Meet 'Little Moe', the newest soldier on the front line of the battle against ebola:
Robots might be the future of pandemic control
There has been plenty of talk and debate about the role that robots (autonomous or controlled) could play in the future of healthcare; in fact, today there are robots performing surgery, robotic limbs assisting the paralysed to walk, robots dispensing medications, etc. So, why not robots at the frontline of disease outbreaks?
Robots might be the future of pandemic control because:
- much like bomb disposal robots, they can not be injured, harmed, fall ill the way that humans do
- they can be controlled from hundreds or thousands of kilometres/ miles away meaning that the 'treating' doctor controlling the robot is not at risk of infection
- robots can move faster, be more dexterous and more precise than human health workers
- robot doctors (controlled by a doctor via the internet) could perform basic surgery/ medical procedures at the site of a disaster, stabilising survivors until human medical staff arrive
- robots could potentially access more difficult terrain, more isolated sites than humans
- robotic drones could deliver healthcare, medical supplies, diagnostics, treatments, food supplies, fresh water, etc faster, cheaper and more safely than humans
- robots could be used to collect samples, carry out diagnostic tests and deliver tailored care to those affected
- robot doctors could collate and transmit medical data in real time to agencies like the World Health Organisation or to local hospitals, national/ regional governments to aid in planning the response to a health crisis
- it will be cheaper and faster to send 100 drones to a disaster affected area than to send 100 doctors
What are the risks? What are the dangers?
In his book The Guide to the Future of Medicine: Technology and the Human Touch (not an affiliate link) Bertalan Meskó MD, PhD argues that advances in healthcare technology must not detract from the human touch that doctors and medical professionals must display in delivering care to the vulnerable and the sick. Robots, drones and other future advances in technology may be more efficient and effective in treating the sick and wounded, an in managing and containing disease, but is it right for a dying patient to take their last breaths in the 'arms' of a robot?
What could possibly go wrong? The margin for error is significant, even if the robots are controlled by distant human operators. I'm certainly not arguing against the use of robotic drones in the delivery of healthcare, in many cases I would support this and can clearly see the benefits. However, as with many new technologies in healthcare I think there is a case for a strong human role in controlling and overseeing these new healthcare workers until we can be sure they are more like the 2-1B surgical droid from Star Wars and less like the Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 Terminator from the Arnold Schwarzenegger movies.
Afterall, who wants their robotic doctor to quip "I'll be back..."?
As a community builder, I serve as an advisor, mentor, friend and liaison for early-stage startups to SoftLayer and the broader startup community. I manage the Community Development team at SoftLayer. In this role, I am honored to manage relationships with TechStars, 500 Startups, the Global Accelerator Network, several of the world's premiere co-working spaces, entrepreneurial organizations and many more.
CEO, Hello Doctor
4 years ago, my former boyfriend started having bad headaches. They usually started around the evening time, until one day he woke up with a headache — that’s when I knew that something was seriously wrong. I dragged him to the emergency room and 3 hours later, the sky fell on us. A scan revealed he had a brain tumor and he had to undergo immediate surgery. That morning marked the beginning of 2 excruciating years of fighting cancer that included surgeries, chemotherapy, lab tests, radiations, second opinions and countless visits to doctors who are part of disparate medical networks whose technology systems don’t talk with each other.
The worst part was trying to find the right medical document at the right time
Each doctor we saw gave us a net of about 10 minutes face time. Beyond the uncertainty and fear, the worst part of these meetings was trying to explain his medical condition by pulling out the relevant Medical Records that the doctor wanted to see out of my “medical binder”. I knew that if I could not find the right document at the right time it would affect his treatment and in this case — it can even cost us his life.
This story has a couple of happy endings. First, my former boyfriend went into permanent remission, he is doing great today and we are still good friends. The second is Hello Doctor. The frustrations of my experience with the healthcare system inspired me to quit my job and start Hello Doctor, which is intended to help millions of people who are dealing with the same frustration that I had to deal with. Today, Hello Doctor’s team has 6 members — all went through a similar experience with different medical conditions — bowel disease, breast cancer, ALS and pregnancy monitoring. We have all been there, and we decided to devote our career to helping people feel less confused and more in control when talking to their doctors.
Hello Doctor helps people manage and understand their medical records
Hello Doctor is a free mobile app that empowers people to control their health. We started with an iOS app that helps people to manage and understand their medical records.
