GE Healthcare (Waukesha, Wisconsin) reported, as part of its healthymagination initiative, a research collaboration with the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS) and Bassett Healthcare (Cooperstown, New York) that GE says will make hospitals safer for patients.

GE's Global Research Center and its partners are developing technologies for use in hospitals to identify and mitigate patient safety risks, including the Smart Patient Room and the Patient-Safety Forecaster, a tool used to model effectiveness and savings associated with patient safety interventions. Testing of the Smart Patient Room technologies and the Patient-Safety Forecaster is expected to begin at Bassett Healthcare this fall.

Smart Patient Room technology will initially focus on three common patient safety risks: hand hygiene, patient falls and clinical rounds adherence. Solutions developed through the healthymagination patient safety collaboration will support hospitals' efforts to improve health outcomes, reduce preventable medical errors and lower costs, GE said.

"Reducing medical errors requires a new understanding of the patient's hospital experience and the development of innovative, discrete technologies that mitigate safety risks," said Deepak Pillai, MD, program manager, GE Healthcare. "This collaboration brings together the technologies and data necessary to help keep patients safe. The result will be a solution that helps caregivers avoid preventable events and enhance patient care."

The Smart Patient Room will include technologies such as optical sensors to track the movement of clinicians and equipment, capture time between events and remotely read bar codes. The system will use artificial intelligence and multiple sensing technologies to monitor, for example, not only when hand washings occur, but also when hand washings should have occurred. As the first-ever technology to do both, the system will help address this often over-looked element of patient safety, according to the company. Data collected will also be used to create reports that compare actual treatment with recommended clinical protocol. Healthcare providers can use this information to manage clinical workflow, identify areas for improvement in care delivery and help ensure patient safety, GE said.

"Smart, predictive technology can help make patients safer and help hospitals operate more efficiently," said William Streck, MD, president/CEO of Bassett Healthcare. "Patient safety is critical to overall health care quality and an urgent industry-wide need. Bassett Healthcare is proud to partner in developing and testing these new technologies aimed at keeping patients safer."

GE will also be involved in the development of a forecasting tool that calculates costs related to patient safety and adverse events. The Patient-Safety Forecaster will help organizations more accurately predict the benefits of various quality and safety investments and track the impact of improvements over time by linking behaviors, patient outcomes and cost. According to the company, the initiative will combine HANYS' deep expertise in healthcare data analysis with GE's forecasting technologies and tools, providing a forward-looking estimate of the magnitude and cost of quality. Bassett will help inform development of the tool and serve as the pilot site for testing forecast accuracy.

In other agreements/contracts news:

• Sentillion (Andover, Massachusetts) reported an agreement with Microsoft (Redmond, Washington) in which Sentillion will supply its single sign-on (SSO) and context management technology to become a featured module of Microsoft Amalga Unified Intelligence System (UIS) 2009.

According to the company, Amalga UIS addresses a common and critical challenge of healthcare providers – how to integrate vast amounts of clinical, administrative and financial data that flows in and out of disparate information systems, and tailor that information for use by physicians, nurses, administrative staff, analysts, laboratory technicians, researchers and administrators.

Through the licensing agreement with Sentillion, Microsoft will offer Sentillion's SSO and context management technology with Amalga UIS, enabling data to be delivered with patient context integrated into existing clinical workflows.

The new offering will be sold directly by Microsoft with the Amalga UIS platform.

• Anakam (San Diego) reported that Sharp Healthcare (also San Diego), San Diego County's largest healthcare system, has selected the Anakam Identity Suite to enable trusted access for patients accessing Sharp's new patient portal. The portal will allow Sharp Rees-Stealy patients to access critical personal health information and perform key functions like reviewing lab results instantaneously, making payments, and reviewing electronic medical record information, the company said.

The Anakam Identity Suite provides Sharp the assurance of trusted access through a next-generation authentication platform that performs identity "proofing" upon patient registration into the portal, and then delivers cost-effective multi-channel two-factor authentication, without the burden of tokens or cards, and in compliance with federal and state healthcare security and privacy standards, according to Anakam.

