RelayHealth collaborating with CDC to provide H1N1 information
ATLANTA RelayHealth, a provider of healthcare connectivity services, is helping healthcare providers cope with the recent outbreak of influenza A (H1N1), and aiding the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with monitoring of influenza antiviral prescribing activity nationwide via an authorized prescription data feed, the company announced Monday.
“Our hope is that the H1N1 threat continues to moderate,” stated Jim Bodenbender, RelayHealth’s SVP and general manager. “But whatever the threat level, our secure online interactive tools are available to assist physicians enrolled on the RelayHealth network to keep their patients informed of the latest credible health information at any time.”
Already, physicians are using RelayHealth’s HIPAA-compliant interactive service to broadcast messages securely over the Internet to their patients about the symptoms of H1N1 influenza and what to do if those patients think they have the disease, RelayHealth reported. RelayHealth has also made available H1N1 flu educational content on its network, which doctors can transmit to their patients
And RelayHealth’s Pharmacy Solutions Group is contributing to the national effort to track and limit the spread of the H1N1 flu by providing the CDC with a HIPAA-compliant data feed of antiviral prescriptions filled by a cross-sectional sample from more than 35,000 major chains, regional chains and independent pharmacies throughout the U.S. that have allowed their information to be shared.
RelayHealth provides the CDC with this authorized data feed every four hours, the company stated. On average, RelayHealth sends 400,000 to 500,000 prescription records daily to the CDC.
According to RelayHealth, the agency uses this data to monitor influenza antiviral prescribing activity across the country and shares the data with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“Our ability to swiftly assemble the data on antiviral prescriptions for the CDC is playing a role in the nation’s emergency preparedness effort,” stated Jeff Felton, president of RelayHealth’s Pharmacy Solutions Group.
Influenza activity above national baseline, CDC reports
ATLANTA Influenza activity remained above the national baseline for the week ended May 9, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data released Friday, indicating that there are higher levels of influenza-like illness than is normal for this time of year.
As of May 18, there were 5,123 confirmed infections with novel influenza A (H1N1) virus. But that’s not the only influenza virus out there currently, the CDC noted. Illness rates are particularly prevalent in the Pacific Nortwest and in the Southwest, the CDC noted. During week 18, seasonal influenza A (H1), A (H3), and B viruses continued to co-circulate with novel influenza A (H1N1). Only about half of all influenza viruses being detected are novel H1N1 viruses.
There are more than 200 hospitalizations associated with H1N1 so far. The majority of those hospitalizations are occurring in a younger, healthier population — primarily ranging in patients between 5 and 24. Unlike the typical seasonal flu virus, hospitalizations among patients over the age of 65 is relatively rare.
The spike in illness rates may be more a result of more testing than an actual increase in influenza-like illnesses typical for this late in the season.
“I can with great certainty say that that is a reflection of the amount of testing that’s going on,” noted Dan Jernigan, CDC’s deputy influenza director, during a conference call with reporters Friday. “That significant increase is a reflection of this profound amount of testing that has gone on in the last few weeks. … What that means is that there is, even at this end of the usual season, the regular season, a fair amount of regular viruses that are circulating in addition to these from [H1N1].”
Based on activity so far, the novel H1N1 virus could impact as many as 100,000 people.
“If we had to make an estimate, I would say that the amount of activity we’re seeing with our influenza-like illness network is probably upwards of maybe 100,000, but that’s something we will have a much better estimate of once we get the information back from the field teams that are collecting that data,” Jernigan suggested.
The CDC also increased its death toll associated with the H1N1 virus on Monday — there are now six deaths associated with the novel virus, with the most recent a school official from New York City. Currently, there are 22 U.S. states that are reporting widespread or regional influenza activity. So far, there are 173 hospitalizations that have been reported to CDC attributed to the H1N1 virus.
“The H1N1 virus is not going away,” Jernigan said. “We know that the outbreak is not localized but is spreading and appears to be expanding throughout the United States.”
Target seeks to hit health, wellness bull’s-eye
MINNEAPOLIS Target Corp. on Monday announced two innovative partnerships and new wellness resources designed to support the company’s increased focus on health and wellness.
“We firmly believe that healthy team members create a more successful business and vibrant communities,” stated Jodee Kozlak, Target’s EVP human resources. “We want all team members and their families to focus on prevention — the key to access and affordability.”
Target has partnered with RedBrick Health to pilot a wellness program that includes advocates who are available to assist employees with anything related to health, including benefits and associated claims, identification of the appropriate medical care, health coaching and use of online tools to get and stay healthy.
Target is also providing cash incentives for eligible pilot program participants who complete biometric screenings, health assessment questionnaires, preventive care visits and, if necessary, recommended coaching programs that are intended to help employees reach their personal health goals. Target is one of the first employers to pilot such an innovative program with RedBrick Health, the retailer stated.
Target is also planning to pilot a comprehensive online tool, called MD Health Evolution, as part of a greater initiative in 2009 to further help employees get and stay healthy. The easy-to-use educational tool will be free for pilot members (plus one friend) and is designed to assist them in assessing their current health, learning how to improve their fitness and nutritional habits, and tracking their progress.
In addition, Target also announced May 18 that it is a founding member of the Alliance to Make US Healthiest, a new coalition that strives to help U.S. citizens become more physically and emotionally healthy.
“It is vital for corporations to take an active role in the shaping of health legislation on behalf of their employees,” stated Dr. James Baird, a member of the advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and CEO of the Alliance to Make US Healthiest. “Target has had a long and successful partnership with the CDC and was a founding member of the Alliance. Companies like Target, that make team member health a core business strategy, are more successful and contribute to a stronger and healthier nation.”