S&R Blog

It’s Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile!

In its heyday, GM developed an advertising campaign for their Oldsmobile brand in an attempt to sway younger buyers.  Oldsmobile had been a long standing success for GM among middle-aged and older buyers, but they wanted younger customers. So they came up with a new campaign, “It’s not your father’s Oldsmobile”, which spoke to the innovation, sleek styling and sex-appeal that an Oldsmobile could provide.

At the risk of sounding like my own father, I have concluded that doing business today is a lot like that now-famous Oldsmobile campaign.  Doing business today is not based on the practices I was taught to honor, respect and hold sacred.  In fact, today’s business world is quite like the Wild West—plenty of outlaws, snake-oil peddlers and people looking to be the “biggest gun in town”.

The first difference I find is the ability to take people at their word.  With all the muttered promises, downright lies and “handshake” deals that frankly are not worth a damn, you simply can’t do that anymore.  Could it be a generational gap? New generational values? Or am I becoming an old fart?  It almost doesn’t matter, because when you are unable to trust people to do what they say, something is wrong.  Taking people at their word should mean that there is an understanding between two people that certain expectations will be met.

The second difference is a growing inability to conduct business on a face-to-face basis.  As I compose this blog on my computer, check my smart phone for text, e-mail messages, check my voice-mail and find comfort and safety behind my computer screen, I understand where some of the problem resides.  The ability to engage people in a “live conversation”, either face-to-face, via the phone or via virtual meeting technology is increasingly more difficult.  But I simply can’t think of many successful personal or business relationships I have had where I wasn’t able to interact with people “live”.  Really, how can you build trust and understanding when you have to submit proposals and information via a “blinded web portal”?

The final difference is the “it ain’t grown here” mentality.  My business, in great part, depends on selling ideas, creativity and high-quality implementation of those ideas.  Yet it often feels like that is not what our clients really want.  The typical interaction with our clients is often very one-sided: the client says, “We want an electronic sales program that looks like this and says this, and we need a price for that by tomorrow afternoon.”  Now, some of you reading this might ask, “What’s wrong with that?”

What’s wrong is that it may not be true that an electronic sales program is the correct solution to the problem they are trying to solve.  What has been lost is the long-term strategy (translation: today’s stock share-price) that’s critical to the process and driven by the following key questions: What do your client’s customers really want?  How should you create messages and images that ensure your customers understand and accept your brand?  What media will best reach the demographics of your target audience?

If the above are, in fact, the hallmarks of business practices in the future, so be it.  I personally don’t agree with doing business in these ways—but then everyone has their own opinion (and orifice).  It’s just that when you can’t trust people, interact with them on a face-to-face basis and expect them to have an open mind on how they manage their business, it, doesn’t bode well for the future.

So, with that in mind and that said, I think I will change my Depends, wipe the drool from my chin, sit on the front porch of the assisted-living center and try to find some Oldsmobile ads in the magazine I am reading.

David H. Recht

CEO North State Resources
Holding company for S+R Medical Communications


Novartis+IBM+Vodafone=brilliant ‘SMS for Life’ program
December 16, 2009, 4:32 pm
Filed under: mobile, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , ,

A unique partnership between Vodafone, IBM, and Novartis has successfully launched a mobile health initiative that truly makes a difference in the treatment of malaria in remote areas of Tanzania. The SMS for Life program uses a combination of mobile phones, SMS (Short Messaging Service) technologies and intuitive web sites to track and manage the supply of Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACT) drugs and Quinine injectables, both of which are key to reducing the number of deaths from malaria.

During the first few weeks of the pilot, the number of health facilities with stock-outs in one district alone, was reduced by over 75 percent. The early success of the SMS for Life pilot project has the Tanzanian authorities interested in implementing the solution across the rest of the country. Tanzania has around 5,000 clinics, hospitals and dispensaries, but at any one time, as many as half could potentially be out of stock of anti-malarial drugs.

Kudos to all those involved for making this happen. We can only hope that other drug companies continue to think of new and innovative ways  technology can improve patient outcomes.

Full press release below via IBM.

LONDON – 14 Dec 2009: A new solution developed by IBM (NYSE: IBM), Novartis and Vodafone with the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, is helping to save lives using everyday technology to improve the availability of anti-malarial drugs in remote areas of Tanzania

Called “SMS for Life,” the initiative uses a combination of mobile phones, SMS (Short Messaging Service) technologies and intuitive web sites to track and manage the supply of Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACT) drugs and Quinine injectables, both of which are key to reducing the number of deaths from malaria.

