The trillion-dollar FY15 Omnibus bill includes $32 billion for DoD health programs that includes its new EHR implementation and $4 billion for the VA’s IT program that allocates $344 million to modernize its EHR. ONC will get $60,367,000 of the $75,000,000 it requested, the same amount it was given in 2013 and 2014. ONC had planned to increase headcount from 185 to 191 FTEs in 2015, some of that most likely intended for launching its planned but not yet approved health IT safety center.
From George de Jungle: “Re: prescription information. I don’t like selling this data.” Drug companies are matching up “de-identified” (like that’s a foolproof method) prescription records with consumer website registrations to push targeted ads and to study physician prescribing behavior for marketing purposes. Example: Yahoo hires the medical information sales industry gorilla IMS to target ads to people who live in areas where specific medical conditions are common. None of this is new, of course – IMS and other companies have been doing similar work for years, but now have more (and more accurate) data to crunch. De-identifying data doesn’t earn anybody a dime except in avoiding HIPAA penalties, while re-identifying it through data matching is worth billions (guess which one IMS does?) HIPAA pre-dated the Internet and big data movements, having been around now for 18 years. While de-identifying patient data sounded swell back in those paper days, it is easily overcome by today’s sophisticated database techniques and widespread availability of electronic information. Americans make it worse when they squawk at how much they value privacy, but then voluntarily enter their most personal and valuable information to get access social networking or game sites without asking or caring how that information will be used. That leaves privacy as nothing more than an illusion held by people who aren’t aware of the degree of data plundering that’s done without their explicit knowledge or permission.
MHealth Summit Review
By Plato’s Charge
- Keynotes. More vendor-agnostic than last year, no real revelations but a few anecdotes that didn’t suck. Grade: B+.
- Exhibit hall (aka leper hall). Yuck. Companies with a ‘q’ or ‘z’ in their name that all looked alike. Many were missing from last year having run out of money. Reminded me of India – a few wealthy power brokers like Qualcomm and the vast majority were small and poor. Grade: F.
- Breakout sessions. Panels were disorganized, lots of vendor pitches (some not too subtle, which was pure agony). Grade: D.
- Overall, what was missing was users of these great technologies, methods (geez, wonder why?), and sessions focusing on what is needed (it’s reimbursement and credentialing, stupid). The reimbursement session was packed, but it sort of sucked. Overall conference grade: D+.
HIStalk Announcements and Requests
More than half of the respondents to my poll aren’t thrilled by going to work Monday mornings. The comments left suggest that major determinants are the quality of co-workers and the degree of direct contribution to a worthwhile mission. New poll to your right or here: what should ONC’s top priority be over the next few years? Your comments would of course add embellishment to your rather stark vote.
The first book of “CIO Unplugged” contributor Ed Marx has been released and we’re holding a virtual book launch for “Extraordinary Tales from a Rather Ordinary Guy” this Thursday, December 18 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. Ed will go over the principles contained in the book, read a couple of tales that haven’t been shared until now, and accept live questions. Attendees who use the webinar’s interactive features will be eligible to win free copies of the book as well as a Kindle.
Last Week’s Most Interesting News
- An Experian data breach forecast for 2015 warns that healthcare organizations will continue to be a major target.
- ONC issues its strategic plan for 2015-2020 that calls for moving from EHR adoption to information sharing.
- Alberta, Canada begins its search for a new EHR after an auditor’s report finds that the $260 million it already spent encouraged implementation of a larger number of systems that don’t talk to each other.
- Several dozen hospitals in Australia go to downtime after a storage controller software upgrade in a central data center fails.
December 17 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. There Is A 90% Probability That Your Son Is Pregnant: Predicting the Future of Predictive Analytics in Healthcare. Sponsored by Health Catalyst. Presenter: Dale Sanders, SVP of strategy, Health Catalyst. Predictive analytics is more than simple risk stratification. Once you identify an individual’s risk, what are the odds that you can change their behavior and what will it cost to do so? This presentation, geared towards managers and executives, addresses scenarios in which predictive models may or not be effective given that 80 percent of outcomes are driven by socioeconomic factors rather than healthcare delivery.
Ireland-based patient engagement vendor Oneview Healthcare raises $7 million to expand its presence in North America, where it hopes to win nine new contracts (along with six new customers in Australia) in 2015.
In England, NHS chooses IBM for its new Electronic Staff Record HR/payroll system, replacing the incumbent McKesson in a contract worth up to $600 million. The Oracle-powered McKesson system is one of the largest IT implementations in the world.
Government and Politics
OSHA orders Computer Sciences Corporation to pay back wages to two former nuclear power plant employees who were fired after reporting that the company’s EHR didn’t accurately track medical restrictions. CSC owned the occupational safety and health provider the power plant used.
A Kaiser Health News story called “Federal defense contractors find a new profitable business: Obamacare” notes that HHS’s business purchases doubled to $21 billion in the last decade and are rising, making it the #3 contracting agency, beating out NASA, Homeland Security, and the combined spending of Departments of Justice, Transportation, Treasury, and Agriculture.
A behavioral non-profit in Alaska will pay $150,000 to settle an OCR HIPAA investigation that concluded that desktop PC malware allowed a breach involving the information of 2,500 people. The organization also committed two unpardonable OCR sins: it didn’t conduct a risk assessment and hadn’t updated its security policies and procedures in years (and wasn’t really following its existing ones, either).
Jack Stick, chief counsel of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, resigns following an investigation into his direction of $110 million in no-bid Medicaid fraud software contracts to 21CT, a defense contractor he favored for unstated reasons. In one case Stick convinced state contract managers to take a data warehouse contract away from Truven Health Analytics and give it to 21CT instead. The Austin-based 21CT had zero experience with Medicaid; a former business associate of Stick is 21CT’s official lobbyist. The company’s $90 million contract expansion has been cancelled.
This week’s PostSecret contains two submissions that will give CIOs a chill, with #1 being entirely justified since IT apparently isn’t monitoring logs to detect employees who look at information for patients without having a need to know.
Tenet shelves its plan to buy five Connecticut hospitals when the state proposes saddling the for-profit operator with 47 restrictions on staffing, services, and pricing. Waterbury Hospital says selling out to a for-profit company was its only hope for survival, while the hospital’s unions and an advocacy group said Tenet’s unwillingness to agree to the state’s terms showed that the company’s primary interest was “to plunder Connecticut’s hospitals.”
Partners HealthCare (MA) loses $22 million in its most recent fiscal year after earning a $158 million profit last year, the first time it has lost money. Partners, the state’s highest-cost health system, took in $11 billion in revenue, but its Medicaid insurance plan lost $110 million. Partners blamed the insurance loss on new patients, expensive drugs, and problems with the state’s health insurance exchange.
Weird News Andy calls this “Billing billing fraud.” A doctor whose last name is Billing faces fraud charges in Canada. WNA laments that the doctor’s first name isn’t William or that it didn’t happen across the border in Billings, MT, but he’s hoping that his item gets Monday’s top billing.
- The employee-funded charity of Cornerstone Advisors donates $10,000 to the foundation supporting three-year-old Juan Carroll, Jr., who needs a liver transplant. The charity will also support Campbell County Healthcare, La Rabida Children’s Hospital, and Crossroads Community Center with $1,000 donations.
- Cumberland Consulting Group partner Dave Vreeland publishes “PHM: Coming Soon to Health Systems Everywhere” in CIO Connection.
- Versus Technology announces that Microsoft’s Bill Crounse, MD will provide the keynote presentation at its user group meeting in Chicago May 11-13, 2015.
- A Florida TV station profiles Sarasota-based Voalte.