College of American Pathologists
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cap today

September 2003

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

Vendors delving into digital
“I think it’s absolutely ridiculous how the health care delivery system uses information technology,” said HHS secretary Tommy Thompson.

Speaking at an American Association of Health Plans meeting in June, Thompson went on to say: “We just have to use information technology more effectively to reduce preventable errors. We should be able to have a paperless system.” He added that a grocery store he had visited recently was more technologically advanced than a hospital he had visited the same day.

While few would disagree that hospitals’ move to “paperless” has been slow in coming, some hospitals and vendors are making progress toward this end.

Opened in 2002, the Oklahoma Heart Hospital, Oklahoma City, became one of the country’s first all-digital specialty hospitals of its kind, employing technology from Cerner Corp.

Each private and semi-private room in the 78-bed institution has a computer terminal, as do the nurses stations, cardiac catheterization lab, and emergency department. Medical staff can also use handheld computers or PCs outside the hospital to access patient information.

The cornerstone of the hospital’s digital effort is its advanced computerized physician order entry system, which allows physicians to not only input notes and order prescriptions online, but also access research and patient care information.

“Basically, our system is very patient-centric. It’s an integrated, single database where all the information about the patient—the patient’s stay, all of the procedures, and all those things—is located in one area,” says Jay Rosenfeld, a vice president in Cerner’s Mid America sales group.

As is often the case with any new process, the primary hurdle at Oklahoma Heart Hospital has been getting employees accustomed to the new system, Rosenfeld says. “I think the major [difficulties] were probably getting everybody used to the fact that when you do something, you don’t turn around and grab a piece of paper. It’s logging into the system. It’s a whole change of thought process.”

More recently, Cerner unveiled two other automation projects. In May, the vendor began building a 220-bed hospital for Legacy Health System, Vancouver, Wash. Also in May, Cerner announced that it had contracted to expand the clinical automation processes at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, Pa.

Another vendor making automation inroads is Siemens, which has provided technology for the Heart Center of Indiana, a $60 million hospital with 60 patient rooms that opened in Indianapolis last December.

The heart center uses a system called Soarian Cardiology, which integrates applications from various hospital departments, ranging from the imaging center to admissions and accounting, so a patient’s diagnostic images and other records are stored in a single digital chart that can be accessed at any computer terminal.

Siemens has also announced plans to develop an all-digital health care facility in Temple, Texas, for Scott & White, an integrated health care system that serves central Texas. The 361-bed hospital is scheduled to open in 2005.

Back in Indianapolis, another “digital” heart hospital recently opened its doors. The $60 million, 56-bed Indiana Heart Hospital opened in February. The hospital is using a digital record system from GE Medical Systems that can transmit images to the patient’s electronic medical record. Doctors can access the system remotely.

“This was a very big effort,” says Greg Lucier, president of GE Medical Systems, adding that it brought as many as 75 GE workers at a time to the hospital and required hospital staff to undergo four months of training in the technology.

GE announced a similar effort in June in which it will transition Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Wauwatosa, to an electronic records system. The process is expected to take a minimum of four years.

Further east, Boston Medical Center, a private 547-bed teaching hospital, implemented Eclipsys’ electronic medical records/computerized patient records system last October. Nearly all the physicians at BMC are using the CPOE system, which has processed more than 2.5 million orders. Eclipsys reports that errors caused by hand prescribing and ordering have been reduced by 37 percent under the new system.

New system for laboratory test ordering and reporting
SAO Data Integration Strategies, LLC, a subsidiary of NetImpact Holdings Inc., has announced the release of ILTORS, its comprehensive international laboratory test ordering and reporting system.

Medical facilities can access ILTORS to review and order tests for more than 150 diseases. Users can peruse a list of system-recommended procedures or directly order tests based on a medical diagnosis. ILTORS records the status of the tests, reconciles outstanding and completed tests, updates where appropriate, and reports results.

ILTORS is available in English, French, and Spanish and is integrated into NetImpact’s NetCare 7.0 medical information collection, management, and analysis software suite. SAO Data Integration Strategies, LLC, Circle No. 192

ITC coagulation device nowinterfaced to RALS-Plus
Medical Automation Systems has added the ITC Hemochron Jr. Signature+ coagulation device to the interface menu for its RALS-Plus information management system.

Users of the RALS-Plus system can now access information in Signature+, including results review, test materials, administrative settings, device configuration and management, comments, operators and certifications, reports, flagged results, status, and edit logs, via a user interface.

Signature+ is a low-blood-volume, cuvette-based whole blood microcoagulation instrument that performs such point-of-care tests as ACT-LR (low range), ACT+, PT, citrate PT, APTT, and citrate APTT. Medical Automation Systems, Circle No. 190
International Technidyne Corp., Circle No. 191

TriCore affiliates with Rhodes Group
TriCore Reference Laboratories has deployed the Rhodes Group’s Rhodes Scholar Platform business intelligence and decision support solution.

“Rhodes Scholar gives us the power to generate current, comprehensive reports in minutes that meet all our criteria without having to wait for an end-of-month accumulation, as with other systems,” says Stella Saindon, TriCore’s chief financial officer.

Rhodes Group is a Connecticut-based health care management and information technology consulting firm. TriCore Reference Laboratories is the largest medical laboratory in New Mexico. Rhodes Group, Circle No. 194
TriCore Reference Laboratories, Circle No. 195

Nova creates Web site focused on quality control data
Nova Biomedical has established an interactive Web site that participants in its quality assurance program can use to submit and review quality control data online. The new site,, allows quality control data to be entered in several formats and submitted to Nova instantaneously. Nova will analyze the data and post peer data reports on the site. Nova’s quality assurance program provides intra-laboratory and peer group comparisons of quality control data obtained using Nova’s blood gas and critical care analyzers. The reports contain within-lab statistics, peer group comparisons, and statistics based on the specific Nova model used. Nova Biomedical, Circle No. 193

Information Data Management has signed a contract for its Surround 3.3 system with Puget Sound Blood Center, Seattle. Puget Sound will use the system to manage and transmit donor serology test results and nucleic acid testing results to its clients and its own blood bank management system. Information Data Management, Circle No. 196

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