Tag Archives: medical

IBM: ‘Watson Health Cloud’ — Could End Up Being But High Level Flannel.

.Anura Guruge December 2014 thumbnail

by Anura Guruge

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I am already on record in stating that IBM’s ‘Watson‘ technology is the new jewel in its now slightly tarnished crown. ‘Watson’ is the future. Mainframes, at long last, the past.

I am sure that Watson has the potential to do much to enhance medicine and healthcare in the decades to come.

But knowing IBM as well as I do, I am not convinced right now, that IBM has the wherewithal and the will to make this ‘Watson Health Cloud‘ into anything meaningful. Yes, it will, of course, do specific, carefully crafted “party tricks” — but those aren’t going to get anybody far. Basically what I am trying to say is that we are unlikely to see this Health Cloud deliver useful, germane results for many years to come. Watson does have the technology analyze huge quantities of data BUT we still don’t know the right questions to ask. And that is going to take some time to work out how to best exploit what Watson can deliver. In the meantime Watson Health Cloud could end up becoming what they refer to as ‘High Level Flannel’ — i.e., a nice fluffy feeling without much substance behind it. Think ‘fluff’ and appropriately we in this case are also talking Cloud.

So this is my fear. IBM is going, through financial and marketing necessity, try to make this Cloud impress. But it is not going to ready. It will do, as I said, before some ‘party tricks’. People might get disillusioned with it before it gets a chance to mature and be productive.

And heaven help IBM if there is a data breach as happened to Anthem. IBM will, of course, have better security than bumbling Anthem, but you cannot always protect against insiders who are bought off!

So, I am happy to see this initiative, I just hope IBM doesn’t rush it.

Job Loses In New Hampshire — The Mystery Solved. Hannaford & Best Buy

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

by Anura Guruge

On Saturday, at the Laconia Multicultural Day, I met a guy I had known for a long time from the Gilford Hannaford supermarket. He was the life and soul of the Deli counter. Given that I too can on occasion be a tad sociable and possibly even a bit of a clown, he and I got on like a house on fire — with rapid-fire, banter and lots of joshing around. Since we moved to Alton, in March 2007, we, of course, don’t go to the Gilford Hannaford that much, going instead to the Alton Hannaford (though we, when we can, do our BIG SHOP at ‘Market Basket’, of late in Tilton (which is much, much better than Concord) and also frequent ‘Fiddle Heads’). So, I don’t see him that often anymore.

When I saw him on Saturday I told him that I had visited his Hannaford a few weeks ago but had missed him. He replied, to my amazement, that this was not surprising in that he no longer worked there — he had been let go, laid off, in June! I really was taken aback. He really was a live wire and in my opinion a huge asset to the store because he tried so hard to make all the customers happy and cheerful. My first question to him, however, knowing his inclinations, was: ‘did they catch you messing around with any of the girls?‘. He vehemently denies that.

His explanation, to begin with, was that he had been there for 9 years, was a full-time employee with full benefits and that Hannaford replaced him with two part-timers, 20 hours each — and as such with no benefits. How many times have we heard this? And yes, we do know at least 3 people who work for Hannaford on this ’20-hour’ (with lots of overtime), no benefits scheme. I, as is my wont, grilled him further. He admitted that they found one ‘out-of-code’ product on his shelves. Given that I have never worked in a supermarket I am not sure how that ranks. But, to be fair, they can claim that they found some fault.

He also went onto claim that all of this started when the company changed hands … 5 new investors. Well, as far as I can see, there has been no changes in the ownership aspect of Hannaford — they are still owned by a Belgium conglomerate. But, I do see a trend, something that I have been talking about for the last 9 months.

To me, each time I go to Hannaford (and that is on average 3 times a week), I walk away with the distinct impression they are trying to sway the November 2012 election in Romney’s favor by making folks feel poor! They seem to jack up prices just so that people when asked that 4 year question have to answer in the negative. I don’t go to that many retail outlets, BUT Hannaford is the one that always strikes me as being extremely anti-Obama and trying to do everything they can to force him out of office. Laying off full time people would also fit in with this motive. Make people suffer. Blame poor Obama. Yes, the ‘Keeping Millions Unemployed To Put One Man Out of Work’. I could be wrong, and it is definitely not the folks at the local stores, but Hannaford strikes me (from my limited exposure) as one of the biggest culprits.

Over a year ago a friend of mine from Best Buy (who befriended me when I did a short stint at the Concord store as a weekends only Epson printer merchandiser) had a similar experience. He had been at Best Buy for over 10 years and worked his self up the ladder; that he was a computer whiz, very hard working and personable helped. When I met him he was an Assistant Manager and awfully helpful and kind to ‘guests’ like me. Shortly after I stopped doing the Epson gig he got another ‘promotion’. He was made the Inventory Manager. He had to undergo special training. He was very good at it. He always liked inventory and took great delight in seeing trucks getting unloaded.

