Sunday, October 28, 2012

You're invited to be a part of a fun little experiment

There's this little experiment I've been thinking about for a few weeks now and I'd like to share it here hoping many of you would like to join me.

This experiment can be done anywhere in the planet, and it only requires a video cam.

I might be onto something anthropological here, as this is the first time ever my brother is really excited about one of my projects. So, we might have Dr. Roberto Abadie, author of 'The professional guinea pig: Big pharma and the risky world of human subjects' (if you're interested on the little mouse looking guinea pigs, this is the wrong book for you), to help us with the anthropological interpretation of this little experiment.

What we would be doing, is interviewing people of all ages and genders asking them four quick questions:

1. Do you believe in evolution?
2. How old is Planet Earth?
3. Do you know the meaning of the word 'bourgeoisie'?
4. What is the percentage of Americans that earn more than $250,000 a year?

These 4 questions are the minimum questions that I can think of that would shed light on the religious/scientific/political/economical mindset of the person being interviewed. Also, I see the potential for cross references between the 4 questions that could shed some extra light. In addition to satisfying our  curiosity on percentages and other data connections on different parts of the US and the world, I think it would be awesome fun to do it and to experience the individual reactions and answers.

The methodology would be very simple:

1. Approach someone and ask them if you can videotape their answer to 4 super quick questions for an international experiment for a web blog.
2. If they say yes, proceed to film the questions and answers. Try to grab the spontaneous answers, expressions, physical reactions and so forth.
3. Once done, ask them if they can sign the release form, allowing Evoluzination blog to post the answers in a video for this international experiment (the form will be provided on pdf format).
4. Send me the videos as you have them for edition and publishing into a web documentary on youtube and this blog.

If the video camera option is too intimidating, you don't feel comfortable or it obstructs the experiment, we can completely omit the camera and just record the answers on paper.

The interview should be completely anonymous, but it might be interesting to know the gender the person identifies with as well as the age range.

Maybe the release form can include something like:
Age Range
[ ] 21 and Under
[ ] 22 to 34
[ ] 35 to 44
[ ] 45 to 54
[ ] 55 to 64
[ ] 65 and Over
[ ] Decline

[ ] Female
[ ] Male
[ ] Other
[ ] Decline


If you're interested in any way on this project please contact me here or message me on Facebook:

It will be a shared learning experience.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Transforming Health Care through Data

How many of you, when you think of Watson and the epic Jeopardy win, associate it with solving some of the most complex problems of our time? I for one, didn't. I had no idea that Watson is currently being used by IBM Research together with organizations that have complex problems to solve to find innovative solutions, but it makes a lot of sense.

Lori Beer, Executive Vice President, Enterprise Business Services, WellPoint, Inc., serving 34 millions of people is one of the poster child for such an application of Watson.

WellPoint, which mission is "to improve the lives of the people we serve and the health of communities", is currently in a partnership with IBM making history by applying Watson's capacities in an initial pilot for utilization management: treatment recommendation approval.

Health Care industry biggest challenges at this time are the issues of affordability, accessibility and consumer experience. Right now, the customer satisfaction for Health Care is below Airlines, which says a lot of the state of things.

As information doubles every 5 yrs., there are 21M articles in PubMed/Medicine and 1M are added every year. Lori raises the question of how to keep up? what tools could help? And this is how Watson, who reads millions of pages in a few seconds, can have an important role. The reality today is that 81% of physicians report spending only 5 hours or less per month reading medical journals.
The end consumers also have a poor engagement with their own health and the costs involved.
When you have huge amounts of un-structured data, the problem becomes how to know what's relevant. We need ontologies to organize the information and understanding what's more relevant at the point it needs to be used.

So, they set up a small pilot trying to tackle the issue of approving treatment requests from physicians.

Watson lends its capabilities of probabilistic understanding of dense amounts of data, natural language processing and the ability to learn interactively are being used towards the resolution of this
learning to work, in order to digest a vast amount of information and spit out a probabilistic number of accuracy. If the number is below a certain threshold, the decision needs to be reviewed by a physician. The physician looks at the research that lead Watson into computing its output and can discard and re-iterate as many times as needed.

Some of the requirements they had to get out of the way in order to get Watson to work for them, are the issue of single master profile per consumer (all the versions of me who are indeed me) and the issue of getting all the data for a patient organized. which is the holly grail of Health 2.0. Even when nowadays some of your doctors enter your medical history in a computer, it doesn't mean that that computer can talk to other computers even across the same organization. The solution to this problem is the longitudinal patient record and this was the second step in order to be able to feed Watson appropriately.

Watson goes through the same cycle as physicians do (just in a slightly different way :).
First, it goes to medical school, it has to ingest and digest medical facts and policies.

