The Virtual Meeting Coach

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Archive for the ‘online medicine’ Category

Webcams and Telemedicine: New Software Allows Remote Visual Monitoring of Vital Signs

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

I just caught sight of a promising new development going on in a graduate lab at MIT.

When the tools described below are fully integrated into simple virtual meeting interfaces, we really will have many more choices about how we give and receive healthcare support services, won’t we? How utterly exciting!

MIT Team Developing Tool To Monitor Vital Signs Through Camera

A device under development at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology could monitor changes in a person’s vital signs through a low-cost camera, the Boston Globe’s “White Coat Notes” reports (Johnson, “White Coat Notes,” Boston Globe, 10/5).

Researchers led by MIT graduate student Ming-Zher Poh used public-domain software to identify facial positions and to deconstruct the information into red, green and blue portions of video images.

The device then determines an individual’s pulse by tracking small changes in how light reflects off their face as blood flows under the skin.

The tool could be embedded into a mirror or integrated with a Web-based camera.

In May, researchers published initial results from the project in the journal Optics Express.

Early results found that the MIT device identified pulses accurately within three beats per minute, even when up to three people stood in front of the camera and when test subjects moved (Armstrong Moore, CNET News, 10/5).

The team currently is working on refining the device to take other measurements, such as:

* Blood pressure;

* Oxygen saturation; and

* Respiration rate (“White Coat Notes,” Boston Globe, 10/5).

According to Poh, the device’s noninvasive design could make it useful for several purposes, such as monitoring newborn infants or burn victims.

In addition, the device could be used for telemedicine-based health screenings or remote patient monitoring (MIT release, 10/4).

So, what d’you think about them apples?

When Choosing a Virtual Meeting Tool, No Magic Pills or Siskel and Ebert Reviews Work

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Both the Madhatters and Madhatters Virtual Tea Party 6-Week Virtual Meeting Campers asked me today if I could provide them with some lists of virtual meeting tools, so I’m sharing some links to places interested people can find these kinds of lists online:

There are dozens of these kinds of lists online! Maybe hundreds of them. You can do your own research just as easily as you can follow these links. You’ll find a ton of information about meeting tools and their various features.

I don’t provide some “Virtual Meeting Coach” list of virtual meeting tools because as soon as I issued a list of tools, it would be obsolete. Features are being added weekly, new companies are coming online weekly, and companies that have had great tools in the virtual meeting space are going broke and going offline weekly.

So, those of you who are getting excited in the Madhatters Tea Parties and want to start testing and researching other options outside DimDim right now, please feel free to kick off your own research using these links. I also encourage you to do your own Google searches on virtual meetings, web conferencing, online meetings, etc. so you locate the most current data about what’s available right now.

No Magic Pills or Siskel and Ebert Reviews

I wish I could just give all of you a “pill” or some definitive list that would allow you to point a finger and just pick the right tool for you. But, frankly, that would be about as useful as providing you an index of all the pharmaceuticals on the market for depression (or some other complex illness). A list of pharmaceuticals doesn’t tell you anything about how the drugs really work in real human bodies with complex needs. And neither do tables of virtual meeting tools tell you what will “make the perfect virtual office for you.”

The tool(s )you choose to use will depend on the interaction of three fundamental factors:

1) What you do well – what your “Lion” strengths are (remembering our first Madhatters Tea Party?)
2) What it is you want to accomplish with your clients/coworkers at a distance.
3) What your clients/coworkers want from you – at a distance – and how they are willing to receive it from you.

The sites above offer a variety of ranking systems. Unfortunately, the criteria used for the ranking are anything but standardized. I wish I could change that. But, that’s just the way it is. Virtual meeting use is an art … not a science… And we’re operating in a volatile economy that’s changing the ways we think about working together every week. So the science is going to take awhile longer. Like maybe a decade or so…

There’s a Reason I’ve Become the Virtual Meeting Coach

And, it’s not to hawk virtual meeting tools for a sales commission. I’m an independent communication consultant who has been advising and coaching people in the skillful use of face-to-face interactive meeting strategies and electronic messaging tools for over two decades. I don’t have a “favorite” virtual meeting tool because there are mountains of things that people want and need to be able to do in virtual meetings. Many tools do some of those things pretty well and none of them that do all of them perfectly. Not even close.

