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Morning Headlines 11/13/14

November 12, 2014 Headlines 1 Comment

New VA chief may fire 1,000 staffers over healthcare scandal

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald unveils a restructuring plan within the VA that he says will be the largest in the organizations history. As part of the shuffle, McDonald confirmed that 35 staffers will lose their jobs immediately as a result of the recent scheduling scandal, and that nearly 1,000 others are being pursued for “violating our values.”

Health Information Technology: An Untapped Resource to Help Keep Patients Insured

Researchers with Oregon Health and Science University publish a study in the Annals of Family Medicine that concludes that EHRs and health information exchanges are untapped resources that could be used as tools to support clinic-based efforts to help eligible patients maintain insurance coverage.

AMA backs interstate compact to streamline medical licensure

The American Medical Association calls on more states to adopt the recently finalized interstate provider licensure compact drafted by the Federation of State Medical Boards. The compact was written to help reduce barriers to telehealth programs, but only 10 states have adopted it so far.

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November 12, 2014 Headlines 1 Comment

CIO Unplugged 11/12/14

November 12, 2014 Ed Marx 4 Comments

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are mine personally and are not necessarily representative of current or former employers.

China

Thanks to a recommendation by friend and peer Pamela Arora, I was invited by the Chinese government to speak about health information technology. Having visited 29 years ago for my honeymoon, I was eager to return. This time, I would not be smuggling in bibles, but freely sharing lessons learned from my healthcare technology experiences.

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After a 14-hour plane ride, I landed in Beijing and was greeted by my gracious host, Michael Wang. Michael is an English-speaking administrator at the China-Japan Friendship Hospital, the primary hospital for the city and party officials. We shared much in common and bonded over many meals, discussing our values and ideologies. Heck, we even did Starbucks together! We would later catch up with Pamela, who was also invited as a speaker.

You may be wondering how I survived eight days without Facebook, Twitter, Google, and YouTube. The answer: barely.

I had shared in advance my Top 10 list of sites to visit and they gave me a personal tour guide. It was freaking unbelievable. Although not a fan of Asian cuisine, I promised I would eat and drink everything set before me. Gulp. I managed. Incidentally, sea cucumbers are not ocean vegetables!

We also bonded through the ritual of shared shots. In China, each toast is a three-shot minimum. I, well … lost count of the toasts. What happens in Beijing stays in Beijing.

As you would expect, we toured the magnificent Friendship Hospital. Our guide and senior host was hospital president XU Shuqang MD, PhD. Dr. Shuqang now serves as the Party’s undersecretary of health for emergency management. A very friendly man with a great sense of humor. We connected on several levels, as both China and USA share many of the same challenges in healthcare.

As a big believer in the power of technology to help transform healthcare, Shuqang was personally responsible for the content of this conference. Every hospital in China took part. The equivalent of the ONC sat in the first row. The 2014 Chinese EMR and Hospital Information Management Association Congress was underway. I still pinch myself. Was I really a featured speaker? Humbled.

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They employed simultaneous translation, which helped my speech go very smoothly. Until slide 12. Michael had entered the Chinese translation for all of my English bullet points, but for some reason, for every slide after the 11th, the English bullets disappeared.

It gave me pause, but I collected myself and then went on from memory. Thankfully, I recognized the pictures along the way that told a story related to the content. All was good. Who would know?

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What did they want to learn about? Meaningful Use, HIE, privacy and security, and HIMSS stages of EHR maturity. Because I couldn’t imagine not talking about it, I threw in a few nuggets on leadership as well. What good is all that other stuff if nobody can lead and execute?

They were ahead of us in some areas such as telehealth, but behind in other areas such as EHR adoption and HIE. We learned from one another and developed a lifelong friendship that transcends political ideology. We are in this to transform healthcare. Indeed, the world is flat.

As I headed home, I reflected. My new friends. The amazing sights and sounds. The beautiful people. I came away with renewed hope. Hope for the world.

What resonated with me most was one of the triple-shot toasts given by Dr. Shuqang. “Despite ideological differences,” he said, shot glassed raised, “our two super powers can collaborate and truly transform healthcare and make this world a better place for the citizens of every country.”

They will be in Texas visiting Pamela and Children’s Health. I aim to catch up on progress made since we first met. I also hope they’re ready for some Texas cuisine!

Ed Marx is a CIO currently working for a large integrated health system. Ed encourages your interaction through this blog. Add a comment by clicking the link at the bottom of this post. You can also connect with him directly through his profile pages on social networking sites LinkedIn and Facebook and you can follow him via Twitter — user name marxists.

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November 12, 2014 Ed Marx 4 Comments

Morning Headlines 11/12/14

November 11, 2014 Headlines 1 Comment

BULLETIN: HIPAA Privacy in Emergency Situations

HHS updates its HIPAA guidance in light of the ongoing Ebola outbreak to authorize disclosure of PHI to any member of the public in danger of contracting the disease.

