The King and I. The Classic Musical for all time.

Just to prove that not everything happens in London, our rapidly upcoming blogger and journalist Amelia Grace went to see “The King and I” in the provincial Yorkshire town of Hull,  just a few days ago.  This is what she says:

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Based on the 1941 novel ‘Anna and the King of Siam’, the timeless musical ‘The King and I’ follows Anna, a schoolteacher, as her and her young son Louis emigrate to Siam (now Thailand) to start a new life teaching the King of Siam’s many children. As the opposite personalities and cultures of herself and the King clash, it portrays how even the most unlikely of people can form a strong bond between them.

The musical isn’t shy in tackling big issues such as polygamy and gender inequality which can be explicitly seen through the King’s many wives and the derogatory way he often addresses the women he interacts with. As the audience, we go on a journey with the King as Anna mellows him and causes him to see the way he acts can sometimes be oppressive. They often fight over his unwillingness to treat her as an equal because she’s a woman and he sees her as one of his subjects so therefore she must obey him and bow face on the ground to him whenever she’s in his presence. On the other hand, Anna fights for what she believes in which is equal rights for women and refuses to cower whenever she argues with the King about his treatment of women or when he demands that she bow down at his feet. She does compromise for him like when she moves her position because it offends him if she’s higher than him. However, overall, her passion and commitment to the pursuit of gender equality provides him with a refreshing perspective, considering most of the women he interacts with sycophantically agree with him on everything and would never dream of arguing with him. Although it seems quite ordinary in our modern society to fight for gender equality, it would’ve been very rare to discover a woman like Anna who mirrors some of the earliest feminists like the suffragettes.

It would potentially be dangerous to hold such views about gender inequality so Anna is quite incredible in not only voicing her opinions but fighting for rights as a woman as well. I think the reason the King never reprimands her for arguing with him about women’s rights is because he quite admires her passion and courage and can’t bring himself to harm such a strong, incredible woman. This, for me, is one of the reasons why he falls in love with her and if anyone is worthy of his love, it’s Anna.

Another quite disturbing aspect of the musical is the representation of slavery. Tuptim, a pretty slave girl, is given to the King as a present from the King of Burma. She has no choice but to become one of the King’s wives despite being in love with Lun Tha, the scholar who escorted her there. The couple share stolen kisses and clandestine moments together despite the immense danger they would be in if they were caught. In fact, they are caught by one of the King’s many wives who claims that she won’t tell the King because of how much it will anger and devastate him. However, in view of the punishments they would receive if the King discovered their affair, I was more inclined to believe it was because she would feel too guilty to sentence them both to that suffering. During an embassy visit from the UK, Tuptim performs a play she’s organised herself and the anti slavery message contained within it is very explicit. She and Lun Tha had planned to run away together after the play, however, the king discovers the affair and is enraged. Lun Tha is discovered dead and Tuptim is lead away in chains, screaming for her own suicide because what life is there without her lover being there with her?

The musical ends as the King contracts a deadly illness and is dying slowly. All his loved ones including Anna crowd around his bed, soaking up their last moments with him. It’s a quiet end to an outgoing, fierce character such as the King but I think it reflects his softer side that is concealed deep inside him. In the end, he can’t fight any longer but he has to accept his fate and appreciate the people who love him especially Anna. It feels like a natural end to the musical as he names his son the new King of Siam. One King’s reign ends as another’s journey as King is just beginning..

Medical Grade Wearable Devices for vital signs Continuous Monitoring

The need for a mobile and wearable clinical device – to take the pressure off our clinics and hospitals – has never been greater. It’s not like  there is no need.  The problem, so to say has been twofold; the reluctance of hospitals and staff to embrace a new technology that appears to reduce their personal involvement; and the lack of absolute clinical quality.  Sure, we have our Apple Watches, but that does not make us all doctors.

But things are changing. We look at the new wearable watch from CardiacSense, and ask, has the time now come for clinical grade solutions in the palm of our hand or on our wrist?  Eyal Copitt, COO of CardiacSense, latest manufacturer of a watch and wristband within the heart monitoring space,  explains what they do in these difficult times. This is what he says;

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Rapid expansion of the Coronavirus emphasizes the immediate need for long-term continuous remote monitoring of vital signs to closely monitor the conditions of those infected with the Corona virus.

Coronavirus patients suffer from high core temperature, high respiratory rate, high heart rate and low Oxygen saturation

The need for monitoring is at hospital for badly ill patients as well as at home for lightly ill people.
Devices with wireless communication allows hospital and home monitoring without the need for direct contact of medical staff and patients.

The CardiacSense watch and wristband have them all,  – core temperature, highest accuracy measurement of heart rate, respiratory rate, SpO2as well as absolute cuff-less blood pressure and arrythmia detection and wireless communication.

