February 2010

NEWS REVIEW

Biodesign programme to be launched in Singapore

Stanford University Biodesign Program and Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology & Research, and the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) have come together to develop a new training programme called Biodesign to train the next generation of Asian leaders who can develop innovative medical devices to address Asia’s growing healthcare needs. The Singapore program will provide a fellowship for four Asian fellows to go to Stanford for six months of training in the Biodesign process. First hand experience will be given to the fellows in determining clinical needs in hospitals and clinics. They will subsequently develop solutions to address these clinical needs through new medical device technologies and bring concepts to the prototype or proof-of-concept stage.

These fellows will come from different disciplines (engineering, medicine, business) that represent key segments of Stanford’s Biodesign process to invent, develop, and commercialize innovative medical devices. Medical technology constitutes a key part of Singapore’s biomedical sciences sector, which comprises about 4 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. About 600 researchers in 30 global Medtech companies are helping to put Singapore at the forefront of advances in Medtech innovation, as they seek to develop new products to address health- care needs in Asia and beyond.

Siemens signs agreement to license Microsoft HealthVault

Microsoft Corp. and Siemens AG (through its Siemens IT Solutions and Services division) have announced the signing of a licensing agreement to introduce Microsoft HealthVault in Germany to enable its citizens to store, manage and share health data with physicians, hospitals and pharmacies. HealthVault, a personal health application platform that enables individuals to store their health information including immunizations, disease history and prescriptions in an online account and make them available to healthcare providers and family members that they select. Siemens will be the exclusive operator of HealthVault in Germany and will market the platform to developers, application providers and device manufacturers to join the service and provide citizens with tools that will help foster dynamic, trusted and personalized healthcare. Users can store information from multiple sources, including medical monitoring devices, to measure things like blood pressure, pulse and weight; diagnostic findings from general practitioners and medical specialists; imaging procedures; and training plans developed by physiotherapists and rehabilitation facilities. In addition to manually entering the information, data from certified devices can be transferred through a personal computer into HealthVault accounts using HealthVault connection Centre.

Users are able to access their data virtually anytime, from anywhere, and decide for themselves who is granted access to the information. Siemens will host all stored health data in security-enhanced data centres in Germany. To help protect consumer privacy, user data is transmitted through an encrypted connection over the internet. As their own health managers, users keep control of the information stored in HealthVault and can decide the people who are permitted access. This is going to be a reliable and competent partnership that can jointly bring innovative solutions to the German healthcare system.

Apollo Hospital’s plan for huge investment in two years

Apollo Hospitals will invest around Rs 1,800 crore in the next two years for increasing the number of hospitals under its operation to 70 with a capacity of 13,500 beds. Currently the company owns 46 hospitals under its operation with a capacity of around 8,000 beds. The plan is to increase the bed strength to about 13,500 across 70 operational hospitals in India and overseas markets according to Apollo Hospitals Group Chairman Prathap C Reddy. It also announced opening its 47th facility in Bhubaneswar. By mid-February 2010, Apollo Hospitals will open its 47th Hospital in the Temple City of Bhubaneswar (Orissa) with 300 beds, modern diagnostic equipments and super-speciality services.

The hospital will be connected to international centres through a dedicated telemedicine network. Apollo has recently received USD 50-million from the World Bank arm International Finance Corporation (IFC) for expansion of its secondary care hospitals under the brand ‘Reach’. The company also announced the appointment of R Basil as the utive President of Apollo Hospitals group who brings with him over 30 years of rich professional experience across leading organisations in India, including Manipal Hospitals, Wipro GE Medical Systems and Crompton Greaves.

US hospital deploys iPhone to assist nurses

Huntington Hospital in the US has deployed a new technology to relieve nurses from non-clinical duties to allow them to concentrate on providing quality patient care. The Voalte iPhone Application provides voice services, alerts and text messages for streamlined and simplified communication between staff members. The technology allows nurses to focus on patient care with fewer interruptions, optimising workflow and improving patient satisfaction and safety, the company said. Huntington’s director of informatics Ron Rutherford said that nurses in the hospital had been carrying hospital-provided pagers, wireless phones and separate pagers designed to alert them of critical patient alarms.

