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Monday, 22 July 2002 09:55

The push toward accountability

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The nation’s three leading health care quality oversight organizations are working together to develop a common measurement agenda and integrate measure development efforts to promote greater accountability in health care. The American Medical Accreditation Program, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and the National Committee for Quality Assurance are trying to make performance measurement more efficient and coherent across all levels of the health care system. Closer collaboration among the organizations should significantly reduce the cost and effort required for collecting performance data, a long-standing concern of many in the health care system. Currently, the three groups define…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:55

Strategic appliance

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Your company has 100 sales people scattered across the globe and you’re launching a new product. To fly all those reps to one location for training and put them up in hotels could cost as much as $1,000 per person. Worse, that exorbitant price tag doesn’t include renting a meeting place or catering the weekend. But to do the same product introduction virtually, over an extranet, would run about 20 percent of the cost. That, says King Hill, director of marketing services for DigiKnow, is just one way an extranet can realize immediate savings for your company. “Extranets are valuable…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:55

Prescribing success

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The demands of managed care have left doctors with less time to spend with each patient. As physicians play the role of “gatekeeper,” determining who will get what type of care for various insurance plans, details such as fine tuning drug therapies often get delayed or delegated to a nurse. The trend is to bring pharmacists into this role to help doctors manage their workload and help patients get the personalized attention they need for successful drug therapy. This team approach is usually termed a “collaborative practice agreement.” “It’s simply an agreement between a prescriber and a pharmacist to work…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:55

Narrowing the listing

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Getting consumers to use your service or product is hard enough. Getting them to remember it and use it again and again is, well, every business owner’s goal. For Stuart Kay, that hasn’t been a problem. An independent audit showed 97 percent of his Detroit audience remembered receiving the first publication of his Mazel’s Jewish American Yellow Pages. Even in a close-knit community, this near-universal recognition is a phenomenal feat. With that ammunition in hand, Kay came to Cleveland and created a 160-page book, which was delivered in March. Mazel is the Hebrew word for luck, which had nothing to…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:55

Healing the practice

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Every new change in the health industry radically alters how doctors practice medicine. Patients see it one way — in the treatment they receive, the manner in which it’s delivered and even how it’s paid for. Doctors see it another way — from the administrative side. For those who want to compete in the quickly consolidating medical community, the choices can be boiled down to a scant two — learn how to become a business person or hire someone who is. “Physicians could get along quite well with a lot of waste,” says Kathi Jankura, management consultant for Advanced Concepts…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:55

Getting your people to use your intranet

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Setting up an intranet can be complicated enough, but how do you ensure your employees will use it once it’s in place? Diebold Inc. has had its intranet system up and running since 1996 and has discovered that by making sure everyone has access and the site is user friendly, it will be used with surprising frequency. When Diebold first set up its intranet, it was limited to the company’s desktop PCs, so corporate and sales people had first access. Michelle Griggy, manager of associate communications, says that although the intranet was widely accepted by those who had first access,…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:55

Don’t forget your pipelines

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The rumor mill was buzzing last fall with news of “the letter.” A Big Five accounting firm was said to be circulating word that all clients with annual billings below $100,000 would be gently shown the door. “In this town alone,” said one senior dealmaking attorney, Chuck Emrick of Calfee, Halter & Griswold, “that cuts out 20,000 small clients. That’s a bonanza for smaller [accounting] shops like Ciuni & Panichi, Meaden & Moore and Cohen & Co. And Ernst & Young won’t be far behind” in chasing middle-market clients, he predicted at the time. After all the dust settles, though,…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:55

Building an intranet employees will love

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The accounting department needs access to the receivables database. The sales department is trying to find out what stock is sitting on the shelves in the warehouse. The line workers just want a better way to enter their time sheets. You can solve all their problems with an intranet. “Most companies like it to be very well organized,” says Tracy Berger, Internet Systems Developer for NetForce Development. “That’s the reason you have an intranet, because you’re making everybody’s lives easier. It’s good to be organized. You’ve got to be organized.” Versatility makes intranets enticing., she says. A database that once…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:55

A little garnish with that paycheck?

