Game Theory vs. Ordinary Decision Theory

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Game theory is the reason that economic theories cannot work under the assumption of a rational investor. Too much of our lives is spent thinking about what other people might be thinking, then making decisions based on what we think they might do. In these situations, there’s no way to make predictions based on some sort of algorithm. The outcomes are stochastic over multiple trials.

Due the the complexity, being able to predict what other people will do in a given situation might also be the greatest competitive advantage, but it will likely be an advantage that is short-lived.

Thoughts on Open Source and HIT Stimulus

I read with great interest Phillip Longman’s Code Red article in the Washington Monthly yesterday about open source and the horrific results in user experience that some EMR vendors have achieved, but I’m not sure open source EMRs and delaying stimulus money are the answer. Usability testing and open APIs are the answer.

I’ve got no problem with open source, but there are other alternatives to the problems that Longman raises. Overall, Longman cites 2 main problems: 1. Proprietary software sometimes doesn’t work the way users do and 2. Proprietary softare often doesn’t connect with other software so readily. True.

The benefit of open source is that the source can be modified as needed. But this doesn’t mean that users will like it. It just means that, if they don’t like it, and a health care organization has the means and the will, they can change it, but that doesn’t mean it will be cheap.

One of the major drawbacks to open source is that there often isn’t any overall design. Compare the Android to the iPhone and you get the idea. What is needed is real usability testing by the software vendors. Spending 10% of an IT budget on usability can increase performance (KPIs) by 83%, and hosptals should demand it in selecting any HIT system.

As to the second point, connecting software these days is about developing open APIs, and this is Apple’s big strength with the iPhone, not open source. This is also something that should be demanded as part of the HIT stimulus, There aren’t nearly enough HIT companies adopting open APIs, but on the bright side, it appears that the standards committee is taking a logical approach to defining HIT standards. The proof is in the HIT pudding, but so far, for identifying a standard, things are looking better.

Finally, none of this is going to work without cultural changes and the incentives that will enable them. Hospitals are going to need strong leaders committed more to quality care than to how much they can bill.

Advertising will change forever

Six out of ten marketers we surveyed agreed with the statement “we will increase budget for interactive by shifting money away from traditional marketing.

Health care and pharma, are you listening? Digital marketing budgets will double or triple in the next 5 years and not for banner ads.

Traditional advertising is much less effective than money spent on interactive marketing and customer experience. By one study, your $1 spent on advertising will generate $5 in incremental value. The same $1 spent on an interactive customer experience will generate $60 in value. Sales and marketing is about engaging people, and 2.0 tools are making that more efficient and effective than ever.

At the Social Media & HIT event this morning, it was noted that 35% of people now have social media profiles. While active users is likely considerably less than that, it shows that social media users are no longer a niche market segment, it is a communication channel. A great channel for two way communication with not only your external customers, but your internal customers as well. 

Social media is quickly becoming the way people get their job done, and no longer a fad. Because it is becoming the way work gets done, it is also great way to find out what jobs your customers are trying to get done. According to Christensen, this is the key to every businesses success.

 

Advertising will change forever

Six out of ten marketers we surveyed agreed with the statement “we will increase budget for interactive by shifting money away from traditional marketing.

Health care and pharma, are you listening? Digital marketing budgets will double or triple in the next 5 years and not for banner ads.

Traditional advertising is much less effective than money spent on interactive marketing and customer experience. By one study, your $1 spent on advertising will generate $5 in incremental value. The same $1 spent on an interactive customer experience will generate $60 in value. Sales and marketing is about engaging people, and 2.0 tools are making that more efficient and effective than ever.

Thoughts on the Nature Editorial on Blogging

Some thoughts on the Nature editorial, “How to Stop Blogging,” at scientific conferences:

  • I’m perplexed about the first paragraph of the Nature editorial. They bemoan the long tradition of suppression of interesting unpublished results at conferences, which “can only be worsened by the increasing dissemination of results beyond the conference hall by bloggers.” So the answer is: suppress blogging of interesting unpublished results at some conferences: in essence, create private clubs, by invitaion only, where the real science will get done?
  • Another idea: why not encourage the sharing of unpublished results by scientists within online communities (blogging), thereby creating a way to have some collaboration and even garner some credit among peers? Online communities can be private, too. This can only help to accelerate scientific advancement. Suppressing blog posts on interesting results, on the contrary, will hinder scientific advancement. Which side is Nature on, the side of professional reputations (and the reliance of those reputations on publishing in preeminent journals) or scientific advancement?
  • Yes, what we’re seeing is the beginning of the end for conferences as we know them. Online communities can fulfill many of the original purposes of conferences and journals (disseminating information, peer review, education, connecting people to collaborate and socialize.)
  • Bloggers are not the issue. More effective methods of information distribution and building building relationships are the issues. Information does not want to be confined in the four walls of a conference hall. Trying to keep bloggers out of certain meetings and fight the natural migration to online communities will be a losing battle. The benefits in reduced cost (travel) and anytime availability of your online professional community are just too great.
  • The journals, professional organizations, societies and conference organizers are missing a golden opportunity to be the ones leading the efforts to create online communities to extend the interactions that happen at the science and medicine meetings, a chance to strengthen the communities they have helped establish. Instead, they appear to be facing the Innovator’s Dilemma, destined to follow the same path as most newspapers.
  • Look at what’s happening with the AMA and Sermo. By not creating, embracing and leading online communities, meeting organizers, professional communities, journals and societies may be endangering their very raison d’etre. 
  • Evidence of condescension, outright fear or just cluelessness?: “Attendees who have taken to blogs and other social-media applications such as Twitter and Friend Feed will value the instantaneous communication of fact, conjecture and commentary as a way to network beyond badge-holders. Most researchers, in contrast, will focus on the science and ways to network with fellow attendees.” Ouch. How about: “those of you on the phone will engage in your idle chatter, we suppose, meanwhile those of us on the telegraph will get down to the important work.” As if a “real” scientist has never read, commented on or (God forbid) written a blog?
  • Then, they drop the bomb: “The consequence that, in competitive fields, presentations at open meetings will become even more protective and boring is an inevitable consequence of the Internet.” That tickles my brain. Does this quote even deserve a response? (Feel free to comment one) Are they suggesting we do away with the internet because it will make meetings boring?  I almost think this must be a joke.
  • Nature, don’t let yourself go the way of newspapers. Science is not about meetings any more than newpapers are about the paper, it’s the purpose of meetings. Effective distribution of research findings, connection and collaboration with peers, meeting new people and, yes, sharing of information, as quickly as possible, all help to accelerate the advancement of science, whether at a conference or online.