WHAT NOW, FOR HEALTHCARE IN EUROPE?

We interview the VP of HIMSS EMEA, Sean Roberts, newly moved to the UK from his native California, for his plans for HIMSS over the next twelve months – and his view of healthcare on this side of the Atlantic. HIMSS is the largest healthcare trade association in the world. Its annual Global Conference resonates around the world; European healthcare vendors, particularly from Scandinavia, use the USA as their launch pad for their European and even domestic healthcare promotion.

It is not the first time that Sean and I have met. Sean is an anglophile. The last time of any significance, that we met, we went to a rather bijou little restaurant somewhere in south west London on one of his frequent stop-offs. It is rare to find an American with such a detailed knowledge of eating places in London where tourists don’t go.

COVID; Analysis of Key Commercial Benchmarks

We look at the past twelve months and ask – if everything has gone wrong, was that simply because of COVID, or were the downsides always there, it’s  just that Covid was the excuse  of choice? Or are there new trends and behaviours come to the surface that we never considered until now?

Looking at the obvious – you can  say that 2020 was the death knell of Events and Conferences. Major companies globally are in trouble and have not been able to rediscover a new secret sauce as to why you and should even  bother to attend an online event. As long as COVID continues, it is doubtful whether many will still be around with their current offering, thru to the end of 2021. In our discussions with vendors, we have yet to find any vendor that is satisfied that being part of a virtual event has has offered them any benefit at all. Criticisms range from “ this is a scam”, to the more polite “ it’s not the fault of the organiser, they are doing their best”  etc.

It is made doubly worse  by the lack of interest from so many delegates.  Worst in our discussions, were anything to do with the UK NHS. Even those that attend workshops have almost nil interest in pursuing a discussion after they have gone offline and  in almost all cases there is no way for a vendor to progress a discussion. Much better are the Financial events; there is a clear monetary and commercial objective  – but even then – online workshops that we looked at – were sparsely attended, the vendors themselves outnumbering the delegates.

ARE SHORT STORIES THE WAY FORWARD, INSTEAD OF BOOKS?

The announcement today by The Washington Post, that it is making available its “important election information” free to all readers – should be a wake up call, to anybody who has doubted that the age of giving away your advice, information, expertise online – for free – is already over.

The question is – what are the key markets where this can benefit you?  The answer is not so much in the Content, but in the ease of accessing said Content, and seamlessly paying for it.  

NEW PANDEMIC ADVISORY BOARD TAKES SHAPE

The Pandemic Security Initiative Introduces Scientific Advisory Board Founding Members, Leading Scientists Join Together to Prepare for the Next Global Pandemic

In Cambridge, MA; Lebanon, NH; and New York, NY – Celdara Medical announced today the launch of the Pandemic Security Initiative’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), a group of outstanding scientists and infectious disease experts. The SAB is an integral part of the initiative, and informs the initiative’s priorities, approaches, and opportunities for collaboration, all in the pursuit of pandemic preparedness.

Amidst a second wave of Covid-19 infections with still no definitive end in sight, the key structural issue in resolving pandemic scale threats continues to be the lack of commercial incentive for proactive development of diagnostics, prophylactics, and therapeutics, especially for diseases without incidence.

NEW DEVELOPMENTS FROM SCANDINAVIA

We are well used to Scandi businesses being ahead of the rast of EU and even globally in key verticals of healthcare, IT development and so forth. But what about general management?

We interview Steffen Conradsen, CEO of the Calm Water start-up in Denmark, and ask him – since his reticent beginnings and company launch just a year ago – well – how has it been?

It’s a stupid question. I am sitting in the empty bar area of the Copenhagen Towers. I am struggling with my mask. The day before, I had my first COVID Test as I sauntered through CPH Airport. It took less time to queue and take the test than I would normally spend in line at my local supermarket.

