What do you Need to Know?

by Larry Emmott on September 16, 2014

in Management,Software

This month’s Inscriptions article is at the link.

Inscriptions—Sep 2014.

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AADPA 2015

by Larry Emmott on September 15, 2014

in Dental Speaker,Management

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Saved by the Cloud…or not

by Larry Emmott on September 15, 2014

in General,Management,Security,Software

privacyWhen you visit a medical or dental office in the future you won’t be handed a clip board and paper forms, all your personal and medical data will be stored on the cloud. The medical / dental office will merely request a download and all the data will be available instantly. No forms, no guessing about medications, no forgetting your last visit, no confusion about insurance.

Isn’t that great all your highly personal medical data will be available to anyone with access through the cloud!

That will be really great because we wouldn’t want out personal stuff available to any old hacker so we will have the same level of protection that people had for their nude photos or that Target had for purchases or …well maybe it won’t be so great.

As much as I love technology and see the incredible potential of cloud based data and want it to be safe and secure, clearly it is not.

As digital technology and electronic health records stored in the cloud continue to develop they generate legal, moral and philosophical questions our existing ethical framework is simply not equipped to handle.

Most of these ethical questions can be summed up as:

Who owns the data?

 

Patients? If you ask patients the immediate and unequivocal answer is that they do. That seems right, each patient should have control of their medical information. That is what the HIPAA privacy rules are supposed to address. Yet that is not how the system works.

Doctors? If you ask a dental practice management software company (PMS) who owns the data the immediate and unequivocal answer is that you do the doctor owns the data.

Yet again this is not how the system works.

If as a dentist I own the data, I should be able to exercise the basic rights of ownership including using or transferring the data. However current systems do not allow me to transfer the data to another dentist or to use it as I wish for analysis. Plus as a dental professional I am obligated ethically and legally to protect the data as confidential.

If I have the data but can’t access parts of it or more commonly can’t transfer parts of it do I really own it?

Public? One of the most significant benefits of large online data bases of medical information is the aggregation of data for medical research purposes. Already there have been important findings resulting in improved patient care based in data base analysis. It seems axiomatic that more data from a wide range of sources will ultimately lead to better results. That is a good thing, but.

Is it OK to use personal medical data in a study without the patient’s permission? What if the personal identifiers are removed?

Then there is the issue of privacy. The primary issue driving HIPAA privacy rules is that a patient’s information must be protected. HIPAA is not about speaking a patients name aloud in the waiting room, it is about electronic medical data and making it available to others is wrong. Wrong morally and legally. That seems to be obviously true on the surface. Our personal data should be held in confidence. But what if we choose to make it public by participating in a study? Do we still own that data? Who does; the researchers, the web aggregator or the public, as in the public good?

In an ideal world all our medical data could be accumulated in a huge national (or for that matter global) data bank. This mass of data would be used by benevolent researchers to delve into disease patterns and treatment outcomes to provide a vastly improved understanding of the human condition.

But of course in the real world we have fear, politics, hackers, bureaucrats, proprietary data bases, the nightly news and less than benevolent people.

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Simplicity Is Good. Ease Is Better.

by Larry Emmott on September 14, 2014

in General

From Mashable:

The goal is not simplicity for its own sake. Simplicity is only a means to an end. The goal is ease. We can admire simplicity as a characteristic, but ease is what we want users to experience

via Simplicity Is Good. Ease Is Better..

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Anti-Buzz: Traveling Salesman (Again)

by Andrew Emmott on September 13, 2014

in Anti-Buzz

Andrew has been writing Anti Buzz for 4 years resulting in almost 200 articles. For the next several weeks we will revisit some of these just in case you missed it.

So here’s something fun.

