The learning continues at a fast pace at the Baylor, Scott & White Digital Summit.  In our technology innovations panel this afternoon, we were joined by Chris Raps, VP & Americas Sales Director at NASDAQ; Beth Meyer, Director Strategic Marketing, Greatbatch; Colin McCarthy, senior manager of business development, Witricity; and Jeroen Brouwer, Marketing, Sales and Business Development Director, Philips.  Here are the key insights I heard as moderator of the panel.

#1 – Security and important paperwork lead to online solutions – we can’t afford to leave board books out in the open or the results of a formulary meeting or any other sensitive topic.  We can share content, do surveys, hold Q&As and basically operate with full security if we work with new, leading-edge solutions like NASDAQ has created for boards of directors.  I have to say that I never realized NASDAQ did more than run their exchange… we know they are very aligned with the interests of healthcare leaders.

#2 – We can power devices in new ways – Witricity and Greatbatch explained to us the power of wireless energy transfer.  Imagine having a pacemaker and it can be charged wirelessly via a simple wireless energy transfer device. Yes, this technology can allow us to get rid of annoying cords for our computer devices, but it is the impact it can have on medical devices and machines that is of highest interest for the future.

#3 – The last mile is happening – Jeroen talked about how Philips is innovating in home care, telehealth, remote patient monitoring and other key areas that all move care closer to the patient.  This is all part of a move to connect patients to the health system when and where they need it.

#4 – The automated coach – it’s getting more real for us to get coached in an individualized way, based on information received from the devices we use.  How we use devices can help us learn about behavior, how we are doing vs. our goals, how we can learn to change an important process or we can just get a personalized message.

#5 – The biggest hurdles in healthcare – Beth said it is the time to market and the cost associated with it.  In particular, she focused on the importance of achieving adoption of technology, which is driven by innovative value and personal experience.  Chris echoed that user experience also matters and, in the case of NASDAQ, being HIPAA compliant as well.   Jeroen said it is adoption.  He said that if you have the right proposition that can prove outcomes, then the health system will adopt your product.

And I would like to end with a quick summary of key insights from emerging companies that presented today. Here are a few insights.

Bloom Technologies provides data to inform prenatal health decisions.  What I did not know is that we spend $26 billion per year in the U.S. taking care of pre-term babies.  There are 15 million pre-term births each year and it is the #1 killer of children under 5 years of age.  Bloom Technologies is exploring how to improve this situation.

The U.S. average wait time to see a dermatologist is 29 days, something that 3Derm Systems takes very seriously to decrease wait times for patients and costs for doctors. They believe telemedicine can become the new standard of care

SwipeSense imagines a day where we have “hand cleanliness accountability”. We know how important it is to keep our hands clean, particularly in medical situations.

Echo Pixel believes medical imaging is incomplete, so they are building a 3D solution for physicians to see clinical situations, like atrial fibrillation. More clarity, better outcomes is the idea.  They want professionals to interact with patient images in an open 3D space.

Quartet Health is focused on behavioral health conditions. They are matching patients to behavioral health networks and helping both stay on track of the healthcare plan. This can reduce expenses across the board.  Their goal is to build a collaborative behavioral and physician health ecosystem.

Eko Devices believes it is time to create a next generation, bluetooth enabled stethoscope that decreases/eliminates pathogens, includes telehealth applications and transfers data.

Tute Genomics is focused on whole genome sequencing. They believe every patient needs an answer and time makes a difference to know what to do and their goal is to bring genome analysis to the masses.

AliveCor develops mobile technology for heart health.

WiserTogether is delivering solutions in which clinicians and patients communicate together using the best available evidence when faced with the task of making a decision.

Senscio Systems combines sensor development with artificial intelligence technologies to built intelligent systems to transform data into knowledge for decision making.

Proteus has created a sensor-enabled pill, a small wearable patch, and applications that can be accessed via mobile devices and other computers by patients and healthcare providers. Called Proteus Discover, it directly measures medication-taking and physiologic metrics to support patient self-management and to help physicians and care teams optimize therapy

And Rimidi has a diabetes management platform to empower providers and engage individuals to more successfully manage this disease.

Learn more about W2O Group:  About  Work  Contact

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The two most disruptive and important industries that shape our society are healthcare and technology.  They are drivers of the world’s economy and how we live our lives.

Today, at the Baylor Scott & White Digital Health Summit we heard from Dr. Nick Van Terheyden, Chief Medical Officer of Dell; Dr. Sean Kelly, Chief Medical Officer of Imprivata; Fred Trotter, Founder of Careset and Alan Minney, North America Mobile Practice leader for IBM talk about what is changing the face of healthcare. Here are the highlights:

#1 – We have a long way to go – medical errors are the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S., we have 387 million people who have diabetes worldwide and 44 million people with some form of cancer.  We have a tremendous opportunity for technology and health experts to make a difference.

