An article in The New York Times called “A Digital Shift on Health Data Swells Profits an an Industry” takes direct shots at the HITECH act, particularly emphasizing the “behind the scenes lobbying” that Allscripts, former CEO Glen Tullman, and other unnamed vendors employed to get it passed. It points out that Tullman was health technology advisor to the Obama campaign, a personal donor of $225,000 to Democratic political candidates, and a seven-time White House visitor after Obama took office. Cerner doubled its lobbying dollars to $400,000, with almost all of it going to Republicans.
Athenahealth’s Jonathan Bush weighed on “the Sunny von Bülow bill” that he says kept his stagnant competitors “alive for another few years.” In a seemingly random quote, the ED chair at UCSF Medical Center said Epic is “mediocre” on a good day but “lousy” most of the time, while a counterpoint from UCSF’s CMIO saying that most doctors there like it receives less-sensationalized coverage. The article also points out that Neal Patterson’s stake in Cerner is worth $1 billion and mentions that a letter from Steve Lieber of HIMSS urged President-elect Obama to set aside at least $25 billion to increase EHR adoption.
In other words, the article is all over the place. The only new material appears to be a handful of quotes that were allowed to run unchallenged, with everything else looking more like a set of Google search results than a thoughtful and balanced piece. Its conclusion is hardly startling: the federal government wastes enormous amounts of taxpayer dollars in scratching special interest backs and a few people get really rich as a result (fun fact: Glen Tullman is now running his solar energy company, reaping the benefit of another big federal spending program.) Far more interesting than the article itself are the reader comments:
- My impressions of the vendors can be described in two words: Welfare Queens. The systems are glorified billing and scheduling systems. Vendors were "certified" before they actually created the upgrades that supposedly met MU criteria.
- Regardless of how much customization you do to the form and how many drop-boxes there are for entering data, the result is medical records which look very similar from patient to patient, and omit nuances and details which are specific for individuals.
- It is interesting that so many commenters complain about a lack of privacy (signing my life away on consent forms!!), while others complain because not all providers in the country have easy, fast access to their medical records.
You must realize that these things are at odds, and affected more by HIPAA than limitations of technology.
- EMR 1.0 = islands of information, designed for billing and documentation. EMR 2.0 = system of engagement – Key information summarized and shared. Saves time for the users. It’s coming!
- Try telling countries like Canada, New Zealand, Netherlands and Japan that they should give up all of the EMR systems that are unusable despite the fact that the majority of their docs are using EMR systems today. Just because a few people in an article determined a system to be unusable doesn’t make it so.
- The EHR has become the patient. It is sicker than you and more complicated, taking more time. You, the real patient, can just lay there waiting in a state of abject neglect.
- There is a lot more to this movement than this article suggests — and it is good. "The clear winners are big companies" — yes, in some ways, but the even bigger winners are patients and the doctors who care for them. In my family, this record-keeping already has resulted in a life-saving developments.
- In our office we have had three over 50 early retirements due to the EPIC system.
- Think if America had as many electric outlet types as Europe (free markets!) This mishmash of EMR will take a generation to unravel and cries out for a centralized system & format.
- I’m a primary care physician working at Kaiser Permanente. We’ve been using the Epic system for years. While it isn’t perfect, I’d never go back to paper … the real reason this system works for us is because we are an integrated system. If we weren’t, it wouldn’t work well at all. The real problem is lack of integration in US medicine.
- Banks and many other industries already embrace efficient and effective computerized systems. Where your life is at stake, wouldn’t you want your doctor to have the same advantages as your bank?
- This is a very one-sided article, and almost reads like a smear in some places.
For a counterpoint, see DrLyle’s post, The HIT Productivity Paradox — It’s Gonna Be OK.
From Ms. HIM: “Re: X-Rays. Inga, did you report to someone at the facility that you were able to see the patient data in the hallway?” Ms. HIM is referring to my recent visit to a radiology practice that had patient data prominently displayed on several monitors in common areas. I did e-mail the CIO and included my stealthily-taken pictures. No response yet.
