National Coordinator Farzad Mostashari says ONC will beat the IOM’s suggested 12-month deadline in rolling out a program to accept and analyze patient safety reports related to computer systems.
From Duck Hunter: “Re: West Johnson. West Johnson, vice president for healthcare revenue cycle consulting at Huron Consulting Group, is leaving at the end of December. He was an original Stockamp person.” West sent me a note confirming his departure.
From Phone Geek: “HIT Policy Committee meeting. This afternoon I have been listening to the HIT Policy Committee meeting. There’s now a rah-rah session about consumer access to their EHR records. President Obama wants every person to access his personal health record by 2014. I keep wondering if we should be more concerned about every person having access to healthcare and ensuring that rural America has access. And maybe making sure that we have good EHR implementations delivering systems that clinicians like to use and that they and their delivery systems receive value from.” Well, the HIT Policy Committee really has no influence on healthcare accessibility, however important the need. On the other hand, isn’t there a workgroup that focuses on EHR adoption and certification – and presumably considers usability?
From B.S. Walks: “Re: Cerner finally fulfilling the façade prophecy. Look at the stock dump that happened 10/27 and 10/28, dropping from $72.88 to $63.67. They are going counter-market, which isn’t a good sign unless you’re a short seller.” Above is a three-month share price graph of CERN (blue), DJIA (red), and Nasdaq (green). The trend line definitely looks better over a full year, but there was a big dip in August and the second starting in October. It could be more of a reflection on the sector since some of the HITECH luster seems to be wearing off as some companies haven’t met lofty expectations that were built into the share price.
From Horned Frog: “Re: Epic. Salaries are in line with what most new college grads get, or better I suspect since many of them are liberal arts majors. However, their incomes rise quickly, often exceeding what the typical med tech, nurse, or hospital IT person might make, although they typically work more than 40 hours a week. And with regard to requiring everybody to live in Madison, there’s a lot of advantage in having people show up at corporate, sharing knowledge and networking. Corporate offices often had the greatest product expertise, and vendors allow road warriors to travel from wherever. It doesn’t necessarily cost more to travel across the company than to take a shorter trip.”
From Porcini: “Re: Vince’s article on Epic. Hiring fresh grads isn’t new – Cerner started that. I doubt you can attribute cost overruns to training cost since organizations plan for those and it’s a good investment. Regarding ‘the Epic way.’ how do you define success in allowing user to customize – inefficient workflows? Unhappy clinicians? Epic charges so much because it can, and because it delivers what it promises in a timely fashion for a price that customers seem to find justifiable. And if Epic brainwashes its users to earn high KLAS scores, why aren’t other vendors doing that? I’ve never seen anything like Epic’s most collegial user group meeting. The amount of education and information sharing is absolutely astounding.”
From Buffalo Tom: ”Re: IOM report. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but organizations with internally developed software fall under this definition, at least with regard to certification. I’m involved in the certification program and have seen firsthand how good ideas and intentions can create a lot of extra (and arguably unnecessary), like developing EHR modules that will be never used beyond earning certification. Compounding these recommendations is the discussion of mobile healthcare applications falling under FDA purview. Imagine if all of our clinical projects required certification or FDA approval before go-live. That might push hospitals to third-party solutions exclusively and we know there is no vendor that has a solution for every provider and scenario. I’m for safety checks and resources to help develop safer software are needed and valuable, but with regard to in-house development, I don’t think they need to jump through additional regulations imposed because of some shop that popped up last month to hurry up to get into the healthcare space.”
From Hat Creek: “Re: TEDMED 2012. Are you going?” Probably not – registration is $5,000, the attendee list is “curated” (meaning you don’t automatically get to come just because you have $5,000 to wave around), and it’s not all HIT-related. They had fun speakers last time around, including Dean Kamen, Michael Graves, Tim O’Reilly, Loudon Wainwright III (I could have sworn he was dead, but he’s not), Steve Wozniak, and some semi-celebrities.
