Merge Healthcare acquires Ophthalmic Imaging Systems (OIS) for approximately $30.3 million in stock. OIS and its subsidiary Abraxas Medical Solutions offer EMR and PM products, as well as digital imaging systems.
From The PACS Designer: “Re: Apple at WWDC. This week, Steve Jobs announced Apple’s next generation of products. The Apple iOS 5 will ship this coming fall and will support iPhone 3GS, and 4, iPad 1 and 2, and iPod touch third and fourth generation. Also of keen interest was Apple’s new LionOS operating system for iMacs, which will sell for $29.99.”
From Jim: “Re: speeding up HIStalk. I think you gave tips before. I’m a bean counter, so technically deficient. Any ideas? Love this resource!” Here we go: (a) I assume you are an IE user since it’s the most trouble-prone browser by far, so use the infinitely faster and better Firefox or Chrome browser instead, even if just for reading HIStalk; (b) if you can’t dump IE, upgrade it if you can since old versions (anything before IE8) are notoriously buggy and slow; (c) add the extension print to any HIStalk web address to view a bare-bones print layout that doesn’t include graphics, sidebar content, sponsor ads, etc. There are all kinds of browser options that can slow you down, which is another reason to like the non-IE ones – those browsers seem to work better without tweaking.
Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock
Germany-based surgery software vendor Brainlab acquires Voyant Health, the Israel-headquartered vendor of the TraumaCad, OrthoWeb, and VoyantFlow specialized surgery planning tools for orthopedic surgeons. Voyant has also announced future availability of its VoyantLink cloud-based image exchange network.
CSC announces the launch of its Global Institute for Emerging Healthcare Practices with the stated mission of “monitoring worldwide trends, conducting regional and multi-country studies, and evaluating emerging operational practices and technologies that have the potential to improve performance of healthcare industries around the world.” I think all that marketing-speak is really just saying that CSC wants to be a bigger player in healthcare and having a name that includes Global Institute sounds very noble. Mr. H’s cynicism is clearly rubbing off.
Israel-based dbMotion builds up its presence in Australia as the government prepares to bid out big contracts for a new Personally Controlled E-Health Records system, which will allow all Australians to review their meds, immunizations, and lab results electronically. The program, announced a year ago, is a building block for the National Health and Hospitals Network and will cost $500 million US over two years.
Intel launches its AppUp hybrid cloud service that offers pre-packaged, subscription-priced applications to small businesses, but allowing those small businesses to store their data on their own local server. Allscripts was listed as a vendor whose applications will soon be added to the catalog.
McKesson gets sued yet again over claims that it conspired with Hearst Corp. to inflate average wholesale prices of drugs (AWP, also known as Ain’t What’s Paid since it’s a phony number of dubious value). This time, it’s Michigan doing the suing, claiming its Medicaid program overpaid pharmacy claims for eight years because of a secret McKesson-Hearst collusion to inflate AWPs via Hearst’s First DataBank drug database. McKesson has settled several related racketeering lawsuits for several hundred millions of dollars over this same issue, but an early estimate of the company’s exposure was $15 billion. Here’s my analogy: First DataBank published the equivalent of one of those baseball card price books that claim to survey card shops to find out what cards are selling for. Customers used the book for the unintended purpose of pricing their own cards (in theory, there would then be one universal price since all sellers would set the same price from the same book). States and other insurers, lacking a way to determine what drugs really cost but insistent on paying based on any kind of cost, even a totally phony one, latched onto AWP as a lazy substitute even though everybody knows that nobody pays AWP. The plaintiffs are like customers who bought baseball cards at the book price, only to find out that the book didn’t do their surveys very well, causing them to overpay for a Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card. McKesson’s role, if I’m remembering right off the top of my head, was minimal – FDB started surveying only McKesson to get the AWPs it published and McKesson says it was unaware of that fact, not to mention that there was no benefit to McKesson for inflating the prices anyway. My take: stupid buyers who overpay always blame someone else and expect to be reimbursed for their incompetence.
Health Management Associates contracts to deploy the MEDHOST ED solutions in 58 hospitals.
In Canada, CGI Group signs a seven-year, $50 million contract with University Health Network of Toronto to develop a shared diagnostic imaging repository.
Former national coordinator David Blumenthal is named chairman of the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System.
Former Yale-New Haven ACIO Michael Cemeno is named CIO of Waterbury Hospital (CT), removing the “interim” portion of his title.
Union Hospital (IN) promotes Kym Pfrank from VP of information systems to the newly created role of SVP and CIO.
Former WellSpan Health VP/CIO/CTO Buddy Gillespie joins infrastructure and hosting vendor Distributed Systems Services as director of healthcare solutions.
Dave Roberts, HIMSS VP of government relations and Solana Beach, CA city council member, is appointed to an HHS panel that will advise CMS and HHS on issues such as insurance outreach programs and helping consumers understand health plans.
Announcements and Implementations
Epic names Dell as its first Community Connect Certified Consulting Firm for EMR/PM services. The new designation is designed for service firms implementing Epic for affiliated physician offices and community hospitals on a shared EMR.
CAP, AHA, and Surescripts are recruiting hospital laboratories and critical access hospitals to participate in the Lab Interoperability Cooperative (LIC). It’s funded by a two-year CDC grant and aims to electronically connect hospital labs with public health agencies. It will be represented at the Healthcare IT Connect summit in Washington June 21-23.
Lee Memorial Health System (FL) goes live on its $70 million Epic system.
The use of AirStrip OB at Novant Health (NC) is profiled in an article in the Charlotte newspaper. The article also mentions AirStrip OB’s use in three Presbyterian hospitals in Charlotte, with an interesting angle: doctors are nicer to nurses when called in the middle of the night because they can immediately pull out their iPhones to look at the OB tracing in real time instead of getting impatient as the nurse describes what they’re seeing.