#2 – Our healthcare information needs to be available when we want it – as Sean Kelly said, we don’t talk about tele-banking, we just go online to get our banking information.  But in health, we talk about tele-medicine and make it sound mysterious.  As Nick added, “we don’t online, we live online”.  It is time for our health information to be available to us 365.

#3 – We need to build smart filters, not worry about big data – Nick pointed out that we can harness data of virtually any type today. That’s not the issue. Rather, we need to be focused on building the right filtering mechanisms so we get the information we need when we need it…..without any noise.

#4 – What is AI and how is it meaningful? – Alan described the importance of AI, Watson and IBM’s commitment to health right up through their CEO, Ginni Rometty.  Powerful.  Nick pointed out and the panel agreed that artificial intelligence (AI) won’t replace medical providers or what humans do today.  Instead, it will provide “augmented intelligence” and help us serve patients more effectively.

#5 – Failure is at the heart of innovation – lest we forget, Sean reminded us that “failure is the heart of innovation”.  Alan said it another way when he was discussing mobile technology and encouraged the audience to simply try….try pilots, dive in the river.  We have to try, fail, repeat and then succeed.  Technology and medicine are similar in this regard, as is science overall. It’s iterative innovation that really leads to breakthroughs.

#6 – Experience matters…alot – a great lesson for the technology industry was emphasized by the panel.  You have to work on the front lines with providers if you want to create innovation that matters.  Great ideas won’t get formed in conference rooms. The real insights will occur in medical clinics and labs.  Important reminder for all innovators.

And on this topic, I spoke with Dr. Peter Dysert, who is Chief of Pathology at Baylor Scott & White Health.  He makes a great point that there are really three fundamental ways to improve healthcare and the world of medical providers.  They are:

Communications – improve and facilitate our ability to communicate.

Habits – make the right thing to do the easiest thing to do.

Informed Decision Making – just show me what I need to see.

If every company and entrepreneur worked against Dr. Dysert’s filter, we would accelerate innovation far faster.

#7 – CMS and HHS are changing the rules – Fred illustrated for us how rules are changing in a mature industry in many ways, but one example was very impactful.  CMS and HHS are changing the rules of healthcare due to the Affordable Care Act in an unprecedented and untrackable manner.  And what this means is that we have to be on our toes to understand the changes, adapt to new rules and still provide the best care possible.  We’ve never had a more important time to being pay full attention to how government is evolving our world of care.

#8 — Apple & IBM have partnered for 100+ healthcare apps – two of the world’s leading companies are investing the time to partner and build apps for 14 industries, including healthcare.  We need this type of applied knowledge from world leaders, but don’t forget point #6, IBM and Apple.

#9 — Improving the knowledge of all doctors can improve outcomes – Fred said it well when he said “what are the problems that the lowest ranked doctor in your healthcare system today and can AI help this doctor”?  In other words, we really can improve care via augmented intelligence.  We just need to ensure that habits change to accept it.

#10 – Simulations matter – Sean said that we should not be reaching for sexy technology.  We should, however, be running simulations to understand how to use technology more effectively.  Dr. Dysert made an analogy to airline pilots. They do technology simulations constantly, so they know what to do on the spot. It’s becoming time for medical providers to do simulations with this level of intensity.

Overall, this panel is a great example of how healthcare and technology are learning together in a manner that, quite frankly, didn’t happen years ago.  It’s time for us all to keep intensifying our knowledge sharing, since patients are waiting……and always will be….for us to collectively transform healthcare.

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W2O Group is excited to partner with Baylor Scott & White Health (BSWH) to launch their inaugural Digital Summit in Austin, TX today! The event was dreamed up as a way to connect executives at the BSWH with innovators across multiple industries to inspire them to improve patient and physician experiences by utilizing innovative technologies.

The summit will consist of speaker panels featuring proven innovators, health startups pitching for an accelerated path to a pilot at BSWH and an interactive session featuring hands on demos of innovative technologies changing the healthcare world.

To give you an idea of the companies participating in the summit, we asked a few of them to share some thoughts on what they would want the world to know about their organization and their work.

If you missed our first post be sure to read up on the other amazing organizations participating the summit.


SwipeSense is the simplest hand hygiene monitoring system in the world. Our sensors work with existing dispensers, don’t require any hard wiring and provide individual accountability around hand hygiene. To date, SwipeSense has collected millions of data points in compliance and demonstrated significant improvement to patient safety across the US.

Hospitals have always struggled with their Hospital-Acquired Infection rates (HAI’s), and now their bottom line is under threat as well. A recent change in Medicare reimbursements pegged 1% of reimbursements directly to HAI rates, with 758 hospitals penalized in 2016.

