“July 10, 2000 Intelligence: Late Breaking Lab News”

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When it comes to laboratory information services, the Internet may indeed be a competitive leveler. THE DARK REPORT is tracking a host of small software companies that already have working solutions for Web-enabled lab test ordering and results reporting installed and operating in the field. It seems the traditional giants of the LIS industry lack the nimbleness and speed required to adapt rapidly- evolving hardware and software technology into viable solutions that are ready to install today. Tomorrow’s leading companies in lab information products are today’s unfamiliar names.


Sometime in the days after Healtheon/WebMD Corp. acquires Medical Manager Corp., it plans to change its name. It will drop “Healtheon” from its corporate title and be known simply as WebMD Corporation. The idea is to signify that, despite all its many acquisitions, it is “one company.”


Lab executives and pathologists interested in wireless reporting of lab test results to physicians should pay close attention to a technology called “Bluetooth.” Bluetooth is designed to be a short-range wireless connection for all types of electronic devices. These range from laptops and cellular telephones to microwave ovens and blenders. Bluetooth uses a chip that’s built into electronic devices. The goal is to allow these devices to seamlessly transmit data to each other. Motorola Inc. is preparing to manufacture Bluetooth chip sets which will be used in cell phones, two-way pagers, and hand- held computers.


Bluetooth technology already has wide support from the electronics industry. Some 1,700 companies worldwide will accept the standard, including IBM, Dell Computer, Toshiba, Nokia, and Telefon AB L.M. Erickson. Merrill Lynch analysts predict that, by 2005, more than 1.7 billion Bluetooth-equipped devices will be sold annually. In healthcare, THE DARK REPORT expects Bluetooth to first show up in hand-held wireless prescription units to be used by physicians in their offices and on hospital rounds. Applications for wireless access to laboratory test results will follow almost immediately.


Competition certainly makes things move faster. Most laboratorians know that Celera Genomics Group and the Human Genome Project jointly announced on June 26, 2000 that each group had completed the first rough draft of the complete human genome. The Human Genome Project was a government-funded project launched in 1990 and had said, as recently as two years ago, that it would not finish its work until 2005. Then Celera entered the picture, stating in June 1998 that, for less than $300 million, it would map the complete human genome in only 24 months. That timetable was met last month. Both teams decided a joint announcement of the rough draft milestone was in their mutual best interests.


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