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June 12, 2008 News 4 Comments

Two readers confirmed that University General in Dubai will be selecting Epic based on cost of ownership, although they haven’t started contract negotiations yet. That shouldn’t take long unless Epic gives them more options than the usual "here’s our boilerplate and non-negotiable price list." Epic’s taking over the world, it seems, so maybe that "Intergalactic Headquarters" silliness actually has some merit. Imagine if they had a Vision Center (or is that an oxymoron?)

A reader confirms that Novlet Bradshaw is joining Rex Healthcare (NC) as CIO, coming over from Seton Family of Hospitals in Austin, TX.

John Halamka posts a list (warning: XLS) of the components of the medical record and showing BIDMC’s progress in moving them from paper to electronic. I really like this scorekeeping idea and have advocated it previously. Hospitals need to know what parts make up the legal medical record, where they are storing each part of it today (especially if it’s not consistent among nursing stations or facilities), and a running progress report on how close they are to becoming fully electronic. I’ve seen Joint Commission blast hospitals who were wishy-washy about this, to the point where nobody could even tell them where specific documents were stored (and in some cases, duplicated).

Hospitals are actually expecting patients to pay and checking their credit-worthiness online, apparently shocking the whole country with their brazen gall. "But critics say access to patient financial information can lead to abuse. Hospitals might deny non-emergency care to patients with a poor credit history. Overzealous billing personnel might nudge patients to tap into available lines-of-credit to pay for care." Unfortunately, health care is not free to deliver, which also makes it not free to consume. It’s too bad that insurance has dumbed consumers down to this fact. Substitute "car owners" for "patients" and "engine repairs" for "care" where I’ve bolded and you’ll see how silly this argument is.

Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor PatientKeeper of Newton, MA. Need to increase physician use of those expensive and hard-to-implement physician systems? You’ll want to talk to them – it could save your job if you’re a CIO or CMIO. I’ve mentioned the interview we did with CEO Paul Brient and it’s a good introduction to what the company does. I was looking over their site just now and darned if they don’t have a video (the one called Saving Time) from Berkshire Medical Center that includes CMIO Michael Blackman, who I just interviewed (I didn’t realize they were PatientKeeper customers until I saw his picture on their site). Thanks to PatientKeeper for supporting HIStalk and its readers.

pk

It looks like we’ve settled on a Wednesday run for Readers Write, so feel free to jot down your best or most amusing thoughts and send them over.

Here’s a great editorial on the VA’s misguided and DoD-led push to rid itself of the VistA system that was supposed to be a guiding light for all of healthcare trying to drag itself out of the dark ages. I’ve talked before about the billions AHLTA cost DoD (most of it going to fat cat contractors) and now those folks are trying to make their system the favorite over open source and paid for VistA while the VA starts heavy petting of its own with Cerner.

Stanford Hospital & Clinics hits a big cost-savings target through a variety of creative and employee-driven changes, the EMR doesn’t get a tip of the hat: "The installation of EPIC, the new electronic medical records system, produced a temporary glitch that set back some savings." Doh!

Nuance announces a voice search function for the iPhone, allowing users to use search engines hands-free.

Yahoo ends talks with Microsoft for the final time, watches its shares tank 10%, and resorts to putting Google’s ads on its search page. Shareholders, time for the torches and pitchforks.

Odd lawsuit, this time in Canada. A couple find a dead fly in their bottled water. They sue the water company, claiming the shock caused depressive disorders and all kinds of aftermath that required medical care. The guy even threw up on the witness stand for effect, resulting in a $450,000 award. The water company appealed and won. The couple somehow got their case in front of the Supreme Court (don’t they have anything better to do?), who ruled that the man’s psychiatric illness was debilitating, but also ruling that he’s a wuss and the water company couldn’t have done much about that. The best thing is that, since they don’t have the archaic US civil litigation system, the couple have to pay all the legal bills for the people they sued, close to $500K. Imagine how rational lawsuits would become if the plaintiff couldn’t just try Lawsuit Lotto with no risk.

E-mail me.

Inga’s Update

Quality Infusion is implementing Misys EMR and Vision across its 25+ clinics in Southeast Texas.

Non-profit Allina Hospitals & Clinics is creating a $100 million Center for Health Care Innovation to support clinical and population health research innovation. The goal is to improve health and health care within the community. I personally think it’s a better use of extra funds than employing private jet service.

The University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics is busy notifying 2.2 million people that their billing records were stolen. The records, which included social security numbers, were stolen from a courier’s van. The hospital has agreed to provide free credit monitoring for all affected, which could be a windfall for whoever wins that contract.

