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June 2006

Editor:
Raymond D. Aller, MD
Hal Weiner

UCLA profits from wireless technology pilot program
Thomson Micromedex collaborates with Geisenger, MercuryMD
KliniTek offers Web-based lab outreach solution
Sytec Health introduces wearable EMR for patients
FasterCures launches Web site focused on biological materials
Contracts

bullet UCLA profits from wireless technology pilot program

Medical staff at UCLA Medical Center have connected to the future via cellular smart phones and personal digital assistants that can access patient data. The technology, part of an integrated clinical information system, is being used in a hospital-wide pilot program that allows doctors to view patient charts, medical records, x-rays, and CT and MRI scans from anywhere inside or outside the hospital.

The objective is to save time and speed up the patient care decision-making process. Rather than waiting for a physician to physically enter the hospital to view a computed tomography scan, for example, that physician can access the scan from a cell phone, review it, and determine the course of action.

Likewise, surgeons no longer have to scrub out to view a biopsy sample in pathology since a Web camera has been attached to the medical center’s pathology microscopes. “That image is now viewable through an Internet interface in the operating room, essentially in real time,” says Neil Martin, MD, professor and chief of neurosurgery at the UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles. “I can just turn my head and see what the pathology is showing while the pathologist talks to us on the speaker phone about the findings. It probably saves 10 to 15 minutes for every frozen section, and there can be three to four during a case.”

The clinical information system integrates with the hospital’s laboratory, picture archiving and communication, and digital medical records systems. Users can access data in real time from a single screen, which can contain up to eight windows, such as one for labs, x-rays, medical reports, and vital signs. Each window can be enlarged to more easily view data or images.

The system also reduces the time it takes to gather patient information for morning rounds. It automatically generates patient lists and consolidates information, such as the latest lab results for each patient. Clerical information, such as patient name and medical record number, is also automatically inputted into a physician’s notes. “That has greatly accelerated morning rounds,” says Dr. Martin, “and it’s tremendously improved the quality of the data that everybody’s got because it’s automatically refreshed and updated as soon as they begin rounds.”

Work on the wireless system began four years ago, adds Dr. Martin, who helped develop it and is a founder in GCQ Inc., which has the exclusive license to commercialize the technology. The hospital-wide pilot program began in January 2005. The program has grown from 150 to about 1,100 registered users, Dr. Martin says, noting that the medical center has about 1,600 staffers. About 75 users log into the system every day, 200 log in at least once a week, and 400 to 500 log in once a month, he adds.

To accommodate the new technology, the hospital updated its Wi-Fi system and installed wireless access points at the top of elevator shafts, eliminating the need to reboot connectivity lost while on an elevator. By improving its high-speed cellular technology, users can transfer data in real time.

Physicians from the departments of anesthesiology, medicine, pediatrics, surgery, and urology use the system routinely. Authentication codes and data encryption ensure patient privacy in accordance with HIPAA standards.

The pilot program will continue until the medical center is moved into a new complex in about a year, Dr. Martin says. Long-term plans include adding intelligence so the system can automatically alert physicians to critical situations, such as a drop in blood pressure, and evaluate various pieces of data simultaneously to generate a patient’s critical score, signifying the need for more or less immediate attention from a physician.

Because the technology was developed at UCLA, the medical center does not have to pay a licensing fee to use it. GCQ will, however, be negotiating a support contract with UCLA. For an average-size medical center, Dr. Martin says, the cost of the system would run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars because of the need to integrate with existing information systems.

While UCLA has only begun calculating its return on investment from implementing the system, comments from users have been positive. “[What] we’ve heard over and over again from the front-line physicians,” says Dr. Martin, “is the application saves them 30 to 60 minutes a day.”

bullet Thomson Micromedex collaborates with Geisenger, MercuryMD

Thomson Micromedex has entered an alliance with Geisenger Health System to develop comprehensive evidence-based order sets, such as medication instructions and treatment options. Micromedex also announced that it has teamed with MercuryMD to integrate its clinical knowledge solutions with MercuryMD’s desktop applications.

