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Morning Headlines 4/30/14

April 29, 2014 Headlines No Comments

M*Modal Files Chapter 11 Plan Backed By Creditors

MModal files its disclosure statement and reorganization plan, detailing the company’s strategy to exit Chapter 11 bankruptcy by August 15.

UPMC Selling Analytics to Curb Health Care Costs

UPMC will begin licensing its homegrown clinical analytics system to other healthcare organizations. The platform identifies the lowest cost treatment plans that consistently lead to the highest quality outcomes and then benchmarks individual physician performance against this data. In the ED, the system is used to predict which patients were more likely to be readmitted, helping UPMC staff reduce readmission rates by 37 percent.

Medfusion’s Relationship with Allscripts Comes to an End

Medfusion will no longer offer its patient portal through Allscripts "due to unresolved payment disputes," according to a statement released Monday.

Nuance CEO Paul Ricci tops in pay among Massachusetts executives

The Boston Globe calls Nuance CEO Paul Ricci the most overpaid executive in Massachusetts. Ricci earned $87 million over the past three years, during which time his company’s stock fell 16 percent.

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April 29, 2014 Headlines No Comments

News 4/30/14

April 29, 2014 News 6 Comments

Top News


MModal files its plan to exit Chapter 11 bankruptcy by August 15. The company provided a statement: “MModal is pleased to have reached this important milestone in our financial restructuring process. The proposed Plan of Reorganization reflects the previously announced agreement the company reached with the controlling majority of its lenders and bondholders that will dramatically reduce the company’s debt, strengthen its balance sheet, and provide it with significant financial flexibility.”

HIStalk Announcements and Requests


Bonny from Aventura provides an Charles Schulz-powered illustration of the ICD-10 situation that will resonate with many people.

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I noticed these signs in a doctor’s office today. It seems that all forms of customer-insulting emphasis are represented: capitalization, bolding, underlining, and massive deployment of exclamation points (always five except for the laptop message, which ends with an unprecedented six exclamation points for those undeterred by inferior numbers.)

Upcoming Webinars

May 1 (Thursday) 1:00 p.m. ET. Think Beyond EDW: Using Your Data to Transform, Part 2 – Build-Measure-Learn to Get Value from Healthcare Data. Sponsored by Premier. Presenters: Alejandro Reti, MD, senior director of population health, Premier; and Alex Easton, senior director of enterprise solutions, Premier. Once you deploy an enterprise data warehouse, you need to arrive at value as quickly as possible. Learn ways to be operationally and technically agile with integrated data, including strategies for improving population health.

May 7 (Wednesday) 1:00 p.m. ET. Demystifying Healthcare Data Governance. Sponsored by Health Catalyst. Presenter: Dale Sanders, SVP, Health Catalyst. Challenged with governing data? This vendor-neutral discussion will cover the need to develop a data governance strategy, including general concepts, layers and roles, and the Triple Aim of data governance (quality, literacy, and exploitation.)

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

4-29-2014 7-29-41 AM

Physician networking site Doximity closes a $54 million Series C fundraising round, planning to expand into Canada and to add other healthcare professionals, such as nurses.

4-29-2014 1-47-30 PM 

Truven Health Analytics acquires Fortel Analytics’ predictive healthcare fraud technology, which will be integrated into Truven’s payment integrity solutions.

4-29-2014 11-29-53 AM

General Atlantic commits $125 million to Alignment Healthcare, which offers a care coordination solution.

4-29-2014 1-49-40 PM

Alere reports Q1 results: revenue down three percent, adjusted EPS $0.55 vs. $0.53, missing revenue expectations. The company also reported that its Health Information Solutions segment experienced a decline in net product and services revenue from $134.2 million a year ago to $123.7 million.


Press Ganey acquires Dynamic Clinical Systems, a patient-reported outcomes services and solutions provider.


Infor completes its acquisition of substantially all the assets of GRASP Systems International, a provider of automated patient acuity, workload management, patient assignment, and consulting services.


Consumer engagement provider Accolade acquires konciergeMD, which offers a platform for care plan adherence.


For-profit hospital operator HCA discloses in its earnings call that it took in $30 million in EHR incentive money in Q1 vs. $39 million in 2013, incurring EHR-related expenses of $43 million and $26 million, respectively, meaning it spent exactly the same as it made in the two years. Seems like quite a coincidence.


Roper Industries says in its earnings call that its Sunquest operation experienced “double-digit revenue growth” due to improvements in its implementation process and expects to have a “quite an exceptional year in 2014.”


A German business magazine predicts that Siemens will announce on May 7  the elimination of 5,000 to 10,000 jobs and the merging of its four main divisions (industry, energy, healthcare, and infrastructure/cities) to create a flatter hierarchy.


Craneware wins a seven-year, $3.8 million contract with an unnamed US hospital group for its Chargemaster Corporate Toolkit.

Southern Illinois Healthcare, MBB Radiology (FL), Radiology Imaging Associates (CO), Southwest Diagnostic Imaging Center (TX), St. Paul Radiology (MN), and Washington Radiology Associates (VA) and 13 other organizations select Merge Healthcare’s iConnect Network interoperability platform for clinical data exchange.

CHE Trinity Health will implement Verisk Health’s Provider Intelligence solution and DxCG platform to manage its national population health management initiatives.

4-29-2014 9-48-17 AM

The board of trustees of Cumberland River Hospital (TN) approves $156,644 in upgrade costs to allow the hospital to update its CPSI software to meet Stage 2 MU requirements.


The University of Arizona Medical Center will use services from Besler Consulting to identify Medicare Transfer DRG underpayments.

Kettering Health Network (OH) selects Wolters Kluwer Health’s ProVation Order Sets.

University of New Mexico Medical Group chooses StrataJazz from Strata Decision Technology for budgeting and planning.


4-29-2014 1-53-45 PM

Castlight Health appoints Ed Park (athenahealth), brother of co-founder and US CTO Todd Park, to its board.

4-29-2014 1-55-41 PM

Symphony Technology Group promotes Al Vega to president/CEO of Symphony Performance Health.

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Jonathan Perlin, MD, CMO will step down as chair of ONC’s HIT Standards Committee. He will be replaced by Jacob Reider, MD of ONC.

MEA|NEA appoints Scott Hefner (Jopari Solutions) VP of sales.

Announcements and Implementations

4-28-2014 3-24-39 PM

Practice Fusion launches a population health management offering in collaboration with drug manufacturer Merck, giving practices a real-time dashboard that compares a provider’s patient vaccination rate with the rates of other Practice Fusion providers.


Regional Medical Center Orangeburg (SC) goes live on Cerner’s patient portal.

Central Illinois Health Information Exchange, Lincoln Land Health Information Exchange, Illinois Health Exchange Partners, and MetroChicago Health Information Exchange connect their health information exchanges, which collectively serve 63 hospitals.

Government and Politics

4-29-2014 1-17-28 PM

CMS releases an interactive search tool to streamline access to Medicare provider payment data.

The GAO appoints three members to the Health Information Technology Policy Committee: Christop U. Lehmann, MD, American Academy of Pediatrics (representing vulnerable populations); Neal Patterson, Cerner (representing vendors); and Kim Schofield, Lupus Foundation of America’s Georgia chapter (representing consumers and patients.) Paul Tang, MD of Palo Alto Medical Foundation was reappointed as physician representative.

Innovation and Research

Physicians reviewing EHRs carefully read the impression and plan section, but only quickly scan details on medications, vitals, and lab results, according to a study published in Applied Clinical Informatics. Researchers recommend optimizing the design of electronic notes to include “rethinking the amount and format of imported patient data as this data appears to largely be ignored.”

Brigham and Women’s Hospital chooses four companies in its “shark tank” competition for pilot projects: Twine Health (collaborative chronic disease management), MySafeCare (patient and family reporting of safety concerns), Healo (remote monitoring of wound healing), and Tenacity Health (peer health coaching.) 


The Federation of State Medical Boards approves telemedicine guidelines that include a policy to apply the same standards of care for remote medical encounters as for in-person encounters. The guidelines also call for physicians to care for only those patients located in their licensure coverage areas, establish a credible patient-physician relationship; and adhere to safety and privacy principles.

A Boston Globe columnist names Nuance Communications CEO Paul Ricci as the most overpaid executive in Massachusetts based on his compensation of $87 million over the past three years, during which time the company’s share price dropped 16 percent.

4-28-2014 9-44-15 AM

Medfusion ends its relationship with Allscripts “due to unresolved payment disputes” and gives the 30,000 Allscripts users of its patient portal until May 31, 2014 to sign a contract directly with Medfusion. The termination is hardly a surprise given Allscripts acquisition of the competing Jardogs product last year.

Boston Medical Center (MA) terminates its transcription contract with MDF Transcription Services after discovering that the records of 15,000 of its patients are visible on the company’s Internet server.


St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center (NY) discloses in a prospectus offering to sell $68 million worth of junk-quality bonds to pay for a new power plant and EHR system that it will probably be sued over claims that a disruptive surgeon slapped and verbally abused anesthetized patients going back to early 2012.

Rural hospitals are considering EHR implementation assistance as one reason to affiliate with a larger organization, hoping to earn financial incentives or avoid penalties.

University of Mississippi Medical Center (MS) CIO David Chou recounts what it’s like when a hospital loses Internet connectivity and access to cloud-based applications. The article mentions that low adoption rates prevented using Twitter and Facebook for communication during the outage, which I assume means by smartphone cellular since nobody could get to those sites otherwise (although they could use self-hosted Yammer instead if Microsoft still offers that.)

A San Francisco Examiner opinion piece by an orthopedic surgeon complains about his hospital’s use of the “all-pervasive Epic” system, which he says has caused doctors to focus on the computer instead of the patient and has sterilized the medical record to the point of uselessness. He seems to blame the system for the behavior of its users, saying it only improves care “from the point of view who want to watch data from across the room” while he prefers to “talk to the patient” and be a “hands-on doctor,” neither of which as far as I know is prohibited among Epic users.

UPMC (PA) will partner with one of three unnamed companies to sell analytics software it developed to benchmark costs per individual physician. UPMC says it spent $5-12 million to develop the system, which it claims has reduced its readmissions by 37 percent.

4-29-2014 1-06-39 PM

A state audit reveals that a former IT consultant with the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics illegally sold $57,000 worth of hospital computers to staffers and friends between 2005 and 2013. A woman tipped off the IT department after trying to get technical support from Dell for a laptop the consultant gave her, only to be told that it was registered to the hospital.

Weird News Andy (“Weird News You Can Use”) finds this ironic: hundreds of attendees of the national Food Safety Summit in Baltimore get food poisoning. WNA is also transported by this story, in which doctors trigger vivid memories of a patient’s childhood as they stimulate areas of his brain with electrodes in trying to determine the cause of his epilepsy.

Sponsor Updates

  • McKesson launches Managed Mobile Services to simplify mobile device management.
  • iHS2 releases a research report entitled “Healthcare Security: 10 Steps to Maintaining Data Privacy in a Changing Mobile World.”
  • Craneware and its customer Southeastern Ohio Regional Medical Center will discuss the future of patient access at the National Association of Healthcare Access Management 40th Annual Education Conference May 16 in Hollywood, FL.
  • Independent auditor LBMC confirms that PerfectServe has achieved Service Organization Controls (SOC) 2 Type II of its security and privacy controls.
  • Allscripts recognizes its customer Carson Tahoe Health (NV) for attesting for MU Stage 2 using Allscripts Sunrise.
  • Medhost adds high-availability disaster recovery and remote monitoring and management to its managed IT service offerings.
  • Shake IT Baby is the theme for Impact Advisors’ annual Impact Palooza April 30-May 2 in Scottsdale, AZ.
  • William J. Leander, SVP for Santa Rosa Consulting, will discuss value-based healthcare at next month’s MUSE 2014 International Conference in Dallas.
  • Allscripts profiles Unity Health System (NY) in a blog post and discusses how dbMotion’s HIE technology helped Unity achieve better outcomes.
  • Liaison Healthcare partners with AOD Software to connect its long-term provider customers with lab and imaging vendors on the Liaison EMR-Link hub.


