Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Future Of Health Care IT Outsourcing Looks Promising

A recent research report from the Black Book Research Group claims that the IT payer outsourcing market will exceed $60 billion by the end of 2017. This is due to the demands on data security, benefits solutions and population health. The report was based on a survey that included data from more than 800 health plan IT outsourcing users from Q2 to Q4 2015. Trends were determined in the marketplace of service providers and client expectations. The report has predicted that there will be 40% growth in the next two years. This is due to the fact that better solutions in software has created faster IT expenses than expected with no increase in revenue. This is why outsourcing is now being offered to control organizational costs.

The report said that less than one in 10 of health plan IT executives  are considering  full or end-to-end off-shored solutions. However, the Black Book report was able to show that health plans are budgeting at least 20 percent increases in outsourcing spends for 2016 for service models and functions including application support, desktop support, and help desk support. Nearly 80 percent of larger health plans could turn to outsourced vendors for help desk support in the next 12 months, the survey found.

It is expected that security and privacy projects, and cloud initiatives will grow over 50% of all new outsourcing business initiatives for 2016 in managed care organizations. Payers will soon focus on three additional outsourcing areas by 2016: comprehensive software in core administration, care and network management, and constituent engagement. It expects that by 2018, half of all health plans will demand substantial risk sharing with their outsourcing providers as operational efficiency will become critical at four in 10 of the nation's small health insurers and plans, resulting in the development of more intense data-driven payer strategies.

Doug Brown, managing partner of Black Book Research Group said, "Changing government regulations are leading insurers to outsource more IT functions including big data and data base management, analytics as a service, mobile applications, population health, and security solutions,"

The fact is, while there are many business which began to utilize IT outsourcing since the 1990s, the healthcare sector was not quick to embrace the idea. Brown remarked, "The decision health insurance companies have been among the slowest to adopting outsourcing. However, shrinking margins, higher claim disbursement, and increasing competition have forced health insurers to look at outsourcing at this point in time to prove efficiencies and focus resources toward the core functions of product development and innovation."

This is good news to all medical outsourcing companies! Medical writing in the form of pharmaceutical and educational writing can now be outsourced  to companies which offer cheaper yet high-quality services. If you want some regulatory and educational medical writing, SCRIPTUS MEDICAL RESEARCH AND WEB DEVELOPMENT may be the right company for you. They offer affordable writing and web development packages.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

I Almost Went Into Computer Science After High School

After High School, I knew I wanted to be a doctor. I applied to two schools: University of the Philippines and University of San Agustin. I chose BS Biology, Economics and Journalism as my courses at UP. I took the UPCAT and passed.

A week later after the UPCAT was released, I received a letter from UP Computer Science. It said that they have this new experimental program and they are getting the top 30 examinees and I was included in the top 30. The perks were free tuition, allowance, etc. I asked myself, 'Top 30 for what? I did not even apply in computer science!'

Well, my parents were not believers of computer science. For them, if I took up computer science, I would be like that encoder working in some boring office who's typing and typing all her life.

Because of financial constraints and because I was entitled to a 25% tuition discount, I enrolled at University of San Agustin Medical Technology.

Sometimes I wonder what had happened to me if I grabbed that opportunity. I may be working in tech firms now. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

On Breaking Rules: Being a Woman, Being a Doctor, Being in Tech

When I was in college, my professors would usually talk to my mom, who is also a college professor herself. Always, they have just one thing to say, "Your daughter has her own mind. You cannot teach her what to think. She has her own mind". That's what I am according to them: stubborn.

Well, there were many instances in my life wherein I have broken rules and have proven many people wrong. Let me enumerate some of them.

1. Being a Writer/Editor While Majoring in the Sciences

They say that when you are good in writing, you should be in journalism. And when you are good in math and sciences, you should be majoring in science, business or engineering. But I am proud to say I was able to graduate from Medical Technology/Clinical Laboratory Science despite being a campus writer. People used to ask me if I really want to become a medical laboratory scientist and I said yes, and they got this weird look in their eyes that say "Then why do you keep on writing stuff?". And when I went into hospital internship, I juggled press work and hospital laboratory duties. Well, I survived.

