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Storm brews over VA security breach

As you are likely well aware, the personal information of 26.5 million U.S. veterans, and some 2.2 million active-duty personnel in May was taken from Veterans Affairs after a laptop containing the information was stolen from the home of a data analyst working for the government organization. The employee had taken the computer home to do work, and it contained information such as names, Social Security numbers, birthdates, some phone number and addresses, and even some diagnostic codes for conditions. The theft puts Veterans at high risk for potential identify theft.

The news has obviously caused uproar in many sectors, and the VA did not do itself any favors by reportedly stalling in passing information regarding the theft to the FBI for several weeks. Plus, cleaning up the mess and helping veterans protect their identities will likely cost taxpayers big, with estimated possible costs running from $100 million to $500 million.

Heads within the VA have rolled as well. The agency’s Deputy Assistant Secretary Michael McLendon resigned his position in response to the growing controversy over his apparent delay in informing top VA officials or the FBI. Also, the data analyst who took the computer home was also let go. Also, Dennis Duffy the acting head of the division for which the data analyst worked has been placed on administrative leave.

Fuji gains ‘approvable letter’ for CR mammography 

FUJIFILM Medical Systems USA is “one step closer” to getting its computed radiography mammography (FCRm) system to market in the U.S., having recently received an approvable letter from the FDA for what the company calls “the world’s leading full-field digital mammography system.” Fuji said the letter indicates that the FDA has completed its review of Fuji’s Pre-Market Approval (PMA) application and that it is approvable. Once approved, the Fuji unit would be the first CR mammography system available for sale in the U.S.

Fuji’s CR mammography system does not require replacing an existing mammography acquisition unit. Additionally, the FCRm reader will provide multi-purpose capability for both mammography and general radiography exams, delivering significant cost savings for sites that perform both exams.

GE looks to double compact ultrasound business

In a push that the company hopes will double its compact ultrasound business, GE Healthcare has introduced four new clinically specialized ultrasound systems for use in real-time imaging at the point-of-care. The new Compact Series has the power and imaging capabilities of a high-performance, 400-pound system in a laptop-size design, the company said.

The Compact Series builds upon GE’s Vivid i, a high-performance cardiovascular ultrasound system in a compact design. The series also includes the new Voluson i and LOGIQ i systems. Voluson i is designed for obstetrics and gynecology applications, while the LOGIQ i will serve the general imaging needs of radiology.  GE’s “e” products focus on expanding ultrasound’s reach to new clinical areas. The new LOGIQ e is designed to support real-time clinical decisions in emergency and surgical settings, while the Vivid e is a dedicated cardiac ultrasound imaging system for the physician office in a practical, easy to use design.

Health IT use grows in hospitals, helps boost care

Health IT has the potential to offer considerable quality of care improvements such as improving clinical informatics, diagnosis, treatment, patient safety and decreasing inefficiencies, according to a new study from Mathematica commissioned by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Regarding quality:

  • 71 percent of respondents viewed health IT as making care more timely
  • 22 percent felt that technology reduced errors and boosted patient safety
  • 10 percent felt there had been gains in communication.

As for the technology:

  • 88 percent use IT for electronic laboratory results
  • 59 percent use electronic clinical notes systems

Global wireless health IT to boom by 2010

Spending on mobile IT including hardware, software, and support services within healthcare is set to rise globally to $2.7 billion by 2010, according to Juniper Research.

Juniper sees the potential for wireless throughout healthcare elevating across the globe from $289 million last year to $1.51 billion by 2010. Also, wireless technology usage will likely reach 85 percent of primary healthcare professionals in North America, and 95