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Back Beat

April 17, 2007
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Survey Says: Communication is Key to Health

The results of a survey designed to assess pharmaceutical manufacturers' and physicians' views on patient-physician communications have been announced by Woburn, Mass.-based InfoMedics.

The survey — conducted by PharmaVOICE — found:

  • The biggest benefits of improved patient-physician communications involving a specific brand were perceived to be improved treatment outcomes (87.5 percent) and increased medication adherence (73.6 percent).

  • The majority of respondents (74.6 percent) saw medication noncompliance as an ongoing significant issue to be addressed by the pharmaceutical industry in 2007.

  • 67.7 percent rated their intent to address patient compliance issues in 2007 as extremely or very important.

PWC: US Quality Healthcare Movement Stalls

Jim Henry

A recent study conducted by New York-based PricewaterhouseCoopers found that the quality of the US healthcare system is not what it should be, and is not likely to change within the next three to five years.

The report concludes that after two decades of efforts to improve the quality of healthcare, momentum has stalled at a critical juncture. The analysis finds healthcare organizations are confused by multiple quality mandates and frustrated by mounting requirements for quality performance reporting in the absence of government standards or industry consensus.

"We are losing the equivalent of a jumbo jet full of patients every day due to preventable medical errors," says Jim Henry, global industry leader for the healthcare practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers. "Health organizations are still working in silos at cross purposes, and they are as far apart on quality today as they were five years ago."

Automating Prescription Drug Prior Authorization

Nancy Stalker

San Francisco, Calif.-based Blue Shield of California has been awarded the Chief Technology Officer Award for implementing an automated prescription drug prior authorization software system, by FileNet, an IBM company. According to Blue Shield, the software system called AutoAuthSM, automates the drug prior-authorization process, making it easier for consumers to obtain prescription medications.

AutoAuthSM is used to streamline the process for coverage decisions involving drugs that require prior authorization. FileNet claims the system delivers quicker results by improving drug prior-authorization requests.

"Blue Shield is committed to improving the prior authorization process," said Nancy Stalker, vice president of pharmacy services.

Cancer Care Ontario and Infoway Team Up

Cancer Care Ontario and Montreal-based Canada Health Infoway are expanding the use of tools that aim to reduce medication errors, improve efficiency in the delivery of cancer care and facilitate communication within care provider teams.

The cancer-specific computerized physician order entry (CPOE) system, operated by Cancer Care Ontario claims to enable physicians to directly order chemotherapy and related drugs electronically and minimize potential and harmful medical errors such as handwriting interpretation and dose calculations.

The system also provides doctors with alerts regarding appropriate dosage and alternative medications. It can alert clinicians to duplicate therapies, potentially dangerous drug interactions and drug allergies for specific patients, while still adhering to best practice guidelines from a provincial level.

Joint Commission Looks at Nursing Measures

The Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based Joint Commission will begin a comprehensive test of nursing-focused performance measures to determine whether they can be used nationally to identify opportunities to improve the quality of patient care provided by nurses.

The project is being funded by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The integrated set of measures for hospitals address patient outcomes, nursing-centered interventions and system factors related to quality and safety. Testing during the next two years will examine whether the measures are reliable and feasible for use in hospitals, as well as the impact of the measures, when used together, on the safety and quality of care. The measures are endorsed by the National Quality Forum (NQF).

Practicing Medical Procedures on Dummies

Mary Cantrell

Arkansas Children's Hospital recently opened a new pediatric simulation education center that will allow students, physicians and other medical personnel to polish their skills in near reality scenarios before putting them to use with actual patients.

Inside the Arkansas Children's Hospital Pediatric Understanding and Learning through Simulation Education Center, or PULSE Center, medical personnel will sharpen their skills by performing procedures on computerized, life-like mannequins that feature compressors that allow them to breathe, and tubes that can simulate blood flow and administration of IVs. The physicians and students will also interact with lay people who are trained to portray patients and their families, allowing trainees to practice how to communicate when they actually are in emergency or exam rooms.

"Our hope is that by starting the PULSE Center, people will learn how to work in teams, how to better handle parents and how to manage in situations with upset children," said Mary Cantrell, director of the PULSE Center. "This will make health care much safer for children here in Arkansas."

CAQH Simplifies e-Patient Data Exchange

Mobile, Ala.-based CAQH recently announced that North Shore-Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Health System has joined the Committee on Operating Rules Information Exchange (CORE), an industry initiative to simplify electronic patient administrative data exchange.

North Shore-LIJ plans to collaborate with nearly 100 healthcare industry stakeholders on CORE. The CAQH initiative will aim to give providers access to eligibility and benefits information before or at the time of service using the electronic system of their choice for any patient or health plan.

According to CAQH, CORE participants are building consensus on a set of operating rules that will enhance interoperability between providers and payers, streamline eligibility and benefits data transactions, and reduce the amount of time and resources providers spend on administrative functions.

Medical Infomatics 20/20

Douglas Goldstein

Jones and Bartlett Publishers announced the release of "Medical Informatics 20/20: Quality and Electronic Health Records through Collaboration, Open Solutions, and Innovation." The book addresses critical problems in the U.S. health services system, in which it claims outdated and non-existent health information technology systems lead to high costs, poor quality, non-patient centric care, medical errors, and insufficient disaster preparedness.

The authors Douglas Goldstein, Peter Groen, Suniti Ponkshe, and Marc Wine, provide readers with resources and case studies that present a roadmap for realizing a quality healthcare system enabled by multi-disciplinary teams and new processes supported by electronic health records and interoperable health information technology.

AHIMA Gets State Level HIE Contract

The Foundation of Research and Education (FORE) of the American Health Information Management Association has been awarded a contract by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology to continue its work on a State Level Health Information Exchange Consensus project.

The contract builds on and extends FORE's work in developing emerging best practices and practical tools for state level health information exchange initiatives. The project will be guided by a steering committee with the help of the eHealth Initiative and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. The contract was signed on Feb. 27 and went into effect March 1.

Additions to the Alliance Board

The National Alliance for Health Information Technology has elected five new members to its board of directors.

Joining the Alliance board, as of Feb. 1 are:

  • Ida Androwich, Ph.D., R.N., BC, FAAN, professor and program director, Health Systems Management, Member of American Nurses Association's NIDSEC and AONE Representative to TIGER

  • Jeffrey Hillebrand, chief operating officer, Evanston Northwestern Healthcare

  • Mary Beth Lang, president/vice president, Diagnostix, LLC/Amerinet Enterprise Solutions

  • Deward Watts, vice president, managing partner, Global Health Solutions, CSC Consulting Inc.


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