News & Events

Doctor-patient e-link may have downsides (MS)

Prototypes My fellow hypochondriacs: We are entering a brave, new world, indeed.

We will soon be able to torment our primary

care doctors (presuming they read their messages) with devices that relay every one of our moans and groans to their e-mail inboxes.

Maybe then the doctors will believe us when we complain that we are allergic to our spouses or office cubicles.

Seriously, though, devices that monitor a patient’s blood pressure and other vital signs throughout the day can give doctors a better picture of his overall health.

But such devices can also tell the docs (and the insurers, pharmaceutical companies, and government) whether we are taking our medicine as ordered.

One new example: an asthma inhaler that records each time you squeeze it.

Cambridge Consultants is using its inhaler prototype to flog its "Connected Patient" vision: a generation of wireless medical devices that connect via Bluetooth to PCs and to the Internet.

Cambridge Consultants said in a statement that the Bluetooth technology in the inhaler is "optimized for the secure transport of medical data." Translation: No one has hacked the technology just yet.

By proving their prescription compliance (I am guessing the inhaler can tell whether you are shooting its contents into the air), patients might qualify for rewards from their insurers.

Researchers might also be able to tap the data, scrubbed of personally identifiable information, that come from the Connected Patient devices.

BOOKS Hey! Check out this how-to Twitter manual Kudos to O’Reilly and company for showing marketers how to tweet each other, and then track each other, on the micro-blogging platform that everyone in the media is talking about – and that no one in the real world cares about.

The Twitter Book (about $20, from O’Reilly Media, June 2009) is a splashy and, given its subject, suitably flighty read. "There’s a picture on every page!" boasts a press announcement about the book. (OK, you got me: The announcement actually reads, "an illustration on every page spread.")

Some of my Emmanuel College writing students have pointed out that tweets are basically the same thing as Facebook status updates.

But I’d rather my students be able to tell a hiring manager that they have a Twitter account they hardly use than none at all. And this book is likely to be as good as any at defining tweeting, hashtagging, tweetups and twisting. (In my experience, human resources people are often suckers for that Web 2.0 gibber.)

The Twitter Book shows you how to find "cool" people to follow (and holds up Shaquille O’Neil as an example).

The book also teaches you to use Twitter searches to find folks who might be interested in whatever you are selling. In other words, the book is devoted almost entirely to finding leads and making sales, 140 characters at a time.

If you have not yet figured it out, I hate Twitter.

Twitter is a social-networking doodad that shouts, with sickening regularity, "Hey! Check this out!" There are few deep discussions taking place here.

You might disagree. If so, you can find me, follow me, and DM me (read The Twitter Book to find out what DM means) on Twitter. I’m @markbaard.