Overcoming Obstacles in Entrepreneurship

March 14th, 2016 | Posted by Sarah Jones in Guest Blogs | Member Blog Posts - (Comments Off)

This week on NVTC’s blog: on Feb. 18, the NVTC Small Business and Entrepreneur Committee sponsored a fireside chat entitled “Journey to Success: Overcoming Obstacles in Entrepreneurship.” Nate Miller, an assurance intern at Aronson LLC, shares the top tips from that event, which featured a fireside chat with Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, and Scott Case, the founding CTO of Priceline.com and founding CEO of Startup America. 


On February 18, the NVTC Small Business and Entrepreneur Committee sponsored a fireside chat entitled “Journey to Success: Overcoming Obstacles in Entrepreneurship.” The event was moderated by Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, who interviewed Scott Case, the founding CTO of Priceline.com and founding CEO of Startup America.

The discussion focused on Case’s experiences throughout his lengthy career as a key member of several startup companies; Case also shared his thoughts on the potential pitfalls startup companies can fall victim to. Some of Case’s key points to attendees included:

  • The time commitment required to be a successful entrepreneur.
  • The importance of creating and expanding connections in a growing area such as the D.C.
  • Overcoming failure repeatedly is a necessary trait to success.
  • The importance of maintaining a valuable network with the appropriate resources.

Case’s entrepreneurial journey started with part time jobs as an assistant for a plumbing company and a well driller, and running a local lawn-mowing business, where he gained an understanding of mastering his trade, servicing customers, and constantly looking for the next opportunity. While attending college at the University of Connecticut, Case spent his free time developing an advanced flight simulator with fellow classmates only to discover that the startup could not generate sales due to a lack of marketing. As a result, a key lesson that Case carries with him to this day is the need to supplement a great product with a sales and marketing team and other supporting functions.

Undeterred, Case shunned more secure employment opportunities to continue working with startups and, following an introduction to Priceline.com Founder Jay Walker a few years later, joined Priceline as the founding CTO. During his tenure, Case’s team at Priceline developed a “name your own price” system in the early days of the internet that allowed the company to grow significantly and successfully undergo an IPO with an initial market capitalization of more than $12 billion. Case attributes his success at Priceline to his understanding of the available technology, as well as the ability to effectively market it and while creating a team willing to try a number of ventures without fear of failure.

Since leaving Priceline in 2000, Case has co-founded or led several other ventures focused on technology, entrepreneurship and philanthropy such as Main Street Genome, Startup America Partnership, Malaria No More, and most recently, Potomac Innovation, a new business travel purchasing company. Case stressed the need for entrepreneurs to remain connected to advisers, financiers, peers and customers if they are to be successful, and noted that incubators, such as 1776 in D.C. and others in startup hubs such as New York City and Silicone Valley, can greatly help a new entrepreneur. Case also stressed the importance of minimizing government regulation to allow new business owners to focus on their core activities, but noted that government can help by listening and responding to entrepreneurs’ needs – such as the recent decision by the city of Nashville, Tennessee to significantly increase its broadband access, which appears to be attracting entrepreneurs to the city.

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As companies try to keep employees healthy and lower the overall cost of care, it is important that employers bring back the tradition of the primary care physician (PCP). Whether you are the HR director in charge of selecting health plans for your company or the CEO who is paying them, Amy Turner, executive director and COO of Innovation Health, provides the top four reasons you should be advocating for your employees to engage with a PCP. 


We all remember the days of the HMO plan – limited care options that left many employees looking for more choice and access to care for themselves and their families. To help meet this employee request many HR directors began looking toward PPO plans, which offered larger networks of doctors and specialists, but at a higher cost than the HMO plans. Today, employees want the same options, but with the increase in high-deductible health plans, many of them are also taking a closer look at cost.

As someone who has been in the health industry for more than a decade, I have seen a lot of changes take place, but one that strikes me as imperative to address is the lack of people who have, and engage with, a primary care physician (PCP). Plan options and policy changes aside, in the past people relied on family doctors for everything. Doctors intimately knew a family’s history, often treating several generations of family members. As we try to keep our employees healthy and lower the overall cost of care, it is important that we bring this tradition back with the PCP.

Whether you are the HR director in charge of selecting health plans for your company or the CEO who is paying them, here are the top four reasons you should be advocating for your employees to engage with a PCP!