It allows you to easily aggregate all of your medical records (paper or digital) on your tablet or mobile phone and get to any one of them in literally just 2 taps. It allows you to share your medical records with your doctor and add comments on the medical records themselves - so that you won’t forget what bothered you and resolve it in time. It’s that simple and it’s that useful, especially in real time - when you are facing your doctor.
Making a difference, helping people
A few weeks ago we found out that we are already helping people. Ilene, a 60 year old cancer survivor sent us an amazing thank you letter. “A simple flu shot meant that I have to take my 2 medical binders with me to the doctor as he doesn’t have access to all of my records. Your app is invaluable”. This is exactly what we dreamed of when we started this project and we need your help in spreading the word about Hello Doctor. You can start by downloading and trying it yourself — take control over your health now. Manage your medical records with Hello Doctor.
Social media, content, PR, sales consultant @ Healthy Startups [at]health
- Early disease detection and monitoring if we can detect things earlier and can monitor them in the community we can disrupt the pattern of landing in a hospital for diagnosis.
- Access to and sharing of health information not a new problem but an opportunity that is critical for helping manage patients more successfully in the community.
- Connectivity between Australians and HCPs and services we need to develop new ways to connect and engage all members of the 'care team.' HCPs, services, families. This will help to empower patients and their families in the healthcare process.
Social media, content, PR, sales consultant @ Healthy Startups [at]health
Why has the Ice Bucket Challenge been a huge success? It is a laser focused, brand new, easily relatable, highly visual 'stunt' that breaks through the noise - RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW.
But, like so many of these 'viral stunts', the impact of raising awareness will dissipate very, very quickly. Raising fleeting awareness is one thing - but where is the long term engagement strategy for these campaigns?
Getting a huge spike in social media followers, social media shares and web traffic is a great outcome, but driving sustainable, ongoing and long term funding/ behaviour changes is quite something else. I'd like to see some hard data around outcomes - ie money raised for research, corporate partners/ sponsors secured, volunteers signed up and engaged. I don't disagree with these sorts of tactics and I don’t for a minute begrudge the campaign for its successes against short term metrics - I congratulate them for being daring and innovative - but I believe the healthcare communications, marketing, PR, social media industry needs to come up with longer term strategies too.
What the Ice Bucket Challenge Tells Us About The State Of Healthcare Marketing
Old ways of doing healthcare marketing are stuffed. In 2014 it’s not enough to hire a ‘celebrity’ to do a community service announcement on radio, put up some billboards, send fundraisers with collection tins to the local shopping mall and hope for the best. Even the telethon, that staple of fundraising campaigns, is losing its lustre as younger demographics shy away from traditional ways of supporting healthcare awareness and fundraising campaigns. And please use the comments section below to tell me when you last bought a raffle ticket...
Sure, these Ice Bucket Challenges are being undertaken by ‘celebrities’ and maybe that brings eyeballs, but the definition of celebrity is changing in 2014. Participants in the IBC include staid CEOs, news readers, washed up pop stars, YouTube/ social media wannabes, politicians. The reason the participants are so diverse is part of the attention deficit disorder remedy that the campaign has deployed.
Not only is the idea of celebrity changing, so too is the concept of supporting a charity or awareness campaign - once again driven by the decline of attention. Where my grandparents and parents once gave a donation by check (or cheque as we spell it here in Australia), Millenials feel that clicking the Like button on a Facebook post or sharing an image to Snapchat or Instagram is the best way to rally behind a cause.
Because of this battle for attention, health care campaigners are having to ditch the long term strategy to drive real, sustainable change in favour of the ‘How Do I Get Washed Up Celebrity X To Retweet My Gosh I Hope It Goes Viral Video Right Now’ strategy.
How To Break Through The Short Term Syndrome
There are some ways we can reach out to people engaged in an Ice Bucket Challenge style stunt to build longer, deeper and richer conversations/ relationships that drive ongoing change:
The video is the home base - what are you doing to deepen engagement on the outposts?
Are you sending the video to long time donors/ corporate supporters through social media and email marketing?
Are you using the video to build your email list or drive viewers to your website or social media channels?
Have you thought about how to use the video to introduce and/ or extend the story?
By the way, do you have Bono’s phone number? I want to give him a call and assure him that no H2O molecules have been intentionally harmed in any celebrity Ice Bucket Challenge.
Lastly please use the comments section below to post YouTube links to your Ice Bucket Challenge videos and I will include the videos at the end of this post.