Author Archives: Isabelle Widmer

AI use cases in biopharmaceutical medicine

I love winter, the days are short, yes, but walks out in the forest are wonderful and the cold makes being indoors even more enjoyable. Incredibly, however, I just realised, there are only four weeks to the end of the year.

Today’s topics:

We all agree AI will change/has changed the world. The reason this is happening now is the convergence of the following: computing power, networks, knowledge, statistics, and data availability.

The use cases are endless, and the bright new world of the future, some of which is already here, spans vignettes including accelerated clinical trials, earlier disease detection, a lower burden of chronic disease, AI-assisted operations, coaching and psychological counselling as well as more relaxed doctors who, supported by AI, can spend more time with patients. I am confident that this last one, although often discussed, will sadly not become a reality.

At last week’s “AI in biopharmaceutical medicine” event hosted by PWC, three presenters shared their knowledge: Dr Joanna Soroka, Principal at investor Hitachi Ventures, who spoke about investing in the AI/healthcare space and shared some insights on the criteria Hitachi applies when selecting companies to invest in, Sotirios Perdikeas, Predictive Modeling and Data Analytics Leader at Roche, who spoke about the impact that AI has in his area at Roche, as well as key success factors for implementing AI and Dr Andreé Bates Founder and CEO of Eularis, a consulting agency that specialises in the strategic and adapted use of AI/FutureTech to improve business outcomes, who covered an incredible amount of topics in a very short amount of time.

Many clinical trial topics were covered including the use of AI in drug discovery and clinical trial management. Dr Andreé Bates mentioned many use cases including a clinical trial where Phases I and II were run exclusively using digital twins, i.e. with no human or animal subjects. Sotirios Perdikeas shared an example where AI was used to assess the impact of standard inclusion and exclusion criteria on the hazard ratio in clinical trials. The outcome of this assessment was that 70% of the assessed inclusion and exclusion criteria had zero impact on the hazard ratio. He also mentioned that AI could be used to optimise clinical trial assessment schedules, revolutionising an area where typically the optimal number of visits and examinations is experience-based.

Data science topics were also extensively covered at the event. Dr. Joanna Soroka delved into considerations like prioritizing platforms when considering investments. She also highlighted the shifting landscape, where healthcare companies, who have started to leverage technology in their business, are now being joined by technology firms leveraging their expertise to enter the healthcare arena.

While the speakers covered many topics, three key success factors for the use of AI in the biopharmaceutical industry emerged consistently: the tailored use of the technology, the availability of high-quality data, and the importance of involving the right people from start to finish.

Often, we concentrate on AI’s potential to provide solutions without recognizing the essential role of humans in project success from design, to implementation, to post launch management.

Sotirios Perdikeas spoke to this often-overlooked point: “the launch of any new technology is an issue, deployment is an issue, we often think deployment is the end of the journey, but it is, in fact, the beginning”.

If you need help to support a deployment or someone to accompany your project from start to finish to help ensure your organisation and your people are well placed to succeed and make the most of a new solution or approach, I would be happy to explore with you how I can help.

Key takeaway: AI based solutions are changing the healthcare space at an incredible rate, but you can do nothing without the right approach, data and people.

Your rabbit changed my life – a personal data management case study

I often take notes when I am out and about so that I can use them for later newsletters on topics that are relevant to the pharmaceutical industry and for anyone interested in optimising their operations. One such note read as follows “crystal ball/factory farming/athletes/farming versus industry/mini break/medicating patients/startups/princess does not do punctures/your rabbit changed my life”.

Unfortunately, while I have vague memories of the content these snippets were anchoring, the snippets are insufficient for newsletter use in any other way than to illustrate the importance of making sure the data you capture in your systems is fit for purpose.

In a recent discussion on AI the instructor said, “you should expect to spend around 50% of your time on cleaning the data you will work with, another 25% of it analysing it and 25% on visualisation”.

In my example above, the only thing the data tells me is that my mind sometimes works in mysterious ways and covers many seemingly random topics.

Consequently, I have had to use the data to tell a different story to the one I had initially intended.  So, in this case it’s repurposed data. However, in many cases the data is not as obviously garbled as in my example above, and you might not notice. If you then use it to analyse your market you may have an issue.  

Therefore, when you are designing systems for data capture make sure you design in such a way that individual interpretations of the data that is being captured, and consequently variations in data capture, have minimal impact on the data quality. Aim for a harmonised understanding of data structure and categorisation across your business.  Ensure your teams know why this is important and how good data capture will benefit them and their projects. 

Key takeaway: You reap the data you sow, so, sow wisely.

Leveraging diversity – learning from the cosmetics industry

Douglas, a leading European cosmetics company, markets products both online and in-store. The company operates under different names such as Douglas, Nocibe, or Parfumdreams in nearly all European markets.

During a recent visit to my local store, the manager told me, “Regardless of someone’s place in society or their age, they are welcome to work here.”‘ He continued, “My team is incredibly diverse, with each member bringing unique experiences that enrich our group. For instance, the lady working at the cash register is past retirement age, but she’s a seasoned veteran in the industry. This is fantastic for us. We learn from her, and that helps us serve our customers better“.

The cosmetics industry targets everyone in the market, and, in the store I visited, everyone is serving the market. I’m not sure if this is the official ethos of Douglas or just the perspective of the manager I met, but I think it is a smart approach.

Why is this relevant to the pharmaceutical industry? It matters because, despite the industry’s official commitment to diversity, and the admittedly great changes that have been made, I often encounter individuals aged 50 and older who worry that they won’t find another job if they are affected by a reorganization. A friend with an impressive CV recently told me that she was recently told the hiring manager was “looking for someone younger”.

While the pharmaceutical sector is different from cosmetics retail, the argument for hiring for diversity, and this includes older, experienced individuals, is even more relevant. In an industry where individuals change roles often, navigate complex international and regulatory environments, and are highly educated, hiring for diversity, with a focus on knowledge transfer, will contribute to better project outcomes and enhanced effectiveness.

Key takeaways:  1) Fostering diversity, valuing experience, and promoting continuous learning are essential for improving project outcomes and overall effectiveness. 2) Every discussion, every interaction, and every industry has something valuable to teach us

Leadership – balancing the majority to drive innovation

Your most important asset is the people you work with — the individuals who hold much of the knowledge in your organization and whose creativity has to power to drive your business.  In order for a company to thrive, ideally, voices that raise creative suggestions should be heard. However, this is not easy to ensure, because often the status quo, or the majority view, triumphs over voices that bring in new suggestions.

While I am writing about people, I am using an AI example here to illustrate how a single voice can easily be overheard:

Your AI system is only as good as the data it is trained on and this data, is by necessity, historical data.

Using the example of the earth being flat or round: If you trained your AI on data from 500 BC, the consensus would generally have been that the earth is flat. Your AI tool would answer the question: “is the earth flat?”  with a clear “yes”.

If instead you train your AI on data from 200 BC and asked the same question. The answer would be “No, while up until recently people believed the earth to be flat, scientists have now shown that the earth is round”.

If you had asked your AI to respond to this question at any time point between 200 BC and 500 BC, the answer you received would have varied depending on how you trained your tool and what data you included.  

This illustrates the point that even when the data is overwhelming and everyone agrees on something, that doesn’t make it correct. 

Leaders in organisations, managing systems, are faced with this challenge all the time. We learn from the past, there is a lot of knowledge held both in systems and tacitly, and it is easy to trust the weight of the knowledge that exists and to take comfort in numbers and the majority vote.However, the issue is that ground-breaking new ideas typically originate from very few individuals within an organization.

As a leader you need to ensure that the accepted status quo doesn’t suffocate innovation. It’s important to ensure that unique, original and creative ideas are heard, and considered, regardless of the position of an individual in an organisation’s hierarchy. 

If you want to explore how to help your teams embrace innovation without fear, I would love to discuss.

Key takeaway: New ideas are often met with distrust. It is important have a process in place to  ensure they are not dismissed out of hand.

Thank you for reading. The end of the year is nigh, if you are looking to solve an issue before 31st December or to prepare for next year I’d love to discuss how I can help you either with your business strategy and operations or with your team and personal development goals.

I look forward to hearing from you,

Isabelle C. Widmer MD

Image credit: Natalija Smirnova

My aunt, her iPad and customer engagement insights

I hope you are making great strides in your goals towards the end of the year. If you need support to meet your targets or to prepare for 2024 I’d love to discuss how I can help you.

Today’s blog is focused on learning in all its many forms.

Today’s topics:

-My aunt, her iPad and customer engagement insights
-Trust and postgraduate training
-The airpod odyssey and a problem-solving lesson
-Leadership – how to use your insights to make an impact

My aunt, her iPad and customer engagement insights

“So here is the house” my aunt said, adding “they have taken out the palm tree since this photo was taken”. She continued “this is the walk I used to do every day it’s only a short walk from the house to the ocean”. As she spoke, her finger traced the road on google Streetview taking me on a tour of Island Bay in New Zealand.

My aunt is 87 years old. She raised children and worked most of her life as a homemaker. She plays bridge on her computer. She uses Zoom and Facetime. She is adept at using a computer, an iPhone, an iPad and obviously google maps. She stays in contact with her family around the world thanks to technology.

Watching her finger zoom down the road and rotate us left and right so we could see into people’s yards and see restaurant terraces she liked, and the view of the ocean, highlighted something that is often forgotten: A key predictor of ability is curiosity, need and interest in the subject. Some people are always learning, some people stop learning as adolescents.

Age does not translate to computer illiteracy, as little as youth translates to a love of all things technological.  

