International News Extras For the Week (15/01/2009).

Again there has been just a heap of stuff arrive this week.

First we have:

Report: EMR market to grow 14% through 2012, spurred by PHRs

Written by Editorial Staff

Tue, Jan 06 2009

As EMR adoption gains in U.S. healthcare, internet-based personal health records (PHRs) will influence the healthcare industry, according to a new report from healthcare market research firm Kalorama Information.

Patients can obtain information, such as laboratory results, radiology reports, medication lists and culture test results with the click of a mouse. Kalorama’s report, “U.S. Markets for EMR Technology,” examined how the focus of ownership of medical records is shifting from one that is distributed among various healthcare providers to one that is shared and controlled by both the patient and the provider.

Patients’ and physicians’ interest in viewing records online has increased, since giving patients online access to their own charts is expected to enhance the doctor-patient relationship and reduce healthcare costs, according to the report.

“The driver for EMR sales has always been hospital-side, as in ‘this can reduce your costs,’” said Bruce Carlson, publisher of Kalorama. “That’s still true, but with PHRs, the driver is also on the consumer side, as in ‘this can make your organization seem friendly and modern to healthcare consumers.’”
More here:

It is good to see something is growing in these dismal economic times!

Second we have:

HIMSS acquires Government Health IT magazine

  • Jan 05, 2009

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society has acquired Government Health IT magazine, its Web site and annual conference from 1105 Media Inc., the organization announced Jan. 5.

The purchase expands HIMSS’ access to federal health care technology and policy planners and is a logical next step for the education and advocacy organization, said Stephen Lieber, president and chief executive officer of HIMSS.

“The federal sector is a major player in health care — not only in setting policy but also as the largest payer and one of the largest providers of health care,” Lieber said.

“By expanding our publishing and educational efforts with this suite of Government Health IT media products, HIMSS and our members will have a direct line of communication with this very important sector,” he added.

More here:

This move can only improve reporting and discussion of the Health IT Sector in the US.

Third we have:

Kramer to head eHealth Ontario

By: Dave Carey

"What we have lacked up until now is a province-wide eHealth strategy to implement," says the health care IT veteran. What's on the eHealth Ontario agenda

Longtime health care IT executive Sarah Kramer, no stranger to large and complex challenges, now faces the biggest challenge of her career as she assumes the post of president and CEO of eHealth Ontario, an agency created recently to harness information and technology to improve patient care in Ontario.

Kramer has served as vice-president and CIO with Cancer Care Ontario, and her work as lead for the initiative to reduce patient wait times in Ontario was the subject of a CIO Canada cover story in March 2007.

“There is no shortage of eHealth talent in this province. What we have lacked up until now is a province-wide eHealth strategy to implement and a single organization focused on executing that strategy,” said Kramer in a speech given at the annual Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) conference, soon after she assumed her new post.

The key priorities of eHealth Ontario include: creating a diabetes registry that will ensure people are receiving the best possible care; establishing an e-prescribing system to eliminate hand-written prescriptions and reduce medication errors; and developing an e-health portal which will allow healthcare providers and patients to easily and securely access the health information they need to deliver and receive better care.

More here:

Reads like a sensible list of initiatives to get things making a difference in Ontario.

Fourth we have:

Industry Predictions: Consumer Demands Will Help Shape Health IT in 2009

by Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

While there are uncertainties in forecasting what health IT will look like in 2009, one force is already undeniably influencing the health IT market: American consumers.

Health IT has gone mainstream and in 2009, consumers will help decide where exactly it fits in the stream. President-elect Barack Obama has said health IT will be part of a stimulus package to help revive the country's ailing economy. But even without the government's help, 2009 will be a crossroads kind of year for health IT.

In the second half of my annual iHealthBeat end-of-one-year, beginning-of-another look at health IT, we'll examine the consumer drivers shaping the industry.

Health Financing and Medical Banking

In this era of economic downturn, employers continuing to sponsor health insurance for workers are looking for ways to manage costs. This past year saw growth in health savings accounts coupled with high-deductible health plans. These are tools that help employers compel workers to put more financial skin in the game of health coverage. And the consumers who opt into these plans have, in aggregate, serious monies to manage in the funds.

