Those traveling the industry conference circuit (any industry, really) recognize that the most valuable panel discussions pull together transformative thinkers across different disciplines to arrive at deep insights. Those attending the W2O Group’s PreCommerce Summit had access to many such panels, including one that could have been called “Living the Promise of Data and Innovation,” which featured three dynamic leaders in their respective fields:

Following is an overview (presentations included) of the key points on how visionaries from a text analytics software company, an innovative government agency and the investment space combined to embody how we can all experience and live the promise of data and innovation.

Image 1Nithi Vivatrat (presentation) kicked things off by talking about “Empathy at Scale.” For years, Vivatrat has been driving the strategic vision of Clarabridge’s offerings, and he sees a new factor determining business success today: Empathy. In this context, empathy means listening to, understanding and contextualizing customer needs and conversation.

In Vivatrat’s estimation, companies who focus on customer empathy will have more success. “We need to learn to listen,” he said, “but we also need to learn to tell stories so others will listen and collaborate.” As one caveat, and where data meets innovation in this case, is that it’s important to have quantitative insight into the sentiment of relevant stakeholder conversations.

DamonDavis1Damon Davis (presentation) then took the stage to speak to goals and vision for innovation in the government sector, based on his experience at the IDEA Lab in the US Department of Health and Human Services. Davis is responsible for leading the Department’s efforts to promote the Health Data Initiative. While sharing how the government is liberating health data through that initiative on, Davis provided some compelling perspectives and statistics:

  • Healthcare is 20% of GDP in the U.S.
  • Data is driving multiple aspects of healthcare. … We are working to change its default setting from closed to open
  • Data has the ability to affect issues from organ donation to reporting adverse events

When pressed about innovation in the government sector, Davis related, “From the government’s perspective, we’ve been doing things the same way for generations. We’re now focused on trying to facilitate innovation by finding creative folks and empowering them to find creative solutions.”

[We also appreciated Davis’ nod to W2O Group Data Scientist Dr. Yash Gad, who’s doing amazing things with the very data that Davis is helping to make available through MDigitalLife.]

PivotConMike Edelhart (presentation) finished the panel presentations with a peek into an innovative concept aimed at identifying companies, markets or industries that are ripe for change: The Social Disruption Index (SDI). Currently in development, the SDI takes  numerous streams of data around companies and industries to effectively map their attributes and identify areas on the brink of innovation and disruption.

It’s worth noting that Edelhart is a seasoned media and Internet start-up executive, as well as the Lead Partner for Social Starts, an early stage investment fund. So while markets and investors often believe technology is the big disruptive force, Edelhart sees things differently.

“I look at 1,500 or more start-ups each year, and people think technology is the big disruptor. But it’s not. Business model innovation is the big disruptor, because they lead to better economics. Better economics win, and tech is just one way to initiate better economics.”

While certainly valuable for investors, the SDI could be crucial for established businesses looking to innovate and adapt to market trends, as well as entrepreneurs seeking clarity into the viability of their ideas. In Edelhart’s view, the SDI will help us all understand “where change happens first, and where change happens the fastest.”

To learn more about Edelhart’s perspective on innovation, see his recent interview with Aaron Strout.

For more information on our SXW2O events and speakers, please visit our website:

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Earlier this week, Yammer announced Klout would become one of its 60 integration Yammerpartners, allowing employees to publish public Klout scores and areas of expertise to their profiles, and admins to set up internal scores based on employee activity. This is arguably the most visible announcement connecting social media influence and organizational communications. As such, there’s been a lot of speculation and discussion (the Mashable article alone has almost 2,000 shares).

Personally, I am not the biggest fan of Klout’s methodology in determining influence, as complete automation has significant limitations (fair disclosure: digital analytics is a WCG core competency, particularly influencer identification). But if this new feature gains significant traction, organizations wKloutill have to turn their ambassador/influencer programs inward on themselves, and realize the true value of analytics for internal communications.