What does this mean for you in the industry?

For hiring and managing individuals: interest, curiosity and engagement may be more mportant predictors of future performance and the ability to develop than what is written on the CV. 

For patient engagement: Patients, like doctors, are not a homogeneous group. Being a  patient doesn’t mean you do not understand your disease, as little as being a doctor guarantees  comprehensive knowledge about every medical condition.

For HCP engagement topics: Do not make assumptions about your customers.  By all means consider your HCPs speciality, their geographical location, their language and culture, as you reflect on how to meet their needs, but check your assumptions and be open-minded. Keep in mind that data can sometimes lead to incorrect conclusions.

For example, it may be tempting to infer that because two nations embrace technology, they will welcome the same engagement channels. In one instance, a company attempted to engage with Japanese HCPs using video chat in Medical Affairs, after successfully launching this engagement channel in the US. Unfortunately, because even amongst family members video engagement was not customary at the time, there was no uptake. 

Words of wisdom from my friend Natasha Hansjee, who was cited as having said the following during an omnichannel customer engagement webinar she spoke at “are we asking HCPs what they want?” That is it in a nutshell. Make sure you are. 

Key take-aways: Look at the data, draw conclusions question your assumptions and ask your stakeholders what their needs are before you roll anything out. Be aware of bias and never discount the power of a curious mind. 

Trust and postgraduate training

I have a deep interest in continued education. I also have experience in the field having worked as programme director at the European Center for Pharmaceutical Medicine at Basel University on the postgraduate course.

In recent months the number of available online training courses has grown rapidly. A vast global audience of learners needs to be catered and many reputable universities are now involved in these programmes.

This year I have taken a number of training courses. This article is dedicated to one of them. According to the course brochure the course is run by a university that is world renowned in the field. The brochure states that the faculty will be providing recorded lectures, and training is supported by industry experts. The topic interests me, the university is world famous, and I sign up on a whim due to the university’s reputation and the expertise of the faculty.

Once I am signed-up it transpires that the course, beyond pre-recorded lectures provided by the university faculty, and all live engagement is provided by a secondary non-US based institution. While this institution has its own academic faculty, it is not officially recognized as an academic institution. Furthermore, the experts responsible for mentoring students have no affiliation with the university whose name is on the course brochure. 

I am currently disappointed by what I am experiencing, although some lectures are very good, so I am cautiously optimistic that the experience may improve.

In the meantime, as signing up for training is a financial and time commitment, here are my recommendations on what to ask before you sign up:

  1. Who is the faculty? University, industry experts, others?
  2. Who generates and controls the content?
  3. Who engages on assignments and mentors you?
  4. Is there another organisation involved in delivering the course, what is their engagement?
  5. What are the refund options

Since the answers to these questions may not be readily apparent from the course materials it is advisable to thoroughly investigate.

Key take-away: When considering paying for an online course be sure to investigate what you are subscribing to before enrolling.

The airpod odyssey and a problem-solving lesson
A friend left his airpod case on the train. He said “I guess I will just buy a new one, even though I know where it is”  as he tapped his iPhone.
Curious to see how good the tracker is, and wondering if we can retrieve the case, I drive him to the indicated location: the local train depot. Unfortunately, the case is not at lost and found and we decide, in my case reluctantly, that we cannot search the building. But then the tracker shows us that the case is on the move again. We follow its progress down the motorway towards Rheinfelden and across the border into Germany. There the dot stops.
My friend is ready to give up but provides the location when I ask him. Moments later I am leaving a message on the answering machine of the person listed at the address. My friend says, “Oh I didn’t know you can find someone’s phone number that way”. It made me smile. 
 I offer a finder’s fee but nobody calls me back so ultimately we accept defeat.  
Key take-away: You may not know a fast solution to your problem, because you don’t know the language, the culture, the country or that the tools exist. However, almost always someone else does and that information is available to you if you are willing to have a conversation.  

Leadership – how to use your insights to make an impact

Metrics are important, insights are important, but neither have value unless you know how to use the information to change and improve your business and that often involves convincing senior budget holders of the validity of your approach first.

At a conference recently someone presented the workload involved in pulling together content manually across geographies. She said, “wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could automate this, it takes so much time”.

I asked her why they hadn’t automated the activity. I cannot remember her answer, but the one I most frequently receive when I ask that question is  “We couldn’t make a change because we can’t get the budget”.

I suggested she show her leadership team the financial impact of the current situation and the potential savings automation could bring reframing her need to meet their need. 

Key take-way:  Different things matter to different people, improving financial outcomes and business engagement generally matters to budget holders, if you can frame your need in that context, you are more likely to succeed.

Thank you for reading, the end of the year is nigh, if you are looking to solve an issue before 31st December or to prepare for next year I’d love to discuss how I can help you either with your business strategy and operations or with your team and personal development goals.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Isabelle C. Widmer MD

Image credit: Isabelle C. Widmer

Increase your reach to add value

Only two months to the end of the year, even less if I count the holidays, reminding me of many other recurring events that also regularly take me by surprise. Hoping your year has gone well so far and you have satisfying plans for the winter months ahead.

Today I am sharing some ideas that were sparked by recent trips.

Today’s blog topics:

-Don’t let cultural differences derail your transformation efforts
-How to increase your reach, grow your influence and add value
-How to pick the right partner for your Medical Information system needs
-Leadership: have you ever been told you need to be more vocal to get promoted?

Don’t let cultural differences derail your transformation effort

On a recent business trip, I came across a building site. I noticed the gravel strewn across the road, the haphazardly placed road signs, a general air of creativity around the site and remembered another building site I had photographed some weeks prior, which looked like a Lego set. No mess, no dust, no gravel, all sharp edges and incredible tidiness.

The two pictures above illustrate a truth that is easily forgotten, different countries apply different standards. And while as in the above example either approach is valid, people from one country may view another country’s approach as subpar or overly meticulous.

This is why if you plan to implement changes across territories you need to involve all stakeholders. Before you start you should agree on the issue at hand, its relevance and business impact. You should also agree on how addressing the issue will improve your business, what the financial impact of doing nothing is, and what the financial upside might be. Lastly, don’t neglect to consider local differences in how things are done and agree on how much flexibility there is for local implementation.

Be clear on how you will measure success. Using the building site example, ask how much it matters, that they look different, that the approach is different, or is it more important that the end product is delivered to specification, on budget and on time to a predefined standard?

In general, strive for as much harmonisation as possible to improve efficiency and effectiveness, while leaving some room for local adaptation if needed.

Key takeaway: Global transformation programmes don’t work when one location dictates to another.  A truly functional solution is only ever found when working together across teams and countries. 

How to increase your reach, grow your influence and add value

Over the years I have asked many individuals in Medical Information how they expand their influence, communicate their value and measure value add in their organisations. Overall, three recommendations emerged: “know your stakeholders so you know where to add value, validate your findings and communicate your activities”. Communication, after all, is a two-way street.

I have heard many concrete ideas over the years, both in stakeholder interviews and during European DIA Medical Information meetings. It seemed time to share a selection of them with you here:

  • Sharing tailored data and analytics: Georgios Koumakis, then Medical Manager in Roche Greece, shared how he identified which data and analytics his key stakeholders were interested in. He sent regular tailored data sets to each stakeholder group, including a short one pager to his local general manager.
  • Supporting product improvement: Lucia Fantini, at the time European Operations Manager for Lilly, shared her vision of a Medical Information golden circle of knowledge and how the Medical Information team analysed data and picked up signals from patient enquiries leading to device adaptations and a label change.
  • Engaging with cross-functional teams on strategy: in one interview a global medical affairs director once said “questioning the relevance of Medical Information services is like questioning the relevance of an organ” saying that consequently he ensures that the Medical Information function is represented in relevant leadership teams.
  • Networking and communicating: Most interview partners talked about the importance of great networking, some ideas included getting to know your audit team well, so that they can support your activities, visiting affiliate Medical Information members on site to strengthen relationships, and finally presenting at Medical Affairs and Commercial team off-site meetings to ensure key stakeholders understand what Medical Information teams do and how to partner with the function.

Another great idea was presented at the recent DIA meeting in Brussels in September 2023 by Andy Mackay, Director and Global Medical Information lead, at Idorsia. Andy gave a talk on “The Creation of an Interactive Online Learning Module to Raise the Profile of Medical Information” sharing how his team developed a tool to help other teams in the company understand the Medical Information function better and showcasing how his team can support individuals across the company.

Key takeaways: there are many ways to add value to your organisation and to communicate that value. Pick at least one approach that works for you and do it regularly. The only way to build your reputation in your organisation is to maintain a consistent presence.

Picking the right partner for your Medical Information system needs

During a recent dinner a group of us were discussing how to pick the correct Medical Information system. While we agreed that no system will make you happy all the time, there are some systems that are likely to make you consistently unhappy and should therefore be avoided.

Picking your perfect system will depend on your specific needs, however, one recommendation that I would sign whatever your needs are is the following “as you assess vendors and systems don’t base your expectations of system performance or features on your experience of what is practical or sensible. Until someone has confirmed a certain feature exists, or works the way you want it to, assume it does not”.

Below you can find some additional aspects it is worth considering when looking for a solution provider, these are areas that have caused problems for some of the individuals in the group, but that were not identified early enough.