South Asia’s first medical technology park to make quality healthcare affordable in India

Trivitron has set up the first technology park indigenous manufacture of world-class medical devices at Irungattukottai, near Chennai. Technology products at the park will offer international quality yet cost effective solutions to healthcare providers. This is going to be another feather in the cap of Tamil Nadu’s healthcare system as the state is the leader in healthcare delivery in the country and is the choicest destination for international medical tourism.

Trivitron Medical Technologies Park is an initiative of Trivitron Healthcare Private Ltd, one of the leading medical technology companies in India. The park aims to bring cutting edge medical technology to medical professionals across the country at affordable costs. A range of products including Ultrasound systems, Colour Dopplers, X – ray machines, C-arms , in-vitro diagnostic reagents and instruments, cardiology diagnostic instruments, critical care instruments, modular operating theatres, operating theatre lights and tables and implantable medical devices will be manufactured at the park. The first of the various facilities to be set up at the park was inaugurated by Dr. Prathap. C. Reddy, Chairman, Apollo group of Hospitals, the Aloka Trivitron Medical Technologies facility is a joint venture between Aloka, a Japan based company credited with pioneering the diagnostic ultrasound technology globally and Trivitron.

With the setting up of this park the need of making quality healthcare available in the country will certainly be met. Indigenous manufacture of world class medical devices in collaboration with the best medical technology companies and research institutes in the world will spawn a new era in the spread of life saving medical technology across the country. New facilities will be set up in the park very soon by Trivitron for which the company has already entered into joint ventures with other leading international medical devices manufacturers.

1000 crore mental health plan to address manpower shortage

Manpower shortage will be met by appointing 1756 mental health worker under the initiative of ‘manpower development scheme’ of National Mental Health Programme ( NMHP).

The Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad has said that 1756 mental health worker will be produced with the initiatives under ‘manpower development scheme’ of National Mental Health Programme (NMHP). Releasing the National Guidelines on Psycho Social Support and Mental Health Services in Disasters brought out by National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), the Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad has emphasized that NMHP was re-strategized for community based approach with an allocation of Rs.1000 Crore making mental health services available at the primary care level and integrating it into general health care. In line with felt needs of the community, new components of life skill training & counselling in schools and colleges, services for homeless mentally ill, out of school adolescents, slum dwellers and other vulnerable groups have been planned.

Under Centre of Excellence in Mental Health Programme, 11 existing mental health hospitals/institutes are being upgraded and strengthened to produce qualified manpower. Manpower Development scheme intends to provide Manpower in Mental Health training centers. Under this scheme Govt. will support starting PG courses or increasing the intake capacity for PG training in Mental Health, for establishing / improving department in specialities of Mental Health in Govt. Medical Colleges / Govt. General Hospitals.

Ampyra gets approval for multiple sclerosis

The Food and Drug Administration(FDA), United States has approved the drug, Ampyra (generic name dalfampridine, formerly known as fampridine), which is the first Multiple Sclerosis therapy that is taken orally and the first of its kind to receive FDA approval. It is designed to help people with any type of MS improve their walking speed. Phase III clinical trials of Ampyra showed that 35 and 43 percent of patients experienced, on average, a consistent improvement in their walking speed, increasing it by about 25 percent. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, even a modest improvement in walking ability could mean that thousands of people could benefit from the drug. The drug can be used by most people with multiple sclerosis according to Dr. John Richert, utive Vice President of Research and Clinical Programmes at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Further study and clinical practice may help to determine the extent to which the drug may impact other functions, and may also provide hints as to which patients are most likely to respond positively to the therapy. This drug would not help nerves that have been destroyed but people should try to see if it works for them. Ampyra will not work for everyone and its most likely that people will have different responses so they should consult their doctors before starting a therapy on Ampyra.

3-D view of arteries possible through technology

A new technology has been tested for the first time on people which can give a 3-D image of the patient’s arteries and better treat heart diseases. The technology is in the early stages of testing according to a feasibility study published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Interventions, an American Heart Association journal. According to the cardiologists this is a very exciting technology that holds great promise.

