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IRS contracts with SAIC to bolster data management, security

The federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently awarded Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) a contract totaling more than $10 million to help process data and manage security, Federal Computer Week reports. Under the one-year time-and-materials task order, which includes two additional one-year options, SAIC will provide information technology support services including data production and troubleshooting for IRS computer systems at the Memphis, Tenn.-based Enterprise Computing Center. In addition, SAIC will perform systems acceptance testing, communications and security management, and systems monitoring and analysis (Hubler, Federal Computer Week, 1/7/08).

Pennsylvania health system to launch clinical data system interoperability project

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) on Feb. 3 will begin rolling out an interoperability project designed to link disparate clinical systems used by UPMC facilities and give providers more efficient access to patient data, InformationWeek reports. In recent years, UPMC has acquired health facilities that use various clinical systems, often forcing UPMC providers to access multiple systems for vital patient information. To increase efficiency and data access, UPMC since 2006 has been working with dbMotion, an Israel-based middleware- and software provider, to achieve interoperability and create a single UPMC clinical data portal. Borne out of the collaboration, the latest system will allow UPMC providers to quickly view patient data such as lab results and drug allergies culled from various electronic medical records systems. In addition, UPMC and dbMotion worked together to achieve “semantic interoperability,” in which data, messages and documents from disparate systems are analyzed and mapped to standard medical terminology, thus reducing the risk for misinterpretation, according to UPMC. Initially, UPMC will implement the new system for 45 providers at two emergency departments, 16 physicians at two primary care facilities and 10 providers at a UPMC medical subspecialty clinic, but plans to eventually include all of it’s 20 hospitals and 400 outpatient facilities (McGee, InformationWeek, 1/3/08).

Tennessee researchers tap data farming to investigate workplace improvements for nurses

Memphis, Tenn.-based Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare has partnered with the University of Memphis Center for Healthcare Technology for a research project that aims to identify strategies for improving nurse workflow and efficiency, Healthcare IT News reports. Tapping a process known as data farming, the researchers will use computer simulations to quickly analyze and identify ways to use hospital products most efficiently and provide optimal patient care with the least amount of resources and strain. Specifically, researchers will examine nurse workflow scenarios and test health information technology applications and various physical layouts to increase nurses’ time at patient bedsides. Preliminary data from the project suggests that changes made to improve nurse workflow may also lead to shorter patient hospital stays, thus boosting hospitals’ bottom line, as well as improved nurse retention and lower nurse-to-patient ratios, according to the center’s director. Hospital and center officials plan to publish a report of their findings and hold workshops to help other facilities adopt data farming strategies (Manos, Healthcare IT News, 1/4/08).

California company reports product interoperability as top concern among consumers

San Francisco, Calif.-based Open Solutions Alliance (OSA) recently released its 2007 Customer Forum Series findings, which suggest consumers are most concerned with interoperability, TMCnet reports. Based on surveys of more than 100 customers in 5 major U.S. and European cities, OSA found that “interoperability between open products” is of top importance to customers. According to the president of OSA, these findings underscore an opportunity for the self-described “vendor-neutral consortium” to begin promoting a fully interoperable business tool suite. He adds that, by ensuring its members' products work well together, OSA will make it easier for its channel partners to sell open-source software, a move that “will translate into more revenue for vendors and even more options for customers." Meanwhile, the consumer report also found that the application server, Jboss; the commercial databases, MySQL and Postgres; and the Eclipse development platform are the most widely used open-source applications, while software such as Customer Relationship Management and Enterprise Content Management applications are also becoming more popular. In addition, forum participants also raised non-technical interoperability concerns including how to support and manage integrated products that are sourced from multiple vendors. To help its members improve interoperability, OSA in summer 2007 released its first interoperability prototype, which integrates data from diverse applications to display specific standards and best practices for delivering a Common Customer View across open applications (Sims, TMCnet, 1/7/08).

U.S. agency to lead international global positioning satellite tracking effort

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Monday announced it will launch an international project to determine exact locations of more than 40 global positioning satellites currently orbiting Earth, Government Computer News reports. Across four years, NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey researchers will study satellite orbit data from 10 analysis centers worldwide and will coordinate information provided by the International Global Navigation Satellite Systems Service. Officials expect the project to help ensure the accuracy of global positioning systems data used in both the public and private sectors (Marshall, Government Computer News, 1/7/08).

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