The first question is what is your partner’s experience in the market you want a system in? Has your partner implemented systems internationally or only in one market? If internationally, how many international clients do they have and what size are these clients? Can the system be validated? Have companies run into issues when trying to validate the system and how was the issue solved/could it be solved? Can you see client references or speak to current clients? What type of support set-up is available? Do you need to buy individual licenses or not? How easy are process flows for typical activities? How configurable is the system? What type of implementation support is available if you do not have the capacity in-house? How will the system integrate with other systems such as your CRM or content management tools? While chemistry with your solution provider is important the group agreed that that this is not the key success factor.

Key takeaways: Selecting the correct IT system for your needs depends on many factors, your users, your business, your current IT infrastructure, the support capabilities in your IT team and the scope of your roll-out among others. It will save you millions of dollars in fees and employee costs if you consider carefully what you want, what you need and who can provide it to you before you choose. 

Leadership: Ever been told you need to be more vocal to get promoted?

Have you ever been told you are not present enough? Have you ever told employees that they are not visible enough, or contributing enough? Before you focus on fixing your own, or you employees’ failings, consider the following:

Sometimes employees are told that they don’t contribute enough at meetings, that they should be more active, proactive or visible and that future promotions depend on behavioural changes. In the comments section of a post on this topic a senior leader at a large pharma company wrote “we pay people to contribute, we expect them to manage themselves, this isn’t a leadership issue”.

The comment struck me because I don’t think it is as easy as that. Nobody works in a vacuum. How people perform and behave depends on many factors including the context they are in. Individuals need to show up, yes, but they also need to be given the space to show up in. As a coach and consultant, I have often observed that who speaks at meetings depends on who is present or absent, how homogeneous the team is, on the connections between the individuals in a meeting, each individual’s need to be seen and validated by the group, and the level of trust between group members as well as the distribution of talents and abilities amongst the individuals present.

Recently I experienced a situation where I was in a meeting where I didn’t end up contributing much of what I felt I could have shared. While I can easily make space for myself if I feel I need to or want to, in this situation as a workshop participant I chose silence. Not because I could not have spoken up or because I had nothing to say, but because after being spoken over a few times I decided to approach the situation with curiosity about the group’s dynamics and with an interest to see what if anything would happen.

My observation from this and previous experiences is that when diversity in a group drops below a certain threshold the majority tends to lead the conversation. There is comfort in numbers, there is comfort in similar opinions, and this makes it harder for other views to be heard. This is a well-known phenomenon.

Unfortunately, the majority, comfortable in a shared world view, may not notice that there are other views in the room. Gender, ethnicity, global, local and regional affiliations, being monolingual, or multilingual and the languages used for group work, socialisation differences and geographical locations all influence perspectives, some of these factors may be known, many of them may be hidden to the casual acquaintance or team colleague.

The ability of a team to collaborate well can be expanded if leaders remember the following: what happens in a room depends on who is there, the different histories that people bring to the table and beyond that what can be said, versus what may not be permissible. In addition, there are things that are known and spoken about, known but not spoken about, as well as things that are unknown, i.e., not consciously known, and thus cannot be addressed, but which are still present and may have a profound impact on the team in the room and how they interact.

Naturally when there is work to be done it is easy to not focus on this, however, to ensure that all voices are heard to the benefit of the business it helps if both leaders and individuals are aware of the dynamics influencing communication and take responsibility at their level.

Key takeaway: Team leads: Assess individual and team performance in the context of personalities and your company culture: Individuals: remember that feedback you receive may be a projection, take feedback in context, reflect on whether you have received the same feedback repeatedly, identify the key drivers for the issue and whether you can influence them yourself or need help.

Thank you for reading, I enjoy sharing my thoughts and I love hearing what piqued your interest or any feedback. If you are currently working on a project in the fields of medical, digital, systems, analytics, channels, or facing any team or personal challenges, feel free to reach out to me for a chat. I am always happy to explore how I might be able to support you.

Best wishes

Isabelle C. Widmer MD

Image credits: Isabelle Widmer (ICW) London and Basel September and October 2023

AI see you

The leaves are turning yellow, the temperatures are cooler now, and my favourite season, fall, has finally arrived.

I have come across some interesting AI use cases that I wanted to share with you.

Today’s topics:

-AI see you
-AI generated images and copyright
-Business: AI generated content and human preference
-Leadership: Why you cannot divide and conquer in pharma

AI see you

You must leave your shopping trolley in the centre aisle” the security guard said as I entered the pharmacy. When I asked why he said “It’s to help prevent theft. People used to steal items by walking out with unpaid items in their trolleys. When we stopped them they expressed surprise and said the items must have fallen into the trolley as they brushed past them while walking past the shelf”.  

We have a new system in place now though” he said, pulling out his phone and indicating the cameras on the ceiling. He continued “the camera feed is monitored by AI, when there is suspicious activity, I receive a video clip”.  He pulled up some clips to demonstrate. In one a man took a product out of its packaging and slipped it into his pocket leaving the empty box on the shelf.  In another a couple leaving the pharmacy with purchased items exchanged the package contents with more expensive products they had placed close to the exit.

He said, “the system is good, but it is also learning all the time, I validate every clip I get to identify false positives, for example when someone puts their phone in their bag”, adding “of course I can’t personally stop everyone, but as the camera feeds from the shop, the mall and the parking lot are integrated, we can track people to their cars and get their number plates, at that point we involve the police and they take it from there”.

Key takeaways: 1) Everyone you meet can teach you something if you listen 2) The lower the margins the faster AI is adopted 3) Have a good business case for AI adoption and you will likely get funding.  

AI generated images and copyright

Needing an image to illustrate a post I thought I would try text to image system Dall E3. I had a clear image in my mind and after providing many prompts and failing to get the quality I was hoping for I finally resorted to adding “generate an image in the style of Magritte and Dali”. Many images were provided, but they either fell short of my expectations, or looked like collages made using other people’s work which had me worried about copyright infringements.

When using ChatGPT I ask for source documents, which I check to validate content veracity and origin. This isn’t possible with text to image systems which are typically trained using millions of images that may or may not be in the public domain. While trying to identify the training data set for Dall-E I couldn’t find the desired information on the providers website, but I did find some text telling me that any images I generate are mine to use as I wish.

However,  in 2023 several companies using AI to generate art have been sued for copyright infringement, in one case by visual artists in another by Getty images for using images to train AI models without permission or compensation (Ref 1, 2). And while I am not sure what this means for the end user I prefer to use content that I know I can reuse without any issues at all.

Further interesting reading can be found at the Verge – the scary truth about AI copyright is nobody knows what will happen next (3).  

Key takeaways: The field is moving quickly, whenever you use online generative AI tools with a view to sharing the content, consider carefully, and check multiple sources for guidance on use. Also for business use get guidance from your legal team and other internal experts. 

Reference articles:

1) Lawsuits accuse AI content creators of misusing copyrighted work, Blake Brittain, 17 Jan 2023 Reuters  2) Getty Image, 2023s AI art generator Stable Diffusion in the US for copyright infringement; James Vincent, 6 Feb 2023, the Verge  3)The scary truth about AI copyright is nobody knows what will happen next 15 Nov 2022; James Vincent, the Verge 

Business: AI generated content and human preference

There is widespread excitement about the potential to improve business efficiencies by using generative AI for example when writing scientific responses for customers. However, whenever optimisation is looked at it is important to take the human element into account.  

A recent article by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) did just that, exploring people’s perceptions, and bias, toward generative AI in the article “Human Favoritism, Not AI Aversion: People’s Perceptions (and Bias) Toward Generative AI, Human Experts, and Human-GAI Collaboration in Persuasive Content Generation” by Yunhao Zhang, Renee Gosline, published in 2023 (link). An article on the MIT website by Dylan Walsh posted in October 2023 outlines the key points (link), I have put together a short summary for your convenience below: 

The authors Zhang and Gosline performed the study with the goal of identifying how people perceive content depending on whether it was generated by AI, humans or a combination of both, eliminating bias in some of the assessors by blinding them to how the content they were evaluating had been created. 

The content was generated in one of four ways

1) Professional human authors only
2) GPT-4 generated ideas shaped into final content by professional human authors
3) Human generated initial content completed by GPT-4  
4) GPT-4 only generated content.

The content was assessed by three groups: Group 1 was unaware of different content generation approaches; Group 2 was told about the four different approaches and the Group 3 knew which  approach was responsible for the content they reviewed. 

When reviewers didn’t know how content had been generated they preferred AI generated content. However, assessments of content improved when reviewers were told that a human had been involved in its generation, showing what the study authors called “human favoritism”, however, knowing a text had been generated by AI only did not diminish reviewer’s initial assessments.  

From Dylan Walsh’s article: “The most direct implication is that consumers really don’t mind content that’s produced by AI. They’re generally OK with it,” Zhang said. “At the same time, there’s great benefit in knowing that humans are involved somewhere along the line — that their fingerprint is present. Companies shouldn’t be looking to fully automate people out of the process.”

Key takeaway: Generative AI is set to revolutionise content generation. Consider how you can balance process improvements with customer preference in your specific area as well as how to assess customer satisfaction objectively. 

Leadership: Why you cannot divide and conquer when engaging with customers in pharma

A while back I was caught in the rain as I biked to the recycling plant. Stopping at a tram shelter I passed the time by separating my disintegrated paper bag from my recycling bottles and throwing the bits of paper into the trash. A tram came to a stop, and far ahead, the driver got out of his cabin. He walked up to me and handing me a large plastic bag said, “it looks like this might come in handy”.

I was touched by that simple act of human kindness from an employee of the tram company.

In many professions I have worked in there has been an us versus them mentality. The belief that one team has the customers best interests at heart, while another team does not.  For example, when I was a physician, the nurses said “we truly care for patients, whereas you doctors just come and go”.