From Disappointed: “Re: HIStalkapalooza. I want to give kudos to Shannon at Thomas Wright Partners. I am unable to attend HIMSS due to a family thing, but she promptly and cheerfully changed my confirmation to my boss who had neglected to sign up (what can I say?) She also said if things changed and I was able to attend, she personally would ensure I would get in and gave me her cell phone number. What great service!!!” Medicomp is working with the same team (Thomas Wright Partners, Bzzz Productions, Istrico Productions) that brought you HIStalkapalooza 2011 in Orlando. They are indeed efficient and responsive. I had no qualms about putting my name on the event and leaving the details to them.
From Letter of the Law: “Re: Allscripts Meaningful Use Guarantee. Doesn’t sound like MyWay will meet Stage 2 MU or get 2014 ONC certified as a Complete EHR. Does this mean MyWay clients get a 12-month support credit or refund? Seems like the guarantee was written to be purposefully vague and has now mysteriously disappeared from the Allscripts site (convenient) except in the Investor area.” Allscripts told us they would respond, but they haven’t so far.
From Tom: “Re: Epic. An electrophysiologist wrote a satirical post about Epic and used screenshots to convey the problems he experienced. He says Epic contacted his hospital administrators and asked him to take the screenshots down. He is now concerned about legal ramifications.” It should be noted that the doctor sells software on the side, although it costs only a few dollars and is specific to electrophysiology. Still, Epic has made it clear in the past that it won’t tolerate posting screen shots, documentation text, or almost anything else publicly. I’m thinking I remember (but could be wrong) that they warn UGM presenters not to post their slides publicly if they contain anything that Epic might deem proprietary. Says the doc (with some of his preachy indignation removed):
I’m just a physician who uses their software … No software is perfect however and I think the Epic bosses should be more interested in using feedback and criticism from health care professionals to improve the program rather than spending their time worrying that a screenshot of their user interface is available on the web … these massive companies who have benefited enormously from our tax dollars have the nerve to threaten those who criticize their software and publish a few bland screenshots. Unfortunately though, with their cash reserves and cadres of lawyers, there is little that EP Studios (cash reserves = $0) can do to stop their bullying.
From Say What?: "Re: HIMSS in Cleveland. Surely you jest. What is moving 345 miles from its Chicago base going to do for HIMSS? At least Nashville made sense from a different geographic, cultural, and transportation point of view, as would Phoenix, San Francisco, or Seattle.”
From Richard: “Re: HIStalk. Thanks for one of the most concise, relevant online healthcare IT publications out there. Your work is an excellent balance of current news, pertinent insight, and subtle (or sometimes hot so subtle) humor. Please pass on my compliments to the entire HIStalk crew for their excellent contributions. P.S. I admire your team’s ability to present a meaningful contribution and at the same time party like college freshman at HIMSS.” I did indeed pass along your much-appreciated comments to the crew, which got me trapped in the e-mail crossfire as Inga and Dr. Jayne tried to one-up each other with their claimed partying capacity beyond freshman level. I stopped reading once they escalated to grad school.
HIStalk Announcements and Requests
This week on HIStalk Practice: MGMA introduces a Web-based tool that allows organizations to benchmark themselves against peers using national MGMA data. The RI REC offers EHR adoption assistance to specialists. Researchers devise an AI tool that may outperform physicians in making cost-effective clinical decisions. Michigan lawmakers consider legislation requiring a single universal prior authorization form for prescriptions. PCMHs deliver slightly better patient satisfaction and preventative care but may not result in cost savings. Dr. Gregg shares details of the meeting between Focus and Byproduct … heck, it’s a great story, so give it a read. Greenway Medical CEO Tee Green discusses the company and industry and makes some predictions for the future. Thanks for reading.
