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A Weekly Compilation of Clinical Laboratory and Related Information
from The Division of Laboratory Science and Standards

 

October 18, 2012

 

 

View Previous Issues - Healthcare News Archive

 

President's Ethics Panel Urges New Protections for Whole Genome Data
Whole genome sequencing offers tremendous promise for improving medical care, but it also raises troubling privacy questions. Policymakers and researchers need to tread carefully by crafting policies that protect patients' genome data without stifling research.

That's the bottom line of a report from President Barack Obama's Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. The panel decided to weigh-in now, even before whole genome sequencing is offered routinely in the clinic, because with prices heading toward $1000 per genome, it soon will be. "This is a proactive and it's a forward-looking report. It's not a response to a crisis. But the commission understands that if this issue is left unaddressed, we could all feel the effects," said the panel's chair, University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann during a press call.

Source: http://news.sciencemag.org/

New York Governor Vetoes Legislation Intended to Conform State Self-Referral Ban to the Stark Law
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed legislation that would have brought the State’s restrictions on physician self-referrals (the State Law) in line with the federal ban on self-referrals, which is commonly known as the Stark Law.  

Generally, the Stark Law [PDF 182.85KB] prohibits physicians from referring Medicare patients for certain designated health services (e.g., clinical lab, imaging, radiation therapy, and physician therapy services, among others) to an entity with which the physician (or a member of the physician’s immediate family) has a financial relationship, unless an exception applies.  The State Law by and large mimics the Stark Law, but there are certain distinctions that make the State Law more restrictive.  Notably, the State Law covers referrals of designated health services regardless of payment source, meaning remuneration from private insurers and managed care plans are covered by the statute.  In addition, the Stark Law contains exceptions for the following additional types of arrangements that are not in the State Law, which make it more permissive:

  • community-wide health information systems and e- prescribing items and services and electronic health record items and services (in contrast, the State Law only includes a limited allowance for the provision of computers and related equipment and supplies by a clinical laboratory to a health services purveyor),
  • bona fide charitable donations,
  • fair market value compensation arrangements, and
  • a “temporary non-compliance” grace period for arrangements that, but for a ministerial error, otherwise comply with a Stark Law exception. 

Source: http://www.jdsupra.com/

Lab Work in Meningitis Probe Painstakingly Slow
In row upon row of test tubes inside Vanderbilt University Medical Center's microbiology lab, culture samples from the spinal fluid of potential meningitis patients sit and develop. Spores thrive and reproduce, but in many cases the pace is more like a tree than a weed. It can take up to a week for the first colored fuzz to appear. It can take six weeks before scientists are comfortable that the growth has provided enough evidence for a negative diagnosis. And even then, nothing is certain.

When it comes to the effectiveness of the current antifungal drug treatment, as well as exploration of other, potentially less harmful options, most of that research is being done at the CDC. The organization has convened a panel of clinical fungal experts working to ensure that the diagnostic and treatment guidance is appropriate, said Dr. J. Todd Weber, a CDC official. That includes looking at current treatment options, voriconazole and amphotericin B, which have nasty side effects that can damage the liver and kidneys.

"This is new territory for public health and the clinical community," he said. And it remains an evolving situation.

Source: http://www.usatoday.com/

Digital Pathology Should Leapfrog Digital Radiology’s Adoption Timeline
During Pathology Informatics 2012, if there was clear consensus on any single point, it was that every medical laboratory needs a very robust informatics platform to serve the new integrated care models, including accountable care organizations and medical homes. This will be particularly true for pathology groups because of the growing acceptance of whole slide images and digital pathology systems used to capture those images and make them available to pathologists. On that count, one speaker at Pathology Informatics 2012 had a powerful message that was well received by all in attendance.

Pathology Profession Needs to Transition to Digital Pathology

“Pathologists tend to look at how digital images transformed radiology and assume that pathology can follow that same path of adoption,” declared Paul J. Chang, M.D., Professor of Radiology, Vice Chair, Radiology Informatics, and Medical Director of Enterprise Imaging at the University Of Chicago Department Of Medicine. “That misses an important point! The transformation is not about the use of digital images. Rather, it is the transformation in workflow that is enabled by use of digital technologies.