In pharma, medical affairs teams may feel commercial just cares about numbers, while commercial team members have been know to think that medical affairs colleagues slow them down and lack creativity and customer centricity.

While an employee’s specific department is significant to them, most customers are primarily concerned with resolving their issues. A patient who departs the hospital in good health typically appreciates all the staff they’ve encountered. Similarly, a healthcare professional’s perception of a pharmaceutical company is shaped by her interactions with its employees, regardless of whether they work in sales, medical, or clinical development.

Case in point, I feel positively disposed towards the entire tram company because of a single positive interaction with an employee that made a huge difference for me.

So, while I have seen leaders build strong teams using an “us versus them” dynamic, I think instead of fighting for the “customers’ favour” it makes more sense to identify customer needs and then to work together across functions to meet those needs. 

Key takeaway: Customers perceive a company as a whole and company employees as company brand ambassadors, regardless of the individual employee’s function. 

Thank you for reading, I enjoy sharing my thoughts and I love hearing what piqued your interest or any feedback. If you are currently working on a project in the fields of medical, digital, systems, analytics, channels, or facing any team or personal challenges, feel free to reach out to me for a chat. I am always happy to explore how I might be able to support you.

Best wishes

Isabelle C. Widmer MD

Image credit: Alex Knight @unsplash

Medical Information: don’t get lost in transformation

After a week in Brussels, I am now happily back home.

Last week’s DIA Medical Information and Communications meeting was fabulous, we had more attendees than ever before, the event was a success from beginning to end, great shares, some wonderful new contacts and inspiring presentations.

It will take me some time to process it all but I will share my key takeaways from the meeting with you in future blog posts.

Today’s topics:

-Metrics and insights – a vending machine example
-Medical Information transformation – how not to get lost
-Business: Are you using tech to bridge or block your customers’ path?
-Leadership: effective transformations

Metrics and insights – a vending machine example

At the airport two vending machines stood, side by side. They were stocked with similar items, only one was full, and one was empty. Both machines are managed by the same company.

If the performance of the machines is monitored independently, with different teams involved, they might not connect the information. One team may overlook any issues with the fully stocked machine, or incorrectly conclude that stock is not moving, because of the location of the machine, or unappealing products, while another team, focused on the empty machine, could mistakenly attribute it to their superior product selection.

Both teams would be looking at simple metrics, trying to draw relevant business conclusions from that data set. This is a frequent occurrence in companies when data sets of interactions with the same customer group are not integrated and are assessed in isolation.

Wanting some water, I approached the machines. The full machine had the product I wanted, but it didn’t take credit cards. Like many people nowadays I rarely carry cash, so I couldn’t buy anything. Unfortunately, the empty machine didn’t have what I needed, so no sale was made, despite there being a willing customer with a credit card on hand.

The reason the vending machine was full was simple: customers couldn’t access the products.

Key takeaways: If you look at your data in isolation you can neither understand your business environment nor adapt your strategy to enhance your business. Metrics represent raw data, while insights emerge when you combine this data with your understanding of additional factors from diverse sources, revealing what truly matters.

Medical Information Transformation – how not to get lost

Last week I got lost between Brussels airport and the hotel. It’s embarrassing I know.

I hopped on a train. Because I was distracted by thoughts of my lost luggage and the conference ahead it took me a while to note that the train was speeding through open countryside. This seemed odd, so I asked a couple on the train to confirm my direction of travel. They confirmed that “yes, you are heading towards Brussels”. When we got to Leuven it became apparent that I was not.

As the next station was fast approaching decisions on next steps needed to be taken fast. Luckily another local helped me: he identified the stop I should get off at, the train I needed to switch to and which platform I would take it from. With little time to spare his help was invaluable in helping me course correct.

I used this example when talking about implementing changes in companies. Often the roadmap seems straightforward, the task appears manageable and the topics clear, whether it be the implementation of a new IT system, working with different cultures and languages, content revision strategies, cross-functional collaboration or any one of the other myriad topics that teams face when improving how they work.

However, even if what you want to do seems simple, if you don’t know the terrain it can be more challenging that you might imagine. This is why people hire guides and city maps have circles with “you are here” I have experienced this many times, the first time I take a route I ask for directions, and I still sometimes get lost, but once I know the route I can do it blindfolded at midnight.

Key takeaways: Even if you know where you are and where you are going, and you have a map to follow, if you haven’t taken the path before, you are more likely to get lost. Plan in extra time and budget and hire a guide if you don’t have the experience you need in your team.

Business: Are you using tech to bridge or block your customers’ path?

Last week at Brussels airport travelers clapped as their luggage arrived. It struck me then that we now celebrate things we used to take for granted.

While the world celebrates automation, and conference presentations are all about efficiency gains through digital means and the power of AI to improve things beyond recognition, my customer experience in the real world is often unsatisfactory.

Technological advances can be wonderful, provided they are used intelligently and they are used in conjunction with a customer service foundation that works. Unfortunately, often tech is implemented before processes have been improved in order to support it, or it is used as a barrier instead of as a bridge. A classic example is that new customers can always reach the sales team fast, while existing customers often struggle to reach anyone.

Beyond using tech as a barrier, companies often also use tech to provide services that do not serve the customer. A key consideration here is “just because it is easy and cheap to implement, and it keeps you in constant contact with your customer, it may not serve your customer and your customer can tell.”

Classic examples of services that do not serve include daily reminders that I booked a restaurant or that I will soon be staying in a hotel, or the invitation to download a hotel app so I can check in ahead of time, which, according to a colleague changed her check-in experience at the hotel not at all.

Ultimately what customers want is straightforward and identical across industries: a fast tailored solution to their problem without extra mental load.

I experienced an almost perfect example – Lufthansa put my luggage on a later flight, they sent me a text message telling me where it was and when to expect it, they also sent a link so I could register my delivery location. I was impressed. Only the app didn’t work, so I went to a service kiosk, entered all my data and then was told that delivery may take nine days. The gentleman at the kiosk recommended I pick my luggage up myself.

Key takeaways: Technological solutions cannot compensate for underlying system errors so ensure your business foundation is solid before you implement. Make sure whatever you implement works. Automation cannot replace a human connection, automate with care.

Leadership: effectively leading transformations

Last week during the DIA Medical Information conference I ran a workshop on operational excellence and strategic alignment. I provided participants with a tool to self-assess digital and harmonization maturity within their function and organization.

A participant said, “from the perspective of the global team we are fully harmonized and digitally mature, from the perspective of the non-global teams the situation is very different”.

The situation highlights something that happens frequently when transformation programs are run from the “head” downwards. If your head, or global organization, sees a goal on the horizon and decides that that is the destination, but the “body” and the “feet” and the “gut brain” of the organization, i.e. everyone else, is not informed nor involved in designing and charting the journey, what happens is the head believes that a change has occurred, because it has “thought” its way there, whereas the rest of the organism has remained exactly where it was before, growing disengaged and frustrated in the process.

If this is where you landed, the problem is, you may not even be aware of it. Also, if after a long time of running a transformation programme this is where you are at, it will take a big effort to get back on track.

Key takeaways: Good transformation programs take time, the involvement of all stakeholders and clarity of vision and approach. Be clear on how you will approach your transformation and ask anyone consulting to you or supporting you how they approach and monitor transformation success.

Thank you for reading, I enjoy sharing my thoughts and I love hearing what piqued your interest or any feedback. If you are currently working on a demanding project in the fields of medical, digital, systems, analytics, channels, or facing any team or personal challenges, feel free to reach out to me for a chat. I am always happy to explore how I might be able to support you.

Best wishes

Isabelle C. Widmer MD

Photo credit: Isabelle C. Widmer – Airport Basel-Mulhouse

Brussels Med Info meeting sneak peek, presentation secrets from the African bush and why diversity matters

I am on the way to Brussels for the DIA Medical Information and Communications meeting, where I hope to meet many of you later this week. This year marks my 10th anniversary as a programme committee member and my 10th anniversary as an entrepreneur. Time flies and a lot has happened.

Today’s newsletter includes a variety of topics covering team building, startup-pitches and diversity, how to present and of course, as next week is the DIA meeting a sneak peek at what I will be talking about.I look forward to seeing you next week but if you cannot make it, then you can catch the webinar I will run after the meeting:

-Medical Information set-up considerations – pre Brussels DIA meeting sneak peek
-Great presentation secrets from the African bush
-Business: Why are there no women on your team?
-Leadership: A lacrosse captain’s team building approach

Medical Information set-up considerations – pre Brussels DIA meeting sneak peek 

At this week’s DIA Med Info meeting in Brussels I will share considerations for designing your Medical Information set-up. While the key pain points in Medical Information are common across companies,  there is no single solution that works for everyone. 

The top ten issues that leaders face when implementing Medical Information operations are, in no particular order: content generation and management,  language,  IT systems for content and query management, data management and integration,  analytics and insights generation, digital maturity, ideal operational set-up, local-global collaboration,  interdisciplinary collaboration, and to provide value to customers and demonstrate value add to company stakeholders.

While, as mentioned above, the topics are universal the solutions are always individual.

Considerations that I find valuable when designing a company’s set-up include the size of the company’s product portfolio, the geographies involved, key products, product life-cycle, company maturity, indications, target market size and key customer types, all of which can vary significantly depending on a company’s portfolio.

In the session on Medical information Set-up I will share how I approach the identification of a tailored set-up and I will provide a road map for the audience to use as a starting point for their personal journey. Later on participants can either expand their thinking further in a workshop with me on operations and strategic alignment, or, alternatively,  they can join Marie Luise Helmich to discuss digital topics or Sarah Dunnett to explore insights and analytics.

