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Sam’s Club offers allergy screenings

BY Alaric DeArment

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Sam’s Club will offer free allergy and health screenings at all of its stores that operate pharmacies, the club retailer said.

The screenings will take place late Saturday morning and into the afternoon, and include up to $200 worth of tests, including allergy screenings for milk, eggs, pet dander, mold, dust mites, wheat, ragweed, mountain cedar, Bermuda grass and Timothy grass, as well as tests for blood pressure, body mass index and vision.

"It can be difficult to tell the difference between allergies and a persistent head cold since symptoms, such as congestion and irritated eyes, are often similar," Sam’s Club SVP health and wellness Jill Turner-Mitchael said. "Furthermore, as people age, they can grow out of allergies or develop new ones. Sam’s Club can help our communities sort through such confusion with free allergy and health screenings and on-site pharmacists who can offer advice on how to treat identified allergies."

The retailer has provided more than 2.2 million free health-and-wellness screenings since 2010 and plans to continue offering them every second Saturday of each month through October. The company also is offering allergy tips in the March-April 2013 issue of the Healthy Living Made Simple Magazine that it sends out to members.

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Chummies reinvents the classic friendship bracelet

BY Rebecca Haughey

CHICAGO — Chummies, an innovative friendship bracelet, hit the market on Tuesday. The silicone, latex-free interlocking bracelets are sold in pairs and can be pulled apart to give to various close friends, or "chums."

The bracelets can be interlocked with several others as friends build upon their relationships and their Chummies. The bracelet creators Kelly Casaccio and Amy Orlando, two middle school teachers, came up with the idea of a product that could be shared with many friend.

"We wanted a positive way to celebrate friendships where everyone could feel included and focus on what makes each person unique. These perfect pairs of bracelets are a constant reminder of what each friend brings to your life," Casaccio said.

Chummies are available in different iconic pairs for every friendship, including peanut butter and jelly; mac and cheese; tennis shoes and high heels; and a guitar and amp. The bracelets are available for $4.99 a pair at MyChummies.com.


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Six healthcare information technology companies create CommonWell Health Alliance

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW ORLEANS — A number of pharma companies joined Monday on the launch of the CommonWell Health Alliance to better enable seamless access to healthcare data. 

“Today’s announcement represents an inflection point in health care, with key industry leaders coming together to support the delivery of a national health information exchange,” stated John Hammergren, chairman and CEO of McKesson, one of the founding members of the Alliance. “The formation of this alliance takes health care a step closer to broad industry interoperability. A national and trusted health information exchange will break down the information silos in health care and should dramatically improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of care delivery," he said. "Creating data liquidity between all HIT developers is fundamental to improving patient care, enhancing the vitality of the healthcare industry and strengthening the long-term health of our nation.”

In addition to McKesson, the healthcare information technology companies involved were Allscripts, Athenahealth, Cerner, Greenway Medical Technologies and RelayHealth. The CommonWell Health Alliance was formed as an an independent not-for-profit organization. 

The alliance intends to be a collaborative effort of suppliers who are focused on achieving data liquidity between systems, in compliance with patient authorizations, the alliance noted. The alliance will define, promote and certify a national infrastructure with common platforms and policies and will ensure that HIT products displaying the alliance seal are certified to work on the national infrastructure.

Elements of the alliance’s national infrastructure will be tested in a local pilot within the next year. Early components will include the following core services:

  • Cross-entity patient linking and matching services: Help developers and providers link and match patients as they transition through care facilities, regardless of the underlying software system;

  • Patient consent and data access management: Foster HIPAA-compliant and simple patient-centered management of data sharing consents and authorizations; and

  • Patient record locator and directed query services: Help providers deliver a history of recent patient care encounters and, with appropriate authorization, patient data across multiple providers and episodes of care.

“The formation of the CommonWell Health Alliance will be a significant step forward toward the electronic exchange of health information to support clinicians and patients,” noted Janet Marchibroda, director of the Health Innovation Initiative at the Bipartisan Policy Center. “The founding members of the alliance are focused on exactly the right foundational areas, and it’s terrific to see industry leaders stepping up to solve the problem of interoperability on behalf of providers and patients everywhere.”

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