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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.