New AMA Policy Continues Call for Penalties to Be Removed From the Meaningful Use Program

The American Medical Association is calling for MU-related penalties to be dropped and for the program be refocused on interoperability.

KLAS Offers Performance Insights on HIE and EMR Interoperability

KLAS publishes interoperability survey responses that suggests that Cerner offers more advanced interoperability features, but that Epic customers are reporting much higher overall interoperability success.

Walgreens’ Greg Wasson kicks off an extraordinary roster of HIMSS15 keynotes

HIMSS publishes its 2015 annual conference keynote speakers, with Walgreens CEO Greg Wasson kicking off the event and George W. Bush taking the Wednesday afternoon slot.

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November 11, 2014 Headlines 1 Comment

News 11/12/14

November 11, 2014 News 9 Comments

Top News

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HHS’s Office for Civil Rights issues a bulletin covering HIPAA privacy obligations in Ebola-type emergency situations. It bends the HIPAA rules a bit, clarifying that a provider can share patient information “with anyone” as needed to prevent an imminent public health threat, but points out that media disclosure is limited to acknowledgment (not announcement) that an Ebola patient is being treated and a statement of their condition, provided that the patient has not expressed a preference otherwise. That means hospitals can’t release an Ebola patient’s name unless a reporter asks about that patient specifically, in which case the hospital can acknowledge their presence and condition.


Reader Comments

From The PACS Designer: “Re: Dropbox. It can now operate inside Microsoft Office.” Office users can edit their documents directly from Dropbox and share them from inside Office apps, which are now free for iOS users and as such are residing at the top of the App Store popularity lists. Gartner predicted previously that standalone file storage and sync would be dead within a few years, emphasizing that users don’t want to screw around with a separate app like Dropbox as much as they just want to save and share within their software of choice. The competitive landscape gets murkier with Microsoft’s recently announced unlimited storage for Office 365 users, which you might expect would take Dropbox (and certainly the lagging #2 Box) out of the picture entirely. That doesn’t even factor in Google, which offers free basic storage and a full terabyte for $10 per month. The differentiators for healthcare should be: (a) the provider’s willingness to sign HIPAA business associate agreements; (b) enterprise-grade audit trails and permissions to give the IT department some degree of control; (c) controlled sharing within the enterprise only; and (d) APIs that allow vendor and self-developed apps to store information in a HIPAA-compliant manner in the cloud to eliminate the most common breach exposure of misplaced unencrypted devices. Vendors offering only consumer-grade storage will find it hard to survive commoditized competition, especially at the ridiculous valuation levels given to the top few.

From Lysandra: “Re: our new company infographic. I thought you might want to run it on HIStalk.” I hate infographics, which dumb down already easily understood factoids into simplistic picture for those folks whose lips tire from reading more than three words. I don’t trust anyone, particularly an anonymous infographics creator, to tell me how I should think by packaging up often questionable information into a pretty graphic, urging me to not worry about the trees they have dismissed in providing their own description of the forest.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor Stella Technology. The San Jose, CA-based company offers consulting and technology services and has strong domain expertise in HIE — its tagline is “exchange, coordinate, and collaborate.” They can help with Meaningful Use, ACOs, registries, patient engagement, remote monitoring, systems integration, messaging, provider and patient identity management, consent management, public health reporting, and Direct Secure Messaging. They are experts on interoperability standards for messaging, documents, and semantic interoperability. They can assist HIEs with architecture, emerging technologies, analytics, governance, business and marketing plans, privacy, and stakeholder engagement. The company offers turnkey products as well: Caredination (a communications and handoff tool that connects the care team with patients as they move among care settings) and Clinical Staging Database (an extensible relational store with a canonical clinical data model). Integration Toolkit will be introduced in 2015. You might know some of the executive team since the CEO, CTO, implementation SVP, and founder were all involved in leading Axolotl (now Optum) through its 2010 acquisition. Thanks to Stella Technology for supporting HIStalk.

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Thanks to Elsevier, which will be co-sponsoring HIStalkapalooza at HIMSS15. I’ll have more sponsors to announce later, but in the meantime, I still have openings for companies that want to co-sponsor or to book a private box for entertaining guests (which includes much-coveted tickets to the event itself). The amount of support will drive the number of people I can invite since events are a lot more expensive per attendee than you might think when you’re offering an open bar, dinner, and a topnotch band (I still have fantasies about a cheap outdoor barbeque and keg party instead). Email me if your company is interested in participating in HIStalkapalooza.

