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Thursday, December 2, 2004

  • Report on storage of health data
  • Universities 'not as affordable', report says
  • Accountancy staff member profiled
Chris Redmond

Nuclear Energy at the University of Chicago

[Face, violin, music stand]

Concert-master of the new Orchestra@UWaterloo is Romy Shioda, faculty member in the department of combinatorics and optimization. The orchestra will give its inaugural concert tonight in the Humanities Theatre. The concert begins at 8:00 -- appropriately enough, with Brahms's "Academic Festival Overture". Admission is free.

Report on storage of health data -- from the UW media relations office

The growing challenge of storing medical records, especially the masses of data in diagnostic images, is the focus of a new report issued today by the Waterloo Institute for Health Informatics Research, based at UW. WIHIR's report is entitled "Storage in the Digital Healthcare Enterprise." The report is the product of a blue ribbon panel of industry and academic experts formed under the aegis of the Waterloo Health Informatics Think-Tank.

The report examines the information storage requirements of health organizations at both the enterprise and the regional level. It outlines the storage options currently employed, as well as emerging solutions using grid-computing strategies.

"The challenges health organizations face in the area of information storage require new thinking and new solutions," said Dominic Covvey, founding director of WIHIR. "Hospitals are faced with the challenge of reliably storing and ensuring fast access to the rapidly growing volume of fixed-content data, especially medical images."

Covvey added: "Senior hospital management, including CIOs and CTOs, need up-to-date information on the latest products and their associated issues in order to be well positioned to effectively develop their enterprise storage strategies. This report is a good starting point.

The report identifies significant issues that this new storage paradigm creates for the health applications developers and for IT decision-makers. In particular, it identifies the need for new components of Requests for Proposals that seek storage solutions, new approaches to securing shared information resources like regional PACS, the need for effective Information Lifecycle management strategies that align storage logistics with information value, and the need for education for IT professionals regarding the new solutions.

"Health organizations today face a major challenge in storing and accessing the masses of health information, particularly in images," said Bill Tatham, CEO of XJ Partners Inc. "The adoption of the Electronic Health Record, the move towards regionalization, and the need for business continuity in the presence of faults or disasters add dramatically to this challenge. The classic approaches to storage simply do not address the entire problem."

Participants in the session that led to the final report included representatives of companies, hospitals, universities and health care agencies. The report content includes Objectives of the Session, Major Results of the Think-Tank Session, Storage Issues, and, importantly, A Storage Roadmap: A Dynamic Storage Strategy for the Digital Healthcare Enterprise.

The material in the report is available on UW's health informatics web site.

Universities 'not as affordable', report says-- a news release from the Educational Policy Institute

The Educational Policy Institute has released a report that looks at the relative affordability of public university education in the United States and Canada. Prepared under contract to the Montreal-based Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation, the report compares all 50 US states and 10 Canadian provinces on postsecondary access, student financial aid, tuition and fee charges, and overall net cost of attendance for the years 1999-2001.

The major finding of the report is that Canadian universities are not as affordable as they used to be in comparison with the United States. Secondly, from a US perspective, the variance in net cost of public university education in both Canada and the US is broadly diverse, making education more and less affordable for students depending on geography.

According to the report, average tuition and fee charges in US in 1999-2000 was $3,506, compared to CDN$3,403 in Canada. After controlling for purchasing power, the US amount is 25 percent higher than in Canada. Vermont had the highest average tuition at $7,134 and Utah had the lowest at $2,244. The average US total cost of attendance, which includes tuition, fees, and room & board, was $8,655, and CDN$8,336 in Canada. As with tuition and fee charges, the US amount is 25 percent higher than in Canada when purchasing power is considered.

Perhaps the most interesting analysis of the report is the calculation of net cost of attendance for students. The Educational Policy Institute did this in two separate ways. The first calculation backed out only non-repayable assistance (grants) to see how much, on average, families had to pay for university education. In 2000-01, the average net cost of attendance in the US was $6,767. Multiplied over a four-year period, this amounts to over $40,000 that must be paid by the student or family. In Canada, the net cost total was $6,564 in Canadian dollars. When adjusted for purchasing power, net cost in the US remains 25 percent higher than their northern counterparts.

New Jersey, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont had the highest net cost of attendance for public university education in the US, with average net cost approaching $10,000 per year. Oklahoma was the lowest, with an average net cost of $3,847 per year.

