Healthcare’s Augmented Reality​: The Secret Of My Arrest

Perhaps I should set the stage. I went for a run this morning in a beach town on the Jersey shore. I would tell you the name of the town, except for the fact that this morning I met most of the town’s police officers, and since I still have another week at the shore, it would be silly of me to write something to make the other officers want to engage me.

I was nine miles into my run. Ahead of me was a bridge that would lead me back to the house where we were staying; three miles from here to there. There was a lot of construction on the bridge and a lot of cars. One officer may have later mentioned something about a large sign printed with the words, No Pedestrians.

I came to the apex of the bridge that crossed the bay. I was drained, and I was leaning way over the guardrail to catch my breath.

To my surprise, a state policeman, kitted out smartly in his pressed uniform, pulled alongside of me. “What are you doing on my bridge?”  He asked from the cool confinement of his air-conditioned patrol car, an undisguised tone of concern in his voice. To hear what he was saying I removed one of my ear buds.

I saw my face reflected in his Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses. Since I was trying to cross the bridge, I thought about asking him if his question was rhetorical, like why did the chicken cross the road, but he did not look like a chicken crossing the road kind of guy.

“Are you okay?” He asked. “You don’t look okay.”

He came across as highly educated, and someone with great elocution and diction. He was impressively well mannered and well behaved. He was like the human version of a Great Dane. I thought we were getting ready to bond, but then it occurred to me that his version of deep, long-lasting friendships was probably an exchange of business cards. “I’m fine. Why did you pull over?” I asked.

“We got a few calls about a guy on the bridge who looked depressed and might be thinking about jumping.” Several other police cars arrived on the scene. The officers looked at one another, the way lions look at one another when there’s only one carcass to go around. My little section of the bridge had become standing room only. I thought they should post an officer down by the tollgate to issue tickets and bathroom passes.

Most of the officers kept their distance, I guess because they sensed there was something special about me, and they did not want any of that specialness to rub off.

“I haven’t seen anyone,” I replied. “But if I do, I will flag someone down.”

“Are you thinking of jumping?” He asked.

“Jumping what?” Only did then I realize that he thought I was his potential jumper. I may have mentioned that I have a bit of a cynical streak, and the beast was demanding to be fed.

“Jumping off the bridge. Are you sure you are okay? You look depressed.”

“I think I look like I just ran nine miles.” I placed my right leg high on the guardrail to stretch my hamstring. Below me a small armada of boats had dropped anchor and the passengers appeared to be having impromptu tailgate parties in the middle of the bay.  Everyone was looking up at me, and some appeared to be filming, so I waved. A few of the people were yelling for me to jump.

“Take your leg off my bridge,” he commanded. “I was about to call for a helicopter. Are you sure you are okay?”

To me, the entire dialog was starting to sound like a bad country and western song. If I continued across the bridge, home was only three miles away.  If he did not let me cross I had to double-back those same nine miles.

“May I continue across?” It was a stupid question, made worse by my insouciant expression. I was going to lose the battle to cross the bridge. Losing gracefully is an acquired skill. Defeats pile up on top of defeats and eventually you lose the urge to fight back. I hadn’t built up that immunity yet.

I realize it was time for plan B. Which was a bit of a problem because there wasn’t any plan B. I was going to ask him if his helicopter would give me a ride back to our house, but he didn’t look like a give me a ride back kind of guy. “May I continue across?” I asked again.

A chorus of jump, Paul, jump was rising up from the boaters. He’d had enough of me. I started to appreciate that there were so many people watching, because if there hadn’t been he may have helped me jump.

My son asked me why I ran eighteen miles. I said it was because the policemen wouldn’t let me run twelve. That was my day.

More than five hundred of you read my post on Pokémon GO. Several of you asked me to explain how that type of augmented reality could play in healthcare. Let me being by saying, augmenting reality is far better than arguing with reality.

I think the idea is simple. Pokémon GO captures a player’s geo-location. Based on its knowledge of the player’s location, the game then spawns (places) different Pokémons

In the same general location. The player then collects the Pokémon and moves on to collect the next one.

Now, imagine a health system that new someone’s location, and knew what service the patient needed to access. Admittedly, this is a huge step for an industry that does not even provide online chat.

Suppose that you need to speak with a nurse. A virtual nurse from your system, or perhaps an independent system alerts you. You make the connection and talk with the nurse. Or suppose you are fighting depression and are having a bad day. You let your healthcare Pokémon app know that you need to speak with a behavioral health professional, and someone connects the two of you.

I think it would work like Uber Healthcare. You make a health request, and you are connected to someone without an appointment. The app will tell you the cost of the virtual meeting. It could be designed to connect you to professionals that accept your insurance. If a follow-up visit was needed, it would schedule it. If a prescription were required, it would order it.

One of the neat features of this approach is that instead of spending millions of dollars to improve outdated processes, this type of thinking would simply eliminate those processes.

What do you think?



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