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HIStalk readers funded the purchase of English/Spanish picture dictionaries to help students in Ms. Weigand’s Louisiana middle school class who are newly arrived in the US (with a matching grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation via DonorsChoose.org). Ms. Weigand, a Teach for America teacher, sent the photo above of students using the dictionaries.


Webinars

November 12 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. Three Ways to Improve Care Transitions Using an HIE Encounter Notification Service. Sponsored by Audacious Inquiry. Presenters: Steven Kravet, MD, MBA, FACP, president, Johns Hopkins Community Physicians; Jennifer Bailey, senior director of quality and transformation, Johns Hopkins Community Physicians; Robert Horst, principal, Audacious Inquiry. Johns Hopkins Community Physicians reduced readmissions and improved quality by implementing a real-time, ADT-based encounter notification service (ENS) to keep the member’s healthcare team informed during transitions in care. Johns Hopkins presenters will describe the clinical, operational, and financial value of the ENS for care coordination along with its technology underpinnings.

November 18 (Tuesday) 1:00 ET. Cerner Takeover of Siemens, Are You Ready? Sponsored by HIStalk. Presenters: Frank L. Poggio, president and CEO, The Kelzon Group; Vince Ciotti, principal, HIS Professionals. The Cerner acquisition of Siemens impacts 1,000 hospitals that could be forced into a “take it or leave it” situation based on lessons learned from similar takeovers. This webinar will review the possible fate of each Siemens HIS product, the impact of the acquisition on ongoing R&D, available market alternatives, and steps Siemens clients should take to prepare.

November 19 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. Improving Trial Accrual by Engaging the Digital Healthcare Consumer. Sponsored by DocuSign. Presenters: B. J. Rimel, MD, gynecologic oncologist, Cedars-Sinai Medial Center; Jennifer Royer, product marketing, DocuSign. The Women’s Cancer Program increased trial accrual five-fold by implementing an online registry that links participants to research studies, digitizing and simplifying a cumbersome, paper-based process. This webinar will describe the use of e-consents and social marketing to engage a broader population and advance research while saving time and reducing costs.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Telehealth provider MDLIVE acquires Breakthrough Behavioral, which offers online behavioral health counseling. Former Apple CEO John Sculley is mentioned as being investor of the $49 per visit MDLIVE, but then again he’s best known for firing Steve Jobs from Apple and we know how that turned out.

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Specialty EHR vendor Modernizing Medicine secures $15 million of a planned $20 million funding round.

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Healthcare.com, which benefits from the mistyped web addresses of people looking instead for Healthcare.gov, raises $7.5 million in Series A financing for its health insurance policy search engine.

Premier announces quarterly results: revenue up 15 percent, adjusted EPS $0.33 vs. $0.31, beating Wall Street expectations for both. From the earnings call:

  • The company’s revenue growth was fueled by its SaaS-based informatics products, particularly its population health management offerings that include contributions from recent acquisitions Aperek and TheraDoc.
  • Premier has 3,400 hospital customers representing 68 percent of community hospitals.
  • The company is developing the first surgical home collaborative with the American Society of Anesthesiologists in 43 hospitals.
  • President and CEO Susan DeVore says the company’s Aperek acquisition is critical in supporting the supply chain management need of members, while TheraDoc’s offerings will be integrated with PremierConnect to drive further clinical surveillance solutions.
  • The company is using technology from its Meddius acquisition to integrate ambulatory information across diverse EHRs in a given health system.
  • Premier continues to review potential acquisitions in the areas of supply chain, pharmacy, alternate site, physician preference, care management, risk stratification, ambulatory data, and population health management.
  • DeVore said of the demand by customers to unleash EHR value, “We do hear from our members that they are frustrated with the difficulty in connecting disparate vendors, disparate transactional systems, and EMRs and they’ve spent a lot of money installing EMRs. They are looking for more efficient ways to get data… it is driving not only our SaaS based-subscriptions, but our PremierConnect Enterprise as Mike discussed and the advisory services that wrap around it because remember it’s not just the technology, but it’s how do you take those insights and how do you actually reduce cost or improve quality. We are hearing actually a lot more from our members now too, something Mike mentioned, which was this need for data scientists, and data managers, and data governance and all the complexities that go with data, which we can provide as a service.”

Sales

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Sundance Behavioral Healthcare System (TX) chooses HCS Interactant Revenue Cycle, Financial, Mobile, and Insight.

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Mercy Health (OH) expands its Explorys relationship by adding Risk Models and Value-Based Care Program Framework.

Catholic Health Initiatives (CO) chooses Allscripts Hosting Solution for its TouchWorks EHR. CHI signed a $200 million hosting and IT management contract with India-based Wipro just over a year ago, so that status of that deal isn’t clear.

Humana chooses Valence Health’s tools for population health management.

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The VA selects Jive Software’s collaboration tools to share medical best practices.   


