Next Things First

Next Things Now: Profiles in Innovation by charlottegee
January 28, 2009, 2:28 pm
Filed under: innovation, next things now | Tags: ,

Soon we will be starting a new series on the Next Things First blog called Next Things Now: Profiles in Innovation. Sure, we can talk till we’re blue about the need for health care fixes, from improving quality of care to increasing clinical efficiency to reducing administrative costs to finding real ways to encourage and support health and well-being across populations.

But talking in abstract can only take us so far. In the coming weeks, we’ll be putting a few companies in the spotlight to illustrate what we mean by “innovation.” As we strive to make sense of what comes next, we look forward to highlighting some of the innovators who are bringing needed solutions to the market … and analyzing the challenges these entrepreneurs face in growing their businesses.

If you’d like to suggest a company for this series, email us.

Posted by CharlotteGee


The Week in Numbers by charlottegee
January 25, 2009, 11:05 am
Filed under: week in numbers | Tags:

Installment #10:

Venture capital investments plunged 33 percent in the fourth quarter, falling to the lowest level in nearly four years as the financiers of new business ideas became more reluctant to take on new risks during a recession that has shown no signs of easing.

Venture capital investments in Washington State fell to the lowest level in more than a decade last quarter

Last week, House Democrats unveiled a fiscal-stimulus bill that includes $20 billion for health-care information technology: “In some ways I am thrilled, because IT will need federal help,” said John Glaser, chief information officer for Partners HealthCare. “But you can bring in too much money too fast and not only waste it, but set us back.”

Health care is a sideshow, but $20 billion is still $20 billion, and given that the current health IT market is only between $20 and $30 billion annually, it’s a huge potential increase for the industry.

HHS formally recognized three new interoperability standards related to electronic health records, personal health records and electronic quality monitoring

In a number of states, Medicaid populations grew by 5 percent to 10 percent in the last 12 months and, in many, the growth rate was at least double what it had been in the previous year.

Britain reached this point and enacted universal health-care coverage in 1945, Canada in 1966, Australia in 1974. The United States may finally be there now. In 2007, fifty-seven million Americans had difficulty paying their medical bills, up fourteen million from 2003.

Despite the fact that the economy tanked in 2008, physician salaries managed a modest increase of 4.4 percent for specialists and 4 percent for primary care

Hospital Sued for Charging Patients 18% Interest

Posted by CharlotteGee

“And the Hits Just Keep Coming” by charlottegee
January 23, 2009, 8:48 am
Filed under: economy, hospitals | Tags: ,

One of my old bosses used to say that, whenever some unpleasant email hit his inbox or a complaint was left in his voice mail. (He also would whistle loudly, high pitch to low pitch, sounding like a bomb flying to the ground, if something especially bad had transpired. I do this now, like when I open my gas bill.)

These days, well, the hits just keep coming. Every day I hope to see some good (miraculous?) news about the economy, about unemployment rates, about start-ups being formed and funded, but it is slow to come. Yesterday (waiting two days for Inauguration fever to pass), the AHA released an announcement dramatically titled “HOSPITALS REPORT ‘CAPITAL CRUNCH’ IS FORCING DELAYS IN FACILITY AND TECHNOLOGICAL UPGRADES THAT WOULD BENEFIT COMMUNITIES’ HEALTH AND WELL-BEING,” along with the (very nicely designed) report. From the press release:

From cancer centers to expanded emergency departments to electronic health records systems, hospitals are postponing or delaying projects that could greatly benefit health care in communities across the country,” said AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock. “Stopping these projects also means new jobs are not created within the health care field or for construction workers, contractors, IT specialists and others. The ripple effects of the capital crunch on employment are cause for great concern.” Stopping or postponing facility upgrades and technology investments has significant ramifications for communities served by these hospitals and for the health care system as a whole.

And a few highlights:

  • More than 8 out of 10 hospitals said they have delayed projects to update or replace aging clinical equipment or use IT to automate clinical processes.
  • More than six out of 10 hospitals reported that facility upgrades, and clinical and information technology projects would have increased patient care efficiency and improved quality of care.
  • Nearly 60 percent of hospitals said the IT projects that are put on hold would have improved care coordination.

I have a feeling a few of those companies providing services to hospitals may need to update a few things–like their PowerPoints and “Market Opportunity” sections of the business plan–at least for now.

Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone) -- Via Hal

Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone) -- Via Hal

Related: Health Reform Passes! (In China)

Posted by CharlotteGee

Wielding Technology’s Wonders by charlottegee
January 22, 2009, 8:57 am
Filed under: health it, health policy | Tags: ,

Google “Obama and health care” and be prepared to wade through link after link, opinion after opinion. During the excitement surrounding Tuesday’s activities, many in the health care world listened intently to the President’s speech, all ears for health care mentions. The Wall Street Journal’s Health Blog highlights the two:


We, focused as ever, listened for any tidbits about health care and heard two. First, there was an acknowledgment of the expense of health care in a long list of woes the nation now faces.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

Later, in keeping with Obama’s seemingly ceaseless message of hope, health came up again as the president talked about how the U.S. can “lay a new foundation for growth.”

