viernes, 12 de diciembre de 2014



CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC 24/7: Saving Lives. Protecting People.

A Weekly Compilation of Clinical Laboratory and Related Information
from The Division Of Laboratory Programs, Standards And Services

December 11, 2014

  • 'Time' Names 'Ebola fighters' as Person of the Year
  • Airport Screenings Haven't Turned Up any Ebola Patients
  • U.S. Designates 35 Hospitals as Ebola Centers
  • Study Finds Support for Newborn Genetic Testing Among Parents
  • Factors Affecting Test Results
  • The Never-ending Prostate Cancer Screening Controversy
  • NIH Takes Step to Speed the Initiation of Clinical Research by Ensuring use of Single IRB
  • New Diagnostic System Describes Symptoms Using the Image of Patient's Tongue
  • Researchers Find Mechanism That Drives Glucose Consumption
  • HHS: Hospital-Acquired Conditions Declined by 17 Percent in Last Three Years
  • This Flu Season Could be a Bad One, CDC Says
  • New Goals in National HIT Roadmap
  • Health Data Outside the Doctor’s Office

View Previous Issues - Healthcare News Archive

Leading News

'Time' Names 'Ebola fighters' as Person of the Year
Time magazine has named "Ebola fighters" as its Person of the Year for their "tireless acts of courage and mercy."
"Ebola is a war, and a warning," Time editor Nancy Gibbs writes  in announcing the magazine's choice for most influential newsmaker of 2014. "The global health system is nowhere close to strong enough to keep us safe from infectious disease, and 'us' means everyone, not just those in faraway places where this is one threat among many that claim lives every day. The rest of the world can sleep at night because a group of men and women are willing to stand and fight."
Airport Screenings Haven't Turned Up any Ebola Patients
Airport screenings of travelers from West Africa haven't turned up anyone with Ebola, health officials announced. U.S. officials screened nearly 2,000 travelers for Ebola symptoms over 31 days in October and November, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only seven travelers with symptoms were referred to the CDC for medical exams, and none had the disease, the report says. Although two travelers from West Africa were later diagnosed with Ebola -- an American doctor and a Liberian national -- neither had symptoms in the air or in airports.
U.S. Designates 35 Hospitals as Ebola Centers
State health officials have designated 35 U.S. hospitals as Ebola treatment centers, a move that will at least triple the number of beds available to treat future patients. The hospitals are mostly clustered around the five airports where travelers from West Africa are being routed. About 80% of returning travelers from West Africa live within 200 miles of one of the hospitals, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, which announced the news. The U.S. five airports where travelers from West Africa must land and be screened are New York's John F. Kennedy Airport, New Jersey's Newark, Washington's Dulles, Chicago's O'Hare and Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson. The action is precautionary, said Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "As long as Ebola is spreading in West Africa, we must prepare for the possibility of additional cases in the United States," he said in a written statement. All of the designated hospitals have had special training to handle Ebola safely, Frieden said.
The Virus Detectives
At Cambridge, Mass., an old two-story brick building in a shabby part of town, formerly a distribution center for Budweiser beer is now the world’s most powerful factory for analyzing genes from people and viruses. And it is here that Broad scientists studying Ebola and a similar deadly disease, Lassa, send their samples, taking advantage of what the center’s manager, Andrew J. Hollinger, referred to as superfast track sequencing in their urgent work on these diseases ravaging West Africa. Those scientists receive their sequence data in about 40 hours, compared with days for the usual work. The Ebola and Lassa group, led by Pardis Sabeti, wants to know what the viruses look like. Do they mutate while they are infecting people, possibly evading the immune system? Are some strains more deadly than others? And what about the genetics of the people who are infected? Are some people more resistant, perhaps even immune, to these viruses because of tweaks in their own genes? The research is emblematic of a new direction in public health, which uses powerful genetic methods and applies them to entire populations. The aim is to get a detailed picture of disease epidemiology, as the disease is happening. Armed with such data, doctors should be better able to stop epidemics and researchers can get clues to treating and preventing infections.
U.S. Sailors See Life and Death in Ebola Blood Tests
Ebola-infected blood arrives each day with a knock on the door. Members of the U.S. military answer and take the samples. There's not a uniform or weapon in sight. The four sailors working in a laboratory at the end of a dirt road are deployed to fight a disease, not terrorists. The vials they handle carry a name, gender and age — stark reminders, the sailors say, that what they learn can dictate if someone lives or dies. Three of them are microbiologists, more accustomed to scientific research than fighting a deadly epidemic in West Africa. The fourth is a hospital corpsman. Their job since Oct. 2 has been to quickly identify patients free of Ebola, so they can be separated from those who have the disease; and to clear those who are recovering, so they can go home. The Navy testing lab here is one of seven in Liberia staffed by the U.S. Navy or Army. The troops are among 2,450 American service members deployed to fight the disease. Just the addition of these new laboratories has rapidly reduced the time it takes to test samples. Early in the epidemic it could take weeks to test for Ebola in drawn blood because labs were distant or few in number. Now results are available in a few hours.
Ebola Crisis: Nigerian Medics Deploying to Sierra Leone
About 100 Nigerian medical workers are expected to arrive in Sierra Leone to help with the response to the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus. The workers, who include doctors, scientists and hygienists, have been trained by the medical aid agency, MSF. It came a day after residents in the Guinean capital, Conakry, protested about the construction of an Ebola treatment clinic in their district. The Ebola outbreak has killed more than 6,000 people in West Africa this year.

