Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Need for Technology Solutions for Providers Under Payment Reform

MassTLC's healthcare community convened yesterday at Wilmer Hale in Waltham to discuss the need and challenges for technology solutions for providers under payment reform.  Sarah Iselin, President, BCBS of Massachusetts Foundation, set the stage when she described their research and the importance of technology under reform.  There is no debate that Massachusetts has the lowest uninsured population at approximately 2%. However, despite the low number of uninsured, Massachusetts also spends more per person on healthcare than anywhere in the U.S., or the world, for that matter.  And the more we spend on healthcare, the less we have to spend on other services that are shown to have a huge impact on the overall health of our population:
On a somber note, if the path continues, costs are projected to double by 2020.  When Massachusetts set out to insure its citizens in 2006, they went in knowing they were focused on coverage and not costs.  Now, in 2012 the focus is on cost containment with a new bill is expected to be filed within the next few weeks. Sarah's complete presentation shows much more than what we were able to cover in our two-hour morning session - please be sure to take a look here. As we move forward and look towards change and cost containment, there is broad agreement that costs have to slow down, and the need for payment reform and technology has never been greater.  Take a look here at the impact of medical technology on health value. Our panel of experts including Puneet Batra, Chief Data Scientist, Kyruus, Frank Calderaro, Global Alliances, Healthcare, CA Technologies, Dr. Gary Goldsmith, Medical Informatics Specialist, Dept. of Quality & Safety, Mount Auburn Hospital and Dr. Steven Locke, Co-founder & CEO, Veritas Health Solutions all shared their perspectives for moving forward.  Some of the discussion was focused on the data presented in the slide below.  Dr. Locke commented that the gains actually are quite small and we need to think outside the box to realize change.  How the system is reimbursed is what is going to drive major change. Lastly, we are very pleased that we have confirmed Dana Safran, SVP of Performance Measurement and Improvement from BCBSMA to keynote the June 8th session on Patient Engagement.  Details and registration can be found here. Thank you to all that attended and participated in the session!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

State Trade Export Promotion (STEP) - Apply Now!

The Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investment (MOITI), in collaboration with the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center (MSBDC) and the Massachusetts Export Center (MEC), recently launched the Massachusetts State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Grant Program through a grant from the United States Small Business Administration (SBA). The STEP grant program offers financial assistance to eligible Massachusetts small businesses seeking new and increased export sales of their goods and services. The grant program is intended to help offset international business development and related marketing costs for small businesses.

Grants under the STEP Program will be capped at $10,000 per business to reimburse for costs associated with projects, activities or services undertaken during the period March 1, 2012 to September 29, 2012. Each grant recipient will be required to provide a match to cover 25% of the total approved cost for any project, activity or service.

MOITI will accept submissions for consideration from April 16 - May 15, 2012.

To apply for the STEP program, companies or firms must meet the U.S. Small Business Administration definition of small business.

Have questions? Call Naomi Grossman at 617-830-5404 or email

Monday, April 16, 2012

Robots, Robots, Robots! Recap of the 2012 Robot Block Party

The future of robotics is not just for the Jetson's. Robots today are fast becoming the co-workers and assistive tools of tomorrow. At the Boston Museum
of Science this weekend, as part of National Robotics Week 2012, the annual Robot Block Party showcased the Future of Robotics with over 20 different robotics companies and research institutions showcasing robots of today and talking about how robots will be used in the future. The MassTLC robotics cluster was a proud sponsor of the event with participating member companies: Adept Mobile Robots, Myomo, Hydroid, iRobot, Jaybridge Robtics, Energid, Harvest Automation, Aldebaran, Bluefin Robotics, MIT, Tufts University, vGo Communications and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

"We are in a golden age of growth," said Professor Dinos Mavroidis from Northeastern University's Biomechatronics lab, when talking about the surge in applications of robotics technologies in assisting humans. Robots are being used today to keep our soldiers safer on the battlefield, assist doctors in surgery, create better outcomes for physical therapies and reshape the way we think about farming. In the future it is easy to imagine autonomous surgeries, tractors, airplanes and vehicles. Robots are also paving the way to keeping us in our homes longer as we age, with virtual doctor visits and telepresence robots. The future is very bright for robotics applications that will impact our daily lives in a positive way.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Mobile Payments: Is it Really the Future?

