August 2007


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Ghana to get a healthy fillip

Recently the government of Ghana received an approval of funding from the World Bank Board,  amounting 40 million USD. This funding will finance two health sector projects (i) Health Insurance ProjectUS$15 million and (ii) Nutrition and Malaria Control for Child Survival ProjectUS$25 million.  Here it deserves a mention that despite Ghan

a’s health sector’s general improvement over the past two decades, boosted particularly by the introduction of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), there are still challenges galore.

World Bank assistance to Ghana’s health sector, through its concessionary finance affiliate the International Development Association (IDA)has increased over the past 10 years, and more than USD160 million has already been disbursed for various health related projects including HIV/AIDS.

The beneficiaries of the Health Insurance Project include (i) the National Health Insurance Council which will have improved processes for management oversight of the National Health Insurance Scheme and, therefore, greater control over the finances of the Scheme; (ii) the District Mutual Health Insurance Schemes which will have streamlined mechanisms for local level administration; (iii) the provider network including relevant institutions under the Ministry of Health and other quasi-governmental organizations and private providers which will have improved financial management and administrative mechanisms to improve management performance; and (iv) the Ghana Institute for Management and Public Administration, the Kofi Annan Centre for Information Technology and other training centers that will provide training in utive leadership, management and information technology.

The main objectives of the Nutrition and Malaria Control for Child Survival Project are i) to improve utilization of selected community-based health and nutrition services for children under the age of two, and pregnant women in the selected districts; ii) to strengthen institutional capacity of relevant institutions to deliver services at all levels; iii) to create demand for and expand community-based delivery of selected health and nutrition services; and iv) promote the utilization of insecticide-treated nets for malaria prevention.  This project will focus on outcomes with known links to child survival such as nutrition and malarial prevention and scaling up of strategies of community mobilization and communication as a means of building capacity for basic health and nutrition service delivery at the community level.

It can be safely said that both these projects can together play a strategic role towards the realization of Ghana’s health sector’s objectives.

South Australia to upgrade patient management systems

South Australia’s Department of Health has recently been given a whooping $11.5 million funding to initiate the  upgrading of its patient management systems, which has been long overdue. The entire operations is expected to incur an investment of  $70 million. The funding was allocated to the South Australian state budget of 2007-08.This $11.5 million would be used to replace several IT systems, which include the patient administration platform, which has undergone undue ageing. However, patient administration system would have a gestation period of six to eight years, as it will run parallel with a number of other computer projects. The PAS project is part of a 10-year,  information and communications technology capital investment program worth $650 million, that has been developed by the South Australia’s health department’s
IT division.

Three healthcare technology giants to pilot Motion C5 Mobile Clinical Assistant platform

A group of healthcare technology providers – Intel, Oracle and Orion Health – have  announced plans to pilot the use of the new Motion C5 Mobile Clinical Assistant (MCA) platform at the Hospital Universitario Son Dureta, in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. Here it deserves a mention that Hospital Universitario Son Dureta is the largest healthcare facility in Spain’s Balearic Islands.

Using RFID technology, integrated into the MCA, to read patient wristbands, the doctor or nurse will be able to access patient information such as demographics and clinical results (e.g. blood tests, scans, etc). The deployment of Orion Health’s clinical software onto the Motion C5 MCA will enable patient data to be available at the point of decision regardless of whether the patient is in a bed, on a stretcher, or being moved in a wheelchair. The healthcare professional will be able to validate the data by sharing it directly with the patient. The Motion C5 is based on the Intel mobile clinical assistant platform and was designed following Intel’s extensive research with clinicians around the globe.

“Hospital Son Dureta has made enormous progress in supporting clinicians with information technology in the past couple of years,” said Joan Marques, CIO at Hospital Son Dureta. “The next logical step is to make these information tools mobile so clinicians can access patient data wherever they happen to be in the hospital. We are excited about the potential of mobile devices such as Intel’s MCA to improve clinical practice and deliver safer care to patients,”he added.

Orion Health and Oracle technologies are already implemented at Son Dureta Hospital, bringing together clinical data from multiple systems across the facility. The Oracle-Orion Health solution comprises a clinical web portal, a central repository for clinical data, and an electronic whiteboard for the accident and emergency department. These systems were implemented in 2006, in partnership with Fujitsu Services.

Son Dureta uses Oracle Healthcare Transaction Base (HTB) as a centralised, standards-based repository for clinical data. Relevant data from the hospital’s various existing systems is fed into Oracle HTB via Orion Health’s Rhapsody Integration Engine, where it is normalised to allow for automated clinical decision support and important clinical comparisons. Clinical information stored and maintained in Oracle HTB at Son Dureta Hospital includes clinical orders, lab test results and patient demographics.

Data stored in Oracle HTB is available for immediate recall and viewing by authorised clinicians via Orion Health’s Concerto Medical Applications Portal. Concerto presents the HTB data in an on-screen format that is easy to read and act upon.