Now, Watson goes on what would be the equivalent of Residency, it's in training. Doctors are looking very careful to the responses that Watson is giving,

Then, as any student, Watson needs to be scored according to the accuracy of its results.

Watson accuracy has major improvement as it learns from its mistakes and re-iterates.
When the score is not so good, the questions are: Does Watson need to ingest more data? 

The teach cycle is crucial, until it reaches the accuracy level required.

As part of the process of testing Watson, a Dr gave his hardest case ever, one which took him years to get to the right diagnosis, and Watson identified the condition amont its top 3 recommendations.

Since the use of Watson, the approval process went from 48 hours to a few minutes. Imagine the value of that as a provider.

The use case #2 for Watson is in Oncology, first int the area of breast and then lung cancer.

The future of Watson in Health Care would be to go into diagnosis, tele diagnostics, genomics analysis, among many other areas. In this industry, all conversations need to consider privacy, security and liability as they reside at the core of Health Care.

Someone in the audience brought up the issue of how people could be fearful of a machine biasing doctors towards certain answers, but when we compare the traditional physicians methods that are estimated to be fact based only in 45% of the cases, it just makes sense to adopt tools like Watson.

Other questions on Lori's and WellPoint's mind are in the area of Consumer Experience where there is so much room for improvement:
How to engage the consumer?
How to have patients think of health as their asset?
How to have apps that bring the connection and deliver information in the point of care as well as follow the customer home?
How to create the next generation customer experience? including the possibility of telemedicine.
The future of Medicine, might be to bring back the doctor to where the patient is at, like it was in the past. avoiding ER costly visits. Solutions such as remote weight measurement alert clinicians of potential issues ahead of time.

Other solutions mentioned were part of the Mobile Health Wallet, that includes electronic id card, QR code, customer service # connects to phone call, voice video chat with point of care, mobile ways to locate nearest in network provider.

All this solutions need to create a space for technologists and clinicians to dialog and come together to provide solutions and Lori has a relevant role in creating this space.

Now, we can think and dream of other areas and ways in which technologies like Watson can help and build a future for Health Care that is affordable, accessible and a great customer experience.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Internet Activism ... are we there yet?

It's been a long time since Uruguay (where I was born and raised) overcame a military dictatorship. Even at age 15, I still remember the times of getting out to the streets and manifest as the people of Uruguay that we wanted democracy.

Times have change a lot since then and it's great to be in this room with four young activists talking about activism in the era of the internet.

All of them come from different backgrounds but have a common passion for generating movements and using the best tools and technologies available nowadays to do so. Let me introduce you to them:

Sheryl John (Children's Hospital Los Angeles), mostly activism in the open source movement.
Neetu Jain(HP), using technology for grass root projects in India.
Kathryn Minshew (The Daily Muse),  startup providing content for woman career advancement, negotiting raises and a passion for connecting women to the resources they need.
Lina Akiki (Mitsulift group), leader political movement and party in Lebanon

Some of the ideas/points that were discussed during the panel were:

Internet was identified as a powerful tool for communication, cheap and fast for reaching massive amounts of people.

Difference between clicktivism and actual activism. You will find significative more people ready to click/like/etc than the people that will be actually ready to work/donate/take next steps. This seems a clear tendency in all internet, participation follows a pyramid, where participation decreases towards the bottom of the pyramid.

In the middle east (Lebanon), people connected and created a movements that actually changed peoples lives. This political party reaches out and hears to what people have to say and they organically grew through internet and social networks to be 20% of the population.

In corporate daily news environment lost Bonus, thought just her, then realized most woman have the issue. daily muse  created a platform and got women to get organized. help ppl realize that they're a part of a larger problem and acting together gives a lot of power.

The Daily Muse used partnership syndications to provide content and reach a larger audiences starting with Forbes and Yahoo among others to impact the lives of more woman and their work environments. They're currently looking into becoming a recommendation engine, to help people access the information that is relevant to them. The growth was identified to be due to 30% social networks, 30% content and 30%was attributed to word of mouth

One core value identified was in order to build a bigger movement, you have to instill the desire for everybody to be a part so they want to share it and make it even bigger.

Some of the challenges identified by the panelists for internet activism were:
1. The difficulty with authenticity and truth of information, as information can be easily be remixed and misrepresented on the internet.
2. It's easy to get a false sense of support, as you can get many people to follow your movement but you need to consider only a portion will take their commitment to the next level.
3. It's easier to reach the people that want to hear what you have to say, and mostly agree with you and your movement, but it's very hard to reach those that don't agree with you and those are exactly the ones you'd like to reach and educate, etc. It calls for a need to find creative ways to put your message in front of people that are not initially inclined to consume your content.

