Friday, February 04, 2011

Weekly Overseas Health IT Links - 04 February, 2011.

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. Note also that full access to some links may require site registration or subscription payment.


Health data exchange still a challenge, Blumenthal says

By Mary Mosquera

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT is heavily involved in ongoing work with vendors and standards organizations to enable the exchange of health information, something that remains a challenge, according to Dr. David Blumenthal, the national health IT coordinator.

“We don’t believe that standards development stopped in July 2010,” when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and ONC published their final rules for meaningful use, he said. “We are actively developing new implementation specifications in collaboration with health IT vendors, standards development organizations and industry in a wiki-style process, such as has been done with the Direct Project.”


Evidence-Based Care Gaps Pervasive, Researchers Say

HealthLeaders Media Staff , January 28, 2011

Healthcare systems around the world are failing to use evidence obtained through research, according to Sharon E. Straus, MD, MSc, FRCPC, a geriatrician and director of knowledge translation at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto. The result: reduced length and quality of life, she and her colleagues write in a recent paper.

Straus was the guest editor of the January issue of the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, which featured articles on knowledge translation. Knowledge translation is the term for closing the gap between evidence and data obtained through research and healthcare practice and policy.

More simply, it addresses the gap between what we know and what we do.

Failure to use research-based evidence to inform healthcare decision making are is prevalent among patients, caregivers, managers, and policymakers across all disciplines and in developed and developing countries, she and her colleagues note in one of the articles.


ONC will simplify guides for establishing exchange standards

By Mary Mosquera

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT plans to develop a clearer set of technical descriptions for establishing the standard clinical document formats for exchanging summary information as patients move across settings of care.

ONC will also consolidate into a consistent template-based guide the advice offered by multiple organizations for implementing the standard document formats used to share data about patients’ medications and problems.

These are among the first projects that ONC has launched for its Standards & Interoperability Framework, which will tackle persistent challenges that healthcare providers face in successfully exchanging information in order to meet meaningful use requirements of electronic health records (EHRs), according to Dr. Doug Fridsma, director of ONC’s Office of Standards and Interoperability.


Stanford researchers find EHRs don't boost care quality

By Joseph Conn

Posted: January 25, 2011 - 11:15 am ET

A pair of researchers at Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif., has released results of a three-year study that indicates EHRs did little to improve the quality of care.

"There's a lot of enthusiasm and money being invested in electronic health records," senior author Dr. Randall Stafford said in a news release. "It makes sense, but on the other hand it's an unproven proposition. When the federal government decides to invest in healthcare technology because it will improve the quality of care, that's not based on evidence. That's a presumption."


5 Ways to Engage Patients in PHRs

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media , January 25, 2011

One of the "five pillars" of meaningful use is to engage patients and their families in electronic health data. But engaging patients and families with electronic health data isn't just about HITECH requirements and stimulus money - - it's also a way to foster collaborative decision-making between provider and patient, which, in turn, improves the patient experience, leads to better outcomes, and can reduce readmissions.

Americans pay more attention and become more engaged in their health and medical care when they have easy access to their health information online, according to a 2010 California HealthCare Foundation survey. For example, patients who use a personal health record say they take steps to improve their own health, know more about their healthcare, and ask their doctors questions they say they would not otherwise have asked.

But consumer adoption is still low—just 7%, according to the survey. The questions facing the healthcare industry are how best to get those numbers up and whose job it is to do so.


Your Next M.D. Might Be a PDA

Handheld sensors using specialized — and relatively cheap — biosensors may deliver an instant diagnosis of diseases, contaminated water and biological attacks.

Your doctor has a hunch that your respiratory infection and fever are caused by bacteria (and should be treated with antibiotics), but it might instead be a simple virus, which should be allowed to run its course.

Today, lab tests could take several days to complete, but in a couple of years a handheld device called an acoustic wave biosensor might sample a droplet of your saliva to reveal within seconds whether your doctor’s hunch was correct.

Just three of these biosensors, developed by the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center and Sandia National Laboratories, exist at the moment. But the invention has been licensed for development, garnering enough buzz to have made R&D Magazine’s Top 100 list for 2010.


eHealth: an answer to EU healthcare and demographic challenges

ETNO Innovation Day 2011

Brussels, 25 January 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to be here this afternoon. Telecoms operators have not had a long history in eHealth, but I want to do everything in my power to work with you to change that. You have a critical role in our society enabling so many different types of relationships and transactions. And you run the essential infrastructure – broadband, other communications networks – which can revolutionise how health is managed.