The Educational Policy Institute also made an out-of-pocket expense calculation, which essentially backs out all student aid, including all grants and loans, from total cost of attendance. This is the amount that families must come up with after they have included all public and institutional resources. In 2000-01, the total average out-of-pocket expenses for students and families in the US was $3,444 and CDN$4,319 in Canada. Hawaii had the highest out-of-pocket expense for families at $7,157, followed by New Jersey, Maryland, and Rhode Island. As with net cost, Oklahoma had the lowest out-of-pocket expense at $258. Adjusted for purchasing power, out-of-pocket expenses in the US and Canada are virtually the same.

Germanic and Slavic studies colloquium with graduate student presentations on applied linguistics, 10 a.m., Modern Languages building, details online.

Anthropology book launch: Irregular Connections by Harriet Lyons (UW) and Andrew Lyons (Wilfrid Laurier University), 4 p.m. at Lucinda House, WLU.

Arriscraft architecture lecture: Steve Badanes, Jersey Devil Design/Build Group, 7 p.m., Architecture lecture room.

Perimeter Institute lecture: Raymond Laflamme, director of UW's Institute for Quantum Computing, "Harnessing the Quantum World", 7 p.m. at Waterloo Collegiate Institute.

Polls close 8 p.m. in the Graduate Student Association dental plan referendum -- details online.

New staff orientation session Friday 9 a.m., Tatham Centre. Invitations already circulated; inquiries, ext. 2829.

Prayer service in memory of Rod Sawatsky, Friday 12 noon, Conrad Grebel University College chapel.

Faculty association fall general meeting Tuesday, December 7, 3:00, CEIT room 1015.

English Language Proficiency Examination Wednesday, December 8, 7 p.m., PAC.

Carols in Modern Languages lobby, annual event led by Jake Willms, Wednesday, December 15, 12:15.

According to EPI president and report author Watson Scott Swail, the findings from this report should be strongly heeded by policymakers. "Our findings show that overall public university affordability is unequal across US states and Canadian provinces. Our hope is that policymakers in these jurisdictions will take a serious and concerned look at how they package and deliver student aid to students in order to ensure an equitable and equal opportunity for all."

When net cost figures are compared to median family income, the average burden of students and families in the US and Canada is similar. Overall, net cost requires an average effort of 14 percent of the median family income for a family in either country. When loans are also factored into the calculation, this burden is reduced to between 7 and 9 percent. Still, students and families must be able to find these resources in college savings or through other mechanisms to afford university.

"Our greatest worry is that student aid in both Canada and the US will not keep up with escalating higher education prices," says Swail. "While our report only looks at gross averages, we know from other sources that low- and middle-income students face the greatest financial and academic barriers in North America. Our policymakers need to recognize this and ensure that these barriers are removed for these populations."

Accountancy staff member profiled

[Sutherland] "President David Johnston may have met his match when it comes to walking," says the latest "profile" posted on the Keystone Campaign web site. It presents Donna Sutherland (right), administrative officer for the school of accountancy, who "is known for her spirited, fast-paced gait" as well as being the latest representative of Keystone donors to be profiled.

"It only takes her eight minutes to walk from Hagey Hall to the B.F. Goodrich building," the article notes, those being two locations that house accountancy faculty and staff.

It goes on: "Donna has also made her way around to a number of other units on campus. Joining UW 22 years ago, Donna has worked in Distance and Continuing Education, the Registrar's Office, the Department of Health Studies & Gerontology, and the Dean's Office in Applied Health Sciences. Her various experiences and opportunities to network have provided her with many mentors and blessed her with many friendships."

What do you like best about your job at UW? "Working with intelligent, dedicated individuals who form a dynamic team in the School of Accountancy. . . . I am proud to work in an environment where cutting-edge and innovative research takes place. It's exciting when research comes off the shelf and is shared with the community at large. Hearing how the outcome of that research is making an impact on people's lives is really something to be proud about."

To what project(s) have you designated your gift? "For many years, I contributed to scholarships with the aim to help attract the best students to UW. Most recently, I've contributed to the School of Accountancy Building Fund. As the School expands its programs, a new working and learning environment is required where we can promote our research and teaching excellence."

What is your best or funniest UW memory? "My funniest UW memory is from about 20 years ago, just before the holidays in December. Staff used the audio-visual carts as chariots and held races in the halls of the Physics building. This is not likely something you would see these days, but it still makes me smile when I think about it."


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