Better Living Through Technology
The Obama administration’s new American Recovery and Reinvestment Act includes a mandate and considerable investment into health IT to make an electronic health record (EHR) available to each citizen by 2014. The purpose, “delivery of smarter healthcare systems with real-time access to critical patient health information,” seems noble, but the current reality is that only a third of U.S. physicians utilize any type of EHR. Challenges to accomplishing this mission include keeping confidential patient information secure, solving system compatibility issues, and agreeing on a common set of rules for making the natural language of a physician’s dictated medical report fit into a national electronic database that will make it possible to access and mine statistics from our population to aid in prevention and cure of disease. Already there are various organizations, councils, and committees working to identify and solve the problems involved in meeting this Federal challenge. The race is on to create what is destined to become the national health information network (NHIN). Some pieces of the problem will be solved within separate medical specialties based on what is needed there, but ultimately all of the health system’s diverse computer systems will need to be able to talk to each other.
Besides these several article pertaining to developments in health technology, the spring issue of TMIS eNewsletter has several articles related to the way Internet users find and share information. Like it or not, one of the ways the world is changing is through the use of media. This reality came clearer to us in our area just recently with the closing of the Seattle Post Intelligencer as a printed newspaper. It remains in operation as on-line-only news (http://www.seattlepi.com) . What just happened in Seattle is happening in major cities all across America. I don’t like to think that I contributed to the demise of the printed press, but I have to admit it has been 15 years or more since I had a newspaper subscription. We are all going to be hearing more about how the press now uses social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter to generate story ideas by connecting with sources to find stories. Also, top PR firms now advise their clients that in today’s sluggish economy, it is not enough to offer more of the same, and even though traditional public relations outreach remains very important, the rules of the game have changed. Clients are now encouraged to add on-line multimedia and content creation to the mix of traditional print and broadcast media in order to be found more often on Google and be commented about and shared through social networks and feeds. Clients are told they need to develop original, authentic content that shoots across the social sphere and engages all of their audiences in a compelling way.
There are some announcements related to how technology is being modified and adapted to protect the environment. Biomimicry (from bios, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate) is a new science that studies nature, its models, systems, processes and elements and then imitates or takes creative inspiration from them to solve human problems. The Biomimicry Guild is an innovative company that uses deep knowledge of biological adaptations to help designers, engineers, architects and business leaders solve design and engineering challenges. The Guild helps innovators design sustainable products and processes that create conditions conducive to all life.
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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Healthcare Identity Management Is Necessary First Step to Electronic Health Record Interchange, Says Smart Card Alliance Healthcare Council
Princeton Junction, New Jersey
Government policy makers are looking carefully at the best ways to improve the efficiency of information systems in the healthcare industry. But current plans that emphasize electronic health record exchange are putting the cart before the horse, according to a new brief for government policy makers and other healthcare stakeholders from Healthcare Council industry experts at the Smart Card Alliance.
"Dependably accurate identification and authentication of patients seems like something that should already exist in healthcare, but studies show it is a major problem," said Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Smart Card Alliance. "And if we are aiming for wider interchange of information, there must be a way to uniquely and securely authenticate that person across the healthcare system, including over the Internet, in a secure and privacy sensitive way."
Efforts to reduce medical errors caused by mistaken identities, modernize data exchange, reduce redundant testing and lower administrative costs must start with accurately linking patients with their personal medical information, while at the same time protecting their privacy according to a new brief from the Smart Card Alliance. "Effective Healthcare Identity Management: A Necessary First Step for Improving U.S. Healthcare Information Systems" is a one-page, plain-speak brief that explains the current problems with identity management in healthcare and its costs. It also proposes solutions without reinventing the wheel by leveraging existing standards developed for other federal identity programs, including the FIPS 201 Personal Identity Verification of Federal Employees and Contractors standard now being used for federal employee identity programs.
