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information technology

Note to Tom Friedman: Technology Creates, Not Destroys, Jobs

I should just get a macro for my computer so that when I type “Control T” it writes “Tom Friedman is wrong because” since he so often is, as I pointed out here. But in Today’s New York Times Op-Ed he does it again, only maybe even worse; blaming technology for joblessness.  When will he and others realize this is not the case. He writes that information technology “is more rapidly replacing labor with machines.” Well, if this were true, how does he explain the fact that productivity growth rates were much higher in the last five years of the 1990s than the last five years of the 2000s? And yet, unemployment was much lower in the 1990s period.

He then goes on to quote Davidson’s equally incorrect article in The Atlantic which rightly points to the devastating loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs in the last decade and blames technology. No. As we point out, it was the loss output due to decline in U.S. competitiveness, not automation, that was responsible for the big loss of manufacturing jobs. Manufacturing experienced about the same rate of productivity growth in

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Cranes Over Downtown Washington, DC

IT is the Foundation for Better Building

We live in a wireless world of tablets, 4G networks, and cloud computing. But on construction sites, where the future is actually being built, making sure there’s place to plug in a microwave to heat up an abandoned cup of coffee is too often about as high tech as it gets. Despite innovations in recent years such as virtual design models, building innovation modeling and laser scanning, the construction industry may have the distinction of having lower productivity than it did 40 years ago. At best construction productivity lags far behind other sectors. “You really have to work at that,” commented ITIF President Rob Atkinson.

Atkinson was speaking at “Bits and Bricks: Transforming the Construction Industry Through Innovation,” an event ITIF co-hosted with the Information Technology Industry Council and Autodesk, that explored how IT can play a crucial role in making the construction sector more productive, innovative and globally competitive. Even in these recent bleak recession years, we spent some $1.3 trillion on “things that are built and how they are used,” according to S. Shyam Sunder, director, Engineering Laboratory, NIST – that is roughly 4.5% of U.S.

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Hospital Billing: Out of the Middle Ages

No one who reads this blog needs to be reminded that the healthcare business cries out for innovation.  Hopefully the chaotic and strident forces pulling at the industry now will — in the magic Adam Smithian manner — somehow produce net positive forward change.  But not all the change is technological.

I recently went through elective surgery and was blown away by the — I can’t think of any other word for it — Medieval-ness — of the billing process.  I got one bill from the hospital for essentially my stay, one bill for each department in the hospital that had done a procedure, one bill from each of the professionals (above a certain level) who had done the procedures.  Each bill came with no indication that it was a part of the one procedure, the one hospitalization.  They came at different times.  And they dribbled in over the course of maybe 12 weeks (unless there are some I haven’t seen yet; of course there’s no “summary” or notion of an overall master account).

What other industry on Earth works this way?  Try to imagine buying a car like this:

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Swedish Hotel World’s First to Pilot Phones Using Near Field Communications Technology In Lieu of Room Keys

As ITIF wrote at this time last year in Explaining International Leadership in Contactless Mobile Payments, near-field communications (NFC) technology is a form of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology that works over very short distances to enable “contactless” secure financial transactions or exchange of identification information via mobile devices. The report noted how NFC technology is used extensively in Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and China in mass transit and to make purchases from vending machines, convenience stores, and even movie theatres, and made the case that the United States lags world leaders considerably in adoption of NFC, in part because of a lack of policies to promote development and adoption of the technology.

Last week, Choice Hotels Scandinavia, in conjunction with access control company Assa Abloy and mobile network operator TeliaSonera announced they had joined forces for a world-first pilot test that will replace hotel room keys with NFC-enabled mobile phones. The pilot is taking place at the Clarion Hotel Stockholm in Sweden and aims to discover how well guests and hotel employees take to the idea of using NFC for a variety of hotel

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Industry Should Help Certify Online Health Records

recent article in The Washington Post has called into question the role of the private sector in setting standards for electronic health record (EHR) systems. Specifically, the article questions the appropriateness of allowing a group that originally pushed for stimulus funds to now have an oversight role in how those funds are spent.

This thinking is misguided. While government should continue to set the broad principles in defining “meaningful use” of EHR systems, it should also welcome the opportunity to partner with the private sector in defining certification requirements.

At issue are the efforts of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), an association of healthcare technology vendors and medical providers, to convince the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to require that EHR systems receiving stimulus funds be certified by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT).

As documented by the Post, CCHIT includes “several board members that work for technology vendors,” and the current president is a former HIMSS executive.

HIMSS also helped educate Congress on the benefits of using stimulus funds for health IT, which resulted in the final stimulus legislation including billions for EHR systems

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