When Life Goes Sideways: Is There An App For That?

screentime at docs wsj eric topol tweetDec. 14, 2015 Update While digital ‘screens’ helped me triage many Rx and Dx complications in rural environs, and this remote locale used screens beautifully to bring urban advice into a sepsis situation, the colossal shift of routine data entry usurping one-on-one caregiving with the doctor/patient interaction is extremely distracting and disturbing in just the few short years as things have devolved since I wrote this original post.

Unclamping the IV digital drip is an art form, and the challenge of being fully ‘present’ while multitasking and e-paper pushing is daunting…most doctors clearly haven’t mastered the nuances of digital health reporting.

This WSJ article, “Is your Doctor Getting Too Much Screen Time?  speaks to this huge issue; hands down the number one complaint I hear in eldercare environs from both the patient and the caregivers who insist medical personnel are NOT ATTUNED to the body language and listening skills required to assess and provide accurate diagnosis and treatment beyond ‘tests and Rx.’

The intimacy of this very human relationship is being hijacked by screen time admin and the results are abysmal. We need full “eyes on” this ongoing, exasperating problem…stat.

Nov. 8, 2010 As fall breezes in and the season of thankfulness has many waxing poetic about gratitude and attitude, I’m in an altered state somewhere between Charlie Brown looking at his kite stuck in the tree (again) having Lucy pull the football out from under him (again) and Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin with anticipatory hope and persistent faith that everything’s just gonna be fine. This week I’ll be mostly posting from the Sierras in the wee hours as a cathartic release from a compilation of sidewinders that have created a ‘perfect storm’ of chaos on the ‘caregiver’ front. I’m now about 200 miles from home, my mom’s in the hospital, my dad needs FT care, and my teen’s being pawned off to her peer posse/parents, as her dad’s out of town all week. (did I mention the two dogs too? Yah, didn’t think so) As the netizens say “but it’s all good.”

Aided and abetted by Health 2.0 technology and becoming a bit of a LifeHacker (see iTriage app turning your smart phone into a medical diagnosis tool!) I’ve been rendered a decidedly positive, resilient, calmer-than-I-should-be infovore, and want to share the links to these media musts on the medical front if a similar scenario ever happens to you with a loved one whether it’s a baby, senior, spouse or self.

Think of it as a high tech happiness story of ‘Google as we go’ data sourcing, “WebMD” symptom checking, Rx contraindication (I learned of DoubleCheckMD multi-drug symptom/interaction checker at Health2.0 conference awhile back) and “how do I find a…”(insert support service, infrastructure, or even local late night restaurant in a small town) mobile mapping with a touch of “let’s make it happen” personality tossed in the mix.

Hightailing it 5 hours northbound, over the river and through the woods to the hospital ER we go (and no, we’re not out of the woods yet literally or figuratively!) I am less stressed, better connected, and unwilling to shift into fear-based thinking of dire consequences spewed by earnest medicos in ‘woulda-coulda’ mortality if I had NOT jumped in a car Friday night rush hour and trusted gut instinct in an ‘over-ride’ of my dear mom’s usual minimalizing.

Doctors are probably trying to jolt my mom into life changes with “your daughter just saved your life” chatter, but to me, that’s not as productive as using preventive tools, web data and a keyboard to take health care into your own hands in consumer advocacy, know your body, help your loved ones style…

robot digital health assessmentAt first I was like a Cityslicker in a Billy Crystal movie concerned that the  small hospital up here had to Google a medical device in my mom’s system, as they didn’t even know what it was… (not the most reassuring feeling) but then I realized I should be thankful there’s even that opportunity to bring techno info into more rural health care environs.

A closer peek around the hospital was techno encouraging too, seeing they are equipped with robotic tools to place physician experts a screen away to lend a hand, like this cool robotic gizmo to get urban specialization analysis into ER environs…

I’ve learned a lot about myself AND my media habits from this triage of trauma and drama, and though “it’s all good” may be hyperbole, it’s not far off in terms of being given a blessed shoulder shake that a “big week” of planned events.