"At Sharp we are always striving to provide our patient community the best healthcare service and information. The Sharp portal will allow our patients to access their information and perform key healthcare functions anytime and anywhere. Because the nature of the information is sensitive, Sharp wants to provide the assurance to our patients that their information is secure on the portal. With Anakam as a partner, we are able to provide that level of trust while complying with key federal requirements like HIPAA," said Ken Szymanski, Sharp VP, business systems.

• CareMedic Systems (St. Petersburg, Florida) and Healthland (Glenwood, Minnesota) reported an expanded partnership to provide additional value to the healthcare industry. Under the new agreement, Healthland will recommend CareMedic's Audit Management solution to its client base. Currently, Healthland offers CareMedic's direct access Medicare solution and its claims and compliance management applications.

CareMedic, a provider of end-to-end revenue cycle solutions, developed Audit Management in response to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) rollout of the Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) program. Under the RAC program, independent contractors perform both automated and complex audits of historical paid Medicare claims to identify overpayments, which are then "taken back" by CMS. Audit Management not only assists in tracking record requests, deadlines and appeals, but identifies potential risk and includes RAC-specific edits to prevent future problems, the company said.

Healthland specializes in solutions designed to enable small community hospitals to deliver the best in healthcare by helping to create one patient chart across the community, be it a hospital, clinic, home healthcare or long term care facility. According to the company, the outcome of its integrated applications is increased operational efficiencies, improved departmental and organizational communication, and reduced cost, due to more effectively managing patient records and optimizing reimbursement while ensuring regulatory compliance.

• iMedicor (Nanuet, New York) said that it has entered into an agreement with Vitals, a provider of extensive, searchable physician databases. This partnership gives iMedicor the ability to access Vitals' database of more than 700,000 practicing physicians in the U.S. to streamline physicians' registration on the iMedicor portal.

"One of the most precious commodities in a physician's day is time," said Fred Zolla, CEO of iMedicor. "Through this partnership, Vitals' detailed database of physicians practicing in the U.S. will expedite physicians' registration on our portal. After logging on, and authenticating their identity, doctors will be able to access their own, pre-populated curriculum vitae and begin using the portal immediately to take advantage of all the benefits it has to offer."

iMedicor is a free, HIPAA compliant health information exchange portal, offering a proprietary technology solution that addresses the long-standing and widespread inability of disparate electronic medical records systems to communicate, collaborate and exchange medical records in a HIPAA compliant environment. iMedicor provides access to product-specific continuing medical education resources, and facilitates e-prescribing and ordering refills.

• Medicsight (London), a developer of computer-aided detection (CAD) and image analysis software that assists in the early detection and diagnosis of disease, reported that it has signed a non-exclusive, software license and distribution agreement with Alma IT Systems (Barcelona, Spain), a leading developer of advanced digital medical imaging tools across Europe and South America.

The agreement will give Medicsight access to Alma's large installed base of radiology customers in key markets.

As part of the agreement, Medicsight's ColonCAD API 4.0 software will be integrated into Alma's latest Colon viewer, a 3-D visualization workstation which interprets computed tomographic colonography (CTC) image data.

Alma is one of Spain's market leaders in medical imaging technology. It is anticipated that the new product will be offered to both clinicians and PACS customers via the ALMA 3-D workstation and server-based client platforms.

Medicsight CEO Allan Rowley said, "This agreement provides Medicsight with an ideal commercial opportunity to work with Alma and further extend our reach into the European and South American medical imaging markets. We look forward to the swift rollout of the integrated technology."

• ContextVision (Boston) reported a new contract for the implementation of its interventional radiology imaging software, GOPView iRVPlus. The global manufacturer of interventional radiology equipment expects its stationary interventional radiology machines with the image enhancement software to be available on the market later this year.

GOPView iRVPlus enables image enhancement at a level never before achieved in interventional radiology, enabling a dose reduction of more than one third, which minimizes both patient and medical staff exposure during a procedure, without any compromise in image quality or diagnostic value.