Saturday morning coffee [December 15 2012]

So much happens each and every week that it’s hard to keep up sometimes. Here are some of the tabs that are open in my browser this morning along with some random thoughts….

Pike Place Market Starbucks Coffee MugThe coffee mug to the right comes from Pike Place Market in Seattle, WA, home of the first Starbucks Store. I got the mug on my first trip to Seattle, which just so happened to be during a trip to give a presentation for the company I currently work for. I wasn’t an employee at the time, but they invited me up to talk about the automation and technology that we were using in our pharmacy at Kaweah Delta Medical Center where I was employed as an “IT Pharmacist”. One of the things I really wanted to do during my visit there was visit Pike Place Market and see the first Starbucks. My brother, Robert used to work in Seattle and he gave me a list of things to do and see. I only managed to get  to a few of things on the list, but this was one of them. The first Starbucks is different from any other Starbucks I’ve ever been to. It doesn’t have that corporate-lets-make-money feel to it.

Here’s an interesting twist at the box office, Skyfall continues to do well as it rose back to the#1 spot last weekend. Good movie, highly recommended. Rise of the Guardians came in at #2.  This of course will be short lived as The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will kill at the box office this weekend. There is no doubt that I will see The Hobbit, but I must say that the reviews have not been flattering. I read the book as a child and again as an adult.

– I am sure that everyone is aware of the tragedy that occurred at a Connecticut elementary school yesterday. At last count there were 28 dead of which 20 were children. A senseless and cowardly act. I have two children and cannot imagine what the parents of these kids must be going through. No hardship in my life can compare. My thoughts and prayers are with them at this time, but that is little consolation for what they must endure.

– Just in case you missed it, this week we experienced the last repetitive date you and I will ever see: 12/12/12. Unless of course you live to be really old.

– Google Maps is once again available for iOS. It was released this week and quickly became the top free iPhone app in the iTunes app store. I think people really wanted their Google Maps back.

– Christmas is just around the corner; 10 days away to be exact. That means that my wife will start baking some seriously good junk food. She likes to make candy and cookies. It also means that it’s time for me to break out some of the movies that I watch this time of year. I’m a big fan of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. It’s one of Chevy Chase’s better flicks and definitely the best in the Vacation movie series. It also has a great soundtrack for Christmas. I’ve also become partial to Elf. That movie became an instant classic. And then there’s Die Hard and Lethal Weapon. Not sure why those two remind me of Christmas, but they do. Any other opinions out there?

– The man credited with co-inventing the barcode, Norman Joseph Woodland died this week at the age of 91. Woodland, along with Bernard Silver, co-invented the “optical scanning method”, which is basically a bullseye style barcode. However, the UPC style barcode was later developed by George Joseph Laurer in 1973, which was later pushed into the mainstream by supermarket executive Alan Haberman. The barcode has come a long way. Several industries, including healthcare, have benefited from the invention of the barcode.

– Speaking of barcodes, there’s an interesting article in the December 2012 issue of Pharmacy Purchasing & Products (PP&P) on using workflow technology in the IV room, including barcode scanning. The author sums up the benefits of using barcode scanning in the IV room as follows: “Utilizing bar code verification in the IV room reduces the error potential associated with manual processes through enhanced product verification, while also providing dose-tracking capabilities.” I’ve experienced the same benefits when barcode scanning is used appropriately in the healthcare environment. PP&P is considered a “throw away” journal, but the article is worth ten minutes of your time.

Readwrite – Top 10 Epic Tech-Gadget Failures: There are some funny things on this list like the Flowbee, but the one that really caught my attention was the Palm Foleo. I wanted one of these things so badly I could taste it. Palm was a dominate handheld OS before fading into obscurity. “Announced in May of 2007 to critical derision and scrapped a mere three months later, the Palm Foleo subnoted computer was another idea that was on the cusp of greatness but just missed its mark.” Palm really blew that one. They should have launched it.

– How about 10 inventions that were discovered accidentally? Your wish is my command:

– There’s an article in the most recent ComputerTalk magazine about MedCoach, a smartphone application that helps patients keep track of their medications. It’s a cool little consumer app and worth a few minutes of your time to take for a test run. MedCoach is available for both iOS and Android.

