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From ehealth to mhealth: Celebrating the mobile phone at 5 billion This just in: The number of mobile phones in use worldwide has exceeded five billion due to unyielding demand in India and China, Ericsson has shown in a new study. I’m not talking about Smart Phones (i.e., iPhones or Blackberries). I’m talking about basic cell phones. In many countries, such as India, cell phone penetration is highest in rural, poorer regions. In South Africa, cell phone penetration is virtually 100%, allowing healthcare workers to dish out SMS text instructions to millions who are suffering from one of the largest HIV/AIDS epidemics in the world. So: The next time a vendor proposes any tool to improve healthcare, ask her about its applicability for the mobile phone. If she does not have an ‘mhealth’ application, ask why.
Funding IVF in Quebec: Mining the Web to Assess Public Support for Policy Change On March 12, 2010, Quebec's Minister of Health and Social Services announced that the province would be the first jurisdiction in North America to cover the costs of in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. Judging by the increase in Internet discussion of the topic, Quebec's decision has heightened the public discourse on allocation of taxpayer dollars. At this time, two million Quebecers are without a regular doctor. This study measured online public opinion before and after the Minister's announcement, using "sentiment analysis." This involves mining open-access content on blogs, online commentary and message boards. No individual identifiers were captured.
Haiti vs. Avatar - and Behavioral Economics 2.0 A micro-campaign on the Web, or behavioral economics 2.0, can present mutually exclusive options that serve as effective messages in healthcare. When opportunity costs are described crisply, people act upon them. They lose what economists call their 'present-focus'.
Handoffs and Fumbles Just as recent academic literature identifies rising concerns about handoffs, so too do patients. Examining the physician rating site,, patients show agitation over the stress of nursing and physician shifts. Patients, especially women giving birth, spend time coordinating their hospital encounters to ensure that their physician of choice is on duty throughout the course of their stay.
Happiness Rising In an eye-popping study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Arthur Stone and colleagues interviewed over 340,000 people in the United States by telephone to ask about how happy they were. The survey asked each person to rank overall life satisfaction on a 10-point scale and to answer six yes-or-no questions about enjoyment, happiness, stress, worry, anger, and sadness.
HealthCamp Toronto 2009 The Innovation Cell teamed with IBM and organized the first HealthCamp held in Canada. HealthCamp is a global movement pushing change in healthcare to engage participants in meaningful conversations about healthcare innovation. HealthCamp Toronto followed the format of 'unconferences' -- a participant-driven conference centered around improving the patient experience. Impact Achieved More than 100 global “Web influencers” (including patients, providers, policy makers, journalists) from different countries, with different training, and from different ethnocultural backgrounds met face to face, and many more followed the conversation online (via Twitter™).
Healthcare Innovation: An Authenticity Lesson from Barbie dolls “The losers now will be later to win ‘cause the times they are a-changin’.” Bob Dylan could have been singing about healthcare innovation – and girls’ dolls. Beauty queens fade quickly and the late bloomers bloom beautifully. What I call the Barbie dolls of innovation are organizations sun-tanning lazily while deaf to the crashing waves of change. Consider: Did Mattel see or hear the sensational Liv dolls coming? In a recent interview with Fast Company, Nicole Perez of Toronto-based Spin Master Toys described the strategy for their popular Liv dolls: “The dolls needed to be pretty because they’re dolls and that’s what girls want, but we also wanted to make the dolls approachable and real.” Spin Master launched, where girls can register their Liv dolls, play dress-up with virtual clothes, play games, read online diaries, and watch Web videos. The take-home lesson from the doll wars: Authenticity pays. It’s not possible to ginny up authenticity out of thin air: i.e., you create a brand strategy, a social media presence – and, suddenly, you are an exemplar of sincerity. As Idris Mootee has written: “... Stop Botoxing your companies, start changing the core of the organization and start ‘doing’ what is responsible for shareholders, societies and the environment.”
Healthcare Innovation: Extreme Affordability The Stanford Institute for Design (which likes to be called the ‘’) observes that vendors have historically been making products that serve “a tiny fraction of the world’s population”. It's not a bad business calculus when the top 5% hold over half of the world's wealth, but the imagines products that cater to the remaining 95%; and so the concept of American affordability needs to get a little more ‘extreme’ if it's going to apply itself to a global market.
Healthcare’s Unwinnable War against ‘Screen Time’ To many in the healthcare community, allowing young children and teens too much ‘screen time’ is a grievous parental offence. Pity that. Many of the greatest inventions of the last decade – and some of the most dramatic modern pro-democracy campaigns – have come our way thanks to teenagers and 20-somethings sitting for hours a day in front of their screens and tapping on keyboards. If young people had been restrained from screen time exposure, Facebook wouldn’t exist (now worth an estimated $30 billion dollars); tens of millions of dollars wouldn’t have been raised for Haiti Hurricane relief via Twitter; the democracy movements in Iran and China would have never accelerated; and Barack Obama wouldn’t be in the White House.
How China's Threat to Internet Freedom Affects your Health The fate of Google's China policy therefore affects the world's health. Access to less filtered information through Google's PageRank algorithm allows Chinese Internet users to know which research institutes or media or health agencies or public officials to trust. NB: This editorial was reprinted (a version thereof) in the National Post.