I’ve talked about the travelling salesman problem before. On one hand I should probably be happy that a serious Computer Science topic is given its own movie and sexed up for the general public, but I will be honest, this trailer makes me cringe.
This is anti-buzz after all, so let’s get to the task of dispelling the untruths and misdirections.
My first thought upon seeing this trailer was that it was going to unleash a new army of trisectors. What is a trisector? There is a famous old essay popular among mathematicians: What to do When the Trisector Comes? You do not have to be very math literate to appreciate it, and if you chose to just read that article instead of mine, I would not be offended.
In short, a trisector is a mathematical crank. A non-mathematician who for some reason gets it in their heads to either solve some daunting, open math question, or worse, one who attempts to ‘solve’ something mathematicians have already proven to be impossible. ‘Trisector’ is referring to someone trying to trisect an angle using only compass and straight edge, something the ancient Greeks proved impossible, and something that is largely irrelevant today because we have means of trisecting angles with better-than-ancient-Greek tools.

This trailer exaggerates the impact of finding an efficient solution to Traveling Salesman, but what upsets the crank-wary part of me is that it’s not entirely based in fiction; indeed a simple explanation of what’s really at stake does sound a bit like mathemagical sorcery: If an efficient solution to any NP-Hard problem, (Traveling Salesman is one such problem), is discovered, via reductions, this would in turn solve every other NP-Hard problem. Many NP-Hard problems are practical and have real-world implications; so the impact would be real.

The real scientific issue at stake is the question of P versus NP, two classes of problems that have different definitions but, maddeningly, nobody has proven are not equivalent. If they are not the same, then there are no efficient solutions for the NP-Hard problems, and if they are the same, then there are. While most scientists believe that P does not equal NP, the implications of them being the same are attractive to cranks: even now mathematicians are flooded with alleged proofs resolving the issue.

newface-620x461However, in the context of P versus NP, ‘efficient’ is a very loosely applied term. The layperson’s idea of computational efficiency is far more demanding than the bounds of poly-time algorithms. To put it in everyday terms, the difference between P and NP-Hard is the difference between years and centuries. Consumers want things done in less than a second. ‘Efficient’ solutions to Traveling Salesman would have a broad impact, but they would not lead to ‘everything can be done in a second’, but any other definition of efficiency means nothing to a consumer.

This misrepresentation of computational efficiency is a chronic problem; the average person has no concept of what really hard problems look like. The trailer suggests the film has no desire to rectify this, as the analogy used in the trailer once again misrepresents the issue. Finding a coin in the Sahara is not a complex problem. It is only time consuming because there is so much sand, but the solution is simple: look through all the sand. The ‘glass’ solution eliminates one dimension – an improvement – but we were already well within the bounds of efficiency, by our loose definition of efficiency. The really hard problems are not ones with lots of sand, but ones that are difficult even when you have very little sand to look through.

I’m also not sure why the trailer has the image of a drill entering somebody’s head. I don’t see how that becomes more efficient as a matter of P versus NP. We really don’t need to be giving the cranks more to be excited about. They already think what they are doing is magic.

Exaggerating the impact of traveling Salesman is forgivable: it’s a movie. Less forgivable is the anti-intellectual bent it has.

The trailer takes a turn for the uncanny with its use of the word ‘simplified’ presented not unlike some high-tech ad, preying on everyone’s fear that high-tech companies are luring us to our doom with their veneer of nice, simple, consumer-friendliness. People want to hate Google and its ilk for the influence and power they, even though they’ve pretty much only ever used it to make our lives better. People want to believe in stories that say they shouldn’t trust that.

I would rather we weren’t so cynical, but that is a tall order as long as computer science remains mysterious and magical to the average person.

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Claim your Yelp Business Site

by Larry Emmott on September 12, 2014

in Digital Marketing,Internet,Social Media

yelp-logoYelp allows you to claim or what they call “unlock” your business account:

Unlocking your business page and setting up a Business Owner’s Account is free, takes only two minutes, and is a great way to get involved in the Yelp community.

Support Center | Yelp for Business Owners.

Like it or not Yelp has created a business page for your dental practice and will publish reviews about you. With or without your knowledge or permission. You can “unlock” your page for free and add content. Follow the link above for more information.

I have very mixed feelings about online reviews in general and Yelp in particular. Yelp has been and is currently being sued by a number of dentists. Never the less unlocking your page for free is probably worth the effort.

