Plans & Ideas for 2014

Hello hello everyone, and happy 2014!

I wrote a post about personal health records and geriatrics this week — inspired by some recent patient encounters — but it’s going to appear first on The Health Care Blog, hopefully some time soon. (And then I will repost it here, naturally.)

I started another post about how I’ve noticed that I collect and use my personal data, but I haven’t finished it. (See the end of this post for a quick-and-dirty version of this story.)

And, I also wrote a post for my Geriatrics for Caregivers blog about the new blood pressure guidelines, and what caregivers can do to make sure an older person isn’t taking more blood pressure medicine than is necessary.

Why am I going on about what I’ve been writing?

Because writing takes time, and I’ve been thinking quite a lot about how I should spend my time in 2014. (It’s also not always easy to fund one’s time writing, alas.)

Now, I have no definite answers, and this year I’ll make no definite resolutions. (I am 1 for 3 on last year’s resolutions, having only succeeded re guest posts on this blog.)

But here are my thoughts for now:

  • More creating geriatrics for caregivers content. This is a long-standing interest that I scaled back in mid-2012, in part because took a new direction and in part because I wanted to try something new (like this blog). Last year I decided to work more on caregiver education, so I started another blog at, and I’m now hoping to create some kind of geriatrics for caregivers curriculum. (I’m currently taking a course on interactive online learning environments.) I’m also toying with the idea of an ebook for caregivers, if I can scrape together the time and focus.
  • More writing about tech for caregivers. This means building on the intersection between GeriTech and Geriatrics for Caregivers. I’ve done a little of this on my other blog, and am considering doing more. On the other hand, it might be better to first teach caregivers about key principles of geriatric care, so that we have a foundation for discussing whether certain tech solutions help us implement that care or not.
  • Keep learning about digital health and new technologies for older adults. I like doing this but it is like drinking from a firehose. I’ll keep doing what I can.
  • Occasional commentary about how technology can facilitate geriatric care. My small practice keeps giving me lots of ideas regarding hitches in care, and how technology helps/hinders. I’ll keep trying to write them up when I can. I’ve also recently been invited to be on a panel about mHealth and aging, so that’s another way to spread the word about what we geriatricians need from technology.
  • Maintain my small consultative geriatrics practice. My practice has been very part-time, and that has been perfect. I love having this foothold in clinical practice, I love working directly with elders and families, and I especially love not having my clinical work dominate my professional life. At heart I’m similar to a clinician-researcher, except I don’t do research any more, I do various other things related to improving geriatric care. Also, when my kids are sick I can usually stay home with them, which is important to me at this stage of my life.
There are a few other things I do, like occasional consulting or paid feedback for a technology company, and I also still do some teaching at UCSF.
I do have a gazillion additional ideas related to geriatrics and technology, but there is no way I can pursue them all, or even write about them all. Ideas are easy; getting something concrete done is harder, and will probably require me to spend a little less time on ideas.
So, those are my thoughts for 2014. If you want to wish me luck, or have ideas/suggestions for me, please comment below.

Addendum: The quick-and-dirty version of how I use my personal data and what it might mean for healthcare

The short version of the story is that I’ve been wearing a Fitbit to track sleep and exercise, but I never look at my data. However, I like the thought that I could query and summarize the data if I needed to.

Similarly, a financial website passively sucks up all my transactions over the year. I hardly ever follow the data, but recently we met with a financial advisor to talk about our long-term financial wellbeing and wow, I was glad that I could aggregate, review, and analyze all that financial data. Imagine if people could do something similar before their annual meeting with their doctor.

Moral of the story: data gathering should be as passive as possible, and many people will only interact with it episodically, when they feel they have a good reason. It’s boring to watch one’s fitness data all the time, and boring to watch one’s financial data. Even though there are good reasons to follow both types of data stream, people often don’t remain motivated to do what’s good for them.


  1. This is me wishing you the best of luck!

    Also FWIW I've been thinking a lot about wearables lately too. I just returned my Fitbit and Jawbone because I also never looked at the data. Fun but they just didn't provide enough value. I wrote up some more thoughts on that: and would love your thoughts.

    • Thanks for the encouragement.

      I took a look at your post and left a comment. As happened to me with my financial data, I'm interested in being able to query a patient's health data when the question comes up. In general, I think people will often need to partner with a clinician in order to know what questions to ask of their data.

      Similarly, I ask questions of my financial data when prompted by the financial advisor. It's motivating to meet with her, and also she is the expert who says "here's what we have to look at in order to see how to keep you on track for retirement". (Assuming of course the financial system hasn't gone to hell in 30 years, which it very well might.)

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