Tag Archives: Home_Health

Better than eMail: Slack for Workgroup Communication

We’re slacking off here at our non-profit organization, having discovered Slack, a cloud-based communication application that combines the functions of eMail, chat, a bit of artificial intelligence (called the Slackbot), and the ability to exchange transactions with a growing number of third-party applications including the Trello project manager. Slack solves the problem of team communication for specific topics or projects.

Let’s say you are launching an e-Shop. You have the web developer, the graphic designer, the photographer, the shop manager, the back-end developer and the testers working on the project. You have calendar schedules, product photos, text copy, html and .css files all in half-a-dozen sites and places; Google Drive, Trello, your calendar, the file server, the production web site, and the sandbox web site. All this is glued together using eMails with copies to the team… each person has their own copy of the email (you hope), and relevant attachments or links to files on Google Drive, Dropbox,  your web server, or your file server. Its all a bit diffuse, and if anyone wanted to come up to speed on the whole project, then it would probably be pretty tough, because everything about the project isn’t in one place.

Nine years ago, I was using Basecamp for several projects including grant applications. I have used Basecamp for many years, and sung its praises for writing grants, which is by nature a collaborative process with multiple players. About 2012, Basecamp got a major upgrade which seemed to break my workflow and processes. So, I started looking around at the alternatives, and there are a bunch.

The basic unit of Slack is the team.

Teams can create channels. Channels can be for a single department, or a single project. So, for our team we created a channel for each department:

  • creative
  • development
  • admin
  • it
  • programs
Departments store their ongoing conversations within their channels. These are things that might have been communicated via eMails and attachments.  Slack can store text in a couple of structured ways; you can have a message, a snippet, or a post. A message is a simple unformatted text message similar to a chat message. (You can include emoticons). A snippet can be formatted for programming code. Finally, a post is similar to a blog post, it includes a title, and allows formatting
with fonts and bullets.

For current projects that cross individual departments, we created specific channels.

  • eStore-Launch
  • XYZ Grant Application
  • 2015 Audit
Team members can be part of any channel, and you can invite guests who are external to the team to participate in an individual channel.  
This would all be pretty spectacular on its own, but one of the strengths of Slack is the ability to integrate with other third-party applications. We are using Slack with Trello, so that any changes made on a Trello project, get reflected in the appropriate Slack project. The integration results in what amounts to a major enhancement of both applications. 
Slack is free for basic functionality, and maybe all you ever need. Worth a look! 

American Health Care Isn’t Working!

Senator Sanders of Vermont has been compiling letters from constituents within the state and others from around country.

You’ve got to ask: what is it going to take to get a new health-care system?. Do we have to bankrupt the entire country?

How about we take a look at a couple of these stories for the next couple days.

I am originally from Canada and see the effects of the American system’s failures every day. I’ve had great care from my employer, but at a direct cost to me and my employer that, combined, is close to ten times what my employer paid on my behalf back in Alberta. I can’t stress enough how the worries about healthcare in the US shape the everyday lives of Americans and American business in ways that Canadians can’t even truly comprehend. Not having to worry about the financial costs of getting sick or going to your doctor or whether or not you can “afford” to change jobs or start your own business is something Canadians experience without even knowing it. Imagine how much capital would be freed up if companies and individuals didn’t spend so much of their money covering the basic costs of healthcare. This myth about the US having the best or even one of the better healthcare systems in the world doesn’t stand up to scrutiny for even a moment if you’ve experienced the systems of another country. The US could do much, much better and be an example for the world of how to do things right rather than the prime example of how best to do things horribly ineffectively. I am quite happy living in Vermont, but I know that if anyone in my family got seriously ill we’d quickly be headed back across the border for good.
South Burlington, Vt.

Update: They have placed all of the stories in a downloadable brochure.

Single Payer Health Care – Sen. Bernie Sanders

In our morning paper there was an article about Bernie Sanders who has introduced legislation in the senate to establish a real single payer health care plan. This is not the watered down version promulgated by Obama and Senator Bauckus who are discouraging participation of single-payer advocates in the debate about revamping health care. I sent him a note.

Dear Senator Sanders:

Hi…. I was delighted to see coverage of your single-payer health care initiative this morning in the Free Press. I only hope that you’ll be able to convince your colleagues that have been corrupted by the insurance companies campaign contributions.

I don’t think this issue takes on the urgency that it might since all members of Congress are covered by a single payer government provided health care plan. Hey….all we want is what you guys have!

I’ve lived both in Canada (single payer), and German (hybrid single payer+employer system) and both systems were far superior to what ordinary Americans are able to get even in Burlington with Fletcher Allen and a high-deductible CIGNA policy obtained through the Chamber of Commerce.

The amount of energy and frustration to say nothing of the dollar cost that we personally invest in attempting to manage our personal health care is just crazy. And we are the “lucky” ones with health insurance, and good hospitals and doctors.

Thanks for your advocacy on this issue. It should be at the top of the everyone’s list.

— ——

I still like reading our printed paper. For one thing, it doesn’t provide ad-links to colon cleansing products. In fact the Gannett web site which hosts the paper (it is a Gannett paper) is a disaster.

Top 50 Healthcare 2.0 Blogs

RNCentral has posted a list of the 50 (fifty!) Healthcare 2.0 blogs, where Healthcare 2.0 is loosely defined as the transformation of health care delivery from a top-down process ordained by physicians, hospitals, and insurance companies, to a shared process involving patients, with  large dose of IT (electronic medical records, telemedicine, patient social networking) added in.  

Introduction: April 2009

Welcome to Tech for Non-Profits, and the nascent Tech for Home Health Care. This site is the unplugged version of Microdesign Consulting. Part lab-notebook, part brain-extension, it is a repository for new and evolving ideas and projects that we stumble across as we pursue our start-up dream of a provider of home healthcare technology and continue supporting nonprofits, NGO’s, government, public and private entities with services related to fundraising and technology.

Upcoming: I will be giving presentations at the Freedom to Connect conference March 30 and 31 in Washington D.C. (update: 4/2, copious notes below…) and at the American Telemedicine Association annual meeting in Las Vegas at the end of April. Both presentations will focus around the technical (boxes and wires), aspects, rather than medical aspects of one variation of home tele-health; two-way interactive, multipoint videoconferencing, with examples from our ongoing pilot studies delivering supervised exercise classes with senior patients who have fallen or have a fear of falling.

We are located in the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies, a technology incubator affiliated with the University of Vermont. Our major extracurricular activity is the Vermont Software Developer’s Alliance, a non-profit trade group which promotes economic development in our area, primarily for software development companies. Both organizations, by the way, are looking to encourage high-tech businesses to start up and/or relocate in our state.