Transforming health

Gingrich: Technology, behavior can improve health care and health

Information technology has helped to transform industries in the United States and abroad, but according to former U.S. Rep. Newt Gingrich, U.S. health care continues to lag behind. When Hurricane Katrina destroyed the paper medical records of more than 1 million patients, the federal government funded a project to replace the paper records, instead of opting for a less vulnerable, more efficient electronic system. That sort of thinking, Gingrich told an audience of students, faculty, and community members April 2, is not conservative or liberal. “It’s just dumb,” he said. “It’s obsolete.”
Gingrich, founder of the Atlanta-based Center for Health Transformation, was on campus to meet with students from former Sen. Bill Frist ’74’s course on health care and technology. After his three-hour visit with the Woodrow Wilson School students, he spoke to a full house at Dodds Auditorium, covering some of his pet peeves in the world of health care.
Technology, Gingrich said, has the potential to cut waste from the system and save lives. Paperless prescription systems, for instance, have been proven to reduce errors in medicating patients. Paperless records can trim some of the time that doctors and their assistants spend on administrative work. Gingrich scoffed at the idea that technology is risky or difficult to adopt. By a show of hands, he surveyed the audience – which included many local retirees – on their technological literacy, noting that most had used ATMs in foreign countries, snapped photos with their cell phones, and tracked UPS or FedEx packages online.
While technology could change health care, changing health itself will require changes in behavior, Gingrich said. Personal responsibility and cultural patterns can shift to improve health (he cited seatbelts and reductions in smoking and drinking and driving as past examples). Optimizing health and minimizing illness, he added, would have economic benefits for the United States. By Brett Tomlinson

Magic carpet ride

i-d3d3d49b9396527df5be799167dffeeb-WEB0409.jpgThe classic story of Aladdin earned top billing at Princyclopedia 2008, sponsored by the Cotsen Children’s Library and held in Dillon Gym March 29. Julia Solorzano ’10 got into the spirit with a ride on this “magic carpet,” a makeshift hovercraft consisting of a leaf blower and an inflated air mattress.
Photo by Frank Wojciechowski

Club sport shorts: Table tennis; Quidditch for muggles

Princeton’s table tennis club, the three-time defending champions of the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association’s mid-Atlantic division, will travel to Rochester, Minn., for the sport’s collegiate national championships April 11-13. Princeton placed second last year and returns with several of its top players, including Adam Hugh ’08, a participant in the U.S. Olympic trials.
On March 24, students from Princeton and Middlebury donned capes on their backs and straddled brooms as they faced off in a game of quidditch, the fictional game for wizards made popular by the Harry Potter novels and films. CBS Sports was on hand to cover the contest – a 100-0 Middlebury victory.

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