Deals, Deployments, and Short News -- Nov. 4, 2008

By Allison Proffitt, Digital HealthCare & Productivity Staff

November 4, 2008 | Market growth of electronic medical record implementations in ambulatory health care settings, such as private medical practices or specialty clinics, continues at a slow but steady pace, according to results from the Ambulatory Healthcare IT Survey, conducted by the Healthcare Information and Management System Society (HIMSS) and HIMSS Analytics. The 2008 survey collected information about key technology use in the ambulatory market, such as EMRs and e-prescribing. Approximately one-third of respondents noted that functional components of an electronic medical record are in place at their organization. While some respondents mentioned use of specific EMR software brands at their organizations, the research clearly suggests that no dominant market leader exists, and instead, many software vendors are players in this market. The HIMSS/HIMSS Analytics Ambulatory Healthcare IT Survey also found that market growth is predicted to be slow with just 13 percent of respondents indicating that they will purchase an EMR in the near future; half of these respondents said that their organization will purchase an EMR application within a year; and among both current and future users, physician charting/documentation and nursing charting/documentation were key features that are/will be used. HIMSS Analytics conducted the telephone survey in June 2008 with 500 individuals, usually the practice managers at ambulatory practices. The respondents included three practice-size categories: 54 percent were small practices with one to three full-time employees (equivalents); 37 percent were medium practices with four to 14 FTEs; and 9 percent were large practices with 15 or more FTEs. In addition, one-third of the respondents worked for a primary care practice with the remaining two-thirds employed at a specialty clinic.

Sarah Kramer has been appointed president and CEO of eHealth Ontario, a new agency announced last month by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Kramer’s appointment was announced in an Oct. 31 letter from Alan Hudson, Chair of Board and is effective immediately with a start date of Nov. 3, 2008. The key priorities of eHealth Ontario include creating a Diabetes Registry that will ensure people with diabetes in the province are receiving the best possible care, establishing an e-prescribing system to eliminate hand-written prescriptions and reduce medication errors, and developing an e-health portal which will allow health care providers and patients to easily and securely access the health information they need to deliver and receive better care. In addition, eHealth Ontario will also oversee the development of a province-wide electronic health record system by 2015.

Tufts Medical Center and the New England Quality Care Alliance (NEQCA), the physician network of Tufts, have selected eClinicalWorks unified electronic medical record (EMR) and practice management (PM) software, placing the system in both the academic and community settings. As part of this agreement, eClinicalWorks EMR/PM software is available to nearly 900 primary care and specialty physicians as well as 421 residents. eClinicalWorks Patient Portal will also be used to improve patient communication. Tufts Medical Center and NEQCA members will implement eClinicalWorks unified EMR/PM software to have one system across the network of providers—connecting community physicians with local hospitals and the academic center. This system will streamline clinical processes between practice locations and promote patient safety while reducing costs. The Patient Portal will provide a secure, online means for patients to communicate with their doctor's office for aspects of care including patient statements and education.

BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners, a corporate venture fund that is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, and Sandbox Industries announced a $5-million investment in Initiate Systems, a leader in master data management (MDM) solutions for health information exchange. BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners is a newly formed $116-million fund to which 11 independent Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield companies have committed capital. The fund invests in technologies, products, and services in the U.S. health care industry that promote efficiency, lower costs, and improve options for consumers. In a unique partnership, the fund is managed jointly by representatives from the Association, the participating Blue Plans, and Sandbox Industries, a Chicago-based venture capital firm. The first investment the fund has made is in Initiate Systems. Initiate enables organizations to leverage and share critical data assets. Initiate software enables strategic initiatives such as electronic health records (EHR) and clinical portals that help improve efficiencies, increase patient and provider satisfaction, reduce errors that result from poor data quality, and create an interoperable environment that allows health care organizations to better serve their communities. It can also help health care organizations, including payers and providers, save millions of dollars in administrative costs.

