New meet-up group Health 2.0 Sacramento launches with end-of-March party

Hacker Lab I’m proud to announce that a group of talented inviduals — plus myself — have started a new volunteer-run group in Sacramento for people who are interested in the intersection of healthcare plus Internet and mobile technology. Keisuke Nakagawa (a UC Davis medical student who founded his own DC-based nonprofit that uses interactive voice tech to advance maternal-fetal health), Jay Sales (a leader at VSP Global’s innovation center), and Gabriela Lee (a leader at the NSF Center for Biophotonics) have banded with me to start this group. We thought that Sacramento needed a way to bring together all of these elements, especially since UC Davis is such a powerhouse in health informatics and is expanding into wireless devices for healthcare.

Eric Ullrich at the newly-founded Hacker Lab co-working space, plus support from Jennifer Lee at the larger Health 2.0 international group, and VSP Global, have helped get us off the ground. We’re indebted to them.

A peek into Hacker Lab in Sacramento, plus the appeal of HTML5 as a mobile app platform

Sacramento isn’t well-known for its software development community. But ever since moving into the region, I’ve been surprised to know that there’s a scene with plenty of activity.

Hacker Lab's open lobby space

Take Hacker Lab, for instance. This co-working space and non-profit recently opened in the Midtown district — just 5 blocks from the Blue Line 12th & I Station — and is hosting all sorts of developer events. I attended its Mobile App Developer panel recently, featuring engineers and managers from all sorts of backgrounds. One panelist has even overseen development of Adobe Photoshop; and another recently dropped out of university to forge ahead in the startup world! I’ve included my tweets from the event below, which includes recommendations from the panelists on what to focus on.

Hacker Lab HTML5 mobile app dev panelists

Ramit Sethi's top 5 productivity mistakes — and how it applies to docs

(picture of Ramit Sethi's website)

Ramit Sethi, a New York Times-bestselling author and productivity/finance/entrepreneur expert, talks about the 5 productivity mistakes that people make in his latest blog post. Here are my thoughts on how this applies to physicians, along with notes from the video itself since it doesn’t come with a transcript.

Productivity mistake #1: Trying to do it all ourselves

Which to-do items will change your life (e.g. learn how to invest), and which just needs to get done (e.g. empty the dishwasher)? If you rank them all at the same level, you set them up for failure because you can’t do them all. Top performers in the same 24 hours are very clear about where their time deserves to be spent. As you earn more and more, you can trade money for time. e.g. hire someone else to do laundry.

What is one thing you can you outsource today? Each week, pick one thing you can do to save one hour a week.

For me, I can get all my groceries delivered at Or as a physician, delegating tasks properly to other members of the team. I remember one family physician at UC Irvine saying she was overwhelmed with trying to raise her family, be a wife, take care of her patients, and also clean the house — she’s always been the one to clean her house — when she finally yielded & hired a housekeeper.

How do you strike iPhone App Store gold? Appillionaires book dives into indie game developers' stories

Appillionaires book cover

Chris Stevens’s book Appillionaires chronicles the explosive growth of Apple’s App Store and dives into the background behind popular, successful apps like Angry Birds and Doodle Jump. The book doesn’t cover the Android app landscape at all, nor does it cover any of the other application stores (e.g. Microsoft’s Windows Marketplace or the Mac App Store). And since it focuses on popular apps, it only primarily covers indie game developers who have struck it rich, not on applications like productivity office suites or medical apps. However, it’s a great glimpse into this cutthroat industry.

Managing your Mental and Spiritual Energy, for physicians

a physician water-squirting his pager

This is a continuation of my thoughts on “Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time,” by Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy, as published in the Harvard Business Review. The first series in the post dealt with physical energy, the second, on emotional energy.

Mental Energy

  • Reduce interruptions by performing high-concentration tasks away from phones and emails.
  • Respond to voice mails and emails at designated times during the day.
  • Every night, identify the most important challenge for the next day. Then make it your first priority when you arrive at work in the morning.

This is nearly impossible on the wards since so many people want to page you. I did, at one point, try using a Bluetooth headset on my cell phone so that I could answer phone calls more efficiently. I noticed that the more efficient residents would enter in orders, write notes, and present cases (i.e. multitask) during rounds. The point that the authors try to make is to emphasize how important it is to reduce clutter, and it relates to a condition one psychiatrist, Dr. Edward Hallowell, has labeled attention deficit trait.

Manage Your Emotional Energy as a Physician

This is a continuation of my thoughts on “Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time,” by Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy, as published in the Harvard Business Review. The first series in the post dealt with physical energy.

  • Defuse negative emotions — irritability, impatience, anxiety, insecurity — through deep abdominal breathing.
  • Fuel positive emotions in yourself and others by regularly expressing appreciation to others in detailed, specific terms through notes, emails, calls, or conversations.
  • Look at upsetting situations through new lenses. Adopt a “reverse lens” to ask, “What would the other person in this conflict say, and how might he be right?” Use a “long lens” to ask, “How will I likely view this situation in six months? ” Employ a “wide lens” to ask, “How can I grow and learn from this situation?”

