Henry Ford Health System to Serve as Test Site for Imaging Products
Trestle Holdings has announced an agreement with Michigan-based Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) in which Trestle will work with HFHS to implement and integrate pathology digital imaging solutions. Under this agreement, the HFHS pathology laboratory will function as a test site for Trestle’s future products while the two organizations will fund a fellowship in the HFHS pathology department.

“Because pathology imaging is so time consuming, one has to create images and add them to documentation. This process is often not done,” says J. Mark Tuthill, MD, division head of pathology informatics at HFHS. “We see digital imaging as a core technology for the future of pathology practice, largely because it will make the process of adding images to medical reports more efficient. We are confident Trestle Corp will help HFHS develop these capabilities.”

Another key component of this agreement is Trestle’s creation of a centralized repository for HFHS digital images. Because HFHS covers dozens of centers throughout southeastern Michigan, and uses many disparate databases and software systems, a need exists for an integrated database in which digital image files are standardized and easily accessible. In the future, Trestle will work with HFHS to develop these capabilities.

“We believe digital imaging automation will have a huge and positive effect on doctors, pathologists, and patients,” says Richard Zarbo, MD, senior vice president and chairman of pathology and laboratory medicine at HFHS.

“Pathologists at different locations who now communicate by sending glass slides in the mail, can view images online and discuss them in real time with other pathologists. Imaging automation even can help doctors better educate patients by making crucial diagnostic images instantly available to doctors,” he says.

Trestle and HFHS also have agreed to serve as cosponsors of an informatics fellowship position within the Henry Ford Hospital in which the fellow will define specifications for the user interface of Trestle products, such as new image acquisition technologies for tissue imaging and future applications designed to enhance pathology workflow in clinical settings. The fellow also will conduct studies on the efficiency of Trestle’s solutions and help the company gather customer feedback for its products.

Contact: Trestle Holdings Inc, (800) 823-3203; www.trestlecorp.com

JulySoft and AcerMed Develop Lab System Integration
The time spent by clinicians and physicians relaying patient test results through direct mailings and phone calls now can be drastically reduced. JulySoft and AcerMed have joined to create a technology that provides advanced software solutions for medical practices. The software solution includes patient records that track orders for tests and laboratory results.

The technology is a complete bidirectional integration between JulySoft’s LabRetriever and AcerMed’s electronic medical records (EMR) Suite. Using the technology, AcerMed users will be able to provide patients with lab test results 24 hours a day and receive automatic verification reports.

The full integration of these complementary lab applications offers a paperless solution for securely communicating test results to patients in addition to attaching a retrieval record within the individual EMR.

“Because the entire process is automated, the LabRetriever technology alleviates the time clinicians and physicians spend on the phone relaying test results and other repetitive information regarding a patient’s medical history,” says Ellen Armstrong, director of business development for JulySoft.

The current operation of relaying medical information, such as lab results, is to transfer the results directly from the lab to the doctor’s office where they are provided to the patient by telephone or through mail notification. With LabRetriever, recorded lab results messages are assigned automatically and made available for patients to access by telephone 24/7.

LabRetriever provides several levels of security to help support HIPAA compliance. Patients and health care providers must enter identification codes when calling in to access the system. On-screen security allows administrators to limit or completely restrict access to the system.

“Though we’ve been successfully integrating our patient reminder system, ReminderPro, with AcerMed for many years, this is our first bidirectional integration for LabRetriever,” says Lew Lepley, JulySoft president and CEO. “This integration demonstrates the value we can provide to software companies such as AcerMed by ensuring compatibility between their software and powerful patient communication systems such as LabRetriever and ReminderPro.”

Contact: JulySoft (800) 350-7693; www.julysoft.com

Forensic Laboratories Retain Power Throughout 2004 Hurricane Season
In the midst of a tumultuous hurricane season, US government, state police, and regional forensic DNA laboratories and facilities from Florida to Louisiana need power protection. Franek Technologies Inc, a supplier of category III-3 laboratory battery backup power protection systems, was able to install its systems, providing protection for mission-critical instrumentation and avoiding a catastrophic power fluctuation and failure.

According to the company, crime laboratories across Florida, the Gulf Coast, and the nation are diligently working to solve “suspect-less” crimes; many states are experiencing a significant backlog of unsolved cases and have secured federal funding to investigate this caseload. Due to the backlog, and the delicate nature of the DNA samples, it is imperative that laboratories remain viable 24/7 without the possibility of corrupted results and instrumentation damage caused by interrupted power delivery.

