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Is a Shift to E-Medical Records Imminent?

Published: July 25, 2005 Although privacy concerns are still an issue, a new survey finds that many consumers are coming around to the idea of electronic medical records.

In January, President Bush called on doctors and hospitals to move their medical records from paper to electronic files, a change he said would improve medical care while significantly reducing the nation's spiraling health care bill. Quoting health experts, he said that shifting to e-medical records could reduce medical costs as much as 20% and save lives.

In fact, in his 2004 State of the Union address, President Bush challenged the nation to completely eliminate paper medical records within 10 years.

Political rhetoric notwithstanding, it has long been held by many authorities in the medical industry that migrating to e-medical records essentially making patients' medical histories available online would be impossible due the overwhelming privacy concerns of health care consumers. But a Medical Internet, which would allow the confidential transmission of patient records instantly between health care facilities and doctors' offices, may not be as fantastical as once thought.

Consumers seem to be changing their minds.

In a survey of more than 500 US health care consumers, conducted by Accenture, a majority of consumers now believe that e-medical records can provide valuable benefits especially during medical emergencies and improve overall medical care.

"Our research indicates that consumers have become aware of the potential benefits of electronic medical records, and we believe this shift creates opportunities for health providers and health plans to take steps toward implementing electronic medical record systems," said Lewis Redd, a partner in Accenture's Health & Life Sciences practice. "This awareness is relatively new, and we see the potential for an environment where consumers will begin to exert more influence over the speed at which these systems are adopted across the health care arena."

In a reversal of prior attitudes, the survey found that privacy and cost issues related to electronic medical records are not as great of a concern to consumers as previously thought. Surprisingly, while 54% of the respondents said they were concerned about the privacy and security of their paper records, about the same number (55%) said they believe that electronic records are more secure than paper. In addition, more than half (52%) of survey respondents said they would be willing to pay at least $5 per month to have their medical records stored in an electronic format.

In addition, the survey found that:

If corroborated, these figures represent a significant shift in attitudes, and they may signal the beginning of a nationwide move toward e-medical recordkeeping.

For more information on this subject, read eMarketer's report, US Physicians: Technology and Trends.

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What IS encephalitis, anyways?
Back in 1999, West Nile hit North America. Most people got nothing but the flu, but some of them got West Nile encephalitis. Makes 'em a bit woozy for a while, I guessed.

Then, disaster struck in April 1999, when encephalitis hit in my own backyard. Hit me, actually. My encephalitis was not vector-borne (not from an insect), but it certainly did drag my family through heaven and earth, as they tried to understand. After 4 weeks in hospital, I was returned home to be babysat by my parents. At that point, I couldn't figure out how to find a spoon in my own kitchen! I went searching through a pile of newspapers, asked the dog, and then looked in the freezer. No spoon. As I was heading outdoors in the rain to search the backyard for a spoon, my mother had to show me where the spoons were kept in my own kitchen drawer. Another time, I found a plastic box on the coffee table. It had flexible buttons with words and numbers, and a tiny red light. I was fascinated I'd never SEEN such a toy! I asked my Dad, "What IS this thing?" He responded, "That's your television's remote control, sweetie." These were each just pieces of knowledge that I had to re-learn.
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July 16, 2005 -- Study Finds Wired Hospitals Are Safer - Published by e-Marketer

