Quote Of The Year

Quotes Of The Year - Paul Shetler - "Its not Your Health Record it's a Government Record Of Your Health Information"


H. L. Mencken - "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong."

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Useful and Interesting Health IT Links from the Last Week – 19/08/2007

Again, in the last week, I have come across a few reports and news items which are worth passing on.

These include first:


Investment in health freezes over

Ben Woodhead | August 14, 2007

INVESTMENT in health information systems has stalled at $2 billion a year despite an increase in spending on medical care and claims that new technology could save thousands of lives.

Analysts say budgetary constraints are preventing spending on life-saving systems

Market researcher IDC reports that information technology spending in the health sector will remain flat until 2011, even as Australia's ageing population puts a heavier burden on scarce resources.

The report, IDC Analysis, Australian Healthcare ICT Market 2007, says spending on information and communication technologies in the health sector will total $2.03 billion in 2011, down from $2.06 billion this year.

In contrast, total investment in healthcare is increasing at more than 3 per cent a year after inflation, and IDC estimates the Australian IT and communications market is growing at 2.3 per cent annually.

…..( see the URL above for full article)

This is a really concerning report. If investment in Health IT is slipping, given the rise in technology costs and salary costs, then it is likely the impact, over time, will be damaging and significant. One must wonder just what is being cut back on and what impact this might have on the quality and safety of care.

Second we have:


Google and Microsoft Look to Change Health Care


In politics, every serious candidate for the White House has a health care plan. So too in business, where the two leading candidates for Web supremacy, Google and Microsoft, are working up their plans to improve the nation’s health care.

By combining better Internet search tools, the vast resources of the Web and online personal health records, both companies are betting they can enable people to make smarter choices about their health habits and medical care.

“What’s behind this is the mass consumerization of health information,” said Dr. David J. Brailer, the former health information technology coordinator in the Bush administration, who now heads a firm that invests in health ventures.

It is too soon to know whether either Google or Microsoft will make real headway. Health care, experts note, is a field where policy, regulation and entrenched interests tend to slow the pace of change, and technology companies have a history of losing patience.

And for most people, typing an ailment into a Web search engine is very different from entrusting a corporate titan with personal information about their health.

…..( see the URL above for full article)

This is an interesting long article on how the masters of the internet are exploring how they can add value to, and make profits from, the health sector.

Given in the US health care is 16% of the economy it must be irresistible for these companies to try to come to grips with the sector and identify where progress can be made. How this will play out, and what will be successful, is hard to identify at this stage.

Expect the unexpected is what I would suggest – and I suspect it will be a small start-up, bought by one of the majors, who will probably come up with the best and most useful approach(es).

Third we have:


Everything you know is wrong

14 Aug 2007

For those of you about to (finally) begin to implement any element of the National Programme for IT (NPfIT) then you need to be aware that this experience is likely to be very different to anything you have endured before. All your past experiences of implementing information systems will be challenged in a very different environment which is far removed from the traditional customer-supplier relationship.

The experiences at Milton Keynes General Hospitals NHS Trust in being the third site in the Southern Cluster to implement PACS and fourth to deploy CRS came with many lessons learnt and worth sharing. If you start from the premise that your past experience counts for little then you will be better prepared for that which is about to happen to you.

…..( see the URL above for full article)

This is a valuable summary of the experiences of one senior player in the NHS National Program for IT. The practical issues faced are not new and are seen in all large and complex implementations. The advice for managing some of the issues that inevitably arise seems to me to be very sound.

Fourth we have:


German smartcard rollout brought forward

17 Aug 2007

In a surprise move, the German health IT agency Gematik has accelerated the schedule of the German national smartcard project to April 2008.

The nationwide rollout of smartcards for all citizens will now start in the second quarter of 2008. “It could easily be finished by the end of 2009”, says Michael Martinet, head of IT at Germany’s second largest health insurance company 'DAK'.

The decision was taken by the board of directors of Gematik earlier this week. It was not made public until yesterday, though, when state secretary Klaus-Theo Schröder of the national ministry of health announced the new accelerated timetable.

Among the directors of the Gematik are the heads of two medical associations, the head of the national hospital association 'DKG', and the heads of the associations of insurance companies.

The German smartcard project is ultimately planned as an online system. Patients will go to their doctor and identify themselves with their smartcard, the ''elektronische Gesundheitskarte' (electronic health insurance card).

The doctor will then be able to store electronic prescriptions, personal medical data, referrals and discharge letters within a server-based network. To do so, he will use a second smartcard, the “health professional card”.

…..( see the URL above for full article)

This is a very interesting update on what appears to be the most advanced smartcard based e-Health initiative. It is well worth keeping a close watching brief on how the project plays out over the next eighteen months.


Hospital using barcode technology to reduce medicine errors

Philadelphia Business Journal - 1:48 PM EDT Thursday, August 16, 2007

Doylestown Hospital on Thursday unveiled an initiative aimed at reducing potential medication errors: electronic medication administration record, or eMAR, technology.

The Doylestown, Pa., medical center said its investment in the eMAR system was more than $500,000.

The eMAR system combines Bluetooth wireless technology and hand-held scanners to read barcodes -- just like the barcodes used in supermarkets. Under the system, individual dosages of drugs are bar coded in hospital's pharmacy, then tracked from the pharmacy to the nursing unit to the patient's bedside.

At admission, all patients are given barcoded bracelets to be used for identification. The nurse scans a patient's bracelet at the bedside before medications are administered. If the nurse scans the wristband and medication, and the software detects a medication interaction, incompatibility or allergy, the eMAR system alerts the nurse.

…..( see the URL above for full article)


N.Y. Launches Comprehensive Health Information Technology Program

Aug 8, 2007, News Report

Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., today announced the launch of a comprehensive health information technology program, part of Governor Eliot Spitzer's agenda to advance patient-centered care and enable improvements in health care quality, affordability and outcomes for each person, family and business in New York.

An initial $106 million will be invested in the health care community during 2007-2008 to support the implementation of health IT tools to allow portability of patients' medical records and new tools to assess and target improvements in health care quality.

The commissioner has charged his new Office of Health Information Technology Transformation with coordinating health IT programs and policies across the public and private health care sectors. These programs and policies will establish the health IT infrastructure and capacity to support clinicians in quality-based reimbursement programs and new models of care delivery.

…..( see the URL above for full article )

Very interesting to see yet another state deciding to get its Health IT planning act together. Quite a useful summary of the directions that are being pursued is found in the full article.

More next week.


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