Due to the complexity and sensitivity of the instrumentation and automated equipment, forensic laboratories are extremely vulnerable to any power shortage, even as short as 30 milliseconds. In response to the critical elements within each of these laboratories, Franek developed customized, instrumentation-specific, power-protection solutions to protect samples and ensure reliable results.

“This level of laboratory power protection is especially critical in forensics testing and DNA analysis where sample availability is limited, making it nearly impossible to return test,” says Ray Hecker, vice president for Franek Technologies. “Our laboratory protection systems provide the forensic laboratories with a ‘power protection bridge’ during these storm-induced outages, allowing generator-supported laboratories to perform without being aware of any abnormal conditions.”

Contact: Franek Technologies Inc, (800) 326-6480; www.franek-tech.com

Global Med and Stanford University Medical Center Sign Contract for Transfusion Management System
Wyndgate Technologies‚ a division of Global Med Technologies‚ has entered an agreement for its SafeTrace Tx advanced transfusion management system with Stanford University Medical Center. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed, however the company has announced that Stanford is now the largest SafeTrace Tx client on the West Coast.

“Our clinical staff selected Wyndgate’s SafeTrace Tx transfusion management system for its safety features, as well as its integration capabilities, which will facilitate the automation of many of the paper processes currently in use in our transfusion service,” says Susie Lu, vice president of pathology and laboratory medicine at Stanford Hospital and Clinics. “As Stanford Medical School Blood Center currently uses Wyndgate’s SafeTrace Donor Management System, the Stanford Transfusion Service Laboratory will benefit from the enhanced efficiencies that come with having linked software systems.”

Stanford University Medical Center is known worldwide for the advanced patient care provided by its staff and for the treatment of rare, complex disorders, including those in the area of cardiac care, cancer treatment, neurology, neurosurgery, and organ transplants.

Contact: Wyndgate Technologies (800) 996-34283; www.globalmedtech.com

AAMA Survey Finds it Really Does Pay to be Certified
The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) has released the results of it first national salary survey since 1998. The 2004 results, which include information from 4,057 medical assistants, indicates that certified medical assistants (CMAs) have received a 31% salary increase over the past 6 years, with a 5% increase each year.

According to the survey, CMAs earn an average salary of $27,951 compared with non-CMAs, who earn an average of $26,775. The AAMA attributes this positive trend to the number of physicians and other key decision-makers valuing the importance of CMAs. These employers have come to rely on their CMAs, who must maintain current CMA status by continuing education in general, administrative, and clinical topics. Current provider-level CPR certification also is required to recertify.

“Our latest salary survey has confirmed what we have already known for years—it truly pays to be certified,” says Theresa Rieger, CMA, CPC, and AAMA president. “As more doctors’ offices and clinics open to serve the growing number of elderly Americans, the health care industry and patients will rely on CMAs—individuals who receive special certification to do their jobs at the highest level.”

In addition to total salary differences between CMAs and non-CMAs, the AAMA survey also revealed the following:

• CMAs working in a solo practice earned the most of those surveyed—$28,149.

• 62% of surveyed medical assistants work in a partnership or group practice setting and earn an average of $27,907.

• 63% of CMAs work in a primary care practice, earning an average of $26,810 annually.

• 42% of respondents surveyed work in metropolitan areas; 30% in suburban settings; and 23% in rural areas.

Contact: AAMA (800) 228-2262; www.aama-ntl.org

FDI’s Parent Company to Integrate With SRL
Fujirebio Inc, the parent company of Fujirebio Diagnostics Inc (FDI), recently announced its integration with SRL, Japan’s leading clinical testing company. The combination will create the largest single provider of clinical diagnostics products and clinical testing services in Japan.

“We are very excited by the opportunities this integration will bring for FDI,” says Paul Touhey, FDI president and COO. “It creates a support structure that provides greater access to key markets for our cancer diagnostics products. In addition, it delivers synergies between the diagnostics and testing components of the business, enabling the organization to more effectively serve patients.”

FDI’s products are used in approximately 80% of all tumor marker assays. The company has developed many of the tests that have set the standard for cancer diagnostics today, including CA 125II™ (tumor marker for ovarian cancer), CA 15-3® (tumor marker for breast cancer) and CA 19-9™ (tumor marker for pancreatic cancer). FDI also is in the process of developing the first-ever blood test for the asbestos cancer mesothelioma, which it expects to launch in the second quarter of 2005. The assay, Mesomark, is FDI’s first new product since the company was acquired from Centocor in 1998.

