Sunday, March 17, 2013

To Our Readers: New Web Site

We have a new website at The new site was designed to make it easier to find information that interests you and to share it on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

The present news coverage will continue with an emphasis on federal and state information including DOD and the Veterans Administration, news from Capitol Hill, university research activities, announcements from foundations, non-profits, plus information on selected RFPs and grants.

I will continue to attend and report on selected briefings, meetings, and conferences but there will also be more emphasis on news from industry as it relates to telemedicine, telehealth, and health technology. Richard Bloch an established technology writer located in Northern California will be the blog’s new HIT industry correspondent. His email is  

You can go directly to the site at to see the most recent postings. For example, recent postings include news on NIH, Veterans Administration, bills in Utah and New York, and much more…

You can also click the RSS feed where the posts will immediately appear and if you subscribe to the RSS feed, then the information will come directly to your cell phone. If you already subscribe to Federal Telemedicine News through Constant Contact, you will receive a short capsule of information on the new postings as they become available.

Postings will appear at least twice a week or more if there is a need. To keep up with the latest news go to . If you have any questions or would like to send information or ideas, email

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

VA Committed to Innovation

The Department of Veterans Affairs launched the VA Center for Innovation (VACI) to build onto the VA Innovation Initiative (VAi2). VACI ( announced thirteen new awards from its industry innovation competition that focus on teleaudiology, prosthetic socket redesign, Blue Button, and the sterilization automating process for reusable medical instruments.

An awardee the University of Michigan (U-M) Kidney Epidemiology and Cost Center will use the $3.7 million to create a National Kidney Disease Registry to monitor kidney disease among veterans. The Registry is expected to help the VA to care for the more than 10,000 veterans on dialysis with an additional 3,200 veterans estimated to reach kidney failure each year. 

The University of Michigan nephrologist Rajiv Saran, MD, Associate Director of the U-M Kidney Center is the Principal Investigator. She will collaborate with biostatisticians, along with organ transplant and health policy specialists on the project.

Other awards were given to:

  • RemotEAR by Otovation of King of Prussia, PA—to improve audiology services by providing a solution for assessing all audiology services through rehabilitation
  • Technical Feasibility of Smartphone Based Teleaudiology by Phonak of Warrenville, Il—to enable remote programming of hearing aids through a smartphone
  • Remote Audiometry in VA CBOCs, by Audiology, Inc., of Arden Hills MN—to develop an automated audiometer to support personnel in VA facilities
  • Cochlear Implant Programming by Cochlear Americas of Centennial CO—to develop remote programming for cochlear implants
  • Quasi-Passive Prosthetic Socket Technology by MIT—to improve socket fit by using a permanent socket that allows for adjustments to stiffness and reduces the socket movement by using continuous electronic sensors and laminate technology
  • Pro-Active Dynamic Accommodating Prosthetic Socket by Infoscitex of Waltham MA—to create a prosthetic socket with sensors to conform to volume changes as well as changes caused by the gait cycle
  • Socket Optimized for Comfort with Advanced Technology by Florida State University of Tallahassee, FL—to develop a prosthetic socket to better manage changes in volume and pressure and provide active cooling and temperature control
  • Synergetic Improvements for Transfermoral Prosthetic Sockets, by the Ohio Willow Wood Company of Mt. Sterling OH—to create an improved transfermoral suspension and socket system made from polymer materials
  • VA Mobile Blue Button by Agilex Technologies of Chantilly, VA—to allow patients to view and share their VA health data using their mobile devices
  • Blue Button Authentication Field Test Proposal, by Northrop Grumman—to enable veterans to authenticate online to access their medical records
  • Blue Button Extensions Medical Imaging by Ray Group International of Washington D.C.—to enable veterans to view and download their own medical images and  transmit the images to their non-VA physicians
  • Automated Integrated Perioperative Process by GE Global Research of Niskayuna, N.Y—to help the VA develop a fully automated process for sterilizing reusable medical instruments

DOD Plans for Mobile Devices

The Department of Defense released their “Commercial Mobile Device Implementation Plan” that focuses on improving areas critical in using mobile devices, wireless infrastructure, and mobile applications. The Plan emphasizes the need for reliable, secure, and flexible devices to keep up with fast changing technology.

The Plan establishes a framework to equip the department’s 600,000 mobile users with solutions that leverage commercial off-the-shelf products, promotes the development and use of mobile applications to improve functionality, decreases costs, and enables increased personal productivity.

The Plan will provide for a series of operational pilots from across DOD components that will incorporate lessons learned, ensure interoperability, refine technical requirements, influence commercial standards, and create operational efficiencies for DOD mobile users.

To specifically meet DOD’s need to deal with classified information, the agency is rolling out a program to enable users of a range of mobile devices working anywhere from remote battlefields to the Pentagon, to rapidly share classified and protected data across all components. Several thousand of mobile devices in use in DOD are capable of handling classified data.

According to Teri Takai, Chief Information Officer, “The challenge for the Defense Department is to design a unified system capable of fully leveraging the potential of devices that often differ in capabilities and sophistication in a way that will allow users to communicate in a secure, wireless environment.”

“The commercial mobile device market is moving so quickly, that we can’t wait to develop the full capability of these devices. If we don’t get something in place, we will end up with multiple solutions just because the demand to use these devices is so strong”, she added.

Officials are planning for a phased implementation involving vendor competition for developing a system to meet the needs that Takai suggests. Takai also thinks that DOD’s three million plus employees could prove to be a model for large companies that also need to protect the transmission of both open and confidential data.

HIE Operates Efficently

The State of Indiana provides healthcare for a population that has significantly higher rates than the national median for a variety of chronic diseases. Nearly 9.6 percent of the 455,000 residents in Indiana have diabetes which is more than the national average of 8.2 percent. Also, it is a fact that many people in the state aren’t getting the health screenings that they need for certain cancers.

The Central Indiana Beacon Community led by HHS enacted as a result of the HITECH Act, is trying to address these issues through better collection and use of data and by making improvements to the health system.

To rectify the need for better healthcare, the Indiana Health Information Exchange (IHIE) now supports a network of more than 25,000 physicians and 90 hospitals throughout the state. The collaboration between the Decatur County Memorial Hospital (DCMH) based in Greenburg Indiana and the Indiana Health Information Exchange (IHIE) is supported in part by the Central Indian Beacon Community.