The easiest way to decrease these infections is to increase hand hygiene compliance among staff members, and hospitals currently rely on pen and paper based methods to change their rates.

Manual observation is highly inefficient and costs hospitals thousands of hours of additional work, often with little to no results. SwipeSense transforms that by creating a sensor network around hand hygiene. The system keeps track of room entries and exits, along with hand hygiene rates for individuals to improve compliance. It is cheaper to implement than the current pen and paper method, with significantly better outcomes for patient safety.

3Derm Systems, Inc.

3Derm provides a teledermatology triage system that expedites appointments for the most urgent consults while screening out benign concerns. The system enables providers to capture a full complement of diagnostic quality two-dimensional and three-dimensional images at primary care and automatically delivers these images via cloud-based software to in-network dermatologists for remote review and follow-up.

In a study conducted at UMass Memorial Medical Center (Worcester, MA), dermatologists identified an equivalent number of skin cancers using images acquired by the 3Derm system, as compared to in-person visits. Additionally, 70% of patients with benign conditions were identified at the point of primary care, dramatically reducing unnecessary referrals to dermatology.

Today, the average wait time to see a dermatologist has ballooned to 29 days, with patients on Medicaid or in certain areas of the country often waiting more than 100 days. (1) As one of the fastest metastasizing cancers, reducing the average wait time for melanoma diagnoses can result in a significant decrease in mortality.(2)

Based on current clinical use data, 3Derm projects millions of dollars of potential cost savings for large-scale fee-for-value health systems. These savings are delivered through reducing the number of in-person visits for patients with benign conditions, keeping patients in-network, detecting melanoma earlier, and improving patient satisfaction scores.

“We wanted to become the standard of care, not just an alternate telemedicine option for extreme cases. That meant measuring up to an in-person dermatologist,” explains 3Derm CEO, Elizabeth Asai. “After years of clinical testing, we are proud to present a solution tailored to the needs of health systems that exceeds this gold standard, while keeping the patient’s existing local care network intact.”

Based on current clinical use data, 3Derm projects millions of dollars of potential cost savings for large-scale fee-for-value health systems. These savings are delivered through reducing the number of in-person visits for patients with benign conditions, keeping patients in-network, detecting melanoma earlier, and improving patient satisfaction scores.

“We wanted to become the standard of care, not just an alternate telemedicine option for extreme cases. That meant measuring up to an in-person dermatologist,” explains 3Derm CEO, Elizabeth Asai. “After years of clinical testing, we are proud to present a solution tailored to the needs of health systems that exceeds this gold standard, while keeping the patient’s existing local care network intact.”

References: (1) Merritt Hawkins; (2) Annals, The Royal College of Surgeons of England

Quartet Health 

Quartet is a healthcare technology company that partners with primary care and behavioral health providers to ensure patients receive the care they need to get better. By bringing primary and behavioral healthcare providers together and improving patient outcomes via innovative care technology, Quartet is changing the state of behavioral healthcare in America.

Quartet gives primary care practices access to a host of behavioral resources for their patients through its platform. The company also curates a network of local behavioral health providers and provides technology-accessible, convenient access channels like telepsychiatry, online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and peer support, to patients.

The New York-based company recently raised a $40 million Series B led by GV (formerly Google Ventures), marking the first time GV has invested in a mental health startup. Additionally, the company welcomed the Honorable Patrick Kennedy, author of The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (2008) in Congress, to its Board in late 2015. Quartet currently works with a number of leading health plans and health systems throughout the country.

We are thrilled to be surrounded by organizations that are passionate about bettering healthcare and that are fueled by innovative people!


Learn more about W2O Group:  About  Work  Contact

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W2O Group is excited to partner with Baylor Scott & White Health (BSWH) to launch their inaugural Digital Summit in Austin, TX today! The event was dreamed up as a way to connect executives at the BSWH with innovators across multiple industries to inspire them to improve patient and physician experiences by utilizing innovative technologies.

The summit will consist of speaker panels featuring proven innovators, health startups pitching for an accelerated path to a pilot at BSWH and an interactive session featuring hands on demos of innovative technologies changing the healthcare world.

To give you an idea of the companies participating in the summit, we asked a few of them to share some thoughts on what they would want the world to know about their organization and their work.

Greatbatch  & Witricity 

Wireless data transmission has become ubiquitous in our daily lives, yet we continue to struggle with power cords and power transfer limitations. Unlike the consumer electronics and automotive industries, where wireless energy is reaching an inflection point, the healthcare industry has yet to harness its potential.  With over 51 million surgeries taking place annually in US operating rooms that are frequently challenged with a tangle of procedure hampering cords, significant opportunity exists to apply wireless to untether the healthcare space for physicians and their patients, enabling therapy delivery with fewer limitations.

