Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York on October 18, 2015 · Page E4
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Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York · Page E4

Rochester, New York
Issue Date:
Sunday, October 18, 2015
Page E4
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Page4E Sunday,October18,2015 DemocratandChronicle. com DC-0000363972 305 Andrews St. NEW YORK STATE PUBLIC AUCTION – OFFICE BUILDING – in Rochester City Center District Six stories, 39,000+ square feet, paved parking for 50+ cars • OPEN HOUSE DATES: • Oct. 21, 1:30-3:30 P.M. • Oct. 28, 9-11 A.M. • Oct. 22, 9-11 A.M. • Nov. 4, 1-3 P.M. • Oct. 27, 1-3 P.M. • Nov. 18, 1-3 P.M. AUCTION TO BE HELD ON WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 2 AT 11:00 AM – Minimum Bid: $380,000 – 518-474-2195 NEW YORK STATE OF OPPORTUNITY Offi ce of General Services credibly small and look like a black straw laid flat. “You can think of those carbon nanotubes as like a highway for electrons,” Raffaelle said. “They’re extraordinarily good at c onducting electricity.” N anotechnology is the s cience of the extremely small. The field seeks to change or improve the way objects look, work and interact by altering its makeup at the tiniest possible sub-molecular level. A nanometer is one- billionth of a meter, or 50,000 times smaller than t he diameter of a strand of h air. T he basic premise be- h ind Landi and Raffaelle’s technology is using these carbon nanotubes, which are so small that they take up significantly less physical space when placed inside the battery. Because there’s more available space, Raffaelle said there can be more electrical power stuffed into a battery pack without changing the battery size. “So if you’re talking a bout your cell phone, I think you would want more energy in the same package,” Raffaelle said. “You already have one in there, but if I can give you one with twice as much power and make your cell phone last twice as long before you have to charge i t, you’re probably going t o take that.” T he basic structure in m ost batteries are the sheets of copper and aluminum stacked on top of each other with an added layer of material that helps activate the negative and positive sides of the battery. In most cases, that additive is a powder made of graphite. Working with two RIT doctoral students, Raffaelle and Landi have made a few prototypes of t hese new batteries inside aspecial lab on campus. The two recently earned patentsfor their work. Today’s prototype started in Raffaelle’s mind when he was working for NASA in Brevard County, Florida. Part of his job in Florida was to b uild better batteries for s pace exploration. In 1991 a nd 1993, scientists began p ublishing research about carbon nanotubes and the electricity-friendly properties they have. Raffaelle read those studies and wondered if carbon nanotubes can work inside batteries. Ten years later, Raffaelle says his testing results prove his hunch was right. However, other battery experts have had the same idea. J ames Fleetwood, a materials scientist at the Indiana Battery Innovation Center, said small- and mid-sized companies and major universities are researching the same topic but with a different focus. Some organizations are looking to make b atteries more flexible w hile some are looking to m ake batteries that store e nergy longer. In all these areas, researchers are struggling to make sure each carbon nanotube is a perfect straw with no imperfections or clumping when laying it out, said Scott Forbey, a Purdue University chemist who does battery manufacturing research. Forbey said he only knows of one company that’s been able to cre- a te the tubes with consistent perfection. Fleetwood and Forbey said carbon nanotubes in batteries are a promising research breakthrough, but it’s still unclear exactly how much extra battery life a device can get using this method. At its best- c ase scenario, someone c ould get twice as much b attery performance or t hey could only see a 5 percent boost. It’ll depend on what device the battery goes into and what other materials are used inside the battery. The only advantage they know for certain is that this technology would allow less time to charge your battery and, once charged, the battery will last longer. The next step for Raff aelle and Landi’s research is to make these batteries available to the masses. Business research has shown that American consumers love their devices’ capa- b ilities, but now yearn for l onger battery life. A 2014 survey published in January from Fortune magazinefound that 33 percent of more than 1,000 respondents said they want “improved battery life” in their mobile devices. The second highest response was faster processing speed at 1 6 percent. A similar 2013 s urveyposed to cell phone u sers globally