It was announced Thursday evening that the 27% Medicare physician pay cut that was scheduled to take place January 1 will be delayed for at least two months.
HIStalk Announcements and Requests
Mr. H and I are already working on our HIMSS-related details, including our Must-See Vendor listing, our sponsors-only luncheon (where Mr. H, Dr. Jayne, and I will make personal but disguised appearances if we get brave,) our first-ever HIStalk Booth Crawl, and HIStalkapalooza. And then there is the charity shoe drive, which I hope results in hundreds of pairs of donated shoes. Mr. H says he also wants to schedule a HIStalk flash mob doing The Wobble, but who knows if he is serious. If you are a sponsor, look for my name in your inbox so you don’t miss any important details. And if you enjoy dressing to the nines and winning fabulous prizes, keep reading here for HIStalkapalooza details. In the mean time, shop those after-Christmas sales to find some hot new shoes and your party attire.
Looking for last minute gift ideas? You won’t find them on HIStalk Practice, but you will find plenty of other goodies to stimulate your mind as you nourish your body with fruitcake and other treats of the season. Some highlights: Canadian EMR Nightingale Informatix purchases US-based PM company Medrium. A troubling headline. A CIO seeks recommendations for EHRs suitable for surgery-based practice (send your recs my way.) ARHQ releases a guide for EHR implementations. Still on the naughty list? If you sign up for e-mail updates on HIStalk Practice, I promise to put in a good word for you with the jolly guy in red. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or best wishes for whatever holiday you may be celebrating!
You may have noticed considerably less visual assault when reading HIStalk lately, as sponsors are busily swapping out their animated ads by the January 1 target date. We appreciate their support of the new policy and hope you do as well.
We need your HISsies nominations. It’s like a primary election: those with the most votes get on the final ballot to run for Most Influential, Most Effective, Worst Vendor, etc.
Online life is not a cabaret, old chum. What good is sitting alone in your room in front of an HIStalk keyboard if you can’t hear the music play, in the form of the pathetic metrics that Inga, Dr. Jayne, and I focus on in the absence of any other source of validation of our questionable societal worth? Right this way, your table’s waiting: (a) subscribe to the e-mail updates; (b) Friend and Like us in the appropriate places (on the Internet I mean, not our actual bodily places); (c) send us news and rumors; (d) give the Resource Center and Consulting RFI Blaster a look if you are in need of products or services; (e) admire and occasionally click the decreasingly animated sponsor ads to your left, marveling along with us that real companies with suit-wearing employees working in fancy offices support pajama-clad, crotch-scratching spare bedroom bloggers not only financially, but personally as we toil deep into the night after working hospital day jobs. We’re not naïve or full of ourselves , though – we fully understand that we’re just the convenient conduit for our desirable readership, so thanks for being included in that number.
Listening: jangle rockers The Connells, which flamed brightly but briefly over the 1980s global skies from Raleigh, NC. Even less appreciated than the band is Bandwagon, the tune-filled 1996 movie they had a hand in. I strayed on it and loved it this week on Netflix. Its total gross was $22,000, so it’s a safe bet you haven’t seen it.
I will be working as usual this weekend, so there will indeed be a Monday Morning Update even though few folks will be reading it Monday. My handful of readers and I will be huddled like weary travelers making small talk in an out-of-the-way diner during a Christmas Day snowstorm. I don’t expect much news to report, but you never know. Regardless, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or a joyous whatever it is you celebrate this weekend. If you’re out next week, Happy New Year as well (not to offend those who follow the Chinese calendar, who won’t be celebrating until January 23.)
Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock
Citing challenging economic conditions, Thomas Reuters announces that it has changed its mind about selling its healthcare business.
Nuance Communications signs an agreement to acquire rival Vlingo, a Siri alternative for Android smart phones that offers better social networking capabilities. That company was found not guilty of infringing on a Nuance patent earlier this year and later sued Nuance for unfair business practices, alleging that Nuance’s CEO offered three Vlingo executives $5 million each to persuade their boards to approve an earlier acquisition offer. All pending lawsuits are now “stayed.”
PatientKeeper raises $6 million in growth capital from existing investors to support product development. Chip Hazard of Flybridge Capital Partners has been named chairman of the company’s board.
The company behind MyMedicalRecords.com announced a $30 million sale of its patents last week, but the newly filed 8K indicates that the transaction is not quite that straightforward (not surprising given that the company’s market cap is only $16 million and its products don’t seem particularly innovative.) Expert interpretation welcome.
Biggs Gridley Memorial Hospital (CA) selects the Prognosis Health Information Systems ChartAccess EHR and HIE.