2. Becoming a Doctor While Doing Freelance Web Writing/ SEO

They say that when you go to medical school you should drop your other sidelines and just concentrate on studying medicine. Well, I also broke that rule. I turned to content writing to help finance my studies. During the early 2000s, writers who went to content writing were viewed as being stupid. After all, content writing consisted writing articles with repetitive keywords and outbound links. No journalism graduate can handle that, que horror! To earn some decent income I was willing to be trained in that "dirty" job of SEO writing. I began to write for ad companies who trained me more on SEO writing. I did not expect SEO to become this big. But I know I did the right thing, picking up the dirty job to earn gold.

3. Becoming a Resident Doctor in Internal Medicine and Doing Freelance Online Jobs

Yes, a resident's physician's duty can last for 36 hours in the hospital. But I still found time to write, as I needed the income still. I was able to finish residency training and pass diplomate exams while being a freelance writer. Not only did I become a writer, I also learned front-end web development because clients didn't want to spend more on getting a separate designer. And so I learned HTML, CSS and Javascript. I met some crazy web developers and digital marketing experts (all of them were males) who became my precious friends. They were the ones who taught me more about digital marketing and some back-end web development (PHP, SQL).

4. Starting a Drugstore and Distribution Business With Limited Capital

They say that you will need a million bucks if you want to start a drugstore and distribution business. I started small with minimum capital but I did not spend the income I earned. Instead, I used it to purchase stocks until my inventory grew and grew, along with the profits.

5. Entering the World of Web Development As a Woman and As a Doctor

Because of my skills in web development and SEO, some of my clients who owned web development companies began to invite me as a part of their teams. And so, I am a doctor during the day, but a web developer during the night until the wee hours of the morning. I was attractive to clients because I am a doctor-writer possessing IT skills. I am now a part of various web development teams from the US, India, Israel, Romania, UK and Singapore which focus on online pharmacies, medical websites and medical e-commerce sites.

So there I was, dividing my time as a doctor-by-day, vampire-by-night. I was happy. Until one day, a message popped up in my Slack saying "Hi sexy. You're so beautiful. Got a boyfriend?" It was from one of my teammates in a US-based web development company.

It was then that I realized that I am a WOMAN and I am different from them. Physically. I realized that I have long hair and that I wore a bra.

A cold realization swept through me: I am a woman. Yes I am, but what's the fuss about it? I write well, I get things done on or before the deadline. I don't do sloppy work. Why? What have I done to deserve this?

Why is there gender bias in the tech industry? This happened to me not only once but twice: my co-workers online calling me names. Was it because of how I look? Well, I admit I am not ugly-looking, but this face is just a mask. I am still a human being capable of doing what a male web developer can do! I was hired to work and not just become a teaser here! But I have NOT noticed this among Caucasian developers who came from countries where there are many women in tech. I have observed this among co-workers coming from countries where tech is a male-dominated industry, particularly in the Middle East, Pakistan and India.

I know I am not the only woman lamenting on this. This is why large organizations such as Google are encouraging more women in tech. Maybe these talented women just stopped coming to work because they were called "babes" or "sweethearts". Maybe they even experienced some form of abuse.

I know that tech work is very demanding. Even though IT is not my primary profession, I spend 8 hours a day or more doing website projects. Whenever there are projects I usually finish the job according to schedule. Even though I am very tired, if I have a deadline, I would make sure I will finish it, even if it would mean staying up late until the morning.