After attending today's Mobile Cluster Seminar, we can safely answer the question above as Yes, it is the future. And in fact, it is the present. But it's not focused on the payments, but rather the entire retail experience, pre- and post-payment. That is where incentives come into play and therefore that is where adoption will be had.

The program kicked off with some very interesting research findings from our moderator, Teresa Epperson from Alix Partners. The research shows that the use of retail mobile apps is increasing, in fact 30 - 50% of smartphone users 18 - 54 use in-store mobile shopping apps, and it is having a significant impact on retail and pricing. This is resulting in a number of large retailers turning into show-rooms where consumers can view the products, compare pricing and buy cheaper elsewhere.

Our panelists for the day included, Dekkers Davidson from Barclaycard US, Chris Gardner from Paydiant, and Damien Balsan from PayPal. While there was certainly some lively debate happening with the audience and panel members, our panelists were all in agreement that there is tremendous opportunity and some very compelling reasons that the mobile wallet is here to stay.

Chris began by stating the issues surrounding mobile wallet are not related to technology but to the business. There needs to be economic incentives for both merchants and consumers. In terms of merchants they need to see an increase of transactions, an increase in lane speed, and in some instances access to hardware either at very little cost or no cost at all. For the consumer, they need to be incentivized through loyalty programs, online coupons and other savings initiatives.

Dekkers not only agreed with Chris but added that customers need a connection to merchants and a good way to do this is through community. For instance PayPal was able to utilize the EBay community which helped pave the way for their success. To date, there has not been a compelling community in the US, which will likely change as retailers build these programs out.

When the topic of user experience was broached, all panelists also were in agreement that the user experience would likely continue to be "ugly" for some time and for that to improve technologies and offerings must become "brutally simple".

Damien, an advocate for NFC and involved in the mobile payments space for over 15 years, feels that the shift to the mobile wallet is going to accelerate over then two to three years with improved connectivity and hardware. In addition, consumers will have the ability to set preferences for their mobile payment apps optimizing their experience.

The main take-away is that the mobile wallet is here to stay and therefore there are a great many opportunities right now.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Data Scientist

Today's Big Data Cluster seminar, Data Science: A Practitioner's Perspective, kicked off with our standard definition of volume, variety and velocity. But interestingly moderator Dave Menninger's research showed that in the end volume and velocity were by far what was considered important to data analytics organizations that are evaluating Big Data technology. In addition, Menniger's research shows that 90% of analytics organizations utilize more than one technology to analyze data, continuing to prove that one size does not fit all. And finally, either a sign of an emerging trend or a lack of ability to conduct something so complex, predictive analytics remains at the bottom of the list of BI (business intelligence) capabilities.
Our panel today included Dan Dunn, Product Operations, HubSpot; Michael Kane, PhD, Associate Research Scientist, Yale Center for Analytical Sciences, Yale University; Mike Keohane, VP of Software Engineering, OwnerIQ; Ian Stokes-Rees, PhD, NEBioGrid, Harvard Medical School.

The first question thrown out to panelists laid the foundation for the types of work they do, which primarily is exploratory data analysis using simple statistical methods. Michael Kane points out that as the methods become more complex, the mathematics becomes more predictive and harder to prove. Dan Dunn says that ultimately the most trustworthy outcomes rely on a combination of data variety and data integrity. This combination allows for more dimensions to be added and thus creating more links among the data points.

Another key component of the day was how crucial visualization is, not only to the end user of the report, but also for the data scientist to review along the way. According to Ian Stokes-Rees an interactive scatter-plot with clear axis points is necessary to provide your stakeholders to get complete buy-in.

