The Wall Street Journal reports that transcription and speech recognition software vendor MModal will file bankruptcy this week, loaded with $750 million in debt as a result of its leveraged buyout in August 2012 and facing declining sales. The company expects to work out a debt restructuring plan in advance that will allow some of its creditors to swap the money they are owed for equity in the reorganized company. UPDATE: MModal provided this statement in response to the HIStalk news item:
MModal is continuing discussions with certain of its lenders and bondholders regarding a range of financial restructuring options to enable the company to reduce its debt and enhance its financial flexibility. We believe these discussions have been constructive and we are working towards a resolution that has the support of our lenders which would provide a positive outcome for all of our stakeholders, including our customers, employees, and suppliers. We fully expect to continue operating in the ordinary course of business and providing our customers the high level of support they have come to expect from MModal. The company has solid revenue, strong operating margins, cash flows consistent with industry norms, a large customer base, and we are continuing to invest in the future. Our operations are strong and we are generating exceptional quality metrics and high customer satisfaction. We are executing on our vision to provide the healthcare industry’s most advanced clinical documentation solutions.
From Caterwaul: “Re: readers during HIMSS. How many do you get?” Around 8,000 visits daily during the conference, peaking this year at 9,000 visits and 17,000 page views on Wednesday, February 26. For the month, it was 125,000 visits and 207,000 page views. The graph above covers the last 30 days.
From The PACS Designer: “Re: iPhone 6. Excitement is starting to build for the next generation of the iPhone, will feature for the first time a quad-core 64 bit processor along with iOS 8. Also expected at launch is a heart rate monitor along with the much anticipated iWatch. It looks like Apple’s going for a big splash of new products in 2014.” Sometimes it feels as though the iPhone is like the iPod – a mature, somewhat commoditized market in which minor feature differentiation passes for innovation. Apple and competitors can do only so much in screwing around with the screen size and construction materials, so the real improvements have to come from the OS.
From Jeff: “Re: headlines. Is is possible to get the morning headlines and any M&A news in a daily email?” I hadn’t thought of doing that since I assume most readers just go to the site, but it’s possible. Weigh in on the reader survey if you’d like since that’s where my to-do list will come from.
From Olga: “Re: reader comments. I get the feeling that comments are filtered since controversial topics don’t always have many.” Comments are not filtered. I approve every one except these: (a) unverifiable claims that a specific person is quitting or being fired; b) repetitive, annoying diatribes posted by the same person using different names, as in the multiple anti-EMR identities of Not Tired of Suzy, RN; (c) comments trying to publicize a company or site. I should add that the Akismet spam filter automatically deletes comments that come from known spammer IP addresses or that contain questionable content, like a bunch of links. You might be surprised at some of the comments that I’ve rejected: claims that a specifically named CEO forced a female VP to attend an orgy, assertions of deviant behavior by well-known industry figures, and full-out personal attacks on people named in given post.
Half of the HIMSS conference attendees who responded to my poll said it was a good overall experience, with the remaining 25 percent each declaring it to have been either poor or great. New poll to your right, just for (anonymous) fun: how much money did you make from your primary job in 2013?
Here are more mug shots. Theo, 18 months old, doesn’t seem to mind Dad’s mishap traveling home from HIMSS that will require Mom to fix the handle. To the right, Colleen says she has one wish for Christmas since nurses need high-capacity mugs.
Every year right after the HIMSS conference I ask readers to complete my survey telling me what they like, don’t like, and recommend for HIStalk. It only takes a few minutes and I plan my entire year from the feedback. You will make a difference, earn my gratitude, and be entered in a drawing for three $50 Amazon gift cards. Thank you.
