As any elementary school teacher will attest, human beings learn best when information is presented in small, digestible chunks and when they grasp that knowing the information will improve their lives.
Operating from this premise, the Global Health Informatics Partnership, a new wholly owned subsidiary of AMIA, formerly named the American Medical Informatics Association, has set about advancing biomedical and health informatics with building blocks and other strategies.
Last fall, the nonprofit group, referred to as GHIP, introduced prototypes of health informatics building blocks, or HIBBs, at a meeting in Cape Town, South Africa. GHIP sought health information technology professionals’ opinions on HIBBs applied to such information as a full-length lecture on data ethics from Oregon Health Sciences University, in Portland.
The idea behind HIBBs, explains Robert Mayes, executive director of GHIP, is to create a library of small, digestible chunks of information about any informatics topic at any competency level and to reuse that information. “It’s an idea that has been around in the open educational resource space for a while,” he adds.
GHIP, which began operating last summer, also plans to leverage the expertise and experience of informaticists worldwide to develop solutions to problems as well as best practices for HIT-related projects that have relevance globally. AMIA recognized the need to develop an infrastructure that would encourage those in the informatics field to collaborate on projects, Mayes explains. For example, he continues, some chronic health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, are not unique to one part of the world, so it makes sense to use the information generated from managing the disease in one geographic area to help other areas.
GHIP too will help organizations and countries that are engaged in HIT-related projects to focus on what Mayes calls “knowledge transfer”—that is, ensuring that end users of a technology, such as a doctor using an electronic health record, understand the full capabilities of the technology.
“The success or failure of IT-based projects is oftentimes due to sociocultural aspects, not to the technical aspects,” he says. “So, if I don’t understand why I should bother using this thing that has been put on my desk, the project’s going to fail.” On the flipside, he continues, having users take ownership of a project and understand what it means to their job makes the probability of success “a heck of a lot more likely.”
GHIP has been building a website, www.ghip.net, which provides a virtual space where HIT professionals can work on specific projects, such as creating a master patient index. The index could be used to track patients in a particular area who have the same disease, allowing medical personnel to better evaluate treatment, Mayes says.
“By talking to other people who are working on that problem, you may well come up with a new approach or find that somebody else has already figured out a way [to fix the problem] that fits your local context very well,” he says.
Recently, Mayes visited Chile and Uruguay to do just that. Educators in both countries have developed strong training programs at the community college level, where health care workers and other medical technology end users can learn basic informatics and information management, something that is beginning to happen in the United States as well, he says.
“We’ll be working with them to take a look at what they’ve done and how they can make that available more broadly through partnerships and collaborations that are set up through GHIP,” Mayes says.
Because one of its goals is to foster collaboration globally, GHIP is not a membership organization—any HIT professional can use its re-sources. The idea, Mayes says, is to form partnerships with like-minded organizations. Included among GHIP’s seven partners are the Geneva, Switzerland-based International Medical Informatics Association as well as OER Africa, an initiative underway near Nairobi, Kenya, to drive the development and use of open educational resources.
“There really is a lot of interest in the field for greater global collaboration,” he says. “There’s an opportunity here that any organization can explore without having to be part of a club.”
PathCentral has acquired eTeleNext, a developer of anatomic pathology systems for the national reference laboratory marketplace.
PathCentral, which was formed in 2009, is using the eTeleNext architecture for its Web-based enterprise software platform targeting community pathologists. “ETeleNext remains committed to serving its existing client base but will no longer be marketing its signature product, AP Anywhere, outside of the community pathology market,” Dan Angress, president and chief operating officer of PathCentral, told CAP TODAY.
ETeleNext will operate under the PathCentral name.
Atlas Medical recently introduced its Ion connectivity service and Atlas Mobile computerized physician order-entry solution.
Ion is a service for connecting electronic medical record systems to hospital and commercial labs instantly. It eliminates the need for custom point-to-point interfaces.
“Labs and EMR vendors are joining the Ion network to clear a growing backlog of interface requests from physicians eager to gain ready access to lab data to satisfy meaningful use,” Atlas reports.
Atlas Mobile is an add-on module to the Atlas LabWorks order-entry and result-reporting solution that allows physicians to place orders and access patient results remotely via an Apple iPad.
Atlas Mobile enables physicians to create electronic orders, convey special instructions, and perform medical necessity verification during the patient’s office visit. It also gives physicians secure access to complete patient reports with interpretive notes and abnormal flags.
The Atlas Mobile module is available for download from the Apple iTunes Apps Store. Download requires an active Atlas LabWorks user account.
The research firm Klas Enterprises, LLC, has released its 2010 Best in Klas Awards, which are based on customer satisfaction with health information technology companies, products, and consultants.
Among the IT products with the highest scores in their respective categories were:
- Siemens Healthcare’s Novius Lab, in the laboratory information systems category.
- MedPlus’ ChartMaxx, in the document management and imaging category.
- Nuance Communications’ eScription, in the speech-recognition category.
- McKesson’s Paragon, in the community hospital information systems category.
The companies with the highest ratings for overall customer satisfaction were Epic Systems, Care-Fusion, and 3M Health, respectively.
Klas collected customer satisfaction data from thousands of hospitals and physician practices to determine the winners of the award.
To purchase a full report of the results, go to www.klasresearch.com/reports.
An investment consortium led by Huntsman Gay Global Capital has purchased the majority shares of Sunquest Information Systems from Vista Equity Partners.
Vista reports that Sunquest’s market focus and growth strategy will not change under the new partnership.
Cambridge Consultants has introduced a smart device that allows continuous, real-time medical data collection and transmission via cellular networks, potentially reducing hospital visits.
The product, called Minder, captures wireless medical data, such as blood pressure readings taken at home, and transmits it to a patient’s online health record and caregiver. It also acts as a pocket-sized digital patient checklist and can receive real-time checklist updates.
The device can be customized for specific target populations.
Medicom Technologies is offering a multimedia-enabled interactive medical identification wristband that presents a person’s complete medical history to emergency treatment personnel.
The computerized wristband provides audio-visual capabilities that can store, display, edit, voice, and transfer a patient’s complete medical history, including information on chronic illnesses and advance directives.
The wristband’s graphic 1.5-inch LCD screen with digital display presents, in a scrolling fashion, comprehensive health data automatically pre-parsed into 14 intuitive files that may be individually selected, scrolled in either direction, and paused for easy viewing. Information can be uploaded from the wristband to an ambulance laptop or hospital computer via a standard USB 2.0 cable connection.
The wristband, which is available in nine languages, also offers a variety of nonhealth-care–related features, including the ability to display photos and play music, movies, and voice recordings.
Dr. Aller is director of informatics in the Department of Pathology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hal Weiner is president of Weiner Consulting Services, LLC, Florence, Ore. He can be reached at email@example.com.