They fired him about 9 months into the job citing an inventory violation. It had to do with 3 returned PCs and it was in Best Buys favor! He had included these three returned PCs as part of Concord’s inventory — albeit, with a note stating that they were returns! There was no hanky-panky, no funny business. No inventory had gone missing. If anything Best Buy had more inventory. But they fired him and replaced him with a young guy earning $20K less. This did not warrant a firing. Ironically he is an avowed, devout Republican (because as he claims, he as a Best Buy manager was paying so much tax).

I am willing to believe that this was another ‘get a cheaper’ worker scenario. But, poor Obama gets blamed.

Nothing I can do. I gave up trying to do my freelance professional writing a few years ago. So many unemployed writers willing to write for peanuts that it was just aggravating looking for work.

I feel bad for all of those laid off. I feel bad for those looking for work. I feel bad for all those folks making $20,000 who swear to God that they are going to vote for Romney because Obama is going to increase their taxes! I feel bad for those that don’t have health care but swear to God that they are going to vote for Romney because ‘Obamacare’ is scary and is akin to letting D.C. into bed with them! I feel bad that Hannaford is screwing all of us just to sway the election. Ditto for the Alton Circle Gas Station that raised gas prices 13 cents between Saturday evening and Sunday morning. I hope for better days to come, but I am not that hopeful. All the best. Keep your toes crossed.

Dartmouth Hitchcock Clinic (DHMC) Mugged Me

Dartmouth Hitchcock Clinic (DHMC) Mugged Me (Honest)

by Anura Guruge


The two Dartmouth Hitchcock Clinic (DHMC) doctors that perform colonoscopys at the ‘Concord Endoscopy Center’ charge $1,600 MORE for that procedure than the non-DHMC doctors performing that same procedure — at the same facility.

You read that right. The two DHMC doctors bill $1,600 MORE to perform the SAME PROCEDURE, at the same facility, as a non-DHMC doctor. The two DHMC doctors BILL $2,957 for a colonoscopy/esophagus procedure.

The Endoscopy center told me last Friday that IF I had had those same procedures done by one of THEIR doctors it would have cost me ~$1,300. The ‘Center’ charges $2,695.44 (non-discounted to the insurance company) independent of whether the procedure was done by a DHMC or non-DHMC doctor.

This is wrong. This is crazy. This is duplicity. This is border line criminal. This has to stop.

As a consultant I fully appreciate differential, what I call ‘Robin Hood,’ pricing. If I had this done at DHMC in Lebanon, with a roomful of students watching, I would not complain. I am paying for a different class of service. Yes, my youngest was delivered at DHMC, in May 2006, by C-section. I was there. There were 13 people in the operating room (and that it was 13 didn’t bother me). A few of the nurses sat on the floor, against the wall, because they didn’t have anything to do. They were just there, in case they were needed. For that, I would pay more.

But, in this case it was NOT a DHMC facility. There were no students participating. There were no DHMC nurses. Whether it was done by a DHMC or non-DHMC doctor, the rest of the staff, equipment and facilities, would have been the same. DHMC is not justified in charging me $1,600 more.

Given the procedure involved, this but a $1,600 pain in the derrière (if you would please excuse my French).

I truly feel that DHMC has mugged me.

To me, this is no different to if the doctor had put a scalpel to my neck, prior to the procedure, and said: “Give us $1,600 more or I will cut you badly.” They duped me. They abused me. They are treating me like a chump.

This is THE PROBLEM with Health Care.

I gather that IF I had called up the ‘Center’ directly, they would have assigned me to the next available doctor — non-DHMC or DHMC. If I had got a non-DHMC doctor, I would have been billed $1,600 less. So now this is like the NH Lottery for colonoscopy in Concord. Get a non-DHMC doctor and save $1,600.

But, I trusted DHMC. So much so that I had already requested paperwork so that they could have my cadaver (per my family tradition that we give way our bodies). Well, screw DHMC. You can’t have my body. You have already STOLEN an arm and a leg. [I will write another post as to why I hadn’t returned the paperwork.]

Till last Friday, it would have been difficult to find anybody who was more of a fan of DHMC that me. And even now I have to say that I have nothing but the utmost respect for nearly all DHMC staff — including the one that performed my colonoscopy. [That he was named after a pope, had nothing to do with it.]

This is wrong. This has to stop. Yes, I am contacting anybody and everybody that I can. I want to see Health Care reform BECAUSE of stuff like this. So please help me by spreading the word. Thank you.

P.S. The Billing folks at the ‘Concord Endoscopy Center’ are beyond exceptional. They, on their own volition have gone the extra mile (maybe a few more) to help me. I thank them. That ‘Center’ on the whole is great too. I also lucked out that they don’t want to see me for another 10 years. Maybe we will have decent Health Care reform by then.