From Orthopod666: “Re: selling patient data. This is from an interview with the CEO of the AMGA regarding the AMGA/Anceta National Collaborative Data Warehouse, which provides groups with access to comparative healthcare data. ‘The revenue for the company (Anceta) will come from making the totally identified, HIPAA-compliant data available to third parties.’ If this is true, how can they possibly be HIPAA compliant?” Link. Other references to Anceta indicate that the data in the Collaborative Data Warehouse is de-identified, so I assume the reporter misquoted her source (her freelance articles elsewhere cover everything from beauty academies to LCD projectors to real estate, so she may have been in over her head, but surely the editor should have caught that goof).
From Former Medseek Employee: “Re: Medseek layoffs. Yes, it’s true. I was one of the chosen few who got the boot a week before Christmas. I believe there were 30+ employees shown the door. Cash flow was stated as the problem. Mike Drake is out too. The rumor mill has it that egineering folks are not happy in Jackson with losing their leader. Many are are ready to leave, which will only put Medseek in more dire straits.” Maybe you’ll get separation counseling from Chief Strategy Office Gale Wilson-Steele in the form of a free pass to her upcoming lecture called “Promote the Best, Improve the Rest: The Power of Positive Reinforcement.” Feeling better now?
From MedSlease: “Re: Medseek. Mr. HIStalk, you are a good judge of character and hit the nail on the head. Do you remember? Mr. Grehalva has been shaking the clients’ hands and working his free hand to pass out pink slips yesterday, five days before Christmas. There have been some very talented, seasoned people let go, including an older employee on medical leave whose wife is in intensive care with a brain hemorrhage. Merry Christmas, Medseek, and a Happy Lay Off. May 2008 bring you all that you deserve.” The reader is referring to this mention. Layoffs are part of corporate culture, unfortunately, and not entirely unsavory provided that: (1) companies don’t overhire and then correct their own excesses by downsizing; (2) the decision of who gets let go is made fairly; (3) executives share the pain by reducing their own compensation or benefits; (4) volunteers are first solicited to leave before axing those who don’t want to go; (5) separated employees are treated fairly and professionally without the usual security guard escort BS; (6) executives realize that layoffs are their failing, not those of the employees involved, and take appropriate actions to either improve their own skills or find better managers to replace them; (7) layoff decisions are a rare exception and not a routine management tool; (8) management is open about why the actions were taken and what they plan to do to avoid it in the future; (9) management doesn’t expect the shell-shocked survivors to cheerfully work extra hard to make up for the loss of downsized employees; and (10) employees aren’t singled out just because the company has at some point in the past decided to pay them higher salaries.
From Dr. Elias Kuando: “Re: Medseek. First Healthvision, now Medseek. It would seem that a lot of these size HIT vendors keep getting it wrong. Healthvision was expected. They lacked focus. But Medseek? This one surprised me. In my contacts with them as both a partner and a customer using their product, I always had the impression they had it right. That the CEO has left either by design or request speaks volumes about the company’s stability or instability. We have had discussions with Geonetric, but felt they were too small to be considered a serious player. The impression we got from their demo and functionality was that they aspired to be Medseek someday. Given this recent news, I would rethink that position.”
The SEC creates a Web-based tool that allows comparing executive compensation at 500 big companies, although the only healthcare IT one I could find was GE.
I decided not to send a Brev+IT today since not much is going on. Next week.
Your federal tax dollars at work: bankrupt Bayonne Medical Center (NJ), soon to be sold off to a for-profit company, gets $487,000 for an EMR upgrade.
Philips hasn’t run out of acquisition money yet. The company announced Friday that it will buy sleep therapy products manufacturer Respironics for $5.1 billion in cash.
Merry Christmas (or its equivalent for whatever holiday you may be celebrating).
Art Vandelay on Vendor Project Management
Many days, I feel like a boxing trainer looking at all kinds of boxers but not finding any with a solid one-two punch – a solid product with strong professional services. More and more, I have been focusing on the strength of the second punch – the vendor’s ability to provide technical assistance and manage a project. You have a real contender when you find one who can help with integration into our diverse environments.
The vendor’s ability to provide technical assistance includes application config., getting their product to work in our hardware environments and delivery of standard interfaces. As virtualization and monitoring ( e.g., response time, SNMP) become more prevalent, the vendors need to develop these skills. The challenges in the hardware environment are the lack of standards and number of varied products we all own. We now include information about these topics in our RFPs to set expectations with vendors.
Managing a project includes a flexible project plan and managing scope, issues and risks. Vendors need to leave appropriate “stubs” in the project plan where we can insert our tasks so that we have an integrated plan. This is always expected from our vendors answering RFPs.
Integration into our diverse environments involves more than just technology. It is about people, processes and other vendors’ technology as well in order to drive real workflow changes. As the number of broad independent consulting firms dwindle, the opportunity for vendors to step into this space will grow. I have yet to see the “heavyweight” vendors really grab this concept and run with it, directly, or through channel partnerships with others. Right now, we operate as our own integrator as the vendors really aren’t looking outside the domain of their products.
