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Monday Morning Update 3/2/09

February 28, 2009 News 8 Comments

From Al Mikes: "Re: Brailer. He has always focused on self-promotion. Kolodner is the opposite, but he will be out within six months since the new HHS secretary will want his own person there. It will not be a purely ceremonial role like it was under Brailer with all the money, accountability, and transparency that is now expected. It will take a real go-getter and risk-taker, an entrepreneurial type who can be a lightning rod for the changes needed, like an American version of Richard Granger from NHS."

From Dr. T: "Re: GE. I spoke with a college buddy that works there in Seattle. Many Centricity/IDXers are getting the axe. GE is giving them a month (or was it two?) Their ‘new’ product will probably have a sunset announcement before the two remaining US customers go live. Thank God I didn’t take that position three years ago!" Unverified.

From John Johnson: "Re: IBM. Not only do they not have an EMR, they don’t have services OR a sales force. Most of the Healthlink execs have bailed. They had over 50 people in their healthcare sales and delivery group (I was one of them) and ALL of the non-executive staff were laid off.  Only five VPs are left in that group with no teams under them any more. This is big-company spin at its best. I am happy to be moving on, hopefully to a company that really is serious about spending that stimulus money wisely and has leaders that truly understand the healthcare business." Unverified.

aviara

Speaking of the invitation-only David Brailer Innovation 2009 conference, here’s the agenda. The registration fee is $1,600, hotel rooms are $345, and the speakers are a bunch of stock market types.

Neal Patterson has a blog, or at least a Cerner-approved online write-up that bears his name. Maybe Neal’s casual blog writing consists of long, carefully documented and footnoted position statements and corporate marketing graphics. See if this snip sounds like him: "Although no meta-analysis has yet attempted to quantify these savings, in aggregate they are very significant, and supported by much research and published studies." My predictions: (1) it will rarely be updated because committees can’t turn it around quickly; (2) it invites comments, but they will be carefully moderated and answered only with additional harmless boilerplate; and (c) it will contain nothing controversial or contrarian because the marketing people will redact anything interesting. Neal is vitriolic, passionate, and hard to follow, but quotable. His alleged blog, like most CEO blogs, is none of those things. The PR people e-mailed me to say he wants to start up a conversation with it, so post a challenging comment and let me know how quickly and thoroughly "Neal" answers.

Ed posted a comment that said I never say anything positive about GE, so maybe I’m biased. My bias is more generalized against multi-national conglomerates who buy up really good HIT companies (Triple G, BDM, and maybe even IDX in GE’s case) and run them right into the ground, the "first to worst" phenomenon that is the nearly exclusive province of GE. I’m also not a big fan of Siemens, Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, and other healthcare IT dabblers. I’ve worked in healthcare all my life, so I like companies like Epic, Cerner, MEDITECH, and that majority of HIT companies willing to make or miss their fortunes by dancing with the one who brought them. Market penetration, performance, and user satisfaction seem to validate that bias.

Jobs: Physician Clinical Resource, Regional Sales Director, Senior Manager.

Gregg Alexander, a tech-savvy practicing physician (he says "grunt in the trenches")  whose gifted writings grace HIStalk Practice, is starting off a series called US Healthcare Overhaul? Sure … in 5 Easy Steps! Worth a read. A snip about HMOs: "Suppose there was one acceptable formulary structure, that quality measures could be promoted universally, that health maintenance care was paid better than (or, at least as well as) health repair, that our struggles with healthcare provision were about improving ‘best practices’ not ‘best reimbursements’."

February was the busiest month every for HIStalk readership (even though it’s a short month) with around 75,000 visits, so thanks for spending time with Inga and me.

UT Southwestern Medical Center CIO Kirk Kirksey writes a pro-EMR opinion piece for the Dallas paper, specifically mentioning Epic’s MyChart by name.

