From the Director's Chair
Michael Leavitt, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), has named Robert Kolodner, M.D., Interim National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. He follows David Brailer as coordinator.
Kolodner, a psychiatrist by training who earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard College and medical degree from Yale University School of Medicine, comes to HHS via the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). There, Kolodner served as chief health informatics officer and was involved in the oversight and development of My HealtheVet (MHV) and VistA - the VHA's electronic health record system.
AMIA Picks Jaffe
Charles Jaffe, M.D., Ph.D., senior global strategist for the Digital Health Group at Intel Corporation, has been selected as Global Trial Bank (GTB) Chair by the Bethesda, Md.-based American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) Board of Directors.
Jaffe succeeds AMIA President and CEO Don Detmer, who served as chair of the initiative since its inception in 2005.Detmer will move to the position of vice chair.
Previous to his position with Intel Corporation, Jaffe was vice president of life sciences at SAIC and the director of medical informatics at AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals. He completed his medical training at Johns Hopkins and Duke Universities, and was a post-doctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health and at Georgetown University. Formerly, he was president of InforMed, an informatics consultancy to pharma.
Tides Change at AtlantiCare
After more than 20 years with Egg Harbor Township, N.J.'s AtlantiCare, CEO George Lynn will retire on March 31.
AtlantiCare's board of trustees has appointed Lynn president emeritus, and he will continue to work on special projects. When Lynn steps down, he will be succeeded by David Tilton. Presently, Tilton is CEO, Atlanti- Care Regional Medical Center (ARMC) and COO, AtlantiCare. Lynn joined the organization in 1986 as CEO of ARMC with divisions in Atlantic City and Galloway Township, N.J. Tilton joined ARMC in 1987 as administrator of the hospital's Mainland campus.
Hallman Heads Policy
Linda Hallman has been appointed vice president of policy at the Chicago-based National Alliance for Health Information Technology.
She will spearhead a program to extend the alliance's educational outreach efforts to policymakers and non-government organizations.
Hallman, who previously served as executive director of the American Medical Women's Association and of its foundation, will focus on building the alliance's role as educator versus advocate on healthcare information technology issues. She also will develop more strategic alliances and seek grants to support the alliance's work.
Hospitals Snub Disabled
Ninety-nine percent of America's Best Hospitals as ranked by US News & World Report are not compliant with HTML/XHTML Web standards for the disabled, according to a new report by Atlanta-based Web content management provider, Hannon Hill Corporation.
The survey finds hospitals are not compliant with the recommendations by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) for assistive technology - from electronic readers for the visually impaired to keyboard shortcuts for those with motor challenges - to help disabled users navigate the Web.
The W3C is an international consortium that develops Web standards and guidelines to in an effort to provide long-term Web growth. The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) was developed by the W3C in an effort to improve the accessibility of the World Wide Web for everyone. The WAI has developed a number of guidelines that help to make Web sites more accessible, particularly for those with physical disabilities.
Are M.D.s E-mailing?
According to a new survey by the Center for Studying Health System Change, little has actually changed over the past four years in terms for physician-patient e-mail. Despite an increasing demand from patients, only about one-in-four physicians (24 percent) reported that e-mail was used in their practice to communicate clinical issues with patients in 2004-05, up from one-in-five physicians in 2000-01.
This news comes after a letter by the American Health Information Community (AHIC) regarding a federal commission which endorsed secure online physician-patient communication, particularly when managing patients with chronic conditions, and a Harris Interactive Health Poll, which reported that 80 percent of Americans would like to communicate with their doctors via e-mail.
IOM Says Medicare Should Adopt P4P
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has released a report to Congress that calls for a pay-forperformance (P4P) system and details how the government should pay for it.
The IOM recommends that Congress cut the base payments that Medicare makes to hospitals, nursing homes, insurers and doctors. It should then use the savings to create pools that reward providers when they do work that has been proven effective in improving a patient's health.
Although focused on Medicare, the proposed changes have significant implications for the private sector due to the penetration of the federal insurance program. Spending for Medicare exceeds $320 billion a year. The program serves nearly 43 million people.
Attacks on personal computers are on the rise. After evaluating attacks, vulnerability malicious code and other security trends, Cupertino, Calif.-based Symantec has released the 10th edition of its Internet Security Threat Report, which shows changes in attack type and target for the first half of 2006.
According to Symantec, an overwhelming majority of attacks (86 percent) are targeted at individual home-based users.
“In healthcare, where a lot of systems are being shifted to allow users to access records, hospital schedules, lab tests, etc., from homebased machines, this creates a real issue,” says Zulfikar Ramzan, senior principal researcher, Symantec security response.
A second growing threat is the increased focus by attackers on vulnerabilities in Web browsers, which offers access to computers regardless of operating systems. “Attackers are going after the money,” Ramzan adds.