From Lugubrious: “Re: Health IT Leadership Summit in Atlanta. SoloHealth won the Intel Innovation Award for their health and wellness kiosk. Bart Foster, the CEO and founder, was a very nice guy who accepted the award with a lot of humility and brought his team up on stage with him.” I found the above video on YouTube. The touch screen kiosk checks vision, blood pressure, weight, and BMI and lists doctors and “valuable offers from healthcare partners” (meaning ads, I assume.) I’d skeptical that a glorified, electronified scale and eye chart can have a significant impact on health (the people who need to hop on the scales tend to steer a wide berth, no pun intended, around them), but the technology itself seems interesting and the direct-to-consumer approach is different. I like the idea that users can create an account and access their information from any of the company’s kiosks. Maybe it should include a one-click connection to a nurse-staffed telemedicine center where you swipe your credit card to get a consultation for $20 or something. Ask Walgreens – they are clearly the leader in putting technology and innovative services right in their existing stores, turning what used to be “the pharmacy” into a “health center.”
HIStalk Announcements and Requests
Wondering what treasures await you on HIStalk Practice? A few gems from the last week: 52% of office-based doctors are e-prescribing. Greenway Medical is named a preferred EHR vendor for at least 10 RECs. MGMA’s Rosemarie Nelson provides great recommendations on improving EMR adoption. athenahealth earns a spot on a list of Top Places to Work in Boston. Brad Boyd of Culbert Healthcare Solutions tackles ICD-10 and 5010 readiness. Sign up for your HIStalk Practice e-mail updates because you never know what booty you may find there (and I mean the treasure kind, though the foot kind often makes an appearance on HIStalk Practice as well.)
I perused my calendar last night and realized that HIMSS is just over three months away. Wow! Mr. H mentioned that HIStalkapalooza is on the calendar for February 21, which means it’s time to start shopping for the perfect party outfit (new shoes!) Returning this year: our always-popular “Inga Loves My Shoes” contest, sashes for the sassy, and the crowning of our HIStalk King and Queen (for the best-dressed partygoers.) Of course we will name the winners of the HISsie awards and hope that Jonathan Bush will return as emcee (Neal Patterson has agreed to step in if JB is unavailable.) We’re also considering a few new things for both the party and HIMSS in general, so stay tuned.
Friday, which contains the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month that marked the end of World War I hostilities, is Veterans Day. Unlike Memorial Day, which is set aside to honor those who died in military service, Veterans Day is when we honor all American veterans (hopefully we do that on other days as well.) It’s a refreshingly non-commercial commemoration that involves no Hallmark moments, mandatory gifts, or heavily sponsored sporting events, so why not start your own tradition and take the opportunity to tell a veteran that you appreciate their service and sacrifice? If you served, are serving, or have loved ones in the military, thank you.
Listening: reader-recommended Ratatat, a couple of Brooklyn guys with a spare bedroom full of synthesizers (and a few guitars) that somehow make rocking instrumentals that are real songs (not background music) that sound like a non-computerized mad stew of Genesis, Boston, and Muse with some hip hop drum loops for rhythm. Sometimes the occasion calls for soaring, dramatic music free of unskilled singing of uninspired lyrics and these fellas deliver. Like most reader recommendations, this one was spot on with what I like. If I were making a movie, I’d want them to do the soundtrack.
On the Jobs Board: Support Consultant, HIM Coding Manager, Director Client Programs – HIE Architect. On Healthcare IT Jobs: Research Informatics Analyst, Epic Revenue Cycle, eGate Integration Analyst.
Inga, Dr. Jayne, and I work day jobs, so we do the best we can with HIStalk given the time we have, trying to compete with well-funded armies of full-timers running around and reporting for various magazines and sites. You can help by reading, telling others, and supporting our sponsors. We can always use guest articles, insightful comments, and news tips. There’s the usual stuff I always mention (friending, liking, connecting, and signing up for e-mail updates) but we’re open to ideas if we can figure out how to find the time to do them.
Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock
Emdeon reports Q3 numbers: revenue of $282.1 million (14.7% increase); non-GAAP adjusted EBITDA of $76.7 million (15.3% increase.)
Siemens AG announces that it ended its fiscal 2011 with record operating results that included several orders worth over $100 million for Soarian Revenue Cycle. Siemens Healthcare also just finalized a $28.7 million contract with Hawaii Health Systems.
Millennium HealthCare Inc. completes its acquisition of medical billing and consulting firm Premier Technology Resources.
Vista Equity Partners completes its acquisition of Sage Healthcare Division and renames the company Vitera Healthcare Solutions. Matthew Hawkins, previously CEO of library software vendor SirsiDynix, is named CEO, replacing former Sage Healthcare President Betty Otter-Nickerson. The ambulatory product line remains intact.
Northwest Michigan Surgery Center selects the Versus Advantages RTLS to automate process flow management for the clinical staff.
SUNY Upstate Medical University (NY) signs an agreement with TeraMedica to implement Evercore Enterprise Vendor Neutral Architecture, which will support integration for SUNY’s Epic EMR.
John C. Lincoln Health Network (AZ) selects iSirona to connect medical devices to its Epic CIS.
Lakeland Regional Health System (FL) chooses RelayHealth for its enterprise HIE.
Twelve-bed Sedgwick County Health Center (CO) selects the ChartAccess Comprehensive EHR from Prognosis.
Four-hospital Lifeline Hospital Group will partner with Optum to bring that company’s billing and collection systems to Lifeline’s hospitals in United Arab Emirates and Oman. Optum says it will take what it learns there to aid its expansion in the Middle East.
Merge Healthcare appoints Peter Urbain (IBM) SVP of partner sales and Steven Tolle (OptumInsight, Allscripts) SVP of solutions management.
Announcements and Implementations
The Tri-State REC announces that it has met its enrollment goal of 1,739 primary care providers in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky.
North York General Hospital (ON), the first hospital in Canada to go live on CPOE and bedside bar code scanning of medications, earns the Innovation in the Adoption of Health Information award from Canada’s Health Informatics Association. The Cerner customer had been previously been recognized as HIMSS EMRAM Stage 6 hospital.
LSU Health Shreveport goes live on electronic medical records (Epic?) The implementation moves on to E.A. Conway and Huey P. Long hospitals.
Web-based PM/billing vendor Kareo launches its electronic patient statements and payment portal for practices.
Government and Politics
HHS’s Office for Civil Rights will begin conducting HIPAA compliance audits this month for office-based physicians, hospitals, and health plans. Twenty audits will be performed in the initial round and selected entities will be notified in writing within 10 days. Officials will visit the audited sites within 30 to 90 days of notification.
A Senate technology subcommittee chaired by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) frets over recent healthcare data breaches at Minnesota hospitals, with Sen. Franken saying, “The same wonderful technology that has revolutionized patient health records has also created very real and very serious privacy challenges.” Ranking committee member and physician Sen. Tom Coburn, MD (R-OK) opines that maybe electronic records aren’t all that great. “They gotta get into my office to get it when it’s on a piece of paper.” Above is the Senator in his former life as a comic with partner Tom Davis (old timers will remember them from SNL) in an excellent Rolling Stones parody. Franken should get the band back together and run for governor with Davis as his lieutenant.
Steve Jobs gets his first posthumous nod for being right yet again: Adobe is abandoning its attempts to make Flash work on mobile browsers, and in fact, may be admitting that Flash is obsolete for the Web in general. Steve refused to allow Flash to run on Apple’s mobile devices, saying it’s proprietary, buggy, full of security holes, a CPU pig, incapable of responding to a touch screen interface, and a battery-eater. He said Apple mobile users enjoy videos and games just fine without Flash and that Adobe should dump Flash and focus on HTML5, which they apparently are now doing. Adobe canned 750 employees this week with the usual “restructuring to focus on core business” excuse, taking a $94 million charge for eliminating 7% of its work force.
Indigo Identityware announces iDNA for the iPad, which it says offers password-free strong authentication via a four-digit PIN to access a virtual desktop (including Citrix.)