I hope this issue will end soon among women in science and technology. I am willing to work towards this realization. I want to end this judgmental attitude. I have broken many rules and have proven many theories wrong. Now, as a woman doctor who is currently learning to write code, I have managed to break rules again.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Anonymous Wants You To Take Down ISIS: Using Python

Recently, the world has witnessed the word war between ISIS and Anonymous. Some skeptics are actually doubtful whether Anonymous' plans will work against ISIS. You see there is a big difference between these two groups: ISIS operates on more radical and active ways while Anonymous acts silently but with considerable damage. So far, Anonymous has taken down a lot of Twitter accounts of ISIS recruiters. Some journalists say that Anonymous may actually succeed in fighting ISIS because the latter militant group recruits followers and communicates with its members through online social media. If communication is breached between followers, there is no unity towards the common goal. Thus the old adage "In unity there is no strength" holds true.

Recently, Anonymous has made an announcement to amateur programmers. It creates a call of action in fighting the war against ISIS. Through the The International Business Times, Anonymous has posted three guides on how to  identify ISIS-affiliated Twitter accounts and websites, as well as how to hack ISIS websites.

It said, ""Instead of sitting idle in the [chat] channel or lurking around and doing nothing, you can benefit greatly from the different tools and guides that have been provided to you. Your contribution means a lot and we encourage you to partake in all of the Op's activities if you can, the more the merrier."

It further went on , ""There should be plenty of work to keep you occupied so get going. If you wish to submit anything of value, place your findings on and share to the link to one of the channel operators and we can talk about what to do next."

In this guide, Anonymous outlines the steps you need to make to help take down ISIS: using Python our favorite programming language. Here are the steps Anonymous has outlined:

Instructions for finding ISIS-related websites

1. Get Python at unless you already have it (Mac does)

2. Open Terminal (or Command Prompt for Windows) and type (without quotes) "python"

3. Now, this step requires a little explanation. Let's set this out neatly, shall we...

Copy the contents of the following link to your clipboard
The contents of that link are some search terms that relate to ISIS and their content, allowing you to narrow down the results to specific ones
Paste the strings into the Terminal and press Enter

4. Choose a couple of strings (3 recommended) from the list of strings. For this example we will use strings 3+38+46

5. Once chosen, continue in terminal (without quotes) "print(str3+str38+str42)" and copy the results

6. Paste the results in and analyze the new results To translate pages, it is recommended to use Google Chrome, which has integrated translation

7. Submit any valid ones to one of the channel operators and we will deal with the info accordingly

Some people have actually met success with hacking using Python. You can hack Twitter accounts using Python. According to one article, you can even learn Python by hacking first. CLICK HERE on how to do it. 

There is even a video in Youtube that teaches you how to hack using Python. 

Look, I'm not teaching you to hack here. In every situation there is always the good and the bad. 

There are actually good things that you can get from hacking, and there are bad things that you can do with it. 

Ciao, till my next post. I'm actually enjoying my morning cup of coffee now so don't disturb me. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Use of Python in Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Research

As I have mentioned before in my previous post, Python is a top choice for medical or scientific research because it is object oriented, easy to learn and easy to read! Today, we are going to talk about limitless applications of Python in the field of chemistry and pharmacy. Python is a programming language that has been adopted by the cheminformatics community; in fact, Astra Zeneca has moved some of its codes to Python.

So what are some of the applications of Python that can help chemists and other scientists? Scipy and Pylab can be used in scientific computing. For molecular dynamics, we have MMTK; to do statistics , we can use Scipy, rpy (R) and Pychem. For Cheminformatics, we can use OEChem, frowns, PyDaylight and pychem. For bioinformatics, we can use BioPython. For stuctural biology, you can use PyMOL and for computational chemistry you can use GaussSum.

