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News 2/20/09

February 19, 2009 News 18 Comments

From The Watchman: “Re: rumblings from Verona. I’m hearing that there’s a 10% Epic downsizing going on. Can this be validated?” That doesn’t sound likely, but someone will probably chime in one way or another.

From Lemmy: “Re: announcement from Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, Boston. ‘I regret to inform you that Kash Basavappa, Chief Information Officer, has resigned from Atrius Health effective March 18 to pursue other career opportunities.'”

Ardent Health Services announces that it has saved $2 million (TN) using the eScription computer-aided medical transcription system.

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World Health Organization designates Regenstrief Institute as the first WHO Collaborating Center for Medical Informatics. Paul Biondich, MD from Indiana University School of Medicine has been named director; he co-founded the OpenMRS EMR for resource-constrained environments (aren’t they all these days?) 

Albert Einstein (PA) signs up for Cerner Millennium.

McKesson announces its Achieve IT Web site and telephone center for doctors interested in HITECH.

Here’s what piles of stimulus money does: the non-profit Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative creates a for-profit subsidiary to bid on commercial EMR work. As far as I’m concerned, they should now be treated like any other for-profit vendor, with justified suspicion about credibility and lack of bias when they start trotting out educational programs and studies. Too bad. Even HIMSS couldn’t pull that off with HIMSS Analytics.

E-mail me.

HERtalk by Inga From Famous Johnny: “Re: HIMSS. Just wanted mention how sorry I am we shall again not meet at HIMSS, you being undercover and all. However, I, being the public kind of guy I apparently am, will be the one nursing an obvious hangover. Folks I know in this world have recently postulated that with HIMSS budgets being skinny, a few notable no-shows, and these governmental (we hope) tailwinds combined with economic headwinds, this year may be more substantive than most. I guess we’ll see.” That is actually a great point. If you are a real buyer, you are going to find it in the budget to attend HIMSS. If you are a vendor, perhaps you will see fewer tire kickers and those (like me) just stopping by for free trinkets.

 From Oakie: “Re: HIMSS Webinar. Just wondering if the word from the Webinar today was focused only on EMR/EHRs? Or is some of this $$$$ able to be used for other HIT like eRx, registries, portals, document management, etc. We deal with a LOT of small practices who aren’t always so gung ho about EMR, even eRx for that matter. Just wondering what help they can expect, if any.” I sat through most of the HIMSS Webinar Wednesday that gave an overview of the economic stimulus act and its HIT components. No specific mention (that I recall) about funding for eRX, etc. One requirement for receiving government reimbursement is that a provider use the EHR in a “meaningful” way, which includes eRX, information exchange, and reporting on quality measures. My guess is that a purchase of document management only, for example, would not qualify. However, if someone interprets this differently, please share your thoughts. Here is a link to the HIMSS presentation, if you are interested.

This may very well be the year that I come home from HIMSS with a new Vespa scooter. Despite the recession, tight budgets, and HIStalk criticism of the ludicrous and crass commercialism of such a move, Health Data Management and three co-sponsors are giving away four of these cool rides for dropping by booths. One sponsor is athenahealth, surprising given its anti-boat show stance.

Speaking of HIMSS, we hear that consulting firm Quammen Group is the latest vendor to cancel.

Mercy Medical Center (IA) implements a hiring freeze, as well as a salary freeze for its managers, directors, and senior managers. In addition to the general economic decline, Mercy is still recovering from the floods last June, which forced the hospital to be evacuated and created $66.3 million in property damage.

Another troubled hospital is River West Hospital (LA), which cuts its FTE count in half to around 100. The cuts couldn’t have been too much of a surprise given that the paychecks of 60 employees bounced last month. It’s another hurricane-related problem.

German eHealth service provider CompuGroup, spurned in 2007 for iSoft but looking for acquisitions since, completes a “substantial” equity investment into Noteworthy Medical Systems.