Mr. H, Inga, Dr. Jayne, Dr. Gregg, Lt. Dan, Dr. Travis, Lorre.

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.


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April 29, 2014 News 6 Comments

Morning Headlines 4/29/14

April 28, 2014 Headlines No Comments

Merck Teams With Electronic Health Record Provider Practice Fusion To Improve Patient Health

Merck partners with Practice Fusion to bring EHR-based immunization reminder tools into physician practices. The partnership will provide physicians with the added ability to track immunization rates at the population level, and automatically send immunization reminders to patients.

What Do Physicians Read (and Ignore) in Electronic Progress Notes?

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst studying the eye movements of physicians as they read electronic notes find that the clinical narrative within the impression and plan section of the note was nearly always carefully read, but that the remainder of the note was only quickly scanned.

Reading Pain in a Human Face

Researchers with the Institute for Neural Computation have created software tool that can outperform humans at differentiating real pain from faked pain by analyzing facial expressions. In the study, participants were asked to watch a video showing subjects expressing either real pain or  faked pain. The participants were only able to correctly identify real pain 55 percent of the time, but the computer program could accurately identify real pain 85 percent of the time.

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April 28, 2014 Headlines No Comments

Curbside Consult with Dr. Jayne 4/28/14

April 28, 2014 Dr. Jayne 4 Comments


Death of a Practice

I wanted to be a physician from a very young age. Most people find that interesting because no one in my family is a physician or even in the healthcare field.

Going into junior high school, my best friend (who eventually became a nurse) and I became candy stripers, starting our healthcare careers. My first memory of a physician who didn’t make me cry was the kindly general practitioner my parents took me to after our pediatrician retired. He was the kind of doctor who kept his patient records on index cards (they were 4×6 inches) and wore a reflector on his head – old school.

Flash forward to second year of residency, when most primary care trainees start looking for a job. I had a potential offer from the medical group affiliated with the hospital where I was training. I had seen too much from the inside, though, to really want to work for them, so I decided to investigate whether that hospital where I first started was hiring any physicians.

In a stroke of luck, they were looking for someone interested in solo practice. I was offered a start-up in the small town where I grew up.

Their deal looked pretty good. Although technically employed during the first couple of years, the group allowed their sites to run like private practices and the physicians were on a largely eat-what-you-kill model. They were allowed autonomy over their practice except for certain office processes, which were paid for through a management fee taken off the top. Compared to hiring separate billing, compliance, OSHA, legal, HR, and other services, the management fee was extremely competitive.

I had rotated in one of their practices as a student and had seen first-hand how things ran. Two trainees ahead of me had taken jobs with them and everything was on the up-and-up. The non-compete was such that physicians could actually buy their practices and go private, staying in the same location, once they got off the ground. Coupled with the fact that they were willing to install an EHR at no cost to me and the fact that as a solo doc I wouldn’t have to deal with anyone else’s baggage, it was a done deal.

I had a lot of input on the office itself since construction had just started in a local strip mall. It was built for electronic health records from the beginning and was large enough to eventually house three physicians. The sponsoring hospital had done its homework and knew there was primary care demand in the community. We had people trying to make appointments more than a month before we were set to open.

I completed residency at the end of June, sat for the Board exam two weeks later, and opened the practice the following Monday. I saw nine patients that first day and never looked back.

I was proud to be part of the community. I had my own branding, Most people didn’t realize we were affiliated with the hospital. That was a big draw for some and gave us a certain pride of ownership I don’t think we would have had if we were visibly under the hospital umbrella.

Patients loved us being in the strip mall near a high-traffic intersection, glad they could park 20 feet from the door rather than having to use a parking garage or large lot at one of the hospital-based practices. I threw candy from a float in the Founders’ Day parade. It many ways, it was a dream come true.

My little office grew by leaps and bounds (“local girl comes home” is a powerful marketing statement.) Before long, I was ready to add another physician and eventually a nurse practitioner. The hospital sponsored several other start-up primary care practices, hiring a couple of my residency colleagues to help them build a troop of primary care docs to stay ahead of the community’s needs.

As for my site, since we were piloting the EHR system that the hospital’s parent health system planned to implement for all owned practices, I became pretty visible as an EHR champion. Eventually I was hired as part-time medical director for ambulatory EHR. One half-day a week at the IT office became two, then four, to the point where several years later I was only in the practice one day a week.

Eventually, patients’ lack of access to me became the topic of every office visit. Realizing it wasn’t good for the practice or my morale, one of our IT directors figured out a way for the hospital and IT to buy me out. It was a bittersweet decision to leave my little start-up, which wasn’t so little any more. We never turned an enormous profit, but we did break even and I had the opportunity to recruit my own replacement. It seemed like things were in good hands, so off I went to the land of IT.

The practice thrived until the recession started, the auto industry failed, and other heavy industry went to states with cheaper costs of labor. I had moved on career-wise, but still had enough connections to hear the updates on “my” practice. The staff was a little less busy, the bad debt write-offs grew, and the finances moved into the red.

The hospital president believed in primary care, though, and continued to subsidize the practice, knowing there was a need in the community (I’m not naïve — he also knew how many million dollars in ancillaries the average primary care doc drives to his or her preferred hospital.) And so the office stayed open.

Fast forward, and the hospital (now a major part of the regional safety-net rather than a community resource that drew patients through innovation and excellence) posted several major losses, sending its president to greener pastures elsewhere. Then one of the providers left for a higher salary, followed by another who took a maternity leave and never came back.

The hospital had a hard time finding a physician who wanted to care for patients with difficult socioeconomic challenges, especially when affluent practices with richer payer mixes beckoned. They weren’t willing to guarantee a salary that would have convinced someone to stay. I had last heard the practice was running with a single nurse practitioner who was supervised by a physician 20 miles away.

I found out today that the office is closing. Once I stood on the sidewalk with the mayor of our small town, cutting the “Grand Opening” ribbon with his giant gold-painted scissors. Now that sidewalk will lead people to yet another vacant quasi-retail space.

The provider who remains is being “consolidated” into a shared office on the hospital grounds, where physicians seem to land when they can’t get along with their partners or their practice loses too much money. Any trace of the office we worked so hard to build will soon be gone.

The economic reality is that no one wants to own small primary care practices any more. The work is hard, the hours are long, and the pay is less than other specialties. Hospitals stepped in hoping to lure primary care docs to their communities and solidify their slices of the revenue pie. Once they stop making money, though (which is often the reality of primary care in our current model,) it’s the beginning of the end.

Perhaps new payment models could have saved my little practice, but we will never know. Rather than having a family physician down the street or around the corner, patients will drive half an hour and navigate the maze of the hospital campus. They’ll probably be subject to a facility fee now, as I’m sure the remaining provider will be set up as a hospital outpatient department to try to eke out as much revenue as possible.

Even though I haven’t practiced there in years, I feel bad about it. I’m sorry that primary care doesn’t get the respect or compensation it deserves. I’m sorry that the hospital is no longer willing or able to subsidize valuable community services.

But most of all, I’m sorry for the patients. I’m grateful, though, for the time we had together, for the times I was able to help, and most of all, for the memories.

Email Dr. Jayne.

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April 28, 2014 Dr. Jayne 4 Comments

HIStalk Interviews Cynthia Petrone-Hudock, Chief Strategy Officer, The HCI Group

April 28, 2014 Interviews 1 Comment

Cynthia Petrone-Hudock is chief strategy officer of The HCI Group of Jacksonville, FL.


Tell me about yourself and the company.

I have a background in financial institutions, about 17 years. I’ve spent about the last eight years in healthcare.

As our mission states at The HCI Group, I focus on collaborating somewhat from a management consultant perspective. I work with clients to identify what their needs are and then develop creative solutions that reduce the cost of healthcare and at the same time improve their ability to increase the quality of healthcare.

We were established to meet the system implementation needs of healthcare organizations, but we promote cost-effective solutions. In the electronic health record arena, that seems to be very important these days.


People always compare healthcare to the early days of banking before ATMs and online services. How do you compare the two?

It’s quite fascinating because I do see a lot of analogies. We are at the stage now in healthcare where we’re selecting systems and implementing them, but then truly sustaining them in a cost-effective way and getting to interoperability.

You think about interoperability in the banking world. They’ve mastered it. I think we’ll push a little further in healthcare when it comes to data analytics and making sure that we’re using the data that we capture in a proactive and focused way. We saw some of that in banking, too, but I think it will mean more in the protocols of care in the healthcare arena.


Treating patients as a customers means hospital systems should include some aspects of a customer relationship management system. Is there a demand for those capabilities?

Yes. A lot of our focus is on business intelligence. We launched a sustaining support service line at HCI. Our goal is to support users of the electronic health record, but when you really think about it, it’s business intelligence of how they’re using that system to meet the needs of their clinicians who are taking care of their patients is what it’s all about. 

Maybe the future, when we’re talking about patient engagement, it’s really the analytics around that and the touch points of how the patients are interacting with the healthcare system which will be key. Forward thinking, where are we three to five years from now? It’s full-service care and you can interoperate on the health record. You’re certainly putting that full-service care capability in the hands of a clinician.


Back to the bank analogy, hospitals are putting in systems that run what happens inside the bank or at the ATM, but not how banks market to customers and prospective customers in between and keep them engaged. Could the same transition happen in healthcare?

Yes.  I think healthcare is starting to realize that they can get their arms around that capability. We’re seeing it now. We’re seeing it with marketing departments and healthcare systems who are now focused on engaging the consumer. Even with the new consumer technology, whether it’s handing out free Fitbits and having folks proactively start to monitor their health and having reasons for them to be reaching out to the doctor in a proactive way.

It’s exciting. I think we will see that. It gets back to the ability for the patient to be in control of their care. I’m hoping that’s what the enabling technology brings to bear.


For large hospitals, the market has pretty much boiled down to Epic versus Cerner. From the selections you’ve been involved with, why do hospitals choose one versus the other?

They start with their thoughts around the business case and their total cost of ownership, including their incumbent situation. But they do focus on functionality and where they want to get down the road. 

Quite often the cultural difference between the two organizations plays in some of the demonstrations and the ability to understand how their patient will be engaging with their organization going forward and whether that’s an integrated touch point or not. Most of my background is in Epic, but The HCI Group is vendor neutral.


How do you characterize the cultural factor differences between the vendors and which one prospects respond to?

I haven’t been around the block enough to weigh in on that from a client’s perspective. I’m guessing different clients would tell you they have different reasons why they are more comfortable in one camp versus the other.

Both systems, of course, are very exciting for us to be working with, and just knowing that we have organizations worldwide that are getting on EHRs for the first time, which is also exciting. We do a lot of work in that space, so I get to see organizations who are literally on paper, and just knowing that they’re going to get on electronic medical records is changing the protocols of care at the moment they go live. 

It’s more a fit and feel between the two organizations and whether that organization feels confident that they’ll have interoperability opportunities down the road. I think even the paper-oriented firms abroad are very focused on someday it should all interoperate.


Have hospitals done a good job in understanding and budgeting the post-live requirements for personnel and maintenance costs? 

I think there’s a lot of realization going on after they get past the capital period and they’re in their expense mode. They’re realizing that they need to focus on the lowest common denominator. 

For instance, our sustaining support line is a good example where when we go into an organization, we help look at the total process of supporting that application. At every point along the cycle, if there’s a way to do that service at a higher quality and a lower cost, of course we assist in improving the process. It’s the ability of having capacity that can ebb and flow, whether you’re looking at an upgrade or you’re looking at bringing in the new module that you didn’t go live with out of the gate. 

I do believe the CIOs are finding themselves in the situation where they’re explaining to the CFO why their piece of the total cost of ownership pie has gotten bigger. In some cases, it’s going to stay that way because you can no longer give care without the enabling technology. This is where The HCI Group is going to be able to go in and collaborate. Every organization’s slightly different. Some will say, I need a little support with the Epic application, for instance. Others will say, it’s the whole support model — I just can’t keep the staff on board at the right caliber to be servicing my clinicians. The unique approach by organizations in terms of what is best for their future is where we focus. A lot are going down the path of shared services, which I’m sure you’ve heard about.


Do you think hospitals looked at the cost of these systems as requiring a return on investment or did they just assume they are a cost of doing business?

