Wednesday, October 30, 2013

MEDSEEK Acquires SymphonyCare to Expand Presence In Emerging Population Health and Care Management Market


Madison, WI – October 30, 2013 – Symphony Corporation, a Madison, WI-based healthcare information technology company, today announced the acquisition of SymphonyCare, its  population health and care management solution, by MEDSEEK, the provider of a comprehensive software platform to help hospitals and health systems influence patient behavior. Symphony Corporation, led by Ravi Kalla, has been a trusted technology partner for leading healthcare organizations toward quality, safety, and efficiency goals. Symphony has a history of incubating and building cutting-edge technology solutions in collaboration with well-known health systems. 

“After this acquisition, Symphony retains its core technology services business,” said Tom Carmona, Symphony’s Director of Sales and Marketing. “We will continue to expand our capabilities in healthcare analytics, big data, mobile health, and other technologies that improve patient care and boost efficiency among healthcare providers.”

“There are many population health management tools on the market, but most lack the critical functionality to successfully engage patients,” said Peter Kuhn, MEDSEEK’s CEO. “While high-touch programs can be effective, high-tech strategies are the key to cost effectively changing patient behavior in a way that is meaningful in terms of reducing unnecessary hospital readmissions, improving medication and nutrition adherence, and eliminating gaps in care.” Kuhn continued, “At MEDSEEK, we are expanding our integrated patient influence platform to include all the capabilities critical to our customers who have enrolled in, or are experimenting with, emerging value-based payment models like the mandatory Medicare Hospital Readmission Reduction Program, the Medicare Shared Savings Program, or a Patient-Centered Medical Home.”

The acquisition expands MEDSEEK’s capabilities in the emerging population health and care management market, creating immediate opportunities for the company to offer an additional set of software and services to its customer base and emerging healthcare provider markets.

“This acquisition presents an opportunity for MEDSEEK to quickly align our proven patient engagement technology with new healthcare delivery requirements brought on by healthcare reform,” said Kyra Hagan, VP of Product Strategy at MEDSEEK. “We were looking to augment MEDSEEK’s existing patient-facing technology stack with a proven clinical analytics and business intelligence solution.” Hagan continued, “Our decision to acquire SymphonyCare was cemented by its powerful data integration, information delivery, and analysis capabilities. In particular, we were impressed by SymphonyCare’s robust semantic layer that enables users to navigate available data sources, ask their own questions of the data, and translate that data analysis into evidence-based, highly personalized, patient-centered care plans.”

About Symphony Corporation
Symphony Corporation is a global healthcare products and technology services firm based in Madison, WI. Symphony’s clients include corporations across the healthcare spectrum, including integrated health systems, academic healthcare organizations, health plans, PPO networks, public health agencies, care/medical management companies, and healthcare software vendors. Symphony has over 15 years of proven experience in planning, designing, building and managing complex clinical software applications. Symphony also has a track record of bringing products from conception to production for numerous clients in various vertical domains including healthcare, medical devices, insurance, life sciences, and mobile application development.

Contact
Tom Carmona, Director of Sales and Marketing, Symphony Corporation
(312) 965-1572, tom.carmona@symphonycorp.com

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Monday, March 4, 2013

What's all the WTF over WFH?

There's has been plenty of recent hullabaloo ever since Marissa Mayer told remote Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) employees to come back to the office. People naturally--and perhaps rightly--use this news as a springboard to discuss broader topics like women's issues in the workplace, but let's not get carried away when projecting our own personal and professional preferences on a company (read CEO) that's trying to find its way amid competitive pressure from Google, Facebook, Amazon, and other increasingly powerful Internet companies.

So, keep in mind that a manager, after looking at the facts, may decide that creativity and collaboration reach their height when teams are physically present in the same office. Or perhaps a CEO may look at VPN data and infer that remote employees are slacking off, which apparently was the case with Yahoo.

Generally speaking, I see both advantages and disadvantages of working remotely. I work remotely myself, and I enjoy the flexibility that it provides, but I'd be lying if I said that I collaborate with my team just as well through conferencing, email, and IM. It really depends on the company, the project, and the people involved. So I withhold judgement when it comes to Yahoo and Marissa Mayer until someone can make a case that this is the wrong move for the company, or at least a stronger case than ones I've seen to date.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Most Useless Stat in Football?

