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Filter - Cynthia L. Webb
Bush's Silicon Rx

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_____About Filter_____
Filter looks at the day's top technology news through snapshots and analysis of what the world's media outlets are covering. Washingtonpost.com's new Mon.-Fri. feature is penned by technology reporter Cynthia L. Webb. If a technology story breaks, a company falters or triumphs, or there's a new trend in technology, Filter wants you to know about it.

_____Filter Archive_____
Biotech: How to Steal a Culture (washingtonpost.com, Jun 1, 2004)
The Penguin That Ate Microsoft (washingtonpost.com, May 27, 2004)
Microsoft Masters the Art of the Cutback (washingtonpost.com, May 26, 2004)
Toying With Amazon's Profits (washingtonpost.com, May 25, 2004)
Go East, Nokia (washingtonpost.com, May 24, 2004)
More Past Issues
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What the President Saw

Bush got a first hand look at some cutting edge medical technology during his tour of Vanderbilt University's extensive medical complex. The Nashville Tennessean offered up this description of the tour: "Bush spent time in a cheerfully colored, pediatric intensive-care unit at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, getting a firsthand look at cutting-edge health technology systems. Standing at a large-screen computer monitor next to an empty patient bed, Dr. Neal Patel showed the president how a click of a computer button pulls up a patient's full medical record. The computerized system can alert doctors of everything from a patient's current medications to drug allergies, Patel told the president."

According to USA Today, "Vanderbilt's system lets doctors, nurses and lab technicians read medical records from a computer rather than have to chase down paper files when time is critical." And the Tennessean quoted Vanderbilt Medical Center CIO Bill Stead, who "said Vanderbilt has gotten ahead by focusing its electronic-records work on patient care rather than administrative processes, like billing patients or ordering lab tests. Vanderbilt also has put together a group of professors and researchers focused on biomedical informatics, the study of biomedical information and its acquisition, structure and use."
The Tennessean: Bush Hails Medical Advances, Hauls In GOP Donations
USA Today: Bush Advocates Electronic Medical Record-Keeping

The Virtual Doctor Will See You Now

E-health care is not just about getting patient records put into electronic databases. More health care providers are offering medical advice and "visits" via e-mail. The Boston Globe reported on the trend earlier this week: "Beginning in August, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Massachusetts will start paying primary care physicians at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Caritas Christi Health Care, and Baystate Health System for 'Web visits' with their patients. Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, the large Eastern Massachusetts doctors' group, and the insurer Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, also are experimenting with doctor-patient e-mail programs."

So how do you get docs to buy into the program? Pay them, of course. "Blue Cross, following the lead of several large California insurers and employers, is expanding a pilot program that pays doctors to respond to patient e-mails--something many doctors are reluctant to do because they are too busy, worried about privacy, or not getting paid for it. Blue Cross executives suggest that Web visits can save doctors time as well as reduce the frustrating waits for patients with minor ailments," The Globe noted.
The Boston Globe: The Doctor Will E-You Now

Monsoon Microsoft

Microsoft isn't just hanging a shingle out in India as it tries to tap the sub-continent's technological know-how. The Seattle Times today reported the software giant "is building a huge campus complete with a cricket field on the outskirts" of Hyderabad, described by the paper as a high-tech boom town. Some 600 workers are slated to work at the new facility. (see a photo of the facility here, ignore the cows). "Although Microsoft has steadily expanded its product group in India since 1998 in rented space, the campus signifies it plans to be here permanently and that it may expand dramatically in the future. It has reserved 42.5 acres, enough to build several more buildings and house several thousand employees. The construction comes as U.S. politicians and labor groups raise concerns about the effects of globalization and India's burgeoning technology industry on U.S. jobs," the newspaper reported.
The Seattle Times: Microsoft Campus Going Up In Heart of High-Tech India

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that Microsoft "had previously only leased space in India, where it employs slightly fewer than 1,000 people. The new building, in the high-tech Indian hub of Hyderabad, is the first in what may ultimately become a three-building complex. Microsoft has a much smaller presence in India than most of its counterparts in the software business, and the company yesterday said its decision to pursue the project doesn't signal any departure from its 'thoughtful and deliberate' approach to international expansion. Much of the new space will be used for existing employees in India, while also making room for growth." No surprise here: The technology labor group WashTech doesn't like Microsoft's India expansion plans. "Every employee Microsoft hires overseas means they're placing an employee at Redmond in direct competition with someone that makes a fraction of their wage," said Marcus Courtney, the group's president.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Microsoft Building For First Time In India

