Raymond D. Aller, MD,
Hal Weiner and
Michael Weilert, MD
you receive lots of junk e-mail messages from people you don’t
know? Welcome to the club.
After one week
away from my office, I returned to more than 100 junk e-mail messages—and
my computer is installed with the latest spam-filtering software.
Unsolicited commercial e-mail, known as “spam,” is annoying
and time-consuming, and, worse yet, it can cost you money in lost
productivity and bogus marketing offers.
Trade Commission receives approximately 130,000 forwarded messages
daily from consumers and businesses complaining about spam. A “spammer”
typically buys a list of e-mail addresses from a list broker, who
compiles it by “harvesting” addresses from the Internet.
The marketer then uses special software that can send hundreds of
thousands or more e-mail messages to the addresses at the click
of a mouse.
The amount of
junk e-mail has become so overwhelming that unless action is taken
to reduce the amount of spam, “e-mail is at a risk of being
into the ground,” says Eileen Harrington, director of marketing
practices for the FTC.
In March 2003,
reports the Associated Press, 45 percent of all e-mail sent was
spam. Twenty-nine states, however, have adopted some form of anti-spam
legislation and others are working on it. Virginia, in particular,
has taken a tough stance, giving law enforcement the power to seize
assets and setting penalties of up to five years in prison.
At a recent
anti-spam forum in Washington, DC, participants called for strong
federal laws to help protect consumers against spam. They also warned
about companies that are starting to send spam to the new breed
of cell phones that can accept text and graphics.
Bills are being created at the federal level to address this issue, but
how effective these laws will be remains to be seen. Let’s encourage our
senators and representatives to take a tough stance on this insidious problem.
Federal initiative embraces health information standards
of Health and Human Services, Defense, and Veterans Affairs recently
introduced the first set of uniform standards for exchanging electronic
clinical health information across the federal government.
are working with numerous other federal agencies, including the
National Institute of Science and Technology and the Social Security
Administration, to standardize clinical health information under
the Consolidated Health Informatics initiative. “VA has long
advocated national standards for computerized patient records and
has joined with HHS, DoD, and others in the aggressive, collaborative
pursuit of the adoption of national standards by all health care
providers, payers, and regulators,” said Anthony J. Principi,
secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, in announcing the
The CHI will
establish a portfolio of existing clinical vocabularies and messaging
standards, allowing federal agencies to build interoperable federal
health data systems. This will permit all federal agencies to “speak
the same language” and to share information without translation
or data re-entry. These federal agencies could then pursue projects
that focus on sharing electronic medical records and electronic
The CHI standards
will work in conjunction with the Health Insurance Portability and
Accountability Act transaction records and code sets and HIPAA security
and privacy provisions.
As part of the
government’s systems development efforts under the CHI initiative,
all federal agencies will:
Health Level 7 (HL7) messaging standards.
- Adopt Digital
Imaging Communications in Medicine (DICOM) standards, which allow
images and associated diagnostic information to be retrieved and
transferred from various manufacturers’ devices and medical
- Adopt Logical
Observation Identifiers Names and Codes (LOINC) to standardize
the electronic exchange of clinical laboratory results.
The CHI initiative is the health care component of President Bush’s e-government
plan, which was developed under the president’s management agenda to streamline
transactions between the private sector and federal government and save taxpayers’
money. —Hal Weiner and Kimberly Carey
CCA to release updated version of CyberLab
Applications has announced plans to release
CyberLab version 7.0, the browser-based version of its CyberLab
laboratory information system.
7.0 offers a thin-client environment and real-time input and validation,
including automatic flagging and call prompting of critical result
values. It can be used in an Internet or intranet environment.
CCA plans to
make CyberLab version 7.0 available to the company’s user
base as a general product release during the third quarter of 2003.
has introduced the NEC MobilePro 900 handheld PC.
Known as a “clamshell”
PC, the MobilePro 900 weighs less than two pounds and offers a nearly
full-size touch-type keyboard.
PC also offers integrated synchronization capabilities for data
uploading and e-mail, instant-on functionality, and an industrial
design with no moving parts.
900 features a Microsoft Windows H/PC 2000 operating system, Intel
PXA255 processor with Intel X-Scale technology, and a type I/II
PC and type I/II CF card slot.
recently signed a seven-year agreement to provide its Horizon Clinicals
information technology products and services to Hospital Sisters
Health System, a 13-hospital network in Illinois and Wisconsin.
Blood Centers, which operates more than 450 community blood centers
in 46 states, has signed a four-year agreement with Information
Data Management for the Surround laboratory information system.
is director of bioterrorism preparedness and response for Los Angeles
County Public Health Acute Communicable Diseases. He can be reached
Mr. Weiner is president of Weiner Consulting Services, LLC, Florence,
Ore. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Weilert is director of laboratories, Community Hospitals of Central
California, Fresno. He can be reached at email@example.com.