To provide the information flow, the “DOCS4DOCS” Service is an electronic results delivery service provided by IHIE. The system offers a single sourced for clinical information such as lab results, radiology reports, transcriptions, pathology and hospital admissions reports, discharge and transfer reports from all participating Indiana hospitals, physician practices, labs and radiology centers. Results can be viewed through a web-based portal or delivered directly into the EMR system at no cost to the provider.

In a recent move, DCMH connected to the Indiana Health Information Exchange (IHIE) through the Indiana Network for Patient Care (INPC) which encompasses hospitals, long term care facilities, and other healthcare providers throughout the state to enable physicians to securely access necessary information.

INPC includes information from encounters covering over 90 percent of care provided at hospitals in the Indianapolis area. The network handles over a million secure health transactions daily that contain:

  • 3 billion pieces of clinical data supporting care for an area with a population of about 6 million people
  • 80 million radiology images
  • 50 million text reports
  • 750,000 EKG readings
  •  Discharge summaries, operative notes, pathology reports, medication records, patient abstracts, and trend data

B2B Program Seeks Ideas

NIH is calling for proposals for their intramural “Bedside-to-Bench” (B2B) Award Program. The program funds research to translate clinical observations to the laboratory and then back to the patient. The program also promotes collaborations that can involve either intramural investigators from different laboratories or both intramural and extramural investigators. A B2B award provides up to $135,000 a year for two years.

Projects have represented research categories such as AIDS, rare diseases, behavioral and social sciences, minority health and health disparities, women’s health, diseases, drug development, pharmacogenomics, and other general research areas.

Through the end of the 2012 program cycle, about 700 principal and associate investigators have collaborated on 209 funded projects for approximately $48 million distributed in total bedside-to-bench funding resulting in partnerships at 74 institutions.

NIH funding is anticipated from the Office of Rare Diseases, National Center for Advancing Translations Research (NCATS), the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, Office of AIDS Research, Office of Research on Women’s Health, the Office of Intramural Research, and the Center for Regenerative Medicine.

Categories for awards to be funded include:

  • AIDS—four awards related to AIDS
  • Behavioral and Social Sciences—up to two projects with particular interest in interdisciplinary research, systems thinking, and modeling approaches that integrate multiple levels of analysis
  • Rare Diseases—NCATS will co-fund two projects related to a rare disease
  • Regenerative Medicine—one project to accelerate the clinical translation of stem cell-based technologies and to develop widely available resources to use as standards in stem cell research
  • Women’s Health—one project will be funded to focus on improving the health of women through biomedical and behavioral research related to the roles of sex and gender in health and disease 
The B2B teams involve basic and clinical researchers often come from different NIH Institutes and Centers. However, in 2006, the B2B program started uniting the efforts of intramural and extramural NIH researchers. As a result, both intramural and extramural NIH investigators are able to apply for research projects.

Extramural principal investigators with an existing NIH grant may initiate proposals by seeking an intramural partner at NIH who would function as the project leader and serve as the point of contact. To identify a collaborator, interested parties can research the NIH database of current intramural research, the PI directory, or contact the B2B program office for assistance in identifying intramural partners.

A Letter of Intent is due April 3, 2013 with full proposals to be submitted by May 2013. For more information, email or go to

GLNT Secures NIH Funding

Great Lakes Neuro Technologies (GLNT) funded by NIH for $1,743,051 with a Phase II SBIR grant, is launching commercialization and clinical studies to validate a system to continuously monitor dyskinesias associated with Parkinson’s disease (PD).

The technology will be developed and commercialized at GLNT with clinical validation studies to be completed at the University of Rochester, Johns Hopkins University, and Albany Medical College.

Patients with PD often have side effects using common therapies to treat motor symptoms known as dyskinesias which are involuntary and irregular rapid movements. Severe dyskinesias can cause patient exhaustion, fatigue, social isolation, and depression, as well as increase healthcare costs.

Specifically, the NIH-funded program will develop a patient worn system of motion sensors that can continuously assess the presence and severity of dyskinesias as a patient goes about their daily activities. The technology integrates wireless patient sensing with a home-based tablet that transfers patient reports over a broadband link to a cloud server. The technology will help clinicians to optimize existing treatments or help pharmaceutical companies during clinical trials to evaluate new treatments.

The two year program will focus on two specific development stages. Year 1 will focus on technology development to include sensor development, patient ergonomics, and technology integration. Year 2 will then utilize the technology in a multi-site clinical trial to validate and compare with traditional dyskinesia measurement tools and to demonstrate improved patient care when integrating continuous dyskinesia monitoring in patient homes.

As new therapies emerge to better control or delay the onset of dyskinesias, it is important that innovative monitoring and assessment technologies are able to gage treatment efficacy,” said Thomas Mera, Product Development Manager at GLNT and Principal Investigator on the program.

He continued to explain, “Traditional strategies for assessing dyskinesia include subjective clinical rating scales and using patient diaries. While clinical rating scales have proved useful, clinicians cannot be continuously present, or at the patient’s home.”

For more information, go to

DOJ Seeks Funding Applications

The Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs within the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) is funding the Harold Rogers Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) to help prevent and detect the abuse of pharmaceutical controlled substances in this country.

Forty three states now have operational PDMPs and six states and Guam have enacted legislation to establish a PDMP but these PDMPs are not yet fully operational. Since the grant program started with the FY 2002 appropriations, grants have been awarded to 49 states and 1 U.S. territory to support efforts to plan, implement, or enhance a PDMP.

The Harold Rogers PDMP enables states to use their discretion to plan, implement, or enhance a PDMP. In FY 2013, the program is expanding further to provide funding to states and localities to pilot innovative ways to use PDMPs and to come up with other ideas on prevention, treatment, and enforcement.

State governments and country governments located in states with existing and operational prescription drug monitoring programs plus recognized tribal governments can also apply for grant funding within three categories.

Category 1—(Implementation and Enhancement Grants) includes up to $400,000 to use to implement and/or enhance PDMP systems. Funds may be used to establish and build a data collection and analysis system, develop an infrastructure to support programs, facilitate the exchange of information, establish collaborations, develop education/training programs, facilitate electronic information sharing among states, and provide unsolicited reports of controlled substance prescribing to authorized individuals.

Category 2—(Tribal PDMP Data Sharing Grants ) includes up to $150,000 for tribal governments seeking to report and request data from individual states PDMPs for the purpose of equipping providers with prescription drug monitoring history. Funds may be used to help tribal governments develop and implement the necessary legal, policy, and technical infrastructure needed to support the reporting of patient-level controlled substance prescription dispensing data transmission from tribal and urban healthcare facilities.

