing the market opportunity. Their single-minded goal in product development was to pursue the fastest pathway to commercialization of their product. They started off thinking an ADHD indication would be fastest. Conversations with potential customers and partners told them the fastest and least expensive route would be in the form of a hypertension indication. They made pivotal decisions based on the objectivity of the market.

3.  Team up with specialists

While focus is important, companies should take care to not commit substantial resources to any one pathway until there is solid market validation for the product. Until then, don’t commit precious resources that will have been wasted if you find, too far down the path, that your original assumptions were faulty due to incomplete or inaccurate data.

Even when you have an experienced management team, sometimes the addition of an outside specialist can help. Teaming up with a firm that has substantial expertise in conducting commercial assessments and bringing medical products to market can provide these advantages:
  • Objectivity: Enhancing your team’s perspective with a member from outside the company often leads to more accurate insights due to their unbiased and objective perspective. Internal team members, for a variety of reasons, have a tendency to plow ahead ignoring signals from the market.
  • Faster to market: Specialists with a toolkit of lessons learned can help you avoid the common mistakes and accelerate time to market. 
  • Flexible expense: Much as you might outsource part of the engineering design for your new product, teaming up with market assessment and commercialization specialists boosts your capability when you need it, with the ability to dial the cost back down later, when you don’t. Strengthening your team with a commercialization expert can result in faster time to market along with greater cost savings in the long run.
Remember this:

Inventing is about creating ideas. Innovation is about turning those ideas into profitable business ventures.** The key to successful innovation begins with employing an iterative, market-driven approach to assessing your product’s commercial viability, along with sharp ears and eyes to see the signs when you need to pivot and a willingness to do so!

*McKinsey & Company, McKinsey Global Survey “Innovation and commercialization, 2010.”
**inspired by: McKeown, Max (2008), The Truth About Innovation. London, UK: Prentice Hall.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

4 concerns about UK NHS from PatientView survey

Just this September, the UK-based “Health and Social Campaigners News International” re-branded itself as the PATIENT VIEW QUARTERLY.

According to Clive Nead, editor of PatientView Quarterly, the relaunch was prompted by “a demand for unique data and analysis of the activities and attitudes of patient (and other health-related) groups worldwide.”

Each Quarterly will contain original work by PatientView, plus an interview with a guest commentator (and, when appropriate, reviews of outside studies).

The September issue looked at the views of 887 UK patient groups, their important role within the NHS, their relationship with other healthcare stakeholders (including government and industry), and their views of the future of the NHS.

The vast majority of the survey’s respondent groups were more negative than positive about the NHS’s future chances under the Coalition.

Community-based patient groups are concerned about:
  1. Damage done by budget cutting across the NHS - The majority of the survey’s respondents commenting on the Coalition’s reform plans anticipate that the new government will embark on a round of NHS budget cutting in line with the current ethos of national austerity. Remarkably, respondents foresee that the NHS staff hit hardest, though, will not be managers, but front-line workers. A local stroke group from northeast England, for instance, believes that the Coalition will “cut the service budget, resulting in reductions in staff-patient ratios, and the demoralization of staff. Conservative administrations have always cut the numbers of frontline staff, while expecting the staff to deliver more for less. From personal experience, it is an equation that does not work, and a recipe for disaster.”
  2. ‘Disability bashing’ - HIV/AIDS groups are particularly apprehensive about the government’s plans. They suspect that the AIDS Support Grant, which subsidizes the living costs of people with
    HIV/AIDS, will be withdrawn.
  3. A decline in nationwide standards in the NHS - A number of groups anticipate cuts in centrally run monitoring services, thereby diminishing the extent to which comparisons of the quality and the delivery of NHS healthcare can be carried out across the country. A group in southern England representing the needs of local patients with neurological conditions argues that the Coalition’s reform proposals carry the hidden agenda of cutting the cost of quality monitoring, which would henceforth be run by a “few doctors with the time to ‘improve’
  4. A lack of government consultation with community health organizations - A regional mental health organization considers that the government might “say the right things about bottom-up approaches — great rhetoric — but effectively do what the Labour government did previously: safeguard top jobs, and provide a raw deal for the most vulnerable in our society—people from black and minority ethnic (BME) communities, and people with a disability (including mental ill health.
The groups responding to the survey believe they — and patients themselves — should have a greater say in what happens to the NHS, given that more than one in five of the survey’s respondent groups actively supply core practical or physical healthcare services to NHS patients (including the provision of nurses, doctors, and even hospitals). Membership of, and public support for, patient groups across the country is rising rapidly. Plus, patient groups responding to the survey emphasize that their campaigns at national and community level have had a significant influence on policymaking over the last ten years (and they quote examples).