The time is now for the development of wireless power transfer, which holds the potential to improve how healthcare is delivered in myriad ways. For example, many of today’s active medical implantable devices are large, require several hours to recharge, and have limitations due to the efficiency and level of power that can be delivered.  Wireless power transfer will enable these devices to become much smaller, expanding surgical approach options for physicians, allowing deeper implantations and higher power levels, as well as eliminating the need for follow-on battery replacement surgery in some applications. Patients will experience improved comfort with easier charging.

Another area of potential improvement includes operating rooms and surgical tools. Today, surgical tools either utilize large rechargeable batteries or are tethered to an unwieldy cord that frequently tangles, presents tripping hazards, poses an increased infection risk and can negatively affect the ergonomics of the tool.  With wireless energy transfer, surgical tools will utilize smaller batteries or none at all, making them much easier to handle and increasing usability while eliminating time spent managing cords. These improvements may ultimately improve performance, shorten procedure times and positively impact patient outcomes.

Finally, significant opportunity exists to enhance the medical experience for patients, who often seem “wrapped” in cords.  One particularly poignant example of this involves a mother who was unable to hold her newborn in the NICU due to the cord web surrounding him.  And while it’s not a panacea, embedding the technology in a range of monitors, often in concert with wireless data, could significantly lessen the physical ties encumbering a patient.

Power and disruptive innovation are core to Greatbatch’s roots. Wilson Greatbatch, the co-inventor of the first successful implantable pacemaker, founded the company in 1970 to develop long-lived batteries to fuel life-saving/life-enhancing medical devices. Today, Greatbatch is one of the largest medical device outsource (MDO) manufacturers in the world, providing innovative, high quality medical technologies for the cardiac, neuromodulation, orthopedics, vascular, advanced surgical and portable medical markets. Our vision is to enhance the lives of patients worldwide by being our customers’ partner of choice for innovative medical technologies and services. We believe that advancing wireless energy is central to achieving this vision, as it will bring transformational change to healthcare and empower physicians, healthcare professionals and their patients. Together with WiTricity and our partners we look forward to building the wireless surgical suite, patient room and therapy and mobility devices of the future.

Spot On Sciences

Spot On Sciences, Inc. develops and markets innovative medical devices to improve collection and storage of biological fluids for medical testing. The premier product, HemaSpot™,  is a simple to use device for self sampling and robust storage/shipping of blood samples at room temperature. HemaSpot™ uses a finger stick to collect and dry blood within a protective cartridge which can be easily mailed to a medical test site for analysis.

80% of healthcare decisions are based on diagnostic testing, but costs only 2% of total healthcare expenditures. Precision medicine is highly dependent on personalized medical testing and thus improvements in diagnostic testing has been targeted as one of top requirements for improving health and reducing healthcare costs.

However, current methods for getting a blood sample by phlebotomy is outmoded, costly, inefficient and highly inconvenient and difficult for patients- especially for homebound, elderly and patients in remote areas.

 Spot On Sciences enables a new model for collecting blood samples and generating health data:  move the sample instead of requiring the patient or the lab to move.  Our new blood collection devices HemaSpot, makes blood sample collection and transport very easy and efficient and delivers a high-quality sample to a lab for detection of numerous markers for infectious disease and health status.  Mobilizing blood samples and delivering data by mobile phone offers a simple but powerful method for increasing access to health information, especially for remote or low resource areas.

HemaSpot, an innovative and easy to use device, enables a blood sample to be self-collected from any location and at any time.  Using a finger stick by lancet, two drops of blood are applied to the HemaSpot device and the blood wicks into a pre-cut absorbent paper.  The cartridge is then snapped closed and the blood is dried by a desiccant within the cartridge, leaving the sample stable at ambient temperature with no refrigeration or cold chain requirements.  The enclosed cartridge prevents sample contamination and reduces biohazard risk from downstream handling; the robust cartridge can literally be run over by a truck and dropped into water without damage.  Sample collection takes less than 5 minutes and is immediately ready for transport to a lab – via mail, dropbox, or even by drone – for analysis.

Two devices are currently on the market:  HemaSpot-HF for whole blood and HemaSpot-SE for separated blood (cells separated from plasma) from a fingerstick.

By making it easy and convenient for consumers to provide a blood sample, access to medical testing is improved for the entire population and especially for underserved populations such as elderly, home bound, low income and from remote areas.  For healthcare providers, having timely and increased access to test results could significantly improve diagnosis and improve patient health.  The HemaSpot blood collection device is a simple tool and solution that can revolutionize medical testing and allow us to realize the promise of precision and personalized medicine.


Imprivata, the healthcare IT security company, provides healthcare organizations globally with a security and identity platform that delivers authentication management, fast access to patient information, secure communications, and positive patient identification. In healthcare, it all starts with the patient and their protected health information (PHI), so healthcare organizations go through extraordinary means to put IT security systems in place – designed to keep PHI in, but not let it out – creating barriers to protect PHI such as complex passwords and security policies that impede workflow.