Inga Talks to a Former Meditech Director
I had the opportunity to talk to a former Meditech director recently. He had some interesting commentary about the company, its culture, technology, and people. Here are a few interesting tidbits.
I would say that a very wise move made six or seven years ago was to consolidate all development efforts throughout the company into one organization. Prior to that development had sprouted up and was going on in all different parts of the company. But when the product efforts were consolidated under Bob Gale, the process of developing products matured to the extent that now there are some really good processes in place that have much less in the way of redundancy and reinventing the wheel many times over and also for more rapidly deploying resources to customers.
Orienting new employees to Meditech
The new employee orientation process is either two or three days and consolidates together a large group of people who all start at the same time. Everyone starts at the same time, and there is a certain bond that people have with that group that they started with. They get to know each other and I think that that method of bringing people on board is a good one in terms of not having to individually deal with so many people on common issues such as enrolling in health plans and understanding benefits and just general corporate culture pieces such as how you page people in buildings and so forth. And without that sort of centralized dissemination of the information you’d have all sorts of crazy things going on that would seem small but would make kind of a funny footprint over the whole organization.
Neil Pappalardo and whether he has a hands on or a delegating leadership style
Both – there are certain things he doesn’t get involved with day to day. He is very closely involved with the broad vision of where the company is going and the broad vision of the company’s financial direction but he is not one who would want to see every single detail of what is going on. He just wants to see if the broad vision is heading the way he has asked it to go. He has a very small number of people that report directly to him who would sort of fill him in whether or not we are moving in the direction he has asked for. He doesn’t have an office and sits out in the open in a workstation with other people. He goes right down in the cafeteria with everybody and just grabs his lunch. If you didn’t know who he was you wouldn’t know who he was (laughs) if you know what I mean. If someone didn’t point out that guy over there at that workstation is Neil, you would be likely to think that guy has been here awhile and looks a little older than everybody else. He has always made time for me.
The products are now developed in a much newer technology than MUMPS. The latest version of their products 6.0 client/server is written in a brand new technology developed by Meditech. Meditch develops the technology that is used to develop the applications and that has always been the case. MUMPS has not been used – I am not sure it was ever used to develop any Meditech products. A close cousin of that is named MIIS was the first language that any product developed by Meditch was written in. Over the years, that evolved into Magic, and Magic evolved into a Magic-based C/S. This newest technology is a brand new development environment that runs in Windows NT and but it also has ability to run in other environments as well because it relies minimally on the server side. They have applications that are used internally for administrative purposes that are running on Linux instead of NT just to give it a test and see how platform independent the technology can be. That is a newer product that is more of a staff scheduling kind of model that’s issued internally.
Why Meditech has been able to achieve such long-term success
Simply the fact the products do work. That is the key thing. It sounds almost like – why wouldn’t they work. You buy a car and expect to drive off the lot, not that they will have to tow it to your house and hopefully in a couple of months you can drive. I think because the products have been written to work together has been is a key to the success of their stability. They have never acquired other companies’ products and tried to put a portal or some kind of other face on top of that product and interface it behind the scenes. It’s true integration. The products were developed with the same technology under the same leadership and that really gives them true integration and not just the appearance of integration.
Meditech’s biggest challenges and opportunities going forward
I think continuing to retain good talent is going to be a critical piece for them. That is really what the company is built on. It’s human capital. You can be financially solid in many ways, but you have to be able to have the people who can carry out that vision and that plan. Another thing that will be a big challenge is getting customers moving forward on new technology. Magic is very solid and I know for a fact there is no plan to scale back or sunset Magic at all. Magic has been moving forward because there are so many clients on it. It would be very difficult from a logistical standpoint envision trying to get more than 1500 customers over to a brand new platform in a short amount of time. It would take a decade or more.
Whether Meditech will lose clients in the migration to newer technologies
I think the cost factor will be far too compelling to leave. And that people would benefit with staying with Meditech because it is only going to be a fraction of the cost to implement a newer technology then it would be to go out and license brand new software from a brand new vendor and do all the conversion. And who knows how much of the data would go with you and now more than ever be able to keep and maintain that data. Staying with Meditech would allow you to keep your historical data. They have migration plans in place that would allow customers a way to do that with minimal effort and maximum retention of historical data. That is an important thing I think to customers.
The biggest misconception about Meditech
That Meditech systems aren’t open. That is a long time fallacy that people have somewhere grasped onto. I think it is because it is not written in a language that they know, the assumption is it’s a closed system. The newer version, the 6.0 version of c/s, is even more open, even with data repository as one of the standard products that Meditech sells, which is a relational copy of their entire data set. That is about as open as you can get by today’s standards. And, even if you think about it, if the technology is different to write or to develop the product, it can be done in such a way that it will allow you to get at data you want to get at if you know the way to do it, and at the same time it can help protect your data from hackers and viruses and other malware that you want to keep away from the software. If you are running an application that is written in a technology that millions of people are familiar with, then millions of people would potentially know how to write something that would do harm, whereas with a Meditech environment you are not going to find that.