Source: http://www.darkdaily.com/

Stamp-sized Paper Test Measures Liver Damage in Blood
Scientists have created a new paper-based device that monitors liver injury using just a drop of blood.

Patients infected with HIV and the tuberculosis bacterium, for example, take daily drug cocktails and should be monitored monthly for drug-related liver damage. But patients in developing countries, however, rarely have access to standard lab tests for liver toxicity. So a team led by Nira Pollock at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Jason Rolland from Diagnostics For All designed a low-cost, portable device to monitor liver damage for places that lack resources.

  1. With this microfluidic device, you apply a small amount of blood from a finger prick onto a 1-inch square piece of paper.
  2. The activity of 2 enzymes in human blood — aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT), important markers for monitoring damage to liver cells — leads to changes in the levels of dyes embedded in specific zones on the paper
  3. The color changes correspond to a concentration range for each of the enzymes. When increasing levels of AST are detected in the blood, for instance, it changes from shades of blue to shades of pink.

Source: http://www.smartplanet.com/

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Neurotensin as an Indicator for Poor health Outcomes in Women

The satiety hormone neurotensin may provide a novel biomarker for assessing risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease (CVD), and breast cancer among women, report researchers.

"This is the first time a satiation hormone has been linked to these three common diseases in women," said lead author Olle Melander from Skane University Hospital in Malmo, Sweden, in a press statement. "It therefore opens up a new field for continued research on risk assessment and preventive treatment."

In a study of 4632 participants from the Malmo Diet and Cancer Study, fasting levels of the neurotensin precursor proneurotensin were significantly associated with the development of diabetes, CVD, total mortality, CV mortality, and breast cancer in women, over a median follow up period of 13.2-15.7 years (depending on the disease).

As reported in JAMA, a baseline examination conducted in 1991 through 1994 showed that women had significantly higher levels of proneurotensin than men, at a median of 109 versus 99 pmol/L.

Source: http://www.medwire-news.md/

Cell Stiffness as Biomarker for Cancer Cells
An atomic force microscope, holding a microscale cantilever, is positioned just above a petri dish filled with ovarian cancer cells. Researchers at Georgia Tech have been using atomic force microscopy to measure the relative stiffness of healthy and metastatic ovarian cells. Their findings, published in PLoS One, point to the use of cell stiffness as a biomarker to differentiate healthy cells from metastatic ones, as well as those that are aggressive from those that are less so.

Healthy ovarian cells tend to be stiffer, while the more metastatic the cancerous cells get, the softer they are. The researchers believe that cells’ softness allows them to more easily push themselves into the bloodstream, spreading cancer as they squeeze through.

Source: http://medgadget.com/

Tissue Test Detects Oral Cancer Risk
A molecular diagnostic scoring system based on patients' FOXM1 (forkhead box protein M1)-associated gene messenger RNA (mRNA) expression levels is able to quantitatively diagnose and stratify oral carcinoma and its aggressiveness, show UK and Norwegian study results.

The researchers suggest that after further validation, their quantitative Malignancy Index Diagnostic System (qMIDS) could enable the early detection of head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC) and guide appropriate treatment.

Source: http://www.medwire-news.md/

New DNA Test Shows Promise for Spotting Colon Cancer
Scientists have developed a new DNA test for colorectal cancer and for cancer precursors that seems to be not only accurate, but also noninvasive. If approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, experts say, the test could be a welcome alternative to colonoscopies, which require a lengthy and uncomfortable preparation.

"The study is interesting and may hold some promise in the future," said Dr. David Beck, chairman of the department of colon and rectal surgery at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans. "More testing needs to be done to confirm the findings, and we need to know how available the test will be and what it will cost."

Source: http://consumer.healthday.com/

Breast Cancer Needle Biopsy in 'Granular' Detail
There are now even more reasons to use less invasive, more efficient needle biopsy in the diagnosis of breast cancer. In a study of 1135 breast cancer patients in Vermont, needle biopsy — and the related preoperative diagnosis of cancer — improved surgical outcomes, compared with open biopsy.

