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MACRA’s Marketing Problem

September 12, 2016 News No Comments

HIStalk digs into why provider awareness of MACRA is lacking and the likely impact it will have on their ability to stay in business.
By
@JennHIStalk

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The Medicare Access & CHIP Reauthorization Act has seen its fair share of headlines since it was introduced just before HIMSS15. MACRA’s implications for patients and providers contributed to a lot of the show-floor buzz in Chicago that year, while conversations around its potential for payment reform heated up even more in Las Vegas at HIMSS16. The release of a 962-page proposed MACRA rule in April provided fodder for industry media outlets, and last week’s release of four “pick your pace” options ahead of a final rule have no doubt eased the anxiety of many physicians fretting over the January 1, 2017 start date.

In short, it seems that MACRA has spent more than its fair share of time in the spotlight, leading many in the industry to assume that providers have been keeping up with its developments.

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The results of a Deloitte survey of physicians on MACRA awareness and preparedness (conducted before the proposed rule was released) tell a very different story. Of the 600 primary care and specialty physicians surveyed, 50 percent admitted to having never heard of the legislation, while 32 percent knew it only by name. Independent physicians were more aware of it than employed MDs, though not by terribly much at 21 versus 9 percent.

Where does this unawareness stem from? Have providers become so accustomed to regulatory delays that they no longer pay attention until implementation is just weeks away? Has CMS, for lack of a better phrase, shot itself in the foot when it comes to introducing legislation that providers automatically assume is too cumbersome to digest and apt to be postponed numerous times?

Providers who have attempted to keep the lights on through Meaningful Use, ICD-10, and now MACRA surely can’t be blamed for not keeping up with the latest reforms issued from on high. Or can they?

Too Busy to Take Notice

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“It’s not only physicians who have a lack of awareness,” explains Mitch Morris, MD, vice chair and a US global sector leader at Deloitte. “It really snuck up on the industry in general. Even now when we go in and do a briefing in the executive offices of a health system or payer, they say, ‘Wow, I didn’t realize all of that was in MACRA.’ It’s not very well understood. Unlike in the ACA, which had lots of publicity and everyone was dissecting it from Day 1, MACRA was thoroughly bipartisan and didn’t get a lot of [mainstream] publicity. The medical trade associations, the usual source of news for providers, just haven’t really been pushing this. On the surface, it sounds like a boring topic, but as you peel away the layers, you realize it’s going to be very impactful.”

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AMA Immediate Past President and emergency department medical director Steven Stack, MD says Deloitte’s findings line up with the association’s own from its physician focus groups. “I think the upcoming changes are difficult for many to absorb while they are fully engaged in the day-to-day work of their practices,” he says. “And, keep in mind that when the legislation was enacted in April 2015, physicians were told the new system would not be implemented until 2019. They had good reason to believe there was no hurry for them to get up to speed.”

“Finally, it is simply not possible for the AMA or anyone else to begin broadly disseminating detailed educational material until the final regulation is issued,” Stack says. “We have been developing resources intended to help physicians get ready, but really all they want to know is what the rules are. We just don’t have all the information yet.”

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Physicians working in the trenches of day-to-day care echo Stack’s observations. “I think most physicians would agree that the best use of their time and skill would be to simply treat patients and stop worrying about the endless administrative tasks of medical practice,” says Scott Mayer, MD, director of quality control at Today Clinic (OK). “Time to practice the art of medicine sounds so nice, but the reality is that being a physician these days requires so much time be spent outside of patient care that it has become increasingly difficult to keep up with so many changes in healthcare.”

“Patients need treatment now,” he emphasizes, “so unless a policy takes effect immediately, a lot of physicians don’t want to deal with it until it is absolutely necessary. I also suspect that many these days here the word ‘change’ and snort in disdain at the thought of something else that will further complicate their ability to practice medicine.”

University Physicians Group (NY) Medical Director and Aprima Chief Medical Officer Jeffrey Hyman, MD adds that lack of MACRA awareness on the part of employed physicians may stem more from the fact that once a physician is employed, the ‘business’ of running a practice becomes akin to background noise, outranked by patient care. “As an independent,” he adds, “you still have to worry about every issue of the practice of medicine to be successful and so attention is paid to every last detail.”

Today’s Diversions Trump Tomorrow’s Regulations

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The details diverting the attention of physicians away from MACRA preparation are numerous and probably well known to HIStalk readers. “For physicians in private practice,” says Mayer, “a considerable amount of attention, resources, and stress are focused on just getting paid for the services they provide. Decreasing reimbursement rates, more regulations, more paperwork, and the increasing costs of maintaining a profitable medical practice are sure to distract a lot of us. We are wondering what the future of medicine looks like while doing our best to provide quality care now, find joy in our work, and avoid burnout.”

Hyman puts burnout at the top of his diversion list, too. “It’s a big deal these days,” he emphasizes, “and non-physicians have difficulty with this concept. Treating patients takes a great deal of concentration on details of their histories and physical findings, ordering lab and radiology tests, and then putting all these facts together and coming up with a successful treatment plan. Also, the need to think about formularies, getting pre-authorizations, and dealing with call-backs, admissions, and labs coming in … and don’t forget the EHR and all of its messages coming in at a furious pace. It takes a great deal of attention and MACRA, when read, sounds like a future issue. It just seems distant.”

Hyman’s observations on EHR-related physician burnout, while nothing new, seem to continually be backed up by studies large and small. A prime example is an AMA-sponsored time and motion study released last week that found ambulatory practice physicians spend almost twice as much time working on the EHR or performing other desk tasks as seeing patients. Observed MDs spent only 27 percent of their available time in face-to-face interactions with patients.

The results aren’t surprising to Morris, who notes that for the third year in a row of Deloitte’s research, three out of four physicians will answer that EHRs take too much of their time and cost too much money. “As an industry, we still have a long way to go so that they feel they add value. We’re not where we should be with the vision of EHRs.”

Morris is quick to add that no matter their employed or independent status, the time and attention of physicians are increasingly spent dealing with tremendous reimbursement pressures. “There’s a lot of pressure to move from volume to value-based payment systems,” he explains, “where part of their income is placed at risk. That pressure has many physicians very, very anxious and, to some degree, angry. They’re not always sure who to be angry with, but they’re not happy about the situation that they’re in. Even though the economy has recovered and there’s more discretionary spending, there’s still a lot of screws being turned down on physician incomes.”

Passing the Buck

Morris brings up a good point with regard to the slow boil of physician’s anger at being put in a position that leaves them little time with patients and even less to deal with impending regulations like MACRA. It could be argued that numerous entities should be on the receiving end of that emotion – CMS, payers, trade groups, and vendors – even patients and physicians. Fingers will likely start pointing to these same groups once MACRA hits, no matter the chosen start date, and physicians realize they’re out of time and unprepared.

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“The industry has the obligation to educate and provide reasonable technology, tools, processes, and training to physicians to assist in the change management of MACRA,” says Kareo CMIO Tom Giannulli, MD, MS. “Those entities that contract with physicians should be very clear as to how their contracts will change. This includes CMS, which unfortunately does not communicate as well with physicians as they could, and based on their historical record, their deadlines are generally not respected. I would like to see them set up a website and online education program that requires each MACRA-participating physician to sign in and complete a half-day course on tech, tools, process, and regulation in order to continue their Medicare billing at full rate. There are a lot of other groups that have and can share a viewpoint, but those they contract with are the right source of information.”

Stack also feels that, while everyone has a role to play, CMS needs to reach out to provide simple tools and procedures to help physicians succeed. “They must strengthen their help lines and educate their staff so they can provide accurate information,” he adds. “CMS should also conduct train-the-trainer sessions and provide much more support to specialty societies to help them answer questions of particular interest to their members. Organizations like the AMA, state medical societies, and national physician groups can be very helpful by tailoring complex material more to the needs of their own members. Specialties, for example, can highlight quality reporting and CPIA activities that are most relevant to their audience, and so greatly simplify the learning process.”

“Employed physicians will likely be spared some of the specific tasks,” he adds, “and the need to be mindful of all the reporting deadlines, but there’s no doubt they will still encounter workflow and documentation issues.”

Hyman looks for MACRA guidance from Northwell’s dedicated group of staff already dealing with these issues and, as one would expect, UPG’s EHR vendor. “Aprima is also coding a great deal of information into their program to assist their doctors in getting this done successfully,” he adds.

Getting Started (but Preparing for Delay)

Hyman and his colleagues have been preparing for MACRA since it was first announced in 2015. “Our group of analysts, the Incentive Team , has begun the teaching process,” he says, “and we will interface between our physicians and the rules so it gets done in the most efficient way for our doctors. We will be ready with our team approach and help from our vendor, but understand that there most likely will be a delay as there was with ICD-10, Meaningful Use, and PQRS.”

Today Clinic staff, on the other hand, are just beginning their MACRA prep. “Our plan is to continue with our quarterly provider and staff meetings where we focus on things like MACRA,” Mayer explains, adding that he too wouldn’t be surprised if the start date was pushed back.

“Honestly, I don’t know how any practice can be prepared by January 1,” Stack says. “That is why the AMA and many others are recommending that the first reporting begin no earlier than July 1. Even compiling truly useful and accurate educational material by January is a heavy lift since we don’t expect to see a final rule until sometime in October and perhaps even as late as November 1. There is nothing in the MACRA statute that sets the start date for reporting, nor is there anything in the statute mandating that the reporting period be set at a full year, so CMS should have flexibility to begin at a later date.”

No matter the start date, Stack believes that, to get off on the right MACRA foot, physicians should first assess how they are performing under current programs since the new MIPS program will be based on those. “They also should begin exploring what qualified clinical data registries are available to them,” he adds, “since this is a new reporting vehicle that could simplify processes for them as well as yield more clinically useful feedback data.”

Morris has similar suggestions, but admits that, “You’d be hard-pressed to get everything in place by January 1 unless your organization already had a lot of this stuff in place and was just tweaking around the edges. I think the analytics capabilities and understanding your costs are difficult things. Even large health systems, which spend a lot of money on those things, struggle. Measuring my quality, having the data necessary to do that, and having the information necessary to understand my costs … I would include all of those as the biggest challenges to getting started with MACRA.”

Gauging the Likelihood of MACRA Success

MACRA’s marketing problem will eventually be a thing of the past. Delayed by choice or not, the program will be here sooner rather than later and physicians will have to make up their minds as to whether participation will be done with enthusiasm, trepidation, or opted out of altogether. MACRA will soon make clear just how painful a process it is for healthcare to move from fee-for-service programs to value-based payment systems.

“Money always talks,” says Mayer, “but to be honest, I am disappointed when the focus of policy changes or the support of policy changes is dependent on the money that will be generated, saved, or lost as a result. While it is very important to consider these things carefully, I worry that we don’t consider as thoroughly the impact such changes have on patients. Despite the intention of programs like MACRA to improve the quality of patient care, it may be hard to convince physicians to participate more for that reason than to avoid fines, decreased reimbursements, or for a promised bonus. Education, support, and follow-ups will be vital, which I think CMS is good at. What I hope to avoid is the need for more support staff to understand, implement, and maintain MACRA.”

Morris puts the move to value, which one could argue started long before MACRA was introduced, in perspective: “These are baby steps. The ACA was a step. Some of the initiatives after were steps. MACRA is another step. In many ways, this is the biggest step we’ve taken so far. I think the devil will be in the details of how well it’s executed. It’s one of those things that looks good on paper. Let’s see how it really works out.”


More on MACRA: Apples, Oranges, and Start-Date Changes

Most industry insiders familiar with MACRA seemed confident that the program’s start date will be delayed. Even CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt hinted at that likelihood, and has since taken steps to ease the pain of participation with start-date options. The industry’s confidence in a delay is easy to understand, given that federal regulatory delays seem to have become the norm rather than the exception. Who can forget the beleaguered roll out of ICD-10? The anticipation of a MACRA delay lends itself to a comparative look at ICD-10.

“They’re definitely in the fruit category together,” says Mitch Morris, when asked if comparing the two is akin to looking at apples or oranges. “ICD-10 was a big change that was, for the most part, not welcome and being driven by the government. That’s definitely something they have in common. As you know, ICD-10 got delayed a couple of times before it was finally implemented, but it did really require some significant changes in office practice. If done well, it shouldn’t have had a negative impact on practice income.”

Morris adds, “With MACRA, also pushed by the government, there’s no formal sign of a delay, but as we learned from ICD-10, that can change with pressure applied to the appropriate places. MACRA has the potential to really change a physician’s income up or down, particularly those in independent practice, and particularly those who have a lot of Medicare patients. It will certainly change the dynamic, especially given the requirements and infrastructure necessary to participate.”

However, Steven Stack sees no similarities whatsoever. “I think this is entirely different,” he says. “ICD-10 in many ways was a simpler issue. It was a replacement for the already existing ICD-9 mandate. The ICD-10 issue focused on the need to be more detailed in documentation providers were already doing, in training their staff, and in lack of confidence that claims would be processed in a timely manner. Physicians were being told to keep enough money in reserves to cover their payroll and office expenses for six months due to anticipated claims payment delays. Physician practices don’t normally have that kind of cash on hand, and it was very alarming.”

“MACRA is largely about modifying an already complicated Medicare physician payment system, and then adding on new requirements for those who participate in advanced payment models,” Stack says. “There are a lot of changes happening at once all across the payment system. Quality reporting and meaningful use of EHR requirements are changing. A whole new method of measuring and comparing resource use has been proposed, new clinical practice improvement activities need to be identified and documented, and so forth. This transition will be far broader and much more complicated than the move to ICD-10.”

Morning Headlines 9/12/16

September 11, 2016 News No Comments

New plans to expand the use of digital technology across the NHS

The NHS names 12 health IT “global exemplars” that will receive $13 million in health IT funding to establish best practices and a new digital health academy.

ARH continues to dodge questions on computer breach

Appalachian Regional Healthcare (WV) responds to a local paper covering its ransomware-related computer outage by sending a legal notice explaining that if the paper continued to “deliberately publish statements which defame ARH, or cast it in a false light, we will have no other recourse but to consult with our attorneys in WV, to determine appropriate legal action."

The Ethics of Behavioral Health Information Technology

A JAMA article argues that flagging emergency department frequent fliers with special icons in EHR software is unethical and clinically inappropriate because it could influence the initial interaction in a way that might lead to biased diagnostic judgment.

Monday Morning Update 9/12/16

September 10, 2016 News 12 Comments

Top News

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In England, 12 NHS trusts will receive up to $13 million each from the government as “global exemplars” that will lead the way for innovation, while another 20 will be given $6.6 million each as “national exemplars” to improve their own digital technologies. The announcements follow publication of an NHS digitization recommendations report created by an advisory board led by UCSF professor Robert Wachter, MD.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt also announces an expansion of NHS’s 111 non-emergency line to include triage service, publication of an NHS guide of approved health apps, re-launching the NHS Choices patient services website as NHS.UK with a new capability for patients to download their own records in a Blue Button-like fashion, and publishing trust performance data for specific health services.


Reader Comments

From Recent Epic: “Re: Epic’s succession plan. It’s for the best that Carl has taken over, although whether he has any desire to stay remains to be seen. Judy’s leadership is becoming increasingly erratic as she advocates finding ways to charge for APIs and web services, has wild swings of opinion on hosting services, makes rash decisions in trying to make international deals, pushes salespeople to start cutting deals on previously principled pricing and contract provisions, and most disturbing for the direction of the company, spends an increasing amount of time on buildings and events.” Unverified.

From Datapref: “Re: HIMSS Analytics. MU attestation made it easy to find out who has installed which products, with higher quality. Their ‘Logic’ rebrand intentionally makes it hard to export mass data and the UI is a mess. They have a long lag time (3-4 months) getting financial data updated after it’s been published by CMS, while Definitive, Billian’s and even AHA are less than one month.” Unverified. HIMSS Analytics still has the massive competitive advantage of being owned by HIMSS and thus being able to dole out to its paying customers HIMSS points that earn better exhibit hall booth locations. Personally, I’m not in favor of well-funded, theoretically non-profit member organizations recruiting corporate members while also selling them services and in some cases competing with them. I would be interested in seeing the latest 990 tax forms from HIMSS to see how much HIMSS Analytics brings in, but I haven’t found its latest filing so far.

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From Pippi Longstocking: “Re: Bob Wachter’s UK digitization report. His only informatics credential is having written an awful and extraordinarily slanted book, cherry picking information to fill in a predefined narrative. The UK report seems to be mostly written by consulting firms. I find it odd that Ross Koppel speaks to informatics, Christine Sinksy to burnout, Deborah Peel to privacy, Julie Adler-Milstein to safety, and now Bob Wachter to success.” It’s interesting to me that in the “Look Inside” preview of his book on Amazon (since I haven’t bought or read the book), Wachter says that David Brailer, MD, PhD, the first National Coordinator who was appointed in early 2004, hinted that President George W. Bush’s push for EHRs came about only because he was jealous of the billions England’s Tony Blair was spending on the ultimately failed NPfIT program. Wachter also says Brailer wasn’t in favor of creating the very ONC he was later tapped to lead, worried that the federal government’s smothering bureaucracy would stifle innovation. I don’t know about Wachter’s informatics expertise, but he’s a good writer.

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From Bunchy Donovan: “Re: iPhone announcements. Removing the headphone jack has healthcare consequences since that’s how some device-attached apps use it as a connector.” The change may well put some minimally successful app vendors out of business, which might be a good thing in a herd-thinning sort of way. Meanwhile, Apple will offer an alternative to those $4 non-Apple earbuds I use at the gym — the wireless and surely easily lost AirPods, which will cost $159 and will make the wearer look as douchebaggy as those people whose Bluetooth headsets are permanently implanted in their ears. I assume the AirPods came from the Beats by Dr. Dre line that Apple (over)paid $3 billion to acquire in mid-2014. Apple has transformed itself from solving problems I didn’t know I had to solving problems that  I actually don’t have at all. Your life is pretty darned good if you can allocate $159 (plus the cost of a new and barely improved iPhone) to solve the crisis of tangled earbud wires.

From Silver Spoon: “Re: hospital administrative residencies. Would you recommend them?” They’re great if you can get chosen for them. The faith-based national system I worked for placed only well-connected graduates of their low-ranked religiously affiliated schools in those jobs even though 99 percent of our patients did not practice that religion and in most cases weren’t even aware of the connection. Not surprisingly, the chosen ones were usually fast-tracked in the “people like us” leadership model. I passed up an early-career option of working a stint in the Middle East after hearing a friend’s report of being culturally insulted and professionally disrespected as though he were a mercenary shoeshine boy there, a situation my hospital system colleagues and I found ourselves in without the long flight.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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Insurance companies offered the poorest customer service experience to respondents to last week’s poll, while lab companies and dentists caused the fewest problems. Hospitals ended up mid-pack, but Beebob shared recent ED visit experience that included lack of wristband checking, nearly being administered morphine despite his or her clearly recorded allergy, employees never washing their hands, and doctors and nurses leaving their EHR sessions active when leaving the room so that anyone could have clicked through patient lists and charts, all of which were reported by letter to their CEO and safety VP with no response.

New poll to your right or here: what should be the key healthcare issue in the presidential election? “Key” means you have to choose the single most important issue instead of yearning for a lazy “all of the above” option that would relieve you of your responsibility make a decision.

I’ve received several emails weekly from investment companies (both in the US and elsewhere) wanting to talk to me about publicly traded health IT companies. I get those all the time, but the volume has picked up, which isn’t a problem for me since I just delete them without responding. They must have a good business model in getting free advice and reselling it as their own insight. Just about everything I know is right here on the HIStalk page for anyone to read anyway. 


Last Week’s Most Interesting News

  • CMS offers providers four “pick your pace” options for 2017 MACRA/Quality Payment program participation in 2017.
  • Device maker St. Jude Medical sues a security firm and an investment research company for manipulating its share price and profiting from short sales via the issuance of questionably accurate security vulnerability reports.
  • In England, a health IT committee issues its digitization recommendation report.
  • Epic asks the US Supreme Court to review a lower court’s ruling that the company can’t force employees into arbitration to block class action lawsuits over employment disputes.
  • UCSF will lay off 17 percent of its IT staff and offshore their jobs to India after its IT expenses doubled from 3 percent of its operating expense total to 6 percent in the past five years.
  • A tiny, AMA-sponsored observational study finds that ambulatory practice doctors spend twice as much time working on the computer and doing desk work than seeing patients.
  • Apple toughens up App Store standards for health-related apps to increase review of those that provide inaccurate data and to limit drug dose calculation apps to approved healthcare entities.