If you can’t come to the meeting but want to discuss set-up considerations, please contact me for a chat or stay tuned for my upcoming webinar on the topic.  

Key takeawayWhen considering your best Medical Information set-up, the challenges are universal but the solutions are always individual.

Great presentation secrets from the African bush and TED

As you probably know I am on the board of the telemedicine charity The Virtual Doctors. Each time I watch the founder Huw Jones speak about what led to the creation of the Virtual Doctors I am touched, even though I have watched the video many times.

In fact, Huw’s presentation is one of the key reasons I joined a charity that enables UK doctors to provide healthcare professionals in rural African communities with a second opinion. Huw’s presentation invariably makes me cry, but I could never put my finger on what was so special and impactful about it, until I recently read a book on TED talks.

Key elements of a great talk include a story that is unique to you, a message about something you are passionate about, a glimpse of your vulnerability as a human, and a journey you can take your audience on, allowing them to share your experience. Done well, it can be magical.

In Huw’s story a pregnant woman and her child died, despite his best efforts to help. The experience changed him forever, and it made him want to change the world, so that less patients would suffer from lack of access to healthcare. He founded the charity the Virtual Doctors and we are working on making his dream of better access to healthcare a reality one country at a time.

You can experience the story that changed Huw’s life and see what a fantastic talk looks like here.

Key takeaway: When presenting make it personal, share your passion and take listeners on a journey.

Business: “Why are there no women on your team?”

This was the first question a jury member and potential investor asked at the end of a pitch at the recent AI in Healthcare event in Basel, Switzerland. This is not the question you want at the end of a pitch where your goal is to raise money. The story highlights how much the world has changed.

Twenty years ago at a Roche event an org chart of a senior leadership team was presented.  All the leaders were men, all the administrative staff were women, the photos on the org chart made it really hit home.  It is the type of thing you notice when you are a woman at a training event for high potential future leaders. Times have changed since then and while women are still underrepresented in senior positions, they are now present. And it now matters. Investors male and female alike notice when your leadership team is all male. Female talent looking to join a company will assess the likelihood of being promoted based on your org charts. Even companies looking to partner with you will take note, because their shareholders also take note. 

It seems that while in the past our presence was noticed, now it is our absence. This is progress.

However, I have it from reliable sources, that even extremely senior women are sometimes still asked to take minutes in a meeting, until the men in the meeting have figured out they are not the admin, and many women I know, myself included,  have been deterred from buying from a vendor, bank, estate agent etc. because the salesperson we engaged with focused on our male companions assuming them to be the key decision maker and purse-string holder. 

Luckily, times are changing and in the younger generation the changing mindset is especially noticeable. At lacrosse training recently a friend’s teenage son, Tom, noticing that a male colleague didn’t pass me the ball, preferring to keep it and to score in a one man show, asked me “why did the guy you were training with not pass the ball to you?” The answer that was obvious to me “I am a female player, he worried that we wouldn’t score had he passed to me“, and of course I could be wrong, apparently did not occur to Tom.  

Key takeaways: 1) In business, diversity is no longer merely a “nice to have” because a lack of diversity and the awareness of the value of women as customers can hurt your bottom line in various ways 2) Many women control significant budgets, hold senior positions or represent a key potential collaborator, it is worth making sure your sales leads don’t dismiss them out of hand 3) When in a meeting where men and women are present, never assume the women are “tea girls”.

Leadership: A lacrosse captain’s team building approach

I have been playing lacrosse for a very long time. I don’t play particularly well, but I love it and it’s fun. Years ago, I was in a women’s lacrosse team. There was only a small group of players and a core group of close-knit regular players. Other players came and went but the team never grew and at some point the team disbanded and all the women, apart from myself, stopped playing.

At about that time, the club gained a new captain. He was convinced that a proper club should have both men’s and women’s teams. As there were no women left, apart from me left, he integrated the women into the men’s practice sessions.

He started a recruitment drive. He recruited the second female player while in a bar watching baseball. She has been playing for a year now, she plays with teams in Zurich, in Bern and in Germany. She is absolutely dedicated. She loves it. She is great and she has brought more people who in turn have brought others. We now regularly have 15 players in our weekly trainings. Considering that lacrosse in Switzerland is a niche sport and we have just come out of a pandemic this is a notable achievement.

So, what did the captain do to grow from a struggling group to a thriving club? Some things spring to mind. He is passionate about lacrosse. He is inclusive. He integrates younger and older players. He exemplifies a spirit of passion for the game but also for the team. He found creative solutions. He trains the team as one, we play together, we have fun together and there is a spirit of camaraderie and connection. He also uses positive reinforcement: when people sign up he celebrates; if they forget he reminds them. He doesn’t ever use negative reinforcement or control. When new players come he focuses on them, introduces them to the game and makes them feel welcome. There is no inner circle, there is no “clique”. It is one for all and all for one, or that is what it feels like.

Two years ago, I thought of stopping as I had torn most of my ligaments in my left ankle. I was worried about going back, because I didn’t think I could add much to the practice. Thanks to regular check-ins from the captain, and his refusal to delete my name off the player’s log, I felt encouraged enough and welcome enough to go back. Once I did I remembered what I love about it, how much fun the group is. Now I don’t miss a Wednesday if I can help it and I have started bringing people along too.

Everyone who comes to play comes again. Even those of us who thought we would stop are now watching lacrosse videos in our spare time to improve our game.
His spirit is infectious, the club’s spirit is infectious and that I think is the true sign of a leader. Someone who can communicate his passion and show people his vision, who can take people along for the ride, making it about everyone, not just about himself and cultivating other leaders to stand beside him.

Key takeaway: have a vision, be passionate, work with your team, lead from behind, use positive reinforcement and make sure you have fun while you are at it.

Thank you for reading, I enjoy sharing my thoughts and I love hearing what piqued your interest or any feedback. If you are currently working on a demanding project in the fields of medical, digital, systems, analytics, channels, or facing any team or personal challenges, feel free to reach out to me for an informal chat. I am always happy to explore how I might be able to support you.

Best wishes

Isabelle C. Widmer MD

Photo credit: Sergey Pesterev @Unsplash

Intelligent Health 2023, African healthcare innovations and melanoma detection

In an attempt to enjoy the last weeks of summer I have been swimming in the local river in addition to work activities like attending an AI in healthcare meeting and getting ready for the DIA Medical Information and Communications meeting in Brussels. If you plan to be there, drop me a line,so we can set up a meeting.

Today’s topics:

– Intelligent Health 2023 – learning about healthcare access from African Startups
-Pitching to your audience – how to build trust and how to lose it
-How to ensure your customer engagement channels are fit for purpose
-Leadership: Don’t blame your minions, read on to find out why

Intelligent Health 2023 – learning about healthcare access from African Startups

Last week I went to the Intelligent health 2023 conference in Basel run by Inspired Minds.

The talks range from the general “How AI is revolutionizing healthcare” to the practical “Revolutionizing surgery with surgical operating systems: The future of integrated healthcare” by Ozanan Meireles, director of the Surgical Artificial Intelligence and Innovation Laboratory (SAIIL) at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

Beyond main session presentations, I particularly enjoyed pitches by African startups because when limited resource meets huge medical need the only solution is innovation, which may provide some insights for struggling Western healthcare systems.

In conversations about African healthcare systems I was reminded that in most countries outside of a few regions including the US, Canada and Europe, patients pay for treatment out of pocket and upon admission to a healthcare facility. That standards of care are different, and that this in turn means that operating techniques are different, which translates to the fact that training materials or medication guides that are not generated with an African context in mind are unlikely to provide the desired value.

Presentations that stayed with me included providing patients with a zero interest credit card that gives them immediate access to healthcare when they need it, rather than when they have saved sufficient funds. A diagnostic tool that facilitates breast cancer and cervical cancer diagnosis, and two telemedicine services, one that provides clinics an online presence making it easier for patients to access medical consultations both online and in person with a physician of their choice and that also handles all payment related aspects so that healthcare providers and hospitals can focus on their core activity, providing healthcare. And the second that provides Ethiopian women with access to information and tools regarding sexual and reproductive health.There were also pitches on managing non-communicable diseases including hypertension and diabetes.

While not all the solutions presented can be implemented as is in other geographical regions, many of them harbour a seed that could, with minimal adaptation, grow elsewhere.

Key takeaway: When facing a challenge, look around for inspiration from other teams, departments, or systems. While unique contexts may yield specific solutions, with the right adjustments, these can often have broader applicability.

Pitching to your audience – how to build trust and how to potentially lose it

No, but it’s not really a problem, as darker skinned people don’t really get skin cancer” the presenter said, after some reflection, he added, “well only rarely” in response to an enquiry from an audience member on whether the melanoma app he was presenting is able to detect malignancies in brown, dark brown and black skin. He did qualify his statement with the information that for the trials they had run on his software they hadn’t had sufficient individuals with darker skin on which to train the application and that they would be remedying this soon, clarifying that this is in focus.

Up to that point the presentation had focused very much on the brilliance of the product, the fact that the product is much better than the competition, the size of the global market, projected patients in the years to come and in general on the great earning potential of this app; in short why investing in it would be a wonderful thing. It was a pitch after all.

However, following that comment, as I listened, I reflected on what I know about skin cancer and AI, which included: AI for facial recognition is known to perform better in white skinned individuals than in darker skinned individuals “because it is trained that way” (link WEF). Tech solutions are often designed to serve Caucasian populations. And, while the incidence of skin cancers in those with darker skins may be lower, they also often present with more advanced disease, and at a higher risk of lesions being misidentified and underdiagnosed due to a lack of awareness by health care professionals and patients alike.