Laboratory Testing / Diagnostics

Study Finds Support for Newborn Genetic Testing Among Parents
Most parents would like to have their newborns genetically tested for medical conditions and disorders, according to a new study published this week inGenetics in Medicine. The report, led by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital, found a majority of parents surveyed — regardless of their demographic background — were interested in exploring newborn genomic testing if it became available. “Several other studies have measured parents’ interest in newborn genomic screening, but none focused on new parents in the first 48 hours,” said Dr. Robert C. Green, a geneticist and researcher at BWH and Harvard Medical School, and the study’s senior author. “Since this is when genomic testing would be of the greatest value, it is especially important to study parents’ attitudes immediately post-partum.”
Factors Affecting Test Results
Blood Collection Tubes: Reducing Pre-Analytical Errors
Labs naturally would like to minimize pre-analytical errors as much as possible, to improve the quality of blood test results, reduce the number of specimens requiring re-collection, reduce turnaround time, and improve patient management. Blood collection tubes (BCTs) typically have been regarded as inert specimen carriers; however, studies have shown that BCTs can contribute to pre-analytical errors. We don’t fully understand how these devices affect blood samples, but they may have a greater influence on test results than many health professionals realize. BCT components, including tube walls, rubber stoppers, lubricants, anticoagulants, separator gels, clot activators, and surfactants, can affect the quality of specimens and accuracy of laboratory tests. These components and additives have the potential to alter the composition of serum and plasma fractions by adding constituents to blood, adsorbing elements, interacting with protein and cellular components, or altering the stability of analytes in blood specimens.
To evaluate interferences from collection device components in clinical tests, laboratorians should (1) test the same analyte with an alternative assay; (2) incubate the sample with the different parts of the collection device to identify the source of potential interferences; (3) contact both the collection device and assay manufacturers; (4) if necessary, file a medical device alert with the Food and Drug Administration; and (5) if possible, switch to a new BCT manufacturer.
The Never-ending Prostate Cancer Screening Controversy
Canadian task force finds PSA test ineffective; other groups disagree.
Assessing the potential benefits and harms of screening for prostate cancer using the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test, the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care (CTFPHC) recently recommended against this type of screening. "Unfortunately the PSA test is simply not an effective screening tool," Neil Bell, MD, CTFPHC member and chair of the working group for this guideline, said in a prepared statement. "Almost 20% of men aged 55 to 69 have at least one false positive; approximately 17% of them will have unnecessary biopsies.” Specifically, the guideline says:
  • CTFPHC strongly recommends against PSA screening for men younger than 55 or older than 70 because there is no evidence that such testing reduces mortality. There is also evidence of potential harm.
  • The task force doesn’t recommend PSA screening for men age 55-69 because there is “inconsistent evidence of small potential benefit of screening, and evidence of harms.”
Updated Multiple Myeloma Criteria Could Lead to Earlier Diagnosis
The new guidelines were developed by a worldwide group of more than 180 myeloma researchers, and the process entailed updating the “definition of multiple myeloma for diagnostic purposes to include validated biomarkers in addition to the current clinical symptoms used for diagnosis, which include elevated blood calcium levels, kidney failure, anemia, and bone lesions," Rajkumar explained. Updated guidelines were needed in part to “take into account the substantial changes to laboratory testing and imaging used in the diagnosis of multiple myeloma that have happened since the initial publication of the IMWG diagnostic criteria,” the researchers wrote. The new criteria recommend using CT and PET-CT scans to identify bone lesions, which will enable more accurate diagnosis of multiple myeloma and intervention before fractures or other serious problems arise. Also, they recommend better estimation of the extent of renal damage by using creatinine clearance and serum creatinine measurements.
