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“Secret” Source of Innovation in Medicine: RSNA

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The weekend after Thanksgiving, Radiologists from across the country – and the world – descend on Chicago for the annual RSNA (Radiological Society of North America) conference. This has been one of the world’s largest healthcare conferences for 105 years. Ironically, not even those in Chicago, where the conference will contribute $150M to the city’s economy in a single week, realize the value of Radiology to the future of health care.

For those interested in the origins of innovation in the healthcare industry, this is an important event. Consider following it on Twitter at #RSNA19 to learn about next-generation image storage and sharing, ethical debates surrounding AI, new techniques to “destroy” prostate cancer,  possible treatments for Alzheimer’s disease using focussed ultrasound, and more.



From December 1- December 6, Chicago’s McCormick Center, uniquely suited by  its size to house trade floors lecture halls the size of football fields, becomes the networking hub for the industry. Each day, participants walk miles back and forth to attend lectures, review poster presentations, view new technologies on the trade floor and engage in dynamic in-person and online meetings across academia, industry and other domains. For those interested in the source of true innovation in the health care industry, you quickly realize there is nothing quite like this conference.

When I attended RSNA in 2015 and 2017, I was stunned by the sheer size of the gathering, the breadth of classes, etc. However,  it was on the trade floor, where I believe I witnessed innovation at its best. Here, I witnessed some of the dynamic exchanges between academics, clinicians, operational administrators at vendors that will be shaping the future of medicine. Each party provided evidence regarding the impact of in-person meetings at RSNA RSNA and how those interactions help fuel the next generation of devices that will resolve the next patient/population challenge. As a child of Silicon Valley, I don’t believe it is a coincidence that the interface between technology and medicine is especially powerful in the field of radiology. Many don’t realize that many leaders have dual engineering and medical degrees, making their outlook toward technology and creative problem solving particularly astute. 

For a taste of these break-throughs and a view of what’s on the horizon of Medicine, visit the RSNA 2019 Press Page, as,  releases are made public during press meetings each day in Chicago this week. Following the conference from San Francisco this year, I was fascinated to learn about new solutions to online storage and sharing of medical images, among other developments  that have been announced since the conference opened only a day ago including: 

  1. Building and Implementing a New, Cloud-Native Imaging Database
  2. The Ethical Threat of AI in Medicine
  3. RSNA 2019 Presents Session on Lung Injury from Vaping
  4. Novel MRI-Guided Ultrasound Treatment Destroys Prostate Cancer

In the coming days, the releases below will go live  as well. Visit the RSNA Press Room to learn more here, or, for a taste of being on-site, tune into the conference hashtag #RSNA19 on Twitter.

  1. AI Helps Find Signs of Heart Disease on Lung Cancer Screens
  2. Focused Ultrasound May Open Door to Alzheimer’s Treatment
  3. Concussion Alters How Information Is Transmitted Within the Brain
  4. Imaging Reveals Pathways Behind Depression
  5. New Study Looks at Motorized Scooter Injuries


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RSNA Quick Facts:

  1. 105th Radiologic Society of North America (RSNA) Annual Meeting
  2. Sunday, December 1 – Friday, December 6, 2019, McCormick Place, Chicago, Illinois
  3. 52,985 registrants in 2018
  4. 1,662 scientific papers to be presented
  5. 440 education courses and 6 plenary sessions
  6. 1,905 education exhibits and 904 scientific posters featured in the Lakeside Learning Center

A Taste of the Future of Medicine – The UCSF Digital Health Awards Ceremony

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With the splendor of an Academy Awards ceremony, UCSF Innovation Ventures and Digital Health Hub recently hosted the first inaugural Digital Health Awards at UCSF. The event provided a glimpse into the future of medicine.  Tune in to the recorded livestream event.   In 1-2 hours, or a few minutes of scrolling, you will learn how the industry defines itself, its leadership and more. Congratulations to UCSF Innovation Ventures and Digital Health Hub for this bold approach to gathering visionaries (the judges, contestents and presenters). We believe this effort will have a positive impact on the industry going forward.

