The email conundrum

Incessant email, ugh.

The misuse of email is tremendous.  Clive Owen at Wired writes, “Everyone complains about ‘e-mail overload’ — getting so much stupid corporate e-mail that you miss out on important messages.”

Two solutions.

The more practical and organizationally implementable makes email gamelike, from Wired:

Every employee is given virtual tokens — say, 100 a week, — that they can attach to e-mail they write. If you really want someone to read a message now, you attach a lot of tokens, and the message pops up higher in your correspondent’s Outlook inbox.

Turns out, it works.  “When a work group at IBM tried [it], messages with 20 tokens attached were 52 percent more likely to be quickly opened than normal. E-mail overload ceased to be a problem.”

The second possibility is one that has been visited before, from Edward Gottesman at Prospect:

The time has come for a public sector remedy: a tax, perhaps no more than 2p, or 3c, on every email sent. Opponents will argue that collecting the tax is impossible or unfair. Yet the status quo is unworkable.

Has your organization thought about trying to reduce the amount of email?  It needlessly keeps people behind their desks or inattentive on their Blackberrys/iPhones.

Short-term Social Networks

Last week Jeff Jarvis pointed to Bluenity, a new social network for AirFrance and KLM passengers.  It’s a tremendously neat idea: interact online with other passengers on your trip, receive travel tips from the community, and meet them in person if you want.

This social network is interesting because:

  • it’s built to function around a short span of time
  • hibernation is okay; lack of activity with other social tools might get you defriended; use it only when you travel
  • it has a defined, controlled purpose
  • it’s targeted toward a defined audience
  • though not necessary for use, it facilitates/encourages in-person meet ups

Privacy concerns put aside for a minute, short-term social networks hold possibility in health care.  Patients might enjoy meeting others in the same hospital for companionship or finding support from those with similar diagnoses.  Rural hospitals could band together allowing all rural patients to connect with each other.  Or those patients being treated in academic medical centers could find others with similarly rare conditions across the country.  Or all patients in all settings could have the opportunity to interact.

Then, when the hospital stay is over, the profile would go into hibernation and be awakened only if a patient should return to the hospital.  The network could interact with other social networking tools so that friends made in the hospital could be transferred to traditional networks (e.g., Facebook).  An import option from a site like Patients Like Me might also improve functionality.

Nourishing or Nauseating?

Looking inside a refrigerator can tell a lot about a person’s eating habits.  Maybe an in-home refrigerator analysis is the key to eating healthier.  Anyway, here’s a cool project by artist Mark Menjivar featured at Good.  I expected a lot of refrigerators to look like the one below; not necessarily the case, though each refrigerator has an interesting story waiting to be told.  It seems like a good idea for a community photo sharing effort.  The contents could be analyzed by a community; (instead of hot or not) nourishing or nauseating?

But from the right vantage point, an open fridge is the perfect staging grounds for a discussion of consumption. And if the aphorism holds true—if we really are what we eat—then refrigerators are like windows into our souls. It’s that sentiment that’s at the heart of Mark Menjivar’s inventive exploration of hunger, “You Are What You Eat,” for which he photographed the contents of strangers’ refrigerators.

fridgeimage 8 Picture Show: You Are What You Eat

Nurse: You forgot to take your pill this morning

This is interesting, from The Daily Mail (UK):

Microchips in pills could soon allow doctors to find out whether a patient has taken their medication.

The digestible sensors, just 1mm wide, would mean GPs and surgeons could monitor patients outside the hospital or surgery.

The ‘intelligent’ medicine works by activating a harmless electric charge when drugs are digested by the stomach.

This charge is picked up by a sensing patch on the patients’ stomach or back, which records the time and date that the pill is digested. It also measures heart rate, motion and breathing patterns.

The information is transmitted to a patient’s mobile phone and then to the internet using wireless technology, to give a complete picture of their health and the impact of their drugs.

Doctors and carers can view this information on secure web pages or have the information sent to their mobile phones.

There’s an obvious privacy discussion here.  Furious Seasons takes a shot:

On one level, this kind of technology is fascinating and interesting for all the usual dorky techie reasons (wow, telemetry has gotten that advanced and so have transmission technologies–it’s all so very sci-fi and high tech triumphant), but on another more important level it’s downright frightening. That’s because I see this “intelligent medicine” technology as a potentially massive intrusion on individual freedom and privacy.

This example is indicative of the debate territory we are beginning to enter.  The balance between life-improving-medical-innovation and privacy is becoming more difficult to strike (well, I suppose that depends on your definition of privacy).

Via Seed.

One in eight workers in the U.S. work in health care

The Wall Street Journal had a story yesterday on how the recession is hitting health care.  In a departure from the norm during recessionary periods: some health care organizations are struggling.

Growth possibilities in the industry remain high; but, the (new) value conscious customer/consumer/patient will have a flattening effect on that growth.

Interesting; from this:

More than 16 million people — one in eight workers on U.S. payrolls — work in health care today, up from just 1% of the work force 50 years ago.

Wow! To this:

She [Kim King] and her ex-husband, a corrections officer, “used to joke that we had the most secure jobs out there, because people always need health care and prisons. It’s not true anymore,” she says. “I’ve never seen it so bad. It’s the one thing you would think wouldn’t be affected by the recession.”

To this:

“It’s a long-term shift reflecting changes in technology and what consumers want,” says Robert Fogel, a Nobel laureate and professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. “Health care is the growth industry of the 21st century.”

In: Hospital Description

A completely unfiltered, no holds barred description of hospitals from Aaron Swartz’s blog (it was published waaaaaay back in 2006):

Were the large sign reading “Hospital” to go missing, one might easily mistake the facility as one for torture: men whose clothes have been replaced by dreary gowns slowly wander the halls in dreary stupor, their battered faces making them appear as if they have been badly beaten. They are not permitted to escape.

Brutal, yes.  Worth the read, yes.