In 2008, HSAs amounted to about $6 billion in the second quarter of 2008, according to Information Strategies. We'll see expansion in medical banking functions that manage this business. Besides UnitedHealth (OptumHealth Bank), WellPoint (Arcus Bank), and the BlueCross and BlueShield Association (Blue Healthcare Bank), other plans will create banks that will be FDIC-insured to manage the HSA balances.

These funds, along with other consumer-facing health monies, will add up to at least $40 billion by 2013.

Telehealth Takes Off

The growth of broadband to the home, consumers' comfort with IT and health providers' need to extend caregiver resources beyond their institutional walls will converge in 2009 for telehealth applications to move into the home. Here's an instance where recession will be the mother of innovation for patient self-care and home care.

Hospitals need to staff even more efficiently during this economic-conservation era. Institutions can add volume without adding significant cost by adopting telehealth approaches to help patients with chronic illnesses avoid entering the hospital.

FDA's approval in 2007 of Intel's health device, the Health Guide, is another market signal that technology is available to provide real-time telemetry from the home to the provider by a major trusted market player. With aligned incentives between provider, payer and patient, the home could begin to become a central node for chronic care in 2009.

Much more here:

Well worth a browse and some useful links.

Fifth we have:

Study: Telehealth boosts veterans' management of chronic care

By Molly Merrill, Associate Editor 01/06/09

According to a new study, veterans with chronic conditions who are provided with home health technology from the Department of Veterans Affairs are better able to manage their health and avoid hospitalization.

The study appears in the current issue of the journal (italics) Telemedicine and e-Health (end italics) and was authored by VA national telehealth staff members.

It looks at health outcomes from 17,025 VA home telehealth patients.

Patients who used home telehealth were able to reduce the average number of days hospitalized by 25 percent and reduce hospitalization by 19 percent, the study found. The data also showed that the cost of telehealth services averaged $1,600 per patient a year - much lower than in-home clinician care costs, authors say.

"The study showed that home telehealth makes healthcare more effective because it improves patients' access to care and is easy to use," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs James B. Peake. "A real plus is that this approach to care can be sustained because it's so cost-effective and more veteran-centric. Patients in rural areas are increasingly finding that telehealth improves their access to healthcare and promotes their ongoing relationship with our healthcare system."

VA's home telehealth program cares for 35,000 patients and is reportedly the largest of its kind in the world.

Adam Darkins, chief consultant in VA's care coordination program and the study's lead author, said clinicians and managers in healthcare systems, as well as information technology professionals, have been awaiting the results of the telehealth study.

More here:

Again we have evidence that e-health works – as is also shown in the item below!

Federal healthcare spending report shows e-Rx can save money

By Diana Manos, Senior Editor 01/06/09

National health spending in 2007 was at its lowest rate of overall growth since 1998, according to a new report from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

CMS researchers said slower prescription drug spending contributed to the slowed healthcare spending.

Pharmaceutical Care Management Association President and CEO Mark Merritt said the report shows how pharmacy benefit management tools, such as electronic prescribing, can lower costs while expanding access to medications.

"Pharmacy benefit managers could provide even greater savings and access if policymakers work to accelerate physician adoption of electronic prescribing, support greater use of mail-service pharmacies in federal programs and empower the FDA to approve follow-on biologics and process applications for traditional generics in a timely manner," he said.

Still, despite the slowed overall spending, health spending growth outpaced a slowing economy and increased as a share of the gross domestic product, according to Micah Hartman, Anne Martin, Patricia McDonnell and Aaron Catlin of the CMS National Health Expenditure Accounts Team, who authored the report.

With the exception of prescription drugs, most other healthcare services grew at about the same rate as or faster than in 2006, the team said. Spending growth from private sources accelerated in 2007 as public spending slowed.

More here:

The good news just keeps coming!

Seventh we have:

Germany’s e-health smartcard scaled back

07 Jan 2009

Key clinical components of Germany’s flagship national e-health smartcard programme look set to be dropped or delayed because of problems encountered in the first seven pilot sites.

Electronic prescriptions, electronic emergency data sets, and electronic medication safety applications are all likely to be suspended. Instead, the priority will be electronic referral letters and electronic insurance claims.