These are not normal times. Steffen is silver haired, smiling, and saunters towards me, he is comfortable in his own skin, and we find a seat at the adjacent coffee bar. Steffen has seen crises all before from his time as VP at Ericsson Denmark. If anybody knows how to launch a Consulting firm offering crisis-management in troubled times it is he.

Clear Water Consulting was not born out of any mid life desire to launch a new business. It was a simple choice of expediency. The downsizing of Ericsson in Denmark, left Steffen with choices – one of which was – where is the work/life balance now, and how best to offer his consulting skills.

And at a time over the last six months of continual crisis for so many large and small companies, in a variety of vertical disciplines, this has already turned out to be the best moment, rather than the worst.

Steffen leans forward and sips his cafe latte. We have moved on from the preliminary pleasantries. What he says is; “these COVID times are not going anywhere any time soon. If companies want to stay relevant in this new world and very different environment, then there has to be a process, a strict methodology – to cope with what will be unexpected situations, quite apart from the need to define what is a go to market plan for the next 12 to 60 months.

Clear Water has a pre-defined process that he has set out graphically, as well as list the four of five key points that govern his thinking. The strategy is explained in English. It is similar to Danish thinking, and their approach to life, the being very methodical and clear, and with no deviation. Reading the corporate blurb, there is little by way of philosophic al and conceptual discussion – apart from on the last page, where Steffen talks about being relevant in society.

Steffen continues; “Sure, things have been tough, but Clear Water is already profitable, and demand is high”. We are meeting mid-afternoon, and Steffen has already had three meetings around the Copenhagen suburbs .

I am expecting to see him any time soon passing through London – but was if to prove a point – Denmark goes into lockdown the day after I return to the UK.

Steffen Conradsen can be contacted at; +45 2812 7445

 

EUROVISION ON STEROIDS. WELCOME TO THE HIMSS 2020 EUROPEAN DIGITAL CONFERENCE.

With decision-makers from healthcare in some 98 Countries – including Russia, Israel etc – booked to attend; and around 172 Speakers, including 45+ keynote Speakers, including the WHO, the US ONC, and of course the key Partners from Finland (whose are supporting this Conference) – this five day event is as good as it gets in terms of bringing together where healthcare is going and needs to go.

WHY ARE BIG COMPANIES, BIG? IS IT BECAUSE THEY LOOK AFTER THEIR CUSTOMERS?

We look at the recent CX Network Conference in Stockholm and ask, maybe it’s more than that?

The next question, which I haven’t raised – is; well, if you are a small company, but you want to get bigger – well, is it just a matter of customer focus? Sorry to say, but the answer is alas No. But I think you knew that already, although some of the answers about attitude etc, might surprise you. I will come back to that one.

If you’re going to talk about Customer experience, then there is no better place to sit down at Fika time and chat with friends, – than anywhere in Sweden. Communal consensus and discussion in Scandinavia is a religion and disturbing any colleague as they break for lunch is like interrupting someone at Communion. But this is 10.30 in the morning.

So here we are; drinking our glass of milk and nibbling on our cake, and we are looking out across the water towards Gamla Stan. Pretty much all the big names are there; Vattenfall, Danskebank, Sweco, and I could go on. Each one looking at the alchemy of – how do you translate the act of dealing with a customer, into an actual repeatable experience that transforms your business to “stand out in a sea of sameness”.

And what the delegates and speakers say is that – customer experience does not start with the customer. It starts with the employee. The problems of employee engagement are bigger than the simple act by comparison, of reaching out to the guy whose payments to you, contribute towards your personal mortgage. If you cannot communicate your corporate focus and reason for existence, within your organisation, there is precious little chance of spreading your gospel beyond that.

In the past, this message has not been understood by management. It has translated into an act of self-harm called “Managed HR”, where numbers and individual performance, ie, measurable stats, have taken prime position.

The message here at this Conference, is that life has moved on. Engage with your own employee – and by default you will engage with your customer. You could say this is a triumph of human values over corporate monotony, but the key message from Stockholm and this CX Network event, is that if you can motivate and create an employee experience, then that individuality will take you beyond the “me too” of everyone else in your vertical market.