Once at home I investigated further. The publication “Disparities in Dermatology AI Performance on a Diverse, Curated Clinical Image Set” published in August 2022 in the Journal Science Advances by Roxana Daneshjou et al, from Stanford University, with co-authors from the Sloan Kettering Cancer center, amongst others, on AI performance in the diagnosis of dermatological lesions, identifies three key issues when using/training AI algorithms to detect skin cancer including, the third of which is a human factor “there are differences in dermatologist visual consensus label performance, which is commonly used to train AI models, across skin tones and uncommon conditions”. The publication also noted that “access to dermatological care is a major issue with an estimated 3 billion people lacking access to care globally” (Link).

While the product might be wonderful, what stayed with me was the presenter’s statement about detecting skin cancer in non-white individuals.

Key takeaways: It is hard to predict what your audience will take away from your presentation; but being prepared, thoughtful, knowledgeable and transparent about the strengths and weaknesses of your product goes a long way to building trust.

How to ensure your customer engagement channels are fit for purpose

A friend of mine, who recently moved to the states tells me that her most frequent sentence when engaging with company contact channels is “I want to speak to a human”. I too often try this sentence, tragically the response is often “I didn’t understand, please rephrase”.

This raises the following question:

When considering how advanced and effective your customer engagement strategy is, do you look at the channels you have implemented, and say, we are well set up? Or do you look at how the channels perform to meet customer needs?

Many companies measure their success by the fact they have transitioned from a multichannel to an omni-channel approach, by the fact that customers seem to be using these channels and by the number of channels that are available to customers.

However, what really matters is that the channels work.

I recently tried to contact an international service provider using a web form. When I didn’t hear back, I called the help-desk. After waiting on hold for a while, I was informed that the lines were unmanned and instructed to leave a message. However, the mailbox was full, and the call was subsequently disconnected. After failing to reach the company both via web form and phone I finally went the personal route, messaging a LinkedIn connection at the company. I received a response within an hour.

This is but one example of many. If you are the sole provider of a product or service clients will persevere in their attempts to contact you, for everyone else, it’s worth making it easy for customers to engage with you.

Key take ways: Regularly evaluate your customer engagement channels for functionality and user-friendliness. Regularly monitor your service for underperformance, check for technical issues, see if you can enhance usability, and review customer engagement

Leadership: Don’t blame your minions, read on to find out why

Whether you are in the UK, and interested in the UK health system or not, you currently read about it every two weeks courtesy of my musings. This week I am intrigued by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s approach to evolving NHS wait times.

In January 2023 Sunak reportedly said, “NHS waiting lists will fall and people will get the care they need more quickly,” a promise he has unsurprisingly, considering the challenge, failed to deliver upon.

What is surprising, however, is that in an article by Chris Mason, published on the website on the 15 September 2023 Mason writes this about Sunak’s self-assessment on performance against goals: according to Sunak “the government was making “very good progress” before the strikes. And without them, he (Sunak) reckons, he would have kept his promise”. Link.

In not so many words Sunak lays the blame for his failure at the feet of junior doctors and consultants who are going on strike for a pay rise.

To quote Chris Mason: “It sets up an invitation for you to decide who you blame: Medics on picket lines or the prime minister?”

The NHS, a cornerstone of UK health, has faced criticism for years. From long waiting lists for treatment and prolonged A&E wait times to a scarcity of healthcare professionals—a situation worsened by Brexit. News articles recounting infant deaths and subpar clinical care in numerous trusts bear testimony to the system’s struggles. The system cannot be fixed without the help of the healthcare professionals, naturally the strikes are impacting NHS wait times, but the strikes are not the reason for the wait times. The junior doctors did not break the system.

What is astonishing in a situation as clear cut as this is that a leader would attempt to shirk accountability. When leaders fault juniors instead of leading them to find solutions, they show their true limitations as a leader. Moreover, if such behavior is evident in clear-cut situations, it likely reflects a habitual approach, which does not foster trust.

Key takeaway: How you treat others says a lot about you: never blame your minions.

Thank you for reading, I enjoy sharing my thoughts and I love hearing what piqued your interest or any feedback and thoughts. If you are currently working on a demanding project in the fields of medical, digital, systems, analytics, channels, or facing any team or personal challenges, feel free to reach out to me for an informal chat. I am always happy to explore how I might be able to support you.

Best wishes

Isabelle C. Widmer MD

Photo Credit: Francisco Venancio @ Unsplash

Healthcare systems in crisis – the NHS as a case study

Only three weeks until the DIA meeting in Brussels, the agenda is final, and I am in the midst of writing presentations and finishing up workshop preparations. We have a large group of attendees from all over the world coming to be with us in Brussels, I hope to see you there. If you’d like to chat with me at the meeting consider dropping me a line so we can plan ahead.

Today’s blog topics:

• Best practice for scientific content provision in an omnichannel environment
• Med Info and Med Comms meeting Brussels 2023
• Healthcare systems in crisis – the NHS as a case study
• Leadership: The role of unconscious bias in the Lucy Letby case

Best practice for scientific content provision in an omnichannel environment

Customer access is a challenge for the pharmaceutical industry. Physicians have limited time and many companies vying for their attention. As access becomes harder, the provision of service on demand via the channels of the customer’s choice is becoming an important business differentiator. In addition, companies are looking to reduce cost and improve impact by making better use of available headcount and by using integrated data analytics to inform strategy. Taken together these factors explain why many pharmaceutical companies are rolling out omnichannel solutions.

Unfortunately, these solutions often fall short of their potential because they don’t factor in the human element. An area where inefficiencies are frequent is content generation, management and harmonisation, which is often managed by different teams. As structures and customer engagement evolves it is worth reflecting on whether the right people are engaged in the right activities at the right time. For example, used well, a Medical Information team can be the beating heart of scientific content generation in a company, working efficiently across teams and departments in the service of all.

Medical information professionals are product experts who excel at communicating scientific information tailored to the customer’s needs, they understand internal and external customers and support internal colleagues, including medical affairs colleagues and sales representatives with scientific enquiries. They write response documents, perform literature searches, and consult with teams including quality and safety. As Medical Information teams receive unsolicited enquiries from a broad range of customers, they are also in tune with customer needs, and able to offer valuable insights.
If you want to find out how best to provide scientific content and how to do more with less join us in Brussels at the Medical Information conference) We will discuss models, channels, solution providers, content generation cross-functional collaboration, pragmatic use of resources and how to generate meaningful metrics and insights

Key take way: As your business model evolves review if you are using your resources effectively and whether you are making the most of your Medical Information team’s ability to free up your in-field team in order to improve overall impact.

Medical Information and Medical Communications meeting Brussels September 2023 – Last call

Preparations are ongoing for the Medical Information and Medical Communications DIA meeting that will take place in Brussels. Thanks to the stellar submissions we received we have put together a great agenda.

Topics cover contact centre management, evolving the medical information structure, the value of medical information, putting theory into practice, digital content, content dissemination, a workshop on navigating medical information and an open microphone session, where we welcome participation from the floor.

If you haven’t signed up yet, do consider coming. You can also still submit a poster to the meeting. Every year a group of experienced individuals in the industry, as well as smaller companies, or biotechnology companies that are identifying how best to meet customers information needs meet, this is a good opportunity to increase your knowledge, share best practice and make connections. The meeting is especially useful for individuals who are new to medical information or who are tasked with building a medical information approach from scratch and want to fast track their efforts.

You can find out more about the speakers, and the agenda as well as sign up here.

Key takeaway: Instead of finding your own path why not stand on the shoulders of those who came before?

Healthcare systems in crisis – the NHS as a case study

During the pandemic health care professionals (HCPs) were celebrated. People stood on balconies clapping. HCPs worked long hours under difficult conditions wearing insufficient or faulty personal protective equipment in the service of patients and the healthcare system. Yet despite being officially feted health care professionals’ working conditions in many countries remain challenging. Frequently, those who provide healthcare to others do not work in a healthy environment which is one of the reasons, I suspect, why there is a global lack of healthcare staff.

In the UK the situation has come to a head as junior doctors and consultants prepare to strike. A 2022 survey by the British Medical Association of 4000 junior doctors, who are in the first 6-10 years of training after getting their degrees, showed that almost 90% are concerned about the impact of the rising cost of living on their personal situation. More than half the respondents said they had struggled to pay for utilities and lighting in 2022 and 45% said they struggled to pay for commuting, essential travel and rents and mortgage. Eighty percent of those surveyed reported that if they had to reduce their income at all they wouldn’t be able to meet their essential outgoings.

Almost 80% of respondents are considering, and 65% have actively researched, leaving the NHS in the past 12 months. A third of these is planning to work abroad. More than three quarters of respondents had friends and colleagues who had already left the NHS and gone to work as a doctor in a different country. Reasons for considering to leave the NHS include pay and pension schemes, deteriorating working conditions and personal well-being, increased workload, lack of recognition, workforce supply shortages and a lack of flexible working patterns.

The NHS is already in crisis: according to a recent article in the Times “More than half of people who died in England last year were on an NHS waiting list. The estimated toll of 340,000 was up from 240,000 five years before, a 42 per cent rise. The figure represented more than 60 per cent of all deaths in England, according to data provided to The Times by NHS trusts under freedom of information laws”. Patients are already being affected but now the doctors’ strikes will further compound the problem. While the leading issue cited in the media is salary, the BMA survey highlights many other topics, that are relevant for the UK but also beyond the UK’s borders.