A transcription company lapse is blamed when patient records from Northeast Orthopaedics (NY), including full dictations and patient data, are found to be openly accessible on the Internet.

I’m always amazed by the number of niche solutions in HIT. Case in point: a company named ACEOS announces that the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center has successfully implemented a wound documentation system called WoundMatrix. Who knew such programs existed?

Pee Dee Cardiology, a 16-provider group in SC, selects Allscripts’ EHR and PM to replace its Misys system originally purchased in 1987.

Sentillion signs 30 new customers in 2008, representing over 500,000 new licenses for its SSO product.

The 25-bed Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital (MT) installs HospitalPortal.NET’s Intranet solution.

Allen Technologies, an interactive patient communication systems provider, adopts the Avance high-availability software from Stratus Technologies.

Frimley Park Hospital NHS Foundation Trust selects Picis CareSuite integrated software.

DR Systems announces $1.53 million in sales for four new Unity RIS/PACS solutions.

Satilla Regional Medical Center (GA) enters into an agreement with Perceptive Software to deploy ImageNow enterprise document management, imaging, and workflow software.

E-mail Inga.

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Currently there are "18 comments" on this Article:

  1. Re: Epic layoffs.

    Straight from Judy’s mouth during this month’s staff meeting: “No WAY is Epic laying off employees!”

  2. I used to work for a medical device company that provided wound care products, including software. There are at least 4-5 vendors in this space, including both installed software and a couple of SaaS. They get even more niched with those that support hyperbaric wound care (in a tank, like for divers with the bends).

  3. Think about your printer/copier/scanner/coffeemaker; how good is it at any particular function, or is it OK at everything?

    Our company has been around for 16 years and provides web-based wound care solutions. There are over 9,000 users currently utilizing our services in over 1 million patient encounters annually. Easily the largest in the wound care continuum.

  4. According to the HIMSS webninar, the industry will need tons of people to do ‘quick’ installs for all these new EMR /CPOE systems over the next two/three years. ‘Cause if you ani’t got it done by 2015 the feds will penalize you by reducing Medicare payments.

    So why would an HIT vendor lay off staff now??

    Welcome to the federal full employment act for IT installers!

  5. Judy is lying, or refusing to see what’s happening under her nose. People are being asked to resign all across the board, and the new hires are NOT offsetting the departures.

  6. RE: WoundMatrix, several have already responded about what they have… I will just say we admit nursing home patients with 10 to 20 wounds and each must be completely documented and photographed else run the risk of lawsuits and rejection of payment for the entire encounter…despite these risks, our administration continues to find other HIT initiatives to fund year in and year out while telling clinicians how dependent we are upon them to write, write, write, write….to prevent such lawsuits and loss of reimbursement.

  7. I have heard that Epic is using the economic opportunity as a way to clean part of their house just as many other still very profitable companies are doing. Generally you can cut 5% and not even miss it.

  8. There are HIT recruiters wondering why there’s so many Epic employees suddenly on the market. Epic tells VIPs on tours that they like to keep employees five to seven years. Lots of 2004 hires coming up on that horizon. Gotta save money on the 401K, the Stock appreciation rights, and the sabbaticals.

  9. I’ve heard lately that at least a dozen employees, some who were hired less than two years ago, were being asked to quit or they’d find a reason to fire them.

  10. Is that really very surprising? The most likely reason they are being asked to leave is because “they are not a good fit.” Don’t other companies throw out talent that they don’t see as a good fit?

  11. I hear Epic hates babies and small furry animals… My cousin’s best friend told me. She’s like Judy’s hair dresser or something.

  12. HIMSS Chicago sis still too expensive!

    I was scheduled to attedn and now cancelling. Including air fare and hotel ( at $200 per night in this economy!) a typical impact willbe over $2K for sure.

    If you have some large company paying for you to attend , then, that is one thing. For me, I was going to learn more about EMR’s – latest products etc. There are 4-5 experts in this field that I have known for a long time and of these, 3 have just told me that they are not going – and this clinched the decision for me.







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