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Curbside Consult with Dr. Jayne 10/18/21

October 18, 2021 Dr. Jayne 5 Comments

I was feeling a bit bummed this weekend, as I couldn’t attend the HLTH conference due to a previous commitment. I do a little dabbling in amateur radio and had been asked by a local radio club to be a station operator for the World Scout Organization’s “Jamboree on the Air” event. It’s held the same weekend in October every year and is a chance for young people around the world to talk to each other via radio (an internet component was added in 1995). There is always a big contingent from Germany on the air and it’s fun to try to have your scouts reach someone from every state as well as reaching international scouts. Women are typically a small percentage of any amateur radio gathering and I think it’s important for girls to have role models in tech hobbies, so I packed my gear and headed out.

Usually there is a lot of time for chitchat as you’re assembling antennas, staking them out, running cable, and figuring out how things are going to work when you’re trying to operate from a location you’ve never been. My team for the event included a search and rescue specialist, a retired Navy signal operator, an Eagle Scout, and a retired electrical engineer. Whenever people find out I’m a physician, they always ask where I practice, which can be tricky to explain based on what I do. When I mentioned that I’m only practicing virtually right now, the electrical engineer’s ears perked up. It turns out he’s got a little broader experience than electrical engineering. After receiving his degree in the 1960s, he started doing work in the then relatively new arena of biomedical engineering, specializing in the design of technology for the practice of nuclear medicine, but also in expanding the use of computers in healthcare.

Based on that, I figured I could go a little further and tell him that I spend the majority of my time working with electronic health records and emerging technologies such as chatbots, artificial intelligence, etc. and he was very interested. He asked if I had ever heard of “a guy named Larry Weed” and I said of course. Apparently my new radio friend had done some collaboration with him on his problem-knowledge coupler software in the 1980s and had some great firsthand stories about how that technology was received by physicians (not as well as it might have been) and how it evolved. It’s always interesting to learn from people who worked with the founders of our specialty and what they were like not only as innovators but as people. Had I gone to the HLTH conference, I certainly would have missed out on my own healthcare IT oral history project.

The day ended up being a lot of fun and hopefully we were able to get some young people interested in the art of radio. They enjoyed hearing how amateur radio operators can help in natural disasters and other emergencies, and they really loved learning how to craft Morse Code messages using some vintage code keys. Fortunately, conditions were such that they were able to chat with scouts on the radio from coast to coast, but the parents’ eyes were widest when they saw our teenage radio operator having a live Morse Code conversation with someone 2,000 miles away.

Online, they connected with scouts from Iceland, Taiwan, Finland, Japan, Cyprus, the UK, Serbia, and more. One of the highlights of the day was a radio “fox hunt” where the scouts had to use a directional antenna to find a hidden transmitter more than a quarter of a mile away, especially since the reward for successfully finding the fox involved chocolate chip cookies.

In addition to learning about Dr. Weed and his efforts, I picked up a couple of other tidbits along the way. The best radio tip was how to make an easily assembled and effective antenna mast out of a fiberglass paint roller extension pole, and needless to say I have since added one to my collection. We’ll have to see if the Homeowners Association has anything to say when I test it on my front lawn.

Back to HLTH, I’ve been getting some reports from the field, and it sounds like there is some good networking going on. Telehealth seems to be a hot topic, along with remote patient monitoring. I haven’t heard any grumbling about HLTH’s health and safety protocols, which involve not only proof of COVID-19 vaccination, but also a negative test within 72 hours of picking up your attendee badge at the conference. For those unable to get a test at an approved provider, onsite testing is available. Reading through the documentation on the HLTH website, the conference is picking up the tab for the onsite pre-event testing. It notes that optional testing will be available at no cost for anyone who wants to test throughout the event.

In the details, however, it specifies that attendees must have active US health insurance coverage “to receive free onsite services,” which tells me they’re not actually free — there just isn’t a patient payment required. We’ll all be paying for those “free” COVID tests that everyone is getting so they can attend events through higher insurance premiums and increased cost-sharing to the patient. As of this weekend, one of my local sports teams is requiring proof of vaccination or a timely negative test prior to attending events, and local urgent cares are already feeling the pressure.

Tuesday night is the HLTH Foundation Gala, and I hope people will share reports about the evening as well as photos of any sassy shoes or bedazzled masks they may encounter. I’m sure a lot of people have missed being able to dress up and go to events like these, so I’m betting at least one person will go all-out. At $250 per ticket, I hope the dinner is good and the entertainment is engaging. If not, the cocktails will certainly help. Maybe I’ll bust out some high heels and a martini glass and attend in spirit from my living room.

Are you at HLTH, and what’s your take on the event? Leave a comment or email me.

Email Dr. Jayne.

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Currently there are "5 comments" on this Article:

  1. Refreshing to read some upbeat stuff, except for the part about no freebies in health care which just illustrates how awful our non-system has become–how about those 10% or so depending upon residence who have no insurance?

    But we all know that sad fact already. Thanks for the sunshiny part. Dr. Weed is a great example of just keep plugging along if you want something to change.

  2. Re: HLTH

    Am I the only one who thinks that the ratio of “Innovation Conferences” to “actual implemented, at scale innovation” is probably the highest in our industry compared to other sectors?
    Somehow, other industries keep making my life better through innovation without needing to have some many innovation conferences :).
    What gives?

  3. Love it when someone relatively new to the industry has all the answers and calls out the ‘crooks in the room’ who don’t have all the answers – or does have them but they don’t want to share them?! 🙂


    I’m sort of surprised the above didn’t get more attention. But maybe it did and I don’t know because I’m no longer a Twitter Groupie

  4. I’m at HLTH

    The testing on site was smooth–once you go into it. The Clear app to get into the testing was not….

    BUT I never got asked for an insurance card although I read the fine print and expected to be asked. Not sure what happened there….

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