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Monday Morning Update 6/30/08

June 28, 2008 News 8 Comments

From Madison Reader: "Re: Epic. Big day for Epic news." First story: an interesting article on Verona’s "green sprawl," contrasting Epic’s eco-friendly campus to the urban sprawl it created by its commuting employees. The company’s track record of being a good community citizen is also mentioned. In a less-flattering news, Epic flexes its rarely used liberal political muscle in threatening to cease doing business with local companies that support a state business lobby. Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, of which Epic is not a member, spent $1.8 million on campaign ads supporting a conservative judicial candidate and attacking the character of his incumbent liberal opponent. Epic’s statement says the election "was a travesty of ethics and many analyses pointed to WMC as a responsible party." And in a related event, Epic’s contractor (wouldn’t that be a great gig?) drops out of WMC and its president quits WMC’s board, claiming his company’s "corporate structuring and analysis" led him to that decision (riiiight).

A reader asked for my opinion on the Epic-WMC tiff, so here you go (you may be sorry you asked). Judge elections shouldn’t be knock-down, drag-out political slugfests. The thought that a pro-business organization should donate millions to an election campaign just because the candidate is supposedly business-friendly is repulsive, especially when that candidate seeks a non-partisan seat. Epic is a private company (and claims to be politically neutral — that also gets a riiiight), so it can do business with whatever companies it wants and for whatever reasons it chooses. On the other hand, it could have just done so quietly without making a public proclamation whose apparent goal is to coerce WMC members to quit or lose Epic’s favor. I was with them 100% until that last part; now I’m at about 75%. Bottom line: it’s a local issue that should not matter one iota unless you live or work in Wisconsin, and in that case, you’ll no doubt have a stronger and more well-informed opinion than the rest of us anyway.

The co-founder of 145-location retail clinic operator Take Care has some interesting comments on technology: "[Our] electronic medical record was not designed in a vacuum by our IT organization; it was designed with the aid of our nurse practitioners. We’ve created electronic check-in systems that are very similar to an e-ticket. If there are two people in front of you, the check-in screen will automatically give you the opportunity to go five minutes down the road to another Walgreens … We have an EMR (electronic medical record) system that’s capable of sending a record to any provider once the laws allow for that to take place … We created an industry based on integrating all the information and data and making it available to the traveler. We’ve brought that same thing to healthcare. A patient’s record is available in any Take Care center in the country. The next practitioner they see, whether it’s someone employed by Take Care or not, has access as well."

Cerner spent $180,000 for government lobbying in Q1, mostly aimed at DoD and the VA. Hmm … was it an eerie coincidence that VA decided to dump its own VistA LIS in favor of Millennium right about then?

NIH/NLM money is used to create the Appalachian Health Information Exchange in Ohio, which starts with 20 members and Ed Romito, CIO of Genesis Healthcare in Zanesville, as chair.

The usual housekeeping: you can sign up for e-mail updates or my Brev+IT weekly newsletter to your right. That Google search box sifts through the 5+ years of HIStalk for anything you want (hitting the old site where the previous articles live, too.) Click that hideous green Report a Rumor graphic that I unskillfully designed to send me news and rumors goodies. Wednesdays are Readers Write days, so e-mail me your master work (500 words or less) on relevant topics. And of course, thanks very much to the sponsors who sponsor and the readers who read.

Confluence Medical Systems, the consulting company started by former Misys-ers Tom Skelton and Rich Goldberg, will advise MedcomSoft on its marketing strategy. That’s the Canadian PM/EMR vendor that recently replaced its management to prepare for an attack on the US market.

Legislators on Friday voted down a measure that would have staved off a July 1 Medicare pay cut of 10.6% for physicians.

Identity management systems vendor Initiate Systems just pulled its IPO, but it also just got $26 million in sixth round funding, bringing its total funding to $62 million. One participant was data integration vendor Informatica, which bought identity matching systems vendor Identity Systems last month. Seems like they’ve got a lot of interest in Initiate, doesn’t it?