So first…apologies, teenagers that I couldn’t go homecoming dress shopping, (but the texting/mobile photos made me feel “there” from afar, thanks)

Sorry uber-producer Bob Ayres for missing the Two Degrees SF TEDsters Saturday (I’m not a “brownout sans notice” type, so please don’t drop me from the invite list for your fabulous Next20Years projects) and gal pals, PLEASE use my ticket to the Race to Nowhere film screening tomorrow for one of your teens.

Gov2.0 people? My Passport agency appointment today WOULD have been canceled properly if your freakin’ voicemail/online system were up to speed, so that’s your own dang ‘fail’ factor (might wanna look at those system opps, despite huge progress in health/open gov innovation elsewhere).

I know I also won’t make it back for the Next FutureTalk TV Episode on Human Computer Interaction in 48 hours either (Andy Hertzfeld of the original Mac team and Isaac Majoerowicz working on Telepresence at Cisco, with NextNow Collab pals Eileen Clegg’s graphic visualization and Bill Daul off-cam) and frankly, my calendar looks like a map of the London Underground…

So…I’m selfishly writing this so I can e-blast, tweet, post the link to this write-up in a status and whack my whole slate of ‘to-dos’ with one explanation, using technology as my ‘awol excuse note’ with one fell swoop.

One link, lobbed into the mix that you’re ‘off the grid’ and it’ll take care of itself…as your community spreads the word in ‘I’ve got your back’ style. Heartening, really…it’s 21st century ‘it takes a village’ in digital outreach.

See what I mean? USE technology to work FOR you, not against you.

If you’re like me and don’t have an assistant or a mega-infrastructure, it’s a handy godsend to use social media sites in this manner, plus it puts a support system in your hip pocket with friends by your side during trying times.

Finally, it’s validating to note (AFTER the fact) that I NEVER gave it a thought as to where my heart and head would land, tossing my crumpled schedule into the circular file with reckless abandon, in a knee jerk reaction to ‘get there’ despite a poorly thought out game plan.

Yes, digital technology has been my ‘BFF’ during this life experience, and though I’ve griped about its intrusion into privacy many times, I must add that it’s altered lives and in many cases improved the way we walk through the world too…it’s all about who holds the reins of the data, and I’m a strong proponent of consumer driven open source access.  Data saved my hide, and probably my mother’s…

NOTHING matters more than love of family, and though I’m now in a bit of a pickle being far away from home in care-mode sans backup action plan, this media validation that devices and collective knowledge can help not hinder the human condition with prioritization and future forward glimpses into what Health2.0 looks like.

With that, I’ve gotta scoot and get to the patient(s) but as promised, here are some helpful links to help you navigate if Snoopy comes zinging by you, swiping your security blanket and taking you on a wild and crazy ride to a destination unknown. Blessings.

Helpful Health Resources For Medical Triage

WebMD Symptom Checking (graphic interactive/data dive)

Healia (Health Search Engine) and Healthline

DoubleCheckMD.com (fabulous Rx drug interaction analysis)

iTriage Turns Your Smart Phone Into Medical Diagnosis Tool

DrugWatch.com  (Side Effects/Interactions)

Everything 2.0: 38 Health Sites (caregiving/wellness/support)

TNTY (Future of Medicine Roundup of Resources/News to Use)

Health 2.0TV (Recap of Conferences/Latest Health Innovation)

Consumer Centric Health 2.0 Accelerator Blog

Health 2.0 Blog/Community

Health Care Enablers (Find Local Doctors/Med Svcs- Xoova etc)

Health Portals/Content Wiki (LifeMojo,  My FamilyHealth etc)

Health Care Communities Wiki (Patients Like Me, etc)

MobiHealth News (all things mHealth, great resource!)

Games For Change Public Health (worthy interactives)

First Aid Apps for the iPhone (handy w/kids!)