India's Economic Times hailed the Microsoft move into Hyderabad: "There's good news for all you geeks. After IBM and Intel, now it's the turn of software giant Microsoft to cash in on the Indian talent. On a much larger scale this time. The company is planning a massive research initiative in India. This research and development centre is likely to kick off next year and will create thousands of jobs in India. Microsoft already has presence in India but the new development centre will be Microsoft's first real campus here."
The Economic Times: More Microsoft Jobs Coming To India

Uncle Sam Wants Your Data

A slew of federal government agencies is engaged in data-mining projects, the General Accounting Office found in a report released yesterday. You can get the blow-by-blow of the report's details and other data-mining news in my latest Government IT Review column.

In response to the GAO report, the Center for Democracy and Technology and the Heritage Foundation released a report "offering some guidelines for developing and using data mining technologies in ways that would preserve the privacy of the people. To be most effective, the proposals would work best in conjunction with legislation regulating government data mining, the organizations said," Wired reported. "The report calls for three solutions: to apply anonymization techniques so that commercial data miners can share information with authorities without disclosing the identity of individuals or supplying information of non-suspects; to build authorization requirements into government systems for viewing data to ensure that only those who need to see the data do; to build audit logs into the computing system to identify and track inappropriate access to information and misuses of information," Wired said. The CDT-Heritage report is online here.
Wired: GAO: Fed Data Mining Extensive
The New York Times: Survey Finds U.S. Agencies Engaged in 'Data Mining' (Registration required)

Calif. Gmail Bill Moves Forward

California's Senate approved a watered-down version of a measure designed to place limits on e-mail provider's services to protect privacy rights of e-mail users -- legislation prompted by the contextual advertising that Google plans to place in messages sent to its new Gmail service. "The bill allows the e-mails to be scanned for marketing purposes, but prohibits companies from compiling the information into a database. It also bans companies from selling or sharing the information it gleans to third parties. While the bill was initially targeted at Google, [State Sen. Liz] Figueroa said she expects other Internet companies will develop similar e-mail plans. She said she wants to create rules for those services before they proliferate, because 'once the information genie gets out of the bottle, it is impossible to put back.' The bill also requires that when customers delete e-mails, they are not stored by the e-mail provider," The Associated Press explained.
The Associated Press via washingtonpost.com: Calif. Senate OKs Gmail Limits (Registration required)

The San Jose Mercury News reported that "Figueroa's bill, which now goes to the Assembly, applies to all companies that offer e-mail services. But she drafted it in direct response to Google's Gmail, now being tested among a large pool of users." CNET's News.com reported: "Technology groups opposing the bill noted this week that limits on e-mail scanning would appear to affect a large number of widely used industry practices that have not sparked any privacy concerns to date. 'We are unaware of any instances in which a consumer has been harmed as a result of the computer scanning that takes place today. In fact, we believe that the scanning technology is evolving largely in the pursuit of protecting consumers' interest,' the American Electronics Association wrote in a letter to Figueroa on Wednesday."
The San Jose Mercury News: Senate OKs Limits On E-mail Data (Registration required)
CNET's News.com: California Senate Approves Anti-Gmail Bill

The Memorial Day Rush

Enjoy the Memorial Day holiday. Filter will return on Tuesday, June 1 with Robert MacMillan pitch hitting while I take an extra day off. I'll be back on Wednesday.

It appears that I'm not the only one taking a break. Officer workers went online in droves to make Memorial Day travel plans, Nielsen/NetRatings said in a release today. "More than 19 million unique visitors, or 41 percent of active online office workers, visited an online travel site at work last week. Hotel site Marriot jumped 76 percent to more than 1.2 million unique visitors, as compared to 698,000 visitors during the previous week. Hilton surged 56 percent to 718,000 visitors. Yahoo! Travel drew 1.1 million office workers, growing 50 percent. Travelocity spiked 49 percent, attracting three million visitors. AOL Travel rose 41 percent to 911,000 visitors," the Internet audience survey company said.

Filter is designed for hard-core techies, news junkies and technology professionals alike. Have suggestions, cool links or interesting tales to share? Send your tips and feedback to cindyDOTwebbATwashingtonpost.com.

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