College of American Pathologists
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July 2008

Raymond D. Aller, MD
Hal Weiner

Health care IT terms defined, but will they be deployed? Health care IT terms defined, but will they be deployed?

“Nobody stormed off and nobody stomped,” and, eventually, members of two working groups charged with defining five common health care terms reached an agreement, says Jane Horowitz, chief operating officer for the Chicago-based National Alliance for Health Information Technology. The question now is whether the definitions will be widely accepted or largely ignored.

After six months of vigorous debate, NAHIT, under contract with the Department of Health and Human Services, released in May its final report defining the five health information technology terms: electronic health record, electronic medical record, personal health record, health information exchange, and regional health information organization. The report also defines the term health information organization. (See “Two groups trying to pick formal definitions that stick for health IT terms,” CAP TODAY, February 2008)

The goal is to develop an industry-wide consensus to enhance the adoption of information technology and strengthen the exchange of health information to improve patient outcomes, says Karen Bell, MD, director of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, which operates under the purview of HHS.

In the end, NAHIT determined that an EHR has nationally recognized interoperability standards, while an EMR is internal to a particular health organization. A personal health record, on the other hand, has interoperability standards but is controlled by the individual rather than the health care provider or health organization.

The terms that proved particularly difficult were electronic health record and electronic medical record, says Horowitz. “It was very difficult to pull those two words apart.” The work group assigned to define the various terms for health records decided that the distinction centered on interoperability, or the ability of disparate health organizations to share information in an individual’s health record. The importance of interoperability was stressed in public comments, Horo­witz adds, referring to several public comment periods that were part of the process.

Distinguishing between health information exchange and regional health information organization also proved challenging. The work group responsible for these terms decided that health information exchange is the process, while RHIO is a type of health information organization, or a geographical entity that provides oversight for the process, Horowitz explains. Public comments also stressed the need to define the term health information organization to distinguish between the regional entity and the general governing body. “Those are two examples of where public comment really did influence the report,” Horowitz says.

The final report detailing the definitions is available on the NAHIT Web site, NAHIT also e-mailed the report to its 1,400 stakeholders, consisting of chief executive officers, presidents, and other leaders of large health care associations, as well as to vendors and government officials.

Last month Horowitz presented the report to the American Health Information Community, a health information technology advisory panel appointed by HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt. The panel can accept the report as a matter of interest or for general use or recommend that the definitions be used within HHS and, correspondingly, throughout the federal government, including Capitol Hill, where the definitions would be incorporated in HIT-related legislation.

AHIC will vote on how to respond to the report at the panel’s next meeting, scheduled for July 29. Even if AHIC does not recommend using the definitions, Horowitz says, NAHIT will use them.

“Our hope,” she adds, “is that this would be recognized by the secretary [of HHS] and by AHIC, and if that happens, then the definitions would be used by HHS.”

GE Healthcare and UPMC found ­digital solutions company GE Healthcare and UPMC found digital solutions company

GE Healthcare and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center have formed a new company, called Omnyx, to bring to market digital solutions designed to improve the speed, efficiency of diagnosis, and interpretation of lab results.

The intent of Omnyx’s digital platform is to allow clinicians to share images virtually, interpret results using advanced algorithms, and reduce costs associated with diagnosis.

“Digitizing pathology will allow Omnyx to provide doctors with better tools for the full care continuum, enhancing their decision-making capabilities in key disease areas,” says Gene Cartwright, CEO of Omnyx.

Omnyx will operate as an independent company with financial support from GE and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

The company’s headquarters will be located in Pittsburgh, with additional offices in Piscataway, NJ, and GE Health­care facilities in other locations.

Omnyx, Circle No. 186

MedAvant Healthcare Solutions to sell lab services busines MedAvant Healthcare Solutions to sell lab services busines

MedAvant Healthcare Solutions has entered into a definitive agreement to sell its lab services business to the enterprise trust security company ETSec. The divestiture will allow MedAvant to focus exclusively on its electronic data interchange business.

The transaction includes all products and services of MedAvant’s lab services business, including Pilot, the company’s proprietary patented technology that allows remote delivery of lab results to providers, and Fleet Management System, which provides real-time status information and remote printer management and support.

ETSec, Circle No. 188
MedAvant Healthcare Solutions, Circle No. 189

StarLims Technologies launches informatics consulting business StarLims Technologies launches informatics consulting business

StarLims Technologies Ltd. has established a unit to provide strategic informatics consulting services to its customers.

StarLims formed the new unit after recently acquiring the assets of Laboratory Expertise Center, a consultancy specializing in laboratory informatics and laboratory information management systems. Randy Hice, the founder and president of Laboratory Expertise Center, will head the new unit.

“Drawing on the assets of LEC, we will help customers standardize and harmonize laboratory processes across disparate disciplines, labs, and multinational sites,” says StarLims CEO Itschak Friedman. “StarLims will also help customers channel their resources into the LIMS functions that are most critical to their business.”

StarLims, Circle No. 190

Dawning and Medical Automation Systems form business partnership Dawning and Medical Automation Systems form business partnership

Dawning Technologies and Medical Automation Systems are partnering to seamlessly integrate Dawning’s instrument interface and laboratory middleware products with MAS’s Rals-Plus point-of-care data management solutions. The project will allow users of the Rals system to connect a wider range of POC devices through their Rals-Plus system.

Dawning Technologies, Circle No. 191
Medical Automation Systems, Circle No. 192

Vendors selected for PQRI pilot program Vendors selected for PQRI pilot program

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has selected six health care information technology vendors to participate in a project that will test information technology solutions to facilitate the submission of data on Physician Quality Reporting Initiative, or PQRI, measures gathered from electronic medical records.

Selected to participate in the pilot testing program were Cerner, eClinical Works, NextGen Healthcare Information Systems, DocSite, Allscripts, and Anceta.

The PQRI provides financial incentives to health care providers who report quality data on services provided under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule. The pilot program will use the data elements needed for five PQRI measures—three related to diabetes, one to coronary artery disease, and one to heart failure.

Sunquest Information Systems has contracted to install its laboratory information system and complementary software modules for microbiology and blood bank at three hospitals affiliated with the Sutter Health network. The facilities are:

  • Memorial Hospital, Los Banos, Calif.
  • Memorial Medical Center, Modesto, Calif.
  • Sutter Tracy Community Hospital, Tracy Calif.
  • Sunquest Information Systems, Circle No. 193

Elite Lab Services, an independent clinical reference laboratory in Tyler, Tex., has contracted for Aspyra’s CyberLab laboratory information system.

Aspyra, Circle No. 194

Intermountain Healthcare, West Valley City, Utah, has signed an agreement to license Wyndgate Technologies’ SafeTrace Tx transfusion management software.

Wyndgate Technologies, Circle No. 195

EMH Regional Healthcare System, Elyria, Ohio, has announced that it will implement Siemens Healthcare’s Soarian clinical and financial information systems and physician Web portal.

Siemens Healthcare, Circle No. 196

Dr. Aller is director of automated disease surveillance and team lead for disaster preparedness Focus B, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. He can be reached at Hal Weiner is president of Weiner Consulting Services, LLC, Florence, Ore. He can be reached at

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