Archive - Jan 2011

January 21st

#ff @mmpartee @LesleyLambert @iAM_ALfonso @redheadeddivak @CTchrisadams @JoeCascio @CherylBudge @timtracey @mattcrouch

Yeah, I should probably write a longer post about why each of the people I’ve listed as friends to follow on Friday, but it is Friday and it has been a very long week.

So, I’ll give you the short version @mmpartee @LesleyLambert @iAM_ALfonso @redheadeddivak and others are at a pre-podcamp tweetup in Western Mass tonight.

@CTchrisadams @JoeCascio @CherylBudge @timtracey @mattcrouch and others will be attending a Tweetup here in Connecticut tomorrow.

I’m not at the pre-podcamp tweetup. We’ll see if I get my act together to get up to Podcamp Western Mass. It should be a good event.

I’ve got a better chance of making it to the CT-Tweetup tomorrow. It depends on how much sleep I get tonight, and other variables.

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January 20th

Exploring Pearltrees

A couple of weeks ago in a blog about post-delicious content sharing, I briefly mentioned Pearltrees. Since then, I’ve slowly started playing more and more with it, and I’m finding I really like it. I can get it to do much of what I’ve been looking for in a social bookmarking site.

First, the downside. It is primarily flashbased. I’m not a big fan of Flash so I view that as a downside. However, it does gracefully degrade for nonflash users, so it isn’t as much of a downside as other flash based sites are.

A second downside is that, at least as far as I’ve explored it so far, it is very hierarchical. I’m not a big fan of hierarchies, and I’m exploring to see how to subvert them in Pearltrees. Trailmeme seems to address both of these downsides fairly well, but it feels like newer, not quite ready product, and I couldn’t get Trailmeme to easily do some of the things I want, so I’ll save Trailmeme for later.

Now, the things that I like with Pearltrees. You can set it up so that when you treat a URL, the URL shows up in your Pearltrees drop zone. This is nice. You can then drag the URL into wherever you want in your Pearltrees. It has a bookmarking tool, so you can go to a webpage and automatically add it to your Pearltrees, your drop zone, or do a bunch of other things.

You can allow other people team up with you on a Pearltree, which I’ve done with one of my subtrees. You can also set specific icons for different trees. For the different pearls, you can add comments. This is important to me. I hate to go back over recent bookmarks and not be able to figure out why I bookmarked a site. It becomes even more important for collaboration.

When you add a comment, the pearl displays with a yellow ring around it, making it easier to find pearls with comments.

When you click on a pearl and bring it up within Pearltrees, you can click on ‘Pearls’ in the lower left corner to switch back to the Pearltree mode. There are arrows that you can use to scroll through pages you’ve added, and you can quickly add comments to the pages in this mode. You can also use tools to share the page or open the page in a new window. As a final note, you can export the data in XML to use in other systems.

I expect I’ll spend more time exploring this. Check out My Pearltree. If you’re using Pearltrees, drop me a note. Perhaps we can collaborate.

January 19th

Wordless Wednesday

January 18th

"Meaningful steps to curb runaway health care costs"

If you’re involved in politics or in healthcare, the big news this week may be the vote scheduled for Wednesday about repealing the Affordable Care Act, sometimes called Obamacare by its detractors. I’ve spent a bit of time in politics and now work for a community health center, so it seems like this ought be be big news for me. However, it really isn’t.

Yes, the new Republican majority in the House will most likely vote to real health care reform tomorrow, fulfilling campaign promises. Then, it will die in the Senate and that’s about it.

Perhaps even more significant, it may not make a lot of difference to most people. Yeah, doing away with pre-existing conditions and lifetime caps, and allowing children to stay on their parents health care plans until they are 26 are good things, which will make things better for some people. It will be good when people can more easily get affordable health insurance, but does it really improve health care?

It seems like the parts of health care reform that are going to make the most difference are things that people don’t hear about, and perhaps don’t even understand. Electronic Medical Records are likely to eliminate some mistakes, especially in terms of patients getting proper medications from their pharmacists, and in the long run might start changing the relationship between a patient and their doctor, but that points to perhaps the bigger change that we need to spend more time thinking about. What sort of relationship should there be between a patient and their doctor?

Many, it seems, have a mixed relationship with their doctors. They say they don’t trust their doctors and only go if they absolutely have to, but when they go, they may not give complete information to their doctors, but then don’t question what their doctors tell them, other than perhaps not taking the medication that has been prescribed to them, or making other changes that would improve their health.

One of the big phrases these days is Patient Centered medicine. Buried in the Affordable Care Act are incentives to move towards patient centered medicine. Already, there are interesting reports out about this. Last November, the Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative issued a paper exploring this. In the first part of “Summary of Data on Cost Outcomes from Patient Centered Medical Home Interventions”, “Integrated Delivery System PCMH Models”, they note a study that found:

$10 PMPM reduction in total costs; total PMPM cost $488 for PCMH patients vs. $498 for control patients (p=.076).

Unfortunately, this doesn’t make a good sound bite. It needs translating from the jargon. PMPM is an abbreviation for Per Member Per month. PCMH is a Patient Centered Medical Home. For this sample, it costs $10 more per month to treat a patient in the current manner than it does with a patient centered medical home.

They cite study after study showing how moving towards a patient centered medical home saves money. I’m still trying to get my mind around what a PCMH really is. The National Committee for Quality Assurance describes it this way:

The Patient Centered Medical Home is a health care setting that facilitates partnerships between individual patients, and their personal physicians, and when appropriate, the patient’s family. Care is facilitated by registries, information technology, health information exchange and other means to assure that patients get the indicated care when and where they need and want it in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner.

How is this really different than existing models? I’m not completely sure, but as I understand it, it is based on having a regular primary care doctor that you trust and work closely with. Having a doctor that knows who you are and what has been going on in your life and medical history would seem to make a big difference in avoiding medical mistakes or unnecessarily hospitalizations or other treatments.

So, the politicians can spend their time arguing about who gets paid when for what services, which seems to be a lot of the current debate in Washington, or they can focus on re-evaluating which services really are the most important in providing quality health care. Personally, I’m looking forward to the current charade ending in Washington and moving on to a more meaningful discussion that will curb runaway health care costs and improve patient outcomes.

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January 17th

Music Monday - Shanna Underwood

What is it that makes us unique, that makes us more than just another number, more than just a punched card afraid of being bent, folded, spindled or mutilated? What makes us different than part of a demographic whose cookies are being traced with every click we take?

Perhaps that is some of what drives my blog, an effort to explore and express my uniqueness and to find it in others. Perhaps some of that is what I’m looking for when I seek performers to highlight in my Music Monday blog posts.

Shanna Underwood captures some of this. In her Sonicbids submission she writes

As a traveling songwriter, part-time archaeologist, and part time English as a Foreign Language teacher, I think I bring a unique perspective and sensibility to my music.

She does, and it comes through in her music subtly. In Picket Fences she sings

I want to go deeper than the American dream allows
A red rose is not what this is about

It echos again in Wandering,

Twenty-thousand miles, a suitcase and denial
Won't bring me any closer to someone I don't know

The title of her song, Appalachia to the Himalayas also reflects this sensibility.

What is Shanna looking for in her wanderings from the picket fences and Appalachia to the Himalayas? What are we all looking for? Someone to love? Someone to make us feel special? Someone that we can make feel special? There is earning in her voice as she sings her songs, an authentic sounding yearning that we need to hear more of.

So, some day, take a moment to sit down and listen to Shanna Underwood’s music. Think back about your own travels, and where you want to be going. It will help put things in perspective.

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