So, I hung out my shingle about two years ago now in the interest of saving people time and money in your research and development processes. I delight in helping people identify ways you can take what you do best and port your special sauce into online meetings. Then, I like helping you frost the cake by tailoring your online meeting and business processes so you get the full value and delight available from the tools(s) you choose to use.

I love coaching individuals (and groups) through a step-by-step process that helps you quickly clarify what’s true for you about the three factors above. And then I’ll help you select and practice with the tool(s) that will best fit you and your clients’ needs. If you want more, I also offer groups in which I coach people in the adaptation of their favorite face-to-face engagement strategies to virtual meetings. I want my clients to make meeting with them virtually a true pleasure for others – instead of a pain in the #ss.

By all means, if you would enjoy spending your time doing the research yourself, please start with the links above. It’s horribly time-consuming but also great fun uncovering all the new stuff out there.

On the other hand, if you’d rather spend your time making money with your core business processes – and you’d like to save substantial trial and error time – you can hire me to consult and coach you quickly through the process of transitioning some of them online.

The Madhatters Tea Party Group Coaching Programs are one highly affordable way I’ve set up to help people learn and practice in small groups. I also work privately with clients who really need to speed things up by focusing on their specific needs in a one-on-one setting.

I offer a FREE 20-minute virtual meeting consultation to anyone thinks you’re ready to get started so you can see if you think we’d be a good fit. Feel free to use the contact form at VirtualMeetingStartup to set up a free consultation.

Sick of Waiting for A Small Business Bailout? Here’s My Personal Econonomic Stimulus Package…

Saturday, December 19th, 2009


When times get tough, the tough get going, they say. Well, times remain tough, don’t they? I’m having so many people telling me they need my help but can’t afford it that I’ve decided to create my own Economic Stimulus Package for 2010. It’s called “Meri Bucks.”

Here’s how it works: I want and need to exchange my services for cash so I can pay the rent and buy groceries and fuel while we reinvent the economy together. Clients and potential clients want and need my help tweaking their businesses processes so they CAN take advantage of the incredible time and cost savings virtual meetings have to offer. Most people would really like to use web conferencing and other kinds of virtual meetings with clients, customers, coworkers, and suppliers. They just don’t want to risk losing their relationships with people. They don’t want to look stupid. They don’t think they have time to learn something new. And, worst of all, they don’t know how to tweak the way they’re doing things now – just a little – so they can translate some of their service processes into virtual meeting spaces.

On top of that, everyone needs to be able to squeeze every last drop of value out of whatever cash they do have. That means they’re agonizing over which help they can afford to get now – and what just has to wait.


So, here’s my offer: Throughout the entire year of 2010, I’m going to be trading in “Meri Bucks.” These certificates of service come in two denominations only, $1250 and $625. I’m trading them for $1000 or $500 in US greenbacks. This means that “Meri Bucks” are paying 25% return on investment.

Now I know – and you know – that no one is offering to give you a 25% return on investment for your precious greenbacks right now. So this is a terrific deal for you! And the deal is worth it to me because I have some holes in my calendar and want to fill them now. So, I’m willing to offer this extraordinary return as part of playing fair and doing my part to stimulate the economy in 2010.

I know you can’t afford to keep coping with workarounds that are costing you profits you need to pocket. And I can’t do what I love to help small business people if you can’t afford to get the service you need from me.

If you’re ready to make a few changes to your business processes – and learn quickly and painlessly how you can use virtual meetings to pocket more real profits throughout 2010 and all the years ahead – you can get an extra FREE 25% service from me by purchasing and trading in “Meri Bucks” right now. This could translate into you getting several team members trained for FREE, several hours of management consulting for FREE, several hours of producer support for FREE, or some other kind of help you know you need to get busy transitioning into virtual meeting space. You design your project and, using “Meri Bucks,” I’ll deliver 25% extra into it for FREE.

So, tell Santa. Tell your partners. Tell your CFO. Tell your investors. Tell your husband/wife… Starting right now you can use “Meri Bucks” to get a leg up on transitioning your business into the 21st century using virtual meetings.

If you’re interested in taking me up on this offer and want to discuss it further, please feel free to phone me directly at 541.488.7942.

You will need to call soon, though, because I have minted a LIMITED NUMBER of these certificates and when they’re gone, they’re gone. You can use them for service anytime in 2010, but you will need to purchase them now if you’re interested!

“Meri Bucks” to the rescue for 2010!!

