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The Nursing Informatics Symposium titled Nursing Informatics: Shaping Healthcare Delivery makes its opening debut in Orlando, FL, on Sunday, February 22, at the same location as that for the 2004 Annual HIMSS Conference and Exhibition. Bringing together nursing leaders and those on the "front lines" of nursing informatics, the program will address issues critical to nursing today. Topics such as measuring systems success, clinical workflow, electronic documentation, point of care bar coding, medication management, systems design and implementation, project management, patient safety, electronic health record, nursing terminology and data standards, and new models of nursing leadership will be covered. Designed by nurses from 11 nursing informatics professional organizations, the symposium offers a unique learning opportunity. Opportunities for networking will abound, and a specially designed guide to the exhibit floor will help to assure a vibrant wealth of learning. Cosponsoring organizations include AMIA, ANIA, BANIC, CARING, DVNCN, Iowa HIMSS Chapter, MANI, NISCNE, PSNI, SCINN and UNIN. For more information go to:





The University of Colorado School of Nursing was recently awarded a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to focus on the development of an online nursing informatics master's degree program. The CU School of Nursing is 1 of 36 colleges and organizations across the country to be awarded an advanced education grant by the HHS to address the growing nursing shortage.


The grant, which amounts to $707,244 over 3 years, will be used in an effort to increase the number of master's degree prepared nurses in the field of health care informatics, particularly in rural and underserved areas of Colorado and the Western region. The nursing informatics program integrates nursing science, computer science, and information science to manage and communicate data, information, and knowledge in nursing practice. Nursing informatics professionals support patients, nurses, and other providers in their decision making and health communications in all roles and settings.


"This flexible online program will enable registered nurses (RNs) from across the Western region to be educated as informatics nurse specialists," said Diane J. Skiba, PhD, FAAN, associate professor and director of the project. "The recent Institute of Medicine Report on Health Professions Education recommends that all health care professionals receive informatics training. Educated informatics nurse specialists will greatly benefit the health care community and their patients."


The 36-credit hour online program enables rural RNs to earn their master's degrees without ever stepping foot on the CU-Health Sciences Center campus. Wendy McCullar, director of recruitment and learner support at the CU School of Nursing, said this program is one of handful in the country featuring a completely online informatics program. The nursing master's degree with a specialization in health care informatics is approved by the Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP). There are 14 western states that are part of this WRGP, and in an effort to encourage more nurses to seek graduate training, nurses who are from WRGP states participating in the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education qualify for in-state tuition at the CU School of Nursing.


Audrey Howard, project administrator at the CU School of Nursing, said the grant also funds the continued development of the I-Collaboratory concept, which supports the retention and development of students for their future roles as informatics specialists.


"Under the I-Collaboratory concept, students are encouraged to network with their colleagues and experts in the field. They can share job descriptions, receive access to the latest employment opportunities, and share collaborative workspace for group projects, all in effort to create a supportive learning community for our distance-learning students," Howard said.


The CU School of Nursing is actively recruiting new students to participate in the health care informatics master's degree program. Already there are 30 students enrolled in the program from across the nation.


For more information about the program, call 303-315-2428 or e-mail [email protected]. For admission information, visit


The University of Colorado Health Sciences Center is 1 of 4 campuses in the University of Colorado system. Located in Denver and Aurora, CO, the center includes schools of medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and dentistry, a graduate school, and 2 hospitals. For more information, visit the Web site at





Computer scientists at the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released an initial public draft of NIST Special Publication 800-53, Recommended Security Controls for Federal Information Systems (NIST SP 800-53), which explains recommended security controls for computer systems. The publication, which details controls that will become mandatory for most federal systems in 2005, is expected to have a wide audience beyond the federal government.


NIST invites public comments on the new draft guidelines for 3 months and will hold an open, public workshop in March 2004 to share comments and discuss possible revisions to the draft. The document is downloadable as a .pdf file at Security controls are the management, operational, and technical safeguards and countermeasures prescribed for a computer system that, taken together, adequately protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of a system and its information.


Management safeguards range from risk assessment to security planning. Operational safeguards include factors such as personnel security and basic hardware/software maintenance. Technical safeguards include items such as audit trails and communications protection. NIST SP 800-53 provides a method for categorizing security risk levels based upon another recent NIST document, the draft FIPS Publication 199, Standards for Security Categorization of Federal Information and Information Systems (downloadable version available at the same Web address listed previously for the draft SP 800-53). The recommendations in the new NIST SP 800-53 guidelines are based on factors such as how critical is a particular information system and the potential for harm to individuals (including privacy). State, local, and tribal governments, as well as private-sector organizations comprising the critical infrastructure of the United States, are encouraged to review the draft guidelines and may wish to consider using them once finalized. They are applicable to all federal computer systems, with the exception of those designated as national security systems.


NIST SP 800-53 will serve as NIST's interim guidance to civilian federal agencies on security controls. This will allow agencies to gain practical experience with the guidelines and offer appropriate feedback to NIST. The guidelines, once modified using agency and public comments, will serve as the basis for NIST's development of Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 200, Minimum Security Controls for Federal Information Systems. NIST expects to publish FIPS 200 in the fall of 2005. While NIST SP 800-53 is a guideline, FIPS 200 will be mandatory for all systems at civilian federal agencies, excluding those designated for national security.


The Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 mandated that NIST develop the new FIPS. As a nonregulatory agency of the US Department of Commerce's Technology Administration, NIST develops and promotes measurement, standards, and technology to enhance productivity, facilitate trade, and improve the quality of life.





A new nationwide survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project has found that 25% of respondents are using e-mail less often because of spam, and this group has greatly reduced its use of e-mail overall.


Further, more than half of respondents reported that in general they trust e-mail less because of spam. They fear that legitimate messages might be turned away by spam filters, or that they'll simply miss incoming e-mail from friends, family, or colleagues because of inboxes cluttered by spam.


Scores of such stories gathered in a Web survey are collected in a new report, entitled "Spam: Hurting email and degrading the Internet environment," by the Pew Project. Other key figures from a national phone survey of 1380 Internet users conducted by the Pew Internet Project in June include (margin of error 6 points) the following:


* 75% of email users are bothered that they can't stop the flow of spam, no matter what they do


* 70% of email users say spam has made being online unpleasant or annoying


* 55% of email users say they get so many unwanted email messages in their personal account that it's hard to get to the ones they want


* 30% of email users are concerned that their filtering devices may block incoming email that is important to them.



Most Internet users keep the issue of spam in perspective, and many believe they know how to behave in a spam-saturated environment. The most popular way of dealing with spam is to simply click "delete." More than two-thirds have made a more aggressive move, clicking to "remove me" from future mailings, although many voice concern that doing so only leads to more spam.


And most e-mail users are judicious about guarding their email addresses in hopes of avoiding spam. A minority employ their own filters, either in work or personal accounts.


At the same time, there is evidence in the survey that enough Americans respond to offers in unsolicited email to sustain spam as a viable, lucrative endeavor. Some 7% of e-mailers-more than 8 million people-report they have ordered a product or service that was offered in an unsolicited email. Fully a third of email users say they have clicked on a link in unsolicited commercial email to get more information.


The report argues that Americans are somewhat fuzzy when it comes to defining spam, an issue of critical importance to legislators as they tackle anti-spam legislation in Congress. There is consensus that spam is "unsolicited commercial email from a sender you don't know." However, messages with religious, political, or charity fundraising content are spam to some users, but not others. And users have varying answers about how businesses should interpret their prior relationship with customers. There is not a clear consensus among users about the circumstances under which they are "known" by a seller or "have a relationship with" a firm.


The Pew Internet & American Life Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts to examine the social impact of the Internet.


The Telecommunications Research & Action Center (TRAC) is a nonprofit organization that promotes the interests of residential telecommunications customers. Their stories cited in the report come from a compilation of more than 4000 first-person narratives about spam that were solicited since September of 2002. As part of a campaign to fight unsolicited commercial email, TRAC invited Internet users to submit stories about their personal experiences with spam.


For the full report:





NVIDIA Corporation, a maker of visual processing solutions, has been elected by technology industry peers to a place as a permanent voting member of the OpenGL Architecture Review Board (ARB). Formed in 1992, the OpenGL ARB is an independent consortium that governs the OpenGL specification. Composed of many of the industry's leading graphics vendors, the ARB defines conformance tests and approves new OpenGL features and extensions. The ARB has 9 permanent voting members, including industry luminaries such as IBM, HP, Apple, and its founder, Silicon Graphics, Inc.


OpenGL has become the industry's most widely used and supported 2D and 3D graphics application programming interface (API), bringing thousands of applications to a wide variety of computer platforms. OpenGL fosters innovation and speeds application development by incorporating a broad set of rendering, texture mapping, special effects, and other powerful visualization functions.


OpenGL enables visual computing applications, from markets such as computer-aided design and digital content creation, to exploit modern graphics hardware. This capability allows developers catering to sectors including auto manufacturing, medical imaging, and film production to create compelling graphics. NVIDIA has been driving several of the key new features of the upcoming OpenGL 1.5 release such as vertex buffer objects and occlusion queries. NVIDIA was also one of the primary contributors to the new OpenGL Shading Language extension. In addition, NVIDIA contributed technology and expertise toward the development of the following graphics language features:


* OpenGL Shading Language: This feature allows programmers to write "shaders" (programs that describe how to color pixels) in a vendor-neutral way, in a C-like language. Previously, many per-pixel effects in OpenGL were created either through the use of texture maps (2D or volumetric images being mapped onto surfaces of objects), or through low-level assembly-language-like interfaces.


* Multitexturing: This is an optimization that is now almost ubiquitous in modern games. Previously, many games would render the colors of the pixels by rendering textured objects, then render a second pass where effects such as "lightmaps" or other lighting tricks would be layered atop the colored pixels. Now, both the lighting and colors, or even just other blending of colors (such as skin + a mesh shirt), can be rendered in one pass. This has been in OpenGL since about 1998.


