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a blog by Chris Barrow

Pulling, storing and pushing data – and the business of dentistry

We live our lives “connected” to the web (if not fully connected to each other as a consequence). We PULL data to keep us informed on things we need to know and to entertain ourselves:

  1. train times

  2. football fixtures

  3. ferry and airline schedules

  4. tube maps

  5. the news

  6. travel locations and directions

  7. the weather

  8. traffic conditions

  9. TV shows and movies

  10. places to eat and drink

  11. search engines to look up anything we need to know more about

We STORE data that we will need to refer back to:

  1. Calendars – where we are supposed to be

  2. To Do lists – present and future tasks

  3. Photographs – to remind ourselves how we felt in the good moments and to create art

  4. The Cloud – for documents/notes/scans/presentations/spreadsheets/correspondence

  5. Databases – for people we know and even those we don’t

I’m fascinated by what happens when we PUSH data:

  1. the photograph I took

  2. the place I visited

  3. the thing I did

  4. the meal I eat

  5. the book I read

  6. the TV/movie I watched

  7. the post “what I wrote”

  8. the person(s) I was with

A favourite PUSH data event for me is using Runkeeper Pro to store my training record. I recall some months ago, completing a long run to find that my iPhone battery had died before the route was completed. The feeling of disappointment was out of all proportion to the event.

  1. I had still invested in the exercise

  2. I had enjoyed the run

But I was gutted that I couldn’t share my experience with the world. Social media is predicated on the fact that many of us have developed an irresistible urge to “share” our lives. It is the very opposite of existentialism. I realise that sometimes I am like a child seeking the approval of my parents – and wonder if, in fact, the real reason for the phenomenal growth in social media traffic is just that – my parents didn’t take enough notice of me – so now the world will. My belief is that we don’t have a passion for PULL data or for STORE data – the magic happens when we PUSH data (to share). So lets look at the business of dentistry – and at web sites, social media platforms and smartphone apps. Do they invite us to PULL, STORE or PUSH? I suggest primarily to PULL data – opening times, product mix, team profiles, testimonials, healthcare information. Prospective patients will always PULL data – when they need it – but there is little chance that they will become passionately engaged. In the good old days – Denplan et al had the bright idea of engaging the patient in their own oral health by giving them a score and monitoring the score over time. It was a clever philosophy – assuming (correctly) that as a patient I want to see my own score improve and I want my dentist/hygienist/therapist to reward me with the parentally glowing look of appreciation. So here is the challenge. Hoe do you create a smartphone app so compelling that, as a patient, I am going to want to “upload” my progress to either a public or private site, forum or community? Runkeeper Pro for my oral health? By the way – same goes for coaching – a smartphone app that would have my clients scrambling on a Friday afternoon to report their achievements to me, to their peers, to their team. Whoever cracks that nut will, I think, really move the whole game of patient/client engagement to a new level. Judging by the number of people in Greece last week who were toting smartphones and tablets, all day, every day, morning, noon and night – there is a global opportunity here to take Mr Zuckerberg’s fortuitous arrival at the right place, right time, to a whole new level. PULL is just a library. STORE is just filing. The world wants to PUSH.

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