"Having a preoperative diagnosis of breast cancer improved initial margin status, decreased the total number of operations, and was associated with more use of axillary node evaluation and adjuvant radiation after breast-conserving surgery," write the authors, led by Ted A. James, MD, associate professor of surgery at the University of Vermont College of Medicine in Burlington.

This study provides more evidence of the advantages of needle biopsies, which have been recommended by national medical societies for some time, the authors note.

Source: http://www.medscape.com/

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Biomarker for Asbestos-Linked Cancer Works
Glycoprotein fibulin-3 can be used to identify patients with pleural mesothelioma and may be a useful biomarker for the asbestos-related illness, researchers reported.

Plasma levels of the protein were higher in people with the disease than they were in people exposed to asbestos but who did not have mesothelioma, according to Harvey Pass, MD, of New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City, and colleagues.

Source: http://www.medpagetoday.com/

Urinary Adiponectin Potential Marker for Diabetic Nephropathy
In a presentation at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes 48th Annual Meeting in Berlin, Germany, Markku Saraheimo from Helsinki University Central Hospital reported: "Urinary adiponectin seems to be as good as albumin excretion rate (AER) in predicting the progress from macroalbuminuria to end stage renal disease (ESRD) in patients with Type 1 diabetes." Indeed, "in macro stage, they are really losing their adiponectin," he explained.

Source: http://www.medwire-news.md/

Alere Sees Positive Results in Pre-Eclampsia Study         
Alere Inc. has developed a test that can now detect the main cause of pre-eclampsia, a condition when a pregnant women experiences high blood pressure and protein in the urine. The Waltham health-care management company said that results of a UK-based study showed that its Alere Triage blood test, which measures the placental growth factor (PlGF), can quantify risk in women when pre-eclampsia, a condition that can develop during pregnancy, is detected. Studies show that in both early and late onset pre-eclampsia, PlGF is lower in women with pre-eclampsia.

Source: http://www.masshightech.com/

Bio-Reference to Launch Laboratorio Buena Salud, The First Nationwide Full-Service Hispanic Laboratory
Laboratorio Buena Salud Will Serve the Hispanic community Across the U.S.
Bio-Reference Laboratories, Inc. officially announced the launch of Laboratorio Buena Salud (www.LaboratorioBuenaSalud.com), the first national testing laboratory dedicated to serving Spanish-speaking populations in the United States. All functions and services will be customized to the Hispanic community and business will be conducted in Spanish, including patient and physician interactions. 

"Laboratories are about access; we need to do all we can to promote care no matter the circumstances, conditions or language spoken," said Marc D. Grodman, MD, President and CEO of Bio-Reference Laboratories.  "People of Hispanic origin are one of the fastest-growing population segments in the United States and account for well over 50 million of our current population and there are those among them, both patients and physicians alike, for whom Spanish is the primary language. They deserve a dedicated laboratory resource that will be able to service them in a seamless, effective way. That is the vision behind Laboratorio Buena Salud.

Source: http://www.clpmag.com/

Quest Diagnostics to Acquire Clinical Laboratory Outreach Business of UMass Memorial Medical Center
Quest Diagnostics Incorporated formally announced that had signed a “definitive agreement today to purchase the clinical laboratory outreach business of UMass Memorial Medical Center.” The laboratory is located in Worcester, Massachusetts and the parties expect the transaction to close within 90 days. For UMass, the sale of its medical laboratory outreach business comes as part of an ongoing effort by UMass Memorial Health Care (UMMHC)—the parent health system—to divest a number of service lines that were in its health ventures division. This included home health and hospice services, along with the medical lab outreach business.

Source: http://www.darkdaily.com/

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Quest Diagnostics Launches Reorganization, Layoffs
Quest Diagnostics said that it has launched a reorganization of the firm that includes the creation of two new business groups and the elimination of approximately 400 to 600 management positions. The Madison, NJ-based clinical lab firm, which has steadily increased its presence in the molecular diagnostics field, said that it will eliminate its current business structures and replace them with two new business units: Diagnostic Information Services and Diagnostic Solutions. The change will become effective on Jan. 1, 2013.

