Advice for Your First Film

Billers versus Builders

Stem Cell Debate

Decision-Taming Technology

Food Meets Finance

The Art of Space Clearing through Feng Shui

Dirty Data Threatens Medical Records

Red Cross Campaign

Corporate Angels

Corrections or additions?

This article was prepared for the November 17, 2004

issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Survival Guide

Top Of Page
Advice for Your First Film

If you are a creative person, with a great idea for a movie, (and who

isn’t), new technology allows you to shoot your film on video pretty

darn inexpensively. But assuming you eventually want to make money,

and get the film seen, there are a lot of business details that need

to be taken care of. (A lot!)

Recognizing that creative people generally don’t know about the legal

and business side of independent filmmaking, attorney Mukesh M. Patel

has set up a practice geared to the first-time filmmaker. He speaks at

a meeting of the Princeton Media Communications Association on

Wednesday, November 17, at 6:30 p.m. at Templeton Hall of the

Princeton Theological Seminary. Cost: $15. 609-466-2828, ext. 20.

Come learn what it takes to keep your production on track legally,

before and after production. The meeting addresses investors, deferred

payments, distribution agreements, music rights, and many other issues

that can derail the best creative concept.

Patel is a member of the New Jersey and New York bars as well as the

U.S. District Court for the Federal District of New Jersey. He holds a

juris doctor degree from Fordham University School of Law. He also

graduated summa cum laude from Rutgers with a B.S. in economics and

statistics, and a minor in film production and theater arts.

His law practice based in South Plainfield, represents entrepreneurial

clients in areas of corporate law, commercial transactions,

entertainment, finance, information technology, real estate,

immigration, and litigation. Entertainment clientele include

independent filmmakers, producers, directors, investors, distributors,

exhibitors, talent, and management, for which he has provided services

involving incorporations, corporate governance, contracts, deal

negotiations, litigation, strategy, and networking. He has also been a

seed investor in several independent entertainment productions.

Top Of Page
Billers versus Builders

It is an idea whose time is long overdue. Three decades ago if you had

seen a seminar listing entitled "Getting More from Less: Improving

Profitability Through Workplace Efficiency," your mind would have

conjured images of production flow, fiscal belt tightening, and

equipment relocation. We still saw Ford’s main asset as his assembly

line. But slowly a different truth has been invited into board rooms:

A company’s main assets lie in its people.

A free seminar reflecting that new paradigm takes place on Thursday,

November 18, at 7:30 a.m. at the Forsgate Country Club. Call

609-896-1221. This seminar does not deal at all with tangibles. Rather

it addresses a more complex and more valuable asset: the individuals

who make things work. The sponsor is the Lawrenceville branch of

accounting firm J.H. Cohn, located on 997 Lenox Drive.

Peter Minck, one of the speakers, is a native of Upper Saddle River

who has bounced around the entire corporate spectrum before becoming a

J.H. Cohn partner. Graduating from St. Bonaventure in l983 with a B.A.

in management information systems, he obtained an MBA from Fairleigh

Dickinson University and thenworked for ADP in its computer lab. He

then took his technical expertise to the Rockefeller group, starting

up a telecom group that expanded from 5 to 50 employees before he sold

it. Looking for new ventures, he took on the vice presidency of

internal consulting for Goldman Sachs. In 1995 Minck bought into

Roseland-based Don Aux Consulting, which, through mergers, became part

of JH Cohn, where he is a human resource consultant and partner.

Another speaker, Eric Taylor, began his career by selling pots and

pans in his hometown of Wall. "I loved it instantly," he says. "The

whole psychology and contact of selling was totally for me." Entering

Monmouth Community College he aimed at majors in communications and

psychology. While he worked toward them, a process that took many

years, he sold "every product on the planet." He then founded Elite

Entertainment, which provided DJs for parties, sold it, and on a whim

bought a sales training franchise. Finding its rules too restrictive,

Taylor founded his own multifaceted training company, the Empowerment

Group, which is based in Eatontown, Pennsylvania.

While experiences and methods may vary, both Minck and Taylor agree

that sales and profits can best be increased by enhancing the

performance of existing employees. The trendy practice of making

massive layoffs, while turning a blind eye to the resulting morale and

productivity drop, continues to fail. Instead, both speakers suggest

that management hire with precision and then focus on polishing its

employees for utmost output.

