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APTIMA AND UMASS MEDICAL SCHOOL COLLABORATE ON HANDHELD CONSUMER TOOL TO HELP PATIENTS WITH CHRONIC PAIN MANAGE HEALTH

Aptima, Inc., a human-centered engineering firm, and the University of Massachusetts Medical School are collaborating on the design and testing of a computer system that will help patients living with chronic pain, such as migraines, back conditions, and osteoarthritis, to better manage their health treatments and interactions with healthcare providers. Aptima and UMass Medical School are teaming on an 18-month $300,000 grant, as 1 of 9 teams nationwide selected to participate in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) program "HealthDesign: Rethinking the Power and Potential of Personal Health Records," a $4.4 million initiative.

 

Dr. Roger S. Luckmann, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health at UMass Medical School, will lead the 6-person team, which includes 4 employees of Aptima. The system will include a handheld computer to allow patients with chronic pain to manage personal health activities and information, such as reminders of medication schedules, prompts and guidance for exercise regimens, and a way to track and monitor the impact of various therapies on their psychological well-being. Patients can combine that information with electronic medical records from various healthcare providers, tying together disparate medical information for a complete personal health record.

 

Aptima was recruited to the team for interaction design and usability assessment and will design the user interface for the handheld device. During the first 6 months of project HealthDesign, teams will participate in a structured process to design user-centered personal health applications that address specific health challenges faced by individuals and caregivers. In the subsequent 12-month phase, prototypes of these personal health tools will be tested with target populations.

 

Teams were chosen from a pool of more than 165 applicants, and each has been selected to receive an 18-month, $300,000 award. Primary funding for HealthDesign is provided by RWJF's Pioneer Portfolio, which supports innovative projects that may lead to breakthrough improvements in health and healthcare. RWJF is pleased to collaborate with The California HealthCare Foundation, which contributed an additional $900,000 to the initiative.

 

Program activities were launched in December 2006. For additional details about UMass Medical School, visit http://www.umassmed.edu. More information about project Health- Design, including a listing of the other program grantees, is available at http://www.projecthealthdesign.org.

 

Aptima, headquartered in Woburn, MA, combines social science principles with quantitative, computational methods. The company provides products and services focused on the design of organizations, user-centered technology, and training systems. For more information, visit http://www.aptima.com.

 

The University of Massachusetts Medical School is committed to training in the full range of medical disciplines, with an emphasis on practice in the primary care specialties, in the public sector, and in underserved areas of Massachusetts. UMMS comprises a medical school, graduate school of nursing, graduate school of biomedical sciences, and an active research enterprise and is a leader in health sciences education, research, and public service.

 

The RWJF is the nation's largest philanthropies and for 30 years has been devoted exclusively to improving the health and healthcare of all Americans.

 

The California HealthCare Foundation, based in Oakland, is an independent philanthropy committed to improving the delivery and financing of healthcare in California.

 

INTERNATIONAL NETWORK FOR THE AVAILABILITY OF SCIENTIFIC PUBLICATIONS REACHES AGREEMENT WITH CROSSREF TO INCLUDE JOURNALS FROM DEVELOPING COUNTRIES

The International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) has announced an agreement with CrossRef, the multipublisher-linking association, to include journals from developing countries within the linking network.

 

This partnership greatly contributes to the INASP mission to enable worldwide access to information and its work with publishers in developing and transitional countries to improve the quality and visibility of their publications.

 

Journals participating in the Nepal, Vietnam, and Bangladesh online programs will be included, as will the journals in the African Journals OnLine collection (http://www.ajol.info).

 

Pippa Smart, INASP's head of publishing initiatives, stated, "For journals that are largely invisible to most of the scientific community the importance of linking cannot be overstressed. We are therefore delighted to be working with CrossRef to promote discovery of journals published in the less developed countries. We believe that an integrated discovery mechanism which includes journals from all parts of the world is vital to global research."