If you had asked me eight years ago, I would have said they’re a cost of doing business. Now I believe organizations are more focused, even on the international front, with making sure they at least can realize the benefits that go along with spending the money. The return quite often is focused on the quality of care, which is nice to hear.

But there’s a new eye on this total cost of ownership that I didn’t see when I entered eight years ago. It’s exciting for me because some of our international clients are public healthcare systems, and whether you’re spending the public’s money or you’re spending an individual’s or a payer’s money, you still want to be doing it an efficient, effective way. I’m happy to see that.


How are the needs of those international customers different from domestic ones?

We are focused on being recognized as a global leader in delivering innovative IT solutions. What we’re finding is there’s a lot of opportunity on the global front to learn lessons that we’ve experienced here in the States.

I think you do have to take into consideration where they are in the journey. Some are where you may think healthcare in the US would have been 20 years ago. It looks to someone from the States like a pretty simple, low-hanging fruit opportunity, but what it brings is a tremendous transition. I think it’s greater change management for them than we have experienced here as we’ve come along. 

In most cases, whether we’re in the UK, the Middle East, or Australia, when I turn the system on, we’ll be changing protocols of care in our country, which is very exciting, to making sure that we’re being fiscally responsible. It’s been wonderful to work in that international marketplace and bring to them lessons learned so they don’t have to maybe climb over the same hurdles that we have done here in the States.


Have you worked on projects where hospitals wanted to involve patients more in their care?

A few organizations, we’ve worked with around patient engagement. The ones that are most exciting, they’re not being really led by the IT department — they’re being led by the business development arm of the organizations. 

Of course, in the Epic world, there’s Connect, but then there’s also these opportunities to engage the community in care, some of the new devices that are out for the consumers. What’s exciting about is it there’s a focus to think through new strategies to engage patients. It’s more than just the patient portal. It’s the medical devices that you may be able to use in your home and bringing more home health, which as the baby boomers age, we definitely need to be focused on as an industry. It’s been exciting to be working with the business development arms of the healthcare systems.


Give me some unusual, bold predictions for the next 3-5 years.

It’s really analytics and how we’re going to end up using all of this massive data. I think there will be a blip in inefficiencies since we have the challenge of big data, how we govern, what’s being asked of the IT department to pull out information around that data and use it in a positive way to change care, evidence-based care and research. That’s the exciting part.

We’re all  heads down pushing through the new technology today, but the exciting part will be five years from now. There are organizations, of course, that are ahead of the curve and doing it already. But to bring the rest of the country and the world to where we have as close to real-time information to be making great decisions.


Any final thoughts?

In terms of looking at where The HCI Group operates, we’ve just recently brought in a new CMIO, Dr. Bria. He has a fabulous background as one of the founders of the concept of the CMIO. He’s going to be working on some clinical service lines for us which start to leverage the ability of what the electronic health record has brought to the industry. So I guess in closing, wait and see what we’re able to do with it. We’re all excited at The HCI Group to have him on board and to refocus ourselves on the CMIO’s needs and not just the CIOs that we support so well today.

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April 28, 2014 Interviews 1 Comment

Morning Headlines 4/28/14

April 27, 2014 Headlines 1 Comment

Cover Oregon: $248 million state exchange to be jettisoned in favor of federal system

Oregon’s health insurance exchange program will be dissolved and replaced by the now functional site. Oregon spent $248 million trying to bring its exchange live, but failed to enroll a single person.

It’s Insanely Easy to Hack Hospital Equipment

Fargo, ND-based health system Essentia Health asks its head if IT security to thoroughly evaluate its network for security vulnerabilities. Two years later, the team reports that they were able to hack into the hospital’s EHR system and its imaging system. In addition, they were able to hack into and change the settings on drug infusion pumps, wireless defibrillators, and refrigerators that store blood products. 

2015 Edition EHR Standards and Certification Criteria Proposed Rule

The HIMSS EHR association publishes its comments to ONC’s proposed 2015 EHR certification criteria. EHRA’s primary concern is that there is not enough time left after final rules are published for vendors to properly code and test enhancements. The association is requesting an 18-month window be built into the timeline for coding and testing to take place before customers are expected to be live with the new features.

Hacker group Anonymous targets Children’s Hospital

Hacker group Anonymous is suspected of recent hacking attempts on Boston Children’s Hospital’s networks. Anonymous threatened to initiate attacks after a doctor from the hospital brought medical child-abuse charges against the parents of a patient, leading to the child being removed from the parent’s custody.

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April 27, 2014 Headlines 1 Comment

Monday Morning Update 4/28/14

April 26, 2014 News 9 Comments

Top News


Cover Oregon waves the white flag and shuts down its $248 million health insurance exchange website without having enrolled a single citizen. The state will convert the site for Medicaid enrollment for an additional $35 million (federal taxpayers will pay 90 percent of that) and everything else will be turfed off to The only winner is Oracle, which was paid $134 million even though the state says the company failed to deliver what it promised. The folks who run Cover Oregon, who seem to think their credibility emerged unscathed, say it would have cost $78 million to fix the disaster it oversaw but only $5 million to piggyback onto, which it could have done on Day 1. The money Cover Oregon wasted, like that of other states that decided they could build their own sites slightly less incompetently than the federal government, is pretty much gone since the site was to have paid for itself via a tax on insurance company sales.

Reader Comments


From The PACS Designer: “Re: Google Ara. Google’s approach to the next smartphone will be a modular one called Ara from Google’s ATAP (advances technology and projects) group. By allowing the Android phone to be constructed to a controlled style, it will let developers limit what a user can do with the smartphone. This should be of interest to those who want to reduce BYOD usages in institutional settings.” It’s an interesting approach, like taking tablets back to the IBM-compatible PC days when you could buy components from anybody and just plug them in. I suppose the upside is that your phone will have a long life cycle since it’s really just a core board that accepts components. On the downside, Google excels at building ugly, frustratingly non-standard products (Gmail) and Apple and Samsung phones are selling just fine even if they are rendered obsolete after only two or three years. Not to mention that Google has no retail stores from which to sell and support consumer hardware. I’m no expert, but this project has “bust” written all over it, which seems to be a regular occurrence among the Googlers these days.

From Ex-Epic: “Re: Epic. Has been sending a team of people to Denmark (Copenhagen) for a few months now on regular sales/early stage implementation meetings. Haven’t seen it mentioned here with the other international sales mentioned lately.” I mentioned in November 2013 that Epic would be providing systems for all of eastern Denmark.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests


Most poll respondents don’t think any differently about HHS after it released Medicare physician payment information. New poll to your right: do you use an activity tracker such as FuelBand or Fitbit at least five days per week? My sense is that the wearables fad is over – the devices don’t measure a whole lot given their cost and walking still isn’t fun or practical for many people – they don’t need discouraging electronic reminders that they failed to meet their goal.

Listening: new from Stream of Passion, because I can go only so long without needing some Dutch progressive-opera metal (fronted by a female singer from Mexico for some reason.)


I support DonorsChoose projects that help classrooms in need, and in return, I get nice thank-you emails and photos from the teachers who appreciate the support. I realize I haven’t mentioned the most satisfying part – receiving letters from the students themselves. This particular project was for remanufactured toner cartridges and file drawers for a total cost of $187 as donated by HIStalk on behalf of readers. One of the students said, “I’m grateful that you donated to us because some teachers don’t have any printing supplies and my teacher was one of those people, but now he’s not, so I’m thanking you.” This is from a highest-poverty school in Mississippi, where the teacher (Mr. Delperdang, a Teach for America teacher )was spending his own money printing classroom materials from home.  

Upcoming Webinars

May 1 (Thursday) 1:00 p.m. ET. Think Beyond EDW: Using Your Data to Transform, Part 2 – Build-Measure-Learn to Get Value from Healthcare Data. Sponsored by Premier. Presenters: Alejandro Reti, MD, senior director of population health, Premier; and Alex Easton, senior director of enterprise solutions, Premier. Once you deploy an enterprise data warehouse, you need to arrive at value as quickly as possible. Learn ways to be operationally and technically agile with integrated data, including strategies for improving population health.

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


From the Cerner earnings call:

  • The company’s backlog increased to $9.24 billion. For non-investment types, “backlog” refers to products or services that have been sold, but whose revenue hasn’t been recognized due to accounting principles. In non-manufacturing businesses like healthcare IT, backlog is a good thing because it represents sales that haven’t shown up as income yet but will down the road. Backlog isn’t positive for manufacturers because it means your factory isn’t cranking out widgets fast enough, meaning you’ll need to make big capital investments to increase capacity or else your customers will find another vendor.
  • Sales revenue increased 4 percent, but the big jump was in services at 25 percent. Cerner is very good at generating that kind of recurring revenue without having to go through the grueling process of finding new customers, especially ones who are also considering Epic.
  • The company sold zero new ITWorks or RevWorks deals, and in fact “have not added a full RevWorks client in recent quarters.” Cerner just can’t seem to get anything right when it comes to financial software and services.
  • 25 percent of the quarter’s bookings were to non-Millennium customers. That’s a big deal – obviously the company is taking business away from someone else’s customers.
  • The company says the ICD-10 delay will give a slight boost to its revenue cycle business because some prospects were on a software hold while focusing on ICD-10. They didn’t mention that if that’s true, business will take the same slight downturn next year when ICD-10 looms again.
  • Revenue from sales outside the US dropped 16 percent, mostly because of reduced low-margin hardware numbers.
  • Cerner’s highly publicized deal with Intermountain Healthcare was summarized as pushing trigger events in front of clinicians, with the challenge being to turn the processes Intermountain has developed into “self-contained diagnostic, treatment, outcome, and reimbursement containers” that “replaces the claim in the fee-for-service world” and that can be used in non-Cerner systems. Sounds great if it works, which has never been the case in any example I can recall where a big-name hospital’s rules were benevolently sprinkled down like holy water on bowing masses of less-blessed hospitals.
  • The company mentioned HIMSS exhibits that showed “elegant graphs that purport to provide great insight into the data,” but that unless you can put that information in front of the physician in real time, “you’re just reporting the news vs. making the news.” That sounds inherently true, but the reality isn’t quite that dramatic – a hospital could use an analytics system to find potential areas of improvement (right down to the individual physician) and then use its order entry/clinical decision support system to build in guidance make it easier for physicians to do the right thing. Hospitals have plenty of capability built into the systems they already own without chasing yet another Intermountain project that seems to work for nobody except Intermountain. Every hospital I’ve worked in had plenty of information that could have improved outcomes and cost – what they lacked wasn’t technology, but rather the willpower to make the significant percentage of cowboy doctors follow the agreed-on rules. They needed competence and leadership, not more information to ignore.
  • Concluding the Intermountain hype was a statement saying that the most exciting part of the partnership is to sell Cerner consulting services.
  • The company still claims it can steal some Epic clients who have reached EMRAM Level 7 “because they don’t feel like the solution they have will suit their future needs.” I would think the best chance of that happening would be to undercut Epic’s maintenance costs, but Cerner didn’t mention that.

Tee Green, CEO of Greenway Health, provided HIStalk with this statement regarding the departure of President Matt Hawkins (above),who came over from his previous role as CEO of Vitera when Vista Equity Partners bought Greenway and combined the two companies in November 2013:

Matt Hawkins was instrumental in driving the growth and operational efficiencies at Vitera Healthcare, helping position that organization to combine with Greenway Medical Technologies and SuccessEHS to form the company Greenway Health is today. As Matt prepares to assume a new leadership role outside of Greenway, we’re very excited for him and wish Matt and his family nothing but the best. As Greenway moves forward, our priorities remain the same: to continue supporting and enhancing our solutions and to help our customers remain efficient and financially strong as they deliver care that improves the health of their patients and whole patient populations.



Texas Health Resources will deploy the AirStrip One clinical mobility solution throughout its system.



Joshua Seidman, PhD (Evolent, ONC) joins Avalere Health as VP of the newly created Center for Payment and Delivery Innovation (according to the press release) or Center for Delivery System System and Payment Innovation (according to his LinkedIn profile.)


KentuckyOne Health (KY) names Doug Jones (Providence Health & Services) as regional CIO.