They are focused on preventive care

A PCP can be your employee’s main health care provider for their most common medical problems. But they also look out for your employee’s overall health, recommend screenings, make referrals and encourage healthy habits.

They help maintain good health

A PCP provides employees with continual care. And that’s what good health maintenance over a lifetime requires. PCPs can treat the whole person, taking into account both your employee’s history and existing conditions.

They serve as an important point of contact and resource

PCPs are personal doctors who can coordinate care. That takes stress off your employees as their doctors are ready to make sure their best interests are met. Furthermore, they are often the first people  your employees can contact when they have a question or a problem. He or she can provide answers and care, or recommend a specialist when needed.

They help keep costly ER visits down

Because they will be your employees’ first line of defense, PCPs can answer questions, call in a prescription or even suggest the action your employees should take.  This will help them to avoid costly ER visits as they are able to manage any health issues before they escalate.

Once your employees select a PCP, make sure they are aware that under the Affordable Care Act they’re entitled to one, free yearly checkup. You read that correctly – every single employee you have can receive one free check-up a year.  This is something all of them should take advantage of. So, if you aren’t doing it already, please express to your employees the importance of building a PCP relationship and getting a yearly checkup. Not only will their health likely improve, but it could save your company and themselves valuable dollars.

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Ignoring Innovation Means Getting Left Behind

February 23rd, 2016 | Posted by Sarah Jones in Guest Blogs - (Comments Off)

According to this week’s blog post from member company Social SafeGuard, in today’s highly competitive marketplace, innovation is what ultimately sets a company apart from the rest of the market. Innovation is an essential part of any business that does not want to be left behind, and it can come in many forms when it comes to how a company communicates with its customer base.


Social media is currently the most powerful and effective communications tool available. Twenty five years ago the concept of a globally available, user-generated content platform didn’t exist. Today, the utilization of this platform is a key to success for any business. In today’s highly competitive marketplace, innovation is what ultimately sets a company apart from the rest of the market; it is an essential part of any business that does not want to be left behind. Innovation can come in many forms when it comes to how a company communicates with its customer base.

free_social_media_icons_image_ubersocialmediaIn order for a company to effectively satisfy their customer’s wants and needs, they must constantly communicate and listen to them; furthermore, companies must use the findings of this communication to adapt their product or service accordingly. 72 percent of adult internet users in the U.S. are now active on at least one social network, up from 67 percent in 2012 and just 8 percent in 2005. It is obvious that social media is the most effective way to reach and engage with today’s consumer. History is littered with companies that were once dominant players within their industry, but failed to effectively engage and listen to their customers, which eventually led to their demise. Two prime examples of this are Kodak and Blockbuster.

1. The Last Kodak Moment: Kodak was the primary player in the camera industry for almost a century. Kodak was the American technology company known for inventing color film, the handheld movie camera, and the first digital camera. In the late 1990s, Kodak began to struggle financially due to its sluggish transition to digital photography, regardless of the fact that they invented the core technology used in current digital cameras. After 132 years of business, Kodak officially filed for bankruptcy in 2012 due to their inability to adapt to the changing camera industry. All Kodak had to do was communicate with their customers to discover that preferences were changing, but instead they chose to stick with what they had always done, which resulted in a loss of competitive advantage and economic failure.

2. Blockbuster: For many years, Blockbuster was the dominant player in the movie rental industry. Once Netflix, Redbox, and On Demand Cable Services entered the market, trends quickly changed to customers wanting videos instantly and conveniently. Blockbuster chose not to adapt to the changing marketplace until it was too late. In 2010, the company filed for bankruptcy after 25 years of business and the majority of their stores closed shortly thereafter. While Blockbuster still attempts to mimic their competitors in an effort to regain any possible market share, they are now chasing the industry instead of leading it.

Every company must adapt and embrace social media if they do not want to become the Kodak or Blockbuster of their industry. Social media allows people to create, share, or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. Unlike traditional communication tools, social media has unmatched reach, frequency, and usability. Social media is the medium in which today’s consumer chooses to communicate. It would be foolish for any company to not adopt a platform that provides a free flow of information with a global reach, where all of their current and potential customers are present, and openly telling the companies exactly what they want.

If Blockbuster would have been proactive and engaged their customers, it is possible they would now have 57 million subscribers streaming videos in over 50 countries, and Netflix would be nothing but a failed startup.