People

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Neiman Marcus hires Sarah Hendrickson (Children’s Medical Center of Dallas) as its first VP/chief information security officer.

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Joe Norris moves from interim to permanent CIO of New Hanover Regional Medical Center (NC).

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Awarepoint promotes Tim Roche from CFO to CEO.

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Carl Smith (Best Doctors) joins CompuGroup Medical US as GM of the laboratory division.

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The FCC names informatician Chris Gibbons, MD, MPH of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health as distinguished scholar in residence, where he will contribute health IT, analytics, and population health expertise.

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Accretive Health names Dave Mason (RelayHealth) as chief strategy officer.


Announcements and Implementations

Mitchell County Hospital District (TX) connects to the Texas Tobacco Quitline using Holon’s CollaborNet HIE platform.

Allscripts adds secure patient payments capability from TrustCommerce to its FollowMyHealth patient engagement platform.

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Xconomy profiles Madison-based startup HealthMyne, which appears from its poorly descriptive website to be doing something with merging diagnostic images and text to make them searchable.

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Appointment reminder technology vendor Talksoft introduces the ability for hospitals and practices to develop brand-specific iPhone and Android apps that use its technology.

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Kronos will integrate technology from TeleTracking to offer an integrated staff management solution that uses TeleTracking’s Capacity Management Suite for real-time patient volume data. 

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Non-profit health decision information vendor Healthwise announces that its materials have been used 1.5 billion times as of Tuesday morning.


Government and Politics

The American Medical Association just won’t give up its griping about Meaningful Use. It now demands that penalties be eliminated and that the Meaningful Use program be refocused on interoperability. In other words, nobody complained when taxpayers threw $25 billion at providers (including AMA’s members), but now that they have to start earning it, it’s unfair. AMA also voiced its support for FSMB’s previously published telemedicine policy — more details in my interview with Alexis Gilroy, JD, who served as a subject matter expert to FSMB.

Two HIV-related government sites finally start using SSL encryption for web- and smartphone-based user sessions. A security expert drily notes the irony that HHS enforces HIPAA, yet wasn’t protecting confidential patient information.

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A movement claiming to be grassroots (without providing details) urges that Congress support the nomination of Vivek Murthy, MD as surgeon general. He was nominated a year ago but wasn’t confirmed because of his stated beliefs that guns are a health hazard.


Other

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Farzad Mostashari, MD tweeted out the comment he left on the New York Times article that described how hospitals make it hard (and expensive) for patients to get copies of their own records. His comment wasn’t approved, so his screen shot is the only record.

A federal investigation finds that clinical staff attending to Joan Rivers failed to notice her deteriorating condition and didn’t start CPR until several minutes afterward. The report says her anesthesiologist initially documented that she was given 300 mg of propofol, but changed the record afterward to note a 120 mg dose instead, saying that the initial dose documentation was a mistake caused by double-clicking the default value. I’ve seen doctors falsify documentation (both paper and electronic) after making a mistake, so it will be interesting to see if the wrong dose was actually given and not just charted.

Anthem Blue Cross customers in California receive wellness emails that contain their private information in the subject line, with an example of: “Don’t miss out — call your doctor today; PlanState: CA; Segment: Individual; Age: Female Older; Language: EN; CervCancer3yr: N; CervCancer5yr: Y; Mammogram: N; Colonoscopy: N.” 

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The summary graphic from KLAS’s just-released EHR interoperability review shows Epic and athenahealth leading the pack in contributing to the success of their customers. Meanwhile, KLAS corrects Politico’s overhyped headline that proclaimed “KLAS to Epic: Stop Putting Words In Our Mouth.” KLAS simply said that Epic’s claim as being #1 for interoperability isn’t technically correct since KLAS issues separate reports for interoperability and HIE, but it clarifies that “KLAS never had any such discussion with Epic to stop putting words in KLAS’s mouth.” So if you’re keeping score at home: KLAS corrected Epic, Politico dumbed it down incorrectly, then KLAS corrected Politico.

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A law firm’s telemedicine survey (and obligatory cute results infographic) is getting exposure from sites that aren’t paying attention to how the survey was performed. The conclusions seem insightful on first glance: 90 percent of organizations are implementing telemedicine and 36 percent expect 10-30 percent usage among patients within three years. Those glossy conclusions inspired ecstatic headlines from some sites anxious to summarize uncritically, but what they missed is that only 57 people responded (of an unstated number of surveys sent, making calculation of the response rate impossible) and job titles and organization types were all over the place. Example: only 52 percent of respondents were from hospitals, which means that big, seeming bold and authoritative insights were drawn from only 27 hospital respondents. The survey also asked questions that no single respondent was likely to have answered correctly given that they covered technology, reimbursement, and strategic planning. It’s embarrassing that people cover lame surveys as news, much less without critiquing their methodology.