Imprivata removes those barriers, allowing care providers to securely and efficiently ACT: Access, Communicate, and Transact PHI to address critical compliance and security challenges while improving productivity and the patient experience. With Imprivata solutions, hospitals can correctly identify patients at registration and providers can access PHI conveniently on-site or at home, communicate PHI using multiple devices, and transact PHI for important clinical workflows, including electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS) order signing and medical device access.

Imprivata offers a platform of security products designed to enable healthcare to ACT with patient information both securely and with conveniently, including:

  • Imprivata PatientSecure, the biometric patient identification platform that positively identifies patients using palm vein recognition, creating a 1:1 link between a patient and their health record across multiple systems. PatientSecure improves patient safety and minimizes patient identification mistakes and duplicate medical records that traditional oral and paper-based patient identification methods cause.
  • Imprivata OneSign, an enterprise-level single sign-on (SSO) and virtual desktop access solution that streamlines desktop roaming and automates access in one seamless, secure system. OneSign improves provider productivity and eliminates the user frustration, time inefficiencies, and security issues that password-heavy access systems cause.
  • Imprivata Cortext, a secure, integrated communications platform for healthcare. Cortext improves care coordination by replacing the inefficiencies of pagers and solving the security and compliance issues that unsecure texting practices cause.
  • Imprivata Confirm ID, the comprehensive identity and two-factor authentication platform for remote access, EPCS, medical device access, and other clinical authentication workflows. Confirm ID offers the broadest and most flexible range of authentication options to eliminate the barriers to transacting patient information that traditional authentication technologies cause.

We are so excited to learn and be inspired by the companies that will be participating in the summit. Check back soon to learn about the additional companies that will be participating in today’s summit!


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Greg Matthews Cropped CopyWelcome to another Going. Ahead. With Gage interview! I had the privilege of interviewing the founder and Managing Director of MDigitalLife, Greg Matthews, who shared insight on being a leader and how his team operates. I hope you all gain some valuable insights and enjoy the read!

What are you doing to ensure that W2O Group is at the cutting edge?

One of the things that I try to do is to make sure that we are always allowing ourselves time to do exploration. One of the things that was true when I walked in the door, before MDigitalLife existed, was that we were continuously working with our clients and really listening to them to understand their deepest business problems. We also made sure that we were focused on solving actual problems rather than coming up with solutions to something that didn’t exist.

My first year and a half here I basically followed Bob Pearson and Paul Dyer around really working on delivering the business they were selling to clients and I learned to ensure everything we do is based on a client’s need in their business. I also learned to make sure that you work with clients who are willing to do some experimentation with you if solutions don’t exist in the marketplace. It’s all about being able to do what we call pragmatic disruption of the status quo – those are the projects that we get a lot of value from and I luckily get to focus on a lot of work that fits into that space.

In a few words, describe what your team does for the company.

My team is focused on indexing the entire healthcare ecosystem online. Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information – we basically want to organize the digital presence of all the health stakeholders in the world. It’s a ridiculously crazy goal, but we want to know who every single doctor in the world is and where he or she lives online. We want to know every advocacy organization and every patient that states publicly that they are dealing with a condition. When we know who those people are, we can get incredibly deep intelligence about how the health system actually works, how doctors and patients are working together, how the media impacts their ability to receive the best care, and which advocacy organizations are positioned to help their members. That’s what we are focused on doing for the firm by indexing that data and making it meaningful.

Are you finding that more people are more interested in being online and talking to each other about health, or do you find that because it’s online people don’t trust it?

It’s been interesting to see because I’ve been working in this space since 2007. Back then we thought that there was no way anyone would share private health information online because it was too personal. That has proven to be completely wrong. In actuality, 80% of adults in the US go online for health information and more than 1/3 of them are considered online diagnosers. These people aren’t just looking for information, but they are actually making decisions about the care and the treatment that they seek. After many surveys and watching their behavior, we’ve found that their number one source of trusted information are physicians and physician practices. Being able to help patients connect to those doctors is a core foundation principle that MDigitalLife was built on.

Are you seeing a specific age range online?

I think it has less to do with age and more about what are your needs as a person who suffers from condition X.

It’s interesting because usually we think about online activity as being something young people are using, but when it’s around healthcare, it tends to be less the case. A lot of that is because the people having very engaged active dialogues tend to be people who had a chronic condition themselves or are caring for someone who does. The people who have chronic conditions or are caring for them are typically not young people – they are middle-aged people. Everyone thinks the online doctors we are tracking are probably all residents or med students when in reality, 70% of the doctors we track are over 40 and are well established in practice.

Thinking of your most successful current employees, what characteristics do they share?

