In the News

Google’s China Challenge

Google’s confrontation with the Chinese government over search engine results and user data won the web giant public relations points—and ultimately allowed it to remain active in China. Until Google’s stand, Western Internet firms acquiesced to the Chinese government’s censorship demands.

“These laws ostensibly cover things such as vulgar content, but in practice involve suppression of ‘subversive’ content (typically, content of political nature),” Professor Hemant Bhargava said in a commentary in the March issue of Chartered Financial Analyst, a leading business magazine in India.

In the end, China renewed Google’s license after the company removed the automatic link to its uncensored Hong Kong search engine and provided users a clickable link. “Google is standing up to China, but not getting out,” explained Bhargava, a leading expert on web search advertising. “With this move, Google is able to maintain its principles while preserving presence and the option to play a long-term role in the Chinese market.”

E-Medical Records Not the Silver Bullet for Health Care Reform

The introduction of electronic medical records in hospitals and clinics—dubbed the “silver bullet” of health care reform—appears to have uneven effects on physicians’ productivity, according to a first of its kind study by Professor Bhargava. “Our research emphasizes that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ design does not work—the ideal technology design should vary by physicians’ requirements and work-flow demands,” said Bhargava.

Bhargava and Abhay Mishra, an assistant professor of health administration at Georgia State University, and research assistant Shuang Liu, a UC Davis Ph.D. candidate in applied mathematics, analyzed the impact the technology had on physician productivity at the UC Davis Health System from 2003-2006, when a Clinical Information Technologies project was installed and implemented. The system digitizes patient records and allows for electronic prescriptions, messaging and web-based scheduling. The federal government has set aside $19.2 billion in stimulus funds to help pay for such conversions.

Bhargava and his co-researcher studied about 100 physicians in three specialties (internal medicine, pediatrics, and family practitioners) at six primary care clinics. They found that internal medicine units became somewhat more productive while pediatricians experienced a slight drop in productivity. Productivity rates for family practice doctors were inconclusive. While the study was limited to the impact of electronic record-keeping on productivity, much research still needs to be done on how it affects patients, Bhargava said.