Better Living Through Technology
By now it is common knowledge that it is going to take months and even years for the Gulf region to recover from the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history. Hopefully, the efforts to stop the oil leak will hold and the cleanup will be successful. New lessons learned from this disaster are being combined with earlier lessons learned from previous oil spills. The challenge now is to clean up oil contamination without using chemicals that may have a worse effect on the environment. An environmental technology company that successfully used oil-eating microbes for post-capture oil treatment in soil and water to aid in the Santa Barbara oil spill in the late 1960s is working with entrepreneurial companies to formulate products that could significantly aid the cleanup process without the harmful environmental effects of conventional processes. It does not make sense to clean up oil contamination using chemicals that may have a worse effect on the environment.
In another arena, a panel of IT policy and technology experts have expressed concern that the race to meet standards for electronic health records (EHRs) and find ways to exchange them regionally and nationally poses a great risk to privacy and identity. They warn that identity management and access authentication security needs to be “baked-in from the start, not tacked on at the end.”
Using a smart card-based patient card to more accurately link individuals to their medical and administrative records is seen as a way to address this because the public can easily use it for authentication to tell who they are precisely. This is a huge transition for the healthcare industry from out of the current model of keeping medical records at the place they are created and somehow assembling the information later when it is needed, which has its flaws, to something more like a health bank, essentially an electronic safe deposit box that provides a secure repository for an individual’s comprehensive health record. The patient would strictly control access to the information, guaranteeing both privacy and consent.
An initiative coming from the private sector is attempting to address the issues surrounding healthcare identity by establishing a Voluntary Universal Healthcare Identifier. This grass-roots approach would give individuals their own “medical ID for life” and eventually use it to uniquely identify their own electronic health records.
An exciting breakthrough in healthcare technology has been made in a collaboration between artificial intelligence (AI) technology, the Medloom real-time clinical support system and its high-performance object database platforms. This new AI software, named Ardvarc, is viewed as a leap forward in drug safety with potential to better the human condition by saving lives and reducing healthcare costs. Ardvarc is based on an AI technology known as Association Rule Discovery (ARD). Ardvarc vets data stored in safety registries, including the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System (AERS) to discover significant relationships between drugs, or combinations of drugs, and adverse event in real-time mode. In the first run of Ardvarc against a three month FDA dataset including roughly 50,000 reports, the AI system successfully discovered the same “substance-adverse event” relationship rule in a single run that had previously required efforts by researchers covering years of patient cases to discover. The quality of the findings discovered by Ardvarc was matched by those published in the peer reviewed literature, emphasizing that Ardvarc is capable of discovering meaningful red flags that no healthcare professional has time to read or analyze.
What do all of these stories have in common? We want to find ways of using technology to solve problems on our planet without having the technology itself make things worse.
As always, it is a pleasure to find and bring these informative articles to you. I hope you will enjoy this Summer 2010 issue of TMIS eNewsletter.
I am grateful to be in a collaborative business with many talented and skilled professionals. Additional feedback and recommendations for our products and services at TM Information Services are always welcome.
- Mary M. McLaughlin
From the Front Page of TMIS News
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BUGS and Pacific Sands, Inc. Ready Products to Aid Oil Spill Cleanup Efforts
U.S. Microbics (aka BUGS), an environmental technology company, and Pacific Sands, Inc., a manufacturer of a broad range of environmentally friendly cleaning products, are jointly formulating products that could directly benefit victims of the recent Gulf Oil Spill, one of the worst environmental disasters of our time. The products could soon be available for consumer and commercial use and could be used on marine structures and wildlife contaminated with gooey oil.
Using components of the Pacific Sands Natural Choices product line and the oil spill cleanup experience of BUGS management coupled with direct input from industry experts and technologists, the companies hope to introduce one or more products that can help clean up oil spill residue without using additional solvents, dyes, and chemicals that irritate the skin, require special equipment and training to apply or may harm the environment. The developed products would be available to consumers on the www.EcoGeeks.com website and to industrial and commercial clean up users on a BUGS website to be announced.
