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Bill, We Already Miss Ya’!

Microsoft’s legendary chairman and boy wonder, Bill Gates, is retiring from his daily rounds on the Redmond campus at age 52 to spend more time with his philanthropic foundation. On his last day, Bill delivered a tearful valedictory address to staff with righthand man and Microsoft chief executive, Steve Ballmer, by his side.

“There won’t be a day in my life when I won’t be thinking about Microsoft, the great things that we’re doing and wanting to help,” said Gates, wiping his eyes as the crowd of 830 employees rose to their feet to applaud.

Bill will remain part-time chairman of the board and will take on occasional projects – the first of which is to improve Microsoft’s search capabilities. But the one-time wunderkind who dominated the personal computer world’s as a technological guru is officially over.

“There’s no way to say thanks to Bill,” said Ballmer, who presented Gates with a large scrapbook. “Bill’s the founder, Bill’s the leader. This is Bill’s baby.”

In a rare period of inactivity, Gates plans a trip to the Beijing Olympics and a spell of leisure over the summer. Then he plans to set up an office in Seattle’s Eastside area to delve deeper into the world’s medical, biological and environmental challenges for his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Foundation is also building offices on Mercer Avanue in Seattle directly across from the EMP at Seattle Center.

Group Health Experiments with Concept of Internet Based Care
Group Health Cooperative in Seattle has just completed a pilot that tested whether high blood pressure could be managed over the Internet without the need for visits to a doctor.

“Our demographic was middle-aged, working people for whom Web-based care is particularly convenient, particularly for reporting BP numbers and simple or structured communications,” said Dr. Beverly B. Green.

The clinical trial included 778 patients with uncontrolled high blood pressure and Internet access. They were randomly assigned to usual care, or to home BP monitoring and Web services training, or to home monitoring, Web services training, and management by a pharmacist delivered through Internet communications.

The Web services permitted patients to email their doctors, refill prescriptions, request appointments, get test results, and look up health information.

The pharmacists in the study were allowed to prescribe medications and they managed the patients’ blood pressure using email communication to adjust medications until the target blood pressure was reached.

After 12 months, about one-third of the patients in the first two groups achieved a normal blood pressure. However, with the Internet-based pharmacist care, more than half the patients got their blood pressure down to normal.

“Web communication (e-mail and secure messaging) improves health care because it is always available (24/7), allows people to respond at a time that is convenient to them, and often in a much briefer way than over the telephone or certainly during an in-person visit,” Green pointed out.

“We believe that greater use of electronic medical records, Web communications, and empowering patients to take a greater role in their care will lead to improved health outcomes and will decrease health care costs,” she added. “More efforts need to be taken to make these services available to all.” [24×7]