Category 3—(Data-Driven Multi-Disciplinary Approaches to Reducing Rx Abuse Grants) includes up to $400,000 to pilot an innovative approach to combat and reduce prescription drug abuse. Funds may be used to form multi-disciplinary action groups consisting of county, state, and federal criminal justice professionals in addition to state and local health authorities as well as treatment providers.

The action groups will collect data from various sources such as medical examiners, emergency rooms, crime data and other sources to examine PDMP data as well as provide additional information to help pinpoint specific locations within the county that are at-risk for prescription drug abuse and drug overdose deaths.

Grant activities should focus on data sharing arrangements, data collection, and analysis. Grantees will determine best practices for sharing data, intelligence gathering, targeted regulatory and enforcement activities, and prioritizing of treatment and prevention efforts for at-risk individuals and communities.

Go to or for more information.

AMC's Money-Back Guarantee

AMC Health a provider of telehealth solutions is providing a money back guarantee to reduce hospital readmissions for high-risk patients. This offer will enable hospitals, health plans, ACOs, home health agencies, and other customers to use a multi-faceted program to reduce hospital readmissions for high risk patients.

The AMC Health guarantee offers a full refund if readmissions don’t decline by at least 10 percent within 90 days of deployment providing a proven Interactive Voice Response (IVR) program along with case management initially deployed by the Geisinger Health Plan (GHP) and AMC Health.

The program’s success has enabled GHP to decrease all-cause 30 day risk of readmissions among Medicare beneficiaries by 44 percent with actual readmissions reduced by 19.5 percent over a two year period when compared to a control group that received case management alone.

The program works by having discharged patients receive IVR telephone calls. Based on the patient’s response, AMC Health’s telecare managers identify gaps in care and screen for conditions that put individuals at risk of re-hospitalization. A case manager will then contact clients when problems arise that require the involvement of a clinician.

On October 1, 2012, CMS instituted penalties equaling up to one percent of Medicare receipts for more than 2,000 hospitals that readmitted too many patients with pneumonia, heart attacks, and heart failure. CMS will up the pressure on hospitals by expanding the number of covered conditions from three to eight on Oct 1, 2012, and increase the maximum penalty to two percent on October 1, 2012 and up to three percent on October 1, 2015.

“Based on our successful track record and the knowledge and experience we have gained during the past decade, we are confident we can deliver the care coordination solutions and support services needed to provide consistent and significant reductions in 30 day readmissions that will more than offset the cost of our program”, explains Nesim Bildirici, CEO and President of AMC Health.

He continued, “This guarantee is an example of how we “walk the walk” not just “talk the talk” to help ease our customers’ transition to value-based purchasing by improving patient care throughout the care continuum and strengthening their financial outlook.”

For more information, go to

Register for the 8th WLSA Summit

The Wireless Life Sciences Alliance (WLSA) is gearing up to present a stellar lineup of speakers and rich networking opportunities at its 8th Annual “Wireless Health Convergence Summit” to take place May 28-30 at the Omni Hotel in San Diego.

The theme of this year’s conference “Moving Healthcare from Innovation to Adoption” will focus on educating and aligning stakeholders throughout the healthcare ecosystem on the many innovative solutions available driving enhanced health outcomes and more efficient healthcare services. Today, innovative ideas are needed by healthcare providers, insurers, technology innovators, governmental and non-governmental agencies, patient advocates, and many others.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Dean Kamen renowned inventor who founded DEKA Research & Development Corporation and the holder of more than 440 U.S. and foreign patents, many of them for innovative medical devices that have expanded the frontiers of healthcare around the world
  • Bakul Patel, Policy Adviser to the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) is responsible for leading several efforts related to CDRH’s policy on medical device software and systems. He is also advises on regulatory issues related to HIT and mHealth
  • Ralph Simon mobile entertainment and content industry pioneer and head of the London-based Mobilium International, a consultancy that provides strategic advice to mobile handset makers, telecommunications operators, media and technology companies, movie studios and TV networks, global music artists, ad agency groups, and brands and platform providers around the world.
  • David Sayen, Regional Administrator for CMS in San Francisco will provide insights on critical healthcare reform programs that will affect the market for connected, health, including implementation of ACOs and HIEs
For more information, go to or email Molly Cogan at Early bird registration ends March 15, 2013.  

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Briefing on Capitol Hill

The National Commission on Physician Payment Reform released a report March 4th on Capitol Hill detailing sweeping recommendations aimed at reining in health spending and improving quality of care by eliminating the fee-for-service model by the end of the decade.  

The Society of General Internal Medicine recognizing that the way physicians are paid drives the high level of spending convened the Commission last March. This independent Commission was funded in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the California Healthcare Foundation. Physicians from a variety of specialties, public and private sector leaders, consumer advocates, and health policy experts took part in the discussions.

The Commission was chaired by former Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President Steven A. Schroeder, M.D., and former Senator Majority leader Bill Frist, M.D. As Senator Frist emphasized, “Payment reform is not a partisan issue—it is an American issue so we have to pull together.  We can’t control runaway medical spending without changing how doctors are paid. Since we all want to get the most from our healthcare dollars, we need to rethink the way that we are going to pay for healthcare.”

Dr. Schroeder, currently Professor of Health and Health Care at the University of California, San Francisco said, “The way we pay doctors is profoundly flawed. We need to move rapidly away from fee-for- service and embrace new ways of paying doctors to encourage cost-effective, high quality care.”

The Commission recommends that the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) be eliminated. The SGR was originally included in the 1997 Balanced Budget Act to enable Congress to control the growth of physician reimbursement under Medicare. It basically pegs payment for physicians’ services to the growth of GDP.  If the cumulative rate of spending for physicians’ services under Medicare exceeds the target SGR in a given year, then payments for physician services the following year are to be reduced and vice-versa.

Every year when payments for physicians’ services have exceeded the SGR, Congress has had to step in to prevent cuts in payments for physicians. This has been called the “doc-fix” and has taken place 15 times over the past decade.

The Commission wants the repeal of the SGR to be paid with cost savings from the Medicare program as a whole, including both cuts to physician payments and reductions in inappropriate utilization of Medicare services.

In another SGR action on Capitol Hill, legislation was recently introduced related to the elimination of the SGR. Representative Allyson Schwartz (D-PA) and Joe Heck, (R-NV) introduced the “Medicare Physician Payment Innovation Act”. The bipartisan legislation would permanently repeal the SGR formula and work towards reforming the Medicare payment and delivery system.

After a year of deliberation, the Commission adopted 12 recommendations for reforming physician payment. Initial steps include fast tracking new models of care such as accountable care organizations and patient-centered medical homes.

