A healthy dose of IT - Technology by gjjur4356


									B6              Report on Business                                                                                                                                                 The Globe and Mail, Thursday, July 26, 2007

HEALTH CARE                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 KAPICA’S LAB

A healthy dose of IT                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The shave
Canadian hospitals are beginning to see the front-line benefits of patient-focused software                                                                                                                                                 is close,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            the cost a
Joan Park, a case manager at
Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospi-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            bit rough
tal, sees herself as being on                                                                                                                                                                                                               BY JACK KAPICA
the leading edge of health care

information technology.                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ver the past few years,
  In 2003, Ms. Park was part of                                                                                                                                                                                                                    shaver makers (Pana-
a trial project for MEDcontinu-                                                                                                                                                                                                                    sonic, Braun, Norelco
um, a bit of software (also                                                                                                                                                                                                                 and the rest) have turned to
known as Clinical Utilization                                                                                                                                                                                                               high technology to make the
Management application) that                                                                                                                                                                                                                shaving process better. And
tells nurses in charge of wards                                                                                                                                                                                                             the practice raised the price.
who needs a bed, who needs                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Panasonic Hydra Clean
tests and who can be dis-                                                                                                                                                                                                                   ES8228 is part of a series of
charged.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    three new razors, retailing
  Ever since, the software has                                                                                                                                                                                                              from $169.95 to $329.95. At
become a handy tool to speed                                                                                                                                                                                                                that price, it has to be pretty
patients through the system.                                                                                                                                                                                                                good to wean a man from the
  “We have 535 beds, so space                                                                                                                                                                                                               Gillette Sensor.
is always at a premium,” says                                                                                                                                                                                                                 The Hydra Clean ES8228 Pro
Ms. Park. “The system is great                                                                                                                                                                                                              Curve is the top of Panasonic’s
– not just because it lets us                                                                                                                                                                                                               line (with the ES8077 and the
know what stage in treatment                                                                                                                                                                                                                ES7058), all of which boast
each patient is at with one                                                                                                                                                                                                                 some form of high tech.
glance at the monitor on the                                                                                                                                                                                                                  But what exactly is the ad-
ward nurse’s desk and what                                                                                                                                                                                                                  vanced technology?
else needs to be done before                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The ES8228 has a self-clean-
discharge, but also because for                                                                                                                                                                                                             ing system in which the razor
the first time we have hard                                                                                                                                                                                                                 is put head-first into a water-
data on which to base our re-                                                                                                                                                                                                               and-detergent bath. The inner
quests for more spending.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                  blades are also angled at 30 de-
  What it does not do, how-                                                                                                                                                                                                                 grees, with a head that can tilt
ever, is involve patients them-                                                                                                                                                                                                             or swivel. It is a wet-dry
selves, she admits.                                                                                                                                                                                                                         shaver, water-tight, so you can
  “We would like to, but there                                                                                                                                                                                                              use it in or out of the shower.
is still a paper-based system                                                                                                                                                                                                                 That might be good technol-
for that,” she says.                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ogy, but it’s not necessarily
  St. Mike’s is hardly alone in                                                                                                                                                                                                             high technology. For that, you
that respect, says Michael                                                                                                                                                                                                                  have to look at the inner
Martineau, director of Ottawa-                         Case manager Joan Park, left, consults with nurse Maria Araneta at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital. JIM ROSS FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL                                                 blade, which has been sharp-
based Branham Group’s                                                                                                                                                                                                                       ened “using nanotechnology,”
eHealth Practice. Branham                                                                            their own administrative                       patient is to be discharged.                   He ranks those factors as                which means it is honed to
does market research for the                           By the numbers                                needs, Mr. Martineau says.                       “Right now we have 69 pa-                  lack of funding, lack of trained           some unimaginably tiny num-
IT industry and in 2006 con-                                                                         The first applications were de-                tients waiting for beds to open              people to install, maintain and            ber of exactitude.
ducted an extensive look at                                                                          signed to handle repetitive,                   up in rehabilitation facilities,”            operate the technology and                   Well, okay, that’s easy