After launch we talked in small groups about the mechanics of this process, we talk about innovation, of being brave, of making mistakes in the way you communicate. The best presentations were those who were Ok to admit that “guys, we did not know where this would take us”.

And sure, this is not going to reach the heights of an away day at Disney. There will not be the emotion of a roller coaster ride. But there will be for sure the light-bulb moment.

But the bigger surprise is that this is a pan-market discussion; the usual vertical market focus of a typical CX Network event, has been surpassed by bringing everybody together from wherever they come from, from banking thru Energy, thru Retail, thru data and analytics – to HR. And perhaps that is the secret sauce of this meeting of minds. Ultimately, people are people, and human nature is human nature. Reach out to the individual – and you grow as a business. That’s how you do it.

Charisma. Either you’ve got it. Or you haven’t.

We look at the growth of the Park Annual healthcare forum in Gothenburg and ask – why is it so successful?

It’s a question of how you measure success. There are talking shops, and there are talking shops. For Iris Ohrn, Investment Advisor at Business Region Goteborg, the emphasis is as much on the “shops” (ie the actual business quotient), as it is on the “talking”. She is eager to support all companies interested in the Gothenburg innovation system. Although she can have a chat with anybody she certainly prefers and enjoys discussing concrete business and investment opportunities in Gothenburg – based companies. The chat – is not the end, but the means to an end.

It is a subtle distinction that can easily be lost in the informality of the Park Annual event itself. There are many “Life Science”. Forums out there. The secret sauce of Park Annual is not focusing on trade, investments or scientific research as such. It focuses on gathering all groups ex. entrepreneurs, scientists, innovators, companies and investors in the heart of Göteborg and get them to network and be inspired in a very relax by effective way. Entrepreneurship and innovation are one of word that best describes the event and that could differentiate it from other also good events. Usually start-ups and innovators are the starts of the event.

What Iris says is; “It provides a great forum for debate. You leave the event with a very positive feeling. With that feeling that you are not alone and that is great fun to be part of the Innovation system.”

And it is indeed true – there are indeed similar events. The NJ Pharma Hub; and PACT in Philadelphia come to mind, where both of these have the advantage of zillion times larger population. But that may not be an advantage. Sweden is a small and export dependent country. It is home, so to say, to just 0.13 per cent of the global population. Which means that, in order to succeed, its companies need to be born global and more focussed.

Iris continues: “ Our products compete on the global market from day one as our internal market is very limited, despite our purchase power. We top most lists when we talk about innovation and competitiveness. We do not compete by market size but by the quality of our products. Our formula is collaboration, collaboration at all levels, small and large companies, public and private sector, universities, hospitals and patients. Most of our success relies on our capacity to collaborate. Now, more than ever, cross-sectorial collaboration is our focus. Digitalization and the rapid technological development are disrupting most industries.”

But probably the key missing ingredient is not just the mix of University supporting industry backed by Government It is more the qualification of what constitutes success that we mentioned above. And it is two fold – sure, there are commercial yardsticks, performance indicators. But underlying all of that is the understanding that Park Annual is a healthcare forum. The basic raison d’être is eradicating diseases. Park Annual has its heart in it.

Park Annual is on the 27th Sept 2018 at Sahlgrenska Science Park Sweden.

WHAT IS THE PROBLEM WITH MAKING DECISIONS?

We look at the increasing lack of leadership in our UK Public Services, and its negative impact – and we say; its time to do something.

The question really is; “why”, – is it necessary to do something? Public Services are not going to disappear overnight. Whether you take a week to do nothing at all – or a year – will not necessarily impact on your own job. It might, however, impact on someone else’s life – but as a Clinical Director told me recently – “I have a nice house, and nice holidays; why am I putting myself on the line?”

