Timely keynotes enlighten HealthTech audience; Presidential green light puts HIPAA in motion

Timely keynotes enlighten HealthTech audience
Keynote speakers at the HealthTech 2001 conference in Cleveland, April 22-25, revealed exclusive intelligence from the frontlines of genetic sciences and the U.S. government’s multimillion dollar patient safety initiative.

photoOpening speaker Manuel J. Glynias, president and CEO of NetGenics (Cleveland) reflected on “The Source Code of Life,” yielding insights into the progress and politics of the Human Genome Project.

The federally-funded Human Genome Project, and a parallel private effort by Celera Genomics Group, began in 1995 and both have shown remarkable progress, despite following different, competing strategies. Earlier this year the two factions declared mutual victory in the race to decode the human genome. In his speech, Glynias revealed the true reason for the announcement, to end squabbling between the rival researchers, and said actual work is far from completion.

Presidential green light puts HIPAA in motion
The Bush administration announced it will proceed with regulations to enact the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), this after a 60-day delay which was fraught with vigorously lobbying by industry groups on both sides of the Act’s electronic transaction and patient privacy measures.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is charged with implementing HIPAA. Its regulations are establishing sweeping new patient information security and privacy rules which encourage development of electronic data interchange and healthcare information systems.

The American Hospital Association and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association criticized HIPAA as burdensome and unaffordable, while the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) supports the introduction of regulations.

Safety gets boost from the Joint
Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations surveyors will begin questioning hospitals about patient safety and medical error reduction programs beginning July 1. New requirements are being photoadded to the Accreditation Manual in four major standards areas – Leadership, Organization Performance, Management of Information and Other Functions.

Britton Berek, (left) a clinical engineer at the JCAHO, told an audience at HealthTech 2001, “I believe there are some opportunities to participate, meaning you may get some added responsibilities, like it or not.”

Texas mourns loss of Mike Long
Mike Long, a veteran Dallas BMET, passed away in April.

Long learned electronics in the U.S. Navy, where he spent 10 years, including two tours in Vietnam. He joined Physio-Control after his discharge and as a field service engineer working on defibrillators and occasional infusion pumps, he met nearly everyone in the Dallas-Ft. Worth biomed community. Long eventually moved to Parkland Memorial Hospital and stayed for 16 years.

Always active, Long was considered instrumental in restoring the North Texas Biomedical Association in 1989 and even gave valuable dining advice to HealthTech attendees in 2000. On his off-hours, Long applied his electronics knowledge to the sound and taping systems at the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, where he was a member.

Creating a Cure from Idle PCs

imageEven the Web Worm must sleep, leaving the weary webmeister’s computer idle while millions of problems go unsolved.

That’s why the Intel Philanthropic Peer-to-Peer Program recruited our peerless hero. An unlikely team of Intel, the American Cancer Society, Oxford University – and many, many home and business PC users – hopes to jump-start research into cancer and other diseases with peer-to-peer (or distributed) computing. Similar to the space-searching SETI@home project, idle PCs are enlisted to parse small chunks of an enormous molecular data set, hoping to uncover sequences that suggest medicines.

Conceived in September and recently launched in beta, the project is being applied to leukemia and a database of 18 billion small molecules. Future plans call for studying molecular interaction through simulations that gauge the cancer-fighting potential of different combinations.

d01c.jpg (8607 bytes)Intel CEO Craig Barrett brought it down to worm level when he said, “This will give us unlimited computer power for almost no cost” by getting “the computational capability of millions of computers working in concert.”

The drowsy digster thinks turning screen savers into life savers is genius. Heck, it’s cancer research. Not something inane like searching for space aliens or literate monkeys!

Piper Resources

RPI calls in its bench to win the ISO 9001 game
Aftermarket parts maker Replacement Parts Inc. (RPI of Chatsworth, Calif.) had a goal. A few years ago, the company’s management decided it needed to become ISO 9001 registered to remain competitive in today’s market. No big thing for a mega-budgeted conglomerate, but to 24-employee, family-owned RPI, it was a long-term project that would require commitment from everyone.

As a first step, RPI called in the California Manufacturing Technology Center, a non-profit organization that assists in developing ISO 9001 policies and procedures. The next step was establishing an internal ISO committee which met every week under the guidance of Joan Woodlock, vice president of marketing and customer service.

Reader’s Choices Remain Favorites
A garbled voice filled the HealthTech exhibit hall in Cleveland. What’d he say? Is it time for the 2001 24×7 Readers’ Choice Awards? It was, and shedding a faulty public address microphone for a ringmaster’s baritone, 24×7 editor Bob Larkin bid the crowd to gather ‘round and salute the winners, as chosen by the popular vote of the magazine’s readers.

The Best Biomedical Test Device category includes meters of all kind. The Reader’s Choice was DNI Nevada’s feature-loaded medTester 5000C, a recently updated, fully-automated safety analyzer. Here 24×7 editor Bob Larkin presents the award to Michael Erwine, General Manager and Executive Vice President of DNI.

Best Imaging Quality Assurance Device went to a Cleveland hometown favorite, Inovision Radiation Measurements, for its versatile Triad X-ray Field Service/Calibration QA Kit. A beaming Tim Hansen of Inovision stepped forward to accept the award.

Best Clinical Engineering Management
Software goes to the Reader’s Choice for the favorite on-site technology management application. This year that favorite was, once again, WOSYST from St. Croix Systems of St. Croix Falls, Wisc. Former BMET and company co-founder Kevin Lund picked up the prize.

Best Field Service Management Software remains a confusing category. The products are diverse, and the Reader’s Choice was GenesisOn-Line, a flexible Web-based application used by equipment management customers of Genesis Technology Partners. Accepting the award was Sandy Morford, president of Genesis.

Best Training Program went to another local favorite, the Diagnostic Imaging Technical Education Center (DITEC) of Solon, Ohio, for the Fundamentals of Servicing Diagnostic Imaging Systems course. Accepting the award were Manny and Ruth Roman.

USCS says it can
In a time of downsizing, U.S. Counseling Services Inc. is beefing up. The Brookfield, Wis. firm added four new service providers to its roster and established a vendor relations department to improve on-site communications between vendors and customers.

The vendor relations department comes under the USCS Equipment Technology Solutions group and aims to improve equipment maintenance as well as billing and reimbursement, minimizing disputes. According to James Guirsch, vice president of vendor relations at USCS, the newly formed department will develop contacts within each service vendor’s organization to improve communication between contractors and USCS’s healthcare facility clients.

CIC loses white knight to become white elephant
Cash flow problems pushed CICcorp. to the brink during March, yet sources inside the company privately told 24×7 they believed an unidentified buyer would rescue them. That didn’t happen, and on April 10 the beleaguered asset management firm filed for liquidation under Chapter 7 of the U.S. bankruptcy laws.

Originally founded by Glenn Collins and David Hickson as “Creative Insurance Concepts” in 1984, the company’s tumultuous history includes a bitter split in 1997 when Collins left to start NeoDyme Technologies Corp.; the signing and subsequent collapse of an agreement with 35 Tenet hospitals in 1998; and Hickson’s departure in June 1999 after Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Co., CB Health Ventures of New York, and Edwin G. Pickett became the owners of CIC. Pickett moved into the CEO chair at that time.

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