Microsoft announce HealthVault

Microsoft have today launched a beta Personal Health Record called HealthVault. The New York Times have a good writeup.

It includes health search, a personal health record, and the facility to upload data from compliant devices.

I wonder what Adam Bosworth, the former Google (and former Microsoft) exec, thinks of all of this? Over the past 18 months or so, all of the talk has been of Google and its work in this area. I was less than impressed by some of the screenshots of their efforts released during the summer.

On the other hand – first impressions of HealthVault (even though I have not yet even created an account yet) are good.

Which leads me to the conclusion that I need to do some reviews of these developments. I will include in this review, a recent invite I had from Israeli based iMedix (still in closed alpha) – haven’t forgotten you guys!

24 years of progress?

Nearly 2 months since my last post…

A 24 year old home computing magazine – Commodore power play from 1983 – ended this particular stasis. An article entitled "England takes the VIC seriously" (the VIC 20) reviewed some business applications for the platform coming out of the UK. Quoting from the piece

..the University Hospital in Cardiff, Wales, has been using VIC-FILE, and information-handling and record-manipulation programe, for some time in the diagnosis and treatment of diabetics. Patients are hooked up to a machine that monitors their blood-sugar level. If this falls below a certain figure, the shortfall is corrected by means of a quantity of insulin automatically administered intravenously.

Before VICFILE was purchased, the readings from the machine for each patient were written on paper. This not only used up a great deal of time and paper but was also prone to errors. The introduction of VICFILE also has allowed the readings for each patient to be stored on diskette. Therefore the physician can print lists of readings for each patient whenever they are needed, and can quickly assimilate the information and prescribe the proper insulin dosage.

A clever use of a piece of hardware, never intended really for business use given its massive  16k ROM – but here apparently used  quite effectively to solve a real problem; this would be the equivalent nowadays of an Excel/Access solution.

The VIC-20 may no longer be there, but the pen and paper certainly remains…

Midnight coding with Ruby on Rails

I’ve been playing with Ruby on Rails
over the past few weeks – intermittent, midnight type stuff. A customer
had recently enquired about the potential for using it to build some
quick and dirty intranet applications; their words, not mine –
aficionados may just love/hate that description.

The data behind the applications was to come from a mixture of
pre-existing systems, spreadsheets, word documents; My goal was to
produce something quickly that could illustrate to the customer how
something like this could be developed a) pretty quickly and b) if they
did not bite, allow me to something to post about on this blog 8;.

The incongruity of my speed on delivering this vs. that being the
requirement of the customer has not been lost on me; but as i said,
this is late at night stuff and was fronted as such.

The dangers of free consultancy/not having the terms of engagment crystal clear  has been discussed recently by Tom Raftery
but the effort here (the most time consuming has been the manual data
entry) has been lesser that I thought. Of course there is a learning
curve – the most annoying being the lack of substantial online
resources on rails for common problems; do a search for a perl or php
issues and chances are you will have an answer very quickly.

The result of this is casualtyfigures.com
– a site which allows easy access and dissemination of patients
awaiting admission to Irish hospitals (A&E figures or A&E activity) through casualty departments. The
figures have been collated from the HSE website (pdf’s), and are from April 2005 to April 2006. The Irish Nursing Organisation (INO) also maintain figures under the Trolley watch campaign, but these have not been used.

All told, probably more time than I expected, but rails has been on
the dabble-list anyway  and so was inevitable.  Over the last week or
so, I’ve had a good few suggestions on potentially how to add extra
functionality and reporting – We’ll see.

Update :  a case of that sinking feeling – the
client has backed out. however, i’m going to give this a  little more
time, and add the suggestions that have been received.