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CCHIT announced today it is accepting applications for its Inpatient (hospital) electronic health records (EHRs) Certification pilot through March 30, 2007. Preparation for pilot testing will begin in early April with testing to follow in late April and early May. Participation in the CCHIT Inpatient EHR Certification pilot is open to any company that has an inpatient EHR product offering clinician electronic order writing (commonly called CPOE) and electronic medication administration (commonly called eMAR) functions. Companies that only offer eMAR are also invited to apply. Interested parties may apply for participation in the pilot by downloading the Inpatient Pilot Application from the CCHIT website and returning the completed form via email by March 30. "The goal of this pilot test is to validate the inpatient certification criteria and test scripts in preparation for our launch of 2007 Inpatient EHR Certification in August," said Mark Leavitt, CCHIT chair. "Earlier this month, we conducted an extra ‘alpha’ test to refine the material even further, and now we’re ready for the pilot. We would like to have five or six vendor participants, including some that offer both CPOE and eMAR, and some that offer only eMAR, to get a good sampling of the marketplace."

Computerized mail and phone reminders can significantly increase the percentage of patients receiving preventive health services and improve the value of healthcare, according to a Mayo Clinic study published this week in Archives of Internal Medicine. "National evidence-based guidelines say every woman over age 40 should have a yearly mammogram, but only about 65 percent of women nationally have had one in the last two years," says Rajeev Chaudhry, the Mayo Clinic physician who led the study. Researchers divided a population of 6,675 women aged 40-75 into two nearly equal groups: one to get mailings and, if necessary, a phone call to remind them to schedule a mammogram; and a control group that did not receive reminders. Among the reminded group, 64.3 percent had their yearly mammogram, versus 55.3 percent in the control group. Expanded use of these reminders, after the study, further improved patient response. "This kind of practice happens in other fields," says co-author Rosa Cabanela. "Dentist practices, for example, typically call or mail patients to remind them to make an appointment. Healthcare has been behind many other industries in using technology to optimize service and efficiency. It's time to catch up."

America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) is teaming with Health Literacy Innovations to offer what they say is the nation’s first “health literacy checker,” a software tool designed to help communicators create clear health information and conform to principles of clear health communication. An individual’s ability to understand and act on medical instructions and information (“health literacy”) is a stronger predictor of health status than age, income, employment, education, race, or ethnicity, say the partners. “In an era when patients take a greater role in their health care, this partnership provides a valuable tool to assist health plans with presenting information in ways that make it easy for patients to understand and act on,” said Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of AHIP. The tool applies electronic readability indices, including the Fry-based formula, and taps into a glossary of more than 9,000 interchangeable terms. The program, which is an add-on to Microsoft Word, operates like a "spell-checker" and scans a document for its readability and literacy level. If it finds words or terms that compromise readability, it highlights those words and offers alternatives.

Note to RHIOs: Take this survey. The Healthcare IT Transition Group will again survey RHIOs on financial issues and practices. Following the recent failure of one of the earliest RHIOs, worry over finding a sustainable business model hangs over the dozens of other efforts under way. Among the questions asked are: How do finances differ during startup, transition and production phases; What forms of contributed and earned revenues are significant at what time; How is the business model evolving; What funding sources are the best prospects to fund a new RHIO project? The survey sponsor encourages all RHIO organizers to participate, regardless of the organization's stage of development. Multiple individuals from the same organization may complete the survey. A free public summary, a special report to qualified survey respondents, and a full-scale report analyzing the data will be available in June.

McKesson announced general availability of the Connect-RN solution, which it says is the first product to integrate bar-code medication administration, medication cabinets, and pharmacy information systems on a single mobile device, the Horizon Admin-RX. Nurses use Connect-RN to control medication retrieval and administration. With a few clicks on the Horizon Admin-RX device, the nurse automatically generates the list of medications to be administered and identifies the exact locations for all specified medications, including stationary or mobile medication cabinets, carts, and other locations. Two hospitals completed beta testing of Connect-RN: Moore Regional Hospital, Pinehurst, N.C., and Baptist Hospital Northeast, La Grange, Ky.

