He's no teenage mutant ninja. But he probably has a distant cousin named Yertle.
Kids surfing the Net with a precocious interest in antitrust and consumer protection might be surprised to find a new cartoon character popping up on the traditionally humorless Federal Trade Commission Web site. On Sept. 26, the FTC introduced Dewie the Turtle, the Internet-safety mascot, at the Privacy2002 Conference in Cleveland.
Dewie the Turtle, who joins the ranks of public service spokes-creatures such as Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl, is a computer-savvy reptile whose main role is to remind consumers to create a culture of Internet security.
"The idea is to have Internet security practices become second nature-just like looking both ways before crossing the street," explains FTC Commissioner Orson Swindle.
On his Web site, www.ftc.gov/infosecurity, Dewie offers tips about protecting computers from viruses. He's billed as a turtle with "a hard shell to protect himself from predators." He advises kids and adults-hospital administrators are in there somewhere-to create passwords that are difficult to copy, report intruders and develop firewall software to block unauthorized access.
But don't look for any Dewie action figures by Mattel anytime soon. Since Dewie is a government creation, he is a public figure who can't be copyrighted, FTC spokesman Derick Rill says.
"Plus, we don't have the money," he adds.
Rill says the idea for Dewie was hatched during a brainstorming session on ways to publicize Internet security, a growing concern across the nation and one that has had a huge impact on the healthcare industry.
"We thought: `What would get attention better than a cute, lovable cartoon character?' " Rill says. "Dewie the Turtle stands out."
While we wonder whether kids are interested enough in merger reviews and predatory pricing to surf the FTC Web site, we won't argue with the logic behind the creation of this new cartoon hero. After all, for a federal bureaucrat, he is kinda cute.
A new era in marketing
Like any company peddling products in a competitive environment, hospitals are becoming increasingly reliant on a once overlooked and often undervalued skill: marketing.
It may not be quite like selling soap or cereal, but pitching hospital services through marketing and public relations plans is achieving an increasingly important stature in an era of direct-to-consumer advertising and greater selectivity by patients. So it should come as no surprise that one Chicago school is now peddling its own new advanced degree in healthcare marketing, hoping to attract a flood of interest from healthcare workers in this highly competitive region.
The master's degree in healthcare marketing, scheduled to debut this winter at the Illinois Institute of Technology's Stuart Graduate School of Business, is the first of its kind in the Chicago area and one of the few now offered anywhere in the country, says John Tarini, director of the school's marketing communication program.
While Boston University, for instance, offers a four-semester master's of science degree in healthcare through its department of mass communication, most schools focus their post-graduate attention on "internal" programs in administration and management.
"There's a whole lot going on (in healthcare) that hasn't been happening before," Tarini says. "Hospitals competing more intensely, pharmaceutical companies taking out full-page ads instead of going straight to doctors . . . a lot of people are working in this area, and they're not really trained for it."
Before helping to create the 14-course program, Tarini says he discovered that a large number of companies expressed keen interest in prospective employees with this kind of an educational credential (officially, the degree is called a master's of science in marketing communication with a concentration in healthcare marketing strategies).
"And 65% to 70% who responded (to a survey) said they'd help with tuition," he adds. "They felt there was no question that if they had people who were better-trained, they'd do a better job."
Lavish new retirement home - for chimpanzees
The federal government will spend $19 million to help build a retirement haven in Shreveport, La., for some of the dedicated workers who have spent their careers furthering biomedical research: chimpanzees.
The National Institutes of Health last week awarded a 10-year contract to Chimp Haven, a private not-for-profit organization, to establish and operate a chimpanzee sanctuary that will provide "lifetime care for federally owned or supported chimpanzees that are no longer needed for biomedical research," according to last week's announcement.
Chimp Haven was selected through a competitive process conducted by the National Center for Research Resources, a part of the NIH. "(The) NCRR takes very seriously its responsibility for the health and welfare of research animals," says Judith Vaitukaitis, M.D., the NCRR's director. "With this contract, our goal is to ensure that the highest level of humane care is provided to these animals, which have contributed to biomedical research,"
The sanctuary will be constructed near Shreveport on land donated by the county. In addition to the $19 million contribution, the NCRR will award a $5 million grant to Chimp Haven to build the facility, which is expected to be completed in spring 2004 and initially will provide housing in "a free-ranging environment" for about 75 chimpanzees. Invasive biomedical research will be prohibited.
The public law that mandated the sanctuary system is called the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance and Protection (CHIMP) Act of December 2000. The question Outliers has is this: If you put a chimp at a typewriter, how long would it take to come up with that acronym?