Sunday, February 21, 2021

What was good about 2020? Quoted in the Washington Post

In life I have learnt to always be thankful. Every morning, I am thankful to be alive, the fresh crisp air,family, a place to live and food to eat. I am originally from India and have lived in the Washington DC area for about 24 years. 

The positive side about the past year has been my calls to my parents using my Amazon Echo Show every morning. I could do this during the time I could save  the absence of the daily commute. They live in Hyderabad, India and have a Amazon Echo Show as well that has the ability to “Drop in” 

The experience is almost like being in the same room together without having to hold a phone in your hand. This was especially useful since after the pandemic lockdown started they were alone and could not have visitors. My father is also losing his memory so being able to see him and spend time with them has been a blessing. I look forward to seeing them in person hopefully at the end of the year when things settle down.

Another wonderful activity for me was just the beautiful color of nature , the sky, the flowers and the pattern of the leaves all of which I had never paid attention to before. Now I am stopping to take photos often.

Dan Zak of the Washington Post wrote about the good things about 2020 and I was happy to be included. 

Read the article here.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Vaccine Distribution - Why reinvent the wheel?

When things are normal, the distribution system of the pharmaceutical drug supply chain in the US has been robust. According to the CDC over 48% of the US population receives one prescription drug in a month. Combine this stat with the fact that the US Pharma industry provides 2.9 Billion drugs in a year, we have an already existing supply chain that can more than adequately take care of the vaccine distribution for everyone who wants one in the US. (source:

Judging by the pain that local communities have been feeling especially in Montgomery County where I live, where there is fragmented information on where, when, and how people will receive the vaccine. We need to think differently which actually means to think traditionally and put the vaccines into the Pharmaceutical system that exists today instead of reinventing or standing up a new distribution system.

Pharmacies already have our data. They can determine age, eligibility, and existing medical conditions. They already have our contact information, insurance information, and location. Pharmacies and stores have pivoted their infrastructure to cope with the pandemic. When the pandemic struck, one of the quickest changes was my local CVS who just mailed my medicines and continued the process without any disruption.

The process today to make people search multiple places and set up an appointment is not working. A better system may be to quickly use the existing supply chain for pharmaceutical drugs. Notify people that their turn is arriving and where they need to go and get their vaccine.

Here are the steps I suggest:

  • Communication: Stop people from clogging up appointments by letting them know that they will get their vaccination from their existing pharmacy. They are free to change their pharmacy the same way as they do today. People struggle with multiple channels of communication. Just like I do not hear from the county for my regular doctor prescribed medicine, they can stop talking politics and try to run a supply chain themselves which is already failing miserably
  • Education: Use the enormous marketing and advertising talent available to run ads in all the local media channels on how the process works. Pharmacy companies are masters at selling their prescription drugs in Ads. Even though this is almost a monopoly, they can unleash those ads for letting people know the method of how the vaccination will work.
  • Action: Set up a control room that includes pharmacy retailers, Insurance companies (for data), and logistic experts to monitor the distribution and reroute vaccinations where necessary.
  • Results: For every phased stage, patients will receive a text message or email asking them to set up a time for going to their local pharmacy or clinic to get the vaccine. No stress, confusion or anxiety that the US population is facing today.

This may be simple and I am sure many of the experts have already thought of this. There may be some quick legislation necessary in case data needs to get transferred which I am sure Congress can pass very quickly. This type of system has worked in Israel according to an article in the MIT Technology Review ( I am confident that we can do the same thing if not better. Remember the stress is not only for the patient in this case but to the whole family. Anything we can do in these dark days to reduce the stress is I am sure calming to everyone.

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

The Confusing World of TV and the Internet

How are you doing with your cable and TV subscriptions?
If you are a baby boomer and in some cases a Gen Xer, you may remember a world without the internet, and cable TV was the technology that seemed so advanced. 
  • This is more the late 90's and the competition was cable or over the air TV. Next came the internet which was through your phone providers which was dial-up. Think AOL and the CDs that they distributed all over the world and I got one in India and did not own a computer then.
  • An advance from dial-up was DSL again provided by the phone company
  • Till the late 90's cable companies did not pay attention to the internet providers. They were comfortable that this "internet" was not a threat to the programming of the cable TV providers
  • 2007; All of this changed when Netflix entered the market with streaming
  • We moved from live cable TV (or Over-the-air TV)  and borrowing videotapes or DVDs to streaming.  Netflix did not wait for the providers to get their act together on the internet. They developed a streaming technology that helped make the streaming of videos better so moving from tapes and DVDs gave a great example of instant gratification. The lesson here for companies is to make sure you think of the entire chain of customer connectivity to make the experience better.
Now we have 3 ways to think about media and the internet

1. Choose an internet provider 
2. Evaluate TV with the internet provider and combo of internet and TV packages
3. Choose an internet provider and subscribe to streaming only channels/packages

Of late none of the above alternatives are cost effective.

You can expect to pay about $79.99 for internet. Choose any option and you can expect to pay $65 for content from Hulu + or YouTubeTV . That is $145 and chances are, your local cable and streaming provider may give you both of these at about $125 and save you $20 a month ( No more cord-cutting)

The bargain seems to be choosing an internet provider who does TV too like Comcast. Wait, What? In some counties you may not have a choice. Your TV/Internet provider may have a monopoly. If they do not have a monopoly they may still be the cheapest. Internet plus TV packages may be cheaper than Internet Only packages.

The only issue here is that many companies now have to think of ways to make money. This is the time when you are most likely to go over your data cap (1.2TB for Comcast) .

a) Everyone is working from home
b) For the past few holidays, everyone bought or gifted smart devices, iOT  hubs and convenience tech so your data usage may be higher from these devices

You have a choice or rather you have to spend more money now than before but you can choose to spend it with one provider or have a whole lot of streaming apps. One thing is certain. You are paying the same as you did before you became a cord-cutter.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

What was good about 2020? Quoted in the Washington Post

In life I have learnt to always be thankful. Every morning, I am thankful to be alive, the fresh crisp air,family, a place to li...