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Morning Headlines 8/2/16

August 1, 2016 Headlines No Comments

Theranos Founder Elizabeth Holmes Introduces New Blood-Testing Device

During a speech at the annual meeting of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry, Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes announces that her lab test startup has invented a new analyzer that uses small amounts of blood and performs more tests than the company’s Edison analyzer.

Struggling To Stabilize: 3Rs Litigation And The Future Of The ACA Exchanges

Health Affairs recaps the numerous lawsuits being brought against the federal government by insurers and co-ops struggling to maintain profitability on the ACA marketplaces.

Identification of 15 genetic loci associated with risk of major depression in individuals of European descent

Researchers using 23andMe’s genome database to look for genetic variants associated with major depressive disorder find 15 previously unknown mutations that correlated with an increased risk of depression.

CMS selects markets for new primary-care payment initiative

CMS will launch the Comprehensive Primary Care Plus program in 14 regions, including  Arkansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas City (MO) Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, North Hudson Valley (NY), Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee and parts of Ohio and Kentucky.

Morning Headlines 8/1/16

July 31, 2016 Headlines No Comments

Methods of Treatment and Diagnosis Using Enhanced Patient Physician Communication

Apple files a patent suggesting that it is interested in integrating telehealth technology into its mobile devices.

What Happens When Underperforming Big Ideas in Research Become Entrenched?

A JAMA editorial argues against funding “big idea” projects like the Precision Medicine Initiative without also developing mechanisms to sunset these projects if they underperform, and instead calling for funding to be used to launch more broad-based preventative public health efforts.

Commission Finds LabMD Liable for Unfair Data Security Practices

The FTC reverses an earlier decision to dismiss charges against LabMD for failing to maintain adequate data security practices.

Meditech Form 10-Q

Meditech reports Q2 results: total revenue climbed three percent to $120 million, EPS $0.44 vs. 0.46.

Morning Headlines 7/29/16

July 28, 2016 Headlines No Comments

Adverse inpatient outcomes during the transition to a new electronic health record system: observational study

A study published in BMJ following EHR implementations at 17 hospitals finds no increase in patient mortality, readmission rates, or adverse events.

McKesson Reports Fiscal 2017 First-Quarter Results

McKesson reports Q1 results: revenue grew five percent to $49.7 billion, adjusted EPS $3.50 vs. $3.14. While overall revenue was up, revenue generated within the Technology Solutions business fell two percent due to declining hospital software sales.

Hospital profits soar under ACA

The Oregon Health Authority releases a report concluding that the net income of the state’s hospitals climbed 58 percent in 2015, driven by expanded Medicare coverage that reduced charity care and bad debt by $342 million across the state.

An informatics research agenda to support precision medicine: seven key areas

Inspired by the Precision Medicine Initiative, JAMIA publishes a list of seven key areas health informaticists should focus their research.

Morning Headlines 7/28/16

July 27, 2016 Headlines No Comments

First Release of the Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating on Hospital Compare

Despite industry pushback on its methodology, CMS publishes its “Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating” on the Hospital Compare website.

Solutionary SERT Q2 Report: 88 Percent of All Ransomware Is Detected in Healthcare Industry

A cybersecurity report finds that 88 percent of reported Q2 ransomware attacks targeted the healthcare industry because the industry tends to pay ransoms to retrieve patient data quickly, and because hospitals rely on an abundance of systems, each of which represents a potential access point.

Huron Consulting moves to acquire IT consultant HSM

Chicago-based healthcare management consulting firm Huron Consulting will acquire health IT firm HSM Consulting for an undisclosed sum.

Declining Admission Rates And Thirty-Day Readmission Rates Positively Associated Even Though Patients Grew Sicker Over Time

A Health Affairs study finds that hospitals that are successful in reducing admissions may be penalized as their inpatient populations become sicker and therefore have higher readmission rates.

Morning Headlines 7/27/16

July 26, 2016 Headlines 12 Comments

HHS issues funding opportunities for Information Sharing and Analysis Organization for health and public health sector

ONC announces availability of a $250,000 grant for cyber threat information sharing services, authorized under the recently enacted Cyber Information Sharing Act. Karen DeSalvo, MD and national coordinator for health IT, explains that “Establishing robust threat information sharing infrastructure and capability within the Healthcare and Public Health Sector is crucial to the privacy and security of health information, which is foundational to the digital health system,”

Athenahealth Announces Industry’s First MIPS Guarantee

Athenahealth guarantees that its clients will meet MIPS national performance thresholds and avoid payment penalties, and promises to reimburse any MIPS penalties incurred.