Star search. Most of our desks are manned by billers. Those reliable

folks who turn in the invoices or billing hours at a solid,

predictable rate. "What you’re really looking for instead of billers,

is builders," says Minck. "You’ve got to seek out those individuals

who act and create with a company, not just react." For Minck, this

begins right at the resume. The biller will write that he "has a

working knowledge of" or "took part in," or "was responsible for."

Basically, the candidate is reporting that he performed as he was

directed. An admirable quality, though scarcely stellar.

The builder, on the other hand, will indicate how he took charge in

this situation, or how he developed a particular process. Others may

tell you what they "participated in." Minck admits there is a fine

line here. You seek the aggressive, rather than the reactive employee,

yet you don’t want the pompous old soul, who fills your offices with

the patter of his own little feats. Beyond the verbal interview, Minck

likes behavioral tests that judge a candidate’s response to various


Burnishing the shine. Too frequently the testing and reviews end with

the hiring. Minck insists that reviews be constant – and not

necessarily scheduled. These reviews must lead somewhere. Calling an

employee into your office and presenting a laundry list of his faults

is quick, but is not a fix. Both Taylor and Minck agree that employees

must be praised for their successes, and their flaws should be met

with retraining. By setting up a system of constant review, you may

find 20 individuals with the same problems, and develop a group

training program.

But what about that one employee who never seems to catch on, even

though the department and his peers all seem to click? "The first

thing I would do," responds Taylor, "is to seek out the source of this

individual’s motivation. Each of us is inspired by different things."

It may be that rather than high salary, he works best with a personal


Additionally, Taylor advises a hard study this individual’s hours. He

may be spending his day making cold calls, when a much higher return

could be gained from working with existing customers. "The key here,"

insists Taylor, "is not to lambaste him publicly, but rather to guide

his restructuring – provide formal coaching if necessary."

Employees unified. Despite an increased emphasis on human resources,

Minck points out that buddy and mentoring systems are not getting the

emphasis they need. Those who try to mentor a newcomer very often make

the mistake of pairing him off with an almost equally novice employee

because the two are of the same age. Match experience with innovative

freshness, advises Minck. Look for basic personality fits and let the

two people learn from each other.

Beyond individual buddies, the flow of information from the top down

must remain constant – in both directions. Minck is a strong proponent

of giving surveys with each intended major shift in a company. "I have

gotten pearls of wisdom from guys four levels down in the warehouse

that have saved management hundreds of thousands of dollars – if they

listen," he reports.

Taylor notes that the same unity must proceed through all the

training. "Both the sales techniques and the entire company philosophy

must be known to the top management, the sales manager, and the entire

sales staff," says Taylor. If everyone buys into the same philosophy

and endorses the same techniques, the client receives a more solid,

trustworthy impression.

Team play. The machine set the company back $2.3 million and now it

sits idle 60 percent of the time. This challenge is one of Minck’s

favorite examples of team dynamics. At his suggestion, the client

company formed a team to handle the problem. It selected individuals

from directly connected areas (plant engineering) and from

less-obviously-connected areas (shipping and quality control).

The group measured the down time of this manufacturing unit, and

established its failure schedule. Then they began seeking root causes.

They kept pulling threads and asking why? In the end they discovered

that the humidity in the plant area was too high. Why? because the

machine was too near an air conditioner. A $15 curtain performed the

fix. But had it been just a mechanical crew or one individual, the

search probably have ended there. Instead, the team, working together,

discovered a bottleneck four steps back in the production process that

had left the expensive machine underutilized.

If a cohesive team is selected and given good latitude, they may

discover more than a quick fix to a problem, but they may uncover a

whole set of possible improvements. Question is, are you flexible

enough to adopt their findings?

Businesses of yesteryear can scarcely be blamed for their focus on the

fiscal and physical plant. Things are easier than people. Numbers add

up more neatly than employees. But today it’s grow or die, and

companies have realized that they can expand no further than their

innovative workforce allows.

– Bart Jackson

Top Of Page
Stem Cell Debate

As the debate over stem cell research rages, it is worthwhile to note

that some professed opponents of abortion are stalwart supporters of

embryo research. In his book "Redesigning Humans: Changing our Genes,

Changing Our Future," Greg Stock points out that South Carolina’s

Senator Strom Thurmond "supported embryo research years before other

conservative pro-lifers began to mute their opposition."

