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The Davos of Health IT?

BELLAGIO, Italy—As promised, I am at Week 3 of Making the eHealth Connection at the Rockefeller Foundation‘s unbelievably gorgeous retreat and meeting center on the banks of picturesque Lake Como. (Full disclosure: The foundation is paying my travel expenses and providing me with room and board on the campus.)

I am one of perhaps three or four members of the media here this week, which features mostly separate conferences on electronic health records and on mobile health and telemedicine. The sessions are pretty fascinating, but also off the record. I’m only allowed to report on general concepts, not quote people directly from the open forum. I may approach individuals for on-the-record chats during breaks, however, and the plenary sessions are on the record.

I had a story yesterday in Digital HealthCare & Productivity about Monday’s keynote speech of Strive Masiyiwa, founder and chairman of South Africa-based Econet Wireless Group. Masiyiwa, a confidant of Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and a Rockefeller Foundation board member, has been called the “Bill Gates of Africa,” at least according to his Wikipedia entry. This bit of trivia, which was not in the bio I was provided, neglects the facts that: Gates is a hardcore geek, not an entrepreneur, which is why he turned over the day-to-day leadership of Microsoft to Steve Ballmer; and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is pouring billions of dollars into Africa. (For a discussion on the accuracy of Wikipedia, see www.wikiality.com/Wikiality. Or just watch the video below.)

Now that most of my deadlines for paid gigs are out of the way, I’ve got some time to blog. I will have a podcast with at least one Rockefeller Foundation executive on this series of conferences, which I’m taking the liberty of dubbing the “Davos of Health IT.” In fact, Davos, Switzerland, is less than 100 miles from here. Or should I say less than 160.9 km?

July 30, 2008 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Global news

I’ve got some international items on the agenda today:

First off, did anyone catch the big “oops” in Australia this week that knocked out telecommunications services across the state of Queensland? Apparently, a backhoe at a construction site cut a cable that took phone lines down statewide, and a major backup system failed as well. The outage reportedly affected phone calls in and out of a number of regional hospitals, but what was not reported was whether any health IT infrastructure was affected. Perhaps that’s a problem in and of itself.

A couple of weeks ago, a health trust in Scotland had to declare a “data amnesty” to encourage employees to return a misplaced USB drive that reportedly contained the health records of 137 patients. Left unanswered is why the records were not secured before being transferred to the portable drive.

I hopefully will be reporting some international health IT news in a couple of weeks, as I’ve been invited to attend one week of the Rockefeller Foundation‘s “Making the eHealth Connection” conferences in Bellagio, Italy. Consider this a solicitation to editors looking for coverage of EHR and mobile-health issues in developing countries.

July 16, 2008 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.