February 2012


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EHRs among top technology priorities for health care utives

Electronic health records are among the top 10 technologies that health care utives should pay close attention to this year, according to a new report from research firm ECRI Institute, Healthcare IT News reports.

The report — titled, “Top 10 C-Suite Watch List: Hospital Technology Issues for 2012” — aims to help health care utives  prioritize their efforts to implement and improve health care technologies.

In its discussion of EHRs, the report notes that medical device integration and the federal meaningful use program ultimately  aim to improve health care and patient safety. Successful deployment should not only ensure reimbursement, but also enhance patient safety and quality of care, facilitate nursing workflow and increase  physician and nursing satisfaction.

Medical students using virtual human bodies to learn about anatomyfor health care utives

New York University’s School of Medicine is pioneering  the use of 3-D simulation technology  to teach medical students about human anatomy, the  New York Times reports.

In a laboratory at NYU Langone Medical Center in Manhattan,  anatomy students wear 3-D glasses to dissect virtual human bodies  that are displayed on a projector screen.

Using a computer, students can examine closeup views of simulated  3-D organs and other anatomic structures that are animated to function  as they would in a living body.

John Qualter — an assistant professor of educational informatics at  NYU’s School of Medicine and the founder  of BioDigital Systems, which created the virtual human models — said the  program is “like a living digital textbook.”

Qualter said Bio- Digital plans to further develop the technology on its medical education website to provide  a searchable, customizable map of the human body that could be  used by physicians and medical websites. NYU administrators said they plan to use the virtual  human bodies as a complementary teaching method that will  not replace the use of real human cadavers, which provide a more  tactile understanding of anatomy.

Corporate Update
Bharti Airtel Religare Technologies to offer medical advisory

Airtel, India’s largest mobile phone operator, has recently tied-up with Religare Technologies, a company controlled by promoters of the Fortis hospital chain, to offer healthcare solutions and guidance over telephone.

By paying an introductory tele-consultation fee of Rs 15 a call, Airtel customers can get basic medical guidance on non- mergency health problems through this service, 24 hours, seven days a week. Airtel charges just 50p for this call. With a customer base of 173 million, Airtel’s latest value addition is expected to provide a productive platform for Religare to promote their e-health service.

Airtel is not the first to introduce a mobile health scheme in the country, a recent trend. Some months earlier, telecom operators Aircel and Idea had launched a similar service in association with the Apollo Hospital group-promoted Healthnet Global.

US diagnostic market to witness unprecedented growth

The US diagnostic market holds a significant share in the global diagnostic market, and accounts for the majority of the total healthcare market. A huge investment in research and development, and commercially successful innovations in the diagnostic industry has facilitated the US to outperform other prominent diagnostic markets, including the EU and Japan. According to a latest report, “US Diagnostic Market Outlook 2014”, by RNCOS, the increasing prence of chronic and infectious diseases, emergence of new technologies in molecular diagnostics, and awareness among health professionals and patients will lead to a further growth in the US diagnostic market.

The report, which is spread over 60 pages, provides an in-depth research and rational analysis of the current demand for the diagnostic products and clinical lab services market in the United States. It also provides the forecasts for IVD products, medical imaging equipment and clinical lab services market for 2012-2014.

PET can detect mediastinal lymphoma in children

FDG uptake of thymus measured by PET/CT is an effective indicator for the differentiation of mediastinal lymphoma from normal thymus in pediatric patients, according to a study published in Radiology.

Heike E. Daldrup-Link, MD, of Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, Calif., and colleagues wanted to  uate the use of PET/CT in diagnosing malignant lymphomas, which are the most common pediatric malignant masses of the anterior and middle mediastinum. More than  two-thirds of pediatric patients with Hodgkin lymphoma and half of pediatric patients with lymphoblastic non-Hodgkin lymphoma present with a mediastinal mass, according to the study’s background information.

The researchers retrospectively reviewed 282 FDG-PET/ CT studies in 75 pediatric oncology patients, who were divided into four groups: 16 with anterior mediastinal lymphoma (group a), five with anterior mediastinal lymphoma with subsequent recurrence (group b), 16 with lymphoma outside the  mediastinum (group c) and 38 with other malignant tumors outside the thymus (group d). The analysis included the measurement of maximum standardized uptake values of anterior mediastinal mass, thymus (SUVt), on PET images.

Results of the study showed a mean prechemotherapy SUVt of 4.82 for group a, 8.45 for group b, 2.00 for group c and 2.09 for group d. Postchemotherapy SUVt for group b was 4.74 and thymic rebound was seen in 44 percent of  patients at an average interval of 10 months from the end of chemotherapy.

Biocon sees larger licensing income from pharma

Biocon , India’s top-listed biotechnology company, expects to generate larger licensing income from pharmaceuticals business, its Chairman and Managing Director said.

The Bangalore-based drugmaker earlier said consolidated net  profit fell 15.8 percent in December quarter, while revenue rose 3 percent. The sales growth in the fiscal third quarter ended December 31 was flat on lower licensing income.The company said,  licensing fees and income dropped to 292 million rupees in October- December from 768 million rupees a year earlier.

Biocon’s presence straddles four main therapeutic areas – Diabetology,  Cardiology, Nephrology and Oncology – even as it plans to introduce two new divisions, Comprehensive Care, and Immunotherapy,
this year.

Corporate Updates
Wal-Mart plans ambitious expansion into medical care

Wal-Mart issued a statement saying its request for partners to provide primary care services was “overwritten and incorrect.”  The firm is “not building a national, integrated low-cost primary health  care platform,” according to the statement by Dr. John Agwunobi, a senior vice president for health and wellness at the retailer.

The nation’s largest retailer is planning to offer medical services ranging from the management of diabetes to HIV infections,  NPR and Kaiser Health News have learned.

In the same week in late October that Wal-Mart said it would stop offering health insurance benefits to new parttime employees, the retailer sent out a request for partners to help it “dramatically  … lower the cost of healthcare … by becoming the largest provider of primary healthcare services in the nation.”

The 14-page request, which you can read here, asks firms to spell out their expertise in a wide variety of areas, including managing and monitoring patients with chronic, costly health conditions. Partners are to be selected in January.

Analysts said Wal-Mart is likely positioning itself to boost store traffic, possibly by expanding the number of its in-store medical clinics and the services they offer.

The move would also capitalize on growing demand for primary care in 2014, when the federal health law fully kicks in and millions more Americans are expected to have government or private health insurance.

“We have a massive primary care problem that will be made worse by health reform,” says Ian Morrison, a Menlo Park,  Calif.-based health-care consultant. “Anyone who has a plausible idea on how to solve this should be allowed to play.”

In-store medical clinics, such as those offered by Wal-Mart and other retailers, could also be players in another effort in the health law: collaborations between  doctors and hospitals to streamline care and lower costs.

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