In 1981 a young plastic surgeon bent on improving his technique made a mercy mission abroad to fix the facial deformities of poor Filipino children. "I wanted to become better" as a surgeon, recalls William Magee Jr., but "what I saw changed my life."
On that trip, 40 children were treated, but 250 were turned away, he says. Upon returning to the U.S., Magee and his wife, Kathleen, a nurse and social worker, founded a charity to do more. Called Operation Smile, the Norfolk, Va.-based organization now provides more than $28 million in donated medical services annually. The program's mercy missions involve more than 1,000 medical professionals and span the globe-including the U.S.-to treat children suffering from cleft lips, cleft palates and other disfiguring conditions.
This month Magee, who practices at Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters in Norfolk, Va., embarked from New York on Operation Smile's biggest mission yet. The nine-week, 18-country "journey of hope" is expected to treat more than 5,000 children before it ends in Nanjing, China, in April.
At a send-off held at U.N. headquarters in New York, Secretary General Kofi Annan hailed Operation Smile as "awesome." But perhaps the highest praise came from Jose Villegas, a Filipino who went from Operation Smile patient to employee. In 1987 a team of volunteer doctors removed a two-pound tumor from Villegas' chin and reconstructed his jaw, but only after Villegas gave away his precious spot three times to needier children. "Operation Smile gave me hope," Villegas said, his voice cracking with emotion. "When I had no future, they gave me a future."
E-gads. Ever since electronic mail was shortened to e-mail, companies have been co-opting the e- form to hawk Internet services.
First came the general notion of e-commerce to identify the use of the Internet for transactions. Companies like e-bay and e-trade took it the rest of the way.
IBM has seized on the notion to describe a range of software and services it can provide, and from that comes "e-care," which it will unveil Feb. 22 at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference in Atlanta. Promoting it as "the hot new term for e-business in healthcare," IBM says e-care covers healthcare information delivery via private intranets, the Internet itself and wide-area networks called extranets.
What will they think of next? Outliers decided to propose a few-remember, you read it here first:
* e-merge: an entry-level Internet package for newly consolidated providers.
* e-go: an all-inclusive Internet software tool kit for those hung up on self-developed systems.
* e-lips: an Internet-technology loop for voice-recognition data systems.
* e-LAN: a local-area network package with just the right attitude.
* e-ville: a cyberplace for folks who think up these things.
All the usual suspects. The National Managed Health Care Congress has evidently decided that more is more.
While many healthcare conferences seem to use some of the same speakers, the NMHCC has all of them lined up this year. Its keynoters are the ubiquitous Ruth Westheimer, AKA "Dr. Ruth"; Hunter "Patch" Adams, M.D., of, well, "Patch Adams" fame; Steve Forbes, the full-time candidate and part-time editor of Forbes magazine, who will speak anywhere, anytime, on any topic; Ann Richards, the loquacious former Texas governor, who now seems to make her living being the loquacious former Texas governor; and Reginald Ballantyne III, this year's chairman of the American Hospital Association, another veteran of the lecture circuit.
The only question we have is, wasn't Uwe Reinhardt available?
Open the file drawers, or else. The HCFA-as-Internal-Revenue-Service drumbeat continues. This time, the accuser is Rep. Dan Miller (R-Fla.), a member of the House Appropriations Committee's HHS subcommittee.
At a hearing on HCFA's fiscal 2000 budget, Miller complained at length about HCFA's "image problem" because of an impression that the agency doesn't care about the massive pullouts of Medicare HMOs and because of zealous fraud enforcement. He fixated in particular on "armed people" who have entered hospital and physician offices looking for patient records.
HCFA Administrator Nancy-Ann Min DeParle acknowledged a crackdown, but added, "We don't have anybody who's armed."
But Miller warned: "Doctors, nurses and hospital administrators are real people, too. The IRS got into trouble in that they believed they were all-powerful."
The name game. A good name is hard to come by. Just ask CGF Health System, the five-hospital system based in Buffalo, N.Y. After one false start and months of failed deliberations in finding a moniker, CGF turned to corporate identity-maker Monigle Associates of Denver for help.
CGF finally dumped its clunker of a name last month and replaced it with an offbeat metaphor. "Kaleida Health"-as in kaleidoscope-comes from the Greek "kalos," meaning beautiful, and "eido," which means shape. Ah, what fun corporate marketers will have developing ad copy that capitalizes on Kaleida's spectrum of providers, services and sites.
If Kaleida seems a bit obtuse at first blush, it is also very distinctive-a key consideration in the naming business, says Rick Jacobs, a principle with Monigle. "It takes a lot of courage on the part of management to adopt a name like that," he asserts. Jacobs ought to know. His firm helped launch the name Sentara Health System, now widely recognized in the Norfolk, Va., market. "If you can weather the controversy . . . a name like that can be very powerful over time."