Top Healthcare Conversations of 2008

Many of the great healthcare thinkers and bloggers wrapped up 2008 with end-of-year considerations of the important developments in their fields, and some looked ahead with predictions for 2009.

U.S. Healthcare Spending: Good News/Bad News

The good news is that U.S. healthcare spending growth slowed in 2005 to 6.9% annually. The bad news is that total spending reached $2 trillion per year, 16% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), almost $6,700 per person for each of the 300 million Americans.

Dark Side of the Internet: Pro-Anorexia Sites

The free-wheeling information economy of the global Internet won’t always be there to save us. We’ll have to be sure we make the right health choices.

Cord Blood Bank Accounts Suddenly Look A Lot Smarter

The early buzz in the general press focuses on the non-destructive harvesting of amniotic stem cells. But another aspect of the new findings shows how science develops faster than the policies we make to manage it.

The “Ashley Treatment”: Hard Choices for Life Enhancement

Life enhancement innovations like cosmetic neurology, 20-15 LASIK, non-therapeutic abortion, body modification and other elective surgeries are an inevitable part of medical care in a free society. Enhancing the life of your child should be included in that list.

Pervasive TV Cameras: Ubiquitous Surveillance

Big Brother has rules about what he can do with his government-shot video; Little Brother — that’s you and me — can do whatever we can get away with.

Pervasive Creation and Production in 2007

On the horizon for 2007 are more tools for creating, editing and distributing TV faster, easier and cheaper, and smarter systems for finding and grabbing what we want from the global video streams.

An Extra B in NBIC in the New Year

Since launching this site in  May of 2005, I’ve written about the NBIC categories of nano-, bio-, info- and cognitive sciences, but among the most disruptive innovations in healthcare are the business models: healthcare consumerism, practice economics, e-commerce, emarketing and insurance. While new science and technology is an important part of the story, the practical consequences of economics, demographic, culture and expectations is, too. I won’t add another B into NBIC, but we should take care to notice the business side of the changes taking place in the field.  —Jack Powers

Persuasive TV: Anti-Suicide Bomber PSA

Public service announcements to stay off drugs or go back to school have been with us forever, but here’s a striking PSA against suicide bombing created by LA production house 900 Frames.

A story by Lorraine Ali in Newsweek last June reported that the spot will be aired on Iraqi television and maybe some other Middle Eastern networks. The million dollar price tag is backed by an unnamed group of donors both in Iraq and abroad.

(Off topic: Is it me, or are there way too many ads on the Newsweek/MSNBC page? I count twelve banners or text placements, more if you include house ads and logos.)

ABC Internet TV: Too Hot To Measure with a CPM

Instead of the usual Cost Per Thousand (CPM) calculation, ABC is charging a flat rate for the 30 second spots inserted into its web-delivered programs starting this Fall. An article by David Goetzl in MediaPost reports the details following remarks by Disney-ABC’s Anne Sweeney.

Unaccountable Flat Rate instead of measured CPM means that

  1. media buyers really, really, really want to place ads on the web, whether or not anybody’s watching;
  2. the audience size needn’t be reported and compared to free Internet video traffic;
  3. the location of ad viewers — some, no doubt, way out of town — needn’t be discussed.

The ABC-branded video player will run on the site as well as local affiliate web sites. When the affiliate runs the show, it gets one of the three or four slots for its own local advertisers, according to piece by Wayne Friedman in MediaDailyNews. The ABC video player supports non-linear, on-demand viewing but, of course, disables fast-forwarding through commercials.

Streaming media has always been risky. With a broadcast signal, if one person tunes in or a million people tune in, your network costs are pretty much the same. With Internet-delivered TV, if a million people tune, in your bandwidth costs go through the roof and you need to buy a lot more hardware. Performers at the back-end of the Long Tail are happy with a few thousand viewers on YouTube; real media companies need hundreds of millions of viewers to pay for creativity, collaboration and talent.

Internet TV is a nice adjunct, a good promotion tool, a limbo for quirky shows, but Home TV is a mass medium that demands big ideas, big money and big audiences.