Health IT Business News Wrap-up – September 2, 2012

This Week’s Health IT Business News

We lead this week with SAIC back in the news. The US computer contractor giant recently sealed the deal on their acquisition of the information technology consulting firm maxIT Healthcare for $473M. maxIT Healthcare will join the SAIC, Vitalize Consulting Solutions (VCS) Team to create the largest EHR implementation consulting practice. Now comes news this week that  SAIC will break into two separate, publicly traded companies. One company will focus on technical services and the second will be a solutions-based company focused on national security, engineering and health. Read more about the spin-offs in their press release.

Speaking of mergers, The Washington Post wrote a piece this week  on how the Affordable Care Act is driving health care mergers. The article suggests that the health care industry is “increasingly turning to consolidation as a way to cope with smaller profit margins and higher compliance costs that many anticipate when the federal government’s health care reforms under the Affordable Care Act take effect.”

And if startups are your thing, check out at MedCity News In the startup incubator world, life sciences and IT are like two peas in a pod. They sat down with William Brah, the founder and executive director of the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Venture Development Center, to talk about how the challenges faced in the early stages of a startups life.

In product news this week healthcare information technology resource announced the launch of its 4Med Secure Backup and Storage service. The service is HIPAA complaint with a three-tiered security system providing complete data privacy and protection for medical environments. The level of encryption used by 4Med is used by the US military and includes UltraSafe technology for health care data and PHI (personal health information). Wendy Whitmore, CIO of EMRapproved says “With the recent HHS announcement indicating that PHI security breaches have affected over 21 million individuals, I feel this is an important service offering for our site visitors and for the medical community at large.”

Checking in on health information exchange news, the Pennsylvania eHealth Collaborative has been awarded $6 million in grants to four organizations to engage in regional and statewide exchange of electronic health information. The local and regional health information exchanges (HIEs) already operating in Pennsylvania have only a limited ability to share information with each other. “Health information exchange is shown to improve healthcare quality, safety and efficiency, while at the same time reducing costs and making care more convenient for patients,” said Robert Torres, Pennsylvania’s Health Information Technology coordinator. “These grants will spur the development and use of health information exchange capacity across the state.”

In more HIE news, the Veterans Affairs and Defense departments say they are ready to expand to 16 pilot programs to offer veterans’ health information exchanges nationwide. The new exchanges will build on the success of the pilots, where VA and DoD physicians in selected cities  have shared veterans’ health data with each other and the private sector. The move is a major step toward fulfilling an administration initiative called the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER), which requires VA and DoD to provide service members and veterans with seamless health care and online access to their health and other personal data throughout their lifetimes.

And the VA had more news for us this week. On Friday it was announced that during the month of August, the one millionth patient registered for Blue Button to access and download their Personal Health Record (PHR) information. “Since President Obama announced the availability of Blue Button two years ago, VA has worked tirelessly with our sister agencies to make online access to personal health records convenient, reliable, and safe. I am very pleased with our progress,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.  The Blue Button enables patients to assemble and download personal health information into a single, portable file that can be used inside a growing number of private health care electronic records–as well as those in the VA, Department of Defense, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and private sector partners.

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