Maybe I’m the only one who didn’t know: Word, going back to the 2007 version apparently, has a “Save as PDF” option that’s easier than PDF print driver products like CutePDF or PDF995. And in another Andy Rooney meets Larry King kind of non sequitur, I heard programmers repeatedly pronounce two words oddly in a meeting today: DISplay and REfresh. I am monitoring further accent-switching occurrences.
I got an e-mail today that HIMSS has kicked me out of my reserved hotel and put me in a lower-rated one because of “an oversold situation,” adding that they “wanted to inform you before you arrived in New Orleans.” How thoughtful, especially considering that I booked in September.
Welcome to new HIStalk Gold Sponsor Greythorn, whose healthcare IT practice places candidates in the specific high-demand market segments of Epic, Cerner, and ICD-10. Greythorn has offered specialty IT staffing solutions for more than 30 years. Check out their LinkedIn Epic and EHR Professionals group, or seek their folks out at HIStalkapalooza since they told me they’re going and I sense they’re a fun bunch. For clients, expect nice people, a big pipeline of candidates including international ones, and a zeal for understanding your business and your needs. Job candidates should read their Resume and Interview Tips document (“Questions to Be Prepared For” contains just about all of the HR-mandated behavioral interviewing questions I’ve ever asked). Stop by Booth #5358 at the HIMSS conference and pass along my thanks to Greythorn for supporting my work.
Here’s a “Working at Greythorn” video I found on YouTube.
HIMSS Conference Social Events
If you registered in advance, your official HIStalkapalooza invite should have hit your inbox Wednesday (check those spam folders!) Make sure you’ve arranged your schedule to be there in time for the Inga Loves My Shoes contest and the crowning of the HIStalk King and Queen. The highly coveted beauty queen sashes and prizes will return.
Speaking of sashes, we decided to give readers a chance to win one, along with stage recognition and a $25 Amazon gift card. All you have to do is declare Inga, Dr. Jayne, or Mr. H as your secret crush and explain why. We’ll choose the most convincing entries, so feel to free to lay it on thick and shamelessly in an obvious appeal to our vanity. Winners (who must be at HIStalkapalooza) will be sashed on stage with "Inga’s Secret Crush," "Dr. Jayne’s Secret Crush," or "Mr. H’s Secret Crush" as a token of our reciprocation.
Aventura is participating in a booth block party at the conference on Tuesday from 4:00 until 6:00 p.m., with beer and margaritas.
Speaking of Aventura, they’ve sent the best e-mail promotion so far with their serious-sounding “HIT Survival Handbook” that includes some dry humor. I forwarded the e-mail home from work just to run it here.
I always scan down the HIStalkapalooza attendee list to see who’s coming and what titles they hold. Eyeballing it, it looks like over 100 presidents/CEOs, 200 VPs, 24 CIOs, 13 CMIOs, and eight financial and equities people. That’s a fraction of the total invitations, so obviously many other titles were represented.
Here’s a list of our HIMSS-related pages and their downloadable/printable PDF equivalents that will tell you what our sponsors are doing at the conference:
Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock
Shareholders of PSS World Medical approve the company’s agreement to merge with McKesson, clearing the way for a Q1 closing.
GetWellNetwork reports 30 percent growth in revenues and a 90 percent increase in orders from 2011 to 2012.
MedAssets reports Q4 results: revenue up 4.5 percent, adjusted EPS $0.27 vs. $0.32.
The New Hampshire Health Information Organization selects the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative to provide executive director management services for the implementation of its statewide HIE, which will utilize Orion Health’s technology backbone.
NYU Langone Medical Center contracts with Accenture to support its ICD-10 implementation process.
Numera selects AT&T to be the wireless network and location services provider for Numera Libris, a mobile home health management and personal emergency response system.
Banner Health expands its portfolio of 3M products to include the 3M 360 Encompass System for computer-assisted coding and clinical documentation improvement.