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act – not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.


People are appropriately a-buzz with the prospect of money being poured into renewed focus on health information technology. Many are for it, saying the time is now and let’s get moving–yesterday!; many are against it, arguing that there are plenty of other (better) ways to help the system; many say that it sounds good on paper and over the speakers, but you’d better have a pretty smart checklist in place before making any moves.

After the speech, Virginia Postrel and Shannon Brownlee had an online conversation, posted on The Atlantic, about the intricate nature of the health care system–touching on issues ranging from interoperability to EMRs to innovation in medicine. Shannon notes:

What’s interesting is the fact that the federal gov’t has to get involved in stimulating EMRs in the first place. I can’t think of another major industry that has not decided to invest in computerized records. Why not health care? Because you don’t get rewarded for doing a better job of caring for patients, or doing it more economically, two things that EMRs could help providers do.

Wherever you fall on health care reform, 2009 is sure to be an interesting show. Set the DVR.

Posted by CharlotteGee

The Week in Numbers by charlottegee
January 16, 2009, 8:54 am
Filed under: week in numbers | Tags:

Installment #9:

The legislative outline includes $20 billion in funding to help spur the adoption of electronic health records and other components of a fully wired information technology system, and $3 billion aimed at prevention and wellness programs

The VA said there were nine reported cases in which patients at VA medical centers were given incorrect doses, six of them involving heparin drips for patients with chest pain. The other cases involved infusions of either sodium chloride or dextrose mixtures that were prolonged for up to 15 hours past the doctor’s prescribed deadline. Errors were due to software glitches that showed faulty displays of their electronic health records.

House Votes to Expand Children’s Health Care: The bill, which would extend coverage to four million uninsured children, symbolizes the shift in priorities in Washington.

Gov. Paterson’s most aggressive proposal is to charge an 18 percent tax on sugary soft drinks (but not diet drinks), which he estimates would reduce consumption by 5 percent and raise $400 million in revenue.

Medtronic Pays Surgeon ‘$20,000 or More’ — Much, Much More

A new research report has concluded that after eight hospitals in eight countries implemented surgical safety checklists, they saw improved outcomes on several levels, with the number of post-surgical complications falling 11 percent, the number of deaths dropping by 1.5 percent and the volume of patients with surgical-site infections dropping 3.4 percent.

Venture dollars going to health care drop for first time in 5 years

Report: Pfizer May Cut Sales Force by Nearly a Third

Only two of ten industry categories were hiring last month. Government hiring, which has stayed relatively strong throughout the downturn, added another 7,000 jobs in December. Education and health services also grew payrolls by 45,000 employees.

A “fundability matrix” to visually demonstrate how investors think, and how they tend to classify 4 main types of entrepreneurs (via nPost Blog)

Posted by CharlotteGee

The Week in Numbers by charlottegee
January 9, 2009, 8:11 am
Filed under: week in numbers | Tags:

Installment #8:

American Health Care Since 1994: The Unacceptable Status Quo … Since 1994, the cost per person of American health care has more than doubled, with an annual growth rate regularly more than twice that of inflation.

In 2000, about 10 percent of all diagnostic and surgical procedures, such as biopsies or catheterizations, were done in an ambulatory surgery center. By 2007, it was more than 30 percent.

Five Health Insurance Predictions for 2009

Cigna says it will eliminate 1,100 jobs, or four percent of its total employment.

Nationally, the number of IPOs dropped to 30 in 2008 from 204 the previous year

100 Ways for Hospitals, Health Systems to Twitter (really?)

(But …) 63% of hospitals studied have little presence online

72 million people visited health Web sites last year, up 14% from 2007

Early C-Sections Can Double Health Risks for Newborns

The Five Myths of Healthcare Reform

Posted by CharlotteGee

Rob Coppedge on John Cook’s Venture Blog (TechFlash) by charlottegee
January 2, 2009, 1:00 pm
Filed under: economy, innovation, venture capital | Tags: ,


You can find Rob over on TechFlash, as a guest columnist for John Cook’s esteemed Venture Blog. Rob’s piece, titledGovernment should support the innovation economy,” provides a bit of the good, the bad and the ugly (but never fear … it ends on a somewhat positive note).

An (ugly) excerpt:

So, as we move into 2009, we expect the companies “waiting it out” will finally launch fundraising efforts—and the demand for capital will significantly outstrip the supply.

Angels won’t be able to keep up and the traditional venture community will remain focused on less risky deals and on reserving capital for existing portfolio companies. While I hope to be proved wrong, we [at Faultline Ventures] are predicting that these trends will lead to continued loss of early-stage jobs and the unwinding of early-stage businesses.

Worse, this will have a chilling on our Innovation Economy—shutting down a major engine of economic growth and job creation.

Check out the entire post to see how we might be able to uncover some of the good.

Posted by CharlotteGee