Ironically, although over half of the survey’s respondent groups say that their views are regarded as unimportant by the current government, 83% declare that their organization is both recognized and respected by the medical profession (to whom groups feel closely aligned). 57% of the respondent groups mention the same about the media.

Because we at Stinson Brand Innovation are so involved with patient groups – especially in rare diseases – we found this survey to be meaningful and relevant.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

3 insights into “faulty circuits”: the malfunctioning connections underlying psychological disorders

In most areas of medicine, doctors have historically tried to glean something about the underlying cause of a patient’s illness before figuring out a treatment that addresses the source of the problem. When it came to mental or behavioral disorders in the past, however, no physical cause was detectable so the problem was long assumed by doctors to be solely “mental,” and psychological therapies followed suit.
  1. Because mental disorders such as depression display no conspicuous brain damage, they were long thought to stem from purely psychological processes.
  2. Neural imaging is revealing that abnormal activity along a circuit of brain structures involved in mental processing underlies many mental disorders, making the physical dysfunction causing the mental symptoms visible for the first time.
  3. Understanding the biology of mental disorders will clarify the sources of malfunction in a circuit, provide objective methods of diagnosis and lead to targeted treatments.
Today scientific approaches based on modern biology, neuroscience and genomics are replacing nearly a century of purely psychological theories, yielding new approaches to the treatment of mental illnesses.

Click here to read more.

Monday, December 06, 2010

The University Brand: from the governing board perspective

The primary responsibilities of college and university governing boards have always been minding the mission and the money. But in recent years, a new responsibility has arisen: brand management.

This according to Robert Moore, PhD, a managing partner at LipmanHearne brand consultancy specializing in universities and other nonprofit organizations, in a recent article in Trusteeship, the journal of the AGB.

As competition for high-achieving students has grown more intense and as alumni and donor response to publicized rankings has grown more strident, trustees have begun to focus on brand strength and positioning as a way to affect these and related issues.

"I've been on the board at Trinity University for more than 10 years," Walter Huntley is quoted in the article, "but being involved in the branding process has made me a better trustee. I knew quite a lot about the university from my days as a student and my work as a trustee, but digging into how Trinity addresses its markets has really increased my understanding."  Huntley's experience at Trinity mirrors that of many volunteer leaders at colleges and universities.

Because our firm works with universities to commercialize their health science technologies, we at Stinson Brand Innovation have seen that the branding process can be a very valuable tool.

Here are the conclusions of Dr. Moore's article:
  • A college or university's "branding" process allows trustees to learn more about the institution, including how it positions itself in the student market and responds to competition.
  • It  helps to have someone on the board with professional experience in marketing and branding, but trustees at institutions with successful brand management stress that the role of the board is to set the direction of communications and let campus officials execute the substance.
  • Market research sometimes reveals considerable gaps between what insiders view as important about an institution and what the market values.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

3 of our clients receive “Brand Leadership” awards from World Brand Congress

The World Brand Congress has bestowed its “Brand Leadership Award” to three of our health science and technology clients.  It is described as the most prestigious award an individual can receive at the World Brand Congress. 

