Brothers Tim and David Wilkins on Race, Sustainability and Social Justice

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Screen Shot 2020-10-15 at 11.12.23 PM[Photo above: Left, Edward Braham, Senior Partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer introduced the speakers and provided the framework for the dialogue]

The following provides a brief review of a webinar on structural racism for business and legal leaders attended by 1K+ participants from the US, Europe and Asia.

Today, companies can expect new regulations and incentives that will affect race and social injustice. Companies will need to prepare for these changes in advance so that they can be part of the solution going forward. Conversations like those with David and Tim Wilkins can help prepare leaders and citizens alike.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a term that has risen to popularity thanks to results many of us have witnessed in our lifetime. Examples include the rise of renewable energy, of the end of the whaling industry, youth advertising of alcohol and tobacco, and other issues that are being affected by regulation of businesses. While there has been remarkable little positive change with regard to race and social justice in the past, thanks to recent developments exposing racial injustice in law enforcement and the health care system, going forward, corporations can expect new regulations regarding racial inequities. Experts like David and Tim Wilkins, can provide both a legal and business perspective that will help companies navigate change so that, as a society, we achieve expected positive outcomes in a timely and effective manner.

Webinar take-aways included:

  1. There has been little positive change during the three generations that the Wilkins family has been practicing law (for the last 3 generations, with their father, Julian Wilkins, serving as the first black partner at a major law firm in Chicago in 1971, and their uncle John as the first black professor at the University of Berkeley – see photo below)
  2. There is, however, an important opening for change today, as a result of public awareness and compassion regarding inequities in the justice and health care system that were exposed over recent months;
  3. There is a growing realization that the investment by businesses in creating positive changes in society can be viable from an economic standpoint. A strategic approach to transparency and following the economic value and incentives will be among factors driving positive change;
  4. The legal and business professions need to work together to ensure that policies and procedures are in place that will support the transition in a way that is safe and effective for all stakeholders;
  5. The “ask” – that each of us can make a positive change today, no matter how small.

Sending gratitude to the Wilkins brothers and the organizations who sponsored this event, for sharing their thoughtfulness, wit and positive outlook regarding a complex and potentially controversial topic. They provided us with valuable background on the topic and helped us feel a sense of urgency in taking advantage of this important window of opportunity to effect positive change. Their asking us to consider playing a role here and now filled me with a sense of purpose. It also represents part of what motivated me to document my take-aways and share them in the form of a blog.I have confidence that I will be weaving this knowledge and motivation into the way I live and manage, both, as will those with whom I share this valuable learning experience. 

Running 1 hour and 30 minutes, this lecture-dialogue between the Wilkins brothers provides a great roadmap for positive change for the issue of race and social injustice: http://bit.ly/StructuralRacismSolutions 

Additionally, Freshfields prepared a summary blog, which incorporates key points from a business and legal perspective here.


[Photos below: Webinar screen shot: David Wilkins, the Lester Kissel Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and Tim Wilkins, Global Partner for Client Sustainability, Freshfields]

[Historical photo: Their father, Julian Wilkins, became the first black partner at a major law firm in Chicago in 1971, and their uncle John was the first black professor at the University of Berkeley.]


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From the Driver’s Seat – What is “AI” in Health Care and What is in Store?

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Screen Shot 2020-10-13 at 10.56.04 PM[Left, Richit Sihnha, Partner, AV8 Ventures. Right, Glen Tullman Executive Chairman,  Livongo. http://bit.ly/DigtalHealthAI]

Keeping a sharp eye on artificial intelligence will be critical to understanding the future of medicine. 

However, artificial Intelligence (AI)  is often poorly understood, even by business leaders, and yet many consider it part of every aspect of digital health, if not health care overall. What is AI and what are examples of developments that will help us anticipate the future of health care?

According to the Brookings Institute, AI is often poorly understood, even by business leaders. Ai is the use of algorithms that are designed to make decisions, often using real-time data. What makes Artificial Intelligence different from simple programming, is that AI systems are able to handle complex structures like the human body because they learn over time, and become accustomed to increasingly complex sets of input. There is not just one action for every input, but the actions are adjusted by a myriad of factors, and the way the system adjusts is affected by what it learns over time as well.

