New Tech Tonics Podcast: When Companies Go Awry

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Geoff Clapp

The success of Silicon Valley is often attributed to the ability of the entrepreneurial community to embrace setbacks, rather than punishing those who experience them.  Celebrating these setbacks has become an art form of it own; as a recent NYT op-ed suggested, “telling the story of what went wrong is a way to wring insight from failure, but it’s also a way of proclaiming membership in a community of innovators who are unafraid of taking risks.”

MichaelJordan-FailureQuoteIn contrast to pat narratives of failure and redemption, or of lessons learned from flying too close to the sun, today’s guest, Geoff Clapp, offers an unvarnished — and still slightly raw — account of what happened in the months between the time we interviewed him in early 2015 about his promising startup, Better, and the time it shut down last fall. Geoff’s candid discussion provides unusual insight into what it feels like to be a leader in this difficult and uncomfortable situation.

We are grateful to Geoff for his authenticity and generosity of spirit in sharing his experiences with us on Tech Tonics today. You can listen to his interview below or find it on iTunes by clicking HERE or on the Connected Social Media website HERE. (more…)

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Women as Agents of Change in Global Development

Julie PotyrajWomen are essential to global development. Gender equality leads to higher rates of education, better health outcomes, increased economic growth, and even improved agricultural production. Focusing on the empowerment of women doesn’t just benefit women; it benefits society as a whole.

None of this is new information. The importance of women’s empowerment has been a part of the global development conversation since the very beginning of international development efforts. In 1948, theUnited Nations established the Commission on the Status of Women just three years after the organization itself came into existence. The Commission was the first global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the empowerment of women.

Gender equality has remained a part of development discourse ever since. In 2000, the world saw the largest gathering of world leaders in history. The Millennium Summit resulted in a 15-year-long strategy to reduce extreme poverty. Goal Three of the Millennium Development Goals focused exclusively on the empowerment of women. The conclusion of the Millennium Development Goals in 2015 also marked the beginning of theSustainable Development Goals. According to the United Nations, women will not only be affected by all 17 of these goals, but they will also be the driving force behind the success of these programs.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. It’s a cliché, but still an inspiring message. Does the sentiment of this saying hold real possibility? Can we all truly be the change that’s needed? The history of gender equality has portrayed women as the beneficiaries of change. Programs and policies have been continually designed to uplift the status of women. Yet only recently are we embracing women as agents of that change. Gender equality cannot happen until women are seen as equal and active stakeholders in their development.

Women and girls comprise 49.5 percent of the world’s population. Despite the successes of the Millennium Development Goals, gender inequality continues to permeate the educational, health, political, and economic sectors. Women are egregiously underrepresented in decision-making positions. There are only 18 countries with female heads of state. Out of the five permanent members and 10 non-permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, there are six female ambassadors, but not one nation with a female head of state. In the very organization that has led the campaign for gender equality since the 1940s, women have a disproportionately small presence.

If the change we wish to see in the world is gender equality, then women must be that change. Women are not passive bystanders in their own empowerment. They are the innovators, the catalysts, and the leaders. In the issue of gender inequality, women themselves are the solution.

In a blog post series for Disruptive Women, I will highlight cases across the globe where women have not only inspired change, but also driven it themselves. If you have a story about women’s role in gender equality that you would like share, or a topic you would like to see explored in greater detail, please feel free to connect with me via Twitter @jPotterRay

Julie Potyraj is the community manager for MHA@GW, HealthInformatics@GW and MPH@GW, all offered by the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University. For several years, she served as a community development specialist in Zambia coordinating youth empowerment programs and reproductive health education. She is currently an MPH@GW student focusing on global health and health communications.







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Olympic bronze for a “big girl”

Here is a great TBT post from July 2012. Olympian Elana Mayers contributed an excellent body confidence piece to our Body Image Series. Today, we honor our Disruptive Olympian! For more great resources on Body Image, please download our free e-book

Elana Meyers In 2010 when I was named to the U.S. Olympic bobsled team, I was one of the biggest, if not the biggest, female athlete on the team.  I was definitely not the tallest, but I did have one of the highest weights – it was even reported in an article.