Certified Health IT Vendors and Editions Reported by Hospitals Participating in the Medicare EHR Incentive Program

ONC publishes new MU hospital attestation numbers by vendor, showing that Cerner has the most attestations, followed by Meditech and Epic.

AMA, Omada Health, Intermountain Healthcare Partner to Reduce Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes

Omada Health partners with Intermountain Healthcare and AMA to begin

offering digital diabetes prevention programs designed to support the population health management efforts of large health systems across the country.

Covenant Health Selects Cerner’s Enterprise-Wide Clinical, Financial and Population Health IT System

Covenant Health (TN) will implement Cerner across its 9 acute-care hospitals and 100 ambulatory centers.

Morning Headlines 7/26/16

July 25, 2016 Headlines No Comments

Hospitals Largely Reported Addressing Requirements for EHR Contingency Plans

HHS OIG surveys 400 hospitals on EHR downtime procedures, finding that only two-thirds of respondents had a plan that included “having a data backup plan, having a disaster recovery plan, having an emergency-mode operations plan, and having testing and revision procedures.”

Humana dumps ACA plans as feds blast its Aetna deal

Humana announces plans to significantly reduce the number of health plans it offers on ACA exchanges starting in 2017, a decision that comes on the heels of a Justice Department effort to block the company’s proposed merger with Aetna.

HHS awards more than $36 million for health center adoption of health information technology

HHS will spend $36 million to fund 50 Health Center Controlled Networks in 41 states to continue supporting local health systems as they implement EHRs and improve interoperability capabilities.

CMS needs to halt the march to health care gigantism

Former National Coordinator Farzad Mostashari, MD publishes an op-ed in The Hill discussing the impact consolidation in the healthcare industry is having on the cost of care, noting that MACRA’s proposed rule will “further neglect the power of physician independence and create strong incentives for further consolidation in health care.”

Morning Headlines 7/25/16

July 25, 2016 Headlines No Comments

Multiple alleged HIPAA violations result in $2.75 million settlement with the University of Mississippi Medical Center

The University of Mississippi Medical Center (MS) will pay a $2.75 million settlement stemming from a 2013 data breach that compromised the medical records of 10,000 individuals. Investigators concluded that the organization was aware of its security vulnerabilities as early as 2005, but took no steps to address the problems. 

Three Individuals Charged in $1 Billion Medicare Fraud and Money Laundering Scheme

A Florida man has been charged in the largest Medicare fraud case in US history after billing for more than $1 billion in medically unnecessary care through the 30 skilled nursing and assisted living facilities he owned. 

Athenahealth, Inc. Q2 Profit Advances 9 percent

Athenahealth reports Q2 results: revenue climbed 16 percent to $261 million, EPS $0.34 vs. $0.32. 

Health minister orders review of IHealth records system

In Canada, British Columbia Health Minister Terry Lake orders a third-party review of Island Health’s $174 million Cerner implementation after doctors at pilot sites began voicing patient safety concerns.

Morning Headlines 7/22/16

July 21, 2016 Headlines No Comments

The Secret Documents That Detail How Patients’ Privacy is Breached

ProPublica publishes 300 previously undisclosed warning letters that OCR sent to healthcare organizations found to be in violation if HIPAA in an effort to help the public “review details of these cases and track repeat offenders.”

Star Spangled Geeks

Backchannel profiles some early successes coming out of the US Digital Service, a group of Silicon Valley heavyweights recruited to help the government improve its technical infrastructure.

$42 Billion Saved in Medicare and Medicaid Primarily Through Prevention

A CMS blog describes how each dollar invested in Medicare fraud prevention programs returned $12.40 for taxpayers, resulting in a $42 billion savings over the past two years.

Chinese scientists to pioneer first human CRISPR trial

Next month, a team of researchers from China’s Sichuan University will begin administering a new treatment comprised of human cells modified using CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing techniques to lung cancer patients that have not responded to conventional treatment.

Morning Headlines 7/21/16

July 20, 2016 Headlines No Comments

Tackling Workers’ Mental Health, One Text at a Time

The Wall Street Journal notes the rise in companies offering their employees smartphone apps that allow them to find and receive mental health treatment, but also quotes those concerned about the potential privacy implications.

Failed merger doesn’t stop South Shore Hospital’s planned expansion

South Shore Hospital (MA), whose planned merger with Partners HealthCare failed last year after anti-trust objections, seeks $220 million in donations to cover $60 million in new construction costs and $160 million to implement Epic.

