High Hopes for New Jersey EMR

The Philadelphia Business Journal is reporting that New Jersey will attempt a state wide EMR: ‘…An electronic health records system would improve the quality of health care and make health information available when and where it is needed,” Department of Banking and Insurance Acting Commissioner Donald Bryan said. “Diagnostic tools would suggest the best medical practices. Medical errors would be minimized. Payers and specialists would be able to avoid unnecessary tests and the system would lower administrative costs…’ They have high hopes indeed for this system. Depending upon the implementation, the reality could be different. Thanks to Medical Informatics Insider for this link.

Teen Takes 1st Prize For Mammography Using Linux

Yahoo is reporting on a Canadian teenager who has taken 1st prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for a Linux-using prototype ultrasound system that can be used for Mammography: ‘…Gervais collected $4,128 in prize money for his prototype medical ultrasound system, which uses
Linux software to model a three-dimensional, high-resolution image from existing two-dimensional screening equipment…’
Thanks to Tim Cook for this link.

iHealth Record: A Monopoly in the Making?

There is now a health record available on the Internet for ‘every American at no cost’ called iHealth Record which is supposedly endorsed by many major medical societies. A tour is available here. According to the FAQ: ‘..The iHealthRecord does not sell patient data nor use advertising. The service is funded by physician and hospital groups who license the service, through transaction fees paid when physicians do Online Consultation, through integration fees paid for by software companies and by customized software fees paid for by health plans and medical manufacturers…’ Editor’s note: The keywords are ‘who license the service’. Under what license terms? This looks like a proprietary play to me with the potential to create a monopoly.

National Provider Identification Opens May 23rd

CMS is announcing the availability of a single National Provider Identification (NPI) instead of multiple ones for each health plan. This is an attempt to make electronic healthcare transactions smoother. Application for NPI’s will begin May 23rd, 2005. How to get one is detailed in the letter above and is expected to be complete by 2007. There is a web application to apply here but the letter says not to try it until May 23rd. Thanks to Thurman Pedigo for this link. Editor’s note: I did just apply so the link is operational, but I do not recommend anyone doing impulsive news editor type things like that.

ELINCS EHR Lab Standard Announced

ELINCS is a project to standardize lab reporting for the purpose of inclusion into an EHR. According to the project website: ‘…The EHR-Lab Interoperability and Connectivity Standards (ELINCS) project will develop a national standard for the delivery of real-time laboratory results from a lab�s information system to an electronic health record. Typically this process can be a fractured one in which lab results are sent to the ordering doctor�s office via fax or mail. The results must be filed in the patient�s paper chart or manually entered into the physician�s EHR…’ Public comments are being accepted May 13 through May 26 with more details at the above link. There’s also a press release. Thanks to Nancy Anthracite for these links.

Plone used for UNC medical school portal

Newsforge has a story about the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and affiliated hospitals use of Plone content management software. Free and Open Source Web content management software is a great success story for FOSS and UNC appears to be making good use of it: ‘ At the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and affiliated hospitals, intranet and Web site users felt like they were “visiting a foreign land” each time they landed on a different department, says UNC Healthcare IT staff director Jim Walsh. Each department had it own look and feel, which made a hodge-podge for people going from site to site to perform searches and look up information. Today, however, after a revamp that included migration to the Plone open source content management system, site visitors have sense of a unified organization, and UNC staff feel at home with the new technology…’ Linux Medical News does not use Plone yet, but may in the future since it is based upon the same Zope software.

On Entrepreneurial Seizures in Health Care IT

Michael Gerber in his book the E-Myth subtitled “Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It.” describes a phenomena that he calls an ‘entrepreneurial seizure’. This occurs when people working at a regular job suddenly drop everything and go into business for themselves, doing something they like, but frequently ending up working far harder than they did before and ultimately loathing (and failing at) the thing they used to enjoy.

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US HIT Panel Report Released

Information technology is a pivotal part of transforming our health care system, Secretary Leavitt said. We are at a critical juncture. Working in close collaboration, the federal government and private sector can drive changes that will lead to fewer medical errors, lower costs, less hassle and better care. The report can be found “here”:http://www.hhs.gov/healthit/HITFinalReport.pdf

My quick read doesn’t reveal any earth-shattering news. The gist of the report is around these three key imperatives:

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Blog: “Doers” don’t get Open Source

Brad Barclay’s blog has a report about the Canadian EHealth Conference 2005. He concludes that the ‘doers’ (implementers) of EHR’s do not understand FOSS: ‘There are billions of dollars available in Canada to implement IT solutions for health care, but it could all be wasted because the “doers” don’t understand the concept of Open Source…in setting up their information technology, had they considered Open Source as a solution?

The answers were long winded, but boiled down to this: the panellists didn’t feel Open Source was a viable alternative at this time.

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