Monday, October 22, 2012

I'm sorry I missed that: Is technology affecting the way we communicate?

Our blog has moved. You will find this blog post and fresh content on our new Talascend IT blog.

 Can technological distractions ruin an event or conversation?
Photo by Moses - (The Crowd For DMB 2)
So there I am perusing through LinkedIn, not only looking for the next best candidate but also looking for topics to discuss and relevant industry news. Then I happen upon not a blog, but a very humbling post on my feed.

What's the all encompassing message of the feed? Bluntly stated, 'You are not paying attention! Turn off your phone or Skype and pay attention to me!' This LinkedIn post about distractions technology creates really hit home, at least on a professional basis. I try to separate my personal time from my private, family time at present. 

However, I may find myself in a meeting and, for 90% of the discussion, I am intently listening to the speakers. Then, in comes the important message I have been waiting on. I go on to miss 10% of what's being said while responding. Could I have missed something important? What if I completely missed an important question or a call for advice from one of my IT staffing team members or a fellow executive? I am certain it has happened.
The days of a working 9-5 in front of a desk, divided by non-work time where you are uninterrupted, are no longer.  A colleague recently posted a blog on this very subject of this 'very tough question for the future of work' where he delves into fragmented work days and what actually constitutes work.

Both articles offer such great insight into how technology is affecting the way we live.
Maybe instead of my smart phone saying slide to 'unlock,' it should say, 'slide to confirm you are not showing someone they aren’t important enough for your full attention.'

I’m an offender of this, and I’ve justified it because I see others doing it.  And 'no,' I wouldn’t jump off a bridge if my friends were (unless it was a small bridge, over a deep body of water).

In this case, if you need to glance at your phone, tablet, or laptop, to see if the one important thing you are waiting for has arrived; the action item that will require an immediate response; then I understand. However, my 'Pavlovian' response to the slightest perception of a vibration should not be an excuse for me to check all my e-mail, Facebook, texts, Twitter, and LinkedIn notifications in the middle of talking to anyone (other than telemarketers).

Perhaps my mom, who I often poke fun at for being a Luddite, knows something it’s taken me a very long time to realize. Having instant access to everything and everyone, doesn’t mean you should use it all the time.  Those old flip phones are good for something. They help ensure you aren’t watching life and relationships and success pass you by while you look at life through your phone’s camera.

How many times have you been to a concert or game where people hold their camera up the majority of the time and record the show? 

While I haven’t progressed to this level of obliviousness and the performers most likely don’t get offended (but maybe they do…Black Crowes, would you care to chime in?); what happened to experiencing the concert and losing yourself in the feeling rather than worrying about the person who keeps waving their hands in the air getting in the way of your recording?

My point really is that; although technology is advancing our ability to do more in less time, is doing more in less time really a good thing?

In one sense, we are on top of the world and markets as news happens; on the other, we find it difficult to focus or dignify the fact that we have another human in front of us saying something that may or may not be truly urgent to the business at hand.

I say let's turn off the Skype, turn off the social media, news feeds, and, yes,  email (again, unless absolutely necessary and preceded with an explanation), and really pay attention to the person in front of us no matter how important we perceived the incoming message to be. I also say, I need to practice what I recommend since I’m a horrible offender of this. Take some time to interact and really engage. A valuable lesson or business critical action you might not have thought of may have just been discovered by the person to whom you have entrusted the 'everyday' work.

Let's face it; we're all under the gun. Doesn't it make sense then when someone has garnered your time (or you, their time for that matter) that we focus on what is being presented?

I say 'Yes!' It could actually save you time in the future.

I am learning (slowly) to unlearn instant gratification. I suggest other 'offenders' might be wise to do the same. (And if you can't take that call, or message, or Skype, right then and there; simply tell the person calling: 'Hey, can I call you back at say 2 p.m.? I am in the middle of something and I really want to give this and you my full attention.' 

I welcome and truly look forward to your comments on the subject.