In my sport, the goal is to push a 400-pound bobsled as fast as you can for approximately 5 seconds and then hop in, so it requires pure explosive speed, strength, and power. Competing in a sport where bigger is better, as long as you can still move, I came into the games anywhere between 178-180 pounds. It might seem odd to think of a female athlete who weighs 180 pounds, but moving a 400-pound sled is no easy task, and as my teammates like to say, “it takes mass to move mass.”  I proved that theory; at 180lbs I won an Olympic bronze medal. (more…)

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Want to Improve Patient Health? Stop Promoting Health!

Michelle Segar, PhD, MPH is Director of  Sport, Health, and Activity Research and Policy (SHARP) Center and Researcher for the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, University of Michigan. Thanks to her for sharing the following post on the interest within the health care and wellness industries regarding the science behind why health promoters should stop promoting health if they want patients to adopt healthy lifestyles. 

Michelle SegarHealth promoters need a better hook than “health” if they want patients to actually achieve better health.

This suggestion may seem paradoxical and even downright heretical. But a quick reality check with those who have tried and failed repeatedly to stick to a health-motivated exercise or diet plan (maybe even yourself!) will reveal the truth: The vague promise of future “health” is rarely enough to sustain the behavior that gets us there.

Prescribing and promoting “health” as the reason for adopting a healthy lifestyle (eat more fruits and vegetables, move more, get enough sleep) seems like a logical thing to do, right? Interestingly, this is simply an assumption. It has no basis in science.

Based on research in behavioral economics as well as on my own published studies about how to motivate sustainable healthy lifestyles, the case that health organizations and professionals should stop promoting health right now is strong. Here’s just a few of the reasons why.

Logic Doesn’t Motivate. Emotions Do.

The logic behind promoting healthy living is easy to understand: “If my patients or employees make healthier choices, they will be healthier and use fewer health care dollars, so let’s promote healthy living.” And exercising and eating well for your health definitely sounds logical. The problem is that logic doesn’t motivate. Emotions do. (more…)

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Concetta Tomaino and the Healing Power of Music

Congratulations to Disruptive Women in Health Care Dr. Concetta Tomaino who continues to show us the power of music to heal. The following post by  first appeared in Women’s Voices for Change on July 11, 2016.

Concetta Tomaino with her late colleague Dr. Oliver Sacks, to whom Dustin Hoffman presented the Music Has Power award in 2006.

Concetta Tomaino with her late colleague Dr. Oliver Sacks, to whom Dustin Hoffman presented the Music Has Power award in 2006.

Music! We know it can stimulate, excite, soothe, transport . . . . indeed, it sometimes sparks emotion so pleasurable that it actually sends chills down the spine. (Like sex, cocaine other abused drugs, and food, music triggers the area of the brain that releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of pleasure and reward.)

But who knew that music has the power to help stimulate the memory of patients with Alzheimer’s disease; help Parkinson’s patients learn to walk again; help restore speech to a patient who has had a stroke; help a child with autism learn to socialize and speak for the first time; reduce blood pressure; and reduce severe anxiety in pre- and post-surgery patients?

Back in 1978, when Concetta Tomaino was doing her clinical internship as a music therapist at a nursing home in Brooklyn, practically no scientist was doing evidence-based research on using music to heal. She would be one of the first.

“At the time, all that people thought about music therapy was that it could be used to engage people, to help them socialize,” she says. “I was working with people with end-stage Alzheimer’s disease. They were non-responsive or very agitated and not connected to anything in their environment. And yet, when familiar music was played to them, they showed recognition – some sang the words Working with these people demonstrated to me that there was something about music that connected to people who seemed to have no cognitive function left. That’s what started me on this quest to understand how music can access and preserve function in people who seem to have lost it.” (more…)

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Disrupt or be Disrupted

Thanks to Dr. Hassan Tetteh, for his support and shout out to our April Man of the Month, Vice Adm. Dr. C. Forrest Faison III. 

