News

Boston Scientific enters bidding for Guidant

Boston Scientific offered to pay about $25 billion for rival device maker Guidant, topping an earlier bid by Johnson & Johnson by nearly $3 billion. Boston Scientific Chairman Pete Nicholas said his company is interested in its competitor's defibrillator and pacemaker lines. The deal would create a medical device superpower, uniting two dominant powers in the medical device industry. Nicholas acknowledged that Boston Scientific would probably have to sell off Guidant's stent business …

HIT: Personal health record conference

Claremont Graduate University, which hosted a conference on personal health records (PHR) this past weekend, announced that it has been awarded a $1 million grant from the Kay Foundation which will go to establish a center for the study of e-health. Dr. Thomas Horan, associate professor of the School of Information Systems and Technology, will head the center. At the conference, several leaders in the eHealth movement discussed the numerous false starts in the PHR movement. One …

Siemens, Mount Sinai launch smart card drive

Siemens and Mount Sinai Medical Center said they will collaborate on the Patient Health Smart Card initiative in the New York area. The project builds on a successful pilot at Elmhurst Hospital. In the initiative's first phase of 100,000 patient smart cards will be distributed to area hospitals. The cards, which are issued with a patient's photo on their front, can store medical information, including allergy history, current medications and laboratory results.

- read this press release from Siemens

SPOTLIGHT: Microsoft donates games for kid's hospital effort

The Get Well Gamers Network, a California-based charity, said Microsoft is donating hundreds of X-Box systems and games for its annual Christmas drive for children's hospitals. Get Well Gamers was founded by college student Ryan Sharpe, who got the idea for the project during a series of serious hospitalizations as a child. The game systems and supplies donated by Microsoft will be distributed on a first come first serve basis. Get 'em while they last! Release

ALSO NOTED: Fla. Medicaid experiment moves forward; Chutes & Ladders: eHealth Initiative names de Brantes president; and mu

> In Florida, Gov. Jeb Bush's plan to move Medicaid recipients to managed care is set to start in Broward County. Article

> State governments are joining the call for electronic health records, arguing that the lessons of Hurricane Katrina make such systems necessary investments. Article

> …

Editor's Corner


The stock market seems to be experiencing a pre-Christmas rally. Among healthcare IT stocks Cerner is taking part, showing that the market is anticipating the healthcare system will continue to increase its technology spending. In addition, health insurers like Empire Blues and United HealthGroup are starting to deliver CRM solutions that are, while not there yet, at least approaching …

Ex-BD doc sues over firing, claims serious ethical lapses

A doctor who worked as a communicable disease control expert for BD (until recently known as Becton Dickinson) has filed a lawsuit against the device maker alleging that he was fired after reporting serious safety and quality control problems at the company. Dr. Zeil Rosenberg, who at one time managed the global immunization group for BD, also charged that the company illegally copied a competitor's syringe and deliberately withheld new syringes from the market that could have extended …

NewYork-Presbyterian plans $425M expansion

Officials at NewYork-Presbyterian hospital said they are planning a new $254 million cardiovascular center at its NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Washington Heights campus. The provider also intends to complete a $169 million upgrade to the New York Weill Cornell Center on the Upper East Side. Coming at a time when many community hospitals in New York are struggling to remain profitable, critics say the expansion highlights the competitive advantage that major academic …

HIT: Information in Practice

A new piece published in the British Medical Journal takes a long, cold look at a failed EMR implementation at one of Kaiser Permanente's Hawaii hospitals. The qualitative study, which was partly conducted by Kaiser researchers, examines the attempt to install the Clinical Information System (CIS), an electronic medical record system co-developed by Kaiser and IBM in the 1990s. The failure of the Hawaii implementation came at a time when numerous Kaiser regions were going …

CDC warns deadly bacteria a threat for hospitals

A new report by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control warns that a drug-resistant bacteria may be an increasingly serious threat for hospitals in years to come. The study, which appears in this week's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, warns that Clostridium difficile, also known as C-diff, is mutating into an antibiotic-resistant form. Author Dr. L. Clifford McDonald warns that hospital must increase their surveillance and rethink their antibiotic use or face …

Chutes & Ladders: WellPoint's Schaeffer resigns, Glasscock assumes role

WellPoint chairman Leonard Schaeffer resigned this week. The position will be filled by president and CEO Larry Glasscock. Observers suspect that Mike Stocker (Empire Blues) will move to the board, a condition of WellPoint's planned $6.5 billion acquisition of New York-based WellChoice. In 2003, some estimates put Schaeffer's stake in the company after the Anthem-WellPoint merger at around $325 million.