Webinars

September 27 (Tuesday) 1:00 ET. “Stanson Clinical Decision Support: Survival Kit for Evolving Payment Models and Other Regulatory Requirements.” Sponsored by Stanson Health. Presenters: Anne Wellington, chief product officer, Stanson Health; Scott Weingarten, MD, MPH, SVP and chief clinical transformation officer, Cedars-Sinai. Reimbursement models are rapidly changing, and as a result, health systems need to influence physicians to align with health system strategy. In this webinar, we will discuss how Stanson’s Clinical Decision Support can run in the background of every patient visit to help physicians execute with MACRA, CJR, et al.

View previous webinars on our HIStalk webinars YouTube channel.


People

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Stephen Ondra, MD (Health Care Service Corporation) joins open source data management vendor Amida Technology Solutions as chief strategy officer.


Announcements and Implementations

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USC’s family support center and gerontology school provide family caregivers with support resources (care planning, reminders, task management, and self-care content) via an app developed by Los Angeles-based Care3. The three founders have experience that includes working in Aetna’s Healthagen technology businesses.

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A new Peer60 report compares Epic and ChipSoft in the Dutch EPR market. Interesting factoids: (a) no ChipSoft hospital reported an improvement in financial outlook, while a fair number of Epic respondents did; (b) Epic scored considerably higher in enhancing patient engagement; (c) Epic scored much better in improving user workflow; (d) Epic’s “would recommend” scores are hugely higher; and (e) nearly half of the users of both systems say their projects ran over budget. The report contains a lot more interesting detail. All I know about Amsterdam-based ChipSoft is that they used to give out cool clogs from their booth at the HIMSS conference, but I stopped asking about them years ago because their booth people (who you might expect to be rosy-cheeked and happy if your only cultural reference is a Dutch Boy paint can) were always eye-rollingly surly in insisting that you put them on right there instead of packing them away for later.


Privacy and Security

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This promotional email from Healthcare Informatics seems to miss the obvious fact that if you’re pitching an advertiser’s ransomware material, you should probably not use a gibberish link that the recipient won’t click on if they are even vaguely aware of phishing practices. 

From DataBreaches.net:

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  • The political team of a British member of Parliament tweets out a photo of the candidate cold-calling supporters that also included in the background a whiteboard containing the telemarketing system’s clearly visible (but since changed) log-in credentials.
  • Appalachian Regional Hospitals, whose systems are apparently still down following a ransomware attack several weeks ago, threatens to sue the local newspaper for asking questions about the situation and for publishing “statements that defame ARH or cast it in a false light.” It’s an interesting by-product of gaining public exposure for cybersecurity weaknesses or breaches that the affected organization often lashes out legally at the messenger (since the perpetrator isn’t handily available) in trying to protect their public image. 
  • The FBI charges two young men with using social engineering to hack the Internet accounts of several senior government officials that include the CIA director and Director of National Intelligence, using the information to harass them and to download sensitive information that they posted on the Internet. They gained access to the master federal law enforcement computer system, listened to the voicemails of senior officials, took control of their TVs, harassed them and their spouses by phone and email, distributed their contact lists, and fooled their spouses into providing their log-in credentials by claiming that their passwords needed to be reset.
  • Researchers warn that it would be easier for hackers to disable the country’s 911 emergency call systems by overloading their limited incoming lines with automated spurious calls from malware-infected mobile phones, estimating that 6,000 infected phones could disable an entire state’s 911 system and 200,000 could take down the entire national system.

Other

Three academic psychiatry authors write in their JAMA editorial that it’s not ethical for EHRs to flag frequent ED flyer with an airplane icon, saying it’s disrespectful and that such labeling may impede good diagnostic decision-making.

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Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (NH) will lay off up to 460 employees in the next few months following a $12 million loss in the fiscal year ending June 30. The hospital’s billing-related expenses increased by $115 million as it changed billing and revenue management systems — which caused a $40 million revenue overestimate – and outsourced its RCM activities to Conifer Health Solutions. According to the CEO, “Other great organizations are experiencing similar downturns with the implementation of new systems and rising expenses.” DHMC implemented Epic at a cost of $80 million in 2011, after which its bond ratings agency attributed its weak operating performance to reduced state funding and its Epic costs.

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Examples abound around the world where a single, dramatic photo engaged a previously indifferent public and turned a magnifying glass onto the society we’ve created. This Ohio police stop photo of two West Virginia adults zonked out in a heroin-induced stupor as the woman’s four-year-old grandson looks on just might do it in forcing us to examine our drugged-out society and the impact of only-in-America drug marketing and pricing decisions (over-marketed and thus overprescribed OxyContin whose high prices moved addicts to cheap but notoriously impure heroin freely entering the country after a failed war on drugs, with overdose victims sometimes revived as they were in this case with overpriced and thus less-available naloxone). Both adults have prior records for DUI, drug possession, resisting arrest, and other offenses. You are wrong if you think the epidemic can’t affect you or your family beyond being robbed by drug-seekers – this guy was driving on public streets seconds before this photo was taken, having just missed rear-ending a stopped school bus as he tried to take the woman to the hospital before being stopped by an off-duty officer from the East Liverpool Police Department.

Vince and Elise review the comments received about Black Book and KLAS from my reader survey in Part 6 of their “Rating the Ratings” series.

Here’s one of the most brilliant and hilarious TV ads you’ll ever see, a new Cigna public service message from the “TV Doctors of America” advocating annual physicals that many of their real-life counterparts don’t feel are medically indicated.


Sponsor Updates

  • T-System will exhibit at ENA Emergency Nursing 2016 September 14-17 in Los Angeles.
  • Crain’s features TeleTracking Technologies in its coverage of New-York Presbyterian’s new mission control center.
  • Valence Health will exhibit at Further 2016 September 14-16 in Chicago.
  • Frost & Sullivan recognizes Validic for the 2015 North America Frost & Sullivan Award for Visionary Innovation Leadership.

Blog Posts


Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Lt. Dan.
More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.
Get HIStalk updates. Send news or rumors.
Contact us.

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News 9/9/16

September 8, 2016 News 5 Comments

Top News

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CMS offers providers four “pick your pace” MACRA/Quality Payment Program options for 2017:

  1. Submit test data only, which avoids a negative payment adjustment.
  2. Participate for part of the calendar year, which qualifies for a small positive payment adjustment.
  3. Participate for the full calendar year, which qualifies for a modest positive payment adjustment.
  4. Join an Advanced Alternative Payment Model, which qualifies for up to a 5 percent incentive payment.

The AMA has already issued a statement saying it “strongly applauds” the change.


Reader Comments

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From Concerned Longtime Customer: “Re: Epic’s succession plan. I don’t see how Carl won’t succeed Judy. He’s who you go to with big problems and he and Judy have similar gravitas in communicating a future direction in an artful way. I had not considered the Sumit possibility, but I see a clear drop-off since he speaks in buzzwords and cliches about how things are going to be ‘cool,’ ‘awesome,’ and I think he even pulled out an ‘insanely great’ one time. He impressed me as someone trying to play the part of Steve Jobs who doesn’t have an authentic vision of his own that reflects our needs. I have concerns about how much longer Carl will last than Judy and hope very much that Epic’s bench is deeper than I’ve seen.”

From Hissing Viper: “Re: a new nurse poll. It finds that 92 percent are dissatisfied with EHRs.” It’s always a good idea to check sources when reading health IT articles written by freelance, newly graduated authors who also craft beauty and fashion pieces.

  • It’s not a new poll. The information is from 2014 and has been amply reported previously.
  • The site you cite (no pun intended) says the survey was performed by Adventist University of Health Sciences. That is incorrect — the school simply turned existing surveys into a dumbed-down infographic as a marketing piece for its RN-to-BSN program. Using an infographic as a news source is just ridiculous.
  • The site takes 18 paragraphs to explain the infographic in failing to note the original survey source, which was Black Book.
  • Black Book still sells the old report (and thus the methodology from which it was derived) for $3,495. The number of respondents is ample, but unstated is how those respondents were selected, the respondent demographics, and the exact wording of the poll (since wording has a huge affect on how respondents answer questions).

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

[Caution: geek alert]. Several readers reported that the main HIStalk page wasn’t displaying my most recent posts due to what appeared to be some sort of caching problem, which started happening all of a sudden even though I hadn’t changed anything. I spent a ton of time trying to figure it out, working with my web host, the virtual firewall company, and an offshore guy I hired for $30. Nobody could determine what was happening, although I could see “Cache-Control:max-age=172800” headers being generated by my server from somewhere. I finally lost patience and brute forced a fix by adding “ExpiresActive Off” to the .htaccess file. I don’t like adding fixes that I don’t fully understand to address a problem that I also don’t fully understand, but at least it seems to be working.

This week on HIStalk Practice: Sahali Health Clinic implements Kannact real-time blood glucose monitoring. Cross Country Healthcare expands Boca Raton headquarters. EyeCrave Optics rolls out virtual eye exams with help from Smart Vision Labs. MMC Anesthesia Group signs on with Zotec Partners. E-MDs joins CommonWell. MarijuanaDoctors.com launches telemedicine portal.


Webinars

September 27 (Tuesday) 1:00 ET. “Stanson Clinical Decision Support: Survival Kit for Evolving Payment Models and Other Regulatory Requirements.” Sponsored by Stanson Health. Presenters: Anne Wellington, chief product officer, Stanson Health; Scott Weingarten, MD, MPH, SVP and chief clinical transformation officer, Cedars-Sinai. Reimbursement models are rapidly changing, and as a result, health systems need to influence physicians to align with health system strategy. In this webinar, we will discuss how Stanson’s Clinical Decision Support can run in the background of every patient visit to help physicians execute with MACRA, CJR, et al.

View previous webinars on our HIStalk webinars YouTube channel.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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For-profit hospital operator HCA will acquire Mobile Heartbeat, whose clinical communications technologies it had previously piloted. The company will continue to operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of HCA.

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Allscripts announces eRecruit, which connects Allscripts-using providers to ePatientFinder’s clinical trial patient recruitment service. 

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In what surely must be one of the oddest acquisitions by a health IT company, health coaching chat vendor Grow Fit acquires nutritional beverage vendor Drink King (I’m not sure if the pun is intentional). Both companies are in India.

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Online doctor advice vendor HealthTap expands to Great Britain.

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Google acquires API vendor Apigee for $625 million in cash. One of the company’s customers is Walgreens, which uses Apigee’s technology for ordering photo prints and managing prescription refills and transfers. Other healthcare users are McKesson, Humana, and Kaiser Permanente.

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Medical device manufacturer St. Jude Medical sues medical security vulnerability vendor MedSec and investment research firm Muddy Waters for share price manipulation. St. Jude says Muddy Waters conspired with MedSec to short-sell St. Jude’s shares before MedSec’s critical security report was published. St. Jude also says the vulnerability report is wrong because MedSec used poor testing methodology on outdated versions of its software.


Sales

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In England, North West London Pathology Consortium signs a $19 million contract with Sunquest Europe for a hosted laboratory information system. The pathology operation is a shared service among several NHS trusts.

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LA County Department of Health Services (CA) chooses Cerner’s HealthIntent for population health management.

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Inova (VA) selects clinical decision support and analytics from Stanson Health to provide patient- and context-specific evidence-based recommendations at the point of care. 


Announcements and Implementations

Optimum Healthcare IT expands its Epic Community Connect practice and hires two executive directors to run it, Jon Straffon and Kelli Mangino from Cleveland Clinic.

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Surescripts announces Medication History for Panel Management, which supports population health management by connecting health systems, ACOs, and analytics vendors to the medication data of 14 nationwide pharmacies.

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Apple announces yet another annual round of marginally improved iPhones that will inexplicably create Apple Store lines of fanboys desperately seeking personal validation via loss of their headphone jack , the addition of waterproofing, and slightly less crappy cameras, none of which are compelling reasons to replace my iPhone 5. The company will also offer Pokemon Go for the Apple Watch, pairing a rapidly fading star with an already-faded one. The company once known for universe-denting innovation is now milking the cash cow via planned obsolescence and piling on pointless features hoping to entice overly loyal fans to ante up yet again in Apple’s form of hardware annual subscription pricing. The iPhone holds only 15 percent of the world smartphone market and these dull announcements aren’t likely to boost that number. Apple announced nothing for the ancient Mac product line. It sounds like the company is perfectly suited for its rumored entry into healthcare.

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Cerner opens a clinic and health center for the 2,200 employees of its Bangalore, India campus, which technically gives the company its first Millennium client in that country.

Imprivata adds clinical speech recognition from Nuance’s Dragon Medical One to its Cortext secure communications platform.


Government and Politics

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Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona steps in to offer an ACA insurance plan in Pinal County, AZ, saving the federal government the embarrassment of having one US county in which consumers have no Healthcare.gov coverage option. However, the insurer also warns that, as the only company offering plans in 13 of Arizona’s 15 counties, the government needs to stabilize the market. BCBS of Arizona has lost $185 million in the past two years selling ACA plans and isn’t thrilled about coming back to Pinal County. A study predicts that people in 31 percent of US counties will have only on ACA insurer to choose from, while another 31 percent will have only two.

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The UK’s Department of Health publishes its IT advisory committee’s report on how to spend the $5.6 billion that has been earmarked for NHS digitization that the committee says should be complete by 2023. It attempts to answer the question of whether the UK has the money (especially after recently blowing $15 billion on the overly ambitious and mostly failed NPfIT project) with, “The one thing that NHS cannot afford to do is to remain a largely non-digital system. It is time to get on with IT.” Their report calls for the government to:

  • Stage digitization efforts within trusts that are ready rather than trying to bring them all along at once.
  • Expect the short-term return on investment to be in the form of safety and quality improvements rather than financial.
  • Create and enforce national interoperability standards.
  • Give patients full access to their electronic information, including clinician notes.
  • Create a national chief clinical information officer (CCIO) position that will oversee the project and then appoint a clinician-informatician to serve as CCIO within each trust who will oversee at least five clinicians with advanced informatics training.

The UK’s report was written by UCSF professor, best-selling author, and medical malpractice insurance pitch man Bob Wachter, MD (asked by Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt to chair the group) and his journalist wife. It not only reflects his personal feelings about US healthcare IT efforts, but also manages to promote his own book, “The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age.” His bio doesn’t list any informatics education, training, or job responsibilities, although he’s a paid board member of some health IT vendors. The committee’s participation was in the form of nine, two-hour teleconferences and a two-day meeting.


Privacy and Security

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From DataBreaches.net:

  • The information of 43,000 patients of Baltimore-based substance abuse treatment provider Man Alive is listed for sale on the Dark Web, stolen by a Russian hacker who sent an employee a phishing email containing a macro-loaded Word document. The hacker reports that he has already sold some of the information following the facility’s refusal to pay him $9,400. Interestingly, DataBreaches.net notified the FBI that the information was listed for sale and they declined to do anything, including letting the facility know.
  • CHI Franciscan Health Highline Medical Center (WA) notifies 18,000 patients that their information was exposed in the same error by R-C Healthcare Management that affected 655,000 patients of Bon Secours Health System (VA). The difference in this case is that R-C Healthcare Management hadn’t performed any work for the hospital since 2014, so the information exposed was old cost-reporting data. R-C Healthcare Management misconfigured its network in April 2016, exposing the files it contained to the Internet.

Technology

An article in Nature reviews pharmacogenetics, the science of using a patient’s genetic profile to choose optimal drugs and doses. The article notes that only a handful of tests are being used and that the real value can be delivered only if patients are tested proactively instead of after they’ve had problems. Evidence from randomized clinical trials is not compelling, but advocates say the genetic tests are being held to an overly high standard.

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Maritime connectivity vendor Marlink announces a telemedicine solution that includes a central unit, touch screen, HD camera, ECG monitor, blood pressure monitor, pulse oximeter, and several other optional medical sensors. The system provides 24/7 consultations with on-shore doctors and includes a secure web portal for patient medical information. The announcement notes that emergency ship re-routing for a medical emergency costs around $180,000, making the company’s fully managed telemedicine service cost effective. 

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University of Washington researchers develop a smartphone app that can detect anemia by measuring blood color by shining the phone’s flash through the subject’s finger. Possibly aware that earning FDA approval is likely to be challenging, the researchers say the best use of HemaApp would be for screening before performing more expensive tests in “limited-resource environments,” i.e. not in the US.


Other

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In England, Google-owned DeepMind Health halts use of its Streams kidney injury detection app pending its approval by the UK’s version of the FDA. That means the company and NHS were using the app on hospitalized patients as an unregistered medical device.

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Epic petitions the US Supreme Court to weigh in on a lower court’s decision in May that the company cannot require employees to arbitrate employment disputes individually instead of by filing class action lawsuits.

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UCSF will lay off 17 percent of its IT staff, blaming reduced hospital payments under the Affordable Care Act and the doubling of IT expenses from 3 percent of the operating budget to 6 percent in the past five years (they went live on Epic in June 2012). The laid-off employees will be expected to train their India-based replacements from University of California system contractor HCL.

A study in Health Affairs finds that while hospital charge masters were supposed to become obsolete with the implementation of DRGs in 1985, hospitals are still using them to increase revenue and to force insurance companies to include their facilities in their networks using the threat of high list prices if they don’t. The authors suggest that legislators require more markup transparency to protect patients who have zero negotiation power with hospitals when faced with excessive charges.

A Florida TV station covers the local hospital’s use of Natus Newborn Care’s Nicview, which allows parents of babies who are in the NICU to view streaming webcam video and nurse messages.

A woman bitten by a stray dog while traveling abroad is given the same rabies drug at four locations in three countries and is shocked by the price variation: $125 (Cambodia), $18.50 (Thailand), $5,255 (a US hospital, that required an ED visit), and $427 (a US medical group). Her travel insurance covered the cost, but her husband, a former CFO, said that of the four providers, only the US hospital sent a bill that was not itemized and was impossible to understand. Healthcare economist Uwe Reinhardt offered a comment for the article:

It’s obvious that our system is unlike any other health system. Other systems were set up to care for patients. Ours was set up by the providers — the hospitals and drug companies — for their own benefit.

The New York Times notes that it’s hard for any of us – including presidential candidates — to assemble our medical records from a lifetime of providers (some probably retired or dead) who used their individual paper or electronic systems. The exception was presidential candidate Senator John McCain, who was able to release his 1,000-page medical record only because it had been assembled for a military study in which he participated, but later he was treated at Mayo Clinic and his campaign had to postpone the release of his records because they couldn’t collect all his records from several Mayo doctors. The article puts forth an interesting alternative to assessing health via old records: have each candidate examined by an independent physician panel hired by the federal government.

Voluntary reports from Kentucky hospitals indicate that 15 people overdosed on heroin over the Labor Day weekend, with 12 of them dying. This follows reports of a mid-August weekend in nearby Huntington, WV, population less than 50,000, where 26 heroin overdoses were reported in just four hours, tying up every ambulance in the county.


Sponsor Updates

  • InstaMed Senior Vice President of Product Management Jeff Lin will keynote the NTC Healthcare 2016 Symposium October 19 in Irving, TX.
  • InterSystems will exhibit at the HIMSS-NCA monthly education meeting September 15 in Arlington, VA.
  • LiveProcess will exhibit at Emergency Nursing 2016 September 14-17 in Los Angeles.
  • Ability Network is named as one of the world’s top 100 private cloud companies.
  • Access launches a newly redesigned website.
  • Aprima recaps its first-half 2016 success.
  • MedData will exhibit at the 2016 TAHFA & HFMA South Texas Fall Symposium September 11-13 in San Antonio.
  • EMDs joins the CommonWell Health Alliance.
  • BizTech Magazine features Navicure IT Director Donald Wilkins.
  • Santa Rosa Consulting assists King’s Daughters Medical center (MS) with its migration to Meditech 6.15.
  • Spok partners with Australia-based unified communication solutions integrator Progility Technologies.
  • Meditech’s Catherine Campbell is elected quality measurements vice chair of the HIMSS EHRA.
  • NTT Data Healthcare Technologies will host its annual client conference September 11-14 in Newport Beach, CA.
  • NVoq will exhibit at the AAFP Family Medicine Experience Annual Meeting September 16-24 in Orlando.
  • Obix Perinatal Data System will exhibit at the Summit of the Southeast September 14-15 in Nashville.
  • Meditech posts a case study titled “Valley Hospital Identifies and Prevents Infections with Meditech Surveillance.”
  • Experian Health will exhibit at HFMA Northern California September 15-16 in Concord.
  • PatientMatters will exhibit at the Illinois Hospital Association Leadership Summit September 15-18 in Lombard.
  • PatientPay will present at the 2016 Council for Entrepreneurial Development Tech Venture Conference September 13-14 in Raleigh, NC.
  • The SSI Group will exhibit at the NTT Data Client Conference September 11-14 in Newport Beach, CA.
  • Streamline Health will host its annual client conference September 11-13 in New York City.

Blog Posts

Learn More

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Frost & Sullivan calls Validic the de facto standard and industry leader in patient-generated health data interoperability. The company’s digital health platform connects providers, pharmaceutical companies, payers, wellness companies, and health IT vendors with data harvested from 300 in-home clinical devices, wearables, and consumer health apps. It reaches 223 million lives in 47 countries and delivers the insight needed to improve health outcomes, population health, care coordination, and patient engagement. Validic helps healthcare companies accelerate their strategic business initiatives. Learn more on the company’s website.


Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Lt. Dan.
More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.
Get HIStalk updates. Send news or rumors.
Contact us.

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News 9/7/16

September 6, 2016 News 12 Comments

Top News

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A  tiny AMA-sponsored time and motion study finds that ambulatory practice doctors spend almost twice as much time working on the EHR or performing other desk tasks than seeing patients, with the observed physicians spending only 27 percent of their available time in face-to-face contact with patients.

Physicians spent only around half of their exam room time directly interacting with the patients in front of them, with most of the rest consumed with EHR and desk work. The doctors studied also spent another 1-2 hours past their quitting time doing clerical catch-up.

It’s a very small study, both in numbers as well as the breadth of specialties, practice settings, and geographic areas that were observed. It also contains subjective interpretation of what constitutes non-patient time, in that doctors may be discussing health issues with patients or reviewing information on the screen while using the EHR since those activities are not necessarily mutually exclusive. It also doesn’t address the fact that EHR time may not necessarily be wasted depending on the situation, any more than arguing that radiologists spend too much time looking at PACS images or that anesthesiologists should pay more attention to patients and less to their monitors.

The study also does not compare the time doctors spend using paper charts or the benefits of EHRS while obviously trying to make the AMA’s point that EHRs – and not the healthcare system doctors created in voluntarily accepting checks from insurance companies and the federal government and thus being required to meet their documentation requirements – are responsible for their unhappiness and lack of productivity. I don’t like the tax system, but I don’t blame TurboTax.

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An accompanying Annals of Internal Medicine editorial touts the AMA’s STEPS Forward program and concludes, “Now is the time to go beyond complaining about EHRs and other practice hassles and to make needed changes to the healthcare system that will redirect our focus from the computer screen to our patients and help us rediscover the joy of medicine.”


Reader Comments

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From Voice of Reason: “Re: Epic’s succession plan. As a former Epic employee, the whispers I heard during my time there was that Sumit Rana was going to take over as the next CEO once Judy steps down. The recent piece on HIStalk on Epic’s board of directors corroborates this – he and Stirling are the only two members other than Judy/Carl that work at Epic. Ultimately, I think Sumit will get the nod over Stirling since Sumit has much more visibility within the company and he is a developer whereas Stirling is a TS – there’s an unwritten rule that people defer to developers within the company.” Sumit went to work for Epic in 1998 immediately after he graduated from Delhi College of Engineering and has worked his way up to SVP. Note: I don’t usually correct reader comments, but as other readers have noted and his LinkedIn profile clearly states, Stirling Martin’s background is as a developer (going back to June 1997) and he has never been a TS.

From Former Epic: “Re: Epic’s succession plan. Unless things have changed since I worked there (about three years ago), Judy is very tight-lipped about how things will work after she’s gone. She addressed it once to my knowledge, and all she said was ‘There’s a plan in place.’ As far as the qualifications of her children to run the company, Judy herself wasn’t necessarily qualified back in 1979, so I don’t see that stopping them. At this point, I think Carl Dvorak is the real brains of the operation.” The challenge might be that while the second generation of family business owners usually are much more trustworthy than the third generation, there’s still the issue of mixing founder offspring and business, especially when company ownership is turned over to a foundation. On the other hand, Judy has shown remarkable talent and focus in taking Epic where it is today, so I’m sure she is not oblivious to the challenges and will make every effort to mitigate any threat to the company’s current state. A success story to be emulated is S.C. Johnson & Son, the cleaning supply company (also based in Wisconsin) that’s in its fifth generation of family ownership and leadership with 12,000 employees and $7.5 billion in sales.

From Super Bill: “Re: Epic. Suing one of its customers. Perhaps they don’t want anyone to know how Epic forces smaller regional hospitals and independent practices to enter into agreements with larger players to help with interoperability issues. See this filing.” Epic attempts to block University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics from complying with an open records request from an unidentified individual who seeks information about services provided by KLAS. An Epic employee sent the health system a KLAS report covering EpicConnect and included attachments that Epic doesn’t want released. Epic argues that the attachments are not public record and are proprietary. I can say from first-hand experience that Epic fights tooth and nail any attempt to obtain contract records from tax-supported organizations that are required by law to provide them to anyone who asks, apparently requiring in their sales contract that the health system send such requests to Epic’s team of lawyers that will use every available company resource to keep the information private in the ultimate form of information blocking.

From What Would HIPAA Do?: “Re: security. I work for a vendor and one of our practices is being forced our EHR after joining a local healthcare system. The new vendor gave us access to an SFTP site to transfer the practice’s data. When we logged in, we could see the data from another 4-5 practices sitting there in plain view. We reported this to the vendor and they said they aren’t worried since they only give the log-in to people they know. Should we report this or formalize our complaint to the vendor? Are we overthinking this?” I’ll invite readers to respond. Personally, I would let your customer know and let them decide how to proceed since any complaint directly from you as a competitor would look like sour grapes, not to mention that there’s no upside to your involvement. It’s always touchy to report a potential security issue that (a) does not and could not affect you; (b) is purely theoretical; and (c) risks having the insecure (pun intended) vendor file an FTC or other form of complaint claiming that you illegally accessed the information of their clients, hoping to deflect the potential damage to the messenger as has been done in several recent health IT examples.

From Will Eye Am: “Re: the magazine that always features men on the cover. Why would you question their choice of featured subject if it’s mostly men in CIO roles?” Mostly because the magazine is produced by an India-based company, and in my admittedly limited experience, it’s more culturally acceptable there than here to treat women as less than equals. Perhaps I’m jaded by my first hospital job in a rural, for-profit hospital that was a veritable Statue of Liberty for the unskilled medical huddled masses yearning to bill Medicare, where our multicultural medical staff insisted (and hospital policy mandated) that female nurses hug the hallway walls with eyes reverentially downturned as they passed. Companies can do whatever they want, but as such shouldn’t be insulted if I report the percentage of non-white men on the boards or leadership teams or, in this case, note that the magazine can’t seem to find anyone other than white men for its covers.


Webinars

None scheduled soon. Contact Lorre for webinar services. Past webinars are on our HIStalk webinars YouTube channel.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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3M acquires Switzerland-based semantic coding vendor Semfinder.

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McKesson discloses in an SEC filing that the Department of Justice has requested information about its previously announced divestiture of its IT business to a new entity created in a venture with Change Healthcare. DOJ is reviewing the proposed plan for any antitrust concerns.

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In Scotland, Craneware reports an 11 percent increase in first-half revenue to $67 million, with pre-tax profit of $19 million.

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CompuGroup Medical acquires Italy-based pharmacy software vendor Vega Informatica e Farmacia S.r.l.

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Vanity Fair runs a fascinating summary of the Theranos debacle and CEO Elizabeth Holmes that includes interesting observations:

  • Holmes mimicked Apple to the point of wearing Steve Job-like black turtlenecks, forbidding company teams from communicating with each other about their projects, and emphasizing the company’s “story” instead of its actual technology.
  • The Wall Street Journal reporter who broke the story was surprised that Holmes, who micromanaged every company decision, could not explain how its technology worked.
  • Company insiders urged Holmes to rebut the damaging initial WSJ report by enlisting scientists to endorse the company’s work, but that wasn’t possible because Holmes hadn’t allowed scientists to publish peer-reviewed papers about it.
  • The company’s chief scientist could not make the product work even as Holmes touted it to a widening audience, leading to his 2013 suicide.The company’s response upon being told that he had died was to demand that his widow return the company’s confidential information and later to threaten to sue her for talking to reporters.

The author summarizes the Silicon Valley mentality that created Theranos as:

The venture capitalists (who are mostly white men) don’t really know what they’re doing with any certainty—it’s impossible, after all, to truly predict the next big thing—so they bet a little bit on every company that they can with the hope that one of them hits it big. The entrepreneurs (also mostly white men) often work on a lot of meaningless stuff … [they] generally glorify their efforts by saying that their innovation could change the world, which tends to appease the venture capitalists because they can also pretend they’re not there only to make money. And this also help seduce the tech press (also largely comprised of white men), which is often ready to play a game of access in exchange for a few more page views … In the end, it isn’t in anyone’s interest to call bullshit.


People

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Culbert Healthcare Solutions hires Nancy Gagliano, MD, MBA (CVS Health) as chief medical officer.


Announcements and Implementations

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Uniphy Health announces GA of its Sentinel sepsis alerting platform.

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MedStar Health (MD) delivers patient education delivered using the technology platform of local startup Mytonomy.


Privacy and Security

In Scotland, an environmental activist sues Donald Trump’s Aberdeen golf course, charging its employees with violating the Data Protection Act by using their phones to film her peeing behind a dune on the course. The course admits that it did not register with the data protection regulator despite running at least nine security cameras that were recording guests who weren’t warned that they were being filmed, but says that’s irrelevant because those weren’t the cameras used to record the alfresco urination.


Technology

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Microsoft, which decided against offering $8 billion for team communications app Slack, is reportedly working on a similar Skype product called Teams, which will offer chat room-like channels, private direct messaging, and Facebook-like threaded conversations.


Other

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Franciscan Alliance will rename the 13 of its 14 hospitals that are named after saints to new names that reflect “Franciscan Health” plus their city name, effective next week.

Business Insider profiles the CIO of drugmaker Merck, who believes that companies must undertake digital transformation or die. The CIO says it’s a change in operation that doesn’t necessarily increase IT spending. Merck gets its CIO involved with technology VCs to get early access to startups, encourages its IT employees to find interesting startups and work with them on technology, and allows its developers to create software and sometimes helps them turn it into a startup.

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A study finds that the US has the second-highest maternal mortality ratio among 31 developed countries, with Texas recording alarmingly high numbers of women who die during and after pregnancies mostly due to state government decisions about healthcare funding and access.

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ED doctors treating an Arizona man‘s small facial cut are shocked to find that it’s the entry wound for a four-inch piece of a broken chopstick lodged deep in his brain. The man reported that he had grabbed his brother from behind in a Chinese restaurant and his brother stabbed him with the chopstick over his shoulder. He’s OK. Googling  turns up other examples of chopstick-related violence, such as a prisoner who killed himself by stabbing himself with a chopstick and a more recent example in which a man confessed to killing his elderly father during an argument by stabbing him in the throat with the wooden utensil. The National Chopstick Association has not yet invoked the “chopsticks don’t kill people” argument.


Sponsor Updates

  • PatientPay will present at the CED Tech Venture Conference next week in Raleigh, NC.
  • Aprima will exhibit at the Arizona State Physicians Association meeting September 15-17 in Scottsdale.
  • Audacious Inquiry Senior Manager King Yip is named a finalist in ONC’s Blockchain in Healthcare Challenge.
  • Bernoulli Health pledges to share its data as part of the Patient Safety Movement.
  • Besler Consulting releases a new podcast, “Live from HFMA Region 3.”
  • Boston Software Systems releases a new podcast, “Improving Clinical Workflow at Patient Discharge.”
  • CoverMyMeds will exhibit at the American Society for Pain Management Nursing Annual Conference September 7-10 in Louisville, KY.
  • Cumberland Consulting Group will exhibit at the Healthcare Executive Group Annual Forum September 12-14 in New York City.
  • Elsevier Clinical Solutions will exhibit at the Emergency Nursing Association annual conference September 14-17 in Los Angeles.
  • EClinicalWorks will exhibit at International Vision Expo West September 15-17 in Las Vegas.

Blog Posts


Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Lt. Dan.
More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.
Get HIStalk updates. Send news or rumors.
Contact us.

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Monday Morning Update 9/5/16

September 4, 2016 News 4 Comments

Top News

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Apple cracks down on questionable health app vendors in tightening its App Store Review Guidelines, saying it will increase its scrutiny of apps that provide inaccurate data, will ban marijuana-related apps and sleep apps that require placing the iPhone under a pillow, and will accept drug dose calculation apps only from approved healthcare entities.

Apple also announces that it will start removing outdated and technically obsolete apps from the App Store prior to the rollout of iOS10 this fall.


Reader Comments

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From Mayor McCheese: “Re: Healthcare Tech Outlook. That publication in India that misspelled HIPAA last year is at it again. Our company got the same email saying we’ve been shortlisted to be in the Top 10 list and can be included in their publication for $3,000.” The magazine contains CIO-written vanity pieces, fluff articles that confuse health IT and healthcare technology, and vendor pitches that sometimes misspell the paying company’s name (examples above) and mangle the English language in amusing ways. The magazine, along with CIOReview and others, is published by SiliconIndia, an India-based professional networking site. CIOs must be desperate for an ego stroke to have their work featured there. I also note that  the covers of 17 of the previous 18 magazine issues prominently feature a male subject. The one that highlights a female also includes an inset photo of a male who appears to be peering over her shoulder, the only time they’ve used a second photo on the cover.

From Chiari Malformation: “Re: Epic. Anyone know how Epic will be run post-Judy? She funds a lot of charities that seem to be run by her kids that don’t seem to have significant assets or Epic shares yet. How will these foundations control Epic’s stock to keep the company private? If her kids will be the controlling shareholders, are they qualified to lead the largest medical records company in the country? Maybe this is an academic discussion since there’s no evidence that Judy has followed through on her much-ballyhooed pledge to give away 99 percent of her wealth.”

From Zipty Dudah: “Re: ONC High-Impact Pilot grants. We didn’t hear anything by August 29 notice date. Anybody else?” ONC announced in May that it would fund 3-7 interoperability-related High-Impact Pilots and announce the winners August 29.

From The PACS Designer: “Re: ICD-10 on FHIR. With the coming addition of ICD-10 Procedure Codes to daily clinical use, the next major change to be looking for is the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) release. With ICD-10 on FHIR (pun intended) being an upgrade for HL7, we’ll have the opportunity to raise the efficiency level of healthcare practices to a much higher level.”


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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Insurance companies are the #1 bad guy when it comes to high healthcare costs, according to responses to my poll, with providers and patients earning little of the blame.

  • Ashter calls for cost controls like most other countries have since taxpayers are paying for the majority of care.
  • Cynic says the only answer is a rational single payer system that has no chance of being implemented.
  • Furydelabongo says he’s most responsible because he expects medical miracles to protect him from his irrational behavior.
  • Frank says we’re unwilling to do as other countries have done in answering the question of “what price life?”
  • Observer says only insurance companies have seen little fluctuation in their profits because they keep adding profitable products and abandoning unprofitable ones. He has worked in the insurance business and says companies care only about signing up big employers with zero regard for the members as customers.
  • Lee says insurance companies just pay claims that are driven by an electively unhealthy population while delivering margins much lower than those of drug and device companies.

New poll to your right or here: Which organization provided the poorest customer service in your recent personal experience? Mine is a new PCP who I haven’t even seen yet. It’s a one-doc practice and it took forever to get an appointment; I showed up and filled out a mountain of paperwork only to be told by the front desk people that the doctor was out for the day and they should have let me know before I drove in. I came back a week later to see the NP (the only rescheduled appointment I could get) and they had lost the mountain of completed paperwork and I had to scale it again. Maybe worst of all I found out later that the awful front office people weren’t even relaying my questions or needs to the doctor when I called. The doc said later that her office people – all young, inexperienced, and unmotivated — are terrible and that I should call just after the 5:00 closing time and she would pick up directly, neatly dodging the question of why she hires and keeps employees who she knows are incompetent and thus puts the burden on me to avoid dealing with them.

This is the last day of my Summer Doldrums Webinar Special, for companies interested in doing a webinar. It’s also HIStalk Pledge Week for new sponsors and they get a deal, too. Contact Lorre.

Thanks to the following sponsors, new and renewing, that recently supported HIStalk, HIStalk Practice, and HIStalk Connect. Click a logo for more information.

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Last Week’s Most Interesting News

  • The Department of Defense announces an unspecified delay for its first Cerner go-lives that were scheduled for December 2016.
  • Athenahealth acquires Patient IO.
  • ONC announces 15 white paper winners of its Blockchain Challenge.
  • ProMedica and MD Anderson attribute their poor financial performance to the cost of implementing Epic.
  • Medscape’s physician EHR survey provides good news to Epic and VistA, bad to NextGen and those who think EHRs boost efficiency.

Webinars

None scheduled soon. Contact Lorre for webinar services. Past webinars are on our HIStalk webinars YouTube channel.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

Consulting firm Health Data Specialists buys a stake in IT staffing and consulting firm Realistic Resources.

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Medical imaging cloud vendor DICOM Grid renames itself to Ambra.


Privacy and Security

In England, Derriford Hospital is hit with ransomware. The local newspaper notes that 28 NHS trusts have seen ransomware infections.

A hospital employee using a pregnancy tracking app receives a company’s congratulatory card and baby formula samples right before her due date even though she had miscarried months earlier. The app vendor had sold her data to a company that apparently did not notice that she had updated her status as “miscarried.”


Innovation and Research

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IllumiCare wins an Alabama innovation award for its EHR-hovering Smart Ribbon that displays real-time analytics information. It requires no EHR integration and costs $10 per admission for the Pro package that covers observation status, medications, labs, radiation, and cost.


Other

Executives of drugmaker Mylan – which raised the price of EpiPens 15 times over seven years in a 400 percent increase — will earn $77 million in bonuses if they hit share price targets. CEO Heather Bresch, best known before the EpiPen price scandal as the daughter of West Virginia’s then-governor (now senator) who was given an unearned MBA from West Virginia University (later rescinded, after which most of the politically appointed WVU administrators were fired), could see her compensation jump from $13 million to $28 million under the pay-for-performance program that provides ample incentives for robbing patients.

Odd: 40 middle school students are treated and five are hospitalized after eating ghost peppers at lunch on a dare from a classmate who brought them in. “It was really hot. We drank like 10 cartons of milk,” reports one capsaicinized lad, while another had trouble seeing and two vomited up their high-Scoville fruits.

Also odd in an “only in America” sort of way: a man shoots himself in the hand in the dentist’s chair when, under the influence of a nitrous oxide high while getting a filling, he thinks he hears his phone ringing in his pocket but instead whips out his loaded pistol.

Vince and Elise continue their “Rating the Ratings” series with Part 5, which describes the results of my reader survey. I’ll flag their summary with an asterisk in the interests of transparency, however, in noting (as I would hope the ratings firms would do with their surveys) that the sample size was small (74 responses); respondents were self-selected and not validated statistically as being representative; and while I assume the responses were honest, they might not necessarily be correct as evidenced by a couple of comments where the respondent’s memory about specific details might have been fuzzy.


Sponsor Updates

  • TeleTracking partners with The DAISY Foundation to establish The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses in Patient Flow.
  • Valence Health will exhibit at the 2016 Accountable Care & HIT Strategies Summit September 8-9 in Chicago.
  • ZirMed will exhibit at CASA 2016 September 7-9 in Carlsbad, CA.

Blog Posts


Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Lt. Dan.
More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.
Get HIStalk updates. Send news or rumors.
Contact us.

