Health information technology vendors and government agencies have announced new initiatives or contracts in recent days, including:

* The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently enhanced its Web site to help consumers and small businesses shop for insurance. Now, CMS has signed a new contract for additional improvements. CGI Federal Inc. will build an application on the site to collect rate and benefits information from insurers, and enable consumers to review benefit, cost sharing and basic price comparison information from local health plans. The two-year contract is worth $8.9 million.

* UpToDate, a unit of Wolters Kluwer Health, has added general surgery information to its portfolio of clinical medical reference content. Beta testing showed the information answered 94 percent of general surgeons' clinical questions and 87 percent of surgery-specific questions, according to the vendor. Editors-in-Chief of the new content are Raphael Pollock, M.D., professor and head of the division of surgery at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; and David Soybel, M.D., professor of surgery and chief of general surgery at Penn State Hershey Medical Center.

* Lakeland (Fla.) Regional Health Center, will deploy a health information exchange to link its 851-bed hospital with employed and affiliated physicians, and to provide patients with a personal health record. The delivery system is using software from the RelayHealth division of McKesson Corp. Physician transactions will include placing orders, receiving test results and exchanging continuity of care documents. Physicians in a snowbird patient's home state will be able to access records from a Lakeland-affiliated provider. The HIE will link to regional exchanges as they develop.


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