The study allows doctors to assess more accurately and rapidly the length, branching pattern and angles of heart arteries, as well as any blockages. Cardiologists currently use two-dimensional X-ray images shot from different angles to visualize arteries inside the body. They also inject contrast dye into a thin tube — a catheter — inserted into a patient’s leg artery and threaded up to the heart to produce shadow images during a cardiac catheterization procedure.
Although it uses existing X-ray systems, the new software reduces the need for several of the images, thus reducing patients’ exposure to radiation and contrast dye while also decreasing the time doctors need to analyze the images. The comparison of 2-D and 3-D computer images of the coronary artery systems will be tested in multiple centres around the world. It will be formally tested to see the impact on clinical care. Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in the United States. According to the World Health Organisation, it is responsible for 17 million deaths worldwide.

Hospital monitors heart rates over the phone

Southend Hospital in the UK has started checking patients’ heart rates over the phone. Patients with pacemakers can send information over the phone line to medics who can interpret the information. All the information is recorded on a monitor and doctors can follow up patients more closely without them coming into the hospital. Southend Hospital implants about 350 pacemakers every year.

Delhi to get country’s one of the first 3-D dental imaging facilities

Carestream Health India, the worldwide leader in digital radiology systems for medical and dental uses, announced a milestone in India with its most advanced 3D Dental Imaging machine – the Kodak 9500 3D’s installation at Diwanchand Imaging Center in Delhi. The Kodak 9500 is a flexible and easy to use 3D dental imaging system that enables dental professionals to obtain localized, high-resolution three-dimensional (3D) images, as well as panoramic examinations, at a very affordable price point – making the power and utility of 3D technology available to general practitioners and specialists alike. The Kodak 9500 3D’s installation at Diwanchand Imaging will be the first such machine to be installed in India and amongst the few worldwide..

Three-dimensional imaging in colour is now a diagnostic standard for the most complex of procedures performed by endodontists, implantologists, and other specialists. Digital 3-D imaging provides highly detailed pictures that show actual representations of the patient’s anatomy that can be viewed from any direction. Using this modality, anatomical depth and relationships between individual features can be precisely identified and measured for more accurate diagnoses and treatment. However, 3D imaging has typically been complex and expensive. Moreover, high doses of radiation were often associated with 3D imaging technology..

The Kodak 9500 3D system from Carestream Health on the other hand uses very low radiation dosage as compared to medical CT and on the other hand, it is a Large Field system allowing capture sizes that allows a field of view of the entire skull or jaw of the patient. The detailed information across a large area of view can result in less invasive surgery for tooth extractions and optimized plans for orthodontic treatment.

Ignite acquires new gene-sequencing equipment

The Ignite Institute for Individualized Health, a new medical research startup has acquired a new gene sequencing machine. The nonprofit research institute will now focus on how to personalize medical care and drug development based on a patient’s genetic makeup. It has entered into a new collaboration with Life Technologies Corp., a Carlsbad, Calif., diagnostics tools company. It has a large presence in Frederick. Life Technologies has agreed to sell 100 of its next-generation gene sequencing machines to the Ignite Institute for an undisclosed sum to be paid through the next three years. The machines will start arriving to Ignite by March 31, and they will continue to be shipped to Ignite’s temporary home at the Center of Innovative Technology headquarters in Herndon throughout the year.These machines represent Life Technologies latest advances in gene sequence analysis, allowing Ignite scientists to more precisely zoom in on the presence and cause of an individual patient’s disease based on that person’s DNA. The new product can generate up to 100 gigabases of mappable DNA sequence data at a cost of $6,000 per genome. That’s a significant discount from the roughly $3 billion it took to sequence the 6-some billion letters of the first human genome in 2000. The instrument is very revolutionary in mapping the entire human genome at just unprecedented levels of accuracy. With 100 of these sequencers, Ignite said it will house the largest concentration and highest capacity of genetic sequencing capability in North America.

Remote areas to benefit from technology

Cell phone technology is being used to deliver health care to remote parts of the country. Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), the Chandigarh based institute, is working in collaboration with Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), on a pioneering national health care project called m-health. This Project will enable the doctors to provide medical advice to patients who are living in remote areas. It is also considered to be a promising initiative in the field of geriatric care, involving medical care for aged patients. In this project, the health worker will first take the electrocardiogram (ECG) of a patient on a battery-operated, hand-held machine.