Stock, the CEO of Signum BioSciences, speaks on a panel "Embryonic

Stem Cell Research: Prometheus or Pandora?" sponsored by the Princeton

HealthCare System Foundation to mark the 85th anniversary of the

University Medical Center at Princeton. Set for Thursday, November 18,

at 7:30 p.m. at Princeton University’s Richardson Auditorium, the

event is free and no reservations are needed. Call 609-497-4190 for


Stem cell research is a particularly important topic in New Jersey,

the home of the first publicly funded stem cell research institute,

established six months ago. But broad public support is needed,

particularly in light of competition coming from California, which

just passed a $3 billion bond issue for this purpose. Of the estimated

$90 million that it will cost to build New Jersey’s institute, only

$10 million has been received from state sources, says Wise Young,

chairman of the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience at Rutgers

University, who co-directs the institute with Ira Black, chairman of

neuroscience and cell biology at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical

School. And whether New Jersey residents will support research using

all cells – both embryonic and adult cells – is not clear.

Gina Kolata, author and New York Times science reporter, is the

moderator of the panel, which includes Douglas Melton of Harvard

University and Ruth R. Faden of Johns Hopkins University. Also

speaking are Shirley Tilghman, president of Princeton University, and

Barry S. Rabner, CEO of Princeton Healthcare System.

Melton focuses on making pancreatic tissue in culture for

transplantation into people who have diabetes. He has also been

successful in deriving new embryonic stem cells and distributing them

freely to other researchers. A graduate of Cambridge with a PhD in

molecular biology from Trinity College, he will discuss the technology

of embryonic stem cell research.

Faden teaches biomedical ethics and heads the Phoebe R. Berman

Bioethics Institute at Hopkins; she is the co-author of "A History and

Theory of Informed Consent." A graduate of the University of

Pennsylvania with a master’s degree from the University of Chicago and

a doctor’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley, she

will cover the ethical considerations of the this research.

Stock will give a "glimpse of the future." As director of the program

on medicine, technology, and society at UCLA’s School of Public

Health, he aims to stimulate public debate on critical technologies

and their implications, so that wise public policies can be created.

He has a undergraduate and doctoral degrees in biophysics from Johns

Hopkins and an MBA from Harvard.

Kolata’s books include "Clone: The Road to Dolly and the Path Ahead,"

"The Baby Doctors," and "Ultimate Fitness: The Quest for Truth about

Exercise and Health."

Senator Thurmond’s own daughter has juvenile diabetes, Stock points

out: Her plight "brought home the toll that research restrictions can

exact if they delay the discovery of life-saving medical


Top Of Page
Decision-Taming Technology

You like jazz – but only Dixieland, not improv. You gobble up

mainstream action films, but tune out sci fi. Why? By what psychic

schematic of likes and dislikes do we make our choices? Searching out

this complex answer has guided the technical elite toward the latest

generation of personalized web platforms.

For years now online retailers and their consumers have been

discovering that more is not necessarily better. Scrolling through’s 250,000 music selections or’s millions of

book offerings has sent many a frustrated cyber shopper clicking off

in disgust. So how can an Internet site offer exhaustive choices while

still serving individuals with very definite tastes?

The puzzles of how we choose and how to design programs that help are

the subject of "Personalization Technology," a free talk taking place

on Thursday, November 18, at 7:30 p.m. at Sarnoff. (A 6 p.m. dinner at

Ruby Tuesday’s in South Brunswick precedes the meeting.) Call

908-582-7086 for more information. Sponsored by ACM/IEEE, the program

features Jayendu Patel, econmetrics research scientist for Choice

Stream in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The psychology and philosophy of human judgment has remained Patel’s

passion through a long list of varied degrees and career stops, both

academic and corporate. Following a boyhood in Bombay, India, where he

graduated with a B.S. in electrical engineering from the national

university in l977, he immigrated to Massachusetts, gaining a Ph.D. in

econometrics and public finance. He has taught economics at Harvard’s

Kennedy School of Government and at Boston University. Along the way

he has studied everything from library science to psychology.

In 2001 Patel joined the initial staff of Choice Stream. Formed by

former AOL executive Steve Johnson and software startup whiz Michael

Strichman, the firm seeks to provide consumers with technology for

navigating the overwhelming numbers of online choices.

The first generation. Back in the 1990s personalized sites gained

great popularity, sifting and suggesting from pages and pages of

poorly organized offerings. Yahoo, AOL, Google, and all major

providers attempted to bring manageability to the Internet. Amazon,

which had the ideal product, became the leader. Based on general

categories or group buying patterns, a suggested list of probable

interest items accompanied each purchase.

