December 15, 2009
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Since the Canadian and U.S. stimuli directed fuding towards electronic medical records (EMR), we’ve been following developments in the area as part of our Biotech Trends series here on the blog and have noted successes and failures. A few recent stories highlight risks and benefits:
A recent Scientific American story (H/T @mikesgene) turned an analytical eye on the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center‘s implementation, the current iteration of which started in 2004. Case studies have been an important part of the EMR narrative, and many so far have focused on Kaiser Permanente’s implementation, which is the world’s largest civilian system, so it’s nice to see an in-depth analysis of a different experience. The article closes with a quote from National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Director Patrick Gallagher, who says the stimulus effort
“is about using technology to bring health care information together to reduce medical error, reduce the need for testing, put information in front of patients, and put information in front of researchers.”
A FierceHealthIT story reported on an initiative by the American Telemedicine Association, which is running a demonstration program with DocTalker Family Medicine. DocTalker, founded by Dr. Alan Dappen (partnered with @drval) is providing remote health services to Association members and employees. It’s being pitched as an employee benefit that can promote worker health and productivity by reducing the need for office visits and providing round-the-clock responsiveness.
Telemedicine’s role in EMR also features in this story about a pacemaker developed by St. Jude Medical that allows patients and doctors at the Montreal Heart Institute to get data and alerts from the device, which also transmits cumulative data to the doctors in advance of patients’ follow-up visits.
With all of these electronic data floating around, security is key, but it remains an elusive target. Dan Vorhaus tweeted about a ModernHealthCare.com article that highlights numerous security breaches this Fall. Microsoft’s purchase this week of Sentillion, which focuses on EMR security, was for an undisclosed sum but you can bet it’s key to Microsoft’s EMR strategy.
Two Canadian developments on the electronic medical records front:
Telus and Microsoft are developing a patient-centred system that would allow individuals to access and manage their medical records and would interface directly with health care providers’ systems to gather and share the data. Canada Health Infoway wants to make sure it’s secure. The CBC story mentions that the IBM/Google Health team is looking at a Canadian implementation as well.
GE held an event today at MaRS launching a global healthcare initiative — called “healthymagination” — with announcements in 4 other cities around the world including Washington.
GE is devoting $6 billion over the next 6 years to meet three goals by 2015: reduce the cost of healthcare by 15% (focusing on procedures and processes); increase access by 15% (to services, technologies and health education); and improve quality by 15% (partner with physicians and stakeholders to simplify procedures and accelerate adoption of standards of care).
The initiative was introduced in Toronto by Elyse Allan, President & CEO of GE Canada, and by Peter Robertson, General Manager of GE Healthcare Canada, who did a good job of speaking to Canadian-specific issues. One program that was heavily discussed was the Pan Northern Ontario PACS Project (PNOP) agreement with GE Healthcare for the creation of a Diagnostic Imaging Repository (DI-r) and longitudinal patient records across northern Ontario. The program is being funded in part by Canada Health Infoway and the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care’s eHealth Program.