Cmdr. Hassan Tetteh, Lead, Futures and Innovation, Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

Cmdr. Hassan Tetteh, Lead, Futures and Innovation, Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

Disruption is about experience. I went back to my undergrad as visiting alumni recently and recognized immediately much had changed from my own experience in the early 1990s. Many students talked with me and shared their views about the way campus life had changed and how much their experience was now shaped by technology in a way that was very different from my time on campus as a pre-med student.

Mobile apps provide Sailors, Marines and their families a place find health information on their phone instead of going to Google

Mobile apps provide Sailors, Marines and their families a place find health information on their phone instead of going to Google

One example related to how students interact with health care. As an undergrad, I visited the campus student health center with questions. When I asked what students do today when they have a health question or concern, 100% of them answered they first visit the Internet for information and then will likely ‘Google’ the condition they think they have. The students’ responses were surprising. Convenience through ‘virtual care’ was accepted over a face-to face appointment. Certainly in my own thoracic surgery practice many patients tell me they occasionally search for medical information on the Internet. However, the students said the Internet was their first resource for information. This was a new experience. (more…)

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July 2016 Man of the Month: Jack Whelan

Jack Whelan

Jack Whelan

Last November, minutes before the deadline to be considered for PVI’s first Patient Voice Impact Award with the Leapfrog Group, we received a nomination for “…an extraordinary patient advocate who is helping bridge the well-known communications gap between patients, physicians, policy makers, pharmaceutical companies and others in life sciences. He’s currently in twice-weekly chemo treatment for a rare incurable blood cancer while still active and often “on-the-road” as a Patient Advocate, Research Advocate and Legislative Advocate.”

Pat and Jack Whelan

Pat and Jack Whelan

That man was Jack Whelan, and the author, his wife, Jan. “Sorry for submitting this so late in the day. I just returned from another long day with Jack where he received another round of chemotherapy. He’ll spend this weekend recovering and will be back on the road next week…”

I smiled…and was also sad. Jan had just spent precious hours outlining the very reasons we’d invited Jack to serve as a PVI advisor. And that’s why it broke my heart to have to tell Jan, sorry – the rules precluded PVI employees and advisors from being considered.

As I told Jan at the time, PVI would find a way in the future to help tell Jack’s extraordinary story. Since then, life has dealt Jack another devastating blow: a diagnosis of stage 4 prostate cancer. So when I was asked to write about Jack as the “Disruptive Women in Healthcare” Man of the Month, it took a nanosecond for me to accept. (more…)

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Cancer Moonshot: DW Makes VEEP Honorary Man of the Month

DW Sharon Terry and VEEP

DW Sharon Terry and VEEP


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Sexual harassment and public shaming in the academy

19334-NS6SM6This post authored by Bill Gardner first ran on the The Incidental Economist on June 28, 2016. 

Is it ever okay to publicly shame someone on the internet? There are many cases where people have been persecuted online, and suffered severe consequences, based on accusations that are either trivial or false. But there may also be cases where public humiliation is merited, indeed, it may be the only way to address a grievous wrong. A letter accusing a prominent professor of sexual harassment is an important test case.

Thomas Pogge is the Leitner Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Political Science at Yale. Pogge has been accused of serial sexual harassment in an Open Letter signed by scores of his academic colleagues:

Pogge has engaged in a long-term pattern of discriminatory conduct, including unwanted sexual advances, quid pro quo offers of letters of recommendation and other perks, employment retaliation in response to charges of sexual misconduct, and sexual assault. [There are also] affidavits from former colleagues at Columbia University, who attest that Pogge was accused of sexual harassment by a student in his department, and disciplined for this.

