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  July 2004 Newsbytes

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cap today

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

BioMérieux offers real-time clinical intervention software

BioMérieux has introduced Stellara, a comprehensive suite of clinical intervention software systems that bring microbiology results from the company’s BacT/Alert and Vitek systems to pharmacists and clinicians in real time.

Stellara is powered by Thera Doc’s expert system platform technology. BioMérieux and Thera Doc have signed an industry exclusive agreement for BioMérieux to market the new software system in North America.

Stellara integrates individual electronic patient records with coded clinical data and focused medical informatics that represent an onboard clinical decision support database. It provides easy electronic access to the recommendation logic and Web-based reference articles or sources for clinicians.

Axolotl Corp.

First national health information technology coordinator sets agenda

David Brailer, MD, PhD, recently named the country’s first national health information technology coordinator, hopes to convince the private sector to implement software and systems that could reduce health care costs and improve safety. "We live or die by what the private sector does," Dr. Brailer said in May, during his first press conference as federal health technology czar.

One of Dr. Brailer’s goals is to make sure that most U.S. citizens have electronic health records within 10 years. Some European countries are already embracing the large-scale use of electronic health records. In the United States, coding systems such as SNOMED, LOINC, and CPT help nonhomogenous systems communicate with each other, but standardized data elements, formats, and content are still needed.

The impetus for these initiatives are estimates from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that implementing a national electronic medical record could save $140 billion per year, or more than 10 percent of the nation’s annual health care cost, as well as improve patient safety and quality.

Dr. Brailer, former chairman and CEO of CareScience Inc., acknowledged that his major challenges will be to get software programs communicating with each other, establish minimal standards, and determine the means to pay for the huge technological shift.

He would prefer, he said, that standards for compatibility and interoperability be determined by the health care industry itself. Yet he was quick to add that the federal government could step in to regulate the market if the health care industry is ineffective at implementing technology to improve patient care. We shouldn’t forget, he said, that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was the result of industry inaction.

Internet chat site allows doctors to blow off steam

It is often said that when feeling less than whole, doctors should heal themselves.

But with a rising threat of malpractice suits and managed care hassles, it is increasingly difficult for doctors to find the time to heal from within. So says cardiologist and author Steven Farber, MD, chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine, HCA Conroe Regional Medical Center, Conroe, Tex.

With this thought in mind, Dr. Farber started an Internet chat site earlier this year to help physicians reduce stress in their lives by blowing off steam. "There’s so many things that physicians need to ventilate about," says Dr. Farber, "and now they have a forum to help each other."

The site, called the Physicians’ Forum, can be found at www.behindthewhitecoat.com, which is the Web site for Dr. Farber’s nonfiction book, Behind the White Coat: Intimate Reflections of Being a Doctor in Today’s World, published in 2002. The book chronicles the trials and tribulations that Dr. Farber experienced while a student at Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital, Philadelphia, and as an intern at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston. "This [forum] was an offshoot of the book and helps physicians to cope and deal with problems," says Dr. Farber. The forum operates much like a chat room. Users can remain anonymous, but they need a user name and password to log into the forum. From there, they can ask and answer questions or simply read what others have contributed. Dr. Farber checks the site frequently to field questions and review topics being discussed. Despite its name, Dr. Farber says the Physicians’ Forum is for anyone who works in health care. All types of health care professionals are prone to stress, regardless of specialty, he adds. Long working hours can cause feelings of isolation. "That is, if anything, the key here that leads physicians into trouble—that isolation," says Dr. Farber. "And this forum is one way to help."

FDA clears SCC’s blood service management system

SCCSoft Computer’s new SoftBank II, version 23, centralized blood service management system, with a new SoftScape user interface, recently received 510(k) clearance from the FDA.

The new user interface, built on Microsoft.NET connection software technology, provides a graphical screen. Users can customize and access option-specific links on the toolbar, including Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, and bridge to antibody identification software and other third-party software products.

The transfusion testing feature allows compatibility testing to be performed at a central location and units to be distributed from satellite facilities. And the instrument interface feature electronically transfers test results to SoftBank II for verification by a technologist prior to posting to patients’ records.

SCCSoft Computer

Orchard releases new version of Harvest LIS

Orchard Software has released Harvest LIS, version 6.0, the largest upgrade to date for its laboratory information system.

Among the enhancements to the new release are such quality control features as rules that require QC to be approved before patient results can be approved, enhanced support for qualitative and text-based controls, and expanded commenting and Westgard features.

The change log has been upgraded to record all modifications to patient records and orders, as well as changes made to locations, personnel, order choices, lab tests, and formulas. An enhanced result origin field tracks the instrument, formula, or technologist that creates or edits every test result in the system.

Harvest LIS 6.0 also supports several new models of label printers, as well as the complete line of Zebra ZPL-II printers, and has added TCP/IP network support.

Orchard Software

Misys marketing handheld collection, labeling software

Misys Healthcare Systems has introduced Misys Laboratory-Collection Manager. The clinical lab software application uses handheld technology devices to help health care professionals automate specimen collection and print labeling at the bedside.

Misys Healthcare Systems

Contracts

Pascack Valley Hospital, Westwood, NJ, has signed an agreement to purchase Misys Optimum clinical information management solutions, including Misys CPR, Misys Data Warehouse, Misys Media Manager, Misys Laboratory, and Misys Encompass.

In a separate announcement, Misys reported that Texas Health Resources, a nonprofit health care system in north central Texas, has signed a multimillion-dollar agreement to extend the Misys Radiology information system across its inpatient and ambulatory settings to streamline access to medical imaging reports and diagnostic data enterprisewide.

Misys Healthcare Systems

Harborview Medical Center, Seattle, has purchased MedMicro, Trestle Holdings’ live digital imaging product, to connect its neuropathology laboratory to the Internet.

Trestle Holdings

Continuum Health Partners, a large health care system in metropolitan New York, has contracted to install SCCSoft Computer’s line of laboratory information software systems and enhanced suite of management, consulting, and educational services in its major health care facilities: the three Beth Israel Hospital locations, St. Luke’s Hospital, Roosevelt Hospital, Long Island College Hospital, and the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary.

The health care facilities will install SCC’s SoftLab, SoftMic, SoftPath, SoftA/R, SoftBank II, SoftDonor, and SoftWeb products.

SCCSoft Computer

SearchAmerica has signed an agreement to provide Allina Health Systems, Minneapolis, with its Payment Advisor product, which validates or corrects patient demographic information at the time of registration and categorizes patients by their ability to pay.

SearchAmerica

Three health care facilities recently went live with Siemens Medical Solutions’ clinical modules of Soarian. The Chester County Hospital, West Chester, Pa., is the first provider to go live on the new Soarian Clinical Team module, which includes such functions as nursing assessment, patient charting, and intake and outputs. Carilion Health System, Roanoke, Va., has gone live on the Soarian Common Clinicals module, which helps coordinate patient care with comprehensive order processing and work lists. Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, has gone live on Soarian Clinical Access, which integrates the complete electronic patient record with medical technology.

Siemens Medical Solutions