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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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Patients Are Not Consumers...But Who Is?

It has become an article of faith in some health policy circles over the past 20 years that the "solution" for our health care system's woes is to make us better health care consumers -- the so-called consumer-driven movement. After all, we've known for at least forty years that increased cost-sharing does influence how much health care we consume, so, in theory, higher deductibles and coinsurance, plus better cost/quality information, should give us the right incentives to shop. Most health care professionals are equally convinced patients aren't, and are never going to be, "consumers" in any meaningful sense.  Health care is too scary, relies on too much specialized information, and is too often "consumed" at times when we are least able to make thoughtful decisions...

Public Health Threats Emerging in Houston in the Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey

Although Hurricane Harvey's floodwaters have largely receded, public health threats are emerging over polluted floodwater and contaminated drinking water. Chemical pollution from damaged industrial sites, flooded toxic waste site, and contamination by infection-causing bacteria have been the main causes of concern. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warned residents and cleanup workers who might be exposed to floodwaters to take precautions due to hazards such as dangerous debris, bacteria, and other contaminants. This article will review some of those public health threats.

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Halamka Says We Can and Must Improve Healthcare Management

As a physician and CIO, I’m quick to spot inefficiencies in healthcare workflow.  More importantly, as the care navigator for my family, I have extensive firsthand experience with patient facing processes. My wife’s cancer treatment, my father’s end of life care, and my own recent primary hypertension diagnosis taught me how we can do better. Last week, when my wife received a rejection in coverage letter from Harvard Pilgrim/Caremark, it highlighted the imperative we have to improve care management workflow in the US. Since completing her estrogen positive, progesterone positive, HER2 negative breast cancer treatment in 2012 (chemotherapy, surgery, radiation), she’s been maintained on depot lupron and tamoxifen to suppress estrogen...

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Science Journal Examines Key Role of Open Source EHR in Ending Ebola Epidemic in Sierra Leone

The prestigious, open access, Journal of Medical Internet Research recently published a study looking at the effectiveness of OpenMRS’ use during the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic in West Africa. The article highlights the work of a team who developed new user-interface components for OpenMRS and rapidly deployed the system in an Ebola Treatment Centre (ETC) in Sierra Leone. The team, composed of members from OpenMRS, Save the Children International, Thoughtworks, The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Partners In Health, University of Leeds, and Columbia University. The team came together in response to an urgent request for healthIT from colleagues at Save the Children International to develop an EHR suitable for deployment in a new Ebola treatment Centre being set up in Kerry Town outside the capital, Freetown.

Health Care's Juicero Problem

Bad news: if you were still hoping to get one of the $400 juicers from Juicero, you may be out of luck.  Juicero announced that they were suspending sales while they seek an acquirer.  They'd already dropped the juicer's price from its initial $700 earlier this year and had hoped to find ways to drop it further, but ran out of time. I keep thinking: if they'd been a health care company, they not only might still be in business but also would probably be looking to raise their prices. Juicero once was the darling of investors. It raised $120 million from a variety of respected funding sources, including Kleiner Perkins, Alphabet and Campbell Soup. They weren't a juice company, or even an appliance company. They were a technology company! They had an Internet-of-Things product! They had an ongoing base of customers...