INTEGRIS Health (OK) selects MedVentive Population Manager and Risk Manager to manage risks and quality performance.
Charles Anastos, Jr. joins PwC US as a principal in PwC’s Health Industries Group and co-leader of the firm’s EHR/HIE practice.
The Indiana HIE appoints Josh Nelson, MD as CMO. He was a physician executive fellow at WellPoint.
Announcements and Implementations
Bayada Nurses completes implementation of Homecare Homebase across its 50 home health service offices.
Government and Politics
The VA announces that it has established Facebook pages for all 152 of its medical centers. It has also created 64 Twitter feeds, a YouTube channel, a Flickr page, and the VAntage Point blog.
CMS warns that its computer systems could crash under to a backlog of claims unless Congress stops the scheduled Medicare pay cut at the end of the year. The agency is advising contractors to hold physician claims for the first 10 business days of 2012.
ONC will build an online database to measure the effectiveness of grants given for a variety of HIT purposes, including those to individual physicians and hospitals, RECs, state HIEs, community colleges for HIT training, and vendors tracking HIT adoption.
The government project to develop a single EMR system for the VA and Department of Defense gets a $100 million appropriation even though the agencies’ request came in after the deadline. The VA gets $3.11 billion to spend for IT in FY2012, of which $580 million is for software development that includes a benefits management system ($107 million), veterans relationship management ($70 million), Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record ($50 million), and miscellaneous applications ($48 million.)
FDA goes on record in suggesting that it’s not really a good idea to buy another mother’s breast milk for your baby, even though Web sites offer it and some mothers make up to $2,000 per month selling their excess supplies. Breast milk is theoretically healthier for babies, but only if it doesn’t come from HIV and hepatitis-infected crack addicts anxious to feed their habit by selling whatever body product commands street value. Hospitals get sued regularly for mixing up breast milk, to the point that several vendors offer bar code scanning solutions to match milk to baby.
athenahealth’s Jonathan Bush takes some direct swings at Allscripts and CEO Glen Tullman, calling him a symbol of “atrophy” and likening Allscripts to an “Orwellian bureaucracy.” In an article in the online investor publication Minyanville, Bush positions athenahealth as nimble and cutting edge, compared to the behind-the-times Allscripts. I’d say it’s pretty safe to assume that Tullman will not be sending Bush a Christmas ham this year.
The local paper writes up the self-implementation of the VA’s VistA by Oroville Hospital (CA), which earned it a $2 million Meaningful Use payout. We wrote earlier about that project, citing Roger Maduro’s Open Health News, which said Oroville spent $10 million on the project (which included hardware, replacement lab and medical equipment, and iPads) and $500K to have VistA enhanced to meet its needs.
Lee Memorial Health System (FL) gets a story in its local paper for implementing Epic’s bedside barcoding.
A network switch outage at Upstate University Hospital (NY) forces a several-hour return to paper systems and hand-rung patient bells.
An article says Cleveland Clinic’s fifth-highest-paid employee made over $1 million in each of the last two years despite having left the organization under “cloudy circumstances” in 2009. The Clinic declined to answer questions about David Strand’s severance or whether he’s still on the payroll. He and his also-resigned wife founded patient satisfaction and quality consulting firm ExperiaHealth (sold to Vocera) and he’s now CEO of LifeNexus, which sells consumer PHR smart cards.
KLAS says more providers are taking advantage of application hosting services to reduce capital expenditures and to tap into a higher level of technology. At the same time, more hosting providers are providing hosting services to applications other than their own.
All 69 IT workers in Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals are notified they will lose their jobs early next year. The University of New Orleans and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette have been contracted to provide IT services for the state agency and may hire 50 of the displaced workers.
The sale of the Chicago Sun-Times to an investment group led my Merge Healthcare chairman Michael Ferro, Jr. has been completed.
A new non-profit, Patients for Fair Compensation, proposes a worker’s compensation-like system that would replace lawyer-enriching malpractice lawsuits with an administrative process by which patients would receive reasonable compensation quickly without turning most of the money over to attorneys.
Weird News Andy says he had a friend with an experience similar to that of this story, in which a man partying hard with two hookers at a Knights Inn motel in Orlando takes an AK-47 round to the chest. Doctors treating his wound find a large mass, removing part of his lung but likely saving his life.
WNA calls this story “Crack Cocaine.” Police car video records the back seat conversation of two handcuffed brothers as the older one implores the younger one to eat the one-ounce cocaine stash hidden in the older one’s rectum, telling him, “I can’t get no more strikes. Eat that sh*t so I can get out.” The younger brother eats the cocaine, tells the older brother he loves him, and dies of cocaine intoxication.