Specifically, some of the other recommendations call for adopting bundled payments for patients with multiple chronic conditions, call for fee-for-service contracts to incorporate quality metrics into the negotiated reimbursement rates,  seeks to eliminate higher payments for facility-based services that can be performed in lower cost settings, encourages small practices with fewer than five providers to form virtual relationships and share resources, and fixed payments should only focus on areas where potential exists for cost savings and higher quality..

A discussion took place at the briefing with the following panelists:

·        JudyAnn Bigby, MD. former Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
·        Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at CVS Caremark
·        Kavita Patel, M.D., Economic Studies Fellow and Managing Director for Clinical Transformation and Delivery, at the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform at the Brookings Institution
·        Steven E Weinberger, M.D., Executive Vice President and CEO for the American College of Physicians

The panelists agreed that basically, the report maps out a timeline and roadmap for the future so that doctors will have some idea of what to expect, explains that one size does not fit all especially for doctors in small practices, emphasizes the team approach to care, pays more attention to quality and outcomes, and puts more emphasis prevention and wellness.

To download the full report, go to

HHS Seeks Innovative Solutions

The “HHSentrepreneurs” program ( is based on the HHS Innovation Fellows Program launched in 2012. HHS is building on the lessons learned during the program and seeks to have internal entrepreneurs along with external entrepreneurs work together to tackle some of the Department’s toughest challenges.

Internal entrepreneurs at HHS are working on solutions to deal with complex challenges. The goal is to enable internal entrepreneurs to have the flexibility to take professional risks and to establish innovations as a key business process. The deadline for internal entrepreneurs to apply for the program is April 1, 2013.

At the same time, HHS is looking for external entrepreneurs to submit applications that have a demonstrated track record developing innovative solutions. After being selected, the external entrepreneurs will be paired with internal entrepreneurs to work together on difficult problems at HHS.  The application period for external entrepreneurs will open in May 2013.

Last year HHS selected thirteen internal entrepreneurs and five external entrepreneurs to work on high priority projects. These projects included accelerating clinical quality measures, designing the infrastructure for Medicaid and CHIP eligibility, building health resilience technology to withstand natural disasters, and to help HRSA revise the existing organ transplant system and make it more workable.

After reviewing the applications received, a short list of candidates will be established, and selected candidates will be invited to an interview with the “HHSentrepreneurs” Subcommittee of the HHS Innovation Council. They will also be interviewed by internal entrepreneur project teams. Final selection of external entrepreneurs will take place August 2013.

In the March 7th Federal Register, HHS announced that CMS and ONC were issuing a Request for Information (RFI) on achieving HIT interoperability in 2013.  The RFI due April 22, 2013 has been issued seeking comments from the public on a variety of policies to strengthen the business case for electronic exchange across providers.

The RFI discusses the need for HHS to develop several potential new policies and ideas to accelerate interoperability and to improve the exchange of a patient’s health information across care settings. The plan is to provide an even greater business case for information sharing.
Go to or go to the March 7th issue of the Federal Register for more details.

FOA to Reduce Health Disparities

On February 25th, NIH issued a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) (RFA-EB-13-002) seeking SBIR grant applications to develop medical technologies aimed at reducing disparities in achieving healthcare access and health outcomes.

The medical technologies to include medical devices, imaging systems, and other technologies need to be effective, affordable, culturally acceptable, and easily accessible to individuals in the disparity population who need and can use the technology.

The proposal response must involve a formal collaboration with a healthcare provider or other healthcare organization serving one or more health disparity populations during Phase I and Phase II. 

Appropriate technologies may be new and innovative, or they may be existing technologies that have been redesigned based on the specific needs of the health disparity population. The technology must also be low-cost and affordable to the local hospital, community health center, primary care physicians, or individual patients in need.

Some of the specific technology needed can include:

  • Telehealth technologies for remote diagnosis and monitoring
  • Sensors for point-of-care diagnosis
  • Devices for in-home monitoring
  • Mobile portable diagnostic and therapeutic systems
  • Devices that integrate diagnosis and treatment and can operate in low resource environments
  • Integrated automated systems to assess or monitor a specific condition
A few examples can include technology developed to treat diabetes, devices to improve early detection of diseases, and low cost portable imaging for prevention and early detection of conditions.

It is estimated that $2 million will be available for awards with up to $200,000 total costs per year for Phase I and up to $400,000 total costs per year for Phase II.

The application due date is May 23, 2013 to September 23, 2013 with Letters of Intent due anytime from April 23, 2013 to August 23, 2013.

Commonwealth Fund Accepting LOIs

The Patient-Centered Coordinated Care Program, an initiative of the New York City-based Commonwealth Fund is accepting Letters of Inquiry (LOI) for projects designed to improve the quality of primary healthcare in the U.S.

The program makes grants to:

  • Collect and dissemination information on patients and their healthcare experiences and provide information on physician office systems and practices that are associated with high-quality patient-centered care
  • Assist primary care practices with the adoption of practices, models, and tools to help practices become more patient-centered with the ability to coordinate more closely with hospitals, specialists, and other public and private healthcare providers in their communities
  • Develop policies to encourage patient and family-centered care in medical homes
 The Commonwealth Fund is going to support projects in several areas to make medical homes more successful and to enable resource sharing. One of the future directions is to integrate the medical home with the medical neighborhood. The plan is going to support efforts to understand how medical homes can integrate and partner with the other providers in their community. This can include integrating with specialists, hospitals, and mental healthcare providers in both safety-net and commercial settings.

For more information, go to

Technology Helping in Virginia

Each year, telemedicine provides secure video links to help thousands of Virginians access specialty care not available in their home communities. The University of Virginia (UVA) network serves more than 85 telemedicine locations enabling thousands of Virginians each year to access UVA physicians in more than 40 specialties without traveling to Charlottesville where the university is located.

To make it easier for residents of Southside Virginia and other rural localities to receive specialty care not readily available locally, a new state grant for $270,000 has been awarded to help patients and healthcare workers access specialists through telemedicine.

The Virginia Health Workforce Development initiative awarded the grant to establish the Southside Telehealth Training Academy and Resource Center (STAR) in Martinsville Virginia to be operated by the New College Institute, and the University of Virginia Center for Telehealth.

“Training healthcare workers to use telehealth and patient monitoring technologies will aid them in providing high quality care and services to their patients,” said Karen Rheuban, MD, Director for the University of Virginia Center for Telehealth.