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Highlights included:

  1. The award for the best application of AI, introduced by Barry Pell, Founding Fellow, World Changing Ventures. He said that he believes that “almost every aspect of health will be transformed by AI….AI has the chance to augment and enhance human decision making ….It also has the chance to stand in for medical expertise and health as a coach and motivator, tracking and judging people to draw upon the best knowledge and medicine most knowledge wherever they are…. It even has the chance to serve anyone who may not even have access medical care.“ The winner of this category was Livongo. (At 1:22 of the recording)
  2. The award for Consumer Wellness and Prevention, introduced by Bob Wachter, Author of The Digital Doctor, and Chair of the Department of medicine at UCSF. He who added a note re the ongoing challenge of knowledge of the tech community and their understanding of the how med is practiced and the patient journey, and, those in academia and their understanding of both business and technology concepts with concepts such as scaling. The winner of this category was. Hyper-regulated so perhaps easier to innovate. The winner was Butterfly Network. (At 1:31 of the recording)
  3. The Cardiovascular Diagnostics award, presented by Michael Lesh, 4-time entrepreneur Executive Director, Health Technology Innovation Catalyst, for introducing the category of Cardiovascular Digital Diagnostics and announcing the winner, Nanowear. We were inspired by the comment made by CEO and founder. Venk Vanadan, who added this perspective: “As I think of digital health, it will take a village to really deliver the promise of what digital health should be. He added, “… this is to thank all the entrepreneurs in digital health that are fighting the fight that needs to be fought.” This is an important reminder of the extent of effort that is needed to create positive change in the health care industry and the role of entrepreneurs in making this happen. (At 1:47 of the recording)


Rahul Desikan – Generously donating the precious moments he has left to data…and providing answers for the next generation

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According to his recent editorials in the Washington Post and STAT, it is clear: There may be no cure for Rahul Desikan, MD, but for the next generation of patients, the answer lies in the data.Screen Shot 2019-05-04 at 8.41.25 AM
















As ALS descends upon him, Dr. Desikan, an assistant professor of Radiology & Biomedical Imaging, Neurology and Pediatrics at UCSF, and co-director of Laboratory for Precision Neuroimaging, is generously spending the precious moments he has left to live helping to solve the unresolved question – how to detect ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases early enough (and precisely enough) so they can be cured.

 What does this look like? What does Dr. Desikan  do as a scientist?

Many of us imagine research labs with test tubes and chemicals. For researchers like Dr. Desikan, the lab relies on a computer screen. He writes: “My laboratory at UCSF meets with me every week and we mine through data from millions of people trying to find answers.” One of Dr. Desikan’s unique qualities as a scientist is his ability to see patterns in data that go unnoticed by others.

I have followed his narrative over the last year and am heartbroken at what is happening to Dr. Desikan  and his family. If we can see anything positive in this wrenching story, it is that as a scientist, he is using himself as a case study to reveal that all of us need to become more familiar with genetics and how they influence our health. Through his work, he is helping our community understand how fields like radiology and neurology together, are helping unravel the individual variations and corresponding treatments that could save lives. His work is taking genetics to a new level. If Dr. Desikan’s vision becomes a reality, one day it may be possible for us to know about our genetic predisposition to certain diseases like ALS, among many others. Further, there will be individualized treatments available to address our needs.

Thank you, Dr. Desikan, for making your voice heard. I pray for you and your family and that your vision of using data to identify individual approaching to treating diseases like ALS will impact the lives of those who follow in your footsteps.





Dr. Jenna Lester may be the only black dermatologist in San Francisco

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Thank you to the SF Chronicle for expertly revealing the layers of meaning behind what it means to address “disparity” in “UCSF opens ‘skin of color’ dermatology clinic to address disparity in care.

extThe piece reveals, “Dr. Jenna Lester may be the only black dermatologist in San Francisco”.

There is work to be done, from many respects, and this doctor is doing it, one patient at a time, along with support from an institution with vision.

