News in Brief: Week of Oct. 1-5

October 03, 2012 06:25 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

[News in Brief]

Study Shows EHR Standing Orders Increase Delivery of Preventive Services

Results of a study funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and published in the Sept. 25 Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine found that implementing electronic standing orders for preventive health services increased service delivery.

In an article titled "Implementing and Evaluating Electronic Standing Orders in Primary Care Practice: A PPRNet Study(," authors noted that U.S. patients receive only about half of all recommended preventive services. However, the eight primary care practices that participated in the study used their electronic health record (EHR) systems to set up standing orders for certain health care services, including screenings, immunizations and diabetes management care.

According to the article, median improvements in screening ranged from 6 percent to 10 percent, in immunizations from eight percent to 17 percent, and in diabetes care from no change to 18 percent. All of the practices improved the delivery of at least six specific services. Furthermore, the office work flow improved, as did the overall morale of clinical staff members.

A video( (6:18 minutes) produced by AHRQ highlights the successes achieved in the research project.

Exercise Helps Decrease Cognitive Impairment in Stroke Victims

According to a study presented Oct. 1 at the Canadian Stroke Congress, six months of exercise can improve memory, language, thinking and judgment issues by nearly 50 percent in patients who have experienced a stroke.

According to a Heart and Stroke Foundation story(, researchers said they found that the proportion of stroke patients with at least mild cognitive impairment dropped from 66 percent to 37 percent during a research study on the impact of exercise on the brain.

"If we can improve cognition through exercise, which also has many physical benefits, then this should become a standard of care for people following stroke," said lead researcher Susan Marzolini of the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute.

Marzolini emphasized the need to give people with stroke-related impairments access to exercise programs. "Modified exercise programs are desperately needed -- they can be adapted for people following stroke, and we think they can provide huge health benefits," she said.

FDA Seeks Family Physicians for Advisory Committees and Panels

The FDA is looking for family physicians who want to be a part of the agency's decision-making process by serving on panels and committees that provide expert analysis and input on a range of public health and safety issues.

The agency has more than 30 committees and nearly 20 panels that serve in an advisory role by providing input and recommendations in dozens of areas, including applications for new drugs and medical devices, food and animal safety, and tobacco cessation. Committee and panel participants include physicians, nurses, epidemiologists, food scientists and chemists, among others. Physicians serving on the panels and committees can be either academicians or practicing physicians, according to the FDA.

FDA officials convene the panels and committees as many as three or four times a year, and participants can serve as long as four years on a given panel or committee. The FDA hires the advisors as special government employees, reimbursing them for travel and hotel expenses and paying them a per diem, as well. For more information visit the FDA website(, e-mail them or call (301) 786-8220.

New Grants Will Help CHCs Achieve PCMH Status, Increase Cervical Cancer Screenings

HHS plans to award grants to more than 800 community health centers (CHCs) to help them become patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs) and increase the number of cervical cancer screenings the centers provide.

The awards will help CHCs make practice changes characteristic of a PCMH, such as care coordination and care management. In addition, the grants will "support health centers' efforts to increase the percentage of women screened for cervical cancer," says a recent HHS press release( The grants total more than $44,000.

The CDC estimates that 12,000 new cases of cervical cancer will occur this year; an estimated 4,000 deaths will occur as a result of the disease in 2012.

Research Journal Extends Call for Papers on Health IT

Health Services Research is producing a special issue that will focus on research that highlights trends in adoption of health information technology, meaningful use of electronic health records, health IT that helps improve the delivery of health care, and patient outcomes.

The publication is a bimonthly journal offered by AcademyHealth, a nonpartisan, nonprofit professional organization dedicated to advancing the fields of health services research and health policy.

The publication has issued an extended call for papers( for possible inclusion in its special issue on health IT. The publisher is particularly interested in receiving articles that address how to build a health IT infrastructure, creatively approach performance measurement, and translate technology investments into improvements in health care costs, quality and patient health.

The deadline for article submissions is Dec. 28.