Here are a few I have come across this week.
Note: Each link is followed by a title and a paragraph or two. For the full article click on the link above title of the article.
December 28, 2009 | Molly Merrill, Associate Editor
OAKLAND, CA – Information technology is key to improving medication-related errors and improving medication adherence among older adults, according to a recent report.
Produced by the Center for Technology and Aging in Oakland, Calif., the report says "widespread use" of technology aimed at this population could save thousands of lives and billions of dollars.
30 Dec 2009
Nobody will ever be able to say that the NHS went un-warned about the tough financial times ahead.
One of the big themes of 2009 was the likely impact of the credit crunch on the public finances and what that might mean for health service spending after 2011.
Information Management Online, December 29, 2009
Many hospitals have had the same laboratory information system for a decade or more. So a growing number are now weighing whether to acquire a new system from a niche vendor or from the company that provides their core clinical system. Either way, they're searching for a system that offers new functions that meet their evolving needs.
"Lab systems have been around a long time, and you may think you know about all the functionality available. But in reality, there's a lot of innovation going on out there," says Chad A. Eckes, CIO at Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Schaumburg, Ill. For example, one reason the organization is using a lab system from niche vendor Sunquest Information Systems, Tucson, Ariz., is because it's well-designed to support point-of-care testing, complete with bar coding of lab test specimens.
29 December 2009
The data interchange in the Czech healthcare environment is mostly based on national standards. This paper describes a utilization of international standards and nomenclatures for building a pilot semantic interoperability platform (SIP) that would serve to exchange information among electronic health record systems (EHR-Ss) in Czech healthcare. The work was performed by the national research project of the "Information Society" program.
Posted: December 29, 2009 - 12:15 pm ET
Part one of a two-part series
Hands down, the biggest story of 2009 in the health information technology world was the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The act, also known as the stimulus law, is a veritable Christmas tree of healthcare IT baubles, but the bright star at the top of the tree is the estimated $34 billion allocated to subsidies for the purchase of electronic health-record systems by hospitals and office-based physicians. The money is to be spent through 2015 under the Medicare and Medicaid programs run by the CMS.
Stimulus law provisions have affected dramatically not only the health IT market, but also the very language of health IT.
Posted: December 29, 2009 - 12:15 pm ET
Commercial electronic health records are falling short in some areas to improve care coordination between patients and clinicians, according to a study by the Center for Studying Health System Change published online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
The article, "Are electronic medical records helpful for care coordination? Experiences of physician practices," was based on a total of 60 interviews—52 physicians and other staff at 26 small and medium-size physician practices with commercial ambulatory EHRs in place for at least two years; chief medical officers at four EHR vendors; and four national thought leaders active in health information technology implementation.
Carrie Vaughan, for HealthLeaders Media, December 29, 2009
There are still huge barriers to the meaningful use of health IT relating to security, health information exchange, decision support, and the secondary use of data collected in electronic health records. The government doesn't know how to surmount these obstacles, which is why Department of Health and Human Services announced it's providing $60 million in grants funded through the HITECH Act for Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Projects.
"This program will fund projects in areas of research where breakthrough advances are needed to address barriers in health IT adoption. Addressing these breakthrough areas will require the most advanced thinking the nation can bring to bear," David Blumenthal, MD, national coordinator for health information technology wrote in the HIT Buzz blog.
A recent New Yorker article by Atul Gawande skillfully draws an analogy between today’s health care crisis and the food crisis our country faced a century ago. Whereas the heath care system currently consumes about 17% of the U.S. economy, Americans spent more than 40% of their income on food at the turn of the last century. Like our current health care system, there existed a huge chasm between what science suggested could be achieved in improved quality and productivity and how farmers dispersed throughout the country were actually practicing.
Maintaining the patient chart was a struggle for Springfield Clinic.
By Mark Kuhn
Keeping track of patient charts was once a struggle for the 300-provider Springfield Clinic. The 20-location practice headquartered in Springfield, Ill., required 160 medical record employees to manage its 888,000 paper records. Charts were often not readily available at the right offices at the right time and physicians transported charts to remote clinics in the trunks of their cars.
Collecting meaningful analytics data for reporting was nearly impossible.