the state of IT penetration in
Canada’s health system.                                52                                            staff-intensive back-office op-
                                                                                                     erations. Then money got
                                                                                                                                                    Ms. Park says. “We can’t dis-
                                                                                                                                                    charge them because they
                                                                                                                                                                                                 the inability of the existing
                                                                                                                                                                                                 system to change to accom-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            enough to call high tech. Even
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            higher is the lithium-ion bat-
  What Branham found would                             The percentage of health care                 spent on basic high-volume,                    have nowhere to go. That is a                modate new technology.                     tery, which will recharge fully
not surprise those on the front                        administrators surveyed                       data-rich support functions                    major problem with all hospi-                  “The result is worrying,” he             in an hour or so, and will de-
line of Canada’s health care                           who said their IT budgets                     such as pharmacies, labora-                    tals today.”                                 says. “For example, in diabetes            liver enough power for one
system. Canada’s spending on                           are increasing.                               tories and medical imaging.                      But again, while MEDcontin-                management Canada ranks                    shave after only five minutes.
health care-related IT lags                                                                            “Next in line was human re-                  uum might fit more or less in-               just sixth in the world for its            There is also a high-winding
woefully behind almost all                                                                           sources functions,” adds Dan                   to patient-focused software, in              effectiveness in managing a                motor running at a whiney
other sectors of the economy,
and despite trumpeting an-                             91                                            Matlow, president and CEO of
                                                                                                     Medworxx Inc., the Toronto-
                                                                                                                                                    effect, one of its major uses is
                                                                                                                                                    to help convince hospital ad-
                                                                                                                                                                                                 disease that is near epidemic
                                                                                                                                                                                                 levels in this country.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            13,000 rpm. High or low tech,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            the ultimate test of a shaver is
nouncements of new, patient-                           The percentage of administrative              based company that supplies                    ministrators and provincial                    “The reason is that diabetics            how long the shave lasts. Shav-
centred software applications,                         officials who said their IT                   150 hospitals across North                     funding agencies of the need                 should get at least four differ-           ing dry, the ES8228 left the
few have actually been de-                             budgets are insufficient to                   America with software plat-                    for more investment in follow-               ent tests a year but half the              face a little rough. Shaving wet
ployed.                                                address a backlog of projects.                forms such as their Clinical                   up facilities such as rehab                  patients don’t get them be-                – with water and foam –
  In hospitals and clinics                                                                           Utilization Management soft-                   beds.                                        cause there is no electronic so-           proved to be fine until the
around the country, informa-                                                                         ware.                                            “That is part of its value,”               lution in place to ensure they             next morning, which actually
tion and communications
technology is a revolution still                       17                                              “It is only now, really, that
                                                                                                     hospitals are starting to spend
                                                                                                                                                    Ms. Park says. “We can now
                                                                                                                                                    back up our demands for
                                                                                                                                                                                                 do. They are not being record-
                                                                                                                                                                                                 ed and tracked and then treat-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            puts the ES8228 in the same
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            league as a disposable blade.
waiting to happen.                                     The percentage of IT budgets                  on applications involving pa-                  more funding with hard stat-                 ed.”                                         Those with facial hair or a
  “We found that health care                           spent on new initiatives                      tient care and even then the                   istics.”                                       In an effort to grab the at-             beard may find the ES8228 less
spent about $2.3-billion last                          (approximately $250-million                   money is going to those deal-                    Mr. Martineau suggests pri-                tention of hospital administra-            capable of following and defin-
year on IT, but that represents                        to $350-million in total spending             ing with hot-button issues.”                   vate industry would not long                 tors, Medworxx recently                    ing the line along the cheek-
only about 2.2 per cent of hos-                        on e-health projects for 2005/06                Moving patients in and out                   stand for the impediments                    introduced a program that can              bone.
pital and other institutional                          fiscal year).                                 of limited numbers of beds is                  that prevent much needed in-                 be used in situations such as                Another drawback is the flip-
operating budgets,” Mr. Marti-                         66 Source: Branham Group Inc.                 one of those hot-button is-                    vestment in IT. He sees three                epidemics, hurricanes or                   out trimmer, which works for
neau says. “That is about half                                                                       sues, points out Ms. Park. The                 main factors slowing adoption                floods by notifying first- and             sideburns but is awkward for
what banks spend right now.”                                                                         MEDcontinuum system is, in                     in health care. It is not the                second-line responders of                  mustaches because the body of
  “Personally I think people                                                                         fact, surprisingly simple.                     availability of applications, he             what to do, when and where                 the razor blocks the view of
believe hospitals are much                                                                             The software monitors a pa-                  says. Branham’s survey identi-               via an Internet portal.                    the trimmer in the mirror.
further ahead than they actu-                                                                        tient’s stay at the hospital and               fied 304 major vendors in                      “There has to be a sense of
ally are,” he adds.                                                                                  highlights any potential bot-                  Canada, all focused on gaining               urgency involved today to get
  Hospitals have followed a                                                                          tlenecks in care giving and                    a chunk of the health care                   health care officials to spend,”
path of investment dictated by                                                                       helps staff assess how ready a                 market.                                      says Mr. Martineau.

