June 26-28th, 2013 marked the 9th annual Games for Health Conference held in Boston, MA. This three-day event brings together experts in game development and health with the common goal of advancing gaming technologies to improve our health care experiences and outcomes. This year the topics ranged from creating Zombies, Run, an iphone app. designed to encourage exercise through placing the user in a virtual zombie apocalypse, to GeckoCap, a gamified app. meant to encourage asthma treatment adherence in children.
It is clear that there is a rapidly growing industry in improving our health through gaming. Whether it is via phone app., video game, computer program or even board game, Americans are interested in staying healthy or getting healthier, but we want it to be fun. We live in a world where it is quickly becoming not enough to simply run for the sake of running or take prescriptions because we’re supposed to, we’d like it better as a game and we want rewards. I wonder, though, what does this mean for future generations? Will they expect a game to be attached to all health-related activities? Maybe that’s taking it a bit too far, but I do wonder where the gamification of health will take us. As a public health student I am certainly a fan of better chronic disease management and overall health, I only hope we can find ways to use gaming to improve habits that do not necessarily create reliance on such rewards. I think the question all developers need to ask themselves is, are the games we’re building meant to be used indefinitely or only for a period of time in order to create long-lasting, intrinsic motivation? Staying healthy takes daily effort and I hope we can find success through a combination of badges, stars and points but also because it just feels good to do so.(Read full post)
I recently read report by Accenture Interactive, called “Turbulence for the CMO,” that I found very interesting. The report says that CMOs know they must fully embrace new technology. If not, they will fail. That seems to be clear and not just for marketing, but the study also points out that digital is a marketer’s biggest weakness. That is a tough place to be as digital technology is only going to accelerate.
Let’s break down the report:
CMOs capitalize on five capabilities to improve their company’s performance: offering innovation, customer analytics, digital orientation, customer engagement and marketing operations. Of these digital orientation has the greatest performance gap – ironically when this capability is of upmost importance. While most CMOs recognize that an enterprise digital focus is needed along with the ability to engage customers through digital channels, only 7% say their digital enterprise efforts and only 13% believe their channel engagement performance are leading edge.
Their biggest barriers are inefficient business practices and lack of funding, which results from an unclear digital strategy across the enterprise and tight budgets. Underlying all of this is the explosion of channels in which customers engage. This channel explosion has forced CMOs to turn to a large mix of agencies and alliance partners to help them. In fact, between 45% and 75% of marketing activities are managed by digital agencies, specialized agencies and marketing service providers. What really hurts the CMO is that there is no clear strategic leader among the external partners, forcing CMOs to default to inefficient internal process to create the coos-agency strategy.
So what is a CMO to do? First, fundamentally change the marketing operating model to improve innovation and become more digitally focused. Second, build new skills internally to improve efficiency, agility and responsiveness. Third, align with the right set of partners that work collaboratively to help the CMO make sense of the complexity of the marketplace by “improving their levels of execution and delivery and by providing a broader set of capabilities and deeper integration across the agency ecosystem.” And fourth, take the lead in driving digital orientation throughout the enterprise.
The report ends with a statement: “Digital is the marketing game changer.”
That is something we all should embrace.(Read full post)
Data inundates us every day, but most data is hard to consume as it is hard to see how it relates to our human side. Jer Thorp provides us an awesome visual tour (watch the video below) of how data can be better visualized to make sense to us. This is the space that intersects art, science and design – the magic place for innovation and inspiration. Jer’s visualizations are exciting because they are graphically vivid while bringing real clarity and human meaning to the data. Jer has made much of his source code freely available.
In conjunction with Mark Hansen, Jer worked on a project dealing with content sharing on the Internet called Cascade. They created an exploratory tool that shows the sharing structures of the Internet. In essence, Cascade creates histories or stories of how information moves from person to person – how we connect. In another example project, called openpaths, Jer uses location data (human mobility data) from iPhones (strictly voluntary) to show how people’s lives are unfolding from the traces left behind on their devices. Jer shares parts of his own life using the tool. He demonstrates that by seeing our data in our life context, we develop empathy and fundamental respect for the other people involved in these systems.