How Do You Say Health in Inuktitut? Inuktitut, in its use of metaphor and its capacity to stitch together ideas to form word sentences, can bind people of different heritage and origin. Inuktitut is an ideal voice to use in healthcare settings. It is omayok ("alive"). It is a living language whose very essence is to link one person to another.
I Still Don't Understand What You Do Online conversations on the Web - three billion minutes are spent on social networks every day - reveal that the professional identity class is losing its allure. On Linkedin(tm), the professional social networking site, job-seeking healthcare workers describe themselves no longer by stale professional titles, but in imaginative alliterations - as in, "I dissect diabetes one day at a time".
India on My Mind The Indian healthcare economy is pivoting thanks to money, brainpower and raw ingenuity. The poorest regions of India are leading this bottom-up revolution; they have the most to gain.
Innovation Cell is formed in February 2009 as an independent healthcare innovation think/do-tank Please read more about us at
Inside the Health Blogsphere: Quality, Governance and the New Innovation Leaders Research has shown that "Health 2.0" - that is, user-generated health information often featuring blogging (i.e., self-publishing) or collaborative editing tools known as wikis - is increasingly popular among health professionals, chronic disease sufferers and the general public (Giustini 2007; Seeman 2008). However, concerns persist over the alleged inaccuracy, bias and poor governance of self-published health websites, or blogs, where an author's entries are usually placed in chronological order, much like a diary (Wikipedia 2008a). Prominent members of the lay media have voiced criticisms of blogs. For example, one leading Canadian journalist recently noted in The Globe and Mail that "reporters who are trained and paid to do the often dry work of gathering facts and interviewing people ... provide the news stories, and the news sites gather them up and the bloggers comment on them" (Smith 2008, April 3). This statement implies that reporters are more skilled, credentialed and objective; bloggers, it suggests, are mere commentators. In the context of health information, however, the research presented concludes that health blogs are positive tools that create meaningful, informed news and exchange for consumers and health professionals - at a level that exceeds the quality of popular newspapers. Expert health bloggers, that is, credentialed editors with subject matter expertise (subject matter experts, or SMEs), influence the course of opinion within professional and chronic illness communities rapidly and, as such, are innovation leaders.
Interns Over 40 for Healthcare When former United States President Bill Clinton admitted to having an “improper relationship” with Monica Lewinsky, I learned more than I needed to know about the appropriate duties of an intern. Around the same time, Canada had its own intern scandal: internships at Canadian companies, government agencies and nonprofits were scarce, and the idea of apprentice labor (unpaid or low-paid and stipend-based) was considered unusual corporate practice. Low-paid or unpaid internships for current University students and new grads are a launch pad to a paid, full-time position in a chosen career.
Interprofessional Collaboration Revisited Do people who have no professional titles – many patients may fall in this group – feel sidelined by the enthusiasm for ‘inter-professional collaboration’? What happens if you’re not a ‘professional’? Or what happens if you are a ‘professional’, or were trained as one once, but you’re now ‘just a patient’, or a caregiver, or a retiree, or you’re at home with the children, or you’re unemployed?
Introducing myhospitalidea partership project with the Ontario Hospital Assocation The Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) and the Health Strategy Innovation Cell are pleased to present an interactive webcast on October 20 showcasing the roll-out of In the spirit of the Excellent Care for All Act, 2010, will harness the power of the public’s ideas to continuously improve hospital quality. will track what the public believes are the most exciting hospital “ideas in action” – real implementations in Canada and around the world that are gaining attention for their merit and growing success as measured by web analytics. When is released, it will be a social forum to invite new, low-cost ideas from the public – and a place to celebrate the most exciting hospital ideas that have been implemented in hospitals in Canada and around the world to improve quality of care. Join this webcast to learn about the opportunities for a select group of OHA member hospitals to help steer the evolution of The webcast will explain the process of joining the Collaboration Council, the criteria for Council selection, and timelines and obligations of Council hospitals. The webcast will explain how leverages trends in social media and collaborative open innovation. An example of collaborative health care innovation is the Innovation Cell’s leading patient-led idea generation platform: The Innovation Cell, a not-for-profit think tank at Massey College, specializes in building collaborative innovation tools and capturing and analyzing real-time health information from the web.
Launching The Global Accelerator Award The Global Accelerator Award™, based on an Innovation Cell methodology to capture patient (and wider public) opinion. The Cell's methodology analyzes which organizations or people have put an idea or strategy into action that has generated significant and recent positive “buzz” or “chatter” on the World Wide Web – notably, on patient-led blogs and social networking sites. Impact Achieved The Award, the first of its kind in the world, has recognized 19 organizations or people globally
Listening to Jared Loughner When faced with danger, and Jared Loughner represented danger, the natural human reaction is to either fight or flee. Fighting would have meant wrestling him to the ground when he was obstreperous at Pima Community College and dragging him kicking and screaming to the nearest mental health facility. Many prominent commentators say the College administrators who dismissed Jared Loughner last spring should have brought him to the attention of mental health authorities. Would this have averted the tragedy in Tuscon? Likely not.
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