Univ. of Utah Health opens EP MRI lab

University of Utah Health Care (Salt Lake City) celebrated the opening of the first integrated electrophysiology (EP) MRI laboratory in North America. Located on the fourth floor of University Hospital, the lab will accelerate the work of University physicians and researchers in diagnosing and treating atrial fibrillation (AF), a heart rhythm disorder affecting more than 3.5 million Americans and causing more than 66,000 deaths each year.

The new lab features an 18,000-pound MAGNETOM 3T Verio from Siemens, which offers some of the most advanced MRI services clinically available. The MRI's three-dimensional imaging provides greater resolution of the heart tissue than the two-dimensional images typically used, giving physicians a more precise and powerful tool for diagnosis and treatment.

Patient Command urges new EHR rules

Patient Command (McLean, Virginia) has asked Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, to adopt new rules defining how computers should exchange medical records electronically (be interoperable). Qualified Electronic Health Records are crucial in President Obama's stimulus legislation, and they must be interoperable under the new law. Sec. Sebelius faces a Dec. 31 deadline to adopt initial rules for interoperability.

Patient Command's simplified recommendations are based on combining existing technology and evolving medical record standards in new ways. The new rules would require all qualified electronic health records to be capable of using a standard formatting process that exists today (called XML) to input and output medical record narrative. These functions can be added affordably to established (legacy) healthcare computer systems.

The present incompatible legacy systems could then routinely exchange narrative (and pictures such as X-rays and MRIs) in standard formats that doctors use.