The Diagnostic Information Services group will include the "vast majority" of the company's revenues, said Quest, and will replace its current Physician Services, Hospital Services and Cancer Diagnostics businesses. The new unit will develop and deliver diagnostic testing, information, and services, and will be responsible for new test development, sales and marketing, routine and esoteric laboratories, and field operations.

Source: http://www.genomeweb.com/

Mayo Medical Laboratories Launches Mobile Test Catalog and Reference Apps
Mayo Medical Laboratories is introducing two comprehensive mobile applications for iPhones and iPads, allowing physicians and pathologists unparalleled access to clinical laboratory expertise from Mayo Clinic. The Lab Catalog app provides guidance on test selection and result interpretation, enabling physicians to search for tests by disease, test name or test ID. In addition to test information, the app provides direct access to educational resources such as videos, articles and testing algorithms. The Lab Reference app provides users with quick access to reference values, uses, method names, cautions, testing algorithms, and clinical and interpretive information for each test.

Source: http://www.news-medical.net/

Northern California Training Grant Produces First Crop of Specialized Clinical Laboratory Scientists, MTs, and MLTs
In the San Francisco Bay Area, a healthcare training program has graduated its first students trained as Clinical Laboratory Scientists (CLS) or Medical Laboratory Technologists (MLT) new medical laboratory. This harvest of clinical laboratory workers is the result of a collaboration of private employers and academia, funded by a federal Labor Department grant.

Last fall, San Jose State University (SJS) used a $5 million federal grant to launch a pilot program to train healthcare professionals, including CLSs. California State University in Los Angeles, and Cal Poly in Pomona launched similar programs.

Source: http://www.darkdaily.com/

The Future of DNA Sequencing Isn't in the Lab        
Up until now, the money Illumina, Roche, Life Technologies, and Pacific Biosciences of California have made selling DNA sequencers has come from research labs. Academics need DNA sequencers to do basic research to understand how genetic variation affects biologic processes. That basic research has translated into the clinic at an alarming rate, producing the next generation of DNA sequencing demand.

You can see it in the acquisitions

Roche's bid for Illumina appeared to be mostly driven by bringing sequencing to the clinic. Roche has a strong hold in diagnostic testing, and Illumina's sequencing technology is superior to Roche's. But Roche played hardball and didn't want to overpay for the technology. Last month, Illumina decided it could fill some of the gap on its own, purchasing BlueGenome, a leader in cytogenetics.

Source: http://www.fool.com/

Study to Test Whether Blood Lost During Natural Birth can be Reused
The Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust in Wales will conduct a 12-month study to test whether blood lost during natural birth can be cleaned and safely re-infused. Consultant anesthetist Catherine Ralph, the lead researcher for the project, said midwives will be tapped for help in identifying women who may benefit from the procedure, which will involve the use of an adhesive drape around the perineum for the collection of blood during vaginal birth.

Source: http://www.nursingtimes.net/

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NIH to Fund Single Cell Analysis Studies with $90M
The National Institutes of Health said that it is using more than $90 million to fund research projects and centers that will accelerate the development of new single cell analysis technologies in a range of fields. The Single Cell Analysis Program (SCAP), funded by the NIH Common Fund, will invest in three research centers and will support 26 new projects that will pursue science seeking to enhance researchers' abilities to understand links between cell variation, tissue and organ function, and the origins of diseases.

"The development of new technologies that can detect differences between individual cells within the same tissue is crucial to our understanding of a wide variety of diseases," NIH Director Francis Collins said in a statement. "This Common Fund Program is an excellent example of how the NIH can accelerate the pace of biomedical discovery."

Source: http://www.genomeweb.com/

NIH Researchers Provide Detailed View of Brain Protein Structure
Researchers have published the first highly detailed description of how neurotensin, a neuropeptide hormone which modulates nerve cell activity in the brain, interacts with its receptor. Their results suggest that neuropeptide hormones use a novel binding mechanism to activate a class of receptors called G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs).