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This week on NVTC’s blog, Michael Canes, senior consultant at LMI, shares why smart energy usage fundamentally improves the way companies do business, and the five steps agencies can take to help their energy management.

energy

Today’s government facility energy managers face the enormous challenge of meeting goals set through legislation and executive order (EO). For the past several years, managers have needed to increase the energy efficiency of buildings by 3 percent annually. But now, agencies also must utilize increasing proportions of renewable energy, 30 percent or more by 2025.

Meeting these benchmarks is necessary to comply with legislation, or EOs, but progressive agencies know that smart energy usage fundamentally improves the way they do business. Operating more efficiently increases program effectiveness.

We follow a five-step approach to help agencies improve energy management:

1. Assess current energy consumption
2. Identify opportunities to improve efficiency and add renewables
3. Analyze the economics of the alternatives
4. Budget and manage the finances of energy investments
5. Ensure the investments are in compliance with applicable environmental standards.

We analyzed alternate means to curb fuel consumption for the U.S. military’s theater of operation, reducing resources needed to supply fuel over hundreds of miles of terrain. Energy efficiency freed up vital resources to be used for other mission-oriented purposes, creating savings in fuel, equipment, and manpower; and increasing operational effectiveness.We currently are working with the Facilities Management and Engineering Directorate at U.S. Customs and Border Protection to provide consistent, up-to-date guidance on how to mesh legal mandates with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards to assure sustainability measures are of value to the government.The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) publishes an annual energy scorecard detailing federal agencies’ progress towards federal benchmarks. The most recent report shows that, while some agencies are progressing, others are lagging behind. The challenge to gain greater energy efficiency can be met, but it requires thorough assessment, a detailed plan of attack, and continuous implementation efforts.For more information, check out LMI’s book A Federal Leader’s Guide to Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE), which equips federal leaders with a succinct guide to specific energy issues in the federal government—the nation’s largest consumer of energy.

Michael Canes, PhD, is an internationally recognized economist with an extensive background in the economics of energy and climate policy. He has published a number of studies related to energy economics and policy. His PhD in economics is from the University of California, Los Angeles.

 

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Most countries have a centralized model for managing healthcare supplies, but there is room for other options. This week on NVTC’s blog, LMI’s Taylor Wilkerson outlines three models that can help you choose the best option for your national healthcare system.


Most countries have a centralized model for managing healthcare supplies, but there is room for other options. The following decision tree can help you choose the best option for your national healthcare system. Note that all three models assume that contracts with vendors have been centrally negotiated to ensure bulk pricing. Determine the best model for your healthcare supply chain with three questions.


If your best option is a Vendor-Managed Inventory Model, vendors own and maintain the medical supply inventories at facilities around your country and are responsible for inventory fulfillment. Pricing is based on pre-negotiated bulk contracts.

Key Benefits

  • You don’t have to manage transportation or storage of supplies.
  • Since inventories are stored in facilities around your country, your healthcare supply system may be more flexible in times of disaster.

Key Disadvantages

  • To ensure standardized levels of care across the country, this model requires clearly defined management processes and data systems.
  • Analysis is needed to know whether vendor delivery costs would be more and less than one managed by your administration.

If you choose the Vendor-Managed Delivery Model, vendors manage delivery of supplies around your country. Districts, counties, or facilities place direct orders with vendors, with pricing based on pre-negotiated bulk contracts. The pricing includes delivery costs.

Key Benefits

  • You don’t have to manage transportation of supplies.
  • In case of disaster, the flexibility of your healthcare supplies depends on the resilience of your vendor’s delivery systems.

Key Disadvantages

  • To ensure standardized levels of care across the country, this model requires clearly defined management processes and data systems.
  • Analysis is needed to know whether vendor delivery costs would be more and less than one managed by your administration.

If your best option is a Centralized Inventory Model, you hold all inventory in a central warehouse and ship to medical facilities as needed.

 

Key Benefits

  • With all supplies are in one location, you can easily track inventory, even if you have not been able to invest in sophisticated data systems.
  • You may be able to negotiate the least expensive warehouse costs, since you need only one facility.
  • There is lower risk of running out of one type of supply, since overall inventory is larger than when it is stored regionally.

Key Disadvantage

  • In times of disaster, having all supplies in one location could make your healthcare system vulnerable.

