Monday, May 25, 2009

Webcast Your Brain Surgery? Hospitals See Marketing Tool

The NY Times explored the increasing use of online marketing tools in hospitals. As the article relates:

The point of Shila Renee Mullins’s brain surgery was to remove a malignant tumor threatening to paralyze her left side.

But Methodist University Hospital in Memphis also saw an opportunity to promote the hospital to prospective patients.

So, a video Webcast of Ms. Mullins’s awake craniotomy, in which the patient remains conscious and talking while surgeons prod and cut inside her brain, was promoted with infomercials and newspaper advertisements featuring a photograph of a beautiful model, not Ms. Mullins.

This time, Methodist did not use billboards as it has with other operations, deeming this procedure too sensitive. But its marketing department monitors how many people have watched the Webcast (2,212), seen a preview on YouTube (21,555) and requested appointments (3).

“The goal is to further our reputation as well as to educate the community, who will ask their physicians about our care,” said Jill Fazakerly, Methodist’s marketing director.

Faced with economic pressures and patients with abundant choices, hospitals are using unconventional, even audacious, ways of connecting directly with the public. Seeking to attract or educate patients, entice donors, gain recognition and recruit or retain top doctors, hospitals are using Twitter from operating rooms, showing surgery on YouTube and having patients blog about their procedures.

They consider the methods inexpensive ways to stand out in an era of reality TV and voluminous medical information available online.

Some ethicists and physicians say the practices raise questions about patient privacy and could paint overly-rosy medical pictures, leaving the hospitals and patients vulnerable if things go awry.

Jeffrey P. Kahn, a University of Minnesota bioethicist, sees “value in demystifying medical care,” but said this “creates an aura of sophistication and high-tech ability” that may not represent “quality of care at a hospital.”

“Do we really want to treat health care like other consumer goods?” he asked.

Tony Cotrupi, a health care marketing consultant, said hospitals “have come to marketing dragging and kicking, but because things are so competitive they have to.” Patients “used to go like sheep wherever the doctor sent us,” he said, and spent “more time researching what kind of toaster to buy.”

“But now, you have the curious consumer,” Mr. Cotrupi said, “and hospitals are doing all they can to open up the kimono.”

Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit uses Twitter from the operating room.

Bill Ferris, the hospital’s Web services manager, said that during an operation to remove a man’s kidney tumor, the surgeon, Dr. Craig Rogers, worried that the unexpectedly large tumor would require total kidney removal.

“Gosh, this is big,” Dr. Rogers said. “Could I have picked a harder case for this?” So an observing chief resident tweeted: “Dr. Rogers is saying because the tumor is large he may have to do a radical (total) nephrectomy.”

Then, “some bleeding needed to be controlled,” but “we just tweeted right through it,” Mr. Ferris said. Other Twitter-casts included a hysterectomy and a craniotomy, during which the hospital posted video on YouTube and photos, and the surgeon would “literally scrub out for an hour and twitter.” Hospitals say patients give consent and are not compensated.

Mr. Ferris said: “One concern is what happens if something goes wrong — you’re making this public in a very real-time way. Our general plan is we would gently take a break from the twittering if the situation became very dire. You don’t necessarily want to be tweeting that somebody might be dying on the table, and God forbid the patient’s family learns about it that way.”

Methodist Hospital records an identical surgery on another patient, so if “something unforeseen happens and you need the camera to cut away from the surgery, you can fall back on your previous surgery,” Ms. Fazakerly said.

E. Haavi Morreim, an ethicist at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, said “If you don’t show the bad along with the good, people can end up misinformed or with excessively optimistic expectations.”

More than 250 hospitals now use YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or blogs, said Ed Bennett, Web strategy director for the University of Maryland Medical System. Read more here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

WNY Ready to Welcome Yahoo! Data Center

From Business First Buffalo - May 19th, 2009

Gov. David Paterson announced Tuesday that the New York Power Authority has approved a proposal designed to develop a regional data center operated by Yahoo! Inc. in Western New York.

State officials said if the proposal is accepted by the company, Yahoo! would invest at least $150 million for the construction of a new East Coast Regional Datacenter and create 125 new high-tech jobs in Western New York.

The project was initially discussed a few weeks ago by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer who said the company was considering a site, still to be determined, in Western New York for such a facility.
According to the governor's office, Yahoo!’s new facility is expected to be located in either Niagara or Genesee counties. The company has indicated the average wage and benefits of the new data center jobs will be approximately $65,000.

