From DCollins: “Re: WatchChild. Rumored to be up for sale. That would be a huge signal to the world of HIT – why divest in times of growth?” Unverified, but even if it’s true, I don’t know if I would draw too many negative inferences about the healthcare IT market as a whole. The WatchChild OB monitoring system is owned by Hill-Rom, mostly known for selling expensive hospital beds and a few other marginally related product lines. WatchChild was supposed to be a natural extension of the company’s NaviCare nurse call system. HRC shares haven’t exactly shone lately, dropping from $48 in July 2011 to $30 now, so Hill-Rom may simply see the frenzy of M&A activity in healthcare IT as a good opportunity to sell some or all of its IT holdings to focus on core business. All of this is speculation since they’ve made no announcement that I’ve seen. Hill-Rom used to be known as Hillenbrand Industries, whose humorously complementary business was Batesville Casket Company. I’ve always wondered if they might put some of their nurse call technology in those caskets as an upgrade for those who fear being buried alive.
From TopExecIT: “Re: MRO. Overheard that it has acquired smaller release-of-information vendor Discovery Health Record Solutions.” Unverified.
From Grammar Neighborhood Watch: “Re: grammar mistakes. Thought you would enjoy this WSJ article called This Embarrasses You and I.” You are correct – I did enjoy the article, which calls out the “epidemic of grammar gaffes in the workplace” as the grammatically challenged get even sloppier as encouraged by Twitter and similar stream-of-consciousness outlets for narcissism (especially the younger folks, taught by questionable educational methods to ignore long-standing rules suggesting that maybe it’s a good idea to spell words correctly and compose sentences that the rest of us can easily follow, for the same reason that traffic laws encourage societal harmony.) Worse yet is that people actually get snippy if anyone points out their mistakes, as though being careful about language is a character flaw. The article suggests that companies have become sloppy in allowing poorly constructed writing to be blasted out publicly. It brings up an issue that is one of few that I would defend physically if necessary: the Oxford comma, omission of which is indefensibly illogical. I nearly always have to fix that when folks send items to run on HIStalk. The other is equally illogical and indefensible — sticking two spaces after every period. Unless you’re writing on a typewriter that supports only monospace fonts and thus requires the extra space to provide a visual break, placing two spaces after a period is just plain wrong.
From Kermit Randa: “Re: question about Epic and FDA regulation of transfusion systems. I think the question warrants a broader discussion around software as a regulated medical device. The FDA has classified numerous specific products that perform data and information transfer, storage, display, conversion, and similar management functions, such as a LIS or PACS. Last year, the FDA raised more questions than it resolved when it issued a new classification, the Medical Device Data System (MDDS) which it defines as hardware or software products that transfer, store, convert formats, and display medical device data. The FDA, in its commentary, made clear the definition of an MDDS is narrow. For example, an MDDS does not modify the data or modify the display of the data, does not by itself control the functions or parameters of any other medical device, and is not intended to be used for active patient monitoring. However, the FDA was not clear about whether or how they would classify software that falls on the outside edges of the MDDS definition and does not fall under one of the earlier classifications such as LIS or PACS. Furthermore, the FDA made clear that a health care facility may be directly responsible for compliance with the FDA regs for an MDDS, not just its software vendors. So as we all work to streamline clinical workflows and achieve meaningful use, the intersection between different types of information systems is raising issues about medical device compliance. More here, or click here to see which companies have registered as a manufacture of an MDDS (enter OUG in the product code search field.)” Thanks to Kermit, a long-time reader and COO of Surgical Information Systems, for providing that explanation. It seems that the climate for FDA regulation of some aspects of healthcare IT is heating up, so it’s worth watching carefully.
From Privacy Shrink: “Re: sharing patient data in Boston. I like the comparison between mental illness and Parkinson’s disease.” The article describes how Boston area hospitals handle sensitive parts of the medical record, such as psychiatric notes. Partners HealthCare says every doctor needs to see everything, so patients must request that certain information be placed off limits and Partners makes the final call. BIDMC allows psychiatrists to restrict access to the information they create. Neither system described any capability for patients to become involved in the decision. Privacy is a tough issue, but I’m siding with the patient – why can’t I decide who sees my information? The Partners approach comes across as smug and paternalistic, with the patient serving as a low-ranking, inherently unreliable player apt to gum up the disease mitigation factory works.
