Wednesday, September 11, 2013

HHS Strategic Plan for 2014-2018 is open for comment

Every four years, HHS updates its strategic plan, which describes its work to address complex, multifaceted, and ever-evolving health and human service issues. Follow this link to the draft and for more information about how to submit comments:

Goal 1: Health Care -

This goal focuses on health insurance coverage, healthcare quality and safety, connecting primary and preventive care, healthcare costs, access to care, disparities, and health information technology.

Goal 2: Research and Innovation -

This goal focuses on health, public health, and human services research, innovation, food and medical product safety, and tobacco regulation.

Goal 3: Public Health and Human Services -

This goal focuses on children and youth, economic and social wellbeing, poverty, services for seniors and people with disabilities, prevention, infectious disease, and emergency preparedness and response.

Goal 4: Management -

This goal focuses on responsible stewardship and fraud prevention, using data to improve health, the HHS workforce, and environmental stewardship.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Do you have a patient portal?

Do you have a patient portal?  Do you use it to review your lab data?

IRB approved study on patient portals.

Friday, June 28, 2013

HIPAA Omnibus Rule had a few surprises

I am sitting in a webinar regarding the federal Omnibus Final Rule which was published January 25, 2013 (compliance date is September 23, 2013).  This rule made modifications to several other federal rules such as HIPAA, HITECH and GINA (Genetic Information Non-discrimination Act).  

There were two small bombs that were dropped of which, I admit, I was previously unaware:

  1. The omnibus final rule now has officially and expressly stated that genetic information is protected health information.  
  2. The omnibus final rule specified that genetic information could not be used for underwriting purposes.  Specifically:
    • The Rule prohibits the use or disclosure of genetic information for underwriting purposes by all health plans, except long-term care plans.  
    • Terms and definitions in the Rule track regulations prohibiting discrimination in health coverage based on genetic information.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Supreme Court rules that native DNA is NOT patentable!

See full decision here This is a great day for genomic medicine.  No more requirement to send your specimen to a black box to get tested.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Hot off the presses - ASCP and API Forge Alliance

From Liron Pantanowitz, MD (Current president of the Association of Pathology Informatics):

ASCP and the Association for Pathology Informatics Forge Alliance for Mutual Benefits

ASCP and API signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) effective March 7 to collaborate on education, advocacy, and membership strategies to the mutual benefit of members from both organizations. Informatics has become an increasingly relevant component for the future of pathology and laboratory medicine. This strategic alliance enables each society to gain from each other’s areas of expertise.

“The future of diagnostics is the future of informatics,” says John Tomaszewski, MD, FASCP, a former ASCP President and a member of API since the 1990s. “API is the dominant and growing society for informatics. ASCP’s focus on precision diagnostics can be best accomplished in partnership with API. This is a great alliance for both organizations, especially for education.

“The faculty of ASCP and API overlap significantly. ASCP delivers great depth into its educational sessions, which is a plus for API members. API will bring ASCP members more knowledge in informatics. The Association embeds the informatics tools into the challenges of the broader laboratory in a very dynamic way.”

Education is at the forefront of this alliance. API will hold its fall Annual Meeting in conjunction with the 2013 ASCP Annual Meeting, Sept. 18–21, in Chicago. Participants from both organizations can select 19 hours of education in informatics delivered by API faculty experts. In addition, API will continue to hold its regular “Pathology Informatics” conference May 13–16 in Pittsburgh. API has moved this conference to the spring from the fall to accommodate and avoid conflicts with the ASCP Annual Meeting.

“API is at a crossroads in its infrastructure,” says Liron Pantanowitz, MD, FASCP, API President and a member of ASCP. “That requires us to change how we do things. The alliance with ASCP comes at the right time for us and brings us different expertise and additional resources that will help us reach the next level.”

For all API members, ASCP is extending a complimentary membership effective from May 1 to Dec. 31, 2013. Through the new ASCP Institute of Science, Technology, and Policy, API members will have a stronger voice in Washington, D.C., and can play an integral role in advancing the ASCP Institute’s Health Services Center.

Through free ASCP membership effective from May 1 to Dec. 31, 2013, API members can take first-rate online courses at no charge to earn up to seven continuing medical education credits; gain online access to the prestigious ASCP journals, the American Journal of Clinical Pathology, Lab Medicine, and Critical Values, as well as online publications such as Daily Diagnosis, eNews Briefs, and ePolicy News; and be eligible for member discounts for the 2013 ASCP Annual Meeting, Sept. 18–21, in Chicago and books, as well as educational products and services.

“Pathology informatics shows us how to practice pathology in the modern age,” says Dr. E. Blair Holladay, ASCP Executive Vice President. “One major role of informatics in diagnoses and analytics will be to accelerate fused diagnostic signatures from many types of big data streams as an aid to patients in their choosing of their best therapy. Our members have told us that they want to learn more about informatics and how to apply it in their pathology practices. This is where the profession is headed.”

ASCP pathology residents will have access to API members who attend and teach at the ASCP Annual Meetings and can learn firsthand about how informatics will affect their futures and the future of the profession. Membership in API is free for residents. Residents interested in informatics research who lack opportunities at their own institution can now take advantage of the API’s Research Matching Program, which pairs interested residents with mentors, with research conducted remotely.

Liron Pantanowitz MD
API President

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A tribute to Jeffrey A. Kant, MD, PhD

Jeffrey A. Kant, MD, PhD, my former fellowship director, passed away this morning.  Jeff was truly a pioneer and a giant in the field of molecular pathology.  While training with him, Jeff recognized and encouraged my interest in pathology informatics.  Not only did he realize the importance of informatics to molecular pathology, he just believed in my abilities, just as he believed in the abilities all his fellows and trainees. 

Jeff was genuine and impolitic.  He had the uncanny ability to make me and others who trained with him feel smart and made them want to work harder at the same time.  I saw him on a regular basis at professional meetings and any time we happened to be passing through each other's towns.  I am so very, very grateful for the time I had with him, and words will never be able to express how much he meant to me or how sad I am now that he is gone.  It has become clear over the last week that Jeff touched many lives besides my own, and my heart goes out to his family and all who had contact with him. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Need for the API Strategic Summit - Part 2 of 2

For part two of this blog, I have incorporated data from the API Strategic Summit committee, chaired by J. Mark Tuthill, MD.

Right now, for reasons both understandable and not, the federal government has been focusing on meaningful use and certification of Electronic Health Records (EHRs).  It would seem that laboratory information systems (LISs) have largely been left out of this equation, seemingly relegated to merely a data feeder to the EHR.  Under current regulations, the only way to "certify" an LIS is when it is a module within an EHR.  Regardless of where a LIS sits (either as an EHR module or a independent system), the importance of high quality and highly-specialized laboratory systems cannot be over-emphasized.  

The API Strategic Summit will take place June 7-8, 2012, in Pittsburgh, PA.  It is entitled "The Future of the LIS and Pathology Informatics in the Era of the EMR".  During the summit, we will address the following questions:
  • What is the value of the LIS to pathology departments and how is it documented and demonstrated? How to improve the inadequate understanding on the part of hospital CMIOs and CIOs of clinical labs operations and functionality requirements of the LIS?
  • How can Departments of Pathology work together on information standards (and mandates) that affect Pathology?
We have commitments from major LIS corporations to attend this meeting.  This is an unparalleled opportunity to strategize with multiple vendors at the table on how we can ensure our collective ability to provide patients and providers with the most up-to-date, accurate, rapid and safe laboratory testing through our LISs.  

Interested parties should contact Nova Smith with the Association of Pathology Informatics for information on how you can attend the summit.  I hope to see you there.