The above turns CardiacSense watch and wristband to be the ultimate affordable continuous monitoring solution for inpatients and outpatients, sending real-time measurements to the nurses station and receiving back written instructions from the medical staff through the device screen whether the patient being in the hospital or at home.

Using the CardiacSense watch and wristband medical grade continuous monitoring enables better monitoring and communication for isolated inpatients reducing staff infection risk and allows light coronavirus patients stay at home, while the monitored data being auto sent to the hospital’s monitoring center.

Eyal can be contacted at; Eyal@cardiacsense.com.

IS OUR NEW REALITY – A REALLY GOOD IDEA?

It is a fact not commonly understood, that a business that battens down the hatches in times of troubles, will end up in a worse place when the troubles are over – than from where it started. We look at how today’s problems can be tomorrow’s answers.

FIGARO HERE. FIGARO THERE. NOBODY DOES MOZART BETTER THAN ENO.

We review the latest new interpretation of this classic Opera, at London Coliseum’s English National Opera.

The trick in delivering “Marriage of Figaro, is not that everybody knows the story – it is that, it doesn’t matter if they don’t. The opera itself excels when it is just funny, absurd, stupid, ridiculous, – Brian Rix farce with melodies. At what point does an audience get bored watching people hiding behind doors? Actually, – never. They keep laughing. The young couple in front of me told me this was their first ever opera. This was no academic analysis. This was a night out. It does not get better than this. Heavens, don’t we need it at time like this!

This new production minimises the set, to focus on the simple reality of; have lots of doors, have people coming and going, from wherever and whoever, you have no clue. And make sure the singing is tight, crisp, – absolutely choreographed. Simples. Unusually for ENO, the opera opens straightaway into the Overture, there is no clever preamble – and then you understand. As soon as the doors start to open, close, total organised chaos ensues, and it never lets up.

And yet it is clearly more than that. Listening to Hanna Hip in discussion a few weeks earlier talk about her assessment of Cherubino, this opera depends on drama, of the protagonists reaching out to their audience. This is echoed by the complex but deliberate direction – the movement of the singers is like a jigsaw of interlocking and non-interlocking pieces – set against a pure white background of just four doors, that open, and close.

Despite the fact that for several, this was their first night Debut at ENO – Kevin John Edusei as Conductor, Bozidar Smiljanic’s debut as Figaro, and Louise Alder as the standout character Susanna – this delivery is everything that ENO does well, a sort of relaxed but very fast and spot on performance, that combines the many subtle and little touches, and letting the glorious music and melody take you along for the ride.

I loved the interplay of of Figaro and Susanna, and the small choral groupings towards the end of Act 2 were mesmeric. Even the Act 1 choreographed photo-shoots in the Overture, were clever, different, you wanted to lean in and see where all this nonsense is going.

I cane away wanting to come back and see the production for a second time – I am sure like a good movie, I will “get” even more, now that I know what is happening. Then again, who’s to say I will be any the wiser second time around?

Welcome to our Annual Himss Orlando 2020 Survey

The cancellation of this year’s HIMSS 2020 – has left a hole for many vendors, as to how to reach out to their necessary market, and the reverse, how can hospitals and clinicians follow what is going on?

Every year we receive about one hundred or so requests for interviews and editorials, from PR companies and their healthcare clients. We take here what we feel are the most interesting of these and most relevant, and simply tell it like it is. We publish what they themselves have to say. And we invite you to make direct contact with the vendors concerned. Access to our report will cost you around $2.00, which goes towards our costs of putting the data together for you. And you can use our search bar on our site, to find any topic that might not be immediately visible that we might have spoken about here or earlier.

So.. here we go!

Is AI finally getting traction in Healthcare?

Ahead of Rare Disease Day (Feb 29), Ashley Yum has written to us,  to offer us the opportunity to speak with Steve Costalas, CEO, HVH Precision Analytics, about how AI and machine learning are being used to help diagnose rare diseases faster and more accurately.

HVH Precision Analytics is a joint venture between the world’s largest health and wellness network Havas Health & You , and Vencore,  and specializes in AI and machine learning data analytics.

At a time when take up of AI in healthcare is surprisingly low, this collaboration is looking at  how AI/big data can identify symptoms of disease 3-5 years before diagnosis, – and using RWD and RWE to find undiagnosed patients in healthcare databases – and finally, – · leveraging data to support the rare disease community beyond diagnosis.

And they have some interesting side announcements, if you will…

95% of rare diseases do not have an FDA-approved treatment, significantly limiting treatment options for the 400 million people living with a rare disease.

7,000 rare diseases have been identified, but only 5% have FDA-approved treatments.

The total number of Americans living with a rare disease is estimated at between 25-30 million.

The average time it takes for rare disease patients to receive an accurate diagnosis is 4.8 years.

However, they are  excited about the progress that’s been made in recent years thanks to AI, and  they would love to share  what they  think is in store for the future.