The number one most important trait to work in our team and our firm is curiosity. You have to have something inside you that wants to know, that wants to push further, and that wants to turn over every stone to find the right solutions for our clients. People that can bring that enthusiasm and fire every day tend to do very well. It can actually make up for a lack of experience or a lack of skills if your brain is always working on how to solve the problem better, or find the answer that doesn’t seem findable.

How do you empower your employees to do their best possible work?

I have a personal goal to do work only I can do. In other words, to use my time in the most valuable possible way, I want to be sure that the people that work around me are not burdened by menial work. We have very specific skill sets on my team and I want them to focus on the things that really make us unique. If Kayla Rodriguez can spend an hour working on a given task, I want it to be a task that is going to move the needle 10X than something that will move it 1X. 

How do you encourage creative/innovative thinking within the organization?

One of the things I try to do is offer people the opportunity to work with me on client projects and have an exchange of value around that. What I mean is to take someone who is a really good account associate/manager, but has not done work in social, physician communications or some specific thing that I do. I make sure I have that person on the project so I can personally mentor and coach him/her to do those specific skills in exchange for their generalist skills for the rest of the team. It’s been really interesting doing it this way. Both parties come away knowing where they can be the most successful.

What is the most difficult leadership decision you’ve had to make in the recent past?

This is definitely the hardest question on here because it really forces you to think deeply. I think the hardest decision I’ve had to make was where software fits into my vision for MDigitalLife. For me, I feel as though I had to put the brakes on the process because it wasn’t going in a direction to meet the needs for our clients. That has been really hard because stopping is not something I like to do.

What did you learn from that experience?

The most important thing I’ve learned is to be true to my vision and that there comes a time when compromise is actually a bad thing. Generally, people working together, collaborating and compromising is a good thing, but there comes a time when it reaches diminishing returns and I missed it. If I had to do it over again I would have made a different decision in 2014 – I would have recognized that we were going down a path with our software that made sense for a few of our clients, but that didn’t meet the needs of our healthcare clients at all. We’ve lost a lot of time as a result, but I’ve also learned a lot of valuable lessons in the process that can be applied to the greater good of our firm and our clients.

For more information on MDigitalLife, please visit their website:

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Something unusual happened in Congress in early July — an overwhelming bipartisan approval for a health care bill. But despite the 344-77 vote for the 21st Century Cures Act, the increasingly vocal opposition from oft-quoted critics of pharmaceutical, biotech and device companies should be taken as a warning sign for advocates who want to see this measure become law.

The bill is designed to boost drug discovery and help get patients with rare diseases additional access to treatments and cures, mostly through various reforms of the FDA approval process as well as additional funding for the National Institutes of Health.  (The Regulatory Affairs Professional Society has done a terrific explainer for those who want to dive into the deep details.)

More than 700 groups, from the Alzheimer’s Association to the American Society for Clinical Oncology, to patient-focused rare disease groups to companies and trade associations in the pharmaceutical, biotech and devices spaces, support the Cures bill. That support has shown up in traditional spaces such as Capitol Hill visits, as well as digital campaigns on Facebook and Twitter (#Path2Cures, #Cures2015.)

As it should be, the focus of these efforts has been on the benefits for patients with challenging diseases. Even rank-and-file House members have gotten into the act, such as in this short video from Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI).

The critics emerge

Yet now with the bill headed to the Senate, that kind of organized support may be even more important. Media-friendly experts such as Rita Redberg, editor of JAMA Internal Medicine, and cardiologist Steve Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic, are being quoted in articles criticizing the Cures bill. The New York Times’s editorial board, often taking cues from the opposition groups, criticized the legislation last week, though it stopped short of saying the entire effort should be scrapped.

The challenge now for those who want to see the bill through the Senate – in addition to trying to avoid big arguments about petty differences as the process unfolds — is to continue to emphasize the real world impact the bill would make. Patients who could benefit from expanded access to “compassionate use” of drugs should be front and center. Groups who want to see “patient experience data” folded into regulatory decisions – because different patients may have different risk tolerances – should be talking more often. And, to reflect the widespread backing for increased research funding that is in the Cures bill (nearly $9 billion extra for the National Institutes of Health over the next five years), scientific experts should be explaining over and over the need for new discovery.

Where are the physicians?

A quick review of our MDigitalLife database—a validated list of U.S. doctors with digital footprints—suggests that physicians aren’t out in droves driving the conversation. That means some of the most trusted voices on the subject of medicine haven’t been heard from yet, and doctors could yet shape this debate. Communicators trying to line up new wrinkles for the continuing campaign to pass the Cures bill should consider engaging with physicians. As our colleague Greg Matthews has written, physicians are not only active on social media, they often influence news coverage.