During the recent 2020 Digital Health Awards, “New Application of AI” was one of about one dozen award categories. However, it seems that AI will soon be an aspect of all elements of digital health, and health care in general, for that matter. According to Richit Sihnha, Partner, AV8 Ventures, “AI will be as transformative to the healthcare industry as sequencing was for the diagnostics and therapeutics industry.” She believes that, some day, “AI will be core to everything we build in health care.”

Glen Tullman Executive Chairman,  Livongo, a company that uses convenient monitoring devices, call/text centers and computer algorithms to personalize diabetes care, described AI in terms its effect on peoples’ lives rather than on the technology itself.  Tullmann talked about people and magic, referencing a quote by science writer Arthur C. Clark, who said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.’” Tullman underscored this point, adding, “We can use technology …and data science to create magical experiences, and we can really make it easier for people to stay healthy. That’s why this excites me!” In July 2019, Livongo went public, and September 2020, announced an $18.5B merger with Teledoc, the largest digital health deal in history. Going forward,  the company anticipates further developments in its vision to deliver life-changing services.

Chris Manzi, MD, Co-founder and CEO at Viz.ai, with audiences the role of AI in saving those who have had a stroke. Time is critical to patient outcomes in stroke care. AI in radiology can be used to reduce treatment time by automating radiology reads to diagnosis a stroke before a human has read the scan. During the CT exam, when the patient is first being imaged (the first step of the process) if the algorithm indicates a possible stroke, the entire care team, from the radiologists and neurologist quickly come together to verify the AI diagnosis and the surgical plan. In the past, each specialist would see the patient sequentially, a 2-hour process. By working in unison once alerted, the total time to treatment is less than one hour after the CT scan.  Thanks to the impact of Viz.Ai in treating stroke patients, they received the first clearance for the application of AI in healthcare by the FDA. Further, in September 2020, they became the first AI software to receive a Medicare New Technology Add-on Payment so that hospitals would be reimbursed for this care, and enabling hospitals adopt advanced technology to improve stroke care. 

For leaders in health care, and those who consume health care, including employers and consumers, staying abreast of this rapidly evolving field will help us evaluate options and manage change in an effective manner. As I look at the marketplace, I will be sorting for those organizations who use their technical capabilities to solve the problems that are most relevant to their customers and those who clearly describe their value proposition. Speaking in ROI terms will be critical to ensuring we can compare one solution to another.

The five companies selected in this manner by a panel of 250 judges at the UCSF Digital Health awards for the “New Applications of AI” include those listed below. Each is worthy of a website visit and a conversation with colleagues to learn more about their technology and the quantitative and qualitative value they offer their customers – both health care professionals and consumers alike.

  1. Livongo – Personalizing diabetes care (UCSF Digital Health AI Award-winner 2019)
  2. Viz.Ai – Accelerating stroke care by automating the analysis of stroke care (UCSF Digital Health Award-winner 2020)
  3. Suki Health – 100% accurate voice dictation to liberate physicians from note-taking
  4. Gauss Surgical – Powering surgical and maternal safety with A.I.
  5. Karius – Blood test based on next-generation sequencing of microbial cell-free DN.

For more information on the the “New Application of AI” category, scroll to minute 17:11  here: bit.ly/DigtalHealthAI   


UCSF Digital Health Awards – Cross-Pollinating to Allow an Industry to Take Off

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UCSF Health Hub recently hosted the 2nd annual UCSF Digital Health awards. The initial vision, as Mark Goldstein, founder, pointed out, was to define an industry to allow it to achieve its true potential in terms of collaboration, relationships and funding. UCSF Health Hub is clearly creating the connections across life sciences, technology, and the investment community to enable the advances that our industry needs. The end-game is to make health care more affordable and accessible, and to ensure that the 10-year gains made during the last 6 months during COVID continue to advance. 