So as Yammer nears 8 million registered users, the WCG Corporate & Strategy team proposed a few benefits, limitations, possibilities, concerns and questions surrounding the partnership between Yammer and Klout:

  • Group Director Vicky Lewko – The benefits depend on how companies roll out this new functionality, and the context that they provide. We work with companies measuring their employees’ social footprint as part of job performance metrics. It isn’t that far of a leap to see internal functions doing that as well.
  • Manager Stephen Yoon – This kind of high-profile partnership could be useful in shifting opinions of communicators to look toward analytics in internal comms, realizing something like this can be useful when developing internal engagement programs. That being said, I feel Klout scores have gaps and lack perspective, particularly around connections, and have the ability to be gamed by sheer volume. But the identification of subject matter expertise could prove valuable.
  • Director Jack LeMenager – Will the presence of Klout and employee awareness of it encourage or discourage involvement in internal social media? In some minds, it can impart the feel of Big Brother.
  • Associate Blair Mikels – I’m playing the healthy skeptic. To me, tweaking motivation to align purely with some sort of “score” isn’t promoting the quality of engagement between teams and individuals, just the quantity. I fear employees may begin posting just to keep themselves on the organization’s radar.
  • Managing Director Nancy Fitzsimmons – I think corporations and employees may see this as a double-edged sword. On one hand, an organization now has a lens into often hidden workforce interests and expertise. More cynically, many corporations remain fearful of how employees use social networks, and this could result in a rash of new policies and guidelines intended to protect the corporation, but having the unintended consequence of limiting employee speech and privacy.
  • Director Molly Rabinovitz – At first, employees may think: Why should I care about my Klout score … what does this do for me if it rises? But that’s not the issue. It’s culture. Companies need to drive the use of any desired platform through cultural change, helping employees recognize its value for their daily lives and business.
  • Global Analytics Director Andrew Tucker – Diplomatically speaking, increasing organizational awareness for the benefits of internal analytics to achieve business goals is a good thing – Klout notwithstanding.
  • Finally, Practice Leader Gary Grates posed the underlying question being considered by communicators everywhere: Will this new functionality help unlock the restraints currently placed on employees participating in social spaces? Will it allow for a whole new level of engagement, recognition and contribution?

What are your thoughts about the Yammer/Klout partnership? What kind of impact do you think it could have – positive or negative? Let us know in the comments.

Now, to sign off in the Yammer tradition: “I’m Adam Pedowitz. Today my Klout Score is 51. I’m influential about Social Media, Public Relations, Analytics and Beer.”

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It’s a good time to be a patient. I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the past few weeks as I’ve read story after story about patient empowerment, patient technology and, most inspiring to me, patient persistence.

I admit that we still have plenty of challenges and imperfections in health, especially in the United States. The elephants in the room – access, cost, reduced research funding – have all gotten bigger, and they may soon sit on the gains made on behalf of patients everywhere. But for now, I’m optimistic that patients won’t allow these challenges to stop them.

Here are four reasons why patients should be hopeful, and why physicians, health companies and regulatory agencies are adapting and growing to meet their needs:

  1. The FDA has a patient web site: Haven’t heard of it? It’s called simply the Patient Network. Launched last week, it offers patients and caregivers a simple, navigable tool to have their voices heard and questions answered. In the past, the only patient outreach I’d seen from FDA was allowing patients to comment at advisory committee meetings. This is a big step forward. The proof will be in how FDA engages patients, and if it can expand this content onto the social media channels patients are already using.
  2. Roni Zeiger wants to combine a clinical trials search engine with social networking for cancer. It’s like Google getting together with the ClinicalTrials.Gov and the best cancer patient forums out there: Haven’t heard of Romi Zeiger? I hadn’t either. Romi was the chief health strategist at Google. Now he’s working to create Smart Patients, a web site that will let cancer patients and caregivers – already extremely knowledgeable about their disease and treatment – learn from each other and let the healthcare system learn from them. The idea is exciting and has people talking. It’s made even more exciting by the fact that Zeiger’s co-founder created the Association of Cancer Online Resources (ACOR). Haven’t heard of ACOR? It’s one of the most widely used patient e-mail listservs for all kinds of cancers, allowing patients to share tips about treatments and ask questions about anything on their minds when it comes to cancer.
  3. Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellmann wants physicians to let patients make their job better: Dr. Desmond-Hellmann is Chancellor at the University of San Francisco California School of Medicine. She knows physicians are under tremendous pressure and that the health care system is “stressing out the very people we need the most from.” To solve it, she says patient advocates can help expand access to medicines, and that “important, transformative things happen only because patient advocates and patients had a seat at the table.” But even if patients have a seat at the table, it’s not enough. She says patients have to drive their care and create a new social contract where patients supply big data for the greater good. It’s a tall order and may take time, but this social contract could offer something game-changing in how patients are cared for. Take the time to watch her TEDMED talk. You’ll be glad you did.
  4. Natalie Stack’s wish is close to coming true. She has her parents and committed researchers to thank: The New York Times has the inspiring story of Natalie Stack. When she was 12, Natalie’s birthday wish was for her disease to vanish. Ten years after making the wish, she’s still alive. Natalie’s parents started a foundation to develop a new medicine for nephropathic cystinosis, a rare genetic disease that, if untreated, typically destroys the kidneys after only ten years. Even a kidney transplant may not help, and the disease is often fatal. Just last week, the FDA approved this new treatment, showing what’s possible when patients and caregivers don’t give up on progress. There will certainly be challenges over the cost of the drug, but the progress deserves to be recognized.