Parkland Health & Hospital System in Dallas uses high-performance voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) to improve the continuity of communications in the event of a disaster and to deliver better service to patients. Parkland has 14 remote clinics and administrative offices located throughout Dallas County. Before upgrading to a new high-performance network, each remote site had its own stand-alone communication system. “Previously, our remote clinics had somewhat limited communications capabilities,” said Jack Kowitt, SVP and CIO, Parkland. “Now, each clinic has access to the same communications functions available at the main hospital, and employees from any location can now be a part of our call center.” Parkland’s voice network is based on Avaya Communication Manager IP telephony software. The healthcare system’s voice network relies on Juniper Networks J-series routers and uses the modular JUNOS operating system to manage VoIP traffic.

Picis released the third major upgrade of its Total Perioperative Automation suite, a complete integration of surgical scheduling, supply chain management, revenue management, and clinical workflow automation for surgeons, OR nurses, department managers, and anesthesia providers. The new release has more than 125 new features, the company says.

Israeli HMO Maccabi Healthcare Services is entering international markets and is making its Health Value Added (HVA) Knowledge Base solution available to HMOs and health organizations worldwide. HVA Knowledge Base enables HMOs to measure quality of care, improve budgeting, and increase member satisfaction by recording, analyzing, and making accessible all patient medical data, including all patient-HMO interactions. The solution is offered as a flexible hands-on consulting service. Clients can elect to use Maccabi's integrated IT platform or transfer its principles and methodology to their own IT system.

Catalisse unveiled Revenuity, a service to help small to mid-sized subspecialty medical practice groups improve revenue cycle management. Revenuity is an outsourced medical billing solution designed to deliver substantial ROI by reducing revenue leakage through services ranging from electronic billing and patient bill generation to patient collections and medical transcriptions. Subspecialty practice groups such as oncology, cardiology, radiology, and psychiatry are often faced with complicated billing and coding requirements. Catalisse claims to have solved this problem.

Northrop Grumman won a follow-on contract from the U.S. Department of Defense to provide systems engineering and integration support to AHLTA, the clinical information system that manages electronic health records for the Department of Defense Military Health System. AHLTA supports more than nine million active service members, retirees, and their families worldwide. The contract is valued at $67.7 million. Northrop will provide security accreditation and information assurance, management information services, commercial off-the-shelf product monitoring, and configuration management support to AHLTA. Northrop Grumman has been AHLTA’s primary systems integrator and developer since 1999.

Agfa HealthCare completed implementation of the HeartStation ECG Management system at Caritas Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton, Mass. The new system is a comprehensive data management solution that automates the processing and storage of electrocardiograms (ECGs). HeartStation provides the hospital's physicians, technicians, and clinical staff with timely access to secure ECG exams and reports from any point on the enterprise network. Data from a variety of ECG equipment manufacturers is managed by the solution.

Siemens Medical Solutions launched a new service, Remote CardiacIT Administrator, a server maintenance package that proactively ensures servers stay up and running, sparing cardiology facilities from costly downtime. It’s being launched this week at the 56th Annual Scientific Session of the American College of Cardiology. Remote CardiacIT Administrator is a proactive, weekly monitoring solution that is manned by Siemens-certified technical engineers. On a weekly basis, Siemens-certified engineers will check for administration errors; archive device and media log errors; perform remote repairs when possible; and notify customers when they need to take action. Additionally, the Siemens engineers can dispatch on-site service technicians if a remote fix is not possible.

Axolotl released a new version of its Elysium product, with a focus on delivering Elysium E-Prescribing customers added value and ease of use. The release also includes a Health Alert distribution feature, the ability to display community-wide inpatient and emergency room visit details, and additional Clinical Messaging capabilities. Many usability and efficiency enhancements have been made, including: improved management of "favorites"; enhanced drug search capability; and automated de-duplication and management of the medical history on the Elysium Patient Summary. This release is fully certified with SureScripts V4 and, in conjunction with Elysium’s robust workflow management tools, completely automates the prescription renewal process, saving office staff time and improving prescription accuracy.

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