From eHealthDC: “Re: the Senate’s plan for making EHR incentives permanent. I had staff follow up on the story. According to a source, there was some misquoting – while there are a few areas of interest in Senate Finance, it does nothing aggressive on HIT. The key areas it touches on are the following: (a) the Secretary will conduct a study on methods to encourage meaningful use by entities offering insurance plans through a state-based exchange; (b) organizations participating in the CO-OP program will be permitted to enter collective purchasing arrangements for HIT-related materials; (c) the bill requires CMS to develop a plan to integrate the PQRI program with the standards for meaningful use; (d) no less than triennially, the Secretary will identify quality measure gaps and may appropriate grants to entities with expertise in developing such measures. These measures specifically include, among others, meaningful use of HIT. To this end, HHS will appropriate $75 million for fiscal years 2010 – 2014; (e) free clinics will be eligible for meaningful use Medicare and Medicaid HIT incentives; (f) the Secretary will incorporate reporting requirements and incentive payments and penalties related to electronic prescribing and EHRs into accountable care organization requirements; (f) the bill creates a bonus payment structure for care coordination and management activities conducted by Medicare Advantage plans. HIT programs are included as eligible activities. Nothing earth-shattering.” Thanks.
From MEDITECH Customer: “Re: Kronos. I guess it isn’t really a rumor since I heard it first from my Kronos sales guy, then verified it in about half a dozen places. Kronos bought Stromberg from Paychex Inc. Stromberg had been beating out Kronos in some of the small hospitals in my area lately.” Paychex sells its time and attendance business to Kronos for an undisclosed sum. Kronos gains 1,400 customers that it describes as primarily mid-market (250 to 1,500 employees). Stromberg was an independent vendor in Lake Mary, FL that Paychex acquired in 2004 after first buying its Time in a Box product for small businesses the year before. It continued to operate under the Stromberg name as a Paychex subsidiary, offering free version upgrades, fixed price implementation, and a 99.7% customer retention rate.
From HITgeek: “Re: Siemens reorg. You can assume that Siemens reorg rumors around this time of year — right at the start of its fiscal year — are based on reality. Siemens’ most dependable product release timing is new org charts every year.”
From Simon Kirke: “Re: Meditech 6.0. I hear Meditech is forcing customers to buy a scanning and archive product with Meditech 6.0, even if they have a current document imaging solution. Can you verify this?” The floor is open.
From VA HIMSS: “Re: HIMSS. Friday night at the VA HIMSS Fall Conference, John Hoyt, VP HIMSS Analytics, said that HIMSS sees itself as matchmakers between providers and vendors. Huh? I thought HIMSS was a professional organization!” I’ve said all along that HIMSS is a highly profitable bar with a business model in which ladies (providers) drink free provided they don’t mind being groped by men (vendors) who pay dearly for the privilege. As evidence, I usually link to the HIMSS Exhibitor Priority Point Opportunities list (warning: XLS) that enumerates what vendors have to buy to earn the right to spend massive dollars on their annual conference exhibit (the cover charge?)
I’m fascinated by the unintentional insight provided by responses to the poll I did on whether your primary care doctor uses an EMR. The PCPs of 63% of respondents use an EMR, which is astoundingly high and, frankly, hard to believe as representative. However, only 23% feel so strongly about EMR use that they would choose only EMR-using doctors, so those of us in the HIT industry aren’t eating our own dog food.
My doctor uses an EMR and I’m finally buying the concept after longstanding skepticism. I can confirm my appointment online and pay my co-pay online with a credit card (which lets me skip the check-in at the office), I can see my labs online from anywhere with his notes about what they mean, he can pull up my records from anywhere I’ve been seen within the health system, he uses e-prescribing, and he has done a great job in integrating the EMR as part of his patient teaching right in the exam room. Nobody has asked me even once for repetitive information. And most importantly, he says he finds it useful and clinically beneficial. Like most of the respondents, I’d stick with him even without the EMR, but it makes my encounters more convenient, adds clinical value, and gives me the peace of mind that if I show up at another health system facility I won’t be just an empty clipboard to them. I get it, I like it, and I’m looking forward to having more electronic and online services. I figure it’s no different than when I get my $13 haircut from the local cheap chain place since they look up my records by telephone number, their version of an EHR (electronic haircut record).
