A federal judge grants Epic’s request to dismiss a patent infringement lawsuit brought by patent troll (or “non-practicing entity” in legal terms) Preservation Wellness Technologies, which sued Epic, Allscripts, Athenahealth, and NextGen for violating its 2009 patent covering the idea of giving patients and doctors access to electronic medical records with different levels of authorization. Apparently the US Patent and Trademark Office thought this was something new since they granted the patent.
The “inventor” apparently runs Carlo Coiffures, a beauty salon in New York. The lawsuit was brought by a Texas corporation with a Texas mail drop address that filed the suit in the rural Eastern District of Texas, which attracts 25 percent of the patent lawsuits filed in the entire US because that district’s troll-friendly practices make it hard for defendants to get a ridiculous lawsuit dismissed. A fascinating episode of “This American Life” describes a building in Marshall, Texas (population 24,000) whose long corridors contain locked offices representing the only physical presence of companies whose entire business is filing frivolous patent infringement lawsuits. Kudos to Epic for not just paying off the troll, although you have to wonder how much it had to spend to prove that it did nothing wrong.
Meanwhile, Epic didn’t fare as well in a federal appeals court where it had asked to have an unpaid overtime lawsuit brought by its technical writers dismissed. Epic argued that the arbitration terms that it forced all of its employees to accept to keep their jobs precludes employee class action lawsuits like the overtime one. The judge sides with the employees, ruling that Epic’s mandatory arbitration clause violates the National Labor Relations Act because it prevents employees from acting together on employment issues, which they are allowed to do even if they aren’t union members.
From Pumice Stone: “Re: vendor agnostic. Pet peeve time! Agnostic means someone who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God.” I agree. “Vendor-neutral” is a better way to convey a lack of bias, although the grammatical horse has left the barn and dictionaries that strive to reflect rather than define usage will no doubt be adding “vendor-agnostic” along with other recently added non-words like “WTF,” “beer o’clock,” and “awesomesauce” as lexicographers use the “everybody gets a trophy” model in rewarding those who create cutesy new words despite their obvious lack of mastery of the perfectly fine choices already available.
From Maple: “Re: Evariant. They just took Series C money this month but apparently laid off 30+ folks. No jobs are listed on their jobs board. A new CFO was announced this week, too.” Evariant, which has received $69 million in funding, sells a patient marketing system. I checked their executive page from a year ago and seven of the 10 people listed then aren’t on the current version of the page.
HIStalk Announcements and Requests
Mrs. Steele says her Tennessee kindergarten class is using the headphones and wireless mice we provided in funding her DonorsChoose grant request to listen to level-tailored stories to help them read better.
This week on HIStalk Practice: Compulink debuts an EHR for gastroenterologists. Pavlovian wearable helps curb user behaviors. Direct Urgent Care sends heart and lung sounds to its EHR via connected stethoscope. Duke University physicians share advice for PCPs in need of MACRA help. Connecticut passes telemedicine-friendly Medicaid legislation. Ohio physicians will soon have real-time access to controlled substances prescriptions.
June 28 (Tuesday) 2:00 ET. “Your Call Is Very Important.” Sponsored by West Healthcare Practice. Presenters: Cyndy Orrys, contact center director, Henry Ford Health System; Brian Cooper, SVP, West Interactive. The contact center is a key hub of patient engagement and a strategic lever for driving competitive advantage. Cyndy will share how her organization’s call center is using technologies and approaches that create effortless patient experiences in connecting them to the right information or resource. Brian will describe five key characteristics of a modern call center and suggest how to get started.
Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock
The software half of HP’s November 2015 split into two publicly traded businesses will spin off its enterprise services business in a tax-free merger with CSC that will create “a pure-play global IT services leader.” CEO Meg Whitman, who predicts industry consolidation, said on the earnings call related to corporate spinoffs, “We have this thing down to a science” in “unlocking the value of these two companies.”
Wellth, which rewards high-risk patients for taking their meds or testing their glucose correctly, raises $2 million in a seed round.
IMS Health acquires Privacy Analytics, which offers data de-identification tools.
Zebra Medical Vision, which sells a medical imaging analytics engine that supports diagnosis, raises $12 million in a round led by Intermountain Healthcare, increasing its total to $20 million.
Shore Medical Center (NJ) chooses Phynd to manage the information of its 5,000 providers within Cerner and other systems.
WEDI gives interim CEO Charles Stellar (AHIP) the permanent position.
Paul Tang, MD (Palo Alto Medical Foundation) joins IBM Watson Health as VP/chief health transformation officer.
Government and Politics
ONC publishes a list of health IT products and vendors that have not complied with its certification program.
The FDA will collaborate with Flatiron Health to explore how the de-identified treatment data of patients who aren’t enrolled in clinical trials could be used to investigate the safety and effectiveness of immunotherapy.
Health insurers stung by Affordable Care Act losses follow through on warnings of premium increases as a sicker-than-expected insured pool drives up their costs. The highest increase requested so far is in Western Pennsylvania, where Highmark wants to hike premiums by 38 percent. The administration continues to downplay the high premium costs, saying that most people will get federal premium subsidies.
A House committee wants the Justice Department and the state attorney general to investigate former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber and CMS for the botched rollout of the Cover Oregon insurance exchange, which spent $305 million in federal money and never enrolled a single person before shutting it down and moving to Healthcare.gov at no cost.
CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt — about whom I’ll editorialize is the most transparent, visionary, patient-focused executive in federal healthcare (I’m even placing him ahead of Karen DeSalvo because he gave up a huge income to work for CMS and he took a thankless job) — speaks to the Massachusetts Medical Society:
[User-driven policy] is actually not that radical a concept in the real world. In the real world it might be called “talking to your customers about what they want.” Perhaps in Washington, though, it is a bit of a new concept … Interoperability in some respects needs to just be as simple as this: how can we collaborate for the best outcomes when a patient is going to experience different parts of our fragmented healthcare system? What we want out of interoperability is simple: having a patient referred for other care and understanding what happens at that visit; or communicating with the physician when a patient is discharged from the hospital to make sure they are taken care of and are healing at home … We are not talking sending a man to the moon. We are actually expecting technology to do the things that it already does for us every day. So there must be other reasons why technology and information aren’t flowing in ways that match patient care. Partly, I believe some of the reasons are actually due to bad business practices. But, I think some of the technology will improve through the better use of standards and compliance. And I think we’ll make significant progress through the implementation of APIs in the next version of EHRs which will spur innovation by allowing for plug and play capability. But the reason that the pledge is important is because the private sector has to essentially change or evolve their business practices so that they don’t subvert this intent.
Privacy and Security
Apple posts a job opening for a HIPAA-focused privacy lawyer.
Innovation and Research
Cognitive science expert Roger Schank, PhD, says IBM Watson is “not doing ‘cognitive computing’ no matter how many times they say they are,” adding that “Watson can’t draw real conclusions by counting words in 800 million pages of text.” He concludes, “It would be nice if IBM would tone down the hype and let people know what Watson can actually do and stop making up nonsense about love fading and out thinking cancer. IBM is simply lying now and they need to stop. AI winter is coming soon.”
Citrix announces the HDX Ready Pi, a Raspberry Pi-powered thin client that will cost under $90 when it reaches the market in a few weeks. The device configures itself automatically when plugged into an available display; can be simply thrown into the recycle bin if it fails since its cost is negligible and there’s nothing to re-image; and it can be given to remote workers since it doesn’t store data.
A JAMIA-published study by consultants from Wolters Kluwer Health describes how Huntsville Hospital (AL) reduced sepsis-related deaths by 53 percent following implementation of a program that included change management, electronic surveillance, and sepsis detection algorithms.
Surveyed single ACOs spend an average of $2 million per year to participate, with $563,000 of that going toward health IT technology, population analytics, and reporting. More than half say they won’t stay in the Medicare Shared Savings Program if they don’t earn the 5 percent MACRA Advanced APM bonus.
A Federal Reserve Board survey finds that nearly half of Americans would struggle to pay an unexpected $400 expense, which might explain why people whose exchange-issued health insurance policies carry a $6,800 annual deductible before insurance starts paying anything aren’t necessarily going to actually seek care (or renew their policies for 2017).
In China, scalpers are tying up Beijing’s ATMs, which allow scheduling hospital appointments, to book hospital and doctor appointments that they then sell to buyers from $50 to $500.
- Iatric Systems, Intelligent Medical Objects, Leidos Health, MedData, and Obix Perinatal Data System will exhibit at the International MUSE 2016 conference May 31-June 2 in Orlando.
- InterSystems will exhibit at the E-health 2016 Conference June 5-8 in Vancouver.
- The National Business Review interviews Orion Health CEO Ian McCrae on NBR Radio.
- ZeOmega launches a consultant certification program for its Jiva population health management system.
- CloudWave, Experian Health, PatientSafe Solutions, Patient Keeper, Summit Healthcare, and T-System will exhibit at the International MUSE 2016 conference May 31-June 2 in Orlando.
- PatientMatters will exhibit at the Illinois Hospital Association Small & Rural Hospitals Annual Meeting June 8-9 in Springfield.
- Sagacious Consultants releases the May 2016 edition of its Sagacious Pulse newsletter.
- The SSI Group and Streamline Health will exhibit at the SC HFMA Annual Institute 2016 May 31-June 1 in Myrtle Beach.
- Four TransUnion Healthcare solutions receive “Peer Reviewed by HFMA” designations.
- Valence Health will exhibit at the HAP 2016 Leadership Summit June 6-7 in Harrisburg, PA.
- Wellsoft will exhibit at the NAFEC Annual Conference June 6-8 in Houston.
- Merger and Acquisition in Healthcare – a Solution to a Problem or Problem in Need of a Solution? (Impact Advisors)
- 3 Critical Steps to Become and Remain Relevant on the Web (Influence Health)
- Revolutionary Health IT: A View from Dubai (InterSystems)
- Most fear it, others embrace it … audits! (Hayes Management Consulting)
- Why Secure Text Messaging Is a Misnomer (Spok)
- Where’s the BMT data? My quest to find it. (Liaison Technologies)
- Why I Recommend Integrating Image Exchange with Your EHR (LifeImage)
- QRDA-1 for eCQM to QNet…it’s GREEK to me! (Iatric Systems)
- Bye bye MU – Hello MACRA (MedAptus)
- Tripling Scheduled Payments in Six Months (Navicure)
- Speech Recognition does much more than convert speech to text. (NVoq)
- MUSE 2016 – Sharing Stories (PatientSafe Solutions)
- Common PCI Compliance Mistakes When Processing Patient Payments (Patientco)
- Inaccurate Physician Data Causes Multiple Downstream Problems (Phynd Technologies)
- What’s with Account Managers Managing Accounts? (PMD)
- Aprima Earns Fundamental Building Block for Patient-Centered Medical Homes (Aprima)
- 5 Tips for Managing Employee Health (Verisk Health)
- Choosing the Right Real-time Locating System (Versus Technology)
- Caring for Patients by Investing in Technology (Voalte)
- HITRUST forms a Business Associate Council for Healthcare (West Corp.)
- Healthcare providers prioritize population health, but face challenges (Xerox)
- Keys to High-Performing Clinical Documentation Improvement Initiatives (ZirMed)
- The Alphabet Soup of Healthcare Reform (Zynx Health)