Talking about new trends: and the future of activism crowdsourcing was identified as a major source of change in the future. Some of the solutions offered were to monitor comments/forums/posts and to always find an alternative way. A great example of an alternative way was when during the Lebanon Revolution Twitter was shut down, but Google offered a voice to text solution that twitted for people and the world kept hearing the truth and live reporting. Other solutions offered were to face the trollers trace IPs, etc.

Kathryn brought up a great way to keep a company loyal to its core values, and the way The Daily Muse did it, was thinking: "If the company was a woman, how would it be?" and defining that woman, giving her values, personality and even character has helped them keep those values going in the mid and long term.

In summary, the main suggestion from the panelists is to chose the right cause, something people have a need for, something deep, bring them value, something that moves them, that is important for them, something they care, and when people want a change to happen, when the right people is creating the influence, then its relatively easy to start a movement, beholding the key message, and trying not to lose sight of that key message that initially brought people together for a cause.

A tailored cause might work better than a generic cause, for instance woman versus unhappy people at work in general, or smart kick ass woman, versus woman in general. This helps involve highly motivated early adopters that are deeply passionate, hooking early evangelists by narrowing focus.
And then, as most things, it's a trial and error process.

In the case of The Daily Muse it was a combination of a memorable name, having a strategy from day one to get people's attention that made the trick.

At the end of the panel I had a chance to talk one on one with Lina Akiki which inspired me greately and reminded me of how all revolutions are the same, regardless of what part of the world or what the cause is, when people get together for a common goal involving human rights and social justice great things happen.

When I think of social activism in the internet and social networks era, I like to imagine tiny lights sparkling in a exponentially accelerated way across the city/country/world. Once there's light, darkness can't exist anymore, and that's the role of social activism and education.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

What if women were extremely effective leadership communicators?

It is a very special feeling to be in a room full of woman in technology. It actually is completely the opposite of what most of us women in technology experience on our daily work lives.

As this is my first Grace Hopper Celebration, and one of the first sessions I'm attending, I just take a few minutes to breath deeply and feel the excitement and exhilaration of being surrounded by all this wonderful powerful women in technology. 

I love the name of this session: What if women were extremely effective leadership communicators?
When you start by asking a question you open up to all sorts of possibilities.

Linda Apsiey (Microsoft) and Ann Dorga (The Pink Genius) embarked us on this exploration to answer the question: What does an effective leader really look like?

Authenticity to your core values is one of the main pilars of their building of an effective communicator. ILinda and Ann started by sharing their own values, such as: family (with the motto of stay together and nobody is left behind), seeking truth and meaning, the value of serving, loyalty, love for learning and love for freedom (Ann's company mission is to free the leader within each of us).

They then moved on to their next question: How to make communication effective?
And they proposed that values are at the core of great leadership communications. Values drive our  behavior. If we can as leaders become conscious of our values, which drive our behavior, then we can communicate better. Leadership communication is about the person, the vision, the character and the ability to bring other people and connect them along with that vision.
Do we have the courage that takes to stand high and verbalize who we are?
What if your character, competence, vision and  our connection were crystal clear?
Great examples of people that clearly transmitted their values and embodied this personal messages were the Dalai Lama with his message of Compassion and Martin Luther King with his message of Social Equality.

They also mentioned Fran Allen,  an American Computer Scientist and pioneer in the field of optimizing compilers, as an example of a woman that early on balanced her family and career. Fran said that the industry was more women friendly in the past than it is today, after the influence from Engineering.
One of Fran's phrases mentioned: "I see my career as standing on a wall... one is seing new possibilities and the other is building new products"

We then moved on to do a group exercise. We first identified our values, we reviewed what those values represented and then prioritized them. After that, we closed our eyes in an attempt to connect with our right brains and our feelings and we came up with one word, one feeling that we got at that time thinking of us embodying those values we identified.

As as example, Ann shared her values of family, loyalty, truth which represent love and truth and when she imagined living her values she felt joy.

The basic message is when you communicate into alignment with yourself, and others, you can then have other align with you.

As an example of what it means to be connected in the 21st century, they showed a video of Tiffany Shlain. I totally recommend checking her out, her TED Talk is one of my favorite. Someone in the audience noted how Tiffany stablished herself as a human, making a personal connection, then as a woman and mother, and then shared her passion. 

In summary, Ann and Linda's message was that effective leaders communicate with authenticity, connecting through their values, engaging their audience with their 5 senses and in a competent way.

Time for all of us to reflect on our core values, on how we would feel when our life and our communications embody those values and to get our messages out to the world.