As you are well aware, demography is not on our side. More than 30% of Europeans will be 65 or over in 2025. Chronic conditions are going up just as a shortage of specialists and carers emerges. This will become a huge care gap unless technology fills it. It means our systems are guaranteed to collapse if we do not make radical changes. When I hear information like the Spanish Government's estimates that health professionals are spending between 30 and 50 per cent of their time on administrative tasks, it is even clearer that innovation cannot come soon enough!


GOP Bill Puts Meaningful Use, HITECH Act in Peril

HDM Breaking News, January 27, 2011

Legislation introduced in the U.S. House and initially sponsored by nearly three-quarters of the Republican caucus clearly appears to seek repeal of the Medicare/Medicaid electronic health record meaningful use incentive payment programs. But whether the bill also would repeal all of the HITECH Act within the economic stimulus law is unclear.

The bill also would prohibit appropriations of funds to carry out any programs under the health care reform law, and a related law designated to "fix" components of the reform law.

The bill is H.R. 408, the Spending Reduction Act of 2011, and sponsored by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) along with, at this juncture, 174 other GOP members. The House has 242 Republicans, far above the 218 votes needed for passage in the chamber. The bill seeks to cut $2.5 trillion in federal spending during the next decade. It includes an extensive list of existing government programs that would be repealed, along with other provisions to cut spending, including extending the federal employee pay freeze and limiting the number of civilian employees in the Executive Branch.


Use health IT to tailor treatments: Brookings

By Rich Daly

Posted: January 28, 2011 - 11:30 am ET

Outdated healthcare policies are keeping physicians and hospitals from providing personalized treatments tailored to individuals' genetic structures, according to a new paper (PDF) by the director of governance studies at the Washington-based Brookings Institution.

The healthcare reform law could use health IT to help overcome these barriers, Brookings scholar Darrell West writes.

Specifically, West urges the CMS to use some of the $10 billion in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act for "innovation" pilot projects to test the ability of health IT to allow personalized medicine. Additionally, the National Institutes of Health could use its substantial research budget to fund new projects aimed at reducing policy barriers to broad adoption of personalized medicine, according to West.


Hospital wants its $16M back from failed computer system

January 27, 2011

BY TERESA AUCH SCHULTZ, (219) 648-3120

The Methodist Hospitals claims in a federal lawsuit that the company it hired in 2006 to help steer it out of a financial mess instead directed it to a new computer system that wasted $16.6 million.

The computer system opened up almost half of Methodist's computers to a virus attack and messed up patient information to the point that doctors and nurses had to abandon the system altogether, according to the lawsuit filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in Hammond.

The lawsuit names as defendants FTI Cambio, a Tennessee company, and HealthNET and Medical Information Technology Inc., both based in Massachusetts.


Healthcare Software Development Exposes Security Risks

Many organizations are lax in protecting patient data during development and testing, finds Ponemon Institute study.

By Nicole Lewis, InformationWeek

Jan. 26, 2011


According to a survey of IT managers at health delivery organizations, 51% of respondents said they don't protect patient data used in software development and testing.

Released on Tuesday, the findings come at a time when the healthcare industry is transferring medical records from paper-based systems to digitized medical records, which calls for more development and testing of software in healthcare environments.

The report, "Health Data at Risk in Development: A Call for Data Masking," also revealed that lost patient information can go undetected. A full 78% of respondents said they are not confident or else are undecided as to whether their organization could even detect the theft or accidental loss of real data in development or testing.


Obama gives HIT the nod in State of the Union speech

January 26, 2011 | Diana Manos, Senior Editor

WASHINGTON – In a broad State of the Union speech Tuesday night, President Obama hailed the information age in America and the need for the federal government to support IT innovation.

"In America, innovation doesn’t just change our lives, it’s how we make a living," he said. "Our free enterprise system is what drives innovation. But because it’s not always profitable for companies to invest in basic research, throughout history our government has provided cutting-edge scientists and inventors with the support that they need. That’s what planted the seeds for the Internet. That’s what helped make possible things like computer chips and GPS."


Men, chronically ill embrace virtual medical visits

A survey finds 78% of all respondents open to the idea of remote monitoring of their health care.

Men and chronically ill patients are the most likely to support remote monitoring and virtual visits as part of their health care. But a large majority of the public is at least willing to give it a try, according to a new survey.

