Stanford Hospital and Clinics, Palo Alto, Calif., says it will redirect a significant portion of its information technology budget to new and advanced clinical information systems after handing over responsibility for much of its current computerization to Perot Systems Corp. The seven-year outsourcing contract is valued at $360 million. Perot will assist Stanford's plan to transform its IT capabilities as well as enhance and support existing systems. As part of the deal, Stanford University teaching affiliate Lucile Packard Children's Hospital also will establish a partnership with Perot, under which the firm will manage the hospital's clinical and operations information networks and infrastructure. Packard will continue to be responsible for IT planning and software. Perot will offer employment to all IT personnel at both hospitals, according to a news release announcing the deal.
Diagnostic center opens in Indiana
A $2 million state grant will provide seed money for setting up a wide-ranging Indianapolis research center that will combine the efforts of experts in genetics, proteomics, evidence-based medicine, mathematical modeling and database integration. The new Center of Excellence in Computational Diagnostics will be located at the Indiana University School of Medicine under the direction of Susanne Ragg, M.D., an assistant professor of pediatrics and oncology at IU who is on staff at the James Whitcomb Riley Hospital for Children. "What we did in the center was put all these people together to improve patient care," says Ragg, who applied for the grant from the 21st Century Research and Technology Fund, established by the Indiana General Assembly in 1999 to help diversify the economy of the state. Researchers working under the new center also will include scientists at Indiana University in Bloomington and Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis, and those schools' departments of chemistry, library and information sciences, computer engineering and mathematics. The Indianapolis-based Regenstrief Institute will lend its data-management expertise to the research efforts. An initial focus of their work will be to develop blood tests to better identify biomarkers for pediatric cancer and heart disease.
Consulting highest-paying field for IT experts
Salaries for healthcare information technology professionals grew an average of 5.8% from 2001 to 2003, resulting in an average annual salary of $96,568 in 2003, compared with $91,268 in 2001, according to a survey by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. IT professionals at healthcare consulting firms led all categories, averaging a 7.4% raise over two years and a $116,696 salary in 2003. However, for three-fourths of the 1,352 IT professionals surveyed, the average salary grew only 4.8% during the period. IT experts at computer firms were the No. 2 wage earners with an average salary of $103,702 in 2003, followed by those employed at health plans and insurers, where salaries averaged $103,634. Physician offices lagged behind the rest of the field, paying an average of $74,386. Salaries for IT professionals in senior management averaged $137,705 in 2003, while program analysts and system administrators had an average salary of less than $60,000. The study is available online at himss.org.
EMR experts move to Detroit Medical Center
Two founders of the Michigan Electronic Medical Record Initiative, or MEMRI, will join the staff of the Detroit Medical Center. Charles Shanley, M.D., a vascular surgeon, and David Ellis, a healthcare futurist, helped launch MEMRI, which was incorporated as a not-for-profit entity in May 2002. The group aims to improve healthcare quality and reduce costs through the creation of a database of information gleaned from electronic medical-record systems that will generate de-identified data for public-health and financial analysis. Shanley is the associate chairman of the department of surgery and director of surgical education and research at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich. He will become chief of vascular surgery at both the medical center and at Wayne State University School of Medicine. Ellis, acting executive director of MEMRI, assumes the role of corporate director of planning and future studies at DMC.
PhRMA unveils clinical-studies database
The pharmaceutical industry has unveiled a Web-based database that aims to give doctors and patients access to completed clinical studies--both positive and negative--for all approved drugs. The database will include summaries of published and unpublished clinical trial results that have been completed since October 2002. However, the database is designed to be only voluntary for members of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the drug industry trade group spearheading the effort. The Web site arrives amid a growing clamor by consumer groups and advocates for greater transparency in the drug development and approval process. Industry officials noted the effort follows a commitment the industry made two years ago to communicate the results of clinical studies regardless of outcome. In June, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer sued GlaxoSmithKline for fraud for withholding negative clinical information from drug trials. The American Medical Association followed up by calling on the government to create a public registry for all drug study results. GlaxoSmithKline responded by announcing it would post all of its trials data on the Web. In addition to the summaries of any unpublished clinical studies, drug manufacturers who choose to put their U.S.-marketed pharmaceuticals on the Web site also will include the drug label and a bibliography of peer-reviewed medical journal articles from studies sponsored by the manufacturers. The database is available at clinicalstudyresults.org.