Beginning in the spring, the center will begin training healthcare workers in the West Piedmont Health District of Martinsville and the counties of Franklin, Henry, and Patrick as well as training healthcare workers across Virginia in the use of telemedicine technology. STAR plans to train 250 workers in the program’s first 18 months.

The University of Virginia’s School of Medicine has a program referred to as “Positive Links”. This program is using smart phones to improve care for people recently diagnosed with HIV in rural Virginia. This electronic outreach effort won $525,000 in backing from the AIDS United Foundation.

The new initiative aims to overcome problems such as depression, stigma and poverty that often delay and undermine care for rural residents with HIV. A study found that people newly diagnosed with HIV missed on average 1.7 scheduled appointments before arriving at the UVA Ryan White Clinic, the largest provider of HIV care in western Virginia.

Specifically, the “Positive Links” program will provide:

·        A smartphone app that will provide personalized interactive reminders and offer access to a virtual community. The app will also monitor treatment adherence and potential barriers to care so that the UVA staff can respond nearly in real time
·        Counseling sessions based on the Antiretroviral Treatment and Services program endorsed by CDC will provide information on HIV and strategies for living with the virus. These lessons will be reinforced by the app
·        A priority access pathway for people newly diagnosed with HIV to ensure that these individuals receive care within 24 hours by contacting the ‘Positive Links” coordinator

The app is in development and the new “Positive Links” program is due to begin to recruit participants this summer.

Medicaid in Vermont

The Department of Vermont Health Access (DVHA) the state’s largest insurer in terms of dollars spent and the second largest in terms of covered lives, manages Medicaid, SCHIP, and other publicly funded health coverage programs in the state. In addition, DVHA is responsible for Vermont’s Blueprint for Health, for HIT strategic planning, coordination, oversight, and to implement the health benefit exchange.

Within DVHA, the Medicaid Health Services and Managed Care Division handles a number of responsibilities such as:

  • The Vermont Chronic Care Initiative identifies and assists Medicaid beneficiaries with chronic health conditions and/or high utilization of medical services. The goal is to access clinically appropriate healthcare information and services and coordinate the delivery of healthcare to the chronically ill
  • The Managed Care Compliance unit is responsible for ensuring compliance with all federal and state managed care requirements
  • Clinical Operations monitors the quality, appropriateness and effectiveness of healthcare services requested by providers for beneficiaries
  • The Pharmacy Unit manages the pharmacy benefit programs for beneficiaries enrolled in Vermont’s publicly funded healthcare programs and ensures that the beneficiaries receive medically necessary medications in a cost effective manner
  • Provider and Member relations ensures that beneficiaries have access to an adequate provider network
  • The Quality Improvement and Clinical Integrity unit collaborates to maintain quality standards as required and prepares for annual external quality reviews
  • The Substance Abuse program coordinates services from members who are recovering form opioid dependence, and administers the Team Care program that links a member to a single prescriber and single pharmacy 
 HP Enterprise Services has just signed a $48 million contract with the Department of Vermont Health Access (DVHA) to continue their 31 year relationship with HP as the state’s Medicaid agent.

Last year, HP processed more than 9.6 million Vermont healthcare claims for approximately 166,000 recipients distributing more than $1.1 billion in Medicaid and other payments to nearly 12,000 healthcare providers.  

Under the agreement HP will:

  • Relocate Vermont’s current MMIS to a state-of-the-art HP data center
  • Upgrade provider call center technology to reduce hold times and dropped calls
  • Enable Vermont to expand its use of the HP Medical Assistance Provider Incentive Repository  tool to track incentive payments to providers under the federal “meaningful use” legislation
  • Continue to provide Vermont with claims processing, financial management, drug rebate processing, system maintenance and modification, plus other provider services, and remediate the current system to be compliant with ICD-10 in support of HIPAA
“The state of Vermont needs to be prepared to adapt to a nationwide healthcare transformation,” said Susan Arthur, Vice President, U.S. Health and Life Sciences Industry, HP Enterprise Services. “The HP team helped develop a powerful and reliable Medicaid infrastructure to enable Vermont to provide care for those in need while maintaining fiscal responsibility.”

HIT in Low Resource Countries

At the recent HIMSS Annual Conference held March 3-7 in New Orleans, researchers from the Regenstrief Institute discussed and demonstrated how the Open Health Information Exchange (OpenHIE) operates in Rwanda.

OpenHIE an open source HIE using a community approach, was developed by the Regenstrief Institute, Jembi Health Systems, and Instedd. These partners initially came together to improve the national health infrastructure in Rwanda with support from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

To accomplish the mission, the group collaborated with the Rwandan Ministry of Health on the Rwanda Health Enterprise Architecture (RHEA) project initially supported by the Rockefeller Foundation and the International Development Research Center.

OpenHIE was first implemented in rural Rwanda to create an integrated health information system that would improve maternal care delivery at health centers throughout the country. The initial clinical focus for the system centered on developing a shared EHR for expectant mothers visiting prenatal clinics in eastern Rwanda. The project enables access to an expectant mothers’ health information that includes details from visits to clinics and data obtained by community health workers. 

The software developed by the collaboration was displayed at the HIMSS conference, demonstrating how OpenHIE helped in the case of a pregnant Rwandan patient who developed medical complications but was able to be seen across the spectrum of the country’s healthcare system.

In another research project directed toward helping in resource-limited settings, a large randomized controlled study led by the Regenstrief Institute was initiated to rigorously demonstrate how HIT can improve compliance with patient care guidelines by clinicians in developing countries.

The researchers found that overdue clinical tasks were more likely to be completed when clinicians received computerized reminders to perform tests to diagnose HIV in infants, provide chest X-rays to rule out TB, perform laboratory tests for HIV along with kidney and liver function tests, and provide referrals so that malnourished children can receive dietary support.

The findings from this study have already propelled the use of computer-generated clinical reminders for the care of adults and children in over 50 additional clinics in Western Kenya. All are Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare (AMPATH) sites initiated by a partnership with Moi University, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, and a consortium of North American institutions led by the Indiana University (IU) School of Medicine.

So far, in response to the challenge of providing life-saving HIV care, AMPATH has enrolled over 160,000 HIV-positive people with almost 2,000 new patients being enrolled each month at over 60 urban and rural clinic sites throughout Western Kenya.

According to Regenstrief Institute investigator Martin Chieng Were, MD., and Assistant Professor of Medicine at the IU School of Medicine, “Many countries in Africa and other developing settings are investing heavily in health information systems. We need to provide evidence of the benefits, costs, and impact of these systems to be able to decide on the right policy decisions.”