Robert Brehm, CEO of BUGS, commented, "The BUGS technology was successfully used on the Santa Barbara oil spill in the late 1960's and I believe there are cleanup lessons we have learned that are applicable to the Gulf Oil Spill particularly with respect to the use of oil-eating microbes for post capture oil treatment in soil and water. In the past we used surfactants and degreasers with oil spill cleanup operations and the availability of the natural products from Pacific Sands and commercially available microbe products could significantly aid the cleanup process without harmful environmental effects of conventional processes now being used. Our goal is to have simple and effective natural products that can be easily used by the consumer and by commercial cleanup crews."
Expert Panel Speaks Out on Need for Privacy, Access and Identity for Healthcare Information
Princeton Junction, New Jersey
Privacy, access and identity are vital to the Obama administration's effort to modernize the nation's healthcare information infrastructure, a panel of policy and technology experts told healthcare industry leaders, public policy makers and policy-influencing organizations at a National Press Club briefing in Washington, DC. The event was co-hosted by the Smart Card Alliance Healthcare and Identity Councils and the Secure ID Coalition. A video of all of the presentations from the healthcare identity and privacy briefing is available online. The topic is timely because healthcare IT is getting nearly a $19 billion boost from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The speakers agreed the sense of urgency and massive investment are good news, but that time pressure might also cause problems.
"There is a risk we will focus too much on standards for electronic health records (EHRs) and ways to exchange them at the expense of sound privacy and identity models," said Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Smart Card Alliance. "The critical issues are getting control over who has access to healthcare information, and correctly tying the right individual to his or her health records. That means identity management and access authentication security have to be baked-in from the start, not tacked on at the end."
Correctly identifying patients and their records is difficult just within a single hospital, but gets far worse between multiple institutions, according to a leading practitioner and specialist on the subject, Paul Contino, vice president, Information Technology, at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. He cautioned that identity management must be addressed correctly up front or "we're going to have problems with the linkages of electronic medical records" on a regional or even national basis. Mount Sinai revamped patient registration processes and implemented a smart card-based patient card to more accurately link individuals to their medical and administrative records.
Who Are You? Establishing Trust in Digital Identities
Princeton Junction, New Jersey
The need for trust in identity is at the foundation of our society and economy. How to establish that trust, protect it, and tie it uniquely to an individual, particularly in online transactions, were the topics that dominated the many identity sessions at the Smart Card Alliance Annual Conference, held recently in Scottsdale, Arizona.
The first problem is how to prove an identity. "We have a big hole in the middle of this information identity highway; it is called foundational credentials," said Mike O'Neil, executive director of the North American Security Products Organization (NASPO). O'Neil points out that the commonly used base breeder documents -- birth certificates, driver's licenses, and Social Security cards -- were never designed to be identity documents and are easily falsified. Under the recommendations of ANSI, NASPO is developing a new identity verification standard and process that could be used to establish more trusted identities for individuals.
The next set of problems, using that identity, tying it uniquely to its owner and protecting it from theft or abuse, has become a critical issue in many sectors. The need for cybersecurity makes this more acute as more transactions move online, driven by the underlying economics of the Web. "The Web is unparalleled at driving down costs, which is why everything is going to the Web and everything on the Web is going to the cloud. The problem is as you go to the cloud you increase risk," said Mike Ozburn, principal, Booz Allen Hamilton, and keynote speaker at the Alliance event. "Security has to be as implicit, as built-in, and as architectural" as the cost dynamics that are driving everything to the Web and the cloud, Ozburn argues.
The Obama administration is taking the lead in this area with the National Strategy for Secure Online Transactions initiative, which is expected to facilitate the establishment of a broad identity ecosystem that can provide an online trust framework. "Last November we published the ICAM Segment Architecture, which was the first attempt at a governmentwide process for identity management," said Judy Spencer of the GSA Office of Governmentwide Policy. That document primarily focuses on the federal government as both a provider of identity and a consumer of identity. According to Spencer, the new initiative takes the principles of identity authentication and management in that work and moves it to the next level, where the federal government may not even be a party to the transaction at all.
Artificial Intelligence Added to Medloom Clinical Decision Support System
Junction City, Kansas
Lead Horse Technologies has announced the addition of artificial intelligence (AI) technology to its Medloom clinical decision support system. Medloom runs on the InterSystems CACHE high-performance object database platform. CACHE provides the high performance, rapid development environment and advanced features needed for the real-time decision support that characterizes the Medloom system, according to John M. Armstrong, Ph.D., Lead Horse Technologies Chairman and CEO.
