Has the ‘river of knowledge’ reversed its natural course? A lighter look at technology’s other effects.

A long-time TTA Reader, John Boden, takes a rueful glance at how ‘smart’ technology has not just disrupted the phone and computing markets, but has disrupted the ‘natural order’ between generations today. A virus-free look at a phenomenon that’s changed a natural dynamic.

As I am writing my experiences, and thinking about my grandparents and parents, I remember how many of the little things they taught me. It is not the big lessons I am talking about, but the details. A few examples: how to sharpen a knife; how to ground a sparkplug without getting shocked; how to tie a bowline; how to saw a board; how to chop down a tree, and hundreds of other skills. The most amazing change has taken place today. Now, so many times it is the grandchildren teaching the grandparents. The advent of technology is the cause. Cell phones, e-readers, Google, directions to anywhere from anywhere, Amazon shopping, Uber, movies, music, and on and on. All came screaming into our lives in the last decade or two, like an avalanche filling those little machines we hold in our hand.

The acquisition of the new skills needed is no longer based on the experience and hard-learned lessons that were passed down from one generation to the next, from the master craftsman to the apprentice, from parent to child, as has always been the way.

Suddenly we elders were having to learn new ways of doing things and it felt like we were drinking from a firehose. We finally gave in and bought ourselves one of those new phones we can carry around with us and flip open to use wherever we are, and then, BAM, there is a newer one, and then a newer one, and now it is much more than a phone. It is a map with a guide that tells you directions and even insists on telling you when to turn. It is a record player, a camera, a mailman that delivers immediately and you can even answer back immediately.

WHOA – WHOA – WHOA, this is too much. I cannot even get it out of my pocket before it stops ringing. Then, which button do I push to see who called? Oops, did they leave a message? Why is this screen blinking? Icon? What icon? (And what’s an icon anyway?) Do I push? Oops! Tap! Do not push! And this is just the phone part of the thing.

Where have all the dials gone? Where are the gauges with needles that told us how everything was working? What do you mean I just walk up to my car and it will know who I am and unlock the doors so I can get in? How can all this stuff that did not exist even a few years ago have so completely taken over our lives?

Ah, the instruction manual, that will explain it all! Where is it? What do you mean it is on the phone? I cannot see it. Where is it? Just go to the URL, we are told. The URL? What is that? Is it in the bathroom near the URinaL?

At about at this point that there is only one way out of the mess. Call a child or grandchild to help lead you out of this technology maze we have found ourselves in. Right now there never seems to be a skill that we have learned in our many years of experience that they need. So, today the river of knowledge seems to be in reverse of how it has been for centuries, flowing uphill.

Pretty soon our employment laws will be saying only those under the age of 16 are allowed to do this type of work!

What Best Buy’s $800 million cash purchase of GreatCall connected health/PERS really means

Have health and connectedness services for older people finally made it out of the pumpkin and to the ball? GreatCall’s market doesn’t make for great cocktail party buzz or TEDMED talks. It’s emergency response with Jeopardy’s Alex Trebek presenting 5 Star emergency service bundled in a Jitterbug flip or smartphone (made by others). It’s made intelligent acquisitions. taking some of the tech developed by Lively to develop wearables that are quite presentable and by Healthsense for the senior living market. It’s been a leader in how to make both traditional direct marketing (DRTV, print) and digital work for an older market. Somehow, it’s managed to accumulate over 900,000 paying customers, which proved to be very attractive to first PE firm GTCR and now Minneapolis-based Best Buy, which with GreatCall has made its Biggest Buy.

GreatCall will remain a separate division with the same CEO (David Inns, with them since their 2006 founding) and remain HQ’d in San Diego. The transaction is expected to close by end of the third quarter of Best Buy’s fiscal 2019, subject to regulatory approvals.

Best Buy in the US has remained the #1 electronics ‘big box’ store that, like most retail, has stumbled about and come back from the brink. Their purchase of GreatCall, a partner for many years, reinforces a strategy they’ve worked on for a while in featuring health and wellness-related products to what CNBC calls ‘an aging population’ as part of ‘solving technology problems and addressing key human needs across a range of areas.’ GreatCall, as noted above, has a superb track record in direct marketing to that group. (In this context, the former Healthsense B2B play is limited–some of the feedback that this Editor’s received is that GreatCall stumbled out of the gate with Healthsense customers with a lack of understanding of the LTC/senior housing market dynamics. Long term, it seems out of phase with Best Buy’s direction in a way that consumer-oriented Lively is not.)

Will that talent spill over to and influence the rest of Best Buy’s business? Will Best Buy successfully carve out a niche which is relatively resistant to the predations of Amazon (which also sells a lot of health tech) and other online retailers? Is this niche big enough to support this Big Box Retailer? Seeking Alpha, press release, Mobihealthnews

Bucharest–the next hot European digital city? 170 startups say ‘da’. (RU)

It certainly came as a surprise that the second fastest growing economy in the EU is–Romania. Identified in your Editor’s mind with the monstrous dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu, grinding poverty and the lost orphans (who are now lost and underground–see this horrific Daily Mail article), it has a burgeoning tech startup scene and a superior digital infrastructure including the fastest internet in Europe, achieved through a combination of post-Ceaușescu entrepreneurship and state avoidance. The Communist emphasis on what we call STEM also has paid off for both young men and especially for women as techies and developers. There are even accelerators: Innovation Labs and MVP Academy. Where Romania lags versus similarly situated Estonia and Bulgaria is native investment–angel investors are almost unknown. Being also an EU member, most of the best are lured away to attractive opportunities in other countries (including the US) at least for some time. But the low cost of development versus other digital cities like London and Berlin, educated workforce and a robust infrastructure are factors favoring Romania. Hat tip to reader Jerry Kolosky. One of the poorest countries in the EU could be its next tech-startup hub (Quartz) and the Digital City Index. (We note the photo at the top of the Quartz article is Google Chicago, not Bucharest)

Docs tickling the computer keys a turnoff to patients: JAMA

Health tech as perceptual barrier. A study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine-Online First (limited content) found that patients were noticeably less satisfied their care when the physician used the computer (e.g. EHR) during the appointment. According to Reuters, only half of the 25 visits with high computer use were rated as “excellent care” by the patients, compared to more than 80 percent of the 19 encounters with low computer use. iHealthBeat cited that physicians who spent more time on the screen:

  • Spent less time making eye contact with patients
  • Tended to do more “negative rapport building,” such as correcting patients about their medical history or drugs taken in the past based on information in their EHR.

The researchers (primarily from the University of California–San Francisco) used data from two years of visits by 47 patients to 39 doctors at a public hospital. The patients had Type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or congestive heart failure, with some having multiple chronic conditions. What is downplayed is that the patients were considered ‘safety net’ patients with communication barriers–limited health literacy and often limited English (primary Spanish speakers). But even this special population may be pointing to an overall problem (more…)

AARP/Intel’s simplified tablet–insulting to 50+?

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/gimlet-eye.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Earlier this month, AARP announced its marketing of the RealPad, a simplified 7.85″ tablet. Its positioning is clearly aiming at the less tech-savvy cohort over 50. With much fanfare, AARP is touting its partnership with Intel in this ” intuitive, easy-to-use software interface for RealPad” on Android KitKat 4.4. It will be available at Walmart this fall at $189 (preorder via AARP) and it has the requisite big icons, front and back cameras and free 24/7 customer service. Release.

The Eye Rolls. We know that the AARP bread ‘n’ butter is creating loyalty for their products by catering to those who pay for their association’s services, but a press release headline like this sounds tinny to many of the younger and not-so-young people in this age group:

AARP ANNOUNCES REALPAD, FIRST OF ITS KIND TABLET DESIGNED FOR AMERICANS 50+ APPREHENSIVE ABOUT TECHNOLOGY

Powered by Intel, RealPad to Serve as Digital Gateway to Over 70 Million Americans 50+ (more…)

International eGovernment and eHealth Cooperation Forum 2014 (Austria)

20 October 2014. Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, Wiedner Hauptstraße 63, Vienna, Austria

The Cooperation Forum is targeted at European and international public administrators, service providers, companies and potential purchasers in the areas of eHealth and eGovernment. It covers several verticals outside of healthcare but in the eHealth area they are (directly) listed as eHealth and Telemedicine, as well as less directly Open Government Data (OGD)/Public sector information (PSI). The Forum is centered on learning about latest trends and technologies, as well as cross-border contacts and meetings with principals in the eGovernment and eHealth sector. Supported by Enterprise Europe Network, the European Commission, WKO and Digital Austria. Attractively, participation in the Cooperation Forum is free of charge but registration for the event is mandatory; for international guests it includes complimentary accommodation (two nights in a 3*/4* hotel in the city center of Vienna with breakfast). Program (PDF). Flyer (PDF)Information and registration. Hat tip to Eva Weidinger, Head of Technology Affairs at the Austrian Embassy (London)