Government and Politics

The AMDIS listserv brings up an interesting CMS attestation calculation quirk: any measure that requires “more than” a specific percentage actually requires the next-higher whole number percentage. You fail if you hit 50.4 percent on a measure that requires “more than 50 percent” since CMS rounds down to 50 percent and you didn’t exceed that. It’s bizarre that they round numbers at all.


The HIMSS EHR Association offers its comments to ONC’s proposed 2015 EHR certification criteria:

  • Early notice of proposed changes helps vendors prepare, but doesn’t address the real problem — certification rules are changed too often.
  • Vendors would have less than a year to build 2015 requirements into their products, so they want the edition labeled as 2016 rather than 2015.
  • Vendors can’t spend all of their time chasing certification requirements – they also have to consider customer requests and other government-mandated changes.
  • ONC underestimates the cost for vendors to keep up with its requirements – EHR says the real cost numbers are 10 times those ONC puts out and the 2015 criteria will be more than 15 times more expensive than ONC claims.
  • EHRA doesn’t think certification should be required for anything other than providers collecting HITECH money – certification should not be broadly expanded.
  • EHRA says it’s not reasonable to put the electronic clinical quality measures in 2017 edition certified software – there’s not enough time left.   

Innovation and Research


Brigham & Women’s Hospital (MA) will hold Pilot Shark Tank on Monday, where entrepreneurs are invited to pitch their ideas to hospital doctors and nurses who can approve a pilot project. Finalists are CareMon (3D optical patient monitoring), Constant Therapy (iPad-based stroke rehab therapy), Healo (remote monitoring of wound healing), Home Team Therapy (PT programs for home), MySafeCare (patient and family reporting of safety concerns), Revvo (bio-adaptive exercise bike), Tenacity Health (peer health coaching), Twine Health (collaborative chronic disease management), VerbalCare (patient-caregiver communication), and Vital Score (Apgar-like scoring of unhealthy behaviors that contribute to chronic illness).



In the least-surprising news of the week, Google+ goes comatose as its leader quits, its teams are reassigned, and the groups working on its Hangouts and photo features are moved under the Android operating system. Only Google could have designed product even clunkier and more confusing than Facebook except without the first-mover advantage and network effect that keep Facebook popular (at least for now.) Nobody wanted to use it as a Facebook alternative, so maybe at least some of its expensively developed parts can be salvaged for something useful. People wants EHRs to be as simple to use as Facebook, so maybe Google could drag up the moldy source code for Google Health and kludge something together that would turn two flops into one success.

Most electronic hospital  equipment can be taken over by hackers,according to a study by healthcare provider Essentia Health: IV pumps can be changed over the network, Bluetooth-powered defibrillators can be triggered at will, and unsecured medical images can be viewed by anyone, for example. The Essentia team also found that they could reboot some devices to force them back to factory defaults and that many pieces of equipment are connected directly to the Internet instead of being inside the firewall, allowing any hacker to simply plug into an available hospital jack and start finding devices to hack. A key finding is that EHRs accept data from unauthenticated devices, so bogus information could cascade into more harmful treatment decisions.


More speculation on why Nike stopped manufacturing its FuelBand activity tracking hardware: the software portion (NikeFuel) may end up on Apple’s iWatch or other wearable platforms.


Security experts say the hacker network that calls itself Anonymous may be responsible for a series of cyberattacks launched against the website of Boston Children’s Hospital (MA), which left patients and clinicians unable to use the hospital’s portal (the site is down as I write this Saturday afternoon). The group had demanded that the hospital fire the head of its child abuse prevention unit after a high-profile custody battle in which the hospital filed medical abuse charges against the parents of a 15-year-old female patient who was later placed in the state’s custody. Anonymous found itself embarrassed two weeks ago when it launched attacks against Israel-based sites, but Israeli hackers launched a counterattack by tracking the IP addresses of the Anonymous members and hacked their computers, including hijacking their webcams to snap and publish photos of the not so Anonymous members.


Athenahealth announced last week that it was dropping its membership in the HIMSS EHR Association, which it says “ostensibly” represents EHR vendors in federal policy debates. The company says it “never really belonged there in the first place” because EHRA is dominated by non-cloud EHR vendors and athenahealth isn’t really an EHR vendor but rather a services company (a debatable point.) Athenahealth (a) doesn’t like that EHRA pushes for more vendor-friendly federal policies (longer timelines, lower bars) and (b) wants CMS to name vendors whose customers seek hardship exemptions while EHRA “presses just as hard to protect its members from the consequences of their failures by opposing any such disclosure.” EHRA decided not to wage press release warfare with athenahealth, but says its membership diversity creates value and credibility and while it’s sorry to see athenahealth leave, some of the company’s statements are incorrect (specifically the one claiming that EHRA opposes hardship exemption transparency, about which I could indeed find no stated EHRA position.) Athenahealth also says it takes too much time to explain to people why it regularly disagrees with its own trade association. My opinion: athenahealth voluntarily joined EHRA hoping to gain something from it (DC influence, publicity) and is quitting for the same reason (publicity and hoping to differentiate itself competitively from its former fellow members, especially after ATHN announced unimpressive quarterly result last week). Customers don’t care one way or another, and with the company’s size, it can do its own Washington glad-handing. Every member of CommonWell Health Alliance (except Sunquest) is also a member of EHRA, so maybe athena should storm off from that group as well.  At some point, a large, publicly traded company crosses the line from “disruptor” to “disruptee” and athenahealth may be getting close.

ECRI Institute’s listing of healthcare IT data integrity as the #1 problem facing healthcare organizations includes specific examples: data entry errors, missing or delayed delivery, accepting incorrect default values, copying and pasting, using both paper and electronic systems, and incorrectly attributing device data to the wrong patient. It recommends assessing clinician use, improving testing, offering better training, and giving users an easy way to report system problems they see.


Athenahealth’s Jonathan Bush and business writer Stephen Baker team up to write Where Does It Hurt?: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Fixing Health Care, available May 15. Sounds interesting except that JB’s incessant verbosity makes it tough to convince free milk drinkers to plunk down cash to buy the cow.

Strange: a New York doctor is sued for stiffing the Scores strip club for $135,000 worth of lap dances in four visits over 10 days. He claims he was drugged by club employees and disputes that he was even present despite security camera video suggesting otherwise. A Scores spokesperson said of the cardiologist, “If I had five dancers dancing for me, I’d be in the ICU. He’s a heart doctor – I guess he’s got a good heart.”

Sponsor Updates

  • Liaison Healthcare enhances its EMR-Link EHR interoperability solution with Meaningful Use Stage 2 capability.

Switching from a Cloud-Based EHR Vendor

I mentioned a while back about hearing from a physician practice that was finding it next to impossible to extract EHR information from their cloud-based EHR to move to a different system. I offered to write about the experience from the points of view of both the vendor and the practice. Here is a summary of the communication, which should provide lessons learned for both customers and vendors.


From Matthew “Toby” Cox, MD, MPH, Families First Pediatrics, South Jordan, UT

  • We started with ADP AdvancedMD in April 2011, but found it didn’t meet our needs and we are switching to the peds-specific PCC EHR.
  • ADP Advanced MD claimed on their website that they won’t hold data hostage – they will provide an encrypted hard drive with all data plus mapping and documentation within one week for $1,250.
  • We paid $1,250 on January 30, 2014 and received a thumb drive several weeks later. The new vendor, PCC, says the new information is a comma-separated value file that makes no sense.
  • After several weeks of getting no response, ADP AdvancedMD (whose national headquarters is less than a mile from our practice) sent a technician, who said the file the practice was given was incomplete. Another file was supposed to be sent, but wasn’t.
  • Three months later, we still have no usable data and the ADP AdvancedMD representative suggested pulling up every patient chart and printing a PDF.


Response from Jim Elliott, VP of marketing, ADP AdvancedMD

  • The delay was due to a process issue that has been resolved.
  • The ADP AdvancedMD rep hand-delivered the 4.5GB data file that can’t be split into smaller files readable by Access or Excel because records are sorted by date of service and that would break up a patient’s chart.
  • The practice had set up templates and each field they used can only be defined by the practice since the system doesn’t “know” how they are being used.
  • The new vendor, PCC, understood the layout and required no further changes.

From Dr. Cox

  • Nobody from ADP AdvancedMD told us in training that when we added items to templates that we were adding “codes” that would complicate the data extraction process.
  • Our last EHR conversion from another vendor at least gave us individual patient PDFs that could be accessed by a menu button – not ideal, but usable.
  • The practice management data extract from ADP AdvancedMD was perfect. Only the EHR information is a problem.
  • I asked ADP AdvancedMD during their sales pitch about our access to our data if we decided to leave since it seemed unusual that they were offering a month-to-month contract. Their salespeople said we would have access to the data and be provided a hard copy of it. I was not savvy enough at that time to probe deeper into this as I took their word for it (dammit Jim, I’m a doctor, not a computer data specialist!)


From a programmer at Physician’s Computer Company (PCC)

  • We never indicated to ADP AdvancedMD that we found their extract usable. The limited guidance we received was weeks later and only after repeated requests.
  • We do vendor conversions every week and have done every major vendor. This is the only one that we have not been able to convert.
  • Anyone on ADP AdvancedMD who thinks they can switch vendors is deluded.
  • Here is a consecutive snippet … it’s the same date of service for the same patient, but it’s a random mix of stuff.

From Dr. Cox to ADP AdvancedMD

  • If you were handed that data file, how would you import the information into Advanced MD step by step?
  • Has anyone every successfully imported that information into another system?
  • Is a bulk export to an industry-standard layout (CCD/CCR/CCDA) possible?
  • Can a mass export to PDF be done as a last-ditch effort to get patient information into their new system?

From Jim Elliott to Dr. Cox

  • There were communications gaps between the two vendors. ADP AdvancedMD spoke to PCC’s technicians and understood that the new vendor had everything needed to convert.
  • ADP AdvancedMD is still a few months away from delivering the capability to bulk export to CCD or CCR, but it can be retrieved from individual patient records.

The practice’s information is still not available in their new system three months after their initial request and payment and Dr. Cox is worried about the clinical impact to patients of missing three years’ of their data.

My suggestion: regardless of whether your EHR vendor is a traditional or cloud-based one, ask them now (not later) for the names of former customers who successfully migrated off their platform with all data intact (which will prove that it’s at least possible). Or, far less desirably, ask for a sample extract with documentation.

I’ll also ask the technical folks who work for EHR vendors to weigh in on the data snippet above. Would your company be able to migrate intact, complete patient records using a file with that layout? It looks to me as though the individual items are identified using free text and non-standard codes that would be meaningless outside the source system.


Mr. H, Inga, Dr. Jayne, Dr. Gregg, Lt. Dan, Dr. Travis, Lorre.

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.


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April 26, 2014 News 9 Comments

Morning Headlines 4/25/14

April 24, 2014 Headlines No Comments

Cerner Reports First Quarter 2014 Results

Cerner reports Q1 results: Revenue is up 15 percent, to $784 million, driven by all-time high bookings of $910 million. Adjusted EPS $0.37 vs. $0.33, meeting analyst’s forecasts.

A fatal wait: Veterans languish and die on a VA hospital’s secret list

The Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, unable to keep up with the VA’s mandated 15 to 30 day appointment turn-around time, starts maintaining a secret "off the books" wait list where some veterans end up waiting for more than a year. As a result, an estimated 40 veterans died while waiting for care they otherwise would have received. The House Veterans Affairs Committee has ordered all records from Phoenix to be preserved while an investigation is launched.

Congress unhappy with DoD, VA health records progress

House lawmakers will withhold 75 percent of the VA/DoD’s 2015 budget request for their joint EHR project until they demonstrate that progress is being made.

Medical Records and Health Information Technicians

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is predicting a 22 percent increase in jobs for medical records and health IT workers over the next 10 years.

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April 24, 2014 Headlines No Comments

News 4/25/14

April 24, 2014 News 4 Comments

Top News

4-24-2014 3-29-28 PM

Cerner delivers strong Q1 numbers: revenues up 15 percent, adjusted EPS of $0.37 versus $0.33 a year ago, both in line with analyst estimates. The company also reported its $910.2 million in bookings was an all-time number for a first quarter.