People who like X will probably like Y and Z, the system figured. And

it was right in large part. An individual who purchased "Huckleberry

Finn" might be introduced to other Mark Twain novels and perhaps to

similar American classics. Those buying Huck in book form might be

shown DVDs or audio tapes of the work. The cross-selling works well as

far as it goes, and does indeed provide the consumer with a manageable

list of items to consider.

Why versus what. "But what you’ve chosen," says Patel, "is not nearly

so indicative as why you have chosen it" With others at Choice Stream,

Patel has developed the Attributized Bayesian Choice Modeling system

(ABCM). This program classifies product and content based not on some

industry-organized category, but on various attributes individual

buyers care about.

According to the first generation model, if you buy a Peter, Paul &

Mary CD, you are one of those aging boomers who likes folk songs and

1960s stuff. If you buy Terminator, you like action films, and a full

roster of James Bond movies would flash on your "Might Also Enjoy"

list. The ABCM, however, is more sophisticated. It considers that you

may be 16 with no social conscience at all, but are really into Peter,

Paul & Mary’s three part harmony. You may have enjoyed a romantic

comedy only for the romance; and you may keep re-watching Terminator

strictly for Arnold’s muscles, thus the elegantly slender Pierce

Brosnan as 007 holds no allure for you.

Into your psyche. Patel’s genius comes in fully determining a

consumer’s preferred attributes with as little online annoyance as

possible. "I would like to give each consumer a 200 question

preference form once he logs on the domain," laughs Patel, "but who

would fill it out?" To help a customer establish his "Best Bets,"

(ChoiceStream’s latest personalized web platform product), Patel gets

the job done by asking age, gender, perhaps occupation, and about five

preference questions.

The questions are must be cleverly worded to reveal more than just the

single answer. For example, in all film preference questionnaires,

Patel includes some question about science fiction. "It’s not so much

that it is a huge genre by itself," Patel says, "but rather it says an

awful lot about a person’s other predilections."

Decision collisions. Patel notes several new trends currently guiding

Americans’ decision-making process that have him a little scared.

Foremost, he lists what he calls the choice explosion. The ease of

access to so much is absolutely staggering for us. You can travel to

virtually any of the globe’s 265 countries within hours. You have

hundreds of television channels, millions of songs and films available

on the Internet, not to mention billions of sprawling websites. You

can barely decide which ethnic group’s food will capture your tastes


Coupled with this rise in choices – and ease in obtaining them – comes

the inevitable rise in expectations. The more we have, explains Patel,

the more we feel we deserve. "We think ‘equal opportunity’

automatically should set us at the level of Bill Gates in everything

from healthcare to buying power. And we are naturally frustrated when

reality strikes," he says.

Countless studies, Patel points out, show that man is not naturally

wired for this kind of constant choice making. Modern man is descended

from hunter/gatherers who needed food hourly and shelter nightly. He

reproduced at all times of year – a being of immediacy, with immediate

needs. Thus today, we see it; we want it; our credit card flashes in

the jungle of the mall; and we buy it. No thought of impact.

When the choices were – chase down the antelope or the rabbit, there

was little stress. Later, when the choice was watch channel 2 or 4 or

7, there wasn’t much stress either. Patel and his company is trying to

return choice-stress levels to normal by taming the overwhelming

wealth of the Internet, by guiding consumers in a controlled corridor

toward choices tailored for them.

– Bart Jackson

Top Of Page
Food Meets Finance

Back in the stock market heyday of the 1990s, you could practically

eat your way through the week by attending evening sales

presentations by various brokers. But since the stock market downturn

in the year 2000, the offerings have been lean. Now, however, a

consortium of brokers and financial planners, organized by Nassau

Broadcasting’s MoneyTalk radio station at 1350-AM, is offering a

day-long spread Saturday, November 20, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the

Doral Forrestal. Admission is free; last-minute registrants are

welcome at the door. Call 888-RADIO-07, ext. 482, or visit

The "Investment Fest," with exhibits and seminars by more than a

dozen banks, mortgage companies, financial planners, and brokers, is

billed as the place where "finance meets fine food." The event will

feature both a free continental breakfast and free lunch-time


In addition to the food, there will be food for thought, presented by

financial radio talk show hosts Ray Lucia, Bill and Louise Cole, Lee

Siler (the Stock Doctor), Gary Kaltbaum, and Damon Vickers.