The three award winners from our industry sector are:
  • John C. O’Rourke of DuPont
  • Hans J. Ahl of EMD Millipore
  • Richard Yao of Merck Chemicals (Shanghai) Co. Ltd.
Mr. O’Rourke has been a guiding force in maximizing brand value for global blockbuster blood pressure drugs Cozaar (losartan potassium) and Hyzaar (losartan potassium and hydrochlorothiazide). Cozaar and Hyzaar were developed by DuPont scientists as the first drugs of their class, and launched in 1994 through a joint venture between DuPont and Merck & Co. At their 2009 peak, they were Merck's second highest revenue generators with worldwide sales of totaling $3.6 billion.  From his DuPont management positions in pharmaceuticals marketing, business development, and joint venture liaison, Mr. O’Rourke has led with both his expert knowledge and marketing passion to maintain the industry-recognized brand valuation of Cozaar/Hyzaar.

Mr. Ahl is a senior leader with more than 25 years of sales operations and brand development experience for EMD Chemicals.  He led the multinational European life science sales operation, the Asia Pacific Latin America team, and now, because of his year over year double-digit sales and margin improvements, he manages the Global Sales Operation including the North America sales team from San Diego. He has been a key member of the integration team during EMD’s merger with Millipore.

Mr. Yao is a senior brand executive with exemplary sales and marketing success at the chemicals unit of Merck KGaA, with China operations headquartered in Shanghai.  He plays a key role in establishing and implementing international sales and marketing strategies in the competitive China marketplace. He facilitates the brand success in this market environment with his highly regarded management approach. 

All three recipients exemplify the qualities of a Brand Leader through their years of being the driving force behind major health science and technology brands.  We’re pleased to see executives of their caliber representing our industry and receiving such recognition.

The World Brand Congress and award presentation was held November 22-24 in Mumbai, India and represented 60 countries.

New culprits in chronic pain: Glia

Glia are nervous system caretakers whose nurturing can go too far. Taming them holds promise for alleviating pain that current medications cannot ease, according to an article in a recent issue of Scientific American.

  • Chronic pain that persists after an injury heals is often caused by overly excited pain-sensing neurons that signal without an external stimulus.
  • Traditional pain drugs that target neural cells directly rarely quiet these abnormal pain messages because the neurons’ heightened sensitivity is driven by a different type of cell called glia.
  • Such cells monitor the activity of neurons and attempt to keep them healthy and functioning efficiently. But well-intentioned glial reactions to intense pain can at times prolong that pain.
Write to me or post a comment and I’ll send you a pdf of the full article.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

3 commercials on WXRT promote Roscoe Village for holidays

Our neighborhood around Stinson Brand Innovation is being promoted as a holiday shopping destination — and alternative to big box stores.

The Roscoe Village Chamber of Commerce and WXRT have join forces this holiday season with commercials to  market Roscoe Village beginning Friday, December 3 through December 18.  The theme of the campaign is “SPEND LOCALLY. SHOP HAPPILY.”

Here are three sample commercials that will be airing.

The first commercial will  promote Winterfest, the second and third commercials will  promote Roscoe Village overall, and as alternative to the  big box stores.
  1. Winterfest  
  2. Tired of crowded malls  
  3. Independent specialty shops  
 Thanks to Kristin Klimas from WXRT who donated her voice-over for the local spots.

Additionally,  the RVCC will be featured in WXRT's holiday shopping guide sent to 135,000 consumers and  Holiday Music Channel at through December 25.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

10 Most Ground-Breaking Stories from FAST COMPANY

To celebrate its 150th issue, the editors said they couldn't resist digging through the archives and rereading their best and boldest stories.

The Brand Called You (Issue 10 - September 1997)
Big companies understand the importance of brands. Today, in the Age of the Individual, you have to be your own brand. Here's what it takes to be the CEO of Me Inc.

Built to Flip (Issue 32 - March 2000)
A battle is under way for the new economy. Which side are you on?

What Should I Do With My Life (Issue 66 - January 2003)
The real meaning of success -- and how to find it.

The Wal-Mart You Don't Know (Issue 77 - December 2003)
The giant retailer's low prices often come with a high cost. Wal-Mart's relentless pressure can crush the companies it does business with and force them to send jobs overseas. Are we shopping our way straight to the unemployment line?

Change or Die (Issue 94 - May 2005)
All leadership comes down to this: changing people's behavior. Why is that so damn hard? Science offers some surprising new answers -- and ways to do better.