Reader Comments

4-23-2014 11-18-55 AM

From Haberdash: "Re: Matt Hawkins. Greenway sent an email to customers saying that President Matt Hawkins is on the way out.” The note, which was sent Tuesday, indicates that Hawkins is leaving the company to pursue “an exciting new leadership position outside of the company.” The departure of Hawkins, who was CEO of Vitera Healthcare prior to the Greenway/Vitera merger, could be unsettling for any Intergy customers already concerned about Greenway’s long term product strategy. I emailed the company Wednesday for a comment but have not yet received a reply.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

4-24-2014 2-25-32 PM

inga Mr. H is out and about today so I am flying solo. I am not sure what he’s up to but since I’d like to be sitting on a beach with an umbrella drink, I’m just going to pretend he’s doing something fun like that.

Some highlights from HIStalk Practice this week include: EHR vendors could learn from Surescripts’ “alliance of foes” model. The AMA reminds providers to order their ICD-9 codebooks for 2015 now that ICD-10 has been temporarily shelved. CVS MInuteClinic surpasses 20 million patient visits since opening its first in-pharmacy site in 2010. Rushed physicians create frustration and tension for both patients and providers. Orthopedists were the most highly compensated physicians last year. Wikipedia trumps Google Flu Trends and the CDC in tracking flu outbreaks. Dr. Gregg promotes “multiview” as a necessary EMR feature. Thanks for reading.

This week on HIStalk Connect: Nike shuts down its Fuelband activity tracker line, cancels plans to introduce a new tracker this fall, and eliminates 55 of the 70 staff members in the activity tracker business unit. Twitter announces the winners of its #BigData grant program, half of which were healthcare-focused research projects. In an otherwise neglected market, eCaring raises a $3.5 million Series A for a simplified health journal designed to help seniors age in place by trending for changes in physical or behavioral health and alerting appropriate caregivers.



Upcoming Webinars

May 1 (Thursday) 1:00 p.m. ET. Think Beyond EDW: Using Your Data to Transform, Part 2 – Build-Measure-Learn to Get Value from Healthcare Data. Sponsored by Premier. Presenters: Alejandro Reti, MD, senior director of population health, Premier; and Alex Easton, senior director of enterprise solutions, Premier. Once you deploy an enterprise data warehouse, you need to arrive at value as quickly as possible. Learn ways to be operationally and technically agile with integrated data, including strategies for improving population health.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

4-24-2014 5-59-20 PM

VMware reports Q1 results: revenues up 14.2 percent and adjusted EPS of $0.80 vs. $0.74, beating estimates.

4-24-2014 6-00-20 PM

Kaufman Hall, a provider of financial consulting services and software for healthcare, acquires Axiom EPM, a provider of financial performance management software for healthcare and other industries.

4-24-2014 6-01-16 PM

Huron Consulting Group enters into an agreement to acquire the assets of Vonlay.

4-24-2014 6-03-27 PM

Quest Diagnostics posts Q1 numbers: revenues down 2.3 percent and adjusted EPS of $0.84 vs. $0.89 a year ago, missing estimates. Quest blames an unusually harsh winter that deterred people from going to its centers for tests.

4-24-2014 6-04-08 PM

NexJ Systems acquires Liberate Ideas, developer of a point-of-care patient education solution.

4-24-2014 12-56-39 PM

Owlet, developers of a smart baby bootie monitor that measures a child’s heart rate, raises $1.85 million from multiple firms, including ff Venture Capital and Eniac Ventures.

Heart Corporation expands its Hearst Health group and Zynx Health division with the acquisition of CareInSync, the developer of a mobile platform for provider-patient communications.

4-24-2014 4-07-22 PM

CTG attributes its 22 percent drop in Q1 profits on lower revenue from its healthcare technology services business. CEO James R. Boldt says the lower revenues are the result of hospitals delaying EMR and other IT implementation projects as they manage Medicare cuts from a year ago.

HealthStream reports Q1 results: revenues up 29 percent and flat earnings of $0.07 per share, beating revenue estimates but missing on earnings.



4-24-2014 2-56-27 PM

Crozer-Keystone Health System (PA), Tahoe Forest Health System (CA), Capital Health (NJ) and Hocking Valley Community Hospital (OH) will implement the InteHealth Patient Portal.

Michigan Health & Hospital Association Keystone Center will use RegistryMetrix from ArborMetrix at 60 hospitals to capture OB data and measure clinical performance.

4-24-2014 2-59-17 PM

Johns Hopkins Health System selects Carestream Health’s Vue PACS system.

Southern Illinois University HealthCare selects Allscripts TouchWorks EHR for its physician clinics.

4-24-2014 3-46-20 PM

SCL Health System will implement Stanson Health’s clinical decision support system.



4-24-2014 5-20-42 PM

Population health management and patient engagement provider Rise Health names Connie Moser (McKesson) president and COO. Moser replaces Mark Crockett, MD, who will remain as CEO, and Fred Croft, who will shift to CFO.

QPID Health forms an advisory that includes David W. Bates, MD (Brigham and Women’s Hospital); John D. Halamka, MD (Harvard Medical School); Julia Adler-Milstein (University of Michigan); and Robert M. Wachter, MD (University of California, San Francisco).

4-24-2014 6-46-47 AM

Extension Healthcare hires Jill Vavala (CareFusion) as CNO.

4-24-2014 6-57-58 AM

Covisint names Michael Keddington (McDermott & Bull Executive Search) SVP of worldwide sales.

4-24-2014 5-22-01 PM

The NCQA appoints Michael S. Barr, MD (American College of Physicians) EVP in charge of leading the organization’s research, performance measurement, and analytics efforts.

4-24-2014 1-51-06 PM

David J. Bensema, MD moves from CMIO to CIO for Baptist Health (KY).

4-24-2014 2-31-56 PM

Essia Health names Rachel Leiber (Providence Health & Services)  to lead the company’s EMR implementation services division.

4-24-2014 2-50-55 PM

Accretive Health CEO Stephen Schuckenbrock will step down from the troubled company when his contract expires October 2.  Last month the company was delisted from the NYSE after failing to file restated financial reports from 2012.


Announcements and Implementations

4-24-2014 10-03-27 AM

The Greater Houston Healthconnect network and the Austin-area Integrated Care Collaboration establish health information sharing through the Texas Health Services Authority’s HIETexas.

4-23-2014 2-53-30 PM

American Health Network implements eClinicalWorks Care Coordination Medical Record for population health management to manage its three ACOs in Ohio and Indiana.

Via Christi Health (KS), which is owned by Ascension Health, will go live on its $85 million Cerner system June 1 across all of its Wichita hospitals and clinics.

Behavioral Health Information Network of Arizona leverages NextGen’s Mirth Connect platform to become the first statewide behavioral health information exchange in the country.

4-24-2014 5-24-10 PM

Lady of the Sea General Hospital (LA) goes live with T-System’s EDIS EV.

4-24-2014 3-50-31 PM

The W. W. Caruth Jr. Foundation awards Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation (TX) a $12 million grant to establish the Dallas Information Exchange Portal to connect Parkland Memorial Hospital with local social service agencies.



Government and Politics

HHS says two entities have collectively paid almost $2 million to resolve potential HIPAA violations following the theft of unencrypted laptop computers.

The House Appropriations Committee approves a 2015 budget plan to that would hold back 75 percent of the VA’s requested funds to upgrade its EHR until Congress is convinced the DoD and VA are making progress in their efforts to share EMRs.

4-24-2014 2-42-29 PM

CNN reports on the Phoenix VA Health Care System and how delays in scheduling appointments has led to 40 deaths. The report also reveals details of a scheme by VA managers to hide the scheduling delays in order to improve official scheduling metrics. A retired VA doctor claims that the health system maintained a “sham” waiting list that was shared with Washington officials that showed timely appointments, as well as a real but hidden list with wait times of more than a year. To create the secret list, staff entered appointment details into the computer, printed the screen, but did not save what was entered. Patients remained on the secret list until the scheduled appointment was within 14 days, then details were transferred  to the sham list and the hard copy was shredded. The US House Veterans Affairs Committee is now investigating.

4-24-2014 2-39-30 PM

The FBI warns that healthcare systems and medical devices face an increased risk of cyberattacks because private health data has a higher financial payout on the black market than credit card numbers.



4-24-2014 6-16-30 PM

The chairman of the board of supervisors for Riverside County Regional Medical Center (CA) takes Huron Consulting to task and questions its lack of progress fixing the hospital’s financial woes. Huron, which is six months into a $26 million dollar engagement, was hired to implement cost-saving initiatives to address the hospital’s $83.2 million cash shortfall, but so far the deficit has only been cut $1.2 million. The hospital’s CFO defended Huron’s work, noting that the company’s efforts have already contributed to $9 million in savings, but declining patient traffic during the same period has resulted in a $12 million decline in revenue.

4-24-2014 1-56-25 PM

The Department of Labor predicts a 22 percent increase in the number of jobs for medical records and health information technicians between 2012 and 2022.

Health IT, care coordination, and drug shortages lead an ECRI-complied list of top 10 patient safety concerns for healthcare organizations.

4-24-2014 4-12-58 PM

Forty percent of physician practices are looking to replace their existing EHR, according to a Software Advice report. Among buyers replacing their EHR product, the most common replacement reasons: the current solution is too cumbersome and/or integration is needed between applications.

A Rhode Island court issues a consent decree saying that the state’s EHR database CurentCare must be more transparent and offer patients more privacy protection. The ruling stems from a 2010 lawsuit filed by the ACLU that charged the state’s department of health didn’t spell out clearly or publicly enough how patients could remove or change their own records from the database.

A quaky lawsuit out of Oregon: a woman sues her mother’s neighbor after the neighbor’s pet duck attacked her. The duck ambushed the woman without provocation, causing her to fall, break her wrist, and sprain an elbow and shoulder. The victim, a retired nurse, is seeking $275,000 for pain, suffering, and other damages.


Sponsor Updates

  • Elsevier will market Stanson Health’s CDS alerts and analytics solutions.
  • IDC Health Insights names Wellcentive a leader in its MarketScape report on US population health management vendors.
  • Merge Healthcare releases iConnect Retinal Screening for identifying and diagnosing patients with diabetic retinal disease.
  • Quest Diagnostics recognizes Liaison Healthcare’s EMR-Link solution with its Quality Solutions Certification for meeting or exceeding HIT quality standards for secure clinical lab ordering and results reporting.
  • BESLER Consulting will market the MedAptus charge capture management suite to its clients and MedAptus will promote BESLER’s revenue recovery and compliance services.
  • McKesson Business Performance Services adds outpatient and inpatient facility coding services to its coding and compliance portfolio of services.
  • CommVault enhances its PartnerAdvantage program for channel partners to accelerate revenue growth and simplify collaboration.
  • Quest Diagnostics acquires the remainder of Steward Health Care System’s (MA) outreach laboratory services operations and will provide testing services to providers previously serviced by Steward.
  • iHT2 posts highlights from its Atlanta Health IT Summit.
  • Imprivata hosts its HealthCon 2014 conference May 4-6 in Boston.
  • Aspen Advisors shares a white paper on building a technology roadmap to support an organization’s value-based model.
  • Orion Health and two of its customers will discuss how state public health agencies can expand the use of integration engines to prepare for quality reporting during the Public Health Informatics Conference April 29-30 in Atlanta.
  • Health Catalyst opens registration for the 2014 Healthcare Analytics Summit September 24-25 in Salt Lake City.
  • Aspen Advisor principal Jim B-Reay offers tips for keeping the mind fresh in  CHIME’s CIO Connection.

EPtalk – by Dr. Jayne

I caught up with one of my medical school buddies this week as she was passing through town on the way to the class reunion that I’m skipping. She’s a primary care doc turned informaticist as well, so the opportunity to talk shop with someone who has walked a mile in the same virtual shoes as me was exciting. We got to chatting about the Flip the Clinic initiative which aims to “re-imagine the medical encounter between patients and care providers.”

