Health System Review – October 30th, 2012

Data Security Issues Plague VA Medical Centers

Sandy Prompts Harrowing NYC Hospital Evacuation
The Associated Press – October 30, 2012
Nearly 300 patients were evacuated floor by floor from New York University Langone Medical Center that lost generator power at the height of superstorm Sandy. Rescuers and staff at New York University Langone Medical Center, some making 10 to 15 trips down darkened stairwells, began their mission Monday night, the youngest and sickest first, finishing about 15 hours later. Among the first out were 20 babies in neonatal intensive care, some on battery-powered respirators. Meanwhile, other New York hospitals canceled outpatient appointments and elective surgeries. And several closed and evacuated patients, including New York Downtown Hospital, a Manhattan campus of the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System and other NYU-affiliated facilities. Bellevue and Coney Island Hospital were evacuating Tuesday afternoon. At NYU, sporadic telephone service made it difficult for the hospital to notify relatives where patients were taken. It relied instead on receiving hospitals to notify families. Mayor Michael Bloomberg was clearly angry about the NYU Medical Center crisis when he addressed reporters late Monday, saying hospital officials had assured the city they had working backup power.

VA Must Adopt Effective Approach to Secure Sensitive Data
Health Data Management – October 29, 2012
An investigation by the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Veterans Affairs found that the agency’s medical centers did not adequately monitor the data that they share with their research partners. “In numerous instances, we identified unsecured electronic and hardcopy research data at VA medical centers and in co-located research facilities,” the report said. The VA should adopt a centralized governance model and formalize agreements with affiliate universities and research groups to secure sensitive data, according to the OIG.

Medical Device Costs Grew Less than 1% over 20 Years
MassDevice – October 24, 2012
A new AdvaMed report says that contrary to claims that medical devices are driving up health care costs, spending on these technologies rose from 5.3% to just 6.0% from 1989 to 2010. “Medical devices are a relatively small and very slowly growing share of national health expenditures,” noted the report, which builds on a study released by AdvaMed last year.

Hospital Quality Varies Significantly by State
USA Today – October 23, 2012
A Healthgrades report said the quality of hospital care varies significantly among states but Arizona, California, Illinois and Ohio have the highest care ratings for coronary artery bypass graft, heart attack, pneumonia and sepsis. The report, which analyzed data from CMS, said patients treated at the best hospitals have a 55% lower risk of death and a 42% lower risk of complications.

Coalition Aims to Standardize Clinical Trial Data Reporting
Express Pharma – October 25, 2012
The FDA joined the Clinical Data Interchange Standards Consortium and the Critical Path Institute to form the Coalition For Accelerating Standards and Therapies to develop and maintain data standards regarding individual diseases and therapeutic areas. CFAST will bring together experts in health care technology, government and the drug industry to develop standards so that data from multiple trials regarding the same therapeutic area or disease can be more easily grouped for analysis and reporting.