Trilogy TidingsSeptember 2011
Hard to ignore those market gyrations, eh? I suggest you try, and I'll explain why. Also ... what seems to me to be a very clever, maybe groundbreaking, innovation. Finally ... contracts may not be fun but they can be awfully important.
|Stock Market Wisdom
If the market's swoon during August's first week and its volatility since then didn't convince you of the absence of wisdom in the stock market, nothing will. Come on. We know what moves the markets during uncertain times like these - index charters and millisecond-triggered automated trading. Stock markets do not possess wisdom of any sort. They tell you almost nothing useful to guide your personal investment or business decisions.
Down-market periods and volatility do, without question, affect consumer and business confidence levels. Those effects are real and, over the long term, they will influence demand for many kinds of products and services. But here's an exception: Medical products and services. If you're in one of those businesses, you are nearly immune to whipsawing confidence-driven consumer and business demand. It's always been a characteristic of healthcare delivery and the products that support it.
So relax. Focus on the fundamental driver of success in healthcare: Easing the lives of patients and their providers. Keep doing what has brought you success in the past, to wit:
- Discover the unmet or poorly met needs. Learn from providers. Talk to and observe doctors, nurses and medical technologists. Get into their heads and their lives.
- Invent. Scour the landscape for solutions. Imagine, devise and design. Unleash your engineers, designers and human-factors experts. Improve your R&D processes. Reach out to academia and emerging enterprises.
- Focus on costs and economics. Talk to healthcare administrators and insurers. Don't wait for the market to tell you "great concept, but it makes no economic sense".
- Smartly plot your way forward toward regulatory approval and compliance. Focus on responding to today's rules; ignore future uncertainties.
- Realistically assess your ability to fully access the market. If necessary, partner up. You'll help more patients that way.
Now I'm enthused! I hope you are, too.
I'm a sucker for cool, and this is cool. A kind of "electronic tattoo" has been demonstrated by John A. Rogers of the University of Illinois (an extraordinary institution of higher learning, I must say). It amounts to an invention of stretchable and flexible electronics that can be comfortably worn on the skin and applied to transcutaneous monitoring of electrical activity - say from the heart, brain or muscle - or perhaps body chemistry.
This device achieves the mechanical properties of skin. It can be worn for extended periods without producing the irritation that often results from adhesive tapes and rigid electronics. One can imagine that such a device could greatly accelerate wireless hospital monitoring and aggravation-free home monitoring and wellness assessment. Think sleep apnea or undisruptive neonatal monitoring. Rogers' work was reported in Science on August 11 and in an article in MIT's Technology Review. Have a look.
Now for something less cool but no less important: Contracts. If you're like me you spend a good deal of your time crafting, reviewing and negotiating business agreements and contracts. (This is one of the "pleasures" of being a management consultant.) Well, I just looked over a Checklist for Contract Review provided by Jean Sifleet, a business attorney who seems especially well attuned to serving small businesses. I met her once in Boston, and I've been on her email newsletter list for years. I think checklists are great; they tend to keep you out of trouble. They work rather well in aviation, and they have recently proved to be of great value in saving lives in ERs and ICUs. I've authored a few as well. But I digress. Check out her tips and maybe sign up for her newsletter.