Four short links: 3 December 2009

History Lesson, Historic Science, Hospital IT, and Predicted Consumption

  1. How Robber Barons Hijacked the Victorian Internet (ArsTechnica) — cautionary tale of the exploitation of a monopoly. Once installed as the dominant proprietor of the nation’s telegraph system, public trust in the confidentiality of Western Union transmissions evaporated. Gould “scanned the telegraph, or manipulated it, as an open book to the secrets of all the marts,” Josephson wrote.
  2. 350 Years of Royal Society Correspondence Online — the concept is great, the content is great, the interface lacking. (via auchmill on Twitter)
  3. Harvard Study: Computers Don’t Save Hospitals MoneyThe recently released study evaluated data on 4,000 hospitals in the U.S over a four-year period and found that the immense cost of installing and running hospital IT systems is greater than any expected cost savings. And much of the software being written for use in clinics is aimed at administrators, not doctors, nurses and lab workers. [...] He pointed to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Latter Day Saints Hospital in Salt Lake City and Regenstrief Institute in Indianapolis as facilities with some success in deploying efficient e-health systems. That’s because they were intuitive and aimed at clinicians, not administrators. I’m not sure anyone, not even the study’s author, knows what success looks like. Lower costs, yes. Data to improve quality of care, yes. Data to contribute to population statistics, yes. Greater throughput, yes. Fewer lost patients, yes.
  4. Forecasting Private Consumption: Survey-based Indicators vs. Google Trends — turns out that Google search terms over time beat some of the traditional consumer sentiment indicators. (via 130)
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  • Michael H

    Through work (here in Indianapolis), I’ve worked with CareWeb from the Regenstrief Institute and it’s used by at least two of the hospital systems in the city. It’s used to access lab results, some radiology, and some physician reports. It’s not one stop shopping yet, since physicians and clinics still have to use other systems, but it’s a great way to access lab results quickly.

    The only downside I seem to remember is it only worked with IE on Windows. Other browsers need not apply. Hopefully they’ve changed that, since it’s been a few years since I worked with CareWeb.

  • Bruno

    You really point out interesting links. I often share them with Google Reader.
    But why do you group them by 4 ?? This is really not handy.
    So please, could you post them separatly.
    I also wonder what your sources are, but it may be you secret sauce.
    Regards
    Bruno

  • Mark

    My wife is a health care worker at a hospital that has recently switched from all-paper to an electronic system. she is a bit of a technophobe, but even she admits she feels a significant gain in productivity. they still have a ways to go, however, as they still print out massive amounts of information they then fax to insurance companies, skilled nursing facilities, etc.

  • Ken Williams

    I like the grouping by 4. There’s usually one of the four I’m interested in. If you separated them out individually they’d dribble in & 75% of your posts would be uninteresting to me. =)

  • Alex Tolley

    The Harvard study is interesting in that it seems to confirm Thomas Lord’s skepticism of healthcare automation that was raised on at least one thread by Tim who was a booster.

    One reason for the poor automation success, based purely on anecdotal evidence, is that hospitals were mostly in the same stage of automation as industry was back in the 1980′s, when industry productivity gains from automation also looked very poor. It wasn’t until the 1990′s that industry productivity really took off with automation. It may be that hospitals in general are still working through the learning process about what works and what doesn’t.

    One also has to bear in mind that hospitals in general (not Kaiser) work with independent contractors (doctors) who cannot be forced to use technology in the way companies can with their employees.

  • Alex Tolley

    Interesting article on the shenanigans at Western Union and AP in the C19th. It shows the importance of studying history to understand how events may play out.

    Given the knowledge that competitors and enemies were reading telegraph messages, why was there not a greater use of ciphers and codes? Today with the concern that governments are reading email content, anyone who wants to can encrypt their messages for privacy. Was the problem that distributing the keys so onerous or something else?