Questions for thoughtful community members to answer going forward include:

  1. How many years will it take to bridge the gap between the number of young women of color who have a passion for skin care in their high school years and the number who have the opportunity to become a dermatologist?
  2. How is race and disease covered in medical school and in preventive medicine overall? What are the biggest areas for improvement we can expect going forward?
  3. 5% of US doctors are African American. 4% of UC students are African American. 13% of American are African American. Which organizations are working to close this gap?  What progress has been made? What can we expect going forward?




Quick tips on Maximizing Social Media ROI

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We are clear that Return On Investment (ROI) is critical to those managing social media platforms. The question becomes how to drive positive returns. Below, please find a simple check list that I have found effective in managing social platforms. Thank you to the industry experts who work to ensure that we are collectively (and honestly) maximizing our ability to get customers information that is relevant to their needs.

• You get out of social media what you put in.

Just because there is currently a relatively low cost-of-entry compared to other outreach channels, does not mean that planning is critical. Identify your target audience, develop an appropriate and thoughtful strategy. Always start by asking “what is the objective of this endeavor?”

• Customize for each platform.

We often talk about social media as if it’s monolithic. Be cautious: each platform, whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, has its own strengths and weakness. Use each platform to its best advantage. And remember, these tools are constantly changing. One needs to keep up.

• Track your results.

Business is a science. Social media campaigns are like studies – you need a hypothesis with specific objectives in mind, and then a determination of whether those objectives were met. The data is rarely perfect, but this doesn’t absolve us of the need to gauge what we can re: ROI. Make adjustments to your next iteration in an effort to improve on your results. Compare one tool again the other, to see what is most effective. Correlate results to dollars spent.

• Unique plans are critical to success

Every organization is different. Following some guru’s formula might not be right for you. You know your organization best. You know your strategic priorities. These ought to dictate your plan and how you assess your analytics. Use your sound judgement as a business person in all cases, especially when the data is imprecise.


It may sound like an oxymoron: “Use the data. The data is imprecise.” But the truth is, analyzing data is part science, part art, especially when it comes to ROI for social media. The good news is, the analytics are improving. We enjoyed advice given to us by a colleague in retail, Elizabeth Charles, “More social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are matching their customer data with yours, allowing you to do more robust targeting up and down the funnel. This is allowing for a much stronger ROI.”

Memorial Day Reflections

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Living in the Presidio, within a few steps of one of the largest national cemeteries in our country, brings us to the heart of Memorial Day.


Nearly every year, my parents drive in from the South Bay and join my kids and I in what is typically a foggy wake of summer. We bundle up and make our way to the flag-studded grave stones, along with the family and friends of those who have passed. There, we have the opportunity to pay our respects to those who lost their lives for our country. We do this by hearing their stories, shared by those who have gathered. It is clear that, the way they lived their lives teaches us so much about how to make the world a better place. It is my hope that, one day, these stories will help us, collectively, approach other people and other societies with the type of dignity and grace that may even prevent war from happening in the first place.

Social Media ROI in Healthcare – The Holy Grail

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By now you probably realize that a social media component is essential to your marketing effort. But before you simply “dive in,” you need a defined strategy and a means of measuring your ROI. An effective social campaign is not simply about communicating or getting your name out there (although that is a component). It’s about knowing who you want to reach, what you want to tell them and what you want them to do with that information. Then, just as importantly, it’s about tracking your effectiveness. Did you reach the right audience? Did they hear your message? Did they act on it?


Measuring social media ROI in healthcare is not always a straight line between marketing dollar spent and sale of service. It can often be tricky to track and quantify. But don’t let that stop you from trying! You must know if your strategic direction is actually working. You must assess (and continually re-assess!) which social platforms are working for you and what types of posts & ads are generate interest. You must differentiate between short-term returns (i.e. new patients) and long-term awareness (how many new people became aware of your organization, even if they are not immediately becoming a new customer).


You must know if the dollars you are committing to social are reaping a return. Data can answer some of those questions. But a complete picture of social media ROI requires more than a simple monthly click report. It takes an astute business mind, capable of sourcing and synthesizing multiple data sets. Most importantly, it requires a targeted strategy that evolves over time.


Stay tuned for my next post, in which I’ll share some specific do’s and don’ts that I’ve found effective.

