In an annual review of the most pressing issues for health executives and policy makers, PwC identified nine top issues for 2009:

  1. The economic downturn will hit healthcare
  2. The underinsured will surpass the uninsured as healthcare’s biggest headache
  3. Big pharma turns to M&A to build the drug pipeline
  4. From vaccines to regulation, prevention is on the rise
  5. Genetic testing reaching a price point for the masses
  6. The Internet and social networking is a powerful health extended “Technology will empower patients in new ways during 2009. The increased information and growing patient-to-patient interaction over social networking platforms and websites such as and are changing how healthcare is navigated and experienced by consumers, especially as electronic health records become more common.”
  7. Hospitals must perform to get paid
  8. Payers and employers to give incentives for wellness programs
  9. ICD-10 will require a major resource investment

Read full Healthcare IT News article

On Thursday evening, December 4, 2008, at the Computer History Museum, the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal announced its 2008 Emerging Tech Award winners. The criterion for choosing winners was the ability to completely change a technology field, not just advance it a click.

Usable Security Systems, a CommerceNet portfolio company, won the security category.

Read the full article

By Mary Duan

Austin Business Journal, Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal

For years, Rachna Dhamija has been fascinated with authentication. She has researched why phishing attacks for passwords and information can be successful, and what causes a system’s security to fail.

Now, she’s taken the subject of her Ph.D. thesis at Berkeley and post-doctoral work at Harvard and turned it into a company that may solve the problem of how and why system security fails.

Here’s a hint: It’s generally not the system–it’s the user.

“We design these systems and assume users will know how to configure things and have perfect memories, and of course nobody has a perfect memory” when it comes to remembering passwords, Dhamija said.

Her company, Usable Security Systems, targets the end user of a system, someone who wants to manage passwords with ease.

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By Earnest Cavalli

WIRED Blog Network

A new immersive web platform called Vivaty Scenes lets users create tiny virtual worlds and decorate them with content from around the Internet.

After adding Vivaty Scenes, which entered public beta Tuesday, to a Facebook or AOL Instant Messenger account, users can set up a customizable “room” where they can host chat sessions or small virtual gatherings within a web browser.

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NSF Aware Networking (ANET), which is part of the Networking Technology, and Systems (NeTS) program, takes into account several social and technical developments that beg for new research involving humans and networked systems. ANET seeks research addressing challenges that relate to the interaction of humans with networks, such as services that support application or environment awareness or create a seamless experience for network end users. CommerceNet Fellow Lisa Dusseault served on the panel responsible for reviewing grant applications, June 12 – 13, 2008.

CommerceNet portfolio company, PatientsLikeMe, is featured in a New York Times Magazine article, “Practicing Patients,” by Thomas Goetz.

“At first glance, [PatientsLikeMe] looks like just any other online community, a kind of MySpace for the afflicted. Members have user names, post pictures of themselves and post updates and encouragements. As such, it’s related to the chat rooms and online communities that have inhabited the Internet for more than a decade.

But PatientsLikeMe seeks to go a mile deeper than health-information sites like WebMD or online support groups like Daily Strength. The members of PatientsLikeMe don’t just share their experiences anecdotally; they quantify them, breaking down their symptoms and treatments into hard data. They note what hurts, where and for how long. They list their drugs and dosages and score how well they alleviate their symptoms. All this gets compiled over time, aggregated and crunched into tidy bar graphs and progress curves by the software behind the site. And it’s all open for comparison and analysis. By telling so much, the members of PatientsLikeMe are creating a rich database of disease treatment and patient experience.”

>Read the full article

CollabRx, one of CommerceNet’s latest portfolio companies, applies collaborative science to slash the time, cost, and risk of therapy development for neglected diseases.

CollabRx builds and operates virtual biotechs for foundations and patients who urgently seek cures for their diseases. The CollabRx research platform connects researches to one another and to a network of scientific services, providing unprecedented opportunities for knowledge sharing and economies of scale.

Learn more

We are offering a couple internship positions at CommerceNet this summer.

CommerceNet is an entrepreneurial research institute, dedicated to fulfill the promise of the Internet. We are currently seeking Software Engineer interns to implement a data visualization Web application for public health information. Involves JavaScript and Python, both data access and graphics. CommerceNet may also accept proposals for internships to work on well-specified projects of the intern’s own design.

What you’ll do

  • Develop open source libraries or widgets for graphing and data visualization
  • Build public service, community oriented Web site
  • Be part of a small team or work nearly independently
  • Develop with minimal guidance, using rapid iteration and feedback loop and with leeway in choices of tools.
  • Borrow, create or collaborate on visual design and visual elements

Required Skills:

  • Web Applications development, including CSS and JavaScript
  • Python or demonstrated ability to pick up languages
  • MySQL or similar data management experience
  • Great ability to extrapolate from raw ideas to realistic implementations.
  • Demonstrated initiative pulling a project forward
  • Some experience using graphics libraries
  • Familiarity with Cleveland or Tufte principles would be a bonus

Email with questions or cover letter and resume.

A goal of many new Web “2.0” ventures is to build a large or at least persistent community. Success is difficult to measure, but breaking into the top 100,000 sites by traffic measured by Alexa is one goal. It might be a good sign if the site designers send emails to a few people asking them to take a look at the site and after only two days over 3000 people sign up to beta test. You could do worse than to have a list of 60,000 people desperate to join your site before it leaves beta — so desperate that the site admins put a “waiting list checker” page up just so that an impatient person can see how many people are in line to get accounts before he or she does. Read more

A longer, though not necessarily more accurate job description, can be found here.