I don't care to go into great detail here, but the most useless stat in football, I've now decided, is QBR, the Total Quarterback Rating formula developed by ESPN. Commentators from the network routinely describe the passer rating as the most useless stat in football. I would agree that it isn't as meaningful as some might make it out to be, but then again who is making such a big deal out of it?

Aaron Rodgers had the best single-season passer rating last year, and has a career passer rating eight points higher than anyone in the history of the NFL, yet few people aside from the most die-hard Packer fans are ready to call him the best QB ever, at least not yet. Last year most of the talk surrounding Rodgers was rightly about the possible 16-0 season and him nearing the 50-touchdown mark. Nobody cared when he recorded a 122.5 passer rating. I haven't heard anyone cite that stat to make the case that Rodgers had the best season ever for a quarterback.

And perhaps they shouldn't, but neither should anyone pay much attention to QBR. ESPN is polishing its own pewter over QBR this season, using it to make the case that Andrew Luck is the best rookie QB, rather than RG3, whom I would consider the obvious choice. In an article on ESPN.com today, Rick Reilly tried to make the case that Andrew Luck has been the better QB because he has a higher QBR, whilst taking us through all of the asinine metrics that lead to this silly conclusion.

Here is a sampling of the oddly selective rundown of the stats:

"Luck runs more successfully than Griffin. He's had 10 scrambles for first downs. Griffin has had nine."
"Luck is more valuable to his team than Griffin. Sixty-nine percent of the Colts' passing yards are gained while the ball is in the air, the rest after the catch. Only 49 percent of the Skins' passing yards come through the air. In other words, Griffin still has his training wheels on. Luck has his license." 
You might say that I'm being selective by taking these quotations out of context. I did take them out of context, because I didn't care to recite the entire article, but I think these were his most salient points. OK, the first one, about him running for one more first down, was just silly, but the second one is definitely worth a second look.

Then again, should we discount RG3 because of the routes that his WRs run? If it's so easy to strap on the training wheels and get RG3's 8.47 yards per attempt, why doesn't everyone run these routes that get so many yards after the catch? Could it be that RG3 is an accurate passer who puts his teammates in position to break big plays?

And herein lies irony of the QBR and its evangelists: it's supposed to be all about what the player does for the team, but something like yards after the catch, something that can have a lot to do with a QB's performance, is discounted.

I can show several other examples of how overthinking has lead to a ridiculous QBR formula. What starts off as a noble concept, like giving credit for clutch performance, ends up indirectly helping out a QB who's miserable in the first three quarters, or hurting someone who gets his team ahead early.

Now, let's get down to reality:

  • The Redskins have scored the fourth most points this season; the Colts have scored the sixth fewest.
  • RG3 has the third-best passer rating, buttressed by 8.47 yards per attempt, 7tds and only three interceptions; Andrew Luck has the third-worst passer rating, as a result of his 6.7 yards per attempt and seven interceptions.


ESPN's attempts to twist this reality, which only pick at the different systems that each QB is working under, only make my point even more that QBR, through its unnecessary complexity, discriminates against offensive systems and individual styles of play more than the traditional passer rating ever had.

Unfortunately, ESPN has outsmarted itself, and has perhaps outsmarted a decent chunk of the public who has bought into this new metric that is so convoluted that it borders on arbitrary. This recent article is nothing more than a shameless ploy to gain QBR acceptance, and is perhaps proven even more successful by my bleating protests. o_0

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

iPhone 5: This better be good


Courtesy of 9to5Mac
I'm reluctant to berate a company that has enriched my life with beautiful, shiny iOS products for years, but Apple (AAPL) has made me question my faith. iOS 5 is still the best mobile OS, and the iPhone 4S may still be the best phone on the market, but as a consumer and an investor I am starting to question Apple's iPhone strategy. As recent quarter results have shown, the 4S is losing steam well ahead of the next product update, especially in important markets like China, and image leaks hint at a lackluster iPhone 5.


iPhone 4S: Limping toward the finish line

Like most people, I was skeptical of the iPhone 4S when released with the same form factor as the previous model. Many people were expecting a larger-scale upgrade and an iPhone 5 distinction, and it wasn't mere wish-thinking; Apple broke from its 12-month product cycle, and consumers had good reason to believe that this extra three months would make way for a more dramatic phone upgrade. Instead, we got what looked like an iPhone 4 with a faster phone with a better camera and a native personal assistant app that was at least somewhat useful to most people in its debut version. This was disappointing for many people who expected something more exciting. But when the dust settled from the initial announcement, many consumers (including yours truly) decided that a faster phone with an amazing camera and a personal assistant for what was already a great phone is still better than other phones out there. Apple sold 37 million phones in the 4S's first fiscal quarter, which shattered all phone sales records and analyst estimates. 