Related Health 2.0 Articles on Shaping Youth

Kids Health 2.0: Get Your Head in the Game

Health 2.0 Cryptozoo

Got Mercury? Cellphone Tool for Fish Fanatics Like Me

Attitude of Gratitude: Blame Drew’s Cancer/Social Media

Therapeutic Impact of Virtual Worlds

Virtual Healing: War Torn Teens Face Reality Post-Iraq

In Bed w/Branding: Virtual Worlds Pair W/Childrens Hospitals

Consider This: Virtual Worlds in Institutional Settings

Wii Are Family: A French Look At A Global Gaming Phenom

Social Media/Health 2.0: Blame Drew’s Cancer

BlameAThon: Tweet Your Troubles to Fight Cancer

Mindless Eating Goes Mobile: Health Gamers Unite

Media, Misinformation & Unhealthy Spin: Time Magazine

Playnormous Health Edu-Games Offer FREE Monster iMacs!

healthGAMERS: Newly Launched Hub for Serious Gaming

healthGAMERS: Pt. 2 Interview w/Melanie Lazarus

Top Ten Sex Ed Videos, By Kids For Kids: SexTech/DoGooderTV

Hey Kids, Is There A Market for Healthy Games?

Games for Health Regional Summit

A Wellness Media Mashup +3 Network

Visual credit: Snoopy walking Linus copyright the great, late Charles M. Schulz. If you haven’t ever been to his cartoon art museum or exposed your 21st century children to his work, visit the entire Peanuts gang at SchulzMuseum.org His wonderful lens of humanist foibles made an indelible mark on my childhood and remains a preferred pop culture icon in my worldview today. Screenshot addition of 12-14-15 from tweet by Eric Topol



  1. Amy,

    Inspiring post, in so many ways. You should make up a slick little pamphlet on this topic, pocket-carry-able, and charge a few bucks for your dose of valuable digital common sense. Wishing the best for you and your family. Pulling for you!

  2. Um…they probably ‘have an app for that’ heehe thanks for the virtual support…see what I mean? It’s like a warm blankie (says Linus) Oblige

  3. Dear Amy,

    My heart and energy goes out to you and your family…I know others that know you will be feeling the same. I hope the pieces of your life’s puzzle sort themselves out in a way that helps ALL OF YOU. With Warmth, –bill

  4. Hey Amy

    Not sure how you have the presence of mind or energy to write a post like that, but thanks for doing so – really interesting (and I’m not even half way through all those links yet).

    I second Bill’s sentiments and am hoping for the best for you and your family. Take Care – Chris

  5. Amy,

    Blown away that in the middle of triage central you can get all this down in your Amy way-amazing post…yet really? Of course it is because it’s you!
    Love ya tons…hang in there…sending enormous hug too.

  6. What’s better than this list of great preventative and supportive care through technology? Talking about how and why you used it, and how you have incorporated it into taking of yourself AND your loved ones.

    Thanks for the great post and I hope the respite is serving you well.

    Alex (@ReachOutinUSA)

  7. All I can say is that you have a great network of people who love and care about you. Also, we care about you staying around in a good frame of mind so that you can continue to contribute your awesomeness to the world.

    I have an idea to get something different and going. Stay tuned.

  8. Thank you ALL for your kindness and comments that wrap me up like a warm soothing (albeit virtual) hug. I’m convinced now more than ever of the power of media to connect, unite and inspire for the good…and just have to keep the head clear enough to keep forging forward to cut through the muck and applaud wildly for the positive stuff…

    In fact, maybe November should be the SY media month for a “parade of positivity” to show what CAN be done with media to support/outreach and kick tails as needed too. Up for it? Gotta stay on a positive wavelength, esp in this month of Thanksgiving it seems suitable…Lob ideas my way, I’m definitely slating the anti-bullying/digital citizenship tools that are fab. More as able…Hugs and health, Amy

  9. Your site was really a blessing for all youth. Hope you continue your advocacy or whatever you have started, because it’s really helping.

  10. well, thanks for your kindness…I’ll take it. 😉 Especially now when things are a bit surreal it helps to know I’m being of service. I’ll be posting more Health2.0 apps and consumer/patient advocacy info soon…

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