The other day I recalled Ted Eytan’s old series My Own CIO, from the days when he cobbled together the tools he needed. That was my first clue that in today’s world, an individual can compete with the big boys … or at least not be constrained by lack of power tools.
I hope to continue in that spirit here, adding posts as Ted did, in the hope that others – especially other e-patient speakers – can benefit as I did.
Travel: a logistical nightmare
The other day I noted that evangelism requires taking it to the field, and my schedule page reflects that. This is complicated – a lot – by the reality that a peak conference season often requires traveling from one event to another, coordinating plans between different travel agents, which makes it hard to pick the right flight in advance, and often involves added costs later when plans change (ugh).
Here are the tools I use all the time.
- Selecting flights and hotels: Kayak.com and Southwest.com.
- Kayak is absolutely awesome in the flexibility it gives you for departure and arrival times, length of layover, alternate airports, etc etc.
- Kayak also lets you specify which airlines, or what flight network you want. Mine is StarAlliance (United, USAirways, etc).
- Southwest doesn’t participate in consolidators like Tripit and Travelocity, but they’re my favorite alternative to StarAlliance: their standardized planes mean they have no crappy seats, no cramped mini-planes, and they have a hub at my closest airport, Manchester NH (MHT).
- Kayak support is awesome. The guy who runs it writes promptly and intelligently!
- Note that Kayak itself doesn’t sell the tickets – you buy from whatever website sent Kayak the quote. Fine with me – that means Kayak doesn’t need a redundant customer service staff.
- Reservation storage: Tripit.com. (See profile summary above.)
- Consolidates all flight, train, hotel and car plans into a single place.
- Has apps for iPhone, iPad, Android.
- My wife uses the Android app to check on my trip info.
- Scans my Gmail automatically and usually finds and imports confirmation emails, usually correctly.
- For confirmations that don’t get auto-detected, I can forward the email manually to firstname.lastname@example.org. And of course I can edit ones that come in wrong, or enter info manually.
- I joined 49 weeks ago, Nov. 10, 2010. The profile data above says I’ve logged 138,000 miles. (Around the world 5 1/2 times.) It feels like it.
- It has glitches. For instance, if I cancel a trip or flight, it keeps re-finding the confirmation email and re-importing it. Ugh.
- Support is, well, ordinary. “Thank you for using Tripit. You may be interested in this standard article, which contains some of the words in your email.” (They don’t SAY that, but that’s how it is.) Responses do not always answer the question I asked.
- For instance, I’m a bit suspicious of their summary statistics (see chart above), and they won’t let me see where they get the total mileage. I have a reputation in health IT for wanting to know my data’s accurate, and let’s just say it applies here too.:-)
- Flight status: FlightStats.com, and its lean “Traveler by FlightStats” Android app. It’s awesome to check for my connecting gate before I even get off the first plane, and check whether it’s running a bit late.
- During a recent weather delay, a nearby woman was gloating about how iFly.com let her watch the incoming equipment, on a map (“It’s gotten to Albany so it won’t be long now”), so she could tell the real situation. (The airline’s monitors were lying.) But I haven’t found that feature.
- Expense tracking: I just discovered Expensify. Awesome, awesome, awesome. I am no good at keeping track of receipts, no good at building expense reports on the road, and no good at sorting receipts at home. Enter Expensify.
- For each purchase, pull out the Expensify app and punch in the details. Right then and there.
- Take a picture of the receipt if you want. It uploads.
- For 20 cents each, it’ll scan the receipt and figure out the amount and vendor, if it can. I haven’t tried that.
- You can also email it a screen-grabbed receipt.
- When you get online, grab all the receipts from your inbox and attach to an event.
- Click View Report, and then Export To PDF. Omg, it prints the summary with all the receipts attached. Thud.
And of course all this stuff is free. There are upgrades available with more features, for a cost.
A final note about Healthcare Transformation Through IT:
All this is what happens when there’s a vast ecosystem of data that can easily be interfaced and interconnected. See? Innovators pounce on it, and all kinds of tools get developed. They don’t all pan out, of course – they compete, to get better and better for the consumer!
Won’t you be happy when info about hospitals, doctors, CT scanner resolution and prices is freely available, so people like Kayak can help you shop, and people like Tripit can consolidate your info?
We are just at the beginning of that era. It’s what Todd Park, the Chief Technical Officer at HHS, means when he talks about Data Liberación!