Subsequent quarters tell a different story, one that demonstrates that Apple may no longer be immune to typical product cycles (not to mention business cycles and overall weakness in the world economy). Sure, 33 million phones sold in the first three months of 2012 was better than most analysts expected, but the June quarter sales came in at just 26 million. This is alarming for two main reasons: 1) that makes two straight sequential drops in iPhone sales, and 2) this last sequential drop--much larger than the first--comes two quarters full quarters before the next phone upgrade. The Chinese economy, which helped buoy Apple sales in previous quarters, now adds to Apple weakness in the lead-up to the next iPhone. Chinese growth has slowed and so has Apple's growth in the Chinese market. Will things turn around in the fall if the iPhone 5 launches with China Mobile? Perhaps, but Apple should be worried about their market share losses to Android and the influx of high-quality, low-cost substitutes for the iPhone from the likes of Samsung, Huawei, HTC, et al

Playing by Android's rules

Ever since Apple unveiled the iPhone in 2007, its iOS platform has led one of the most profound advances is computing history. Competitors like Google's Android were quick to emulate the iPhone's app ecosystem, and have struggled to keep up. Then, with the release of the iPad, Apple changed the game again and made its competitors in hardware and software follow its lead into tablet computing. The model is simple: Apple acts, others react. This model may now be in danger as Samsung is creating phones like the Galaxy S3 that many consider just as good as any iPhone, and Google's Nexus 7 tablet is providing consumers a full-featured Android tablet at $200. The prospect of Apple trying to catch up to Samsung in phones, not to mention Apple considering a smaller, lower-margin iPad, should be disconcerting for Apple fans and investors who are used to the world playing by Apple's rules.

Great new hope?

All would be forgiven if Apple dazzles with its new phone. The proposed features for the new iOS 6, like the new Apple Maps and major upgrades to Siri, have already set the stage, and there's reason to believe that pent-up demand for the iPhone 5 will dwarf that of any other phone in history. Still, be prepared for a letdown. Recent image leaks purported to show the new iPhone, hint at a phone void of any meaningful design innovation. Sure, a 19-pin dock connector sounds better than a 30-pin one, but that alone hardly meets people's expectations of a trendsetter in a fast-moving industry. As for the screen, most rumors to date hint at a four-inch screen, one that maintains the same width as the traditional 3.5-inch iPhone screen but makes it slightly--and dare I say awkwardly--taller. If the form factor goes otherwise unchanged, Apple may lose a lot of the brand equity it has built up over the past several years for being above all else an innovative design company.

Sure, chances are that Apple will sell an ungodly number of phones in the December quarter. Before even seeing the product, I wouldn't be surprised if Apple sells 45-50 million phones in the last three months of the year. Still, if the iPhone 5 fails to provide a vast improvement over the iPhone 4 and 4S models, the company may soon face even larger losses in market share between product upgrades. I think Apple's current momentum will give them solid growth for the next few years, due in large to huge market growth in smartphones, but the company will lose out on massive market opportunities if it fails to come through with a breakthrough phone this fall. This iPhone 5 better be good. I'm not so sure it will be.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Web Design Course at Frazier Preparatory Academy

Dear Internet friends,

I am hosting eight students in my classroom after school Monday through Thursday to teach them the basics of Web design. They will learn the basics of HTML and CSS to create their own Web site to post relevant information for the other students at Frazier Prep.

The students in the club, dubbed W^3, are starting by learning basic HTML tags. Today they are practicing using headings, paragraphs, and anchor tags. They'll do so first by recreating this blog post in a split-screen HTML editor/browser found at w3schools.com without peeking at the markup language that I used.

I will post their work on this blog when their Web site goes live.

