c.2013 New York Times News Service

c.2013 New York Times News Service

MEDICAL BILLING NEARS A NEW ERA OF ULTRA-SPECIFIC CODES

Starting next year, a transformation is coming to medical billing. Overnight, virtually the entire health care system will switch to a new set of computerized codes used for determining what ailments patients have and how much they and their insurers should pay for treatments. The changes are unrelated to the Affordable Care Act, but given the lurching start of the federal health insurance website, some doctors and information technology specialists fear major disruptions to health care delivery if the new coding system is not done properly. They want a delay of the scheduled start date of Oct. 1 — or at least more testing beforehand.

U.S. STRUGGLING TO KEEP PACE IN BROADBAND SERVICE

The United States, which invented the Internet, is falling dangerously behind in offering high-speed, affordable broadband service to businesses and consumers, according to technology experts and an array of studies. In terms of Internet speed and cost, “ours seems completely out of whack with what we see in the rest of the world,” said Susan Crawford, a law professor at Yeshiva University. The Obama administration agrees. “While this country has made tremendous progress investing in and delivering high-speed broadband to an unprecedented number of Americans, significant areas for improvement remain,” said Tom Power, deputy chief technology officer for telecommunications at the White House.

SOLVING REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS AT STANFORD’S DESIGN SCHOOL

In the eight years since the D.school — formally known as the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University — opened, students have churned out dozens of innovative products. David Kelley, one of the school’s founders, says the goal is to give students the tools to change lives. The school challenges students to create, tinker and relentlessly test possible solutions on their users — and to repeat that cycle as many times as it takes — until they come up with solutions that people will actually use.

AT TIME INC., PREPARING TO LEAVE THE NEST

Time Inc., the largest U.S. magazine publisher, with properties like People and Sports Illustrated, is preparing for one of the most pivotal periods in its history. Within the next six months, parent Time Warner hopes to spin off Time Inc. into a separate public company. But if the plan succeeds, Time Inc. will become independent at a difficult moment. To fight this, Time Inc. will abandon the traditional separation between its newsroom and business sides. Now, the newsroom staffs at Time Inc.’s magazines will report to business executives. Such a structure, once verboten at journalistic institutions, is seen as necessary to create revenue opportunities.

SOCCER GETS ITS OWN GLOSSY PAGES IN THE U.S.

If professional soccer has gained a solid foothold in the United States, soccer journalism continues to lag its foreign peers. There have been no prominent publications dedicated to the sport. Two soccer magazines are trying to change that: Eight by Eight introduced its first issue last month, and Howler is a year old. The editors acknowledge that much of the optimism is fueled by the excitement generated by the World Cup, which will be held in Brazil beginning in June. But there’s also a more primal impulse. “We wanted to make a magazine about something we love,” said George Quraishi, co-editor at Howler.

RISE IN TWITTER’S STOCK REFLECTS EXUBERANCE IN SILICON VALLEY

Although tech stocks may not have returned to the anything-goes era of Pets.com and TheGlobe.com, Twitter’s soaring stock — up 145 percent since it began trading Nov. 7 — is a sign of the giddiness infecting Silicon Valley. Some, however, see a bubble. “You’re starting to hear it: ‘It’s a new world order.’ Apparently the sun is going to rise in the west because of Twitter,” said Timothy Connolly, a New York money manager who has posted skeptical tweets about Twitter’s stock. “It’s absolutely beyond ridiculous.” But that has not stopped investors’ exuberance about Twitter’s potential to eventually bring in billions of dollars from advertising.