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Vol. 12 No. 5, March 11, 2015


Seeing Medical Records Might Ease Hospital Patients’ Confusion
Allowing patients to view their electronic health records (EHR) during hospital stays does not drastically increase nurses' and physicians' workloads, according to a University of Colorado study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
To assess what patients might learn while viewing their EHRs during hospitals stays, University of Colorado assistant professor Jonathan Pell and his team provided tablet computers to 50 individuals who knew how to use the Internet. Most of the individuals had home computers, and more than half had laptops or smartphones with them. The average age of participating patients was 42 years old, and about 75% had annual incomes of $45,000 or less. Researchers also questioned 42 healthcare providers about how they thought patients would respond to viewing their EHRs.
Overall, the study found that allowing patients to view their EHRs did not create additional work for doctors or nurses. Specifically, researchers found that before patients viewed the records: 68% of surveyed doctors expected it would lead to additional work and all 14 nurses who were surveyed thought it would result in more work. However, after patients viewed their records 36% of doctors reported larger workloads and half of the nurses reported additional workloads.


Liquid Biopsy Identifies Type of Cancer from Blood Draw
Since chemotherapy agents must be selectively chosen to target each person’s unique type of tumor, biopsies are performed and sent to the pathology lab for genotyping. Researchers at Singapore’s A*STAR Agency for Science, Technology and Research have created a “liquid biopsy” that requires only a blood draw to identify the type of colorectal tumor present in a patient. The technology is still in the development stage but it may prove to be a new and easy way of identifying and monitoring tumors. The new method relies on capturing circulating tumor cells (CTCs) usin a silicon microsieve with 90,000 tiny pores. The size of the pores is carefully selected to let normal cells through while trapping the larger CTCs. The team also developed assays that identify whether the trapped CTCs have the KRAS or BRAF mutations of colorectal cancer.
Apple's New Research Tool is Open Source
A brand new health app unveiled on March 9, 2015 by Apple represents something of a departure for the Cupertino, Calif. colossus: It's open source. ResearchKit, which can work in tandem with the iPhone and HealthKit platform, can enable more – and faster – advances in research and innovation according to Apple, which touted five apps already available, focused on five of the most prevalent chronic conditions: diabetes, asthma, Parkinson's, cardiovascular disease and breast cancer.
ResearchKit could address several problems plaguing the medical research community – namely, small sample sizes, issues with subjective data and the frequency of data collected. This new framework will also enable researchers to collect data in near real-time, changing the scale from months to seconds.
Heart on a Chip to Replace Animals for Testing Cardiac Drugs
Cardiac drug testing is a challenging business, potential subjects often being weak and not subject to clinical trials. Now researchers at UC Berkeley have developed an organ-on-a-chip device that hosts live human cardiac cells. The beating heart cells can be used as a safe test bed for testing a variety of different chemical compounds as potential drug targets for cardiac conditions. Animal models are typically used to screen drugs for toxicity, but too often the results are not indicative of how humans respond to the same drugs. Moreover, just about anyone would love to see animals being phased out from pre-clinical testing and replaced with more compassionate and accurate methods. Since the new device hosts actual human cells, the results should be considerably more accurate than performing the same tests on animals with different cellular functionality.


Portugal: Open Source Empowers Sintra Healthcentre
The use of open source software is empowering ACES Sintra, a public healthcare organization in the municipality of Sintra (Portugal). The organization is dispersed over 40 different offices, and its IT department manages over 400 workstations and server hosts. Open source tools used by ACES Sintra include content management system Wordpress, combined with the usual LAMP stack: the MySQL database management system, the Apache web server, Linux for the server host and the PHP web development scripting language. The combination is used for the public website, but also for several internal Intranet project and team sites. The organization implements Wiki websites, mainly for the IT department but also to maintain a list of frequently asked questions and their answers.
US Nurses Want Probe into EMR Failure
Nurses at a California hospital are asking state officials to investigate the failure of the hospital's electronic medical record system, an incident they said led to the closure of its emergency room and compromised patient safety.
The EMR system at the 420-bed Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster, California, reportedly failed last weekend, resulting in clinicians unable to review patient labs, verify physician orders and access patient records, according to the California Nurses Association and the National Nurses United union.

Health Checks by Smartphone Raise Privacy Concerns
Authorities and tech developers must stop sensitive health data entered into applications on mobile phones ending up in the wrong hands, experts warn. As wireless telecom companies gathered in Barcelona this week at the Mobile World Congress, the sector's biggest trade fair, specialists in "e-health" said health care is fast shifting into the connected sphere. More and more patients are using smartphone apps to monitor signs such as their blood sugar and pressure. The European Commission estimates the market for mobile health services could exceed 17.5 billion Euros by 2017.
Global Challenges and Opportunities for Clinical Informatics (opinion piece)
In every country critical care support for potentially reversible acute illness or injury is one of the most cost-effective fields of medicine. However, incomplete knowledge and delayed, error prone care delivery greatly minimizes its impact worldwide. Advances in information technology and computer literacy provided unprecedented opportunity to facilitate safe and effective care delivery across the world and improve outcomes for any health systems sickest and most expensive patients.
Unfortunately, the implementation of the first generation of clinical information systems in the emergency and critical care settings largely made things worse: causing information overload, disrupting workflow, and increasing false alarms. Worse of all, physicians and nurses with limited computer literacy spend most of their time at the computer workstations battling unfriendly programs so there is more limited time spent at the bedside. Disparate databases, lack of standardized common data elements and barriers to data integration made secondary data uses all but impossible in most hospitals.

Radboud University Medical Center Becomes First Hospital in the Netherlands to Win HIMSS Stage 7 Award
HIMSS Analytics Europe, subsidiary of HIMSS Europe, has awarded Radboud university medical center with the Stage 7 Award, making it the first HIMSS Stage 7 hospital in the Netherlands and the third in Europe. The hospital, which has 953 beds, joins the University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf in Germany and the Hospital de Dénia-Marina Salud in Spain in the highest stage of the European EMR Adoption Model (EMRAM) developed by HIMSS.
The Netherlands enjoy a high number of Stage 6 awarded hospitals, which consolidates this country as one of the European leaders in ehealth. Beside Radboudumc, as of today, 10 Dutch hospitals and university medical centers have achieved Stage 6. Across Europe there are more than 50 hospitals recognized in the Stage 6 category.
AppCircus Searching for the Best Health App
AppCircus, the biggest competition for mHealth apps, will be taking place for the first time at conhIT in Berlin, Europe's largest event for health IT. The best apps that supports "interaction between doctors, nurses and patients in Europe" will receive an award. Over the past two years the number of mHealth applications has doubled. Currently, over 100,000 apps are available for iOS and Android operating systems, and the number is rising. These intelligent applications for mobile devices have long ceased to be niche market products and instead have firmly established themselves in health IT circles and consequently at conhIT. For the first time, this year's conhIT will include a ‘mobile health zone’ that will present the latest mHealth innovations and trends. This competition, in line with other well-known Appcircus App-competitions aims to draw even more attention to this topic and to raise awareness to the practical demands made on health apps.


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