Saturday morning coffee [March 2 2013]

MUG_WisconsinWelcome to March everyone. 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….

I picked up the coffee mug to the right in Fitchburg, WI last summer while on a business trip. I drove there from Chicago after stopping off to visit a hospital in Winfield, IL. Wisconsin was a pretty nice place to visit in the summer. I wasn’t able to do a bunch of touristy stuff, but I did get a chance to see a movie at one of the nicest movie theaters I’ve ever been in. The theater was big, and it had a piano in the lobby. Strange thing about Wisconsin, they have the nicest highway rest stops I’ve ever used. If you’re ever in California I’d avoid the rest stops; good place to skip.

Identity Thief was #1 at the box office last weekend. Not a surprise as it’s been throwing out respectable numbers since it was released. And more to the point, the competition at the box office last weekend wasn’t exactly staggering. I mean, seriously, I think it was up against Snitch and Dark Skies. Yeah, exactly. Still, Identity Thief has pulled in a tidy $93 Million since opening three weekends ago. I’d be ok with that, especially since it had a production budget of a mere $35 Million.

– Did you know that coffee inhibits adenosine receptors? Well, it does. There’s no shortage of info on the subject. Just go to PubMed and search for adenosine and caffeine. “Under normal physiological conditions, adenosine is present in sufficient concentrations to activate A1 and A2a receptors. Via actions on A, receptors, adenosine decreases neuronal firing and the release of neurotransmitters. The exact mechanisms are not known, but several possibilities are discussed. Via actions on A2a receptors, adenosine – and hence caffeine – can influence dopaminergic neurotransmission…Thus, caffeine has a number of central effects directly or indirectly related to adenosine receptors.” – Pharmacology & Toxicology 76 (2): 93-101; Feb 1995.

– Anyone know what the etiquette is when negotiating benefits for a job? Just curious. I know you can negotiate salary and bonuses, but what about everything else; tools you use, i.e. computer, smartphone, and so on, benefits, time off, travel… Once I tried to negotiate medical benefits and PTO. They told me to get bent.  Apparently those things are controlled by the all-powerful HR department. I hate HR.

– This is funny. I misspelled etiquette above while putting this post together. A lot of the time I’ll spell something phonetically and let the autocorrect handle it. Didn’t work this time. Probably because I was way off. I threw it into Google for clarification. Found this in the Urban Dictionary,”Edicate is when you’re not edumacated enough to spell etiquette”. Yeah, that’s funny.

– And for the second week in a row the most visited post at over the last 7 days was Why pharmacy continues to fail. It’s visited more than 2:1 over every other post. Why?

RSC Chemistry World: “Now, researchers in Canada, Australia and the UK have developed a new class of mechanism-based covalent compounds that inhibit neuraminidase in such a way that they think it could reduce the chances of flu viruses developing resistance” – J-H Kim et al, Science, 2013, DOI: 10.1126/science.1232552


– Strata, the Big Data conference in Santa Clara, has concluded. I wanted to attend, but the registration fee was insane. Bucket list. As a consolation prize here’s a free copy of Big Data that was available at at Strata this week. You can find the entire first issue online free here.

– Speaking of data, I registered for the Tableau 8 Tour in San Francisco on March 12. If you happen to be in the area let me know and we’ll grab a cup o’ joe. For those of you that don’t know, Tableau is an incredible tool for managing and visualizing data.

– This is freaking amazing. Watch the video below on Mataio’s cutting-edge AR technology. This is something I was told couldn’t be done. Guess what?

– Don’t laugh, but I got a new pen this week. Yes, a pen, as in ink pen. I have a minor love of quality pens. I have my favorites of course, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pick up an Uni Alpha-gel Jetstream. And let me just say that it is a fine writing utensil. Just in case you’re interested is a great place to look at pens of all shapes, sizes, colors, and designs.


– Telehealth has been a polarizing topic over the past few years. Some love it. Some hate it. The big push for its use has been to provide people access to healthcare that may not otherwise be able to obtain it secondary to location, natural disaster, etc. I think it’s a good idea when applied correctly. With that said, it may not apply to ever population base. A recent article in BMJ 2013;346:f653 took a look at the impact of telehealth on the mental health of patients with chronic diseases like COPD, diabetes, and heart failure. The results weren’t all that promising. “Telehealth… was not effective or efficacious compared with usual care only. Telehealth did not improve quality of life or psychological outcomes for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, or heart failure over 12 months”.

– Here’s an interesting slide deck from Rock Health on Sensors. I’ve been doing some research on mHealth, specifically looking at the data collected by these devices, and it’s amazing what’s going on out in the real world away from the B.S. in healthcare. People really are taking control of their own health, leaving the medical world behind.

– In a bit of a surprising move RiteAid is pushing further into the healthcare market. From The Wall Street Journal, “Rite Aid Corp. will open 58 stores, across four markets, which contain in-store clinics providing virtual doctor visits conducted via Web camera. The walk-in clinics—which charge patients $45 for a 10-minute chat with a doctor on a computer monitor—will be rolled out Friday in Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.”