IBM and Partners Help Healthcare Clients Adopt Electronic Health Records and Improve Operations With Cloud Software
Armonk, New York
IBM has announced that American Occupational Network (AON) and HyGen Pharmaceuticals are improving patient care by digitizing health records and streamlining their business operations using cloud-based software from IBM Business Partners MedTrak Systems and The System House. By accessing technology that handles various tasks from electronic health records (EHRs) to on-line appointment scheduling as a service through the Internet instead of developing, purchasing and maintaining technology on-site, San Diego-based AON has been able to update its clinical processes and increase key efficiencies to improve patient care. For example, by digitizing health records and other processes, the company has reduced medical transcription costs by 80 percent and now can provide faster and more accurate billing to individuals and insurance companies, reducing the average time to create a bill from 7 days to less than 24 hours.
In the United States, the new American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will infuse $19 billion into healthcare IT and calls for the utilization of an EHR for each person by 2014. While EHRs help deliver smarter healthcare systems with real-time access to critical patient health information, only an estimated 38 percent of U.S. physicians used partial or full EHRs in 2008. As many healthcare providers struggle to manage the high costs of providing quality patient care, this low EHR utilization rate can be attributed to providers also being challenged with investing time and resources into information technology to improve their operations. This challenge makes acquiring technology as a cloud-based service compelling in the healthcare industry. .
New Criteria to Help Facilitate EHR Adoption in Small, Ambulatory Physician Practices
The Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT), the federally recognized body for testing and certifying electronic health records (EHRs), has announced it will develop dermatology-specific functionality criteria beginning in 2009. The CCHIT's decision was in part a response to an application from the American Academy of Dermatology with support from the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, the American Telemedicine Association, the Medical Dermatology Society, and the Society for Investigative Dermatology as well as overwhelming support from the dermatology community and other key stakeholders.
"Beginning in 2006, CCHIT has placed a 'seal of approval' on physician office-based EHR products to indicate that the system has met rigorous functionality, interoperability and security criteria for primary care, child health, and cardiology. The American Academy of Dermatology is pleased that the unique needs of dermatologists who use digital images and body mapping to track patient health will be recognized," said dermatologist C. William Hanke, MD, MPH, FAAD, president of the American Academy of Dermatology. "This will be a service to the health care community as it continues to transition to a system that relies on electronic health records and the smooth and secure interchange of data. Dermatologists are committed to helping create functional criteria and technical elements that also will help many different physician specialties."
Language and Computing Announces Natural Language Processing Patent
Language and Computing, Inc. (L&C), has announced the issuance of a conceptual world representation of natural language understanding system and method. L&C provides the healthcare industry with the most advanced Natural Language Processing (NLP) and knowledge management solutions for physician groups, hospitals and Healthcare Information Technology providers.
L&C's advanced NLP solutions uncover data within electronic medical records and healthcare documentation to automate medical coding and assist with administrative and clinical decision making. The foundation of L&C's technology is built upon the world's largest and most complete medical knowledgebase, allowing unstructured text to be transformed into precise meaning. This user-defined, cutting-edge technology enables physician groups, hospitals and Healthcare Information Technology providers to extract information from healthcare documentation for medical coding, improved decision support, compliance adherence, core measures reporting, business trend analysis and more.
"Over 80 percent of a healthcare organization's information is stored as free-text. With L&C's patented NLP solutions, organizations can extract and reuse discrete data elements that would otherwise sit within those free-text clinical documents. The result is unstructured medical documents that become functional databases and the driving force behind core programs such as medical coding, billing and quality of care initiatives," said Peter Huisman, President and CEO of Language and Computing, Inc.
Web Sites Consider the Value and Usability of Focus on Search
SLI Systems, Inc. announced that its recent mini poll (conducted on LinkedIn) reveals that slightly more than half of respondents believe the "focus" should be on search on a corporate or e-commerce web site. According to the provider of on-demand search services for Internet and e-commerce sites, 53% of respondents said they liked the idea of focusing a web page's cursor on the site search box, whereas the remaining 47% said they prefer to click and scroll on their own.
The advantage of automatically placing the cursor in a site's search box is that it's easier for visitors to start their searches without looking for the box, or making extra clicks on the page. However, some of the respondents to the SLI poll said such a feature might confuse site visitors. In a recent blog post, SLI Systems CEO Shaun Ryan discusses the benefits of putting the focus on search on a web site, such as a shorter, easier navigation path.