A research article coming out next week will provide interesting insight into workarounds with bedside barcoding systems, I’m told. In addition to pointing out human factors issues, it also documents intentional system bypassing that was observed: putting patient ID barcodes on clipboards or door jambs, commingling meds from multiple patients, and scanning doses after labels were removed. My conclusion: hospital leaders assumed that they bought a barcoding system and ordered nurses to use it, so medication errors should just go away. I know folks in a couple of hospitals who freely admit that their systems provide a false sense of security to the executives, but those in the trenches know of their inconsistent use. That’s no excuse for not using them, of course, but there’s work to be done beyond declaring a go-live victory, which we seem to do a lot in IT in our urgency to move on to the next scheduled crisis.

The husband of a Cerner employee who is accused of murdering her for a $250,000 life insurance payout by poisoning her with antifreeze did laptop searches for "antifreeze human death" weeks before she died, prosecutors say. His lawyer says the laptop wasn’t password protected, so anybody could have done that or maybe his client accidentally clicked a link somewhere. For a record third time this issue: riiiight.

The reverse split worked: QuadraMed gets Nasdaq’s listing permission, moving from Amex. The new ticker symbol QDHC kicks in July 9.

I’ve noticed that hospitals are getting free and easy with the "Chief" titles. In IT, there’s Chief Technology Officer, Chief Security Officer, and Chief Applications Officer (none of which are really "chiefs" in most cases since they report to the CIO). I’ve also seen Chief Pharmacy Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, and now Chief Technology Officer of the hospital lab. My thought: if you don’t report to the CEO, you’re not a chief, no matter what inflated title you were enticed with. If you’re a "real" Chief, it’s gotta peeve you a little to see Junior Chiefs flashing your title around.

Siemens, hammered by corruption and fresh off profit warnings, is rumored to be axing 17,000 jobs.

DEA is willing to allow e-prescribing of controlled substances if doctors use two-factor authentication and allow an annual audit. It’s accepting public comments on its chatty proposal (warning: PDF) released Friday.

I don’t watch TV much, but I was flipping channels the other night and ran across the debut episode of Hopkins, which caught my attention because I’d just interviewed Stephanie Reel (although I confess I alternated between it and Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, which I’d never seen and found mildly amusing). It’s a pretty good real-life medical show, a little heavy on the human interest of the photogenic subjects, and not quite up to the dramatic standards of the old Lifeline (you may remember the cowboy surgeon "Red" Duke from that one, who’s now 80, shockingly). Thursdays at 10 Eastern, apparently, on ABC, and you can watch the first episode online.

E-mail me.

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Currently there are "8 comments" on this Article:

  1. Re: WMC / Epic – A couple tidbits… I think it issue here was primarily that the WMC didn’t actually “support” their guy, they instead ran ads that smeared the other guy in ways that manny looked at after the fact, on both sides of the aisle, and said – ouch, not ethical and more importantly, not true.

    As far as I can tell, Epic managment, as usual, have been almost silent on this. The WMC, with their savvy media minds, seems to be the one that want to drag Epic into the press and accuse them of bullying.

    Epic is just one of those old fashioned kind of places that believes that what you support indirectly you still support. So, where you can choose to make a difference, go ahead and choose a better path. They realize that some of the money that paid for that smear campaign was actually coming, although indirectly, from them. And that just disn’t sit well.

    Count my support at least at the 95% agreement level 🙂

  2. RE: What does Epic and Tinky Winky have in Common?

    I’ve been in the biz for over thirty years starting in my teens with one of the most obscure medical jobs Uncle Sam can give you to a terminal provider point some thirty years later. I can truly admit that I am vendor neutral but that does not mean that I have been free from technology fickleness over the years. Technology and vendors are separate issues.

    Epic’s rise has been very disturbing to me. Can’t exactly put my hand on a “smoking gun” but there is something about the persona of the corporate entity that gives me the creeps, kind of like the Teletubbies experience and their Tubbytronic Superdome. But I digress. HIT technology appears to be the same across the board with big players and not so big players and all of them strive for standardization according to CCHIT imprimatur or the “nihil obstat” permission for healthcare information technology.

    I kind of liked the days when Nervous Neal was worrying about his beloved parking lot being full of cars. Now in today’s scenario with gas prices heading toward $5.00 per gallon, wouldn’t it be great to hear that Nervous Neal was indeed auditing his parking lot making sure that the volume is less than half full due to his ingenious program for hiring 24/7-ready SOHO geniuses. The point of this diatribe is the farther away from a vendor sweetheart deal I get; the better I can objectively assess the effectiveness and truthfulness of the technology regardless of what’s Tinky Winky’s technology orientation.