A Few Reasons Why Docs Might Want My Help Building Telepresence

Monday, October 26th, 2009

I promised the next thing I would share here would be the telehealth conversation I had with Kelly McCabe, former Citibank exec turned CEO of But I was in too big a hurry on my way out of Ashland and left the mp3 on my Mac at home. I’m on the road this week in Boston…

However…I just ran across two fascinating slide presentations.

The first is by Dr. Yannis Pappas of the Imperial College of London. The second is by George MacGinnis of the HNS in London. Despite the fact that the telehealth/telemedicine audience that’s starting to gather here on this blog might is mostly a US-centric group, I’m guessing you’ll still find both presentations quite useful. In many regards, we here in the US are way behind our European colleagues in the march towards simple, cheap and easy telemedicine solutions. My thanks to David Doherty of for sharing these shows at LinkedIn.

Dr Pappas’ presentation is full of solid data and elegant, simple ways to look at the multi-level challenges of transitioning from face-to-face patient care practices to virtual appointments. 

It’s true. The obstacles and challenges of moving appropriate types of healthcare online are difficult. But not impossible. Especially when you’ve got help from communication and management experts who understand both the vagaries and complexities of changing business processes and the subtleties of how human beings either build trust and respect when we communicate – or disrupt both terribly. Face-to-face and online.

I’m passionate about helping doctors and patients meet each other halfway between their computers and get more out of meeting that way than they’ll spend preparing themselves to do so from now on.

George McGinnis presentation below lays out an easily understandable visual map of how we need active, independent seniors with chronic health conditions and people being supported in assisted living facilities to connect more easily with families, caregivers, and healthcare providers using remote technologies. Again, thanks to David Doherty for sharing this show on his profile at LinkedIn.

As I’m fond of saying, this isn’t rocket science, folks. Patient groups, healthcare providers, tool makers and consolidators…It would be my great pleasure to help you move forward, regardless of what the government does or doesn’t get accomplished with regard to “healthcare reform.” Where would you like to start?

My fascinating conversation with Kelly McCabe coming next week…

Getting Ready to Launch A Series of Interviews With a Telemedicine/Telehealth Focus

Monday, October 12th, 2009

I really wish I had three bodies so I could finish all the things I’ve started lately. I don’t have three bodies. If I even had two bodies, I would send one of them to the E-Patient Connections Conference the third week of this month in Philadelphia.

Why? I’m getting more excited everyday at the innovative uses of virtual meeting tools unrolling daily in the telehealth and telemedicine arenas! The possibilities for patients and doctors to get together whenever and wherever and however works best for both parties are multiplying exponentially – with or without government healthcare reform!

I’ve been talking with innovators daily and canning some interviews you can expect to start enjoying here by the end of this week.

Until then, take a look at this vid and tell me if it doesn’t give you hope, too…

E-Buyers, E-Patients, E-Learners, E-Workers, E-Clients: How Are You Gearing Up To Serve Them?

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

I’ve been in a flurry of local activity for the last 10 days or so and every conversation has come back to this question:

“What are you doing to prepare yourself and your people to respond in real-time to the tidal wave of buyers, patients, learners, workers, and clients who are already online now shopping for what you have to offer?”

This little slide show does a masterful job of outlining the issues and some of the challenges facing people working in the arenas of telehealth, telemedicine, and the other domains covered by connected health.

But the issues are the same for people who want to learn from you online, people who want to buy houses from you online, people who want to work with you online, and clients who want you to consult with them online. Take a look:

Patients Rising: How to Reach Empowered, Digital Health Consumers

So what’s your plan? How are you gearing up to serve digital consumers?

They’re already online looking for what they want. And if you want them to “meet” with you, you need to be able to meet them digitally. Virtually. Online.

If you’re not sure how to get started safely – and confidently – please let me help you start stepping through a simple way you can start using virtual meetings to serve e-buyers, e-patients, e-learners, and e-clients the way they want to be served by you!

Real-time virtual meetings aren’t rocket science, friends. And, if you’re not already using virtual meetings to empower digital buyers, digital patients, digital learners, and digital clients, time’s a’wasting… You’d better believe it: your competition is gearing up right now.

Telemedicine can have widespread, transforming impacts on costs, quality, delivery and health outcomes.

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

I signed another online petition today. Ho-hum.

So what’s new?

