On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal featured several articles on new trends in electronic health tools. A summary of the articles appears below.
Open-Source Data Network for Medical Research
A new open-source collaborative effort called Sage Commons aims to advance medical research by allowing scientists to share disease data and models, the Wall Street Journal reports. Sage Bionetworks launched the project last year.
Project organizers say participation in the Sage network could require a cultural shift among scientists who traditionally have avoided sharing research to maintain ownership and build reputations.
The network aims to engage pharmaceutical companies, academic research centers and patient groups in the collaborative research efforts.
So far, the group has facilitated research efforts focused on Huntington's disease and cancer treatments (Dockser Marcus, Wall Street Journal, 4/13).
Medical Education in Second Life
Medical schools, hospitals and health care foundations increasingly are looking to virtual online communities such as Second Life to help medical and nursing students practice clinical skills, the Journal reports.
Proponents say Second Life offers a low-cost environment for students to immerse themselves in medical training simulations.
A Journal video report also examines the trend of using Second Life for medical training (Simon, Wall Street Journal, 4/13).
Regional Health Information Exchanges
The development of regional health information exchanges has the potential to improve patient care and reduce costs, the Journal reports.
The 2009 federal economic stimulus package includes $700 million for development of regional and state health data exchanges.
Proponents say health data exchanges help streamline patient care by facilitating communication between health care providers.
Some experts predict that the U.S. gradually will expand regional data networks to eventually create a nationwide health information exchange (Landro, Wall Street Journal, 4/13).
Strategies for Ensuring EHR Success
Physicians, health care executives and health IT experts say that health care providers should consider certain factors to ensure effective adoption of electronic health records, the Journal reports.
To maximize EHR adoption, experts recommend:
- Ensuring that EHRs prioritize patient care, not administrative functions;
- Seeking out EHR systems that allow for customization; and
- Phasing in EHR applications gradually rather than launching them all at once (Goldstein, Wall Street Journal, 4/13).
Consumer Tracking of Health
The Journal also examined new technologies and online tools that allow patients to record and track their health information and manage their conditions (De Avila, Wall Street Journal, 4/13).