Is Your Boss a Psychopath? (Issue 96 - July 2005)
Odds are you've run across one of these characters in your career. They're glib, charming, manipulative, deceitful, ruthless -- and very, very destructive. And there may be lots of them in America's corner offices.

Why We Hate HR (Issue 97 - August 2005)
In a knowledge economy, companies with the best talent win. And finding, nurturing, and developing that talent should be one of the most important tasks in a corporation. So why does human resources do such a bad job -- and how can we fix it?

How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take to Change the World? One. And You're Looking at It. (Issue 108 - September 2006)
For years, compact fluorescent bulbs have promised dramatic energy savings--yet they remain a mere curiosity. That's about to change.

Hacker. Dropout. CEO (Issue 115 - May 2007)
When Mark Zuckerberg showed up in Palo Alto three years ago, he had no car, no house, and no job. Today, he's at the helm of a smokin'-hot social-networking site, Facebook, and turning down billion-dollar offers. Can this kid be for real?

Message in a Bottle (Issue 117 - July 2007)
Americans spent more money last year on bottled water than on ipods or movie tickets: $15 Billion. A journey into the economics--and psychology--of an unlikely business boom. And what it says about our culture of indulgence.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

My personal reflection of gratitude and appreciation on Thanksgiving

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, I’m reminded that we should aspire to express gratitude and appreciation year-round.   Being truly grateful for what is already present in my life has certainly helped attract even more good.

And even as difficult and challenging situations arise, I try to be grateful for what I’m learning through them.  It is often through these situations that I experience the most profound growth, learning to view each apparent obstacle as an opportunity to develop a new quality, strength, skill, insight or wisdom – and to be grateful for the lessons.

Earlier this year, I started keeping a "Gratitude and Acknowledgment" journal. It has proved to be a valuable tool in developing my awareness. My journal is not full of long and drawn out diary entries.  Rather there are just short, simple lists of things I’m grateful for on a particular day. I even put in a few photos and clippings.  It’s been good to look back through on tough days, too.

At our office each Friday afternoon, before going home for the weekend, we take a few minutes to review the week. We think about the week’s events. We select 3-5 people that we are most grateful for. There is no right or wrong; just whomever we are sincerely grateful for on that particular week. It may be the client who supported us, the supplier who gave us a kind word, the co-worker who helped us feel good about what we created. As we go around the room, I can feel the energy from gratitude and appreciation.

So especially on Thanksgiving, I’m taking a moment to acknowledge the changes that are occurring for our company and for me personally. I’m writing them down. I acknowledge the positive developments (and sometimes downright miracles) that can and do occur on a daily basis. They are happening all around me. So I notice them and honor them.  I truly believe that my continued expressions of joy and gratitude will draw even greater joy, love, and abundance into my life.

Thanks especially for my family, my friends, my colleagues, and my clients who make my “journey” so gratifying.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

3 Starbucks cups for the future?

Starbucks asked designers how they'd fix its cups. Here are FAST COMPANY's three favorite ideas from the 2010 betacup challenge.

Recyclable: KISS Cup
Australian designer Keith Orchard wanted to reduce waste while keeping the experience intact. His pulp paper-based cup is coated with palm-leaf-derived carnauba wax. "People aren't going to recycle if it's not easy," he says.

Reusable: CupUp
Inspired by children's toys, this inflatable thermal mug also has a bar code for loyalty programs. "Sustainable solutions must actively promote behavioral change," says Rae'ut Stern, one of CupUp's five Israeli designers. 

Consumable: Cookie Cup
This wafer cup's edible heat- and liquid-resistant lining allows customers to dispose of their cup by eating it. "When you have a coffee, it's also an experience," Dutch designer Martijn van Loon says. As if those triple-mocha drinks didn't have enough calories.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

4 factors for nurturing "scenius"

Kevin Kelly, in his book What Technology Wants, shares a fascinating concept called scenius.

As defined, “scenius” stands for the intelligence and the intuition of a whole cultural scene. It is the communal form of the concept of the genius.

