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SanDisk demonstrates use of USB Flash Drives
Dennis Hissink : May 21th 2004 - 16:00 CET
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SanDiskSanDisk announced its participation in a demonstration that shows the compatibility and interoperability of the Continuity of Care Record (CCR) on a SanDisk Cruzer Mini USB flash drive. The CCR standard is aimed at creating a transportable set of basic health information that contains the most relevant data about a patient's condition at a particular point in time. The demonstration is being conducted at TEPR '04, the 20th annual conference and exhibition of the Medical Records Institute, where SanDisk is an exhibitor at Booth #1623. "As the use of portable electronic patient records becomes more popular, we envision patients carrying their medical records as two files," said Ed Cuellar, director of marketing at SanDisk.
SanDisk demonstrates use of USB Flash Drives "One file would be non-secure and would contain critical information that might be needed during an emergency, when the patient may be unconscious and unable to provide the password to his complete record. This non-secure data would consist of critical information such as name, insurance carrier, emergency contact, blood type, allergies and major medical conditions such as diabetes. The second file would be secure and might contain the patient's entire medical history, including imaging data such as radiology results, X-rays, and MRI and CAT scans," he added.

"Today, federal law requires physicians to provide a patient with his or her medical record, upon request," said Cuellar. "Having the record already in an electronic format and having a portable flash drive makes this process practical and easy." USB flash drives are small enough to carry on a key chain and have sufficient capacity to store considerable amounts of personal medical records. "SanDisk has gained substantial experience from our P-Tag program with the U.S. military in the past three years, and we believe that we can put that experience to good use in this portable medical records application," he said.

Similar in size to the metal "dog tags" worn by soldiers for decades, P-Tags are rugged, non-volatile flash memory-based storage devices that require no batteries and have no moving parts. They can carry a full medical history and can be accessed and updated by battlefield medics, thus providing transportable records of patient care.

The proposed CCR standard, which will be finalized within the next few months, is being developed with the ASTM E31 Committee on Healthcare Informatics, an arm of ASTM International. CCR sponsors include Massachusetts Medical Society, Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the Patient Safety Institute (PSI). Most recently, the American Medical Association (AMA), the nation's largest medical society, announced its support for the CCR.

The purpose of the CCR is to allow one physician to electronically send to another physician a minimum amount of information regarding a patient who is being referred. The CCR standard allows for the document to be saved as an XML file, which can be read by any computer. It can be sent electronically via email or it can be stored on a portable memory device such as a USB flash drive.

As part of the demonstration at TEPR, 2,000 SanDisk Cruzer Mini USB flash drives will be given to attendees at the show. Each Cruzer Mini will have the CCR of a fictitious patient. Attendees can visit the booths of more than 30 participating companies, which will be able to view the password-protected files, update the CCR of the patient and write the updated record back to the secure portion of the USB drive. "This will allow attendees to see first-hand the ease of use and the potential applications for a portable patient record that can be read easily by any computer," said Cuellar.

The idea for a standardized national electronic medical data system -- most recently voiced by President Bush as a high priority for the United States in the next decade -- has been gathering momentum lately among all sectors of the health care industry. This information comes from a new federal government report entitled "Transforming Health Care: The President's Health Information Technology Plan", April 26, 2004.

"Physicians and payers are starting to recognize the benefits of having an easily transportable source of accurate, updated patient information," said Dr. Thomas E. Sullivan, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, which was the first of the growing number of organizations promoting the CCR. "This should improve the quality of treatment and patient safety, and ultimately help lower the costs of health care."
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