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  February 2004 Newsbytes

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

Computerized health data a win for U.S. Army
U.S. soldiers entering and returning from deployment will now have their health information recorded electronically. Pre- and post-deployment health assessments are being done on laptops and hand-held computers, as well as computers connected to the Army’s intranet or the Internet.

The computerized system was developed by the Army’s Medical Information Technology Center, the Army Medical Command’s information technology system developer, in conjunction with ASM Research, Fairfax, Va., and BearingPoint Inc., McLean, Va.

Work on the electronic system began in September 2002. The Army introduced the Web-based version of the health assessments last April, followed by a hand-held computer release last summer. The systems have been deployed to the Coalition Forces Land Component Command and Combined Joint Task Force-7 in Iraq and other parts of the world.

Using the computerized system, health care staff are expected to be able to collect health data faster and more reliably. The MITC expects the system to boost the successful collection rate to 90 percent.

"That really is the goal," says Michael E. Kilpatrick, MD, deputy director in the Department of Defense Deployment Health Support Directorate. "Having [the information] automated then allows it to be transferred wherever you may need it within your system." Previously, he adds, health information was recorded manually and commanders were responsible for mailing the original form to a central location, where it was scanned and then made available electronically.

Information recorded via health assessments posted on the intranet or Internet is sent directly to the Army’s central database. With the non-networked computers, the information is recorded on-site, taken to a location that has connectivity, and downloaded to the central database, says the DoD’s Anthony Denicola, director of deployment systems and records. The hand-held computers use a combination of secure digital card, compact flash card, and smart card technology to store and transfer the health data.

Required signatures on health documents are recorded via signature pads, similar to those used for credit card transactions at retail stores, he adds. Each collection method has different capabilities, which requires different coding. "So there were some variations to the software development for each one of those versions," Denicola says.

The new system employs sophisticated technology, says John Bukartek, part of the ASM support team that worked on the project. "Also, the fact that we are capturing the entire form, including an electronic digital signature, which can all be exactly re-created and printed out on the spot or years in the future, certainly makes this cutting edge," he adds.

The automated system is fully operational. Health data have been recorded from soldiers in Iraq and Kuwait and successfully transferred to the central database in Washington, DC, says MAJ Dan Rudakevych, of the U.S. Army’s medical protective system program office. "It has not completely supplanted the use of paper forms yet," he comments, "but we expect that it will in the very near future." As of late December, Rudakevych says, more than 15,000 returning soldiers had completed their post-deployment health forms using the computerized system.

IBX acquires medical records management product
IBX Transcription Services Inc., a division of IBX Group Inc., has secured the rights to an advanced medical dictation, transcription, and workflow management solution from AIT Corp. IBX had helped to develop the technology.

"Until now, a per-user fee had made it cost prohibitive to take on some smaller medical practices," says Ira Fruchtman, managing director of IBX Transcription Services. "This allows expansion of our customer base to include single-physician and other health care businesses, in addition to our larger clients."

IBX Group Inc.

Flo secures wireless mobile computing business
Flo Healthcare Solutions, LLC, has acquired the health care division of EMS Wireless, a division of EMS Technologies Inc.

The acquired company, now called FHS, will continue to operate from its facility in Norcross, Ga. Financial details of the transaction were not released.

EMS Wireless is a provider of mobile devices and WiFi wireless products. Flo Healthcare Solutions markets integrated cart-based mobile workstations.

Flo Healthcare Solutions

New portable pen scanner
IRIS Group has introduced the IRISPen Express, a USB pen scanner to scan and instantly encode printed information. Printed text and figures can be instantly entered into any Windows and Mac OSX application at the cursor position.

The IRISPen Express works like a highlighter. Users slide the pen over printed text and numbers, which are then automatically retyped in the user’s application. The pen scanner can retype at speeds of up to 1,000 characters per second. It can be used with laptop, desktop, and tablet PCs.

The pen scanner also can be used on text and numbers printed on dynamic or colored backgrounds. Users can store gray scale images in their applications. The IRISPen Express recognizes up to 55 languages.

IRIS Group


Contracts
Wyndgate Technologies, a division of Global Med Technologies Inc., has signed an agreement with Washington Regional Medical Center, Fayetteville, Ark., for its SafeTrace Tx advanced transfusion management system.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Wyndgate has also signed an agreement for its SafeTrace donor management and SafeTrace Tx advanced transfusion management software with City of Hope National Medical Center, Duarte, Calif.

Wyndgate Technologies

Per-Se Technologies has entered a business agreement to deliver outsourced practice management services to Pathology Medical Laboratories, P.A., Leesburg, Fla.

Under the agreement, Per-Se’s physician services division will provide PML with a wide range of connective health care services, including the management of outstanding accounts receivable and a dedicated, on-site account manager. Per-Se will also assist PML with anatomic and clinical pathology billing, credentialing, compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and managed care contract negotiation.

Per-Se Technologies

Fremont (Neb.) Area Medical Center recently contracted to install Cerner’s electronic medical records technology for tracking a patient’s health history and hospital stay.

Cerner Corp.

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. 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.