Mr. Wilkerson heads the Global Health group at LMI. Mr. Wilkerson co-chairs the Supply Chain Risk Leadership Council and chairs the Penn State Center for Supply Chain Research advisory board. He has an MBA from the University of Maryland, and BE in mechanical engineering from Vanderbilt University.

Mr. Colaianni works in the Global Health group at LMI and manages supply management systems and policy. Formerly, Mr. Colaianni was an Army officer and managed the medical equipment program for Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Most countries have a centralized model for managing healthcare supplies, but there is room for other options. This week on NVTC’s blog, LMI’s Taylor Wilkerson outlines three models that can help you choose the best option for your national healthcare system. 

 

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Preparing for Genomics and Health Data Analytics

February 1st, 2016 | Posted by Sarah Jones in Guest Blogs - (Comments Off)

This week on NVTC’s Blog, LMI Senior Consultant Daniel DuBravec notes that we need to prepare for personalized medicine and the evaluation of genomic data.


Today’s electronic health record (EHR) systems cannot properly handle genomic data. Interpreting these huge and complex data, particularly in a visual manner, is challenging. Even when EHR systems can access these data, few standards exist for how to structure them to ensure seamless system integration, interoperability, and interpretation. Most medical schools do not teach doctors how to interpret genetic data, and local-level care centers require training on proper data storage and network security.

Precision medicine predicts, prevents, and treats diseases at the patient level. Its growth has created the need for internationally recognized genomic EHR standards and policies, which would protect individuals by ultimately improving patient outcomes. We need to prepare for a future in which medicine is more personalized and better able to evaluate genomic data. 

Real, Inspiring Stories

Recently, I met a colleague whose daughter is suffering from a genetic condition known as Stargardt disease. Sadly, her daughter is rapidly losing her vision. This disease, a form of juvenile macular degeneration, can only appear in children when both parents carry the mutated gene. If the gene had been identified at an early stage, medical practitioners would have had more time to investigate new drug therapies and gene-editing technologies to treat my colleague’s daughter. As part of her interoperable medical genetic record, physicians at research institutions who were also working on her case could have then viewed and collaborated by using this critical information. Hitting close to home, this is one of many stories that inspire us to prepare for the widespread application of precision medicine and genomic data analysis.

Making Genomic Data Useful for Medical Practitioners

The future of patient care requires connecting large external data sets with electronic healthcare records. Precision medicine will customize treatments down to a patient’s genes and behavior. By analyzing genetic data across thousands of people, scientists will discover preventative treatments and cures for challenging health issues.

Given the complexity of health and genomic data, one can analyze the same data in different ways and achieve different outcomes. “Well-designed data visualization could help doctors interpret the data more rapidly, arriving at more challenging diagnoses in less time,” says Erin Gordon, data visualization trainer and graphic facilitator at LMI.

Before developing a framework for integrating and analyzing disparate health data sets, we test our models for validity. “The quality of our medical data models has a direct impact on patient outcomes and daily operations in medical facilities,” says Brent Auble, a consultant with the Intelligence Programs group at LMI. To support LMI’s research into healthcare data management, our team set up a Hadoop cluster, which is a group of servers designed to quickly analyze massive quantities of structured and unstructured data.

Building the Future of Healthcare Analytics

Ultimately, to meet the growth in precision medicine and the use of health data analytics, future EHR systems need to:

  • automatically generate comparisons of multiple genomes,
  • identify and match genetic variants based on known diseases,
  • ensure patient data privacy, and
  • integrate and search medical publications and scientific research for relevant patient data.

Preparation is key in order to predict, prevent, and treat disease as medicine evolves.


Dan DuBravec is a senior consultant at LMI, leading IT implementation projects. Mr. DuBravec holds multiple EHR certifications, as well as a BS in product design from Illinois State University and an MS in educational technology leadership from George Washington University.

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Four Health Insurance Trends to Watch for in 2016

January 19th, 2016 | Posted by Sarah Jones in Guest Blogs - (Comments Off)

This week on NVTC’s Blog, Innovation Health CEO Dave Notari identifies key health insurance trends to consider in 2016.


As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, it is important for business owners to know where it is headed, and adjust accordingly to meet their needs. To make sure you and your business are best able to prepare for the year ahead, here are my top four predictions for the New Year and beyond.

Shift from volume of care to value of care

Over the past few decades doctors had been compensated based on the number of services they provided to people, rather than the outcomes those services produced. Recently, we have seen a shift in this approach. Increasingly, employees and companies are paying doctors for the quality of the care provided – i.e., keeping patients healthier and helping them to better manage their care. In 2016 we can expect to see this overall “quantity” trend continue to die out across the country. This is good news for your employees’ health and your business.