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Through our partnership with Sharecare, WCG has had the opportunity to shed light on important conversations related to health and wellness in the U.S., and the people driving those conversations. With this month’s release of the SharecareNow 10 – Nutrition, we’ve identified individuals who are exploring and developing new frontiers to help people live healthier lives. Coinciding with National Nutrition Month®, this list highlights the inspirational leaders igniting and sustaining a movement to make nutrition education a part of everyday life.

Beyond the names – from big-time celebrities to doctors and registered dietitians – it’s fascinating to see how this group illustrates the integration of online and offline influence. Taking “influence” as a measurement of their ability to drive share of conversation about nutrition, these individuals have complimented their publishing/television properties, grassroots campaigns and individual patient interaction, with strong digital engagement.

As social media, digital activation and engagement become recurring buzzwords impacting business decisions, it’s worth noting that influence does not exist solely in the vacuum of online. As we see in the list below, the ability to inspire, foster and engage in meaningful conversations is only enhanced when the online and offline worlds collide.

To learn more about these individuals driving conversation about nutrition, check out the interactive infographic on Sharecare:

#1 Andrew Weil, MD SharecareNow 10 Nutrition


#2 Jamie Oliver

#3 Nanci Hellmich

#4 Tara Parker-Pope, Well – New York Times

#5 Mitzi Dulan, RD


#6 Nicole German, RD

#7 Lisa Lillien

#8 Rebecca Scritchfield, RD

#9 Michael Pollan

#10 William Davis, MD

Disclaimer: WCG works with a number of healthcare and pharmaceutical companies, including some that may provide information, programs or treatments around nutrition. These clients have not participated in the SharecareNow 10 analysis. Sharecare is a client of WCG.

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Julie HanksThanks to the SXSW Interactive conference here in Austin, TX, I had the pleasure of meeting with one of the top online voices in mental health education, licensed therapist Julie Hanks, LCSW. Julie participated on an intriguing panel called Online Therapy … Naked?, where she discussed the intersection of technology and serving mental health patients.

While in town, I asked Julie to share her thoughts on a few questions about how technology, particularly social media, is changing the landscape of mental health practice and patient participation:

As a licensed therapist, what are your thoughts about mental health patients entering the more public forums of conversation, especially through social media?

Common for mental health patients is a sense of isolation and being alone in their struggles. Social media and other online forums provide amazing opportunities for patients get support and connect with others who are experiencing similar mental health challenges. Developing a supportive online community can act as a way help to normalize their feelings, and provide helpful information, advice and advocacy. There can be amazing therapeutic benefits in conversing with other patients who have “been there.” Social media enables patients to immediately share information that is helpful to them with others, which is empowering. Feeling empowered is good for mental health.

We want our suffering and our experiences to matter. In my life and clinical practice, I’ve seen many clients express a desire to educate and advocate and provide hope for others who share their struggles:

  • A young adult woman recovering from eating disorders seeks out opportunities to speak to teens about her experience and promote healthy body image.
  • A mother with a severely mentally ill child joins the local National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) to offer education other families impacted by mental illness.
  • A woman with two children who have autism reaches out to offer child care to a new neighbor who has a child with autism.

Are you observing any shifts in the ways mental health practitioners and patients interact online?

While therapists still need to guard against development of dual relationships (relationships outside of the therapy office) with their specific clients, I’m seeing a shift in the way mental health practitioners and patients interact online in terms of sharing educational information. An increasing number of therapists and patients are blogging about mental health. While most therapists are sharing professional opinions as experts, the first-person experiences of mental health patient bloggers allows for another kind of expert, with the sharing of information and offering patients an unprecedented voice.

Let’s be BOLD! Tell us what you think your industry will look like in 10 years.

While I think that face-to-face interaction will never be replaced by digital interaction, I think that in 10 years we will be doing a lot more interaction online between providers and patients, especially on mobile devices.