The mosquito-borne disease causes nearly one million deaths in Africa each year, mostly among pregnant women and young children, and many people die because they simply lack quick access to vital medication.


Tanzanian child helped by SMS for life program and IBM LotusLive.com cloud computing (Click on photo for print-quality version).

The concept of using text messaging to improve stock management of life-saving medicines was developed by pharmaceutical company Novartis and a team of international students taking part in IBM’s internship program, Extreme Blue. The team came up with SMS for Life, as it relies on simple technology and fosters self-sufficiency. IBM was tasked with managing the overall project and Vodafone was invited to develop and manage a system based on simple SMS messaging that would help ensure dispensaries did not run out of vital stock.

After visits to clinics, hospitals and dispensaries across Tanzania, IBM, Novartis and Vodafone initiated a five-month pilot of the SMS for Life solution, covering 135 villages and over a million people in different geographic locations across Tanzania.

Vodafone, together with its technology partner MatsSoft, developed a system in which healthcare staff at each facility receives automated SMS messages, which prompt them to check the remaining stock of anti-malarial drugs each week. Using toll-free numbers, staff reply with an SMS to a central database system hosted in the United Kingdom, providing details of stock levels, and deliveries can be made before supplies run out at local health centres.

“This is an example of a truly innovative solution helping solve a humanitarian problem,” says Peter Ward of IBM, SMS for Life Project Manager. “After spending time on the ground, we created a project plan, developed the application with Vodafone and Novartis and established the best way to deliver the pilot, working with the Tanzanian Ministry of Health. We expect other countries will also be able to benefit in the future.”

“Vodafone has worked closely with IBM, Novartis and MatsSoft, to develop a simple, robust and innovative system that is able to deliver even in the most remote African communities,” said Dr. Dianne Sullivan, Scientific Adviser, Mobile Health, of Vodafone. “The SMS for Life solution shows the tremendous potential of mobile technology to deliver social good through lateral thinking by helping to ensure supplies of life-saving drugs.”

During the first few weeks of the pilot, the number of health facilities with stock-outs in one district alone, was reduced by over 75 percent. The early success of the SMS for Life pilot project has the Tanzanian authorities interested in implementing the solution across the rest of the country. Tanzania has around 5,000 clinics, hospitals and dispensaries, but at any one time, as many as half could potentially be out of stock of anti-malarial drugs.

“The SMS for Life program has already had a positive effect in Tanzania,” says Senior Health Officer with Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Tanzania, Winfred Mwafongo. “I’ve seen district medical officers ordering urgent stock replacements for various health facilities. During a visit to 19 rural health facilities in one district alone, I saw huge improvements in their inventory management systems. I’m very impressed with the results so far and look forward to following the rest of the pilot through to completion.”

“Collaboration is critical to tackle health problems of the developing world, and we are proud to be part of the SMS for Life partnership, a project that will reduce stock-outs, and ensure that mothers and their young children in Africa have access to life-saving anti-malarial medicines,” says Silvio Gabriel, Executive Vice President and Head of the Malaria Initiatives at Novartis.

Designed as a public and private partnership leveraging the skills and resources of several companies, SMS for Life could have far-reaching implications for existing health systems worldwide. Several other African states are already keen to introduce the project.

Saving Lives with SMS for Life

Malaria Clinic in Tanzania helped by SMS for Life and IBM LotusLive.com cloud computing.  Copyright: Olympia Wereko-Brobby. Click on photo for print-quality version.

About the RBM Global Partnership
The RBM Partnership is the global coordinator of the fight against malaria. RBM draws its strength and experience from hundreds of partners from malaria endemic countries, country donors, companies, non-governmental and community organisations, foundations and research and academic institutions. RBM partners’ collective aim is to reduce annual malaria deaths from around one million to virtually zero by 2015 through the implementation of the Global Malaria Action Plan (GMAP). This outlines RBM’s vision for a substantial and sustained reduction in the burden of malaria in the near and mid-term, and the eventual global eradication of malaria in the long term with the introduction of new tools. www.rollbackmalaria.org

About IBM
For more information about IBM, please visit www.ibm.com.

About Novartis
Novartis provides healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies. Focused solely on healthcare, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to best meet these needs: innovative medicines, cost-saving generic pharmaceuticals, preventive vaccines, diagnostic tools and consumer health products. Novartis is the only company with leading positions in each of these areas. In 2008, the Group’s continuing operations achieved net sales of USD 41.5 billion and net income of USD 8.2 billion. Approximately USD 7.2 billion was invested in R&D activities throughout the Group. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis Group companies employ approximately 99,000 full-time-equivalent associates and operate in more than 140 countries around the world. For more information, please visit http://www.novartis.com.

