Standing, fidgeting, coffee all good for you; sitting is still killing you

image via Lifehacker.com

Did you know that standing instead of sitting for just three hours per workday burns the same number of calories in a year as running ten marathons? That’s 30,000 calories or about eight pounds of fat. And that’s got to be the easiest way ever to keep the belly fat and love handles at bay.

It turns out that fidgeting is good for you as well according to a recent article in Michigan Today. Scientifically termed “nonpurposeful movement,” fidgeting generates nonexercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT for short), a fancy way of saying that you burn calories when you fidget – as many as 800 per day! So go ahead and ignore your parents, your teachers, and all of those other authority figures in your life who sternly admonished you to sit quietly and stop fidgeting.

Even though researchers have been back and forth on this one for years, the evidence is mounting that coffee is good for you too. I’m fairly sure the research is about plain old coffee, not the sugar and fat-laden confectionery treats Starbucks specializes in. According to a 2005 study, Americans get more antioxidants from coffee than from anything else in their diets. Actually, dates have more antioxidants than anything but we just don’t eat that many dates.

More coffee consumption benefits: a study published in 2006 that tracked 125,000 people over 22 years showed that those who drink at least one cup of coffee a day were 20 percent less likely to develop liver cirrhosis. And according to a study from The American Chemical Society, people who drink four or more cups of coffee a day reduce their chances of developing Type 2 diabetes by 50 percent. With every additional cup, the risk gets lowered by 7 percent.

In a development of particular interest to baby boomers, researchers from the University of South Florida and the University of Miami found that people older than 65 who had higher blood levels of caffeine developed Alzheimer’s disease two to four years later than others with lower caffeine.

Finally, according to The New York Times, coffee can make you a better athlete. Caffeine increases the number of fatty acids in the bloodstream, allowing athletes’ muscles to absorb and burn those fats for fuel. The body’s small reserves of carbohydrates are saved for later on in the exercise.

Update Feb. 13, 2015: Here’s a fascinating article on an incredible number of health benefits of coffee: 51 Scientific Reasons Coffee is Healthy (#49 is Life-Changing)

So much for things that can make you healthier. One of the single biggest activities (or inactivities) that negatively affects our health is the simple act of sitting. This infographic from MedicalBillingandCoding.org details the many ways that sitting is bad for you and in fact, is killing you. A few examples:

  • Sitting for more than 6 hours per day makes you more 40% more likely to die within 15 years than someone who sits less than 3 hours per day. That holds true even if you exercise.
  • Obese people sit for 2 1/2 hours per day more than thin people. Sitting burns zero calories.  One of every three Americans is clinically obese. You see where this is leading, don’t you?
  • People with sitting jobs have twice the rate of cardiovascular disease as people with standing jobs.
  • The human body has not evolved and is not designed for long periods of sitting.

Takeaway: Get on your feet, grab some coffee, and fidget away!

Read more:

BBC News – Calorie burner: How much better is standing up than sitting?

You are about to have a moving experience! | Michigan Today.

11 Reasons Why You Should Drink Coffee Every Day.

Sitting is Killing You – MedicalBillingAndCoding.org.

Verizon is a serious player in digital health

http://www.verizon.com/cs/groups/public/documents/adacct/logo_landing.pngIf you are a digital health entrepreneur, it can’t be good news that Verizon, one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies, has entered the healthcare market with a second FDA-cleared digital health product.

According to MedCity News, Verizon’s enterprise solutions division just announced its Converged Health Management platform after receiving FDA 510(k) marketing clearance in August.

The Converged Health Management platform will be marketed as a “B2B to C” product. Verizon says it will be white-labeled, meaning it will be sold to providers like hospitals and healthcare systems, payers, and large self-insured corporations and then marketed to consumers under the brands of the healthcare systems, etc.

Verizon also has an e-prescribing platform already on the market being sold in a similar way. That product is in use and growing rapidly. According to Dr. Peter Tippet, Verizon’s chief medical officer, the e-prescription platform has already transacted 40 million prescriptions this year. He also said that the e-prescription volume is doubling every 6 months, an impressive growth rate.

Verizon’s Converged Health Management platform will collect data from wireless medical devices – initially four types of devices: a blood pressure cuff, a scale, pulse oximeters and blood glucose meters. The data is sent automatically to cloud servers that are secure and HIPAA-compliant.

