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Kittleman Relieves Transportation Head Powell, Pritchard to Manage RTA

Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman has relieved John Powell of his duties as administrator of the Howard County Office of Transportation.

Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ) Director Val Lazdins is taking on the extra duties until a new deputy director of the DPZ is named. The new deputy director will have various responsibilities within DPZ, with overseeing transportation in the county and within the Downtown Columbia redevelopment among them.

“This is part of a reorganization of transportation, which is slated to be absorbed into the department of DPZ. This reorganization plan must be submitted to the [Howard] County Council by Jan. 1,” said Deidre McCabe, communications director for Kittleman, adding that, “The executive made this move to assure that there is seamless integration of transportation planning with commercial and residential growth.”

At roughly the same time, the Regional Transportation Agency of Central Maryland hired Mark Pritchard as its new general manager. The selection was made after Pritchard’s short-term assignment as interim general manager. He joins the RTA with more than 30 years of experience in all phases of transportation management, including paratransit, labor relations, service planning, operations, maintenance and finance.

Startup Maryland Set to Intro Participants for Pitch Across Maryland

After posting the 138 video pitches from Maryland entrepreneurs that were captured during the three-week 2015 Pitch Across Maryland bus tour, Startup Maryland has announced that its two Video Pitch Competitions are now underway.

“Now that the dust has settled from our whirlwind tour around the state, the diversity of industries/innovations and the passion embodied in our entrepreneurs show the spirit of free enterprise is beaming brightly in the Old Line State. We now begin the two separate competitions that define the next stage of the Pitch Across Maryland. The first competition is something fun we refer to as the Fan Favorite, and the second competition will reveal our Great 8 Finalists,” said Mike Binko, founder and president of Startup Maryland.

To be crowned Fan Favorites, participant companies and their supporters need to promote their work to family, friends, fans, etc., for viewing and voting for the videos at www.youtube.com/user/StartupMaryland/playlists?. The viewing/voting will continue until noon on Friday, Nov. 6. At that time, the three Pitch Across Maryland companies with the most tallied views will be declared Fan Favorites for the 2015 tour.

During the same period, Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO) has agreed to have Maryland Entrepreneurs Resource List team representatives review every 2015 pitch with an eye toward programs and resources that might be appropriate; additionally, an expert panel of investors (angels and venture capitalists) and successful entrepreneurs will select eight companies as the Great 8 Finalists for 2015. They will receive invitations to the annual TEDCO Entrepreneur Expo held Nov. 17.

Revere, BlueRidge Banks Agree to Merger

Laurel-based Revere Bank and BlueRidge Bank, of Frederick, have entered into a definitive agreement, pursuant to which BlueRidge will be merged into Revere, with Revere being the surviving entity.

The merger will add BlueRidge’s Frederick and Baltimore branches to Revere’s five current locations. As of June 30, BlueRidge had approximately $205 million in assets, $175 million in gross loans and $181 million in deposits. At closing, the combined institution will be worth more than $1 billion in assets, making Revere the seventh largest bank headquartered and operating in the state of Maryland.

Revere will acquire 100% of the outstanding shares of BlueRidge in exchange for common shares of Revere. The exchange ratio will be fixed at 0.6245 of Revere’s shares for each share of BlueRidge. The transaction, which has been unanimously approved by both Revere’s and BlueRidge’s boards of directors, is expected to close in the first quarter of 2016, pending regulatory approvals and the approval of the shareholders of Revere and BlueRidge.

“With this merger we will increase our lending capabilities and cost efficiencies while staying focused on speed and responsiveness. Both banks share a similar desire and culture of providing outstanding service and are committed to our clients’ success,” said Andrew Flott, co-CEO of Revere Bank.

Aquilent Wins Cloud Services Contract With CDC

Laurel-based Aquilent, a provider of mobile, web, cloud and portal solutions for the federal government, has been awarded a three-year, $8 million agency-wide cloud services contract with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The new, single-award contract was procured through the CIO-SP3 Government Wide Acquisition Contract (GWAC) administered through the National Institutes of Health Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center (NITAAC). It includes a broad range of cloud services, from cloud hosting to cloud managed services to cloud architecture, development and security, as well as access to the Olympus Powered by Aquilent cloud management portal.