From The PACS Designer: “Re: Microsoft’s Phone 8. Along with the upcoming Microsoft Windows 8 release this fall, we’ll also get Windows Phone 8. It appears that Microsoft wants a piece of the enterprise business for phone improvements and has structured Phone 8 as an alternative to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to give IT total control of phone security enforcement within institutional walls.” Good luck with that. Microsoft’s consumer strategy seems to be to imitate whatever Apple is doing, adding in its usual missteps, poor design, and uninspired marketing. The result is predictable. There was a time when Microsoft was a near-religion among geeks and businesspeople who dismissed Apple as a bunch of hippies building products used mostly by students and temperamental artistes, but even those former Gates fanboys now worship at the Cupertino altar.
The feds should make doctors and hospitals jump through only evidence-based hoops, 93% of respondents said. New poll to your right: are hospitals and practices applying good financial analysis and ROI calculations to make EMR purchasing decisions? Obviously your yes/no vote makes you one of the silent majority or minority, but you can overcome the “silent” part by adding a comment by just clicking the comments link right below the survey’s voting button.
A hospital in Northern Ireland finds that a problem with its radiology information system caused radiologists to miss reading 17,000 images over several years. They’re reading the images now and have set up a patient hotline.
Nominations are open for HIMSS board and nominating committee positions. I know several folks who have used their HIMSS positions as a nice career springboard, so that might be the additional carrot you need to throw your hat in the ring if you have something to offer HIMSS beyond unbridled ambition.
HealthCor, the Allscripts shareholder that threatened a proxy fight until the company gave it three board seats, raises its ownership of the company from 6.1% to 7.3%. Share price has been flat since it fell off a cliff in late April following several negative announcements. The hugely important next quarterly report is scheduled for August.
HIM/IT services and outsourcing provider Anthelio (the artist formerly known as PHNS) names John Dragovits as president and COO. He was formerly EVP/CFO of Parkland Memorial Hospital and was a Cerner VP before that.
Nordic Consulting, a Madison-based, Epic-only consulting firm, is ranked #1 in staffing and implementation support in “Navigating the Sea of Epic Consulting,” a new KLAS report.
In England, several NHS trusts join together to seek a replacement for their RiO mental health EMR, expecting spend up to $470 million.
Vince has more to say about Dairyland and several related companies this week. You can help him out by reminding him of other companies he can riff about, especially if you were around in the early days prior to 1980 or so. I offer Continental Medical Systems, Megasource, Dynamic Healthcare Technology, Atwork, and Visteon/Avio as a few old-time names I’ve heard recently. In another angle of attack, has Vince missed any big personalities of that era, folks who kept turning up in one company after another? He would appreciate your ideas and contact information for the pioneers he could reminisce with.
Aetna and Inova Health System (VA) jointly form Innovation Health Plans, which will offer new HMO and PPO services. Inova’s healthcare services delivery will be supported by Aetna’s benefits administration and technology (presumably Medicity) that will allow physicians to track patient care.
London-based SwiftKey releases its on-screen tablet or phone keyboard for healthcare that claims to reduce text input time by 49% by predicting the next word to be typed. Price for this version wasn’t given since I suspect they’ll sell through hospitals and software vendors, but their non-healthcare product is $1.99, and priced appropriately given mixed reviews. Watching the guy thumbing his way through entering medical text in the video above made me nervous – doctors don’t pay enough attention to on-screen defaults and choices as it is, so I can envision some major medical errors caused by too-quick approval of the wrong word.
More Accretive Health fallout: the Treasury Department proposes regulations that would require charitable hospitals to keep their collection dogs on a leash, improving their effort to help patients qualify for financial assistance before garnishing their wages or dinging their credit scores.
An FDA report finds that software problems cause 24% of medical device recalls, also noting that the engineering teams that build medical devices are often woefully ignorant of best practices for developing and distributing software. It mentions FDA’s Functional Performance and Device Use Laboratory, which will allow the agency to test user interfaces and analyze device usability.