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There was a kind of bitter irony to the timing. Just as the annual tax crunch was coming to an end April 15th, and the last few employers were filing their last-moment returns, a new government-imposed paperwork burden was taking effect. It could result in a flurry of court summonses, indicating that the targeted employer had just five days to formally respond to garnishment notices. It all came in mid-April with the March 30th implementation of Ohio’s new garnishment process. The main change, says Alan Weinberg, managing partner of Ohio’s largest “creditors’ rights” law firm, Weltman, Weinberg & Reis, is…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:54

Shifting into high gear

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"You’d be hard pressed to find a better example of the American dream than Michael Conny. Conny, 35, started his career as a welder. With $8,000 borrowed from his mother and step-father, he worked out of a single-bay garage, and using an 8 by 8-foot outhouse as an office, made trailer repairs. Within seven months, to keep up with orders that started to stream in from referrals, he hired 10 employees. His first break came when an acquaintance asked him to build a trailer from scratch. The trailer took a month and a half to complete, but the workmanship spoke…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:54

Reality check

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If you had to put a price tag on your business , what would it be? Rand Curtiss, President of Loveman-Curtiss Inc., has watched many people walk through the front door of his Pepper Pike office during the past 13 years looking for an answer to that elusive question. It is a slippery issue because it cannot be answered by simply tallying up the value of property, equipment and inventory. Other factors have to be weighed, many of which cannot be easily measured, such as the value of the company’s work force, business reputation and the state of the market.…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:54

Name that company

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The name of your company may be the only impression you get to make on a potential customer. In a competitive market, a name should be easy to remember and part of your overall marketing strategy. “If you can’t tell what business you are in from your business card, then your name isn’t working hard for you,” says Elizabeth Goodgold, president of the Nuancing Group, a San Diego firm that specializes in helping businesses create total identity packages. “The name should also be interesting, and not be generic or a bunch of initials.” In these merger-happy times, beware of creating…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:54

Kinder, gentler workplace

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An already small labor pool is expected to shrink even more during the next several years, but that doesn’t mean you need to break open the bank to attract and retain a high-quality work force. As the number of available workers between the ages of 25 and 44 diminishes, a startling reality is beginning to emerge — the competition for qualified workers is fierce. “Companies are accustomed to competing for market share — now they’re going to have to compete for work force share as well,” says David Stum, a senior vice president with Aon Consulting. Stum says a fair…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:54

How many stocks?

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But if 20 is the minimum, what’s the maximum? A study conducted by Lawrence Fischer and James Lorie tracked the risk of investing in stocks against the number of stocks in a portfolio. The study found that risk drops dramatically as additional stocks are added to a portfolio, until it reaches the 20-stock level. After this, the inclusion of additional stocks reduces risk only slightly. Once you’ve decided how many stocks you want to own, the next step is to address how you will allocated your investments among those stocks and among different industry groups. The precise answer will depend…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:53

Exporting to Canada

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What country is the largest trading partner of the USA? Hint — the U.S. exports more to it than to the next two largest trading partners combined (Mexico and Japan). The answer is Canada. Have you considered exporting to Canada? The Canadian economy is growing rapidly and is hungry for imports. Many of the goods imported into Canada are for use in its manufacturing industries. Its electronic industry, led by telecommunication giants such as Nortel, is a huge importer of U.S. components. The Canadian aerospace industry is the fifth largest in the world, led by Bombardier, the world’s third largest…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:53

Critical classroom

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When you walk into Future Skills’ Carnegie Avenue offices, it’s hard to believe you’re standing in a training facility. The main room is lined with computer workstations, desks, maps and a conference table. Throughout the day, people plug away at their computers, rising occasionally for short strategy meetings with colleagues or for a quick glance at one of the maps. Then it’s back to the computers to rap on the keyboard. If you didn’t know better, you could easily assume Future Skills was in the business of problem-solving, though if you observe long enough, you’ll wonder exactly what business issues…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:53

Constructing a work force

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The survey in a trade industry magazine confirmed what Jerry Fox already knew — fewer people are interested in construction jobs. The survey asked more than 300 students what they wanted to do professionally when they grew up. “There were something like 256 jobs listed,” explains Fox, executive vice president at Patio Enclosures Inc. “And (No.) 239 was construction worker. That was right behind cowboy.” It’s a sad fact that there are very few young people getting into the construction business today, Fox says. “With the rise of computers, people are not attracted to wearing a tool belt and swinging…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:53

Bigger, better

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Paul Hanna takes the success of his company, Meritech Blue, in stride. Though the hard numbers speak volumes — 1998 revenue of $18 million, projected 1999 revenue of $25 million — Hanna isn’t willing to rest on those laurels or other recent recognition, such as being named Digital Dealer of the Year in North America (two times running) or receiving the Konica Dealer of the Year award. That’s not to say that Hanna, who founded the company in 1995 after leaving a well-paying job as vice president of sales for another office equipment dealer, doesn’t realize how fast he’s built…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:53