Smart clothing for an e-age health

We are fast entering the world of smart clothing. Researchers from  the University of South Australia have already made some significant inroads in this direction. They have developed a garment with integrated electronic technology, which enables it to monitor the wearer’s cardiac and respiratory functions, without the tangle of any wires. That’s not all. These garments are able to download the monitored data onto a computer in the wardrobe; a wardrobe where these smart garments are being kept, after they are being placed on electronic hangers. This  does way with the apprehension of losing data while the smart garment is being cleaned and washed. After cleaning, these smart clothes can be recharged for wearing again.

This technological innovation may pave in for revolution in cardiac care and eventually replace the expensive heart monitoring equipments, for the infrastructure needed for operating these smart clothes is minimal.

Study tracking European physicians’ IT usage

A US-based healthcare marketing information and services firm named Manhattan Research has unearthed  some emerging trends pertaining to ICT adoption and integration in the practices among European physicians, located across Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom.

This country-specific data are based on a telephonic research study titled Taking the Pulse Europe v5.0.It s a syndicated multi-client study and advisory service covering 1000 practicing physicians in the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy.

The primary focus of the study is technology adoption and integration in physician practices across Europe, and the objectives are to identify and analyze the behaviour, attitudes and demographics of the physician population which is using technology and the Internet for professional purposes. Taking the Pulse Europe explores topics such as the Internet usage and experience by location and frequency, e-mail communication, PDA, physician websites, portals and search engine usage, electronic medical records (EMR), personal health records (PHR), electronic prescribing (e-prescribing), web-based sampling (e-sampling), electronic detailing (eDetailing), and online medical education (or eCME).

The segments of European physicians covered in this survey include cardiologists,  dermatologists, family medicine/general practitioners, hematologists, oncologists, infectious disease experts, OB/GYN, paediatricians, psychiatrists, rheumatologists, and surgeons.

Besides  a solid country-wise analysis, the technology and information seeking preferences of European  specialist physicians can also be immediately accessed by the subscribing clients.

Dubai to host the 2nd Annual Global Health Care Expansion Congress

Dubai will host the 2nd Annual Global Health Care Expansion Congress during 5-6 September 2007. The venue will be the Hyatt Regency hotel in Dubai.  The congress will give the opportunity to buyers in charge of sourcing medical equipments and solutions to meet global industry suppliers as well as to increase their knowledge about the hottest topics and issues facing the fast evolving healthcare industry. Essential to the event are the educational sessions, which will be delivered in a case-study format by experts on the talked-about and important topics and issues facing the industry.

The two-day utive congress would feature the most distinguished names in the field of e-Health, hospital architecture and design and medical imaging. The event is designed to provide an effective platform for exchanging health experiences and expertise, and networking and forging of new business partnerships in a unique business-driven environment.

This event, which is to be sponsored by Misys Healthcare Systems, Cerner Corporation, Avaya, Oracle, Phillips, Ellerbe Becket and Cambio Healthcare Systems, is a part of the ongoing educational mission of naseba group’s ‘Knowledge Expansion Series.’ naseba is a world renowned event organizing firm based in France. The congress is organized by naseba, in partnership with names like AME Info, ArabMedicare, DPM News Agency, Dubai Health & News, International Society for Telemedicine & e-Health, Middle East Health, Hindawi Publishing Corporation, Hospital Post, eHealth News EU,  The Medicine Publishing Company, Healthcare IT News Europe among others. Holistically speaking,  this mega event has the potential to provide a platform to the leading healthcare professionals from all across the globe to brainstorm on the challenges facing the health industry in the nearest future.

Canada makes inroads in e-Health

The future of healthcare in Canada is evolving. Implementation of electronic health records across Canada is creating unprecedented efficiencies throughout the country’s healthcare system. According to Richard Alvarez, President and CEO, Canada Health Infoway (Infoway),the Canadian patients are benefiting from a 39 per cent enhancement in electronic health initiatives that are modernizing the way clinicians deliver healthcare. Here it deserves a mention that Canada Health Infoway (Infoway) is a federally-funded, not-for-profit organization that is leading the development of electronic health records across Canada.

The organisation works with the provinces and territories across Canada to develop electronic health records,that is paving the way towards a safer and more efficient healthcare system than the healthcare system based on paper records.

In 2006-07, Canada Health Infoway approved investments of $518.9 million in EHR initiatives across Canada, surpassing its target of $335 million. In the last one year,  there has been tremendous growth in the number of electronic health record initiatives.

Hospital in the US wins wired healthcare system award

For the third consecutive year, the Memorial Hermann system in Houston, USA has been named as the nation’s most wired healthcare system. According to the  Most Wired Survey and Benchmarking Study 2007, released by Hospitals & Health Networks magazine, “The Most Wired Survey is conducted annually by Hospitals & Health Networks magazine, which uses the results to name the 100 most wired hospitals and health systems. It focuses on how the nation’s hospitals use information technologies for quality, customer service, public health and safety, business processes and workforce issues”.