Kelly lists four factors that are important in nuturing scenius:
  1. Mutual appreciation -- Risky moves are applauded by the group, subtlety is appreciated, and friendly competition goads the shy. Scenius can be thought of as the best of peer pressure.
  2. Rapid exchange of tools and techniques -- As soon as something is invented, it is flaunted and then shared. Ideas flow quickly because they are flowing inside a common language and sensibility.
  3. Network effects of success -- When a record is broken, a hit happens, or breakthrough erupts, the success is claimed by the entire scene. This empowers the scene to further success.
  4. Local tolerance for the novelties -- The local "outside" does not push back too hard against the transgressions of the scene. The renegades and mavericks are protected by this buffer zone.
Watch more on this video from TEDx Amsterdam:

TEDxAmsterdam: Kevin Kelly from TEDxAmsterdam on Vimeo.

Monday, November 22, 2010

MAGE (multiplex automated genetic engineering) technique developed from university research promises to speed up cellular mutations

Dr. George Church, a synthetic biologist and Harvard Medical School professor, says he can create living things faster than nature can, essentially speeding up evolution. And he says he can do it cheaply.

That intrigues us at STINSON Brand Innovation, and it’s another example of creative university discovery poised for development for broader biomedical use.

Most synthetic biologists laboriously tweak a genome one small piece at a time, then look at how the new cell behaves. Dr. Church, and fellow researchers Farren Isaacs and Harris Wang, have invented a technology known as multiplex automated genetic engineering, or MAGE, which makes the process much faster.

The table-top machine they created allows researchers to make 50 different genome alterations at nearly the same time. Combined with the mutations that occur as those cells go on and reproduce, MAGE can create billions of cellular mutations in a matter of days, essentially speeding up evolution. Scientists can then identify the most useful mutations.

Church’s team was able to genetically alter a common bacterium, E. coli, to produce lycopene, an antioxidant in tomatoes that may help fight cancer. Some of the altered bacteria produced five times the normal quantity of lycopene. The team spent just three days and $1,000 in supplies to produce the bacteria. Using old techniques, it would have taken months, says Church.

Church says his MAGE device will go on sale later this year for about $90,000. And at least a dozen companies, including DuPont and biotech startup Amyris, are considering purchasing it, says Wang.

Take a look at this quote from Church’s paper on MAGE:

Programming cells by multiplex genome engineering and accelerated evolution. Nature 460, 894-898 (13 August 2009).

“Here, we describe multiplex automated genome engineering (MAGE) for large-scale programming and evolution of cells. MAGE simultaneously targets many locations on the chromosome for modification in a single cell or across a population of cells, thus producing combinatorial genomic diversity. Because the process is cyclical and scalable, we constructed prototype devices that automate the MAGE technology to facilitate rapid and continuous generation of a diverse set of genetic changes (mismatches, insertions, deletions). We applied MAGE to optimize the 1-deoxy-d-xylulose-5-phosphate (DXP) biosynthesis pathway in Escherichia coli to overproduce the industrially important isoprenoid lycopene. Twenty-four genetic components in the DXP pathway were modified simultaneously using a complex pool of synthetic DNA, creating over 4.3 billion combinatorial genomic variants per day.”

Friday, November 19, 2010

Is chief social media officer the "zaniest human resource innovation in memory"?

This new and trendy job is a two-step process at some companies:
  1. Scramble to hire social media officers.
  2. Figure out what it is, exactly, that social media officers do and how to measure it.
Is it brain surgery? Well, consider that a decade ago, Natalie Malaszenko could hardly have predicted that she'd now be heading up Petco's social media practices. "This is a career path that I sort of fell into," she says. "I originally was working on a PhD in cognitive neuroscience."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

4 healthcare innovations for a post-reform world

Achieving a political consensus on healthcare reform is not a prerequisite to instituting far-reaching institutional changes.

This viewpoint was expressed by Jill E. Sackman, PhD, senior consultant at Numerof & Associates in St. Louis, writing in a recent issue of BioPharm International.

Dr. Sackman notes that the department of Health and Human Services (HHS) continues to take action to achieve fiscal and quality objectives. The outline of where policy is headed is clearly discernable in the grants and pilot programs now being funded.