Memorial Sloan-Kettering (NY) chooses Orion Health’s Rhapsody Integration Engine for communication and data sharing between the hospital’s different IT applications.
Phoenix Children’s Hospital (AZ) selects Allscripts Sunrise Financial Manager, Sunrise Ambulatory, and Allscripts Community Record.
Mid-Valley Hospital (WA) selects e-forms and electronic electronic patient signature solutions from Access to use with its Meditech Scanning and Archiving system.
Fairview Health Services (MN) will implement Strata Decision Technology’s StrataJazz for decision support, operating budgeting, strategic planning, and capital planning.
Avere Systems appoints Michael McMahon (CommVault) as VP of business development.
Tom Giannulli, MD (Epocrates) joins Kareo as CMIO.
VA CTO Peter Levin, who led the Blue Button initiative, announces his resignation.
As reported here last week. Health Catalyst names Brent Dover (Medicity/Aetna) as president.
Wolters Kluwer promotes Kevin Entricken from CFO of the Wolters Kluwer Health division to CFO of the parent company.
Harris Interactive names Matt Knoeck (TNS North America) SVP of healthcare and Sharon Albert (TJ Sacks) VP of marketing for its healthcare group.
Announcements and Implementations
The Rochester RHIO partners with area ambulance companies to allow physicians to see critical patient information gathered in the field during ambulance calls.
Medical equipment provider Skytron upgrades six of its customers to CenTrak’s clinical-grade RTLS technology.
SuccessEHS connects with MyHealth Access Network HIE (OK) to send clinical care documents from its EHR.
Aker Eye/Vision Source (FL) implements RTLS from Versus Technology.
The Joint Commission begins offering a PCMH certification for accredited hospitals and critical access hospitals.
SCI Solutions launches Readmission Minimizer to track and monitor post-discharge processes.
The Utah Health Information Network offers Direct secure messaging labeled as cHIE Direct, using technology from Secure Exchange Solutions.
Humetrix introduces cross-platform capability for its iBlueButton app that allows consumers and patients to exchange clinical information at the point of care regardless of which smartphone they use.
Kareo launches a free cloud-based EHR that can be used as a standalone application or integrated with the company’s PM and billing services. It was developed using technology acquired from Epocrates, which exited the EHR business a year ago. Kareo notes that the EHR is “advertisement free” and says it will provide support and updates at no charge. The company hopes that the free EHR offering will attract more clients for its PM and billing service products.
Government and Politics
ONC is accepting applications from those interested in serving on a new workgroup, the HITPC Food and Drug Administration Safety Innovation Act Workgroup, that will provide recommendations for a risk-based HIT and mobile device regulatory framework.
Worth a read: The Advisory Board Company publishes “How Stage 2 Raises the Bar on Stage 1 Organizations.” Like everything Advisory Board, it’s fluff-free and to the point.
Innovation and Research
Researchers from the University of Cincinnati find that physicians using an EMR are more likely to order routine screening tests for women.
Processing a prescription drug order through a CPOE system decreases the likelihood of error with that order by 48 percent according to a study supported by AHRQ. Researchers say the findings suggest CPOE can substantially reduce the frequency of medication errors in the inpatient setting, but it is unclear whether that translates into reduced harm for patients.
Christiana Care Health System is awarded a $10 million grant from CMS’s innovation grant program for its Bridging the Divides program that uses predictive analytics to target patients who would benefit from intervention. CMIO Terri Steinberg, MD, MBA (above) tells me that analytics can be run against the patient’s entire data set even if it originates from a different health system. I may follow up for more information.
Healthgrades says Dayton, OH, Phoenix, AZ, and Milwaukee, WI have the lowest risk-adjusted hospital mortality rates in its list of America’s Best Hospitals 2013.
Express Scripts sues Ernest & Young and one of its former partners for stealing trade secrets and corporate data to boost E&Y’s healthcare business. The lawsuit claims Donald Gravlin, who was working on the Express Scripts-Medco merger, entered an Express Scripts facility several times to forward confidential company e-mails to his personal account.