Conversation about the Cures bill seems likely to spike again in mid-September, when a hearing or hearings could be held in Senate committees. We’ll continue to monitor and look for new and old voices influencing the debate as action develops over the fall. Senate leaders have signaled that they will write their own version of a Cures bill, which could extend the discussion about this legislation until early 2016.

Reporters covering the legislative process will likely focus on the lobbying effort and the political clout of the industries backing the bill. This makes the real world stories – and the use of paid, earned, shared and owned content online – even more important for a successful campaign in the months ahead. The next treatment or cure could be dependent on it.

By Gary Karr and Brian Reid

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TSOP CoverDownload The Social Oncology Project 2015 here

Starting in 2013, my colleagues and I have published an annual report called The Social Oncology Project. The past two years, we have looked across all digital communications and surfaced literally millions of online conversations that mention cancer. The results were heady proof that there was substantial discussion about cancer happening online.

But as we thought about The Social Oncology Project 2015, we realized that aggregating millions of cancer conversations was a more empty exercise. Not all voices in the online ecosystem are the same, and merely surfing though a digital tidal wave of information, tallying mentions, taught us little about who was having those conversations.
This year, we tried a different tack. The first part of this year’s report focuses on one specific subset of the conversation: doctors. Through our MDigitalLife database, we know which conversations online are coming from verified, practicing physicians. And while medical professionals make up a minority of the online population, their voices carry particular resonance.
The second part of the report looks at the way that the physician community intersects with other communities we have begun to define: the patient community, the media community, industry and advocacy communities. That offers another level of richness and takes us further away from a focus on brute volume. It’s fascinating to note those individuals who have outsized impact on a given community and a margin impact on another. Take Naoto Ueno from MD Anderson: he’s a veritable online rockstar among his peers and digitally savvy patients, but he’s almost entirely off the radar of the media.
Understanding how information flows–or doesn’t flow–among these communities is critically important, especially to communicators. We live in a world of information overload, and we are using more and more filters, conscious and unconscious, to deal with that overload. The Social Oncology Project, for the first time, has begun to map out one of the most important filters of all: who we listen to and who we engage with. This is a crucial first step, and we hope that it will help to understand the most effective ways to communicate about public health.
We welcome your feedback.

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Later this week, the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting will kick off. Earlier in the month, research from W2O Group was published by ASCO, examining the use of social media by physicians. It’s an endeavor that will be extended later this week when we release our third Social Oncology Project report.

Our research found, unsurprisingly, that there is a lot of chatter by physicians about cancer on Twitter.

Nearly 140,000 tweets mentioned one of dozens of cancer-related keywords, and more than 5,000 physicians took part in this rolling, public dialogue. But we should be well past the point of being amazed that physicians are taking to social media; it’s a rare professional organization that doesn’t see Twitter use as a key tool to educate physicians and other doctors. For both practice management and public health, engagement on platforms such as Twitter can no longer be ignored.

But in looking deeper, we found that all voices are not equal in conversations about cancer. While those 5,000 doctors all tweeted at least once, there was an elite group of 19 who recorded more than 1,000 cancer-related tweets over the course of the year. That’s a milestone that is impressive, but almost baffling: these are, generally, in-demand oncologists with demanding day jobs. Where are they finding the time to dash off dozens of tweets a week?

So we asked. And here are the answers.

website_photo[1]DR. DEANNA ATTAI, Assistant clinical professor of surgery at UCLA, president of American Society of Breast Surgeons:

We know there are huge knowledge gaps and we feel it’s our duty of sorts to try to close that. I think also for me–and this accounts for the volume–is that my audience is both patients/public and docs, where many docs don’t interact much with the patient communities. It’s a real challenge as I do have my true day job (patient care) as well as my new job (ASBrS president) but I just think it serves too great a need (perhaps an inflated sense of worth?) to just let it go. There is satisfaction is seeing patients have their questions answered, become empowered, and then get to witness them mentoring and educating others. And the the satisfaction for MD engagement is seeing docs transition from being social media skeptics to the “ah ha” moment when they recognize the value.

ago1KktK[1]DR. MICHAEL FISCH, Medical director of medical oncology for AIM Specialty Health:

I find that I am able to use twitter as a way to find useful information that cuts across broad topics in oncology. For example, given my interest in cross-cutting oncology topics, how else might I expect to keep up on this array of information? Twitter allows me to harness my colleagues to guide me, through their mentions and retweets, to high-value articles and influential pieces in the lay press. Of course, there is some initial “activation energy” that it takes to learn any new thing (like a new kind of smartphone), but once you have the basics figured out, things get very efficient.