Government and Politics
Kentucky’s governor announces that two HIT-related companies have set up North American headquarters in Newton and will bring 20 jobs there: Arcron Systems (a Korea-based hospital information system vendor) and Meaningful Use Technologies. Despite the governor’s bragging, I think it’s actually one company with two lines of business. I couldn’t make much sense out of the Web site of the former (“With the help of our experienced professionals and years of reflecting clients’ opinions to our products, Arcron Systems strives to promote public healthcare and to facilitate understanding medical industries”) and the latter seems to be the implementation arm of the former. Arcron itself appears to be connected to the Hyundai Medis medical tourism company and the Hyundai Group conglomerate (shipping containers, securities, elevators, logistics, and other stuff, but not the carmaker, apparently).
HHS CTO Todd Park left his big athenahealth cash-out retirement in his 30s for government service because he was promised a role as “entrepreneur-in-residence.” He describes his job: “I have no budget. I have no formal team. I don’t control any government contracts. I don’t control any grants. It’s perfect, because it actually gives you the kind of freedom to maneuver, to really be a change agent.”
Innovation and Research
The Wall Street Journal covers Project RED (“Re-Engineered Discharge) that prepares inpatients for discharge and uses an animated “virtual discharge advocate” to provide instructions to patients and verify that they understand them. The program was developed at Boston University Medical Center, supported by grants from AHRQ, NIH, and NHBLI. Everything can be downloaded from its site.
From last week’s e-Health conference in Toronto: the CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association makes waves by suggesting that physicians should be required by law to use EMRs and that paying physicians who don’t is an “unfair and inappropriate use of public money.” Meanwhile, the president and executive director of the Montreal Regional Health and Social Services Agency in Quebec blames poor technology for low EMR adoption rates, noting the systems are of little use to physicians or patients and that “we tried to create monsters and nobody wanted to use them.” Love those Canucks.
County-owned Singing River Health System (MS) gets approval to borrow $40 million to buy an EMR and to make unrelated improvements, although one county supervisor questioned why the two-hospital system would take out a 25-year loan for software that might last only ten years. I’m assuming its Epic since the hospital’s LinkedIn profile mentions an Epic project director.
A new book by William Hanson, MD of University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine went on sale Tuesday. Smart Medicine: How the Changing Role of Doctors Will Revolutionize Health Care discusses data mining, genomics, electronic medical records, telemedicine, and other technologies. I’m not clear on whether he’s CMIO there since it’s mentioned in some online bios, but not his own or that of Penn Medicine — those show him as professor of anesthesiology, critical care, surgery, and internal medicine.
The sheriff of Winkler County, TX (above left) goes on trial for helping a doctor (right) retaliate against two nurses who expressed anonymous concerns about the doctor’s performance to the Texas Medical Board. The nurses, who had worked at Winkler County Memorial Hospital for a total of 47 years, were fired and charged with felonies after the doctor asked his friend the sheriff to find out who sent the complaint letter about him. The medical board has placed the doctor on probation for four years; the nurses won a $750,000 settlement from the county, the hospital, and sheriff; and lawmakers passed a bill that protects nurses from retaliation when they are advocating for patients. The sheriff faces 10 years in prison if convicted of either of the two felonies with which he has been charged – misuses of official information and retaliation – plus a misdemeanor charge of official oppression. The county attorney and the hospital administrator were also charged and the doctor faces four criminal counts.
- MEDecision will showcase is new Alineo and InFrame platforms at the 2011 Western EOC conference this week in Chicago and at AHIP June 15-17 in San Francisco.
- St. Joseph’s Health Center in Toronto selects Intelligent Forms Suite from Access for its electronic forms management system.
- Twenty-one Texas providers have received Medicaid EHR incentive checks for their meaningful use of the e-MDs EHR.
- Shareable Ink partners with Waiting Room Solutions to combine its digital pen technology with the EHR from Waiting Room Solutions.
- T-Systems will donate its T-Sheets documentation solution to the Texas Disaster Medical System, a collaboration of state and local public health agencies and providers that facilitates disaster planning and provides emergency response care.
- Jason Poteet joins Cumberland Consulting Group as director of business development.
- Cancer Treatment Centers of America selects Micromedex from Thomson Reuters for evidence-based drug, disease, toxicology, and patient education information.
- Radiology & Imaging Specialists (FL) contracts with GE for its Centricity OneView solution.
- Practice Fusion earns full ONC-ATCB certification from the Drummond Group.
- Ingenix announces that its transition to the OptumInsight name is complete.
- Wolters Kluwer Health releases a query tool to streamline the collection of quality data for the GI Quality Improvement Consortium benchmarking initiative.
- Spring Hill Primary Care (WV) contracts with Sage Healthcare Division for the Intergy Meaningful Use Edition.
- CHRISTUS Health picks MEDSEEK’s eHealth ecoSystem and ecoSmart solutions.
- UltraLinq Healthcare will donate an ultrasound machine and its UltraLinq solution to benefit Gift of Life International, an organization that coordinates surgeries for children with congenital heart defects. The donation is being made in connection with next week’s American Society of Echocardiography Scientific Sessions in Montreal.
- AnMed Health (SC) chooses Wellsoft’s EDIS to integrate with its existing McKesson suite of products.
- Nashville General Hospital will implement MyHealthDirect to connect its patients with appropriate providers.
- Danbury Orthopedic Associates (CT) chooses the SRS EHR.
- Adena Health System (OH) chooses the eClinicalWorks EHR/PM and patient portal for its 150 employed physicians.