Black Book Rankings releases the results of a survey to identify the top hospital EHR vendors based on client satisfaction. Winners include:
- CPSI (under 100 beds)
- Cerner (100-249 beds)
- Epic (academic teaching hospitals and major medical centers)
- Cerner (healthcare systems, hospital chains, integrated delivery networks)
- Picis (ED)
UnitedHealth Group announces the creation of 1,000 new jobs in North Carolina by its UnitedHealthcare and Optum businesses.
Weird News Andy waxes poetic on the news that Cornell researchers have created a realistic 3-D printed human ear. WNA says, “Poems are make by this fool right here, but only Cornell can make an ear.”
WNA finds this item both odd and sad: a suspended Johns Hopkins gynecologist accused of secretly taking photos of hundreds of his patients using a pen camera commits suicide.
- Aspen Valley Hospital (CO) shares how it increased front office payments and cash on hand and reduced administrative time and costs by using InstaMed solutions in a case study.
- Covisint extends its cloud identity services to include small and medium-sized organizations.
- US Secret Service Special Agent Erik Rasmussen and Trustwave SVP Nicholas Percoco will lead a keynote address on cybercrime at next week’s RSA conference.
- Halfpenny Technologies adds Altosoft’s BI dashboard to its ITF-Hub solution for clinical laboratories.
- API Healthcare offers a Webinar series focused on effective employee recruitment and retention.
- HealthMEDX expands its support of LeadingAge, a non-profit committed to providing care and services to the aging.
- eHealth Technologies releases a zero-footprint, Web-based image viewer that uses the eUnity platform of Client Outlook.
- Informatica releases Cloud Spring 2013, the latest release of its integration and data management applications, and will hosts a February 25 Webinar to introduce its features.
EPtalk by Dr. Jayne
Clinicians can now diagnose leprosy (Hansen’s disease) more than a year before patients are symptomatic. The new test uses a smart phone, a test strip reader, and a single drop of blood. Each determination will cost $1 or less.
This week President Obama announced an initiative to map the human brain, citing the Human Genome Project as a precedent. The brain is a fascinating thing and I’m excited about the role that information technology will play in making it a reality. Even better was the adrenaline rush I got since I read the announcement while I was hopped up on cold medicine watching “The Bourne Legacy.” Hopefully the CIA isn’t waiting in the wings to create neurologically engineered killers with the resulting data.
I’ve enjoyed the reader comments about travel arrangements for HIMSS. I apparently waited too long to book my hotel room (silly me for thinking three months in advance was enough) so I am arriving a day later and leaving a day earlier than I’d have liked. The idea of having to split between two different hotels to cover the entire stay was not very appealing. The comments about venues for future HIMSS meetings are spot on as well. I mentioned the HIMSS rotation to a dental colleague today and learned that there IS something worse than HIMSS returning to Chicago: The Chicago Dental Society Midwinter Meeting, which is held every February in the Windy City. The schedule of events lists a Fashion Show Luncheon. I wonder if they feature parkas, boots, and mittens?
Twitter served up an item from @ONC_HealthIT celebrating a physician who built his own EHR in response to budget cuts. A read of the actual article reveals that “eventually he turned to Cerner.” Unfortunately Meaningful Use has stifled grassroots innovation like building a custom EHR for your practice. I also like the line about practice administrators scanning paper test results into the EHR. If they actually have practice administrators feeding the scanner, I can recommend some additional overhead cost cutting for them.
In addition to the paper mail and tchotchkes enticing me to various booths at HIMSS, I’ve started receiving e-mail invitations to focus groups. Today’s gem promised to “present 4 innovative clinical strategies that leverage technology to reduce cost and improve all quality metrics.” Wow! They improve all quality metrics? That’s impressive. Even more impressive is the honorarium offered: a “Personalized tour of Walgreens Flagship Location – TBD.” Sheesh.