found that 37 percent wanted better battery life. Landi said the technology at RIT could be applied to circular watch batteries up to packages for electric cars and space satellites. He said part of the new battery s tructure is ready to be s old now, but until an en- t repreneur comes in, he a nd doctoral students will continue fine-tuning their prototypes. Raffaelle said he’s unsure how the university will get this research from lab to inside someone’s device. “There are a lot of options, ranging from just licensing the patents to someone else all the way through spinning out our own company,” Raffaelle s aid. “We’re currently talking about commercialization options.” Batteries Continued from Page 1E The battery nanotechnology at RIT eventually may be applied to circular watch batteries, electric cars and space satellites, Brian Landi says. JILLIAN GUYETTE Brian Landi, RIT associate p rofessor ELIZABETH LAMARK Ryne Raffaelle, RIT vice p resident for research and associate provost Tiny carbon nanotubes stuff more electrical power stuffed into a battery pack, Ryne Raffaelle says. “My all-time favorite was the one who most recently called in sick because he was out look- i ng for a better job,” she said. “Funny one, in that h e is now collecting unemployment.” However, some workers feel they can’t afford t o take a sick day even when they are actually i ll. More than half (54 percent) have gone into work because they felt the work wouldn’t get d one otherwise. Nearly half said they can’t af- ford to miss a day of pay. U ltimately, those who are faking might want to t hink again. Roughly 1in 5 workers caught using a fake excuse is fired, and a t hird of employers check to see if a worker is tell- ing the truth about taking t ime off, according to the survey. Many ask to see t he doctor’s note or follow up with a call to the employee. Roughly one- third check on an em- p loyee’s social media posts. The reasons may be g etting more outrageous as more employers do away with sick, vacation and personal time in favor of a more generic p aid time-off policy. In the end, Palumbo said, it all comes down to trust, and those employ- e rs who develop policies with feedback from w orkers are often the ones that rarely have an issue when it comes to the excuses involved in p aid time off. “It’s not great to get c aught in a lie, so why not be forthcoming and have a honest discussion about it?” she said. T CLAUSEN@Gan- Lame Continued from Page 3E FILE PHOTO Angella Luyk PROVIDED Melisa Beauchesne Memorable excuses » Employee claimed his grandmother poisoned him with ham. » Employee was stuck under the bed. » Employee broke his arm reaching to grab a falling sandwich. » Employee said the universe was telling him to take a day off. » Employee’s wife found out he was cheating. He had to spend the day retrieving his belongings from the dumpster. » Employee poked herself in the eye while combing her hair. » Employee said his wife put all his underwear in the washer. » Employee said the meal he cooked for a department potluck didn’t turn out well. » Employee was going to the beach because the doctor said she needed more vitamin D. » Employee said her cat was stuck inside the dashboard of her car. * Careerbuilder survey conducted by Harris Poll. Paula Bennett pockets about $3,000 a year from her employer mainly for d riving around 80 miles roundtrip for a deal on doses of her Crohn’s dis- e ase treatment Remi- cade. The extra income comes through Smart- Shopper, a program offered by some employers to provide cash to work- e rs who choose quality h ealth care options with lower prices. “I absolutely love the p rogram,” said Bennett, 43, a fiscal specialist with New Hampshire’s Divis ion for Children, Youth and Families. SmartShopper repre- s ents a twist in how corporate America is dealing w ith rising health care expenses. It’s part of a push by employers to heap m ore responsibility for costs onto the people who are covered by their health care plans. Companies for years h ave raised deductibles, or the amount employees pay before most of their coverage begins. They’ve a lso given workers online tools to help them shop for the best deals on things l ike imaging exams and bloodwork. Now, some are using cash to nudge employees toward those deals. “We’re in the process of changing habits,” said M itch Rothschild, found er of the health care data firm Vitals, which created SmartShopper. “And f rankly there’s nothing better for changing habits than to give somebody m oney.” SmartShopper works by offering financial inc entives for about 40 categories, from lab tests to s ome surgeries. It steers clear of areas like cancer care, though, because R othschild says “you don’t want to hear from us on an economic incentive w hen your life is at stake.” The program gives w orkers a list of potential providers