Josh Kaplan writes on various subjects including information technology breakthroughs, healthcare IT recruitment and innovations, big data, IT staffing and recruitment, and technical industry news and trends.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Take Two Aspirin and Text Me in the Morning: Will healthcare technology implementations raise new privacy concerns?

Our blog has moved. You will find this blog post and fresh content on our new Talascend IT blog.
Is the healthcare industry ready for secure texting?

A new HIPAA compliant texting app is in beta testing at about 80 hospitals around the US right now. It is secure, traceable, encrypted and recorded. In other words, the HIPAA aspects are all covered so physicians who use texting as a means of communication are no longer breaking the rules. But what about human error?

I love technology. I've made information technology my career. Technology touches nearly every part of my life. And, as I've said before, I am a technical early adopter.  I’m in favor of technical progress, new innovations, and using technology in as many ways as is possible to improve my life and work. Despite popular belief, a lot of doctors,
clinicians, and nurses are too.

I’m also as addicted to texting as anyone out there (OK, middle school kids might have one up on me) and I use it as a primary method of communication.

For those of you who know the feeling, you also know the feeling of sending the wrong text to the wrong person occasionally. What's to prevent a doctor, nurse, or a medical assistant from sending your information to another person via text?

Medical records are not always pristine. I have a colleague whose medical records are actually mixed with another person of the same name, stating he has ailments and a prescription regimen he is not actually on, and who receives mail for Medicare insurance despite the fact that he is in his 40's. That's an entirely different matter for later discussion, but it does have relevance.

If it can happen in the back office of a healthcare organization, it can certainly happen via text.

I can understand the need for instantaneous communication within a healthcare organization and can understand the benefits. The worst case scenario is that a texting app along with human error sends my information to the wrong department or doctor within an HCO. My information is not publicly compromised.

My concern is that human error via texts intended for me could do just that.

I’m sure technology providers and HCO's will secure my data with unique ID's such as a SSN, patient number, or something similar, but that’s only as good as the human doing the texting. I am sure mistakes aren't commonplace but, through my experiences working with technology and in healthcare IT staffing, they do happen on nearly every level of every organization.

A famous quote from Alexander Pope states, 'To err is human; to forgive, divine.'

On the surface I love the idea of texts from my doctor. Who wouldn't want information or test results as soon as they come in? I love the idea until the doctor sends it to my wife, or child, or mother by accident because they have the same last name, or initials.

I don't know how many people would forgive a mistake such as leaking private medical information in today's litigious society.

Perhaps a safer method would be that the texting is not actually sent by a human at all. Rather; it’s an integration into the EMR product that then sends out the texts to the phone number on file.

Unfortunately, although more secure, this brings up two other problems:
  1. My phone number on record is wrong at two different doctor's offices I've visited in the in the last year alone due to moving; which means that whomever has my old number would receive my medical information. 

  2. I often give my phone to a friend or relative to play a game, look at pictures, or hop on the web.  A big text box popping up with an image of my MRI results isn’t exactly information I want shared.
We discuss data security and healthcare in these blogs frequently and, I’m sorry but, unless there is a way (and maybe there is) that text providers can ensure texts are going to the right person; 100% of the time, without fail; this seems like a disaster waiting to happen.

I think I may have an alternate solution to reduce the chances of human error.

The large EMR vendors could develop a healthcare app for smart phones that ties into your electronic medical record for which you would have a secure login with a password and username that can't be stored. You can see the information as it gets put into your electronic records. It would be as simple as checking on your bank account online. You could sign up for instant notifications that alert you a new message has arrived, instead of sending the confidential information.

Regardless of the technology, employees at every level of healthcare organizations are craving a solution. Beta testing is just that: testing. Just because it works does not make it as functional and secure as it can be. We would be wise to make sure we have this right before a widespread beta roll-out turns out to be very wrong as a result of our desire to have the products now.

