College of American Pathologists
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  December 2004 Newsbytes





cap today

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

Presentations and products at AABB meeting
Web-based resource center focuses on electronic health information exchange
Vianeta introduces digital patient information software
Bio-Rad offering new Internet quality control software
SNOMED to add osteopathic medical terminology

Presentations and products at AABB meeting

CAP TODAY contributing editor Hal Weiner attended this year’s American Association of Blood Banks annual meeting in Baltimore. With 6,774 attendees and more than 500 exhibitors, this was the most highly attended AABB meeting in seven years. Following is a peek at some of the more noteworthy presentations and products at the meeting.

Presentations on business continuance and disaster recovery, ISBT 128 implementation, and validation plans provided blood bank assessors with a solid framework for reviewing a facility’s information systems for accreditation purposes.

Michael Breard, regional sales manager for Blackhawk BioSystems, described the risk assessment and change control processes that should be in place to maintain "business as normal" when systems go down. He advised creating thorough checklists for disaster recovery and recommended that assessors ask to see a documented plan for downtime operation and downtime recovery, as well as the lab’s method for testing and validating the disaster recovery plan.

Robin Nozick, president of R.F. Nozick and Associates, focused on the guidelines "ISBT—Guidelines for Validation and Maintaining the Validation State of Automated Systems in Blood Banking." The guidelines are available in the August 2003 issue of Vox Sanguinis, the official journal of the International Society of Blood Transfusion.

The guidelines describe the processes that blood banks should take to ensure appropriate validation and detail the documentation that assessors will ask blood banks to produce to prove they have validated their systems. "Every facility needs to have a validation master plan that supports their quality management policy," said Nozick. "The guidelines can be used as a logical standardization baseline for that plan."

Many commercial blood bank systems lack a robust method to extract data from the system and turn it into business knowledge in a simple manner, said Christopher A. Baldwin, PhD, senior director of production for New York Blood Center. Dr. Baldwin described a simplified method used at New York Blood Center to create a Web-based business management tool. The first step was to use a script or a system job to extract raw data from the information system. Next, a database was created that accepted the extracted data and linked it to external data through a query. Using Excel, a master spreadsheet was linked to the query. Pivot tables and graphs were used to summarize data into useful business information, such as phlebotomy effectiveness, customer satisfaction, and profitability by client. The output from Excel was automatically published as a Web page. The entire process took approximately a week.

This quick, basic method may not be the ideal solution, but it provides significant value for little cost compared with having to pay a vendor more than $100,000 to create a more elegant option.

On the exhibit floor, 519 exhibitors, representing 190 companies, showcased their products. Forty-six of the companies had never before displayed their wares at an AABB meeting.

Mediware Information Systems ( demonstrated its new Hemocare LifeLine (HCLL) product, a complete transfusion service application that includes exception reporting for investigation and documentation. The product gives medical directors the option of moving to a paperless review process. The product is live at four sites and has 24 contracts representing 61 hospitals, including such prestigious institutions as Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, University Hospitals of Cleveland, Barnes Jewish Hospital, St. Louis, and Intermountain Health Care, Salt Lake City.

Blood Bank Computer Systems ( featured its Blood Bank Control System version 5.0, which received FDA 510(k) clearance on Oct. 26. The new product includes ISBT 128 capability, touch-screen donor self-registration, enhanced donor room management and donor testing module, redesigned change/update process, HLA processing, pharmaceutical product tracking, and many other features.

Wyndgate Technologies ( exhibited its SafeTrace and SafeTraceTx products. The company demonstrated the products’ enhanced Web scheduler, which allows previous donors to schedule their own appointments, and a Web-based report server, which allows clients to develop customized reports and donor call lists.

Catering to the very small transfusion service, Psyche Systems ( demonstrated its SBB blood bank software, a hosted, FDA 510(k)-approved transfusion system designed for small blood bank laboratories. SBB is an easy-to-use, affordable standalone system that features full inventory management, work-up processing, patient history, and audit trail capabilities.

Complementing AABB presentations on Web-based training and compliance management were products exhibited by Pilgrim Software and Knowledge Forge.

Pilgrim Software ( showcased its total enterprise quality and regulatory compliance management system. The product, which is preconfigured with best practices, is an integrated suite of Web-based tools that allow a blood center to manage corrective and preventative actions, internal and external assessments, document control, enforcement of standard operating procedures, and employee certification and training.

Knowledge Forge ( specializes in creating standard and customized e-learning programs that focus on compliance, technical skills, sales, and product training. The company offers courses focusing on quality control, customer service, and patient education. Knowledge Forge’s new Knowledge Tracking System-Professional is an integrated enterprise-wide tool that can administer and track any type of training, whether online, traditional, or via other methods.

More than 20 vendors demonstrated some form of donor management and recruitment software, but one vendor displayed a unique solution. Donor Dialogue ( offers a service to outsource the entire donor process. The company, which offers a robust set of Web-based donor management tools, will contract on a pay-for-performance basis. Donor Dialogue provides a turnkey outsourcing service for outbound calling to support donor recruitment and appointment scheduling. The blood center pays only for donors that show up at donor sites. The company helps blood centers nationwide to communicate with and manage more than 3 million donors.