in their insurance network. It rates t hem using standards based on the specialty, g overnment data and patient reviews. It also tells patients providers to a void because they may be low quality. It then offers cash inc entives for many of the remaining options. The inc entive size depends on the care being performed and the difference in cost compared with other options. A blood test may garner a $25 reward for a worker picking a lower- c ost provider. Meanwhile, someone getting bariatric surgery, which can cost u pward of $20,000, could get a $500 check. Rothschild said patients generally make a f ew hundred dollars each year. The biggest earner last year brought in a round $3,500. The money is considered income, so anything over $600 has to be declared on a patient’s income tax return. Bennett, the New Hampshire employee, g ets about $500 every coup le of months after traveling to an IV infusion center for a dose of Remic ade. Vitals, citing laws protecting patient privacy, d eclined to detail the savings that Bennett generates for her employer by u sing the infusion center. Vitals says the Smart- S hopper program saves, on average, about $8,000 per Remicade infusion, w hich a company spokeswoman says can cost anywhere from about $3,000 t o $22,000 in New Hampshire. B ennett also earns incentive payments from regular blood testing she needs to have as a thyroid cancer survivor. She’s used her extra income to help pay for a Florida trip a nd Christmas gifts. The idea of providing an incentive for choosing c are is not new. Nearly a quarter of large firms nationally provide insurance coverage with a net- w ork that groups providers with good quality ratings, according to the n onprofit Kaiser Family Foundation, which studies health care issues. Patients often get an enticement like a smaller co- payment for using providers in those networks. A side from shopping f or the best price, employers and insurers also want patients to choose good d octors because quality care with fewer complications can help cut costs. T hese programs have potential to grow as employers look to cut costs a head of a health care overhaul tax on expensive b enefits plans that starts in 2018. “It’s really a win-win, b ecause it benefits the consumer, and it also benefits the employer,” s aid Susan Rider, an insurance broker for Gregory & Appel in Indianapolis. The prospect of earning extra income and receiving help shopping for care may prove popular, says Kit Yarrow, a psychology and marketing p rofessor with Golden Gate University. “I think it’s a pretty irresistible combination,” she said. The cash incentive could also be enticing because middle-class wages have largely been stagnant for the past decade, noted Paco Underhill, CEO of Envirosell, a New Y ork-based company that studies consumer behav- i or. However, he also said consumers are crunched more for time than mon- e y, so they may not opt for a financial incentive if it involves too much travel. “ Convenience is the driving force in modern consumption,” he said. V itals, which charges a fee to employers to run SmartShopper, started testing the program in N ew Hampshire and Kentucky a few years ago. It currently offers it in 10 s tates, mostly in the East. The company plans to double that total by the end of next year and expand into Florida and Oregon, among other states. The New Hampshire H ealth Trust, which runs m edical coverage for several government entities in the state, made about 4 7,000 people eligible for the SmartShopper program last January. Trust e xecutives estimate that the program netted about $826,000 in savings t hrough August. They hope to top $1.4 million by t he end of the year. “There’s still a lot of opportunity for growth and s avings,” said Scott Weden, the program’s benefits manager. V itals says SmartShop- per served more than 1 6,000 patients last year and reaped $10.7 million in savings. Ultimately, though, the savings have a ceiling. Much of the cost in the health care system comes f rom hospital stays and complex surgeries. A financial incentive will have little impact on that kind of care, says Paul Keckley, managing director of the Navigant Center for Healthcare Research and Policy Analysis. For instance, a patient with advanced prostate cancer and insurance that l imits how much he has to pay for care annually w on’t be motivated to shop for the best deal. “For the more expen- s ive elements of health c are, incentives alone will not move the cost needle d own,” Keckley said. Employers offer cash to push shopping for health care TOM MURPHY ASSOCIATED PRESS JIM COLE/AP Paula Bennett of Barrington, N.H., pockets about $3,000 a year from her employer mainly for driving 80 miles roundtrip for a deal on doses of her Crohn’s disease t reatment, Remicade.

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