The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is offering federal competitive grants totaling $24 million for state and community projects to improve preparedness for pandemic influenza. The grants could be awarded to as many as 62 entities, including states, counties, cities, and U.S. territories. Each of the 62 potential recipients previously was awarded a share of $325 million in CDC Public Health Emergency Preparedness Cooperative Agreement funding for pandemic preparedness. The new grants will subsidize demonstration projects not included in the previous funding.
“The intent of this initiative is to build upon and expand the preparedness and response efforts by states and other localities,” says Donna Knutson, acting director for the CDC’s Division of State and Local Readiness program. “We know from past public health experience that all responses begin and end with states and local communities,” she adds. “It’s the federal government’s role to provide support during a response and ensure that planning and preparedness efforts continue.”
Of particular concern to the CDC, says Knutson, is the outbreak of avian influenza, which has affected wild and domestic birds. The virus has been transmitted from animal to human, but no cases of human-to-human transmission have been documented. “At some point, we may see human-to-human transmission of this particular avian influenza, and the next step from there could be a real public health problem,” Knutson says. “CDC would be very concerned that the susceptibility for this virus would go pretty much over the entire world and cause considerable harm to the public along the way.”
Because laboratory tests play a critical role in detecting and defining such outbreaks, one focus of the competitive grants is a demonstration project using information technology to exchange laboratory test orders and results electronically to support pandemic influenza surveillance. The demonstration project would exchange data among state public health laboratories, the demonstration project’s surveillance partners, such as state and local health departments and international partners, and the CDC.
In an effort to improve national preparedness for outbreaks and vaccine distribution across states, another demonstration project focuses on integrating state-based immunization information systems, or registries, with National Countermeasure and Response Administration systems for tracking doses of pandemic influenza vaccines. The integrated systems would track how pandemic influenza vaccine is distributed, the date of administration for first and second doses, the age of recipients, and the administration of vaccine to priority groups. State and national health officials can use such data to determine how to employ countermeasure materials, such as antiviral drugs, and adjust or reallocate resources, if necessary.
Developing a statewide electronic mortality reporting system is the aim of yet another of the projects. This demonstration project could reduce reporting delays and improve the quality of data generated and the usefulness of death information. Such a system needs to be able to transmit a death notice and demographic information to the appropriate federal agencies within five days of a death and the cause of death within 10 days for 80 percent of all deaths. Mortality tracking systems in 122 cities now provide data on a quarter to a third of U.S. deaths, according to the CDC. While the systems can rapidly track influenza-related deaths, they cannot be used to estimate the total number of such deaths or the rates of such deaths, nor for analysis at the state level. The federal government’s national vital statistics system provides detailed analysis, but typically only two to three years after a specific influenza outbreak, according to the CDC.
The remaining grant projects focus on using public input as part of the public health decision-making process, collaborative planning among health care providers to ensure that essential services are delivered during an outbreak, interventions that promote preparedness for pandemic disease for at-risk populations, and processes for distributing antiviral drugs to people who are isolated or quarantined during an outbreak.
The 62 previous awardees can apply for grants in any of the seven categories. They can also apply independently to develop projects geared toward rural and urban settings. As of the March 17 deadline, the CDC had received 185 electronic applications for project funding from the 62 recipients and was still expecting stragglers, Knutson says. Up to 62 grants were scheduled to be awarded on April 18.
The $24 million allotted for these grants represents the final round of funding in a series of Department of Health and Human Services grants from a 2005 congressional appropriation of $350 million to improve state and local responses to an influenza pandemic.
Information about individual state plans for addressing pandemic influenza is available at www.pandemicflu.gov.
Impac Medical Systems and Aperio Technologies are developing an interface between Impac’s PowerPath anatomic pathology system and Aperio’s Spectrum digital pathology information management system. The interface, which is being developed by both companies, is designed to improve workflow and allow the systems to access the same digital slide images and case data.
“It is clear that whole-slide scanning and the viewing, analysis, and management of digital slide images are important developments in anatomic pathology ... [W]e recognize these represent the beginning of a new era in process flow and data management,” says George Rugg, senior vice president and general manager of Impac’s laboratory information systems business unit.
The interface is expected to be available commercially by the end of the year.
Impac Medical Systems, Circle No. 190
Aperio Technologies, Circle No. 191
EHealth Global Technologies has introduced a service for migrating film or paper into a digital format.
EHealthLoader is designed to help facilities transfer patient images or medical records, or both, from an analog format or legacy information technology solution into an electronic information management system, such as an electronic medical record or picture archiving and communication system. The service also interfaces with health care facilities’ existing IT systems and uploads the data for immediate use by clinicians. It can provide a bridge to migrate data from one digital system to another.
EHealthLoader uses industry standards, such as DICOM and HL7. All digitized information is sent to a facility’s internal systems using a virtual private network.
eHealth Global Technologies
Circle No. 192
The Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology has announced that it is expanding its certification program.
The commission is preparing its updated ambulatory and inpatient certification criteria, as well as new programs to certify systems for child health, cardiovascular medicine, and emergency department requirements, which are slated to be launched in July. The commission plans to release certification criteria for health information exchanges in October.
Proposed expansion areas for next year include long-term care, behavioral health, personal health records, and additional medical specialties the commission will identify later this spring.