An article written in the (Swiss Medical Weekly) by three Switzerland based physicians with experience of the NHS. discusses the results of the BMA survey. Although they acknowledge that young Swiss doctors are in a better position than their UK peers, they note that according to survey data, junior doctors working in the Swiss healthcare system experience similar areas of dissatisfaction. Their conclusion matches mine: the BMA survey results are worth paying attention to. As we face a global shortage of HCPs, and HCPs vote with their feet moving to locations with more favourable working conditions and salaries, the challenges in accessing healthcare faced by underserved populations, such as those in Africa increase.

While recruiting HCPs from other countries may temporarily address developed nations’ healthcare system woes, in the absence of a change of strategy to solve this problem we are heading into challenging times.

Key take-away: The situation in the NHS may seem relevant only for the UK, however, doctors the world over are turning their backs on local clinical practice to work overseas. In many cases the drivers underlying this decision will match those highlighted by the BMA survey. If we want patients to have access to healthcare, we need to reinvent healthcare provision.

Leadership: The role of unconscious bias in the Lucy Letby case

Last week British nurse Lucy Letby was convicted of murdering infants in her care. While widely covered in UK media it was not widely covered by the media elsewhere so I will summarise some key aspects.

The case is tragic because initial concerns about the nurse were raised in the month after the first child was killed, yet it took another year, four more murdered babies, and six known murder attempts until action was taken.

Physicians working at the hospital raised concerns about the nurse repeatedly during this time as she was the single common denominator in each case. Autopsies were not performed in every case and some autopsy results were lost in the post, absent a digitalised system. The head nurse and clinic manager defended the young nurse and the doctors who raised concerns were threatened with sanctions by the management team and forced to apologize. There are currently other cases ongoing in the NHS where physicians have been suspended for raising concerns with the quality of care provided to patients.

The reason I am highlighting this case is because there are some important lessons to be learned here. The first is about unconscious bias, where we tend to trust those who are like us, and there is a risk that we protect those who appear to need it most. In this case a young female nurse, who was the subject of complaints by the entire team of senior male physicians. In addition, there are different reporting lines in hospitals, nurses report into a senior nurse, doctors report in through a different structure, this can lead to an “us” versus “them” mentality and a protection of “one’s own”. The lack of availability of objective data, in this case autopsy reports, which would have confirmed suspicions, is a systemic process error. And lastly, it appears that senior leadership was reluctant to promptly investigate the allegations, possibly due to the anticipated consequences if the claims were verified; while this hesitancy was likely unconscious, it had very real impact on many lives. The NHS is now reviewing its whistleblowing policy.

Key takeaway: Companies value an external perspective when new individuals join their teams. In conflict situations, or situations where team members’ mental health is at stake, or allegations are serious, it is worth bringing in an external individual to support, mediate, moderate and assess as it is impossible to be unbiased as a leader in this situation.

Thank you for reading, I enjoy sharing my thoughts and I love hearing what piqued your interest or any feedback and thoughts. If you are currently working on a demanding project in the fields of medical, digital, systems, analytics, channels, or facing any team or personal challenges, feel free to reach out to me for an informal chat. I am always happy to explore how I might be able to support you.

Best wishes

Isabelle C. Widmer MD

Photo Credit: National Cancer Institute @ Unsplash

Fixing the healthcare crisis: patients as equal partners

In addition to visiting doctors, worrying about test results, calling the hospital, and wishing it was not so hot, I have managed to swim in the local river for the first time in years. It was glorious! I hope you too  have found time to something you enjoy as you wait for autumn.

Today’s blog topics:

– Fixing the healthcare crisis: patients as equal partners
– Questions to empower patients
– Data versus assumptions – a personal observation
– Leadership: the importance of role awareness and reflection

Fixing the healthcare crisis: Patients as equal partners

Around the globe healthcare costs are on the rise, limiting access to treatments in many places as governments worldwide seek cost-effective care solutions. In a recent newsletter, I highlighted Singapore’s innovative healthcare model which performs comparably to Switzerland’s system at a quarter of the cost (link to article). The difference? Patients benefit directly if they use less healthcare resources.

However, while beneficial, I don’t believe that focusing solely on financial incentives to consume less will be enough in the longer term. The global shortage of healthcare professionals (HCPs) translates to less time per patient, the risk of mistakes and less time for conversations with patients. Despite everyone’s hopes even if AI does take on routine tasks in the clinic, physicians will be asked to see more patients, not to spend more time with individual patients.

Healthcare professionals do their best, they work under difficult circumstances, but, given that no one is more invested in a patient’s health than the patient themselves, and that pressure on HCPs looks to increase, maybe it is the right time to empower patients to take a more engaged role in their health management by giving them easier access to information. Currently, accessing information beyond prescription details is challenging for non-HCP patients. Whether seeking original clinical trial data and publications, or pre-emptively researching a product, such information is often available online, but the key lies in a patient’s ability to find it. Another resource, pharmaceutical industry medical information departments, often does not cater to complex patient inquiries. Typically, patients who contact pharmaceutical companies with questions about their prescriptions are referred to their clinicians. 

Especially in markets with direct-to-consumer drug marketing, I think it is worth considering that patients are permitted to query pharma companies about products they have been prescribed or that have been proposed as treatment options, so that they can reach an informed position and compile a list of questions before the next appointment with their clinician.

While not every patient will be interested, or indeed able, to manage their health more actively many will be, as shared by patient advocate Suz Schrandt when she told me in 2017 about the information she would like to access as a patient but struggles to do so (link to article medical Information patient needs).  As we navigate a new era in healthcare, I suggest that it is time to give patients the opportunity to take more ownership in managing their health by removing access restrictions to relevant information.

I realise this may be a controversial position, so I am interested to hear your opinions. 

Key takeaway:  Resource constraints limit access to healthcare services as time pressures increase on HCPs.  Engaging patients more actively as managers of their health by giving them access to key information could improve patient health and through patient engagement also potentially improve compliance.  

Questions to empower patients

As a physician I often support friends and family members when they face healthcare challenges, usually once things look as though they are going wrong. This experience has made me think about the questions patients should have ready to ask when meeting their doctors to discuss treatment options. Naturally, the opportunity to ask questions and the available choices will vary depending on local culture, the local healthcare system and other local factors, however, regardless of the system I believe in being prepared.

I recommend the following approach, especially when seeing a new doctor:

Start by making a list before you go to visit your doctor, if your doctor doesn’t have much time, you may otherwise find that you have left the practice without having all your questions answered.

List any recent symptoms you have experienced, what the context was and if they were reproducible. Ensure you have a list of all medications you are taking including any over the counter supplements you take,. If you are being assessed for surgery, ask about alternatives, risk factors, prognoses, the experience of the doctor performing the surgery, how often she has performed this surgery before and what her success rate is. Ask about typical outcomes, risk versus benefit for you personally and what the outcome will be if the operation is not performed. Also ask about timelines for operation, what is the urgency, is there any or can you delay? Also ask about considerations for managing at home post-operation and rehabilitation options. Finally, consider finding out whether doctors are incentivised to perform surgery.

Further questions to ask include whether there are medical treatment guidelines and whether the recommended treatment is in line with these guidelines. Ask whether your doctor thinks his colleagues would recommend the same approach, and potentially whether the doctor would treat his family in the way recommended. Depending on your situation it is also important to weigh the quality of life versus the impacts and benefits of therapy.

If you are receiving a new prescription ask about alternatives, pros and cons, potential interactions with medication you are already on, foods you shouldn’t eat while taking the medication and whether there is anything else you should be aware of, sensitivity to light for example, whether you can still drive and whether your can drink alcohol. Also ask about potential interactions with common over the counter drugs or other medicines you may take periodically such as antihistamines.

Depending on the market you are in, ask whether the prescribed medication is the best one for the condition, or whether it is currently the only one available in your market, or the only one that is financed in your market. If your doctor says there are better, newer products available, but they are currently not available in your market, ask whether you can be included in a clinical trial or whether there are other ways to access the product and whether this is worth looking into.

This isn’t an exhaustive list. If anyone has additional suggestions I would be very interested to read them. Please share them with me.

Key take-away: Nothing beats good preparation.

Data versus assumptions – a personal observation

I recently subscribed to Nature. Having spent years immersed in basic research, analysing promoter regions, experimenting with cell cultures, assessing protein expression levels, and generating antibodies, my love of science is an enduring one. In addition, I’m also a physician. So, when the mRNA vaccines were rolled out, one might have expected me to dive into the research, scrutinize the publications – though of course there wasn’t much available initially – and engage in deep contemplation. Surprisingly, although not within the context of the pandemic, perhaps, I didn’t. I got vaccinated and moved on.

What intrigues me about this situation is how I made many assumptions about the design of the mRNA vaccines, based on my background, only to discover upon reading Nature publications that I was mistaken. This serves as a reminder of how often we draw conclusions based on our unique perspectives without verifying the accuracy of our assumptions, often leading to surprises down the road. For more information on the history of mRNA vaccines Johns Hopkins has an excellent summary here

Key take-away: Data beats assumptions almost every time.

Leadership: The importance of role awareness and reflection

In my work with teams and leaders two recurring themes appear. First, the desire to make a meaningful impact and have contributions recognized. Second, the mismatch between expectations of others and reality. While issues vary, considering roles often offers insights.

Among the many aspects, I will focus on one factor that can be transformative: role awareness.