Contact: Fujirebio Diagnostics Inc, (610) 240-3800; www.fdi.com.

 CDC Makes $2.3 Million Purchase of Rapid HIV Test
OraSure Technologies Inc, a producer of oral fluid diagnostics, recently sold $2.3 million worth of its OraQuick® ADVANCE™ Rapid HIV-1/2 antibody tests to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC intends to distribute the tests to state health departments, clinics, and other entities in the public health sector in the United States.

“We’re extremely grateful for the CDC’s continuing support of rapid HIV testing and are very pleased to announce this procurement of our new OraQuick ADVANCE test,” says Douglas Michels, president and CEO of OraSure Technologies. “OraSure is committed to working with the CDC and other government and state agencies to implement rapid HIV testing on a large scale across the country.”

“With [the CDC’s] bulk purchase of OraSure’s rapid HIV test, I’m optimistic that expanded distribution of the test will result in increased identification of infected individuals. This is a critical step in addressing the significant public health problems that the spread of HIV/AIDS poses for our country,” says Sen Rick Santorum (R-Pa), Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference. “OraSure’s rapid HIV test plays an important role in complementing our public health strategies for research, prevention initiatives, and efforts to expand access to quality health care and services for those who need them.”

The OraQuick ADVANCE Rapid HIV-1/2 antibody test is the first and only FDA-approved and CLIA-waived rapid, point-of-care test that can detect antibodies of both HIV-1 and HIV-2 in 20 minutes, using oral fluid, finger stick, or venipuncture whole blood and plasma specimens.

Contact: OraSure Technologies, (610) 882-1820; www.orasure.com

Pall Offers Bacterial Detection System for Safer Blood Transfusions in Japan
Bacterial contamination of platelets is the number one cause of morbidity and mortality from blood transfusions in Japan. Bacteria contaminate anywhere from 1 in 2,000 to 1 in 5,000 platelets collected worldwide. The number of platelet collections in Japan is about 780,000 annually.

Pall Corp recently announced that it has finalized an agreement with Kawasumi Laboratories Inc to become the exclusive provider of the Pall eBDS (enhanced Bacterial Detection System) in Japan. This agreement is the latest in a 10-year relationship between the two companies. Kawasumi, a provider of medical devices and pharmaceuticals for blood banking, uses only Pall leukocyte (white blood cell) reduction filters in its blood collection and transfusion systems and is Pall’s exclusive route to market for these filters in such systems in Japan.

The eBDS can detect bacteria in all platelets, whether derived from single donor (apheresis) or random donor (whole blood) collection procedures. It allows blood banks to accurately detect the lowest levels of bacterial contamination so that viable and valuable platelets are not discarded or wasted. It does this with minimal platelet loss. The eBDS is automated, requires little training to operate, and is easy to incorporate into standard blood center practice. A rapid read system provides pass/fail results in approximately 30 seconds, thus improving availability of blood for transfusion by allowing faster access to platelets found to be bacteria-free prior to becoming outdated. In Japan, platelets have a shelf life of only 3 days.

Under the new agreement, Pall also is receiving milestone payments for providing Kawasumi scientific and technical support to help bring the technology to market in Japan. Kawasumi will submit the product to the Japanese regulatory authority, whose approval process often mirrors that of the US FDA.

The FDA cleared the Pall eBDS for marketing in January 2004. The eBDS also is approved by Health Canada, the Canadian regulatory authority, and is CE marked for use throughout Europe. More than 30 US blood centers, one of Canada’s largest hospitals, and four blood centers throughout Europe and the Middle East have already incorporated the Pall eBDS as part of their routine standard of practice. As of March 1, 2004, a new standard set by the American Association of Blood Banks requires US blood centers to test all platelet components for the presence of bacteria prior to transfusion. The eBDS was designed to provide the most comprehensive, reliable and sensitive detection system to help blood centers meet the new standard while assuring conformance to good manufacturing practices.

“We have kept Kawasumi closely informed of our progress throughout the development of the eBDS since Japan is a nation that is highly focused on blood product safety and quality,” says Roberto Perez, president of Pall Life Sciences. “We are confident that this will be a mutually beneficial relationship for both companies as well as for all blood transfusion patients in Japan.”