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Launching a Clinical Trial Network

The National Minority Quality Forum (The Forum) is working with its National Health Index (NHI) and Microsoft Corporation to launch the National Clinical Trial Network (NCTN). It is expected that the network will be available in the fourth quarter of 2013 to address the issues of recruitment and diversity in conducting clinical trials. This collaboration will enable NCTN to provide a comprehensive database of clinical trial options to providers.

The Forum is a Washington D.C. based not-for-profit, non-partisan, independent research and education organization dedicated to improving the quality of healthcare available for all populations.  

“It’s our view big data will change the way we conduct clinical trials moving forward. What makes the NCTN platform unique is it will provide an interactive, communications portal linking researchers to practicing physicians whose diversity of patients may be candidates for clinical trials,” reports Gary Puckrein, President and CEO of the National Minority Quality Forum. “Being able to quickly link the broader community of medical researchers, practicing physicians, tertiary care centers, and allied health professionals together, we can expedite discovery and translational research.”

NCTN will also be a data warehouse containing patient registries, bio banks, and community level health statistics. The objective is to transform isolated data repositories into an integrated, searchable, national archive, thereby permitting the rapid identification of representative samples of risk populations who might benefit from a proposed therapy.

NCTN will maintain searchable profiles of clinical research institutions, experienced clinical investigators and individuals interested in being a clinical researcher. The investigator registry will provide background information on investigators, their practices, and the communities that they serve.

For more information, go to  

New York City HHC News

New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) entered into a $302 million contract with Epic Systems Corporation for a new state-of-the-art EMR system to span all of HHC’s patient care facilities. HHHC anticipates the system will be in full operation by 2017 for 22,000 users and will replace HHC’s current EMR system.

The new EMR system will be implemented at eleven HHC hospitals, four long term care facilities, six diagnostic treatment centers, and more than 70 community-based clinics. The 15 year contract includes software and database licenses, professional services, testing and technical training, software maintenance, and database support and upgrades.

To select the new EMR system, HHC conducted a multi-year comprehensive competitive process to evaluate interested companies. A fifteen member selection committee initially invited nine vendors to submit proposals based on prequalification guidelines and then selected five vendors that met those guidelines.

At this point, expert workgroups were established in ambulatory care, anesthesia, clinical documentation, decision support, laboratory operations, radiology, pharmacy, and technology. The workgroups evaluated and scored the functional capabilities of the vendors’ proposals to determine how they would function in each clinical area and whether they would be able to meet the needs of patients and staff.

Vendors were given a test scenario to see if their systems could deal with the volume and complexity of the HHC’s patient population and would be able to ensure coordination of care to include emergency departments, primary care physicians, nursing homes, behavioral health programs, and healthcare provided in the community.

The committee narrowed the field to three finalists after full proposals were submitted and evaluated. Site visits were conducted at the finalist’s corporate headquarters and some of their current clients and company operations were observed, but in the end, EPIC was chosen as the preferred vendor.

To further support the needs of the New York State (NYS) Health Homes program and the larger Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) program, HHC acquired a Care Plan Management System (CPMS) from Microsoft. The web-based platform will enable patient care plans to greatly improve the exchange of information and provide access to all care team providers, including both HHC and non-HHC providers. In addition, the system supports patient tracking and reporting, consent management, and triggers automatic alerts.

CPMS will be able to link critical information that may not be well documented in the medical record. The system goes beyond typical care management and also encompasses non-clinical aspects of care such as in the case of social services and homecare. CPMS helps the team have a much more integrated view of the care coordination activities needed by the patient.

To date, the software components of the system have been installed with a number of key interfaces. The system will able to send patient demographics and select clinical information that will be included in the CPMS database. A working version of the Phase 1 (provider portal) is expected to go live March 2013 with Phase 2 (patient portal) scheduled for May 2013.

Microsoft has entered into a joint venture with GE to form a new company called Caradigm to support the CPMS product. Microsoft and GE are now each 50 percent owners of the new company.

Connectivity with various RHIOS in the state is progressing. The New York Health Collaborative is working towards consolidating the infrastructure and integrating the RHIOs. It has now been confirmed that HHC is technically prepared to connect to the RHIOs in April 2013. Other future plans are to connect the City and State RHIOs.

Helping Veterans with PTSD

The Department of Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS) is collaborating with Fujitsu Laboratories of America (FLA) on research to improve treatment for war veterans with PTSD. This particular research focuses on the problems many veterans with PTSD have in driving cars and why they have a higher accident rate and trouble adjusting to normal driving.

Veterans will PTSD may have trouble processing speed, blocking out distractions, and not have the ability to react quickly to driving challenges. Also, PTSD may lead to irritable behavior resulting in anger outbursts and not being able to handle sounds such as screeching tires along with cars and trucks backfiring.

In addition, veterans of war can experience traumatic experiences due to explosive devices plus service members very often undergo “battlemind” training which involves learning aggressive driving practices. “Battlemind” training can involve driving too fast and unpredictably making fast lane changes. These skills may be needed in a war zone, but are dangerous in the home environment.    

As part of the research project, VAPAHCS fitted a car with FTA mobile technology to monitor the veteran driver. Researchers at Palo Alto collected data from the car by attaching sensors to the steering wheel, brake pedal, and gas pedal. For the veteran, the mobile technology records the veteran’s heart rate and respiration and then combines this information with data on the car’s location as well as factors on the road that might trigger PTSD symptoms.

While driving in the car with the veteran affected by PTSD, a staff member records any road incidents plus data from the monitoring belt worn by the veteran on an iPhone that includes a GPS. Then the information goes via Bluetooth to a miniature computer web server aboard the car. 

Also, to complete the research, the veteran has three in-car treatment sessions and a session with a psychologist to discuss their driving experiences in Afghanistan and/or Iraq plus the stress experienced while driving in the U.S.

 “This improved technology has enabled us to dramatically reduce the in-car IT footprint during the research project,” reports Dr. Woodward the Principal Investigator for the study at VAPAHCS. “This has streamlined our data collection and analysis and enabled us to focus on novel treatment solutions.”

Finland's Collaborative Efforts

Tekes, the Finnish funding agency for technology and innovation is helping small and medium sized enterprises participate through their businesses in joint research projects. Tekes is in the position to fund joint projects with other countries, finance researchers from other countries that are able to come to Finland, facilitate the exchange of information, and provide network partners across borders.