"We realized it was time to introduce new technology into our practice," said James Hewitt, CIO at Springfield Clinic. "We knew that paper medical charts were no longer efficient for our growing practice. We needed to consolidate multiple paper patient charts into a unified digital record that would be easy to use and easily accessible anywhere, any time."
28 Dec 2009
As 2009 went on there was mounting concern about how the credit crunch would affect NHS spending and the National Programme for IT in the NHS. Sarah Bruce asked politicians and policy makers to predict what 2010 will bring – and to set out their wish lists for the coming year.
- Mike O’Brien, health minister with responsibility for NHS IT
- Andrew Lansley, shadow health secretary
- Stephen O’Brien, shadow health spokesman
- Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat shadow health secretary
- Frances Blunden, senior policy manager, NHS Confederation
- Murray Bywater, managing director of Silicon Bridge Research
- Jonathan Edwards, Gartner's European healthcare research director
- Mik Horswell, spokesperson for UKCHIP
By Howard J. Anderson
Health Data Management Magazine, 01/01/2010
Why do so many hospitals find the task of medication reconciliation so difficult? In part, it's because so many people are involved in tracking the medications a patient takes before, during and after a hospital stay. "There are so many folks in this marriage that it's difficult to manage," says Chris Snyder, D.O., chief medical information officer at Peninsula Regional Medical Center, Salisbury, Md.
Regardless of the difficulties involved, physicians and others say that keeping an accurate, up-to-date record of all over-the counter and prescription medications a patient takes plays an essential role in providing the best possible care. Even the seemingly simple step of sending patients home from the hospital with an easy-to-read, thorough list of prescriptions and other medications to continue at home has a big impact, Snyder argues. "We're going to improve the quality of care because patients will be going home from the worst week of their life with an accurate list of medications that can be used by the next level of care to reduce readmissions," he says.
12/23/2009 8:35:02 AM
By Jeff Hansel
Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN
Dr. John Noseworthy, Mayo Clinic's national CEO, has fired two employees who violated privacy policies.
"I authorized the termination of employment of a Mayo physician and a member of our allied health staff, each for inappropriately accessing and looking through a patient's confidential record," Noseworthy tells Mayo employees in a newsletter. He said it was one of the most difficult decisions he will ever make. He doesn't name the individuals.
- DECEMBER 22, 2009
Earlier this year, Mike Dionne signed up for Polka, a smart-phone application that lets him use his iPhone to keep tabs on the health of his elderly father, who lives 80 miles away. It tracks his dad's numerous doctors' appointments, his insulin and medication schedule and other health information.
Then in August, a new doctor examining Mr. Dionne's father detected an aneurysm, something the son was able to confirm from afar. Over the phone, Mr. Dionne consulted Polka, the application he and his siblings maintain on behalf of their father, and was able to tell the doctor when the aneurysm was first diagnosed, by which doctor and the last recorded size.
December 21, 2009
By Sandra Holtzman and Todd Frech
For The Record
Vol. 21 No. 24 P. 8
The pressure is on for all physicians to begin planning a move from paper charts to an EHR within the next five years in order to qualify for funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Failure to implement an EHR in this time frame will lead to reduced Medicare payments.
Fortunately, there are many ways to accomplish the transition. Some practices may partner with local hospitals or health systems while others may implement their own systems. There are no easy answers and each option has multiple details, benefits, and drawbacks.
By Mary Mosquera
Thursday, December 17, 2009
The Health & Human Services Department (HHS) plans to build a universal database of claims records from all healthcare payor organizations in an effort to strengthen its analysis of healthcare trends and treatment outcomes.
In a notice outlining the project, HHS said the database – which could be expanded to include other types of health records – would broaden the data field against which to conduct comparative effectiveness research.
Tool in Cystic Fibrosis Fight: A Registry
HARTFORD — In the 1950s, children with cystic fibrosis usually died before they reached kindergarten age, their airways choked with mucus by a genetic disorder that disrupts their ability to clear infections from their lungs.
Today, many people with the disorder are living well into their 30s and beyond, and children like Caroline Castonguay, a preteen patient at the Central Connecticut Cystic Fibrosis Center here, can do all the things their classmates do — ski, ice-skate, play soccer, get top grades in school.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Over the past few weeks, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has released key updates about available funding to advance health IT adoption, including changes to an existing funding program and the announcement of a new initiative.