The hand-held ECG has been developed by BARC, in which by using the bluetooth technology, the health worker transfers the data to his own mobile phone. The data is then transferred to the mobile phone of a specialist who may be based elsewhere. The specialist reads the ECG of the patient and gives advice on his condition to the health worker. So, the health worker can provide correct primary care to the patient. As part of the pilot project, the ECGs of patients taken through the m-health equipment are being compared with the ECGs of the same patients taken at the hospital premise on its in-house machines. This is being done to check the efficacy of the data taken through the m-health equipment.

US unveils standards to boost e-Health records

US health officials have released standards for electronic medical records to spur the development of the technology, with hopes of cutting health costs and reducing medical errors.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a set of standards focusing on the usefulness of electronic records to healthcare providers in managing health records. Requirements include that at least 80% of all patients who request an electronic copy of their health records receive it within 48 hours.

The Health and Human Services Department issued another set of standards to enhance the interoperability, functionality, utility and security of health information technology. The standards, which are subject to a period of public comment, may affect many service providers. A final rule on standards will be issued this year.

Novartis will provide over USD 2.5 million for victims of Haiti earthquake

Through its local organizations in countries throughout the region, Novartis is providing the equivalent of over USD 2.5 million in immediate emergency aid for victims of the recent earthquake in Haiti. The support includes both direct financial aid to relief agencies working in Haiti as well as donations of essential medicines, including antibiotic and pain relieving drugs.

Novartis employees worldwide are encouraged to make cash contributions to internationally and nationally recognized relief organizations in support of the victims of the earthquake. These donations will then be matched by the company. Finally, Novartis will work with local authorities and aid organizations to identify where assistance can be provided on a longer-term basis to ensure that there is sustainable support for people impacted by this tragic natural disaster.

1st International Conference on Transforming Healthcare with Information Technology

The First Conference on “Transforming Healthcare with IT- 2010” is going to be held from March 8-10 at the Intercontinental Eros, New Delhi. The conference is going to be a comprehensive discussion on the adoption of Healthcare IT and industry best practices for enhanced operational efficiencies and patient care. The Conference is organized by Apollo Group along with its consortium partners CISCO, IBM and TCS.

The conference brings together Policy Makers, Healthcare leaders and Technologists from across the globe, on the same platform combining the synergies of Healthcare IT and Mobile technology to bring about a more connected healthcare ecosystem. It will also address the innovations, infrastructure and information in the healthcare landscape that will proliferate, promote and propagate benefits of IT to healthcare administrators, providers and beneficiaries at the grass root level.

Healthcare providers and policy makers across the globe are grappling with a deep and diverse set of healthcare challenges that cut across the spectrum. According to Ms Sangita Reddy, utive Director Apollo Hospital Group and Advisor, this conference will address the literal healthcare jigsaw and examine how technology can be applied in different ways to facilitate communication in a highly collaborative and mobile environment like healthcare.

The conference is a 3-day event, aimed at Key Healthcare decision makers, Hospitals Administrators, Doctors, IT teams. The conference will comprise of key-notes, plenary sessions, workshops focusing on Delivery in Healthcare System, Prevention & Wellness / Consumer Centricity, Emerging Markets & Emerging Technologies, Connecting the Ecosystem, Infrastructure in Healthcare System and the impact of IT and Telecom convergence-driven transformational solutions. The Conference will also showcase demos of technology-driven transformational approaches and solutions. Working groups at the three day meet will deliberate on various key issues including Uniform standards, need for National EMR etc.

Noted speakers at the conference include industry luminaries like Mr. Sam Pitroda, Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mr. Som Mittal, Prof. Ricky Richardson, Dr Prathap C reddy, Mr. Anjan Bose, Baron Nigel Crisp, Mr. Baljit Singh Bedi, Mr. David K. Aylward and Mr. Marc Probst amongst over 50 national and international speakers.

Another highlight of this conference is the Healthcare awards that are the first independently audited awards by KPMG. Award categories include HIS Xcellence Awards, EMR Xcellence Awards, Healthcare ICT product innovation, Healthcare ICT Champion of the Year, Best Website (Association) and Solution with Greatest Market Potential.

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