Monday, November 12, 2007

No-Cost EHR Interoperability Testing Software

A no-cost, open-source software tool for testing the interoperability of electronic health record systems will be available to vendors March 21, 2008, Government Health IT reports.The tool, which is being jointly developed by the Certification Commission for Healthcare IT and Mitre, will allow vendors to ensure that their EHR systems can exchange information on patients treated by more than one provider.

The tool, called LAIKA, also will initially support testing of the Health Level 7/ASTM Continuity of Care Document, a core set of patient information including: Name; Address; Health problems; and Medications (Ferris, Government Health IT, 11/9).Mark Leavitt, chair of CCHIT, said, "This project is an important first step in our journey toward testing and certifying the interoperability of health IT systems" (Merrill, Healthcare IT News, 11/9).

CCHIT and Mitre have undertaken this open-source project without government support, Government Health IT reports.Developers will demonstrate the tool at the Feb. 12, 2008, CCHIT meeting (Government Health IT, 11/9).

Source: iHealthbeat

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Microsoft Acquires Health Information Technology From Global Care Solutions

Microsoft today announced it would acquire software and intellectual property from Global Care Solutions, a health-information systems developer based in Bangkok, Thailand. The financials of the deal were not divulged. acquires care from global health information microsoft solutions technology

The privately held company's information technology will partner with Microsoft to provide hospitals around the world with resources to more efficiently manage scheduling, medical records, and billing in a multitude of languages.

Global Care Solutions originally developed its system with Bumrungrad, an internationally acclaimed hospital out of Bangkok, in mind. The facility treats more than 1.2 million patients from 190 countries annually. The GCS system aids the staff in managing clinical workflow so efficiently that it boasts an average wait time of 17 minutes.

With the technology giant virtually in the news every day, shareholders haven't responded to the acquisition in an overly dramatic way. As of 12:15 p.m., MSFT is at $34.80, down 0.63%, yet notably trading more than 17% above its 80-day and 160-day moving averages.

Source : IB times

Docs need EHRs, but shouldn't count on ROI

The “tipping point” for placing electronic health records into physician practices has already been reached. But the probability of seeing any return-on-investment after implementation remains years away.

William Bria, MD, chief medical information officer at Shriners Hospitals for Children, voiced these opinions at the HIMSS Virtual Conference & Expo on Tuesday. Bria headlined an education session at the event entitled “How to Introduce the EMR in your Office with Minimal Bother. ”

“Implementing an EHR system is not a minimal fuss for a practice, it’s a major fuss,” said Bria, who also serves as chairman of the board of the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems. “If done poorly it can be a disruptive mess.”Bria emphasized the complexity of turning a paper-based practice into a digitized healthcare space, but he stressed that major gains in patient care could be achieved, so long as workflow was optimized.

“The workflow aspects of healthcare are similar in complexity to those in aerospace,” he noted. “When you talk about automating a medical practice, that complexity has to be given some respect.”Bria cited research by the Indianapolis-based Regenstrief Institute that found physicians using EHRs only spend about 0.43 additional minutes with each patient, when duplicate and administrative tasks are taken into account.

And those physicians surveyed firmly believed that information technology improved patient care, Bria added. Determining the ROI associated with EHR use is difficult for physician practices, Bria told conference attendees. The “real” cost of implementation isn’t just the investment in computer hardware, software, and vendor support services.

“The hidden cost of an EHR is the amount of time you’re going to have to spend changing your practice as a result of implementing,” Bria said. “You will be inefficient initially as a result of the change. That’s why an EHR implementation is a long-term process.”It’s important for physicians to ask tough questions of EHR vendors, Bria affirmed. He said that the EHR certification process run by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology could make purchasing decisions easier.

Nevertheless, physician practices need to more clearly explain their day-to-day workflows to vendors. “Physicians need to tell a vendor’s sales staff exactly how their practice works and what they need from EHR software,” said Bria. “You need to ask a vendor specific questions.”Some of those questions might include: Does an EHR automate suggestions or orders for common health screenings (such as vaccinations and cancer screenings)? Will it allow data input by “less-expensive” employees in the physician practice (as opposed to physician-only input)? Will the EHR provide high quality actionable data for all of the providers? No ambulatory EHR product is a good fit for every practice, Bria said, and no single system provides perfect clinical decision support.

For this reason, Bria cautioned that physicians should not assume an “automatic diffusion of improved quality of care” after buying an EHR. “I’ve been doing applied medical informatics for 30 years, and the match between the technology and what we do as physicians is not yet where we need to be,” said Bria. “But that doesn’t mean you should wait [to implement healthcare IT]. You just need to get involved and make sure a product is configured to your practice’s needs.”

Source: Healthcare IT News

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Device Makers Push Bill To Reimburse for Telemedicine

Device Makers Push Bill To Reimburse for Telemedicine

The Advanced Medical Technology Association is pushing legislation pending in the Senate that would require Medicare to reimburse physicians for remotely monitoring patients with chronic diseases, which the group argues can enhance care and reduce hospitalizations, Government Health IT reports.

AdvaMed is trying to get the bill, with some of its coverage scaled back to reduce costs, included in the Medicare bill being drafted in the Senate Finance Committee.To support its position, AdvaMed released a report, called "Telehomecare and Remote Monitoring: An Outcomes Review," which details the Veterans Health Administration's advanced use of telemedicine.

The report notes that some studies on the benefits of remote patient monitoring do not rigorously compare patient outcomes of those with home monitoring against those without. The report also acknowledges that some costs will increase as a result of remote monitoring.

However, the report concludes that evidence shows remote monitoring "may be one of the only economically viable ways to manage an aging population, the prevalence of chronic disease and the growing constraints on health care spending" (Ferris, Government Health IT, 10/31).