Archive for the ‘Events’ category

What is Real and What is NOT? The Truth, or Maybe NOT . . .

April 30th, 2012

Sixty two years ago, George Orwell wrote the novel, 1984.   He described a society controlled by government where the individual had no privacy, no real freedom, and was literally put into the equivalent of a drug induced state by the pabulum of mass media television.  It was an intimidating forecast.   But now the question; how much dumber can television get with shows like:  “My Big Fat, Obnoxious Boyfriend,” “Real Housewives of  Wherever,” and “Temptation Island?” 

It was Marshall McLuhan, the Canadian educator, philosopher and academician who came up with terms like, “the global village, “medium is the message,” and the concept of the “World Wide Web” almost thirty years before Al Gore said he invented it.  Marshall described the fact that the mass media was quickly taking over our ability to think independently as we rushed into the realities of Orwell’s  Big Brother.  He explained that we would be once again living in a world of tribal drums, total interdependence and superimposed terror as opposed to thought and feelings from rational analysis.  Can you say, “Weapons of Mass Destruction?” 

The World Wide Web has placed us in a type of tribal unity for which none of us were prepared.  Why do you think tattoos are more in now than any time before 1500 B.C.?  Piercings and tattoos make you “part of the tribe.”  Hey, the majority of presidential candidate debate issues revolved around turning the clock back to the 1950’s, no web. 

It appears that, because of this tribal unity, many very obvious changes have become accepted by our current culture.  For example, according to columnist Rex Huppke, the fact that someone of any political party can say something that is completely false and stand by it makes facts meaningless and thus, dead. He goes on to theorize that, rumor and innuendo along with emphatic assertion are also part of this new communications standard. 

Dartmouth political scientist, Brendan Nyhan professes that, “In journalism, in health and education, we tend to take the attitude that more information is better, and so there’s been an assumption that if we put the correct information out there, the facts will prevail.”Nyhan says that, “Unfortunately, that’s not always true.”   Facts don’t seem to matter, and those who expose bogus facts are often more highly criticized than the person who misrepresented the truth in the first place.

We all know that the spin can change the view on any subject matter.  In many cases, it’s the quality and persuasiveness of the argument, not the facts which becomes the issue.   If you are on the right side of the spin, or if enough information can be put out there, the mass audience will be distracted from the facts, and confusion will reign supreme. 

Fact:  The United States has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the industrialized

Fact: Legislation has recently been proposed to take away additional funding for prenatal care. 

Fact:  The United States has fallen to “average” in international education scores and our State austerity measures include the laying off of teachers. 

Fact:  The incarceration rate in the United States of America is the highest in the world with only five percent of the world’s population, one-quarter of the world’s inmates are incarcerated in the United States. 

Fact:  Average annual cost per student for a public school education $8500; average annual cost per prisoner, $23,000. 

See, many of you will not know if you should believe these facts.  Some of you will fact check them.  Others will say, so what?   Some of you will look for my prejudices regarding this list, or you may be overwhelmed and say, “I can’t change any of this anyway.”  Most, however, will not bother to read this far. 

Twitter has become the new novelette and everything is a sound bite.   As Jimmy Kimmel said, “What’s back and white and read all over? Nothing anymore.”

What the Heck is Going On?

September 21st, 2009

Over the years it has been my aspiration to try very hard to help you laugh, and, regardless of the depth of the topic, I’ve always looked to find humor somewhere in the message. For example, potty training, Smokey the Bear, flying DVD’s, even old dogs with no tricks.

Today, however, I am writing about an issue that may inflame some of you and prove to be very troubling to others.  It’s not my goal to do either.  I’d just like to bring into focus the crazy stuff that seems to be taking us over, a kind of Bird Brain Flu that doesn’t have a vaccine and that appears to be enveloping our nation.

You see, it is my humble opinion that we as a country have reached a new low point in dumbness.  The wild, inflammatory rhetoric, a/k/a crazy talk that’s being spouted every day, appears to be pushing the fringe players out from under their rocks and their basement fortresses.  This political flu is taking us to levels of foolishness  that are so low that even a Limbo expert couldn’t fit under the broom stick.

Tomtomorrow_GlennBeck_

Have you noticed how open public hatred and outright prejudice has become?  It’s like we’re living a rap song from Gran Torino. Each and every day we hear the ranting of media talking heads leading the charge to endorse this movement.  For those of you who have read my work over the past few years, you know that I personally am repulsed by bullies, by racists, and by those who believe they are superior to other human beings.

The new accusations and sick suggestions that are the current craze are veiled as protests regarding big government, health insurance reform, and a lack of confidence in the ship of state.  What they really seem to be, however, is fear and lack of tolerance for our President.  So what if you don’t like him?  There still have to be some limits and boundaries. Are there any more lines?

I’m telling you, the crazies are coming out from their caves.  Seriously, watch out for them.  Many of these radicals are great examples of why some animals eat their young.

Just last week on a trip to Washington D.C., I had to be evacuated from the Pittsburgh airport because a passenger was carrying a defused hand grenade in his suitcase.  What is the single thought that must be in the mind of any individual who believes that a weapon, even, as it turned out, an inert one, such as that grenade, would be okay to pack for your plane ride?  Let me guess.  That thought was “Duh?”