Impact of Net Neutrality Repeal on Marketing

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In light of the repeal of Net Neutrality last week, I enjoyed reviewing this MarTech piece on the impact of the repeal of Net Neutrality on the field of digital marketing. Obviously, unlike TV advertising and billboards, both paid and organic marketing on the internet have provided organizations, big and small, the opportunity to use the power of their content to appeal to the specific markets of customers who need our services. That is to see, if we are skillful, those who need a specific product or service can use the internet to eventually find us. It has been gratifying in my work to meet patients who say, “As the result of a few searches, I was able to find your organization and get access to the care I needed,” and continuing with a sentiment like the following, “I would not be here today, and in good health, without the internet and the follow-up communications I received from you.”

As a result of the repeal, we may now be faced with new factors that impact our access to those interested in the topics and services we cover. How and when this impacts us is a work-in-progress, but marketers will be unpacking the issue, in the coming weeks and continuing our efforts to help match the resources with the customers who need them.



Breast Cancer Awareness Event at UCSF on 10-24-17

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You’re Invited!
Oct. 24 BRCA Breast Cancer Event with CME Credit

Considering BRCA Genes: Knowledge Improves Outcomes

Presented by UCSF Imaging and the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
Tue, Oct. 24
6-8 p.m.
UCSF Mission Bay Campus, Byers Auditorium, Genentech Hall
600 16th St.
San Francisco, CA 94158
Parking at Community Center Garage at 1675 Owens St., UCSF Mission Bay Campus.
Reception with unique foods and live jazz following the panel discussion.
Link here to register.


We are honored to gather critical members of the team who are changing the BRCA landscape in the Bay Area and beyond. The public and health care professionals are  invited to learn more from our experts. A reception will follow the panel discussion. (Parking at Community Center Garage at 1675 Owens St., UCSF Mission Bay Campus)

We invite you to join UCSF’s global health experts Heather Greenwood, MD; Alan Ashworth, PhD, FRS; Pamela Munster, MD; and Mindy Goldman, MD; breast cancer survivor and patient advocate Laura Holmes Haddad, author of This is Cancer: Everything You Need to Know, From the Waiting Room to the Bedroom; as well as our MC for the evening, Larisa Kure, breast cancer survivor and associate dean of administration and finance of the School of Denstistry, for refreshments and conversation. Whether you know your BRCA status or need to learn more, this gathering will help you understand genetic risks and how they affect health outcomes.

Additionally, we are proud to offer another unique opportunity to our guests – quick tours of the Mammovan from ZSFG (Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital), which will be available that evening for a visit both before- and after the lecture (5-6:15 pm and 7:30-8 pm). Our guests will learn more about how the van is used to provide mammography screening to low-income communities in the area. It will be located near the Community Center Garage at 1675 Owens St. and tours will be run by Mary McGinty, supervisor of the Avon Breast Center at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.

CME credits will be available.



Digital Disruption: Lessons Learned

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PhotoHandler.ashxThank you to Bob Wachter, who opened a new season of Grand Rounds for the UCSF Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging. His talk was entitled, “How Technology is Changing the Practice of of Medicine: Lessons, From, and For, Radiology.”  

The lecture provided both personal and professional references that made it accessible to audiences with or without an IT background. It covered the advanced role of radiology in the digital transformation of health care, on the one hand. On the other, it addressed the fact that the health care industry is largely behind others when it comes to moving in a seamless manner from analogue to digital access to information.  

This prompted me to ask him about the lessons learned from industries outside health care, with two questions in particular: “In what industries did digital transformation happened more quickly?” And, “What are the takeaway lessons for the health care industry?”

His response surprised me with its sweeping boldness.  He cited the financial services industry, and said there is one thing that enabled the large-scale change in other industries: a total change in management.  There was a long pause. When I pressed on, asking if the health care industry needed to hire for other functions and training such as engineering, he said this was not necessarily the case, in his experience. Instead, those in the health care industry today need to deeply understand IT, and those in IT need to deeply understand health care.

For high-level recommendations regarding how to make this happen at a board level, reference this Russell Reynolds piece, citing the role of “digital NEDS” to help spearhead needed digital disruption.