Top Stories
AHIMA to benchmark for RHIOs

A new study to be conducted by the Foundation of Research and Education (FORE) of the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) will develop best practices and successful model(s) for state-level regional health information organizations (RHIOs) in the areas of governance, structure, financing and health information exchange policies. The study is under contract to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT).

The Foundation of Research and Education will produce public domain information on best practices for state-level RHIOs, organized under four tasks:
  • Research a sample of state-level RHIOs to gather information about their goals, current policies and practices, including governance, financing, technology, health information exchange policies, and short- and long-term priorities;
  • Analyze findings to develop a framework for describing best practices and model(s) for state-level RHIOs;
  • Host a consensus conference on best practices and state-level RHIO model(s); and
  • Develop a plan to disseminate best practices, encourage adoption and coordination among state-level RHIOs, and to encourage participation in ONC/HHS strategies.
The target date for project completion is August 31, 2006.

Philips to acquire Witt to bolster cath lab position

Philips Medical Systems is acquiring Witt Biomed­ical Corp. for approximately $165 million to boost its offerings in integrated cath lab systems. Witt will be integrated into the Cardiovascular X-ray business unit within Philips’ Medical Systems Division.

Philips has said it intends to continue to support Witt customers indefinitely, although the company will be offering integrated products. Though details are limited, it is very likely that Witt’s hemodynamic tools will be added to Philips’ Xcelera Cardiovascular Information System. And there is no word yet on Philips’ plan for Witt’s work-in-progress Equeous cardiovascular image and information management system (CVIS).

Siemens gets FDA OK for MVision, AXIOM features

The FDA has granted Siemens Medical Solutions 510(k) clearance for the MVision Megavoltage Cone Beam (MVCB) Imaging Package as well as the AXIOM Wireless Footswitch and AXIOM Voice Control.

MVision is a volumetric in-line target imaging system designed to work with Siemens’ linear accelerators. MVision makes it possible for the megavoltage (MV) source used for treatment also to create a 3D image of the patient.

Both the AXIOM Wireless Footswitch and AXIOM Voice Control — both wireless footswitch technologies — also were recently FDA cleared. These tools were built to eliminate the hazard of excess cables often found in the examination room.

Nuance completes purchase of Dictaphone

It’s official. Nuance Communications Inc. has closed the purchase of former competitor Dictaphone Corp. The transaction totaled $359 million in cash. Nuance said it pursued the acquisition to accelerate its strategy to automate manual transcription in healthcare, where an estimated $15 billion is spent worldwide each year.

Nuance expects the acquisition to add between $80 million and $85 million in revenue in fiscal year 2006 and between $180 million and $200 million in fiscal year 2007.

Nuance also announced that it has established the Dictaphone Healthcare Division. Rob Schwager, former CEO of Dictaphone, assumes the role of division president which is based in Burlington, Mass. Schwager is joined by several members of the Dictaphone management team to comprise the leadership for this division.

Simple system helps with patient follow-up

A “safety net” system can catch the few patients whose imaging study results fall through the cracks, according to a study published in the April issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology.

Researchers developed a system of codes that radiologists could assign to medical images. The study focused on scans that received a “Code 8” tag, meaning that the radiologist spotted an unexpected sign of cancer that required immediate follow-up by the patient’s own physician.

Of the 37,736 medical images made at the VA in the one-year study period, 395 received Code 8s, and 360 of those patients’ computerized records showed that they had appropriate follow-up within two weeks. It was discovered that 25 patients had indeed received further care, though one died, and one declined further care. The other eight patients would have fallen through the cracks without the code system.

CodeRyte introduces upgraded IR coding tool

CodeRyte Inc. has introduced improvements to its web-enabled Interventional Radiology (IR) application, designed for the complex IR coding process.

The improved application uses detailed, anatomically accurate diagrams of the male and female circulatory systems to allow the physician and coder to visualize the catheterization from beginning to end. The anatomical diagram, which also serves as a coder’s reference tool, is now integrated directly into the coding form, allowing the coder to zoom in and out or pan throughout the anatomy.

The application also can support code assignments with text evidence identified directly from the medical reports, among other features.

VisualSonics launches molecular imaging tools

VisualSonics, a developer of high-resolution, ultrasound-based, in vivo micro-imaging systems, debuted targeted molecular imaging capabilities for its Vevo 770T system at the American Association for Cancer Research Conference in Washington, D.C. held April 1-5. The tools are aimed at making the system more powerful and quantitative for cancer researchers.

This new functionality builds on the company’s recent launch of molecular imaging capabilities for cardiovascular researchers. VisualSonics’ platform for in vivo imaging provides anatomical, functional and molecular data in vivo and in real-time for cancer researchers. An initial molecular application involves the measurement of relative expression of angiogenesis using VEGFR-2 as a biomarker.