Acquiring growth

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Tony Manna has a gift for understatement. “We’re real busy,” he says casually. In the past five years, Manna, chairman of Janna Industries Ltd., has acquired more than 15 companies. His goal is a simple one; he wants to reach $1 billion in revenue. His most recognized project might be Canal Park, home to Cleveland Indians AA farm team, the Akron Aeros. But his reach isn’t limited to Northeast Ohio. Manna has projects in Florida, Iowa, Texas and Illinois. And he says he is considering going international for the first time by building a manufacturing plant in Asia. The company…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:52

Viral infection

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First it was Melissa, then it was the ExploreZip virus. These malicious programs invade your system through e-mail and other means, destroying files and wasting time and money. Even major corporations have been affected by the outbreak of computer viruses. Experts estimate there are more than 40,000 viruses out there. Are you ready? “A virus is simply a piece of malicious computer code that a person puts into a program that does something,” says Bruce Johnston, president of VGS Inc., a computer security consulting firm. “It can range from an annoying message on your screen to deleting files on your…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:52

The big pipe

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The promise of video streaming, high-speed delivery of files and other high-demand applications has been choked off by slow connections. The Internet, for the most part, has remained a one-way communication portal with limited applications. Broadband could change that. “Broadband is really a shift in thinking about having separate services for voice, data, cable and television,” says Charu Gupta, manager at Renaissance Worldwide, a global management consulting firm. “Broadband is really thinking about a single pipe that can push any form of media through it, and having it deliver the service, content and level of quality that consumers are demanding.”…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:52

Taking charge

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If the word “project” makes you squirm, help may be on the way. Virginia LaGrossa and Suzanne Saxe, the authors of a new book, “The Consultive Approach: Partnering for Results,” say there is a way to pull it off successfully. Here is their quick list of 10 ways to lead a project to success: 1. Tune your communications skills. Practice paying attention to details and looking at different perspectives. 2. Clearly define the goals of the project in the first meeting. Make sure everyone on the team knows and buys into the goals. Spend a lot of time in the…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:52

Re-engineering salespeople

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Dave Brock sees it all the time, that nervous hesitation among sales people when he asks them to invest some time in sharpening their tools rather than continuing to hunt by the same methods they always have. He was doing a training session not long ago before 2,000 sales people for a telecommunications company when it happened again. “I asked for three or four days of their time, and I could see the panic in their eyes at the thought of losing that time in the field.” As a lifelong sales man — beginning with IBM in its heyday, for…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:52

Lack of support

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There’s nothing more frustrating than problems with new software or hardware. More often than not, you either spend hours on hold waiting to talk to tech support — sometimes paying for the privilege — or waiting days for someone to e-mail an answer to your question, if they get back to you at all. There is an alternative. No Wonder! (www.nowonder.com) is a tech support site that can lend a hand when the manufacturer doesn’t seem to be listening. “No Wonder! is what I call the answer to tech support — it is our solution to the troubled tech support…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:52

Emerging business

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It wasn’t that long ago when Ed Skimin saw only a few stray hands raised in the air after asking a room full of business leaders how many had ever used the World Wide Web. But there was never any shortage of hands when it came to asking questions about the technology, with issues ranging from security worries to the benefits available on the Internet. “I did a lot of presentations, a lot of speeches, to anyone who would let me talk about it,” says Skimin, co-founder and president of Elyria-based Emerge. “There were a lot of businesses asking me…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:52

Cover all angles

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Q:What can I do to protect my company’s trademarks? A: A trademark is typically a slogan, name, image or logo that is linked to a company’s goods or services. Two types of protection exist for a trademark — federal protection and common law protection. Federal protection is obtained by registering your trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Arlington, Va. The filing fee is $245 per mark. The process takes about 12 months, but once your mark is registered, you have certain ownership presumptions, including placing a symbol next the mark. Don’t assume, though, that simply because you’ve…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:52

Business connections

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Consumer sales via the Internet are projected to reach $108 billion by 2003 — an impressive amount until you consider business-to-business Internet sales in that same period are expected to hit $1.3 trillion, according to Forrester Research. Where’s this boom coming from? “Everyone in the computer and electronics industry is doing it,” says Bruce Temkin, research director at Forrester. “Chip makers are selling a billion dollars a month over the Net.” Fortune 500 companies are also taking the initiative to buy and sell over the Internet because of increased efficiencies. “They are starting to put in online procurement applications so…