Mayo Clinic Recommends Genetic Screening for Patients With Triple-Negative Breast Cancer
Most patients with triple-negative breast cancer should undergo genetic testing for mutations in known breast cancer predisposition genes, including BRCA1 and BRCA2, a Mayo Clinic-led study has found. The findings come from the largest analysis to date of genetic mutations in this aggressive form of breast cancer. The results of the research appear in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Triple-negative breast cancer is a specific subset of breast cancer that makes up about 12 to 15 percent of all cases. The disease is difficult to treat because the tumors are missing the estrogen, progesterone and HER-2 receptors that are the target of the most common and most effective forms of therapy. However, recent studies have suggested that triple-negative breast cancer patients might harbor genetic mutations that make them more likely to respond to alternative treatments like cisplatin, a chemotherapy agent, or PARP inhibitors, anti-cancer agents that inhibit the poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) family of enzymes.
Lyme Disease, Like Ebola, Should be Diagnosed by DNA Sequencing
What is a reliable laboratory test for Lyme disease and related borrelioses for the earliest diagnosis and timely treatment? Sin Hang Lee, M.D., a noted pathologist from Milford Hospital in Milford, Conn., informed a group of national Lyme disease experts at a recent Massachusetts General Hospital roundtable discussion on November 8: “As for any emerging infectious diseases whose causative agents are difficult to culture, for example, the Ebola virus, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of a signature segment of the genomic nucleic acid of the causative agent followed by DNA sequencing of the amplicon is the standard diagnostic approach,” The Coalition Against Lyme and Related Borrelioses, Inc. (CALRB), a non-profit organization which promotes science based Lyme disease testing and research, agrees with Dr. Lee’s approach, said Kevin Moore, president and executive director of CALRB.
Catheter-Tip Cultures Not Useful for Diagnosing Central Line-Associated Infection
Catheter-tip cultures are not helpful for identifying central line-associated blood stream infections (CLABSI), researchers say. Their letter, published online October 29 in Clinical Infectious Diseases, argues against guidelines from the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA), which recommend the method when diagnosing CLABSI. "Do not perform catheter-tip cultures on your patients with suspected CLABSI as it does not help define the disease or the length of therapy," Dr. Lance R. Peterson from University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine told Reuters Health by email. Dr. Peterson and Dr. Becky A. Smith, also from Pritzker School of Medicine, suggest that catheter-tip cultures might be useful if positive results would confirm the diagnosis of CLABSI and thereby permit a shorter course of therapy for the infected patient. In this regard, they say, the positive predictive value of the test is critical.
High Price Tag for Cologuard Confirmed, but Test is Welcomed
A final price decision has been announced for Cologuard (Exact Sciences), the first stool DNA colorectal cancer (CRC) screening test, which was approved in the United States earlier this year. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued its final payment decision regarding Cologuard and will reimburse it at $502 per test, the company announced. The final payment decision follows a comprehensive evaluation by the agency as part of a joint FDA and CMS parallel review pilot program, the company said, and noted that Cologuard is the first technology to gain approval through this program. The price is hugely more than that of traditional stool tests for CRC screening, which home in on hemaglobin in blood in the stool samples.

