Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Internet Search Engines - Second Place Shifting Positions - What Next?

Although Google remains the leader in terms of market share with almost 80%, the runner-up position has just changed. Bing (formerly MSN search) has now surpassed Yahoo. This isn't too surprising with all the TV and radio marketing/advertising over the last 6 months as well as the roll-out of Windows7 and more use of Internet Explorer 8.  Google has its core users, who go there first for searching, but as it gets more common to think about Bing being an option, and easier and easier to get to Bing, more people will use it compared to Yahoo.

But how do search results compare between Google, Yahoo, and Bing?

Searching for: car accident attorney in the san fernando valley

Google: #1 spot is www.freeman-freeman.com (Personal Injury Attorneys at 21900 Burbank Blvd in Woodland Hills, CA 91367)
Yahoo: www.freeman-freeman.com is #5
Bing:  www.freeman-freeman.com is #6

Certainly, the Google number one result is relevant. But it is down the list in the other search engines. Other the results above that site useful to a person searching for a lawyer in the area? In Yahoo, three of the prior spots are indeed for attorneys, but only one of them has a the main office in the San Fernando Valley Area. For Bing, the results are practically similar. Not surprising and it is know that there is a collaboration among Bing and Yahoo.

Back to the results on Google:  The top six spots were all law firms, and four of the 6 had a main office in the San Fernando Valley. So, for this example - Google did provide more relevant results, with less "spam" - try it yourself.

So what is next?  Not much until the Bing/Yahoo results are more in tune with what users want - in my opinion.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

California's Famous Claremont Hotel Files for Bankruptcy

Oakland's famous Claremont Hotel and Spa has filed for bankruptcy. The hotel with a number of other luxury properties, were all involved in a single bankruptcy deal. The bankruptcy papers were filed in an attempt to avoid immediate payment of $1.50 billion in debt.

The hotels, which include the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel and Spa in Hawaii, filed bankruptcy papers after lenders seized these from Morgan Stanley Real Estate. In all, the hotels had assets of $2.2 billion, and debt of $1.9 billion. One of the lenders which seized the hotels is Paulson & Co. one of the world's leading hedge funds.

According to Paulson & Co., some of these properties were purchased by Morgan Stanley Real Estate at the peak of their property market, at exceedingly high prices. Since then, the hotels have struggled to stay afloat, not just because of reduced demand in a depressed hospitality industry, but also a number of other market factors.

According to California bankruptcy attorneys, the hospitality industry has been hit particularly hard by the economic downturn. There has been increased unemployment in California, which has severely impacted luxury resorts. There's also been a dip in business and consumer spending, that has impacted hotels and resorts. Besides, fuel prices have increased, which has impacted the cost of equipment, supplies and materials. The economic recession has also caused a decrease in high-end personal travel and business travel. Both kinds of travel have reduced dramatically over the past couple of years, and the result has been a depressed effect on the hospitality industry.

California has borne the brunt of the economic recession, and has seen several hotels and resorts pushed into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In fact, just last week, the Atlas Hospitality Group estimated that 465 California hotels are currently in default, or have been foreclosed on.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Deaths Go Unchecked in California

In spite of efforts to make consumers aware of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning at home during winter, there are at least a few dozen deaths every year in California from carbon monoxide poisoning. This winter has been no different. Unfortunately, there have been a number of deaths this year that have been linked to poverty, rather than negligence.

People, who have failed to pay their electricity bills on time and have had their power supply cut off, have turned to diesel-powered generators and gas-powered generators to generate electricity for the home. According to government agencies, they have been trying to reduce people's dependence on gas-powered generators, which are often the main culprit in carbon monoxide poisoning deaths, by offering people bill payment assistance programs. Persons who have trouble paying their gas and electricity bills can avail themselves of these programs, to avoid having their power supply cut off.

Besides, state officials conduct frequent inspections to reduce the risk of entire households being wiped out from carbon monoxide exposure. There's even a law in California that requires all single family homes to install carbon monoxide detectors by July 1st.

Last week, four members of a family in Oakhurst, including two children, were killed when they were overcome by carbon monoxide fumes being emitted by a gas-powered generator. The family had failed to pay their bills, and was using the generator for heat and electricity.

The frequent link between carbon monoxide poisoning and poverty has concerned California carbon monoxide poisoning lawyers, and has raised other questions about the costs of gas and electricity in California. In response to the Oakhurst tragedy, county authorities across California are informing consumers that they are ready to help people who have lost jobs, and are having trouble paying electricity bills and heating bills.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Study Downplays Patient Safety Effect of Electronic Medical Records

A new study suggests that there is no association between the use of electronic medical records at hospitals and improved patient safety. However, Arizona patient safety lawyers would warn against using these studies to shoot down the benefits of EMR systems altogether.

The study was published online in the Archives of Internal Medicine. It looked at data between 2005 and 2007, and measured how electronic medical records fared against a list of 20 quality indicators. Researchers say they found no link between the use of electronic medical records at the facility, and better or enhanced patient care.

According to the study, the only field where medical records actually enhanced patient care was in the area of patient diets. Electronic medical records were found to be very useful in prescribing diets to high-risk patients who suffer from cardiac disease or diabetes, and are required to be on a restricted diet. However, they found no difference in the rates of giving aspirin to persons suffering from coronary artery disease or administering medication to patients suffering from depression, when electronic medical records were used.

The study also found that the use of clinical decision support systems or alerts to healthcare providers, resulted in improvement in just one field - avoiding routine electrocardiography tests prescribed to lower risk patients. There have been other studies and reviews conducted recently, which show a similar lack of association between the use of electronic medical records and enhanced patient care.

However, many of the studies were conducted at least a few years ago. For instance, the study looked at data between 2005 and 2007, and we’re now in 2011. The systems that are being used in the healthcare industry are now much more sophisticated. Besides, if hospitals are not finding that systems improve patient care, it could be that the systems have not been designed to be user-friendly.

In any case, it's far too early to shoot down electronic medical records altogether. There's likely a learning curve, and over the next few years, we could find that these EMR systems enhance patient safety.