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Much promise of MetroHealth electronic medical records still to be realized — MedCity Weekend Rounds

Five must-read stories from MedCity News this week include one on the promise of MetroHealth System’s electronic medical record system and another on Athersys Inc.’s search for funding partners for its stem cell and drug development projects.

Here are five stories from MedCity News this week that are must-reads:

     ♦  Employees and leaders of MetroHealth System in Cleveland, Ohio, spent much of Thursday celebrating the 10th birthday of their electronic medical record system. Epic keeps track of patient records, alerts doctors about medication conflicts and provides data for research projects at MetroHealth. The Obama administration has gotten behind health information technology like Epic for its potential to lower cost and raise the quality of care in the nation’s health care system. Despite MetroHealth’s leadership in this technology, much of Epic’s promise to reduce health care costs and raise care quality at the health system has yet to be realized.

     ♦   Athersys Inc., which reported earnings on Thursday, continued enrollments during the third quarter in safety and efficacy trials of its adult stem cell therapy, MultiStem, for heart attack patients and those who run the risk of rejecting bone marrow transplants. At the same time, the Cleveland, Ohio, biopharmaceuticalcompany looked for money for a third MultiStem trial involving stroke patients. “As we reported last quarter, over the past few months, we’ve been actively engaged in discussions with potential [funding] partners across multiple areas and will remain actively engaged in that process, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gil Van Bokkelen told securities analysts.

     ♦   Bill Considine, president and chief executive of Akron Children’s Hospital, sees  himself with a cloth in hand, polishing his jewel of a children’s hospital. “The work that goes on here is magical,” said Considine, who this week celebrated 30 years as head of the Akron, Ohio, hospital that employs more than 4,000 people in 78 locations. Despite his longtime advocacy for children, however, Considine said he can’t give himself a passing grade for focusing the national health care reform debate on children’s issues. He sat down with MedCity News to talk about some of his ideas for achieving this focus.

     ♦   Neoprobe in Dublin, Ohio, has enough money to fund its current pharmaceutical development without further investment, but it will try to shed a wholly owned and unsuccessful subsidiary that makes blood-flow products, executives said Tuesday. The announcements, made discussing third-quarter financial returns, set the stage for Neoprobe by year’s end to advance its cancer-detection drug Lymphoseek, which pinpoints cancerous lymph nodes.

     ♦   AtriCure Inc. in West Chester, Ohio, said this week it has tentatively settled a whistle-blower lawsuit with the Department of Justice so that it can concentrate on newly launched technologies, as well as on clinical trials to bring more new products to market. The company that develops and makes surgical cardiac ablation systems — systems that scar the heart to interrupt bad electrical signals — has agreed to pay $3.8 million to settle the “qui tam” lawsuit filed in Texas. The suit accused AtriCure of  marketing its ablation systems for the treatment of atrial fibrillation, a use for which the systems are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Have a great weekend!