HIMSS makes iffy choices in its “extraordinary roster” of HIMSS15 keynotes. Greg Wasson, president and CEO of Walgreens, gets the Monday morning slot, which in my mind should be reserved for someone with selfless healthcare-related accomplishments that might inspire non-profit provider attendees instead of a $14 million per year big-company CEO. At least Wasson is a pharmacist by training and has only ever worked for Walgreens, starting there as a pharmacist intern, and the company’s use of IT in its retail setting is nothing short of brilliant. Tuesday’s keynote is the CEO of Humana, which hasn’t always been a beacon of patient-focused healthcare practices, while President George W. Bush gets pushed back to an awful Wednesday 4:30 p.m. slot. HIMSS seems to be moving toward having for-profit CEOs as keynotes, having done the same with the mHealth Summit in the past two years — Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini got the prime spot in 2012 even as his underlings in Aetna’s healthcare IT vendor companies were setting up their booths in the exhibit hall and the same thing happened in 2013 with Qualcomm’s CEO as the opening keynoter.

Canada is observing the first Digital Health Week this week, although the only events scheduled appear to be some tweet chats and webinars.

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Brigham and Women’s Hospital hires an SVP/chief business development officer to launch a consulting service, saying it needs “new sources of revenue in order to sustain our precious mission.”

Wellcentive establishes a $1,000 scholarship for a military veteran attending medical school.

A 30-year-old Madison, WI woman tries to avoid bankruptcy caused by her cardiac arrest at 29, when an ambulance mistakenly transported her to out-of-network St. Mary’s Hospital. She’s stuck with a $50,000 bill instead of the $1,500 one she would have owed as a patient of in-network Meriter Hospital three blocks away. Blue Cross Blue Shield paid $156,000 of her $254,000 tab for a 16-day stay and the hospital reduced her balance owed to $10,000, but she still has to pay the other bills that included out-of-network physicians, the ambulance ride, and therapists. She can’t afford to get married until she sees what numbers her various providers make up.

Weird News Andy sends his greetings as follows: “Their has bin found a vieres that makes u less smart. LOL.” Scientists determine that a virus found in lake algae shortens human attention span, although even they aren’t quite sure why that’s important.


Sponsor Updates

  • CIO Review names DataMotion to its “20 Most Promising Healthcare Consulting Providers” list for its Direct Secure Messaging solution.
  • Gartner recognizes VisionWare in its “Magic Quadrant for Master Data Management of Customer Data Solutions” for the sixth consecutive year.
  • Visage Imaging will demonstrate its Visage 7 Enterprise Imaging Platform along with its integration capabilities at RSNA.
  • PDR Network will exhibit at and sponsor iPatientCare National User Conference (NUCON 2014) November 14-16, exhibiting its PDR Brief and PDR Search patient drug education solutions.

Contacts

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

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.

Get HIStalk updates.
Contact us online.

 

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November 11, 2014 News 9 Comments

Morning Headlines 11/11/14

November 10, 2014 Headlines 1 Comment

CHIME, HIMSS Letter To HHS

In a just released letter sent to HHS on November 3, CHIME and HIMSS call on Secretary Sylvia Burwell to replace national coordinator Karen DeSalvo, MD quickly if her new appointment as Acting Assistant Secretary of Health is going to be permanent, citing the need for leadership that can focus on the ONC in a full time capacity.

Identification of undiagnosed diabetes and quality of diabetes care in the United States

Researchers with Oxford University were able to identify over 60,000 undiagnosed diabetic patients by developing a search algorithm to pour through a data set of 11 million electronic medical records.

AHA unveils toolkit to help hospitals hire veterans

The American Hospital Association partners with the White House Joining Forces initiative and unveils a new toolset designed to connect hospitals with medically trained soldiers now actively looking for civilian employment.

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November 10, 2014 Headlines 1 Comment

Curbside Consult with Dr. Jayne 11/10/14

November 10, 2014 Dr. Jayne 1 Comment

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Assuming that it doesn’t get delayed yet again, ICD-10 is a little less than 11 months away. For those of us who had been preparing for the most recent and now-postponed transition date, it’s time to dust off our implementation and training plans if we haven’t done so already.

My organization had already done a fair amount of informational outreach to physicians and other providers, so most people know what it is and that eventually they will have to use it. Their actually readiness to do so, however, is variable.

I have to admit that I’m not well versed on our plans for the transition in the hospitals. As our employed physician base has grown, I’ve had to focus more and more of my time on the ambulatory projects. Although I’m still privileged for inpatient medicine, I rarely see patients in that environment.

Even so, the communication from our hospital to rank-and-file admitters has been spotty at best. I think I’ve seen maybe a handful of emails since the last delay. Hopefully they will get on their game soon at least as far as communicating with community providers is concerned.

