How to Get a Developer to Build Your Healthcare App

As a Google Glass guy, and a bit of a healthcare gadfly, I have doctors coming to me with ideas all the time.  I love them, they’re beautiful people and fun to talk to.  Imagine for a moment that you’re one of those guys.  You have an idea.  Congratulations.

outofhisleagueYou need “a developer”.  So somebody hooks us up.  But there are a few things you need to know about me before we ‘do it’.  I’m really popular these days.  You, on the other hand, are the guy in the hockey shirt.  In dating terms, I’m a 9 and you’re a 6 (maybe).   If I’m any good at all, and I am, I have companies led by non-MDs that could make me sick-rich knocking on my LinkedIn account every day.

So how do you get me to ‘do it’?  Remember that sick-rich comment?  What I hear most of the time when a doc pitches the potential of a project is

this could be made into something by someone who isn’t me if they worked really hard for a long time without  any help from me, because of course my day job saving lives keeps me very busy, none of which should affect the 90% of equity I deserve for having the idea

Seriously, just stay home and learn how to code yourself.  I mean it.  You want better outcomes? So do I.  But if you want some action, make me laugh.  Have a sick-rich pitch.

Don’t tell me you have no money.  In dating terms this is the equivalent of telling her you have no car and live with your parents.  You wear a tie and work for an institution that is both immensely profitable AND non-profit meaning that rich people give it money for no good reason.  There’s an entire department dedicated to raising money for you – they’re called the Development Office.  Go visit them.  You’re in a highly-compensated profession.  All of your peers have money and some of them angel-invest.  Your employer gives grants for ideas about better handwashing.  If you can’t find money to develop your idea either you suck, or your idea sucks.

And speaking of your employer, you signed some papers when you went to work for them.  It’s time to reread those.  If your employer is one of those that claims ownership of everything you think while you work for them, then you and I will not be having a relationship.  You’re like the frat boy who never goes anywhere without a half dozen drunken brothers.  Nobody wants to date that.

engagementIt’s also important to remember that the guys coming at me every day on LinkedIn with the sick-rich pitches aren’t looking for a one-night-stand, they want to get married.  They’re pitching CTO or lead-developer roles with salary and founder-equity on teams that are “going to be the next Uber”.  When you come at me with a one-time idea for an app that will take a few weeks to develop and probably won’t make boatloads of money, you’re pitching a one-night-stand where I pay for the taxi and the motel room and end up feeling used.  You’re not that handsome.  A one-off project that has no money now, and no breakout potential later, is a job for a fuck-buddy.  Think back to your dating days.  How many 9s slept with you on those terms?

Clinicians are popping up all over the place building companies with long-term potential based on technological innovations.  See here, here, here and here.  They focus, park their egos, commit their own time, realize that the idea is the seed, not the tree, and they collaborate with people who can do the 99.9% of building a business that they can’t.  You can do well and do good in this business while working on fun technology with smart, dedicated people if you approach it that way.  Be that.

Google Glass, Taken Seriously (with predictions!)

In my last post I gave a mostly factual, but seriously facetious account of my 10 weeks with Google Glass.  Lest  you think me totally unserious, it seemed wise to post a followup that informs as well as amuses.

Mirror API

Mirror API, just for background, is a server-side API for injecting HTML-ish cards into the UI of a user’s Glass.  That’s it.  You write a web application, deploy it to Google’s AppEngine, and that web application calls Google’s Mirror API to put cards of your design into the timeline.  A Mirror app does NOT run on the Glass as far as you, the developer, are concerned.

The Mirror API is limited, seriously limited. Having thought really hard about it for lo these 10 weeks I have gradually come to understand the thinking behind it but that doesn’t mean I agree. There are uses for it.  Consider, for example, test results in the medical field.  You’re a clinician running around as they all do, but as a test result comes in, it pops onto a card in your timeline, you can click down into it to acknowledge receipt or flag for followup.  As a user experience I think that case makes sense.

The only problem with the Mirror API and the timeline metaphor is that right now it’s an all-or-nothing proposition.  You can’t do anything (official) on Glass that’s not Mirror.  I can see a rework of the timeline such that it’s cooperative with other apps, a timeline View that you can incorporate in your app.  Even a required timeline View that, as an app developer, you have no control over would probably work.  But as a walled garden Mirror doesn’t work.

The Future of Glass

220px-CarnacSo Mirror API is a dead issue.  Google has to figure out how to enable useful apps without throwing away its emotional investment in Mirror. There are strong indications that they already have figured it out and are just rolling it out VERY SLOWLY.

With that as background, let’s put a stake in the ground and make some predictions so that you, my fans, will know exactly what is not going to happen:

  • September update that includes a “hole in the timeline” that allows side-loaded native apps to be invoked and run without jumping through hoops.  Could be as simple as making native apps voice-invokable via the Ok Glass menu.  This update will still require side-loading to get native apps on there.
  • November 15 limited-access trial of a Glass app store
  • February 15, 2014 GA date for the device and app store
  • Only available online through Google
  • Retail price of $299 (h/t to @wareflo who reminded me I forgot to predict price)
  • App store submission includes actual Glass-certification process a la the iTunes app store “black hole of approval”. Much closer scrutiny of apps adherence to usability guidelines and astronomical initial rejection rate.
  • Number of apps in the Glass app store on opening: 5,000

Well, I’ve stuck my neck out.  What are YOUR predictions for the future of Glass?

One Glasshole’s Timeline

I am a Glasshole. There, I’ve said it. If you come here for nothing more than to know what I’m doing, leave now. (Bye Mom!) If you also come to keep up with the latest cultural trends, read on:

Noun glasshole

  1. insensitive, privacy invading, distracted driving, techno-knucklehead who’d drive off a cliff if Sergei or Larry told him it was a good idea.
  2. someone who got Google Glass before I did.