A CIO article reports that a few clinicians at Seattle Children’s Hospital tested the iPad for running a virtual desktop in patient care areas. The verdict: every one of them returned their iPad, saying Cerner apps that were designed for desktop-and-keyboard users sucked big time on the small touchscreen.
Several states and technology vendors in the EHR/HIE Interoperability Workgroup define standards by which EHRs connect to HIE in a plug-and-play (their words) fashion.
Epic goes before the Verona (WI) Planning Commission to present an expansion project that will add 900 offices and 700 underground parking spaces. Three buildings will make up the “Farm Campus” and may feature barn siding rather than brick, and possibly a silo. Epic, by the way, expects 2011 revenues to reach $1.1 billion, up from last year’s $825 million. A Verona city administrator estimates the new project will cost Epic $75 million.
Kudos to the eClinicalWorks employees who spent time this week volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in Boylston, MA. The eCW folks helped with painting, laying down floors, and assorted other projects.
The rate of healthcare employment fell from 45,000 new jobs in September to only 11,600 in October. Physician offices accounted for 8,000 of the new opportunities in October.
A new report estimates that the combined ambulatory and inpatient EMR market will grow to over $8.3 billion by 2016. Allscripts hold the largest share of the ambulatory EMR market while Meditech leads in the acute care segment.
The Clark County Commission (NV) considers a $30 million proposal for a McKesson EMR system for University Medical Center. The contract includes a one-time fee of $27 million, $4 million in annual fees for the next four years, a $1 million reserve, and $1.3 million to backfill employees and perform ongoing system maintenance.
A three-year study from the RAND Corporation concludes that providers are interested in bundling payments to cut health costs, but find the strategy difficult to implement. Technical challenges include deciding what problems should be subject to bundling and providing clinicians with the information needed to improve care. Cultural issues include convincing providers that cost cutting measures will not reduce the quality of care.
Elected officials urge residents of Freetown, MA to show their support for a proposed Meditech facility to be located in their town, an option Meditech walked away from in September after tangling with the state’s historical commission over preservation issues. Given that the unemployed citizenry vastly outnumber the archaeologically astute, just about everyone is trying to neuter the commission’s authority in their pleas urging to Meditech to reconsider.
Notorious patent troll Acacia Research Corporation announces that EMR vendor Aprima has decided to pay the company off in the form of a “license agreement” rather than spend money defending itself against a nuisance infringement lawsuit. Acacia’s intellectual property is, “The generation of a document utilizing user-modifiable document structures, a database including information to be placed into a particular document structure, and a computing device which combines the particular document structure with relevant information stored in the database.” Legal chest-puffing is good business: Acacia booked $63 million the most recent quarter. The company owns patents for such medical innovations as catheter insertion, cardiac stents, performing laparoscopic surgery, medical monitoring, PACS, and wireless physiologic monitors.
- On the first day of its go-live, Baptist Healthcare System’s (KY) ED exceeds Meaningful Use thresholds using T SystemEV.
- Passport Health releases its November schedule of live demonstration webinars.
- Trustwave’s security and compliance portal TrustKeeper is named a 2011 Chicago Innovation Award winner.
- MED3OOO announces upcoming dates for its webinars featuring InteGreat EHR with Quippe technology. MED3OOO will give away an iPad 2 at each session.
- e-MDs and TMF Health Quality Institute offer free assistance to Texas e-MDs customers interested in earning incentives under PQRS 2012.
- Covisint releases a report on three PQRS misconceptions that could prevent providers from obtaining CMS incentive dollars.
- Scott Besler and Jonathan Besler of Besler Consulting will present Medicare Hot Topics at the HFMA NH/VT Annual Health Care Reimbursement Seminar December 8.
- The Kansas and Missouri regional extension centers select Greenway Medical’s PrimeSUITE EHR for their combined 2,548 providers.
- Wolters Kluwer Health announces the addition of general surgery to its UpToDate clinical knowledge system.