Take care,

Mr. Carmona

Monday, January 9, 2012

Honoring Martin Luther King's Legacy

***Update, 1/21/2013: Just yesterday I had a spirited discussion with a good friend after watching a rather unflattering documentary about another iconic figure, Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Neither one of us doubted the merits of any of the purported facts in the documentary, but we did have an interesting discussion about the fervor with which some people hold moral icons in high esteem, and also the degree to which other people seek to disassemble even the sturdiest reputations among our Western saint-like figures. We did come together on a few points. One was that a healthy balance between deference to and defiance of authority--moral, governmental, or otherwise--can be struck. The other point was that if someone finds fault in our prevailing heroes and their bodies of work, the best remedy is to call attention to those who do serve as a good example of how to act. (To be clear, I have no criticism of Martin Luther King to air.) In this vein I invite you to read my thoughts leading up to last year's Martin Luther King Day.***

I'm not in the business of telling people how to honor heroes or celebrate holidays, but for what it's worth I'll let you know how I will honor Martin Luther King's legacy this Monday. I don't mean to be flippant when I say that I honor King by diverting attention to other people. Don't get me wrong--it would be hard to overrate King as an inspiring person who helped create transformational change in this country. He was the natural recipient of praise and adulation from many people in his generation, in generations that followed, and will be for many generations to come--and deservedly so. But I find it more useful to celebrate his most important ideas than to simply eulogize the man himself.

Perhaps the most salient, time-tested point King has ever made was that people should not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. (It is time-tested in that to this day we struggle to live up to this aspirational utterance.) In this spirit, we should take a look back at some of the transformational figures in King's age whose character may have been misjudged. An example that sticks out in my mind is that of Bayard Rustin, who was a driving force for the March on Washington but who took a back seat to King on the national stage. This was no mistake. Of course, someone had to be the face of the movement, and it was only natural that Rustin--instead of trying to push himself into the forefront--worked to strengthen King's position in the movement. But why did Rustin have to operate in the shadows of more prominent leaders? It didn't have to do with the color of his skin, but I assume that it had everything to do with the fact that he was gay and socialist, which were associations that in his time (and, sadly, ours too) did reflect on the content of your character. As a result, Rustin, a guru of nonviolent resistance who cut his teeth working in Ghandi's movement in India, although still prominent in his own respect, was met with suspicion from people inside and outside the movement for his sexual orientation and his rather moderate socialist views. (After all, he was openly critical of Communism and avoided the big-C label for himself.)

In short, I feel that we fail to live up to the high-minded ideas that King professed when we succumb to the same stereotypes that made certain heroes seem less consequential during the Civil Rights Movement. I submit that a Bayard Rustin was every bit as important to the movement, whether people knew it back then or not. I believe we can, without conceit or delusion, attribute King-like credit retroactively to Rustin, and perhaps others like him. I'd be willing to bet that Rustin never gets his own holiday, but I'd consider it a victory in my mind if I hear his name on Monday, whether uttered in the same breath as King's name or not.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Kindle Fire and Commoditization

I have read a couple of articles since the Amazon release of the Kindle Fire that seem to hint at a steady decline for Apple in an increasingly commoditized marketplace for its premium hardware. Amazon is seemingly selling its new tablet at a loss (or near loss) in order to push its ebooks and movie streaming, which leads us to the question of whether content or hardware is king...or is the answer more complex? A few pointed questions are worth posing:
  • Do enough people want a tablet for ebooks and movies alone to supplant the iPad as the dominant player in the space? (This question rests on the fact that Amazon's Kindle Fire won't grant access to the full Android Market.)
  • Do people buy the iPad for the top-notch hardware, or is it simply an acceptable medium for gaining access to good software and content?
  • Is the iOS ecosystem better than the Android one? If so, how much better? If only marginally better, will Apple be able to win a battle in which prices are dropping and the Android OS is improving?
  • Is the overall market for tablets and e-readers growing fast enough to accommodate multiple players in the space, and without making Apple skip a beat? (After all, moderate success is unacceptable for Apple, now the most valuable company in the world.)
Anyway, these are the questions that came to mind for me right away. It'll be interesting to see how this holiday season shakes out. I still say the iPhone 5 and the iPad 2 will be holiday favorites, but the Kindle Fire will certainly give the two-headed Apple monster a run for its money.