Well, this petition encourages Congress to expand support for telemedicine – a topic that’s pretty darned important to me – and a lot of other people – from 3 different perspectives.

1. From the first perspective, I have a chronic illness, Type 2 diabetes. And it’s not going to go away. I do all I can to manage it with diet and exercise and it’s still progressing. Not fast. But, caring for myself – since my insurer has excluded almost all my meds, supplies, and doctor care – is slowly but surely bankrupting me. So, any way I can contain the costs to get the appropriate, competent care I’m going to need for the rest of my life sounds good to me. And telehealth initiatives would do that.

2. From the second, I live in a relatively rural area now where access to medical care requires relatively long drives and long waits because there’s a shortage of doctors in relation to the number of folks who live here. Telehealth initiatives would help with this, too, providing access to specialists without the need for so much travel.

3. From the third perspective, I’m “The Virtual Meeting Coach,” and I KNOW that with the right training and dependable broadband internet access, it’s 100% possible for people to meet with each other – without being co-located – and get as good or better results than they can  meeting face-to-face.

In no way am I advocating that any of us gets rid of our primary docs or that insurers fleece us further by pushing delicate diagnostic processes into virtual meeting rooms. But I do believe that both doctors and patients can benefit tremendously from meeting more often – and less expensively – using virtual meeting technologies to address hundreds of health conditions and long term care.

(This is why I’ve offered to build the Cloud Computing skills of my neighbors at Mountain Meadows, for starters. In this rural part of southern Oregon, there’s a shortage of doctors and skilled caregivers and my neighbors need to be comfortable using computers to extend their networks of care -  including having online conversations with specialists and distant family members!)

I’ve been complaining for three years now about how insane it is for me to repeat this routine four times a year: I drive 40 miles round trip to get a blood draw. Then, 10 days later, drive another 40 miles round trip, wait for 20 minutes in a waiting room, and then sit down for 15 minutes with my doc while she reads the computer printout on the blood work to me. The costs in wasted time, fuel, and dollars are ridiculous. It insults my human intelligence and my doctor’s, too! It would be common sense for me to get a local blood draw, have the tests processed and sent to my doc electronically, and then meet with her in a virtual meeting room to go over the results with her instead.

But that would mean we’d be venturing into the “experimental” arena of telemedicine! Oh no, Mr. Bill!


Oh yes, Mr. Bill!! I’m excited about the petition I signed today at because the group there is a web-based coalition focused on getting health leaders to make maximum advantage of telehealth for improving Americans’ health.

As they report:

“After 50 years of demonstrations and research and over 10,000 studies published on the impact of telehealth, there is widespread agreement on its ability to save lives and money  while increasing access to care. Patients like it, it improves care and it expands access. Moreover, it can reduce costs.”

Among the bigger benefits of telehealth/telemedicine are better management of chronic diseases, better sharing of health specialists, fewer hospital stays and re-admittances, and reduced patient and provider travel times.

Studies indicate that the use of telemedicine for monitoring of chronic care patients or allowing specialists to provide care to patients over a large region have resulted in significantly improved quality of care.

And consumers want it. Patient satisfaction with the use of telemedicine to access care and the use of telecommunications technologies to connect with specialists and other health care providers to meet unmet health needs is consistently high.

Estimates of annual net cost savings to Medicare resulting in the widespread adoption of telemedicine services range from $2 billion to over $4 billion per year, according to various studies, including the Arthur D Little report, “Can Telecommunications Help Solve America’s Health Care problems?” and “Outcomes of an Integrated Telehealth Network Demonstration Project,” published as far back as 2003 in Telemedicine Journal and e-Health.

So, what’s the hold up?

Good question. And everyone’s got a little different answer.

Over the next several weeks I’m going to be interviewing  a variety of interesting people who are involved with the design and delivery of different telemedicine initiatives. I’ll be sharing clips from the conversations here and offering a set of the complete interviews for sale.

So stay tuned.

It’s clear to me that telemedicine can have a widespread and transforming impact on the cost, quality, delivery, and health outcomes for all people.

And frankly, given the demographic I’m part of (we aging Baby Boomers are going to break the bank with our healthcare), I can’t think of a better application of virtual meeting technologies than preventative health education and telemedicine.

Have you already had experiences with telemedicine – as a doc? As a patient? I’d love to talk with you about them…

Leave a comment below and I’ll get right back to you.

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