The website has a variety of information on “flips” in categories like communication, design, education, empowerment, etc. The idea is that by making the clinical interaction better, patients will be healthier and providers happier. Although I like the idea it’s a little hard to get on board without some objective evidence that these interventions will make a difference. Some of them are straightforward: reducing noise in the healthcare environment, or removing physical barriers between patients and the office staff. Others are more abstract such as reforming the broken payment system. I think it’s great to have a discussion but I’m not seeing how some of these concepts will translate into practice, especially for those of us who are in employed models.

My former classmate and I have both struggled with being employed physicians and our inability to get buy-in from administrators when we want to try innovative maneuvers. Administrators frequently want proof that we’ll have positive return on investment but fail to realize not all returns are monetary. It’s difficult to try to find energy to fight the status quo when all the forces surrounding us (MU, CMS, HIPAA, and the rest of the alphabet soup) seem designed to stifle any attempt to think outside the box.

It’s going to take more than concerned individuals to truly Flip the Clinic. Organizations will need to address culture issues and there will need to be institutional buy-in before change can begin. The commitment needed to actually have that level of change take place, let alone “stick” and become hard-wired is something that very few of us can muster right now.

From Demo Dave: “Re: replacement systems. I sold EHR systems to physician groups for 15 years, all before MU started to skew the market. At least 30-35 percent of the systems I sold were to practices looking for additional functionality that was already in their existing system. These practices simply never learned to utilize the capabilities of their existing systems. When an administrator told me their existing EHR was lacking functionality or reporting, I simply smiled and confirmed what they wanted in a new system. I then focused demonstrations and implementations to meet their needs.” Many EHRs have gotten to the point where they have more features than users can understand let alone incorporate on a daily basis. Anyone who thinks they can learn a system with a few days of training and never think about it again is woefully shortsighted. Having workflow validation and optimization visits at 30, 60, and 90 days post go-live can help – any bad habits can be corrected and new features can be regularly introduced to those users who are ready for them. Customers should also consider actually reading the user manual and other documentation before they throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water.

Most of our readers know I enjoy a good cocktail and also love to travel, so I was intrigued by a story on NPR that talked about powdered liquor. I should have read it right away rather than bookmarking it for later – when I returned it had been updated stating it’s not actually legal in the US. Apparently I’ll have to go to Japan, Germany, or the Netherlands to check out the options.

Speaking of the need for a stiff drink, there’s still a fair amount of chatter about the release of the Medicare payment data. The newest Coda-a-Palooza challenge  calls for developers to leverage that data to “help consumers improve their health care decision-making.” I’m a professional, I understand what the Medicare data does and does not reflect, yet I still struggle to think of ways that the data can be useful in consumer decision-making. The site says the data “shed significant light on how physicians actually work.” Excuse me? How does data on Medicare payments explain how I care for patients? Maybe I’ll understand better in June when the winners are announced. In the mean time, any explanations that you can send my feeble post-call brain?

Email me.


Mr. H, Inga, Dr. Jayne, Dr. Gregg, Lt. Dan, Dr. Travis, Lorre

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.

smoking doc

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April 24, 2014 News 4 Comments

Morning Headlines 4/24/14

April 23, 2014 Headlines No Comments

Fed privacy enforcers sock health org with $1.7M penalty

The HHS Office for Civil Rights hits Concentra Health Services(TX) with a $1.7 million fine over a data breach that stems from an unencrypted stolen laptop. Within the announcement, OCR states, "Our message to these organizations is simple: Encryption is your best defense against these incidents."

Top 10 Patient Safety Concerns for Healthcare Organizations

ECRI publishes a list of the top 10 patient safety concerns healthcare organizations have reported, according to its database of 300,000 patient safety event reports. Topping the list is "Data integrity failures with health information technology systems."

UMass Memorial to Integrate End-Of-Life Care Directives Into EHR

UMass Memorial Health Care will partner with Luminat, an end-of-life technology solutions provider, to help doctors document each patient’s end-of-life wishes and then incorporating the document into the health system’s EHR.

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April 23, 2014 Headlines No Comments

Morning Headlines 4/23/14

April 22, 2014 Headlines No Comments

The Personal Connected Health Alliance Launches with Goal to Improve Health and Wellness through Connected Technologies

The Continua Health Alliance, mHealth Summit, and HIMSS launch a new non-profit called the Personal Connected Health Alliance that will represent the consumer voice in the growing connected health industry.

Care Everywhere, a Point-to-Point HIE Tool

An Applied Clinical Informatics study says that using Epic’s Care Everywhere module in four Allina Health ER’s resulted in fewer duplicate diagnostic tests and procedures, and more drug seeking behaviors being identified.

athenahealth Announces 2013 Meaningful Use Attestation Rate and Early Stage 2 Performance Data

athenaHealth announces that 95.4 percent of the company’s participating providers successfully attested for Meaningful Use Stage 1 in 2013.

Medicare chief Jonathan Blum leaving Obama administration

CMS Principal Deputy Administrator Jonathan Blum will resign effective May 16, according to an internal email sent by CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner.

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April 22, 2014 Headlines No Comments

News 4/23/14

April 22, 2014 News No Comments

Top News


Continua Health Alliance, mHealth Summit, and HIMSS launch the Personal Connected Health Alliance to represent the consumer voice in personal connected health to ensure that technologies are user-friendly, secure, and can easily collect, display, and relay personal health data.

Reader Comments


From Less Disruption Please: “athenahealth. Friday was a tough day. Their outage was apparently due to catastrophic loss of power. It took out email, production, and backup sites. At least they apologized.” Unverified.

Upcoming Webinars

May 1 (Thursday) 1:00 p.m. ET. Think Beyond EDW: Using Your Data to Transform, Part 2 – Build-Measure-Learn to Get Value from Healthcare Data. Sponsored by Premier. Presenters: Alejandro Reti, MD, senior director of population health, Premier; and Alex Easton, senior director of enterprise solutions, Premier. Once you deploy an enterprise data warehouse, you need to arrive at value as quickly as possible. Learn ways to be operationally and technically agile with integrated data, including strategies for improving population health.

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

4-22-2014 11-36-25 AM 

AdverseEvents, a healthcare informatics company focused on drug safety and side effects, closes $2 million in Series A financing.


Informedika changes its name to Health Gorilla.

Lexmark reports that revenues for its Perceptive Software division grew 38 percent in the first quarter.


4-22-2014 11-44-46 AM

Evangelical Community Hospital (PA) selects dbtech’s eFolder solution for enterprise content management.


Griffin Hospital (PA) will implement athenaCoordinator Enterprise.

UMass Memorial Health Care (MA) will integrate Luminat’s end-of-life directives platform into its EHR.

Alder Hey Children’s Hospital (UK) selects Summit Healthcare’s interface engine technology.


Missouri Baptist Medical Center will deploy the Vocera Communication System.


4-22-2014 11-21-15 AM

EHR/PM provider Pulse Systems appoints Richard Ungaro (RU Investment) SVP of operations.

4-22-2014 11-22-32 AM   4-22-2014 11-23-32 AM

NoteSwift hires Stan Swiniarski (Nuance) as VP of products and Art Nicholas (Nova Dynamics) as VP of sales and business development.

4-22-2014 12-20-58 PM

MediTract, a provider of automated contract management solutions, appoints Ed Caldwell (Emdeon) SVP of sales and marketing.


CMS Principal Deputy Administrator Jonathan Blum, the administration’s top Medicare official, will resign effective May 16.


Cancer Treatment Centers of American names Kristin Darby (Tenet Healthcare) CIO.

Announcements and Implementations

Athenahealth reports that 95.4 percent of its participating providers successfully attested for MU Stage 1 in 2013. The company also resigns from the HIMSS Electronic Health Records Association (EHRA) trade association saying it “never really belonged” since it is neither an EHR company nor a software vendor.

Maine’s HealthInfoNet HIE offers providers access to the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program through the HIE’s portal, giving clinicians a single sign-on to both systems.

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Virtua (NJ) integrate their imaging systems as well as CHOP’s Epic and Virtua’s Siemens EHRs to give both health systems access to each other’s radiology reports and diagnostic images.

4-22-2014 12-34-36 PM

Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulaziz Hospital in Saudi Arabia deploys Cerner after a nine-month implementation.

Government and Politics

CMS officials are considering whether to keep Accenture as its long-term prime contractor for the the website or seek a potential replacement. A “sources sought” notice posted by CMS says the agency is looking to see if any small businesses owned by veterans or minorities might be suitable candidates.


Use of Epic’s Care Everywhere HIE tool helped four EDs within Allina Health (MN) reduce duplicate tests and procedures, according to a study published in Applied Clinical Informatics.


Boston Children’s Hospital (MA) partners with Etiometry to analyze information from ICU patient monitors to display a Stability Index.

Weird News Andy says patients have to pay for expensive ICU stays, but maybe this isn’t the best way. Police arrest a female ICU patient after a tip from hospital staff that she was receiving many visitors who stayed only 1-2 minutes. She was dealing heroin from her bed.

Sponsor Updates

  • Kinetic Data names CareTech Solutions its Innovator of the Year for its innovative use of Kinetic Data products.
  • Craneware enhances its supply management solution Pharmacy ChargeLink to include additional worklist functionality, benchmark pricing, and automated dosing tools.
  • PaySpan will integrate MEA|NEA’s electronic claim attachment capabilities into its healthcare reimbursement platform.
  • McKesson observes Earth Day with a Green Week celebration that focuses on informing employees about the company’s efforts to reduce its environmental footprint and engaging employees in environmental efforts.
  • Wolters Kluwer Health releases the Medi-Span Medicare Plans File, which provides indicators to designate coverage under Medicare Part B and/or Part D.
  • Holon explains why HIE implementations in rural healthcare can trump those in urban settings in a company blog post.
  • The Advisory Board Company shares an infographic  that highlights how progressive organizations are focusing on primary care providers to achieve volume and quality goals.
  • Surgical Information Systems updates its industry, client, and anesthesia events calendar.
  • Aperek will participate in the SMI Spring 2014 Forum in Phoenix April 29-May 1.
  • Halim Cho, Covisint’s director of product marketing will discuss the cloud’s disruptive power to transform enterprises at the May 5 Forrester Forum for Technology Management Leaders in Orlando.
  • John Marshall, SVP and GM for AirWatch by VMware, offers his enterprise mobility market perspective in an interview.
  • Shareable Ink’s founder and CTO Stephen Hau organized a Boston Marathon team that raised over $750,000 for last year’s bombing victims.
  • Netsmart opens registration for its CONNECTIONS2014 conference October 6-9 in Anaheim, CA.
  • The Orion Health Patient Portal v.4.0 achieves ONC HIT 2014 Edition Complete EHR Certification through ICSA Labs.
  • Navicure adds 300 new clients representing 1,225 providers in the first quarter and posts a 19 percent increase in revenues versus a year ago.


Mr. H, Inga. Dr. Jayne, Dr. Gregg, Lt. Dan, Dr. Travis, Lorre

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.


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April 22, 2014 News No Comments

Morning Headlines 4/21/14

April 21, 2014 Headlines 6 Comments

Heading off the alarms at Boston Children’s Hospital

Boston Children’s Hospital is piloting a predictive analytics tool in its cardiac ICU that it hopes will help combat alarm fatigue by predicting changes in patient condition before alarms sound, and then creating a real-time "heat map" of the unit that tells staff where resources should be directed next.

Scribes Are Back, Helping Doctors Tackle Electronic Medical Records

NPR reports on the medical scribe industry in the US, which is booming in parallel with EHRs.

Wikipedia Usage Estimates Prevalence of Influenza-Like Illness in the United States in Near Real-Time

Researchers at Harvard Medical School find that flu outbreaks can be predicted by monitoring spikes in traffic to Wikipedia pages about the flu and flu-like symptoms. The resulting annual figures were in line with CDC reports, and far outperformed Google Flu Trends, which predicts outbreak numbers based on Google search terms.

Obamacare enrollees urged to change passwords over Heartbleed bug posted a message on Saturday informing users that all passwords had been automatically reset in response to the Heartbleed computer virus.

