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AMA opposes CMS pay reduction scheme

The American Medical Association is none too pleased with the ongoing slide in Medicare payments to physicians (a 4.3 percent cut starts Jan. 1), and is also not happy about talk of an adoption of a pay-for-performance Medicare reimbursement model to determine pay levels, The Hill reported.

Michael Maves, executive VP of AMA, sent a pointed letter saying as much to CMS Administrator Mark McClennan, which also threatens to oppose the pay-for-performance measures unless Congress moves to permanently reverse the decline in payments to doctors.

The Senate has approved a 1 percent physician reimbursement in 2006, though the House has not moved forward with similar legislation.


Pay-for-performance works, says CMS

Healthcare provider pay-for-performance can increase clinical quality and save lives, according to the first year of official data from a national project involving more than 260 hospitals. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will pay $8.85 million in incentives to the top-performing hospitals in the project, which is managed by Premier Inc.

Data from the first year of CMS/Premier Hospital Quality Incentive Demonstration (HQID), validated by CMS and reported publicly in December, demonstrate a significant improvement in the quality of care across five clinical focus areas.


Schering, Philips team up optical breast imaging

Royal Philips Electronics and Schering announced the formation of an alliance to research, develop and commercialize medical equipment and associated contrast agents for optical imaging.

The first development will combine an optical dye called omocianine (SF-64) from Schering for the diagnosis of breast cancer with an enhanced mammography device developed by Philips.


HL7 clinical documents to include CCR patient data

Health Level Seven plans to create an implementation guide for expressing Continuity of Care Record (CCR) patient data - including a summary of a patient's most recent and vital medical information - within the architecture of an HL7 Clinical Document for standards-based electronic exchange of information.

The move should ease the shift towards interoperability for the healthcare industry.


Penn researchers use MRI for schizophrenia diagnosis

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS) used MRI to look for subtle brain abnormalities that could assist in the early diagnosis of schizophrenia.

The results of the study demonstrated that computational analysis methods can find unique structural brain characteristics in schizophrenia patients, with a predictive accuracy of more than 83 percent.


NetApp sees revenue growth

Network Appliance Inc. (NetApp) has seen growth with second fiscal quarter revenue at $483.1 million, an increase of 29 percent compared to 2005. Revenues for the first six months of the current fiscal year totaled $931.5 million, compared to revenues of $733.6 million for the first six months of the prior fiscal year, an increase of 27 percent year over year. Activities for NetApp include the Decru acquisition and demonstrated growth in iSCSI, NAS and SAN.


IBM, i3 Archive provide access to digital mammo archive

IBM and i3 ARCHIVE Inc. have launched MyNDMA, a personal health management portal linked directly to i3's National Digital Medical Archive (NDMA) - a large archive of digital mammography images and related data which women worldwide will be able to access. The NDMA uses IBM technology as the base of its system. Today, 24 hospitals have access to NDMA which includes more than 1 million digital mammography images, thus providing an estimated 300 doctors and researchers access to patient records, allowing faster diagnosis and treatment.


Why you became an RT: All you need to know but were afraid to ask

Radiologic technologists become RTs out of a desire to help people, and to do interesting work, according to a new survey by the American Society of Radiologic Technologists and Health Careers Futures which set out to define why people make that particular career choice. The survey called Career Pathways Taken by Radiologic Technologists looked at myriad elements that go towards an individual making the choice to become an RT. Interestingly, most people by the age of 21 decide they want to explore the field and often find themselves entering an educational program by 23.

Concerning the top-ranked factors in their decision, following are highlights:
  • Wanted a profession that was interesting (97%)
  • Wanted to help people (92%)
  • Sought a profession with plenty of job availability (88%)
  • Opportunities for career advancement (87%)
  • Good pay (73%)
  • Received advice from a friend or relative (71%)
  • Required less than four years of training (55%)
  • Previously was a patient or had a family member who was a patient (51%)
View the complete survey results at: www.asrt.org/media/pdf/research/careerpathways.pdf


Siemens debuts new Definition for CT

Siemens Medical Solutions recently unveiled the world's first dual source CT (DSCT) system. Two different x-ray energies allow physicians to better differentiate, characterize, isolate and distinguish bone, soft tissue and fluid. Essentially, clearer images faster.