Whether or not you decide to unlock your account you should go to Yelp and search your name to see what may already be posted about you.

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90 Seconds

September 12, 2014

Did you know? It takes just 90 seconds on your web site for a visitor to decide if they want to become a patient. From Sesame Communications.

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Guide to “Computers in the Back”

September 12, 2014

Are you planning to remodel or upgrade your office? Technology has become and integral part of any modern dental office. Where you put the computers, the monitors and the inputs is just as important as where the chairs and handpieces go. Many dentists just stuff the computer somewhere between the sink and the glove dispenser … then wonder […]

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September 11, 2014
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Gmail Leak: Why You Should Change Your Google Password

September 10, 2014

Hmmm: It might be a good time to change your Gmail password as it looks like more than 5 million usernames used for Google’s mail service were posted online…There’s no reason to panic, and even in the worst case scenario this is far less serious than the Heartbleed Bug for instance. Still, it might be […]

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Support for ObamaCare continues to fall

September 10, 2014

From The Hill: Public approval of ObamaCare continued to sink this summer, issuing the latest warning for vulnerable Democrats who will face voters this fall after backing the law.  Just 35 percent of voters now support the Affordable Care Act, down 3 percentage points from May, Support for ObamaCare continues to fall | TheHill.

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Dental Art

September 10, 2014

“Dog’s Teeth”  ?? I do not have the location an artist or a title for this . The image simply had Dog’s Teeth as the identifier. Dental art is anything that depicts teeth or dentistry in an interesting or artistic way. If you have any suggestions for future Dental Art pieces please send them to me or […]

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Apple launches Apple Watch

September 9, 2014

From Fox: with video. Apple finally made its big entry into the wearable technology market on Tuesday, unveiling the Apple Watch, its long-anticipated smartwatch. via Apple launches Apple Watch, dives  into wearable market | Fox News.

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$221,000

September 9, 2014

Hmmm The average dental student leaves school with $221,ooo in student loan debt.

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Oh Yeah, It’s a Phone Too

September 9, 2014

One of the fundamental changes that digital technology has produced is so subtle we often don’t even acknowledge it yet it is so substantial that it has altered everything. Once the basic capacity is in place a digital device can do many many that is to say many tasks. The most obvious example is a […]

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Brain-to-brain ‘telepathic’ communication achieved for first time

September 8, 2014

From the Telegraph: For the first time, scientists have been able to send a simple mental message from one person to another without any contact between the two, thousands of miles apart in India and France. via Brain-to-brain ‘telepathic’ communication achieved for first time – Telegraph. Very cool. Wouldn’t it be great to just think […]

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Don’t Shoot the Messenger

September 8, 2014

From The Progressive Dentist Magazine: A fraudster is often very likable, and appears dedicated to the practice.  This person will likely be a favorite employee.  They always arrive early and stay late.  They rarely take vacation, and handle most tasks independently with little oversight.  To you, they are sometimes your Most Valuable Player and will […]

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Google Juice in Dallas: AADPA

September 7, 2014

TEXAS Dentists: I will be presenting in Dallas Friday Sept. 12. This is a regional meeting sponsored by AADPA. Follow the link for details and registration information. Featuring Dr. Larry Emmott Google Juice for Dentists This is an entertaining presentation from the nation’s leading high tech dentist. Program Highlights: The three purposes of an office […]

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Anti-Buzz: Judo

September 6, 2014

Andrew has been writing Anti Buzz for 4 years resulting in almost 200 articles. For the next several weeks we will revisit some of these just in case you missed it. When I’m thinking about modern technology but I’m not waxing philosophic about it here, I’m usually thinking about digital products – music, movies, photos, games, software […]

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Training Computers to Spot Tumors

September 5, 2014

From MIT: Machines are doing more and more of the work typically completed by humans, and detecting diseases may be next: a new company called Enlitic takes aim at the examination room by employing computers to make diagnoses based on images. via Training Computers to Spot Tumors | MIT Technology Review. Another great example of […]

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