National health IT organisation Gematik confirmed the planned changes after the publication of an interim report that summarises the results of the smartcard tests in the seven German test regions.

The report clearly shows the two offline applications that have been tested so far - the electronic emergency data set and the electronic prescription with the smartcard as data medium - have not worked so far.

The Gematik report identifies two key problems. The first relates to problems with PIN numbers. For the creation of the emergency data set, or emergency record, German legislation requires a PIN code to be entered by the patient. But the early studies from the test regions found that up to 70% of cases had forgotten their PIN.

The second reason for the failure was the need for digital signatures, upon which services like electronic prescriptions depend. Doctors say the signature process takes far too long. In addition, technical fixes promised by Gematik a year ago have still not been implemented.

More here:

Only to be reminded – as this article does – that it is important to check out the little things before roll out! Need to have people remember their PIN – or adopt a different approach!

Eighth we have:

Global resource for free ehealth education

7 January 2009

Health Sciences Online has launched a website where anyone can access more than 50,000 courses, references, guidelines, and other expert-reviewed, high-quality, current, cost-free, and ad-free health sciences resources.

The up-to-date, authoritative information is aimed primarily at health care practitioners and public health providers, enabling their training, continuing education, and delivery of effective treatments to patients.

The information is delivered by powerful search technology from Vivisimo, Inc., which allows users to easily see comprehensive search results and quickly find the answers they need with an intuitively navigated graphic interface. Through integration with Google Translator, users can search and read materials in 22 languages.

Dr Jeff Koplan, Former Director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), calls Health Sciences Online (HSO) "a visionary undertaking" and the World Bank heralds it as "globally democratising health science knowledge." The World Health Organization (WHO) expects HSO "to make a considerable contribution to the advancement of elearning worldwide."

More here:

Access Health Sciences Online at

Well worth a browse and bookmark!

Ninth we have:

HL7 OK’s Pediatric Record Standard

Health Level Seven has approved a standard for the basic functional requirements for pediatric documentation in an electronic health records system.

The Child Health Functional Profile is designed to define the general pediatric functions for electronic records used in the care of children in the United States. It addresses immunization management, growth tracking, medication dosing, data norms and privacy.


More information is available at

Full article here:

Last for this week we have:

NHS anti-obesity drive goes online

05 Jan 2009

The government has kicked off 2009 with the launch of a three-year anti-obesity initiative with a high profile multi-channel advertising campaign that will span TV, print, billboards and the Internet.

Launched on Friday the campaign, called ‘Change4Life’, begins with £8m worth of television advertisements and a range of initiatives to get people to eat better and exercise more.

Dawn Primarolo, the public health minister, said the aim was “a lifestyle revolution” on a scale not attempted before, to tackle projections that 90 per cent of today’s children would grow up to become overweight adults.

NHS Choices, the official NHS web portal is championing the most ambitious social marketing campaign. The site is leading the health service’s online effort with dedicated resources, tools and a call to action for individuals to change their lifestyles: “Don't just make a New Year resolution, make a Change4Life for you and your family”.

More here:

The website is here:

Good luck to them – I hope it can help!


For those who can access the Wall St Journal the following site is valuable:

What's New (Or Improved) In Health Sites


A new crop of online tools is making it easier to be healthier in 2009.

The Internet has long drawn people seeking information about health care. Last year, health Web sites drew about 72 million unique visitors, up 14% from a year earlier, according to comScore Inc., an online-marketing research firm that tracks some 200 such sites. Such strong growth comes as sites increasingly focus on some of today's leading consumer health concerns, including prescription-drug safety, quality of care, and the ability to network with other patients facing similar health problems.

Health-care information providers have seen big changes over the past year or so. Two of the most popular sites, Revolution Health and EveryDayHealth, merged to surpass longtime leader WebMD Health Corp. as the largest health site as measured by unique visitors. Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. launched competing ventures that allow patients to store their medical records online. And HealthCentral Network sold a minority investment to Barry Diller's IAC/Interactive Corp. and the two companies set up a partnership to sell advertising to pharmaceutical companies.

Much more here (subscription required):



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