The patient can connect to the wireless medical devices with a smartphone, tablet, or PC. That’s important because they can be mobile and maintain their preferred lifestyles while remaining connected to the Verizon healthcare cloud.

Verizon has built algorithms into the platform to keep watch for patient health trends. Doctors can use the capabilities of real-time data access and two-way communications to express concerns or send reminders directly to the patient.

According to Verizon, the platform has been designed to work with or without biometric data. When used without real-time data, the platform can be used to manage chronic conditions like Crohn’s disease. It also has the ability to provide patients with a reward and even has elements of gamification. They seem to have anticipated a broad range of conditions and healthcare scenarios.

Additionally, Verizon implied that the platform will eventually connect to personal wellness devices like the trendy Fitbit and Jawbone products. According to the MedCity News article, Verizon purposely focused on achieving FDA clearance for the platform’s treatment capability first, reasoning that a treatment indication was more challenging to receive regulatory clearance than a wellness indication would be. Next step will be to get the platform cleared for wellness applications.

Verizon seems to be open to external apps running on its platform. Hospitals and device companies could find this to be valuable real estate.

The platform seems to be highly configurable and flexible to accommodate a broad range of customer and user preferences. Verizon really did its homework in product development.

Takeaways: The digital health market is a land grab scenario right now. Big companies like Verizon have the resources and market heft to occupy a large portion of the land. Medical device companies developing digital health products or startups with a single digital health offering in development must be nimble, flexible, and move quickly. It would also be prudent to approach Verizon and its big customers to find out if you can get your product into their platform ecosystem.

Read more:

Verizon launches FDA-approved platform to take over the patient engagement market – MedCity News.

Verizon demo video

3 Surprising Ways to Instantly Improve Your Public Speaking Skills | Portent

We all do public speaking. Some of us do it willingly, some unwillingly. Some people like public speaking although if surveys are accurate, most of us dread it more than death or root canals.

If you are a startup CEO, making presentations is a huge part of your life. The same goes for people in roles such as product manager, marketing manager, director of marketing or sales, etc. Communicating information and making persuasive arguments are a vitally important part of your job, perhaps the most important part.

Here are three tips for more effective public speaking from the referenced article:

  • Don’t prowl the stage. Don’t hide behind a lectern, either. Map your spots for various points in the presentation and rehearse them along with the pitch.
  • Vary your voice speed. It makes you more interesting.
  • Realize that people process information in different ways. Design your presentation and adapt your style to accommodate the “why people,” the “what people,” the “how people,” and the “what-if?” people.

Here are a few “bonus tips” from the article:

  • Have one, concise, clear call to action at the end of your presentation. Tell people exactly what you want them to do.
  • No meta comments (“The projector cut off my slide.”). Keep them to yourself as they break the narrative and cause the audience to lose focus.
  • Edit your content beforehand. Your audience does not need to hear (and they won’t remember) everything about your topic.
  • Stop using PowerPoint as a crutch. The audience knows how to read. You add zero value by reading bullet points off a slide. My favorite quote from the article:

“Frank Sinatra once said “if you need anything more than a microphone and a spotlight, you’re an amateur.””

Takeaways: Public speaking and presentation skills are vitally important for just about any business professional. These simple tips and small accomodations can make you a more effective public speaker. Remember that your presentation is about your audience, not you.

Read more: 3 Surprising Ways to Instantly Improve Your Public Speaking Skills – Portent.

Health IT startups, “physicians” shouldn’t be a target market. Get more specific. | MedCity News

This is good advice and good practice for all medical device companies, not just startups. Market segmentation is difficult but, properly done, leads to successful launches.

Here are a few other ways to categorize and target physicians beyond medical specialty:

Career status: Resident, senior resident/fellow, young attending, mid-career attending, late career attending, emeritus.
Decision-maker status: Department head, Chief of practice, second-in-command, member of purchasing committee or similar group, “worker bee.”
Case load: low, medium, high, unbelievable.
Geographic region: There are clear differences around the USA in medical practice as well as from country to country.
Corporate affiliations: You may or may not want to target physicians with strong ties to your competitors. And the ties can be VERY strong!
Primary type of practice: Hospital, research/academic/teaching, private practice, VA/military, standalone surgery centers. There is a lot of overlap in this category with physicians working in multiple settings so it can be a bit fuzzy.
Technology adopter status: Innovator, Early Adopter, Early Majority, Late Majority, Laggard
Influencer/Key Opinion Leader/Notoriety Status: Prolific article author, leads or participates in numerous clinical trials, frequent speaker at medical conferences, frequently interviewed and/or quoted in news and media.