I thought athenahealth turned in good Q4 numbers Thursday, but the market apparently didn’t agree: the stock dropped around 25% Friday. The earnings call transcript is here.

expendability

This Deloitte social software evangelist isn’t a fan of CIOs, but he’s pretty funny in a cynical, HIStalk kind of way. Perceptive readers may note his slight bias from the posting’s title, "The CIO Should Be Janitor." Love the graphic. Here’s an caustic excerpt: "Their job was to connect people to data. Now their job is to ignore people, their business requirements, and generate metrics which ensure the survival of the CIO function. They drain money like a 2-year old goes through a juice box, but somehow they continue to be seen as an important function within the business world … You are only the “chief” because you have (inappropriately) been given fiscal responsibilities. Being the gatekeeper should not be what makes you important." Ouch!

hospitalradio

I got an e-mail from Nigel Dallard, secretary of the UK’s Hospital Broadcasting Association, which I mentioned earlier saying that I wasn’t sure how hospital radio stations work. He was nice enough to explain. There are 240 volunteer-run radio stations that serve over 400 hospitals, hospices, and retirement homes in the UK (and more in Ireland and the Netherlands). Most are run as charities, although hospital volunteers operate a couple. They broadcast using low power on the AM and FM bands, licensed to cover one hospital. The content is mostly music that is targeted to the older patients who make up much of the hospital population (I’m thinking Hendrix and Pink Floyd since the Benny Goodman generation is nearly gone). The volunteers visit patients, take requests to be played in the evening, and get local sports club members to provide sports commentary. Patients can use the bedside entertainment system to participate live in the programs. Some stations actually do remote broadcasts live from the nursing stations. Since volunteers often are available only in the evening, stations often run unattended during the day, using computer automation to run pre-recorded programs. Nigel says evidence is building that music, particularly that which brings up personal memories, can relax patients, reduce perceived pain, and allow them to accept their situation. He mentioned three US stations run as part of the UK’s Radio Lollipop: Miami Children’s, Texas Children’s, and CHOC. I’m pretty fascinated by this (I’m a geek and it sounds cool) and I appreciate the explanation.

The US operation of BearingPoint, drowning in $2.23 billion of debt, files Chapter 11. What the hell was a services firm wasting all that money on — suits and Kinkos presentation folders? Uncle Sam was paying huge dollars to buy business advice from a company that couldn’t even run its own business BEFORE the recession – nice. My theory is that it’s CoreFLS karma coming around.

An incident reporting system at Queensland Health (Australia) is being reviewed after it was noticed that employees often bailed out in the middle of trying to log an incident because of the application’s general clunkiness. It also does not notify managers that incidents have been reported in their areas of responsibility, requiring instead that they log on and check.

I ran across this by accident and it’s pretty cool: Johns Hopkins offers a fully online MS in Biotechnology, Bioinformatics, or Bioscience Regulatory Affairs.

Mobile technology vendor Zi finally capitulates to the acquisition overtures of Nuance, agreeing to a deal worth $35 million after a months-long mating dance.

Red Hat says the poor economy is sending both large and small companies to its door looking for cost-savings opportunities.

E-mail me.

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Currently there are "8 comments" on this Article:

  1. I guess I am not going to get too worked up over a social media consultant with a 2 month old blog.

    Brian Drake’s suggestions of what a CIO should be doing does not win me over. His blog suggests 2 projects that include “Deploy a prediction market that encourages our enterprise to look forward.” If you have infinite resources (like Google) that may make your list.

    My job is to help the business leverage IT investments to the greatest degree with limited resources. That means working on a finite number of priorities set by the business with my help. Sometimes that means shooting down a project that a consultant was pitching, despite knowing he may post an angry rant on his blog.

    CIOs measure the things that they do because those are the things that are important to their organizations. You would love to see my CEO’s face if I were to tell him that I don’t think we should be tracking the return on our IT investments and their impact on patient quality. Instead, we are going to measure the metrics suggested on Brian Drake’s blog: reduce email by 50%; increase the positive comments on my blog; and do some crystal ball thingy that a consultant found on YouTube.

