PHARMACY

Doctors cite usability as critical to EHR adoption, study finds

BY Alaric DeArment

BURLINGTON, Mass. While the administration of Barack Obama has set aside $2 billion of stimulus money to promote the adoption of electronic health records, the overwhelming majority of doctors say money isn’t the biggest incentive, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by Nuance Communications, a company that supplies speech recognition technologies for EHRs, found that 90% of doctors cited usability as critical to the adoption of EHRs.

Titled “The EHR Meaningful Use Physician Study,” the 1,000-doctor survey was designed to help understand how “meaningful use” provisions in the HITECH Act within the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 should, in their opinion, be defined, the company said. Beginning in 2011, physicians and hospitals can receive incentive payments under Medicare and Medicaid, but only if they are found to be “meaningful” users of EHR.

Ninety percent of the doctors said that getting access to medical records faster without waiting for records to come out of traditional manual transcription would be an important qualification for the federal government to measure as part of pay-outs associated with EHR meaningful use. For 83%, more complete patient reports with higher levels of detail on the patient’s condition and visit were important, while another 83% cited better caregiver-to-caregiver communication based on improved reporting that is more accessible and easily shared. Seventy-nine percent cited improved documentation by pairing the EHR point-and-click template with physician narrative.

“Utilization – actually getting physicians and healthcare provider organizations not just to deploy an EHR system, but to effectively use it for clinical documentation – remains a leading and often overlooked hurdle to national EHR adoption,” Nuance Healthcare SVP marketing and product strategy Peter Durlach said. “By speech-enabling the EHR, many common EHR obstacles can be avoided.”

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Study finds sodium oxybate might significantly improve pain, core symptoms of fibromyalgia

BY Anna Mcgrath

PALO ALTO, Calif. Jazz Pharmaceuticals’ sodium oxybate showed statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in pain and the core symptoms associated with fibromyalgia, according to phase 3 data.

Most patients with fibromyalgia suffer from widespread chronic pain, but the vast majority of patients also are affected by a broader spectrum of symptoms, including fatigue, sleep disturbances, cognitive dysfunction and impaired physical function.

“The data showed that sodium oxybate improves the key symptoms of fibromyalgia: pain, fatigue and sleep disturbances,” said Todd Swick, one of the study’s investigators, medical director of the Houston Sleep Center and assistant clinical professor of neurology at the University of Texas – Houston School of Medicine. “Millions of people are diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and there is a continuing unmet need for therapies that address the constellation of symptoms that can have a significant impact on patients’ quality of life.”

The 14-week study included 548 patients with fibromyalgia and was presented last week at the 2009 Associated Professional Sleep Societies meeting in Seattle.

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Report: Obama to sign tobacco legislaton

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON President Barack Obama has said he will quickly sign a bill that passed in the House Friday that would impose tough new regulations on tobacco, according to published reports.

The bill would place regulation of tobacco products under the authority of the Food and Drug Administration, while also banning such products as cigarettes flavored with cloves and strawberry, and banning cigarette makers from advertising their products with such labels as “light” and “mild.”

More than 400,000 Americans die of smoking-related illnesses every year, and more than 35 million live with chronic lung disease, according to the American Lung Association.

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