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Data Management for Large-scale COVID-19 Immunization: This is all not as simple as it seems

There is a global race for the development of a vaccine for the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Finding a vaccine that works and receives approval is only part of the process. There are a series of other steps that need to be taken so that the vaccine can be delivered. These include the mass production of the vaccine, shipment, administration and record-keeping. This may be even more complex as there may be several vaccines. In this article we review some of these issues with a particular focus on the United States.

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Extreme Wildfires Can Create Their Own Dangerous Weather, Including Fire Tornadoes - Here's How

It might sound like a bad movie, but extreme wildfires can create their own weather - including fire tornadoes. It happened in California as a heat wave helped to fuel hundreds of wildfires across the region, many of them sparked by lightning. One fiery funnel cloud on Aug. 15 was so powerful, the National Weather Service issued what's believed to be its first fire tornado warning. So, what has to happen for a wildfire to get so extreme that it spins off tornadoes? As professors who study wildfires and weather, we can offer some insights.

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Report on ONC’s Working Session on Patient Identity and Matching

On Monday, August 31, I attended the final Working Session on Patient Identity and Matching. This virtual event was hosted by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC). This Working Session was a followup to an earlier session back in June 2020. The event last week had over 300 attendees and covered a wide range of topics and technologies related to patient identity and matching. These ONC Working Sessions are being driven by requirements that are part of the 21st Century Cures Act as well as a Congressional request from December 2019 to continue to "...evaluate the effectiveness of current [patient identity and matching] methods and recommend actions that increase the likelihood of an accurate match of patients to their health care data." Much of the focus of this study has been on whether a national patient identifier should be implemented in the US.

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What Western States Can Learn From Native American Wildfire Management Strategies

News media coverage of wildfires commonly frames them as "natural disasters" - dangerous elements of the natural world over which humans have little control. The language of climate change, fear of fire and the sense that it has become inevitable can be overwhelming, leaving people with the view that little can be done to manage these events. But in fact, people aren't helpless. While fires can be dangerous, they are inevitable and necessary in many ecosystems, and humans have long adapted to them. Across North America, indigenous peoples have actively managed forest ecosystems through the use of fire. Euro-American settlers were struck by the rich biodiversity of California's forests, woodlands and prairies, but they didn't understand that indigenous people's use of fire was responsible for them.

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The Wrong Legacies of Health Information Technology

I read two articles this week that got me thinking, Robert Charette's "Inside the Hidden World of Legacy IT Systems" (IEEE Spectrum) and Douglas Holt's "Cultural Innovation" (Harvard Business Review). Both deal with what I'll call legacy thinking. It's a particular problem for healthcare...If you are in healthcare and rely on legacy systems, you're in trouble. If you are in healthcare and are not acutely aware of what your Achilles heel is, someone else is going to exploit it. Even if you are a new healthcare entrant with more modern technologies but still based on the current ideology, your impact is going to be limited.

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Approval Of A Coronavirus Vaccine Would Be Just The Beginning - Huge Production Challenges Could Cause Long Delays

The race for a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine is well underway. It's tempting to assume that once the first vaccine is approved for human use, all the problems of this pandemic will be immediately solved. Unfortunately, that is not exactly the case. Developing a new vaccine is only the first part of the complex journey that's supposed to end with a return to some sort of normal life. Producing hundreds of millions of vaccines for the U.S. - and billions for the world as a whole - will be no small feat. There are many technical and economic challenges that will need to be overcome somehow to produce millions of vaccines as fast as possible.

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ONC Tech Forum 2020: An Attendee's Perspective

I attended the ONC summer Tech Forum in August 2020 which brought together over 1,500 industry experts and Federal partners to discuss technical innovations in health information technology and their potential impacts on the healthcare ecosystem...One of the most interesting parts of the conversation was focused on the efforts made by Honk Kong to develop an open source digital health platform. Over the past 20+ years, Hong Kong has been pursuing a "one system, one record" policy primarily built on open source components. Though they had little money to invest at the beginning, for them open source is more about retaining control than about controlling cost (though the lower price tag certainly got them started down this path)...

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An Epic Fight For the Metaverse—Fortnite Takes on the Big Tech Oligopolies

You might have missed it amongst all the headlines about the U.S.P.S., the 2020 elections, and, of course, that little thing we call the pandemic, but Fortnite got kicked off Apple's App Store (and subsequently Google Play). I'm not a gamer, but I am fascinated by gaming, because, as Steven Johnson put it, "The Future is where people are having the most fun." Tim Sweeney, the founder and CEO of Epic Games, Inc., which makes Fortnite, seems to be having a lot of fun. And he thinks the future is the Metaverse. Healthcare, take note. The tech giants were reacting to Epic allowing "permanent discounts" on developer fees for in-game purchases made directly, rather than going through Apple or Google. Developers thus avoid the 30% commission charged in those Stores. Mr. Sweeney has been railing about the commission level for some time, leading to the recent decision.

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How to Sell Open Source Software - Glyptodon's Success Story

Every business model has its tradeoffs, with pros and cons. In the case of Glyptodon, they made a bet that they could build a viable commercial brand with 100% open source software. That bet has paid off, and it has allowed the Glyptodon founders to build a business without outside funding. The hope is that their story helps other entrepreneurs who are struggling with how to build a sustainable business selling open source software. For every company founder who was told it couldn't be done, Glyptodon wants you to know it is absolutely possible-you can build and sell open source products. The key is to establish a trusted commercial brand and sell the overall solution.

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Why openly available abstracts are important - overview of the current state of affairs

The value of open and interoperable metadata of scientific articles is increasingly being recognized, as demonstrated by the work of organizations such as Crossref, DataCite, and OpenCitations and by initiatives such as Metadata 2020 and the Initiative for Open Citations. At the same time, scientific articles are increasingly being made openly accessible, stimulated for instance by Plan S, AmeliCA, and recent developments in the US, and also by the need for open access to coronavirus literature. In this post, we focus on a key issue at the interface of these two developments: The open availability of abstracts of scientific articles. Abstracts provide a summary of an article and are part of an article's metadata. We first discuss the many ways in which abstracts can be used and we then explore the availability of abstracts. The open availability of abstracts is surprisingly limited. This creates important obstacles to scientific literature search, bibliometric analysis, and automatic knowledge extraction.

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