The H-1B Visas That Could Save Lives - InformationWeek

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The H-1B Visas That Could Save Lives

Regardless of whether you think the cap on H-1B visas should be raised or not, there are some very specific -- and scarce -- types of talent and brainpower that could help save lives but are possibly being shut out of coming into the United States.

Regardless of whether you think the cap on H-1B visas should be raised or not, there are some very specific -- and scarce -- types of talent and brainpower that could help save lives but are possibly being shut out of coming into the United States.Among the promising IT-fueled advancements being made in medicine are those related to the analysis of genetic and other complex clinical data.

For instance, recognizing patterns among patients with certain chronic illnesses -- and specific genetic markings -- who are responding well or poorly to a treatment can require the mining and analysis of tons of clinical data, genomic info, and other records.

But those sorts of complicated discoveries -- including identifying patients who are in danger of having strokes but exhibit none of the more obvious risk factors, like having high blood pressure -- require a combination of scientific, medical, and technology skills that are hard to find, says John Glaser, CIO at Partners HealthCare, which operates several prestigious Boston-area hospitals, including Mass General and Brigham & Women's.

Research projects like those are under way at Partners HealthCare, and the correlations and discoveries they yield could one day help improve medical outcomes and even save lives. Yet, finding that very specific, and rare combination of tech-savvy and medical know-how isn't easy, Glaser says, even for an organization like Partners, headquartered within miles of Harvard, MIT, and dozens of other well-respected medical research facilities.

These sorts of discoveries require "very specific genetic and IT talent" that's very difficult to find not only in Boston, but anywhere in the United States, he says. To Glaser, that's a strong argument for "relaxing the cap on H-1B visas," he says. Those types of promising medical IT-projects require the very best minds available, regardless of where they come from, he says.

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