Top Of Page
The Art of Space Clearing through Feng Shui

Working from home is not always easy because of the myriad of

distractions that can be caused by kids, ringing personal phones, and

a variety of non-business projects that need to be done around the

home. But, Feng Shui practitioner Jeanette Schwartz claims she can

help. When she gives a talk at the Princeton Center for Yoga and

Health in Skillman on Sunday, November 21, at 1 p.m. she addresses

Feng Shui issues for the home and small business. Cost: $35. Call


Schwartz, whose business, E.S.P. Developments, is located in Monmouth

Junction, defines the ancient Chinese practice of Feng Shui as the art

of placement for harmonious, healthy, and productive environments.

"What it all boils down to is the fact your body reacts in a certain

way to towering shapes and clutter in your home or home office," she

says. "If your autonomic nervous system is relaxed and comfortable,

you function that much more easily at peak efficiency."

Schwartz was born and raised in upstate New York and lived on an

organic farm until she was 16. She attended the Fashion Institute of

Technology. She graduated with a degree in international business from

New York University in 1982. Her mother was an herbalist and her

father a braucher, or a type of European shaman, a natural healer. "We

were always multi-lingual at home, and we spoke French, German, and

English," she says.

Schwartz got into Feng Shui at a textile design trade show in

Frankfurt, Germany, while working in the fashion industry. "From the

time I was 27, I began to study Feng Shui seriously," she says. "The

teachers who were most important to me were Ralph and Lahnie DeAmicis,

because they combined Eastern practices with Western sensibilities."

In the late 1980s Schwartz was living in a tiny Manhattan apartment.

"The apartment was too small," she admits, "but it was balanced." She

used space clearing techniques to make it comfortable. Space clearing

techniques? "The reason that space clearing is beneficial," she says,

"is it raises the vibration in the space so that the lower energies

and life forms cannot handle the vibrations and they can’t even come

in. Part of the reason we’re doing space clearing before the holidays

is that even certain humans cannot tolerate the higher vibrations, so

Feng Shui keeps your energy and your space clear."

Bedrooms, Schwartz argues, should be set up to be soothing, to help

one fall asleep and relax. "But in every room in your house you need

to adjust accordingly to its space and its function."

If you’re working from a home office that is also a bedroom, as some

people do, you may not be able to work at maximum efficiency all of

the time, Schwartz says. "If you’re trying to combine two purposes in

one space, such as a home office that is also a bedroom, number one,

if you’re sleeping next to your TV, computer, and all this other

electronic stuff, you’ve got 60 pulses per second of AC current coming

at you. Our bodies were never designed for this bombardment of

electricity, it’s akin to exposing yourself to lightning. All this

excess electricity is changing the ways our bodies function."

Whether operating from home or from a suite of offices in an office

park, small businesses can benefit from Feng Shui. "For small

businesses, it can really make a huge difference," says Schwartz, who

recently gave a talk on Feng Shui for small business at the Javits

Center, and discussed things like how the color psychology of your

office can affect mood and perceptions.

Careful arrangement of office furniture, and careful selection of

colors as well as striking a balance between sunlight and incandescent

or fluorescent lighting "can shift the way people perceive your

intentions and how much money they want to spend," says Schwartz.

"There are actually certain scents that promote spending money, so by

using color, lighting, scent, and visual cues, you can multiply your

business sometimes by 50 percent." She says that some of her clients

have achieved these results.

Schwartz advocates Feng Shui for the home, the office, and even the

car. In recent months, she has stepped away from corporate Feng Shui

work because she’s been traveling too much, she says, and instead has

focused on working with area school systems to create healthier

environments for learning. She has taught courses in Feng Shui at the

South Brunswick Adult School and has worked with the Waldorf School in

Princeton as well as the South Brunswick school system.

These practices work magic with children because children respond so

innately to their environment. You ever notice how really young kids

won’t stay in a crazy restaurant? When you work with children in

schools, you can really see a difference in a matter of hours.