SCI Solutions announces 24 new contracts for its Order Facilitator and Schedule Maximizer products.

After discussions with 150 healthcare professionals, KLAS announces a list of its top ten considered vendors for healthcare business intelligence.

Island Hospital (WA) is successfully using Motion C5 tablets for point of care nurse documentation with their MEDITECH Magic system.

CCHIT announces a new advisory task force to contribute strategic and policy guidance for PHR development. I wonder if they will consider how to convince providers they are worth using?

The healthcare guys at Stratus Technologies are excited about the company’s new software-based high availability product running on standard x86 servers. Stratus will market Avance to hospitals and medical clinics, as well as a number of other verticals.

MedcomSoft’s founder and CEO is stepping down following a special executive committee’s study evaluation of the company’s market potential for its PM/EMR product. Chairman Dr. Steven Small, who led the evaluation, is also retiring. Stepping in are Robert Wilson as CEO and John Gillberry as chairman. Toronto-based MedComSoft is hoping to expand its US presence.

Lynx Medical Systems and the Health Management Academy announce a joint research project to explore the impact of ED services on hospitals and health systems. Researchers hope the results will provide benchmarks for improving quality of care and ED financial health.

eRx is on the rise according to an eHealth Initiative. Last year more than 35 million prescriptions from 35,000 prescribers were sent electronically, a 170% increase over the previous year. While that’s great progress, the numbers represent only six percent of physicians and two percent of the eligible prescriptions.

The CDC releases new estimates on life expectancy rates and I’m happy to report that odds are pretty good that I can keep writing HIStalk for many more years. Currently life expectancy is 80.7 years for women and 75.4 years for men. I may outlive Mr. H by a few years, so that should be enough time for me to get really good at this.

E-mail Inga.

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Currently there are "4 comments" on this Article:

  1. Mr. HISTalk – RIGHT-ON with the comments about patients and paying. When are people going to realize, this is the only industry in a capitalist economy where we are expected to provide service without know if and how much we are going to be paid? We do have prices for services and I’d bet if there was a system for up-front collections, payment, or at least a “deposit” or “retainer fee”, many LIST prices in health care would come down. This benefits the “self pay” patients.

  2. While I agree with the fact that people need to be willing to pay for their healthcare, the fact is that healthcare differs from car repaor in several not-so-insignificant ways:

    1) When I take my car to the shop, the mechanic tells me what it is costing me every step of the way, so I can make a decision about whether I want to do the repair or not as I go. And if something comes up during the repair, the mechanic notifies me that additional work is necessary and quotes me the price for the additions. Not only can no doctor tell me what a test will cost, but no staff are willing to research that for me.

    2) Because I know what my car repair is going to cost and the bill is presented to me as I am leaving, I can plan appropriately to make the payment. With any doctor visit, I have to wait 2-4 months while the billing office and coding department goof off and draft up a bill (it does NOT take 2-4 months to complete a bill in an automated system). So, several months after I have had my work done, I get this bill (which, by the way, is rarely if ever comprehensible — and I WORK in healthcare) that I then have to figure out how I will pay.

    And all of this ignores the fact that healthcare is not always as optional as car repair.

    Sorry, but before you put all of the blame on the patient (and I DO agree that there are some patients who milk the system), healthcare billing needs to clean up its act. It is amazingly inefficienct, non-customer friendly, and uncompetive. Any car shop that was run like a hospital would go out of business!

  3. Although I can appreciate wanting people to pay bills. As a business owner, I am no different, but let’s not forget that many hospitals are not-for-profits. Many, if not most, had their roots in religious organizations and are charity organizations. Some of these organizations have simply forgotten their original mission and turned their ministry into a business. I often wonder where healthcare would be, if they had kept to their original ideals?

    Just wondering.

  4. Appreciate the various perspectives on bill paying, but got to thinking about this article on the front page of the newspaper of record :

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/13/world/asia/13fat.html?_r=1&ref=world&oref=slogin

    If there is concern about “peeking” at patients ability to pay, imagine the response in the U.S. if the government mandated that people show up to have their waist measured like in Japan. And then actually expect those above the norm to take affirmative steps to do something to change their behaviors.

    Betting that both Mr. H. and Inga would give George Clooney and Katherine Heigl a run for the money if waistlines were put to the tape…







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Reader Comments

  • Mr. HIStalk: Sorry, I forgot to add the link. I've added it to the post -- it's here: https://www.inc.com/magazine/201706/thomas-g...
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