Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sucked into a vortex, it seems

I don't know if I've been busy, or just not motivated recently. It's probably a little bit of each, but I seem to just be hanging on. And I'm not even sure what it is that I'm hanging onto.

Last week, I skipped CrossFit on Thursday and Friday to end the week. I didn't work out at all those two days. News at work earlier in the week certainly affected those decisions and my motivation.

On Saturday, I managed to get to the gym for a 6K row - not a very interesting or significant workout. Sunday, I worked, and when combined with the crappy weather, I didn't do much else.

Monday, I managed to row 10K and go to my daughter's soccer game after work.

Tuesday, I actually overslept and I was late for work. I can't remember the last time I did this, but I haven't been sleeping very well recently. I was exhausted after work and didn't do anything but watch TV.

We have been dealing with a broken-down car (the part is due in today), so I've been playing chauffeur a lot. This morning, I took my daughter to the orthodontist and I've been working ever since.

The great majority of my work today has been de-activating our most financially lucrative customer in our data system. I think that this issue has really been part of my sudden and recent malaise. The termination from the customer cost me a long-overdue raise and that's been an unpleasant turn of events. What's even more frustrating to me, at times, is that my company has a really good product that has a great return on investment for patient and providers. Basically we have a product that gets patients and doctors talking to each other, cooperatively managing Type 2 Diabetes, and our research shows that our product saves over 25 times what it costs in health care costs. Soon, we will have similar capabilities related to other chronic diseases. So, shouldn't people be beating down our door to get this product?

Unbelievably, the fact that our product can reduce healthcare costs is a dis-incentive for many potential customers. "So, let me get this straight. I am going to pay you money. My diabetic patients will be healthier in the long run. They won't need as much hands-on health care. So, I am going to pay you money so that I can bring in less revenue? Don't let the door hit you on the way out." So, our challenge is to sell to people who have some money on the line - some "skin in the game", so to speak. But, the people with money on the line tend to be far removed from the individual patients. We are talking about government and large insurance companies. They like the idea, but they seem convinced they can do it better. Without us. Yet, I know for sure that this isn't happening at places where we have worked in the past.

It scares me that the health care system can be that indifferent. A billable visit or even an amputation doesn't seem to be an issue. Yet, doing something proactive to help people be more healthy and reduce health care costs isn't worth the effort. I really love my job and I think it provides value to its users and society as a whole. And yet, we are having a hard time getting anywhere in the market. Chronic diseases consume a huge percentage of our health care costs - as high as 75% of all health care costs. That doesn't even begin to address things like lost productivity at work (one study in 2003 estimated that lost productivity was about 4x the health care costs associated with chronic disease), or lost/reduced quality of life.

I believe in what we do at work. A decade ago, I had a job in the genetics software field where I had a similar passion. Despite our belief in the value of our product, and despite getting the company public, I eventually lost my job as 75% of the company was laid off in one day. I was the most senior employee who lost a job that day, and a lot of the reason for that, in my opinion, was that I had a lot of options worth a lot of money in an acquisition, but worthless if I was laid off. I had given an excess of time and effort to that company but didn't receive the same consideration in return. I swore I'd never work that hard again or care about a job like that again. And yet, here I am.

Yesterday, I finally told management at work that I needed some time off. I'm taking a four day weekend this coming weekend to go to a college football game with my brother.

In early November, I'm going to take a long weekend to see Furthur, run a trail marathon and then visit some other friends. I need the break.

Now, if I can just find the motivation to row my 10K tonight, I should at least remain on target for my 100K rowing challenge. And, tomorrow, I hope to return to CrossFit after missing a whole week - something I haven't done in quite a while.

And while I'm not on vacation or at the gym, I'll probably continue to work too many hours. Because it seems to make sense to me.

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