The commission also reported that it has launched a new Web site, ehrdecisions.com, to help educate physicians about electronic health record selection and the value of choosing CCHIT-certified products. The site will help physicians better determine their readiness for moving to electronic health records and get started on selecting a product, as well as offer tips on how to make a purchase and negotiate a contract. Web site users will be able to post comments and questions regarding EHR certification and adoption issues.
In a separate announcement, the CCHIT released the names of the latest three EHR products for acute care hospitals to receive CCHIT inpatient EHR certification. Those products are:
- Cerner’s Millennium PowerChart 2007
- Meditech’s Advanced Clinical Systems MAGIC 5.6
- Siemens’ Invision Clinicals version 27.0 with Siemens Pharmacy and Med Administration Check version 24.0 (pre-market conditional).
These product certifications bring to nine the total number of CCHIT-certified inpatient products and represent approximately 36 percent of inpatient EHR vendors.
A complete list of CCHIT-certified EHR products is available at www.cchit.org.
NoMoreClipboard.com has launched FroozHIE, a free tool that reconciles clinical patient data from disparate sources, including electronic medical records, health information exchanges, and personal health records. The application supports data between platforms using various data standards, including CCR, CCD, CDA, and HL7.
“As a secure health information exchange application, FroozHIE displays similar data from different sources side by side, enabling clinicians and patients to compare and reconcile medical records,” says Jeff Donnell, vice president of marketing for NoMoreClipboard.com.
FroozHIE is available to the health care information technology community at no charge. “To speed health care IT adoption, we are making FroozHIE available and inviting others to work with it, and even improve upon it,” says Douglas Horner, NoMoreClipboard.com founder and chief technology officer. “We believe that fostering interoperability will benefit patients, physicians, and vendors alike,” he adds.
For more information or to view FroozHIE in use, visit the Web site www.froozhie.com.
AIIM–The Enterprise Content Management Association and ASTM International have published a best practices guide for using the Portable Document Format to support the exchange of health care information.
The guide describes the features and functions of PDF that are relevant to the health care industry, such as capturing, exchanging, preserving, and protecting health care information.
The Portable Document Format can reduce unnecessary errors from transmitting paper-based records and eliminate the need for specialized technology or proprietary readers or viewers, according to the guide.
Among those contributing to the guide were the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians, Massachusetts Medical Society, and several information technology vendors.
ASTM International is a standards development organization. AIIM–The Enterprise Content Management Association represents vendors and users of technology that captures and manages content and documents related to organizational processes.
For more information or to purchase the guide, go to www.aiim.org.
EMRConsultant is offering a free online tool for its EHR Scope solution that allows users to narrow their electronic health record product search based on specified features.
The tool searches EMRConsultant’s database to determine which products are best suited to the specifications of the user. EHR Scope makes its selection based on up to 14 user-defined parameters, including size of practice, specialties served, operating system, CCHIT certification, electronic prescribing capability, and client/server versus application service provider approach.
The service is a complement to EHR Scope’s EHR compendium, which features half-page listings on more than 240 EHR vendors.
The selection tool is available at www.ehrscope.com.
Cerner Corp. recently informed CAP TODAY that Jared Blankenship is no longer the contact person for those interested in purchasing the Cerner Millennium PathNet anatomic pathology system. Blankenship was listed as the contact person in CAP TODAY’s 2008 anatomic pathology systems survey (February, page 22).
For information about Cerner Millennium PathNet, contact Ashley McDonald at ashley. email@example.com or 816-201-7988.
McKesson has signed contracts to install components of its Horizon Clinicals solution suite at the following institutions:
- Opelousas General Health System, a 188-bed full-service medical center in Opelousas, La.
- ProMedica Health System, a 10-hospital delivery system in Toledo, Ohio
- Henry Medical Center, a 215-bed nonprofit community hospital in Stockbridge, Ga.
McKesson Corp., Circle No. 193
GE Healthcare IT has announced that Ministry Health Care of Wisconsin and Minnesota has signed a multi-year agreement to implement GE’s Centricity Enterprise version 6.1 clinical system at its four acute care facilities in Wisconsin—St. Joseph’s Hospital, Marshfield; Flambeau Hospital, Park Falls; Our Lady of Victory Hospital, Stanley; and Saint Clare’s Hospital, Weston/Wausau—as well as at the Weston Diagnostic and Treatment Center. The software provides real-time access to patients’ electronic medical records.
GE Healthcare IT, Circle No. 194
Medicity has signed a contract to configure a comprehensive electronic health record for Hospital Sisters Health System’s 13 hospitals in Wisconsin and Illinois. Medicity will deploy its ProAccess clinical application suite and MediTrust interoperability platform at the HSHS hospitals.
Medicity, Circle No. 195
Quest Diagnostics, Madison, NJ, has selected NetLims’ AutoLims laboratory information system for its international laboratory operations in India. AutoLims will be installed in all current and future Quest labs in India.
NetLims NJ, LLC, Circle No. 196
Wyndgate Technologies has signed contracts to install its SafeTrace Tx transfusion management software at New York-Presbyterian Hospital’s Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York, and Mid Coast Hospital, Brunswick, Me.
Wyndgate Technologies, Circle No. 197
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Hal Weiner is president of Weiner Consulting Services, LLC, Florence, Ore. He can be reached at email@example.com.