While there was some lively debate on the best technologies available, particularly between our academics, the panel was in complete agreement that they are all very difficult to use, which brought us to our skills-gap portion of the day. So, what makes a great data scientist? Someone with experience in mathematics/statistics, computers/programming, and a grasp on business environments. Thus, a true rarity. According to Mike Keohane, data scientists may only have depth in one of those areas but if they have at least an understanding of the other traits then they are still a commodity.

In the end, data science is a team approach. Generally, the person performing the statistical analysis is not the same person who is administering the data or programming the technologies to run the data. In addition, having more than a single data scientist allows for checks and balances in analysis. There are so many tools and algorithms that can be completed, it is crucial to have a keen understanding of what questions should and are being asked.

The final question of the morning was what does the future hold? All panel members were in agreement that the volume of data will continue to increase along with its importance in business intelligence.

Friday, April 6, 2012

PAX "Made in MA" Party takes over the NERD Center

The 3rd annual #MadeinMA party at Microsoft NERD was again a huge hit for the games community! The sell-out crowd of more than 1000 gamers was proof that the gaming industry in MA continues to thrive. With a mix of companies, executives, press and students, MA showcased how it has a lot to celebrate! The party kicked-off the weekend-long gaming exhibition at the Boston Convention Center which brings in more than 60,000 gamers to check-out the newest games from across the country. Among the big releases, it was great to see a fabulous showcase from Boston Indies including Owlchemy, Dejoobaan, The Tap Lab and Firehose Games to name a few.

The party has become a great tradition for game executives and developers to convene for a night of networking and checking out what MA has to offer in gaming. MassTLC is pleased to host this signature event for one of Massachusetts up and coming creative industries.

It was fun filming and interviewing a ton of folks at the party and PAX. Watch for the video, soon to be completed that captures all that Massachusetts has to offer.
Special thanks to our sponsors: Microsoft, GSN, Goodwin Procter, Zynga, Viximo and ESA. A special thanks to Helena Fruscio @createma, the new Creative Economy Director from the State who took on the ambassador role for the entire weekend.

Click here to learn more about MassTLC and its Digital Games Cluster

Monday, April 2, 2012

Finding the Right Way to the Cloud: Measure, Manage and Monetize for Success

There was a great turn-out at Thursday's Cloud breakfast seminar focused on "Finding the Right Way to the Cloud: Measure, Manage and Monetize for Success". Firas Raouf from Open View Venture Partners kicked-off the morning highlighting that success in a Cloud business is all about service - not technology. A good user experience is as important in B2B as in the B2C environment. A few key points from his presentation which can be downloaded here:
  • Focus on a core segment
  • You can't differ on technology, so nail customer's need and deliver exactly how they want it!
  • Optimize distribution economics - leverage your segment focus
  • A focus on user experience creates lower churn, higher LTV
  • Leverage content marketing to lower customer acquisition costs
  • Execute sales and marketing strategies around your core segment

Next, Denis Pombriant with Beagle Research, a Cloud and CRM analyst led the panel discussion with executives from Yottaa, Acquia, Sonian, GaggleAmp and InfoGin. Don't forget to email Denis at for his white paper on SaaS and PaaS.

The panel offered diverse backgrounds from small start-up SaaS applications to cloud infrastructure providers and "optimizers". Retention, churn and renewals continue to dominate the discussion on what creates success in a Cloud business. Coach Wei from Yottaa stressed that these key metrics must by built into your business. Many more details on the session can be found on attendee blog posts including Rodney Brown's new venture, Metratech's post on "What customers want" and a short post from Denis Pombriant.

Our next Cloud session will take place early June - a ½ day pricing bootcamp focused on metrics, packaging and list prices. More to follow shortly.

Lastly MassTLC is collaborating with Northbridge Venture Partners on their 2nd annual Future of Cloud survey. The survey will kick-off mid- April -updates are available at @FutureofCloud or visit

Thanks to the Acquia team for hosting us - they were super hosts and we look forward to being back soon!