Renewing emotional energy is harder to accomplish when on a high-stress high-stakes service like internal medicine or surgery. read more→

Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time: managing physical energy in healthcare

Harvard Business Review: On Managing Yourself

The Harvard Business Review magazine often features articles detailing techniques for personal improvement based on more rigorous scientific research and analyses of successful organizations and leaders. One of the articles featured in its recently-published compilation On Managing Yourself, “Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time,” focuses on improving yourself by managing energy instead of prioritizing and stressing about time management. The four dimensions of personal energy include physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual, which I’ll tie in this post and subsequent posts. I’ll cover the article’s highlights, and tie it in to make it more relevant to healthcare professionals:

Physical Energy

Authors Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy summarize their techniques along these points:

  • Enhance your sleep by setting an earlier bedtime and reducing alcohol use.
  • Reduce stress by engaging in cardiovascular activity at least three times a week and strength training at least once.
  • Eat small meals and light snacks every three hours.
  • Learn to notice signs of imminent energy flagging, including restlessness, yawning, hunger, and difficulty concentrating.
  • Take brief but regular breaks away from your desk, at 90- to 120- minute intervals throughout the day.

Exploring healthcare ventures with other physicians at FreelanceMD's Med Fusion 2011 conference

Medical Fusion 2011 Conference

There are so many possibilities for new medicine-related ventures that it’s hard to define and pin down all the options. Enrolling at my school’s MBA program (at the University of California, Irvine) was my first step towards nailing those options down. UC Irvine has allowed me to hear from executives such as Rick Afable, MD, the CEO of Hoag Hospital and how he’s transitioning the organization towards a more vertically-oriented system. I’ve taken courses from non-clinical physicians like Sherri Treasurywala, MD PhD MBA, who worked for a high-profile consulting firm. UCI’s Brand Management class gave me the chance to meet restauranteurs like Wing Lam, CEO of Wahoo’s Fish Tacos. And I’m not done exploring — I’ve got 2 more quarters left in 2012 to explore the politics of healthcare, entrepreneurship, and (if time allows) consumer behavior.

To my surprise, online websites have allowed physicians with new ventures to post their thoughts. One such website, FreelanceMD, puts on annual conference, the Medical Fusion Conference, linking physicians (and healthcare providers (and medical students!)) together. Gregory Bledsoe, MD, formerly an emergency medicine attending physician at Johns Hopkins, graciously allowed me to attend the Medical Fusion Conference in Las Vegas. Interestingly, but not surprising, at least 25% of the attendees wanted to leave medicine entirely.

Book review: Time Management for Entrepreneurs, and applying this to physicians

No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs provides some insight into high-powered entrepreneurs like Dan Kennedy, who ran businesses so they worked for him in his favor, instead of the other way around. I routinely try to find ways to complete projects as effectively and efficiently as possible, so this book gave me some very interesting thoughts. And these are great for physicians: I often find doctors running around like headless chickens trying to perform surgery on one patient while answering pages about other patients in the PACU or SICU and juggling teaching medical students and research and side projects of running clinics in Africa and having a marriage.

(gasp) Let me exhale for a moment.

In the book, Dan Kennedy provides nuggets called “No B.S. Time Truths”, with some of my thoughts: read more→

Our team's Pinnacle AcuShape project made it to the Business Plan Competition finals!

The Pinnacle Therapeutics team!

Friday was one crazy day. Our team’s project, Pinnacle AcuShape, swept the People’s Choice Award and made it to the final 4 contestants after being chosen from a total of 40 teams.

Larry Kim, Ed Wu, Khoa Tu, Mohammed Elayan, and Cyrus Manuel — my teammates — did an amazing amount of work to make this a reality. I made sure all the visuals — including AcuShape’s business plan document and the slides — looked good using my graphic design and desktop publishing layout skills. My team was so well-organized that it was incredibly easy to work with them. It was especially amazing to see my friends’ research in ear-nose-throat surgery transform into a business that attracted many, many judges and venture capitalists. Ray Cohen, the CEO of Minnow Medical, and Dr. Joon You from the Beckman Laser Institute provided an amazing amount of coaching along with stories on their past venture capital deals.

The product, AcuShape, essentially makes cosmetic surgery on cartilage minimally-invasive. You basically stick electrodes into the cartilage, hold the nose/ear/etc with a “mold,” and run a low electric current through the cartilage. It’s much more preferable and affordable than the current treatment, which is surgery. It’s in pre-clinical trials with animal subjects, and already numerous papers have been published on this electroforming experiment.

Here’s a comparison of the two technologies:

Traditional surgery is invasive, has long recovery, is expensive, and requires general anesthesia with associated risks. AcuShape, on the other hand, exacts minimal to no trauma, has a 30-minute recovery period, is cost-effective with incremental corrections, and requires no general anesthesia.

Each box would come with a power supply, controller, and a starting set of disposable molds & electrode needles.

AcuShape’s revenue model could be a razor-blade like model where we could give away the power supply & controller for free, or we could charge for both razor and blade. Either way, since the parts are disposable, we would have a recurring revenue stream.

read more→

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