Month: August 2015

News Briefs: E-Filing for SC Courts

E-filing in South Carolina’s state courts is coming closer to fruition. A pilot program for common pleas filings will begin in November in Clarendon County; Greenville County will be brought onboard in February 2016. The e-filing system will allow attorneys to file, serve and view documents. It will also give immediate notice to all parties when the court files a document. The Attorney Information System, which was the first step toward adoption of an e-filing system, will allow attorneys to login and submit digital signatures on pleadings. In her recent remarks at the 2015 Annual Judicial Conference, Chief Justice Jean Hoefer Toal emphasized the importance of technology to the effective and efficient administration of justice. She spoke about the ways that technology can improve court operations and enhance public access to the judiciary system. For example, it allows the judicial department to better evaluate caseloads and allocate resources; it unifies the court system by giving everyone within it easy, fast access to all the relevant case documents; and it allows the courts to move away from space-consuming paper files. When fully implemented, the e-filing system is expected to help clear crowded motions dockets, as well as provide a source of funding for the SC judiciary’s future technology...

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The Newest Rx for Health: Your Cell Phone

Many of us have had a moment – or multiple moments – when we declared that our cell phone had been a lifesaver. We were probably speaking figuratively, but in fact, our cell phones now have the potential to save lives, literally. While much of the world still lacks access to the Internet and computers, mobile phones are widely available. It’s estimated that 6 billion people in the world have a mobile phone (more, indeed, than have a toilet). And wireless communication networks now reach more of the world than the electrical grid. With that kind of coverage, innovative deployment of mobile phones has the potential to transform health service delivery. The use of mobile and wireless technologies to support the achievement of health objectives has been dubbed “mobile health” or mHealth. The kind of health services that can be delivered via mobile phones is far-reaching, and includes: health call centers, emergency telephone services, managing emergencies and disasters, telemedicine (for diagnosis and treatment), appointment reminders, treatment compliance (i.e., reminders to take medications), community health promotion and awareness raising, exchange of patient records, patient monitoring, health surveys and data collection, surveillance, supply chain management (for medical supplies), and training of health workers. mHealth’s greatest potential is arguably in low-income, developing countries and in remote areas, where access to health services is otherwise scarce-to-nonexistent. But even in higher-income countries, mHealth initiatives...

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News Briefs: 21st Century Cures Act

It’s been a busy summer for health care laws and regulations! We’ve already mentioned some news out of CMS (see our posts about changes to the two-midnight rule and coverage of end-of-life planning); this time the news comes from Capitol Hill. Last month, the House passed (by an impressive 344-77 bipartisan vote) the 21st Century Cures Act. The goal of the Act is to increase medical innovations and make new treatments available to patients sooner. Many of the bill’s provisions are intended to make the FDA’s drug and device approval process easier and faster, particularly for the development of new antibiotics, which is a critical public health need. These provisions include changing the standards for what kind of data can be considered in the approval process. The bill also includes incentives for the development of treatments for rare disorders (also referred to as “orphan drugs”). One such incentive would extend the patent protection for orphan drugs. Another provision would extend the existing priority review voucher program for rare pediatric diseases. A priority review voucher gives a company that develops a desired drug the right to have another product of its choice reviewed by the FDA on a fast-track, or priority, basis; because this gets the product to market faster, it’s estimated that priority review vouchers can translate into millions of dollars in additional sales. Although the bill has received...

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