On the ambulatory front, however, we’re really gearing up. We’ve been on the ICD-10 ready version of our EHR and practice management software for a year. It was helpful that they bundled the ICD-10 functionality in with the 2014 Meaningful Use Stage 2 content so we didn’t have to take multiple upgrades.

Now that they’ve had a little bit of a hiatus with regulatory requirements, our vendor has again turned to coding actual functionality and usability updates, which puts me in the lane again for an upgrade prior to ICD-10.

Timing the need to educate everyone around an upgrade is tricky with ICD-10. We do plan to bring all the ambulatory end users in for some type of formal training for both processes and don’t want them too close together (training fatigue) or too far away from the go-live dates. We also have to remain sensitive to the realities of pulling people out of office.

Although I wrote a few weeks ago that we’re doing computer-based modules for new practice go-lives and for addition of incremental staff, we’re still planning to do classroom training for these two projects. We’ll likely supplement them with on-demand resources as well, but right now I’m planning for traditional training.

We did purchase some external vendor content for ICD-10 for certain high-dollar and complex subspecialties, but I’m responsible for organizing the plan for medicine-based subspecialties and primary care. We had external trainers in last year to train our core team (physician leaders, compliance officers, auditors, training staff, etc.) but I’m sure most of us have forgotten the nuances. We’re going to have them back after the first of the year to deliver a refresher.

In addition to the classroom training planned for closer to October 1, we’re scheduling monthly lunch and learn sessions to re-familiarize people with the concepts of ICD-10 and prepare them for more intense documentation. During the decade we’ve been on EHR, many of our providers have developed an affinity for voice recognition-based narrative documentation. Since they’re not using the discrete elements of the EHR as much as they used to, their ability to leverage discrete data to suggest appropriate ICD codes will be limited.

We anticipate that those who are afraid of learning a new coding system may want to rely more heavily on the EHR’s computer-assisted coding features, which will require retraining on the template-based workflows for those providers. Being able to identify those individuals early will be good, especially since we didn’t exactly budget for basic EHR retraining as part of our ICD-10 transition. I’m hoping we can leverage super users in the practices and our regional physician champions to assist, but I want to make sure all the bases are covered.

Although some of our providers complain about the restrictions of being employed, ICD-10 is a prime example of why physicians are willing to give up a degree of autonomy in exchange for corporate management structures. I’m working with two other people to put together our strategy and it will be rolled out to all of our practices. If those sites were independent, they’d be on their own to find a consultant, develop a program, or potentially try to just wing it.

Of course, those organizations that aren’t even on their ICD-10 ready software yet have additional work cut out for them. I don’t envy the upcoming months for them. With the estimated cost of the transition ranging from $50K for small practices to millions of dollars for the rest of us, there’s a lot at stake.

Are you ready for ICD-10? What’s your strategy? Email me.

Email Dr. Jayne.

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November 10, 2014 Dr. Jayne 1 Comment

Morning Headlines 11/10/14

November 9, 2014 Headlines No Comments

Allscripts Healthcare Solutions’ CEO Paul Black on Q3 2014 Results – Earnings Call Transcript

Allscripts holds its Q3 earnings call after shedding 15 percent of its share price Thursday on disappointing earnings. CEO Paul Black and CFO Richard Poulton both acknowledged the poor performance, citing lower full system sales and hardware sales, and noted that Q3 is traditionally the slowest quarter for the HCIT industry.

Proposed EHR/Meaningful Use Regulations

The Massachusetts medical board presents its recommendations on how to implement a state law requiring physicians to demonstrate EHR proficiency as a condition of licensure prior to the law’s January 2015 effective date.

Nurse Value-Added and Patient Outcomes in Acute Care

Researchers with the University of Michigan compare data from the hospital’s EHR system and its HR system to evaluate individual nurses and the effect they had on patient outcomes. The study attributed 7.9 percent of variance in patient clinical condition to nursing skill.

Most people don’t know they have the right to view medical records online

In England, only three percent of practices have a patient portal in place despite an April 2015 federal mandate that requires all citizens be given online access to their medical records.