Since 1999, the publication has named the 100 most wired hospitals and health systems. The selected institutions show better outcomes in four key areas: mortality rates, patient safety measures, core measures and average length of stay. Based on the analysis of the ninth annual Most Wired Survey and Benchmarking Study, hospitals are graded on how they use information technology to address five key areas: safety and quality, customer service, business processes, workforce, and public health and safety. In the past year, Memorial Hermann opened three new hospitals with technological innovations including an advanced Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system, paperless check-in using tablet PCs, positive patient ID using arm-band scanning, and OR tracking that enables physicians, staff and families to privately follow a patient’s surgical progress using large display screens in waiting rooms, ORs and post-op/pre-op areas. Nurses and staff wear hands-free, wireless communication devices that enable them to connect with each other instantly. Patient diagnosis is also enhanced with a new 3-Tesla magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner. This 3-Tesla MRI is twice as strong as conventional units, providing unsurpassed imaging and diagnostic capabilities.

“Memorial Hermann has made a tremendous commitment to using information technology to enable top-quality patient care,” said Chief Information Officer, David Bradshaw. He added, “The opportunity to design and build three new hospitals gave us the opportunity to incorporate the very latest, state-of-the-art technology, as well as infrastructure for future growth. Our new hospitals utilize the best technology throughout our system and are piloting some innovations for upcoming rollout to other facilities.” Hospitals investing in quality are also investing in IT. “The Most Wired hospitals are focused on quality,” said Alden Solovy, utive Editor of Hospitals & Health Networks. Hospitals & Health Networks conducted the survey in cooperation with Accenture.

Genetic screening may impede pregnancy

The credibility of genetic screening, which is being thought of as a panacea for the older women opting for in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment to have a child, is now under threat. Recently a controlled clinical trial of 408 women has sprung a surprise revelation that genetic screening is not only ineffective, but plays a role in reducing pregnancy rates. Genetic screening involves studying the genetic make-up of the embryos, before their transfer to the womb, to ensure those embryos’ health and increasing their likelihood of survival. However, this healthy concept couldn’t withstand the heat of a recent emperical test, conducted by of a group of Dutch researchers. However just one experiment cannot write off the potential of genetic screening as there may be many medical
factors influencing the result.

A partnership to develop a patient and family-centric health system

ICW America (ICW),  a leading international e-Health specialist with locations across  Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the USA, and Bulgaria,  and the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University’s Center for Primary Care and Prevention (the Center) at Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island, have reached an agreement to enter into a strategic collaboration to ‘develop and test a 21st century patient-centered, e-Health model of care.’Here it deserves a mention that Brown University in USA is an internationally known Ivy League institution with a distinctive undergraduate academic curriculum, outstanding faculty, state-of-the-art research facilities, and a tradition of innovative and rigorous multidisciplinary study, and Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island  is a 294-bed community hospital serving the Blackstone Valley of Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts, USA.

The key objective of this strategic collaboration is to show evidence of improvement in quality of care and patient safety by linking, and in this case, actually integrating a patient owned and controlled personal health record (PHR) to their provider’s electronic medical record (EMR). The collaboration will present the opportunity for a demonstration project that will support, promote and illustrate the value of ICW’s integrated LifeSensor PHR. When integrated, LifeSensor becomes a trusted source of patient health information for providers, and serves as the patient’s ‘source system’.

Jeremy P. Coote, CEO of ICW America stated, “ICW has been very impressed with the environment of quality improvement supported by Brown and Memorial at the Center. Equally impressive is their record of accomplishment in research and innovation, including clear leadership in embracing health information technology. The Center’s orientation toward improving the patient-physician relationship and fully involving the patient and the patient’s family in clinical care closely matches ICW’s vision.”

Dr. Charles Eaton, M.D. M.S., a Professor of Family Medicine at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Director of the Center, is spearheading this initiative. “LifeSensor, as an integrated PHR, fully supports the concept that healthcare providers and patients are equal partners in monitoring and managing patients’ health. The model we envision creating with ICW will enable and empower patients to take more responsibility for their health. With our program design, we believe that we may actually prevent illness or certainly lessen the seriousness and impact of diseases.”

Eaton further stated that an integrated PHR-EMR will foster better patient-doctor communications and promote better health outcomes between doctor visits. “Using LifeSensor in this program is not meant to replace the traditional doctor’s office practice but rather enhance and improve upon it.”

In addition to the integration of the PHR-EMR within the initial programme objectives, the collaboration will also set up the foundational capabilities to enable connectivity for a broader, multi- takeholder and interoperable regional health inform­ation exchange.

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