Tekes can finance research and development projects undertaken by foreign-owned companies registered in Finland. International companies with research and development activities in their country do not need to have a Finnish partner to be eligible for funding but the projects need to contribute to the Finnish economy. Each year Tekes finances some 1,500 business research and development projects and almost 600 public research projects at universities, research institutes, and polytechnics.

Also, Finland has established Strategic Centers for Science, Technology, and Innovation which are new public-private partnerships working to speed up the innovation process. SAlWe Ltd is one of the Strategic Centers and specializes in health and well-being. It is a non-profit company to prevent and treat diseases such as obesity and metabolic syndrome, neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases, microbial infections and inflammations, and malignant diseases. 

FinNode a global network of Finnish innovation organizations connects Finland with other international experts with the know-how required to promote innovation. FinNode represents all sections of the Finnish innovation system in the countries where it operates but foreign partners are welcome to work with Finland’s central public innovation organizations. Today, the FinNode network operates in the U.S. China, Russia, Japan, and India.

In Finland, the amount of biological information is increasing at an unprecedented rate. The global market for bioinformatics is expected to reach more that $6 million in U.S dollars next year. As a result, there is a demand for new services and more efficient tools to help to create new businesses. Tekes hopes to bring players in the biosector and ICT together so that new industries and business models can be developed.

In the future, vast amounts of information will be created since the trend is headed towards tailoring solutions to fit individual needs. This is going to make an enormous impact on the pharmaceutical industry since the need for information and data will require in-depth knowledge on the biological origins of illnesses. This will require the need for high data processing capacity and will create numerous opportunities for new businesses to develop in the pharmaceutical and diagnostics field.

Today, Tekes has specific research and development programs to provide forums for the exchange of information and to establish networking between businesses and research groups. Typically a program lasts four to six years with Tekes generally financing about half of the project costs. The other half of the funding comes from participating businesses and research units. Each year, businesses participate in around 3,700 projects and research intensive universities participate in around 1,500 projects.

For example, BioIT-Solutions for the Biological Information program will require building new value networks and developing cooperation between traditional ICT players. This means that there is the need to employ biologists, geneticists, and environmental scientists. The BioIT-Solutions for the Biological Information program is expected to run for two years and has a budget of slightly more than EUR 10 million with Tekes providing EUR 6.5 million.

In another project, Finland and India are working closely together in the diagnostics area. The Indian diagnostic research and market for diagnostic products has been rapidly growing in the last few years.

The cooperative diagnostics ventures between Finland and India have produced several new joint R&D projects. The result is that diagnostics companies in both countries are cooperating to produce novel commercial innovations.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Academy of Finland (AF) are collaborating on chronic non communicable diseases, diabetes, and challenges in health service research through joint workshops and collaborative research projects. Through an agreement signed in November, both Indian and Finnish scientists are able to apply for funding through joint workshops for common future research projects. The ICMR is one of the oldest funders of medical research and the AF is a governmental funding body that supports scientific research in Finland.

The AF has cooperative agreements with two Indian funding organizations such as the Department of Biotechnology and the Department of Science and Technology and has future plans for collaborative efforts with the Indian Council of Social Science Research.

For more information, go to and click on en at the top of the page for English or email the Finnish embassy at

Parents Connect to NICU

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas is the first hospital in their region to offer an audio-video system that lets parents who can’t be at their child’s bedside see and talk to their baby anytime of the day from any computer. The web-based system also lets parents see their babies from any smartphone.

The “Peek-a-Boo Neonatal ICU” service is provided free-of-charge to parents with children in the hospital’s Level III NICU and is especially designed for parents whose sick babies have extended stays in the NICU. “The peek-a-boo cameras mean that parents are never more than a click away from their child” said Dr Gerald Nystrom, Medical Director of Neonatal Medicine at Texas Health Dallas.

The system’s audio capabilities allow parents to talk and read to their children when they can’t be at the hospital. Specially designed speaker systems inside each crib control the volume of the parent’s voice to soothe the baby and help the parent and child bond.  The system is run through a secure web site that requires a special password for each family.

The real-time streaming crib cams were funded by a gift made to the Texas Health Presbyterian Foundation. The donation to the Foundation was made by Amy and Dan Hood of Dallas, whose son was born with a heart condition causes narrowing of the main blood vessel that leaves the heart from the left ventricle. Their son spent one week in the Texas Health Dallas NICU before going home.  

Approximately 6,000 babies are delivered each year at Texas Health Dallas’ Margot Perot Center for Women and Infants. More than 700 are admitted to the NICU which provides specialized care for babies born prematurely or with serious health complications. Some of the fragile babies are transferred from hospitals hundreds of miles away to the hospital’s NICU.

According to Chris Brooks Nursing Manager of the Level III NICU, “Many mothers take maternity leave to be with their babies at home. If their child has an unforeseen stay in the NICU, some mothers elect to go back to work to save leave time to be with their baby after being discharged from the hospital. Other times, a new mom can’t be by her baby’s side because of her own medical issues from her delivery or if the new mom has an ongoing illness.”

EO to Support Vets

Michigan is home to more than 650,000 veterans which is the 11th largest population of veterans nationally. According to the VA, Michigan veterans rank last on a per-capita basis as recipients of federal VA dollars for total veterans’ benefits.

Michigan Governor Richard Snyder issued an Executive Order 2013-2 (EO) during his State of the State address to help connect eligible veterans with their benefits and at the same time improve customer service. The EO creates the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency within the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the state will now have a new agency solely dedicated to the needs of veterans.

The functions of the new Veterans Affairs Agency will be to:

  • Review, investigate, evaluate, and assess all programs within the executive branch of government related to services and benefits for veterans
  • Serve as the coordinating office for all agencies of the executive branch of government responsible for programs related to veterans
  • Analyze and make recommendations to the Governor on proposes program and policies related to veterans
  • Function as a clearinghouse for information received from all departments and agencies of the executive branch of government
  • Serve as the Governor’s liaison with the Secretary of State, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Michigan Strategic Fund, and with all other departments and agencies with respect to programs, services, and benefits for veterans
  • Request advice and assistance to re-engineer business processes and establish inter-agency and intra-agency data sharing requirements, policies, procedures, and standards to improve services
  • Execute contracts and other instruments necessary to function

Healthcare Trade Mission Going to Russia

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) is organizing a Healthcare Trade Mission to travel to Moscow and St. Petersburg June 3-7, 2013. The mission will be led by a senior Department of Commerce official and will focus on the growth in Russia’s healthcare market. The plan is to introduce healthcare exporters and associations to key Russians interested in exploring business opportunities with U.S businesses.