You can purchase lists of physicians with some demographic data relatively inexpensively. You should then create a database and augment that data regularly with information you or your commercial team finds. Before you make final decisions about targeting, be sure to talk with actual prospects and test your model!

As for what happens after a company has decided its target specialties, Kim offers this advice: “If we could do it over again, we would have spent at least six months to one year working on site or near-site with a handful of actual customers.”

Read more: Health IT startups, “physicians” shouldn’t be a target market. Get more specific. | MedCity News.

Life Science Innovation Northwest Conference 2013 – medical device startup perspective

I attended LSINW last Wednesday and Thursday July 10-11 as a poster presenter. I’m serving as acting CEO for a University of Washington startup we’ve named SimpleCirc. The simple, safe, swift, and inexpensive adult male circumcision device is intended to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa (you can download our poster here: SimpleCirc LSINW 2013 Poster)

The LSINW poster submission and conference admission process is a bit of a bargain. Not all posters are accepted, but the ones selected are placed prominently in the main hallway of the conference. Most of the conference attendees walk through the poster exhibits several times per day. There are many opportunities for interaction. The presenters are given coaching and two full-conference admissions for $175. That compares to $350-$1500 per person for full price admission. Needless to say, we took full advantage of every opportunity.

Overall, LSINW is very professionally produced and run by WBBA, the Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association. Printed materials are high quality, the presentation venues have up-to-date AV equipment and adequate staffing, the various presentations and panels run like clockwork, and the food/refreshments are more than adequate in quantity and quality. The conference schedule is made available in a brochure, a digital PDF file, and in a tablet/smartphone app called Guidebook (more about that later).

There was a cocktail/networking event at the end of the first day but the organizers also scheduled an event honoring local women in life sciences AND had a rock band made up of (amateur?) musicians in the Seattle life sciences scene. There was too much going on for me. The noise level was high and it was difficult to hear in that space.

A Life Science conference necessarily has a wide variety of attendees: small, medium, and large medical device company executives, biotech execs, a few pharma people, consultants, service providers, grant-making officials, physicians, researchers, and academics, angel investors, VCs, media, etc., etc. Not every person had an interest in what we’re doing but it is always fun and interesting to look for a connection.

LSINW created several tracks for the two-day agenda: Biopharmaceutical, Medical Technology, Emerging, Health Information Technology, and Innovation. There truly was something for everyone and I often found myself torn between two compelling but simultaneous presentations.

The Opening Keynote speaker, John Crowley, CEO of Amicus Therapeutics, was unable to attend due to a family emergency but the conference organizers came up with a last-minute substitute, Charles Baltic, Managing Director of Needham & Co. He was an OK speaker but I’m sure he repurposed an existing presentation – very heavy on info about financings and IPOs.

The first day lunch keynote speaker was Steven Burrill, CEO of Burrill & Co. He updated his talk about the state and future of healthcare in the USA from last year but it was entertaining and extremely interesting. I’m impressed with his presentation abilities. He blows through ~150 slides in under an hour and apart from looking at a monitor to see what slide was being displayed, never looked at a note the entire time.

The panel discussions were good. Most of the moderators were well-prepared with stimulating questions and the panels – usually (but not always) executives with Seattle connections. Most of the discussions were non-controversial with panel members sticking to relatively “safe” positions. That is, until the last panel, “Blood from a Stone – Who is Left in Life Science Investing Today?” moderated by Luke Timmerman of Xconomy who did a fine job by staying out of the spotlight.

Sparks flew as three panelists more or less representing the Venture Capitalist side of funding sources sparred with Gregory Simon of Poliwogg, a relatively new crowdsourcing site for angel investors. For sheer entertainment value, this was the best panel of the conference. The perspective of the VCs seemed to be that “we are smarter than everyone else” and the “average investor” needs to be protected from the risk of losing their entire investment. Excuse me, but I don’t believe any VC fund offers money-back guarantees.

