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cap today

July 2005

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

SLAM sales soar—blood banks want more

Sales of blood bank supplemental laboratory application modules, or SLAMs, have skyrocketed in the past nine months, with more than 250 modules sold for hospital transfusion and blood donor services, including add-ons or upgrades to existing systems, according to industry vendors.

Wyndgate Technologies claims to have signed new contracts for more than 100 facilities, blood donor centers, and transfusion services, domestically and internationally, since CAP TODAY published its last blood bank systems survey in October 2004. Mediware Information Systems and Cerner report that they have sold products for over 50 hospitals and donor facilities during this period. Other vendors, including SCC Soft Computer and Meditech, have also reported a surge in sales. More blood bank SLAMs have been sold since October than were sold during the prior two years combined.

Why the sudden interest in blood bank SLAMs? In large part because most of the major vendors have released new versions of their products. Cerner, Misys, Mediware, Blood Bank Computer Systems, and SCC Soft Computer have released products that incorporate major new functionality and graphical user interfaces, with SCC becoming the first to embrace the Microsoft .NET framework.

Furthermore, several legacy blood bank products have been sunsetted, forcing those users to acquire new systems. A tertiary motivation is a fast (12- to 24-month) return on investment for such new functionality as electronic crossmatch, centralized transfusion services, and positive patient identification.

Vendors are not resting on their laurels. Even with the rigid requirements for obtaining FDA 510(k) approval for their products, companies continue to invest in research and development for new functionality. Several R&D projects are underway and include Wynd gate with a new donor product, Mediware with ISBT 128 and Web donor scheduling, and Cerner with clinical validation and advanced blood bank quality control. Mediware recently obtained FDA 510(k) approval for its HCLL Donor system (see "FDA clears Mediware donor software," this page).

Other vendors that are developing new systems or expanding their marketing efforts for their SLAMs include NetLims, Care Fusion, GE Healthcare (formerly Triple G), Mak-System, and Sysware.

FDA clears Mediware donor software

Mediware Information Systems has received FDA clearance for HCLL Donor, its new donor software management system.

"While our LifeTrak suite of donor products is geared to free-standing blood centers and very large hospital facilities, HCLL Donor software is the state-of-the art solution for the small and mid-range in-hospital donor service market," says Frank Poggio, vice president and general manager of Mediware’s blood bank division.

CFI acquires Fletcher-Flora

The dot-com company CFI recently acquired Fletcher-Flora, a provider of laboratory information systems, electronic medical records, and practice management interfaces. CFI also changed its corporate name to Fletcher-Flora Health Care Systems.

"With the completion of this transaction, Fletcher-Flora will have a greater ability to attract new investment and acquisition opportunities for future growth," says Neal Flora, president of Fletcher-Flora.

In May, Fletcher-Flora had acquired Modulus Data Systems, also an LIS provider.

Trestle marketing digital workflow applications

Trestle Holdings has introduced the Xcellerator suite of digital pathology workflow applications following the company’s recent acquisition of InterScope Technologies.

The new suite of Web-based applications, available for clinical and educational settings, provides digital image archiving and caseflow and database management, auditing, conferencing, and image-enhanced report generation across a range of imaging platforms.

Medical records the vitals of new Web site

Doctors and other health care workers can now access a patient’s medical history through a new Web site, ReadMyChart.com. The Web site stores the medical data of subscribers who have input their medical history onto a personal online chart.

A membership sticker attached to the back of an identification card, such as a driver’s license, directs users to the Web site and also contains an identification number and password that provide direct access to a subscriber’s chart. The service can be vital in emergency situations, when having instant access to such information as allergies and other medical conditions can be lifesaving, says Jere Dixon, founder of Tucson, Ariz.-based ReadMyChart.com.

Only subscribers pay a fee for the service, which costs $29.95 for the first year and $19.95 for renewals.

After nearly nine months of beta testing with about 100 people, the system went live in March. Dixon won’t divulge how many people have signed up to use the service, but within the next few months he hopes to add about a million subscribers by offering the service free to police officers, firefighters, and other rescue workers nationwide and in Canada. By year-end, Dixon says he hopes to have a total of 2 million paid and complimentary subscribers.

The Web site is HIPAA-compliant, so all information submitted to ReadMyChart.com is encrypted and protected. "We use the same [security] standards as Bank of America for online banking and everyone else that has a truly secure site," Dixon says. Dixon acknowledges, however, that anyone who obtains a subscriber’s ID that contains the password can easily access the online chart.

Frank Rodriguez, MD, a solo practitioner in West Palm Beach, Fla., finds the service useful for his obstetrics/gynecology practice because many of his patients have second homes in different states and, therefore, have more than one physician. Thirty percent to 40 percent of his patients use ReadMyChart.com, he says, noting that some began using it during the testing phase.

"It’s a great tool because wherever they are, they can simply access their medical records," says Dr. Rodriguez, who adds that the service is particularly useful for his pregnant patients, many of whom travel. If these patients have to see another physician while out of town, their online chart can come in handy, he says. "Everything’s right there—all their lab work, their immunizations, their status."

Dr. Rodriguez suggests the service to his patients, but he avoids helping them input their medical information. He doesn’t want to risk legal ramifications if the information is incorrect, he explains. "I purposely don’t want to become too much involved with that because in all sincerity, it’s their responsibility."

Infotex Holdings to acquire Medical Messenger

Infotex Holdings has entered negotiations to purchase the electronic medical records company Medical Messenger.

Medical Messenger offers an end-to-end electronic records system that places a mirror image of the patient’s records on an electronic storage device and at the company’s remote storage facility in Atlanta.

Infotex Holdings is a digital technology company.

New modules for NovoPath anatomic pathology system

Novovision is now offering telepathology and synoptic reporting modules for its NovoPath anatomic pathology software.

The telepathology module eliminates the need for a separate system to view slides remotely. The synoptic reporting module enhances diagnosis reporting in NovoPath by incorporating tumor reporting protocols of choice.

Initiative to link lab results with electronic records

The EHR-Lab Interoperability and Connectivity Standards project is developing a national standard for the real-time reporting of lab data to electronic health records to encourage the adoption of electronic health records and facilitate the electronic delivery of lab results to clinicians in the office setting.

The ELINCS project, which is funded and convened by the California HealthCare Foundation, aims to develop the new standard within six to nine months. The project has set a goal of having the standard adopted by electronic health record vendors and laboratories nationwide within another nine months.

The ELINCS project will work closely with other national and international groups to develop clinical data standards for electronic health records to ensure widespread adoption of its standard. These groups include the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology, Connecting for Health, eHealth Initiative, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ DOQ-IT, Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise, Public Health Information Network, and Health Level Seven.

Among the steering committee members involved in the project are senior executives from the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, American Clinical Laboratory Association, American Health Information Management Association, EHR Vendor Association, National Alliance for Health Information Technology, Health Level Seven, and American College of Physicians.


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