The contract allows any group or sub-agency within CDC to quickly and easily procure any cloud offering within Aquilent’s full breadth of cloud services. It allows the CDC to move its workload into the cloud in a consistent manner, while continuing to follow agency security and policy guidelines.

“CDC is one of the first agencies to make this type of cloud services award through CIO-SP3,” said Aquilent Chief Technology Officer Mark Pietrasanta. “By doing its due diligence in advance and issuing a single-award contract, CDC has dramatically streamlined the procurement process. It can now speed its cloud adoption and, in turn, speed technology enhancements and innovation.”

Kittleman Announces $1M in State Grants for Local Bike, Pedestrian Projects

Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman has announced that the county has been awarded two grants from the Maryland Department of Transportation exceeding $1 million for bicycle and pedestrian projects.

In the largest bicycle and pedestrian grant the county has received, the Transportation Alternatives (TA) program will provide $1.09 million to pave a remaining section of the Patuxent Branch Trail. The second grant, for $68,000 from the Maryland Bikeways program, will launch a plan for in-ground bike racks to be installed at public and private facilities throughout the county.

“With the state’s help, we will continue to make our community more bike- and pedestrian-friendly,” Kittleman said. “These projects from the county’s Bike Master Plan will support transportation options that are both environmentally sound and promote fitness. These grants will fund opportunities to improve biking throughout the county.”

The TA grant provides funds for the county to complete paving 1.3 miles of trail between the Patuxent Branch trailhead at Old Guilford Road and Vollmerhausen Road in Savage. The design process for this project, which also includes enhanced ADA accessibility, will begin next summer. Residents can learn more about the Howard County Bicycle Master Plan and these projects at www.bikehoward.com.

COLA Endorses Findings of National Report on Diagnostic Errors

COLA, a Columbia-based national laboratory accreditor and an advocate for quality in laboratory medicine and patient care, endorsed the findings of a recent National Academies of Medicine (NAM, formerly the Institute of Medicine) study on patient harms caused by diagnostic error. COLA also offered a comprehensive set of recommendations for enhancing the role of the laboratory to help to achieve the study’s goals for reducing errors and improving diagnosis.

The study, entitled “Improving Diagnosis in Health Care,” asserts that “diagnostic errors — inaccurate or delayed diagnoses — persist throughout all settings of care and continue to harm an unacceptable number of patients.” In its position statement, COLA said it strongly supports the report’s calls for more effective teamwork in the diagnostic process, including laboratory professionals, and increased research into adverse patient outcomes as a result of diagnostic errors.

“While the causes of diagnostic errors can stem from a variety of circumstances, the effects are the same. These errors can leave lasting impacts both physically and emotionally; sometimes they can even be fatal,” said COLA CEO Douglas Beigel. “As key players in the health care diagnostic process, it is essential that laboratories recognize their role in this process and engage with all members of the health care team with the ultimate goal of improving patient outcomes.”

Beigel offered a series of recommendations for how laboratories can help achieve the study’s goals for reducing diagnostic error. They include collaboration, training, transparency and research.

Quest Diagnostics, Inovalon Offer Real-Time Analytics at the Point of Care

Madison, N.J.-based Quest Diagnostics, a provider of diagnostic information services, and Inovalon, of Bowie, a technology company providing advanced, cloud-based data analytics and data-driven intervention platforms to the health care industry, have announced the national launch of Data Diagnostics.

Data Diagnostics encompasses a suite of hundreds of real-time, patient-specific data analyses that clinicians can order individually or on-demand at the point of care within their existing workflow to identify and address gaps in quality, risk, utilization and medical history insights.

The solution supports the health care industry’s transition from volume- to value-based health care by providing actionable insight to improve clinical and quality outcomes, as well as financial performance for practices, health plans, ACOs, hospitals and other providers across the health care community, in real time.

The solution draws on two of the world’s largest datasets of clinical, claims, quality and laboratory data, including Quest’s 20 billion clinical laboratory test results and Inovalon’s clinical datasets on more than 123 million patients. Data Diagnostics is also unique for providing seamless integration within Quest’s Care360 and electronic health records lab ordering and connectivity platform, which serves approximately half of the physicians and hospitals in the United States.