Gregory Simon was entertaining, if a bit of an iconoclast. He did make a number of good points and also noted that very recent changes by the SEC have enabled crowdsourcing of angel investments – details are still forthcoming but it is very exciting from my perspective. There are few opportunities in Seattle for early stage device companies to get seed or Series A funding. Once those have been exhausted, it’s off to California and overcoming the challenges of being unknown and from out of town in order to raise capital.

An added bonus was the participation of James McIntire, Washington State Treasurer, giving the perspective of a pension fund trustee, and Tracey Mumford from the Michael J. Fox Foundation representing the “venture philanthropy” segment. As an attendee remarked during the audience Q&A, democratization in venture investing is coming whether or not you want it or are prepared for it. He also served up the example of the meltdown in the investment banking industry over credit default swaps and mortgage derivatives to show that “the smartest guys in the room” are not infallible.

I’ve attended a number of LSINW conferences, starting in the days when they were held at the Bell Harbor Conference Center on Elliot Bay in Seattle. The Washington State Convention Center is the perfect place for this meeting, in my opinion – centrally located downtown, spacious, clean and accessible. No, there are not great views but that may be the only drawback.

I mentioned the Guidebook app earlier. It’s a nice compendium of the various events – and it auto-updates whenever there is a revision (like the keynote speaker change). You can even make a schedule for the entire event. BUT, you can’t upload the schedule to your Google Calendar or Outlook calendar. And you couldn’t sync the schedule in your phone to your tablet or vice-versa. Also, there was another event called Biopartnering where interested parties could arrange brief get-to-know-you meetings. Unfortunately, that function could not be integrated with the Guidebook schedule, meaning I had to juggle three different schedules over two different devices. Not for the technology-challenged!

As for my perspective as a startup CEO, I’m often left wanting…more from these events. Many of the panel discussions focus on biotech or later stage financing like VC or IPO. I would like to see a panel of startup medical device CEOs who recently completed an angel round to share their experiences, do’s and don’ts. I would also like to see a stronger presence from Angel groups like WINGS.

On the other hand, Seattle is a small town when it comes to life sciences. You can get to just about anyone with one or two requests for referral or introduction. The LSINW conference is a great way to do that in person every year. If you are a startup CEO or are thinking about a startup, I strongly recommend that you attend next year, June 19-20, 2014.

The value of curmudgeons and why health systems and startups should engage them | MedCity News

We all tend to seek people who agree with our brilliant ideas. It’s human nature to avoid the naysayers and skeptics. There is a significant danger of group think if you apply this filter too energetically, however.

I’ve found that the best tactic for engaging physicians or nurses as advisory board members or informal advisors is to have a mix of ages and experience levels. Too often, the key opinion leaders are too busy to give practical advice – but they are needed for their names and tacit endorsements. And they will point out obvious blunders.

The younger physicians and residents are often extremely energetic and idealistic but can be naive about what it takes to bring about change in an often byzantine hospital or healthcare system. Sometimes they just don’t have enough practical experience to offer meaningful advice about adoption of a new technology, although they are extremely sharp about technology and the latest research.

It helps to engage one or two mid to late-career curmudgeons as the article suggests. These people have seen more than one battle and in many cases, more than one war, metaphorically speaking. If you can gain their trust, they will tell you the flaws in your go to market plan and what needs to change. Of course, it helps to develop a tougher hide before asking for feedback from “grizzled veterans” as you will quickly learn that your “brilliant ideas” are anything but!

“…anyone who wants to make changes from a hospital system to a scrappy startup would do well to bend the ear of a curmudgeon, be they a nurse, provider or health care professional affected by a proposed change or innovation they want to make. They may be surprised by the results.

Why? Because curmudgeons are more likely to express their opinion about whether a new system or initiative will or won’t work and why. If a new interface would interfere with workflows, for example, they will often be the first to speak up. They are frequently the toughest critics. You may not get showered with praise from them but if you engage them early on and make it clear their opinions are valued you may end up making your app, EHR, etc. much better than it might otherwise be.”

Read more: The value of curmudgeons and why health systems and startups should engage them | MedCity News.