Emdeon has been named the electronic data interchange (EDI) provider for Maryland hospitals by the
 Maryland Hospital Association (MHA). Emdeon was selected through a competitive bidding process conducted by the MHA’s HIPAA Transaction Project working through sub-committees of the MHA’s Council on Financial Policy. MHA cited Emdeon’s leading payer network, proven technical ability to process patient eligibility and benefits verifications and claim status inquiries, as well as its ability to integrate with “virtually any hospital’s system,” as deciding factors in the selection process. By partnering with Emdeon, MHA expects to advance the development of HIPAA administrative transactions between Maryland hospitals and the major payers in the state. The establishment of this Transaction Data Interchange, focused on the unique needs of the Maryland hospital community, will result in improved electronic efficiencies. The MHA represents 47 hospitals and health systems in Maryland. The relationship with Emdeon will increase the availability and access to information related to claim status and eligibility verification transactions for hospitals, and establish a standard for HIPAA transactions - thereby streamlining the multiple processes that flow between health care providers and payers to promote full implementation of EDI in the state of Maryland.

Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) has announced it has been awarded a prime contract by the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Office of Research Information Systems to provide software development support services to the electronic Research Administration (eRA). The single-award contract has a one year base period of performance, four one-year options and a total contract value of more than $61 million if all options are exercised. Work will be performed primarily in Bethesda, Md. eRA systems provide information technology solutions and support for the full life cycle of grants administration functions for the NIH. The systems help manage the receipt, processing, review, award, and monitoring of over $30 billion in grants awarded annually. Used by Federal staff and applicants at over 9,500 institutions worldwide, the systems help record, review and process over 80,000 applications each year, and administer more than 55,000 grants. Under the contract, SAIC will provide a broad range of software development services including system maintenance and enhancement, and design and development services.

IntraOp Medical Corporation has entered into an agreement with Southwest Florida Dermrad LLC (Dermrad), in Fort Myers, Florida, to provide a Mobetron that will treat skin cancer patients with electron-beam radiation therapy. IntraOp plans to install the Mobetron within the next 30 days. The Mobetron is the only FDA-approved self-shielding device and is typically used to deliver intraoperative electron-beam radiation therapy (IOERT) to cancer patients at the time of surgery, in many cases eliminating the need for post-operative radiation treatment. The Mobetron was selected by Demrad for its ability to provide desirable cosmetic outcomes for patients in an office setting, and to potentially reduce the need for invasive skin cancer surgeries.

Beginning December 1, health care providers using MTBC’s free EMR software will see accelerated collections through real-time adjudication (RTA) of claims with three major insurers: UnitedHealthcare, Humana, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Florida. As a result, during a patient encounter at the office, doctors and their staff members will be able to instantly calculate the patient's responsibility and learn of submission errors or rejections. Moreover, the time span for processing and reimbursement of claims will be markedly shortened because RTA claims are submitted earlier and given priority by the insurer.

A case study recently published by Kermit Randa of Surgical Information Systems (SIS) and Mitch Work of The Work Group, Inc., outlines the benefits realized through the implementation of a best of breed perioperative system at Bassett Healthcare in Cooperstown, NY, and the University of Connecticut Health Care Center in Farmington, Conn. The Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital, Bassett Healthcare’s core inpatient facility, reported several improvements following their initial implementation of an automated perioperative system: on-time first case starts increased by 35%; turnaround times improved by 33%; case supply costs decreased by $200 per case; and surgery-related charge capture increased by 30%. At the University of Connecticut Health Center, which began implementing its surgical information system a few years after Bassett, the efficiency of anesthesia management has been strongly enhanced since implementing an anesthesia component, and charge capture for billing has also been improved.

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital has licensed the Lawson Human Resource Management Suite along with the Lawson S3 Supply Chain Management, Enterprise Financial Management and Enterprise Performance Management Suites. The hospital will use the Lawson solutions to help eliminate manual administrative processes, improve decision making and simplify budgeting and planning. The contract was signed during Lawson’s first quarter of fiscal 2009, which ended Aug. 31, 2008. Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital is a 600-bed hospital specializing in cardiac care and transplantation, cancer care, emergency medicine, pediatrics and maternal-fetal medicine. As the principal teaching hospital of UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, the hospital employs 1,300 physicians and surgeons. The hospital will use the Lawson applications to help automate formerly paper-based processes and improve access to information across departments to promote more accurate budgeting and planning.

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