Hospitals that have invested significantly in health information technology have lower mortality rates than other hospitals.
"There are three key differences in how hospitals apply and use information technology to improve care," said Alden Solovy, executive editor of Hospitals & Health Networks, the journal of the American Hospital Association. "The 'Most Wired' use a wider array of IT tools to address quality and safety, they have a significantly larger percentage of physicians who enter orders themselves and they conduct a larger percentage of clinical activities via information technology."
And they are safer environments for patients. According to Hospitals & Health Networks' annual "100 Most Wired" survey, the top wired hospitals have, on average, risk-adjusted mortality rates that are 7.2% lower than other hospitals.
The relationship between improved outcomes and information technology has been previously documented in both academic and practitioner research, but those studies usually dealt with specific projects and targeted safety improvements. According to H&HN, this is the first analysis showing that hospitals with broad use of information technology across a variety of projects also have better outcomes.
H&HN called the differences between "Most Wired" and "Least Wired" hospitals "staggering." The analysis does not establish an explicit causal relationship between IT and outcomes. But it points hospitals and health care organizations in a positive direction.
"The association is strongly suggestive, not causal, but it's an important piece of the research," said Carolyn Clancy, M.D., the director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, according to the article.
Behind the mortality analysis, the "2005 Most Wired" data found three significant differences in how hospitals apply and use information technology to improve care:
1. The Most Wired use a wider array of IT tools to address quality and safety, including Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE), bedside electronic medication matching, automated alerts and reminders, physician portals and electronic patient surveillance.
2. Among the Most Wired, significantly larger percentages of physicians enter orders themselves.
3. The Most Wired conduct a larger percentage of clinical transactions - the number of doses ordered and the number of medications matched to the patient - via information technology.
Among the Most Wired, 41% said they have achieved full adoption of pharmaceutical order entry by physicians, compared with the 8% adoption rate among the Least Wired. The survey also broke out results for "IT Quality Leaders," the 50 hospitals that scored highest on the survey's safety and quality section, and "Tech Leaders," which are the hospitals on the 100 Most Wired list that are not among the IT Quality Leaders.

The availability of order entry is also important. The Most Wired hospitals provide clinicians with access to CPOE functions from more locations - 30% provide access from physician offices, ambulatory settings or other remote locations, compared with only 5% among the Least Wired.

The survey also found that the Most Wired were more proficient at medication delivery. Among the 100 Most Wired, 28% of medication orders are entered electronically by physicians. Among the Least Wired, less than 2% of medication orders are entered electronically by doctors.

The use of electronic alerts by physicians, nurses and pharmacists among the Most Wired hospitals was high, with full adoption rates ranging 48% to 100%. Full adoption rates in the Least Wired group ranged from zero to 67%, with duplicate order, drug-drug interaction, dose checking and allergy alerts being the most common.

Technologically advanced hospitals have linked clinical alerting with electronic surveillance to monitor patient vital signs, lab test results and other clinical information in order to notify caregivers in advance of any deterioration in a patient's condition.

Nevertheless, technology is not the end-all solution. As the article states: "Most chief information officers and chief medical officers say that, to be effective, adoption of information technology must be combined with clinical process improvements and a culture of safety."
"What we know from the studies we're supporting is that technology is only part of the drive to improve quality," Dr. Clancy said. "It clearly has to be linked with process improvement."
For more information on this subject, read eMarketer's US Physicians: Technology and Trends report.

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July 12, 2005 -- Supreme Court In Canada Rules Private Health Care a Basic Human Right
In a victory for consumers north of the border, the Supreme Court in Canada recently struck down a Quebec law that prohibited the sale of private health insurance and medical services. This decision is expected to have nationwide implications for Canada, which has long held to a publicly financed national health care system.
Under the national system, doctors' services are free to citizens, who pay their salaries in tax dollars. While this has been popular with the general public, the country's growth has left those requiring non-critical procedures waiting weeks or even months for something as simple as a lab test. As a result, those who could afford to do often headed south, to seek care in the U.S. Those who could not were left to sit and wait. MORE

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July 09, 2005 -- DIABETES - Alberta Diabetes Research Institute receives national award The Canadian Centre of Health Research Excellence Award is the first to be awarded to an institution.

EDMONTON The Alberta Diabetes Research Institute this month received a new national award based on its outstanding achievements and the international recognition and accomplishments of its diabetes research team.

The Canadian Centre of Health Research Excellence Award was created by the Federal Government to recognize a Canadian institution whose seminal scientific research:

Constitutes tangible achievement towards improving our knowledge and its application,
Generates momentum in the field, and
Increases dissemination of knowledge to the public.
The criteria for this award, developed through a survey of national and international institutions, includes: discovery of new leading edge scientific knowledge in health research; proven impact and importance of research findings; proven track record and ability; development of scientific human resources in Canada; established linkages and networks; and demonstrated knowledge translation ability and expertise.

The award was granted by the Minister of Health in consultation with the President of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Health Canada.