Use of Technology from BitGravity, Facebook and Twitter Enabled an Exclusive Executive Conference to Reach and Engage a Global Community
After concluding the DEMO 09 conference with a bang on March 3, 2009, the final numbers are in on the global reach and virtual participation generated through the event's live broadcast. Utilizing technology from BitGravity and Facebook, the conference logged close to a quarter million player streams from viewers in 80 countries through the DEMO 09 Live video broadcast and witnessed 4,000 Facebook status updates via the new Facebook Live Feed widget.
DEMO 09 marks the first multidimensional conference experience to leverage Facebook's Live Feed to provide content, community and conversations to a worldwide audience "In today's challenging economic climate, conferences like DEMO have to be creative and rethink the ways in which they operate to reach the broadest audience in order to have the greatest impact," said Neal Silverman, Executive Vice President of Network World and DEMO. "By leveraging leading edge technology like BitGravity and social community-building services like Facebook and Twitter, we were able to offer our demonstrators, our live attendees and our virtual audience a world class experience like never before."
PR Agency SHIFT Communications Announces Digital Marketing Practice
SHIFT Communications, one of the nation's fastest-growing public relations agencies, with offices in Boston, San Francisco and New York, has announced the availability of a range of Digital Marketing programs for its clients.
SHIFT Communications is an award-winning traditional PR and Social Media agency with many well known technology and consumer clients. SHIFT will help create rich, authentic content available for clients and newcomers to build, reach and expand their communities. The core brand-building offerings in include: Digital Video Production, Mobile / Studio Podcasting, Live Remote Video Capabilities, Widget Development - Social Platform Application Development, SEO Services, and Social Media Newsroom Development.
All offerings are designed to extend clients' reach beyond traditional PR programming. By adding content creation to your PR marketing mix, clients can engage their communities with material that interests and entices them to share it -- that means being found more often on Google; commented about, tagged and shared through social networks, vertical sites and feeds.
HOK and Biomimicry Guild Form Alliance to Integrate Nature's Innovations in the Design of Buildings, Communities and Cities Worldwide
St Louis, Montana
HOK and the Biomimicry Guild have forged a first-of-its-kind alliance linking the natural and built environment. This exclusive relationship between one of the world's largest architectural design firms and the only bio-inspired innovation company will integrate nature's innovations in the planning and design of buildings, communities and cities worldwide.
Established by biologists Janine Benyus and Dr. Dayna Baumeister in 1998, Biomimicry is a science that studies nature's best ideas and imitates these designs and processes to solve human problems. Biomimicry has inspired numerous commercial products and individual building projects, and the new alliance between the Biomimicry Guild and HOK has the potential to dramatically expand its scale and impact.
"Given the size, breadth and diversity of HOK's design practice, our firm can significantly influence the future generation of architecture, planning and interior design projects around the world," says HOK President Bill Hellmuth.
The built environment is the most fertile ground for biomimicry, according to Dayna Baumeister, PhD, co-founder of the Biomimicry Guild. "Buildings account for about 50% of total U.S. energy use, and our greatest collective impact will come from applying biomimicry to the planning and design of buildings, communities and cities at every scale and in every region," she says.
Annual Conference Creating a Revolution at the Intersection of the Environment, Health and Justice
San Rafael, California
Air quality. Water. Environmental Justice. Global warming. There has never been a more important time in the history of our planet to find the solutions to such critical environmental issues. The Earth could reach an irreversible tipping point in less than a decade unless we quickly change our ways, warns NASA climate scientist James Hansen. And there is only one organization that is on the cutting edge of the science and innovation behind these solutions. --Bioneers.
Bioneers is the source for forward-looking ideas and education that use nature as a guide to create sustainable societies and a healthy planet. In its 19th year, the Bioneers annual conference presents the world's leading scientific, technological and social innovators who are part of the global shift to help people live in a way that is inspired by nature.
The conference is a multi-media forum that presents solutions for the planet's most vital issues, and connects countless visionary leaders with engaged citizens -- who are all making a very real difference to create a future environment of stability and hope. From green collar jobs, to clean energy, to green building and solutions for global warming, the Bioneers conference addresses what is on the minds of people everywhere. Attendees will experience exciting workshops, special events, and hear new ideas from leading-edge speakers such as Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben, and Alexandra Cousteau.
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