 

INASP is a registered educational charity in the United Kingdom. INASP works with partners around the world to encourage the creation and production of information, promote sustainable and equitable access to information, foster collaboration and networking, and strengthen local capacities to manage and use information and knowledge with particular emphasis on the needs of developing and transitional countries. For more information on INASP, visit http://www.inasp.info.

 

CrossRef is a nonprofit membership association, founded and directed by publishers. Its mission is to improve access to published scholarship through collaborative technologies. CrossRef operates a cross-publisher citation-linking system and is an official Digital Object Identifier registration agency. For more information, visit http://www.crossref.org.

 

OPERA SOFTWARE RELEASES OPERA MINI 3.0

Opera Software has announced Opera Mini 3.0, the latest version of the award-winning mobile browser used by 8 million people worldwide. The upgrade, available free of charge, introduces new features that enhance mobile social networking abilities on all community sites, such as photo sharing, an RSS feed reader, secure connections for banking or shopping, access to Web mail accounts, and faster surfing.

 

Opera Mini enables Web browsing on almost any mobile phone. Only an Internet data plan through the phone's service carrier is needed for access to the Internet. A start page provides users options to type in a Web address, search with Google or other engines, or visit bookmarked sites. Opera Mini uses server-side compression to reduce the size of data transferred to the phone, which makes browsing fast and cheaper for users who pay per kilobyte transferred, and enables even basic phones to process Web pages. Content folding collapses long menus to a single button to reduce the amount of scrolling before users reach the main content of a site. Opera Mini can also download MP3 files and images for playback or display by the phone and can upload photos taken with the phone.

 

Users are able to access and interact with all social networking sites, including publishing photos to e-mail, a forum, or a Web log. The integrated RSS feed reader keeps preferred news and content 1 click away in the browser.

 

In 10 months, 8 million users have used Opera Mini to surf more than 2 billion Web pages, and phone service operators such as T-Mobile International and Telefonica Moviles have installed Opera Mini on select handsets. Content providers such as 4INFO and Mobileplay are also distributing Opera Mini.

 

Web developers can ensure their sites display properly in Opera Mini by developing sites according to open Web standards. A free validator is available via the Opera desktop browser or at http://validator.w3.org/, and all Opera browsers (Desktop, Mobile, Nintendo Wii, etc) use the same rendering engine.

 

A built-in small-screen emulator is also available in the Opera desktop browser. Select Shift + F11 to engage Opera's Small-Screen RenderingT and render the viewed site as it would on a small screen, like that of a mobile phone.

 

Opera Mini is globally available free of charge at http://www.operamini.com. A mobile Internet Data Plan is required by carriers/operators to access the Internet. Java support is required to run Opera Mini.

 

Opera Software is headquartered in Oslo, Norway with offices around the world. Learn more about Opera at http://www.opera.com.

 

INSURANCE INDUSTRY ANNOUNCES PERSONAL HEALTH RECORD MODEL

America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) worked together to identify core information necessary to include in personal health records (PHRs) and have developed and pilot tested standards that enable consumers to transfer PHR data when they change coverage. This ensures that PHRs will be portable from health insurer to health insurer as consumers have requested. Members of the 2 groups cover more than 200 million people.

 

The industry model PHR is a private, secure Web-based tool, maintained by an insurer, that contains a consumer's claims and administrative information. PHRs enable individual patients and their designated caregivers to view and manage health information and play a greater role in their own healthcare.

 

As a result of insurance claims filed on behalf of consumers, insurers have most information needed to provide PHRs and are in a unique position to build them for consumers in the near term. PHRs are distinct from electronic health records, which providers use to store and manage detailed clinical information. An estimated 70 million people have PHRs through health insurers, with millions more scheduled for the service in 2007.

 

Physicians encouraged insurers to adopt a consistent set of core PHR data, with the goal of incorporating core data elements into every PHR. These elements include patient histories, medications, immunizations, allergies, risks, plans of care, and other information that physicians identified as key data.

 

The health insurance community has set a goal of incorporating the core data elements and implementing the standards for portability from a prior insurer to a new insurer by 2008.