Josh Kaplan writes on various subjects including information technology breakthroughs, healthcare IT recruitment and innovations, big data, IT staffing and recruitment, and technical industry news and trends.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Is LinkedIn Testing Shark Filled Waters with its New Top Influencers Updates?

Our blog has moved. You will find this blog post and fresh content on our new Talascend IT blog.
Is LinkedIn jumping the shark with a new influencers feed?

In what may end up being the jumping of the shark for LinkedIn they, to me at least, have succumbed to social peer pressure.

Up until now the news feed features and highlights that appeal directly to you we're in your feed.  It included only influencers and top discussions from groups you are a member of and news feeds from your network.

I may be ahead of the game and yes, it seems all social networks have a life-cycle. I want to mark today as the day that I said this is the LinkedIn 'jumping the shark moment.' It seems the professional network has buckled to the pressures of other social media and taken steps to remain relevant with users. 

Why do I say this?

LinkedIn, after it dissolved an agreement with Twitter for an instantaneous update feed has now, in what I believe is a struggle to remain relevant, has announced that it has engaged with the professional world's top influencers to post content, whether wanted or not, generated by the business world's top influencers.

According to another blog and as evidenced by this morning's activity, Twitter has engaged the likes of Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Chopra and Robbins to circulate content on its network, and on a regular basis.  

What I don't want in the least is logging into LinkedIn to read Obama or Romney’s political agenda, Deepak Chopra’s peaceful meditation recommendations, or Tony Robbins “inspiration”.

Even though I have a choice whether or not I want to follow this stream of what I consider to be irrelevant fodder on the network, if one of my connections chooses to follow and post updates from these 'influencers' I am faced to deal with countless stories and 'news' feed in which I am not interested.

I purposely choose who Is in my network and from who I want to see updates. Why would you force upon me the people who LinkedIn thinks are important? 

When I log in to Facebook I don’t get political agenda thrown upon me from anyone other than my friends who choose to promote their own beliefs, and If I don’t like them I can argue, or un-friend them. 

Even if they don’t thrust this upon me and make me choose to follow it, it still opens the network up to people who likely aren’t the real people posting information that will be re-tweeted, re-posted on Facebook, and put into news feeds. 

I don’t believe that the likes of Obama and Romney (or Chopra or Robins for that matter) will really sit down and create LinkedIn updates. Sorry, but I’d like to think they have better things to do with their time.  So whatever publicist is posting their messages (that will undoubtedly appear all over the social networks including LinkedIn of which I am a part), I am almost certain I will not be getting information from this “Trusted Elite Influencer.”

LinkedIn...I hate to say it because I do find the professional networking you provide of value not only to my business and colleagues within my business but, I am sorry;  this looks like the beginning of the end to me.

I woke up to the same story re-posted several times on my timeline saying it was a trending story. I may have missed a strategic move by a former colleague or a current colleague as a result. I may use LinkedIn differently than the average user; who is mostly interested in leveraging contacts to gain better employment opportunities; but I feel the new changes have reduced this network to a glorified social medium that is teetering on the edge of becoming just 'another social media outlet.'

Don't get me wrong, LinkedIn has its place. I've said before that I think it will render job aggregation boards obsolete, but I really think LinkedIn could do a lot more to become more than a recruitment platform. Maybe that’s what they are going for with the trusted elite news feeds / following, but I think they missed the target.

They need to engage professionals: the exact people using LinkedIn.   We need to know what professionals are seeing in their industry; not just a single job they need help with. Maybe we as a professional group are transactional and single job focused, but doesn’t the big picture have relevancy?

What do you think? Has LinkedIn devalued itself to pander to the likes of Facebook and Twitter to remain relevant, or do you think the mere nature of the network as a professional network is enough to sustain its relevance, no matter what they do?

Josh Kaplan writes on various subjects including information technology breakthroughs, big data, IT staffing and recruitment, healthcare IT recruitment, and technical industry news and trends.