The company said the launch of the SOMATOM Definition is a breakthrough "making it possible to examine every patient - regardless of condition and heart rate." The system's speed makes it "faster than every beating heart" and capable of imaging full cardiac detail with as much as 50 percent less radiation exposure compared to traditional CT scans."


KOM raises bar on security

KOM Networks has announced the availability of KOMworx version 5.10. The Fixed Content Archiving software includes enhanced security features, extended file and directory protection and privacy access control providing resilient and robust data security solutions.


Micromedex to provide patient education tools to Blausen

Thomson Micromedex has been contracted by Blausen Medical Communications Inc. as the preferred global hospital market supplier of its medical animation products. Micromedex will offer Human Atlas, a CD-ROM patient education too.


FDA clears Radlink CR Pro

The FDA has granted clearance to Radlink Inc. for the sale and distribution of its CR Pro system. The CR Pro utilizes Radlink's sealed fiber-optic laser technology to deliver high-resolution, diagnostic-quality images that provide long-term image quality at a lower cost, the company said.


TriZetto to acquire CareKey

The TriZetto Group Inc. announced plans to acquire CareKey Inc., a provider of advanced care management software. The acquisition is motivated by a desire by TriZetto's to broaden its offerings with an integrated portfolio of information technology products and services.


Duke engineers developing new use for ultrasound 3D

Duke University engineers are working to develop ultrasound technology to potentially allow physicians to use high frequency waves both to visualize the heart's interior in three dimensions and then destroy certain heart tissue with heat to correct arrhythmias. The work was detailed in two research papers published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectronics and Frequency Control and Ultrasonic Imaging. The group's technique may improve on doctors' common methods for destroying - or "ablating" - aberrant tissue that makes hearts beat irregularly.


HHS awards contracts for national health IT

HHS recently awarded four contracts totaling $18.6 million to different groups that will focus on developing prototype Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN) architectures.

The four consortia are led respectively by Accenture, Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC), International Business Machines (IBM) and Northrop Grumman. Over one year, each consortium will be a partnership with technology and healthcare leaders in three local healthcare markets. Each group will develop an architecture and a prototype network for secure information sharing through each facet of the healthcare system.


ART initiates study for SoftScan optical breast system

In collaboration with the Central Alberta Medical Imaging Services (CAMIS), Advanced Research Technologies (ART) will conduct clinical studies as part of the FDA pre-market approval application for SoftScan.  This study represents the final stage prior to commercializing the system, an optical breast imaging device that is designed to improve the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.


GE, Roche study using PET to monitor Alzheimer's patients

A study by GE in collaboration with Roche is aimed at developing personalized care for patients with Alzheimer's disease. Patients taking an anti-amyloid drug will be monitored clinically for drug response using GE's PET diagnostic imaging agent. This proprietary PET technology measures and tracks levels of beta-amyloid, a form of brain plaque believed to cause memory loss in Alzheimer's patients.


An investigational radiopharmaceutical for PET

Eastern Isotopes, Inc. is distributing Iodine-124 (MIBG), an analogue of a biogenic amine precursor, norepinephrine. MIBG has been widely used in its radiolabeled forms (usually I-123 or I-131) for the evaluation of the cardiac sympathetic nervous system and the diagnosis, treatment planning and radiotherapy of various neuroendocrine malignancies.


Accordance provides scalable, affordable data protection

Accordance Systems' ARAID is the first low-cost RAID system of its class disk mirroring all computer files for disaster recovery and data backup.

Connected to either local PCs or a small central server, the ARAID IDE and SATA controllers RAID 1 capability have been expanded to protect registry files, open data base files and application files.