7c2b2cf6756ab7535e0184962d9f6bea[1]DR. JACK WEST, Medical oncologist and founder/president of cancer education nonprofit GRACE:

The main motivation sharing information is that this is the information that I appreciate getting from other people. I have learned a lot from tweets I’ve come across, I want to share the things that I think are of value to other people. There have been many practical benefits as well, such as developing relationships with various thought leaders in oncology through twitter, finding at least one of the board members for GRACE (Sally Church) via Twitter, and even ultimately being selected as web editor for JAMA Oncology largely because of my online presence. But at the end of the day, the primary motivation is just to share information that you would want to receive yourself. We want to be valuable contributors to our community, in this case an online cancer community.

To track what Drs. Attai, Fisch, West (and thousands of other oncologists) will be discussing on Twitter during #ASCO15, please subscribe to W2O Group’s “Complete Response” newsletter, delivered every morning of the conference. Complete Response will curate and package the tweets and links most-shared by the most important group of ASCO attendees: oncologists. 

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NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Third paragraph of release should read: …as a part of the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) 51st Annual Meeting, which is taking place in Chicago from May 29 to June 2 (instead of …as a part of the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) 50th Annual Meeting, which is taking place in Chicago from May 30 to June 3).

“These new data show that social media is mainstream for a large number of oncologists. Social media use by cancer patients and oncology physicians has moved beyond early adopters and is increasing at scientific meetings”

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The corrected release reads:


— More than 5,000 Doctors Generated 138,000 Tweets About Cancer in 2014; Data to be Featured by #ASCO15 –

Much of the conversation among physicians on Twitter about cancer is driven by a small number of doctors, according to a new analysis of digital behavior of U.S. physicians that found that the top 1 percent of physician Twitter users, by volume, contributed more than a third of all tweets about cancer during 2014.

Physicians in the United States generate nearly 400 tweets a day about cancer on average—some 138,000 over the course of a year—but scientific meetings and awareness months can meaningfully boost the volume of conversation by as much as eightfold.

The analysis, based on MDigitalLife’s database of verified U.S. doctors and their Twitter handles, will be included as a publication-only abstract as a part of the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) 51st Annual Meeting, which is taking place in Chicago from May 29 to June 2.

“These results show two related trends. First, the pool of physicians talking about Twitter online is growing, with more than 5,000 different doctors entering the dialogue during 2014. Second, there is a smaller group of superusers who are driving much of the conversations,” said Greg Matthews, Managing Director, MDigitalLife, at W2O Group. “In that sense, the physician community mimics many other classic Internet communities, and it will be critical to understand how those digitally connected doctors impact the way that information flows to patients and other professionals.”

The analysis also found that tweets about breast cancer were more common than any other cancer type, representing more than 19 percent of all cancer-related tweets, followed by lung cancer (9 percent) and prostate cancer (7 percent).

“These new data show that social media is mainstream for a large number of oncologists. Social media use by cancer patients and oncology physicians has moved beyond early adopters and is increasing at scientific meetings,” said Michael Thompson, MD, PhD, a co-author on the research and a hematologist/oncologist for Aurora Cancer Care and Medical Director of Early Phase Cancer Research at Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee. “The next step will be to increase the signal-to-noise ratio of huge amounts of data to improve the efficiency of implementing new therapies in clinical practice.”

The analysis used W2O Group’s proprietary MDigitalLife database, the world’s first and only database that maps physicians’ digital properties to their official government registries. This ensures attribution of data (earned media and data such as Medicare billing, referral and prescription data) is accurate. The W2O Group uses this asset to aggregate and analyze millions of data points to understand physicians’ attitudes, behaviors and connections on any topic.

The use of social media has become an increasingly important topic among oncologists; the 2014 ASCO annual meeting included a presented titled “Appropriate Use of Social Media in Medical Practice,” which suggested social media use could help physicians “engage patients [and] lay public on key topics.”

The analysis of 2014 tweets was done by Brian Reid and his colleagues at W2O Group, including Matthews and Kayla Rodriguez, with the assistance of Thompson.

About MDigital Life

MDigitalLife reveals how physicians around the world are using digital and social media to improve the health of their patients, the success of their practice, and to regain their voice as a critical player in the health system. Digital communication tools have become increasingly important in the health system, yet little effort has been put into quantifying the type and volume of online conversations. MDigitalLife is the world’s first and only database that maps physicians’ digital properties to their official government registries. This allows the team to aggregate and analyze millions of data points to understand physicians’ attitudes and behaviors on any topic. Additionally, MDigitalLife has incorporated physician demographic data (e.g., medical school and graduation year) and clinical behavioral data (referrals, prescriptions and Medicare billings). For more information on MDigitalLife, please visit

About W2O Group

Founded and led by Chairman and CEO Jim Weiss, W2O Group is an independent network of complementary marketing, communications, research and development firms focused on integrated business solutions to drive change and growth through “pragmatic disruption” for the world’s leading brands and organizations. W2O Group’s network includes WCG, Twist, BrewLife and W2O Ventures with 11 offices in the United States and Europe. For more information, please visit

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