Thursday, July 26, 2007

Unsung Technical Hero

And who's the unsung technical hero of this whole grandma medical
experience? SMS.

SMS has made a huge difference in this case...

- I could broadcast messages to the whole family in one shot and
everybody can receive them. All they needed was the most basic cell

- People actually get the messages because they go to their phones, an
item they are always checking. Had I sent broadcasts via e-mail I'd
have to deal with folks who check e-mail weekly.

- The broadcasts can turn into a private, near real-time conversation,

- The messages are asynchronous. People can drop everything to deal
with them, or wait till they are off work.

- Cell phones aren't allowed near patients - but this usually means
*talking* on cell phones is a no-no. Nobody said anything to me about
my text messaging. Being able to communicate without leaving the
hospital room is key.

- SMS message are typically brief, so you end up writing just the facts
(wbc: 3.4, hemoglin: 9.9). This has a nice circular bonus. Because the
messages are so short, you don't mind sending more of them.

Two things I'd do differently in the future:

1. Ideally, I would have set up a twitter like feed where people can
subscribe to the updates, and all I have to do is to send a single
message. But I couldn't think of a painless way to set this up that
everyone (including my Mom) could follow. This is especially true given
people's stress level. The right thing to do is probably to set up an
emergency network like this ahead of time, when folks aren't under the

2. It would have been nice to archive all the traffic, for tracking
purposes and to serve as a sort of record (did she get the Boost at 1pm
or 3pm?). When I sove 1, I'll probably get 2.

SMS, I love and appreciate you.


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