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Industry Insight

HIMSS Recognizes Florida, New York Health Departments

Whether it’s a tracking report on the spread of a flu virus or information on a food-borne illness related to a specific product served in a restaurant or stocked on grocery store shelves, electronic public health systems track disease trends and frequency to ensure good health for populations of citizens of a particular state or region.

Recognized in Atlanta at the Public Health Informatics 2011 Conference, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two winners of the HIMSS Public Health Davies Award of Excellence now join 14 past winners, all honored for positively impacting population health by optimizing HIT. The public health award is one of four award categories, which include organizational, ambulatory, and community health organization.

The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) Bureau of Epidemiology’s Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-based Epidemics, Florida (ESSENCE-FL) serves 18 million residents plus all visitors (80.3 million annually) to the state. With the state’s diverse population doubling in the last 20 years, the ESSENCE-FL system meets the demand for a single system that could be used to work with many different types of health data.

Based in Tallahassee, the FDOH Division of Disease Control, Bureau of Epidemiology, Acute Disease Epidemiology Section, manages the ESSENCE-FL system. A surveillance epidemiologist recruits and enrolls participating hospitals, expands the system to include new data sources, operates the system from day to day, and carries out regular epidemiologic analyses. He has support both from IT contract staff and epidemiologic colleagues in the section.

The system works by collecting disparate data sources in ESSENCE-FL to support a process that categorizes and aggregates thousands of individual data points and translates them into “information for action.” State- and county-level epidemiologists across all FDOH program areas rely on and use the system to detect outbreaks and unusual cases and monitor deaths and injury or illness after events such as hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, pandemic influenza, and the Gulf oil spill.

For example, a county user of ESSENCE-FL detected a cluster of four patients who came to the emergency department in a short period of time. By following up with the hospital, the county health department found the patients had purchased and eaten food from the same grocery store deli. An inspection of the deli found food-heating lamps were not working, and food temperatures were below the hot-holding recommended temperature. The deli corrected the situation by replacing the heat lamps and discarding the temperature-abused food. This happened before the illness had been reported to public health officials because the source of the illness was found and quickly remedied to prevent further illness.

The New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene’s Primary Care Information Project (PCIP) is designed to improve the quality of care in underserved communities through HIT. With a staff of 95, the PCIP has extended prevention-oriented EHRs to more than 2,800 primary care providers in the city working in underserved settings. This virtually integrated healthcare system includes 541 independent small practices, 38 community health centers, and three hospitals. Collectively, these practices serve more than 2 million patients in New York City, about one-quarter of the city’s total population.

These practices, selected for their high volumes of Medicaid and uninsured patients, all have access to shared resources, such as clinical quality and technical staff, a unified public health hub, quality dashboards, and group trainings. By leveraging data derived from this EHR network, the PCIP allows the department of health and mental hygiene to conduct programs in a more strategic, data-driven manner. By being connected to the PCIP, these independent practices have access to important tools that can save lives and improve population health.

Early findings from the PCIP have shown improvements in quality across multiple clinical preventive services. In a recent study of practices participating in the project, 52% of patients had their high cholesterol managed more effectively (up from 39% at the outset), 56% of those with high blood pressure had it under control (up from 49%), and 20% of those with diabetes controlled their hemoglobin A1c levels (up from 14%).

— Source: HIMSS


AHIMA Serves as New Administrator for International Standards Development

The AHIMA has been given the role of secretariat for the International Organization for Standardization’s Technical Committee 215 (ISO/TC 215) on Health Informatics by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the official secretariat. The ISO/TC 215 develops and/or harmonizes functional, data, and interoperability standards specifications and reports related to EHRs, PHRs, and health information exchange. Such standards have played an important role in various countries. For example, in the United States, ISO standards have been adopted in stage 1 meaningful use.

The ISO/TC 215 is comprised of more than 30 participating and more than 20 observing member countries. The U.S. Technical Advisory Group 223 (US TAG), the delegation representing the United States in the ISO/TC 215, has also approved the AHIMA as the new US TAG administrator.

The AHIMA introduced Lisa Spellman as the new ISO/TC215 secretary and US TAG administrator. Spellman was most recently the secretary of the HIMSS-sponsored domains for Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE), leading multiple efforts for HIMSS and IHE, including IHE Connectathons and HIMSS Interoperability Showcases across the globe.

— Source: AHIMA


Medical Center Expands Relationship to Include Data Mining Capabilities

CodeRyte, Inc, a supplier of natural language processing technologies, recently announced that Weill Cornell Medical Center will incorporate DataScout into its suite of CodeRyte products.

DataScout is CodeRyte’s technology that identifies and extracts clinical information from free-text and structured medical records. Its context-sensitive linguistic technology discovers data buried deep in medical records—important patterns of care, disease and intervention, and the relationships between them. DataScout finds meaningful clinical data while maximizing staff time, organizational workflow, and clinical and business modeling.

Weill Cornell Radiology will employ DataScout to focus on quality metrics concerning Medicare outpatient requirements and clinical pathways such as identifying patients with deep vein thrombosis and to support overall internal efforts to ensure imaging appropriateness. Weill Cornell was recently selected to take part in a two-year Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Imaging Demonstration Project that will assess the impact of decision support systems in a handful of clinical settings nationwide.

— Source: CodeRyte


PracticeMax Announces Acquisition of American Billing Services

PracticeMax, a provider of revenue cycle management and software services, recently announced it has acquired American Billing Services (ABS) of Portland, Ore. Under the direction of its president and founder, Sara Nofziger, CHBME, ABS provides billing and practice management services to physician practices and hospitals in the northwestern United States.

PracticeMax CEO Bill Carns, CMPE, CHBME, described the acquisition as a significant benefit for the company’s combined customer base: “At PracticeMax, we recognize that providers need access to experienced, trusted advisors who can offer a broad selection of services and technology. A ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to EHR and PM [practice management] system selection simply won’t work for most healthcare practices. Since the company’s inception, we have been committed to recommending customized solutions for our customers.”
“The ABS customer base will now have access to a greater breadth of services and technology than previously available, allowing the physicians we serve to keep pace with the demands of this rapidly evolving healthcare environment,” says Nofziger.

— Source: PracticeMax