Research and Development

NIH Takes Step to Speed the Initiation of Clinical Research by Ensuring use of Single IRB
The National Institutes of Health issued a draft policy to promote the use of single institutional review boards or IRBs, in multi-site clinical research studies. IRBs play a critical role in assuring the ethical conduct of clinical research, and studies must be reviewed and approved by an IRB before they can begin. When the regulations for protection of human subjects were first published, most clinical research was conducted at a single institution. Since then, the research landscape has evolved, and many studies are carried out at multiple sites and within large networks. Studies that go beyond a single site are often able to recruit more individuals from diverse populations. These multi-site studies can often generate important results in less time. However, working through IRB review at each site can add delay without increasing the protections for the research participants in the study.
New Diagnostic System Describes Symptoms Using the Image of Patient's Tongue
Neural network tests tongue and symptoms for remote diagnosis
For people in remote areas who do not have ready access to a physician, a new diagnostic system is reported in the International Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Technology that works to combine the soft inputs of described symptoms with a digital analysis of an image of the patient's tongue. Karthik Ramamurthy of the Department of Information Technology, Rajalakshmi Engineering College, in Chennai, India, and colleagues, have trained a neural network that can take soft inputs such as standard questions about symptoms and a digitized image of the patient's tongue and offer a likely diagnosis so that professional healthcare might then be sought if needed. The digitized images of the patient's tongue reveal discoloration, engorgement, texture and other factors that might be linked to illness.
Researchers Find Mechanism That Drives Glucose Consumption
Glucose is a component of carbohydrates, and the main energy source used by brain cells.
By studying rats, a team at Imperial College London identified a mechanism that appears to sense how much glucose is reaching the brain, and prompts animals to seek more if it detects a shortfall. The researchers believe it may play a role in driving our preference for sweet and starchy foods. The study, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, is published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. James Gardiner, from the Department of Medicine, who led the study, said: "Our brains rely heavily on glucose for energy. It's clearly a very important nutrient, but in our evolutionary past it would have been hard to come by. So we have a deep-rooted preference for glucose-rich foods and seek them out."
"This is the first time anyone has discovered a system in the brain that responds to a specific nutrient, rather than energy intake in general. It suggests that when you're thinking about diet, you have to think about different nutrients, not just count calories," Gardiner said.
Exome Tests Miss Pathogenic Variants in ACMG Recommended Genes
Exome sequencing tests may not cover completely all medically relevant genes and may miss pathogenic variants in disease genes, researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Thomas Jefferson University reported recently in a study in Clinical Chemistry. Clinical exome tests have "what appear to be very good overall stats," Jason Park, medical director of the Advanced Diagnostics Laboratory at the Children's Medical Center Dallas and lead author of the study, told GenomeWeb, in terms of base coverage. "But, those good overall statistics fall apart when you look at small subsets of genes." Park indicated a study published this March in the Journal of the American Medical Association by a group at Stanford University that found that whole-genome sequencing in 12 volunteer adults had incomplete coverage of some disease genes, among other problematic issues.
African Genome Variation Project Enlightens Population History, Provides Basis for Disease Studies
A new study on genetic diversity in Africa, called the African Genome Variation Project, shines light on the population history of sub-Saharan Africa and provides the basis for future medical genetics studies, including a new pan-African genotype array. The project, published online in Nature, analyzed the genomes of about 1,800 individuals from 18 ethno-linguistic groups in Western, Eastern, and Southern Africa, most by array genotyping and some by whole-genome sequencing. It was conducted as a collaboration between the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the UK, the US National Institutes of Health, the UK Medical Research Council, and research institutions in South Africa, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Ghana, and elsewhere. According to the analysis, many sub-Saharan African populations have genetic contributions from Eurasians and hunter-gatherers, providing clues to ancient population movements. The study also identified new disease susceptibility loci that have been under positive selection, including genes associated with hypertension, malaria, and other infectious diseases.