In 2016 you will have access to more health plans focusing on cost-effective care. Since these are specifically designed to keep your employees healthier and out of the emergency room, they could save your business quite a bit on unnecessary copays and premium payments. As we move into the New Year, be sure to talk to your broker and be on the lookout for health plans focusing on value-based care.

Alignment of health plans and providers

For too long, health insurers and health providers have been on different teams. Health plans are in the business of managing risk, and they have looked to reduce the number of claims paid to providers in an effort to improve their revenue. This approach put many hospitals and physicians at odds with health plans; the approach simply wasn’t working. Fast forward to today and businesses and employees now have access to health plans that work to reduce risk by improving member health. This means that the health plan, doctors and hospitals are all on the same team and working together to achieve what is best for the individual.

Given the industry success this approach has seen, moving forward there will be more health plans partnering with hospitals and physician networks. As you select your coverage in the future, be sure to look for these collaborative plans in your area. They could improve employee health and save your business money for years to come.

Increased role of the consumer in healthcare

Since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) people have become more involved in their healthcare decisions, demanding plans that are transparent, easy to access and understand, and are affordable. In 2016 these expectations, and employee involvement in the health plan selection process, will become the norm. This means that moving forward your business will need to find plans that address those specific employee wants and needs.

To make sure you’re paying for the care that is most valuable to your workforce, look for plans with access to easy online enrollment, clear language in the plan descriptions and on-the-go tools that can help them look up the cost of a local MRI visit or the copay at a nearby physician’s office. Moving forward, those plans will be most valuable to your employees.

Continued growth of private exchanges

Bottom line: people like to be able to customize the things they buy. It is for this very reason that 6 million people selected health plans through private exchanges in 2015. Looking ahead, I think we can expect this number to rise. Why? Because private exchanges allow employees to choose the health plan that works best for them and, as I mentioned  earlier, that choice is very important these days.

The great news about private exchange growth is that it can be really good for businesses. Despite the recent implementation delay of the Cadillac Tax, many employers are trying to find ways to move away from rich benefit plans, while still offering employees the coverage they want. Moving to a private exchange means employees can choose the care they want at the price they want without employers being penalized. Because of the “win-win” they offer you can expect to see more businesses taking advantage of the private exchange option in the coming years.

The key to success in any business lies in our ability to adapt. With each year comes new challenges and opportunities to improve the care we provide our employees. By preparing for these four trends you can ensure your business is prepared and your employees have the care they need for a healthy and prosperous 2016.

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This week on NVTC’s Blog, Business Development, Marketing & Sales Vice Chair Jenny Couch of member company Providge Consulting shares critical changes to the IT landscape that your healthcare organization needs to have on its radar.


These days, technology seems to advance too rapidly for most of us to keep up. It’s certainly moving too rapidly for organizations to keep up with every single one of the “hot” trends.

healthITIn the noisy field of today’s latest tech, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the buzzwords and lists of “This Year’s Hottest IT Trends”, and miss the truly critical changes to the IT landscape that your organization needs to have on its radar.

The healthcare industry is uniquely positioned to be impacted by a convergence of critical IT trends within the coming years. But with budgets decreasing, and resource pools shrinking, it’s more challenging than ever to prioritize IT needs within the healthcare space.

We’ve highlighted the top five technology trends healthcare organizations must have on their radar in 2016.