About Vodafone
Vodafone is the world’s leading international mobile communications group with approximately 323 million proportionate customers as at 30 September 2009. Vodafone currently has equity interests in 31 countries across five continents and around 40 partner networks worldwide. For more information, please visit www.vodafone.com.

78 percent of US interested in mobile healthcare solutions
October 19, 2009, 3:57 pm
Filed under: mobile | Tags: , , , , , ,

Attention healthcare industry! Mobile healthcare solutions will be a reality sooner than you think. And we aren’t talking about just blood pressure monitoring apps, but full-blown health services.

According to a new study conducted by wireless industry association CTIA with Harris Interactive, a vast majority of the US (78%) is interested in mobile health solutions and 15 percent of the U.S. is extremely or very interested in learning more about mHealth.

The study used a combination of two online studies of U.S. adults (5,563) and physicians (115 general practitioners and 129 specialists) to gauge their interest in mHealth service options.  Survey respondents felt that access to mHealth would allow for more home-based care (68%), make medical care easier to obtain (51%), and give patients more freedom and choice (51%). More highlights are below.

mHealth Today

mHealth Appeal

mHealth Appeal

Read the full report here.

Want to avoid the swine flu? There’s an app for that.
August 11, 2009, 7:25 pm
Filed under: mobile | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

With news that Sanofi-Aventis has submitted a supplemental application with the FDA to get a license for its influenza A (H1N1) monovalent vaccine, it’s the perfect time to revisit what other apps (smartphone) have been submitted for review for help against the H1N1 virus.

Back in April, the swine flu craze was taking the world by storm, and useful applications and interactive tools were being introduced on a daily basis to make sure that the world was kept in a state of calm/paranoia.  Although some are more useful than others, the results prove that creative and effective tools can be developed for healthcare issues in record time.

Here are some of the contenders:


Swine Flu Tracker – An iPhone app developed by IntuApps allows you to see the current Threat Level for the disease, a map showing confirmed and suspected cases, a symptoms area to inform people, and an alert page for breaking news on Swine Flu.

Picture 2

Swine Flu Map – An iPhone app developed by Andrea Albani displays the current spread of the H1N1 virus on a map and allows you to view global and local locations to pinpoint specific cases.

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Maps and trends

Google Flu Trends – A trends tool which uses aggregated Google search data to estimate flu activity up to two weeks faster than traditional systems.

Picture 4

Health Map – Interactive map that tracks the latest world-wide swine flu outbreaks through the use of Google Maps.

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Swine Flu Twitter Tracker – Allows you to track  the latest swine flu outbreaks using real-time Tweets and Goggle Maps.

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Augmented reality + mobile + pharma = bright future

Coming to a mobile phone (Android and iPhone) near you, in the not so distant future, is the world’s first Augmented Reality Browser – Layar. Layar is a free application for your mobile phone, which shows what is around you by displaying real time digital information on top of reality through the camera of your mobile phone.

Layar is derived from location based services and works on mobile phones that include a camera, GPS and a compass. By looking through the phone’s camera lens, a user can see houses for sale, popular bars and shops, jobs, etc. I can see a world of opportunity for the healthcare industry, especially for providers and physicians. What do you see?

App-vertising – is big pharma ready?
June 9, 2009, 5:11 pm
Filed under: mobile | Tags: , , , , , , ,

There has been a lot of coverage in the news and blogosphere on the evolution of smart phones (especially the iPhone) and the development of mobile applications for use on these phones. With the Apple App store topping one billion downloads recently, we highlighted 400 reasons why big pharma needs to think about the iPhone. But as the downloads continue to increase to record numbers, a new phenomena has developed – application advertising or app-vertising.

Garrick Schmitt has a great write-up in Advertising Age highlighting where we are in the mobile app arena and where developers and marketers are headed.  Some of the highlights are listed below, including Pinch Media’s iPhone Appstore Secrets presentation. A more in-depth discussion can be found on the Digital Design Blog.

Apps 101

The numbers are staggering – 1 billion applications served, 35,000 applications available and more than 30 million devices in the market

The market is growing – BlackBerry, Google, Microsoft, Palm and now Nokia all have apps

The surface has barely been scratched – only 5% of users will open either a free or paid app 30 days after the initial download

The future looks bright – experts predict that the worldwide mobile-advertising market wil grow from $700 million in 2008 to $7.2 billion by 2012