Ashley can be contacted at; ashley.yum@HVHprecision.com

OPERA AS IT SHOULD BE.

We are privileged to be part of the first night of the new production of  Verdi’s little known “Luisa Miller” at ENO, and ask; why has it taken so long for this superb emotional journey, to be given its  place in our modern Italian repertoire.

The young lady rushes down the steps at Charing Cross tube and bundles into the last Bakerloo carriage. She is finely dressed. She sits down quickly, next to me, there is a colour in her cheeks and she looks perplexed,  almost excited.

I ask “You went to the Opera then?”

She can hardly get the words out of her mouth; “Oh yes!   Wasn’t it absolutely fantastic!!”

You could argue that the essence of opera, is the use of voice, to transform our soul. What starts as the random singing in the shower, is the embryo of the fine tuned and perfect journey that  opera – on a good day –  can become, … can reach heights we had not envisaged.

This was not a good day. 

This was an exceptional day. A stunning and riveting musical expression that ranks  among the very best of my own many decades of witnessing ENO opera. The Direction had a tightness and absolute sync with the onstage protagonists, that drove our two protagonists, Luisa and Rodolfo forward, intertwined with a precise orchestra, and a developing and increasing symbolism from light to dark, white to black, good to evil, that is recognisable only after the event, when you get home and say to yourself : “yes indeed – that was fantastic!”

This discussion note, is not a musical critique. There are others who can do a better job than I – and my role is merely to express my feelings as a human being, of an evening that unfolds.

This modern and superbly edgy production of “Luisa Miller” has melody, a flow and inevitability that pulls you along, the chemistry between all of the protagonists, and I could name them all, the  phenomenal singing, that is so convincing in terms of emotion expressed that you know you are with Luisa in her bewilderment and despair, are alongside Rodolfo in the final scene and are powerless to intervene. We are mere bystanders watching a human tragedy that has long since gone beyond musical expression.

There is only one Harewood artist, Nadine Benjamin, and perhaps that is for the best. This opera needs experienced hands. Even then, Nadine comes to the stage as exemplary in Porgy and Bess. This is no lightweight cast. Elizabeth Llewelyn as Luisa  already has a stellar reputation in Italian opera. Baritone Olafur Sigudarson is an international Classical sInger of the Year, and I can go on.

And yet, my standout moment, is not the signing, or even the music. It is the cleverness, the subtlety, the little touches that you pick up here and throughout this production.

I left the auditorium, it was raining, and I hurried across the square down to the tube station entrance. A northbound train was already  arriving and the rear doors just stayed open long enough.

DOES CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE DEPEND ON DATA?

We look at the latest CX Conference from IQPC for the Telco industry, where, if any market depends on data, it is this one.

You would be forgiven for thinking that this is yet another data-driven conference. It is not like we haven’t had enough of these already. And you would be both right – and wrong. But it is an awkward balance. Workshops that describe “leveraging your current data goldmine to deliver a better customer experience” – are a mouthful and redolent of putting square pegs in round holes.

Since when has a “customer experience” – been the result of some IT focus on “data”? And do customers, who presumably are the beneficiary of these discussions, care – when their only contact contact with their telco, is the guy who keeps them waiting on the end of a phone.

It’s a tricky one.

But these questions, have to be addressed. The behaviour of the guy on the other end of our phone, is determined by the solutions and methodologies that he has before him, And that includes the understanding of the psychology of the whole business of choosing, buying, keeping using a telephone. After all, it’s not as if we can do without them – and in many ways, the single unique focus on the telco industry means its focus is what its players want to know about, within their own market. This was not a touchy feely conference.

Having said that, if you accept that the data that we ourselves create when using a mobile – can be assessed to see how both sides can benefit in the future – then this is the Conference you should have attended.

And the data and tech players are many. Key specialists line up to talk about their own experience, their customer experience, with long titles such as; Head of CX; Chief Experience Officer, Data Transformation Manager – then moving on to the more commercial “VP Sales” – with which we are more familiar. It is three days of intense but relaxed discussion. You choose the sessions you want to look at, and it is up to how proactive or reactive you wish to be. Key topics range from the evergreen “how do I stop churn”, to..”how do I train my call centre properly”. They are practical, basic,

We sat and chatted with a random selection of delegates, from large and small players, who came to “keep up with what is going on” – and with a broad range of vendors, who increasingly are moving from the pure tech of handling data, to a more customer focussed look at how you and I behave.

If there was one standout dawn of realisation, it is that we have all moved on from GDPR. Nobody mentioned it to me, and I wasn’t going to start that discussion. And lets face it, as consumers, we weren’t interested in it anyway…

Why Inclusion & Diversity Is An Executive Priority

Creating inclusive, respectful and engaging workplace cultures is essential for an organisation’ success. Seems just right on paper but how do companies define and create this culture, empowering employees to feel motivated?