Operating Room of the Future

The University of Maryland Medical Center won a $2.5 million grant earlier this year to help devise an operating room of the future.

The medical center will work with the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command's Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) at Fort Detrick, Md., to develop new operating-room technology and conduct research on the impact of such technology on patient care and safety.

Some of the proposed research is designed to provide the U.S. armed forces with technologically advanced surgical equipment that is smaller, lighter and faster.

Officials of the medical center said much of the research would also apply to civilian hospitals, such as studies of new ways to prevent medication errors and adverse drug reactions.

An OR of the Future consortium was created to bring together more than a dozen institutions, including other academic medical centers and medical-device manufacturers. The consortium's mission is to help its members compete for research funding in a variety of areas, including operating room suite management, patient safety and advanced surgical technologies.

The consortium also helps its member organizations pool resources to help develop technological advances in the operating room.

The OR of the Future project grew out of a new approach by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command to develop a centralized-research-funding strategy and coordinate the efforts of the many institutions interested in surgical research.

Showing the Way

So you've got your sleek new portal up and you're offering your constituents more applications than they can shake a stick at. Everything's peachy, right?

Well, no, because you've created a whole new problem for yourself: How do you let people know about all these nifty apps without turning your new portal back into a boring laundry list of various functions?

California is taking a categorization approach to solving this problem, working with state librarians to help cluster the applications in the proper category.

"We've got more than 50 applications available through the portal, and we were getting tired of seeing that long list appear," said Arun Baheti, director of eGovernment.

"We've taken all the applications and categorized them so you can actually get through them a little quicker," he said, noting that it's not exactly rocket science; it's just tinkering to find the right way to organize information better.

"We're now in an interesting situation since we have more than a few apps," he said. "Part of our challenge is to figure out how to draw our users in to find the app they want or need that they wouldn't otherwise find. Our challenge is trying to think through how we can help you find out what you're after, based on using our personalization and other features and what the click stream looks like."

One thought is using a person's click stream to make an application box available on the right side of the Web page.

"If we notice you're clicking through tourism stuff and we know we've got some tourism applications, we can automatically have those sitting on the right column for you as a personalized help box," he said.

The other issue is juggling the merits of pursuing a graphical approach or an advertising approach to leading people down the right trail, he said.

"We've got to figure out a way to get this stuff in front of people," he said. "Otherwise, they'll never find it."

Getting Ready for Laptops

Nine schools across Maine get to be guinea pigs in the state's efforts to weave technology into classrooms.

The schools will serve as demonstration and exploration sites for teachers involved