Patient Safety and Cloud Computing

There are loads of advantages to cloud-based sharing of medical data, but bottom-line, it’s about patient safety, says radiologist Murray Reicher, M.D.

Writing in the latest issue of Patient Safety & Quality Healthcare (“Riding the Cloud to Improve Patient Safety,” November/December 2010), Reicher says that sharing data via the cloud makes it possible to move information much faster than old methods. This can save patients from unnecessary procedures and radiation – and in emergency cases, potential injury from delayed treatment. (Full article at http://psqh.com/novemberdecember-2010/684-information-exchange.html.)

Dr. Reicher is the founder and chairman of DR Systems, which created eMix, one of the first of the new cloud-based medical information sharing services. He’s also a practicing radiologist.

In the article, Dr. Reicher describes a number of common scenarios that can harm patients because the conventional ways of sharing data – such as burning files to CDs and sending them by express mail – are too slow and clumsy. For instance, if doctors assigned to an emergency patient need to see a prior CT scan from another facility before starting treatment, the patient’s condition could worsen while they wait. In other circumstances, facilities might re-image a patient whose files can’t be obtained in time, which exposes the patient to extra radiation.

Cloud-based data-sharing such as eMix addresses all these situations because it moves data quickly on the Internet, which also overcomes the hurdle of incompatible, proprietary IT systems at different facilities. It is also secure, trackable, and affordable because it is priced on a low, per-use basis without any software or hardware purchase. It is versatile, too. Besides medical institutions, the files can be pushed to patients’ computers, doctors offices, and other remote locations.

“The limitation is no longer the technology itself but simply the speed of adoption,” Reicher writes. The rest of the business world is catching on – 20 million businesses and more than a billion people use cloud-based services, he says, citing a Microsoft claim. His gentle nudge to his own industry: Get with the program!

Full article — http://psqh.com/novemberdecember-2010/684-information-exchange.html.

TheraSphere Liver Cancer Treatment Is New Focus for D&D

Dowling & Dennis has just added a new client, MDS Nordion, a Canadian company based in Ottawa and maker of the TheraSphere treatment for liver cancer (www.therasphere.com).

TheraSphere is a valuable palliative therapy for patients who have primary liver cancer (originating in the liver) that is inoperable. TheraSphere is a recognized, scientifically documented, minimally invasive therapy performed by interventional radiologists. It’s typically done on an outpatient basis.

For many patients with this serious disease, Therasphere can extend life and improve their quality of life. More than 70 US centers offer the treatment, which is covered by Medicare and many insurance companies.

MDS Nordion products and services are used on a daily basis by pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, medical-device manufacturers, hospitals, clinics and research laboratories.

EARLY Act on Breast Cancer Gains ACS Support

The EARLY Act is making progress toward passage in the Congress. To learn more about the bill and register your support with your senators, visit http://earlyactawareness.org. Thanks to recent changes, the bill is now supported by the American Cancer Society.

Dowling & Dennis has been working with the nonprofit Tigerlily Foundation and NeoMatrix, makers of the HALO Breast Pap Test, to get this legislation passed. Among other activities we have:

* Assisted the Tigerlily Foundation with a major Capitol Hill event; and
* Worked with breast surgeon Ernie Bodai, MD, to place his op-ed piece in the Sacramento Bee.
* Done outreach to all the major breast cancer advocacy and clinical organizations;
* Helped create the EARLY Act Website;

This valuable legislation would provide federal funding for educating young women and healthcare professionals about breast cancer in women 45 and younger. That age group accounts for more than 5% of the total breast cancer cases in the US every single year. The bill provides for $45 million in funding over five years.

Along with Tigerlily, NeoMatrix is committed to educating young women about what they can do to avoid breast cancer, and how they can assess their individual risk of getting the disease – thereby taking steps to potentially protect themselves against ever getting breast cancer.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, herself a breast cancer survivor, is the original author of the bill. It’s being carried in the Senate by Amy Klobuchar. The EARLY Act has more than 360 cosponsors in the House and more than 30 in the Senate.

For the latest info, check http://earlyactawareness.org.

Joint Commission Will Require Catheter Valve Disinfection

The Joint Commission will require hospitals to have a standardized protocol to disinfect catheter luer access valves, starting January 2010. In the face of that new dictum, what’s a hospital to do?

A panel pondering that question – and featuring three national vascular access experts — drew more than 100 nurses at the recent annual meeting of the Association for Vascular Access. Panelists were:

• Lynn Hadaway, M.Ed., RNC, CRNI, infusion therapy expert
• Gregory Schears, MD, Mayo Clinic
• Kelly Fugate, ND, RN, Joint Commission

The panel’s focus: Preventing Intraluminal Contamination from CRBSI’s: Complying with New Guidelines from the Joint Commission & SHEA Compendium.” The event was sponsored by Excelsior Medical, makers of the SwabCap disinfection cap for luer access valves, and moderated by Greg Dennis, of Dowling & Dennis Public Relations.

Dr. Schears led off by outlining the seriousness of catheter-related bloodstream infections, which are all too common despite years of effort aimed at eradicating these potential killers. He said it was a “logical extension” of infection control efforts to cover and disinfect valves with a cap.

Lynn Hadaway outlined a variety of studies on the issue, while Kelly Fugate explained why the Joint Commission has new National Patient Safety Goals that include the disinfection protocol requirement,..

For more on SwabCap, go to http://www.Excelsiormedical.com. Excelsior Medical is a client of Dowling & Dennis Public Relations.