It seems that every time some poor innocent gets shot in this country, there was some fringe individual who believed that he was not only given permission to take their life, but that there was an overwhelming endorsement of his actions that would somehow vilify him from any prosecution, and reward him with glory.  Does that sound like the Jihadi 72 virgins thing to you?

Yes, we have freedom of speech.  Yes, we have the right to bear arms, but do we have the right to just be nuts in public?  Maybe instead of statins in the water system to control cholesterol, or fluoride to prevent tooth decay, we should start putting Zoloft or some other  selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in that keep the brain from becoming unbalanced.

kids_group

What’s wrong with love, kindness, and the golden rule, of doing to your neighbor as you would have them do unto you? Can’t we look for compromise without demonizing those with opposite views?

Can’t we stop endorsing or even worse stop inflaming those with extreme views?  When is enough enough?  When will we return to civility, to compromise, and to brotherhood?  Would you rather have peace, love, and rock ‘n roll, or “Go ahead. Make my day, @#%&+^@#”?

HIMSS

April 15th, 2009

HIMSS, Healthcare, IT, health, information technology

If you’re interested in finding about everything that happened at the HIMSS 2009 Conference and Expo, don’t read on, because I’m just going to focus on four or five companies that captured my imagination there. There were hundreds and hundreds of vendors attempting to do business in the massive McCormick Convention Center in Chicago, and most of the participants were clearly interested in attracting some bailout money. My host for the week-end was Apptis, and a special thanks must go out to them for allowing me to grace their exhibit as an observer.

Genova Technologies
The companies that grabbed my attention were rather unique; neither the largest, nor the most aggressive. Not the end all and be all of IT, but niche players that had their acts together. Dawn Ainger, the President and COO of Genova Technologies was the first to garner my complete attention. She and her people had come up with a software platform that is uniquely positioned to change the entire concept of Continuing Medical Education. Just log onto their product for somewhere around $100 a month, and voila, everytime you research a patient’s ailment online you get CME credits backed by a major university. Next, she plans to expand to nursing education as well. My oh my, will that change plenty of lives? Our typical employed physician used to get an automatic $4,000 a year stipend for CME in our little rural hospital and never got credit for the work they were already doing. Nice job, Dawn.

logo_aclaim
Not that all of the products that captured my attention were produced by companies run by women, but a-claim was, and their President and CEO Mary Dees Griffith had come up with a similarly low cost solution to a major, ongoing problem. Get your a-claim software, and prequalify your patients on line, have them sign the authorization prior to being seen, and then ask them for their check or credit card for the co-pay that you now know will be approved. Nice job, Mary. Every physician’s office in the world should spend $100 or so a month for that one, because it could virtually eliminate their accounts receivables.

logo_lifelinks
As I was walking by Lifelinks, I noticed a butterfly logo and was curious as to what they did. Once again, their basic, get-you-in-the-door fee was about $100 a month, and that will get you access to live human beings on your lap top who can perform sign language interactively with your patients, or, if need be, Lifelinks will get you live and online someone who speaks whatever language your patient needs. Okay, so that’s probably not a big problem in a small town in Western Pennsylvania, but I’m sure it’s perfect for those offices in highly diverse regions of our country. More importantly, their literature pointed out a case in New Jersey where a physician had been sued and the patient won $400,000 because the doc told her he couldn’t afford a translator. Good job, guys. Wesley Waite, the COO, actually hit the keyboard, and a woman came up on the screen to interact with me personally in sign language. Amazing.

Gemalto, health, security, Netherlands
Gemalto,
a Dutch based company really grabbed my attention in the world of cyber security on a small, simple scale. Well, okay, not so small I guess. They have over 100 million of their devices already in use in the EU, but not too many in the US yet. The Gemalto team took us happily through the safety and security they can build into their smart cards to keep you from being hit with a major civil and/or criminal penalty for compromised information.

voalte_iphoneThe wildest display tucked in the back corner of one of the exhibit halls was a lime green and pink booth with the word, voalté across the top of their exhibit. A really nice guy named Oscar in pink scrubs and a black voalté teeshirt was my tour guide through I-phone heaven for nurses, techs, and other hospital professionals. What they have created with this system can only be described as remarkable. It shimmies, it shakes, it crawls on its belly like a reptile. Seriously, paging, messaging, dosing, you name it can all be communicated to your staff via the Apple iphone. No more overhead pages, no more, “I didn’t get that message,” no more I’m busy because if you are, that page keeps being passed along until someone isn’t busy. This Sarasota company is fresh, fun, exciting, and competent.

So that’s my little trip down HIMSS lane. Oh yeah and I got to have lunch with the brilliant Tony Chen of both HospitalImpact.org and SavvyDaddy.com fame. I encouraged Tony to follow his dreams, and he told me today in an E-mail that he is going to do just that. You go, Tony. And Neil Versel, the very talented free lance writer, journalist, and U2 fan nearly knocked me over at the entrance. I met Neil a few years back at a Web 2.0 conference in Chicago, and there were at least two or three other people there I had worked with over my 22 years in Healthcare Management. The biggest outcome?

My feet are still killing me.