- Baptist Hospital (TN) is using MyHealthDIRECT to schedule community provider appointments for its discharged patients.
- Healthcare Integration Strategies enters into a Provider Consulting Organization agreement with CapSite, enabling Healthcare Integration Strategies to offer the CapSite service as part of its consulting engagements.
- An Aspen Advisors case study covers its engagement by Indiana University Health to analyze the personal health record market and best practices use of PHRs by health systems.
EPtalk by Dr. Jayne
It seems as though we’ve had a couple of slow news weeks lately, but the past few days have been what you could call a target-rich environment. Of course, the Institute of Medicine report is tops on many colleagues’ minds. Mr. H did a great job with his digest, which thankfully gave me enough talking points to look as if I had read the whole thing, when in fact I had spent my time watching Fast Five rather than doing actual work in the evening at home as I usually do.
Personally, I’m intrigued by the comments about regulating software, but I also think we need to hold users accountable for certain behaviors. I have physicians who regularly strive to defeat EHR safety features and others who complain about every safety feature which is introduced. No matter how non-intrusive the code, they take it as an assault on their profession. Maybe for those physicians who demand to wear the mantle of medicine as it used to be rather than living in the present, I say adepto super is: get over it.
Merritt Hawkins releases the 2011 Survey of Final-Year Medical Residents, which looks at career preferences and plans of those completing their training. Not surprisingly, over the last decade there has been a ten-fold increase in the number of physicians who are looking for hospital employment. Solo practice continues to be a non-starter. The number of residents who owe between $200,000 and $250,000 in student loan debt has grown from 7% in 2003 to 19% in 2001. My take on it: more validation of the impending primary care shortage. It’s much harder to pay off that kind of debt as a PCP than as a radiologist or dermatologist.
Speaking of the primary care shortage, the headline “Walmart wants to be your MD” certainly caught the eye of THIS medical doctor. Just when you thought that we’d seen the worst of the worst ideas in healthcare reform, this one comes along. Apparently Walmart requested information from partners looking to reduce healthcare costs and then had to issue a statement correcting its position, stating it was “not building a national, integrated low-cost primary health care platform” even though that’s what the statement said.
Walmart’s track record of driving jobs out of the economy in the name of low prices is well known. I hardly think a company that hasn’t even figured out how to offer affordable health insurance to its own employees has any business getting into the healthcare fray. Within days of this request, they also announced that they will no longer offer health insurance to new part-timers. As the article states, primary care isn’t what is driving up the cost of healthcare in America. My favorite quote from the article summarizes this as just another retail clinic attempt to gain market share: “If you get someone in the door, you can also sell them milk and a shotgun.”
Speaking of great quotes, I love this one from an article on transitioning from paper to electronic records. When asked what data should be transferred to the EMR, one physician answers, “depends on how anal-retentive you are.” This absolutely hits the nail on the head.
A friend of mine just went through the grueling process of prepping all of her charts for bulk scanning. She quickly discovered that her practice had kept every scrap of paper that ever came into the office, regardless of relevance or utility (and independent of liability as well.) She falls into the “slash and burn” camp and quickly rid her charts of duplicate and meaningless information, but not every provider is that motivated or has that much free time. Most want to keep everything, which often results in simply converting a messy paper chart (where nothing can be found) into a messy electronic chart (where nothing can be found.)
An interesting survey finding mentioned in the article: 44% of organizations are not explicitly measuring the effectiveness of productivity of their scanning process. My final quote of the day comes from Pretty Woman: Big mistake. Big. Huge.
Considering the massive effort involved in converting from paper to EHR, scanning is one of the places where the work is reproducible as well as being amenable to applying lean manufacturing principles. Unlike work with patients or families, you can look at cycle time, accuracy, and per-page outputs when you look at scanning. Charts CAN be treated like widgets. Unless you just want to spend more money than you actually need to or prefer to be scanning for years, this process should be looked at carefully.
Have a question about milk and shotguns, takt time, or what’s next in my Netflix queue? E-mail me.