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News 9/2/16

September 1, 2016 News 5 Comments

Top News

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The Department of Defense will push back the first go-lives of its MHS Genesis EHR project, according to a reader-forwarded announcement from Thursday. The DHMSM project management office declined to give specific dates, saying only that initial rollouts will be moved back “a few months” and that it will issue a new schedule within 30 days.

DoD had originally announced deployment of the Cerner system to sites in the Pacific Northwest beginning in December 2016. It reiterated that the original schedule was “aggressive, but achievable” in early August 2016 despite a May 31, 2016 DoD OIG report warning that the date “may not be realistic for meeting the required initial operational capability data of December 2016.”

The military is already taking longer and spending more than it expected long before the first go-live. The project awarded Cerner a no-bid, $74 million hosting add-on contract in July, far above DoD’s original self-hosted cost estimate of $50 million over 10 years. DoD said at that time that the extra spending would not raise the project ceiling.

A consortium led by Leidos won the $4.3 billion project bid in July 2015. Leidos and its spinoff SAIC have been paid billions to develop and maintain the DoD’s current EHR, AHLTA. Some experts estimate the total taxpayer cost for AHLTA — which was just voted in a physician survey as the worst available EHR –  could be as much as $20 billion.


Reader Comments

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From Sturges: “Re: Epic. A big pro for public vs. private companies is transparency. John Touissaint at ThedaCare publishes all the time, but never mentions that he’s on Epic’s board. The boards of both Epic and Meditech will be a big deal in the coming years, particularly in terms of succession planning and how Epic will operate as a foundation once Judy turns it over as a charitable donation.” I edited Epic’s board and director list in the corporate document above to remove addresses since some of them are of private homes (including the shockingly modest residence of Judy Faulkner). John Toussaint is a former CEO of Epic customer ThedaCare (WI) and is CEO of the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value. The board members who aren’t Epic employees as far as I can tell from their names alone (which is all that’s on the state filing) are:

  • Roger Hauck. I assume it’s the one who’s on UW Medical Foundation’s board.
  • Leonard Mattioli. There’s an owner of a closed chain of Wisconsin appliance stores with that name.
  • Nicholas Seay, VP/CTO of Cellular Dynamics.
  • Paul Kundert, president and CEO of the UW Credit Union.

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From MT Hammer: “Re: Nuance Transcription Services. Laying off all its California-based employees as of September 30. The layoffs will apparently include both transcriptionists and supervisory staff. Affected employees were informed via conference call on Wednesday, August 31.” Unverified, but discussion abounds on the MTStars message board, where posters suspect that their jobs are being offshored to India. That shouldn’t be surprising given the company’s announcement in January 2016 that it would hire 3,000 transcriptionists in five cities in India, hoping to achieve a 50 percent transcription growth rate there given the inherent time zone and cost advantages. It may not have helped that California is rapidly increasing its minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2022, which is more than at least some transcriptionists are paid as hourly employees.

From Mr. Porky: “Re: Kaiser Southern California. Its Cerner Millennium lab system was down most of Monday and Tuesday due to a server issue.” Unverified.

From Unfortunately Informed: “Re: [vendor name removed]. Their chief growth officer is about to be booted after a short stint following a mass exodus of the sales team and pending lawsuits of harassment.” Unverified. I’ve omitted the company name for obvious reasons, but we’ll see if an announcement is forthcoming.

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From Victor Victuals: “Re: the upcoming OCR/NIST HIPAA security conference. Attendees can add lunch and refreshments to their registration fee for $306. The latest GSA for Meals and Incidentals is $69. Wonder what kind of lunch and refreshments they’re providing at that price?” It’s a really bad deal when you look at the registration page to see what’s included – just two continental breakfasts, two buffet lunches, and one afternoon break. The overpriced hotel restaurant (was that redundant?) has a bakery basket or fruit plate for around $10 and lunch items (even steak) for around $20, which would total maybe $60. Perhaps this is a social engineering experiment where NIST wants to see whether attendees will fall for an obvious, phishing-like ruse. I’m trying not to preach about their use of “EST” instead of the correct “EDT.”

From Kitty Has KLAS: “Re: KLAS. Vince is incorrect in saying that KLAS requires vendors to pay. They don’t – they only have to provide a customer list. However, if they want to review the report ahead of time or publicize their rating, they have to pay. KLAS also offers billable consulting services, where they tell vendors where to improve based on the feedback from their customers.”

From Skitch: “Re: KLAS. They’re the Consumer Reports of healthcare IT. Enough said.” No, they aren’t, and they don’t claim to be. Consumer Reports is a publication whose paying customers are readers, not vendors, and trying to assess the quality of a dishwasher is a lot different than rating hospital software based on a few customer reports. Both organizations rate products, but Consumer Reports:

  • Is published by an independent, non-profit consumer advocacy group.
  • Does not accept advertising or any form of payment from vendors.
  • Does not allow vendor involvement in testing products or obtaining customer feedback.
  • Performs product testing in its own labs.
  • Does not sell consulting services, customized reports, or anything else to vendors and investors in keeping arm’s length from them to maintain objectivity and transparency.
  • Does not allow vendors to publicize the rankings they receive.

From Good4U: “Re: patient advocates. Is inviting them to industry meetings the best way to improve the healthcare system?” I don’t think so since there’s no scale or consumer push involved. I would rather invest the time and money to mobilize consumers to understand their rights, instruct them on how to protect themselves or their loved ones as patients, and give them resources to contact when they need help with medical decisions they don’t fully understand. It would be a nice tribute to Jess Jacobs to develop an educational program to help others navigate the indifferent, inefficient, and sometimes life-threatening healthcare quagmire she found herself immersed in since every one of us will face it eventually despite what we know as insiders. We may happily work in hospitals, but deep down we all know that one of the most dangerous places in the world is a hospital bed.

From Spastic Colon: “Re: [publication name omitted]. Check out their top stories.” I get tired of being asked to analyze what other sites run as news since I don’t really care and I don’t read them anyway, so I’ll answer just one last time. The site has 11 “latest news” stories on their home page. None of them contain any actual reporting – they are simply re-worded material they found on other sites (not always credited) in padding out uninteresting items to 10 or more paragraphs. I had already declined to cover nine of their 11 items that I felt weren’t worth the time of HIStalk readers. Of the 11 news items:

  • Six are re-worded press releases, two of which have zero to do with health IT.
  • Two summarize journal articles, while another re-words a TV station’s story.
  • One is a sponsor advertisement.
  • One is a slideshow of old news.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

Grammar gripe: beginning a sentence with the word “there.” It’s easy to instead word the sentence with the usual subject followed by a verb. Instead of “There are many articles covering population health management,” write, “Many articles cover population health management.” Try to determine the subject and verb of each of those sentences and you’ll see the problem with the former. I also continue to be annoyed by listing a physician as “Dr. John Smith, MD” or simply as “Dr. John Smith.” In my experience, the former is usually written by a third-party person of cluelessness or an arrogant doctor determine to shove his or her title down one’s throat twice, while the latter is often employed by those who are at least slightly and illogically embarrassed that they hold non-MD medically-related practicing doctorates such as DNP, DO, DC, MBBS, DPM, DPT, DAUD, or PharmD.

We run a back-to-school type new sponsor special every Labor Day as the industry picks back up, giving new companies extra months for free. Contact Lorre. We’ve had quite a few sign up lately, wisely avoiding the pre-HIMSS rush period that sometimes stymies procrastinators.

This week on HIStalk Practice: NorthStar Anesthesia deploys Plexus Technology Group’s anesthesia EHR. Pennsylvania goes live with ABC MAP PDMP. AMA adds population health data to its workforce mapping tool. Senator Gary Peters includes a telemedicine stop on his statewide motorcycle tour. HHS announces $53 million in funding to help states combat opioid abuse. Falcon Physician adds charting capabilities to its EHR for nephrologists.

This week on HIStalk Connect: DoseMe, Health2Sync raise new funding rounds. NIMA develops gluten-testing tech. Access announces new partnerships. Elementary school student prints prosthetic hand for teacher. My Health Guide App produces new case-study video.


Webinars

None scheduled soon. Contact Lorre for webinar services. Past webinars are on our HIStalk webinars YouTube channel.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Theranos withdraws its request for fast-track approval of its Zika-virus blood test after the FDA finds that the company’s trials in the Dominican Republic were not overseen by an institutional review board. CEO Elizabeth Holmes used her August 1 stage time at the AACC conference to pitch the test and a new lab analysis machine, neither of which have passed FDA muster to reach the market.


Sales

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Sharp HealthCare (CA) will implement Cerner PowerChart Ambulatory for one of its two medical groups, integrated with its inpatient Millennium system.


People

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University of Rochester Medical Center (NY) hires Tom Barnett (NorthShore University HealthSystem) as CIO.


Announcements and Implementations

Philips and Qualcomm will use each other’s technologies to offer personalized connected care solutions involving home medical devices.

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In England, King’s College Hospital goes live with Allscripts Sunrise.


Government and Politics

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A McKinsey analysis of proposed ACA-sold insurance plans for 2017 finds that three-fourths of them will be of the higher-profit HMO type with a narrow network (often just a single hospital system and its affiliated doctors), while only one-fourth will be PPO type plans with broader coverage.


Privacy and Security

From DataBreaches.net:

  • Information from ambient light sensors used to adjust smartphone and laptop screen brightness is now available to any website that uses a new API, meaning a website or hacker could use the information to identify a specific user or determine information about their home. I didn’t realize that some retailers adjust their prices based on the user’s device, charging iPhone users more than those shopping with an inexpensive Chromebook.
  • In the UK, healthcare represents by far the greatest number of Q1 data breaches, although most of the incidents involved paper rather than electronic information.
  • Also in the UK, Wythenshawe Hospital launches an internal investigation into the journal report of “bagpiper lung” cited by Weird News Andy. The deceased patient’s daughter wasn’t told why he died – she learned it only because the journal article contained enough details to make it obvious to her who the case study involved.
  • New York State Psychiatric Institute notifies 22,000 patients that its systems were breached this past spring.
  • A potential class action lawsuit against Flowers Hospital (AL) involves a now-imprisoned phlebotomist who used information contained in unsecured daily file folders to file fraudulent tax returns.

A DataBreaches.net analysis of the FTC’s case against LabMD notes the “pretzel logic” of going after theoretically exposed data that was viewed only by a vendor trying to sell security services to LabMD. It calls out the lack of FTC definition of acceptable security standards and the FTC’s subjective interpretation of risks that might reasonably cause consumer harm, which should interest every healthcare provider since FTC is getting more active in healthcare security. It concludes,

If one government agency – HHS – that is the premier agency for protecting patient privacy and data security didn’t even consider this incident a reportable breach under HIPAA back in 2008, then doesn’t it strike anyone else as a bit absurd that the FTC would turn around years later and claim that this incident was not only “likely” to cause substantial harm, but did cause substantial harm – even though they didn’t interview even one person whose data was in the errant file? For the FTC to declare by fiat that consumers experienced substantial harm in this case is just over the top.


Innovation and Research

NIH profiles AiCure, a medication adherence app whose further development was funded by NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. The company’s app uses facial recognition and motion-sensing smartphone sensors to visually verify that a particular med was taken as prescribed, specifically targeting clinical study participants (and obviously hoping to tap into the always-popular and cash-flush drug companies as customers). The New York company has raised $12 million.


Other

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A Slate article declares that workplace wellness programs are “a waste of time and money, they don’t improve health outcomes, and they’re a front for shifting costs onto employees.” The article adds that such programs promote questionably useful tests, encourage unnecessary doctor visits, and collect health information using sloppy security policies. It cites the 2009 claim of grocery store operator Safeway that its wellness program (optional, but employees had to pay higher insurance premiums if they opted out) helped hold its healthcare costs flat, when in fact only 14 percent of its employees were even eligible to participate and the way Safeway kept costs down was to raise insurance deductibles. The company’s questionable wellness program results led to the so-called Safeway Amendment to the ACA that allows employers to shift more premium costs to employees who fail wellness tests.

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A smartly written editorial by a surgeon criticizes a Texas district attorney who continues to publicly declare that vaccines cause autism and who appeared in a trailer for the movie “Vaxxed.” He summarizes by comparing the respective burden of proof required by the court system and the FDA:

The video in which he appeared is so much like anti-vaccine videos I’ve deconstructed over the years and suffers from the same confusing of correlation with causation. LaHood himself views the movie like a trial against vaccines and seems quite impressed by the “evidence” it presents. Unfortunately, as tempting as it is for a lawyer and DA to see everything in legal terms, science doesn’t work that way. He goes on and on about how children seemingly regressing after vaccines is “strong circumstantial evidence.” Yes, perhaps, but in science, circumstantial evidence … is what we in the medical biz call anecdotal … the weakest form of evidence.

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A reporter from the Boston business paper tweets out while visiting Steward-owned New England Sinai Hospital that computers on wheels were jamming up family waiting areas because employees had limited wall sockets available for charging them. Hospital executives responded by saying the carts had been moved, which is good since it means that someone at the hospital follows Twitter, although that doesn’t seem to address the problem of needing to charge them somewhere.

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Columbus-based Big Lots donates $50 million to Nationwide Children’s Hospital (OH) and will get naming rights to the clinical department and a planned pediatric psychiatric hospital. Even though I’ve bought stuff at Big Lots (while overlooking piles of junky merchandise and the occasionally troubling behaviors of my fellow bargain-seeking shoppers), I don’t know that I’d want to be admitted to a hospital named after a company selling closed-out distress merchandise out of previously abandoned stores in dying strip centers. The NYSE-traded retailer is worth $2.2 billion on $5 billion in revenue, while recent tax forms show that the hospital made $244 million on $1.4 billion in revenue. 


Sponsor Updates

  • Influence Health will exhibit at SHSMD Connections September 11-14 in Chicago.
  • Ingenious Med and Obix Perinatal Data System will exhibit at the Georgia HIMSS annual conference September 7 in Atlanta.
  • Illinois Senator Dick Durbin visits the Intelligent Medical Objects office.
  • Live Process will exhibit at the Nevada Hospital Association Focus on the Future conference September 7-9 in South Lake Tahoe, NV.
  • MedData will exhibit at the Texas Society of Anesthesiologists Annual Meeting September 8-11 in San Antonio.
  • Meditech representatives discuss interoperability at the 2016 KLAS Cornerstone Summit.
  • PatientMatters will exhibit at the Kansas Hospital Association Fall Conference September 8 in Overland Park.
  • PaymentsSource profiles PatientPay’s healthcare “paper fix.”
  • Forbes names Red Hat as one of the world’s most innovative companies.
  • The SSI Group will exhibit at the CASA 2016 annual conference and exhibit September 7-9 in Carlsbad, CA
  • IT Business Edge covers SyTrue’s partnership with IDS.

Blog Posts


Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Lt. Dan.
More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.
Get HIStalk updates. Send news or rumors.
Contact us.

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Keeping Up with Amazon Alexa’s Healthcare Potential

August 31, 2016 News 2 Comments

HIStalk looks at the ways in which patients, providers, and vendors are using Amazon’s virtual assistant technology to improve healthcare inside and outside of the hospital.
By
@JennHIStalk

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When it first launched in mid-2014, the Amazon Echo looked like nothing more than what many thought it initially was – a voice-enabled wireless speaker that could offer up information via the company’s proprietary Alexa voice assistant technology. Whether it was traffic conditions, weather forecasts, or trivia questions, the Echo at first seemed capable of helpful but extremely basic tasks.

As consumers began to dig into its features and Amazon opened up the Echo’s platform to developers, new capabilities began to emerge, many of which caught the eye of those with a keen interest in the role consumer-facing technologies can play in healthcare.

Straight from the Patient’s Mouth

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As with many technologies today, (wearables being a prime example), consumers soon began using Alexa as a personal healthcare assistant. Julie McGovern, CEO of practice management consulting firm Practice Wise, was quick to recognize the value its features could offer in helping her care for her ailing mother. “Alexa has made life easier for my mother on a daily basis,” she says. “Besides medication reminders, which we set as timed alerts, she uses Alexa to add items to her shopping list, get news and weather updates, listen to music and audio books, and amuse herself by having Alexa tell her jokes.”

McGovern has her eyes – and those of her mother’s providers – peeled for new Echo aging-in-place features. She’s especially excited about a new interactive medication management feature that will notify designated family members and caregivers if her mother doesn’t acknowledge to Alexa that she has taken her meds after a certain number of attempts.

From Contest to Market

McGovern and her mother may soon be able to take advantage of just such a feature from DaVincian Healthcare, the Overall Champion of the PYMNTS.com & Amazon Alexa Challenge held earlier this summer. The Austin, TX-based startup created DaVincianRx for the competition, an “interactive prescription, communication, and coordination companion” designed to improve medication adherence while keeping family caregivers in the loop.

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The prototype, which took six weeks to create, was developed with the end goal of helping patients become more active in their own care and staying on track with medication plans. “When we combine prescription abandonment and non-adherence costs,” explains DaVincian Healthcare Chief Medical Officer Meredith Porter, MD, “they are staggering. Estimates range around $300 billion every year. Yet even more concerning than the wasted medical costs are the clinical costs – worsening medical conditions, unnecessary appointments and hospitalizations, and poor health outcomes, including death. Out team focused on leveraging Amazon’s Alexa to find a real solution to address this problem, keeping in mind the importance of closed-loop communication between the patient, provider, and family.”

Porter adds that Alexa-enabled tool, which the company plans to roll out through the Amazon ecosystem, is perfectly suited for aging-in-place patients like McGovern’s mother. She also believes that it will do well, “especially with those who feel overwhelmed or isolated when it comes to their health management. Our skills help people stay on track with knowing why and when they should be taking medications; reminding them about new prescriptions or needed refills; and tracking adherence to offer the critical closed-loop connectivity to family members and health teams.”

Bringing Alexa to the Bedside

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Providers are certainly aware of Alexa’s potential, perhaps none more so than Boston Children’s Hospital, which developed an Alexa-based app earlier this year that offers parents advice when their child runs a fever. BCH Chief Innovation Officer John Brownstein, PhD attributes the hospital’s interest in Alexa to its well-documented interest in emerging consumer technologies and how they might be applied to healthcare. “As voice-assisted technologies have emerged,” he says, “we began to think about whether or not this could be a new channel through which consumers can receive health information. Echo became a great example for us to choose because it had been such a commercial success, and we had this ability to work within the Amazon environment to build out Alexa-related skills.”

Brownstein has been pleased with reception of the KidsMD app, which has thousands of users. “It’s really a two-way form of communication in that we’re providing useful information to patients and also collecting really interesting data about symptoms that could potentially be used for better understanding things as they’re happening in various parts of the country. That background data can be useful for public health.”

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The KidsMD app is just the beginning as far as Brownstein is concerned. His team is busy evaluating a number of other use cases, many of which evolved out of a mini Alexa hackathon held at the hospital in May. “Could you use voice to pull up an image from the EHR while you’re in surgery so you don’t have to scrub out, for example? Can you use it as you’re interacting with a patient to take an image?” Brownstein poses. “We’re really excited about Alexa’s potential in situations where you want to either have the ability to keep working without having to change course,” Brownstein says, “or where you might want better interaction with your patient by not having to turn your back to them and start typing on a computer. Not to mention the opportunities for patients in their rooms. If they need to access information and they’re not mobile, this might also be an opportunity for them to access information or communication. We’re experimenting with all of these scenarios in parallel.”

Brownstein adds that patients invited to BCH’s Alexa brainstorming event were most interested in potential home uses, and his team in turn became interested in the resultant opportunities in collecting feedback and offering post-discharge care guidelines and educational materials. “To be able to get to that level of detail quickly through voice is really interesting,” he says.

Prioritizing Further Developments

BCH hasn’t yet pulled the trigger on formally launching these ideas because of privacy and security concerns. “We’re working with Amazon to figure out HIPAA compliance and better understand what the risks are,” says Brownstein. “We’ve built a consumer version of Alexa with the KidsMD app, so we’re not concerned from that perspective because it’s just providing general information. When you start talking about electronic medical data or interfacing with the hospital system, that’s when you really need to figure out how the enterprise version of Alexa will have to emerge. We’re still working on that.”

