GE Healthcare/CDC partnership would link public health alerts to EMRs

A separate collaboration with Intel involves home health monitoring devices.

By Pamela Lewis Dolan — Posted April 22, 2009

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GE Healthcare, a subsidiary of General Electric Co., announced in April its involvement in two separate partnerships aimed at connecting physicians.

One, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Public Health Informatics, is meant to develop a project that will demonstrate the capability for physicians to receive public health alerts in a patient- and situation-specific way, at the point of care.

Currently, physicians get public health alerts via fax or e-mails or on the CDC Web site. But if the project takes off as planned, physicians would receive alerts within their electronic medical records as they are applicable to cases.

Charles Safran, MD, chief of clinical computing at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and a senior scientist for the CDC, said the success of the project will depend on the adoption rates of electronic medical records. "But there is value to the country today from changing the model from broadcast to targeted with respect to public health information."

Eventually, reporting infectious disease outbreaks to the CDC will be done automatically through EMRs, taking the burden off physicians to keep up to date on reporting requirements, Dr. Safran said.

Leslie Lenert, MD, director of the CDC's National Center for Public Health Informatics, said physicians now are doing the right thing in an outbreak 20% of the time. "If we could get that up to 60% or 80% then we would really know the extent of the outbreak and we would be able to track it faster. We would really understand the full public health impact of what we are doing."

GE Healthcare developed the technology that will integrate the alerts into EMR systems. Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and the University of Utah are also collaborating on the project by developing the clinical recommendations and processes for when an alert would be displayed.

In a separate announcement, GE said it has partnered with Intel to invest $250 million over the next five years in developing new home health monitoring devices. Through the partnership, Intel will develop new home monitoring technology that GE will help distribute. Google and IBM announced a similar partnership a few months ago.

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