It is astounding to me that in 2012 many mental health therapists don’t have websites. I predict that it will be impossible to have a thriving mental health practice without a website and a strong online professional presence. There is a growing mentality among the public that if I can’t find you on Google, you don’t exist. The number one online referral source to my Wasatch Family Therapy website is … Google. And the number 2 referral source is Facebook! A strong online presence and effective social media use is the only way I’ve been able to build a solo private practice from one to 12 therapists.

In 10 years I hope mental health graduate training programs will have business and marketing classes that include technology education, like how to build an online presence, how to understand SEO, what makes an effective practice website, and how to build a Twitter following. Social workers, in particular, are known for their grass roots efforts. Social media allows for the largest grass roots advocacy and education we’ve ever seen. With the push of a button one person can send a compelling message or call-to-action to millions.

I can’t even comprehend the technological advances we will see and their impact on mental health therapy. My guess is that computer simulated interactive worlds, like Second Life, will be used increasingly used for therapeutic purposes, therapist client interactions, group therapy, exposure therapy, and role playing real life situations. The American Psychological Association’s current issue of The Monitor explores virtual environments and their promising application to the field of psychology. I think there is amazing potential to merge gaming and mental health treatment, particularly with children and adolescents.

In addition, the potential for helpful mental health mobile apps is astounding. How amazing would it be to have apps that give feedback to couples when they start emotionally escalating in conversations on what to do to intervene before the fight gets heated. What about an app where mental health providers can type a daily affirmation, a patient homework reminder, or other message to specific clients sent in-between sessions as added support service. If there are any developers out there who want to collaborate, please let me know!

To learn more about Julie Hanks, here are some of the ways you can follow her:


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Yesterday marked the official end of American Heart Month, the national initiative to drive awareness about heart health and cardiovascular disease – the leading cause of death in the United States. Looking back, it’s interesting to see how this national awareness month affected conversation and behavior online. Examining Twitter specifically*:

  • At least 4,918 tweets used the hash tag #HeartMonth (an 86% increase over 2011 activity)
    • 12% of these tweets occurred on Feb 1
    • The second-highest activity date was Feb 3, driven by Heart Month posts/articles from @LeeDeWyze of American Idol fame)
    • The total tweet reach (based on followers) was 16,282,190
  • Most popular handles tweeting this hash tag:
  • Other popular hash tags within these tweets:
    • #heart
    • #heartdisease
    • #hearthealth
    • #GoRed
    • #twibbon (a support badge for Twitter profile avatars)
    • #wellwomenSharecareNow 10 - Heart Disease

On February 21, WCG joined Sharecare in launching the SharecareNow 10 – Heart Disease to recognize those authors who were contributing to and driving the online conversation around heart disease (and much of the above statistics). We thought it would be interesting to catch up with these influencers and see what they were up to during Heart Month:

#1 American Heart Association,
An unmistakable leader in the fight against heart disease (and the driver behind Heart Month), the American Heart Association was highly active on Twitter and Facebook, syndicating relevant information and directly engaging with followers. They even encouraged followers to suggest songs to be included in their “AHA Love Songs” playlist on Pandora. On its website, the AHA also showcased various initiatives, including the Go Red for Women campaign (“more women die of heart disease than all forms of cancer combined”), and Teaching Gardens (“… a new approach in the fight against childhood obesity”).

#2 Shelley Wood,
Shelly Wood remained busy on Twitter throughout February (further syndicated through her publication’s handle @theheartorg). She also reported on industry news, producing an article (on Valentine’s Day) regarding a study of vitamin-D supplementation and its cardiovascular effects, prompting commentary on the meaning of the study results.

#3 Larry Husten, CardioBrief
Larry Husten posted 24 articles to CardioBrief throughout the month, covering FDA approvals, new biomedical and pharmaceutical offerings, study results and other industry news. He also included guest posts from Tom Yates of Sick Populations and Edward J. Schloss, MD. One of Larry’s more fascinating pieces cited a new study suggesting the Y chromosome might explain why men have earlier coronary disease.

#4 Richard N. Fogoros, M.D., – Heart Disease
With 9 posts on in February, Dr. Fogoros kept his readers up-to-date on new studies and information about subjects from sleep deprivation and heart disease to mitral stenosis. One standout piece was his breakdown of a study on how heart attack symptoms are often different for women, subsequently leading to increased risks.

