Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Web Secret #234: Connecting to Millenials

A couple of months ago, the New York Times devoted its entire Science News section to look at some of the many ways technology is changing the world of medicine.

My next few blog posts will be devoted to a further analysis of some of the articles in that section.

As I write this, many of my psychotherapy and treatment facility colleagues are anxiously sitting on the fence, wondering if they should, and how they should, leap into the digital age. The easiest way to get inspired, is to read how another professional effectively accomplished this.

In "Texting the Teenage Patient," reporter Jan Hoffman describes how one pediatrician harnesses technology to effectively communicate with the adolescents in her practice. Among other techniques, she:

Texts: "Better morning with this medication?" or "Everything is great, go ahead with the plan we discussed. Please reply so I know you received." On the morning of college entrance exams, a teenager who suffers from a roiling stomach reads her texted greeting: "Prepared. Focused. Calm. Your body is healthy and well. Good luck today."

Uses a whiteboard which hangs in her exam room, with hyperlinks and QR codes to sites with teenager-friendly material on sexuality, alcohol and drugs. The teenagers can photograph the board with their phones, storing the information to peruse in private.

Rather than leave teenagers unguided about dicey health matters, she continues sending them links to appropriate Web sites. As she explains in the article, "I do as much as I can to get it on their phones, because that is what they live and die for." She gets parents' permission, because she doesn't want them checking a child's phone and chancing upon sites about, say, sexually transmitted diseases.

In this model of intervention, the practitioner no longer sees the Internet as the enemy, but rather as technology to be turned into an advantage.

"The payoff is a better-informed teenager who finds social media a faster and less embarrassing means to have questions asked and answered."

My opinion is that as millenials enter their twenties and beyond, they will demand a kind of communication and responsiveness that can only be achieved through technology. At that point, clinicians and facilities who do not engage in digital media may find it difficult to hold on to these 21st century patients.

You have been warned.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Web Secret #233:

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I am thankful for

With all the evil and stupid junk polluting the Internet, how about a website that promises to to make important stuff as viral as a video of some idiot surfing off his roof, and then delivers on that promise.

How about a website that posts:

This Speech Is The Reason My Time Machine Is Permanently Set To 1959 - footage of Bertrand Russell (British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, social critic and Nobel Prize winner) explaining what he would say to viewers 1,000 years in the future.

The TED Talk That Inspired Two Standing Ovations - It's no secret that TED talks are generally phenomenal. So what made 24 year old Sarah Kay's exceptional enough to inspire two standing ovations? Well, it's kind of hard to express. And that's the point.

Can Changing Your Font Size REALLY Help Improve The World? - sometimes the simplest ideas can be unimaginably powerful.

Most Upworthy postings are single images, or under 3 minute videos.

Thank you.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Web Secret #232:

I am old enough to have been told, when I was growing up, that I could not participate in various endeavors, simply because I was a woman.

For example, when I was in elementary school, I was told I could not participate in martial arts or attend Yale University, (which did not accept women at the time.) Nothing irritates me more than being told I can't do something (because I am a woman.)

Thus the times forced me to become a pioneer
. I was in the fifth class that accepted women at Yale, I was the first female member, and later manager of the Yale Judo team.

Fast forward a couple of decades, and as I write this, I am still one of very few women to blog about technology and code HTML. This has me irritated all over again, and so I wrote a rather sarcastic post, Web Secret #148: Women in Computer Technology.

So you can only imagine how excited I was when I stumbled across Makers features short, segmented video interviews with dozens upon dozens of women who were/are trailblazers in their fields. It's a bit like TED talks, with only women, for people with a sub 5 minute attention span.

Many of those interviewed have pioneered away from the public eye, others are famous. I immediately gravitated towards the science and tech category.

Did you know that Google's first ever female engineer is now the CEO of Yahoo? Marissa Meyer describes her pioneering days before, during and after Google.

How about listening to Katherine Wolf, a woman who invests in socially redeeming start-ups like OrganJets, a company that helps transplant patients travel across the US to receive treatment with the use of private jets?

Or pay attention to Gina Bianchini a social software entrepreneur.

It's a good start.

It made me somewhat less irritated.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Web Secret #231: Welcome, Class of 2016

I went to college "a long time ago." Let's just say it was after the Beatles broke up, but before the advent of the Internet, cell phones, personal computers and any number of gadgets we take for granted in 2012.

This past August, my boy/girl twins started college, freshly minted members of the class of 2016. They are on different campuses, 1,000 miles apart.

As we off loaded the car, then stood on line to borrow a cart and transport their possessions, you would not have been able to tell my first day at school from their first day of school. We were standing in line, wearing shorts and sandals, and it was hot and humid.

And there ended the resemblance.

College "a long time ago": It is uncool to have a lot of stuff. I arrive with 7 pairs of corduroy pants, some dashikis, 4 heavy cartons of records, a heavy and bulky record player (consisting of an amp, tuner, turntable and speakers), and an even heavier electric typewriter. I spread an orange Indian comforter over my bed, tack up an Escher poster with some gummy stuff, and voila - I am home.

College 2012: It is uncool if you don't have stuff. Everyone has a lot of clothing, and a lot of products to make the XL twin bed comfy, including bed bug repelling mattress sacks, mattress pads, matching sheets and comforters. No one is carrying anything heavy. No need to bring a TV, you can stream everything. No need to haul records, your smartphones can hold thousands of songs. No need for a typewriter, everyone has a laptop.

College "a long time ago": the ratio of boys to girls on my Ivy League campus is 7 to 1. I have a boyfriend within 12 hours of my arrival.

College 2012: the ratio of boys to girls is 40 to 60 percent. My son is happy, my daughter less so.

College "a long time ago": Almost everyone is white and American. I don't meet a biracial student until sophomore year. There are no gay people. Wait - there were gay people, (I figured this out at my 25th college reunion,) but they were so hidden in the closet, and the whole topic of sexual orientation was so hushed, that well, I didn't know. Any. Gay. People. In college.

College 2012: There are all kinds of students, representing every ethnic group, sexual orientation, and many foreign countries.

College "a long time ago": Time for homework. I carry mimeographed assignment sheets to the library, spend half an hour and a roll of quarters photocopying key information from a variety of books so that I can write a paper.  Paper is written long hand, sitting at a desk in my dorm room, to the tune of the Doors "Light My Fire." (A very long song so no need to get up as often to move the phonograph needle back to the beginning.)

College 2012: Time for homework. Twins lie in bed, with laptops, doing problem sets posted online. They instantly get feedback on whether or not they got the right answer.

College "a long time ago": I really miss my parents and friends from high school. I use the pay phone down the hall to make a collect call to my folks in the evening, when I know they are home. There are no answering machines and I don't know when my friends are in their dorms. I work really hard to make new friends.

College 2012: Twins have cellphones, can call parents anytime and video chat anytime. They are frequently and easily in touch with their former high school friends. Consequently, making college friends is important, but doesn't have the same urgency.

Did I have it worse? Do they have it better? Who got/is getting the better education?

I have no idea.