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Foreword

Foreword

It's never been easy to be a healthcare professional, and the pressures are only getting worse. Helping fellow professionals in one way or another often figures into the motivations of those who have left the joys of a medical practice to pursue healthcare from a different vector. Some are called into research, giving up the rewards of helping individuals with the hope that they might contribute insights that can lead to the helping of many.

After medical school, my own path took me to the University of Pittsburgh and a doctorate in medical informatics, with visions of helping healthcare professionals help their patients through better management of data. Fortunately, I see that vision coming true, especially as I work with my colleagues at Microsoft to create tools that give healthcare professionals the information they need at any time, and at any place—including over a wireless device as they attend to a patient at bedside. We call this initiative to provide seamless, yet secure, access to data on an anytime, anywhere, basis Healthcare Without Boundaries.

Although we are proud of our work, the great wonders come from what we see after we release our products, as healthcare professionals do things with our software that we never envisioned. Healthcare professionals, by nature—or through selection and training—have a scientific mind and a driving curiosity. My colleagues and I are constantly dazzled by what healthcare professionals are creating by using Microsoft technology in unexpected ways. And often the work is done by private practitioners looking for ways to create their own solution because they either couldn't afford a prepackaged one or couldn't find a solution that answered their creative visions.

Medical Economics magazine recently ran a story about Robert Novich, a New Rochelle, NY internist who needed an electronic medical records system for his solo practice. Suffering from sticker shock and the inflexibility of the commercial EMRs he looked at, he decided to create his own—using Microsoft Word and a fax machine. Lab reports and other documents received by fax are directly imported into the computer for digital storage. Working with his son Jeff, who was a college student at the time, Dr. Novich created a system that uses Word templates to simplify creation of medical records and Explorer to provide instant file access; slashing time from pulling information out of file cabinets. The system also creates and manages electronic prescriptions. The results? Dr. Novich said, “I feel like a brand new doctor.”

Microsoft recently sponsored a contest looking for innovative ways in which the Office suite of applications had been used by healthcare workers. The response was overwhelming—not because of the technology, but because of the innovative ways it was being deployed to solve real-world problems.

Cecil Lynch, an M.D. and medical informaticist who teaches at the University of California at Davis is using Microsoft Access to help the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) enhance the efficiency of its disease surveillance system.

Dr. Duke Cameron of the Division of Cardiac Surgery, Johns Hopkins Hospital, came up with the idea of using the Outlook Calendar to schedule operating rooms, to help assure the OR is properly setup with specific implant devices and other special equipment or supplies before the surgical team arrives.

Nick Hoda, a psychologist-in-training at Mississippi State University, uses Microsoft Excel charts and graphs to show his elementary school clients coping with learning and behavioral problems...that their behavior really is getting better. He uses the same charts with teachers and administrators to win his young clients another chance at the classroom.

So, the pressures facing healthcare professionals are great, but so are their resources. Information technology is one resource, this book is another, but the greatest of all is the innate curiosity and drive to discover and create that seems to be so much a part of those who are drawn to this noble profession.


Ahmad Hashem, M.D., Ph.D.
Global Healthcare Productivity Manager
Healthcare and Life Sciences
Microsoft Corp.

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