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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.


New perspectives on Branding in the era of Social Media

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This is to share a thought-provoking piece on branding in the era of social media. Along with the reference to the observation that traditional branding models are failing as markets evolve, I appreciated the reference to the opportunities available in industries where customers are searching for alternatives, such as what we are experiencing today in health care.

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Beyond the opportunity in industries undergoing chance, one cannot ignore bread-and-butter marketing strategy as the impetus for all marketing activities. This articles makes the important point that the channel is the last consideration after clearly defining one’s business objectives. In my view, conversations on on either branding or social media must start with a thoughtful discussion of purpose. Why is this critical to this business? With a well-grounded marketing strategy that is tied to business objectives, the social media and the brand ID can be effective. Otherwise, efforts will prove wasteful in the long-term.

If I Understood You – Communications for Health Care Professionals

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We have an important new piece for health care professionals by Alan Alda, If I Understood You, Would I have this Look on My Face?

Alda covers his own experiences on the topic of communications for scientists – bridging improv and science to move toward a future of closing the gap between the patient and the provider and other critical stakeholders in the continuum of care.


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A Loving Day

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Many don’t realize that mixed race marriages were legalized across the US only 50 years ago today. On June 12, 1967 the ban on interracial marriages was struck down in 16 states, thanks to a brave couple in Virginia.


My kids were born only 30 years after this law was passed in the US. Thirty years is not a long time. When I moved to Japan at the age of 13, I met interracial kids for the first time. Of course, I didn’t think twice about it at that age and haven’t done so since.


Here in the US, however, even 50 years after this law was passed, I can see that some still do a double-take when they realize that my kids and I don’t appear to look the same, racially. Versus other countries where I have spent time (Singapore, Brazil, Sweden, etc), one can tell it is still relatively new and perhaps unusual to us in the US.


I was happy to realize, today, that this pioneering interracial couple was named “Loving.” Coincidentally, this summer, we are also celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love here in San Francisco.


Here’s to a future where the word “love” comes to define how we look at racial differences and diversity of all kinds.

The Lovings changed US history in 1967

The Lovings changed US history in 1967

30 years later, kids like these were born legally in the US

30 years later, kids like these were born legally in the US