Philips to Expand Its Population Health Management Business with the Acquisition of Wellcentive

Royal Philips acquires population health management software vendor Wellcentive for undisclosed terms.

A Socio-technical Approach to Preventing, Mitigating, and Recovering from Ransomware Attacks

A new paper emphasizes user-focused strategies such as simulation and training.

Morning Headlines 7/19/16

July 18, 2016 Headlines No Comments

AMIA Sees Value, Complexity in Using EHRs for Clinical Investigations

The American Medical Informatics Association applauds the FDA’s interest in mining EHR data to advance clinical investigations, but warns “we strongly caution the FDA from assuming EHRs are readily configurable for clinical investigations, even among more advanced institutions.”

How ‘digitizing you and me’ could revolutionize medicine. At least in theory

In an interview with STAT, Eric Topol, MD discusses the administration’s Precision Medicine Initiative and the role he will play leading a $120 million project at Scripps Research Institute focused on recruiting, collecting, and analyzing health data from 350,000 volunteers.

An Insurer’s Care Transition Program Emphasizes Medication Reconciliation, Reduces Readmissions And Costs

A Health Affairs study finds that a CVS Health-run care transition team offering medication reconciliation support to discharged patients reduced relative risk of readmission within 30 days of discharge by 50 percent, saving two dollars for every one dollar spent on the program.

Providence notifies 5,400 Oregon patients of records breach

Providence Health & Services (OR) notifies 5,400 patients that a former employee inappropriately accessed their medical records between 2012 and 2016. The employee has been fired, and the health system is reiterating that the employee used or shared the information.

Morning Headlines 7/18/16

July 17, 2016 Headlines No Comments

HL7 firm hack compromised clients’ EHR records: The Dark Overlord

Hacker The Dark Overlord claims to have breached the servers of healthcare IT vendor PilotFish Technology and is selling access to the company’s database for $500,000.

Children’s hospital using ‘Pokemon Go’ to get patients out of bed

C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital (MI) is using Pokemon Go as a tool to get sick patients out of their rooms and interacting with staff members and other patients.

Jeremy Hunt remains as Health Secretary after earlier reports he’d been sacked

NHS Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is reappointed to his position by incoming Prime Minister Theresa May.

Fancy amenities woo patients while insurers cry foul

Aetna sues 175-bed North Cypress Medical Center (TX) claiming the physician-owned hospital accepts no forms of insurance and instead charges all payers out-of-network rates while discounting the patient responsibility portion of the bill to in-network prices. A judge ultimately denied Aetna’s demand for $225 million in refunds.

Morning Headlines 7/15/16

July 14, 2016 Headlines 1 Comment

Hearing to Review the VA Electronic Health Record Network

Testifying before the Senate’s Committee on Appropriations, VA executives field pointed questions about the lack of interoperability between the VA and DoD, and confirm speculation that the agency will likely move to a commercial EHR system.

Health IT & Health Information Services: 2016 Mid-Year Market Review

Healthcare Growth Partners publishes its 2016 Mid-Year Market Review, a dense and informative report on M&A activity in the health IT marketplace.

Obamacare, the secret jobs program

Politico reports that the ACA was intentionally written to save healthcare jobs during the recession rather than reduce healthcare costs. While healthcare advisors lobbied for language aimed at improving care delivery efficiencies to reduce costs, more influential advisors from the job creation team successfully argued that during the recession the country needed “more middle-class jobs and the best place to create them was in health care.”

Thune Leads Senate REBOOT Members in Introducing Legislation to Improve Meaningful Use Program

Six republican senators introduce a bill that would limit the Meaningful Use reporting periods to 90-days, expand availability of hardship exemptions, and eliminate the “all-or-nothing” structure of the attestation process by allowing hospitals to satisfy MU requirements as long as they attest to 70 percent of the required metrics.

2016 Survey of US Physicians: Physician awareness, perspectives, and readiness for MACRA

A Deloitte survey measuring MACRA awareness among US physicians finds that 50 percent of non-pediatric physicians have never heard of MACRA, and 79 percent do not support tying compensation to quality.

Morning Headlines 7/14/16

July 13, 2016 Headlines No Comments

Imprivata Agrees to Be Acquired by Thoma Bravo

Private equity firm Thoma Bravo acquires Imprivata for $544 million, a 33 percent premium over the company’s closing stock price Tuesday.

Evolent Health to Acquire Valence Health, Extending Breadth and Depth of Value-Based Care Offering

Evolent Health will acquire Valence Health for $145 million in cash and stock.

