The Chicago-based Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society has formed an advisory committee to provide comment to the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology that HIMSS founded earlier this year in conjunction with the American Health Information Management Association and the National Alliance for Health Information Technology. "We have to create the mechanisms to get as many voices heard as possible," Stephen Lieber, president and chief executive officer of HIMSS, says of the advisory committee. "We need to bounce it off these interest groups to make sure we're not misstepping in the development of the certification process." The committee will have no defined limit on members.
A portable health record under the skin
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cleared for marketing the first implantable radio frequency identification microchip for human use. The VeriChip Health Information Microtransponder System consists of the implantable chip, an inserter, a hand-held scanner and a secure database with a patient's approved healthcare information. The chip, about the size of a grain of rice, is inserted under the patient's skin in an outpatient procedure with local anesthetic. It emits a radio frequency signal transmitting a unique 16-digit verification number, which can be captured by the scanner and used to access the secure database. The system's maker, Applied Digital, Delray Beach, Fla., has not disclosed a price.
Health system, practices win HIMSS awards
Evanston (Ill.) Northwestern Healthcare has won the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's 2004 Nicholas E. Davies Award of Excellence for implementing an integrated electronic health record throughout its three acute-care hospitals and in 65 offices of its medical group. Evanston Northwestern "did everything right -- from its leadership commitment, reworking of all of its processes and securing organizational buy-in to realizing tangible benefits in quality, safety and operating efficiencies," says Asif Ahmad, chairman of the award task force and vice president and chief information officer at Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C., and its health system. A companion award for primary-care facilities was given to North Fulton Family Medicine, Cumming, Ga.; Old Harding Pediatric Associates, Nashville; Pediatrics at the Basin, Pittsford, N.Y.; and Riverpoint Pediatrics, Chicago.
Tech-standards group names docs to board
Two physician leaders have been named to the 15-member board of Health Level 7, a healthcare IT standards organization based in Ann Arbor, Mich. Bob Dolin, M.D., a La Palma, Calif.-based informaticist with the Southern California Permanente Medical Group, and Randy Levin, M.D., an associate director of electronic submissions at the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, were named to two-year terms as directors at large at the group's annual meeting in Atlanta. They join fellow physicians Kai Heitmann of the University of Cologne, Germany; Bill Braithwaite, an independent health policy consultant in Washington; and Charles Mead, director of healthcare information architecture for Oracle Corp.
Ascension signs another computer contract
Ascension Health, St. Louis, has signed a 10-year, $1.35 billion IT services contract with Computer Sciences Corp. under which CSC will manage IT operations for all 67 acute-care hospitals and related facilities. The agreement, effective Jan. 1, 2005, builds on a seven-year, $200 million agreement Ascension signed in September 2003 for CSC to manage IT operations for the health system's central office as well as the three hospitals and related facilities of Carondelet Health Network, an Ascension affiliate in Tucson, Ariz. The 10-year contract includes responsibility for help desk, network, security and telecommunications services as well as computing functions at the server, mainframe and desktop levels.
Health IT adoption depends on size: survey
Size begets financial strength, which begets adoption of health IT, according to a survey of about 560 physician practices conducted by the Medical Group Management Association, Englewood, Colo., and released at the group's national convention in San Francisco last month. The survey, taken in May and June, found that 25% of respondents reported lack of capital as a barrier to implementing electronic health records. Another 9% cited insufficient return on investment as a limiting factor. Respondents with three or fewer full-time-equivalent physicians reported a 20% adoption rate of EHRs, compared with a 41% adoption rate by groups of 26 physician full-time equivalents or more. Additionally, 20% of respondents said their systems could write prescriptions, 10% said they had a patient disease registry, and 10% said their systems had clinical decision-support capabilities.
N.Y. Blues to reimburse docs for Web visits
Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield, New York, will launch a pilot program that pays doctors $25 for interactive consultations regarding such routine matters as appointment requests, prescription renewals, laboratory results and simple medical questions. The program uses secure Internet technology by RelayHealth that asks patients a series of questions and then sends concise summaries to physicians, who usually reply within eight hours and can attach patient-education materials, Web links or a prescription. The system also automatically checks members? eligibility, calculates the copayment and submits a claim to Empire, which covers 4.8 million members.
Tech-savvy dean awaits med students
As the head of the new Sarasota campus of Florida State University College of Medicine, pulmonologist and medical informaticist Bruce Berg, M.D., will welcome the first batch of fourth-year, tech-savvy medical students to the medical school next January. He was named assistant dean in charge of the Sarasota FSU medical school campus in late July; previously, he was associate medical officer, medical information officer and chief safety officer at Sarasota Memorial Health Care System. FSU's medical school was created by the Florida Legislature in 2000 and began accepting students in 2001. The emphasis is on communications and clinical information technology at FSU medical school, where students are taught to use an electronic medical record system in their first year. Berg was a 2003 winner of the Award for Achievement in Applied Medical Informatics given by the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems.