OCR announces that it will extend its regional office investigations to breaches that involve the information of fewer than 500 people. It previously reviewed those small breaches only as resources allowed. Regional offices will pay extra attention to even small-scale incidents if they involve data theft, hacking of IT systems, or repeated breaches of a given covered entity or business associate.
From Pondering CIO: “Re: Epic. We recently selected them and are pursing Epic hosting. I have been quite amazed at the terms they require! (not that I wasn’t surprised at the software terms.) This is a big issue for us. Do you have feedback from other new hosting customers? Thanks for any input you can offer!” Readers with Epic hosting experience are welcome to respond – I will forward your comments to Pondering CIO.
From Fire Jose: “Re: KLAS. Many hospital CIOs (like me) and vendors alike call it the KLAS Tax. Vendors had to pay it or risk being left off of hospital CIO vendor short lists. Then vendors called me and prompted me with incentives to rate them with high KLAS scores, which I usually did for some enhancement. Widely accepted: KLAS was the industry kingmaker of the vendors with the deepest pockets. Also, buying the Best in KLAS vendor product was the equivalent of buying IBM since as the hospital CIO, I wouldn’t get fired for selecting it even when system implementation went bad and over budget. BUT FOR THE BETTER health IT rating transparency has shifted, with clearer methodologies in the last 3-4 years. We witnessed over and over that CIO/CFO peer satisfaction commentaries are not the best indicators of IT success, especially in complex hospital systems replacing EHRs. Organizational satisfaction among all departments must be considered carefully, not just my peer CIO input on a scale of 1-10 on how I felt that particular day about a vendor. Black Book mostly but also Peer60 and Chilmark are gaining great popularity over KLAS because they offer fresh, broader user perspectives. These competitors all have flaws, don’t get me wrong. But now we see rating firms that are stepping up to the evolving needs of healthcare buyers in 2016 and not the marketing needs of vendors.”
HIStalk Announcements and Requests
An unusually large number of poll respondents weighed in on the question of whether we should all care what vendors like Epic and Cerner spend on their campuses, with nearly two-thirds saying their reaction is negative because it’s mostly non-profit hospitals footing the bill. Some comments from respondents:
- The glitzy Epic campus really doesn’t do much for employees. After the first six weeks, all I ever saw was the inside of airplanes and conference rooms. I question whether I even needed a dedicated office since I was somewhere else more than I was there. The money spent on buildings (especially single-use auditoriums) could have been spent on development or hiring more staff to serve customers.
- We’re competing for talent. Firms like Cerner, Epic, and Athena that exclusively serve healthcare need to make the work environment attractive like other innovative tech companies.
- I have seen some very elegant hospitals with the sole intent to be visually appealing to their patients.
- Have you guys even seen Cerner’s campuses? They are nowhere near as over-the-top as Epic’s. No-nonsense cubicle farms and data centers surrounded by seas of asphalt. Several look like something that came out of “Office Space,” not a Dr. Seuss book.
- After a trip to Madison for 1.5 days of training to get "certified" (a four-hour class when it’s all boiled down without breaks and YouTube vids) paid for by my safety-net hospital, all I could think was, I wonder why healthcare costs are rising? As an employed or contracted worker in more than a dozen hospitals, I’ve worked in basements with rodents, dripping water, leaking sewers, fleas, bathrooms from the 1950s, and bad HVAC, but never in palatial quarters like Epic.
New poll to your right or here: should hospitals be required to charge cash-paying patients the lowest prices they accept from any insurer?
Peer60 polled C-level health system IT executives (mostly CIOs and CMIOs) this month to determine the reach, influence, and usefulness of the six major health IT news publications and sites. The five-question poll found that HIStalk is:
- #1 most read
- #1 most influential
- #1 in generating interest about companies
- #1 in providing information most useful for job performance
- #1 most recommended by executives to others
I’m most proud of the results from the “personal job performance” question above, of course, since it’s just me vs. those corporate-run sites that have a bunch of employees. Thanks to those who responded and to everybody who reads. You might wonder why the graph above shows only five publications instead of the six surveyed – surprisingly, one fairly visible site didn’t even register with the executive respondents.
I’ll acknowledge the poll results by starting my annual “new sponsor special” early. It’s like a once-per-year Pledge Week for healthcare IT vendors who want to support what I do and who don’t put it off until right before HIMSS when I’m super busy. Contact Lorre, who will also have HIStalkapalooza information soon.
We funded the DonorsChoose grant request of Ms. B in Maryland, whose kindergartners needed an iPad Mini for literacy work (her low-income area school has a large number of refugees and English as a Second Language students). She reports that they have only two pieces of technology in the classroom and they’re using the iPad for letter identification, rhyming, and math exercises, even pairing up during playtime so they can keep working. She concludes, “Thank you so much for helping move our classroom forward by providing this engaging learning tool. It not only teaches them academic concepts and skills, but allows them to become more comfortable with the technology that the whole world now relies on. We thank you for adding this piece to our routine and our day.”
Last Week’s Most Interesting News
- The FTC resolves its patient privacy complaint against Practice Fusion by imposing oversight and requirements for its posting of patient doctor reviews to its Patient Fusion review site.
- A security firm notes a rapid rise in infections by more sophisticated versions of the Locky ransomware, with US healthcare organizations being the hardest hit.
- An op-ed piece in JAMA says EHRs haven’t kept up with the technologies used in other industries, offering specific recommendations of how they could improve.
- Leidos closes its merger with Lockheed Martin’s Information Systems & Global Solutions business.
- Bon Secours Health System (VA) notifies 665,000 patients that a revenue cycle contractor’s mistake exposed their information to anyone performing an Internet search.
- Patient advocate and Aetna director of innovation labs Jess Jacobs dies.
