What This Blog is About

A long time mentor and friend, Cicely Berry, often says: "all we do comes from our need to survive".

Cis is the Voice Director of The Royal Shakespeare Company. Her profound work and deep appreciation of the human spirit has affected diverse communities all over the world.

Will take you to my current work.

This blog is dedicated to the belief that the overall health of a community or organization is a clear reflection of their ability to communicate.

"Cada cabeza es un mundo" - Cuban proverb

"Every head is a world"

Saturday, March 15, 2008

World-Wide Traffic Jam

I was in a NY taxi yesterday afternoon when all traffic was halted by the police. We were on the West Side Highway, next to a heliport and a short distance from the former World Trade Center.

It took a minute to register and then I realized that George Bush was leaving NYC following his economic address to NY Business people and a visit to private fund raising event.

While waiting, the taxi driver began to talk about politics. This rather distinguished man explained that he is fluent in five languages. He recently returned from Afghanistan, employed as a translator by a division of one of the largest corporations working in the that part of the world. His contracted salary was $140,000 for a year. He stayed two months and left saying "it was not worth what I would experience

When talking about people and violence he said:

"It's very simple, so simple that I don't understand why people do not get it. There is an entire generation of people who have never known life without war. They don't even know what it means to sleep".

The police opened up the West Side Highway once the huge motorcade passed. We moved on and continued to talk as we drove past Ground Zero.


Saturday, March 8, 2008

You Never Know What's in Ice Cream

I happened upon a film about the history of ice cream this evening on the Sundance channel.

It was fascinating to listen to:

1. Ben & Jerry, the well known American entrepreneurs who began their empire at a gas station.
Jerry described how after all the years of effort, struggle and success, the eventual public company board of directors decided they had no choice but to sell the company. Unilever now makes the ice cream. Jerry said that he had no say in the decision.

2. The daughter of the Russian immigrant who invented Hagen Daz ice cream. Her father's vision was to create a higher end better product that people would pay for. His creative name for the product was intended to sound Danish. There is no logical construction in the Danish language for the Hagen Daz trademarked logo with the two dots above the name. Many people already know about this story and that Hagen Daz was born in the Bronx, NY.

His daughter said she never could have imagined the size that her company has become. However, Hagen Daz is now distributed by Nestle. The sad thing she said, was that these organizations "own the ice cream market in the U.S." It is unlikely that today, innovative or independent efforts can compete at that level or do what her father was able to do and grow such a business.

And a curious bit of information that only makes my imagination wonder.

According to this documentary, Margaret Thatcher, prior to taking the U K's highest office was a chemist. Her work focused on ice cream and what is called "over run" in the industry. Over run is code for adding air to the recipe in order to reduce cost and quality but sell more. Apparently, Ms. Thatcher was good at adding more air and worked hard at it.

I can't testify to the facts of the documentary and I may research, but I sense some interesting connections in this mix of a social confection.

Just enjoyable to think about and save the calories. Maybe.


IBM Opens New 3D Virtual Healthcare Island on Second Life

Maybe, we all will benefit the more we consider health care to be a business? Certainly, companies like IBM understand their role (and growth potential) in an industry marked by a need for re-engineering in the deepest sense.

I am once again reminded of the interview with a Genome researcher who believes the first people to benefit from her research will be the Software community.

This announcement from IBM is an interesting use of social networking and scenario testing among other things. Smart people using an innovative marketing device that can radiate value.


Here's the IBM press announcement.

ORLANDO, FL - 24 Feb 2008: IBM (NYSE: IBM) debuted at HIMSS®08 its newest island in Second Life: IBM Virtual Healthcare Island.

The island is a unique, three-dimensional representation of the challenges facing today’s healthcare industry and the role information technology will play in transforming global healthcare-delivery to meet patient needs.

The island supports the strategic healthcare vision that IBM released in October 2006, entitled, Healthcare 2015: Win-Win or Lose-Lose, A Portrait and a Path to Successful Transformation. The paper paints a picture of a Healthcare Industry in crisis – of health systems in the United States and many other countries that will become unsustainable by the year 2015. To avoid “lose-lose” scenarios in which global healthcare systems “hit the wall” and require immediate and forced restructuring, IBM calls for what it defines as a “win-win” option: new levels of accountability, tough decisions, hard work and focus on the consumer.


Thursday, March 6, 2008

Interesting Post on a Health Care Blog

A Creative Way to Engage Physicians

Kenneth H. Cohn, M.D., MBA, FACS

In response to a frequently asked question, "How can you engage physicians who do not want to have anything to do with the hospital?" a physician colleague responded:
"If they do not want to have anything to do with you, ask them why not!!.....that is a definable set of reasons and (mis)perceptions you might have to dig out of them, realizing that you might not like and may not want to hear what they say, but once understood gives you something to work with."
This approach is a variation on taking the first step: admitting that we do not have all the answers and seeking feedback that may hurt because we take personal pride in our efforts to care for patients.
Some times, it takes unconventional approaches to obtain breakthrough results, as the following story illustrates:
Leon Bender, President of the Medical Staff at Cedars Sinai Medical Center, was frustrated with physician hand-washing compliance. So, infection-control staff who caught physicians washing their hands gave physicians $10 Starbucks cards, which increased compliance from 65% to 80%. A breakthrough came at a meeting of physician leaders, when the epidemiologist at Cedars Sinai cultured physicians' hands, photographed the bacteria on the Petri dishes, and turned the photograph into a screen saver on every computer in the hospital that physicians used to obtain clinical information. That graphic depiction of bacteria increased physician hand-washing compliance from 80% to nearly 100%, where it has remained for several years.
Dr. Bender noted, "With people who have been in practice 25 or 30 or 40 years, it's hard to change their behavior. But when you present them with good data, they change their behavior very rapidly." (Dubner and Leavitt 2006).
The distinction between what physicians and nurses principally do (care for patients) and what administrators principally do (finance, operations, marketing) is blurring. Recent decisions, at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) not to reimburse hospitals for complications, such as catheter acquired urinary tract infections, decubiti, and falls that occur in the hospital, compel us to put aside significant differences in background, training, and outlook and place patients and families at the center of our joint universe.

Dubner SJ, Leavitt SD. 2006. "Selling Soap." [Online publication, accessed 12/8/07]. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/24/magazine/24wwln_freak.html?_r=1&ex=1160020800&en=0c4817f1e4d7f211&ei=5070&oref=slogin#