New AAMI resources; SCCT receives sponsorship; Merck considers diversifying into medical devices and diagnostics; and more.

New AAMI Resources
The Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI of Arlington, Va) has released three new materials for health care management and industrial sterilization.

 The Fundamental Collection—This CD features 20 in-depth articles on device technology, management and maintenance of devices, trouble-shooting, risk-management and regulation issues, and training and service requirements.

 Outsourcing or Insourcing—Securing a Successful Clinical Engineering Program—This CD-based publication is designed to help organizations define current service and future needs, and offers a comprehensive list of issues to consider and discuss with potential service providers and managers.

 Industrial Sterilization Book—The 2005 edition of the best-selling collection of guidance documents for the industrial sterilization process has been released. The nearly 1,000-page book features 30 current AAMI standards, recommended practices, and technical information reports.

SCCT Receives Sponsorship
Toshiba America Medical Systems (Tustin, Calif) has announced its platinum sponsorship of the Society of Cardiovascular Computed Tomography (SCCT). As a founding sponsor, Toshiba will contribute $100,000 to the organization.

 The sponsorship will fund, in part, education regarding CT use in cardiology

“We are thrilled with Toshiba’s commitment to the SCCT and look forward to a long and successful partnership,” said Daniel Berman, MD, chair of SCCT’s corporate relations committee. “Together, we will foster cardiovascular CT education, technology application, clinical research and support, and cultivate close relationships with other societies in the fields of cardiology, radiology, and vascular disease.”

The society, formed in March 2005, now boasts approximately 1,000 members and is composed of physicians, scientists, and persons who have a general interest in the goals of the SCCT, including biomedical engineers, nurses, physician assistants, computer specialists, and industry representatives. The SCCT offers a number of continuing medical education programs and training courses. Toshiba’s donation will be used to fund activities related to the first annual meeting of the SCCT, as well as other educational activities surrounding the use of CT in cardiology.

JCAHO Forms Health Care IT Advisory Panel
The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO of Oakbrook Terrace, Ill) has established a Healthcare Information Technology Advisory Panel to focus attention on the improvement of patient safety and clinical processes with the growing use and implementation of health care systems.

 The panel includes representatives from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (Washington, DC), American Health Information Management Association (Chicago), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (Rockville, Md), Veterans Health Administration (Washington, DC), and Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (Chicago). Furthermore, the panel is composed of researchers, physicians, nurses, chief information officers, educators, and leaders of health care organizations.

 “Consistent with its mission, the Joint Commission plans to leverage its presence in hospitals and other health care facilities to encourage the deployment of comprehensive information-technology solutions that will improve patient care,” said Evelyn Lockett Woods, executive VP for support operations and chief information officer of JCAHO.

Members will be asked to recommend ways the Joint Commission’s accreditation process and the widespread use of technology can be used to help re-engineer the delivery of patient care that will result in major improvements in safety, quality, and efficiency. In addition to safety and quality issues, panel members will exchange lessons learned and examine topics such as the impact of electronic health records on performance benchmarking and public-reporting capabilities.

Noise-Reduction Improves Intracardiac Electrogram Recordings
Signalife (formerly Recom Managed Systems of Greenvile, SC) has developed a new device to aid intracardiac electrogram recordings by decreasing noise pollution. The successful initial test of the device took place at the Electrophysiology Laboratories at Cleveland Clinic Heart Center.

“We are very excited to see different clinical applications being developed from our patented signal-amplification technology,” said Budmir S Drakulic, MD, inventor of the device and Signalife’s chief technology officer.

 The noise-reduction device, which is already being used in an electrocardiogram monitor that has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, is one of several new applications being developed by the company’s technology department.

Merck Considers Diversifying Into Medical Devices and Diagnostics
Merck & Co (Whitehouse Station, NJ) could be the next big thing in medical devices, if new CEO Richard Clark’s interest leads to fruition, reports Reuters. Looking at ways to revive the company’s fortunes, Clark told a group of analysts he may consider expanding into medical devices and diagnostics. No details were provided, but this could mean acquisitions or partnerships with implantable-device or diagnostic businesses that align with disease areas, according to Chris Shibutani, JP Morgan analyst, who was present at the meeting.

 Merck’s new CEO Richard Clark

According to Reuters, Merck is currently dealing with declining earnings in addition to more than 5,000 lawsuits from former VIOXX® users and their families, who allege that the painkiller caused heart attacks and strokes.

Analysts note the move would be good for the company, as medical devices have been doing well financially for the past couple of years, and devices have the potential to deliver drugs more efficiently.