A Medical Device Daily

Owens & Minor (Richmond, Virginia) said it has signed a five-year agreement with Novation (Irving, Texas), the healthcare contracting services company for VHA (also Irving) and the University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC; Oak Brook, Illinois), for distribution of medical and surgical supplies to acute-care provider members. The new contract extends a long-term relationship between Owens & Minor and Novation.

The contract, effective from Sept. 1, 2006, through Aug. 31, 2011, allows the 2,500 members of VHA and UHC to select Owens & Minor to provide distribution, logistics and other supply chain management services, all of which are designed to improve the effectiveness and cost of the healthcare supply chain.

According to Novation, its VHA and UHC members collectively purchase some $4.5 billion in medical and surgical products through Novation each year.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID; Washington) reported a $5 million award to support the development of a global network to track avian influenza, with the aim of monitoring the role of migratory birds. The Global Avian Influenza Network for Surveillance, or GAINS, is expected to enhance international efforts to collect and analyze laboratory samples from wild birds and identify genetic changes in the virus. The entire award package totals $6 million, including a $1 million contribution from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Atlanta).

Spearheaded by the Wildlife Conservation Society (Bronx, New York), GAINS will work in countries situated along key migratory routes to improve the collection, coordination, and laboratory evaluation of samples from wild birds. The goal of this work is to enhance understanding of the role wild birds play in the movement of the avian flu virus around the world. In addition, GAINS will create, update, and make available to researchers data related to avian influenza surveillance and migratory bird activity.

“The United States is already supporting efforts to develop animal surveillance and build diagnostic and laboratory capacity in at least 25 countries,” said Dr. Dennis Carroll, Director of USAID's Avian and Pandemic Influenza Response Unit. “The GAINS program is an extension of our important work. The information GAINS produces will feed into systems to warn people about the movement of avian influenza. This network will significantly bolster our ability to support the international community in response to the virus.”

In other grants/contracts news:

AMI Semiconductor (AMIS; Pocatello, Idaho), a designer and manufacturer of integrated mixed-signal and structured digital products for the automotive, medical and industrial sectors, and Sphere Medical (Cambridge, UK), a developer of critical care patient monitoring systems, reported that Sphere Medical has selected AMIS to design and fabricate a sensor interface ASIC for Sphere's continuous arterial blood gas monitor, currently in development.

The Sphere real-time blood gas monitoring solution includes a disposable sensor and AMIS sensor interface ASIC enclosed in a standard IV tubing set.

The office of Gov. Chris Gregoire and the Washington Health Care Authority (HCA; both Seattle) said that Washington state has been awarded a federal contract to determine if its business practices and security and privacy policy support a system that allows patients and medical practices to exchange patient health records electronically.

To facilitate an open, public dialogue about an interoperable health information infrastructure and recommend solutions instrumental in the design of a standardized system, the governor's office designated Qualis Health (also Seattle), a healthcare quality im-provement organization, to serve as the state's lead on the Health Information Privacy and Security Collabor-ation (HISPC).

HISPC is a nationwide program funded by the Research Triangle Institute (Research Triangle Park, North Carolina), under contract with the Department of Health and Human Services.

“The governor made it clear that expanding the use of health information technology is a critical component in efforts to control costs through increased efficiencies,” said Steve Hill, administrator with the HCA. “Equally critical is an assurance to our citizens that such enhancements will not jeopardize their privacy or security.”

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