Prioritizing internal opportunities also plays a part in BCH’s further development of Alexa-related enterprise capabilities. “Like anything,” Brownstein explains, “it has to be thought of in the context of other efforts and where that should be prioritized. Then, of course, there’s the integration issue. There’s still a challenge to integrate with our existing Cerner EHR. We’ve done a prototype of it, but the integration into the core IT fabric of the hospital will take a lot of work.”

Gauging Real-World Patient Potential

Whether it’s enterprise environments or home-based opportunities, Amazon’s Alexa technology is well poised to impact healthcare delivery and outcomes, not to mention patient satisfaction scores. “I think that any time you make information more easily available to patients, any time you make the experience more enjoyable, more seamless, I think you’ll have a real impact on the overall patient journey,” Brownstein enthuses.

Porter is equally enthusiastic about the innovation Alexa could bring to healthcare. “We recognize that the potential for this technology in healthcare is nearly limitless,” she says, “from health education and chronic disease management to reducing healthcare costs and transforming lives in health.”

The ultimate litmus test for Alexa’s role in transforming healthcare will be conducted in the lives of patients like McGovern’s mother. An enjoyable, seamless, and even humor-inducing experience that results in improved medication management and care coordination will surely help escalate Amazon’s virtual assistant technology to a vital part of the care team.

News 8/31/16

August 30, 2016 News 4 Comments

Top News

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Athenahealth acquires 12-employee, Austin-based care coordination system vendor Patient IO, in which Athenahealth had invested in October 2015 via its More Disruption Please Accelerator program. This is the second company Athenahealth acquired from the MDR accelerator, the first being scheduling system vendor Arsenal Health.

The three-year-old company had raised $4.3 million in three funding rounds. Its app offers collaborative care plans, secure messaging, wearables integration, medication management, and notifications.


Reader Comments

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From Mick Mars: “Re: HIMSS Analytics vs. Definitive Healthcare for primary intelligence for vendors. People at our company hate HIMSS Analytics, but you lose HIMSS points and thus get a worse booth location if you drop them. Both companies are dropping their prices by the day, but it’s still a six-figure decision.” I’ll invite vendor readers to weigh in on the pros and cons of each since as a non-vendor, I haven’t worked with either company.

From CEO Cynic: “Re: KLAS. We stopped paying their ransomware fees last year.”

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From Mobile Man: “Re: farming tech bubble. I find interesting similarities with our approach to healthcare IT. I wonder what would happen if we had Meaningful Use money for agriculture?” A Fortune article describes technology companies that create expensive sensors and data tracking software for farm equipment while keeping the data rights for themselves so they can sell it to fertilizer and equipment vendors. Venture capital firms are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in Silicon Valley-designed agtech such as GPS-guided tractors and aerial imaging drones that farmers aren’t buying, with experts saying farmers just need basic technology to track people and equipment, digitize their paper notes, and to display history of previously recorded problems. The market is soft because startups have bailed out and left farmers holding expensive equipment, the systems can be difficult to install and use, and those systems often don’t tell the farmer anything they don’t already know. At least some farmers already have their form of Meaningful Use in which they, like doctors, are paid by taxpayers to reduce their productivity (leaving fields unplanted or seeing fewer patients, respectively). We’re lucky government market interference doesn’t lead us into either starvation or death from unmet medical needs.

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From Chilblains: “Re: Athenahealth. This is kind of a big deal – Doran was a huge asset and his departure, along with that of Ed Park, makes me wonder whether Kyle Armbrester and the new CTO can fill the holes.” Athenahealth GM of AthenaCoordinator Doran Robinson leaves the company to work for an online furniture company. ATHN shares have slid 6 percent in the past year vs. a 13 percent gain in the Nasdaq.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

Here’s my ingenious, semi-technical solution for patient engagement. Insurers look you up on Facebook to find your friends and family members, then bribe them secretly to encourage your healthy behaviors by applying peer pressure in the form of, “That’s a lot of wine for a weekday,” or, “You might want to sew on those shirt buttons with fishing line so they don’t shoot off under pressure and put someone’s eye out.”

I ran a comment last week from a reader who observed staff at Suburban Hospital (MD) operating under downtime procedures for a handful of hours. I’ve found that the problem wasn’t Epic, it was a connectivity problem among Johns Hopkins hospitals due to a power surge that overheated conduit. It’s interesting to me that hospital systems have become reliable enough that when someone says “XX system was down,” it’s usually not the system itself but rather the connectivity to it or a workstation-related issue. It’s not much consolation that a given system is running perfectly even though users can’t access it, but that is the case most of the time these days except during application software upgrades.

Listening: the new single from the Pixies, preceding the September 30 release of their new album, their first without Kim Deal. Their new stuff is familiarly full of droning guitar riffs and the quirky pop culture references of Charles Thompson IV (aka Black Francis, Frank Black). I can never get this song out of my head, nor do I wish to. 


Webinars

None scheduled soon. Contact Lorre for webinar services. Past webinars are on our HIStalk webinars YouTube channel.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Digital engagement vendor Zillion raises $28 million in a Series C funding round. I interviewed President Bill Van Wyck in May 2016. He summarized Zillion’s market position then as:

The differences in the market exist where healthcare has been trying to build vertical silo products to address specific conditions. The reality is that patients don’t typically have just one condition. They are overweight and may have depression, or they may be diabetic and need other types of procedures and support. There are co-morbidities and multiple chronic conditions that exist in the real world.  Having a common backbone platform like Zillion where you can design, create, and deploy programs to patient populations and then refine and refine and modify those programs at scale is a differentiator for healthcare stakeholders. When you look at what they’ve been building, typically none of them interact with existing systems. They’re not interoperable. They don’t always reach patients on the devices and the technology that they use day to day.

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Cardinal Health acquires 18-employee Iowa City, IA-based telepharmacy software vendor TelePharm, which allows pharmacists to verify prescriptions and counsel patients by video from any location.


People

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Col. Mike Regan, former VP/CIO of Lower Bucks Hospital (PA) and an executive with Siemens Healthcare while he also pursued a 35-year career in the Air National Guard, is named Deputy Adjutant General-Air of the Pennsylvania National Guard.


Announcements and Implementations

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Cerner will use episodes of care software from 3M Health Information Systems in its HealtheIntent population health management system.

In Australia, two northern Queensland hospitals go to market for for a clinic and hospital EHR, with $26 million budgeted. Cairns Hospital, the major health system, is already live on Cerner, which probably places it in a strong bidding position.


Government and Politics

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ONC announces the winners of its Blockchain in healthcare challenge, which drew 70 submissions. The 15 winners from which up to eight will be selected to present at the ONC/NIST workshop September 26-27 are:


Privacy and Security

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Two West Virginia hospitals owned by Appalachian Regional Healthcare go back to paper when their computer systems are infected by unspecified malware. The systems went down last weekend, and according to a Tuesday update on AHR’s site, are still down.

A judge rules that a lawsuit brought by the mother of a murdered TV news anchor against two hospital employees who viewed her medical records can proceed, although the judge finds that the hospital is not liable for the actions of its employees.


Innovation and Research

Researchers question whether physicians should order more diagnostic imaging tests or inform patients when their studies turn up incidental findings of unknown significance. The authors say genetics testing may provide a model that’s applicable to radiology, where patients decide upfront how much they want to know and their medical experts don’t disclose minor, low-risk findings. Others caution that it’s not practical in a litigious malpractice environment to withhold information of unknown future significance, especially when a lot of diagnostic imaging tests are performed purely to avoid malpractice claims. 


Technology

Huffington Post covers the hospital use of virtual reality as an alternative to drugs for pain management and relaxation.  

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Two radiologists in Canada create Tipso, which projects PACS images onto a surgical drape so that surgeons can manipulate them with their hands without breaking the surgical field. Tests suggests that the system can reduce surgery time by up to 15 percent.


Other

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A former Mount Sinai School of Medicine researcher who was fired in 2010 for data fraud and then sued the school unsuccessfully for discrimination shoots two men outside a Chappaqua, NY deli, one of them the dean of the medical school, in an apparent revenge attack. Both the dean and a bystander suffered non-life threatening injuries.

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A Gallup poll finds that healthcare, pharma, and the federal government take the bottom three spots in consumer perception. Restaurants and the computer industry top the list.

Researchers find that one-fifth of genetic research papers whose authors used Microsoft Excel to analyze their data contain incorrect gene names, as the authors fail to notice that the worksheet software automatically translates symbols (SEPT2) to dates (September 2).

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In China, a state-run newspaper covers a hospital’s Internet addiction treatment center that has used electroshock on 6,000 people, mostly teenagers who are sent there by their parents. The patients are forced to attend ideological education and military training and are given shock treatments for breaking any of 86 rules, which include not taking their meds on an empty stomach and not sitting in the dean’s chair. Such treatment would be equally popular with providers here if insurance would pay for it.


Sponsor Updates

  • Gibson Consultants publishes “Independence remains a rewarding choice for doctors” by Aprima CEO Michael Nissenbaum and Chadwick Prodromos, MD.
  • Arcadia Healthcare Solutions analytics earns NCQA PCMH pre-validation.
  • Impact Advisors is recognized as one of the largest healthcare management consulting firms. 
  • KLAS recognizes Nordic as a top performer in optimization services.
  • Besler Consulting publishes a “2017 IPPS Final Rule Analysis.”
  • Leadership Columbus selects CoverMyMeds Communications Manager Mike Bukach for its Signature Program Class of 2017.
  • The Mental Health Association of Erie County will honor CTG for its contributions to the cause at its annual Benefactor Society Reception on September 7 in Buffalo, NY.
  • Elsevier Clinical Solutions receives a Merit Award for Patient Education from Health Awards.
  • Fortune features comments from Extension Healthcare CEO Todd Plesko in an article on WhatsApp.
  • Built in Colorado profiles Healthgrades CTO Bill Bell.

Blog Posts


Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Lt. Dan.
More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.
Get HIStalk updates. Send news or rumors.
Contact us.

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Monday Morning Update 8/29/16

August 28, 2016 News 15 Comments

Top News

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Promedica (OH) attributes its first-half 2016 losses to the cost of its Epic implementation. The 12-hospital health system swung from a $43 million operating surplus in the first half of 2015 to a $2 million loss in the same period of 2016. Higher employee costs also contributed.

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University of Texas says  M.D. Anderson Cancer Center’s 77 percent drop in net income (down $405 million) in the past 10 months was due to higher expenses and reduced patient revenue, both resulting from its implementation of Epic. MDACC went live on Epic in March 2016 and says it anticipated the negative financial impact, but hopes to “return to normalized operations by year-end.”


Reader Comments

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From Carl Kolchak: “Re: Suburban Hospital (part of Johns Hopkins). My father is a patient there and the whole Epic system was down. They are on downtime procedures, which is interesting to watch.” Unverified.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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More than 80 percent of poll respondents think hospitals should be required to bill uninsured patients at the lowest prices they offer to insurers or anyone else. Sally B says it’s just plain wrong that those who can least afford it are expected to pay the most, while Mind Blown offers personal experience of an $85,000 hospital stay that his or her insurance company negotiated down to $16,000, something the average person wouldn’t have been able to do. Ron is encouraged that local health systems are offering big upfront discounts for elective procedures, although they take a long time to return calls. Mindy also has personal experience, in her case a $2,400 CT scan that despite not having hit her insurance deductible, cost her only $808 thanks to her insurer’s negotiated price. Nick says a benefit of forcing hospitals and health companies to offer everyone the same rates they accept from big insurers would be the creation of a price book that would allow people to comparison shop.

New poll to your right or here: who is most responsible for high US healthcare costs?


Last Week’s Most Interesting News

  • In Canada, grocery and drug store operator Loblaw offers $132 million for EHR vendor QHR Technologies, which holds 20 percent of that market in Canada.
  • Fast Company discovers that Apple acquired consumer EHR data collection and sharing startup Gliimpse earlier this year.
  • CommonWell Health Alliance adds patient-facing services that several vendors have committed to incorporating into their EHRs.
  • The Office for Civil Rights announces that it will expand its investigations into data breaches involving the information of fewer than 500 people.
  • Canada-based Harris acquires OB/GYN EHR/PM vendor DigiChart.

Webinars

None scheduled soon. Contact Lorre for webinar services. Past webinars are on our HIStalk webinars YouTube channel. Some recent ones that are available for replay:


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Verisk Health renames itself to Verscend Technologies. Veritas Capital acquired the now-independent business from parent company Verisk Analytics in April 2016. The company hired Emad Rizk, MD (Accretive Health) as CEO and board director two weeks ago.


People

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Scott Newton, DNP, RN (The Johns Hopkins Hospital) joins TeleTracking as VP of care model solutions.

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Lisa Elias (Leidos) joins Orchestrate Healthcare as area VP.


Announcements and Implementations

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Summit Healthcare launches Provider Alert, which allows hospitals to send electronic notifications and documents to physicians whose patients have been treated in the hospital. Parkview Medical Center (CO) will implement it.

In England, Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust goes live on InterSystems TrackCare.


Government and Politics

NIST’s National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace funds six new pilot projects that include a $1 million grant to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (CA) to implement single sign-on and two-factor authentication for both patients and providers to simplify transition to post-acute care settings. The project was awarded in partnership with ONC.


Technology

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Vital Images is exploring the use of Microsoft’s HoloLens in its enterprise visualization solution, with use cases that include guided surgery and education, telemedicine, and virtual care.

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Business Insider covers the problems DocGraph and its CEO Fred Trotter had last week when Google automatically shut down the company’s access to its storage and analysis services due to suspected hacker activity, which turned out to be justified because the company’s misconfigured server had allowed a hacker to use it to launch denial-of-service attacks. Experts say Google’s cloud services are immature compared to those of competitors such as Amazon, to which Trotter has turned as a backup in case Google’s cloud becomes unavailable again.

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A photo of Donald Trump’s doctor – who admits that he spent only five minutes dashing off a bizarre, hyperbolic assessment of the health of the candidate, who has not released his actual medical records — apparently uses a Windows XP computer in his office, based on video from NBC.


Other

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Medscape’s 2016 physician EHR survey finds some interesting facts:

  • Epic is by far the most widely used EHR, beating out Cerner 28 percent to 10 percent.
  • Allscripts, which came in at #2 most used in the 2012 survey, didn’t even place in the top five this time.
  • The top-rated EHR is the VA’s VistA, beating Epic. The lowest-rated is another government system,  the DoD’s multi-billion dollar AHLTA.
  • Hospital-based and independent practice doctors both rate NextGen as the worst system.
  • The highest-rated EHRs for satisfaction are Practice Fusion, Amazing Charts, and VistA.
  • VistA and Epic lead the pack for connectivity, while Amazing Charts, Greenway, Practice Partner, and NextGen hold the bottom four spots.
  • Half of the respondents say the EHR takes away from their face time with patients and reduces the number of patients they can see.
  • Forty-two percent of doctors say they copy and paste EHR information “often” or “always.”

Maybe some vendors are closer to becoming “the Uber of healthcare” than they think: Uber has lost at least $1.2 billion so far this year. A business professor who questions Uber’s high valuation summarizes, “You won’t find too many technology companies that could lose this much money this quickly. For a private business to raise as much capital as Uber has been able to is unprecedented.”

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A Milwaukee Brewers fan blogger proposes that Epic CEO Judy Faulkner offer to move the team’s AAA affiliate from Colorado Springs, CO to Verona, WI and building it an indoor stadium that could also be used for Epic meetings. Otherwise, the Sky Sox are headed to San Antonio in 2019 if the owner can convince city taxpayers to buy him a stadium. Cerner’s Neal Patterson has his soccer team, so it would be fun for Epic to have its own baseball team.

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This brilliant graphic tells you everything you need to know about why our absurdly high US healthcare costs involve throwing money at the wrong (but highly profitable) health determinants. That tiny patch of green on the left shows how little the delivery of healthcare services influences overall health despite what hospitals and practices would have you believe. That hugely dominant patch of aptly colored green on the right shows that, like bank robber Willie Sutton, profit-seekers have gone where the money is (hint: it’s not in prevention or teaching people better lifestyle habits). “Healthcare” is not even vaguely synonymous with “health.” You also can’t have “public health” when the public in question would rather fund hospital bills than self-examine their eating, drinking, smoking, drug-taking, and exercise habits.

In Ireland, several dozen job candidates who had been offered positions with GE Healthcare are talking to lawyers after the company rescinds all of its job offers the day before the new hires were scheduled to start work. Some of them are now unemployed since they had quit their old job. The company says its labor unions are at fault for balking at its plans to change work schedules.

Vince and Elise continue their “Rating the Ratings” series. They subjectively rank the 1-2-3 finishers among KLAS, Black Book, and Peer60 using criteria they describe.

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Weird News Andy notes the death of man whose but often-played but never-cleaned  bagpipes infect his lungs with fungi that cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis. WNA puts an upbeat spin on the story with his favorite bagpipe jokes:

  • What is perfect pitch with bagpipes? 20 yards into a lake.
  • What is the difference between bagpipes and a lawn mower? You can tune a lawnmower.
  • What is the difference between bagpipes and a trampoline? You take off your shoes to jump on a trampoline.

Sponsor Updates

  • Experian Health and The SSI Group will exhibit at CAHAM August 28-31 in La Jolla, CA.
  • Christus Trinity Mother Frances Health System CIO Mike Eckhard discusses its use of PatientSafe smart phones on the local news.
  • WRAL Tech Wire interviews PatientPay CEO Tom Furr.
  • Network World interviews Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst.
  • The local business paper covers GE Healthcare’s donation of medical equipment to the Olympic and Paralympic games in Rio.

Blog Posts


Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Lt. Dan.
More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.
Get HIStalk updates. Send news or rumors.
Contact us.

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News 8/26/16

August 25, 2016 News 8 Comments

Top News

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States begin approving insurance company rate increase requests for ACA-sold policies, with premiums of those issued by Tennessee’s largest insurer jumping an average of 62 percent. Other states are approving hikes of 20 to 43 percent.

HHS says cost-based federal subsidies will soften the blow for most consumers, with three-fourths of those who buy insurance from Healthcare.gov paying less than $75 per month. Tennessee’s insurance commissioner says she had to approve huge increases because high insurer claims cost would have forced them to pull out of the ACA market completely otherwise.

Meanwhile, Princeton economist Uwe Reinhardt says the federal insurance marketplaces have entered a premium-increase death spiral. Similar programs in other countries are run by non-profit insurers offering a standard package of benefits that carry harsh penalties for citizens who don’t sign up. He summarizes,

The natural business model of a private commercial insurer is to price on health status and have the flexibility to raise prices year after year. What we’ve tried to do, instead, is do community rating [where insurers can’t price on how sick or healthy an enrollee is] and couple it with a mandate. When you do this as the Swiss or Germans do, you brutally enforce the mandate. You make young people sign up and pay. But we are too chicken to do that, so we allow people to stay out by doing two things: We give them a mandate penalty that is lower than the premium. And we tell them, If you’re really sick, we’ll take care of you anyhow.


Reader Comments

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From FlyOnTheWall: “Re: American Well. Cut half its sales team, going from 10 to five.” Unverified.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

I get a lot of press releases, interview offers, and sponsorship information requests from folks who work for marketing, PR, and advertising companies, but I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve never really kept any records other than what’s in my sent emails. If you work for one of those companies and work with health IT vendor clients, enter your contact information and we’ll keep in better touch.

I was reading a Reddit about seemingly cheery pop songs that have dark lyrics about stalking, murder, and rape (both violent and statutory) that listeners fail to note. Example: Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks,” to which clueless hipsters dance joyously to a whistly song about a teen planning to kill his classmates who can’t “outrun my gun.” It’s not quite as creepy as Ringo’s “Only Sixteen” or as opposite in meaning than people think about “Born in the USA,” but everybody misses it.

This week on HIStalk Practice: Dr. Gregg does the MACRA-rena. HHS awards $100 million to help health centers improve quality, HIT utilization. ONC commemorates HIPAA’s 20th anniversary. Safety Net Connect offers CCD workaround for community health centers. PMA Medical Specialists signs on with Aledade. South Carolina physicians cozy up to telemedicine. Alpine Foot & Ankle rolls out new ECW portal. Culbert Healthcare Solutions President Brad Boyd offers seven tips to help practices mitigate revenue risk during IT implementation.

This week on HIStalk Connect: Honor raises $42 million to expand its home care services from California into Texas. Big data startup Innovaccer raises a $15.6 million Series A. Smart pregnancy wearable company Bloomlife will use its latest round of funding to commercialize its first product. Accolade raises a $70 million Series E.


