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World News – October 2008

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Medical data breach insurance offered in US

Members of a US healthcare purchasing alliance are now able to take out insurance to cover the financial costs of data breaches. The move comes in the wake of a growing number of US hospitals facing hefty bills after they experienced data breaches, either through external attack or internal failures.

With the cost of litigation, fixing breaches and taking corrective action it is estimated that each data breach in the US healthcare system costs on average nearly USD 200 per record and USD 6.3 million per incident. The figures come from a recent study by Kroll Fraud Solutions published by Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).

Faced with these kinds of risks and potential costs, one alliance of healthcare purchasers in San Diego has started offering organisations the chance to sign up to insurance to protect them against the expenses related to data breaches.

Premier Insurance Management Services, a unit of the San Diego-based Premier Inc. is now offering members of the alliance the chance to sign up for “data privacy and network risk liability” insurance in partnership with Media/Professional Insurance, Kansas City. The insurance is said to cover such expenses as crisis management, public relations and customer notification. According to Health Data Management the insurance also covers expenses, fines and penalties arising from government and regulatory agency investigations into the handling of personal data. A recent study on the security of US healthcare organisations found that only 56% of breached organisations surveyed notified the patients involved.

New software cuts waiting at hospitals

A new software package, developed by researchers, helps hospital or emergency staff anticipate the rush of patients hour by hour for the day or the next week, even on holidays with varying dates, such as Easter.

The Patient Admission Prediction Tool (PAPT), designed by Australian e-Health Research Centre (AeHRC), can predict accurately how many patients will be present at emergency departments, their expected requirements and the number of admissions.

This could assist many areas of health management from basic bed management and staff resourcing to scheduling elective surgery – not to mention reducing stress for staff and improving patient outcomes. The software was developed by clinicians from Gold Coast and Toowoomba Hospitals and Griffith University and Queensland University of Technology, collaborating with AeHRCe.

Emergency departments already know there's a pattern to presentations and admissions, but existing models are very simplistic. PAPT uses historical data to provide an accurate prediction of the expected load on any day. The prototype PAPT package has a simple interface designed in consultation with those who will ultimately use it every day. Over the next year the team plans to assess and quantify the impact of using the forecasts.
The aim is to turn the prototype package into a product for hospital use. This work was presented at the 2008 Health Informatics Conference held in Melbourne recently. 

Royal Philips Electronics announces the euHeart Project     

Royal Philips Electronics will lead a new European Union (EU) funded research project called euHeart, which is aimed at improving the diagnosis, therapy planning and treatment of cardiovascular disease – one of the biggest causes of mortality in the western world.

The euHeart project complements the recently announced HeartCycle p

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