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New bill seeks universal privacy standards

In November, House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chair Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.) and Commerce Health Subcommittee Chair Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) put forward a bill (HR 4157) which would grant the HHS the ability to develop new national medical privacy standards and make it easier for doctors to accept donations of IT equipment.

Under the bill, the HHS would investigate the way state privacy laws and standards for data transmittal impact how medical data are communicated. If needed, the new universal standards would be in place within three years. Alternately, the HHS could develop a uniform system for health information privacy and security, transaction standards and billing codes.

Organizations petition for EHR privacy

The Patient Privacy Rights Foundation and the Electronic Privacy Information Center are using a petition to appeal to lawmakers to control access to sensitive information contained in medical records.

The petition aims to put the power in the patient's hands in choosing who can access their medical records and blocks employers specifically. The petition also was created in hopes of preventing the sharing of private information from being a prerequisite to getting healthcare.

More information is available at:

IBM grants standards bodies free access to patents

IBM's healthcare and education practices have launched a major initiative to grant royalty-free access to its patented technology to standards bodies in an effort to improve interoperability and IT developments through open software standards in healthcare and education.

IBM has cited the fact that industry growth and service delivery in healthcare and education is currently diminished by widespread use of incompatible document formats and proprietary technology. Allowing standards bodies access to a full range of technologies to pick and choose from, without worrying about fees or penalties, will hopefully help to promote the development of standards.

Two healthcare equipment leasing studies released

The Healthcare Equipment Leasing: U.S. Market Dynamics and Outlook 2005-2006 study was coordinated by the Equipment Leasing Association (ELA) and R.S. Carmichael & Co. Inc.
  • Estimated new volume in 2005 is $7 billion
  • It is projected to exceed $8 billion by 2007

The Long-Term Trends In Healthcare: Implications for the Leasing Industry study has been released by the Equipment Leasing and Finance Foundation which features research by the University of Virginia Darden School.

  • Healthcare in 2004 represented a $1.8 trillion annual market
  • Small, professional firms are the most significant businesses in the healthcare sector

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Double Black gets FDA OK for mammography display

Double Black Imaging, the North American distributor and service center for WIDE Corp., has received FDA 510(k) approval for WIDE's 5MP display system, meaning that the system has been officially cleared for use in digital mammography applications by the FDA.

The IF2105M is a 21.3-inch diagonal 5 megapixel LCD driven by a high-speed graphic controller.

Survey: Most hospitals still lack fully implemented IT

Though more and more healthcare facilities are adopting IT systems to streamline operations and boost quality of care, only 10 percent of them have a fully installed health IT system in place, according to recently released results from an American Hospital Association survey which took place between April and June of this year:
  • 92 percent of the more than 900 hospitals that participated in the survey indicated that they are developing plans for health IT systems or at least thinking about it.

  • Of the hospitals that are using health IT systems, as many as 36 percent indicated they had just started, 27 percent claimed minimal use so far, another 27 percent indicated mid-level use, while 10 percent reported full on use of an IT system.

Study confirms mammography, adjuvant therapies reduce breast cancer deaths

A new study links the success of both mammography screenings and adjuvant therapies as contributors to the drop in cancer mortality during the previous three decades - even though the relative contributions of each have not been defined. The study was published in the Oct. 27 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

The findings are the result of the work of seven research groups.

In the 25 years that were evaluated, breast cancer