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In the months leading up to the awards ceremony, the team assembled 750 applicants, 250 judges, and 120 speakers and thousands of audience members representing diverse perspectives. This process resulted in winners in each of 15 distinct categories, including those that were defined by a technology (i.e. AI), a health outcomes (i.e. mental health), addressing an access (i.e. cost savings) and affiliation-specific contributions to the field by UCSF. Net-net, they gave us a platform to understand how the industry is defined, as well as an introduction to the thought-leaders and the companies who are recognized as having make significant contributions to the field to-date. It is critical that each of us, as business leaders, providers, policy-makers and/or consumers, understands the important developments happening at the interface between technology and health care in the weeks and months ahead. In taking a proactive role, we will be able to help ensure that positive change gains momentum. It is clear that our collective voices are needed to ensure that digital health does not lose ground post-COVID. 

Among the 15 categories recognized at the ceremony* (see below), most (7) related to health outcomes (mental health, wellness, prevention, etc.), one addressed patient access issues (patient cost savings), and one recognized a technology type (application of AI). Additionally, two also spotlighted UCSF-specific contributions to the field (i.e. Best technology with UCSF DNA).

In the coming days, I looking forward to delving into the results of the following four sub-categories to learn more about the leaders, vision and impact that each team has had on our industry who each had remarkable insights to share during the awards ceremony:  (1) New application of AI, where the winner was Viz.ai, (2) Remote Diagnostics, where the winner was Conversa Health; (3) Mental and Behavioral Health, where the winner was Ginger; and (4) UCSF DNA, where the winner among UCSF applicants was Akili Health.


Jonathan Byrnes: Coronavirus – Five Rules for Growing Customer Loyalty

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Gratitude Jonathan Byrnes, who joined the HBS Association of Northern California during the early weeks of the COVID crisis to educate the community on the topic of supply chain management. This topic is of imminent importance as it can help organizations improve access to needed resources while addressing the issue of organizational sustainability. This is extremely relevant to the distribution of PPE and other vital products and services today. Further, unless organizations manage quickly and carefully, their long-term viability is at-risk.


Interestingly, in the media, there has been a great deal of interest in his work because otherwise the conversation during the pandemic has centered on leadership vs management tactics, including supply chain. In his view, “There is little information regarding systematic, hands-on management in crisis.”

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Jonathan is considered the creator of the field which we shared during his recent webinar, vendor-managed inventory,  and has had extensive experience across industries, including health care, and geographies, including Indonesia. It was in Indonesia where he observed the country experiencing a supply chain shock not dissimilar to what we are experiencing today on a global basis.


It was fascinating to learn about Jonathan’s values and his career. He is driven by taking on new challenges, and therefore enjoys combining a career in academia, consulting, and profit analytics software. Through his work as a professor at MIT and as the principal of Profit Isle, a SaaS profit analytics company that has accelerated the profitability of over $100 billion in client revenue, he has worked with thought-leaders, like Ben Shapiro, Malcolm P. McNair Professor of Marketing, Emeritus at HBS, among others, to create important innovations in his field. These have resulted in important improvements both on how customers get access to the products they need, and on business profitability and sustainability.


Highlights of his presentation included observations on the tendency of organizations to use inefficient models for profitability assessment. Specifically, he pointed out that there are customers that either augment or drain profits and that businesses should focus on serving the customers that generate the most profits and spend fewer resources on unprofitable ones. This goes against the more common but far more destructive tendency to service them all.


Additionally, we learned that there are certain “secret weapons” during crises like these, including (1) substitutions (he cited Dell as an example), as well as (2) preventing over-ordering, which involves both addressing the tendency to over-order and to over-produce. It was interesting to learn that most of the supply chain disruptions we are reading about today could have been prevented with expert management.


To learn more about Jonathan Byrnes and his recommendations regarding supply chain management during the crisis, we encourage HBS Association of Northern California members to view his webinar and to read , Coronavirus: Five Rules for Growing Customer Loyalty.




“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.