Medem, the for-profit healthcare information technology company founded by the American Medical Association, launched a Web-based patient-care record called iHealthRecords. The service allows patients and physicians to have access via the Internet to the same patient information regardless of location. Medem was formed in late 1999 to compete with what was then a host of Web portals targeting physicians and patients, including Medscape, Drkoop.com, iVillage and WebMD. Since then, Medem has established a foothold in the healthcare IT market with several online services, including development of physician-practice Web sites and providing online physician-patient consultation, messaging and bill-payment services. The company claims it provides communications services to 90,000 physicians.
Unlocking IT potential
A report for HHS' national coordinator for health information technology says using IT to its full potential in healthcare will depend on widespread adoption of interoperable systems, leveraging the federal government's position as the largest healthcare payer to drive IT adoption, and provider-payer collaboration. The report, prepared by the Lewin Group and based on recommendations of a leadership group convened at the HHS office's request, said investing in healthcare IT was essential to the future of the nation's healthcare system and to the U.S. economy. HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt, speaking at a Business Roundtable-sponsored meeting, said HHS had established "an aggressive schedule" for IT efforts and that creating a nationwide electronic health-record system was a high priority for his agency.
Docs resist sharing performance data
Payers and the government are pushing hard to make physician-specific performance data available to the public, and many doctors don't like it a bit. According to a Commonwealth Fund study, 69% of physicians in a national survey were opposed to sharing physician-specific performance data with the general public. Forty-four percent expressed hesitancy at sharing individual performance data with their own patients, and 27% were hesitant to share it with medical leadership. One reason for the opposition may be that physicians don't want a limited data set to be used as the sole measure of their work, says Stephen Schoenbaum, co-author of the study and an executive vice president at the Commonwealth Fund.
Hospitals seek bar-coding for devices
Six hospital industry groups asked the Food and Drug Administration to require bar-coding on medical devices, extending an existing requirement that hospital-administered drugs, biologicals and blood products be bar-coded. In a letter to Acting FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford, the providers said, "It is a common sense next step in our shared goal of promoting patient safety, improving quality of care and encouraging cost effectiveness and supply-chain efficiency." The letter was signed by the American Hospital Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Catholic Health Association, the Federation of American Hospitals, and the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems, and hospital alliances Premier and VHA. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) also is preparing a letter to Crawford asking that bar-coding of medical devices be required.
AHA launching safety center
The American Hospital Association board approved creation of a new patient-safety center, and the association unveiled a campaign to promote use of advance directives. The center, to be launched in the fall, will act as a single point of access to patient-safety information and products for hospitals but will not sell products or services, AHA spokesman Richard Wade says. Details, such as the center's budget and number of employees, will be worked out in the coming months, Wade says. The advance-directives campaign comes amid increased attention to end-of-life care after the bitter public debate over ending artificial feeding for Florida woman Terri Schiavo.
AHIMA gets fraud-fighting grant
HHS awarded $480,000 to the research and education arm of the American Health Information Management Association, Chicago, to study how automated coding software can help fight fraud. AHIMA says it expects to evaluate a variety of information technology capabilities, including abnormal pattern recognition, system audits and practice pattern monitoring, and will release a report on its study in September.
NQF drafts measurement standards
The National Quality Forum released a draft set of about 50 standards for measuring and improving the quality of care in outpatient settings. The 107-page document covers seven clinical areas: asthma and respiratory conditions; bone diseases; depression and behavioral health; heart disease; hypertension; prenatal care; and preventive care, immunizations and screenings. Many of the recommended measures come from the CMS' Doctor's Office Quality project, the National Committee for Quality Assurance and the American Medical Association's Physician Performance Measurement Set. NQF members can begin voting on a revised draft this month. The 23-member NQF board then will vote on final consensus standards.