  1. Cloud computing. Whether it’s a pharmaceutical company needing to store large amounts of data from clinical trials, or a hospital with a newly implemented EHR system, healthcare organizations of all kinds are increasingly turning to cloud computing for a variety of uses. According to Healthcare Informatics, the global healthcare cloud computing market is expected to reach $9.5 billion by 2020. And 83 percent of healthcare organizations are already leveraging the cloud. Only 6 percent of organizations have no plans to take advantage of the cloud in the coming years. If you’re in that 6 percent, it’s time to reconsider your plans. Cloud computing can be used to decrease costs, improve access, and create a better user experience for any healthcare organization. But, it’s critical that your organization take a strategic approach to moving to the cloud. Learn more about how you can leverage the cloud to best support your organization here. 
  2. The Internet of Things. Take a look at that FitBit on your wrist. Think about the incredible amount of data that one tiny device is generating constantly. The number of steps you take, the calories you burn, your sleep pattern, the stairs you climbed. These devices get more accurate and more intricate with every passing day. We are not far off from a future when we’ll be able to monitor nearly every aspect of our health, and the health of our loved ones without setting foot in a doctor’s office. Healthcare organizations will have to find a way to address what will be tectonic shift in how care is delivered. Communication methods will need to be established to collect the data generated by wearable and mobile devices. Methods for collecting and analyzing the influx of data will need to be developed so patterns can be identified. The manner in which treatment is delivered will have to change as we move away from the traditional doctor’s office visits, and into a world where a diagnosis can be made through analyzing the information generated through a patient’s mobile device, car, appliances, wearables, etc. And while this future may not quite be a reality, it’s coming soon, and healthcare organizations need to start preparing today.
  3. Data Explosion. Big data. Data analytics. Whatever term you use, the unparalleled rise in the amount and accessibility of data over the past few years is certain to have a massive impact on the healthcare industry. The explosion in big data occurred so quickly that 41 percent of healthcare executives say their data volume has increased by 50 percent or more from just one year ago. 50 percent in just one year. This incredible increase in data will allow medical professionals to more quickly and more accurately diagnose patients, but as with the Internet of Things, it will require fundamental shifts in how data is managed and how care is administrated. Healthcare organizations will need to train, or hire a workforce with the right data analysis  and medical skill sets. Regulations, processes, and platforms will need to be developed or implemented. Healthcare organizations who ignore this trend do so at their own peril. For as Accenture notes in a report released earlier this year for those who take advantage of the wealth of opportunity within big data, “Greater operational excellence and improved clinical outcomes await those who grasp the upside potential.”
  4. Efficiency in IT. If you haven’t heard the phrase “Doing more with less”  in the past few months, it’s probably time to climb out from under that rock you’ve been living under. With healthcare spending wildly out of control in the United States, every healthcare organization from physician’s offices to the largest hospital chains are being asked to do more with less. IT is a particularly ripe area for cutting costs, and resources. In 2016, the emphasis on doing more with less in IT will continue. Expect to see IT departments pursue options such as moving to the cloud, outsourced managed services, and bring your own device to help decrease IT operating costs.
  5. Cybersecurity. In 2014, 42 percent of all serious data breaches occurred at healthcare organizations. Sadly, this trend is certain to continue its upward trajectory in the coming years. Healthcare organizations who have not adequately upgraded their systems, and developed a thorough cybersecurity strategy are especially vulnerable to attack. Now is time to evaluate your systems, processes, and resourcing. Make sure your organization is positioned to proactively protect against attacks where possible, and identify and respond rapidly to breaches when they do occur.

Planning your 2016 health IT projects and priorities? Looking for a partner that will truly understand the challenges you are facing and the need to ensure success? Get in touch with us today. Our experienced health IT experts know the obstacles you face, and are ready to partner with you to deliver your projects on time, and on budget in 2016 and beyond.


Jenny Couch

This post was written by Jenny Couch. Couch is a project management consultant, and Providge’s Business Development Manager. She loves efficiency, to-do lists, and delivering projects on-time and on-budget.

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This week on NVTC’s blog, Kathy Stershic of member company Dialog Communications shares her final thoughts of her Brand Reputation in the Era of Data series.


Over the past few weeks, I’ve outlined 8 Principles that will help marketers protect and strengthen their brands in an era of radical change, where there is great temptation (and quite likely management pressure) to push boundaries further than ever before. Throughout this time and many preceding months, I’ve had countless conversations with people about the state of their data as well as the modern conveniences upon which they’ve come to rely. I’ve heard a Big Data expert actively advocating for stretching the law (or hinting at crossing the line) for the sake of competitive advantage. I’m sure he is not alone in that opinion. We are, all of us, currently in the Wild West.

While technology is accelerating what’s possible, the ideas outlined in the 8 Principles come back to common fundamental and timeless human needs that will outlast every wave of technology: People protecting what’s theirs, seeking respect and dignity, wanting control of their lives, enjoying freedom and avoiding harm. The brands they will choose for anything more than a one-time experience will be those who understand those concerns, and actively work to enable them.

