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Healthcare IT: Saving Lives, Saving Money

The US health care industry has been one of the last to benefit from the increased efficiencies brought by the adoption of information technology tools. Despite abundant evidence that technology could help lower costs and improve health care outcomes, providers have been slow to adopt. For most US providers the biggest obstacle has been poor return on investment. A small physician practice could face costs of over $30,000, yet that practice may see very little of the financial benefits. Instead, patients and insurers -either private or government-run Medicare and Medicaid -- will benefit from fewer duplicative or unnecessary medical tests, reduced medical errors, and better care of chronic illnesses. Read More »

Amazing Bangalore

I’ve just returned from a fascinating visit to Bangalore, India. It’s hard to put into words what is happening there. Sacred cows (literally) still roam the streets of the city, while an explosion in domestic and foreign information technology companies have fueled exponential population growth at a level unequaled in the US or Europe. The streets are overfilled with buses and motorcycles taking commuters on their way to work in buildings and corporate campuses that rival anything in the west. But perhaps most fascinating is the level of energy and commitment to building an economic foundation that will last for generations -- people are not thinking about making their children better off, but their grandchildren, too. To accomplish that, they are turning Bangalore into a center of innovation in IT technology and business process. Thinking of India only as a place where outsourced call center jobs exist? If so, you seriously misunderstand and underestimate the economic transformation underway. Read More »

Green Is Good

GovsPortraitNGA2008.jpgFrom Saturday, February 23rd to Monday, February 26th, the National Governors Association held its Annual Winter Meeting in Washington DC which focused on clean energy and what Governors can do to help make”green” in the U.S. a reality.Current NGA Chair, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced his initiative, Securing a Clean Energy Future , at the 2007 Summer meeting in Traverse City. According to Gov. Pawlenty, “Governors and states are stepping forward to lead an energy revolution that will ‘Americanize’ our energy production in order to improve our national security, our economic well-being and our quality of life.”Although the topic is different, his comment made me think of last year’s winter meeting which focused on AZ Governor Napolitano’s platform of innovation and competitiveness and where Cisco’s CEO, John Chambers, shared his views on how states can compete more effectively in the global economy by promoting innovation. Read More »

Family & Technology

Yesterday a large percentage of us who work in the Province of Ontario celebrated a day off with the first ever statutory holiday in honour of families. The third Monday in February was recently designated as Family Day. So what does this have to do with high tech? Lots. A break from routine allows for a little more contemplation on life. At risk of sounding melodramatic, it’s truly amazing how technology has eased the ability to remain connected with family who are out of state or even country. It wasn’t long ago that academics and psychologists fretted over email and how it was going to kill interpersonal communications. Admittedly, I initially fell into that school of thought. But compared to sitting down, writing a letter, finding a stamp, and then posting a letter -- email is lot less painful. It’s that simplicity that leads to its pervasiveness and frequency. We’ve moved a long way since those early days of simple messages to the point where seniors in their 70s & 80s, who are still challenged by TV and cable remotes, can attach photos and forward documents. If my own tech challenged parents can do this, then it’s truly a pervasive technology!!!Now the next wave has become entrenched -- video. While email is a great way to stay in contact with family, it just doesn’t convey the nuance, humour, or sarcasm that real-time sight and sound convey. It’s that live video interaction that will increase the frequency and ease at which families communicate. Not many predicted pervasiveness of video in the mid 1990s, but I haven’t seen any recent articles from those who predicted the demise of human interaction via email. Maybe they’d be up for a Telepresence session to discuss?

A Step Towards IPv6

EUROPE -- A step forward has been taken in the transition to the larger internet address space, IPv6, this week with news that computers can now find each other without having to use the old IPv4 addressing system at all.This has been exercising policy makers for some time as you can see from the policy section of the very helpful IPv6 Task Force website, though it’s interesting to note that much of this work is now a few years old. The European Commission has been very active in this area and supports a European IPv6 Task Force. It will be interesting to see how governmental activity ramps up again on this issue over the next couple of years as we get closer to full implementation.