— Farzad Mostashari (@Farzad_ONC) August 6, 2013
Farzad Mostashari, MD, MSc announces via Twitter that he has resigned his position as National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, a post he has held for two years and will vacate in the fall. The internal announcements are here. Who would you choose to replace him, either the individual or the ideal background? Leave a comment with your thoughts – you never know who might be listening.
From BowTie No More: “Re: ONC. Big announcement coming out tomorrow …” I received this anonymous rumor report Monday. I asked the official ONC press contact as well as an insider if Farzad was resigning and received no response from either, which I told Inga seemed suspicious. The tiebreaker was that Inga’s contact didn’t know anything about it, so I decided to wait and see. I should have direct messaged Farzad, although he probably would not have confirmed.
From Piker: “Re: Farzad. Where’s he going?” He claims he doesn’t know. I would do what he’s doing: announce my availability well before my last day at ONC and see what offers roll in during the interim. He’s not making a mint working for Uncle Sam and therefore probably can’t undertake a lengthy job hunt after his federal checks stop, but he certainly can cash in big time afterward if that’s his ambition. A reader sent a rumor that he described as “weak” that perhaps Farzad is going to Siemens, playing off an earlier rumor that the company was about to hire an unnamed notable. Other than Farzad’s relationship with Siemens Medical Solutions CEO John Glaser, I don’t know why he would go there, so I would put those odds as low.
From Lazlo Hollyfeld: “Re: Farzad. Vendor – no way. He’ll join a policy / consulting shop (maybe a K Street firm or not), get a few director positions on various boards (10-20k/year for each director position that is almost free), and reevaluate what he wants to do. It’s time for him to go make some easy cash, stop getting grilled on the Hill, and kick back.” That’s more along the lines of what I would expect him to do. His conscience would be clear that he didn’t sell out completely since he would still involved with healthcare IT at a high level, he wouldn’t have to deal with ugly vendor issues like profitability and product lines, and his value would be highest in offering his cache to the highest bidders.
From InfoDoc: “Re: HIMSS board. I am considering running for a position. Will it be worth my time? Will HIMSS be gaining or losing power in the next four years?” The general consensus is that HIMSS has become increasing vendor-focused in recent years, as opposed to provider-focused. With that shift, I am sure there are plenty of providers and provider organizations who believe HIMSS is not the unbiased advocate it may have been 10 or 15 years ago. On the other hand, you don’t have to look further than the increasingly crowded exhibition floor at the annual conference to recognize the importance that vendors place on HIMSS. As to whether a board position is worth your time, I’d say it in part depends on whether you are hoping to be a voice of providers or of vendors. Readers?
From Boy Lee: “Re: recruiter. This recruiter needs 20 analysts per Cerner module. Is a large nation-state converting to Cerner?” That’s a lot of analysts, suggesting a fast rollout by a big organization. I thought first of HCA, which at one time was looking at Cerner and Epic as an alternative to Meditech 6.0. If you know who it is, tell me. I started to call the recruiter, but dreaded getting locked into a lengthy conversation that probably wouldn’t have resulted in my getting the employer’s name anyway.
From Larry: “Re: Practice Fusion HL7 ORU laboratory specs. The tech writer forgot to take the spec doc out of Word’s Track Changes mode before saving it as a PDF. Perhaps you can drop a hint to accept all changes, turn off the balloon display option, and convert it to a clean PDF with working hyperlinks? Just trying to help on the long slog to interoperability.” Hopefully this will provide the hint.
HIStalk Announcements and Requests
Forget MU and all of Farzad’s accomplishments at the ONC. The real bummer is that Dr. Jayne and I will have to seek a new HIT crush. This is my favorite picture of Dr. Jayne, by the way, who photo-bombed an intense conversation between Farzad and Jonathan Bush at this year’s HIStalkapalooza.
Lt. Dan not only writes the daily HIStalk news headlines and articles on HIStalk Connect, he’s also a veteran and healthcare IT guy. I ran his comments about how he would approach the never-ending (and always expensive) VA-DoD EHR issues. He got a response from an Army Medicine physician who’s working on project similar to what Lt. Dan proposed. We may have updates, depending on what can be said publicly at this point since it’s more of a concept than a finished project.