Another example of humanized data visualization comes from Jonathan Harris who has a site that has been online since 2005, called We Feel Fine. The site captures human feelings from the Web. It searches blogs for key words relating to feelings and identifies the feeling (e.g. sad, happy, depressed). It also captures demographic data about the author. The interface shows feelings as particles. The particles’ properties (e.g., color, size, shape, opacity) indicate the nature of the feeling, and any particle can be clicked to reveal the full sentence or photograph it contains. The feelings can be searched and sorted, expressing various pictures of human emotion.
As this relates to healthcare, informatics comes to mind. It would be a really humanizing experience if I could see my health information in a rich but easy to understand and meaningful format. How I see myself (from a data visualization perspective) will have tremendous impact on how I deal with my healthcare. Coupling my personal health information with my life story and how I interconnect with people is an exciting concept. In this age of information overload, how we join our human experiences (our stories) to our data will be the extent to which we can understand the complexity of ourselves and our world.(Read full post)
3-D Printing has come a long way in 2011; some are starting to see this technology becoming more mainstream as 3-D printers become more affordable. Most machines several years ago cost tens of thousands of dollars and were sold primarily to architects and engineers. Cheaper self-assembly kits now cost less than $1,500. Gartner predicts that the price for professional 3D printers that now sell for $15,000 will decline to about $2,500 by 2020 and will deliver better performance and more features.
As prices fall we may see an emergence of on-demand manufacturers who will produce unique one-off or small-quantity items tailored to consumers or businesses. This blog presents a detailed 2011 timeline showing just how fast 3-D printing has been moving. This could mean a lot for healthcare as more medical models, surgical guides, hearing aids, dental applications, prosthetic limbs, synthetic organs or other implantable devices could be made one patient at a time.
For example, last year researchers at Washington State University showed that a bone-like material can be printed and used as a scaffold for new bone to grow on. You just scan the defect and print the “bone.” Over time, the printed bone-like material dissolves, leaving just healthy new bone. This means that orthopedists and dentists may soon be creating custom implants on a 3-D printer. The boney material might also be used to deliver medicine for osteoporosis.
Also last year, Klaus Stadlmann gave a TED Talks presentation on his tiny, affordable printer that could someday make customized hearing aids. His device can even produce sculptures smaller than a human hair.
See this video for a short explanation of what may be in our future for 3-D synthetic organ printing known as bioprinting, or organ printing. Given the need for transplant organs, this could be good news.
However, my personal favorite 3-D printing application has little to do with healthcare. It comes from a story ran by the BBC back in July with the headline of “Printer produces personalised 3D chocolate” – how cool is that?(Read full post)
Two news items regarding search arrived relatively at the same time. One is a search technology being developed by the Yahoo’s Barcelona research lab called Time Explorer (check out the research paper). The other is about how search may start to be designed with the search-as-entertainment paradigm (check out the slides and the research paper). Both of these search ideas were recently presented at the Human Computer Interaction and Information Retrieval (HCIR) workshop in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
First, Time Explorer is a search engine that returns results in a timeline that stretches into the future as well as the past. The results appear on the timeline, which shows when articles were published. However, if the user moves the timeline into the future, results are positioned at any point in time to when the text might have referred. For example you could check the predictions of an article that was published last year.
Second, researchers believe that the entertainment value of search is an untapped user experience. The research was conducted at the Swansea University in Wales and the University of Erlangen in Germany. Researchers found that users, while searching casually, were less interested in getting away from search results. This may explain why people like StumbleUpon.
What gets me excited is that by bringing these technologies together there is the possibility that I may never have to write another blog and I would be entertained while not writing it. I would simply search for my next (future) blog, copy and paste it today and be done.
