From Stan van Man: “Re: Sage. I just got an e-mail from one of the people who was cut at Sage who told me that Sage Healthcare RIF (don’t you love that acronym) was 500.” My company contact tells me that Sage North America reduced headcount (employees plus open positions) by 500, but that’s throughout all of Sage, not just Healthcare (which took a relatively minor hit).
From Dr. Lyle: “Re: Cerner MPages. I’m a long-time Cerner user and have many bruises to show for it. However, I am cautiously optimistic about MPages as it appears to be what many of us have been asking for: a Web-like front end to the data and functionality in the system. At the very least, it allows users to use HTML and similar programming to create a user interface which displays disparate data in the way they want, such as creating a diabetes screen that brings together meds, labs, physical exam findings, and evidence-based findings. At the very most, there may be some opportunity for interactivity via data input (e.g. change a variable to see how it affects the data) and ordering (e.g. meds, tests) on that very screen. In other words, they are beginning to go down the road of separating the data from the application and interface and allowing end-users to create the displays and customized functionality we believe will work best for us. While this might seem like common sense, most EMR vendors continue to work in a closed, three-tier system (data, application, and interface) that does not allow for this level or ease of customization. It could lead a new paradigm of what an EMR is and does, shifting EMRs to become a platform that holds the data and applications, but allowing interfaces to be in the hands of the users.” Dr. Lyle refers to his blog entry on EMR usability. I liked that idea going back to the mid-1990s, when vendors or users of character-based systems turned them into something that looked slick and brand new by using screen-scraping tools like Attachmate or Seagull to create GUIs that could even tie multiple applications together under the covers. It would be cool if a vendor app could provide functions and tags that would work like ColdFusion or PHP, giving users control of the display and maybe extending its functionality by doing lookups into other systems, links to Web content, or databases or running self-developed functions. Customizing screens, screen flow, and reports is most of what users want to change, not the underlying database or internals, so that would be powerful.
Speaking of MPages, I found this site, run by techies at UW, Stanford, and UAB, which is trying to build an open community of MPages developers.
From Josh: “Re: reusable components. I thought it was worth reiterating a point in your 5/6 update: ‘What healthcare needs are small, specialized systems that interact.’ This diametrically opposes the notion of ALL of the major HIS vendors to date. The idea of small, standards-based reusable components rather than monolithic, interconnected systems is called Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). There are a number of successes in other industries and the core notions (Enterprise Service Bus, Agile development, composite views, etc.) are readily understood in the software development community. What seems not to have been done is the transformation of provider requirements to force deconstruction of these systems. I’ve long been flabbergasted at the interface inflexibility in most commercial HIS offerings and the uselessness of data we generate in applications not intended by the designer. It’s time that the providers start dictating detailed requirements to our vendors – and SOA may be the mechanism to do that.” That is an interesting paradigm – CIOs have pushed the “off the shelf” idea to the point that prospects rarely put system design issues into their contracts, either accepting the product as-is or choosing a different one. When I worked for a vendor, I hated the idea that we couldn’t do something specific for a customer unless we rolled it into the base product, which either meant we had unhappy customers or a Frankensteinized product with a bunch of jerry-rigged bolt-ons added just to make some weird customer happy (usually one of our biggest customers, no surprise there, who bring both unreasonable influence and illogical processes to the table). I like where this discussion (and the one above) are going. If software could be customizable while remaining supportable, everyone wins.
I just posted a summary of the 2009 HIStalk reader survey. I didn’t e-mail blast it since not everyone cares about it, but if you’d like to know what readers suggested and what I think I can accomplish, check it out.
England’s Department of Health gives BT $150 million in advance payments despite what the Guardian says is “years of delays, system failures, and overspending …” and a temporary government ban on Cerner rollouts because of system problems.
I’ve hosted a visit by Traveling HIT Man, my new BFF (that’s him, helping me edit today’s post). He’s looking for the next stop on his HIT tour (see the pics of where he’s been), so if you’d like to have him come to your place, let me know and I’ll send him your way.
HHS announces members chosen for the Health IT Policy Committee (advises ONCHIT on interoperability) and Health IT Standards Committee (advises ONCHIT on standards and certification). Both committees hold their first meetings this week in Washington.
Odd: two motorcycle riders in India, one of them a Dell software engineer, ride around pulling the scarves of girls for some reason. Locals caught them and beat up one of them, but the Dell guy escaped, only to be arrested later and charged with criminal intimidation and assault with the intent to outrage modesty. His punishment is to sweep the floors of a local hospital for one hour per day for a month.
Patient Safety Technologies, the sponge counting system company, names board chair Steven Kane as CEO following the pursuing of other interests of David Bruce, former president and CEO.
Cooper University Hospital (NJ) gets a local newspaper mention for going live on its $30 million Epic project.
The swine flu is coming and humanity will be wiped out! Old-timers have heard this before, in 1976, and we even had a vaccine then (although it had a couple of minor problems: it didn’t work and people who got it sometimes died. But hey, some people died who didn’t get it, so evidence is inconclusive.) Concerned Americans who heard about today’s crisis on celebrity gossip sites have responded to this serious risk to their health by drinking, speeding, smoking, having unprotected sex, chowing down on superhuman junk food portions, and taking a bottomless pharmacopeia of dangerous prescription and illicit drugs.
President Ford — uhh, Obama — has a great health care plan, other than it will cost $1.5 trillion. I’ll let Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon speak for me: “You go to a town meeting and people are talking about bailout fatigue. They like the president. They think he’s a straight shooter. But they are concerned about the amount of money that is heading out the door, and the debts their kids are going to have to absorb." The article wisely observes that “one person’s wasteful spending is someone else’s bread and butter,” saying that doctors, hospitals, and drug companies are going to raise holy hell about any attempt to pay them less, even for good reason.
Chinese hackers break into Cal-Berkeley’s health sciences servers, giving them access to the health data of 160,000 students and relatives. Nobody noticed for six months.
The UCLA Medical Center employee who pleaded guilty to selling celebrity medical records to the National Enquirer has died of breast cancer.
A university does the “buy some old drives from eBay and see what’s on them” test. What they found: Lockheed Martin ground-to-air missile plans and its personnel records, medical records, pictures of nursing home patients, correspondence from a Federal Reserve Board member about a $50 billion currency exchange, and security logs from the German Embassy in Paris.
Speaking of which, thanks to the reader who reminded Inga about the need for offsite PC backups (since my trusty USB hard drive sits two feet from the PC, giving it little chance of selective survival in a fire or disaster). I’m doing a 15-day free trial of Carbonite.
Here’s what I love about hospitals: a 17-year-old high school athlete goes to the ED of Kadlec Medical Center (WA) with a shortness of breath. She is correctly diagnosed by the ED staff as having a pulmonary embolism, almost unheard of in young, healthy patients. The next night was prom night, so the peds staff brought in her dressed-up boyfriend and classmates, made her up in her prom dress, took pictures, set up a CD player and disco ball in her prom-decorated room, and provided a candlelit dinner for the couple (with Jello for dessert, of course, since it’s a hospital). “We are totally blown away by what they did,” the mother said.