There is more to brand reputation than being the app of the moment. Not every new thing will be transformational. But businesses who innovate as well as who truly respect their customers and actively work to earn trust stand a far greater chance of longevity than those who rely on buzz about the shiny new object, or who exploit to maximum advantage thinking the ‘sheeple’ won’t notice. It will take work. It will take awareness. It will take intention. It will take courage. And it will take leadership.

Eventually today’s Wild West will give way to a more mature market dynamic. Embracing these 8 Principles may help ensure your company is there when that time comes – or even leading the way.

Brand Reputation in the Era of Data – Principle 1: Empower Customer Control
Brand Reputation in the Era of Data – Principle 2: Be Clear and Accountable
Brand Reputation in the Era of Data – Principle 3: Do Everything You Can to Protect Customer Data
Brand Reputation in the Era of Data – Principle 4: Mind Your Partners!
Brand Reputation in the Era of Data – Principle 5: Practice Customer Empathy
Brand Reputation in the Era of Data – Principle 6: Comply with All Applicable Laws and Regulations. Then Exceed Them.
Brand Reputation in the Era of Data – Principle 7: Apply Technology Thoughtfully
Brand Reputation in the Era of Data – Principle 8: Actively Demonstrate Respect for Your Customers

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This week on NVTC’s Blog, Host in Ireland’s President and Founder Garry Connolly discusses Safe Harbor, a policy agreement that regulated the way that U.S. companies export and handle the personal data of European citizens.


 In Nov. 2000, the United States Department of Commerce and the European Union established Safe Harbour, a policy agreement established between that regulated the way that U.S. companies export and handle the personal data of European citizens. This enabled American technology companies to compile data generated by their European clients in web searches, social media posts and other activities online.

In 2015, a major issue with the agreement is the collection of personal data that people create when they post something on Facebook or other social media, when they conduct searches on Google, or when they order products or buy movies from Amazon or Apple. Such data is invaluable to companies, which use the information for a broad range of commercial purposes, including tailoring advertisements to individuals and promoting products or services based on users’ online activities.

Safe Harbour, regarding data transfer, does not apply solely to tech companies or online retail, however. It also affects any organization with international operations, such as when a company has employees in more than one country and needs to transfer payroll information, or allow workers to manage their employee health benefits online.

So how did we get from data concerning your preference for wool socks over cotton or your interest in purchasing season four of “Game of Thrones” to controversial issues concerning Europeans’ privacy rights and U.S. national security interests?

As Helen Dixon, Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner, pointed out in a statement issued by her Office, the issues dealt with in the decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) to invalidate the “Safe Harbour” system, under which companies transfer customer data from Europe to the United States, are “complex.” She elaborated, saying that the issues “will require careful consideration” and “what is immediately clear is that the Court has reiterated the fundamental importance attaching to the right of individuals to the protection of their personal data. That is very much to be welcomed.”

The ruling by the ECJ found that the Safe Harbour agreement is flawed because it allowed American government authorities to gain access to Europeans’ online information. The court said leaks from Edward J. Snowden, the former contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA), made it clear that American intelligence agencies had access to the data, infringing on Europeans’ rights to privacy.

The issue came to head when Max Schrems, a 27-year-old graduate student living in Austria, argued that Europeans’ online data was misused by Facebook because it cooperated with the NSA’s Prism program. Prism, in part, involved the U.S. Federal government’s collection of information on Europeans, gathered from the world’s largest Internet companies, in search of national security threats. An interesting side note is that Schrems originally filed his complaint with the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, since it is the privacy regulator for Facebook outside the U.S. because the Company’s European headquarters are located in Dublin. He eventually took his case to the Irish High Court, which referred it to the ECJ in July of last year. Following the ECJ judgment, the Irish court is expected to rule that the Irish Data Protection Commissioner must investigate his complaint properly and decide whether to suspend such data transfers.

As many large American tech companies have set up their overseas headquarters in Ireland, the Irish government has been supportive of Safe Harbour. However, Helen Dixon has begun discussions with her data protection counterparts in other European Union member countries to best determine how the ECJ’s judgment can be “implemented in practice, quickly and effectively” as it impacts European to U.S. data transfers, Host in Ireland is confident that procedures can be established that continue to support the thriving digital economy, respects individuals’ right to privacy, and ensures the safety and protection of our global community, both home and abroad.


 Interested in learning more about data protection? Join NVTC, Host in Ireland, and Helen Dixon for an event on April 7, 2016 at the National Conference Center. Please email marketing@hostinireland.com for details.

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