Euro RSCG Tonic, the New York-based consumer health and wellness arm of the marketing and communications firm Euro RSCG, conducted an Internet survey of 1,000 adults in mid-November 2010, and found that nearly half are receptive to virtual visits to save time and money, and 78% would be willing to give it a shot. Twenty-three percent said they would never consider a remote visit with a doctor.


ONC adds $80M to extension centers, HIEs and workforce programs

By Mary Mosquera

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has awarded a total of $80 million more for its regional extension center, state health information exchange and community college workforce programs to boost their support of providers becoming meaningful users of electronic health records.

More funds will strengthen the momentum of these programs, which ONC launched last year, as physicians and hospitals begin to register for the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Records (EHR) Incentive Programs.

For extension centers (RECs), which offer local technical assistance to individual physicians and small practices, ONC has provided $32 million in additional funds. The money will accelerate outreach to providers to encourage their registration in the EHR incentive program and to direct more staff in the field as providers adopt health IT in their practices, said Dr. David Blumenthal, the national health IT coordinator, in a Jan. 27 letter announcing the program awards.


HIMSS: Obama Advisors On Wrong Track

HDM Breaking News, January 26, 2011

Inaccurate patient identification methods could sink the vision of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology for establishment of a "universal exchange language" to accelerate health information exchange, according to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.

In a comment letter, Chicago-based HIMSS expresses concern that the council's report issued in December "continually states that there is no role for universal patient identifiers, but does not offer a detailed approach as to how the healthcare community will achieve error-free patient identification across healthcare organizations."


CIOs need to consider new course to promote EMR adoption

January 27, 2011 — 2:22pm ET | By Janice Simmons - Contributing Editor

CIOs will need to think and act far differently than in past years to successfully drive the use of and implement EMRs, according to an Accenture survey of CIOs who already have achieved advanced use of EMRs within their hospitals and health systems.

Less than 1 percent of health systems have achieved "mature use" of EMRs in 2009, Accenture estimated. However, at the same time, nearly half of all U.S. hospitals could have trouble meeting federal EMR meaningful use requirements by 2015, according to Accenture's new report, "Secrets of Success on the EMR Journey to Meaningful Use: Leading Hospital CIOs Reveal Key Lessons Learned."

"From strategic planning, staffing and adoption, health systems are integrating technology at a previously unprecedented level, but many health systems are lagging and at risk of facing penalties," said Mark Knickrehm, global managing director, Accenture Health Practice, in a statement.

One of the survey's key findings is that most major health systems are underestimating the time and cost associated with implementing advanced EMR functions.


Software glitch shuts down Swedish medical-records system

A four-hour shutdown of Swedish Medical Center's centralized electronic medical-records system Monday morning was caused by a glitch in another company's software.

Seattle Times health reporter

A four-hour shutdown of Swedish Medical Center's centralized electronic medical-records system Monday morning was caused by a glitch in another company's software, said Swedish chief information officer Janice Newell.

The system, made by Epic Systems, a Wisconsin-based electronic medical-records vendor, turned itself off because it noticed an error in the add-on software, Newell said, and Swedish was forced to go to its highest level of backup operation. That allowed medical providers to see patient records but not to add or change information, such as medication orders.


EHRs, CPOE featured in top 10 healthcare predictions for 2011

January 25, 2011 | Bernie Monegain, Editor

FRAMINGHAM, MA – New reiumbursement models driven by healthcare reform tops the list of the top 10 healthcare provider predictions from IDC Health Insight analysts Judy Hanover and Lynn Dunbrack.

IDC Health Insights' top 10 healthcare provider predictions identify major trends that will impact the U.S. provider IT landscape in 2011.


E-Health Intelligence Report

January 25, 2011


  • Standards and eHealth
  • ITU - January 2011
  • Electronic health (eHealth) systems continue to hold great promise for improving global access to healthcare services and health informatics, particularly in the developing world
  • Mobile e-Health Solutions for Developing Countries
  • ITU - 2010
  • The report highlights the role of mobile telecommunication technology in health care by offering at a distance the medical consultation and administration of patient treatment.
  • Creative Economy Report 2010: A Feasible Development Option
  • UNCTAD - December 2010
  • Chapter 7: Technology, connectivity and the creative economy. Improved broadband connectivity can help to achieve education and health targets set out in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).


Baby boomers’ demand for wireless and mHealth products to hit $12 billion by 2020

Aging, tech-savvy baby boomers who want to retain control over their own lives will lead to a near-tripling of their adoption of wireless and mobile health (mHealth) products by 2020, according to a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Enterprise Forum of the Northwest.