Through its collaboration with Danville, Pa.-based Geisenger, Micromedex will acquire a collection of inpatient order sets from Geisenger, and the two businesses will collaborate on projects that integrate these medical protocols with evidence-based clinical knowledge solutions. The new product, Micromedex Order Sets, will address health care organizations’ need for detailed instructions and treatment options that reflect current standards, medical evidence, and quality and regulatory initiatives for the most frequent diagnoses, procedures, and complaints.

Micromedex Order Sets also will include a customization tool that links to a variety of Micromedex evidence-based clinical decision support modules, including summary drug, lab and disease, patient education, and integrated hospital formularies.

Under its agreement with MercuryMD, Micromedex will integrate its clinical knowledge solutions, including its MobileMicromedex hand-held software and patient education resources, with MercuryMD’s MData Mobile and MData Desktop applications. Users will be able to access the offering through Micromedex’s InfoButton Access, a Web-enabled linking and information retrieval function.

bullet KliniTek offers Web-based lab outreach solution

KliniTek recently released its Upcare ELab application, a Web-based outreach management solution for hospital and independent reference labs. KliniTek acquired the assets of the software from Marquette (Mich.) General Health System. Upcare ELab provides results reporting from a single user interface and can seamlessly integrate with existing electronic medical record systems, including KliniTek’s Upcare EMR. The application provides secure Web-enabled order entry with medical necessity checking and advanced beneficiary notice handling, real-time order status, and detailed results reporting. An intuitive user interface provides quick access to patient registration as well as packing lists and specimen label printing.

bullet Sytec Health introduces wearable EMR for patients

Sytec Health has introduced an electronic medical record that patients can wear around their necks.

The EMR offering is based on a portable USB flash drive called LifeKey, which is small enough to carry on a keychain or neck cord.

LifeKey is offered as a subscription service. The patient or doctor must send photocopies of the patient’s medical records to Sytec Health. Sytec then scans the patient’s medical records into legal electronic duplicates of the original patient paper record and maintains and updates the records. Using a patent-pending technology, LifeKey then presents the records to a doctor as an electronic medical chart. LifeKey costs $197.

bullet FasterCures launches Web site focused on biological materials

FasterCures/The Center for Accelerating Medical Solutions has launched BioBank Central, www. biobankcentral.org, its Web-based portal dedicated to advancing the use of human biological materials to accelerate the development of new medical therapies and cures.

BioBank Central is designed to help researchers who require biological materials for their studies, encourage the donation of tissue and blood by patients, and inform the public about the critical role of biobanks, or biorepositories, in biomedical research.

Site sponsors include IBM, Affymetrix, Bioaccelerate Holdings, and Invitrogen Corp. FasterCures built the Web site in partnership with the health care communications company Feinstein Kean Healthcare.

bullet Contracts

Wyndgate Technologies, a division of Global Med Technologies, has signed an agreement to provide the University of North Carolina Hospitals, Chapel Hill, with its SafeTrace donor management system.

TheraDoc recently contracted for its expert clinical decision support software with VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System and VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.

As part of an initiative sponsored by Cancer Care Ontario, Lakeridge Health, Oshawa, Canada, has selected MTuitive’s Xpert for Pathology synoptic reporting module. The module will be used in a province-wide pilot program to standardize the reporting of malignancies.

Lakeridge Health will use the software to collect pathology reports and electronically deliver results to its laboratory information system and a local data repository.

Vachette Pathology has signed a contract to provide its services, which include practice management assistance, billing auditing, managed care negotiation, and group revenue strategy, to West Central Florida Pathology Associates, Zephyrhills, Fla.

WellStar Health System, in metropolitan Atlanta, has contracted with Flo Healthcare for a minimum of 350 mobile workstations for its five area hospitals.


Dr. Aller is director of bioterrorism preparedness and response for Los Angeles County Public Health Acute Communicable Diseases. He can be reached at raller@ladhs.org. Hal Weiner is president of Weiner Consulting Services, LLC, Florence, Ore. He can be reached at hal@weinerconsulting.com.