  3. Epic’s decision re: WMC is smart for business reasons as well as for ethical reasons.

    If you saw one of your suppliers participating in unethical campaigning then how would you expect this supplier to behave when given a choice between treating you ethically or maximizing profits?

  4. Being Epic’s contractor is not a great gig at all- the contractor for the first part of the new campus will never work for Epic again -their choice. Rumor has it that the second cntractor will only work on a cost plus basis, and already delays caused by a fight between Epic and the archetects made the contractor vulnerable to manager raiding by another contractor. The stories going through the Madison contstructin industry are pretty vicious. Not that Judy has a great rep anyway- the old IT community calls her “the biggest bitch in Madison”, UW students are advised to stay away from the company, and at least one customer calls Epic “the dark side”.

  5. RE: Epic and WMC-

    Not sure why you have a problem with Epic flexing their muscle about something they care about. There is a free-for-all going on right now. Churches, judges, conservative organization who are all supporting their beliefs that they promote as morally right.

    Remember the secrete meeting at the White House with Cheney? All the big oil companies were asked to come in and help with the country’s energy policy. I don’t know about you but as a consumer I thought I might have something to add.

    Or, how about the CEOs of big oil coming to Capital Hill to testify but not under oath. I know when I’ve been testifying the whole under oath thing wasn’t an option.

    Smells like rotten eggs to me.

  6. Shame on you Mr. HISTalk. That comment about Judy is inappropriate and should have been filtered out. No one deserves that in a moderated blog.

    And, a simple count of UW students at Epic would render his comment for what it is – garbage. And, the builder of phase one was unseated by the builder of the previous buildings in Madison who did a great job. Both firms have done pretty well as you can tell by walking around. Both firms have collected many awards and show the place off routinely as an example of their best work.

  7. Will Skelton and Goldberg be able to duplicate the phenomenal success of Misys for Medcom Soft? If so they are worth at least a 25% reduction in their market cap. Hope they can make an acquisition because there will be no organic growth.

  8. A couple of things about Epic…..

    1) The judicial race between Gableman and Butler was about as filthy as could be with the vast majority of the lies coming from the WMC ads. This is not my opinion alone. Newsweek, in an unusual move for a nationalmagazine, covered the story. You can find its story here: http://www.newsweek.com/id/119952 (The article was written by Viveca Novak of Factcheck.org, a non-partisan reporting agency.)

    2) This is not the first time the WMC has boosted a judge onto the Supreme Court. Their first one was a woman named Annette Ziegler who was elected in April, 2007. WMC spent two million dollars on her election. One of her first duties was to accept a reprimand from her fellow justices because she did not recuse herself from cases involving a bank her husband helps run. In my not so humble opinion, it looks as if the WMC has found out how to pack courts and will continue to do so.

    3) What the WMC does not like is someone with guts and strength standing up to them. Epic is standing up so the local conservative bloggers in Madison are throwing their unwarranted accusations at Epic in the hope of diverting people from the scum at WMC.

    4) I have been reading this blog for quite a while and I have noticed a lot of people throw garbage Epic’s way for no particular reason. Fourth Hansen Brother is one of them. I, too, hang around the IT community in Madison and I have never heard Judy referred to in the manner FHB suggests. (By the way, a good chunk of that community works at Epic.)

    5) I worked at Epic for a couple of years and I would like to say:
    (a) Epic is not a cult.
    (b) The people who work there are smart and work hard but not the incredible hours imputed to them.
    (c) They do not worship Judy but they do respect her and they also respect their colleagues.
    (d) Judy does work the incredible hours imputed to her.
    (e) OK. So I don’t like her taste in art. So what.







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Reader Comments

  • C'mon Man: Jon literally blamed their earnings miss on having one fewer day in the quarter. This isn't exactly something that sneak...
  • Classic Jonathan: Dissing on Epic to dismiss athena's failures. If your fundamental premise in business is that every one of your compe...
  • meltoots: Anyone else think that it screams excessive for athenahealth to OWN a Challenger 300 private plane? EHR vendors have a n...
  • HHC...: Not that this should come as a surprise, but the amount of corruption and “side deals” involved with the HHC Epic im...
  • HIT Girl: That's quite a bloodbath....

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