A Medical Device Daily

Microsoft (Redmond, Washington) and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS; Chicago) have reported the launch of the Microsoft Health Users Group (MS-HUG) in the Asia-Pacific region, a step they said will provide regional healthcare organizations and technology partners with access to an online forum to facilitate the development of healthcare solutions.

The MS-HUG forum is a venue for what Microsoft and HIMSS term "influencers" and developers of healthcare technology solutions to collaborate and contribute to aspects of solutions built on Microsoft software platforms.

They said the forum "allows the healthcare technology community to discover new uses for existing technology, provide development support, network with peers, and to discuss needs and desires arising from the current use of healthcare IT."

MS-HUG is currently accessible to healthcare organizations and technology partners in North America and in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

"Extending Microsoft HUG to the [Asia-Pacific] healthcare community provides an expanded forum for collaboration and the sharing of knowledge and experience across a growing ecosystem of health organizations and technology partners," said Gabe Rijpma, health industry director at Microsoft Asia Pacific (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia).

He added, "Collaboration enables the ecosystem to better demonstrate how technology can help solve healthcare challenges in the region and improve health costs, quality, and access for citizens."

The forum is designed to allow technology partners to gain insight into healthcare-specific requirements, improve their ability to target technology innovation, help health organizations improve service delivery, and achieve a stronger return on technology investments.

"This is brought about by sharing knowledge with others in the MS-HUG community who have overcome similar challenges," Rijpma said. "Our priority is to enable better and further collaboration between technology and people to break down the information barriers that exist between the disparate IT environments across the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. Through solution accelerators that enable interoperability in key areas such as secure messaging, clinical information worker and clinical data manipulation, we can enable solutions that are otherwise not available to existing healthcare IT environments."

MS-HUG's membership has grown to include more than 5,000 members and 31 corporate supporters across North America and the EMEA region. This community is united by a shared interest in implementing vendor- and user-developed software based on Microsoft technology to improve healthcare quality and efficiency, while reducing complexity and cost.

Steven Yeo, vice president and executive director for HIMSS Asia Pacific, said, "MS-HUG enables us to further promote our mission to lead change in the healthcare information and management systems field through knowledge sharing, advocacy, collaboration, innovation, and community affiliation. Our goal is to drive better patient care, and this is another step in that direction."

HealthLanguage (Denver), a health IT applications developer, shares the vision for broder development opportunities. Speaking at the launch of MS-HUG Asia-Pacific, Marc Horowitz, senior vice president, said: "The diverse nature of healthcare requires partners to collaborate effectively to respond to the various needs of professionals involved. By offering healthcare professionals the ability to simply, quickly, and accurately enter and access clinical information, this combination of technologies supports [the] shared goal of providing easy-to-use, standardized solutions that enhance patient care and safety."

New biliary stent released

Olympus Medical Systems (Tokyo), in collaboration with Medinol (Tel Aviv, Israel), reported the European release of the X-Suit NIR, a biliary metallic stent featuring what the companies termed "exceptional anatomic conformability."

The new stent will launch in Europe and parts of Asia later this week, followed by the U.S. launch in the latter part of April.

The device will be launched in Japan and other sales territories after obtaining marketing approval from the regulatory authorities.

Haruhito Morishima, president of Olympus Medical Systems, said, "This product, which is an essential component of endoscopic treatment for biliary duct lesions, is the fruit of years of groundwork in collaboration with . . . Medinol."

Olympus, a producer of gastrointestinal endoscopes, has commercialized a variety of duodenal endoscopes and therapeutic devices for the pancreatic biliary tract to support the diagnosis and treatment of associated diseases. It said it plans to continue to enhance its line of metallic stents.

The X-Suit NIR is a metallic mesh tube that is placed for dilating a stenosis within a vessel of the human body such as a blood vessel, bile duct, esophagus, trachea, etc.

The stent's cell geometry, called NIRflex Cell Design, uses a shape-memory alloy. Alternating narrow strut rings and wide strut rings give the stent what Olympus said is "superior radial force and high flexibility." The company said the peak-to-valley cell construction ensures that the stent surface remains smooth and point-free even when bent at a sharp angle.

There is virtually no foreshortening after the stent is released from the delivery catheter, and the stent can be placed precisely at the target position, according to Olympus.

First Taiwanese use of Elekta VMAST

A prostate cancer patient has received treatment using Elekta (Stockholm, Sweden) VMAT (Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy) at the National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH), the first institution in the Asia Pacific region to offer VMAT.

Elekta said VMAT enables "dramatically reduced treatment times and more precise targeting of tumors by simultaneously controlling all aspects of the treatment. By delivering radiation in less time, VMAT technology minimizes the opportunity for organ motion, which further enhances the precision of the radiation treatment."

NTUH treated the patient with the Elekta VMAT solution that includes ERGO++ treatment planning software. The patient was treated on Elekta Synergy, a multi-functional linear accelerator that enables clinicians to both image and treat patients in the same frame of reference, at the time of treatment.

Jason Chia-Hsien Cheng, MD, PhD, chief of the division of radiation oncology in the Department of Oncology at NTUH, said, "Our first patient undergoing VMAT is a 76-year-old retired gentleman with prostate cancer. The treatment time was less than three minutes."

More than 200 cancer patients are treated with radiotherapy at the Taiwanese hospital every day.

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