#5 Chris Kaiser, MedPage Today
Chris Kaiser kicked off his February with coverage of the International Stroke Association, producing a number articles including one on the association of stroke and sleep apnea. Also, while not highly active on Twitter, his February activity did increase 500% over January.

#6 Carolyn Thomas, Heart Sisters
Though enduring the loss of her mother (and our thoughts are with her and her family), Carolyn provided 8 posts throughout the month, including a particularly thoughtful and informative piece: “Six rules for navigating your next doctor’s appointment”.

#7 Stephen Sinatra, Dr. Sinatra’s Healthy Heart Blog
Dr. Sinatra decided to start February by driving awareness about heart health, a post shared more than 350 times on Facebook. In all, he posted a total of 15 times throughout the month on his Healthy Heart Blog,

#8 Tara Parker-Pope, Well – New York Times
With a broad range of topic areas related to health, Tara Parker-Pope and the New York Times Well Blog were highly relevant and engaged throughout the month. Her stories during February ranged from statin safety to healthy recipes, closing the month out with a piece on some new safety alerts for cholesterol drugs.

#9 Deepak Chopra, The Huffington Post
Always incredibly active on numerous online channels – across a number of topics – Deepak Chopra also published a series of three blog posts on what he calls “higher health,” through which individuals can learn to gain control of their bodies.

#10 Michael O’Riordan –
Similar to Shelley Wood – his counterpart on this list – Michael O’Riordan was active during the month of February. Perhaps most fascinating were his pieces on why cardiac death risk is highest in early morning, and how retired NFL players have lower mortality and cardio vascular disease rates … well, at least the smaller players.

If there’s one thing for certain, these individuals and organizations will continue conversation about heart health and cardiovascular disease throughout 2012 … even without the push of American Heart Month.

Bob Pearson & Adam Pedowitz

(*Source: Radian6 data)

Disclaimer: WCG works with a number of pharmaceutical companies, including some that provide treatments for heart disease. These clients have not participated in the SharecareNow 10 analysis. Sharecare is a client of WCG.

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Studies have shown around 3.75 million Americans potentially suffer from Shift Work Sleep Disorder (SWSD), a medical condition typically diagnosed among workers of non-traditional hours. That’s around 1% of the U.S. population.

With WCG’s experience in the healthcare industry, we work with companies that provide treatments, devices and other products indicated for hundreds of health conditions each year. But it’s still humbling to learn about a condition like SWSD that affects so many people, and yet so few know they suffer from it.

For greater context, individuals suffering from SWSD typically work rotating shifts, the night shift or on irregular schedules (in other words, not 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.), often resulting in excessive sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, headaches and lack of energy. These can develop into more serious conditions such as insomnia or depression, or even result in serious accidents on the job.

To help shine a light on this issue, SharecareNow, powered by WCG published the SharecareNow 10: Shift Work Sleep Disorder, identifying the most prominent online influencers addressing SWSD and other sleep disorders within shift work industries:

  1. Dr. Michael J. Breus, SharecareNow 10: Shift Work Disorder
  2. Brandon Peters, M.D., – Sleep
  3. American Academy of Sleep Medicine, Sleep Education Blog
  4. Lisa Shives, Sleep Better Blog
  5. Cleveland Clinic,
  6. National Sleep Foundation,
  7. Deborah Kotz, – Daily Dose
  8. Anahad O’Connor, New York Times – The Well Blog
  9. Dr. Steven Y. Park,
  10. Dr. Catherine Darley, Naturopathic Sleep Medicine Blog

These experts and organizations expose a shift in how patients are seeking resources and information on how to treat their health conditions. In addition to relying on primary care or specialist physicians, patients are increasingly taking an active role in their treatment, seeking out numerous sources of information. And, in the case of chronic or long-term conditions, they’re following regular sources of relevant content like blogs, forums, news and Q&A platforms, and ultimately becoming a more informed patient.

So whether those suffering from SWSD read an article from Anahad O’Connor, or follow Dr. Breus’s blog, or research the condition on, these influencers have the ability to help patients find the right information, learn how to apply it, and finally receive the support they need.

With the SharecareNow 10 series of influencer lists, the focus is on sharing insights in a way that the average person can benefit and improve their health in a meaningful way. This is how health will be transformed.

Bob Pearson & Adam Pedowitz

Disclaimer: WCG works with a number of pharmaceutical companies, including some that provide treatments for shift work sleep disorder. These clients have not participated in this analysis.

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