Half-Baked Idea: "Tweet" your Pain!

If you have chronic pain, or any kind of intermittent health problem, then you should join Twitter.

Why? Well, in case your last trip to the hospital wasn't a clear enough sign, the communication breakdown between doctors and patients is costing us dearly. Too little treatment, too much treatment, improper treatment, it all boils down to the fact that your doctor doesn't know enough about you to make some of these calls.

What were you doing when the pain struck? Getting out of the car? Well, what did you do before that? An hour before? Four hours before? Last week? Did you move furniture? Sit at your desk all day? Or did you go for a run? If you used Twitter, all this information would be available for your friends, family, and even doctors.

Naturally, this does open up the problem of information overload... and in fact studies have shown that doctors can sometimes give better treatment by asking fewer questions. The most famous example is probably the chest pains decision tree described in the book Blink: by asking three questions and no more, doctors have a better chance of catching heart attacks. Of course, that's just for determining whether your chest pain is serious enough to warrant hospitalization, or whether you should take a Tylenol and go home. After a patient is in the hospital, the more information your doctor has, the better your treatment will be.

By constantly recording what you are doing with twitter messages (aka "tweets"), you give your doctor a wealth of information about your habits. If you moved furniture three days before you felt pain, you might not remember... but its in your Twitter feed, so your doctor will know.

Why Twitter and not a diary or blog? Simple... the easier it is to do, the more likely you are to do it. Diaries and blogs are for long-winded thoughts, rants, and essays. Twitter is simply what you are doing right now, and nothing else. Its clean and simple, and you can even "tweet" via cell phone text messaging. Nobody expects you to be pithy, funny, or even interesting... just approximately accurate.

In short, if you want good medical treatment, you should tweet your pain.

comments

good timing

Tim's foray into Twitter sent me here. Ironically, I smashed my finger today and tweeted it:
http://twitter.com/jkuramot/statuses/633358422

Tim pointed out your post, which I would have seen eventually, but still, very timely. So, why is it you don't Tweet?

good question...

I did for a time, but stopped: https://twitter.com/bexmex/

I'm an early adopter of most technology, but I discard it rapidly if it doesn't prove its value... I used a cell phone "brick" back in 1995, but stopped after a year. I didn't get one again until mid 2007, and that was only after much soul-searching:

http://bexhuff.com/2006/06/nope-i-dont-own-cell-phone

Why did I use a cell phone back in 1995? That's a long story involving a Jeep, a ranch, a 45 minute commute to college, a Spanish girl, and a telephone relay station that bypassed long distance rates. Previously, all of that was required for me to find value in cell phones...

twitter rising

The Oracle-Twitterverse is growing, and stuff like Dan blogged about is happening, raising the value of Twitter.
It's still hard to balance signal/noise, but Twitter does have value as an informational/conversational tool.

still prefer instant messaging...

twitter would be useful for people in a situation where its highly important to know what are you doing right now? I'm thinking emergency responders... or computer admins who are trying to recover from a software failure. If you keep tweeting what you're doing, then people will stop asking, and everything will run more smoothly.

I also really like the proliferation of the @ notation to send messages to specific people. Very helpful when you're stuck in an environment that doesn't allow call-outs... such as comments threads, or even group email messages when you're trying to assign a task to one person in the group.

@jake thoughts?

sure, but . . .

You're right about emergencies, and I blogged about that during the So Cal fires this year. Slam dunk.

There are advantages vs. IM: 1) it's open so everyone can benefit from the info (or be annoyed by it) 2) it's persistent, so you can use Tweet Scan to find all the tweets about a keyword, e.g. "stellent" http://tweetscan.com/index.php?s=stellent&u=

So, it's easy to find information (see Dan's post) and people w/similar skills/interests. Twitter does suffer from the trivial name and "what are you doing?" problem, but it's a useful tool. Good example of the network using a tool for its own purposes.

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