Microsoft yearns for future, customers cling to past
                                                       part because the new soft-                    much of that growth.                           however.                                     pitched in catalogues are in
                                                       ware requires a much more                       “There’s nothing you can                       “Vista appears to be disap-                the $700 range, certainly un-
                                                       advanced set of hardware, but                 say that Vista does supremely                  pointing,” Lehman Brothers                   der $1,000,” the analyst said.
                                                       also because of reported sta-                 differently [to XP],” he told                  analyst Israel Hernandez told                “Computers with that amount
                                                       bility issues with Vista.                     PCPro magazine in a recent                     the Seattle Times, noting that               of hardware are a better fit
                                                         Are Acer’s complaints just                  interview.                                     revenue growth for the Win-                  for XP. With Vista’s require-
                                                       sour grapes? The PC maker                       Gartner said in a recent                     dows division was below his                  ments, people may be think-
                                                       was clearly expecting to sell                 press release that Vista has                   expectations.                                ing about sticking with XP,
                                                       more computers as a result of                 “so far failed to stimulate the                  “I think it missed most                    and putting less money into
                                                       Vista, but has had to scale                   market in the way many                         Street expectations,” the Wall               the hardware.”

  t can’t be a nice feeling                            back its growth projections.                  hoped.” The consulting firm                    Street analyst said. “One                      Although some of the com-                The Panasonic Hydra Clean ES
  when one of your biggest                             Some might argue that’s an                    said that “our market data                     quarter after the biggest prod-              plaints from Acer and others               8228 Pro Curve shaver
  customers says mean things                           Acer problem rather than a                    suggest Vista has had very                     uct cycle in the company’s                   may be an attempt to blame
about your product, even                               Microsoft problem.                            limited impact on PC demand                    history, you’d think you’d see               Microsoft for their own short-
when your name is Microsoft                              Acer is not the only com-                   or replacement activity.”                      a little more upside.”                       comings, the reality is that               Click counter
and you are one of the                                 puter manufacturer to be dis-                   For its part, Microsoft main-                  The software giant also                    Vista is not dramatically bet-
world’s largest software com-                          tancing itself from Vista,                    tains that Vista is one of its                 scaled back its Vista-related                ter than XP, and so many                   Digital photos of pages of
panies.                                                however, nor is it the only                   most successful software                       sales estimates, telling ana-                customers may feel less than               Harry Potter and the Deathly
  Earlier this week, Gianfran-                         observer to be less than im-                  launches, and that with 40                     lysts that it now expects the                compelled to upgrade, partic-              Hallows appeared in the
co Lanci – president of Acer,                          pressed with the impact the                   million copies sold, the new                   new product to account for                   ularly if XP is performing                 Internet before the book was
the world’s fourth-largest                             new software has had.                         version of Windows is “on                      78 per cent of its operating-                well.                                      released, defeating one of the
computer maker – told the                                Dell, the world’s second-                   track to be the fastest-selling                system revenues, down from                     That said, Windows Vista is              strictest– and most expensive
Financial Times that “the                              largest PC maker (just behind                 operating system in Micro-                     earlier projections in the 85-               almost certain to become the               – embargoes in publishing
whole industry is disappoint-                          Hewlett-Packard), was plan-                   soft’s history.”                               per-cent range.                              default PC operating system                history. Do you think we need
ed with Windows Vista.”                                ning to phase out sales of                      The company also recently                      “What that seems to say is                 over the next several years, as            stricter laws that would
  The PC company executive                             PCs with XP in favour of the                  reported strong financial re-                  that XP has stronger legs                    users and businesses upgrade               penalize such acts of copyright
said Vista has not generated                           new operating system, but                     sults, with record annual rev-                 than you would expect after                  their computers (and Micro-                infringement?
as many sales of new com-                              changed its mind after more                   enue of more than $50-billion                  the release of a new operat-                 soft phases out support for
puters as it should have over                          than 11,000 users voted to                    (U.S.), up by 15 per cent over                 ing system,” industry analyst                XP, which it says it will do               Yes, those who
the past seven months, and                             keep XP on Dell’s IdeaStorm                   the previous year.                             Michael Cherry told PCWorld                  next year).                                upload should be                          46%
that the new operating sys-                            website.                                        Much of the credit for that                  magazine.                                      The only question now is                 severely punished
tem has stability problems.                              And Gartner analyst Ranjit                  goes to Vista, Microsoft said,                   Part of the reason for that,               how fast or slow that upgrade              No, it's a harmless                       54%
  According to Mr. Lanci,                              Atwal has said that while the                 although the release of Office                 Mr. Cherry says, could be the                process will be, and at the                crime, the real impact
many Acer customers are ask-                           PC industry has been seeing                   2007 also accounted for some                   higher hardware requirements                 moment it seems to be slow-                of which is overblown
ing for PCs with Windows XP                            strong sales, he doesn’t see                  of the strength. Some analysts                 for running Vista.                           er than even Microsoft ex-                 A poll of Globe and Mail readers
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            at globetechnology.com           Total votes: 421
installed instead of Vista, in                         Vista as being responsible for                were less than impressed,                        “Most of the machines I see                pected.

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