Let us first focus on SciPy. SciPy is an open source Python library used by scientists, analysts, and engineers doing scientific computing and technical computing.What is interesting to us here is that we can use SciPy for doing statistical analysis such as descriptive statistics ( variance, standard deviation, standard error, mean, mode, median), correlations (Pearson r, Spearman r, Kendall tau), statistical tests such as chi-squared, t-tests, binomial, Wilcoxon, Kruskal, Kolmogorov-Smirnov, Anderson, etc. and linear regression. It can also perform analysis of variance (ANOVA) and so much more. Wow. All these are actually our basic needs in research! (we need not hire a statistician who will do sloppy work for us for a hefty sum or download SAS/SPSS). I remember I used to download an old version of SPSS from the internet in order just to perform statistical analysis and I ended up having malware on my laptop. Whew!

Hahahaha! I am just making you laugh so that you will not get bored. I hate boring topics such as this but information technology is exciting and should not be boring. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Funny Video: PHP vs. Python vs. Ruby vs. Java vs. .NET

This is a funny video I found on Youtube on the different programming languages. If you're a beginner, this is something that you have to check out!

Of Patient Algorithms and Python

An algorithm is defined in computer science as a specific set of instructions for carrying out a procedure or solving a problem. In medicine, doctors use algorithms in patient management. When a steps are being used to solve a certain problem, this process is known as a medical algorithm. Wikipedia defines a medical algorithm as a "any computation, formula, statistical survey, nomogram, or look-up table, useful in healthcare. Medical algorithms include decision tree approaches to healthcare treatment (e.g., if symptoms A, B, and C are evident, then use treatment X) and also less clear-cut tools aimed at reducing or defining uncertainty."

What is interesting about the Python programming language is that it supports the object-oriented programming paradigm. This means that Python considers data to be the starting point of the problem-solving process. This is why Python is so promising in medicine.

This brings into my mind the Boolean data type which may be very useful in medicine. For computer programmers and those who have studied computer science, you may have recalled that this data type consists of the values TRUE and FALSE that are associated with conditional statements. In Python, Boolean data is designated by the bool class. The possible state values for a boolean object are True and False with the standard boolean operators, andor, and not.

Actually, these concepts are very useful in medicine. Everyday, medical doctors are faced with numerous problems regarding patient care. For instance, in the emergency room, a patient comes in unconcious, in a coma. The doctor suspects stroke, but he or she does not know whether this is a case of hemorrhagic stroke or an ischemic type of stroke. This is the standard algorithm for managing such stroke cases:

Take a look at the algorithm. Have you noticed? The steps can be rewritten using programming code. The steps contain "if and only" statements. If I were to write code for this, I will do this as follows. 

print "You are looking at the cranial CT scan. Type #1 if its a bleed or 
type #2 if its a clot"
Type of stroke = raw_input("> ")

if stroke == "1":
    print "Refer the patient to neurosurgery"
    print "1. Refer to the handsome neurosurgeon."
    print "2. Refer to the ugly neurosurgeon."

    neurosurgery = raw_input("> ")

    if neurosurgery == "1":
        print "Good job!"
    elif neurosurgery == "2":
        print "Loser!"
        print "Well, couldn't you decide? Hahaha."

elif stroke == "2":
    print "Consider fibrinolytic therapy"
    print "1. Check fibrinolytic exclusions"
    print "2. Repeat neurologic exams"

    therapy = raw_input("> ")

    if therapy == "1" or therapy == "2":
        print "Good job!"
        print "Still good!!"

    print "Your'e a good doctor!"

No, sorry I was just joking. This probably wasn't the right code! Hahahahaha! You can forgive me, I'm a newbie!
Anyway, back to the discussion, there are a lot of medical algorithms that can be translated into code and made into life-saving computer programs. Do you agree with me? Can you also write code for the other medical algorithms? What can you say? I want to see your comments below!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Importance of Data Management in Clinical Trials: One Horror Story

One of the huge challenges that a clinical researcher may face is data management. In clinical research, data needs to be secure, easily accessible yet must be available forever. This is because once research has been published, some researchers may look back at the data of some previous clinical trials done on the subject to find out whether there is bias or not, or whether statistics has been done correctly or not. Thus data protection and security is a necessity in clinical research. Unfortunately, a lot of clinical research organizations do not realize this and simply rely on physical archives (pen and paper). This is extremely exhausting: looking for records and compiling data from 20,000 patients or research subjects! You will end up looking like this:

"Yes, doctor? I haven't finished looking at over 20,000 patient files"

Here is a video I want to show to you regarding the importance of data management and storage in clinical research. This is actually a horror story which may happen to any clinical researcher or any researcher/ author in that regard. 