Webinars

None scheduled soon. Contact Lorre for webinar services. Past webinars are on our HIStalk webinars YouTube channel.

Sensato CEO John Gomez always puts on an excellent webinar and his HIStalk-sponsored one from earlier this week was no exception. Above is the recording of “Surviving the OCR Cybersecurity & Privacy Pre-Audit.”


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

European regulators approve creation of a joint health IT services venture between McKesson and Blackstone. I assume that’s the JV that will take over most of McKesson’s health IT business and combine it with Blackstone-owned Change Healthcare.

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McKesson will sell its San Francisco headquarters building and lease it back, freeing up capital. The value of comparable properties suggests that the building is worth around $300 million.

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Home care agency software vendor ClearCare announces a $60 million growth equity investment, increasing its total to $76 million.

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In Australia, personalized dosing software vendor DoseMe closes $2 million in Series A financing, increasing its total to $15 million. The company plans to expand to the US market and integrate its product into EHRs.

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Panama City, FL-based wait time software startup Jellyfish Health will add 100 employees over the next three years. The founder, president, and CEO is industry long-timer Dave Dyell, who founded iSirona in 2008 and sold it to NantHealth in 2014.


Sales

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Carilion Clinic (VA) chooses LogicStream Health’s clinical content optimization platform to reduce catheter-associated UTIs and venous thromboembolism by monitoring the clinical decision components that enable standardized care.

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Four-bed Southern Inyo Hospital (CA) will implement the OpenVista EHR from Medsphere, which will also manage the hospital’s IT services via the company’s Phoenix Health Systems division that it acquired in April 2015.

Receivables management vendor Specialized Healthcare Partners chooses Armor’s cloud platform to earn HITRUST certification.


People

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Pivot Point Consulting hires Brett Meyers, MD, MS (Meyers Consulting Services) as CMIO.

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MaineHealth names Marcy Dunn (Catholic Health Services of Long Island) as SVP/CIO.


Announcements and Implementations

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NVoq makes its SayIt speech recognition and work flow solutions available to healthcare customers in Canada.

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Healthwise earns Washington state certification of two of its patient decision aids as one of the first companies in the country to obtain such certification. The non-profit company offers 170 decision aids covering a variety of topics.


Privacy and Security

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A Florida judge approves the invasion of privacy lawsuit brought against ESPN and reporter Adam Schefter by professional football player Jason Pierre-Paul, whose surgery schedule was tweeted as a photo by Schefter as part of his story involving Pierre-Paul’s loss of a finger in a July 4, 2015 fireworks accident. The judge agreed with Pierre-Paul that while his injury was a public issue, his chart was not despite Shefter’s insistence that he needed the image to prove his story. Two employees of Jackson Memorial Hospital (FL) were fired over the incident.

From DataBreaches.net:

  • A stock short seller claims that medical devices made by St. Jude Medical are susceptible to cyberattacks, sending the shares he had bet against down 8 percent Thursday.
  • An Indiana clinic notifies an unstated number of patients that an upgrade to a server containing EHR data left it unprotected, a situation hackers took advantage of in breaching its systems.
  • California-based SCAN Health Plan announces that its sales contact sheets were accessed “for unauthorized purposes.”
  • Millennium Hotels & Resorts warns customers to review their credit card statements the food and beverage sales systems of 14 of its hotels were breached due to a vulnerability in the third-party system they use. That sounds similar to Banner Health’s food and beverage systems breach reported earlier this month that exposed the information of 3.7 million people.

Technology

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Fortune notes that nearly 90 percent of doctors in Brazil communicate using Facebook-owned, cross-platform consumer messaging app WhatsApp. It recently added end-to-end encryption that even many healthcare-specific, HIPAA-compliant apps don’t have (WhatsApp itself can’t read messages sent on its system). Facebook paid $14 billion for the company in 2014 and some experts think it could be worth up to $100 billion once Facebook monetizes it, which is already happening as Facebook just announced that it will use WhatsApp user information to target Facebook ads.

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Google announces Duo, a simple, cross-platform video calling app that employs end-to-end encryption and requires only a telephone number. The Android version has been downloaded 5 million times from the Google Play store.


Other

I wrote in July about the huge price increases and opportunistic marketing employed by Mylan Pharmaceuticals in increasing sales of allergy auto-injection EpiPen to $1.2 billion per year, fueled by jacking up the price of the decades-old drug by 500 percent, mandating sales of two-packs instead of single pens, lobbying to have the drug placed in all schools, and shortening its expiration date to one year. Hero-villain Martin Shkreli, who exposed drug pricing absurdities by raising the price of old but vital Turing Pharmaceuticals drug Daraprim by 5,000 percent just because he could, defends Mylan since they make only an eight percent profit overall. He says insurers should love paying the full $300 cost (without a patient co-pay) because it saves a $20,000 trip to the ED to get the same drug. Shkreli’s solution to unjustified generic drug prices – and it’s a pretty brilliant one — is for the federal government to create a generic drug company of its own and run it like a utility, leaving drug companies to sell only their patented drugs (he probably doesn’t even realize the benefit of fixing the never-ending hospital generic drug shortage problem). Shkreli is boyishly charming, shockingly outspoken, and ingeniously capitalistic, all prized characteristics except in the schizophrenic world of the business of healthcare where we don’t like being reminded of the enormous profits being made on the backs of those who are temporarily or permanently living the role of patient.

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I like this poetic discussion of the fact that 75 percent of Americans want to die at home although only 25 percent actually do so because of poor planning, written by HealthLoop founder Jordan Shlain, MD:

In contradistinction to your bed, please meet the mechanical, rigid, railing-bolstered hospital bed. Comfort be damned, it is a tool designed to protect medical vessels (a.k.a. patients) from falls, or to give nurses and doctors that ability to move you up and down like a car on a jack. In essence, it’s not really a bed. It doesn’t know you, nor does it like you. It hasn’t held you for years, it isn’t lonely without you. It sees you as a place-holding slab of flesh to be manipulated — until it meets another slab … For the foreseeable future, we cannot afford to view life as a simple game of winning or losing. Rather, it’s a process with a beginning, a middle, and an end. While some people’s ‘end’ happens in the beginning, and some in the ‘middle’, the natural end deserves, at minimum, a modicum of dignity. The last place I want to wage and lose a war in my twilight moments is in the bed(lam) of a hospital.

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A Brookings report reviews Nashville’s ambitions to become a leader in health IT. It notes that while Vanderbilt University performs a lot of health-related research, most of it occurs outside the university’s IT department, has limited IT applicability, and generates only a small number of patents given the dollars spent. The report also notes that Nashville is second to last among peer metro areas in the number of  software developers and analysts. Brookings calls Nashville’s health IT ecosystem “thin and inconsistent” with modest venture capital investment, especially in funding beyond the B round. Brookings recommends expanding the innovation infrastructure, building the health IT skills base, and fostering the health IT innovation ecosystem.

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The two big Orlando hospitals announce that they won’t charge survivors of the Pulse nightclub shootings in June for the medical services they received. It’s always interesting when hospitals decide to magnanimously write off bills for high-profile patients while aggressively chasing down money owed them by less-famous ones. Few non-profits outside of our screwy healthcare non-system bill consumers directly, but those who do don’t generally brag on allowing some of them to skip paying and leaving others to fund their expansive bottom lines and million-dollar salaries.

The Pew Charitable Trusts is looking for a health IT expert to work on safety and interoperability research that includes patient matching, data standards, a national health IT safety center, and post-implementation EHR testing.

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Weird News Andy says he hopes the cutting-edge surgery puts the end to the “sworded” affair of a man in India who swallowed 40 knives due to a “wild urge to consume metal” that he likened to alcohol or drug addiction. Surgeons removed the knives and suggested he eat spinach if he feels a need for iron. My first thought was whether the sight of the scalpel made his stomach rumble.


Sponsor Updates

  • Healthfinch asks, “Who’s Most Likely to Fix Healthcare?” in an election parody survey.
  • FDB will make its drug knowledge available to participants in the Health 2.0 SF Code-A-Thon September 24-25 in San Francisco.
  • The local paper recaps Xerox Healthcare Chief Innovation Officer Tamara StClaire’s presentation at the Health:Further conference in Nashville.
  • SyTrue’s Kyle Silvestro will serve on the Branding Panel/Entrepreneur Spotlight at the Brand Entrepreneurs 2016 Annual Business Bootcamp for Entrepreneuers – SFO Edition on September 6.

Blog Posts


Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Lt. Dan.
More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.
Get HIStalk updates. Send news or rumors.
Contact us.

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News 8/24/16

August 23, 2016 News 14 Comments

Top News

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Apple quietly acquired startup Gliimpse earlier this year, Fast Company discovers. The company offers tools for consumers to collect and share their electronic medical record information in both readable and codified form. Self-funded Gliimpse reported just one investment, a February 2015 seed round of $1 million. The beta release of its software was launched in October 2015.

Founder Anil Sethi studied clinical engineering at Johns Hopkins, worked for Apple as a systems engineer in the late 1980s, founded Dakota Imaging (later sold to WebMD),  then founded Sequoia Software in 1992 that was sold to Citrix in 2001.

My take on all these recently uncovered Apple healthcare moves is that new iPhone health offerings will pressure EHR vendors to open up their systems to Apple integration. The company clearly plans to use that information in consumer-facing apps and iPhone-using patients are going to demand that their providers make it available. EHR vendors won’t be able to hide behind the lack of interest their hospital and practice customers have for interoperability once patients start complaining to those providers about their non-functional app.


Reader Comments

From Gabby Hayes: “Re: Oscar health insurance. Pulling out of Dallas and New Jersey.” Oscar is a goner given its total dependence on the exchange-sold policy market that even the big insurers haven’t figured out even though it’s just a small percentage of their business and yet all of Oscar’s. My prediction is this: only individual states can stabilize the ACA-powered market since they also regulate the non-exchange policy business. You can bet that a state like Arizona — which has seen so many insurers pull out of the exchange that one county (Pinal) has none left offering policies — will exert pressure on the companies who still want to sell in-state policies and whose rate increases it approves. That might be another reason that insurers are bailing – they can’t necessarily get state approval for the rates they require to avoid losing money. I’ve heard rational, anti-government people begrudgingly state that the only answer is a single-payer system, although that single payer in question hasn’t done so great running Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA. We may end up with a UK-like system where everybody gets coverage at a reasonable price, but a thriving market of more accessible providers would serve those who can afford their services.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

I had a “how do I do this” question about the webinar signup software we use. The vendor replied with a screen capture video that they recorded specifically for me, with one of the support reps informally walking me through the individual steps. I wonder how often healthcare software vendors do this? An analyst could create the video in a couple of minutes, obviously faster than writing out step-by-step instructions, preparing a series of captioned screen shots, or trying to schedule a screen-sharing session.


Webinars

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.

Contact Lorre for webinar services. Past webinars are on our HIStalk webinars YouTube channel.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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In Canada, grocery store and pharmacy operator Loblaw Companies offers to buy BC-based EHR vendor QHR Technologies for $132 million in cash, although QHR is free to accept other offers until shareholders vote on the deal in October. QHR holds 20 percent of Canada’s EHR market. QHR sold its US-based clearinghouse and RCM business to MTBC in July 2015.

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Healthcare Growth Partners relocates its headquarters from Chicago to Houston.

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Premier reports Q4 results: revenue up 15 percent, adjusted EPS $0.36 vs. $0.36, beating revenue expectations but falling short on earnings.


Sales

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Union Hospital (MD) chooses Spok for enterprise communications.


People

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Patient experience vendor Docent Health, which just raised $15 million in a Series A funding round, hires Kim LaFontana (The Advisory Board Company) as chief product officer; Andrew Park (N-of-One) as CTO; Geoff McHugh (The Advisory Board Company) as VP of transformation; and Monna Nanavati (Athenahealth) as chief service delivery officer. Industry long-timer Paul Roscoe is co-founder and CEO of the company.

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Michael Zaroukian, MD, PhD, CMIO of Sparrow Health System (MI) begins his one-year term as board chair of HIMSS North America. The board has 10 members, of which five work for health systems. I didn’t realize that the vendor-heavy board of the parent organization (just plain old HIMSS global) has 13 members, of which only four work for health systems.


Announcements and Implementations

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A Huffington Post blog post by the EVP of Visiting Nurse Service of New York describes the results of a state-funded pilot project in which the role of home health aides was expanded to include medication review and updating client status on a tablet that automatically notifies a clinical manager of changes. The project reduced ED admissions by 24 percent. Patient status was documented using software from Practice Unite, the secure texting vendor that merged with physician engagement focused Uniphy Health in March 2016.

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Santa Rosa consulting offers a one-day replacement strategy workshop for McKesson Paragon users.

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In England, two London NHS trusts begin exchanging information between their Cerner-powered HIEs, allowing clinicians at each site to view patient information from the other that includes discharge summaries, diagnoses, medications, and lab results.

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CommonWell Health Alliance adds patient-facing services that will allow people to enroll themselves in CommonWell, link their own records among providers, and review information about them stored on CommonWell’s network. CommonWell members MediPortal and Integrated Data Services will add the patient capabilities to their portals by the end of the year, while Aprima, Athenahealth, Cerner, Evident, Modernizing Medicine, and RelayHealth have committed to doing so without committing to a timeline.

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Lexmark Healthcare announces new products: a zero-footprint Health Content Management Viewer for documents, medical imaging, and XDS content; a redesigned video capture device for PACSGear; and video and image enablement workflow for Epic.  

A LifeImage survey of 100 CHIME members finds that imaging responsibility has moved from the radiology department to IT; most hospitals still can’t move imaging data between applications; and one-third of CIOs worry that their organizations could be losing revenue due to lack of interoperability that could detect orders for duplicate and clinically unnecessary exams.

Nebraska Medicine takes over operation of the student health center of University of Nebraska-Lincoln and brings Epic live there.


Privacy and Security

From DataBreaches.net:

  • In Pakistan, a hospital employee steals data from its CT machine and also corrupts the machine’s software, which the hospital says it will have to repurchase for at least its original $330,000 purchase price. 
  • Orlando Health (FL) says it caught at least one of its employees reviewing the electronic medical records of survivors of the Pulse nightclub shootings in June.
  • A HIMSS survey finds that one-third of hospitals and half of non-acute providers don’t encrypt data in transit.
  • An HHS OIG report finds that the security of CMS’s wireless network has four vulnerabilities.
  • In Canada, two people behind a hospital records breach in which the information of new mothers was sold to companies selling educational savings plans get off with fines and community service. Two others had already pleaded guilty and received house arrest, probation, and community service, one of them a former OB nurse who also faces professional misconduct charges.

Technology

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Gartner releases its Hype Cycle for emerging technologies. Virtual and augmented reality are moving to the Slope of Enlightenment, but Gartner predicts that machine learning, software-defined anything, and natural language question answering have the shortest times to mainstream adoption at 2-5 years.


Other

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In Canada, a medical marijuana consultation doctor whose poor (and possibly falsified) paper recordkeeping led to his three-month suspension is ordered by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario to implement an EHR as a condition of his continued licensure.

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In Australia, Monash Health’s ED goes back to paper for two days when its Emis Health ED software goes offline, although the hospital disputes the downtime in saying that it was a planned six-hour upgrade. 

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A JAMA literature review of the high cost of drugs in the US blames “the granting of government-protected monopolies to drug manufacturers” and restrictions on drug price negotiation.

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A JAMA research letter finds that, not surprisingly, it’s harder for medical students to get into residencies for the higher-paying medical specialties. Primary care specialties have the lowest average annual salaries at around $250,000 and only around half of those residency spots are filled with US medical school graduates. On the other end of the spectrum as a huge outlier is neurosurgery, with average compensation of $750,000 and a near-100 percent fill rate of US residents. Opportunistic graduates might want to choose pathology since it’s the highest income in the least-competitive group.

Meanwhile, those high-earning diagnostic radiologists respond to the American College of Radiology’s call to action (and its suggested use of its advocacy app) in expressing outrage at the VA’s plan to allow advanced practice RNs to order and interpret MR and CT studies without physician oversight. I’m shocked that advocacy-enamored HIMSS hasn’t developed an app of its own to give members an easy way to support profitable health IT legislation.

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Here’s an interesting title for a think tank’s editorial that complains about “the federal government’s takeover of EHR.”

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A vandal (or politically paid artist, I would guess given the level of sophistication) defaces Los Angles hospital signs in preparation for Hillary Clinton’s visit, apparently spreading the unproven rumors that she is not in good health. It’s surprising to me that nobody has breached and published her records as often happens with celebrities, although perhaps people have looked and found no smoking gun to be worth their trouble. No matter how the election turns out, we’ll be left with the sobering reality that a lot of Americans of all political persuasions are angry, too partisan to carry on a civil debate, quick to resort to online harassment and bullying, and not especially bright or well informed, problems that will persist no matter who’s sitting in the Oval Office for the next four or more years. I expect hospitals to be busy the week of November 8 election dealing with the human results of unfortunate post-election events.

NYC Health + Hospitals, facing a $1.8 billion annual shortfall, tries to cut costs and diversify into new businesses without running afoul of unions and city leaders who won’t support cutbacks in staffing, which represents 70 percent of its overall costs. It’s a good example of a seldom-mentioned healthcare cost problem – bloated, inefficient health systems are often the largest employer in their communities and as such earn the unwarranted support of politicians who are more concerned about local employment and hometown prestige than national healthcare costs.

Health management company Equity Healthcare refocuses its employee wellness services from cold-calling workers to encourage healthy lifestyles to instead use claims data to focus on those with chronic conditions who are most likely to respond.

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Weird News Andy calls this video story “She Stoops to Conquer.” He explains, “A lady gives birth on camera while her husband parks the car. Pretty amazing video with nothing that squeamish. The good stuff starts at 1:18. She just squats and there’s the baby.”


Sponsor Updates

  • Printing virtualization vendor UniPrint.net joins Imprivata’s development partner program.
  • GE Healthcare employees volunteer at Milwaukee area schools to help spruce up classrooms before students return for the new school year.
  • Besler Consulting will exhibit at the HFMA Region 8 MidAmerica Summer Institute August 24-26 in Minneapolis.
  • Boston Software Systems releases a new podcast, “CVSHealth: Best Practices for Growth with Automation.”
  • In Canada, Markham Stouffville Hospital will upgrade to Meditech 6.1.
  • CoverMyMeds will exhibit at the Ohio Ambulatory Care Summit August 26 in Columbus.
  • CTG profiles new President and CEO Arthur “Bud” Crumlish.
  • Elsevier Clinical Solutions CMIO Jonathan Teich, MD offers his predictions for addressing the social and health demands of a growing global population.
  • EClinicalWorks will exhibit at Medical Fair Asia August 31-September 2 in Singapore.
  • HCTec makes the 2016 Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in America.
  • Healthfinch CEO Jonathan Baran will speak at the NCHICA Conference August 31 in Asheville, NC.

Blog Posts


Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Lt. Dan.
More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.
Get HIStalk updates. Send news or rumors.
Contact us.

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Uncovering the Real Value of HIMSS Exhibition

August 22, 2016 News 2 Comments

Vendors weigh in on the real ROI behind HIMSS exhibition efforts. From “meaningful conversation” metrics to the pros and cons of in-booth entertainment and décor, most have come to realize that the conference is a can’t-miss opportunity worth the all-too-real financial risk.

By @JennHIStalk

HIStalk readers have historically not shied away from airing their HIMSS-related grievances. Whether it’s booth babe backlash, sales reps who refuse to make eye contact, or the delicate balance of staying in the good graces of HIMSS organizers, there has been ample dissection of the health IT industry’s largest tradeshow since HIStalk began covering it 13 years ago.

Yet for all the back and forth, conference attendance has grown impressively. Exhibitor numbers seem to have remained steady despite show-floor grumbling about the cost of just about everything. Atlanta, New Orleans, and San Diego have been scrubbed from the conference city rotation due to constraints in their conference hall and travel logistics and Chicago was axed because of a hotel room pricing spat, leaving Orlando and Las Vegas as the only cities capable of accommodating the massive amount of infrastructure necessary to house its sprawling square footage.

