Spreading hope, 21st century style

1 in 9 people in the U.S have used it. Its reach extends to 236 countries. In 2014, 2.2 million new people joined communities. 300,000 people visit every day. More than 72,000 families created a website in 2014. Any idea what I’m referring to?

Those are some of the key stats for a social media tool called CaringBridge. It works like this: patients set up a private and secure website where they post journal entries about their health journey. They invite close family and friends to join their site, creating a caring and supportive community. Family and friends are kept up to date and they can post encouraging and supportive messages. It takes the communication burden off the patient and their immediate family so they can focus on healing.  It replaces the black hole of not knowing for those who care and worry.

I first learned about CaringBridge many years ago when I was the CIO at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. We jointly sponsored it with Dana Farber Cancer Institute and encouraged our cancer patients to use it. At the University of Michigan Health System, we make patients and families aware of this service and another similar one called CarePages.

For all my years working in health care and using the main social media platforms, I’m finally experiencing firsthand the healing power of CaringBridge.  Continue reading

Back to the future

It’s back to school time! College bound students and their parents are having a lot of mixed feelings. There’s the excitement and anxiety of starting something new, maybe far from home. And for the parents, the goodbyes and the reality of being an empty nester may just be sinking in. Parents sense that they’ve done their job and now, it’s launch time.

There are questions college students hate to hear – “what are you planning to study?”; “what do you want to do when you graduate?”  They need to find their passion first. And who knows what kind of jobs will be there come graduation time.

Many of today’s jobs didn’t even exist 5 or 10 years ago. If you are on social media at all, you will see tons of job opportunities for just that – social media experts. But it’s just over a decade for two of the giants – Facebook and LinkedIn, and less than 10 years for Twitter.

And at the intersection of cars and technology, do you suppose the people working at Mcity thought 10 years ago that this is what they’d be doing? Continue reading

Investing in the success of others

What do @TheWomenRising, @digitaldivas3, and #HITchicks have in common? They are some of the Twitter handles and hashtags that young women professionals in technology are using on social media to encourage Women around CR tablemore women to go into the field. I recently did a fireside chat with Kate Catlin, the organizer of Women Rising, and about 30 young women in downtown Detroit. It was the first in a new UpRising series where they invite in “high-powered women in technology” they want to learn from.

The questions covered a broad range of concerns, and not just about working in technology. We were scheduled for an hour but could easily have continued for several more. I answered their questions with advice and lessons from my own experience.

Some of their questions:

How did you get started in technology?  Continue reading

At work and at play: IT leaders connect with patients

Monday was the 42nd annual  C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital Golf Classic. While the golfers have a lot of fun, it is a significant annual fundraising event that makes an important difference in the lives of children and their families at Mott Children’s Hospital. Over the years, individual and organizational sponsors have provided support for computers at patient bedsides, medically safe camps for children with serious health issues, assistive devices for children with special needs, and many more important projects and services.

The Mott Golf Classic is committed to advancing pediatric medicine and enhancing the care experience for patients and their families. It supports unique initiatives that distinguish Mott Children’s Hospital which is ranked as one of the best children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

Reminding all of us in health care why we do what we do, each year a child and their family are recognized as an honored guest and we hear their story.  This year Larry Prout Jr. and his parents, Larry and Kathy, along with his five older siblings and other family members were the guests of honor.  Larry Jr. was born with three birth defects – Spina Bifida, Cloacal Exstrophy, and a massive Omphalocele. His parents didn’t know if he would make it through the first 24 hours after birth and there were many times during his first six months that he had to fight for survival. With their love and the specialized medical care of a multi-disciplinary team at Mott, Larry Jr. overcame many setbacks. He is celebrating his 14th birthday on June 11th.

One of my IT leaders, Joe Kryza, Executive Director of Infrastructure and Systems Operations, has made significant contributions over the past 10 plus years to the Mott Family Network, a non-profit volunteer organization that many of our IT staff contribute time to. Continue reading

Women and technology, part 2

I had the chance to deliver the opening keynote talk at the NG HealthCare US Summit two weeks ago. I was to fit a 20 minute talk between the salad and the entree at a dinner. The summit organizers said I could talk about whatever topic I wanted; I just had to be inspiring.

I titled my talk: “Our Future Workforce – Unlocking the Potential”. As I posed the problem in a recent post “Technology, where are all the women?,” I talked about the fact that not enough women are going into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. I have been particularly concerned with the drop in women entering computer related fields.

Why does this problem exist, what are some of the programs that are helping address it, and what can IT leaders do about it?

The IT leadership conference where I was speaking was about 75-80% men, so I thought there might be a risk with this angle on the future workforce. I am happy to say the talk was very well received.

Afterwards, men talked to me about their daughters – whether they are in college studying in a STEM field or in grade school interested in computers and robots. Women told me about their own Continue reading

Consumers expect game-changing technology

It’s a game-changer if it has the potential to change the outcomes. We often see how new technology creates a big shift in the market.

Uber car service has been taking hold in large cities over the past few years. It’s even come to Ann Arbor. Is it a game-changer in local transportation? Looks like it. I know there is plenty of controversy right now about Uber and their business practices but you have to admit they have figured out how to leverage GPS technology and mobile devices in new ways. I experienced this first hand recently when I used an Uber to get to the airport. No question it was easy and convenient.

And that’s what consumers look for in the products and services they buy: easy, reliable, convenient, and low cost. We all love that one-click purchasing on Amazon: buy a book and it immediately downloads to our Kindle readers – a game-changer in the book business!

We, health care IT leaders, are sometimes criticized for Continue reading