AIM: High Rates of Adverse Drug Events in a Highly Computerized Hospital

Wired news has a mass-media article on an Archives of Internal Medicine report about high rates of adverse drug effects in a hospital that is highly computerized. From the Wired article: ‘…At the Salt Lake City hospital, for instance, health workers ordered the wrong drugs, ordered the wrong doses and failed to monitor patients properly. Ninety-one percent of the 483 mishaps were moderately harmful, and 9 percent were serious, according to the researchers…If you think your own neighborhood hospital might do a better job than the hospital in the study, think again. Sure, the Salt Lake City facility is part of the frequently maligned VA system. But VA hospitals are widely lauded for their advanced medical technology and commitment to reducing medical errors.

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Newsforge: Windows Rapidly Approaching Usability

Newsforge has an article that puts the shoe on the other foot regarding the old saw that Linux ‘is good, but not quite ready for the desktop’ by making spot-on remarks about Windows deficiencies that make it not quite ready for the desktop. My favorite is his discussion about that ‘precious’ product key: ‘…During my attempts at Windows XP installation, the combination of the LiquidVideo monitor and the HP Compaq d220 microtower’s onboard video produced constant, totally annoying screen blinking that made it almost impossible to do things like type in the long, so-precious “Product Key.” Note that this “Key” is not a simple, English-language password, but a 20-character string of apparently random letters and numbers. It took me several tries to type the “Product Key” correctly without being able to see it on screen because of the constant blinking. I doubt that most users would put up with this problem. I suspect that most would simply return their copy of Windows XP to the store where they bought it and go back to familiar, user-friendly Linux…’

Making Inroads Into the Business of Healthcare

This article at SearchEnterpriseLinux describes a successful use of Free/Open Source in healthcare: ‘Athenahealth Inc.’s sales management system,, and Web-based customer portal, athenanet, couldn’t talk to each other, and that communication gap often put customers on hold…The open source foundation of SugarCRM opened the door for customization and was a key reason for choosing it. With a closed system, Gatewood figures he would have had to build an intermediate system and set up a data interchange between the applications…’ This is also a good example of how consultants independent from the parent FOSS project benefit from knowledge they built on FOSS.

MedEcon: What About the VA’s EHR

There is an article in Medical Economics about the possibilities of privatization of the Veterans Administration VistA software. It has some laughably erroneous quotes in it which are fortunately partly rebutted in the article such as: ‘…Mark R. Anderson, a consultant with the AC Group in Montgomery, TX, is skeptical that the VistA-Office EHR will be as inexpensive as CMS claims. The main problem, he says, is that it uses the MUMPS programming language, rather than Windows. Even though a Windows “front end” can be grafted onto the MUMPS system, making the screens look like Windows screens, a small business computer server can’t run the software, he says. “Any PC can access a MUMPS operating system. But who’s going to maintain that server with the MUMPS operating database? You’ve got to buy a big mainframe server that costs $50,000 to $100,000 to run the system.” VistA will also need special interfaces to outside applications that run on Windows, including practice management and laboratory systems, he maintains…’ Thanks to Kevin Toppenberg for this link.

Nearly $1 million Awarded to WorldVistA for Vendor Training

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that WorldVistA has been named ‘…as a vendor support organization to provide vendor training on the VistA-Office EHR….’ Aside from injecting much-needed funds into the Free and Open Source VistA software effort what does it all mean? Linux Medical News interviewed WorldVistA director Joseph Dal Molin about the announcement. The complete interview is below. The facts at a glance are: 1) Approximately $900,000 awarded for training VistA vendors. 2) The training will be free. 3) Training dates should begin in late August or early September and will be complete by January 2006. 4) Two training tracks will be available, one for those with no VistA experience and one for those with some experience. 5) Training locations will be announced but will likely be held once each in the East, Central and Western United States.

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AAFP/ASTM’s Continuity of Care Record

The American Academy of Family Practitioners (AAFP and the ASTM standards organization is reporting the: ‘ASTM Continuity of Care Record (CCR) is being developed in response to the need to organize and make transportable a set of basic information about a patient’s health care that is accessible to clinicians and patients. It is intended to foster and improve continuity of care, reduce medical errors, and ensure a minimum standard of secure health information transportability. Adoption of the CCR by the medical community and IT vendors will be a first step in achieving interoperability of medical records (one of CHiT’s guiding principles)…’ Thanks to Dan Johnson for this link.

Automotive Industry to Fix Healthcare IT Problems

Automotive industry leaders propose borrowing banking concepts to create an ATM-style healthcare information network connecting all participants in the care cycle. Thank Goodness they noticed. From the “AIAG 2005 Agenda”:
*Wednesday, August 31, 2005 ( 3:15PM – 4:15PM)
Automotive industry leaders and the federal government seek to improve the national healthcare picture and its related costs. The automotive industry alone insures millions of employees, retirees and family members and can drive the market to a real-time information ecosystem; borrowing banking concepts to create an ATM-style healthcare information network connecting all participants in the care cycle to Electronic Health Records. We will discuss the latest trends including the EHR networks taking shape and the steps that we can take to improve the entire healthcare picture.*

Breaking News: WorldVista Official Vendor Support for VistA-Office-EHR

According to an announcement on Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) website:
‘…CMS, through the Iowa Foundation for Medical Care as its contractor to support the VistA-Office EHR project, has established WorldVistA (link to as a vendor support organization to provide vendor training on VistA-Office EHR. WorldVistA�s mission is to improve health by making medical software better and more affordable. WorldVistA, incorporated in 2002 as a nonprofit corporation will provide training sessions to vendors beginning in September 2005, shortly after version 1.0 is released to the public. WorldVistA will also convene conferences and establish a website where training information will be available…’ Thanks to Nancy Anthracite for the link. More information will follow as it occurs.

Press Release: ClearHealth Demo Available

Editor’s Note: Download available here, screenshots here, more technical information here. PHOENIX, A.Z. — May 16, 2005 — Uversa today announced the release of ClearHealth 1.0 Release Candidate 1 at the TEPR 2005 conference.
ClearHealth now brings to the medical market the first open source
package to include the big five features. Covering the five major area
of practice operations including scheduling, billing, EMR, HIPAA
Security and Medical Accounts Receivable it is suitable for running
practices from end to end.

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