Welcome to new HIStalk Gold Sponsor Talksoft, which offers HIPAA-compliant patient reminder systems (phone, email, mobile, and SMS) for appointments, recall reminders, broadcast messages such as last-minute practice closings, payment reminders, notification of new lab results, and outreach calls to help meet Meaningful Use requirements. Practices can estimate their ROI with the on-screen calculator. Orthopedic Associates of Rochester felt pretty good about its 9.4 percent no-show rate vs. the national average of 16 percent, but using Talksoft dropped it to 5.6 percent. Setup took a week (some customers are up and running within a day), one hour of office time, and no phone line or computer hardware, plus Talksoft charges only for usage with no subscription commitment required. I enjoyed playing around with the sample messages and looking at the audit report, and thought it was cool that the practice’s brand is protected because caller ID shows the practice’s number, all aspects are customizable, and the practice records its own messages so the patient hears a familiar voice. Thanks to Talksoft for supporting HIStalk.
Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock
The SSI Group acquires the Dallas-based Claimsnet.com, a provider of claims processing solutions and payer connections.
Hospital billing provider HealthTech Solutions acquires RCM provider Gaffey.
Vocera reports Q2 results: revenue up 12.9 percent, adjusted EPS $0.01 vs. $0.09, beating earnings expectations of –$0.03. Shares are up 18 percent in after-hours trading.
Nuance announces Q3 results: revenue up 9.5 percent, adjusted EPS $0.34 vs. $0.45. CEO Paul Ricci warned that a shift to a subscription-based revenue model will hurt revenue and margins of its mobile offerings in the short term. The company’s healthcare unit was the star, with sales up 29 percent.
Providence Health & Services contracts with Quantros to provide safety performance improvement advising services across 16 of its facilities.
BCBS of Tennessee will implement Care Team Connect’s population health management platform.
The VA awards CACI International a $14 million contract in to build a data exchange platform that consolidates EHR data and benefits information across the VA, DoD, and other agencies as part of its VLER program.
Rideout Health (CA) chooses the Pavisse incident management solution from RGP Healthcare.
American Medical Software selects Health Language applications from Wolters Kluwer Health to enhance clinical documentation and regulatory compliance in its ambulatory EHR solutions.
The Indian Health Service awards SAIC a $17 million task order to help replace the agency’s electronic dental record system.
HealthSouth signs a five-year deal worth up to $20 million to implement a nurse communications system from Australia-based Austco Marketing and Services.
David Furnas, CIO of Gila Regional Medical Center (NM), resigns in the wake of the hospital’s financial crisis that has resulted in the departure of most of the senior leadership team.
TeraRecon names Jeff Sorenson (Hyland Software) SVP of global sales, marketing, and business development.
UltraLinq Healthcare Solutions hires Bao Ho (Canon Healthcare Solutions) as VP of sales.
Announcements and Implementations
The Indiana HIE and Predixion Software will jointly develop predictive health analytics solutions to be offered by IHIE to ACOs and hospitals across Indiana.
Taylor Regional Hospital (GA) integrates its CPSI EHR with PeriGen’s PeriCALM perinatal system.
The Mount Sinai Medical Center launches RateMyHospital, a real-time patient feedback survey tool for patients seen in its cancer treatment center.
Modern Healthcare announces what it calls “Healthcare’s Hottest,” its list of the 40 fastest-growing companies (companies nominate themselves and their own financial information is used to choose the winners). I don’t recognize all the names, but sponsors that were included are Allscripts, Beacon Partners, CTG Health Solutions, Cumberland Consulting Group, ESD, Impact Advisors, Imprivata, Intellect Resources, and The Advisory Board Company.
Government and Politics
ONC’s Consumer Health IT Summit will be held in Washington, DC on September 16, 2013. Admission is free and the morning’s general session will be streamed live. Registration opens next week.
According to a Health Affairs-published study co-authored by the ONC’s Farzad Mostashari, MD, almost six in 10 hospitals actively exchanged electronic health data in 2012., an increase of 41 percent since 2008.
An organization-wide e-mail sent by Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Health Plan CEO Bernard J. Tyson says the organization needs to focus on affordability and intends to hold per-member, per-month costs flat, reducing the current 3 percent trend to zero, because of “competitors who are enjoying unprecedented success in managing costs.” He wants to see membership growth, care transformation, and standardization of care and service at all locations. HealthConnect wasn’t mentioned, which never would have happened under George Halvorson.
