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cap today

August 2003

Raymond D. Aller, MD,
Hal Weiner and
Michael Weilert, MD

Privacy issues still pressing on Capitol Hill

Just as health care organizations are getting a handle on HIPAA, a new set of privacy regulations is making headway on Capitol Hill.

The proposed federal Notification of Risk to Personal Data Act, introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) June 26, would require businesses, including health care institutions, and government agencies to notify customers whose personal data may have been accessed by an unauthorized party, such as a hacker. The act defines personal data as an individual’s Social Security, driver’s license, state identification, bank account, or credit card number. The bill exempts encrypted data from the disclosure requirement.

The proposed legislation is modeled in part on a recently enacted California law, the Database Security Breach Notification Act. The law, which took effect July 1, requires all companies doing business in the state to report security breaches of personal data to their California customers, even if the companies are not based in the state. Reece Hirsch, a partner with the law firm Sonnenschein Nath and Rosenthal, which has nine offices nationwide, including two in California, told CAP TODAY the state law will affect company-wide security practices. "If you do have a significant security breach and you’re putting people on notice in California," he says, "it’s a bad public relations strategy to notify the California residents of the breach without notifying anyone else."

Hirsch suggests that health care and other companies doing business in California amend their security incident response plans to provide for customer notification. Companies should notify legal counsel as soon as a possible security breach emerges. Hirsch also urges companies to evaluate their network-monitoring capabilities and contracts with third parties that involve the transfer of personal data.

GEMedical Systems to acquire Triple G

GEMedical Systems Information Technologies and Triple G Systems Group have signed a definitive transaction agreement whereby GE will acquire Triple G.

Triple G’s laboratory information systems are licensed by more than 110 health care facilities, representing more than 450 clinical laboratories in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Asia Pacific.

Combining Triple G’s laboratory information technologies with GE’s advanced clinical information systems and experience in implementing information technology will provide clinicians with a comprehensive end-to-end clinical information system spanning all care areas, says Don Wilson, president and CEOof GEMedical Systems Information Technologies.

The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2003. GEMedical Systems Information
Technologies, Circle No. 191
Triple G Systems Group, Circle No. 190

CLMA: the hip, the new, the inside view

CAPTODAY contributing editor Hal Weiner attended the 2003 Clinical Laboratory Management Association/American Society for Clinical Pathology conference and exhibition. Following is a smattering of what Weiner learned and observed at the 27th annual conference, held in Salt Lake City in June.

Among the more than 160 educational sessions at the CLMA/ ASCP meeting, ranging from regulatory compliance to personal development, was a panel discussion titled "Key trends and developments in the lab industry." Discussing the future of this marketplace were top executives from the in vitro diagnostics and reference laboratory arenas.

Randy Daniel, president of North American customer management for Dade Behring, predicted that labor shortages will continue, with a further reduction of more than 25 percent during the next 10 years. He forecasted that workstation consolidation, streamlined specimen management coupled with workflow optimization, will be needed to handle the paradigm shift that will take place in laboratory testing.

Echoing Daniel’s assertions was Herb Steward, vice president of commercial operations for BioMérieux. Within the next five years, said Steward, health care costs in the United States are predicted to rise about 16 percent of gross domestic product. By 2007, 40 percent of the U.S. population will be approaching age 65, he added, which will cause an even larger strain on aggregate health care costs.

Some of this strain, however, will be offset by new laboratory diagnostic technologies, such as molecular diagnosis, which will shift the onus from managing illness to preventing disease, said Steward. There will be an explosion of readily available molecular tests and new protocols for patient management, concurred Ronald Weis, MD, senior vice president and director of business development for ARUP Laboratories.

Reinforcing these speakers’ claims, companies such as Gen-Probe, Athena Diagnostics, and Digene displayed new testing kits and services for molecular diagnostics on the CLMA/ASCP exhibit floor.

Also stationed on the exhibit floor were more than 100 other vendors touting a broad range of laboratory products.

Perhaps the "coolest" new technology on the exhibit floor was the Coolscope from Nikon (www.coolscope.com), available for $19,995. Coolscope is a fully integrated microscopy system contained in a compact box. It integrates microscope and digital camera functionality in a simple-to-use system.

Coolscope uses a monitor and a mouse in lieu of a traditional microscope eyepiece. The user inserts a slide into the front of the unit and the Coolscope creates a micro and macro image of the slide. The user can select any area of interest, zoom in and out, and store the desired image in the unit’s memory or on a network disk drive. The unit can be accessed and manipulated remotely, which potentially opens up its use to telepathology.

With the Coolscope, slides can be scanned in less than a minute, which makes it a useful device for capturing images for placement on pathology reports. Nikon plans to develop a bar-code reader and automated front-end loader for the unit.

The youngest company to exhibit at the meeting may have been ASP4healthcare (www.asp4healthcare.com), which announced that it will provide products and services to the health care community via an application service provider arrangement. The company’s first offering is Order Online, which allows hospital transfusion services to order blood products from their suppliers via the Internet. The company is also marketing a face-recognition security system from Acsys Biometrics for use in positive patient identification and access control.