At Stinson Brand Innovation, we’re always on the lookout for opportunities for innovation in health, science, and technology – even those beyond the molecules and drug delivery systems.

So, I appreciate Dr. Sackman’s outline of steps being pursued to achieve better quality and reduce cost through:
  1. Aggressively implementing electronic medical records (EMR);
  2. Conducting comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) to improve outcomes;
  3. Promoting more patient-centered primary healthcare delivery, particularly for disadvantaged populations; and
  4. Understanding the organizational and infrastructure changes needed to support improving quality and reducing costs.
Health IT programs are focused on ensuring that physicians are meaningful users of EMR —effectively engaging CER and established care paths to improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of healthcare delivery. What many in the industry may not realize is that “meaningful use” is really a code for making decisions based on CER data that will improve quality and reduce costs.

The industry should be looking for ways to:
  • link physician payment to high-quality care at lower cost,
  • connect payment bonuses to hospitals that improve patient results, and 
  • impose penalties on institutions that don't meet the mark.
There are likely to be rewards to hospitals for efficiency in their spending. Engaging a dramatic change in the formula for medicare reimbursement that links payment to a value index, up to one-half of a hospital's budget may be linked to efficiency of care.

Dr. Sackman concludes her article with a call to action, “Leaders in the healthcare industry must think about the impact of these sweeping changes on their business now, and plan ways to assess risk and strengthen the economic and clinical value of their products in ways that ensure demand and optimal pricing.“

“Are you ready for life in a post–reform world?” she asks.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Another Asian “tiger” to watch: Singapore

Much has been written about China’s potential in life science and pharmaceutical sectors.  This is a positive trend, for sure, but has been hampered by quality control concerns.

Many are looking beyond China to another Asian tiger:  Singapore.

Singapore's economy grew at an annualized rate of 26 percent in the first half of this year, a blistering pace that may moderate for the full year to 15 percent, the top-of-the-range estimate for many economists. Still that should be enough to overtake China as Asia's fastest-growing economy this year.

A long-standing policy to lure pharmaceutical factories to Singapore with tax breaks, special R&D facilities, and worker training has paid off spectacularly.

Pfizer, Sanofi-aventis, Roche, and other pharma leaders have picked Singapore as a key operations base for Asia because they need facilities that can pass rigorous inspections by regulators and produce huge volumes of pharmaceuticals. GlaxoSmithKline has also expanded in Singapore this year.

When I was at an Asia-Pacific managers’ meeting earlier this year, I met with the Singapore sales and marketing team to get their first-hand impression of the upside potential. They are well-positioned to take full advantage of the opportunities this market offers.  And we at Stinson Brand Innovation are pleased to be supporting them.

Monday, November 15, 2010

5 steps in putting the World Community Grid to work

Last week, I shared how Stanley Watowich, a biochemist at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, is using IBM's World Community Grid (WCG) – to model in algorithms what happens between a small molecule and a protein related to dengue fever, West Nile virus, and hepatitis C.

His virtual experiments analyze millions of possibilities in months, as opposed to more time-consuming and expensive wet-lab experiments that might examine only hundreds.

Here are more details on how it works:
Stanley Watowich of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston develops algorithms for a virtual experiment to test how more than 3 million molecules interact with 12 proteins related to dengue fever.

Grid supervisor Viktors Berstis, in Beaverton, Oregon, and his IBM team around the country fine-tune Watowich's code to make sure it will run safely and reliably on tens of thousands of different machines. Once it's approved, the grid team puts it in the work queue.
When there's space on the grid, Berstis's group uploads the program and corresponding data to the main servers in Toronto. The grid automatically assigns pieces of the project to thousands of available machines, based on each one's computing power.

Whenever the program senses that a volunteer's computer is idle, even for a moment, it borrows 60% of the computing power and begins crunching numbers in the background; each time the software resumes, it picks up where it left off.


When any one computer's work is done, the grid transmits the results to the servers in Toronto. Once all of Watowich's calculations are complete, WCG sends the results to his servers in Galveston, where his team looks for the most promising drug candidates to test further.

Click here to learn more about the WCG project – and even how to join the effort.