New poll to your right: are you and/or your employer planning to upgrade to Windows 7? It ships Thursday. I’m riding the fence myself. Microsoft panicked that it would lose impressionable students for good when Apple priced its Snow Leopard upgrade low, so I’ve got a $29.99 upgrade coupon for Windows 7 Home Premium since I have an EDU e-mail address for reasons too complicated to explain. Even then, I’m finding it hard to get excited about displacing XP since the Vista wounds are still fresh and I’d have to install from scratch this time since there’s no XP upgrade. Everything I do is on the Web, so I don’t know that a prettier and allegedly better Windows would change my life since Firefox would still look the same.
I see some folks have added their Webinars and conferences to my events calendar. Just a suggestion: put them up well in advance so those interested folks can lock in. You won’t get many new registrants for an onsite conference if the posting is made the week before.
A reader forwarded an e-mail from Kaiser CEO George Halvorson touting the Archimedes healthcare modeling system. Interesting: it’s an artificial intelligence system that uses computer models of the human body to analyze treatment approaches, rather like a virtual clinical trial. Kaiser did a stroke and heart attack prevention study with it to determine optimal combinations of drugs in a large population. It predicted that a combination of aspirin, lisinopril, and lipid-lowering agents would reduce risk by 71%, darned close to how it turned out in Kaiser’s real-world result of 60%. It has rolled out the protocol to 250,000 patients. Kaiser is the ideal environment for that kind of project since it fully manages its HMO patients and is incented to improve their health.
This isn’t news to us industry types, but an investigative report says EMR stimulus could cost twice the $19.5 billion figure that everybody remembers. Now we all know the real numbers – the incentives are pegged at $46 billion but will supposedly be offset by non-specific savings, giving a net cost of $19.5 billion as a best case. The report quotes a taxpayer group that compares HITECH to irresponsible overeating with a plan of going to the gym later to work off the calories. There’s not much point in debating whether the numbers are right or wrong, however. Once you’ve hitched your wagon to idealistic taxpayer bailouts as a national program despite crushing national debt, you shouldn’t expect the SWAG numbers to be anything more than irrationally exuberant.
UMass Memorial chooses Accenx Exchange for interoperability.
Iowa Health System and Allscripts launch ePrescribe Iowa, in which physicians will be offered a free Web-based e-prescribing tool.
Eclipsys Sunrise Pharmacy customers are on the rise, although exact numbers aren’t given in the press release. It says 80% of them do CPOE on Sunrise (a more interesting stat would be the number of its CPOE customers using their pharmacy system, of course, since Sunrise Pharmacy probably isn’t bought as a standalone system very often). It has some big-name users like El Camino, RWJ, SUNY Downstate, University of Kentucky, and HUP.
University of Iowa Health Care creates a half-time CMIO position and hires otolaryngologist Douglas Van Daele, MD for it. He’ll oversee its new $61 million implementation of — you guessed it — Epic. Their state representative gripes that UI gave the doc a $46K salary boost to $291K, saying, “I can’t think of any justification for adding any position while these cuts are being made that can’t draw down more (grant) dollars or doesn’t save lives. I can’t believe they’ve gone this long and they are adding it into a half-time position — and that couldn’t wait?" Apparently there’s friction over the university’s recent layoffs and some other recently added executive positions.
If you’re a fan of Dr. Gregg Alexander on HIStalk Practice and are attending the American Academy of Pediatrics conference this week, Gregg invites you to stop by the Pediatric Office of the Future exhibit and then join him at the Official Unofficial HIStalk Practice Happy Hour Reception at the President’s Sports Bar in the Renaissance Washington from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Monday, 10/19. It’s a block and a half from the conference center.
Indiana cancels its 10-year, $1.34 billion welfare services contract with IBM and ACS, saying “the system wasn’t working, and it wasn’t getting better, despite best efforts.” The failed effort to privatize the systems was the largest contract in state history. It was supposed to save the state $500 million. ACS call center workers said they were told to lie to welfare recipients whose benefits were delayed, always telling them they’d get them within 48 hours just to get them off the phone. House Speaker Pat Bauer wants IBM to “go away and pay us something.”
Speaking of Indiana, its HIEs band together under a new governance organization called Indiana Health Information Technology to apply for stimulus money.
GE announces ugly Q2 numbers: revenue down 17%, EPS $0.26 vs. $0.54. GE Healthcare’s earnings were down 20%.
Just who you want advocating for EMRs: South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, who is best known for disappearing for a week to cavort with his Argentine mistress and then lying about it with a lack of skill that is surprising for a politician.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center gets $6.4 million in stimulus money to look for a link between drug performance and genetic factors, matching 67,000 DNA samples in its database to de-identified patient medical records.