Quote Of The Year

Timeless Quotes - Sadly The Late 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."

Monday, December 22, 2008

International News Extras For the Week (23/12/2008).

Again there has been just a heap of stuff arrive this week.

First we have:

Obama pledges to pursue health IT, despite economic woes

President-elect Barack Obama vowed on Thursday to pursue the use of health information technology aggressively, while his pick to head the Health and Human Services Department said he viewed health IT as a key part of the new administration's stimulus package.

Obama, in remarks introducing Tom Daschle as his nominee for HHS secretary and as head of a new White House Office of Health Reform, said despite the economic crisis the nation needs to invest in a drastic overhaul of the U.S. health system.

While some people might question government investment in health care, Obama said, "How can we afford not to invest?" The nation's spiraling health care costs threaten the wellbeing of large and small businesses, he said, including the auto industry, which saw its request for a federal aid package founder in the Senate on Thursday.

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which will handle the economic stimulus bill Obama wants to pursue, told The Washington Post that he considered health IT a key part of a stimulus package. "It's very important that health IT be part of the economic recovery," Baucus said. "It represents the beginning of health care reform."

More here:


It is good to see some leadership on the Health IT front from Obama – given the economic situation the US finds itself in!

Interesting analysis of the corporate impact here:

Where the Obama Stimulus Plan Helps Tech

Much has been written about the infrastructure aspects of Obama's stimulus plan. Clearly, fixing roads, federal buildings and schools will provide much needed work for construction workers suffering through a crash in the housing market.

The Obama team has, however, been shrewd enough to understand that a stimulus package for the nation needs to help a broad swath of industries. As a result, they have added a bit of high tech to their plans.

There are four main areas where tech is involved:

  • improve efficiency of the health care industry
  • modernize schools
  • develop a green economy
  • ease congested traffic

Let's look at each in turn and see how it benefits tech.

Improve efficiency of the health care industry

This means software - software for creation and sharing of medical records between doctors, hospitals and insurance companies, software for managing prescriptions, software for tracking treatment regimens, etc.

At the heart of these systems there will be databases. That will favor companies like Oracle (ORCL), Microsoft (MSFT) and IBM (IBM). Software development could involve the same companies just listed as well a selection of companies more focused on the health care vertical such as Cerner (CERN), Eclisys (ECLP), McKesson (MCK), etc.

More here:


Second we have:

NHS boss says IT programme at 'pivot point'

12 Dec 2008

NHS chief executive David Nicholson has said the National Programme for IT in the NHS is at a “pivot position” and that the DH would not tolerate continued delays, “we can’t go on and on like this.”

Answering questions from the House of Commons Health Select Committee yesterday Nicholson said: “If we don’t make progress relatively soon, we are really going to have to think it through again.”

He stressed that the programme could count many successes on areas such as PACS, QMAS and electronic transfer of prescriptions but said it continued to struggle on the core integrated shared electronic record systems – the Care Records Systems – meant to be provided by local service providers BT and Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC).

“The thing about the National programme for IT is that it has had some difficulties delivering part of it, but there have been significant improvements as well.”

In May, the National Audit Office said delivery of CRS systems was running at least four years late. Since then delays on CRS have further mounted across England, and Fujitsu fired as the LSP in the South. In London, there have been major problems at the first sites to receive the Cerner CRS system from BT.

Much more here:


This is an ominous article – I hope there is not a loss of political will to get the core parts of this plan done. The UK will be worse off if it fails I believe.

More here:


Third we have:

Open Health Tools project to boost HIEs

By Molly Merrill, Associate Editor 12/12/08

The Open Health Tools (OHT) Foundation has approved a new project in principle for the development of server-based technology designed to create interoperability among disparate health information systems.

The project is expected to dramatically drive down the cost of interoperability components, which have contributed to significant cost barriers for the HIEs in their development of standards-based solutions.

Open Health Tools is a collaborative effort between national health agencies, major healthcare providers, researchers, academics, international standards bodies, and companies from Australia, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and other parts of Europe. Its goal is to develop common healthcare IT products and services and provide software tools and components that accelerate the implementation of electronic health information interoperability platforms, thus improving patient quality of care, safety, and access to electronic health records.

The project will be led by Misys Open Source Solutions, a division of Misys plc, who will work within the open source community to build server-side components for the Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) profiles.

More here:


This is an important step forward in the emergence of open health information systems.

More action in the same area also here:


CDC takes its epidemiological software open source

By John Moore
Published on December 12, 2008

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released an open-source version of its software for epidemiological analysis.

Fourth we have:

Statewide Center for Telehealth Established

Former DHCS director to lead California Center for Connected Health

December 15, 2008

The California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) announced today the establishment of the California Center for Connected Health (CCCH), a strategy and planning body to lead and coordinate telehealth adoption throughout the state. The Sacramento-based organization will be led by Sandra Shewry, former director of the California Department of Health Care Services, who will become president and CEO, effective January 1, 2009.

