Again there has been just a heap of stuff arrive this week.
First we have:
A program to boost TB drug compliance rewards patients with cell-phone minutes.
By Emily Singer
A new program that combines cheap, paper-based diagnostics with text-messaging technology could improve tuberculosis (TB) treatment in poor countries. The program, which is the brainchild of engineers, economists, and entrepreneurs at the Innovations in International Health (IIH) project at MIT, rewards patients who adhere to the lengthy TB drug regimens with cell-phone minutes. Called XoutTB, the diagnostics have proved successful in a pilot field test in Nicaragua; a larger trial will begin this month in Pakistan.
TB strikes millions of people across the globe: 9.2 million new cases were diagnosed in 2006, and 1.7 million people died from the disease, according to the World Health Organization. The infection can be effectively treated with antibiotics, but patients need to keep taking the drugs daily for six months or more to completely wipe it out. However, because the drugs can trigger nausea and other side effects, some patients stop taking them when their TB symptoms subside, often one to two months into treatment. "In Pakistan and other countries, low compliance rates are fueling the emergence of drug-resistance strains," says Rachel Glennerster, executive director of the Poverty Action Lab at MIT.
I just love the simplicity and ease of implementation of the idea!
Second we have:
Written by Mark Taylor
Thursday, 08 January 2009
Here are the 10 leading trends affecting the medical technology industry for 2009, according to a webinar hosted by Aaron Dickson, co-president of the Toronto-based Millennium Research Group, a strategic research and intelligence firm in the medical technology and pharmaceutical market sectors.
1. Impact of the economic downturn in the medtech industry. Mr. Dickson says first with the initial credit crisis squeezing facility spending and later with the drop of consumer confidence, most publicly-traded healthcare firms suffered share price declines and some experienced layoffs. Mr. Dickson says the economic downturn, the biggest story of the year, will affect medtech firms different, depending upon their reliance on hospital spending and elective procedures. Companies producing items requiring large capital outlays will be hurt more. He predicts cardiovascular markets will be less affected because of the nature of cardiovascular conditions and the critical necessity of most cardiovascular devices. But emerging interventional devices could be hit. And companies — dependant upon elective procedures — could also suffer. As the prospect of people losing their jobs increases, they will become more concerned about taking time off, he says.
2. Pres. Obama’s health plan. Mr. Dickson says healthcare reform comprised an important part of Sen. Obama’s election platform. “It may have to be adjusted, given the current economic situation, with some components delayed or revisited,” he says. “But Mr. Obama recently reiterated his pushing to change healthcare, saying it can’t be put off because we’re in an emergency, it is part of the emergency.” He says forcing employers to provide healthcare coverage will likely be postponed, but his plan to invest in healthcare technology, expand children’s health insurance coverage and subsidize and support state Medicaid programs stand a better chance of passage.
3. Medical devices increasingly treating diseases traditionally treated by drugs. Mr. Dickson says that while devices to date have made small inroads into drug-dominated diseases, the market for devices to treat arthritis, depressive disorders and chronic migraines will continue to grow as neural stimulators, already used in treating Parkinson’s Disease, and other devices, improve. “There are real opportunities for growth,” he predicts.
This is an interesting 10 item list – well worth a browse!
Third we have:
President-elect wants to computerize the nation's health care records in five years. But the plan comes with a hefty price tag, and specialized labor is scarce.
By David Goldman, CNNMoney.com staff writer
January 12, 2009: 4:05 AM ET
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- President-elect Barack Obama, as part of the effort to revive the economy, has proposed a massive effort to modernize health care by making all health records standardized and electronic.
Here's the audacious plan: Computerize all health records within five years. The quality of health care for all Americans gets a big boost, and costs decline.
Sounds good. But it won't be easy.
In fact, many hurdles stand in the way. Only about 8% of the nation's 5,000 hospitals and 17% of its 800,000 physicians currently use the kind of common computerized record-keeping systems that Obama envisions for the whole nation. And some experts say that serious concerns about patient privacy must be addressed first. Finally, the country suffers a dearth of skilled workers necessary to build and implement the necessary technology.
"The hard part of this is that we can't just drop a computer on every doctor's desk," said Dr. David Brailer, former National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, who served as President Bush's health information czar from 2004 to 2006. "Getting electronic records up and running is a very technical task."
It also won't come cheap. Independent studies from Harvard, RAND and the Commonwealth Fund have shown that such a plan could cost at least $75 billion to $100 billion over the ten years they think the hospitals would need to implement program.
That's a huge amount of money -- since the total cost of the stimulus plan is estimated to cost about $800 billion, the health care initiative would be one of the priciest parts to the plan.
The biggest cost will be paying and training the labor force needed to create the network. Luis Castillo, senior vice president of Siemens Healthcare, a company that designs health care technology, said the laborers will have the extremely difficult task of designing a a system that "thinks like a physician."
"Doctors cannot spend hours and hours learning a new system," said Castillo. "It needs to be a ubiquitous, 'anytime, anywhere' solution that has easily accessible data in a simple-to-use Web-based application."
But highly skilled health information technology professionals are as rare as they come, and many IT workers will need to be trained as health technology experts.
Much more here:
This is a much more detailed and useful article on the plan than usual – especially the discussion of the need for training!