* Vertex and Fragment programming: This is the low-level assembly-language equivalent of the OpenGL Shading Language. These languages were easier for developers to first start learning how graphics hardware works, but going forward, higher level languages are likely to dominate how programmers use the programmability in GPUs.


* Cube Mapping: This is a way of achieving effects where the "environment" around an object can be mapped onto objects. An example of this is the "Bubble" demo on NVIDIA's Web site. The effects range from reflections in a chrome object or water, to other interesting lighting effects.


* Point sprites: In some games and other applications, the effects are best achieved by rendering many small "sprites" or images, rather than modeling each item as a separate 3D model. An example of this would be raindrops during a heavy storm, or particles from an explosion. Point sprites are an easy way for an application to send the minimum amount of data to the GPU, and let the GPU render the data as a more complex object (such as a droplet of water).


* Non-power-of-two textures: This relaxes a long-standing restriction imposed on 3D artists that the images mapped onto objects needed to be a power-of-two (ie, 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32,[horizontal ellipsis]) in width and height. Effects such as mapping DVD video, which is a different size (often 720 x 480) were difficult. Non-power-of-two texturing will allow artists to have more flexibility in how they author the artwork.



The ARB's unanimous vote comes as a result of NVIDIA's continuous dedication and commitment to the evolution of OpenGL through versions 1.3, 1.4, and 1.5. For many years, NVIDIA has been an active participant in the OpenGL ARB, and has contributed resources, technologies, and support to many working groups.





Objective Data Storage, Inc (ODS), has joined forces with Verbatim Corp, a supplier of CD- and DVD-format media, to provide an end-to-end solution for capturing, storing, and outputting patient records. Each component in the new MediDisc System is fully compliant with DICOM data structure storage standards and meets the HIPAA requirements for patient record privacy, security, and tracking.


The 2 firms have been working for more than a year to develop, test, and refine a scaleable solution that could grow from a single workstation to a hospital-wide system, and complies with both the DICOM standard for image management and the HIPAA requirements for record tracking and reporting.


The MediDisc system will be marketed under the Verbatim brand by authorized resellers, use specially developed CD/DVD recording discs, and will be serviced and supported by ODS, whose software provides complete functionality with DICOM-compliant image records as well as HIPAA forms support, historical study access, and connectivity to ODS' Image Archive Appliance (IAA), which provides DICOM image lifecycle management.


The system began shipping in October 2003, with all software components fully integrated into a single, expandable system operating behind a browser-based user interface. When the system, which includes the intelligent workstation and CD/DVD printer duplicator, receives DICOM images from a health care facility's network, the central storage archive, or directly from a medical imaging system, the user can choose to store patient information locally, "push" it to another workstation, or write it to a serialized MediDisc CD or DVD.


To address the needs of the health care industry, Verbatim developed the MediDisc DataLife Plus CD-R and DVD-R media with unique disc numbering that is added during the production process to enable easy, reliable media tracking. To protect the critical patient data from heat, UV light, humidity, oxygen, and other factors, Verbatim uses the firm's patented Metal Azo recording dye technology in the production of the MediDisc media.


Verbatim Corp, a Mitsubishi Chemical Company, designs, develops, and manufactures high-performance, high-quality CD-Recordable, CD-ReWriteable, DVD-Recordable and ReWriteable DVD media products, as well as 3.5-in. and 5.25-in. MO media, magnetic media, and imaging products. For more information, visit the company's Web site at


Objective Data Storage is a privately funded Columbia, MD-based developer and reseller of enterprise data storage software products and solutions. Visit for more information.





PeopleView Compliance Group (PCG) has announced a comprehensive, on-line assessment tool called ComplianceSight to help companies of all sizes comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX). In addition to general SOX compliance, ComplianceSight focuses on the dual problems of assessing internal controls, per Section 404, and assists in making companies "fraud-proof" by proactively surveying employees' knowledge and opinions relevant to these areas. In PCG's view, employees are closest to operational problems and their solutions, and can provide senior executives with the best information.


ComplianceSight aims to have all of a company's employees share in the responsibility and accountability for financial reports and internal assessments by using "anonymous" employee surveys for fraud detection and ethical issues, and "known-respondent" employee surveys when lower-level "certifications" are needed to verify that a company's internal controls are functioning properly.


According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) 2002 Report to the Nation on Occupational Fraud and Abuse, corporate internal controls detected only 15.3% of committed fraud; the primary method of detection was through internal and external "tips," which uncovered more than 56% of fraud committed.


PCG claims that having the proactive surveys going out to all employees monthly is the equivalent of setting up a "Neighborhood Watch" program. Instead of using more complex analysis tools like Benford's Law, horizontal and vertical analyses, regression analysis, and the other staples of data extraction and analysis used by large companies with Internal Audit staffs, PCG has taken a simpler, yet direct and complementary approach. The company said it has developed and categorized by job title, over 250 assessment and monitoring questions that can proactively survey employees' knowledge and opinions, in 17 languages, using a variety of reports as well as lexical reporting engines to search and organize employee comments, and highly visual point-and-click "drill-down" technology to make analysis simple.


For more information on and demonstrations of ComplianceSight, visit




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