First, the Health IT Regional Extension Center Program cycles have been consolidated and available funding has been increased. Second, ONC unveiled the health IT "Beacon Communities" program, which aims to strengthen community-based health IT infrastructures and health information exchange capabilities. Both programs were established under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
By Mary Mosquera
Monday, December 21, 2009
The National Institute of Standards and Technology is seeking firms to analyze whether certain health IT standards are suitable for federal health information priorities, including meaningful use, the nationwide health information network and population health and public health,
The project will test and analyze existing standards that support health information exchange, security and quality measurement, according to a Dec. 18th notice outlining the project.
Stimulus program aims to hasten development of e-health records systems
December 22, 2009 (Computerworld) As hospitals and physician practices wrestle with the technically daunting and expensive task of rolling out electronic medical records systems quickly enough to gain government reimbursement monies, the financing arms of IT giants such as IBM and GE Healthcare hope to profit by loaning money to jump start such projects.
As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, about $19 billion in incentive money has been earmarked to help health care operations roll out electronic health records (EHR) systems. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act calls for providing incentive payments of up to $64,000 to each health care operation that deploys an electronic health records system and can prove they're using it effectively by January 2011.
21 Dec 2009
Five NHS strategic health authorities, covering half of England, are planning to begin roll-outs of the Summary Care Record in the New Year.
The latest five SHAs are being backed by the Department of Health which has made money available for regionally-based Public Information Programmes (PIPs), on the proviso that the money must be used by the end of March.
22 Dec 2009
NHS informatics in England will move from a “replace all” to “connect all” philosophy, the Department of Health has announced.
Informatics planning guidance for 2010-11 says an updated strategic direction for informatics will be developed over the coming months to reflect the change in emphasis.
December 19, 2009 — 3:15am ET | By Neil Versel
With 2010 dawning, we wonder what the future holds for the likes of the much-hyped Google Health. The decade that's drawing to a close offers plenty of cautionary tales.
DrKoop.com entered the new millennium on a high, with a peak market value of $1.3 billion not long after its IPO in July 1999. Problem was, the company's business model was flawed, and the dot-com market fell apart starting in March 2000. DrKoop.com's December 2001 liquidation netted $186,000.
This is part of the following.
HDM Breaking News, December 17, 2009
The International Health Terminology Standards Development Organisation, has placed on the open source market the source code for tools to develop, maintain and facilitate the use of SNOMED CT clinical terminology.
The source code for the IHTSDO Workbench now is available for free under an Apache 2.0 open source license from the Apache Software Foundation, Forest Hill, Md. Apache 2.0 is a backbone and licensing vehicle to distribute the source code. The foundation provides support to open source software projects. IHTSDO also will make a number of seats on a collaborative, Web-based environment used to host the Workbench available free of charge to open source developers.
December 18, 2009 | Bernie Monegain, Editor
NEW YORK – Washington can encourage physicians to buy electronic medical record systems, but it is the vendors and hospitals that affiliate with physicians that will ultimately determine if they go electronic, according to a new report from healthcare market research firm Kalorama Information.
The report, EMR 2010 (Market Analysis, ARRA Incentives, Key Players, and Important Trends), represents the second time this year that Kalorama has surveyed EMR markets and is a reforecast of its predictions from earlier in the year, made before the U.S. government announced HITECH Act incentives for physicians who use EMR.
By Mary Mosquera
Friday, December 18, 2009
The Office of the National Coordinator IT today announced plans to make available $60 million for advanced research in areas where “breakthroughs” are needed to overcome difficult hurdles to the widespread use of health information technology.
Dr. David Blumenthal, the national health IT coordinator, unveiled the Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Projects (SHARP) in his blog, noting that, “as we continue this unprecedented effort towards meaningful use and seamless, secure information exchange, we also must acknowledge that there remains a gap between the promise of health IT and the realization of its full benefits.”
The projects will “bring together some of the best and brightest minds in the nation to find breakthrough solutions and innovations that will eliminate barriers to adoption and, over time, increase the meaningful use of health IT to improve the health and care of all Americans,” he added.