Among the most prevalent products at the CLMA/ASCP meeting were Internet-based physician order entry and result return systems. Among the vendors displaying POERR products were Rhodes Group (www.rhodesgroup.com), Skeva Technologies (www.skeva.com), CareEvolve (www.careevolve.com), Telcor (www.telcorinc.com), Medicity (www.medicity.com), Park City Solutions (www.parkcitysolutions.com), and Sysmex (www.sysmex.com).

Several established laboratory information system vendors also showcased their latest products in Salt Lake City. CCA (www.ccainc.com) introduced CyberLab version 7, its new browser-based LIS written in Java; Siemens (www.siemensmedical.com) presented its browser-based MedSeries4 health care information system; and Sysware (www.syswareinc.com) displayed its Apara pathology system, which offers full image management and touch-screen cytology entry.

Also of interest at the CLMA/ ASCP meeting were new products from Leica Microsystems (www.leica-microsystems.com). With the new Leica IP-C and IP-S printers, users can place bar codes on cassettes and slide labels using chemical-resistant inks. The IP-S slide printer can hold up to 450 slides and can print standard and two-dimensional bar codes as well as text. The IP-C cassette printer can hold up to six magazines with 80 cassettes each. Interfaces to LISs are available.-Hal Weiner

Misys to broaden portfolio through alliance, acquisition

Misys Healthcare Systems recently entered a marketing alliance with Wyndgate Technologies and signed an agreement to acquire Per-Se Technologies’ CPR/CPOEproduct.

Under the terms of its agreement with Wyndgate, a division of Global Med Technologies, Misys will offer the Wyndgate SafeTrace integrated blood donor management information system as a complement to its Misys Laboratory information system suite. Terms of the marketing agreement were not disclosed.

"With this alliance and the SafeTrace system, Misys can provide a robust, scalable donor management system that meets the requirements of our clients who have large-scale donor programs," says Andrew Lawson, chief operating officer for Misys.

In a separate announcement, Misys reported that it has signed an asset purchase agreement to acquire Per-Se Technologies’ Patient1 computerized patient record/computerized physician order entry product line.

Under the terms of the agreement and pending final transaction closing, Misys will develop, market, and support the products, which it will rename Misys CPRand Misys CPOE, and it will assume the support agreements for current Patient1 clients. Misys will also assume ownership of Decision1, Per-Se’s clinical data warehousing and advanced reporting tool companion to Patient1. Misys Healthcare Systems, Circle No. 192
Wyndgate Technologies, Circle No. 193
Per-Se Technologies, Circle No. 194

4Medica partners with Persys Technology

4Medica has entered a strategic agreement with Persys Technology that will allow physician offices to order lab tests using 4Medica’s Web-based software applications without having to re-enter patient demographic and insurance data.

The Persys practice management interface and Persys-4Medica transport module will automatically capture patient data from physician information systems for use in 4Medica applications. Information that is updated, changed, or added to the physician information system will automatically be transmitted to 4Medica at user-defined intervals, ensuring that correct patient information will always be available to users of the 4Medica system. 4Medica, Circle No. 198
Persys Technology, Circle No. 199

Gambro BCT, MAK-System collaborate on blood center system

Gambro BCT, a subsidiary of the medical technology and health care company Gambro AB, and the blood bank software developer MAK-System International Group have formed an alliance to integrate MAK-System’s Progesa software suite with the Gambro BCT Vista information system.

"Integrating Progesa with Vista will enable the seamless sharing of critical donor information, creating a real-time, high-performance automated blood collection management system for blood centers," says Stephane Sajot, vice president of sales for MAK-System. Gambro BCT, Circle No. 196
MAK-System, Circle No. 197

MedPlus offering e-prescribing services

MedPlus has announced that it will incorporate electronic prescription management services into its eMaxx physician portal as a result of its recent acquisition of RxMadeSimple, a company specializing in electronic prescription writing and management.

EMaxx users will be able to electronically write and transmit prescriptions and store historical prescription information within the patient chart. The new features are expected to be available in late 2003.

Physicians will be able to send prescriptions directly to a patient’s preferred vendor, and users will be able to access drug-to-drug interaction alerts and a patient’s medication history from the prescribing physician group, says Richard Mahoney, president of MedPlus.

The e-prescribing features will be offered to eMaxx users over the Internet via a desktop computer, wireless handheld device, or tablet PC. MedPlus, Circle No. 252

Contracts

Blood Bank Computer Systems has signed an agreement to be the software provider for the blood donation operations of the National Institutes of Health Department of Transfusion Medicine.

BBCS will provide its donor and transfusion management software to 26 NIH facilities that support more than 1.1 million units drawn annually. Blood Bank Computer Systems,
Circle No. 195

Dr. Aller is director of bioterrorism preparedness and response for Los Angeles County Public Health Acute Communicable Diseases. He can be reached at raller@earthlink.net. Mr. Weiner is president of Weiner Consulting Services, LLC, Florence, Ore. He can be reached at hal@weinerconsulting.com. Dr. Weilert is director of laboratories, Community Hospitals of Central California, Fresno. He can be reached at mweilertmd@communitymedical.org.