The CEO of Fletcher Allen Health Care (VT) says that despite an expected $200 million in losses over the next 10 years due to Medicare cuts, the health system will add 280 jobs. Many of them will apparently result from its implementation of Epic. According to the CEO, “You do create new jobs. If you’re going to interface new technology, you need people who are savvy about health care and that are savvy at getting into relatively complex software and systems.”
An investigative report finds that six of UCLA’s 17 academic deans claim that their medical conditions require them to fly first class despite a University of California ban prohibiting it. One of them is triathlon competitor and self-professed “cardio junkie.”
Weird News Andy is moved by this story. A man who has been hospitalized and ventilated for 45 years after a bout of polio-caused infantile paralysis teaches himself computer animation and is creating a TV series about his life.
Trustwave warns that a luxury toilet’s Android app could allow hackers to “cause the unit to unexpectedly open/close the lid, activate bidet or air-dry functions, causing discomfort or distress to user.”
Report from the AHDI Conference
By Jay Vance, CMT, CHP
The Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI) has wrapped up its Annual Conference & Expo held this year at the Buena Vista Palace Resort in Orlando. This is the annual meeting of the professional association for Healthcare Documentation Specialists (formerly referred to as medical transcriptionists).
Unabashed rebranding is underway to portray HDS as true HIM professionals who are important contributors to accurate clinical documentation, quality patient care, and by extension, to improved reimbursement. As part of this rebranding, future annual meetings, beginning next year in Las Vegas, will be known as Healthcare Documentation Integrity Conferences. Additionally, AHDI is working closely with AHIMA, the American Health Information Management Association, to bring greater understanding of the important role of HDS to a wider audience.
Admittedly late out of the starting gate, our association is nevertheless pushing back hard against the perception of HDS as glorified typists who cost money and are easily replaced by technology such as speech recognition technology and, of course, electronic medical records systems. The reality is that SRT still requires thorough review by human editors, while many EMRs are so user-unfriendly that an entire medical scribing industry is springing up to relieve caregivers from the burden of having to use those expensive EMRs which were supposed to reduce costs by eliminating the need for transcription.
Furthermore, it seems more than coincidental to many HDS that costly clinical documentation improvement programs have grown in inverse proportion to our devaluation and outright elimination. Declining physician productivity and satisfaction? Those have also gotten worse as dictation has been eliminated and transcription budgets have been slashed.
Of course we understand that correlation doesn’t necessarily equate to causation, and certainly there are other forces in play. But just because we’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get us. All facetiousness aside, there are a number of research initiatives underway within our industry to quantify in real terms to what degree, if any, removing skilled HDS from the clinical documentation process has adversely affected the quality of documentation, and concomitantly, negatively impacted patient care and provider revenues.
- Stern Cardiovascular Foundation (TN) reports that its use of Emdat for dictation and transcription services has resulted in significant process improvements, reduced costs, and improved provider productivity.
- Orion Health introduces a converged cloud service based on HP’s CloudSystem Matrix, which will support cloud services tailored to individual customers.
- Siemens Healthcare will offer mobile alert, notification, and secure messaging services from EXTENSION to users of Siemens Soarian and legacy Siemens EHR products.
- CCHIT designates eClinicalWorks V10 compliant with the ONC 2014 Edition criteria and certifies it as a complete EHR.
- CIC Advisory releases a report on the challenges and opportunities facing the country’s top healthcare organizations.
- Aprima PRM 2014 EHR/PM v. 14.0 earns Meaningful Use Stage 2 certification as a Complete EHR.
- The FDA grants 510(k) market clearance for Alere MobileLink, a self-testing at home device that connects to Alere’s Connected Health platform.
- Allscripts, McKesson, Medicity, and Sandlot Solutions sponsor a webinar discussing how leading healthcare organizations are using data and analytics.
- Outside Magazine names iSirona to its list of best places to work.
- The Association of Affiliated Plans names CTG Health Solutions a preferred vendor.
- Clinical Architecture CEO Charlie Harp reviews data normalization in a blog post.