 

There is consensus among stakeholders that the widespread adoption of health information technology will lead to safer, more effective healthcare. Experts believe adoption of technology will reduce preventable errors, such as medication errors, increase compliance with recommended treatments, improve treatment for people with chronic disease, and contribute to lower healthcare costs.

 

Health insurers worked closely with standards organizations to ensure the health plan-based PHR is compatible with standards that are being developed for the time when the nation's healthcare system is fully interoperable.

 

The group also announced a pilot program in 2 regions of the country with the National Health Council (NHC), whose members believe that PHRs are critical to the needs of people with chronic conditions and disabilities, who often must play a daily role in managing their health.

 

The industry also adopted a guideline that requires an individual's approval before transferring PHR data from one insurer to another and requires that the transfer take place after enrollment in the new plan. Consumers have indicated that they favor this guideline.

 

The National Health Council is a private, nonprofit organization of 115 national health-related organizations working to bring quality healthcare to all people. Its core membership includes 50 of the nation's leading voluntary health agencies, representing approximately 100 million people with chronic diseases or disabilities. Other Council members include professional and membership associations, nonprofit organizations with an interest in health, and major pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. The Council serves as a place for diverse health-related groups to build consensus with a focus on patients and their needs.

 

NEW HEALTH LITERACY TOOL HELPS CONSUMERS MAKE SENSE OF PRESCRIPTION LABELS

A study published in Annals of Internal Medicine shows that many Americans do not take their medications for one simple reason: they don't understand what the medication label says or are unable to follow the label's instructions. For approximately 90 million Americans, or roughly half the adult population, "low health literacy" is a growing public health issue. It increases the cost of care, and adversely affects patient outcomes.

 

This problem includes printed information the healthcare industry creates-medication inserts and prescription labels, patient brochures and instructions sheets, informed consent forms, and Web sites, among other information that reaches the nation's health consumers on a daily basis.

 

To help simplify health information before it gets to the consumer, Health Literacy Innovations has introduced the Health Literacy Advisor, a software tool to help make health information easy to understand.

 

As a "health literacy checker," the Health Literacy Advisor streamlines the health literacy review process using electronic readability indices, including the Fry-based formula, and taps into a glossary of more than 8000 interchangeable terms. The program, an add-on to Microsoft Word, operates like a spelling checker and scans a document for its readability and its health literacy level. If it finds words or terms that interfere with comprehension, it highlights those words and offers an alternative.

 

The Health Literacy Advisor is ideal for any healthcare provider, insurer, pharmaceutical company, hospital, association, government agency, or other entity wishing to make health information understandable to patients at all levels of literacy.

 

Health Literacy Innovations, a privately held firm in Bethesda, MD, is an AHIP Solutions Partner and aims to improve healthcare communication one word at a time. For more information visit http://www.HealthLiteracyInnovations.com.

 

ORIGIN LABS INTRODUCES PUROSOL OPTICAL ENZYME-BASED LENS CLEANER

Origin Laboratories has introduced the second in its line of advanced, enzyme-based cleaning products specifically formulated for advanced lenses. PUROSOL Optical is engineered to work on the molecular level, breaking the bonds between dust, dirt, grime, and lens surface. PUROSOL Optical is specifically designed to protect high-end multicoated lenses and other optical devices, including cameras, microscopes, telescopes, binoculars, gun sights, CD and DVD surfaces, and eyewear.

 

The PUROSOL line of products is formulated to be environmentally safe and nontoxic. It contains no CFCs, detergents, or solvents, which can slowly deteriorate porous electronic screens and strip away the crucial antiglare coatings of expensive lenses. PUROSOL Optical also neutralizes the electrical charges on the lens surface, which may attract dust and dirt particles. Although this effect diminishes with time, blowing or wiping (without the solution) will remove particles after a cleaning with PUROSOL. Fewer cleanings extend the life of the lens and require less solution.

 

PUROSOL Optical is available at retail eyewear outlets and camera stores and can be purchased online at http://www.Purosol.com.

 

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