Public Health and Patient Safety

HHS: Hospital-Acquired Conditions Declined by 17 Percent in Last Three Years
A recent Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report found that with the aid of health IT,  a reduction in hospital-acquired conditions from 2010 to 2013 led to approximately 50,000 fewer patients who died in hospitals and $12 billion saved in healthcare costs. HHS’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) analyzed the incidence of a number of avoidable hospital-acquired conditions compared to 2010 rates and used as a baseline estimate of deaths and excess healthcare costs that were developed when the Partnership for Patients— which targets a specific set of hospital-acquired conditions for reductions— was launched. The results update the data showing improvement for 2012 that were released in May. Preliminary estimates show that in total, hospital patients experienced 1.3 million fewer hospital-acquired conditions from 2010 to 2013.  This translates to a 17 percent decline in hospital-acquired conditions over the three-year period. What’s more, in 2013 alone, almost 35,000 fewer patients died in hospitals, and approximately 800,000 fewer incidents of harm occurred, saving approximately $8 billion.
This Flu Season Could be a Bad One, CDC Says
Anticipating a severe flu season, the government recommended immediate vaccination for anyone who hasn't taken that precaution and urged people who come down with the flu to seek anti-viral medication from their doctors. The flu has already killed five children, and the predominant strain of the virus circulating now was associated with severe outbreaks, including larger than normal numbers of deaths and hospitalizations, during three flu seasons over the past 11 years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced. The anti-viral medications oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) may be particularly important this year. A CDC study of the flu viruses now circulating showed that the vaccine may have limited effectiveness against more than half of the most common one, H3N2, the CDC said. Yet fewer than 1 in 6 people infected by the flu virus are treated with anti-viral medications, CDC Director Thomas Frieden said. Anti-viral drugs "aren't a substitute for vaccine. Vaccine prevents flu," Frieden said. "But anti-virals are an important second line of defense … and this year treatment with anti-viral drugs is especially important."
 ‘Superbugs’ Kill India’s Babies and Pose an Overseas Threat
A deadly epidemic that could have global implications is quietly sweeping India, and among its many victims are tens of thousands of newborns dying because once-miraculous cures no longer work. These infants are born with bacterial infections that are resistant to most known antibiotics, and more than 58,000 died last year as a result, a recent study found. While that is still a fraction of the nearly 800,000 newborns who die annually in India, Indian pediatricians say that the rising toll of resistant infections could soon swamp efforts to improve India’s abysmal infant death rate. Nearly a third of the world’s newborn deaths occur in India. “Reducing newborn deaths in India is one of the most important public health priorities in the world, and this will require treating an increasing number of neonates who have sepsis and pneumonia,” said Dr. Vinod Paul, chief of pediatrics at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and the leader of the study. “But if resistant infections keep growing, that progress could slow, stop or even reverse itself. And that would be a disaster for not only India but the entire world.” In visits to neonatal intensive care wards in five Indian states, doctors reported being overwhelmed by such cases. “Five years ago, we almost never saw these kinds of infections,” said Dr. Neelam Kler, chairwoman of the department of neonatology at New Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, one of India’s most prestigious private hospitals. “Now, close to 100 percent of the babies referred to us have multidrug resistant infections. It’s scary. These babies are part of a disquieting outbreak.”
Malaria Scourge Has Declined Globally, but Ebola May Affect Toll, W.H.O. Says
The World Health Organization reported steep declines in malaria cases and deaths compared with 2000 in a report released recently, saying the progress was particularly notable in Africa, where the disease is most prevalent. But the W.H.O. coupled the news on malaria with a warning that it could worsen again in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the countries worst hit by the Ebola virus, which has overwhelmed their public health systems. In itsWorld Malaria Report 2014, the W.H.O. said the malaria mortality rate fell by 47 percent worldwide and by 54 percent in the Africa region between 2000 and 2013. It attributed the improvement largely to advances in diagnostic tests as well as increases in the use of insecticide-treated bed nets and effective drug therapies.
Breast Cancer Vaccine Shows Promise in Small Clinical Trial
A breast cancer vaccine developed at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is safe in patients with metastatic breast cancer, results of an early clinical trial indicate. Preliminary evidence also suggests that the vaccine primed the patients' immune systems to attack tumor cells and helped slow the cancer's progression. The study appears Dec. 1 in Clinical Cancer Research. The new vaccine causes the body's immune system to home in on a protein called mammaglobin-A, found almost exclusively in breast tissue. The protein's role in healthy tissue is unclear, but breast tumors express it at abnormally high levels, past research has shown.
Chronic Diseases Are Killing More in Poorer Countries
Chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease are rising fast in low- and middle-income countries, striking far younger populations than in rich countries and causing much worse outcomes, according to a new report. Deaths from chronic diseases have risen by more than 50 percent in low- and middle-income countries over the past two decades, according to the report, by the Council on Foreign Relations. The increase is part of a shift in global mortality patterns in which infectious diseases, such as malaria and tuberculosis, have declined substantially and are no longer the leading cause of death in the developing world.

