Maybe the officials in charge of the American Medical Association's political action committee should consider going to the racetrack-or the stock exchange.
While AMA campaign money tends to flow more freely to Republicans than Democrats, the PAC showed a stunning ability to send its money to the GOP candidates who won in the closest races for the U.S. House of Representatives, while avoiding those Republicans who lost, according to a report from the watchdog group Citizen Action.
Of the 10 closest races won by Republicans, the AMA was one of the top 10 contributors to eight. In two of those races, the association was the top PAC contributor to the Republican candidate.
By contrast, the American Hospital Association-which has been shifting money from Democrats to Republicans to ease tensions with the GOP-was among the top 10 contributors in only one of the close races.
Meanwhile, the AMA didn't give huge sums to Republicans who lost close races. The association was in the ranks of top GOP donors in only three of the closest races won by Democrats.
Had the GOP lost the eight races in which the AMA was a top contributor, the party would have held its majority in the House by a whisker-just three seats.
Baby mail.Electronic mail can whisk the news of new arrivals to relatives and friends in an instant these days. But El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, Calif., is using standard e-mail channels to liven up its birth announcements with video clips of the newborn wriggling between proud parents.
At a video e-mail station in the main lobby of its maternity center, a technician records and processes a video clip that can be attached to an e-mail message over the Internet. The clips, which have video playback software built into the message file, are sent to pre-determined addresses as well as saved on a computer disk for the parents.
The service is provided by Array Microsystems, Los Gatos, Calif. The company's strategic marketing manager, Jim Bohac, conceived the idea of birth announcements while he and his wife were participating in a maternity orientation class at El Camino.
"We really wanted to showcase the technology by demonstrating how it can be used in everyday life," said Bohac. The Bohacs got their chance last week: On Jan. 14 they became proud parents of a baby boy.
Full house.They're hanging from the rafters at San Diego's downtown convention center. And organizers still can't cram all the exhibitors into the space carved out for the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's annual computerfest set for mid-February.
About 250,000 square feet of exhibit space is normally available on the ground-floor hall of the San Diego Convention Center. A second floor is accessible, but it's mainly for show, not for shows. A fanciful draping of sail-like material provides the only shelter.
The city is improving that space to provide an additional 100,000 square feet just for the HIMSS show, said Marsha Byndom, assistant to HIMSS convention impresario Larry Dragt. And there are still 60 vendors out in the cold-huddled on a waiting list hoping for cancellations.
Among the companies without booth space are some big names such as AT&T and Dell Computer Corp. They just didn't apply in time, said John Page, HIMSS executive director.
Heavy breathing.Doctors will soon join cops in administering Breathalyzer exams. But the doctors won't be looking for booze, they'll be screening for a form of carbon dioxide.
Early this month, a privately held company called Meretek, based in Nashville, Tenn., rolled out a breath test for a bacterium called Heliobacter pylori, the culprit behind more than eight in ten stomach ulcers.
At a list price of $289, including analysis, Meretek's noninvasive test is as accurate as endoscopic biopsy, the gold standard for assessing ulcers, at far less than half its cost, the company said.
A big cost saver for the breath test over endoscopy is that primary-care physicians rather than specialists give it. And instead of enduring endoscopy, patients taking the Meretek test need only to breathe hard into a sample bag a half hour after drinking a drug the ulcer-causing bacteria digest.
That's because after the ulcer bacteria gobble up the Meretek drug, they release a heavy form of carbon dioxide that travels through the patients' bloodstream to the lungs, where it is exhaled into the sample bag.
Within 24 to 72 hours, physicians get the results. If H. pylori are present, an antibiotic regimen usually clears the ulcers up in a matter of weeks.