Role awareness starts with reflecting upon the roles we hold. We are children by birth, parents by choice, doctors by training, in my case, and general managers by successful navigation of the career ladder. Additionally, socialisation and valency prime us for further roles: the outspoken one, the caregiver, the problem solver, the paternal figure, and more. While companies employ tests like Myers Briggs, Belbin, and Insights to enhance performance and self-awareness, the significance of assumed and designated roles, coupled with adeptly handling role shifts, is often overlooked, yet critical for success.

Once you understand the range of roles you embody and adopt it is worth considering your work-related role. This includes assessing whether your understanding of your role aligns with the organization’s perspective. In the event of a mismatch here, or a lack of clarity, future issues are almost certain.

In addition to understanding the roles you inhabit; it is worth considering best practice in role initiation and role relinquishment as your career progresses. In practice, when taking on a new role, consider what this role requires of you and what you need to leave behind. To perform well in one role, you need to fully exit from an old role. If you do not, you risk confusion for yourself and your stakeholders. In addition, as long as you inhabit a role that you have officially left there is no “space” for the new role holder to succeed in it.

When role assumption and relinquishment are an issue, the situation might be viewed as follows by the manager, who was promoted from the role, stating, “I expected better performance and more autonomous decision making from the new role holder” and the new role holder saying, “despite the promotion, he’s still immersed in daily operations, and I cannot make any decisions”.

Key takeaway: Focus fully on the tasks associated with your current role and job title, step away from operative activities related to your old role to allow your successor room to excel. Provide guidance only as appropriate, i.e., if is part of your new role, or you have been asked to mentor

Thank you for reading, I enjoy sharing my thoughts and I love hearing what piqued your interest or any feedback and thoughts. If you are currently working on a demanding project in the fields of medical, digital, systems, analytics, channels, or facing team or personal challenges, feel free to reach out to me for an informal chat. I am always happy to explore how I might be able to support you.

Best wishes

Isabelle C. Widmer MD

Photo credit: Annie Spratt @Unsplash

Tech for good in healthcare: Insights from a virtual panel discussion

While the summer holidays are sadly fleeting the range of topics I come across that fascinate me and keep me energised and engaged is luckily infinite. I have picked some that I find particularly relevant to share with you today.

Today’s blog topics:

– Tech for good in healthcare: insights from a virtual panel discussion
– If you see a zebra don’t tell yourself it is a horse
– Leadership: Handling the statement “this won’t work here”
– Singapore and Switzerland comparing healthcare systems

Tech for good in healthcare: Insights from a virtual panel discussion

Last week I participated in a virtual panel discussion hosted by 3SC, a company dedicated to using technology for good to change lives. The topic of the discussion was “Tech for Good in Healthcare and Wellness.” I was invited to participate in my role as a member of the board of trustees for charity the Virtual Doctors.

The panel brought together a diverse group of experts, including Ariana Vargas, the founder of STIGMA, a mental health app; William Spencer from the British Red Cross; Alisandra Wederich from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America; myself; and Dr Daniel Grace, the Medical Director of the Virtual Doctors charity.

We spoke about the potential of technology to improve healthcare access considering increasing financial and human resource constraints in the sector. We also explored global considerations, including disparities in technology access, varying levels of tech literacy, data privacy, trust in healthcare providers and in technology, and the challenges of implementing tech solutions in different healthcare systems.

An important highlight from the discussion was the gap in tech adoption and maturity between different markets. Dr Daniel Grace shared his experience as a GP within the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), revealing how the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of telemedicine in the UK, which until then had not played a role in the UK’s healthcare delivery. I contrasted this with data from the Swiss market, where telemedicine has been part of healthcare provision for almost two decades. In Switzerland health insurance providers leverage telemedicine companies as the first point of contact for patients with health concerns, leading to reduced costs. Patients are incentivised to use telemedicine services before visiting their family doctor through reduced premiums.

The panel discussion was recorded, you can find the recording here . I hope that anyone, who couldn’t take part, can still benefit from the insights we shared during our conversation.

Key take-away:  Tech in healthcare is not a one size fits all proposition, there are significant differences from market to market, regarding adoption readiness etc.

If you see a zebra don’t tell yourself it is a horse

In my last post I wrote about metrics and insights and about the broadly held but mistaken belief that you cannot manage what you cannot measure (link). A reader on LinkedIn agreed with the statement initially and added in the comments section “also, treatment without diagnosis is malpractice”. However, this is not necessarily true, because as a doctor you will often need to treat a patient’s symptoms while performing additional tests to diagnose the underlying condition.

The discussion reminded me of a great medical example that illustrates what happens when you only look at the obvious data, or the data that you can measure or easily collect, instead of exploring additional information or viewing the data in context to understand what is going on:

One of my relatives was diagnosed with bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome. Based on this the GP wanted to schedule an operation. I recommended we seek a second opinion, asking myself “why would a patient, who is retired, who does not spend hours doing manual labour, and never did, suddenly present with bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome?” Further assessments confirmed there was an underlying cause, extremely rare, but nevertheless. My relative received treatment avoiding operations that were not indicated and would not have alleviated the issue.

At medical school one of my favourite professors used to say, “when you hear hoofprints, don’t think zebras.” Conversely, if you see a zebra, don’t try to convince yourself it is a horse.

Key take-away: The data you collect is just the beginning, context is everything.

Leadership: handling the statement “this won’t work here”

In the course of any project, you will likely encounter the statement “Unfortunately, that approach won’t work here” often masked as “I don’t think you understand our specific situation”. While you might be tempted to interpret these phrases as a polite way of saying “No”, I encourage you to resist the temptation.

The reasons given will vary – market size, culture, geography, language and more. Often the phrase is shared with regional and global leads working with individual markets, but I also recall a colleague collaborating with individual teams in two distinct geographical locations within a large country who encountered the sentiment.

When faced with this situation, I always emphasize the importance of maintaining an open mind, listening actively and being open to constructive conversations, all of which will enable you to understand your colleagues’ position better. This in turn will permit you to adopt an effective management approach. A method that I have frequently found useful is to shift the focus from “how” to “why.” By identifying the driving force behind the desired change, teams can unite and work towards a common goal of finding a solution. If at all possible, try to engage in these conversations face to face.

Regardless of whether your project is met with enthusiastic support or critical questioning, I suggest you respond with the curiosity of a researcher reviewing data: there are no good or bad research results, just data. Every experiment provides you with information upon which you can act.

Try not to take resistance personally or view it as a challenge to your authority or qualifications. Admittedly, this can be easier said than done.

Lastly, it’s tempting to push forward despite encountering resistance, but remember “slower is faster.” Rushing teams forward without achieving clarity or agreement on the direction puts you at risk to fail. Take the time to address concerns, foster understanding, and ensure that everyone is aligned before advancing.

In conclusion, practice embracing the phrase “this won’t work here.” Be receptive to diverse perspectives, seek common ground, and approach obstacles with curiosity. By doing so, you will navigate uncharted territories more effectively and lead your team to success.

Key take-way: When faced with the sentence “this won’t work here” always take it as an invitation to a conversation.

Learning from Singapore: a health system case study

Singapore and Switzerland, despite their differences in geography, have much in common including an internationally recognised high standard of living and the availability of superior healthcare with comparable outcomes. However, in an article published in Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung (Sunday edition 9.10.2022) by R. James Breiding author of the book “Too Small to Fail: Why Some Small Nations Outperform Larger Ones and How They Are Reshaping the World,” Singapore achieves comparable healthcare results to Switzerland at 25% of the cost.

In 2021, Switzerland’s healthcare expenditure amounted to USD 7178.6 per capita, and the country was surpassed only by the United States and Germany according to various sources, you can find links to the data here.

So, how does Singapore achieve this admirable result? The answer, says R. James Breiding, is by incentivising citizens to reduce costs and by rewarding them directly for doing so.

MediSave, introduced in April 1984, is a national medical savings scheme which helps individuals put aside part of their income into a medical-focused savings account to meet their future personal or immediate family’s hospitalization, day surgery and certain outpatient expenses”. Source

While in Switzerland, individuals pay a monthly insurance premium without any incentive to reduce healthcare consumption, as the premium is lost regardless of healthcare usage, Singapore’s system rewards good stewardship of health budgets. Surplus funds from an individual’s Medisave account are transferred to the individual’s pension fund once a sufficient amount has been saved according to the article by R. James Breiding. Thus individuals who consume less healthcare are able to save more for their pension fund. In addition, these savings can be inherited by family members in the event of death. Beyond the MediSave scheme additional insurance is available to cover chronic diseases, such as diabetes, or treatment for illnesses such as cancer, where the costs are particularly high, thus sharing the risk across the entire population in Singapore.

The model in Singapore shows that when patients become an integral part of the healthcare system, deciding where, when and how to invest funds to access healthcare, and benefiting if they invest less, cost control becomes feasible.

The topic is much bigger than what I can reasonably share here, however, I hope it has sparked your curiosity.

Key take-away: Involving patients in health expenditure and allowing them to benefit individually from how they chose to spend on their health can lead to dramatically improved health outcomes at a fraction of the price.

I hope my blog posts provide you with useful insights and I look forward to hearing your thoughts. If you have a challenging project or personal challenge where an external perspective or potentially team or individual coaching might help, please contact me for an informal and confidential chat.

Best wishes

Isabelle C. Widmer MD

Photo credit: Screenshot of 3 sided cube Panel “Tech for Good in Healthcare and Wellness.” Panelists Dr Daniel Grace, the Medical Director of the Virtual Doctors charity and myself with Adriana Vargas, CEO Stigma, William Spencer from the British Red Cross and Alisandra Wederich from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.