Facebook Offering New Options to Users

by Shannon Rasp December 9, 2011 04:07 PM

The technology section of the New York Times has a great article called “12 Things You Didn’t Know Facebook Could Do” that is well worth a read.


Yes, we all know that Facebook has been dealing with the fallout of people learning of their moral flexibility when it comes to privacy (as if there’s some kind of law about privacy on the Internet), but it turns out that the Facebook powers that be have also been busy designing and implementing some truly cool options.


For instance, do you want to invite your personal friends to an event, but don’t necessarily want your colleagues who are also Facebook “friends” to know about it? There’s an app for that! Write a status update as usual, but before you post, click on the lock icon below the editing box. A menu will pop up specifying who can see your post. It’s defaulted to “everyone,” but you can customize that to hide the invitation from certain people. Sneaky and kind of mean? Maybe. But at least you don’t have to worry about your colleagues showing up to your “Trailer Trash Bash”-themed party.


Are you working on a project and want feedback from a group? On a Facebook group page, you can click on the “Docs” button at the top and then the “Create a Doc” button on the right to create a text-only document that everyone in the group can edit. Saving the document will post it to the group’s feed.


Clicking “View Insights” in the upper right corner of any page you own will display charts of user information and page interactions. In addition to the number of likes and comments, it will plot a graph of page views and user feedback, plus a breakdown of which Web domains are sending traffic to your page and the demographics of your visitors. You can export all of this information into an Excel-compatible file, too.


You can also paste any link that ends in “.mp3” into a status update, which will allow users to play the music through your post rather than having to click through to the host site, or create a poll using the “question” button above the box to enter status updates.


These are just a few of the handy new options Facebook is offering. Check out the article for more information, and don’t forget to visit our Facebook page while you’re at it!


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Giving Communication Skills a Makeover

by Nick Rocha September 30, 2011 02:28 PM

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve run across several sources that highlighted the increased need for better two-way communication between medical doctors and patients.


 The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has been supporting this focused effort for a number of years, and this past week a Chicago couple donated $42 million to the University of Chicago Medical Center to improve doctor-patient relations based on their own past experiences. 


The New York Times article about the gift noted that it is aimed at encouraging medical schools to teach students how to listen to and empathize with their patients. The new program will place compassion and empathy alongside science and technology, a movement some say is desperately needed. Some critics have charged that new medical students often display compassion when beginning medical school, but as they were transformed into physicians the educational process desensitized them.


Better, more positive doctor-patient relationships are more likely to result in patients following health advice and overcoming illness, as noted by prominent University of Chicago medical ethicist Dr. Mark Siegler. Ultimately the main outcome of this initiative is better care and health outcomes. Yet one of the main complications is that time is money for most health care facilities; thus taking the time to get to know patients is complicated when weighed against an organization’s bottom dollar.


Even the type of organization can have a major effect on doctor-patient communication. Because of tight funding constraints, county hospitals are all about seeing as many patients as possible. At the end of the day, a county hospital has to stay in business, so doctors are forced to spend less time with individual patients in order to see more patients. Meanwhile, private hospitals have a higher number of patients that pay for their care, either through private pay or insurance. Because of this, private hospitals are widely expected to provide a higher level of care then other facilities and pay more attention to their patients.


Given the state of health care in the United States, I believe the doctor-patient relationship is actually moving to less in-person interaction and more technological interaction.  For example, audio/video services for patients in rural areas and e-health records are beginning to become more common, further distancing patients and doctors.


Knowledge translation efforts should have a significant impact on future dissemination efforts regarding the importance of the doctor-patient relationship; otherwise it might be like past results, where videos were archived, briefs were seldom distributed to those most in need, and relevant knowledge benefitted nobody by staying in the bookcases.


In the meantime, the fact that a major medical institution is willing to incorporate increased doctor-patient interaction in support of improving health outcomes is a positive long-term effort – one from which all medical schools could learn.

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The NY Times Performs a KT Service

by Shannon Rasp September 26, 2011 02:36 PM

The New York Times published a great article a few days ago explaining how a little bit of knowledge can save lives. The topic? How people have misused insecticides and pesticides in their fight against bedbugs.


“Scientists have found that panic over the blood-sucking pests may be more dangerous than their bite,” wrote reporters Anemona Hartcollis and William Neuman. This panic has led to at least 111 people in seven states getting sick by misusing or overusing pesticides in the last eight years.


“The poisonings serve as a warning, experts said, that people could do more damage to their health by misusing pesticides than they would suffer from the bedbugs, which are upsetting and unpleasant, but not known to be carriers of disease,” the reporters continued.


“People lose their minds and, yeah, they’ll do a lot of things trying to get rid of them,” Dini M. Miller, associate professor of urban pest management (Really? That’s a major?) at Virginia Tech University, was quoted as saying. “Certainly the over-application of pesticides is one of them.”


The article serves as a warning to people that insecticides, while easily available, can be very dangerous, even deadly. It’s an important lesson, and the Times should be commended for performing a little bit of knowledge translation for its readers.


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Three Examples of "Keeping It Real"

by Rick Austin February 23, 2011 04:25 PM

Here at the KT blog, we’ve talked on several  occasions about the importance of telling a story about your research, not just rehashing the details of your design and the results. We’ve also shared some perspectives from real-world reporters about the mass of information they deal with.


Here’s some more real-world point of view on how journalists and bloggers deal with the rivers of data, ideas, and story pitches that cross their desks.


First, a tongue-in-cheek award from the NY Times’ tech writer, recognizing the most innovative story pitches he’s received in the last year.


Second, some insight about the oh-so-mysterious world of blogging. If you’re still of the mind that bloggers can’t possibly matter that much, remember that The Huffington Post was just sold to AOL for $315 million.


Finally, some advice from a Wall Street Journal reporter about what they’re looking for in a story.


All of this is about pitching stories to journalists, but there’s some important perspective to be gained on how real people receive and process information. Are you keeping this in mind as you look to disseminate your research?


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