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Breakthrough test can detect nearly every virus from single drop of blood

Breakthrough test can detect nearly every virus from single drop of blood | Healthcare and Technology news |

In what may be a scientific breakthrough, researchers have developed an experimental new blood test that can identify virtually every virus to which an individual has been exposed. In its pilot phase, which tested the blood of 569 individuals, it revealed that most people tested positive for an average of 10 virus species.

The new test, developed by scientists at Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, may help researchers uncover important connections between viruses and their potential contributions to diseases, cancer and immune system responses. The test method, dubbed VirScan, requires less than a single drop of blood and has the ability to screen for more than 1,000 human viral species. What's more, the test may cost as little as $25, according to the The New York Times.

"I'm sure there'll be lots of applications we haven't even dreamed of," Stephen J. Elledge, senior author of the recent study, and a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, told the Times. "That's what happens when you invent technology – you can't imagine what people will do with it."

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Can interoperability go from idea to reality?

Can interoperability go from idea to reality? | Healthcare and Technology news |

Interoperability is one of those words you can't avoid if you work in the health IT industry, and its use is only going to grow as 2015 wears on.

It's a controversial topic, with most agreeing it is essential if healthcare technology is to move forward, but others adding that it won't be achieved in the current healthcare environment. Many are calling on industry and government to work together to create better transparency and interoperability.

To that end, interoperability is a key focus of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT. The government agency in January released its 10-year Interoperability Roadmap. The roadmap's goal is to provide steps to be taken in both the private and public sectors to create an interoperable health IT ecosystem over the next decade, according to ONC.

The push from the ONC to focus on interoperability comes as the agency looks to move past Meaningful Use.

As thousands gather in Chicago in April for HIMSS15, the topic of interoperability will kick off with a keynote at Sunday's preconference Health Information Exchange Symposium. ONC Interoperability Portfolio Manager Erica Galvez will address the agency's roadmap and how the government is working with the healthcare industry to make interoperability reality; there also will be a roadmap discussion run by Galvez and Steven Posnack, ONC's director of the Office of Standards and Technology, on Monday.

Additionally, on Wednesday, Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative President and CEO Micky Tripathi and Epic President Carl Dvorak will lead a session on HL7's Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard. Another panel discussion Thursday will pinpoint how to address patient information in electronic health records pulled from different clinical systems.

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