A Chicago malpractice law firm, cheered by the recent article suggesting that doctors are screwing around on their smart phones during critical medical procedures, says anyone who suspects they were injured by “distracted doctoring” should give them a call (probably while driving.)
- Healthwise offers a white paper entitled Patient Response: Giving Voice to the Patients.
- Tom Stephenson, president and CEO of HMS, discusses healthcare technology as a tool for better patient care in a blog post.
- Passport Health Communications will participate in next month’s MEGA and HFMA MA-RI conferences.
- eClinicalWorks and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) announce a three-year initiative to provide eCW’s products to ASPS members.
- HealthStream and GE Healthcare announce a partnership to offer Centricity University, a subscription-based service for online and classroom training on Centricity products.
- Microsoft will participate in the 2012 Military Health System Conference January 30 – February 2 in National Harbor, MD.
- Brian Woods MD, chief medical officer of NorthStar Anesthesia, wins a magazine’s award for implementing Shareable Ink in the hospitals that his group serves. Prognosis CEO Ramsey Evans was also named for his work creating the Prognosis HIS.
EPtalk by Dr. Jayne
The hot news around the doctor’s lounge the past few days (other than the fountain soda machines that were recently purchased to feed the habits of those non-coffee drinkers on the medical staff) is the Medicare pay rate debacle. As most of you know, the House of Representatives rejected a Senate bill this week that would have avoided the pending 27% cut in Medicare rates. As a result, pay rates are in limbo and CMS responded by saying it would suspend claims processing for the first 10 business days in 2012 to avoid having to deal with retroactive reprocessing should Congress remedy the situation.
Make sure you don’t use it as an excuse to slack on your charges, though, because come January 17t, CMS will start processing those claims (at the reduced pay rate if Congress doesn’t act) on a first-come, first-served basis.
And for the curious, they installed both Coke and Pepsi dispensers, but my southern sensibilities are highly outraged by the lack of respect shown to my esteemed colleague, Dr. Pepper.
Interestingly, one of the stories I read that covered this issue was right next to an article titled Physicians Must Make Any Changes to Medicare Participation by December 31. That means if you’re tired of all the shenanigans, you have the opportunity to opt out of Medicare if you wish. The AMA offers a Medicare Participation Kit that offers more information on the various options.
I love it when Inga sends me snarky comments about stories she’s reading, and this week she didn’t disappoint with this one. To Get Meaningful Use Payments, Urologists Must Address Workflow. I wholly agree with her that the words “flow” and “urologist” should never go in the same headline.
Sending more happiness our way, CMS also released a proposal for rules around the Physician Payment Sunshine Act. The rules require that gifts, consulting fees, travel reimbursements, payments, grants, and pretty much anything worth more than $10 that is given to physicians or teaching hospitals be disclosed by manufacturers annually. For those of you who may not know, this is part of the Affordable Care Act, which really does seem to be the gift that keeps on giving. CMS also announced a comment period open through February 17, 2012, so be sure to weigh in. HIMSS has also released a fact sheet and plans to convene a working group to formally respond.
NCQA releases a “save the date” for the 2012 Health Quality Awards to be held March 27, 2012 at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC. Nothing on their website yet that I can find, but I did get a nice e-mail soliciting sponsors.
The Wall Street Journal runs a nice piece on researchers who are using “virtual patients” to leverage technology to test medical devices and procedures when real patient testing isn’t practical. Computerized modeling can help with estimates of radiation exposure to a fetus or with technologies which may perform differently in children (who aren’t typically the subjects of very many research protocols) as compared to adults.
Sometimes low-tech is best: Archives of Dermatology publishes a study that shows that maggots debride non-healing wounds “significantly faster” than traditional scalpel-based techniques. Additionally, there were no differences in pain or crawling sensations between the two treatment groups. Maggots have been approved for medical therapy since 2004, but availability of so-called “bagged larvae” varies. Out of curiosity, I checked with our pharmacy and am happy to report that yes, we’ve got maggots in our arsenal.
I’ve enjoyed seeing the pictures of holiday giving and charity activities submitted by our readers. I recently heard about WorldScopes, a philanthropic project of the AMA Foundation that distributes new and gently used stethoscopes to clinics and hospitals world-wide. If you donate more than 20, the AMA covers your shipping costs. My package is already on its way. If you decide to participate, put HIStalk on the shipping label since we’re a lot more fun than the other choices for identifying where you heard about the project.
That’s it for me tonight. I’m off to bake some holiday cookies with my main man. Have a question about automated patient recalls, why baking soda and baking powder aren’t interchangeable, or what those little silver metallic balls are on holiday cookies? E-mail me.