Workplace sexual harassment is a serious form of wrongdoing, but it’s very common. So what makes this case news? It may be the identity of the accused. Pogge is an internationally famous political philosopher. He is an egalitarian, best known for having extended the work of his teacher, John Rawls, to issues of global justice. Sexual harassment, if he is guilty of it, is a striking betrayal of his public commitments to justice. (more…)

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Out of Africa

I just got back from the trip of a lifetime: an African safari. I had the good fortune to visit South Africa (both Cape Town/Cape of Good Hope and Krueger National Park) as well as the Zimbabwe side of Victoria Falls. Wow. If you have done it, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, it’s so worth it. No tigers or bears, but lions galore. And elephants and rhinos and hippos (my favorite) and monkeys and I could go on and on. Even ostriches and penguins! It’s something to behold. Of course it’s hard to go the entire trip without making Lion King references or Book of Mormon jokes.

Penguins from near Cape of Good Hope

Penguins from near Cape of Good Hope

The trip wasn’t 100% perfect in that I had a particularly fun bout of whatever the African equivalent of Montezuma’s revenge might be called (Mugabe’s revenge?). But, while inconvenient and generally nasty, it did afford me a field trip around the Zimbabwe health system. Wow, that was another sight to behold. Basically Zimbabwe has no health system. The government doesn’t fund one that meets any standard you might assume should apply (average per capita spend by the government on healthcare is about $20/per person according to those with whom I spoke – yes, you read that right). The average American probably spends as much at Starbucks every month as the Zimbabwean government spends on public health. (more…)

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Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force Holds Listening Session with Key Stakeholders

DesperateThis post by Kathryn Martin originally appeared in the HHS’s blog on June 22, 2016.

On June 10th, Secretary Burwell and Office of National Drug Control Policy Director, Michael Botticelli, hosted a listening session to engage stakeholders in a discussion about mental health and substance use disorder parity implementation. Fifteen leaders of organizations representing consumer and provider groups from the mental health and addiction fields shared their perspective and offered recommendations for how to improve awareness of and compliance with the law.

More than 170 million people have better insurance coverage for mental health and substance use disorder care thanks to new coverage and parity protections in the Affordable Care Act, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and Medicaid/CHIP.

The President established the Task Force on Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity (www.hhs.gov/parity) to build on that progress and to focus federal agencies on realizing these improvements. (more…)

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Johnie’s Story

This post first appeared in The Odyssey Online on June 14, 2016. 

Children in foster care often remain voiceless so I decided we need to start listening.

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Trigger Warning: Child and/or sexual abuse. The following story is from the point of view of a fictional five-year-old boy named Johnie. His voice represents the voice of thousands of children in foster care and thousands of children with no agency as they are victims of child abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect.

My teacher Ms. Jackson is so pretty. She wears dresses every day when she teaches us. I like learning about math and counting. I think I’m pretty good at counting. I used to help mommy count little bags filled with white dust. I asked her if I could play with it one day and she said no. I played with it anyways and started coughing so she had to punish me bad. That was a long long time ago. I don’t know what day, maybe a Tuesday. But today is a Thursday and Mr. Sun is shining so bright. I love that song in music class, “Mr. Sun. Sun. Mr. Golden Sun. Please shine down on me!”

Last night was a scary night. I had a nightmare but I think I was awake. I was on the mattress next to Mommy’s bed I sleep on and she had friends come over. I think they were having a brown bubbly drink and eating chips. I’m a bit sad because Mommy said she had no food for dinner but then she had food for the friends. One man came in and kept saying scary things to me. His name is Jones and he is really tall. I was sleeping with Peanuts. That is my stuffed elephant. I love Peanuts. He is so soft and a very good friend. He never yells at me and will always play with me. But Jones came into the bed with me and started asking me to play some weird game. I just wanted to sleep and he was scary. I said no and he hit me hard. I got a mark from it. (more…)

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The Perfect Father’s Day Gift: A Prostate Screening

Men’s Health Month: Focus on Prostate Screening

By Dr. Jon Elion, MD, FACC and Founder/President of ChartWise Medical Systems. This post first appeared in ChartWise2.0 on Jun 16, 2016 in honor of Men’s Health Month.

runners-635906_1280June is Men’s Health Month, when we focus on prevention, detection, and treatment of disease in men and boys. As a cardiologist, it is tempting for me to use this platform to talk about heart disease. Instead I have decided to push myself beyond that, connecting to my cardiology roots while shooting for some extra bonus points by mentioning coding and Clinical Documentation Improvement.