CMS Opens Door to Possible Delay of MACRA Implementation

During testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt says that he is open to postponing the implementation of MACRA to ensure that providers have enough time to prepare.

Healthcare spending growth rate rises again in 2015

Healthcare spending climbed 5.5 percent in 2015 to $3.2 trillion, an increase over last year’s 5.3 percent growth and on par with economist projections.

Morning Headlines 7/13/16

July 12, 2016 Headlines 1 Comment

Fact Sheet: Ransomware and HIPAA

HHS issues ransomware guidance, clarifying that successful attacks do constitute a reportable HIPAA breach.

United States Health Care Reform Progress to Date and Next Steps

President Obama publishes a data-based JAMA article outlining the impact ACA has had thus far and calling for continued reform efforts to curb costs and improve outcomes.

Dutch hospital’s appeal: No more Pokemon hunting!

The Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam issued a plea to Pokemon Go players to please stop hunting for the characters within the hospital, a spokesman for the hospital explains “Since yesterday we’ve noticed young people walking around the building with mobile phones into places they’re not supposed to be.”

Quebecers Ahead of Rest of Canada in Use of Digital Health Technology; Still Craving More Solutions

In Quebec, a survey finds that 85 percent of the local population believes that digital health technology will lead to better care, but just 21 percent actually use any digital health solutions.

Morning Headlines 7/12/16

July 11, 2016 Headlines No Comments

Impact of computerized provider order entry (CPOE) on length of stay and mortality

A JAMIA study finds a statistically significant correlation between the use of CPOE and a reduction in length of stay and mortality rates.

Under Fire, Theranos CEO Stifled Bad News

The Wall Street Journal reports that Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes had planned to present clinical data validating the company’s technology during her upcoming presentation at the American Association for Clinical Chemistry’s annual meeting, but because the necessary studies were not completed in time, she will present a slide deck recapping the company’s 13 year history.

Congress Shouldn’t Pass The 21st Century Cures Act In A Summer Rush

A Health Affairs article calls for the Senate to delay a vote on the 21st Century Cures Act until after its extended election-year summer recess.

The American Heart Association Announces Strategic Collaboration with Amazon Web Services to Advance Precision Cardiovascular Medicine with AWS Cloud

The American Heart Association’s Institute for Precision Cardiovascular Medicine partners with Amazon Web Services to provide cardiovascular researchers with a cloud-based infrastructure to store and share data.

Morning Headlines 7/11/16

July 10, 2016 Headlines 1 Comment

Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos Is Barred From Running Lab for 2 Years

CMS issues an unprecedented suspension barring Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes from owning or operating a medical laboratory for two years.

Two-year longitudinal assessment of physicians’ perceptions after replacement of a longstanding homegrown electronic health record.

A two-year study monitoring physician satisfaction during and after an Epic implementation finds that satisfaction levels never returned to pre-implementation levels, refuting the notion that a J-curve exists in which satisfaction levels initially dip but then climb above pre-implementation levels as providers get used to the new system.

HHS raises interim IT leader to permanent CIO

HHS promotes Beth Anne Killoran from acting to permanent CIO.

Surprise Medical Bills Fuel Fight Between Providers, Insurers

The Wall Street Journal covers the increase in surprise medical costs incurred by patients inadvertently getting care from an out-of-network provider while at an in-network hospital.

Morning Headlines 7/8/16

July 7, 2016 Headlines No Comments

NHS to scrap single database of patients’ medical details

The NHS closes down its care.data initiative, a government attempt to store patient medical information in a single database.

The Number Of Health Information Exchange Efforts Is Declining, Leaving The Viability Of Broad Clinical Data Exchange Uncertain

A Health Affairs study finds that the number of health information exchanges operating has dropped from 119 to 106 as federal funding runs out, despite demand for interoperability solutions.

An Alternative Proposal for Certification

John Halamka, MD argues for simplified health IT regulations that would focus entirely on expanding FHIR- based data exchange.

Announcement of Requirements and Registration for “Blockchain and Its Emerging Role in Healthcare and Health-related Research”

ONC announces a contest soliciting ideas for how blockchain data structures might be used in healthcare.

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Reader Comments

  • Paul Kennedy: Great article, Dr Butler. You have always looked differently at the challenges of what we do in implementation of EHRs....
  • Mr. HIStalk: Ain't no U-Haul attached to the hearse. I'm the cheapest person I know and I'd still pay whatever I could muster (loan i...
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