Suddenly, they’re able to settle down and focus." The same is true in

the workplace. A well-organized office leads to a focused, productive

workday. Here are several Feng Shui steps to make it happen:

Cut down on electromagnetic emissions. Beware of overwhelming

electromagnetic emissions – fluorescent lighting, computers, cell

phones, and cordless phones contribute to tight muscles, headaches,

cramps, and indigestion. Use daylight, incandescent, or full spectrum

lighting as much as feasible. Use rose quartz or cobalt to diffuse

alternating current from computers and phones, and add extra magnesium

to your diet. All of these steps are especially important during the

winter months, when all daylight hours are spent at work.

Be in control of the door. Avoid the fight or flight syndrome that is

created by exposing your finely tuned autonomic nervous system to the

door. If you can’t move your desk or work station to face the door,

use strategically placed mirrors to gain control of the entrance to

your lair.

Use aromatherapy. Consider using essential oils to combat office fumes

and to energize or keep stress at a minimum. Real essential oils

dispersed in an environment are anti-fungal and anti-viral. They help

fight airborne molds, yeast, dust and germs. They are beneficial to

asthma sufferers. Try lemon to boost productivity, eucalyptus to clear

nasal passages, and lavender or chamomile to beat stress.

Harness the power of color psychology. For business, two of the most

important colors are green and blue.Traditional businesses like

banking, interior design, real estate or anything that has to do with

beauty, pleasure, and self satisfaction do well with shades of green.

For a place that requires a great deal of interpersonal communication,

especially of the kind that needs to transpire at a rapid rate, try

shades of blue – it helps everyone keep a cool head.

– Richard J. Skelly

Top Of Page
Dirty Data Threatens Medical Records

When you check into a hospital these days, for anything ranging from

an X-ray to an overnight stay, the first question you are asked, even

before your name, is your date of birth. This date, as it turns out,

is an important tool in locating the correct record for you.

More times than the hospitals would like to admit, admissions clerks

do not find the right record, and so they make a new one. Two or three

records for the same patient spell administrative aggravation and,

potentially, medical danger.

Duplicate records and records with invalid information are termed

"dirty data," as are "overlays" (when your medical record is confused

with another person’s). And here we thought that germs were the only

"dirt" problem that hospitals had to watch out for.

If you work for a healthcare institution and are concerned about dirty

data, consider the solution offered by Netrics, a State Road-based

firm with a machine learning solution, E-Mend.

Netrics has partnered with Just Associates, a health information

management consulting firm that focuses on medical records integrity.

Just Associates will help hospitals use E-mend to efficiently and

quickly reconcile data quality issues in their database. The web-based

software is supposed to minimize the use of paper and save money.

"As compared with traditional approaches," says Stefanos Damianakis,

the president and CEO of Netrics, Netrics’ patented matching


offer significant technical advances for discovering errors that have

been made in patient records and avoiding those inaccuracies in the


"The Netrics software is the most flexible that we’ve ever used," says

Just in a press release. "Its machine learning models allow the

software to tailor its algorithms to continually improve the matching

process. Netrics can also customize the output reports. This makes our

process far more efficient and saves the client money."

Located at 707 Route 206, Netrics was founded by former NEC researcher

Peter Yianilos ( U.S. 1, February 13, 2002). Yianilos

licensed the technology he had worked on at NEC to devise machine

learning algorithms. Their first use was for Likeit, which improved

the intelligence of search engines. In addition to healthcare clients,

Damianakis has sold similar systems to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and

Los Alamos National Laboratories.

Hospitals pay from $5,000 to $100,000 for a one-week to 12-week

patient record cleanup project, says Damianakis in a telephone

interview. Pricing for the project depends on the amount of data, the

number of users, and the amount of time needed.

Beth Just of the Denver-based Just Associates evokes industry

estimates that any healthcare facility has a dirty data problem

ranging from 3 to 15 percent. If the clean-up cost seems steep, she

adds, consider that the direct cost of leaving duplicates in a Master

Patient Index database ranges from $20 per duplicate to several

hundred dollars. "The lower cost reflects the organization’s labor and

supply cost to identify and fix the duplicate record," says Just.

"Higher costs reflect the cost of repeated diagnostic tests done on a

patient because the patient’s previous medical record could not be

located, or not located in a timely fashion."

She points out that the hospital’s liability exposure can be

significant if patient care is compromised because the right record

cannot be found. Duplicate records also wreak havoc with insurance

payments. As Master Patient Index (MPI) data integrity becomes

compromised by human error (bad spellings, use of nicknames, and

typos, for instance), more duplicates are created. "We have found that

the rate of growth for duplicates within a MPI is not linear," says

Just. "When a database is cluttered with duplicates, the duplicate

growth rate becomes exponential. This underscores the need to address

the issue and perform a MPI Data Reconciliation (clean up) sooner

rather than later."