Perhaps the most innovative new technology on the exhibit floor was Haemonetics’ Crit-Scan ( The Crit-Scan device for blood collection facilities provides a bloodless, non-invasive method to test hematocrit and hemoglobin results, debunking the adage, "No pain, no gain."

The donor inserts a finger in the unit. Then a cuff inflates around the tip of the finger. The cuff measures the volume of blood flowing into the fingertip and uses an optical array to measure how the light is absorbed and scattered by the pulsating blood flow. The process takes less than a minute, and accuracy rates and costs are comparable to accepted testing methods.

Web-based resource center focuses on electronic health information exchange

The Foundation for eHealth Initiative, Washington, DC, is operating a Web-based resource center to help health care entities network about electronic health information issues.

With a target audience ranging from clinicians and hospitals to public health agencies and consumer groups, the resource center,, provides links to information on how to plan and implement electronic health information exchange. The information is organized into seven categories— engaging the American public, infrastructure, accurate linking of health records, rate of adoption of clinical applications, data standards, funding and incentives, and legal safe harbors.

The resource center is part of the foundation’s larger e-health effort, a program called Connecting Communities for Better Health. "The resource center provides information tailored to the unique perspective of each user category, showing what’s currently happening in the way of lessons learned, best practices, and frequently asked questions according to their particular area of interest," says Meryl Bloomrosen, vice president and program manager, Foundation for eHealth Initiative, and director, CCBH program.

With information on more than 134 communities and dozens of project descriptions now in the database, says Bloomrosen, the foundation recently enhanced the resource center with a keyword search function to make the site more user-friendly. The foundation eventually plans to add a "what’s new" feature, she adds, so users can immediately recognize what’s changed on the site since their previous visit. It will also offer chat capabilities so community members can hold discussions on the site.

The foundation will also be seeking feedback on what should be included on the resource center. "We will be actively looking to make enhancements and improvements from a user perspective," Bloomrosen says.

In July, the foundation awarded more than $2 million in funding through the CCBH program to nine organizations to pursue local projects in electronic health information exchange. The organizations are: Connecting Colorado, Denver; Indiana Health Information Exchange, Indianapolis; MA-SHARE (Massachusetts—Simplifying Health care Among Regional Entities) MedsInfo e-Prescribing Initiative, Waltham; MD/DC (Maryland/Washington, DC) Collaborative for Healthcare Information Technology, Baltimore-Washington, DC; Santa Barbara County Care Data Exchange, Santa Barbara, Calif.; Taconic Health Information Network and Community, Fishkill, NY; Tri-Cities TN-VA (Tennessee/ Virginia) Care Data Exchange, Kingsport, Tenn.; Whatcom County e-Prescribing Project, Bellingham, Wash.; and Wisconsin Health Information Exchange, Milwaukee.

Vianeta introduces digital patient information software

Vianeta Communications recently introduced its XML-based Digital Patient Folder software system, a part of the company’s Vianeta Harmony electronic health information management solution suite.

Vianeta’s Digital Patient Folder lets authorized hospital employees and patients view vast amounts of disparate patient information via the Web or within the hospital network. Users can view on one screen a complete patient medical history, including problem lists, encounter history, drug allergies, past surgical procedures, laboratory and radiologic studies, prescribed medications, and immunizations.

The product unifies information from a variety of internal and external sources, including voice dictation files, transcription, hospital and departmental information systems, and paper documents. It incorporates such Vianeta Harmony features as eSignature, online digital dictation, computerized chart completion, and CPT/ICD-9 coding.

Bio-Rad offering new Internet quality control software

Bio-Rad Laboratories has introduced QCNet 3.0, software that provides laboratories with Internet access to quality control information and resources.

QCNet 3.0 provides monthly Unity and InstantQC interlaboratory reports, product inserts, continuing education courses, and other information.

The Linearity Web software tool in QCNet 3.0 allows users to quickly verify linearity and reportable range. Users enter test data from Bio-Rad’s Lyphochek hemoglobin A1C linearity set to get an immediate relationship between measured values and values for the standard.

The continuing education courses released with QCNet 3.0 include "Biological Variation 2—Putting Total Error to Work in the Laboratory," "Biological Variation 3—Assessing Current In-Use QC Protocols," and "ISO 15189—International Laboratory Accreditation."

SNOMED to add osteopathic medical terminology

SNOMED International, a division of the CAP, has announced that it will add osteopathic medical content to SNOMED Clinical Terms core content under a collaborative agreement with the American Osteopathic Association and American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine.

The concepts will include procedures, diagnoses, and subtle anatomical aberrations well known to osteopathic physicians.

The new concepts will also be available through the National Library of Medicine’s Unified Medical Language System.


Dallas-based Christus Health has chosen to standardize its information technology solution with a full suite of Meditech clinical and financial applications. Christus will install Meditech’s health care information system in 25 acute care sites and two long-term care facilities.

Trestle Holdings Inc. has signed an agreement to implement digital imaging applications for Michigan-based Henry Ford Health System. Henry Ford will also serve as a test site for Trestle’s future products.

Dr. Aller is director of bioterrorism preparedness and response for Los Angeles County Public Health Acute Communicable Diseases. He can be reached at Hal Weiner is president of Weiner Consulting Services, LLC, Florence, Ore. He can be reached at Dr. Weilert is director of laboratories, Community Hospitals of Central California, Fresno. He can be reached at