Alright, the rest of you can go home now so I can talk to myself, as usual.

I’ve had Glass for 10 weeks, so in the spirit of proving my superiority (really isn’t that the point of all blogs?) I deign to share a little of what it’s like to be so cool.  “Timeline”, as all you #glasswaiters know is the foundation of Glass’ much-maligned mirror API so I’ve sketched out a rough timeline of my own Glass-Self-Discovery adventure. On every milestone (timeline card) is a picture, a short description of what happened that week, and the Selfies-Count – i.e. the number of people who borrowed the Glass, usually to take a picture of themselves wearing Glass that they can tweet to the world.

Day 1:
 benmustache Hungout with my friend Ben, who also got Glass.  Ben doesn’t really have a handlebar mustache.  Discovered that “doing hangouts” on Glass is Stupid because when you’re talking to someone they want to see you, not the crappe you’re looking at, duh. Spent the rest of the day hanging out with myself trying not to feel stupid. Went to bed convinced I was the coolest kid in America.
Selfies-count: 5, including my 80 year old parents. Dad was surprisingly handy with the touchpad. My children did not tweet out their selfies.
Week 2:
PatientBefore (1) In the second week, my team of crack coders, (including Griffin playing the part of a patient at left), took Glass to AngelHack Boston and built a prototype hospital rapid response team management system called aRRTGlass. We committed several major crimes against computer science, watched the Bruins on the big screen in a Microsoft conference room and violated the unwritten rule against letting me name things. We were the only Glass play at the hack, and by a wide margin the best hack and coolest demo.
Selfies-count: 53 with a tweet-rate of ~73%. The force is strong among the angelhackers.
Week 3:
johnrodley-thumb-300x340-104878 Sulked about not winning AngelHack with our cool Glass thing. Got a nice writeup in the Boston Globe by Scott Kirsner who took, and published, the worst picture of me ever taken.  Considered suicide when I discovered that you can’t do Glass without participating in Google Plus.
Selfies-count: holding steady at 53
Week 4:
 money Returned to work re-energized and waited for @richminer to call and offer us 8 figures to sit on our asses being cool. He must have been on vacation that week.  Fell immediately back into depression as I worked on streaming video off Glass and discovered what everybody else already knows about streaming off Android – it’s torture. Fell further into depression after realizing that the Cost of Sales in healthcare is 1 billion times the Cost of Sales in any other industry except defense or local government.
Selfies-count: 71 including one free 5$ coffee and one free 6$ beer
Week 5:
 moneyno Waited for Glass Collective to call and offer us 7 figures to develop Solitaire for Glass. Made several concerted efforts to “connect” with Google developer advocates for help with Glass development issues. Was told, “Glass developer advocates have very specific goals” right now. Apparently, helping developers write for Glass is not one of those goals.  Discovered that everybody else who knows anything about healthcare is totally depressed about the possibility of fixing it.  Strangely, this made me feel better.
Selfies-count: 77 – fair warning, if you’re a fast-food cashier and you want a selfie, I now expect a freebie in return.  Seriously, don’t even ask.
Week 6:
20130710_182635_393 Hosted the Exploring Glass meetup to explain to the unwashed masses what Glass is all about. This forced me to pause the money-wait long enough to figure out what consumer Glass is all about. This involved loading every Glassware available onto my device and using them. This took about 15 minutes. Ominously, the first card that the CNN Glassware showed me was a video clip about a dog that can ride a scooter.  Sometimes the jokes write themselves.
Selfies-count: 117, a free burrito, and the business cards of 7 hot women. #winning
Week 7:
 hanglass Started wearing Glass in public. Wore it around my work neighborhood in Cambridge (@workbar) and found out what it’s like to be a rockstar. Wore it around my Republican suburb and, paradoxically, got as close as I will ever get to knowing what it’s like to be black. A Learning Experience. Thought I’d sworn off those. Got another nice writeup in the Boston Globe from Cal Borchers who took the one unfortunately colorful thing I said in our two hours together and used it as the punchline of the story. Really Sergei, I don’t think that wearing Google Glass is comparable to running around pointing a gun at people.
Selfies-count: 131, wondering if I should subtract dagger-stares from the selfies-count. Review of the video from Cal’s visit indicate a high sneaky-dagger-stare quotient.
Week 8:
 Fred1 Changed all my social media profile pictures to some picture of me wearing Glass. The transformation is complete. Google starts making noise about a GDK. People who haven’t been paying attention swoon as if you can’t develop Glass apps without one. Those of us developing Glass apps without a GDK grind our teeth and remind ourselves that this keeps the field clear of knuckleheads for another few weeks.
Selfies-count: 152, decided to ignore the dagger-stares. Can’t distinguish the Glass-related ones from the unattractive-middle-aged-man ones.
Week 9:
20130715_110550_277 Got hit by a car while wearing Glass. First car accident in 25 years. I had been stopped for a good minute in the middle lane of the Southeast Expressway at rush hour when the urban assault vehicle behind me gave me a serious love tap. Thought that only happened to other people. Hmmph, another Learning Experience. I thanked The Deity that he didn’t just do the monster-truck-crawl right over my little plastic Element. The Glass was turned off. Wish I’d been recording, though it only would have shown the car jumping forward 5 feet.
Selfies-count: 157 – the mojo appears to be wearing off, though the force remains strong inside Chipotle as I score another free burrito.
Week 10:
 comingsoon Took a pile of existing Android code and developed something useful for Glass. Stay tuned.
Selfies-count: 164 – selfies count seems related to how much I stay at my desk developing code, and how much I go out and show off the Glass. Worth investigating.