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November 9, 2014 Headlines No Comments

Monday Morning Update 11/10/14

November 8, 2014 News 3 Comments

Top News

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Allscripts shares dropped 15 percent Friday after turning in underwhelming revenue, earnings, and sales numbers after the market’s close Thursday. From the earnings call:

  • CEO Paul Black admitted that “we would have liked to have delivered a stronger performance.”
  • The company says it’s making big investments in remote hosting capabilities, but that effort has hurt short-term profitability.
  • CFO Richard Poulton said, “It’s not lost on us that the stock has gotten beaten up a little bit. It’s something we’re talking about.”
  • Black says Q4 is always a strong quarter and expects that to continue.
  • Of the DoD EHR bid, Black said, “They’ve made some very specific requirements in the RFP response that you have an innovative and interoperable platform with world-class content, workflows, and an open systems architecture. So we feel very good about where we are.”
  • Black said the hospital EHR business is all replacement sales now, adding, “The folks that are looking at the next 10 years are looking at organizations who have thought through and have invested in a long-term strategy and approach to having an open systems approach to and a very robust set of offerings for the multitude of caregivers that exist in a total population health-centric environment as compared to a traditional environment from the past years.”
  • Black said reduced sales don’t mean things have stalled, but rather that Q3 is always slower except for last year.
  • Black said the company won’t break out population health management sales as an overall percentage even though that’s the greatest demand area, saying, “We wanted to make sure our client base did not think that we are abandoning our foothold of being a core systems provider of EHR and rev cycle management solutions.”

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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It’s a fairly even split among a large number of poll respondents as to whether CommonWell will have a significant impact on interoperability. It’s also interesting to see which IP addresses brought out the vote, with the big ones being CommonWell members McKesson and athenahealth as well as non-member Epic. New poll to your right or here: have you ever withheld information from a provider because of medical record privacy concerns?

Tuesday is Veterans Day, set aside to honor every person who has served in the US Armed Forces. If you served, thank you. If not, this is a good day (like every day) to thank someone who did. Military members don’t get to choose the locations or causes for which they are asked to put their existence on the line, which makes their service even more selfless. I observed the upcoming holiday by reading and enjoying “The Last of the Doughboys: The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten War,” in which the author interviewed the last World War I veterans before they all died shortly after, being 100 or more years of age. It’s not just a recap of World War I (which like the Korean War, tends to get lost in the shadows of World War II and even Vietnam), but rather a reminder of what it’s like to be on front lines that are full of confusion, irrational leadership, and the horrors of war.


Last Week’s Most Interesting News

  • Cerner and Epic exchange barbs about Epic’s interoperability capabilities and what CommonWell’s interoperability contribution will be.
  • The 2015 work plan of HHS’s Office of Inspector General indicates that it plans to extend its audits to include cloud-based EHR services and vendors as well as hospital downtime readiness.
  • Allscripts is hit with several negative news items: poor quarterly results that send its share price south, a $9.7 million judgment against it in a lawsuit brought by Etransmedia for deceptive trade practices, and public reports of Sunrise system problems at South Australia Health.
  • The Medicare physician fee schedule for 2015 adds several telehealth payment items and relaxes the EHR requirements for earning Chronic Care Management monthly checks.
  • The HIT Policy Committee reports that total Meaningful Use payments have reached $25 billion.

Webinars

November 12 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. Three Ways to Improve Care Transitions Using an HIE Encounter Notification Service. Sponsored by Audacious Inquiry. Presenters: Steven Kravet, MD, MBA, FACP, president, Johns Hopkins Community Physicians; Jennifer Bailey, senior director of quality and transformation, Johns Hopkins Community Physicians; Robert Horst, principal, Audacious Inquiry. Johns Hopkins Community Physicians reduced readmissions and improved quality by implementing a real-time, ADT-based encounter notification service (ENS) to keep the member’s healthcare team informed during transitions in care. Johns Hopkins presenters will describe the clinical, operational, and financial value of the ENS for care coordination along with its technology underpinnings.

November 18 (Tuesday) 1:00 ET. Cerner Takeover of Siemens, Are You Ready? Sponsored by HIStalk. Presenters: Frank L. Poggio, president and CEO, The Kelzon Group; Vince Ciotti, principal, HIS Professionals. The Cerner acquisition of Siemens impacts 1,000 hospitals that could be forced into a “take it or leave it” situation based on lessons learned from similar takeovers. This webinar will review the possible fate of each Siemens HIS product, the impact of the acquisition on ongoing R&D, available market alternatives, and steps Siemens clients should take to prepare.

November 19 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. Improving Trial Accrual by Engaging the Digital Healthcare Consumer. Sponsored by DocuSign. Presenters: B. J. Rimel, MD, gynecologic oncologist, Cedars-Sinai Medial Center; Jennifer Royer, product marketing, DocuSign. The Women’s Cancer Program increased trial accrual five-fold by implementing an online registry that links participants to research studies, digitizing and simplifying a cumbersome, paper-based process. This webinar will describe the use of e-consents and social marketing to engage a broader population and advance research while saving time and reducing costs.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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MedAssets reports Q3 results: revenue up 5.5 percent, adjusted EPS 0.34 vs. $0.31, beating expectations for both.