"The knowledge of how the peptide binds to its receptor should help scientists design better drugs," said Dr. Reinhard Grisshammer, a scientist at the NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and an author of the study published in Nature.

Source: http://www.nih.gov/

Genetics of Infections
Even when a not very virulent flu virus goes around, some people still get sick, and some of those even die. Of those people who get sick or die, some are elderly and some have co-morbidities like obesity or being a smoker that contribute to their illness, says Amalio Telenti, a professor at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. But some of those people who get sick or die from the not-very-virulent flu virus were healthy. "That's when you start thinking about genetics," Telenti says.

Source: http://www.genomeweb.com/

Fears over Risk of air Transmission of Superbugs
The extent to which hospital superbugs are being transmitted via the air needs to be investigated, experts say. It comes after a Leeds University study has added to a growing body of evidence about the ability of bacteria to float on air currents. Researchers carried out lab tests on a bacteria associated with MRSA and found it could travel up to 3.5m (11ft).And they said the findings could have implications for the design and organisation of hospitals.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/

The $1,000 Genome: A Bait and Switch?
The concept of the $1,000 genome is "misleading," says Laura Hercher on the genetic counseling blog The DNA Exchange. Hercher, a faculty member at Sarah Lawrence College, acknowledges that the cost of sequencing is dropping rapidly, but notes that the "$1,000 genome" doesn't mean that "getting your DNA sequenced will cost $1,000" because the number "covers only renewables — those things like reagents and chips that are consumed in the process of sequencing. It does not include the cost of the sequencer or the cost of the tech who runs the sequencer. It does not cover overhead or profits. And most of all, it does not cover the costs associated with interpretation, without which a DNA sequence is merely an endless stream of A's, C's, T's and G's."

Source: http://www.genomeweb.com/

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Half-Life of DNA Revealed
Few researchers ever believed that DNA could survive long enough to make Jurassic Park a reality, and yet there have been no reliable models for how long the molecule takes to degrade. But a study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B estimates that DNA from bone has a half-life of 521 years: after that amount of time, half of the nucleotide bonds that hold it together are broken, and after another 521 years, those bonds are cut in half again, and so on.

Source: http://www.the-scientist.com/

Duke Blue Light Controls Gene Expression
New approach could greatly improve ability of researchers and physicians to control gene expression. Using blue light, Duke University bioengineers have developed a system for ordering genes to produce proteins, an advance they said could prove invaluable in clinical settings as well as in basic science laboratories.

This new approach could greatly improve the ability of researchers and physicians to control gene expression, which is the process by which genes give instructions for the production of proteins key to all living cells.

"We can now, with our method, make gene expression reversible, repeatable, tunable, and specific to different regions of a gene," said Lauren Polstein, a graduate student working in the laboratory of Charles Gersbach, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering. "Current methods of getting genes to express can achieve some of those characteristics, but not all at once."

The new system can also control where the genes are expressed in three dimensions, which becomes especially important for researchers attempting to bioengineer living tissues.

"The light-based strategy allows us to regulate gene expression for biotechnology and medical applications, as well as for gaining a better understanding of gene function, interactions between cells, and how tissues develop into particular shapes," Polstein said.

Source: http://www.technologynetworks.com/

Stem Cell Transplants Come Back to Haunt
Long-term survivors of blood-related cancers who had stem cell transplants are at risk of developing risk factors that can lead to heart disease, researchers found.

Overall, the presence of hypertension, diabetes, and dyslipidemia was significantly higher among hematopoietic cell transplant (HCT) recipients compared with the general population, according to Saro H. Armenian, DO, MPH, of City of Hope in Duarte, Calif., and colleagues.

Source: http://www.medpagetoday.com/

Lack of Sleep Can Seriously Affect Metabolism, Study Finds
Just a few nights of bad sleep is enough to throw the body's metabolism into disarray, according to a new study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. The study shows that getting four hours of sleep a night for four nights made healthy people's bodies resistant to insulin — a condition that is a common precursor of weight gain, diabetes and other serious health problems.