Dubbed Ardvarc, the new patent-pending AI software is already viewed by some industry experts as a potential leap forward in drug safety. "Lead Horse Technologies is unique. They've developed terrifically novel software that, in my opinion, would give valuable early signals about drug safety issues... signals that just haven't been available until now," said Charles L. Bennett, MD, Ph.D. and the Center of Economic Excellence Endowed Chair in Medication Safety and Efficacy at the South Carolina College of Pharmacy.
"There is no more important issue than pharmaceutical safety, but many people don't really pay attention to it," Bennett continued. "Most clinicians assume that drugs are vetted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the pharmaceutical manufacturer. Simply stated, the manufacturer has a difficult time and, while the FDA tries its hardest, there just aren't enough people to do the work completely."
Washington State's New Hands-Free Cell Phone Law: Businesses Face Unique Challenges and Issues Regarding Compliance
Following Washington State's new law that makes hand-held cell phones and text messaging while driving a primary offense, many businesses in the state face their own unique set of challenges in complying with the law: how to handle employees who spend a significant part of their workday on the road.
Two Washington companies, DialPro Northwest and Personnel Management Systems, are teaming up to help businesses keep their employees safe and connected to the office with expert tips in a new guide that helps businesses navigate the unique challenges and issues many face in keeping their employees safe, productive and in compliance with the law.
"Most company HR policies are out of date and need to be updated," says Jack Goldberg, president, Personnel Managements Systems, a leading provider of outsourced human resource management services. "We encourage businesses to review their policies in light of current employee cell phone usage and the law. Employees should minimize the amount of time they use the cell phone while driving on the job, and to always stay safe by using headsets or hands-free devices when they absolutely need to use the phone."
"Unlike individuals, many businesses have employees who have to stay connected to the office by phone and email while on the road," says Dennis Tyler, president of DialPro Northwest, a leading provider of voice messaging and unified communications solutions. "It is not always feasible for employees to pull to the side of the road. Sometimes a quick response is required to respond to an email message or make a phone call. There are a whole group of business-oriented speech recognition tools that keep employees both safe and connected to the office while offering full compliance with the law."
OPTIMIZERx Connects With Microsoft HealthVault to Reduce Medication Costs
OPTIMIZERx has announced that its Web-based consumer information site, which provides information about prescription medicine savings, is now integrated with Microsoft HealthVault, a personal health application platform. For HealthVault users that store their medication inventory within their personal HealthVault account, this connection enables access to prescription coupons, cost-saving notifications, co-pay savings, and trials, which can help them better adhere to treatment regimens in a more affordable way, and OPTIMIZERx users can upload their medication records into their HealthVault account, enabling them to create a more comprehensive health profile.
"We are excited to be working with Microsoft HealthVault to further expand our reach and ability to help more consumers better afford their rising prescription costs through available prescription savings and other support programs," stated David Lester, Chief Executive Officer of OPTIMIZERx.
"We developed HealthVault with the goal of engaging consumers as active partners in their health and wellness management," said David Cerino, General Manager, Microsoft Health Solutions Group. "This collaboration enables HealthVault users to better manage their medication spending and provides users of OPTIMIZERx with access to a broad network of health and wellness services within our application ecosystem -- enabling decisions based on a more robust, longitudinal view of their health history."
The connection between OPTIMIZERx and Microsoft HealthVault has been established and consumers can begin saving on their prescribed medications as entered into their HealthVault accounts today!
Growth in Personal Health Record and MyESafeDepositBox Membership
San Francisco, California
Robert H. Lorsch, Chairman and CEO of MMR Information Systems, Inc. announced to an audience gathered for the Health Technology Investment Forum in San Francisco that the Company is projecting membership growth from its MyMedicalRecords Personal Health Record (PHR) and MyESafeDepositBox services in excess of one million members this year. This is in addition to the PHR growth from patients who take advantage of the free patient portal at MMRPatientView integrated with its MMRPro service for physicians and subsequent patient upgrades. Lorsch also announced that MMR is ready to deploy Personal Health Records to the millions of Americans who are expected to be faced with the management of healthcare costs resulting from the signing of the health care bill and related legislation.
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