Given the double-edged sword of shelling out big bucks to exhibit with a good chance of getting lost in the crowd, HIStalk reached out to several vendors with varying levels of HIMSS exhibition tenure to gauge their return on investment assessment. From first-time exhibitors to those who’ve joined the fray for the last 20-plus years, most have come to realize that the event is a necessary evil that they will endure — some more eagerly than others — for the foreseeable future.

Setting Measurable Goals Makes the Difference

Determining ROI for an event like HIMSS can be tricky given the long sales cycle for many vendors and the hard-to-quantify benefit of relationship building. And then there are the add-ons. In addition to the standard HIMSS booth pricing — which starts in the $4,000-$5,000 range depending on HIMSS corporate membership status — there are costs associated with extras like chairs, carpet, trash cans, and power, not to mention travel and lodging, advertising and marketing, signage around the show floor, and after-hours events.

Some companies, like 20-plus year exhibitor Billian’s HealthDATA (acquired earlier this summer by Definitive Healthcare), base ROI on concrete goals such as generating a certain number of prospects and closing enough sales to cover expenses for the show.

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Others, like Stericycle Communications, lean toward the number of “meaningful” conversations conducted on the show floor. “Ahead of each HIMSS, we set a target for the number of deep, needle-moving conversations we want to have,” says Colin Hung, vice president of marketing at Stericycle, which has exhibited for the last four years. “These conversations could be with clients, prospects, potential business partners, suppliers, and even potential employees. We do look at other metrics like conversions and booth visitor sales generated,  but it’s the meaningful conversations metric that really determines whether or not the conference was successful.”

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Some exhibitors, like LogicStream Health, see ROI more in terms of generating “new opportunities and interactions with prospects currently in our pipeline, which we expect to turn into new customers and additional revenue,” according to Scott Olson, director of marketing. The company, which exhibited for the first time in 2016, is planning to exhibit again next year. Olson adds that, “Because of the effort we put in on the front end in 2016, we easily justified the expense and expect an even better return on our 2017 investment.”

The Consequences of Taking a HIMSS Break

While none of the vendors interviewed would disclose hard financial figures, all have found their presence at HIMSS to be enough of a worthwhile venture to justify exhibiting year after year. Not one company interviewed has taken a year off from exhibiting. That steadfastness may have more to do with HIMSS incentives (and disincentives) than any hard and fast financial gain directly tied to contracts signed on the show floor.

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“We do not plan to stop exhibiting at HIMSS,” says Hung, who adds that the association’s points system plays into that decision. “The points system governs how vendors select their booth space for the following year,” he explains. “Vendors earn points for various activities related to HIMSS – paying on time, booking accommodations in the hotel block, being a sponsor, booking larger booth space, etc. Points are cumulative and skipping a year cuts deeply into your accumulated points.”

Readers may remember that Cerner, which declined to comment for this story, stopped exhibiting on the main show floor for three years, citing a marketing environment that it felt was not conducive to showcasing new technologies and attracting clients. It returned in 2012 due to customer demand, occupying space on the exhibit floor that some felt was in direct correlation to the length of its hiatus.

“It is a given to exhibit at HIMSS,” reiterates one healthcare executive whose company will exhibit in 2017 for the ninth year in a row. “Clients expect to see us there. However, with our marketing budget, it’s also a trade-off. The tremendous costs equate to a significant expense, which takes away from attending other opportunities. We see HIMSS as a necessary evil. We are exhibiting at HIMSS17, but due to the exorbitant costs, we’re reducing our footprint to ramp the ROI in our favor. We may spend more relationship-building time outside of the HIMSS environment.”

The Bigger the Better?

The aforementioned executive may be the exception to the rule when it comes to downsizing exhibit space, though he does clarify that, “Regardless of size, a well-designed booth with furnishings that are comfortable yet attractive and a correct flow is equally important.” The majority of companies interviewed for this story have found value in expanding their show-floor footprint.

“Over the years, we went from a 10×10 booth to a 20×20,” says Joyce Metzer. Now retired, she managed Billian HealthDATA’s presence at the show for over two decades. “The extra space and seating allowed us to have face-to-face meetings with clients and prospects, and we were better able to accommodate attendees who wanted to see demos. Bigger booths, more seating, and more stations for doing demos is critical. Furnishings also play a big role in showing off the fact that you have money to spend on making your customers and prospects comfortable.”

LogicStream will expand its booth next year, and Olson is eager to see how much of a difference it makes. “Our booth was crowded last year because of all the traffic we drove, even being in the back corner of the main floor,” he says. “There’s a chance we missed some walk-up conversations because of the number of people we had at any given time. With a bigger presence this year, our expectation is that we’ll have more room for demonstrations of our solutions.”

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Some exhibitors, however, just don’t see the value in the extra square footage. “Granted, you don’t want to be too small such that no one can find you,” says Greg Chittim, vice president of strategic marketing at Arcadia Healthcare Solutions, which has been a HIMSS exhibitor for 10 years. “But I think our customers would rather we spend our money on our products and their experience versus a second floor to our booth. That being said, we try to draw people in with eye-catching visuals that are light on the latest buzzwords and stock photos of happy doctors and friendly experts who actually execute our programs rather than people who just sell them.”

Hung, who has been to HIMSS 10 times, agrees – somewhat. “I honestly don’t think there is any difference between a 10×10 versus a 10×30,” he says. “When you are in a booth that small, you won’t be able to cut through the noise. When you get to a 20×20, that’s when you’ll get a little bit of attention, but you still have to work hard to get business. It’s not until you cross 2,500 square feet that the size of the booth suddenly makes a difference. When you have a space that size, people notice. If you aren’t able to afford 2,500 square feet, I think you’re better off going with a smaller booth and investing your dollars in other aspects of HIMSS.”

It’s What’s in Them That Matters

No matter how big the booth may be, it’s what’s in them that counts in terms of attracting passers-by and making invited guests feel comfortable. Depending on the service or technology offered, many vendors have taken to offering the aforementioned demos and in-booth presentations featuring high-profile customers.

“Presentations can be effective if you have a lot of clients or partners who attend, and if you’re willing to make the effort to market them consistently in the four weeks leading up to the show,” Hung explains. “If, however, you are counting on people just stopping in, I think you’ll be in for a very lonely HIMSS experience.”

Chittim believes that offering something compelling at the booth will help to keep the crickets from chirping. “Bringing something interesting absolutely makes a difference,” he says. “We focus on really compelling data visualizations presented like an art gallery, which does an amazing job of drawing folks from all backgrounds in for a second or third look. Entertainment that has nothing to do with healthcare or our core business is useless from my point of view.”

Hung is of the same mindset and believes that the days of having entertainers such as magicians, jugglers, and game show hosts at HIMSS are long past. “These types of entertainers attract and repel an equal number of booth visitors, in my opinion, and are thus a waste of money. I never find I have time enough at HIMSS to stand and watch a magician perform. I’m always rushing off to the next meeting. I know many fellow HIMSS attendees have similarly packed schedules.

“Having a good-looking model, male or female, in your booth is a complete turn-off,” Hung adds. “I honestly can’t understand why a company would hire a non-employee just to stand in the booth to look good. Not only is it incredibly sexist, but it insults the intelligence of attendees. This form of in-booth entertainment definitely has an impact and it’s completely negative.”

In-booth entertainment, good or bad, can often add up to one thing – noise. “Due to the nature of our business, we don’t have experience with presentations or in-booth entertainment,” the anonymous executive explains. “What we do have unfortunate experience with is the noise level at HIMSS due to the over-crowding of exhibitors in the given space. Our neighbors on multiple occasions have repetitively exceeded the decibel level specified by HIMSS, resulting in less-than-optimal business environments for us. Although HIMSS attempts to monitor and discipline offenders, this challenge is a reality on the show floor.”

Reeling the Right People In

Aside from the challenges of noisy neighbors, exhibitors have over the years defined what works for them and what doesn’t in terms of attracting qualified decision makers to their booths.

Some avoid giveaways and the “goody grubbers” that go after them altogether. The Arcadia team, for example, has found that giveaways tend to draw in only folks who aren’t decision makers, or even employees of potential customers. “The most successful thing at our booth is showing live demos by real experts – our product team, our technical leaders, and clinicians that have really used the product.”

The LogicStream team has had a similar experience. “We had a drawing for a hoverboard in 2016,” recounts Olson, “but didn’t get much traffic from people just dropping off business cards or stopping simply to get their badge scanned. We haven’t decided if we’ll do a larger giveaway in 2017. Attendees that we talked to were more interested in what we could offer their health system and how we could improve care delivery for their patients and providers.”

While tchotchkes may not work, food and beverage seem to be a no-brainer. “Giving away quality food or beverages is always a hit,” says Hung. “Whether it’s coffee, desserts, candies, mini tacos … attendees always appreciate food, especially when the alternative is a $9 cup of dark water that only looks like coffee.

“It’s really challenging to come up with a giveaway that’s unique these days,” he explains, though he adds that he did notice a lot of buzz around HIMSS16 booths featuring a custom T-shirt station and miniature obstacle course. “Everyone has access to similar tchotchke vendors, and every year those vendors follow the same trends. My suggestion is to avoid grab-and-go giveaways like pens and notepads … anything that someone can just grab from your booth without stopping. Instead, plow your money into a good food giveaway that forces the person to pause at your booth, like coffee or ice cream.”

Metzer has also found food and beverage to be the quickest way to the hearts of attendees. “Any kind of food or drawing for a gift will definitely increase traffic,” she says. “We discovered that having a cocktail hour with a drawing at the end of show hours brought in a lot of customers and prospects. The customers would tell the prospects how our product helped them do their jobs, and how easy it was to use the product.”

Due Diligence for Decision Makers

Marketing initiatives, whether they be focused on scavenger hunts, giveaways, baristas, or bartenders, are all designed to do one thing – get decision makers into booths and keep them there. As anyone who’s ever attended HIMSS knows, getting the attention of the C-suite can be challenging without the proper due diligence.

“They key to HIMSS is to invest the time and effort ahead of the conference to book meetings rather than expect walk-ins,” says Hung. Such due diligence is what helped keep the Billian’s HealthDATA booth humming year over year. Metzer says that, on average, 25 percent of booth visits were made by decision-makers, a figure driven by the sales and marketing team’s pre-HIMSS push. Olson recounts that about half of LogicStream’s drop-in visitors were of the decision-making caliber, with the rest being students, vendors, investors, lower-level health system employees, and media.

“Too often,” adds Chittim, “the real decision makers are hounded as they walk the show floor, so are understandably protective of their time and attention. Based on the fact that we’re showing something that is detailed and real versus things that appear to be vaporware, we often have a junior person come first, but they typically bring a real decision maker back with them.”

Time to Sign on the Dotted Line

The health IT sales cycle is not a quick one, and while vendors may use the HIMSS conference as a means to amplify news of a recently signed contract, it is not the type of event that lends itself to initial meetings one day and contractual agreements the next.

“HIMSS is definitely a long-term investment,” says Hung, adding that Stericycle can trace almost 80 percent of its technology partnerships back to a meeting or discussion at the show. “It’s very rare that we meet someone at HIMSS for the first time who buys in the same year. It usually takes two or three HIMSS meetings along with other touch points before a business relationship is cemented.”

Metzer puts the Billian’s HIMSS sales cycle at less than two years, while Chittim says Arcadia’s is six months or less, with 5 percent of total sales being traced directly back to the conference. The variety of times and percentages certainly seems to add to the complexity of attempting to define HIMSS ROI.

Getting Ready for Orlando

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Despite the opaque accounting, vendors are already getting their ducks in a row for HIMSS17. “Between the follow-up work and evaluating the 2016 experience, and then looking at increasing our 2017 presence, it’s quite a task to manage and prepare for,” admits Olson. “Next year, we’ll bring a larger team and have a larger booth. Along with that comes bigger goals and a higher expectation of return from the conference.”

Stericycle is also planning to put more of its team members on the show floor. “It’s so valuable for our product team to see what’s happening in the industry and for them to interact with clients and prospects directly,” says Hung. “There’s no better place for that than HIMSS.”

Chittim is on the same page as his exhibitor peers, adding that, “We try to be as conservative as possible with our marketing dollars, but it’s hard to pass up an opportunity to go big in a time and place that has all of our competitors and many potential customers in one place. We’ll be right by the HIMSS17 front door with a new data gallery, new product demos, and a number of clients presenting at our booth and at HIMSS broadly. We’re already looking forward to the week even though it’s six months away.”

Monday Morning Update 8/22/16

August 21, 2016 News 10 Comments

Top News

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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.


Reader Comments

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

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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?

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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.

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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.

Webinars

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.

Contact Lorre for webinar services. Past webinars are on our HIStalk webinars YouTube channel.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Cisco will lay off 5,500 employees.

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The federal government awards Agfa HealthCare a 10-year, $768 million contract for diagnostic imaging, extending its DINS-PACS win streak to four. 

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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.


People

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SAP names Thomas Laur (Sutherland Healthcare Solutions) as president of its recently created Connected Health group.

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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

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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

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From DataBreaches.net:

  • 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.


Other

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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.

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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.


Sponsor Updates

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  • 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.

Blog Posts


Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Lt. Dan.
More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.
Get HIStalk updates. Send news or rumors.
Contact us.

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News 8/19/16

August 18, 2016 News 5 Comments

Top News

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The Federal Trade Commission resolves its patient privacy complaint against free EHR vendor Practice Fusion, which encouraged patients to fill out satisfaction surveys about doctors using its EHR and then posted those reviews on its Patient Fusion website, sometimes exposing confidential information without the reviewer’s knowledge.

The order requires Practice Fusion make its privacy and security policies clear to consumers and to stop posting patient reviews on the Internet. The company will also face ongoing monitoring with penalties for future violations.

Practice Fusion sent “How was your visit?” emails to patients under their doctor’s name, pre-checking the “keep this review anonymous” box (which still placed the review on Practice Fusion’s site, but with “anonymous” instead of their first name) and with a warning not to include personal information. Despite those notices, patients entered detailed information and questions about their medications and treatments in the free text review box, sometimes including their names and phone numbers in somehow becoming confused into thinking that they were communicating privately with the practice.

Practice Fusion now appears to not display comments at all on its Patient Fusion site, probably figuring it was too much work trying to sort through all the junk patients were entering. The company was also getting a lot of criticism from its doctor users, who were upset that Practice Fusion was contacting their patients en masse using the practice’s name.


Reader Comments

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From Balance Bill: “Re: balance billing judgment. Virtually all hospitals and medical practices have a confidential charge master. They also make patients sign an agreement saying they are responsible for charges, without being able to say what the charges will be and without being able to show the amounts of any potential charges. This Virginia Judge just ruled that its not a valid contract when one party refuses to share critical information (such as the charge master). I’m not a lawyer, but I think that one of the foundations of American healthcare billing is beginning to crumble. I am hoping so.” Providers should be required to offer cash-paying patients the lowest price they accept from anyone. They should also tell patients (both insured and not insured) what those prices are so they can make responsible decisions at the point of care. It is absurd that people can be forced into bankruptcy because of a hospital’s bill at full charge master price that nobody actually pays except those with cash and no insurance. Every other industry offers cash discounts, not cash penalties. This kind of pushback might change the dynamic of insurance companies that are forced to negotiate individually with health systems as they haggle over price and volume and instead of just deciding whether they are willing to pay a given hospital’s published charges.

From Maria M: “Re: balance billing judgment. I worked for a medical center where a couple of cardiologists canceled all their insurance contracts and referred their Medicare patients to other doctors. The amounts they were charging for cath procedures, stents, and angiograms were staggering. They didn’t balance bill the patients, but instead went after the insurance companies, sometimes in court. The amounts these insurances were paying was unbelievable. They went so far as to hire a hospitalist so when cardiac patients came into the ER they were the first ones notified. This practice still continues today.” I’ve likewise heard of profit hospitals that intentionally took their entire ED out of network so they could stick the insurance companies of patients traveling outside their local areas with higher bills. I struggle with the fact that no matter how egregiously health systems and practice behave, they are operating legally within this mess of a non-system that we’ve created. It’s like tax loopholes – legal even if shameful.

From The PACS Designer: “Re: wireless heart pump. Swiss scientists develop a wireless heart pump that does not make any contact with the blood that it’s augmenting. The next phase will be capturing the wireless information from the pump so it can be viewed along with other information sources to improve treatment options.” The pump is wireless but still invasive – it controls a set of rings placed around the aorta that contract sequentially to help move blood through. The advantage is portability, lack of triggered coagulation response, and a reduced risk of infection where the wires would otherwise penetrate the skin. It seems like this could work for swallowing disorders – if you’ve ever seen a dysphagia patient whose nervous system can’t coordinate swallowing contractions, it’s pretty horrible.

From Holding On: “Re: McKesson. Did you lose them as a sponsor of HIStalk?” Yes. I had to cancel RelayHealth, McKesson, and McKesson’s Paragon business as sponsors because their ever-churning marketing departments left us without a valid contact or anyone there who even knows what HIStalk is. Of those thankfully few sponsors who don’t continue, probably 30 percent are for this reason (nobody at the company has a clue or is empowered to make a decision following turnover), 40 percent are due to acquisition by a company that already sponsors, 20 percent are because the company doesn’t have the money, and 10 percent are because they don’t see the value, usually stated by a junior marketeer who adores social media while not paying attention to what real executives read for business (i.e., not Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram).

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From Gidget: “Re: DataBreaches.net. You mention them specifically in your security updates. Do you have a business arrangement with them?” No. I simply think they are doing fantastic work and it’s only fair to credit them as my source, even if they refer to a source of their own. I’m just about the only publication to give them credit, I’ve noticed. That’s pretty sleazy and self-serving for alleged journalists who are paranoid that their audience might realize how little actual reporting they do and therefore try to hide that fact by passing off someone else’s legwork as something they sleuthed out themselves. It bugs me that plenty of sites get their story ideas from HIStalk without giving credit, so I won’t do it to someone else. I use only original sources (never other health IT sites since all they do is summarize press releases and journal articles while adding no value) and I always provide a link.

From Marquis Stanley: “Re: KLAS. How they are allowed to continue on without any kind of question or reproach is remarkable. They’re as direct a beneficiary of the billions of federally infused HITECH dollars as any vendor, with no scrutiny or oversight. To Mr. H’s point, the overall lack of transparency related to survey and analysis processes and vendor relationships is curious at best – especially with KLAS being linked to the VA and DoD procurements.” There’s no second-guessing their success as long as the market for their services continues to exist.

From PM_From_Haities: “Re: KLAS. It’s better than the alternatives. Empirical evidence of good evaluations of good products aside, vendors that are not deemed Best of KLAS are of course going to grumble. I’ve never heard anyone raving about help they received by Black Book or any of the other ratings. Some of the small samples are the best you can do as some HIT software is only installed in select locations. KLAS is one data point in a good vendor evaluation. The move to MU should add commodity features that people will come to appreciate as certified vendors will have to meet some minimum bar.” I’ll be interested to see what Vince and Elise say in future installments of their “Rating the Ratings” series, which draws from responses to my own recent survey.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

This week on HIStalk Practice: Aledade opens a new ACO in Arkansas. Modernizing Medicine announces California expansion plans. VITL partners with OhMD to offer Vermont MDs secure texting. Medicaid hassles prompt some independent practices to throw in the towel. Hello Health’s Krista Sultan offers advice on making CCM work for your practice. GE Healthcare reports on EHR use in Rio. Medina Innovation Holdings rebrands, creates new telemed subsidiary. YMCA’s Matt Longjohn, MD outlines the ways in which healthcare technology are enabling the Y’s Diabetes Prevention Program. Signature Medical Group and Heritage Medical Systems form new population health management venture.

Listening: new from long-time Nick Cave collaborator Mick Harvey, who released the third album in which he translates the work of long-dead French musician Serge Gainsbourg. You would expect something that weird from one of the always-intense Bad Seeds, which to me were like a resurrection of the dark but strangely alluring poetry of The Doors. One might logically jump from there to the little-known, baritone-led Tindersticks.


Webinars

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.

Contact Lorre for webinar services. Past webinars are on our HIStalk webinars YouTube channel.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Data breach and identity fraud protection firm ID Experts recapitalizes itself in bringing in two private equity firms for $27.5 million in funding and cashing out unnamed current owners. The deal values the 88-employee Tigard, OR company at $50 million.

