News

Elon, Do We Have a Disaster for You!

One of the most interesting twists resulting from Hurricane Maria striking Puerto Rico was Elon Musk's offer that Tesla could help Puerto Rico solve its energy crisis, with a long-term, 21st century fix. After all, its electrical grid was devastated, with almost all the power wiped out. It didn't help that even prior to this disaster its system was antiquated and badly in need of repairs. It is telling that we don't have similar offers to rebuild the Puerto Rico's health care system, which is similarly devastated. Or, for that matter, our system, which is its own kind of disaster. Mr. Musk was asked on Twitter if Tesla could help Puerto Rico using solar and battery power, and he responded in the affirmative, saying it had done so on smaller islands but faced no scalablity issues...

Why Cloud-Based Public Health Solutions are a Good Option for Clinical Decision Support

Cloud computing is one of the most powerful technology deployment strategies in use today. In fact, the notion of cloud resources has become prominent in consumer computing with only a limited understanding of what it means or does (e.g., Apple iCloud and Google Cloud). In this article we will examine some of the key reasons to host public health clinical decision support (CDS) solutions in the cloud. In a recent national survey, 95% of respondents indicated that they were using some form of cloud computing in their environment...The first step is to to understand the difference between cloud computing and traditional computing.

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Let's Hope This Bores You

I think I know what is wrong with health care: not enough people are bored. These are stressful times for health care. There's a never-ending stream of innovation, constant pressures about costs, concerns about the quality of care, conflicting research findings, ongoing uncertainty about how we should finance what coverage for which people, and new business models and organizational structures. There's too much to take in, and everyone in health care is working too hard, too long.  Honestly, who has time to be bored? But that's a problem. We usually think of being bored as a bad thing. You don't often find people saying they're looking to be bored. You don't find many activities that bill themselves as being boring...

3D Printers: A Revolutionary Frontier for Medicine

Mission control on earth receives an urgent communication from Mars that an astronaut has fractured his shinbone. Using a handheld scanning device, the crew takes images of his damaged tibia and transmits them to earth. Orthopedic surgeons then use a 3D printer to create an exact replica of the astronaut’s leg from medical imaging files obtained before the voyage. Surgeons on earth use a robot to stabilize the bone with a metal plate on the 3D replica. The data is transmitted back to Mars, where surgical instruments, a personalized plate and screws are 3D printed. Finally, a surgical robot operates on the injured astronaut...

How WikiFundi Is Helping People in Africa Contribute to Wikipedia

In developed countries, the ability to access and edit Wikipedia easily is taken for granted, but in many African countries, where access to reliable electricity and broadband are limited, that's not the case. I recently interviewed Florence Devouard, who is working on several open source projects to help close gaps caused by poor access to online information. She is co-leader of the WikiFundi project, as well as other projects related to Wikipedia and Africa, including Wiki Loves Women, a women's information initiative, and Wiki Loves Africa, a media contest that invites the public to contribute photographs, videos, and audio to Wikipedia. All projects are part of the WikiAfrica movement...

Bridges and Roads as Important to Public Health as Medicines - Lessons from Major Disasters

Two seemingly unrelated national policy debates are afoot, and we can’t adequately address one unless we address the other. Health care reform has been the hottest topic. What to do about America’s aging infrastructure has been less animated but may be more pressing. Yet even as cracks in America’s health system and infrastructure expand, political divides between parties and within parties have stalled efforts to develop policies and implement solutions. Problematically, debates over health care reform and infrastructure projects remain separate...

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Creating a High-Speed Internet Lane for Emergency Situations

During large disasters, like hurricanes, wildfires and terrorist attacks, people want emergency responders to arrive quickly and help people deal with the crisis. In order to do their best, police, medics, firefighters and those who manage them need lots of information: Who is located where, needing what help? And what equipment and which rescuers are available to intervene? With all of the technology we have, it might seem that gathering and sharing lots of information would be pretty simple. But communicating through a disaster is much more challenging than it appears...

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Why US Infrastructure Compares Poorly Against Other Countries and How to Fix It

How does infrastructure in the U.S. compare to that of the rest of the world? It depends on who you ask. On the last two report cards from the American Society of Civil Engineers, U.S. infrastructure scored a D+. This year’s report urged the government and private sector to increase spending by US$2 trillion within the next 10 years, in order to improve not only the physical infrastructure, but the country’s economy overall. Meanwhile, the country’s international rank in overall infrastructure quality jumped from 25th to 12th place out of 138 countries, according to the World Economic Forum...

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The 'Internet of Things' Is Sending Us Back to the Middle Ages

Internet-enabled devices are so common, and so vulnerable, that hackers recently broke into a casino through its fish tank. The tank had internet-connected sensors measuring its temperature and cleanliness. The hackers got into the fish tank’s sensors and then to the computer used to control them, and from there to other parts of the casino’s network. The intruders were able to copy 10 gigabytes of data to somewhere in Finland. By gazing into this fish tank, we can see the problem with “internet of things” devices: We don’t really control them. And it’s not always clear who does – though often software designers and advertisers are involved...

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A New Pricing Model for Medicaid Management Information Systems (MMIS)

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) recent $5 billion-per-year commitment to modular Medicaid Management Information System (MMIS) technologies has signaled a long-overdue paradigm shift in the way we think about Medicaid information systems. This shift is already beginning to revolutionize and improve a health care system that over 73 million people depend on every day. Currently, MMIS services is at least a $7 billion-per-year industry. As the influence of modular, cloud-based, and SaaS (Software as a Service) technologies continue to exert themselves on MMIS, this industry will mature and move into the 21st century. One exciting aspect of this maturation will be a new pricing model for MMIS services.

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