Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Agfa HealthCare contributes to innovation in diagnosis of Alzheimer Disease

Agfa HealthCare Institute partners with the Centre de recherche Université Laval Robert-Giffard to develop new technology for diagnosis of Alzheimer’s – a Canadian first

Quebec, QC – March 16, 2010 - Agfa HealthCare, a leading provider of diagnostic imaging and healthcare IT solutions, announces today that it has launched a new initiative to help improve the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, in partnership with the Canadian Minister of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade, the Centre de recherche Université Laval Robert-Giffard and the Société de valorisation des applications de la recherche (SOVAR).  Agfa HealthCare will contribute to the development of a prototype IT solution under the Agfa HealthCare Institute – a new initiative leveraging collaborative partnerships to help facilitate innovation in the healthcare technology space.

The Alzheimer’s project* will focus on the development of a prototype that will combine a patient’s clinical information with the image features from the patient’s magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The results will provide physicians with all of the information they need to make a faster and more accurate diagnosis of the disease. Not only will the prototype help support the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, but it will also help physicians predict its progression and ultimately improve treatment outcomes for patients. This project, which will be underway over the next two years, is the first of its kind in Canada and the ultimate goal is to commercialize the technology developed through the research in healthcare institutions across the country.  

“Agfa HealthCare’s support is extremely important to achieving our goal of developing a functional prototype to help with the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Simon Duchesne, Principle Investigator of this project at the Centre de recherche Université Laval Robert-Giffard (CRULRG). “Through this joint project, we are developing innovative technology that will help improve the delivery of chronic care in Canada.”

“Research in the healthcare field represents an important niche at Université Laval,” said Edwin Bourget, Vice-President for Research and Innovation, Université Laval. “Most of the research centres are implemented in hospitals affiliated with Université Laval, among which, the Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Québec plays a major and determining role for mental health treatment, including Alzheimer’s disease, which is affecting so many Canadians today.”

For Agfa HealthCare, this Alzheimer’s project is about connecting the right people with the right information – and in order to do this, strategic partnerships are the key. The project falls under the Agfa HealthCare Institute, which was created to be a catalyst of innovations in Canada’s Health Informatics industry by facilitating close collaboration between government, the healthcare industry and universities across Canada to provide a fully integrated healthcare IT network across the continuum of care.

“Agfa HealthCare is excited to be a part of the Alzheimer’s initiative in partnership with the Université de Laval and the Minister of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade. With Alzheimer’s disease affecting so many Canadians, it is so important for us to contribute to the development of new techniques to help in the diagnosis and treatment of this disease,” said Dave Wilson, Vice President, Agfa HealthCare in Canada. “Through our expertise in the healthcare IT space and our strategic partnerships with institutions such as the University of Laval, we are opening up doors to new ways of improving the delivery of patient care in Canada.”

Monday, March 15, 2010

CHIME Issues Comments on Interim Final Rule on Standards, Certification

ANN ARBOR, MI, March 15, 2010 – The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) has released the comments it will file today with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology regarding the initial set of standards, implementation specifications and certification criteria for electronic health record technology.

The proposed regulations, issued as an interim final rule by ONC, were unveiled on December 30, 2009, and responses are due back to the government by March 15.

Previously, on February 26, CHIME filed its comments with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services regarding the EHR Incentive Program. CHIME’s ONC letter closely parallels its comments to CMS. The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based organization has 1,400 members representing chief information officers and other top information technology executives at many of the nation’s largest hospitals.

In its comments today on the interim final rule, CHIME emphasized the importance of certification for supporting providers’ efforts to achieve meaningful use, saying it gives “healthcare providers a degree of assurance that the products they purchase will perform as promised…certification is meant to support providers, not pose an additional burden.”

CHIME’s comments place the lion’s share of responsibility on vendors that develop IT products, which it says builds on past experience in the healthcare IT space. The organization also urges ONC to provide more lead time as it creates future certification criteria, so as to provide more time for providers to implement new and upgraded systems in the future.

Previously, in its comments to CMS on meaningful use regulations, CHIME had requested that a “grandfathering provision” be implemented to grant certification to products that have already been certified by the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology.

CHIME noted that further clarification is needed in ONC’s interim final rule, particularly in describing how certification will apply to organizations that use multiple clinical systems as components to an overall electronic health record system. CHIME supports wording in the rule that requires only certification of individual EHR modules.
College of Healthcare Information Management Executives
3300 Washtenaw Ave, Suite 225 ·
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Phone: (734) 665-0000
Fax: (734) 665-4922
staff@cio-chime.org · www.cio-chime.org
CHIME’s comments ask ONC to support a single standard for patient summary records; the current interim rule allows use of either the Health Level Seven (HL7) Clinical Document Architecture (CDA) Release 2 (R2) Level 2 Continuity of Care Document (CCD) or the ASTM Continuity of Care Record (CCR) to electronically exchange a patient summary record.

“CHIME disagrees with this approach and believes that the sharing of health information across providers is best facilitated with adoption of a single standard for patient summary records,” the comment letter states. “CHIME believes that the healthcare field is ready to transition to a single standard for patient summary records, and such a move will facilitate interoperability in a more timely fashion.” The organization believes the HL7 CDA CCD is more robust and easier to read.

Medication reconciliation requirements in the interim rule need to be adjusted so that providers can meet the requirement if clinical systems can “display simultaneously two or more medication lists and provide tools for the clinician to perform medication reconciliation and create a single medication list.”

For reporting quality data, CHIME advises against using the CMS Physician Quality Reporting Initiative (PQRI) 2008 Registry XML Specification, and the related implementation specifications, the PQRI Measure Specifications Manual for Claims and Registry. Instead, it suggests the continued development of quality data reporting standards, which are in process by HL7.

CHIME also seeks a standards-based approach for submitting data to public health agencies.  Current proposals for submitting data provide wide latitude to agencies for determining the format in which they want to receive data.

In addition, CHIME comments on privacy and security standards included in the interim rule, particularly in areas of encryption and decryption of data, verification of data to ensure it hasn’t been altered in transit, and cross-enterprise authentication.

CHIME advises against placing too many requirements on data transmission within an organization. “Encryption of data in EHR databases and transactional systems would slow operation of the software, thus hindering adoption of EHRs by staff and physicians,” its comments state. “We ask that ONC and CMS carefully consider the risk vs. cost and performance issues during deliberations on this requirement.”

The letter to ONC from CHIME also included its previous comments on the proposed meaningful use regulations as an attachment.