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April 21, 2014 Headlines 6 Comments

Curbside Consult with Dr. Jayne 4/21/14

April 21, 2014 Dr. Jayne 1 Comment

Next weekend is my medical school reunion. Although I can’t make it, the fact that it is happening spurred me to try to re-connect with old friends and colleagues. Some are from med school, others are from residency, and a few are friends I made when I was a young solo practice doc trying to figure out how to fit into the medical establishment.

I had a nice chat with a friend of mine who is a pediatrician. It was interesting to catch up because her practice is different from what I see every day. Hers is a traditional group private practice, but they only take commercial payers – no state or federal programs. As such, they’re not on the Meaningful Use treadmill. They document in paper charts that are filed by family rather than individual – totally old school as far as most health information management folks are concerned.

I had talked to her several years ago when they were trying to implement the same EHR that we were rolling out to our employed physicians. They had purchased their system through a local reseller, hoping to get good service from people close to home rather than buying directly from our vendor who is headquartered halfway across the country.

Unfortunately that local reseller was purchased by another reseller who didn’t have the greatest track record for customer service and most of their local resources were let go or quit. Because of that situation (coupled with turnover in their practice leadership), they had halted their implementation after bringing the billing system live.

They were heavy admitters to one of our hospitals, so I did a courtesy consultation to provide some advice on how to proceed. I talked to them about working with their reseller to come up with a phased implementation plan that would help them transition slowly since they weren’t in a huge hurry and had multiple older physicians who would need convincing and a lot of hand-holding.

We had run into each other in the newborn nursery almost a year after that, so I knew they continued to struggle with the system and ultimately went back to paper, although they were doing well with the billing system.

When I caught up with her a few weeks ago, I learned that they had made the decision to replace their entire system. They never got the EHR off the ground, largely because the older physicians perceived the software as too complicated and too clicky. They had not taken any upgrades since their initial installation in 2009, so I can see why they thought that – early versions of the software were indeed clicky and it wasn’t easy to save physician-specific defaults and preferences.

The practice had tried to re-implement on that version even though our vendor had since rolled out a redesigned user interface that vastly improved the workflow. She said that due to a lack of confidence in the reseller coupled with the physician resistance, they were afraid to take any upgrades.

They decided to go with a specialty-specific product, rolling out the practice management system first without any kind of conversion from their previous system. For a busy practice with nearly a dozen physicians, that surprised me – not even a demographic conversion. They went live on April 1 and every patient had to be re-registered, whether they were presenting for an appointment or calling in.

They made no adjustments to the schedule to accommodate the change because the providers refused to risk a revenue loss. As a result, they are running hours behind by the end of every day. Talk about an April Fool’s Day joke! Needless to say, no one is happy – the providers, the staff, or the patients.

Patients are complaining about the registration process because they have to provide information they didn’t previously, specifically race, ethnicity, and preferred method of contact for patient reminders. Sounds familiar! I asked her why they’re doing that since they’re not attesting for MU, don’t participate in any research or quality programs where those fields are needed, don’t do email or texting, and it’s not required by payers in our area (yet). The answer: those fields are required in the system and can’t be turned off.

I asked her how the system handles other information that may be needed for MU but not for the way the practice currently delivers care. She has no idea. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are plenty of other required fields that they’re not going to be happy about once they start implementing EHR.

I asked what their plans are for that. She didn’t really know whether they plan to implement EHR in 60 days, 90 days, or a year. There’s no burning platform, but I would expect a partner to at least have some kind of understanding of the group’s strategic plan. I asked about the family charting – which is very different from individual charting – and she had no idea how they plan to resolve that, either.

I’m sure I was giving her some funny looks during this discussion because my brain was positively spinning. They’ve traded one system (where at least they could have turned off those required fields) for another with no long-term plan for whether they’re simply converting to paperless charts or whether they plan to use an electronic health record to transform care.

I suspect that as time passes they’ll find themselves in substantially the same position they were in six months or a year ago, except they’ll be paying down another initial investment. I didn’t ask about the cost of the new system, but I hope that at least their monthly software maintenance payments are a little less. Until they start having some serious conversations with all the physicians though about what having an EHR means to them, what they want to get out of it, and how they plan to go about it, there is the potential for some serious unhappiness down the road. They’ll be doing the same dance but with another vendor.

Although they were never stressing about Meaningful Use, they were having mild heart failure over ICD-10 and were very grateful for the recent reprieve. As a relatively small single-specialty group, their transition will be less complicated (and hopefully less arduous) than some of ours and I wish them well. Given their payer mix and patient population, some of their challenges are different from those faced by my practices on a day-to-day basis, but many are the same. I left her with some good discussion points for her next practice management meeting and a promise to check in more frequently to see how they’re doing.

There are a fair number of physicians and practices in the market for replacement systems. I wonder what percentage of those purchases are truly from system deficiencies (including lack of certification)? I’d like to compare that to what fraction of them are due to a lack of understanding around how to successfully transition to electronic health records coupled with a vendor who is unable/unwilling to take a hard stance with its customers to force them to do things in a manner that will make them successful.

Are you in the market for a replacement system? What makes you think it will be different the second time around? How are you planning to do things differently? Email me.

Email Dr. Jayne.

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April 21, 2014 Dr. Jayne 1 Comment

Morning Headlines 4/21/14

April 20, 2014 Headlines No Comments

UPMC data breach may affect as many as 27,000 employees

UPMC (PA) reports that hackers have stolen the personal information of 27,000 of its employees. 788 are reporting that their tax returns were stolen when the information was used to file fraudulent tax returns, while others are reporting that unauthorized bank accounts are being opened in their names.

A Robust Health Data Infrastructure

HHS publishes a JASON report on health information interoperability which concludes that without a sophisticated data exchange framework, health IT will continue to struggle to improve care quality or reduce costs. The report recommends that Stage 3 Meaningful Use be used "as an opportunity to break free from the status quo and embark upon the creation of a truly interoperable health data infrastructure."

T.J. Samson Community Hospital announces job, salary cuts Nearly 50 employees losing positions

49 employees at T.J. Samson Community Hospital (KY) will lose their jobs, while most remaining employees will face salary cuts as part of a new plan designed save $3.6 million between now and October. CEO Henry Royse says the cuts were needed due to problems with a Siemens install which he summaries by explaining "One year after going live, the product’s inoperability is still costing the hospital tens of millions of dollars in unrecoverable bad debt, consultant fees, and lost productivity.”

Even After Doctors Are Sanctioned or Arrested, Medicare Keeps Paying

In 2012, Medicare paid at least $6 million, but likely much more, to physicians that were actively suspended or terminated from state Medicaid programs for committing fraud, according to a ProPublica report.

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April 20, 2014 Headlines No Comments

Monday Morning Update 4/21/14

April 19, 2014 News 8 Comments

Top News


UPMC (PA) says that the information of 27,000 of its employees was exposed in a February breach and the hackers have filed fraudulent tax returns for 788 of them so far. A lawyer seeking class action status of his lawsuit asks the obvious question: why did the breach involve only 27,000 of UPMC’s 62,000 employees? The attorney points out that UPMC first claimed that only 20 employees were affected, then 322, and now 27,000, obviously concluding that all employees may be at risk despite the announcement. The tax scam is a smart one since the IRS, like HHS, pays first and asks questions later.

Reader Comments

From Weary CIO: “Re: branding. I have background in market research and healthcare IT branding is useless. It works in retail, so marketers in vendor companies use it to have something to do. They come up with thin and useless stuff like logos on napkins because if they don’t, they are out of a job. If marketing is what you do, that’s what you do. Private industry is more acutely aware that overhead positions are more vulnerable to reductions so they have to try to stay relevant. Waste creates so many employment opportunities!” I had questioned offline to Weary CIO the value of expensive signage and “branded” items at events when I rarely notice them. My enjoyment of HIStalkapalooza was unaffected logos on lampshades.

From Down Boy: “Re: athenahealth. Down Friday – all sites, communications, interfaces, etc. Confirmed with hospitals and practices in CA, MO, SD, NH, and ME.” Unverified.


From Locked Box: “Re: athenahealth. Their ‘More Disruption Please’ program was supposed to be a collection of companies offering easily integrated products that would give athena customers functionality the company doesn’t offer, which would support innovation by giving those companies access to customers. In return, the companies would offer a discount to their customers, lowering the barrier to innovation. Now athenahealth has changed the program to a revenue share model, which is a 20 percent tax on interoperability for us and our customers, which is why we joined. We are leaving the MDP program.”


From Excelsior: “Re: JASON report. HHS’s report is similar to the 2010 PCAST report, including calls to represent health information as ‘atomic data with associated metadata.’ Two people involved in the PCAST report were also involved in the JASON report: Craig Mundie and Sean Nolan, both of Microsoft.” The report says “the entire health data infrastructure will be crippled” without better interoperability and recommends that EHR information be stored using common mark-up language and that EHR vendors should open up their systems via APIs that allow third parties to build on them with new applications. EHR vendors aren’t likely to embrace this concept enthusiastically given that the report recommends architecture that can “provide a migration pathway from legacy EHR systems,” but of course their EHR customers would need to apply pressure on their vendors to make it happen anyway since government reports have zero bottom line impact. Other findings:

  • Meaningful Use criteria “fall short of achieving meaningful use in any practical sense,” mostly having replaced faxed machines with electronic delivery of page-formatted records that patients can’t access directly.
  • Current EHR interoperability work hasn’t developed opportunities for entrepreneurism.
  • HHS could take an active role by using future Meaningful Use stages, starting with Stage 3, and certification to force an open software architecture. ONC should publish standards to accomplish that within one year.
  • Researchers need better access to EHR data.
  • Meaningful Use Stage 3 should require vendors to develop, publish, and verify APIs that allow searching their systems with semantic harmonization and vocabulary translation. System acquisitions by the VA and DoD should require those published APIs.
  • EHR-powered fraud detection tools should be developed.

From Guillermo del Grande: “Re: consultants. Here’s a list of ‘Things Consultants Wish Their Customers Knew.’”

  1. Very few consulting companies have a bench.
  2. If you post a position with six different vendors, a consultant with a resume on Dice will receive six different calls.
  3. If you yell at a consultant for looking at Facebook, chances are that’s why you need a consultant in the first place.
  4. Trying to find someone with seven years of experience in an application that’s only been around for five years probably won’t end well.
  5. If people can’t manage in the operations side, what the hell does putting them into the IT department going to accomplish?
  6. Recruiting firms are really good at making phone calls and searching job boards. This is pretty much it. Many consulting firms are actually recruiting firms.
  7. If you are going to be managing consultants, please do not panic when they know more than you about the application that you scraped through getting a certification in, and then ignored for several months before deciding you needed to augment your staff.
  8. If you want the FTE to learn from the consultant, you may want to see if the FTE has a pulse and an IQ.
  9. If you fire four consultants in a row, chances are that it’s not them, it’s you.
  10. Two hiring managers with a feud fighting through hiring consultants and making them mess with each other is annoying, expensive, and somewhat common.
  11. Yes, consultants have faults. Thank you for pointing them out every morning. Why did all your FTEs leave again?

HIStalk Announcements and Requests


The White House is most responsible for the ACA-related failures such as that led HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to resign, according to 47 percent of poll respondents. New poll to your right: do you feel better or worse about HHS after its release of Medicare physician payment information? I felt worse: the lawsuit-mandated release of the data reminded that like pretty much all federal programs, taxpayers should be appalled at how their money is being spent, the cost of the self-protecting bureaucracy required to spend it, and the remarkably breezy oversight that expensive bureaucracy provides in return. Not to mention that Medicare payment rules are so convoluted that even they can’t figure out when they (meaning we) are being defrauded. HHS is like the IRS in that regard and I don’t trust either of them to enforce politics-embedded rules that nobody understands.

Listening: new from Atlanta-based melodic hard rockers Manchester Orchestra.

Upcoming Webinars

May 1 (Thursday) 1:00 p.m. ET. Think Beyond EDW: Using Your Data to Transform, Part 2 – Build-Measure-Learn to Get Value from Healthcare Data. Sponsored by Premier. Presenters: Alejandro Reti, MD, senior director of population health, Premier; and Alex Easton, senior director of enterprise solutions, Premier. Once you deploy an enterprise data warehouse, you need to arrive at value as quickly as possible. Learn ways to be operationally and technically agile with integrated data, including strategies for improving population health.