This is what I am working on nowadays. My team is trying to think of solutions on how to deal with data problems in clinical research. This concept can also be applied in the field of medical informatics. Patient medical records should be kept and stored for a lifetime, in my opinion. We can actually do data analysis on those patient records later on. The most important reason why we should not lose those patient records is because of legal cases. For example, if a patient goes to court, how can you retrieve important data from medical examinations which you will need to testify in court if that data was simply lost? That's unforgivable!

Quit the laughing and lets get down to business. My team is currently working on these dents to make your life better, clinical researchers. 
Time to learn some programming doctors!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Why Medical Doctors Should Learn Programming

Why would doctors learn from programming?

Its a wonder how medical doctors would spend more than 10 years studying diseases and medical stuff while it would only take one to two years to study computer programming.
As I made my hospital rounds this morning as a specialist in general internal medicine, I realized how we doctors are un-connected to information technology. Our charts are in paper and laboratory results are in paper. Laboratory results would have to be relayed by nurses through phone or mobile text. Imagine less-hassle it would be if there was an app connecting a hospital medical software which forwards data from nurses workstations to doctor's mobile phones, tablets or laptops. This would create less errors and the patient would be managed effectively. These are just some of the applications of information technology in medicine. Imagine also if doctors working on a patient would be in Slack, communicating and sharing notes before a complicated patient undergoes surgery.

After I made rounds, I opened my laptop and read about the uses of information technology in medicine. I stumbled across an articles in BMJ: "The clinician-programmer: designing the future of medical practice".

Here are some quotes from the article which are worth mentioning.

"Those with skills in computer programming have many opportunities to improve the way we learn and practise medicine. While such skills were once the preserve of computer scientists, some clinicians are learning to harness this technology for the benefit of doctors and patients."

"Beyond clinical practice, training and revalidation are now largely electronic, with the e-Portfolio, e-Logbook, and e-Learning modules replacing their paper counterparts. Effective training and revalidation software must be simple to access, high quality, and deal with feedback from users."

"Doctors are also taking a more active role in identifying clinical problems and developing workable solutions through programming."

So why not program? In the next few posts, I will tell you more about Python programming and its possible applications to medicine.

I have to go and see some patients in my clinic. Ciao!

