eHealth – What’s in it for us?

kixTwo reasons I worked through the eHealth MOOC I wrote about last time were to find out just how big the eHealth movement is and where it was or can be successful in making life easier providing better health outcomes for us BigD-ers.

Firstly, it’s big, very big.  Most countries are setting up or designing an eHealth framework of some kind or other.  They include the usual suspects, like Scandinavia, the UK, most of Europe, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, and parts of Canada and the US.  Thankfully much of the rest of the world is also on the job, like Russia, Brazil, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Mexico, Turkey, Nigeria, Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia. (more…)

e-Patients: being our own guardian angel

1-IMG_1532I am now in week 5 of the eHealth MOOC I wrote about in my last post.

It has been a revelation.

The most eye-opening subject was covered in week 3: eHealth for patients and citizens: all about e-patients.

Before we go further, meet e-patient Dave deBronkhart.  His story cuts to the chase: it saves me writing and it saves you reading.  It only runs for 16 minutes, and its great! (more…)

The rising eHealth tide is lifting all boats

Most of us have heard of eHealth – short for Electronic Health, and in its simplest form meaning the use of information and communication technologies for health delivery and management.

While that sounds pretty dry and not that interesting, eHealth is a tsunami, riding on databases of health information and innovative, patient-centred, wireless and wearable technologies that are changing health care systems and health services delivery around the world. (more…)

Dialysis Briefing 3. From Shock to Acceptance

Here is the third Briefing module.  As usual, it is not quite as I expected.  It was to cover two aspects: Physical, how you may feel before the session; during the session; after the session; when you get home, effect on sleep; and Emotional (Mental): dealing with the new reality; the grief cycle.

I received several very valuable emails and comments on both topics, but especially on the grief cycle.  As a result, each turned out to be bigger than expected.  So I decided to write one sheet on each topic, beginning with grief: coming to accept life on dialysis.

So here is Briefing 3. Dialysis – from Shock to Acceptance

Special thanks to Devon Texas and Carl from Winnipeg, Canada for their valuable input.


While researching the grief cycle, I found that there are several versions.  The 5-Stage cycle is the most popular, but I think the 7-Stage cycle is more appropriate for BigD-ers.  However, I found a wonderful summary of the 5-Stage cycle in Wikipedia from The Simpsons, which is well worth repeating:

Dr. Hibbard: Now, a little death anxiety is normal.  You can expect to go through five stages.  The first is denial.
  Homer: No way!  Because I'm not dying! [hugs Marge]
  Dr. H: The second is anger.
  Homer: Why you little! [steps towards Dr. H]
  Dr. H: After that comes fear.
  Homer: What's after fear?  What's after fear? [cringes]
  Dr. H: Bargaining.
  Homer: Doc, you gotta get me out of this!  I'll make it worth your while!
  Dr. H: Finally, acceptance.
  Homer: Well, we all gotta go sometime.
  Dr. H: Mr. Simpson, your progress astounds me.

Dialysis and MOOCs: Perfect Partners

For the last six weeks I’ve been studying an advanced undergraduate level Arts course, called Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World, from the University of Michigan.

It’s a traditional course, but it’s not run traditionally.  It’s a MOOC: a Massive Open Online Course.  It’s free, online, and it suits me down to the ground: I read the books on dialysis do the assignments at home.

I’ve been looking at MOOCs for some time.  They are ‘Open’ in the sense that they can be accessed by anyone anywhere as long as you have an internet connection, and that they are free of charge. And they are called ‘Massive’ because generally they go for large target groups.  Some popular courses have more than 100,000 students.

MOOCs started in 2008 and  were pretty rudimentary: mainly RSS feeds, blog posts and discussion boards.  But in just five years, they have morphed into some very advanced concepts indeed, using posted resources, learning management systems and structures that mix the learning management system with more open web resources.

They have exploded in popularity and reach, and universities offering MOOCs include MIT, Stanford, Harvard, and many, many more.  Some MOOCs are operated by the University offering the courses, other are provided through separate companies like UdacityCoursera, and edX in the US and OpenUpEd in Europe.  There are many hundreds of course on offer, in all disciplines, all free, gratis and for nothing.

If you’d like to know more, check out MOOCs at Wikipedia.

But I want to tell you about my course.  It is run by Coursera, which is a pretty slick operation.  Basically, each Friday I receive a video link from the excellent Prof Eric Rabkin to a briefing on the book(s) to be read.  As an extra benefit, most of the books are available as free (I like that word!) ebooks that can be read on iBook, Kindle and several other readers. 

I have to read the book and write a short (300 word) essay about an aspect of it by the following Tuesday. The aim of the essay is to enrich the reading of a hypothetical intelligent, attentive fellow student in the course.  Once the essay is submitted I then peer-review 5 other student’s essays and allocate each a mark out of 6.

On the Friday I receive 5 peer reviews and a mark out of 6 for my essay.  Then the next assignment begins.

For me, the peer review is the primary learning tool.  Not all reviews are useful, and they are rarely consistent, but there is always a nugget or two of insight that makes them invaluable.  And I think my reviews also offer value.  So it’s win-win!  Also, Eric Rabkin helps you feel connected by recording audio comments on assignments, and update videos about what’s going on in the course each week.

MOOCs are perfect for us BigD-ers:  stimulating, challenging, enjoyable, brain healthy and hugely variable, without any need for extraordinary physical fitness or our loose change.

Yet another thing to do on and off BigD.

Briefing No 2. Your First Dialysis Session

Here is the second Briefing module:  – what to expect during your First Dialysis Session.


Many thanks to Chas Collett for his invaluable input.  Thanks Chas!

As usual, any feedback gratefully appreciated.