Redesigning Hospitals

Dr. Aniruddha Malpani writes:

While hopsitals can be very comforting, the biggest complaint patients have about hospitals is the fact that they are impersonal and bureaucratic.

I feel the best way of working around this problem is by allowing doctors to run the hospital. Today, hospitals are run by administrators, who are often only interested in the “bottom-line”. Doctors, on the other hand, understand how important it is for them to keep their patients happy !

The best model would be a co-operative hospital, which is run by managers, but where the doctors are owners. Doctors could be treated as the shop-owners in a mall – the hospital would lease them consulting room space; as well as provide their patients with in-patient rooms, nursing care and theatre and lab facilities, for which they would be charged, but the ownership of the patient ( customer) would reside with the doctor.

IDC 2006 Predictions

[via Sadagopan] IDC predicts “that moderate IT spending growth will force many information technology vendors to rethink their product and service offerings, merger and acquisition opportunities, innovation strategies, delivery models, and the competitive landscape.” Among the predictions:

* IT delivery has been shifting from products to services over the past several years. But in 2006, IDC expects this model shift to accelerate. The most obvious evidence of this shift reaching a tipping point will be the announcement in 2006 of next-generation versions of applications delivered as an online service (e.g., from one or more of the packaged application leaders (SAP, Microsoft, Oracle).

* The “Google effect” will spur traditional players to hasten their move to disruptive models. In 2006, Google will increase its presence as a disrupter in the information, application, and services segments of the IT industry. While much of this disruption will be years in the making, and will be over-hyped in 2006, the more important impact of “Google as a disrupter” will be as a spur for traditional suppliers to disrupt themselves before competitors do. This will be evident in enterprise applications, information management and IT services.

* In the consumer space, 2006 will see IPTV get off the ground, but altitude will still be low with only one million telco subscribers (vs. 70 million cable in the U.S.). Sony’s Blu-ray will crowned as the winner in the next-generation DVD format war. And online music subscribers will generate over $1.4 billion for the embattled music industry in the coming year.

The Broadband Game

Robert Cringely writes why Google will win:

Parked at the peering point, sitting on the same SONET ring as the local telephone company, Google will have done as much as it possibly can to reduce any network disadvantage. By leveraging its own fiber backbone Google not only further avoids such interference, it has a chance to gain a step or two through better routing or more generous backbone provisioning. What’s stored IN the data centers is important, but how they are CONNECTED is equally important.

The other part of the strategy is the gBox or gCube or — how about this one, the gSpot? — Google’s interface device, which might be Google’s version of the “Home Gateway.” Another example would be France Telecom’s Livebox (or the number two French ISP Free’s Freebox, which is even better), integrating video, Internet, and VoIP. And if you check out the latest Xbox or PS/2 releases, you’ll see everyone is heading that same way, from different starting points in the home. But the gSpot strategy is completely different. Where the company is deliberately deciding NOT to compete against the infrastructure builders on the street corner, they plan to overwhelm all players inside homes and businesses.

Who is going to win the triple play? It doesn’t matter. Who is going to win the game? Any player with deep pockets and no particular technological dependency. At this point that could be Yahoo or Microsoft or AOL or some new player altogether, but it probably means Google.

Newspapers in Internet Age

Slashdot offers lessons for newspaper survival:

1. No matter how much I or any other reporter or editor may know about a subject, some of the readers know more. What’s more, if you give those readers an easy way to contribute their knowledge to a story, they will.

2. Not all readers know what they’re talking about.

3. No matter what you do, some readers will post malicious and/or obscene comments

4. What if readers post comments that advertisers don’t like?

Personal Search

John Battelle points to a paper by Vivisimo’s CEO, Raul Valdes-Perez, who says: “…. search personalization is likely to waste the talents of top computer scientists. It may even give worse results…”

On a related note, Fortune writes how Yahoo is combining social networking with search: “Yahoo hopes it can trump Google someday by combining MyWebs shared bookmarking with Yahoos existing search engine. Users get conventional search results, with those that have been tagged brought to the head of the list. MyWeb 2.0 is still in its early stages.”

TECH TALK: Trains, Planes and Mobiles: The Journey

So, back to Indian Railways and the Surat trip. I didnt have a window seat while going, but I was lucky to get one on my return trip. One of the big differences over the years is that the same compartment which earlier used to seat 90 people now packs in 108. This means that the space per person has been reduced. So, one is a little cramped in the second-class compartment. Add to that the people who pile-on without a reservation even in the reserved compartment and it makes for quite a crowd.

Then, there are the various vendors! Newspapers, food, fruits, trinkets everything is available from vendors as they walk up and down the narrow aisle. Theres always a buzz of activity as something or the other is being sold by these micro-entrepreneurs. Even I was tempted I decided to drink the fresh, tasty, elaichi-special tea from the hawker who offered a dont pay if you dont like it guarantee! It cost Rs 5. Those who know me will be a little surprised I dont drink tea, coffee or any of the beverages, sticking instead to water, milk and juice. But here I was in a train and it was time to jettison some rules out of the window! Well, the tea was absolutely amazing. I burnt my tongue a little because it was so hot, but the taste lingered long.

The people in the train were a mixed crowd. Some seemed to be regulars. A few were probably first-timers I sensed that from the advice they were getting from their family at the station. A motley crowd, quintessentially Indian. This was the real India. Sitting in my air-conditioned office in Lower Parel in Mumbai and moving in eclectic tech circles, one kind-of loses touch with the world outside. Nothing like a train journey to bring India alive!

The sense I got as time passed that day is that trains are the lifeline of India. It should have been obvious and something I should not have forgotten, but my long hiatus from trains had made me forget about this. Trains connect places and lives. There is a huge economy which is built around trains. It may be easy to get misled by the low-cost airlines that some people travelling by train have started flying. The reality is that for most of India, trains are the only connectors. There are no flights between Mumbai and Surat. The road journey would have taken too long. The train was the only practical option.

Perhaps the best thing to have happened with train travel in recent times is the online reservation capability. I did all my pre-travel look-ups on the Indian Railways website. I didnt book online because I had only a couple days before I did the travel and it takes a little longer to get the tickets couriered. It is probably not too long before the Railways introduce e-tickets, or probably m-tickets in the Indian context where the info is SMSed to the traveller. The site itself could be made a lot more user-friendly, but is probably already one of the biggest innovations in making travel easier in India.

Tomorrow: The Institution

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