College of American Pathologists
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cap today

November 2003

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

New health care computer model set to battle bioterrorism

A computer model that helps hospitals and health care systems plan vaccination and antibiotic-dispensing campaigns in response to bioterrorist attacks or large-scale natural disease outbreaks is available at no charge.

The mass prophylaxis/vaccination campaign staffing model estimates the number of staff and other resources needed to operate a mass prophylaxis center in a particular area during a critical situation.

The model was funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and developed by researchers at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York. After evaluating anthrax responses and subsequent large-scale, live disaster drills, as well as several states’ planning models for bioterrorism response, the researchers developed two best practice dispensing clinic designs. Both could be used during an attack in which biological agents, such as anthrax or smallpox, were used or in cases of natural disease outbreaks requiring antibiotics or vaccinations.

Using the computer model, local health care system planners can estimate the number and type of staff needed to operate such dispensing clinics to serve an entire community in an efficient and timely manner. The model computes what is required in terms of staffing, material, supplies, space, security, and ancillary personnel, says Mark Callahan, MD, assistant professor of public health and medicine at Weill and a member of the team that developed the model. New modules will most likely be added over time to enhance planning capabilities, he adds.

With about 8 MB of programming, the software behind the model is complicated, but the model itself is easy to use, says Dr. Callahan. "You don’t need to have technical/IT know-how to use it. It [has] very user-friendly forms." Adds Dr. Callahan, "You put in all the various parameters that apply to your community, and it comes out with recommendations, suggestions, and resources needed" to respond to an attack or natural disease outbreak.

For more information about the computerized staffing model, go to

Wyndgate forges multiple marketing alliances for blood bank modules

Less than a month after announcing its agreement to private-label its SafeTrace Tx advanced transfusion management system for McKesson Information Solutions, Global Med Technologies, through its Wyndgate Technologies division, has signed an agreement to provide SafeTrace Tx as part of Keane’s laboratory information system. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

SafeTrace Tx "fully complements Keane’s laboratory information system by providing our clients with the tools to manage and track their blood bank operations," says Ed Meehan, marketing director for the health care solutions division of Keane.

Also in October, Global Med announced that it is integrating its SafeTrace donor management system with the Gambro BCT Vista information system to share donor, blood collection, and blood center operations information. Gambro BCT received FDA clearance for the two-way software interface between Vista and SafeTrace software earlier this year.

"It’s our plan to expand our business base by developing strategic alliances with LIS vendors," Patti Larson, senior director of marketing development for Wyndgate, told CAP TODAY. "There are a lot of LIS vendors that don’t have 510(k)-cleared blood bank modules or don’t have blood bank modules at all."

Wyndgate formed a marketing alliance with Misys Healthcare Systems in June whereby Misys will offer the SafeTrace integrated blood donor management system as a complement to the Misys Laboratory information system suite. Wyndgate also has marketing alliances for its blood bank modules with LabSoft, Siemens Medical Solutions, Sysmex InfoSystems America, and Triple G Systems Group, now GE Medical Systems Information Technologies.

Wyndgate Technologies, Circle No. 192

Impath and its subsidiaries file for bankruptcy protection

Impath Inc. and its subsidiaries recently filed voluntary petitions to reorganize under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

"After reviewing all of the options available to us, we determined that voluntarily filing for Chapter 11 protection provided us with the time to develop a comprehensive plan of reorganization," says Carter H. Eckert, Impath’s chairman and CEO. "All of our facilities are fully operational," he adds, "and our staff remains dedicated to providing the highest level of expertise, responsive services, and interactive communications."

Impath is a provider of cancer information and analyses. Impath Information Services markets Tamtron PowerPath software and the Impath Cancer Registry to collect and manage diagnostic data and outcomes information.

Impath Inc., Circle No. 190

Slow go for national health information infrastructure, HIMSS survey says

Most health care organizations communicate such information as laboratory results and prescriptions via electronic systems, yet the electronic exchange of information with public health organizations is minimal, according to the October HIMSS Vantage Point survey about the national health information infra- structure and national health care standards.

Significant strides toward a national health information infrastructure likely will not occur until health care organizations have a solid grasp of the investment necessary and their resulting return on investment, reported the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.

Two thirds of the survey respondents said they are at least somewhat aware of the national health information infrastructure, as defined by the National Committee for Vital and Health Statistics last year. Less than five percent, however, are taking an active role in developing related projects.

Not surprisingly, financial concerns are the biggest barrier to implementing such an infrastructure (34 percent), followed by resistance to expending resources before a concrete plan is developed (18 percent). External pressures, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (10 percent), government intervention (four percent) and legal issues (two percent) are of much less concern.

Nearly all of the survey respondents, however, indicated that their organization processes at least one function electronically, with lab results (83 percent) and clinician access to patient information from an off-site location (77 percent) topping the list.

And approximately three fourths of survey respondents indicated that their organization uses at least one national standard for electronic communications outside their facility. HL7 is far and away the most commonly used standard (65 percent), followed by DICOM (34 percent), no national standard (23 percent), and SNOMED (22 percent).

The survey also noted that less than one third of respondents claim they communicate electronically with public health organizations. Only 14 percent of survey respondents indicated that they exchange the majority of their information with public health organizations via electronic systems. Fifteen percent of the respondents receive public health alert information through the Health Alert Network, which was developed as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Program.

Vantage Point is a monthly publication of HIMSS that surveys health care information technology professionals about industry trends. The October survey was based on 196 responses generated in September.

Data Innovations forms international partnerships

Data Innovations, through its international subsidiaries, recently signed business partner agreements with the following companies:

  • LabExpert GmbH, a German company that develops, sells, installs, and supports medical information systems.
  • Velez Lab y Cia, one of Colombia’s leading suppliers of immunology diagnostic products and a provider of biochemical, coagulation, plasma protein, connectivity, and quality control solutions.
  • Medical Systems, a 13-year-old Brazilian software company that specializes in health care information technology.
  • Data Innovations, Circle No. 191

    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
    Dr. Weilert is director of laboratories, Community Hospitals of Central California, Fresno. He can be reached at