The Alberta Diabetes Research Institute (ADRI) is an award-winning, internationally recognized research team. The teams work has been applied to the benefit of patients with diabetes in Canada and internationally. Over 60 patients from across Canada have been treated with the innovative procedure. MORE

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July 07, 2005 -- Medical devices are no longer just medical devices-they are consumer products. In the past, medical product manufacturers stressed the medical efficacy of their devices over all other considerations. However, today they are borrowing a page from the consumer product designers' playbook. Manufacturers are realizing a key insight; one that is changing the entire medical appliance field: users of medical products are consumers, who bring the same interests and biases when shopping for medical devices as they do when shopping for housewares and other goods. MORE

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July 07, 2005 -- Bush, a Friend of Africa -- Those who care about Africa tend to think that the appropriate attitude toward President Bush is a medley of fury and contempt. But the fact is that Mr. Bush has done much more for Africa than Bill Clinton ever did, increasing the money actually spent for aid there by two-thirds so far, and setting in motion an eventual tripling of aid for Africa. Mr. Bush's crowning achievement was ending one war in Sudan, between north and south. And while Mr. Bush has done shamefully little to stop Sudan's other conflict - the genocide in Darfur - that's more than Mr. Clinton's response to genocide in Rwanda (which was to issue a magnificent apology afterward). MORE...

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June 06, 2005 -- Mental Illness Can Start in Childhood
CHICAGO (AP) _ Most mental illness hits early in life, with half of all cases starting by age 14, a survey of nearly 10,000 U.S. adults found. Many cases begin with mild, easy-to-dismiss symptoms such as low-level anxiousness or persistent shyness, but left untreated, they can quickly escalate into severe depression, disabling phobias or clinical anxiety, said Ronald Kessler, a Harvard Medical School researcher involved in the study. MORE...

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June 06, 2005 -- Suicide Attempts Linked to Weight Perception
CHICAGO (AP) _ Suicidal impulses and attempts are much more common in teenagers who think they are too fat or too thin, regardless of how much they actually weigh, a study found. Using actual body size based on teens' reports of their height and weight, the researchers found that overall, overweight or underweight teens were only slightly more likely than normal-weight teens to have suicidal tendencies. MORE...

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May 10, 2005 -- Diets for beginners by Ryan Fyfe
Getting into a weight loss program or any type of dieting is intimidating for a beginner. Better health is something that we should all work towards, and be bold about. With the right preparation and attitude we can all get into and achieve success in Weight Loss. Provided below are some tips that can help you get into Weight Loss, and help you progress along the way.

Seek Advice - When first starting out there is no sense trying to learn everything for yourself! Take some time to talk to others who are more experienced, and learn what you can from them. It can take time to really work out what works for your body, and your lifestyle, and by talking to others you can save a lot of the time in experimenting, and see the results you want, faster

Exercise - When getting into a weight loss plan, make sure you are after one that is interested in the general well being of your body, rather than one that will just pull the pounds off the fastest. Understand that someone who is a bit overweight can be a lot more physically healthy than someone who is lean. I strongly believe that any good Weight Loss program should have an exercise program to go along with it. This will help promote a healthier lifestyle, increase the speed of your progress, give you a strong heart and lungs, and will make you feel mentally fresh, and full of energy.

Diets - Just as important as exercising throughout a weight loss program you need to make sure to find a diet that will work for your lifestyle and your goals. Be reasonable, and be persistent. One of the biggest flaws in diet programs, is that users will follow them for 5 out of 7 days of a week, and on the other 2 binge on foods that work negatively towards the progress of the whole program. Be mentally strong and take the steps necessary to make this as easy as possible. It can be simple things like not buying junk foods, and staying out of Coffee/Donut shops that can make all the difference.

Set Goals - Set goals that are attainable. Out of reach goals only set yourself up for failure. Take it one step at a time, and enjoy/celebrate your success all the way up the ladder. Whether its taking it pounds at a time or making sure you stick to your diet and exercise program 100% of the time, you need to set goals! Life gets busy and without goals and marks to work towards its easy to lose focus, and fall off.

Visualize Success - Its important to see yourself succeeding before begin any program. This winning mind will set yourself up for success and help you stay positive and motivated throughout your entire program! ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ryan Fyfe is the owner and operator of Weight Loss Area. Which is a great web directory and information center for Weight Loss and related topics like Dieting and exercise.