Health IT

New Goals in National HIT Roadmap
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has outlined its Federal Health IT Strategic Plan, 2015-2020, updating the goals of an initiative most recently released in 2011. As it maps out ways to better gather, share and put to use interoperable health data, the plan will serve as a broad federal strategy, say ONC officials, helping set the context for the Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap, which is scheduled to be released January 2015. That roadmap will help to define the implementation of how the federal government can work with the private sector to spur more widespread sharing of health data to improve individual healthcare, drive better community and public health and advance research. In the meantime, this new strategic plan, developed in collaboration with some 35 different federal entities, lays out five concrete goals related to how data is collected, shared and used.
Health Data Outside the Doctor’s Office
Health primarily happens outside the doctor’s office—playing out in the arenas where we live, learn, work and play. In fact, a minority of our overall health is the result of the health care we receive.  If we’re to have an accurate picture of health, we need more than what is currently captured in the electronic health record. That’s why the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asked the distinguished JASON group to bring its considerable analytical power to bear on this problem: how to create a health information system that focuses on the health of individuals, not just the care they receive. JASON is an independent group of scientists and academics that has been advising the Federal government on matters of science and technology for over 50 years. The new report, called Data for Individual Health, builds upon the 2013 JASON report, A Robust Health Data Infrastructure. It lays out recommendations for an infrastructure that could not only achieve interoperability among electronic health records (EHRs), but could also integrate data from all walks of life—including data from personal health devices, patient collaborative networks, social media, environmental and demographic data and genomic and other “omics” data.
Who's Worried About Medical Devices Being Hacked?
The FDA is aware of the potential risks with medical devices and has issued recommendations, entitled “Content of Premarket Submissions for Management of Cybersecurity in Medical Devices." There have been no specific threats or concerns, nor have there been any incidents of patients reporting harm, but the FDA has determined that there is a need to develop an interdisciplinary panel of stakeholders, such as device manufacturers, hospitals, and cybersecurity professionals. The FDA has made some recommendations on security for wireless medical devices. They ask that engineers start by designing their medical devices with cybersecurity concerns in mind, such as how to protect core functionality in the case of a security breach. The guidelines go on to ask manufacturers to submit potential security risks, as well as any recommendations or plans on how to mitigate them, to the FDA.
New Tracker Monitors the Performance of the U.S. Health System
The Kaiser Family Foundation, in partnership with the Peterson Center on Healthcare, announced a new online hub dedicated to monitoring and assessing the performance of the U.S. health system. The Peterson–Kaiser Health System Tracker provides comprehensive data on how the system is performing on critical quality and cost measures, offering clear, up-to-date information on relevant trends, drivers and issues. The Tracker also will illustrate how the United States is performing relative to other countries, and how different parts of the system are performing relative to one another. Regular in-depth insight briefs will delve into major issues, beginning with Assessing the Performance of the U.S. Health System, which presents an overview of trends in cost and outcomes and a detailed explanation of the Tracker’s purpose and approach. The site also will feature frequent blog posts synthesizing relevant research from a wide range of organizations.
Four Ways Your EHR Can Improve Patient Engagement
At its core, improving patient engagement is about involving the patient in their own care, and as a result, enhancing outcomes.
1. Take advantage of your patient portal.
The patient portal can play a big role in increasing patient engagement since it is a secure repository and communication tool for a practice.
2. Leverage solutions that extend your EHR capabilities.
There are various forms of technology that can help physicians achieve a higher level of patient engagement, working in conjunction with your EHR, such as interfaces connecting to other products or solutions.
3. Empower patients through visual display data.
Another common pain point for patients is the amount of time physicians spend typing, touching, and looking at the computer screen during visits. One easy way to remove the barrier of the computer screen is by involving the patient through visual display of their data in the exam room.
4. Use the EHR for shared decision making and education.
Shared decision making involves physicians and patients determining the best care options together, rather than the clinician making care decisions for the patient. This modern approach of delivering care can play an integral role in patient engagement since it empowers patients to choose care based on their unique values and perspectives.
U.S. House Books Busy Health IT Agenda for January
Expect the new Congress to address healthcare software regulation, data security and data privacy issues, predicted Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) at a Bipartisan Policy Center event. Blackburn confirmed that that the so-called SOFTWARE Act (Sensible Oversight For Technology Which Advances Regulatory Efficiency), which aims to confine Food and Drug Administration authority over health software to high-risk applications, will be part of the 21st Century Cures package scheduled to emerge from the House Energy & Commerce Committee in January. The bill, which had 38 cosponsors, including many Democrats, would give the FDA the authority to regulate certain high-risk software, while leaving perceived medium- and low-risk software, like clinical-decision support, electronic health records and scheduling software, to other agencies.

