Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Technology, digital files, and digital trails

My teenage son broke his wrist at the beginning of the summer. While waiting with him in an examining room today I noticed a computer and large monitor. The doctor came in, logged in by looking at the computer (it had face recognition), typed in my son's name - and then proceeded to show me the difference between his first x-ray in June and today's via the digital images on the computer. Would zoom in the images to show certain parts of the wrist. Made me wonder if they even need to print x-ray films anymore.

The other detail - I noticed my son on the bottom corner of the computer screen because there was a webcam on the top of the computer. So is his face attached to his digital file too? Here's examples of how doctor's offices and ER's are also using webcams now.


1. Are associations still printing out more than they need to print out?
2. If you're in a meeting, and you need to look something up, can you do it from your conference room without needing to walk anywhere else in the office? And can everyone else see the file if you want them to?
3. Do we underestimate where there's a computer, there can be a webcam too?
4. If using things like face recognition software matter-of-factly, does that give an image of being really high-tech in other parts of the practice too?

There's no question that in addition to digital files, there are digital trails created about all of us via many sources. I read online Ben wondering the "ethics" of Twitter posts being data mined by associations, third-parties and even data recipients. I'd guess there's a 110% chance they are. Anything posted to the public, or available to the masses (e.g., "private" Twitters posted temporarily on public blogs) is going to be mined. Just like the fact this post says I have a teenage son who had a broken wrist is now part of my digital trail. Count on it.

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