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June 06, 2005 -- Marijuana Ruling to Affect Cancer Patients
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Helping patients control pain and the nausea from cancer chemotherapy have been among the leading uses of medical marijuana. Such patients are likely to be affected by the Supreme Court's decision Monday allowing federal prosecution of sick people who use the drug, regardless of state laws. Marijuana has been used as a medical treatment for thousands of years, according to the Mayo Clinic. In recent years, marijuana and its chemical components have been studied in relation to illnesses ranging from cancer to glaucoma to multiple sclerosis. MORE...

 

May 10, 2005 -- Breathtaking Color Power! by Maricon Williams
Colors convey character, emotion and intention. You are what colors you choose. Thus, your choice of colors should reflect the message or feeling you to hope to convey to the viewer.

Red - Red is hot color. It is an established color of love, urgency, courage, danger, passion, blood, intensity, aggression, and competition. It is best used as an accent color. This color does not usually blend well with greens or purples of the same intensity, so if you use red with these colors, modify the brightness or intensity.

Blue - Blue is a color of peace, tranquility and wisdom. It also conveys honesty, truth, loyalty, power, coolness, health, harmony, and confidence. Blue is a safe choice for most uses, and goes well with the majority colors. Don't use blue if your site is food or drink related, since there are hardly any blue foods and drinks.

Beige and Gray - These are neutral colors. As neutrals, they can be combined with almost any color and still come across well. Both make for very readable backgrounds, but be sure to use glints of bright colors or the site will appear uninteresting. You can also accent beige or gray with dark colors. It will create an illustrious, professional look.

Black - Black entails death, seriousness, solid strength, elegance, sophistication, rebellion, evil, power, and mystery. It can be powerful, aloof and intimidating. However, black is very useful in separating things such as graphic images. Black can make colors explode!

Yellow - Yellow is the brightest of all colors and has the greatest illuminating power. It is a warm and cheerful color. In addition to cheerfulness, yellow can also convey caution, optimism, idealism, cowardice, and imagination. Too much yellow can be an eyesore. Be careful using yellow with greens and purples of the same intensity. It might tone down one or the other.

Green - Green connotes youth, fertility, ecology, nature, health, growth, money, safety, healing, and food. However, to other viewers, it may connote envy, insects, and reptiles. Green can be well suited as a secondary or accent color.

Brown - Brown implies simplicity, earthiness, comfort, durability, and stability. However, like the neutral grays and beiges, a site that is mostly brown can be very dull. However, a site that had a light brown/beige background, a rich brown secondary color, and bright or dark red accents can give the impression of being very professional.

When choosing colors for your web site. Choose wisely because colors have a larger impact on the viewers. To know its impact, try this test: Open your web site and write on a piece of paper as many words and images that you can think of. Now, have another person to do the same. After that, compare your notes. If you made correct color choices, the list should be almost impossible to tell apart.

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May 06, 2005 -- No more health privatization on the radar -- Health Minister Evans says $1.3-million symposium failed to produce any interesting new ideas... MORE
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May 05, 2005 -- Government commits to action on health as symposium concludes--Promoting wellness particularly for children and youth, advancing primary health care, realizing improvements in mental health service delivery and making electronic health records a robust reality by 2008 will continue to be the four immediate government priorities reinforced by the International Health Symposium... MORE
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April 27, 2005 -- Health Hazard Alert - Thuân Phát Seasoning Sauce May Contain Harmful Chemical Contaminant: 3-MCPD
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Import Export (Lê) International inc. are warning the public not to consume Thuân Phát Seasoning Sauce as it may contain harmful chemical contaminant: 3-MCPD. More...

WASHINGTON - Frustrated doctors say they too often find themselves jury-rigging adult medical devices to fit children's tiny bodies and special needs. Now pediatric experts have begun a major push to fill the gap.

"There's an ethical responsibility to assure that we have safe and effective devices for use in children," says Dr. Jon Abramson, pediatric chairman at Wake Forest University.

But he and others told a recent meeting organized by the American Academy of Pediatrics of being forced to treat their smallest patients with devices intended for adults, or create makeshift equipment to get the job done. More...

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March 20, 2005 Macular Degeneration Macular degeneration is the most common cause of severe vision loss in Canada, especially among the elderly. It causes 1 in 3 cases of reported vision loss. The most common form of the disease occurs in people over age 55 and is called age-related macular degeneration. MORE...
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