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


From the athenahealth earnings call:

  • The Epocrates team “continued to struggle on new booking attainment” and missed revenue targets with an eight percent reduction since the acquisition. The company is looking for a VP of sales.
  • The company started using the Net Promoter Score and fell short of its goal with a 44.7 vs. planned 47.3 (vs. a high 70s score for Amazon and Apple.)
  • The company urged investors to look at full-year results instead of quarterly.
  • In admitting that athenaCoordinator’s planned “one percent of system revenue” model was not followed in its first two sales, Jonathan Bush said that the company was desperate to get those sales and had no references for the prospects. The plan remains to collect a percentage of health system collections.
  • The company blamed an increase in its AR days to health plan deductible resets, slower patient payments, vacation days, bad weather, and a weaker flu season.
  • Low-margin real estate investments hurt gross margin.
  • Bush says an obstacle to the company’s growth is that consulting companies can’t earn fees from its implementation, so it will be “repositioning ourselves around the larger process improvement for the health system around coordination and care that actually will generate very productive, useful as oppose to wasteful consulting fee in the interest of the consulting firms.”


Here’s a one-year view of ATHN’s share price (blue) vs. the Nasdaq (red).


Healthbox, which runs medical accelerator programs, raises $7 million in expansion funds. One of its investors is Intermountain Healthcare. The company also announces that it will launch Healthbox Solutions to showcase healthcare IT products to hospitals.

Government and Politics


A ProPublica analysis of the CMS physician payments database finds that doctors previously charged with fraud and Medicare overbilling continue to make big money from the program. Medicare paid a psychiatrist who was arrested and barred from the Medicaid program in 2011 $862,000 in 2012. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said Medicare and Medicaid programs need to communicate since, “The new transparency makes it harder to ignore when doctors who harm patients or defraud taxpayers in one program face no consequences in the other program” (how about a little bit of interoperability push there?) A doctor who was convicted of paying patients via his charity to use his pain clinic was paid $500,000 in 2012 for treating 80 patients despite his pending 50-month prison sentence and $3.5 million fine, but his lawyer claims his conduct didn’t cost Medicare anything because somebody would have treated the patients even if it wasn’t him. A Michigan oncologist charged with misdiagnosing patients with cancer so he could bill them for unnecessary treatments was paid $10 million by Medicare in 2012. Pay-and-chase is working really well for criminals.

Innovation and Research


The consumer wearables fad seems to be over as Nike fires 55 of the 70 members of its FuelBand team and cancels the planned fall release of a new model. Nike says it wants to focus on software, not hardware. Most likely they realized that (a) high-tech versions of a $5 pedometer not only don’t usually motivate anyone except those who are already motivated, and (b) spending money to bring out new hardware versions is risky now that the competitive field has opened up. FeulBands may die off just as quickly as those once-ubiquitous yellow Livestrong wristbands that people couldn’t trash fast enough once the headlines forced them to belatedly realized what a scumbag Lance Armstrong is. There’s a Nike connection there too – they used to make Livestrong-branded products until Lance finally admitted that he’s a cheater and a liar.



John Gomez from Sensato provides suggestions on dealing with the Heartbleed SSL vulnerability, warning that hospitals “have an obligation to deal with it because it is a serious threat to privacy.” Even is telling users to change their passwords. John’s suggestions:

  • Inventory systems that use SSL or similar encryption.
  • Ask  technology partners providing services through an information or hosting agreement (HIE, hosting companies, portal vendors, kiosk vendors) for certification that they have determined that they are not vulnerable to Heartbleed.
  • Ask HIPAA business associates to provide documentation of how they have eliminated their Heartbleed risk, especially companies who use online system to collect patient payments for billing or collections.



T. J. Samson Community Hospital (KY) announces that 49 employees will be laid off and all employees will temporarily have their pay reduced due to effects of the Affordable Care Act and “the costly rollout of an inadequate software program.” That system is Siemens Soarian, which the hospital purchased in February 2012. Interim CEO Henry Royse says that Soarian “is still costing the hospital tens of millions of dollars in unrecoverable bad debt, consultant fees, and lost productivity” a year after it went live. He specifically says the implementation was rushed, Soarian can’t connect to its practice management systems, it can’t produce needed operational reports, and the hospital has been unable to send bills for 60-90 days at times. The hospital implemented Soarian to earn Meaningful Use payments.


Fast Company profiles SharePractice, which it describes as “a Yelp for medical treatments” in allowing physicians to review the success peers have had with specific treatments. The company calls its iPhone app “experience-based medicine.” The founder is a Naturopathic Doctor who works for San Francisco-based Care Practice, opened “like one would open a neighborhood restaurant with a focus on patient experience and developing a compelling identity and brand in a tough urban marketplace with fewer and fewer doctors.”


The outpatient clinics of Salem Health (OR) will begin their pilot with OpenNotes on Monday.

The CEO and CTO of Mississippi-based Samarion Solutions, which sold long-term care IT systems, are indicted for defrauding investors.


A study finds that US healthcare isn’t expensive because we use so much of it – the problem is that we pay the highest prices in the world for drugs and hospital procedures. As patients, it’s not altogether our fault that US healthcare is so expensive and produces unimpressive results for the impressive outlays. A day in the hospital costs less than $500 in Spain, $1,300 in Australia, and $4,300 here (and $13,000 for hospitals in the 95th percentile.)

A New York Post article names the highest-paid doctors in New York City, with two from Mount Sinai Hospital’s medical school topping the list: a urologist paid $7.6 million and a spine surgeon who made $6.9 million. The medical director of Consumer Reports Health summarized, “Whenever I see compensation data in health care, I’m stunned and nauseated. I’m embarrassed for the profession.”

In England, a review of a woman’s death after inpatient surgery finds that she was screaming and vomiting in her room afterward, even begging her children to call an ambulance to remove her from the hospital. Her doctor did not respond, the investigation found, because he was in the hall outside her room playing a video game.


Mr. H, Inga, Dr. Jayne, Dr. Gregg, Lt. Dan, Dr. Travis, Lorre.

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.


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April 19, 2014 News 8 Comments

Advisory Panel: Your Personal Mobile Device

April 18, 2014 Advisory Panel No Comments

The HIStalk Advisory Panel is a group of hospital CIOs, hospital CMIOs, practicing physicians, and a few vendor executives who have volunteered to provide their thoughts on topical industry issues. I’ll seek their input every month or so on an important news developments and also ask the non-vendor members about their recent experience with vendors. E-mail me to suggest an issue for their consideration.

If you work for a hospital or practice, you are welcome to join the panel. I am grateful to the HIStalk Advisory Panel members for their help in making HIStalk better.

This question this time: What brand/model of mobile device do you use most often and what do you like most and least about it?

I use an iPhone and an iPad and I am happy with the fact that I can access my email from anywhere and can respond on the fly, but for the business of medicine it is cumbersome, difficult to type, not secure, and the constant need for iOS updates makes it difficult to use and upgrade apps. I do not like the "Walled Garden" approach from Apple that does not allow certain applications on their platform like Adobe Flash and it is also very expensive. I read somewhere  — on LinkedIn, I believe — that it seems only wealthy people use iPhones and it is almost like a statement of status, sort of the same stereotype that wealthy folks drink wine and the not-so-wealthy drink beer…just saying.

Interestingly enough, I did not end up with an iPhone by my sheer choice, but it was rather imposed on me by Allscripts of all people. They bought my initial e-prescribing "I scribe" which I had on a Palm for free and when Allscripts bought them they, did away with the Palm. In order to preserve my data, I had no choice but to get an iPhone and there you have it: there is no such thing as "free" and consumer choice, is it really? Mr H touched on this on one of his posts: the fact that it looks unprofessional to respond to emails from the iPhone (folks do not correct spelling, grammar, and at times it looks like mutilating the English language) but I admit I am guilty of doing it myself because on the other hand, what is the sense of the whole mobility trend? I cannot always wait for access to a desktop to respond to my emails, but I promise to correct the spelling.

Apple iStuff. They work as a consumer device (for which they are designed). I just wish they had enterprise devices.

HP laptops >> iPhones>> iPads

Personally I use an iPhone >iPad>>MacBook Air

I have used an iPad for a few years but switched to a small Dell Iconia W5 last year. I thought the Microsoft OS would make life easier working with my corporate applications. The Iconia certainly beats lugging a laptop on and off aircraft as I travel but it still isn’t as easy as the iPad. Last month I picked up an iPad Air. The smaller size is great. I think the Iconia is going back on the shelf and the Air will be my travel companion going forward. Now if only I could find something the size and ease of the Air combined with the MS OS….

Can’t live without my iPhone 5 and my iPad 2 (with a keyboard/case combo). Allows me to stay easily reachable and to work at home without lugging a laptop every night. What I like most about the iPad – Microsoft OneNote and the ability to keep all my data and projects current across devices and operating systems. This has been a huge help in organizing an extremely busy life. I literally walk into a meeting, pop open the iPad, and jump right in. I have all the meeting notes organized, all the action items up front, and I can take notes at the same speed as if I had a full keyboard. The search feature helps me quickly find pages by keyword. I share Notebooks with my team and that is working well, too. Note: I’m ordering some Microsoft Surface Pro 2s this week to trial for potential laptop/tablet replacement.

Personally I use a HTC smart phone and an iPad. I’m not crazy about the phone mostly because of the battery life (or lack thereof). My contract is up so I need to make a decision on a new device, but I’m not sure at this point what I will choose. I am very fond of my iPad. I use it primarily for reading and distractions and very little for work. I know that Ed Marx said in one of his blog posts that he doesn’t trust anyone that uses paper, but I went back to a paper notebook for meetings. When I take my iPad, I don’t generally take a pen to the meeting. The majority of the time someone passes out paper and I need to make note on a section so that I can follow up later. If I could get the groups to move to a paperless culture I would use the iPad exclusively.  

iPhone. I love the consistency between my Mac, iPad and iPhone. Battery life and the lack of a SD slot are the downside. I also never use Siri.

Samsung Galaxy S3 and Nexus 7 tablet. The Samsung battery is dreadful, but other than that, both devices are excellent. Google’s services and products are nicely integrated. The processors are fast, multitasking works great, and the Android OS is very reliable. And I can’t live without Swype and Dragon.

Apple iPhone 4S. I use maps, social media, email, calendaring, travel (airlines), weather, stocks, search, music, text, sports updates, news (around the world to help reduce spin), shopping (Amazon), restaurant ordering, restaurant reservations, and so on. There is not much I don’t like about it except for Siri. She is not very smart and does not take a clue when I am upset with her ;-). I find it works better without the protective film on the glass, to be sure.

My iPhone 5 is my most used mobile device. I find it great for email use and I have several apps that I use for business and personal needs. My AT&T service is great for talking and browsing. With the latest iOS upgrade my battery life is terrible. 

iPhone5. I love the iPhone. I will happily pay for something that is intuitive, quick, consistent, and has a lot of people writing for it. With that said, I am starting to see the Samsung users smirk as their product may take pictures better, get better Wi-Fi access, doesn’t charge extra for some little things. I am hoping the iPhone6 has some nice breakthroughs. But I will likely stick with Apple as the service has been phenomenal if I have any problems on any device and that is worth A LOT in  my book.

I’m not a Mac person, but my iPhone is my most favored and trusted sidekick (iPad comes in a close second.) Portability is the best feature. Clearing out my email inbox while waiting for elevators, looking up info on Google on the fly, quickly populating and reviewing my ToDo list, and other mundane tasks are much faster and more fun. With aging eyes, the screen size on the iPhone is the biggest impediment, but any increase in size would make it harder to stash on my belt and therefore easier to lose.

Apple iPhone4s. I like the Apple devices because most physicians use them and I can have an intelligent conversation with them about the pros and cons. I haven’t upgraded to the 5 series because my really cool case that looks like a cassette tape won’t fit the bigger phone. 

Personally, I use Droid devices. I think the capabilities are superior to iPhones (at least at this minute)  I think the openness and “less control” that has been placed on the Droid market have created these newer capabilities.

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April 18, 2014 Advisory Panel No Comments

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