Telemedicine circa 1923

PUBLISHED ON  October 23, 2013

WRITTEN BY  Roni Zeiger

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Another gem from Dr. Dolittle, as he prepares to leave his turtle friend, Mudface, who responded well to Dr. Dolittle’s gout treatment:

“He made up the six bottles of gout mixture and presented them to Mudface with instructions in how it should be taken. He told him that… it would always be possible to get word to Puddleby. He would ask several birds of passage to stop here occasionally; and if the gout got any worse he wanted Mudface to let him know by letter.”

Ninety years after this was written, we have the technology to do what Hugh Lofting imagined, where a doctor in England can care for a patient in West Africa. Our telemedicine solutions may not be as elegant as knowing the secret languages of animals and collaborating with them to spread messages and deliver packages globally, but we’ll get there.

Crisis and Clarity

PUBLISHED ON  October 19, 2013

WRITTEN BY  Roni Zeiger

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I was sitting in bed in the neurological ICU, the only conscious patient, when I decided it was time to leave an awesome job at Google to start an even more important adventure.  I recently met one of my new heroes, Terri Wingham, who needed a fresh meaningful start after surviving breast cancer, and now guides other survivors on international adventures that change the world.

It’s a story we hear again and again: a brush with mortality, a life-changing crisis, gives us clarity about what we should be doing.  Perhaps we get better access to our courage, certainly we feel urgency.  Some of the best business minds teach us that scarcity breeds clarity, and I think that applies to everything we do.

Make a date with your spouse or another loved one and talk to each other about what you might change if an unexpected crisis forced you to reconsider everything.  Maybe you can make the change now.

Are you a good noticer?

PUBLISHED ON  August 18, 2013

WRITTEN BY  Roni Zeiger

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We’re reading The Voyage of Dr. Dolittle with our son and among the countless lessons is this clinical pearl, when the Doctor’s apprentice asks the wise parrot: “Do you think I would ever be able to learn the language of the animals?” Polynesia, the parrot, answers:

“… are you a good noticer? Do you notice things well? I mean, for instance, supposing you saw two cock starlings on an apple tree, and you only took one good look at them, would you be able to tell one from the other if you saw them again on the next day?… that is what you call powers of observation — noticing the small things about birds and animals: the way they walk and move their heads and flip their wings; the way they sniff the air and twitch their whiskers and wiggle their tails … lots of the animals hardly talk at all with their tongues; they use their breath or their tails or their feet instead.”

This is the best description I’ve seen about really paying attention to your patients (and children and friends…).