The fifth annual TEPR Awards, given out at the 20th annual Towards an Electronic Patient Record conference in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., recognized 24 healthcare information system solutions in eight categories. Winners in each category are:
Defense EMR on target for full rollout
The Defense Department's top physician says the military is making headway on its rollout of an ambitious plan to have an ambulatory electronic medical records system running across the entire armed forces healthcare system by the end of 2006. Initial implementation of the department's EMR, called Composite Health Care System II, began in January after a four-year development period and a year of testing, says William Winkenwerder, M.D., assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. The system works off a central data repository, Winkenwerder says. "Our system creates a capability for us to have real-time query and retrieval of information from our system across all locations," he says. The system is now operating at outpatient facilities in seven hospitals and a number of clinics serving about 400,000 people. "Our plan calls for completion of the implementation by the end of 2006," Winkenwerder adds.
Better care could save $30 billion: IT group
Better care for Medicare beneficiaries with chronic conditions could prevent some 1.7 million hospitalizations and save Medicare more than $30 billion in 2004, the Information Technology Association of America says. The CMS is working on improving chronic care; it recently launched a three-year pilot program on disease management for chronic conditions. Some 8 million Medicare beneficiaries have five or more chronic conditions, accounting for more than two-thirds of Medicare's 2004 spending, the IT association says. The group recommends better communication between caregivers and patients; use of decision-support systems and other information systems to improve quality; and use of electronic records systems to promote accountability.
HHS: Snomed CT now available free
Snomed Clinical Terms is now available free of charge from the National Library of Medicine's Unified Medical Language System. "The realization of a fully operational electronic health record has been catapulted forward recently with the president doubling funding to $100 million for healthcare information technology, legislation introduced in Congress, the creation of a senior-level health-technology coordinator at the Department of Health and Human Services and now the availability of Snomed CT free of charge through the UMLS," says Mary Kass, M.D., president of the College of American Pathologists, in a news release.
Calif. Blues gives PCs to safety net docs
Blue Cross of California is giving away an additional $2 million in free desktop or hand-held computers to 1,040 of its network physicians who treat a high number of poor or uninsured patients. The giveaway is an extension of a larger initiative launched by Blue Cross' parent, WellPoint Health Networks. Under that initiative, WellPoint provided $40 million in free computers to 19,000 network physicians and negotiated substantial discounts on the equipment for its 170,000 other contracting doctors. Information technology vendors Allscripts Healthcare Solutions and Zix Corp. will be the key providers of electronic-prescribing software for that venture. The Blues expansion will give safety net physicians their choice of a computer system that lets them access patient records and file claims via the Internet, or a hand-held device that submits prescriptions to pharmacists electronically and flags potential drug interactions.
More HIPAA headaches loom
In what sounds like a broken record, the healthcare industry is far behind in efforts to comply with the next set of requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, according to a study by URAC, an agency that operates healthcare accreditation and certification programs. Healthcare organizations have until April 21, 2005, to provide a HIPAA-standard level of security for the personal health information they collect, use and share both internally and with outside organizations. Based on consultations with more than 300 providers, payers and other healthcare-related organizations, URAC determined that most are not compliant with the security regulations and "still have a long way to go" to meet "base line regulatory and business requirements," the group says in a 28-page report. Obtain the report at URAC?s Web site, urac.org.
Sutter announces $1.2 billion IT investment
Sutter Health, Sacramento, Calif., says it plans to spend $1.2 billion over the next decade to implement clinical information systems and related technology at its 26 hospitals and associated physician practices. The plan calls for supporting standardization of care practices, improving workplace efficiency, enhancing patient safety with new technology and securely sharing patient data across all affiliated facilities. The investments include more than $100 million for an electronic medical record for viewing test results and placing orders.