Information technology outsourcing firm Affiliated Computer Services, Dallas, says it will acquire Superior Consultant Holdings Corp., Dearborn, Mich., for $8.50 per share, or $106 million before transaction costs. Richard Helppie, founder and chief executive officer at Superior, will become the combined company's managing director of commercial healthcare provider services and will continue to be based in Dearborn. Helppie says most of Superior's 700 employees will be offered positions with the merged company, although some changes are expected in support positions. Affiliated, a Fortune 500 company, generates about $4 billion in revenue annually. The sale is expected to close by the end of the first quarter.
Cerner to buy division
Cerner, Kansas City, Mo., says it will buy the medical division of VitalWorks, Birmingham, Ala., for $100 million in a deal expected to close in the first quarter. The division sells electronic medical records systems, practice management systems and transaction-processing software and services. VitalWorks will continue to own its radiology information technology systems. Cerner says an estimated 100,000 physicians use its healthcare systems, and the company expects to add 30,000 more physicians with the VitalWorks purchase.
Cause for errors detailed
U.S. Pharmacopeia, Rockville, Md., says almost one in five of the 235,159 medication-error reports it received from hospitals and health systems in 2003 involved automated dispensing devices or computerized entry by a laboratory technician, physician or other caregiver. Some 1.3% of errors involving automated dispensing devices resulted in patients being harmed, compared with 1.5% for all errors reported. Just 0.7% of errors involving computerized entry were harmful, and the frequency of harmful errors fell to 0.1% when entry systems were used specifically by the prescribers, says Diane Cousins, vice president of US Pharmacopeia's Center for the Advancement of Patient Safety.
Larger groups more high-tech
Physicians in large group practices are 7.7 times more likely to practice in a "high-tech" information technology environment than physicians in solo practices, says a survey by the Commonwealth Fund. Researchers described a "high-tech office" as having at least four of nine IT tools: electronic medical records; electronic ordering of drugs and tests; electronic access to test results and decision support; e-mail to patients and physicians; and electronic reminders, drug alerts and follow-up care prompts. Some 60% of physicians in medical groups of 50 or more doctors said they routinely or occasionally used an EMR, compared with 25% of physicians in solo practices, the survey found.
Brown & Toland offers access
Brown & Toland Medical Group has launched the first element in what it hopes will become the provision of a subscription-based, complete electronic medical record service for its 700 community physicians. Medical director Peter Alperin, M.D., says the San Francisco-based independent practice association began offering its members Web access free of charge to see lab results from LabCorp. Hospital lab data won't be available, for now, but they're working on it, he says. Alperin freely concedes there's a string attached to giving doctors the free lab results. "It's the hook," he says. "It's the seed of interest. The idea was to add value immediately, and it requires a low barrier of entry with ease of use to our physicians."
AMIA names new leader
Californian Paul Tang, M.D., will ride a cresting wave of healthcare information technology for the next three years as chairman-elect and chairman of the American Medical Informatics Association. Tang, a specialist in internal medicine and the chief medical informatics officer at the 600-physician Palo Alto (Calif.) Medical Foundation, was elected to the position at the general membership meeting of the organization in Boston. Tang sees the AMIA bringing the clinician perspective to the national discussion on the role of healthcare IT in medicine. Formed in 1990 with the merger of three informatics organizations, the AMIA now claims 3,200 members, including physicians, nurses, computer and information scientists, biomedical engineers, medical librarians, academic researchers and educators.
Digital hospital for sale
HealthSouth Corp., Birmingham, Ala., has entered exclusive negotiations to sell its $300 million "digital" hospital in its corporate hometown to a partnership of Baptist Health System and Samford University, both based in Birmingham. A timetable for negotiations was not disclosed. HealthSouth has debated whether to shed the acute-care hospital, intended to showcase state-of-the-art information technology, since federal investigations began in spring 2003 into alleged multibillion-dollar accounting fraud at the company. HealthSouth also plans to sell the Birmingham hospital that the digital facility was intended to replace as part of a strategy to focus on its core rehabilitation services.