– Ever heard of KBcore? I hadn’t until a reporter from Pharmacy Practice News called me yesterday and asked me to comment on it. From the website: “KBcore is A unified platform for the collection and analysis of safety event reports in compliance with AHRQ, offering an innovative framework for engaging reporters and providing a clear benefit to healthcare providers, patients and management alike.” I couldn’t comment on the application specifically, but I did speak about the importance of capturing ADR/ADE information completely and accurately. Being able to scan a barcode to retrieve drug information is a great feature.

– Aldosterone antagonists like eplerenone and spironolactone have been a mainstay in the treatment of certain types of heart failure for a long time. Recently an article in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA. 2012;308(20):2097-2107. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.14795) took a look at the association between aldosterone antagonists and the risks of mortality and readmission among patients with heart failure. The findings of their review were a little surprising. The article considered all-cause mortality, cardiovascular readmission, and heart failure readmission at 3 years, and hyperkalemia readmission at 30 days and 1 year among 5887 patients that met the inclusion criteria. Here’s what the authors concluded: “Initiation of aldosterone antagonist therapy at hospital discharge was not independently associated with improved mortality or cardiovascular readmission but was associated with improved heart failure readmission among eligible older patients with heart failure and reduced ejection fraction. There was a significant increase in the risk of readmission with hyperkalemia, predominantly within 30 days after discharge.” Any decent pharmacist is aware of the risk of hyperkalemia with this class of drugs. Just one more reason to have a pharmacist directly involved with medication selection and management.

– The December 2012 issue of The British Journal of General Practice (Br J Gen Pract. 2012;62(605):821-826. doi: 10.3399/bjgp12X659295) has an article on the association between multimorbidity, i.e. more than one disease state, and polypharmacy on the occurrence of adverse drug events (ADEs). The study was a retrospective analysis of 79,089 adult patients that were treated in primary care centers in 2008. And lo and behold “The results of this study demonstrate that multimorbidity is strongly related to the occurrence of ADEs, insofar as it requires the intervention of multiple specialties and the prescription of multiple medications.” No kidding. Really? So if you have several diseases at the same time and take a lot of medication you have a higher likelihood of experiencing an ADE? Would never have guessed that. Where’s my sarcasm tags….

– Engadget: “…the Human-Automation Systems Lab at Georgia Tech is looking to make said tools even better (specifically for those with cerebral palsy) with the SuperPop Project. With the use of a Kinect and display what children will see as a game is actually helping to build upper-arm motor function. The setup is fully customizable on the back end, which allows the therapist to tailor sessions to each patient and to his or her individual progress. During the course of play, the software tracks the coordinates of the user’s joints, collecting loads of data for analyzing progression / regression and the like during the course of the rehabilitation.” – The Kinect is an amazing invention.

– Sugarsync outed a new beta for Android this week. Their timing couldn’t be better. I was in the process of moving all my cloud storage/syncing to another service. Dropbox was my top choice. The previous version of Sugarsync on my Nexus was painful to use and basically crap. The desktop client used to be awesome, but someone at Sugarsync decided to completely redo the desktop client to be more like the mobile client. What do I think of the new desktop client? It’s crap. I went from loving Sugarsync to hating it in a little under a week. That’s a new person record. The new beta has forced me to give them a temporary stay of execution. Whether or not it’s still worth paying for has yet to be seen.

– Dr. Joseph Kim over at Mobile Health Computing has a nice little blurb about the differences between the Dell Latitude 10 and the Dell XPS 10 tablet PCs. Joe’s perspective can be summed up as follows: “Personally, I prefer the form factor of the XPS 10 because it docks into a keyboard (that includes a built-in battery) and turns the entire setup into a clamshell notebook. However, I’d recommend the Latitude 10 for medical professionals since it runs Windows 8 and that makes it compatible with enterprise applications like standard EHRs and CPOE systems.” I met Joe at HIMSS 12 in Las Vegas. We had a nice chat about tablet PCs. He’s one of the few people I’ve met in healthcare that understands the value of having the desktop in a mobile package.

– Ok, I just found this video funny. Old Spice cement commercial:

Have a great weekend everyone.

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