Telehealth connects patients in remote or underserved areas of the state with medical providers and educators, overcoming barriers of time and distance and delivering health services and education in places that lack those resources. CHCF's support for telehealth is part of its broader mission to promote innovations in health care that can deliver affordable, high-quality care to more Californians. A recent influx of funds into the state for telehealth initiatives created the need for an organization to coordinate efforts.

Millions of dollars in new federal and state funds are available to support an expansion of California's telehealth infrastructure, including approximately a $30-million investment in broadband and connectivity through a pilot program with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) -- the California Telehealth Network (CTN) -- and $200 million in Prop 1D infrastructure financing to expand telehealth and medical education through the University of California. The Prop 1D funding, approved by California voters in 2006, includes $10 million for a "community investment fund" to help equip community health care sites that partner with the University of California enhance access to medical services through telehealth.

More here:


This is an important news release as it shows serious intent to leverage what will become much more important technologies in the decades ahead.

Fifth we have:

Secretary Leavitt Announces New Principles, Tools to Protect Privacy, Encourage More Effective Use of Patient Information to Improve Care

The growing computerization, exchange and analysis of patient data offer the potential to improve the quality of care and reduce costs and medical errors, but those benefits won’t be fully realized until privacy concerns are effectively addressed, HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said today.

In a keynote address to the Nationwide Health Information Network Forum, Secretary Leavitt announced key privacy principles and a toolkit to guide efforts to harness the potential of new technology and more effective data analysis, while protecting privacy. Secretary Leavitt emphasized that appropriate privacy and security measures will be an essential sociological enabler of groundbreaking technology.

“Finding the balance between increased access to information and privacy is very important. If we don’t have it, we won’t succeed,” Secretary Leavitt said. “Consumers shouldn’t be in a position to have to accept privacy risks they don’t want. Each consumer should be able to choose products and services that best fit their health needs and privacy preferences.”

“Consumers need an easy-to-read, standard notice about how their personal health information is protected, confidence that those who misuse information will be held accountable, and the ability to choose the degree to which they want to participate in information sharing,” Secretary Leavitt said. “Over time, consumer confidence in the handling of health information is likely to grow just as consumer confidence in online banking has grown, but that won’t happen without similar protections and transparency about the use of their information.”

A full listing of the principles and other information is found here:


This is a useful guide to the issues we need to keep in mind here, while noting there are some in the US that even with these changes there are still major weaknesses in the US regime in this domain.

More commentary and reporting here:


HHS head calls for voluntary e-health privacy guidelines

Equipped for Efficiency: Improving Nursing Care Through Technology

Fran Turisco and Jared Rhoads, CSC

December 2008

Surveys show that nurses prefer to work in hospitals where safety, quality, and their own job satisfaction are top priorities. New technologies have the potential to improve the environment for nurses by helping them devote more of their time and expertise to caring for patients, rather than tracking down equipment, managing supplies, or locating clinicians and staff.

This report, a successor to the 2002 CHCF publication The Nursing Shortage: Can Technology Help?, examines hospitals’ experiences with eight types of devices and applications: wireless communications, real-time location systems, delivery robots, workflow management systems, wireless patient monitoring, electronic medication administration with bar coding, electronic clinical documentation with clinical decision support, and interactive patient systems. Two other technologies — alarm/event messaging and biomedical device integration — are also discussed.


The complete report is available under Document Downloads below.

Equipped for Efficiency: Improving Nursing Care Through Technology (758K)

More here:


Another very important report – especially for those interested in helping nurses get through the work they need to – i.e. pretty much all of us!

Seventh we have:

HIMSS releases healthcare reform blueprint for Obama and lawmakers

By Diana Manos, Senior Editor 12/17/08

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society on Wednesday released a blueprint for harnessing the power of information technology to reform healthcare and stimulate the economy.

"A Call for Action: Enabling Healthcare Reform Using Information Technology" was developed by more than 100 HIMSS member volunteers and includes specific priorities and recommendations for reforming healthcare in 2009.

President-elect Obama and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary-designate Daschle have clearly indicated their interest in finding ways to cost-effectively evolve our healthcare system to include 21st Century technology solutions that will help improve access, decrease costs and increase quality of healthcare for millions of Americans," said Charles Christian, chairman of the HIMSS board of directors and director of information systems and CIO at Good Samaritan Hospital.

"Our goal in releasing this report today is to share the expertise and recommendations of the health IT community with policymakers to help ensure health IT policy proposals achieve maximum impact for consumers and the healthcare community," he said.

More here:

The document is here:


Last for this week we have:

HL7 Publishes PHR Standard

Standards development organization Health Level Seven has published its Personal Health Record System Functional Model as a draft standard for trial use.

This means the standard is available for downloading from the Web site of Ann Arbor, Mich.-based HL7. The model defines a set of functions and security features that may be present in PHR systems. It also offers guidance to facilitate data exchange among PHRs or electronic health records systems. The model is designed to help consumers compare PHRs and select one appropriate for their needs.


More information is available at hl7.org.

More here:



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