Penn. technology group awards nearly $1.5 to advance research projects

Pennsylvania’s Technology Collaborative, a statewide economic development organization, recently announced its most recent round of funding totaling $1.48 million for eight projects, the Pittsburgh Business Times reports. Recipients based in Pittsburgh include Concurrent Design Automation, which received $192,500 for a project to improve the writing of sequential software applications, and the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, which received $200,000 for a project it is collaborating on with Seagate to demonstrate innovative video indexing technology. In addition, Valley Technologies in Tamaqua received $231,500 for a project to develop a platform for optical next generation networks. All eight projects are scheduled to begin in May and June (Lyons, Pittsburgh Business Times, 4/2/08).

Air Force contracts with Hawaii university for data management project

The University of Hawaii recently earned an $8 million contract from the U.S. Air Force to develop a telescope data management system, the Pacific Business News reports. The contract will support the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System's multiyear program to develop and deploy the telescope data management system, which will be able to detect and catalog large numbers of asteroids and near-Earth objects (Pacific Business News, 4/1/08).

VoIP tops industry job, pay growth list

Business research firm IBISWorld Inc. recently released data suggesting that providers of voice-over Internet protocol (VoIP) services will see average annualized job growth of roughly 19.4 percent through 2012 and average annualized wage growth of 21.8 percent, the Triangle Business Journal reports. According to IBISWorld's 2008 hot jobs list, the VoIP field ranks far ahead of the other industries, with fashion design services taking a close second on the list of industries that will create the most jobs, with an expected job growth of 5.2 percent in 2008. IT support, CRM and business-process services tied for the ninth spot in the top 10 fields for job growth. Meanwhile, a number of industries top the list of jobs that will see the most growth in pay including search engines and automobile racing and other spectator sports, such as golf and boxing (Triangle Business Journal, 4/2/08).

Intel prices new Atom chip packages

Intel Corp. on Wednesday announced that its new Centrino Atom chip package will cost from $45 to $160, depending on clock speed of the processor, the Sacramento Business Journal reports. Intel officials note that there will be five versions of the processor, formerly called Silverthorne. According to Intel, the Atom processors, designed specifically for handheld computers with a touch screen or slide-out keyboard, have a thermal design power ranging from 0.65 watts to 2.4 watts and draw 80 milliwatts to 100 milliwatts when idling. Maximum clock speeds available are 800MHz, 1.1GHz, 1.33GHz, 1.6GHz and 1.8GHz, with respective costs of $45, $45, $65, $95 and $160 in 1,000-unit quantities. The Journal notes that these prices are below Intel's Core 2 Duo mobile processor costs, which range from $637 to $209 in the same quantities (Sacramento Business Journal, 4/2/08).

Genetics Experts Weigh In on Personalized DNA Test Web Service

WAMU's "The Diane Rehm Show" on Tuesday featured a discussion about genetics testing with Linda Avey—co-founder of 23andMe, an online service that tests and decodes DNA. Other guests on the program included George Church, professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School; Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute; and Beth Peshkin, senior genetics counselor at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University Medical Center (Rehm, "The Diane Rehm Show," WAMU, 4/1/08).

European project to mine EHR databases for adverse drug trends

A European initiative involving 18 research institutions is mining the electronic health records (EHRs) of more than 30 million patients to detect trends in adverse drug reactions, eHealth Insider reports. Launched in February and slated to run for 42 months, the ALERT project will use a range of text mining, epidemiological and other computational techniques to analyze EHRs and flag combinations of drugs and other suspected adverse reactions for further investigation. The project has received €5 million—roughly $7.8 million—in funding from the European Community's Seventh Framework to carry out the initiative. In the United Kingdom, investigators will use a research database of roughly 10 million patients from the not-for-profit QResearch, a partnership between the University of Nottingham and Egton Medical Information Systems. Other institutions, which will analyze their own respective databases, include the Arhus University Hospital in Denmark, Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands, and the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. The QResearch project leader, also a University of Nottingham professor, notes that "the ALERT project aims to develop the first Europe-wide computerized system to detect [adverse drug reactions] better and faster than the current spontaneous reporting systems." She adds that, "although we are not sharing data, we are sharing technology" (eHealth Insider, 3/31/08).

HP to acquire Australian software company

Hewlett-Packard on Monday announced plans to purchase Tower Software for an undisclosed amount, the San Jose Business Journal reports. According to officials, the deal with Australia-based Tower will expand HP’s offerings in the electronic discovery and compliance software market. Specifically, Tower develops and markets enterprise content management software applications, primarily for regulated and government industries. The board of directors of Tower, which has more than 22 years of paper and electronic records management experience and serves roughly 1,000 customers with more than 780,000 users in 32 countries, has unanimously approved the transaction (San Jose Business Journal, 3/31/08).

CMS adds patient survey data to Hospital Compare Web site

The Hospital Quality Alliance on Friday posted results from the first national survey of patients’ care experiences on the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Hospital Compare Web site, the New York Times reports. The data reflect responses to the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, a survey of randomly chosen patients conducted between October 2006 and June 2007 at more than 2,500 hospitals. Patients rated the facility where they received treatment overall on a zero-to-10 scale, as well as factors such as the communication skills and responsiveness of physicians and nurses, the quality of discharge instructions received, pain control, the hospital’s cleanliness and quietness, and assistance received in using the bathroom, among other areas. Overall, 67 percent of patients said they would definitely recommend the facility where they had been treated to a friend or relative, and 63 percent awarded their hospitals an overall score of nine or 10. CMS officials note that the addition of patient satisfaction information to the Hospital Compare Web site enables consumers “to make effective decisions about the quality and value of the health care available to them through local hospitals.” CMS plans to quarterly updates of patient survey data and will incorporate data on most of U.S. hospitals by the close of 2008 (Pear, New York Times, 3/29/08 [registration required]; Associated Press/Washington Post, 3/28/08 [registration required]; CMS  release, 3/28/08). 

Georgia program to offer incentives for physician EHR use

The Georgia Department of Community Health recently launched its new state Medicare Electronic Health Records (EHR) Community Partnership, a program designed to boost EHR adoption among small- and medium-sized physician practices statewide, Healthcare IT News reports. Under the five-year program, the department will offer financial incentives to physician groups that use certified EHRs to meet clinical quality measures. Specifically, the state will pay physicians annual bonuses for each year they score on a standardized survey assessing EHR use to support care delivery. The state's Medicare EHR demonstration project aims to help Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue's (R) achieve his goal of establishing a statewide health information to exchange (Manos, Healthcare IT News, 3/31/08).

NASA awards data system contract to University of Alaska

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently awarded the University of Alaska's data center a $39 million, five-year contract to manage and operate NASA's Earth Observing System Data and Information System Synthetic Aperture Radar Distributed Active Archive Center, United Press International reports. Specifically, the archive center is designed to collect, process, archive, distribute and support science data from, but not limited to, Synthetic Aperture Radar satellites. According to UPI, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., is responsible for providing access to data from NASA's Earth science program to scientific and other users (UPI, 4/1/08).

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