Wireless Wonders

No news, just comment about mobile phones and services, from a veteran practitioner...3G, GPRS, WAP, Bluetooth, WiFi, etc...

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The sick child experience...

Recently, one of our kids has been sick. The routine is usually the same for us and probably everyone else with kids who get sick from time to time.

Initial assessment is made, some checks done (e.g. for rashes), temperature taken and medicines reached for, such as Calpol (a pink medicine in the UK that everyone seems to give their kids).

After a while, or perhaps early on, depending on the child's apparent health and the parental state of mind, the thought comes to book a doctor's appointment.

Here, an interesting psychology arises; if some other kids have got "it", then "it" is probably not fatal and there's no point in visiting the doctor. We'll just ride it out. Safety in numbers?

I'm not sure how true it really is when people say something like "O yeah, Jonny's got that, apparently it's going round at the moment"..... do illnesses really come in waves?

Can mobile technology assist with this problem? Well, a few ideas came to mind...

Firstly, the doctor's surgery could issue a "sickness wave" advisory. Cell broadcast would be ideal for this, as it's the most effective means possible of advising a population living in the vicinity of the surgery.

The second possibility relates to my earlier posting about consulting the crowd, especially within a locale (i.e. proximity-based consultation). This perhaps stretches the imagination a little, but I feel it is an interesting possibility....

If the worried parent wants to know should I go to the doctor, they could issue a poll to an ad-hoc crowd. Something like: "My daughter has symptom x, y and z - should I take her to the doctor?"

The poll would appear on the crowd's devices with the option "yes/no" and the "comment" box. I suspect that the crowd will "know" the answer. If "it" is doing the rounds, then the crowd will know that and most likely this will appear in the comments.

Asking the crowd is different to asking the doctor's receptionist, who would probably say "it's up to you", or some non-committal response. Of course, these days, they have triage nurses who could follow-up such a question. However, can we assume that the surgery knows better than the crowd about illnesses doing the rounds? Not necessarily, especially if the crowd is working to keep sick kids away from the doctors in the first place.

Food for thought...

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