Russia has instituted a comprehensive reform of their healthcare system and healthcare is a top priority in the government’s new projects. It is estimated that only 20 percent of the Russian population of 142 million have access to quality healthcare. The majority of hospitals and clinics are public and belong to federal, regional, or local governments.

The Russian medical equipment and supply market is one of the fastest growing sectors in the economy. Contributing to the interest in the Russian medical equipment market is the unsatisfied deferred demand for equipment. Almost two thirds of the medical equipment and devices used in public clinics and hospitals are obsolete and need to be replaced and as facilities are modernized, new medical equipment is required.

The Russian market is among the 20 fastest growing markets in the world but the annual per capita spending is very low at $23. Industry experts predict that the market will grow at a rate of 5.5 percent per year, reaching $4.3 billion by 2014 or $31 per capita.

It is reported that imported medical devices constitute 60 percent of the Russian market. The data shows that 40 to 50 percent of imports come from Germany, 20 to 25 percent from the U.S., 10 percent from Japan, and 5 percent each from Italy and France. By the end of 2020, the percent of medical equipment manufactured by Russian producers should increase from 18 to 20 percent to 40 percent. This goal will be largely achieved by foreign companies who localize their production facilities.

However, today the Russian market is still dependent on imports for a significant number of medical equipment industry sub-sectors especially those requiring large investments in R&D, innovative technologies, and automation.

The best prospects for medical equipment include CTs, blood pressure instruments and equipment, respirators, endoscopes, ultrasound scanning equipment, syringes, catheters, dental disposables, ophthalmological equipment, and x-ray equipment for general medicine, surgery, and veterinary use.

According to “Healthcare through 2020”, a document developed by the Ministry of Healthcare and Social Development” ( in the future, Russian citizens will receive high quality medical care standardized throughout all of the country, new effective medical procedures will be introduced, and new medical equipment is going to be supplied to medical institutions. As a result, the medical equipment market should show the best results by 2013-2016 and reach $15 billion by 2020.

The deadline to apply for the trade mission to Russia is March 15, 2013. For more information and for the mission application, go to For other details, email Jessica Arnold at

Qualcomm & WebMD Collaborating

Qualcomm Life, Inc is joining forces with WebMD to bring in a new era of next generation healthcare to help consumers access and manage wireless health data from a wide array of fitness, wellness, and medical devices. The announcement was made this week at the HIMSS 2013 conference in New Orleans Louisiana.

“We are delighted to be working with WebMD, the leading multi-screen source of health information for consumers and physicians,” said Rick Valencia, Vice President and General Manager for Qualcomm Life. “Our industry leading 2net™ Platform will be integrated with various WebMD offerings to provide consumers and physicians with an industry-defining connected health experience.”

According to Qualcomm Life and WebMD, their companies are making biometric data available, actionable, and relevant to consumers so they can more proactively manage their health and fitness. This technology collaboration will establish an open ecosystem of digital health apps and third-party devices across various disease categories and lifestyle interests where consumers and physicians can select solutions that suit their preferences and healthcare needs.

In addition to the WebMD collaboration, Qualcomm Life is has announced the limited availability of the Beta version of the 2net Hub Application Programming Interface (API) and the Software Development Kit (SDK) to be available by the end of March.

For more information, go to

Sunday, March 3, 2013

HRSA Solicits Applications for FOA

On February 15th, HRSA’s Office of Rural Health Policy (ORHP) released the FY 2013 “Rural Health Information Technology Workforce Program Announcement (HRSA-13-251). This program supports formal rural health networks that focus on activities related to the recruitment, education, training, and retention of health IT specialists.

The funded projects must include rural health networks in a position to partner with accredited rural or rural-serving educational institutions that may include a community, technical, or vocational college.

The rural health networks must be capable of providing materials to use for health IT formal training to present to current healthcare staff, local displaced workers, rural residents, veterans, and other potential students.

The formal training will help develop more health IT workers to help rural hospitals and clinics implement and maintain EHRs, telehealth, and home monitoring. Mobile health technology training is needed on how to meet EHR meaningful use standards.

The program will provide funding during FY 2013-2015. Approximately $4,500,000 is expected to be available annually to fund between 1-15 grantees. Applicants may apply for a ceiling amount of up to $300,000 per year with the project to last three years.

The closing date for applications is April 15, 2013. For more information, go to For questions, email Janice Mompoint, Public Health Analyst, ORHP at or call (301) 443-8344.

$3.3 Million for Telenursing Center

Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray announced a telemedicine initiative with funding for $3.3 million in grant funding to help healthcare providers assist victims of sexual assault.  The Department of Justice earmarked the funds to create the Massachusetts Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Telenursing Center to help support victims of sexual assault nationally.

The Massachusetts Department of Health (DPH) has long worked with community partners to improve the quality of medical care for sexual assault victims in the state. So far, the SANE program has treated more than 16,000 patients by a total of 105 trained providers within the state.

The problem is that nationally many frontline healthcare providers do not routinely provide sexual assault treatment services and may not be readily familiar with the specific medical, emotional needs of the victims, and the forensic needs of the criminal justice system.

To begin the development of the Center, a new pilot Telenursing Center will be created at Newton-Wellesley Hospital to provide 24/7 access to expert medical assistance and consultation for healthcare providers. The pilot developed by national expert forensic sexual assault nurse examiners and healthcare providers will work with selected populations in pilot locations throughout the country.

Grant funding was made available by the Department of Justice in their Office for Victims of Crime, following a nationally competitive grant application process. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health will lead the project and the Newton-Wellesley Hospital will provide the location and infrastructure to support the Telenursing Center. The American Doctors Online/PhoneDOCTORx will provide consultative services plus the telemedicine network design.

Funding will be used to support information technology equipment and assistance at each pilot site, provide for clinical staffing and education, and provide technical assistance for pilot participants to evaluate the ongoing program. Best practices and lessons learned while conducting this telemedicine pilot project will later be incorporated into the development of the National Telenursing Center.

The grant includes three phases of implementation. In the first year, the agencies will develop the necessary infrastructure and capabilities to deliver quality telenursing services and identify partner healthcare sites that will work within the four targeted populations. The second and third years of the grant will focus on implementing high quality telenursing care to nationwide populations.

“This program will allow us to use telemedicine to promote the most effective physical, emotional, and forensic care for sexual assault victims,” said Dr. Lauren Smith, Interim Commissioner of DPH. “We also need to do everything that we can to support frontline professionals who work with these patients.”

For more information on the SANE program, go to