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CDC Ebola health IT plan, VNA systems in the news

Texas Health Resources apologizes for Ebola patient care; was it partly for Epic Systems' benefit? Also: CDC Ebola plan and health IT, VNA systems.

The Ebola response -- and health IT's role in it -- continues to make headlines. The latest twist in the story of "patient zero," Thomas Eric Duncan, came during a congressional hearing on the flawed U.S. response to the virus, which has largely confined its deadly progression to West Africa. It hit U.S. shores in early October when Duncan, a Liberian infected with the virus, traveled to Texas. At first, he was misdiagnosed by doctors at a Dallas hospital.

In this podcast, SearchHealthIT News Director Don Fluckinger -- part of the SearchHealthIT "HIT Squad" that also includes Shaun Sutner, news and features writer -- detailed some of the testimony of Daniel Varga, M.D., chief clinical officer of the medical group that oversees Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, and who went under the microscope by Washington lawmakers.

Varga, speaking via video link, acknowledged a series of errors by hospital staff, ranging from the tacit admission that employees were not wearing shoe covers due a lack of appropriate on-the-job training, even though Duncan had displayed symptoms that indicated their use, The New York Times reported. Duncan, who at first was turned away from the hospital, was later readmitted and died of the often-deadly virus.           

Sutner, meanwhile, reflected in the podcast on a wholly unrelated subject, one he recently explored in-depth in the upcoming SearchHealthIT Pulse e-zine: vendor neutral archives, or VNA systems.

VNAs, a popular item on many CIOs' wish lists of late, are central repositories for medical images not only from radiology, but more and more from disparate hospital departments such as cardiology, oncology and dermatology. This can be attributed not only to the march of science, but the patient-engagement initiatives in meaningful use, too.

Sutner concluded that, like in the majority of health IT business, cloud and enterprise approaches both work with VNAs and both are likely to stick around for some time. Interestingly, security is not so big an issue in the VNA systems market because it is hard to steal or lose such big image files, thereby making the cloud option even more attractive than other more text-based health data systems, though perhaps they are more expensive.

Fluckinger also noted that, as Health Data Management has reported, the CDC and ONC have adapted an initiative to help providers meet meaningful use public health measures to include Ebola screening tools in EHRs.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Shaun Sutner, news and features writer or contact @SSutner on Twitter.

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