- read this article from Indystar.com

SPOTLIGHT: Pfizer fires exec who led revolt over marketing practices

Pfizer said it has let go Peter Rost, the marketing executive who led an embarrassing revolt this year over the company's drug marketing and pricing policies. Pfizer made the decision to terminate Rost following a federal judge's decision to unseal a whistle-blower suit in which the executive alleged illegal tactics were used to promote sales of human growth hormone at Pharmacia, which Pfizer bought in 2003. Legal observers say the decision means Rost is likely to lose the case. Article

ALSO NOTED: Intl patient groups question EMR impact; Perot to provide Sentara management services; and much more...

> A new international poll by the UK-based group PatientView finds that many health groups suspect that EMRs could lead to privacy problems for consumers and have a negative impact on the doctor-patient relationship. Article

> Perot Systems said it has reached an agreement to provide application management services to Virginia-based Sentara Healthcare. …

VISICU files $65M IPO

Baltimore-based eICU specialist VISICU filed registration papers for an initial public offering late yesterday. According to the filing, the company hopes to sell up to $65 million in common stock. VISICU markets a system which allows remote monitoring of ICU units using Internet-based monitoring and video feeds. The concept, which is intended to complement rather than replace bed-side care, has been praised by some as an effective strategy for upgrading care quality. VISICU was founded …

Med Tech: Device makers turn to wireless technology

Remote monitoring of implantable devices like defibrillators is slowly becoming mainstream. An article in the Chicago Tribune examines devices from Biotronik and Guidant which use wireless technology to report in every night from the patient's home. One outcome in these days of recalls is that any possible defect in devices can be monitored immediately. Dr. Niraj Varma, director of the electrophysiology lab at Loyola University Health System in Maywood, IL, notes: "If you have …

Investigation of organ transplant programs intensifies

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) said he will expand his probe into organ transplant programs around the country. Grassley said failures such as the recent breakdowns at programs run by the University of California-Irvine and St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles indicate that more government oversight of the field may be needed. The UCI transplant program was stripped of its certification last month after news reports revealed that as many as 30 patients may …

NYC invests in bio-terror, public health tracking software

Logical Images says that the New York Department of Health has invested $200,000 in Visual Dx, its computerized database of photographs of smallpox and other diseases in various stages and on different skin types. Visual Dx is an image-based software system that allows doctors, nurses and other first responders to identify bioterrorism-related illnesses and other common or unusual afflictions. The system allows clinicians to enter a list of symptoms, medical history and exposure that …

Observing World AIDS day

Despite recent treatment advances that can extend the lives of sufferers, experts warn that more aggressive international action is required to prevent regional outbreaks of HIV-AIDS in Africa, Eurasia and the Far East from exploding. The World Health Organization says up to 40 million people are infected with HIV, the virus that leads to AIDS. International health officials say 20 million people have died since the condition was first detected.

- see this …

SPOTLIGHT: US to establish experimental vaccine stockpile


Despite a lack of evidence that it works, the government will stockpile 8 million courses of an experimental vaccine designed to offer protection against the avian flu. The vaccine is being co-developed by Chiron and Sanofi Pasteur and has yet to win approval from federal regulators. Article

ALSO NOTED: CMS: Medicare.gov technical problems fixed; CCHIT releases final certification criteria;and much more...

> Medicare officials said that a programming glitch in a Web-based tool that helps users chose among competing prescription drug plans has been fixed. Article

> CCHIT released the final draft of proposed certification criteria for ambulatory EHR systems. Web site

> A new study in the journal …