– And this is why we learn physics boys and girls….

MedicalXpress: “Another application of lipid nanoparticles is to develop new formulations to deliver drugs that are not particularly soluble or which are difficult to absorb. Dr Rodriguez explained the problem with these drugs:”40% of the new pharmacologically active molecules are reckoned to be insoluble or not very soluble in water; that prevents many of these potentially active molecules from ever reaching the clinic because of the problems involved in developing a safe, effective formulation.” The Faculty of Pharmacy’s research team has shown that the strategy of encapsulating drugs of this type in lipid nanoparticles is effective: “They are spheres made of lipids and they have very small particles that encase the drug. That way, the absorption of the drug given orally can be increased,” points out Dr Rodriguez.” – Nanotechnology, it’s clearly the future. The article referred to can be found here.

Pharmacy Practice News: “The MedSnap ID system consists of an optical pill recognition app that is compatible with an IPhone 4s or iPhone 5. A health care provider pours a representative sampling of pills onto the tray, then holds the phone level above them and hits the Snap button on the iPhone screen. In a few seconds the system identifies and displays the names and strength of each drug.” – The MedSnap ID system is cool. The fact that it’s only available for iOS makes it a lot less cool, but still cool.

– Interested in taking an online course on Mobile Health Design? If so Tufts University is offering one this summer. “ This 5-week online course is a mixture of lecture, discussion and skill-based exercises. Guest lecturers will bring diverse expertise and perspectives to course material.  During the course, students will have the opportunity to work in a team to design a health app for a real health organization, using the techniques covered in class.” The course goes from May 22 through Jun2 26, 2013, and takes place between 5:30-8:30 p.m. EST on Mondays and Wednesdays. They’ll be using Adobe Connect and Googlt+ Hangouts. The only major downside is the cost, a cool $1500.00. That’s a lot of cold hard cash for a 5-week online course.


O’REILLY Strata: “Healthcare Information is halving the costs of the systems , largely by deploying Android in their sets, and is selling them to smaller healthcare institutions that could not afford them before. The use of Android also permits hospitals to choose among the hundreds of thousands of standard apps available in App Stores… From my browser I could see all the Android TVs in the facility, turn them on or off, change channels or volume, and see what patients are using them for.” – Android is starting to get a little traction in healthcare. My brother and I have had several conversations over the past month or so about this type of thing. More about the company that makes the monitor can be found here.

– I have been fixated on Google Glass recently. There’s simply too much potential there to ignore. I came across a great little article last week by R. Grossmann, MD. (@ZGJR) at his blog. “I imagine the glasses as a common healthcare tool. Wearing them at the hospital, all day long; during my rounds to check the patients. Enter someone’s room, having the glass “face-recognition” the person, immediately getting a display of their current medical data and history if needed. Checking lab results, pathology reports or radiologic images…. I could swiftly order new tests or procedures, call-in a consultant for a video chat, or even give an update to a family member if requested by the patient or POA (Power of Attorney)…I could consult anyone or check any data that could help me perform a better, safer surgery. I could take a picture of a lesion or tumor, and maybe have a pathologist or colleague give me an opinion or just plain advice. I could update the relatives in the waiting room and even stream pics or video to them…I see myself streaming live video or photos during surgery.For instance, operating on a child, and, just with my voice, connect with the kid’s parents, and letting them see, for example, what he appendix looks like..” – Yeah, all that and more. Imagine….

– How’s this for cool. Video of departing space station commander giving tour of the orbital laboratory.

HIMSS13 starts next week. What a great conference. I went last year and think it was the best conference I’ve ever attended. Next year. If you’re interested about my thoughts from last year’s conference you can read them here.

– And this just because it amuses me…

– I miss football.

That’s it folks. Have a great weekend.

5 thoughts on “Saturday morning coffee [March 2 2013]”

  1. This has to be my favorite of your “Saturday morning coffee” posts yet.

    “This is freaking amazing. Watch the video below on Mataio’s cutting-edge AR technology. This is something I was told couldn’t be done. Guess what?”

    I can’t tell you how this technology reminds of the movie, “The Matrix”.

    “And this just because it amuses me…”

    LOL! Mee too. I’m guessing Mort gave them extra-strength ipecac.

  2. Jerry, you really freaked me out today, I was reading this blog post, while sitting in Fitchburg. Ok, MA not WI. Did not even know that existed.

    Appreciated your insights on everything…

  3. Travel policy is usually HR but how much/ when you travel is usually negotiated with your manager. IT usually controls tool support, not HR. so spread the err, hate.

    Also, usually helps to be willing to have something to give in a negotiation and it is best to have a good performance record to report and good reasons for your requests.

    Medical benefits are almost always set by the brokers and companies do not have much flexibility in what they offer unless they are self insured. Some of this might be flexible if you have the option of opting out of your company benefit plans and taking the cash and finding your own plan. Might be worth checking out. Good luck!

  4. Thanks for the feedback. Sometimes things just come together better than others. Found a lot of cool stuff last week while wasting time on the internet.

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