In a healthy body, when you take in sugar, insulin is released from the pancreas and travels throughout the body, signaling to cells that they should absorb some of that new glucose. But when the body becomes insulin-resistant, cells are less responsive to that signal, and glucose levels rise in the bloodstream. That can lead to diabetes, which causes damage to the eyes, kidneys and nerves, and has been linked to heart disease, stroke and premature death, according to the National Institutes of Health.

While several studies have shown that sleep affects diet and metabolism, most scientific research on sleep has focused on its role in normal brain function. But the new study — a collaboration among researchers who study sleep, diabetes and metabolism — finds troubling evidence that a lack of sleep can do serious damage to cells throughout the body by causing insulin resistance.

Source: http://www.latimes.com/

iPhone Radiology Images Sharp Enough to Enable Stroke Diagnoses: Study
The Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit organization that provides medical care, research and education, has released a study revealing that radiology images shown on an iPhone screen are suitable for evaluation by doctors as if they were on a typical picture archiving and communication system (PACS) or on a desktop. The study "Smartphone Teleradiology Application Is Successfully Incorporated into a Telestroke Network Environment" appears in the journal Stroke, published by the American Heart Association.

Source: http://www.eweek.com/

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How Cellphones Helped Researchers Track Malaria in Kenya  
Cellphones are popping up all over in health care these days. They're monitoring our blood sugar, tracking the flu season and even mapping the junk food we eat at night. But compared to a study just published in Science, these crowdsourcing tools look like small potatoes.

Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health tracked the texts and calls from nearly 15 million cellphones in Kenya for an entire year and then used the data to make a map for how malaria spreads around the Texas-sized country. The results were unexpected.

The roads to and from the capital city, Nairobi, are the most heavily traveled, yet they aren't the most important for spreading the disease throughout the country. Instead, regional routes around Lake Victoria serve as the major disease corridors for the parasite. And, towns along the routes are hot spots for transmitting malaria to the rest of the country. The data also confirm what a few epidemiologists had feared: Malaria seems to be getting into some African megacities, like Nairobi.

Source: http://www.npr.org/

Redefining Medicine With Apps and iPads
Dr. Alvin Rajkomar was doing rounds with his team at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center when he came upon a puzzling case: a frail, elderly patient with a dangerously low sodium level.  As a third-year resident in internal medicine, Dr. Rajkomar was the senior member of the team, and the others looked to him for guidance. An infusion of saline was the answer, but the tricky part lay in the details. Concentration? Volume? Improper treatment could lead to brain swelling, seizures or even death.

Dr. Rajkomar had been on call for 24 hours and was exhausted, but the clinical uncertainty was “like a shot of adrenaline,” he said. He reached into a deep pocket of his white coat and produced not a well-thumbed handbook but his iPhone. With a tap on an app called MedCalc, he had enough answers within a minute to start the saline at precisely the right rate.

The history of medicine is defined by advances born of bioscience. But never before has it been driven to this degree by digital technology.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/

The Ups and Downs of Electronic Medical Records
Small wonder that the idea has been promoted by the Obama administration, with strong bipartisan and industry support. The government has given $6.5 billion in incentives, and hospitals and doctors have spent billions more.

But as health care providers adopt electronic records, the challenges have proved daunting, with a potential for mix-ups and confusion that can be frustrating, costly and even dangerous.  Some doctors complain that the electronic systems are clunky and time-consuming, designed more for bureaucrats than physicians. Last month, for example, the public health system in Contra Costa County in California slowed to a crawl under a new information-technology system.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/

Where are EHRs Failing to Meet Organizational Need?
There are several areas where the EHRs are failing to meet many organizational needs:

  1. No ability to capture data from outside sources. Many of the EHRs have no tools to capture data or measurements from external systems and integrate this data for reporting of metrics.  Examples include retinal exams for diabetics: these are often done outside of primary care. The data needs to be hand-entered into the EHR to get credit
  2. No ability to compare across multiple like organizations. Most vendor tools do not include a mechanism to compare your performance with like organizations.
  3. Population Health functionality is improving in EHRs but is still not as effective as you would expect.  Population Health is comprised of both disease management and prevention services.