August 24 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “Surviving the OCR Cybersecurity & Privacy Pre-Audit: Are You Truly Prepared?” Sponsored by HIStalk. Presenter: John Gomez, CEO, Sensato. Many healthcare organizations are not prepared for an OCR pre-audit of their privacy and security policies. This webinar will provide a roadmap, tools, and tactics that will help balance policies and budgets in adopting an OCR-friendly strategy that will allow passing with flying colors.
Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock
Cisco will lay off 5,500 employees.
The federal government awards Agfa HealthCare a 10-year, $768 million contract for diagnostic imaging, extending its DINS-PACS win streak to four.
Harris acquires Nashville-based DigiChart, which offers EHR/PM for OB/GYN practices. It’s a bit confusing since DigiChart changed its name to Artemis in 2013 after years of news that mostly involved layoffs and refocusing, but the former Artemis website now brings up a Windows IIS welcome page that suggests that the rebranding was meekly acknowledged as another strategic misstep (although the DigiChart page is still titled “Artemis | DigiChart”). Canada-based Harris’s stable of faded US health IT stars includes Picis, QuadraMed, NextGen’s hospital EHR business, and OptumInsight’s CareTracker.
SAP names Thomas Laur (Sutherland Healthcare Solutions) as president of its recently created Connected Health group.
D. A. Henderson, MD, MPH, an epidemiologist who led the 10-year effort to eradicate smallpox and afterward served as dean of what is now the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, died Friday. He was 87.
Announcements and Implementations
A Peer60 report on the impact of the Brexit vote finds that a strong majority of hospital leaders believe it will be negative for healthcare, especially in terms of staffing. They don’t buy the pitch that Brexit will free up government funds that will be redirected to NHS as “leave” proponents claimed. Nearly half of respondents expect IT spending to be cut, with more than half of respondents expecting to upgrade their Allscripts, Meditech, SystemC, Orion, and Graphnet CareCentrix EPR systems less frequently, while only CSC and CaMIS were the only PAS systems named by more than 50 percent of respondents as being less likely to be upgraded.
Privacy and Security
- The Outer Banks Hospital (NC) announces that two unencrypted thumb drives containing the information of an unspecified number patients treated over 12 years at a recently acquired cardiopulmonary rebab practice are missing.
I’ve read several theories about the recent proliferation of ransomware and here’s mine. Bitcoin became more popular and easier to buy, giving hackers a way to collect their extortion funds anonymously and quickly (you can’t charge extortion to a credit card). I’ve heard unverified reports that hospitals are proactively opening bitcoin accounts or identifying local bitcoin-dispensing ATMs just in case they get hit with ransomware.
A Dallas paper visits for-profit Texas General Hospital — which charges more than 10 times the Medicare payment rate and accepts no commercial insurance — and finds it nearly empty, with no patients and almost no staff. The four-year-old hospital accepts Medicare and Medicaid, but makes most of its profit billing out-of-network insurance companies for patient services and hoping they pay. The article describes a patient whose doctor said his foot surgery would cost $5,200 but who didn’t warn him that Texas General Hospital is out of network for his insurance, leaving him with a “please pay this amount” bill of $332,000. Pakistan-born surgeon Hasan Hashmi, MD opened the hospital with his son, spending $85 million in claiming that his goal is to provide care to the underserved.
This graph is making the social media rounds, showing just how much the US spends on health vs. the fact that we trail other developed nations in life expectancy. My thoughts:
- We are the only country in which healthcare is a free-wheeling, mostly for-profit business that costs more here than anywhere. We pay more for drugs than any other country and use more of them besides.
- Lobbyists don’t stroke politicians to earn support for public health. There’s no money in prevention.
- I would bet that a lot of our reduced lifespan comes from economic disparity, lack of access to prenatal care, violence, and an economy and generous government assistance that support life-shortening behaviors such as smoking, overeating, lack of exercise, and drug use.
- The cost figure is probably increased by heroic, expensive interventions that extend life at poor quality and require a lifetime of special care. It’s expensive to add years of life spent on a ventilator or with around-the-clock medical care provided by for-profit business.
- We’ve entrusted much of our health outcomes to hospitals, which have performed poorly yet expensively in prolonging life other than for emergency care and surgical intervention.
- We have developed a culture in which our medical expenses are someone else’s problem, our care is delivered mostly by businesses rather than family, and we pay piecework for endless tests, prescriptions, and surgeries in hopes of a quick fix that is easier than a lifestyle change.
- Like all graphs that fail to show the zero value of the Y-axis in order to exaggerate their message, the difference isn’t as dramatic as it appears. US life expectancy is 79 years vs. the top value of just over 83.
- The graph begs the question of whether we should spend less or expect more, and if it’s the latter, who should be held responsible?
Here’s Part 3 of “Rating the Ratings” from Vince and Elise, this time covering Black Book and Peer60.
Weird News Andy is nuts about a story he titles “Entertaining Mammal Salvation.” A Connecticut EMS crew extracts a squirrel whose head had become stuck in a plastic cup, freeing up their new bro-dent pal for other endeavors.
- GetWellNetwork sponsors the Day at the Beach for Special Surfers that benefits challenged athletes in San Diego County, CA.
- AdvancedMD opens registration for its annual conference EVO16, to be held October 11-12 in Salt Lake City, UT.
- Vital Images will exhibit at HIMSS Asia-Pac August 23-26 in Bangkok.
- Amazing Client Success Stories at #TeleCon16 (TeleTracking)
- Planning Ahead: Tactics for Success in Commercial Risk Adjustment (Verisk Health)
- VitalWare Employees from Across the Country Come Together to Give Back (Verisk Health)
- 5 Strategies of Successful Retail Pharmacy Chains (West Corp.)