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Pregnancy wearable and tracking app vendor Bloomlife raises $4 million in a seed funding round with investors that include Salesforce founder Marc Benioff. The company’s Belli app monitors contractions during the third trimester at a price of $29 per week.

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Denver-based patient engagement app vendor NextHealth Technologies closes $8.5 million in Series A funding, increasing its total to $9.5 million. CEO Eric Grossman came from TriZetto.

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Nuance acquires radiology data mining analytics provider Montage Healthcare Solutions, a former Nuance partner. William Boonn, MD and Woojin Kim, MD of Montage have updated their LinkedIn profiles with titles of CMIO at Nuance.


Sales

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The state of Kansas awards a $215 million Medicaid claims system contract to HP Enterprise, which will bring in Cerner’s HealtheEDW data warehouse and population health management tool to allow care managers to optimize the treatment of Medicaid patients in near real time.


People

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University Hospital (OH) names Joy Grosser (UnityPoint health) as CIO, replacing interim CIO Sue Schade.


Announcements and Implementations

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A new Peer60 report covers HCAHPS data collection and analysis vendors, finding that the just-acquired Press Ganey dominates, while PRC and JL Morgan also score well in satisfaction.

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Extension Healthcare announces Extension Mobile 5.0 as an enhancement to Extension Engage, which is in production at Parkland Memorial Hospital (TX).

Salesforce announces a two-way video chat telehealth solution for Salesforce Health Cloud that also automatically displays the patient’s medical profile to providers. 

Sunquest announces GA of Vue 1.0, a diagnostic workstation that integrates clinical and anatomic pathology information for pathologists.

The HIMSS-SIIM Enterprise Imaging Workgroup releases another white paper, this one titled “Workflow Challenges of Enterprise Imaging.”


Government and Politics

Kaiser Permanente, unlike most of the for-profit insurers bailing out on the ACA exchange business, says it won’t do the same and is actually making a small profit on that business. CEO Bernard Tyson says,“The idea that I would turn my back on a segment of the American population who really needs the coverage and the care—I’m in for the long haul. The discussion is interesting, as big insurers claim they’re getting hit hard financially by sicker-than-expected customers who unfairly use special enrollment periods to sign up for insurance only when they’re getting sicker, while others say ACA markets are doing exactly what they should in weeding out higher-priced insurers who lose business to more aggressive competitors (the national insurers who are dropping out were nearly always are getting beaten on price). ACA business could be shored up quite a bit by stiffening the penalties for people who fail to buy insurance (just like for car insurance), clamping down on people who buy or change insurance mid-year for questionably documented reasons, and extending insurer and consumer commitments beyond today’s one-year period to settle the market down. Perhaps the biggest unexpected event that hurt the exchange insurance business is that companies didn’t stop offering health insurance to their employees as experts predicted, making the ACA marketplace smaller and riskier.

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New, expensive cholesterol-lowering drugs will add up to $120 billion per year to US healthcare costs, an economic analysis finds, as the healthcare economics debate will be fueled by insurers who refuse to pay for widespread use of drugs they say are unproven. One of the drugs, Praluent, costs $15,000 per year and must be taken for life by the millions of Americans who could be clinically eligible to receive it. Cost-effective drugs are defined as costing no more than $100,000 per year of life saved, which is how Praluent is priced in Europe (a fraction of the US price) since the governments there are allowed to negotiate drug prices. That brings up an unstated philosophical argument – if a patient could live 20 more years if they take Drug A, should the rest of us happily pay $2 million to fuel the profits of drug companies whose price will always be the maximum the market supports?


Privacy and Security

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Security firm FireEye notes a rapid uptick in email campaigns attempting to spread Locky ransomware, with US healthcare systems leading the number of affected sites. The latest variant uses Microsoft Word .DOCM attachments (often labeled as invoices or images) that launch macros when opened. Locky can also encrypt Microsoft OneDrive files and unmapped network shares.

From DataBreaches.net:

  • A recent district court opinion in a healthcare breach case serves as a reminder that while big breaches spawn a lot of class action lawsuits from those whose information was exposed, courts are not usually sympathetic unless those filing the suit can prove that their data was used in a way that harmed them.
  • The Center for Neurosurgical and Spinal Disorders (LA) notifies several hundred patients that it found a hacker-installed keylogger program its office manager’s PC that was capturing keystrokes and taking scheduled screen shots. The practice quickly and commendably responded: it notified the FBI, sent notification letters, hired a forensics firm to analyze the hard drive, notified consumer credit reporting companies, and offered free identity theft and restoration services to those affected. It also announced plans to report the breach to OCR. Congratulations to the unnamed in-house IT person who figured out what was happening and addressed it.
  • A California dentist notifies patients that unencrypted hard drives containing backups from his practice’s system were stolen from his car. The dentist downplayed the exposure in his notification letter, telling affected patients that the information was unlikely to be usable. However, a security expert says the system he appears to use employees the MySQL database, which can be easily accessed given a physical copy. The dentist responded that he’s not worried after talking to the software vendor because their product is “HIPPA compliant.” There’s usually a lesson to be learned from a breach and here’s this one – if you run MySQL databases (which many or most websites and web apps do), get an expert to check its security settings. 

Technology

A Wall Street Journal article notes that patients are receiving false-positive warnings from genetic testing because older studies that found genetic correlation with disease states had non-diverse participants, making those correlations inconsistent to the population as a whole.


Other

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The former CFO  of Sonoma West Medical Center (CA) joins the hospital’s former CNO in suing the hospital for wrongful termination, both claiming they were fired for complaining about the hospital’s EHR. The hospital uses EHR software developed and marketed by one of its physician executives in partnership with the hospital’s board chair. The hospital, whose average inpatient census is 13, is the only US user of the software, which has no paying customers among six non-US sites that are piloting it. Both executives say the software mixed up patient records, miscalculated medication schedules, failed to update quickly, and delayed billing.

In Denmark, the doctor’s union says rollout of a new EHR in Copenhagen’s busiest hospital should be delayed until problems with its communication with the Danish health card are fixed. Previous go-lives at other hospitals in Denmark in May and June caused medication errors and treatment delays, according to doctors there.

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A JAMA editorial by three Stanford doctors says EHRs haven’t kept up with the technologies used by other industries. The authors say that billing-focused EHRs distract doctors, adding that “de-implementing the EHR could actively enhance care in many clinical scenarios” (although the authors fail to note how many of those enhanced practices would shut their doors within a year in the absence of EHR-powered billing). EHR shortcomings include:

  • They haven’t integrated predictive algorithms into offering treatment suggestions based on patient parameters.
  • They don’t use insurer-developed algorithms that identify high-risk patients to support the delivery of preventive care.
  • They can’t identify a patients similar to the one being treated to suggest treatments based on past experience.
  • They don’t  triage alerts well to prevent fatigue and workflow interruptions.
  • They don’t take advantage of graphical data display that could help doctors make faster decisions and communicate to families better.
  • They don’t capture social and behavioral factors from patients themselves, i.e. the “patient story,” in limiting themselves to medical data.

Weird News Andy says he likes this “alot.” A grammar-persnickety blogger that reminds WNA of me soothes her frustration created by the grammar mistakes of others in picturing a mythical creature called an “alot” when someone writes things like, “I watch alot of TV.”


Sponsor Updates

  • Intelligent Medical Objects will exhibit at HIMSS Asia-Pac August 23-26 in Bangkok.
  • Meditech will exhibit at the Mid-South Critical Access Hospital Conference August 19-21 in Nashville.
  • The local business paper profiles Netsmart’s general manager of Netsmart Homecare, Dawn Iddings.
  • Obix Perinatal Data System will exhibit at AWHONN August 21-23 in Jekyll Island, GA.
  • Experian Health will exhibit at HFMA Region 8-MASI August 24-26 in Minneapolis.
  • PMD makes the 2016 Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in America for the fifth year in a row.
  • The SSI Group will exhibit at CAHAM 2016 August 28-29 in La Jolla, CA.
  • SyTrue will present “A Data Refinement Framework for Fueling Health Innovation” at South Georgia Radiology Associates August 27.
  • The Chartis Group creates the Chartis Physician Leadership Institute.
  • Direct Consulting Associates is recognized as one of the best places to work in Ohio.

Blog Posts


Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Lt. Dan.
More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.
Get HIStalk updates. Send news or rumors.
Contact us.

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News 8/17/16

August 16, 2016 News 3 Comments

Top News

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Leidos closes its merger with Lockheed Martin’s Information Systems & Global Solutions business and adds several executives to its Board of Directors, including Gregory Dahlberg (Lockheed Martin), Surya Mohaptra (Quest Diagnostics), and Susan Stalnecker (DuPont). Originally announced in January, the merger will give Leidos an additional $5 billion in revenue thanks to legacy LM customers that include HHS, Homeland Security, and the Social Security Administration.


Webinars

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.

Contact Lorre for webinar services. Past webinars are on our HIStalk webinars YouTube channel.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Citing an increasingly out-of-balance risk pool, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini announces the company will reduce its public health insurance exchange coverage from 15 states to four next year. Humana and UnitedHealth have made similar announcements in the last several months.

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Less than a week after announcing its $70 million Series E, Plymouth Meeting, PA-based Accolade announces plans to hire additional staff at its new office in Prague. It expanded to the Czech Republic last month, after opening a second office in Seattle in February.


People

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Sensei promotes Ashley Reynolds to COO.

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Verisk Health appoints Emad Rizk, MD (Accretive Health) CEO and board director.

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I2I Population Health names Jennifer Windrow (ICA) SVP of client delivery, and Jennifer Calohan, RN (Patient Engagement Advisors) VP of client success.

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Nick van Terheyden, MD (Dell Services)and Jessica Federer (Bayer) join the MedicAlert Foundation Board of Directors.


Announcements and Implementations

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Providers in California, Minnesota, Texas, and Virginia go live on The Sequoia Project’s Carequality Interoperability Framework. Early adopters include customers of Athenahealth, EClinicalWorks, Epic, HIETexas, NextGen, and Surescripts.

Surescripts increases its year-over-year processing of secure health data transactions by 48 percent, facilitating 9.7 billion transactions in 2015. Last year also saw a 10-percent increase in the company’s digital prescription transactions – a figure no doubt aided by state-based e-prescribing mandates.

Shamrock Solutions develops a cloud-based, automated EOB reconciliation tool for enterprise content management systems from the likes of Lexmark and Hyland.

Get Real Health adds the MyDirectives health crisis care-planning tool to its InstaPHR.


Technology

Translational Software develops a FHIR-based pharmacogenomics API to help providers, labs, and vendors create apps that can improve prescription ordering workflows, alert prescribers to potential interactions and adverse drug events, and suggest different medications.

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FormFast launches FormFast Capture, a paper-to-digital records conversion service that automatically archives forms within the EHR.

Champ Software adds Direct messaging capabilities from Secure Exchange Solutions to its Nightingale Notes EHR for community and public healthcare agencies, home health agencies, and schools of nursing.


Sales

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University Health Care System (GA) integrates Right Patient’s photo biometric patient identification system with its Epic EHR.

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The Bahamian Ministry of Health and the Public Hospitals Authority will install Allscripts Sunrise at its three hospitals and 100-plus clinics. The health system is embarking on a complete overhaul that includes upgrading existing facilities, building several new ones, and extending clinic hours.

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University of Utah Health Care implements Imprivata’s PatientSecure identification technology in hopes of reducing duplicate medical records and improving patient safety at its hospitals and clinics.

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Franciscan Alliance (IN) selects unified provider management services from Phynd Technologies.

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University Health Shreveport/Louisiana State University Health implement TelePreop’s telemedicine software to better coordinate pre- and post-operative care.


Research and Innovation

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A JAMIA study finds that patient data obtained from an HIE is available faster and is more frequently reviewed by clinicians than data obtained via fax or telephone. The study also suggests that access to HIE data reduced ER visit length by one hour, reduced the likelihood of admission by 2.4 percent, and reduced the average cost of care for the visit by $1200.

A Xerox survey of 761 insured consumers reveals that providers and payers don’t seem to give them enough credit when it comes to managing their own care. Fifty percent of those surveyed believe they take complete responsibility for their health, but only 6 percent of providers and payers agree. Adding insult to injury, 90 percent of healthcare professionals take a rather paternalistic attitude in their belief that consumers need their help and encouragement to prioritize healthy living, while only 55 percent of consumers concur. A similar disconnect was seen between consumer and provider/payer sentiment around comparison shopping for healthcare


Sponsor Updates

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  • The CoverMyMeds team contributed more than 45 new automated toys and modified 30 of those so that they can be used by kids with disabilities as part of a Replay for Kids workshop.
  • AdvancedMD will host its annual user’s conference October 11-13 in Salt Lake City.
  • Attendees share why they love AirWatch’s Connect Atlanta conference.
  • Besler Consulting and HCS will exhibit at the HFMA Region 3 Inaugural Summit August 21-23 in Wilkes-Barre, PA.
  • Meditech publishes a new case study, “Avera Health Reduces Sepsis Mortality with Help from Meditech’s EHR.”
  • FormFast offers the “Top 4 Reasons to Modernize Your Patient Access Department.”
  • Aprima showcases MACRA/MIPS readiness at its 2016 user conference.

Blog Posts


Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Lt. Dan.
More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.
Get HIStalk updates. Send news or rumors.
Contact us.

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Monday Morning Update 8/15/16

August 14, 2016 News 4 Comments

Top News

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Bon Secours Health System (VA) notifies 665,000 patients that their information was freely discoverable on the Internet due to a mistake made by Phoenix-based revenue cycle optimization vendor R-C Healthcare Management.


Reader Comments

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From Skip O’Frenia: “Re: KLAS. A colleague of mine got this email a while back when he spoke with KLAS. Is KLAS so desperate for input that they have to bribe participants with dinner?” It also offers to pair up respondents with vendor executives, which would seem to be a no-no if you’re claiming impartiality and transparency. I’m really uncomfortable with the way KLAS – as a vendor – friendlies up to the other vendors that provide its profit in ways that provider participants don’t see. I’m also recalling that I challenged the KLAS folks in an interview years ago to submit their survey and analysis process for independent verification of statistical validity and that hasn’t happened.

From Nice Threads: “Re: balance billing. I don’t remember seeing this on HIStalk.” A Virginia judge takes exception with a for-profit hospital that made a heart attack patient sign a financial responsibility agreement in the ED. The hospital billed $111,000 for a two-day stay and stent surgery. His insurance covered only $27,000 since the ambulance took him to a hospital that was not in his insurance network, so the hospital demanded that the patient pay the non-discounted difference based on its charge master prices. The judge said the contract was not binding, the hospital’s refusal to disclose its CDM pricing made them guilty of withholding a crucial contract element, and that a hospital willing to accept an insurance company’s payment in full should not then go after the patient for even more money. The judge ruled that the patient owed only another $500 to cover the value of the care he received. His attorney says it’s the first time balance billing has been challenged in court and his firm will go after other hospitals since secret CDM rates are just bargaining chips used to extract payment from individual patients.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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Two-thirds of poll respondents expect hospital and medical practice consolidation to harm rather than help cost and quality. New poll to your right or here: what is your reaction when reading about the expensive campuses of Cerner and Epic? (or any other vendor with comparable offices, assuming of course there are others).


Last Week’s Most Interesting News

  • Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH steps down as National Coordinator to focus full time on her job as HHS Assistant Secretary for Health, with Principal Deputy National Coordinator Vindell Washington, MD taking over as National Coordinator.
  • CPSI announces poor quarterly results, acknowledging during the earnings call that Cerner’s hosting services has made it a small-hospital competitor but discounting Athenahealth’s claims of growing small-hospital inpatient momentum.
  • Apple publishes several healthcare-related patents as CEO Tim Cook makes unspecific but firm commitments to expand the company’s healthcare offerings.
  • Press Ganey sells itself to a Swedish private equity firm for $2.35 billion.
  • The FDA issues draft guidance on when medical device manufacturers must file for new 510(k) approval, specifically excluding security-related software updates.
  • Newkirk Products, which prints customer ID cards for several insurance companies, announces that hackers breached its systems and thus exposed the information of 3.3 cardholders.

Webinars

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.

Contact Lorre for webinar services. Past webinars are on our HIStalk webinars YouTube channel.

Our “summer doldrums” webinar services sale ends Labor Day, September 5. Thanks to the several companies who have signed up for the always-busy fall webinar season.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Analytics vendor Innovaccer, which offers products for healthcare and other segments, raises $15.6 million in a Series A funding round.

Cerner Chairman and CEO Neal Patterson cashes in stock options going all the way back to 1995, collecting $50 million and netting $27 million after costs and taxes. Experts say holding options for longer than 10 years is almost unheard of and Cerner doesn’t offer options with that long of a term now, but that arrangement back in the 1990s was apparently intended to keep Patterson on board. President Zane Burke also sold shares worth $10 million last week.


People

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Brian Moyer (Gaffey Healthcare) is named CEO of the Nashville Technology Council.

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Jess Jacobs, patient advocate and director of innovation labs at Aetna, died Saturday.


Announcements and Implementations

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The US Navy recognizes the IT departments of Naval Hospital Bremerton (WA) and Naval Hospital Oak Harbor (WA) for their preliminary work in preparing infrastructure for the implementation of MHS Genesis, the Department of Defense’s Cerner EHR project.

Health engagement solutions vendor StayWell chooses Validic for integration of digital health services and apps.


Privacy and Security

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Athens Orthopedic Clinic (GA), which refused to pay the extortion demands of hacker The Dark Overlord after the records of 200,000 of its patients were stolen, says it can’t afford to provide free credit monitoring for those patients. The clinic’s CEO said in a statement, “We truly regret that we are unable to do so, as we are not able spend the many millions of dollars it would cost us to pay for credit monitoring for nearly 200,000 patients and keep Athens Orthopedic as a viable business. I recognize and am truly sorry for the position this puts our patients in.” The clinic also states that the breach occurred when the hacker used the log-in credentials of an unnamed HIM contractor.

From DataBreaches.net:

  • Valley Anesthesia and Pain Consultants (AZ) notifies nearly 900,000 patients plus all present and former employees that its systems were breached by a hacker.
  • Three breaches by The Dark Overlord are published by HHS, although with different counts of the individuals whose information was compromised. The practices and patient counts are Midwest Orthopedic Pain and Spine (29,000), Athens Orthopedic Clinic (201,000), and Prosthetic & Orthotic Care, Inc. (23,000).
  • A medical practice in England is fined $52,000 for giving information about a female patient to her estranged partner.

Technology

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Fitbit drops support for synching its fitness tracking data with MIcrosoft HealthVault. I had forgotten that HealthVault even exists and maybe Microsoft did too since its most recent app update was in January 2016. 


Other

Partners HealthCare (MA) loses $33 million in its most recent quarter, fueled by $24 million in costs to prepare for a nurses’ strike that was averted, expenses of its $1.2 billion Epic project, moving employees to a new headquarters building, and losses in its insurance arm.

Here’s Part 2 of the “Rating the Ratings” series from Vince and Elise. It contains a nice nod to the pioneering market analysis businesses created by Sheldon Dorenfest and Ron Johnson all the way through touching on KLAS and Black Book.

I had to read Weird News Andy’s headline carefully to get his pun: “The quality? Fair.” Scientists modify a $40 cotton candy machine they got from Target to create artificial capillaries, possibly paving the way to one day creating artificial organs on a 3-D printer.


Sponsor Updates

  • Tierpoint will exhibit at the 2016 Tech Coast Conference August 17 in Jacksonville, FL.

Blog Posts


Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Lt. Dan.
More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.
Get HIStalk updates. Send news or rumors.
Contact us.

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Reader Comments

  • Math: Actually scratch that, those numbers are 2 years old. This time last year they were over 20 million a month. Wonder wh...
  • Math: Well considering all Epic facilities are capable and do 5 million exchanges per month, I can't help but chuckle at your ...
  • ex epic: That image says "documents exchanged" so while amazing, not in a good way. I wasn't on the Care Everywhere team so I'd b...
  • HIT Girl: And this is how it propagates all the way up to the Executive branch of our government -- nobody says "no". Nobody puts...
  • Friday Interoppin': Re: Commonwell (by way of Ex Epic) So, 29,360ish Cerner-using facilities have the capability of sharing clinical docu...

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