My Own Story: Of Love for Typewriters and Computers

Hi readers! This is my first post, so I promise you I'm going to make this as lively as possible. 
Well, I'm not necessarily a computer programmer by profession. I am a medical doctor. If you are wondering why I am writing on a tech blog and making some websites, well, its a long story. It started when I fell in love with typewriters at the age of six. 
We used to own an old yellow typewriter. When I was small, I was really fascinated by the noise it makes everytime you touch the keys. It sounded like women walking on high heeled shoes. Thus began my fascination of keyboards that at the age of 7, I was already experimenting on that yellow typewriter. I typed and I typed. And wrote short stories using it on bond paper complete with my own illustrations. 
When I was six, I was sent to school in the city. I always loved the countryside where I grew up. I loved the sweet smell of grass, the fresh air, the music of the trees..ahh, everything was perfect then! Maybe I was meant to be a farm girl. But then my parents sent me to the city which enabled me to live in noisy boarding houses as a child. 
The city was far a far cry from the countryside where I grew up. So as a child I became very shy and often withdrew from other people. I kept to myself most of the time. During those days, I engrossed myself in reading books. I would read a single book cover to cover in a day. I was fascinated with science books, those that were about scientific discoveries. When I was 9 years old, I was exposed to that bulky computer in the late 1980s where we played wheel of fortune and other games. That computer kept swallowing and vomiting floppy disks, and I learned to format those disks at that age. 
Because I was a shy child and kept to myself, I initially joined the art club, then the journalism club. Then I still wrote poems and short stories, some of which were published in our elementary school publication. But then as I approached puberty, I met a lot of friends and I became more outgoing. But I still kept my silence at times. 
When I was in high school, I didn't care much about writing and books. I cared much for friends, crushes, the outdoors and even sports. I did not care much about computers nor typewriters.
Things changed when I was in college. Because of financial problems I had to look for a scholarship to sustain my education. My mother was a college teacher then and she taught english. 
Once when we had to write an essay, my college professor called my attention. He told me I had a writing talent that he couldn't find with my other classmates. He then suggested that I take the exams for the university publications. And so I went, wrote some articles and did not expect to be called. When the results came, I looked for my name in the staff members list. I did not find my name there. I was about to go sadly with disappointment when I took a look at the editorial positions. I did not expect to find my name as one of the editors.
And so my love with typewriters was rekindled. Back then in 1997, we used to type our articles on that white bulky typewriter. That typewriter was memorable to me. It was in that typewriter when my first boyfriend in college typed his poems of love for me. 
We only touched computers when we were in the press. Before going to the printing press, I would buy manila paper and do lay-out on that paper. I would draw with a pentel pen, marking it with lines where the content should flow and where the pictures should go. At the press, there were a lot of computer encoders who typed our already typewritten articles. So what we would do is guide those computer encoders on adobe pagemaker where the content should go. Then, we would print and proofread and print again until the prints are made into blueprints which will be run by machines to make magazines and newspapers.
When we had time, we went to seminars. We were taught how to do photojournalism, copywriting, article writing and editorial writing. 
Whenever we had deadlines, we used to stay late up at night writing on the computer, placing graphics, managing the content flow and publishing our outputs. That was the way we did things in the 90s. When I was graduating in college it was year 2000, and it was the start of a new revolution in the Philippines: the internet revolution.
Curious as I was, I approached the computer and typed words on the search engine. It was amazing how HTML files came up so quickly on the screen. When I went to medical school, we would search articles on various diseases. However, I was still looking for ways on how to augment my income while going to medical school.
There was an ad I read. It said they needed writers. It was in the year 2001, more than a decade ago, and I was interested when the ad said it needed article writers. So I applied and they gave me topics to write about. My contact was a lady from a Malaysian company. Then she told me that I need to add keywords to my articles. She taught me how to place those keywords in those articles, how to write titles. I had no idea that what she was teaching me was search engine optimization (SEO). And so began my career as a freelance SEO writer. I would write for a lot of companies abroad; they liked my articles and they paid me through bank transfer.
It was in the year 2007 when I entered Elance. I worked with some clients who taught me a lot about web development, social media marketing and more search engine optimization. I was an interested student and I quickly grasped concepts. I knew about FTP files, working with databases and doing front end web development. I was even designing websites to my utter shock.
I had my residency training in internal medicine and I went to Manila to try my luck. After working for some hospitals, I ended up in a company doing clinical trials. Thus I was exposed to more complicated work such as doing statistical analysis, interpreting clinical trial results, plotting pharmacokinetic graphs, and working on large patient databases. After three years of working in Manila, I decided to settle down back to Iloilo City and become a freelance writer.
While working as a freelance writer, I worked with some web development companies and gathered some concepts. So I tried to learn these concepts and with the help of books I studied programming and markup languages. I felt it was necessary to start a web development team that caters to medical companies because medicine has some very complicated needs that laymen cannot fulfill alone. These needs can only be fulfilled by another doctor who is still practicing medicine, just like what I am. 
Well, that is my story. I hope you won't get tired of my rants and raves here. I will try to write here even though I am very busy. Thanks for reading my litany and God Bless!