Maybe I should blog about it and see if I my prediction comes true.
How cool is that!(Read full post)
As marketers, we often litter the pavement with buzzwords in an attempt to convince our clients that we have ‘innovative’ ideas that will ‘connect,’ ‘motivate’ and ‘convert.’ Our days (and often, nights) are spent observing, interpreting, analyzing, listening and interacting to arrive at that one great core message, delivered at precisely the right time in precisely the right way to address how consumers engage.
With the assets and behavioral insight available to us, not to mention the talent roaming the hallways of countless marketing agencies out there, more often than not, we get it right. After all, we are recognized as idea people hired for our abilities to be as plugged in to what’s going on as just about anyone on earth.
How is it then that we’re being outsmarted at our own game?
When I started writing this post I didn’t think I had the answer and I was actually going to take this in a different direction (hey, it’s an on-the-fly business), but I just re-read a previous paragraph and a light bulb went off about an issue:
We’re recognized as idea people hired for our abilities to be as plugged in to what’s going on.
We’re doing too much looking back for our answers, putting communication and engagement plans together based on what’s been done, making use of what’s out there already. Of course, leveraging best practices and making adjustments based on measured results is essential to brand adherence, as is delivering a message to places where our targets congregate. But it doesn’t mean we should restrict ourselves, or avoid improving upon what exists if it means a better solution for our clients.
We shouldn’t be on the trail. We should be blazing the trail.
Knowing what we know, and trying to solve the problems on our plate, it should have been a digital agency that created Facebook. Twitter should have been the brainchild of a time-starved Madison Avenue planner. LinkedIn should have come from an account guy thumbing through his rolodex. Hell, Apple has become one of the biggest companies in the world by addressing needs people didn’t even know they had until the brand thought about an existing consumer experience in new ways. Forget insight, we need more foresight.
Just to be clear, I’m not saying every presentation to a client needs to unveil an invention of some sort, but agencies have to bring value by not only using what’s out there but by creating what’s out there. If at the end of a meeting a client doesn’t say, ‘I never thought of it that way’ about something brought to the table, we’re not doing our jobs. I would have loved to seen the look on the client’s face when this was presented. (Those of you that have done monotonous annual reports just kicked yourself, didn’t you?).
In pharma (and Consumer Relationship Marketing in general) we are often accused of being a few steps behind marketers of more traditional goods and services, but at MicroMass, I prefer to think of it as being several leaps ahead. Having been on both sides, we’re fortunate with what we do because there’s such a blank slate, and very little precedent. Sure there’s all kind of red tape stuck to that slate, but there’s truly an opportunity for us to use our brainpower in ways that literally have never been done before, and achieve results previously unthinkable. It’s ours for the taking. That’s why we approach every brief, plan and assignment from the perspective each problem not only demands a unique solution, but requires one. It’s certainly not revolutionary to say, but it sure is to practice.
I guess you can say our goal is to be recognized as idea people hired for our abilities to be as plugged in to what’s possible. Imagine that.(Read full post)
Here in pharma-world, we’re still trying to figure out how to leverage social media.
We know it’s a powerful tool for creating brand advocates, but fear of the FDA has everyone wary of direct interaction with consumers.
As a result, most of the existing social media contact between pharma brands and consumers is “fauxgagement.” It’s inauthentic. It’s controlled. Comments are vetted before posting, interaction is time delayed and artificial. It’s the opposite of what real social media is about.
We know consumers want real engagement. But, until the FDA gets its ducks in a row, let’s admit the emperor has no clothes. Instead, let’s work with what we have.
Let’s understand who is using social media and more importantly, why they are using it. Let’s be smarter about how we influence the influencers in the social media space. And let’s target consumers with ads in the social media space that matter to them, even if they don’t allow the consumer to talk back.(Read full post)
Touch user interface technology is a wonderful thing. I enjoy not having to worry about a stylus anymore now that I have an iPhone. And iPads have surely changed the portable information market. The ease of physically pointing (and touching) to get things done is so natural that many people are exploring how to use a device such as the iPad in countless ways and in countless settings.