Report  HHS paving the road for continued health IT

A recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) evaluated the progress of the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) in developing a national health IT strategy. Key HHS moves so far:
  • The development of the American Health Information Community, an advisory body about how to obtain health IT objectives
  • HHS also has awarded about $42 million in contracts to assorted parties to evaluate standards — especially how state and federal law might conflict as to privacy and security issues.

Imaging3’s new Dominion set to speed up 3D imaging

Imaging3 Inc. recently recently issued more details on its medical imaging technology Dominion which produces real-time 3D images of nearly any part of the human body. The company developed the technology as a leap ahead of current 3D imaging applications commonly available today.

Imaging3’s Dominion product is pushing the speed at which the medical community embraces 3D visualization. Current 3D images are created by utilizing images generated by CT and MRI technologies that, though accurate, often take up to 20 or 30 minutes to be available for review by physicians. Imaging3’s technology, based on low-dose fluoroscopy, also is able to deliver detailed 3D imaging instantaneously to the medical team.

FDA unveils project to advance medical product innovations

Health and Human Services (HHS) and the FDA announced the Critical Path Opportunities List, part of the FDA’s Critical Path Initiative to modernize medical product development and to get these innovations to market more quickly.

The Opportunities List of 76 projects is a starter list with the hope of getting rid of the gap between biomedical discoveries and actual therapies.


Woes mount for Merge

Merge Technologies Inc. was recently given a Nasdaq Staff Notification that the company is in jeopardy of being delisted from the Nasdaq National Market for failure to complete mandatory filing. Merge said it plans to appeal for continued listing. Making matters worse, several law firms have filed shareholder class action suits against Merge for misleading investors.

Wisconsin hospital invests in new brain-imaging technology

Milwaukee, Wis.-based Froedtert Hospital has invested $1.5 million in a new brain-imaging technology developed by Kyron Clinical Imaging Inc.

Kyron’s computerized system compiles and integrates a variety of images produced by different types of MRI systems. The system provides a unified brain image with anatomy, biology and function. Through this system, physicians will be able to quickly and accurately diagnose tumors.

‘HIT Promotion Act’ action

A new House bill called the Health IT Promotion Act of 2005 would establish federal privacy protections that could override the patchwork of state privacy laws. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) is encouraging its members to register their
support of the legislation.


Barco introduces color display for the OR

Barco has introduced a color flat-panel display for endoscopy and multi-modality near-patient use in operating rooms. Dubbed the MDSC-1119 surgical display, the product has been designed to provide the unique patient safety and space requirements of the digital, integrated OR.

The 19-inch, 1.3 Megapixel (MP) color LCD display is designed to provide surgical teams with artifact-free images and image precision, offering them an accurate and reliable visualization tool for minimally invasive surgery and high-definition endoscopy.

Barco’s new MDSC-1119 surgical display also includes high brightness technology suited for the OR.

Study: Undersea mine detection technology useful in augmenting digital mammography images

Advanced Image Enhancement Inc. (AIE) has adapted a technology originally created for detecting undersea mines into one that can be used for breast cancer image enhancement. Radiologists at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Newton, Mass., have released findings from a breast cancer research study designed to evaluate the use of the software for examining Regions Of Interest (ROI) in conjunction with a Hologic digital mammography system.

The study found that the AIE software helped a radiologist detect cancer with ease in 20 to 70 percent of the cases studied, depending upon the radiologist. When asked to rate AIE technology on the ability of the software to improve the conspicuity and detail of calcifications, the radiologist participating in the study rated the software superior in 88 percent of the cases. For dense breast tissue, the report concluded that AIE technology provided a significant advantage for improving clarity of structures.

Siemens debuts Inveon preclinical imaging system

Siemens Medical Solutions recently introduced Inveon, a new generation preclinical
imaging system available as a modular or integrated system.

Inveon can help facilitate basic research as well as the drug development process, helping researchers to identify specific biological processes, monitor the efficacy of compounds, and measure the effects of disease progression over time.

Varian introduces real-time treatment planning system

Varian Medical Systems has introduced a ‘real-time’ brachytherapy treatment planning system that speeds up prostate cancer treatments and potentially reduces the time patients need to spend in the hospital. The Vitesse 2.0 ultrasound-based treatment planning system enables clinicians to complete two brachytherapy procedures a day on a patient rather than forcing longer hospital stays by spreading out treatments.

ART begins clinical trials for breast cancer diagnostic tool

Canadian medical device company ART Advanced Research Technologies Inc. recently unveiled plans for clinical trials as part of its North American pivotal study for the SoftScan optical breast imaging system.

This study represents the final stage prior to commercializing SoftScan. ART intends to present results of the study in its submission to Health Canada and the U.S. FDA.

Quest gains FDA clearance for mammo LCD

Quest International announced FDA 510(k) clearance for the Totoku ME511L 5 Megapixel
LCD for use in all digital mammography applications. The LCD is a 21.3 inch, DICOM-calibrated, diagnostic display. It provides film-quality images, wide viewing angles and can interface with Totoku’s Performance Monitoring Software.