Other News

Average Cost per Inpatient Day Across 50 States
Here are average costs per inpatient day in 2011, organized by hospital ownership type, in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, according to the latest statistics from Kaiser State Health Facts.
Note: The data includes all operating and non-operating expenses for registered U.S. community hospitals, defined as public, nonfederal, short-term general and other special hospitals. Adjusted expenses per inpatient day include expenses for both inpatient and outpatient care; inpatient days are adjusted higher to reflect an estimate of the volume of outpatient services. These figures are only an estimate of expenses incurred by the hospital to provide a day of inpatient care and are not a substitute for either actual charges or reimbursement for care provided.
United States
•    State/local government hospitals — $1,667
•    Nonprofit hospitals — $2,088
•    For-profit hospitals — $1,628
Clinical Optical Imaging Market to Hit $2 Billion by 2020
Applications such as real-time optical biopsies and surgical guidance are expected to grow into multibillion-dollar segments over the long term. Led by optical coherence tomography (OCT), the clinical optical imaging market will rise to $2 billion in 2020, more than doubling from 2012, according to a report from emerging technologies analyst Lux Research. Typical OCT systems, the size of a medical cart, cost on average between $80,000 and $250,000, but Compact Imaging is working to make these devices more affordable by turning to solid-state components, instead of discrete optical elements. Other technologies such as near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) and photoacoustic tomography (PAT) also hold high potential for growth, while applications such as real-time optical biopsies and surgical guidance will grow into multibillion-dollar segments over the long term, the report projected.

Disclaimer- The information provided in this news digest is intended only to be general summary information. It does not represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is not intended to take the place of applicable laws or regulations.

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