It all seems highly plausible and even desirable to integrate these devices into our work and leisure environments wherever and whenever we can. However, after reading an article from iMedicalApps about the use of iPads in a hospital operating room, I had to rethink my assumptions that I (and I assume we all) make when I envision how I might use an iPad. For me imagining ways to use an iPad was similar to watching Dune while sitting in a cool, dark theater and munching popcorn. While I engage intellectually and emotionally, I never really feel the dry, heat of Arrakis or the grit of sand in everything.
The physical environment has tremendous impact on us, and we need to consider how the devices we use are impacted as well. In the article, the surgical teams had to contend with sterilization. They solved the issue by placing the iPad in a plastic bag at the sacrifice of reduced image quality. Although not specifically mentioned, I assume that bloody hands and other things that surgeons face in the operating room had an effect as well. Although there were physical issues to be worked out, the stylus-free UI seemed to be the big winner coupled the small size, clearly outweighing many of the drawbacks.
When you watch the following iPad enhanced surgery, you will see what I mean:
From now on, when I think the famous phrase, “wouldn’t it be cool if we could use an iPad for…”, I will remember to consider not just how cool it would be, but the real physical side of touch as well.
By the way, wouldn’t it be cool if we could use an iPad to fold space…(Read full post)
It usually goes something like this:
- Patient goes to see doctor for an ailment
- Doctor assesses patient
- Doctor writes patient a prescription
- Patient thanks doctor and leaves, prescription in hand
- Patient decides not to fill the prescription.
From then on, the doctor and patient are operating under conflicting assumptions—a great plot for a 70s sitcom, but bad news for better medical care.
Recent research looked at primary nonadherence, that is, patients failing to fill an initial prescription. Rates of nonadherence were highest in metabolic diseases such as diabetes (31%), hypertension (28.4%) and high cholesterol (28.2%).
If so many people are failing to fill their scripts, but the doctor assumes that they are taking the medication as prescribed, how can treatment progress effectively?
Doctors are only as good as the information they have.
Given the high rate of primary nonadherence, doctors should make the following direct question a standard part of follow up visits, “Did you fill the prescription for Drug X that I gave you?” People are less likely to lie in the face of a direct question.
Obviously that one question won’t solve the communication disconnects that plague doctors and patients, but it’s a start.
So don’t lie to your doctors. Trust me, they’d rather hear the ugly truth.(Read full post)
An Efficient Communications Paradigm Requires an Adherence to a Core Strategy of Transparency in Phraseology That, Optimally, Simulates Rudimental Human Vernacular.
Or, Write Simply.
You can spot the people who read academic, business or scientific papers. Their heads explode.
Don’t believe me? Make sense of the following:
“Going forward, the implementation of best practices will utilize benchmarks capable of defining our key competencies focused on value-added strategic initiatives underlying our leading-edge functionality in a sustainable process of continuous improvement for, and validation by, our key stakeholders.”
Okay, so I made that up. But it could be the Mission Statement for just about any company in America.
Right now, I can put my hands on numerous, not-made-up examples of paragraphs packed with marketing-speak, medical jargon, and nouns that, like werewolves, suddenly sprout hair and bound into life as action verbs. I would share these examples, but I don’t want to embarrass the authors or lose my job.
I know why people utilize (vs. use) this stupefying style. Academia practically beats it into their graduate students and lawyers use it as an elaborate CYA defense against the litigious eye of other lawyers. That’s why MBAs write more page-long sentences than Faulkner and government forms sound like a tax attorney after a head injury.
It doesn’t have to be this way. If you doubt the ability to present complex ideas in simple language, consider the ultimate existential uncertainty posed by these six, one-syllable words:
“To be or not to be.”
Write simply. You’ll look smart and your readers will thank you.(Read full post)