I won’t overdo the DonorsChoose project updates, but I wanted to share an example of the student letters you receive when you fund a classroom project. This one from a second grader says, “Thank you for the nonfiction books. We use them for learning and reading stations. We love them.” Lots of charities do good work but spend too much of their donations on fundraising and salaries. DonorsChoose has amazing stats: 94.4 percent of donations go toward programs and services instead of overhead, the CEO is paid only $240K, and it earns an amazing score of 67.83 out of a possible 70 on Charity Navigator. I was jaded about charities having worked in wasteful hospitals until I did my homework and came up with DonorsChoose and Salvation Army. I don’t donate a penny until I check Charity Navigator because marketing overhead can be up to 90 percent for some causes that run TV ads.
Thanks to the following sponsors, new and renewing, that recently supported HIStalk, HIStalk Practice, and HIStalk Connect. Click a logo for more information.
March 19 (Wednesday), 1:00 p.m. ET. The Top Trends That Matter in 2014. Sponsored by Health Catalyst. Presenters: Bobbi Brown, VP and Paul Horstmeier, SVP, Health Catalyst. Fresh back from HIMSS14, learn about 26 trends that all healthcare executives ought to be tracking. Understand the impact of these trends, be able to summarize them to an executive audience, and learn how they will increase the need for healthcare data analytics.
Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock
The private equity owners of payer-provider connectivity vendor Ability Network are seeking a buyer for the company, expected to fetch up to $500 million.
Government and Politics
Former White House advisor and oncologist Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, PhD (Rahm’s brother) writes a Wall Street Journal piece on the infighting involved in creating the Affordable Care Act. Everybody knows that HHS on one hand declares itself technologically innovative and its ONC organization demands that healthcare providers advance their technology prowess, while the CMS side of HHS’s house spends vast taxpayer fortunes on its primitive systems and the marginally competent bureaucracy required to maintain them. On bundled payments:
We presented the idea of phasing in bundled payments, especially for chronic conditions, to the rest of the White House reform team, where we found some strong support. But then we hit a brick wall. Many of our colleagues who worked for Medicare feared that creating the bundles would be too hard and warned that Medicare didn’t have the computer infrastructure to handle it. The arguments went back and forth, but the Medicare bureaucracy wouldn’t budge. Ultimately, the ACA authorized 10 demonstration projects that could be expanded if they worked—a good start, but a far cry from the more ambitious bundling plan many of us had hoped to see.
Delaware’s health department wants $87 million in FY2015 capital to upgrade its eligibility systems to meet Affordable Care Act requirements, adding that it’s too good of a deal to pass up since federal tax dollars will cover 90 percent of the cost. A Republican state representative isn’t impressed with the department’s plans. “We could have started our own endowment. It’s just staggering. This math is out of control. It’s extremely, extremely disingenuous to say this (Affordable Care Act) is saving us money.”
Innovation and Research
Engineering cadets from the United States Air Force Academy develop Neumimic as their capstone project, working with a local hospital to design a stroke recovery application based on Microsoft Xbox Kinect. The system allows patients to exercise specific muscle groups at home without a physical therapist.
It’s spring-forward time as I write this on Saturday morning. Thanks if you are one of the folks who will be babysitting hospital systems tonight to make sure everything works with the change to Daylight Saving Time.
The folks at SIS put together a hilarious video that parodies vendors preparing for the HIMSS conference. It contains quite a few inside references from HIStalk (like companies that claim “HIPPA” expertise). Leave a comment with those you notice since I’m sure I didn’t catch them all.
An interesting and scary use of big data: auto repossession companies are using vehicle-mounted recognition technologies to cruise the parking lots of malls and stadiums, capturing the license plate numbers, location, and timestamp of every car they pass. The information goes to a company in Texas whose database contains 1.8 billion scans that include the majority of American vehicles. The company is just beginning to realize the value of that information, planning to sell it to private investigators, insurance companies, and banks, who only need to match up the plate numbers to other state databases to know where any given person has been.
Somehow this local newspaper’s headline seems Onion-like.
Family members of deceased patients in China, like those in India, are increasingly turning violent toward the doctor or hospital involved, with 17,000 recorded incidents in 2010. An ED doctor in Guangdong province was forced last week to march with 100 friends and family members of a patient who died, accusing the doctor of malpractice. The hospital called police and he was released 30 minutes later.