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Looking into the Future: Without Fear or Favor

Like many industries, healthcare is riddled with group think and “trends” that don’t materialize. Billions of dollars and, more important, irreplaceably scarce professional and managerial time and effort are wasted chasing opportunities that are really not opportunities at all. Jeff Goldsmith is a powerful antidote to group think. No-one can predict the future with unerring accuracy. But with more than thirty years of experience spanning all the major sectors of the health field, Jeff can help sort the trivial from the significant, and explain in English where the real opportunities and challenges lie- without fear or favor.

Jeff Goldsmith

Health Futures was founded in 1982 by Jeff Goldsmith. Jeff Goldsmith is one of the nation's foremost health industry analysts, specializing in corporate strategy, trend analysis, health policy and emerging technologies. He has worked across the health system- hospitals, health plans, physician groups, pharmaceutical, biotechnology and health manufacturing and distribution sectors- advising senior management and Boards. Health Futures also helps guide venture and private equity investment in emerging technologies. Jeff Goldsmith writes and lectures actively on health policy, financing and technology, both in the United States and overseas. You can find an active archive of his writings and topics in this site.

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Why I Abandoned Facebook!

No, I cannot “predict”the future.  No-one can.  But my six months of posting on Facebook just didn’t feel right.  It wasn’t the constant nagging pressure to find some sunny personal anecdotes to share with my “friends”.  I was definitely uncomfortable with the core unvoiced expectation of the medium: self-disclosure, which is a genetically based discomfort for me.  It was something deeper:  that nagging question of what their 6000 plus employees were doing, beyond trying unobtrusively to insert commercial messages into my life so their stock would be worth billions. 

Now we know:  they were fiddling with our lives by manipulating our news feeds to see how it affected us:
http://online.wsj.com/articles/facebook-experiments-had-few-limits-1404344378?mod=WSJ_hp_RightTopStories  .  Things like finding out how “political mobilization messages” caused people to vote in Congressional elections, on the “causes of loneliness” and on how fiddling the balance of positive and negative stories could cause depression.  

According to Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s stylish, business-facing spokesperson, it was all kosher:  simply "part of ongoing research companies do to test different products".  Bloody rubbish!  As a former member of their Data Sciences team said, bluntly"They’re always trying to alter peoples’ behavior."   Another said: it is “the largest field study in the history of the world.”   Sandberg’s legalistic justification:  it was covered by the user agreement people “signed” when they opened their accounts.   

Social scientists sometimes succumb to the temptation to play God.  There were scandals in the late 1950’s, by a former graduate adviser of mine,  involving audiotaping jury deliberations without the jurors’ knowledge or consent to study influence patterns in their decision making, a linear ancestor of the now-revealed Facebook business practice.     

People participating in experiments should, like sentient beings with constitutionally guaranteed privacy rights, consent to doing so.  Informed consent is part of the social compact required by a code of responsible conduct of any research scientist.  

Jaron Lanier, a tech visionary and gadfly, warned us about the abuses of power possible in an age of “siren servers” in his 2013 book, “Who Owns the Future” -what we trade by surrendering our privacy to the benevolent overlords of cyberspace.  Wake up, users, and smell their arrogance. 

Date: 07.03.14   Time: 12:39 PM

Recent Keynote Engagements

  • United Healthcare
  • Spectrum Health
  • Association of Managed Care Pharmacy
  • North American Medical Management
  • Sheridan Healthcare
  • Maine Health
  • Baptist Health, Jacksonville, FL
  • California Medical Association
  • Federation of American Hospitals
  • DaVita
  • California Association of Physician Groups
  • Catalyst for Payment Reform
  • Hill Physicians
  • Group Health of Puget Sound
  • CR Bard

Healthcare Reform Chronicles

Jeff Goldsmith has introduced The Health Reform Chronicles to help you find his blog postings on Healthcare Reform.