The eBDS is part of the Pall Medical Bacteria Risk Management Program, which includes products to address contamination at every stage of blood collection and processing. Other steps in this program include the company’s sample diversion pouch, which diverts the usually contaminated initial volume of donor blood during collection and filtration technologies for leukocyte reduction of both red blood cells and platelets.

Contact: Pall Corp (800) 645-6578; www.pall.com

Bayer Diagnostics to Launch Critical Care Leadership Academy
Bayer HealthCare Diagnostics Division recently announced the establishment of its Critical Care Leadership Academy, a new professional knowledge initiative that will advance the current and future practice of blood-gas testing. With the new academy, the company plans to create a broader understanding of the vital role that critical care testing plays in the delivery of high-quality health care.

“The Critical Care Leadership Academy will seek to elevate discussions of blood-gas testing to a new level,” says William Malley, MS, RRT, CPFT, director of respiratory and pulmonary services at the Western Pennsylvania Hospital, and one of the founding members of the Academy. “The specifics of branded products will take a back seat to higher value imperatives, such as enhancing patient care, ensuring regulatory compliance, and maximizing synergy between laboratory staff, health professionals, and information systems,” he says.

Helen Sorenson, assistant professor in the Department of Respiratory Care at the University of Texas Health Science Center adds, “The Academy will stimulate discourse about the future of blood-gas testing and how hospitals should think about adapting this technology to meet the evolving needs of their institutions and individual departments.”

Bayer’s Critical Care Leadership Academy will deploy a combination of broad-based education, grassroots training, and peer opinion forums to achieve its goals. The initiatives will be focused on such topics as expanding knowledge, sharing best practices, shaping the future, and training tomorrow’s leaders.

“We look forward to finalizing the shape of educational initiatives and inviting broad, industry-wide participation in the activities of the Academy,” Sorenson says.

Contact: Bayer HealthCare Diagnostics Division; (914) 524-2712; www.bayerdiag.com

Universal Health Services and Opus Healthcare Receive CHIME Collaboration Award
The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) awarded Opus Healthcare Solutions and its client, Universal Health Services Inc (UHS), the CHIME Collaboration Award at the organization’s annual Fall CIO Forum. The award recognizes the best collaborative effort as evidenced in a document coauthored by a CHIME foundation firm and a CHIME member.

This year, more than 400 CHIME members attended the annual session where presenters shared their collaborative efforts and ideas for possible application in health care environments.

The document authored by UHS and Opus, Healthcare, One Vision, One Partnership: Delivering Excellence, outlined how working together, Opus and UHS have transformed the health system’s clinical processes from a disparate group of clinical software products and homegrown paper-based systems into a set of streamlined, standardized, Web-based tools.

“Our collaboration partnership with UHS has been very successful and, I believe, uncommon in the industry,” says Tim Rhoads, CEO of Opus Healthcare Solutions. “It’s satisfying to be recognized by CHIME, and we look forward to continuing our collaborative initiatives to improve patient care.”

Contact: Opus Healthcare (800) 676-3371; www.opushealthcare.com

Anthrax-killer Passes EPA Tests
Robert Bowker, an inventor who works out of his home laboratory in Dover Plains, NY, got some good news last month regarding a product he developed that is intended to kill anthrax spores.

According to e-FoodSafety.com, a company that measures the safety of fruits and vegetables being marketed worldwide, Bowker’s anthrax sporicide had passed testing requirements established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Bowker’s company, KnockOut Technologies Ltd, is a subsidiary of e-FoodSaftey.com.

Bowker’s sporicide is being hailed as revolutionary because it consists of natural ingredients, such as plant oils—replacing the standard method of using chlorine dioxide. The most recent sample batch of Bowker’s sporicide that was sent to a laboratory showed no signs of growth from the organism, bacillus subtilis, which is used as a substitute for testing the effectiveness of a sporicide against the highly hazardous anthrax.

“This is extremely important news for me,” says Bowker. “A product that is food-grade and nontoxic, noncorrosive, or noncarcinogenic, such as the sporicide, has not yet been developed by any other company.”

Testing for Bowker’s sporicide was done at Celsis Laboratory Group in St Louis.

According to Mark Taggatz, e-FoodSafety’s president and CEO, the marketable results of the sporicide product has enabled the company to begin the process of developing a marketing network to resell the product over the coming months. According to the company, throughout the next year, an approach will be made to the EPA for a license, and arrangements will be made for manufacturing.

Contact: e-FoodSafety.com; (760) 329-4304; www.e-foodsafety.com