    Brian, I like candid people with a healthy skepticism. But even I know there are logical boundaries to candor. Deloitte Consulting is probably doing a lot of work for CIOs. You don’t need a prediction market system to figure out what will happen if you bite the hand that feeds you.

  2. One thing that GE has done right is hold on to market share from the old Corometrics / QMI product for perinatal applications, QS. Even though it has been rebranded into Centricity Perinatal or CPN they have managed to drive the product to gorilla proportions even though they have screwed the customers with exorbitant support contracts, forklift upgrades, and revolving door sales/support people. It remains the gold standard in the OB world. Just goes to show you that once you have them by the big cajones the rest of the body will follow.
    Now if they can just make it integrate to the rest of the Centricity suite…

  3. With respect to the role of the CIO. It’s kinda like the stimulus package. Some of what he says I agree with and in many cases I think he is dead wrong. When I arrived as CIO at my organization, the first thing I did is to reduce cost of high end projects. Point one – Deloitte was terminated from their role.

  4. I agree with John Johnson’s comments about IBM from last week. Healthlink North (as it was re-branded for Canada) was a half baked total failure. All the actual licensed clinical staff they had have all left but one RN. They never had one Healthlink project, leaving those of us on the bench for months at a time.

    IBM Health solutions Canada would much rather hire MBA’s, MHA’s or engineers. People with zero clinical background leading the way for eHealth projects for Canada’s pan Canadian eHR scares me. This fact almost made me feel ashamed to be a nurse.

  5. I think that the list of HIT vendors now among the missing misspoke when it incuded BDM. They were a consulting company that did a lot of DoD stuff in the 70s and 80s, becoming more diversified in the 90s. They were swallowed by Ford Aerospace, then acquired by the Carlyle Group, then sold to Grumman, then Grumman merged into Northrop Grumman.

    [From Mr. HIStalk] That’s a different BDM. GE’s BDM was the #1 in KLAS pharmacy systems vendor from Canada, acquired at the end of 2002.

  6. I think this is the first time I ever saw you say that you “… like Cerner”. You seem to be warming up to Neal in your old age 🙂

    I agree with you that his blog is carefully crafted by the internal PR team – but I am also sure that he was intimately involved with framing the content and reviewing the text in detail before it went to print. Do you think that there’s any coincidence that this blog was started just days before DeParle was appointed Healthcare Czar, and Sebelius (who has been in the Cerner VC many times), was nominatead for HHS position? I don’t. Seems well timed for him to start the dialogue. It should be lively! But, too bad all his comments will be filtered by a team of talented wordsmithers – he could become the Rush Limbaugh of Healthcare IT debate on the web!

  7. DeParle and Sebelius both being appointed by Obama & their huge Cerner ties raises a lot of eyebrows across the HIT world…especially with the current administration’s policy of no lobbying. Is this the new school of lobbying? Also, I was a little shocked to see the love for Cerner…seems to me that it’s either Cerner, GE, or McKesson that gets the brunt of Mr. HISTalk’s frustration with the HIT world. I guess if they weren’t so huge and publicly held companies, they would get less negative press (i.e. Epic).

    Also to Rollo Tomasi – Is there any Perinatal product out there that integrates with anyone? Not really sure why none of the large Clinical IT companies don’t develop better integration to either a partnership with a niche or self-develop this product. Especially with the baby boom we are in…

  8. To Pez Man – you’re right. For a company that is run by highy conservative Republicans, Cerner seems positioned to do well in the world of Obama. Cerner has had a PAC for years and leans heavily on all execs of the company to contribute to it. Looks like the PAC is paying off for them! And I don’t care what Obama says – there will always be lobbying in Washington – it’s how that town rolls. Just look at all the pork in both the budget and the stimulus plan – and Obama didn’t stop it – so like most politicians, he’s just playing a shell game with his words to make you think it’s not business as usual on the hill. The legislation that he supports tells the true story, so we have to be careful not to get roped in by his talent for giving eloquent speeches. Words, as always, are cheap.







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