Damianakis grew up in Montreal, where his father owned a restaurant.

He graduated from McGill University in 1990 and earned a PhD in

computer science from Princeton University, and worked for IBM’s

Watson Institute, for Panasonic, and for NEC. He joined Netrics as

president and CEO in 2000.

Working in the family restaurant contributed to his success,

Damianakis says. "It gave me an appreciation for all the different

types of people in the world, and how you can learn from any of them.

If you are interacting with people in a more casual atmosphere, you

are better able to understand where they are coming from, and agreeing

to disagree can be very satisfying. The restaurant was about

conversation, and most of my day, I spend practicing the art of


"We had some early successes for searching documents, but the clearest

signal is in healthcare, where the problem is more acute," says

Damianakis. "We have benefited from doing that and achieved our first

profitable quarter at the beginning of this year." He is now touring

the regional hospital associations with his sales pitch, sometimes

called "the dog and pony show," but as he says, the product has to

work for the sales pitch to succeed. "You do good work and everything

follows from that."

– Barbara Fox

Top Of Page
Red Cross Campaign

In our world, filled with new dangers and new definitions of

"disaster," the mission and role of the American Red Cross are more

vital than ever. But the Red Cross’s capacity to help people in

Hunterdon, Middlesex, and Mercer counties become more educated,

prepared, and safe requires dramatic expansion.

On Thursday, November 4, the Red Cross announced a $6 million

initiative to confront these new dangers – with $3 million already

raised by central New Jersey corporations. "Donations from

corporations are critical to our chapter," said Kevin Sullivan, CEO of

the Red Cross of Central Jersey in a prepared statement. They help to

support "programs and services that touch the lives of people living

and working in central New Jersey." The Central Jersey chapter hopes

to raise pledges for the remaining $3 million by September, 2005.

In recent months hurricanes and flooding have caused extensive damage

to communities locally and in the Southeastern states. While the

outpouring of support directed towards the disaster relief effort

continues, funding for regular day-to-day operations and to prepare

for possible terrorism remains. In New Jersey, the need for the Red

Cross’s services is great. Problem areas include:

Blood shortage. There is a chronic shortage of blood and, therefore, a

need to import it from out of state. An estimated 2 percent of

eligible blood donors actually donate.

Inadequate CPR training. Only 1 in 25 people are trained in CPR. If

you have a massive heart attack, you have only a 4 percent chance of

survival. But if you lived in Seattle, where 1 in 4 are CPR-trained,

you would have a 25 percent chance of survival.

Funding shortfall. Governments urge the Red Cross to expand its role

in disaster response, but they provide no funding. Philanthropy

supports 68 percent of the organizations budget. Public demand for

disaster preparedness is growing. Since September 11, 2001, attendance

at Red Cross training classes has increased 28 percent.

This campaign for a safer community, "Keeping the Promise," requires

an unprecedented community investment in this chapter’s capacity to

meet unprecedented needs.

The fundraising efforts of this campaign will support the creation of

a new facility, equipment and expertise for a Disaster Relief and

Resource Center. Coordination of disaster relief operations for all of

New Jersey will be housed at this new facility. In addition, the money

will fund a blood donor center. Efforts to maintain a blood supply to

area hospitals will be housed in this facility. This is a critical

first step in a national effort to ensure a safe and available blood


Other purchases from this fundraising effort will include equipment

and upgraded disaster systems, emergency vehicles, equipment, plans,

and communications systems necessary for handling the constantly

changing scale and complexity of disasters – before disasters strike.

Finally, the Red Cross of Central New Jersey hopes that new funds will

be adequate to support expanded lifesaving programs.The demand for

training and services from all segments of the community – youth and

seniors, businesses and families – now far exceeds its current


For more information on the programs and services provided by the

American Red Cross of Central New Jersey visit or

call 609-951-8550.

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Corporate Angels

One central New Jersey company that has recently heeded the Red Cross

call: Selective of Hamilton, which donated $5,000 to benefit programs

and services of the American Red Cross of Central New Jersey. For more

information on the programs and services provided by the American Red

Cross of Central New Jersey visit or call


Together we can save a life, including a donation of $5,000 donation

from Hamilton’s Selective Insurance Group.

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