Click here to see Senator Schumer discussing the state of negotiations with Yahoo to build a new data center in Western New York and detail his conversation with Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Free Training Opportunity for Nonprofit Board Members

The State Board Training Consortium (SBTC) is a collaborative effort between five state agencies to improve governance of state–funded non-profits by providing a comprehensive series of trainings to board members of these organizations. SBTC trainings are conducted by the New York Council of Nonprofit, Inc. (formerly the Council of Community Services of New York State Inc.). NYCON offers 12 different trainings tailored to meet the unique needs of board members. Topics covered include: duties and responsibilities of board members; legal obligations; fiscal accountability; nonprofit accounting basics; human resource issues; quality assurance; board recruitment and retention; strategic planning; and ethics.

SBTC is pleased to announce that NYCON will offer the following workshops in Buffalo on June 11th & 12th, 2009

June 11th - Buffalo

  • The New Form 990: A Focus on Board Governance 9:00am – 12:00pm
  • Developing a Fiscally Accountable Nonprofit Board 1:00pm – 4:00pm
  • Duties & Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards 5:30pm – 8:30pm

June 12th – Buffalo

  • Nonprofit Board Member Responsibilities for Governance of Medicaid-Supported Programs 9:00am – 12:00pm
  • Recruiting, Developing & Retaining a Motivated Board of Directors 1:00pm – 4:00pm
  • Fund Development for Nonprofit Boards 5:30pm – 8:30pm

Buffalo Location:
Holiday Inn
1881 Niagara Falls Blvd
Amherst, NY 14228

To register: Please visit and click on the “State Board Training” logo on the homepage.

Questions? Please contact the New York Council of Nonprofits, Inc. at (800) 515-5012 ext. 126 or email

$10M fund to help entrepreneurs create new companies

A recent article offers some food for thought concerning a group of foundations partnering together to support new ways to respond to the present economy:

The New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation are expected to announce Monday afternoon that they have formed a partnership to be based at TechTown to help spur entrepreneurship and create 400 new companies each year in Southeast Michigan.

On Thursday, the board of directors at the NEI, made up of 10 private, mostly Michigan-based foundations, approved the initiative and more than $9 million in funding to begin several economic development programs.

It is expected that TechTown, the technology park and business incubator affiliated with Wayne State University, will receive about $4.5 million of NEI’s second-round funding over three years to scale up its entrepreneurial support projects.

Shorebank, a Chicago-based bank that focuses on community development and has a branch in Detroit, will receive about $1.5 million to provide seed funding for new companies, and minority auto suppliers will receive about $3 million.

“Our programming is definitely coming to Detroit,” said Joy Torchia, director of communications for the Kansas City, Mo.-based Kauffman Foundation. “We’re coming because NEI has asked us to help with their initiative.”

With an endowment of nearly $2.1 billion, according to its Web site, the Kauffman Foundation is one of the 30 largest foundations in the U.S. and regarded as the world’s largest foundation devoted to entrepreneurship. It will become an 11th member in the New Economy Initiative, contributing expertise in entrepreneurial training. “Over the next three years, we are setting out to establish…new companies, and to do so we will utilize every resource — Wayne State, the Henry Ford Health System, Wayne County, the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Spark, Michigan State and Automation Alley,” Randal Charlton, TechTown’s executive director, said on Friday.

“The details have yet to be worked out, but the building blocks are in place and the work starts tomorrow.”

Launched in 2007, the New Economy Initiative is funded by contributions from 10 local and national foundations: Detroit-based Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Southfield-based Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, New York-based Ford Foundation, Detroit-based Hudson-Webber Foundation, Battle Creek-based W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Miami-based John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Troy-based Kresge Foundation, McGregor Fund in Detroit, Flint-based Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and Skillman Foundation in Detroit.

“I am absolutely delighted to see the Kauffman Foundation bringing their program on urban development to Detroit,” said Tom Anderson, a senior vice president at Troy-based Automation Alley, who was on a conference call Thursday afternoon when the NEI spelled out details to local economic development officials, including Mike Finney, president and CEO of Ann Arbor Spark and Turkia Mullin, Wayne County’s assistant county executive and chief development officer.

“It’s a wonderful thing NEI is doing, deciding to make this significant commitment of resources to transform the community through entrepreneurial resources,” said Finney. “It’s great they are basing it at TechTown. It puts it absolutely at ground zero."