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Health Care IT Spending to Grow

Information technology(IT) spending isexpected to surgein the comingyears, concluded2 studies.

A significant portion of thehealth-IT spending growth will stem fromstate and local governments, particularlyas the majority of them revamp theirMedicaid management systems in thenext 5 years. Health-IT spending fromboth sectors will increase to $10.8 billionin 2012 from only $6.9 billion in 2007,according to a report by the researchfirm Input.

Within the next 5 years, 29 of 35states, plus Washington, DC, that outsourcethe operations of their Medicaidmanagement systems will have thosecontracts up for review. Meanwhile,many of the 15 states that operate theirown Medicaid management systemsalso will be looking for ways to enhancethose systems, including the possibilityof outsourcing those operations, accordingto report author Chris Dixon, managerof state and local industry analysis atInput.

Currently, the management of Medicaidsystems includes a combination ofcomputerized systems and manualprocesses. As states progress to moreadvanced systems, they will look to vendorsthat can implement technologies toimprove the administrative end ofMedicaid, said Dixon.

A second study, conducted byDatamonitor, suggested that widespreadadoption of electronic health record(EHR) systems in North America andEurope will increase EHR spending inthose areas from $4.4 billion in 2007 to$13 billion in 2012.

AERC Acquisition Allows forAdvance in Data Disposal Inc recently announced theexpansion of its secure data destructionand disposal operations. The expansionis a result of assets acquired fromDynTek, a technology services provider.

The acquisition is part of an aggressiveinvestment strategy that will allow Com-Cycle, AERC's wholly owned subsidiaryand its electronics recycling businessunit, to focus on the rising data securityand recycling concerns in industries suchas health care. Improper management ofmedical records and hazardous materialsholds serious legal and ethical implications,resulting in heavy fines andpenalties.

Peter J. Jegou, chief executive officerof AERC and Com-Cycle, said that theinvestment "provides a secure audit trailfor compliance with HIPAA [HealthInsurance Portability and AccountabilityAct of 1996] and similar regulations."

"In industries such as health care, confidentialityand privacy are at stake.Protecting the confidential records ofthese companies—and their patientsand customers—is of utmost importance.The new software program andend-of-market asset-management softwareoffer new options for research centers,medical centers, hospitals, diagnosticlaboratories, patient service centers,and health care clinics with concernsabout data security and waste hazardrisks," added Lindsay Landmesser, vicepresident of sales.

Study Tests Electronic Tools toMonitor Seniors? Meds

Researchersat the MeyersPrimary CareInstitute havestarted a projectto testhealth-informationtechnology tools as solutions tothe dangers posed when seniors are dischargedout of the hospital to primarycare or to home.

The study's funding stems from a 3-year, $1.2-million grant from the federalAgency for Healthcare Research andQuality. The University of MassachusettsMedical School, the Fallon Clinic, and theFallon Community Health Plan (FCHP) arecollaborating on the project.

The study's purpose is to determine ifsystems based on electronic healthrecords (EHRs) prevent adverse drugevents, emergency room visits, andrepeat hospitalizations. "We have cometo the conclusion that it is really all thedrugs that doctors and other healthproviders prescribe," said lead authorJerry H. Gurwitx, MD. "It is not just a certainfinite list of medications that lead toproblems. Mainly it is how drugs areused, how drugs are prescribed, howdrugs are monitored, and how patientstake them that can lead to problems."

The study will test the medication-reconciliationsystem on nearly 30,000members of FCHP's senior plan whoreceive their medical care from theFallon Clinic.

When members of the plan go to hospitalemergency rooms or become hospitalized,their primary care physicians insome instances will receive e-mail alertsabout changes in their medications andbe notified when high-risk medicationsrequire further monitoring. Patients whomake appointments also will receivealerts, and additional messages will besent if the appointments or laboratorytests are cancelled.

The data will be assessed anonymouslyin order to track how many patientsreturn to the emergency room or hospitaland see how many of their physiciansreceived special alerts.

ESC Helps Prevent DrugCounterfeiting

The FloridaAgency forHealth Care Administrationrecently implementedan electronic healthrecord (EHR) for Medicaidrecipients.

The test project will use medicalclaims data to create an EHR for eachMedicaid beneficiary from the Tallahassee?Leon County, Florida, area. Intime, the records will hold laboratoryand radiology results and other keymedical information.

The agency plans to go statewide withEHRs for Medicaid recipients following areview and analysis of the test. TheFlorida interChange system is scheduledto go live this year.

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