Beth Israel's In-House EHR Certified

HDM Breaking News, January 24, 2011

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston is the first hospital to have its in-house developed electronic health records system certified as meeting meaningful use under a new program from the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology.


eHealth Initiative Reports & Projects

eHealth Initiative and Thomson Reuters Report: Governance Models for HIE NEW

Top Eleven Trends for 2011: Report from eHealth Initiative and GE Healthcare

Planning for Adoption: The Early Direction of Regional Extension Centers

The State of Health Information Exchange in 2010: Connecting the Nation to Achieve Meaningful Use (2010)

National Progress Report on eHealth (2010)


OCR Patient Data Breach List Hits Milestone

Dom Nicastro, for HealthLeaders Media , January 24, 2011

The number of entities reporting breaches of unsecured protected health information (PHI) affecting 500 or more individuals has hit 225. The web site was born out of HITECH and has been live since February 2010.

OCR says the breach reports date back to September 2009. Hence, it's been about 17 months since OCR has accepted the reports. It amounts to about 13 reports filed per month, or 0.44 per day.


Health IT Takes Time and Money

By John Pulley

Adopting advanced electronic medical records takes longer and costs more than most hospitals imagine, warn hospital IT executives who have already trod that path.

IT operating expenses spike by 80 percent during the transition to an EMR system, chief information officers of 15 major U.S. hospital systems told researchers from Accenture, a management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. Looking ahead, finding IT personnel who are qualified to handle the installation and implementation of the sophisticated technology will be tough, the CIOs predict -- and hospitals will have to ante up plenty of cash to attract top IT talent.


Not-so-rosy numbers

Last week, Dr. David Blumenthal announced the results of two surveys funded by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology on hospital and physician participation in the federal electronic health-record incentive programs.

But Dr. B left out a few numbers in going over the results of the survey of office-based physicians conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics. On request, the ONC and NCHS released those missing numbers.

Docs were asked: "Are there plans to apply for Medicare or Medicaid incentive payments for meaningful use of health IT?" Blumenthal reported on their answers in part, noting that 41.1% indicated "yes" and 14% said "no." However, a 44.9% plurality, which he did not mention, chose "uncertain whether we will apply."


Providers struggle to fill clinical IT positions

January 24, 2011 — 3:30pm ET | By Dan Bowman

St. Luke's Health System in Sioux City, Iowa may recently have been able to fill its need for a clinical informatics specialist, but that doesn't mean other hospitals in similar positions nationwide will have the same luck, according to a new Hay Group study.

The global consulting firm found that 47 percent of healthcare organizations have struggled when trying to fill, or retain talent for, newly created clinical informatics positions. Ultimately, it comes down to supply and demand, with such talent now in high demand but low supply thanks to the recent emphasis on health IT, highlighted by the Healthcare Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, which is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.


Health IT still has many detractors in healthcare

January 24, 2011 — 1:02pm ET | By Ken Terry - Contributing Editor

Despite the government-led explosion of activity in the health IT field, physician and hospital leaders remain deeply divided about the value of information technology in patient care.

The latest reminder of this came in a Thomson Reuters survey of nearly 3,000 physicians. Asked whether electronic health records would help patients, 39 percent of the doctors said they would; 37 percent said there would be no effect; and 24 percent said EHRs would have a negative impact on care.

In a broader survey of physicians and healthcare executives, 80 percent of the respondents said they thought the widespread adoption of health IT would improve the quality of care and organizational efficiency. But Jim Cramer, CIO of Scottsdale (Ariz.) Healthcare and an advisor on the report, said that many of his peers have doubts about the use of health IT in complex medical situations.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Conference Offers Look at Health IT Landscape

"Welcome to the era of meaningful use." That's how National Coordinator for Health IT David Blumenthal greeted attendees at the eHealth Initiative annual conference last week.

He noted that as of Jan. 3, it became possible for health care providers to register for meaningful use incentive payments and that Kentucky and Oklahoma already have doled out Medicaid incentive payments under the program.

Blumenthal highlighted all of the progress that's been made in the health IT sphere, from the establishment of 62 regional extension centers to the launch of 84 community college health IT training programs to an electronic health record certification process. However, he noted that there's still much work to be done.

Blumenthal said, "The age of meaningful use is not the end of our vision or the end of our journey, it is the beginning. We still have an enormous amount of work to do and an enormous amount of education to do."




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