Friday, November 12, 2010

4 examples of how pharma hopes to save big using stem cells to test drugs for dangerous side effects long before costly human trials are needed

Discovering late in the game that a promising new drug has side effects in humans is a frustrating and expensive pitfall for pharmaceutical companies.  That kind of setback sends scientists back to the lab—or even prompts a company to shut down a multimillion-dollar drug development program.

Researchers at many companies – big and small – hope to use human tissue created from stem cells to reduce such mishaps, according to BusinessWeek.

For years, stem cells have been hailed as potential treatments for Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injuries, and diabetes. Even though these may be years away, pharma has begun using the cells to help identify potentially dangerous side effects of drugs in development before they undergo expensive human trials.

(The stem cells being employed by drugmakers don't come from embryos, thereby avoiding an ethical and political controversy that's dogged the technology. Instead they were created using a method that allows scientists to transform ordinary skin cells into another type of stem cell known as induced pluripotent stem, or IPS, cells as versatile as embryonic cells.)

Here are four views of company approaches to R&D with stem cells:

1. Roche

Earlier this year, Roche scientists used heart tissue made from stem cells to test an antiviral drug it had abandoned two years earlier because it caused irregular heartbeats in rodents and rabbits. The same adverse effects were seen in the lab using the stem cell-generated heart cells. The finding is important to drug researchers because it showed that human tissue grown from stem cells can mimic the body's reaction to medicines, helping spot side effects early. And that matters greatly in an industry that can spend upward of $4 billion to produce a new drug. Had stem-cell-derived heart tissue been available two years ago, Roche could have pulled the plug earlier on its antiviral drug, saving millions, says Kyle Kolaja, Roche's global head of predictive toxicology screens and emerging technologies.

2. iPierian

A drug study in mice alone can cost about $3 million, says Michael C. Venuti, chief executive officer at iPierian, which is developing drugs using stem cells. iPierian is making cells from people with heart disorders, diabetes, and neurological ailments to develop drugs that threat these disorders. Founded by venture capitalists at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in Menlo Park, Calif., the company was built on the work of Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University in Japan, who turned skin cells into IPS cells back in 2006. It has since raised $60 million including money most recently from the venture arms of Google, Glaxo, and Biogen Idec. IPierian has made IPS cells from the skin of children with spinal muscular atrophy, a deadly muscle-wasting condition. Morphing the stem cells into neurons that carry the disease, they've identified drug candidates that may help motor neurons to survive, said Venuti, iPierian's CEO. The company also used the neurons to test 15 drugs that previously failed in clinical trials, said Corey Goodman, iPierian's chairman. The signs of failure were evident in each case, he said. "IPS technology gives you the opportunity to screen out a lot of things that are going to fail," said Goodman, who formerly was head of Pfizer's biotechnology unit. "That saves money, emotion, and testing."

3. Glaxo

A drug that's found to cause cardiac damage only after it has advanced to large, late-stage human studies might cost a company $1 billion or more, says Jason Gardner, a Glaxo vice-president who heads its stem cell drug performance unit. "There is a real need to more accurately model human physiology," he says.

4. Cellular Dynamics International

This company was founded in 2004 by James Thomson, the University of Wisconsin scientist who first isolated human embryonic stem cells in 1998, made the heart cells used by Roche and also being tested by Glaxo and Pfizer. Cellular Dynamics International is now producing more than 7 billion heart cells a month made from skin and blood, says Robert Palay, CDI's chief executive. Next year, the company plans to start selling liver and nerve cells as well. "Others are talking about the promise of stem cells, we are delivering today," Palay says. Cellular Dynamics is backed by $70 million from private equity groups including Sam Zell's Equity Group Investments and Palay's Tactics II Stem Cell Partners.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

“Contagious” ideas that universities could benefit by catching from health care

While higher education and health care share some important characteristics and problems, many hospitals and clinics have achieved more thorough reforms than have colleges and universities.

This is the conclusion of an article from Trusteeship, the journal of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.

“I firmly believe that higher education can find valuable ideas in health care—ideas that validate what some universities are already doing, and ideas that are less familiar but may have potential for universities,” writes Ellen Chaffee.