I saw a patient in the office for follow-up two weeks after an acute inferior MI caused by a right coronary artery occlusion (that would be ICD-10 code I2.11). Remember that the meaning of “initial” and “subsequent” for MIs has changed since ICD-9, where it referred to the episode of care. But under ICD-10, this office visit for the single MI within the previous 4 weeks did not get any special code modifier. As he was leaving, the patient asked me to check his PSA (the Prostate-Specific Antigen which is used to help detect and screen for prostate cancer). Apparently his family doctor normally did this, but it hadn’t been checked in a while. He called a few weeks later to tell me that his insurance company refused to pay for the PSA check, as the test is not indicated in the context of a follow up visit after a heart attack. It would have been covered if I had documented our discussion and coded for an encounter for screening for prostate cancer (Z12.5). [See how I snuck in a mention of coding and Clinical Documentation Improvement?] (more…)

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8 Notable Washington, D.C. Dads on Fatherhood 


We have been seeing many stories of violence and intolerance in the past few weeks. As we approach Father’s Day, Disruptive Women in Health Care has been taking time to focus on the unsung good men out there.  FEEL FREE TO SHARE STORIES ABOUT THE GOOD GUYS/DADS IN YOUR LIFE. We know that not all of our dads are with us anymore as we approach Father’s Day. We continue to honor and cherish their memories as well. **This article was written by Jessica McFadden and originally appeared in Mommy Nearest on June 11, 2015. 

lead image for 8 Notable Washington, D.C. Dads on Fatherhood 


Father’s Day in the Washington, D.C. area is always a great holiday—the weather is usually gorgeous (fingers crossed!), schools are out and work is paused as we honor the dads in our lives. We asked eight D.C. fathers to share with us their recommendations for celebrating their big day and their insights on parenting in the nation’s capital. These cool dads include a District Councilman, the key spokesperson for the MPAA, a rocking children’s musician, an education start-up founder, a kids’ party planner and some financial wizards with hearts of gold.

Read on for some inspiration on what to do for your own Father’s Day! (more…)

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“20 Minutes of Action”: A Father’s Response To Dan Turner’s Statement

In light of recent events that have brought issues of violence and intolerance to the fore, Disruptive Women will use the next few days leading up to Father’s Day to highlight the good guys. There are many more of them. **This article was written by Kyle Suhan and originally appeared on Christine Suhan’s blog on June 6, 2016.  

boys

Sex is always intentional, and [my sons] are going to understand that even consensual sex needs to be cared for with the utmost delicacy.

“That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life. The fact that he now has to register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life forever alters where he can live, visit, work and how he will be able to interact with people and organizations. What I know as his father is that incarceration is not the appropriate punishment for Brock.” —Dan Turner

Steep? Mount Everest is steep. The peak of the emotional roller coaster Brock Allen Turner’s rape victim has only begun to descend is steep. Six months in jail is a joke; a speed bump, if you will. The “20 minutes of action” that Brock’s father minimizes in his above statement will haunt his victim for the rest of her life. It may have been a measly twenty minutes for him but for her, the impact of those twenty minutes will weave into every fiber of her being, every facet of her life, for its entirety.  In her letter, the rape victim states that she, “does not remember” the night Brock penetrated, groped, and left her behind a dumpster. But what she will soon find out is that her body will not let her forget. I know this because I married a victim of a college rape.

Steep will be the amount of time, energy, and financial resources that will go into undoing what Brock has done. Undoing is the wrong word here, what he did can never be undone. It can only be rewired, reworked, processed, and worked through again. When she is but a distant bad decision in your life, you will be a permanent fixture of her subconscious. (more…)

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