Fourth we have:
Former American Health Information Community brings together public-private sector members to achieve nationwide electronic health information network
WASHINGTON, DC., USA - (HealthTech Wire / News) - The National eHealth Collaborative, formerly AHIC Successor, Inc., was officially launched today in Washington, D.C. The National eHealth Collaborative is a public-private partnership dedicated to the creation of a secure, interoperable, nationwide health information network that will advance the American public’s interest in health and improve the quality, safety, efficiency and accessibility of healthcare. The Collaborative builds on the accomplishments of the American Health Information Community (AHIC), a federal advisory committee established in 2005, and AHIC Successor, Inc., founded in 2008 to transition AHIC’s accomplishments into a new non-profit membership organization, now known as the National eHealth Collaborative (NeHC).Much more here:
This is an important step for the US and provides the top level governance needed to progress the Obama vision for Health IT.
Heaps more here:
Fifth we have:
Although the work of medical institutions should’ve been transferred into E-health information system this year, most of the hospitals haven’t joined the system yet, Postimees reports.
E-health is an information system that joins digital health record, pictures and registration. Both, doctors and patients should be able to make many necessary things through the system and it would save time and money.
The rest of the medical institutions wait for permit from Data Protection Inspectorate to take the system to use.
Love the headline – sounds a little like some place closer to home with a few bureaucratic problems!
Sixth we have:
Posted: January 13, 2009 - 5:59 am EDT
HHS and the Surgeon General's Office reintroduced what they described as an updated and improved version of a Web-based tool for individuals and families to create their own health histories while HHS also announced the launch of its Medicare personal health-record pilot for Medicare beneficiaries in Arizona and Utah.
The surgeon general first developed the family history tool, called My Family Health Portrait, in 2004 with help from Indian Health Service, according to a news release.
Individuals can choose from a list of ailments and diseases and can forward copies of the history to various family members for verification and additions. The tool allows individuals and families to graph their “family tree” that includes the diagnoses of each family member.
While the software that compiles the history is hosted at the National Cancer Institute and the history itself is created online, the final work can be downloaded to an individual’s own computer. The government says it does not retain copies of the health histories. The source code for the tool is openly available for others to adopt and customize and can be downloaded here.
This looks like a very useful initiative I must say.
More is found here:
Seventh we have:
- By Nancy Ferris
- Jan 07, 2009
A $10 billion investment in health information technology as part of a planned economic recovery package would create or retain 212,105 jobs in one year, a Washington think tank has determined.
The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) endorsed health IT spending, along with spending on broadband networks and a smart power grid, as components of a larger economic stimulus package Congress is expected to introduce soon.
ITIF President Robert Atkinson said the organization does not necessarily advocate the amounts of spending that it analyzed — $10 billion for each IT component or a total of $30 billion. He said the analysis of the job-creation effects could be extrapolated to a larger or smaller amount of spending.
“I think this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for our country” to position itself for greater competitiveness in a future global economy in which IT will be a major element, Atkinson said.
Another reason for Mr Rudd and Ms Roxon to consider e-Health seriously!
Eighth we have:
Partnership with Top Health System Leaders to Target Practice-Changing Innovations
SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--David J. Brailer, MD, PhD, Chairman of Health Evolution Partners, a manager of health care investment funds that seeks out companies that will be the leading brands of a new health care system, announced today a partnership with leaders of America's top health care systems. 21CM (21st Century Medicine) is a collaboration between Health Evolution Partners and select health care leaders that will identify innovations which change how medicine is practiced. Health Evolution Partners will work with 21CM leaders to bring these innovations into widespread use.
"It is a privilege to work to improve care delivery with individuals who are leading change every day on behalf of their patients and physicians,” said Brailer. "Our collaboration with these outstanding leaders accelerates our efforts to identify and support the companies that can change our health care system."
I must say I like the sound of this!
Ninth we have:
In stark contrast to the many businesses beating a path to Washington to beg for money, Microsoft is urging caution as the government looks to spend billions on digitizing health care.
Peter Neupert, the former Drugstore.com CEO, who now heads Microsoft's health care unit, said investment is a "necessary, but not sufficient" condition for improvement and said that spending money on computer technology may not even be the right first step.
"I'm trying to transform the discussion just a little bit," he said in an interview on Wednesday. "Don't focus on spending money on tech per se. Focus on what outcomes do we want."
Neupert, who is due to testify before a congressional committee on Thursday, likens it to when the government set out to put a man on the moon.
"When we decided to go to the moon, we didn't say let's build a great...rocket," Neupert said. "We said let's go to the moon...I feel a little bit of the conversation is lets build a great rocket and hope we get to the moon."
The hearing, to be chaired by Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) is titled "Investing in Health IT: A Stimulus for a Healthier America." Even the title suggests that the spending itself is a main priority, although background information also talks about the need to reduce medical errors and give health care providers quicker access to patient data.
Full article here:
I really think this cautionary approach is vital when talking of a project of this scale. Well done MS
Last for this week we have:
January 09, 2009 | Bernie Monegain, Editor
NEW YORK – It's possible to provide health insurance for uninsured Americans and also save healthcare costs, asserts a report released Friday by the Commonwealth Fund.
Technology would have to play a key role in streamlining administration and purchasing, the report suggests.
Authored by Sara R. Collins, Jennifer L. Nicholson and Sheila D. Rustgileading, the report analyzes health insurance bills put forth by members of the 110th Congress and President-elect Barack Obama. The authors conclude that several proposals could substantially reduce the number of uninsured Americans and would either reduce healthcare spending or add only modestly to annual healthcare expenditures.
The good news just keep coming!
Enough for the week even!