Chaffee is an AGB senior fellow and director of AGB ’s Lumina Foundation project on Governance for Student Success. She is president emerita of Valley City State University and past president of Mayville State University, the Association for Institutional Research, and the Association for the Study of Higher Education. She also chairs the board of trustees of the MeritCare Health System in
Fargo, ND.  (Click here to go to her webpage.  )

She believes that governance of many hospitals and clinics has become more strategic, with board discussions focusing less exclusively on budget and finance and more on aligning resources to achieve well-defined goals, including improvements in quality.

Chaffee offers details on the comparison.

University leaders dealing with scarce resources often believe they need to cut academic programs based on high cost or questionable mission relevance. By contrast, cutting services in this way is not on the agenda of many financially stressed health-care systems. The ability to identify more subtle but equally effective cost savings is one of the major benefits of systematic quality improvement.

For example, some health systems assign nurses to work closely with individual patients who have chronic diseases to fine-tune their treatment and promote their compliance with medical advice. This may seem like added expense, but it often lowers costs due to early intervention and increased compliance. MeritCare Health System partnered with Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota in a pilot project to explore this approach with diabetes patients. In one year, the program saved over $330,000.

Chaffee also proposes that universities could benefit from revisiting the “continuous quality improvement” approach, which sectors of health care now use to pursue evidence-based, systematic improvements.  Moreover, evidence-based medicine has become a requirement for hospital accreditation, using metrics from the government and other outside groups. Higher-education performance metrics on student learning tend to come from institutions themselves.

As a firm who has worked with universities and serves medical clients, we at Stinson Brand Innovation have seen that higher education can find potentially valuable ideas from health care.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

3 steps to building your health advocacy skills

“Inspiration and ideas come from a wide variety of sources,” says Suzanne Ross of the Aerie Company.  I appreciate Suzanne’s ability to integrate new thoughts and make the strategy + communications + leadership link to elevate performance.

Recently, Suzanne’s newsletter featured an article on Health Literacy, and I asked her if I could share it with friends of Stinson Brand Innovation.


As health care reform brings millions more people into the system over the next several years, there has never been such an urgent and dramatic need to advocate for yourself, your family and the people you love at the doctor’s office and in the hospital.

The successful champions will be those with a solid health literacy foundation – often described as an individual’s ability to read, understand and use healthcare information to make decisions and follow instructions for treatment. While it seems pretty straightforward, the complexities of chronic conditions, varied therapeutic approaches and an enormous array of drug options, let alone insurance and financial issues, require today’s patients and consumers to be prepared for even more responsibility and accountability for their health.

Health Literacy awareness draws increased attention on the importance of access to accurate, understandable health information and promoting good health. It has been well documented that limited health literacy has a direct link to worse health outcomes and higher costs, something we can ill afford today.

Among many resources available to promote greater consumer understanding of health, particularly navigating the system, is “The Empowered Patient” by CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen. The book is an outgrowth a career reporting on healthcare, her Empowered Patient column for and personal and family experience as patients. Cohen takes a be-prepared-like-a-Boy Scout approach offering advice, patient stories, resources and check lists on getting the right diagnosis and plan for the best medical care, dealing with your insurance company, how to maximize prescriptions, ultimately informing patients of their vital role in creating a smarter, safer health care system.

The basic principles for becoming a personal advocate ring true for the business environment as well, whether responding to a crisis or promoting a new point of view on issues critical to your company or industry. To help pave the way to define and resolve problems, focus on advocacy skills that enable you to:
  1. Be prepared – do your research to support your position, keep organized records that outline all details and have a plan for success
  2. Be clear – articulate a clear, specific definition of the problem that distinguishes major issues from incidental details and always be listening to ensure you understand any response you receive
  3. Be engaged – adopt a lifelong learning mindset so you are receptive and can question new information and options while remaining polite and persistent
With better understanding comes better decision-making. When it comes to a healthy and productive workforce, health literacy cannot be the sole obligation of a single stakeholder. Employers, care management programs, insurance companies and individuals alike need to be the advocates for better health and outcomes.

You can contact Suzanne Ross at