Lack of decision-making means that the people who we entrust to look after us, provide our essential services, and who we had hoped would go the extra mile – have no need to do so. This results either in a lack of engagement, where – according to a colleague of mine recently moved from the private sector into local government – that her colleagues already had their coats on by 16.58 each day… or an increasing level of stress related absence through the paralysis of moving things forward, in times of increasing pressure and demand for the very services they feel unable to deliver.

It’s not our job here to tell others how to do their job. But it is our job to explain the damage that simply putting things off, keeping things the same, and hoping that maybe tomorrow things will work out – doesn’t fly. Particularly as we are moving, and have moved – into an arena of “personalised service”, where our individual use of personal data, our smartphones, our iPads, our fitness trackers – means that technology exists to deliver great improvements in quality of pubic service.

As Bogi Eliasen of the CIFS in Copenhagen said at the HIMSS Conference almost one year ago – by harnessing the data that is flowing, in realtime, across our desks every minute – we can better employ our people, enable them to make decisions related to the data that they themselves have access to, reduce the stress in our places of work – and actually do what the public are asking us, and expect us – to do.

Because – the fact is – we no longer have the option of simply throwing more people, and more cash, to continue doing things the way we always have – because it just doesn’t work any longer. There are just too many people living longer, with too many orthopaedic ailments, exponential rises in diabetes sufferers, that having a few more nurses, a few more clinics, some more phone-lines – can never hope to keep pace with the needs of society that are getting worse.

It is for this reason that the recent PR from NHS England, about its new Diabetes Partnerships, – is like adding an Elastoplast to cover my broken leg. It misses the fundamental point. Hospitals that prefer to use in house resources rather than engage with specialist IT help, are simply putting off the moment of truth – that we have reached a tipping point.

What we have seen is that, due to the new personal focus of our provision of services, we need to move out of the “silo” mentality of me doing my job, and you can do yours. We need to start looking at how we treat society as a whole, in particular the mix of Community based solutions linked to (say) hospital services.

In the same way that “if you always do what you always did – you will always get, what you always got~’ so it is obvious that our current ways of doing things, at just about every area of Management that we have looked at for this Article – simply do not deliver the results that society is increasingly asking for.

This means investment in new technologies, that are proven, and that can link performance to results and to costs. The technology exists and has done for some time. The question tho – is whether our Social and Public Service leaders can take the lead and deliver what the rest of us are asking. After all – they have nice houses and nice holidays to go to. We wouldn’t want them to risk all that, now would we?

Is it already too late for GDPR?

We look at how industries are preparing, and ask – have businesses already moved on?

For the past two years, whole industries ranging from Conference Organisers, to newly articulate Vendors – have sprung up professing abilities and proficiencies to help us manage the data compliance of GDPR – coming live in just a few months.

And their message may have been getting through. In Scandinavia, you cannot find any free Consultants able to take on any new projects. In our calls to UK vendors, few even answered our calls.  If past history is anything to go by, companies typically leave things to the last minute – so maybe there will be this rush to the final hurdle when the deadline May comes around.

Or maybe there won’t. According to Richard Copland, Partner at The Future Shapers – those companies that were going to do something – have already done so. The concern over GDPR among the large corporates where this can matter – has already been dealt with and life is moivinbg on to more important areas of data handling.

This mirrors our own experience. In interviews we have had in the Financials and Insurance areas, the need is not for data compliance.  The concern is how to identify key bits of customers information that can  make a commercial difference. In other words, technology  and IT is not the problem any more;  we are getting back to basics of – what drives our businesses and above all, what will give these companies a commercial edge.

Interestingly,  Trade Conferences per se are no longer seen as the giver of new comparative information, because it is rare to find vendors who genuinely have anything new to say.  Whilst there are exceptions to this,  their importance is in the casual networking of vendor to delegate and delegate to delegate.

Where this takes us in the future – is that 2018 will be the catalyst for specific vendors who genuinely have a new vision and a new take on their market. Linking technology to commercial benefit, will be the difference.