Source: http://www.govhealthit.com/

Meaningful Choice: Patient-Centered Decision Making in Electronic Health Information Exchange
A key purpose for developing a secure private computer network in the health care industry is establishing the capability for health care providers to access and share patient health information electronically and securely over the Internet to support patient care, often referred to as a health information exchange (HIE).

However, the success of the exchange of this information – known as electronic health information exchange (eHIE) – is heavily dependent upon patients recognizing and being willing to participate in the sharing of their health information. As noted in its Federal Health Information Technology (Health IT) Strategic Plan, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) works to inspire health care provider and patient confidence and trust in health IT and eHIE by protecting the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of health information. Informed patient choice is one way to ensure a trust relationship with patients for the success of eHIE.

Source: http://www.healthit.gov/

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EHR Standards Sought to Cut Tech-Induced Errors
Despite the proliferation of electronic health record systems, there have been no norms regarding data governance.

A leading health information management organization wants to standardize the way data are collected, stored and used by electronic health record systems so that the promise of EHRs may finally be realized and not unwittingly jeopardize physicians who use them.

The American Health Information Management Assn. in November is convening stakeholders — including health care professionals, health plans, quality organizations and vendors as well as the Dept. of Health and Human Services — to establish guidelines that vendors and health care organizations can use to address data integrity, patient safety, quality and the prevention of billing errors. “Unified data governance principles will help promote accuracy and consistency and reduce ambiguity,” AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon said in a prepared statement. The organization held its annual meeting Oct. 1-3 in Chicago.

Source: http://www.ama-assn.org/

Feds Bet On Health IT for Nursing Homes
Health IT plays an important role in a new government initiative to improve nursing home care, including the coordination of care with hospitals and physicians. Although technological innovation is not the main thrust of the four-year demonstration project of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a CMS official told InformationWeek Healthcare that the organizations receiving CMS grants are looking at various ways to connect long-term-care facilities electronically with other healthcare providers.

CMS announced that it had selected seven organizations to work with 145 nursing facilities to reduce avoidable hospitalizations, especially among patients who are joint Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.

Source: http://www.informationweek.com/

Nonpayment Policy Not Impacting Infection Rates: Study
The federal government's 4-year-old nonpayment policy for hospital-acquired conditions has had no measurable effect on rates of several types of healthcare-associated infections specifically targeted by the program, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Rates of such infections were on a downward trend throughout the study period, the authors said, but those drops could not be attributed to the federal government's hospital-acquired conditions program. They offered a number of possible explanations for their findings, including the CMS' reliance on administrative data.

A previous study, published in May in the American Journal of Infection Control and authored by several of the same researchers, found that hospitals were increasing infection surveillance and prevention efforts in response to the CMS' nonpayment policy. 

Source: http://www.modernhealthcare.com/

Student Physician, Sequence Thyself
Some students at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York will have the chance to sequence themselves after the school announced that it is launching a course that allows students to sequence, analyze, and interpret their own complete genome. The elective course, called "Practical Analysis of Your Personal Genome," also gives students the option to sequence an anonymous reference genome, if the prospects of knowing the deep dark secrets hidden away in their own genes make them shudder.

Source: http://www.genomeweb.com/

Vitamin D Deficiency: A Bigger Problem Than Perceived
Though it is hard to believe, but according to doctors, Vitamin D deficiency is becoming more and more common among people these days and majority are not even aware of this deficiency.

After speaking to few doctors of the city in India, Newsline found that on an average 7 out of 10 patients going to their clinics are deficient in Vitamin D for which sunlight is the main source.

Source: http://www.indianexpress.com/

China & India Launch New Medical Device Regulations
China and India have launched new regulatory guidelines for medical device companies conducting business within their respective countries.

China's State Food & Drug Administration (SFDA) released instructions governing a standardized manner in which foreign medical device manufacturers must label and package their products.

India's Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) will begin a national effort to ensure medical device manufacturers are producing safe and effective products by taking special measures to scrutinize business activities for discrepancies in manufacturing practices

Source: http://www.healthpointcapital.com/

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Disclaimer- The information provided in this news digest is intended only to be general summary information. It does not represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is not intended to take the place of applicable laws or regulations.


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