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December 25, 2007
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AMA Planning HIT Donation Guidance

The American Medical Association (AMA) has passed new policy aimed at helping physicians who accept or donate health information technology (HIT) from or to hospitals or health systems.

As part of its new policy, the AMA will:

  • develop contracting guidelines for physicians considering accepting or donating electronic medical record and electronic health records systems from or to hospitals and health systems;

  • educate physicians on the potential consequences associated with these partnerships;

  • and encourage ease of use and interoperability of information systems used by hospitals and healthcare facilities.

The policy was adopted at the AMA's semi-annual policy making meeting.

Hospital and College Create New IT Job

Asante Health System and Rogue Community College, both in Medford, Ore., have launched a healthcare informatics assistant (IA) training program.

IAs will have combined medical and IT knowledge, and can manage medical data for clinicians while providing technical support and computer system training, says the hospital.

Asante and RCC jointly developed the program with a $433,000 grant from the Princeton, N.J.-based Robert Wood Johnson Foundation “Jobs to Careers” initiative. The investment in the IA training totaled $1 million. The pay range for the position at Asante is from $12.39-$17.25/hour, rising to a maximum rate of $19/hour.

Interoperable Imaging Wisdom on the Way

DICOM (Rosslyn, Va.) and HL7 (Ann Arbor, Mich.) will bring to ballot two documents that describe how to create interoperable imaging reports using implementation guides from the Health Level Seven (HL7) Clinical Document Architecture (CDA).

The vote will take place in the first quarter of 2008, says Pittsburgh-based M*Modal, a member of the project.

The first of the implementation guides describes how to transform DICOM Structured Reports in CDA; the second describes how to create a compatible CDA for diagnostic imaging directly through dictation/transcription or structured entry. The “CDA for Common Document Types” (CDA4CDT) project will donate technical, editorial and logistic support for the CDA implementation guide.

The CDA4CDT project was initiated by M*Modal, AHIMA and AHDI. Spheris, MedQuist, InterFix, Precyse Solutions, Webmedx, MDinTouch, 3M and ImageTek are project benefactors and Acusis is a project sponsor. Also supporting the effort through volunteer participation are GE Healthcare, Kaiser Permanente, Mayo Clinical, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the Military Health System. Alschuler Associates LLC, is assuming primary responsibility for IG and collateral development.

Experts Favor Public Reporting of Quality and Price Info

Healthcare providers, insurance companies, and drug makers should make information about quality and prices available to the public, according to the latest New York-based Commonwealth Fund/Modern Healthcare Health Care Opinion Leaders Survey.

The survey of leaders in healthcare and health policy focused on transparency in healthcare quality and pricing. Three-quarters of respondents believe increased transparency of quality and price information is essential to improving the performance of the U.S. healthcare system.

In addition to public reporting on provider quality and prices, 88 percent of respondents support reporting of drug prices charged to major purchasers and 82 percent support the reporting of medical-loss ratios. A similar share of respondents thinks that more widespread reporting of information could stimulate providers to improve their performance through quality improvement activities.

eHealth Initiative Launches Drug Safety Program

The Washington-based eHealth Initiative Foundation (eHI) has formed a research program designed to improve drug safety for patients.

The eHI Connecting Communities for Drug Safety Collaboration is a public-private sector effort designed to test new approaches and develop replicable tools for assessing both the risks and the benefits of new drug treatments through the use of health information technology.

Results of the collaborative effort will be placed in the public domain. The project will test and evaluate the value and utility of blinded, anonymized, electronic clinical health information to detect and evaluate drug safety signals.

The collaboration involves New York-based Pfizer Inc, Johnson and Johnson (New Brunswick, N.J.), Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly, Boston-based Partners HealthCare System and the Regenstrief Institute (Indianapolis).

EHRVA Releases CCD Quick Start Guide

The Chicago-based HIMSS Electronic Health Record Vendors Association (EHRVA) has released its Quick Start Guide for the ASTM/HL7 Continuity of Care Document (CCD) standard.

The association developed the guide, which is available at no charge on the EHRVA Web site, as a resource to help hasten interoperability in healthcare. To educate interested users of the guide, HIMSS and the EHRVA will provide instructional materials both online and through teleconferences.

Announced in February 2007, the Continuity of Care Document represents collaboration between HL7 and ASTM International, two standards development organizations.

Sharp, Mercy Take Baldrige Honors

Sharp HealthCare in San Diego and Mercy Health System, Janesville, Wis., have won the 2007 Malcolm Baldrige Quality Award, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

President George Bush and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez announced the awards, the nation's highest Presidential honor for organizational performance excellence.

Now in its 20th year, the Baldrige Award was established by Congress in 1987 to enhance the competitiveness and performance of U.S. businesses. The 2007 Baldrige Award recipients were selected from a field of 84 applicants.

FCC Names Telehealth Cash Recipients

The Washington, D.C.-based Federal Communications Commission has dedicated over $417 million for the construction of 69 statewide or regional broadband telehealth networks in 42 states and three U.S. territories under the Rural Health Care Pilot Program (RHCPP).

The healthcare facilities participating in the Pilot Program include: hospitals, clinics, universities and research centers, behavioral health sites, correctional facility clinics, and community health centers. Participants are required to implement, “where feasible,” health information technology standards as set forth by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Participants are eligible for universal service funding to support up to 85 percent of the costs associated with the design, engineering and construction of their broadband healthcare networks. These networks may connect to the public Internet or to one of the nation's dedicated Internet backbones: Internet2 or National LambdaRail, the FCC stated.

In order to ensure quality and efficiency, all projects must be competitively bid, and are subject to quarterly reviews, and stringent oversight and audits.

KLAS: Ambulatory PACS Market Scores Decline

Chicago-based KLAS says the results of its 2007 Ambulatory PACS study show that though ambulatory PACS is one of the highest of all market segments KLAS measures, scores in this market are declining.

This year's average PACS vendor score was down 1.6 points from last year, dropping from 85.5 to 83.9. Additionally, only three vendors saw an improvement in individual scores this year. Functionality and ease of use was the number one determining factor KLAS found of those surveyed. Cost was second. In spite of the decline, ambulatory PACS is still a strong segment. The current average ambulatory PACS vendor score of 83.9 is significantly above the average KLAS HIT vendor score of 80.4.

In addition to the ambulatory PACS report, KLAS also released two additional studies: PACS in community hospitals and clinical market share.

Leavitt: Higher Payments Should be Tied to HIT

Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt has released a statement regarding Medicare physician payment legislation and health information technology:

“The benefits of utilizing health information technology for keeping electronic health records and other purposes are clear. This technology will produce a higher quality of care, while reducing medical costs and errors, which kill more Americans each year than highway accidents, breast cancer or AIDS.

“Congressional leaders are working on legislation to address Medicare's physician payment system, staving off a reduction in reimbursement rates that is set to take effect in January and is required by law.

“In my view, any new bill should require physicians to implement health information technology that meets department standards in order to be eligible for higher payments from Medicare.

“Such a requirement would accelerate adoption of this technology considerably, and help to drive improvements in health care quality as well as reductions in medical costs and errors. I'm confident that many members of Congress are of a like mind on this issue and I will actively work with them in the near future.”


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