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The Advisory Board Company announces Q2 results: revenue up 12 percent, adjusted EPS $0.43 vs. $0.31, beating earnings expectations but falling short on revenue. Shares dropped 11 percent Friday on the news. Above is the one-year share price chart for ABCO (blue, down 22 percent) vs. the Nasdaq (up 18 percent).

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CompuGroup Medical US will move its headquarters from Boston to Phoenix on January 1.

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Orion Health chooses Scottsdale, AZ as the North American and UK headquarters of its population health management division, expecting to hire 100 people within a year and up to 400 over the next three years. Incentives pushed Scottsdale past Nashville, Atlanta, and Raleigh.   

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Truven Health Analytics will acquire life sciences stakeholder management software vendor Heartbeart Experts. I spent several unsuccessful minutes perusing the company’s website to try to figure out what they do, which led me to conclude that it would probably be clear if I needed its services. 


Sales

Envision Medical Group (MI) chooses Aprima’s RCM services.

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Rite Aid will pilot the use of HealthSpot’s telemedicine kiosks in some of its Ohio markets.


People 

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Rick McCarthy, CIO of St. Vincent’s Health Services (CT) and a retired US Navy commander who served as a CIO and ran a medical unit in Afghanistan for a year, will deliver the keynote Veterans Day address in Trumbull, CT on Tuesday.

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Jay Deady (Awarepoint) joins Recondo Technology as CEO.


Announcements and Implementations

The 2014 Midwest Fall Technology Conference will be held November 12-14 in Chicago, organized by six Midwest HIMSS chapters. It’s offering a hefty provider registration discount in order to hit its desired 50-50 ratio of providers to vendors.

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Georgia Health Connect launches as a regional HIE using technology from Liaison Technologies. It plans to connect to the Georgia Health Information Network.


Government and Politics

The Massachusetts medical board makes its final recommendations for a law going into effect in January 2015 that will require all physicians to demonstrate EHR proficiency and Meaningful Use skills. The final wording hasn’t been approved, but proposed regulations would require physicians to meet one of the following:

  • Participate as an EP in Meaningful Use Stage 1.
  • Be employed, contracted, or credentialed by a hospital that is participating in Meaningful Use Stage 1.
  • Complete a three-hour accredited CME program on EHRs.
  • Sign up for Massachusetts Health information Highway.

Innovation and Research

A study finds that EHR information paired with human resources system data can be used to measure the value added by individual nurses, finding that individual nurse performance explained 7.9 percent of the variance in patient clinical condition changes. It concluded, not surprisingly, that a nurse’s educational level and work experience correlated positively.


Technology

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Iodine releases a Google Chrome browser extension that displays the definition of a medical term when the user hovers over the word on any web page.


Other

A New York Times article describes the difficulty that a featured patient had in getting his own medical records from the hospital, as it turned into a six-week ordeal of snail mail, phone calls, $100 in copying fees, and an eventual physical trip to the hospital to wait for a stack of paper documents to be handed over. A Harvard professor blames competition, saying that medical records are held hostage to prevent patients from going elsewhere. Former National Coordinator David Blumenthal, MD, weighs in: “When hospitals talk about HIPAA or charge for releasing records, what they’re really saying is, ‘I don’t want to do this and I have to find an excuse.’”

In the UK, a survey finds that 71 percent of citizens aren’t aware that they’ll be able to review their own medical records online by April as promised by the Patient Online initiative spearheaded by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Only 3 percent of practices offer online access at the moment, but all are supposed to be ready by April. Doctors are worried about the time they’ll spend explaining medical records to patients given that 75 percent of patients want records written in plain while only 21 percent of doctors agree. The survey found that percent of doctors say the medical record is a reference tool for their use, not something intended for patients.

The widow of IDX co-founder Robert Hoehl donates $5 million to a variety of Burlington, VT non-profits.


Contacts

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

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.

Get HIStalk updates.
Contact us online.

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November 8, 2014 News 3 Comments

Morning Headlines 11/7/14

November 7, 2014 Headlines 13 Comments

Changes in Medical Errors after Implementation of a Handoff Program

A New England Journal of Medicine study finds that implementing a structured process for resident handoff procedures at nine hospitals led to a 23 percent medical error-rate decrease, and a 30 percent decrease in preventable adverse events.

Epic replies to comments made by Cerner CEO Neal Patterson at health conference

Typically media shy,  Epic’s media spokesman responds to charges from Cerner that her company shrugs off its interoperability responsibilities, claiming that, according to KLAS, it is an industry leader in this segment as well.

Allscripts Healthcare: Blue Harbour Group Won’t Go Lightly

Activist investor Blue Harbour Group has increased its stake in Allscripts from five to seven percent.

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November 7, 2014 Headlines 13 Comments

News 11/7/14

November 6, 2014 News 14 Comments

Top News

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The 2015 work plan of HHS’s Office of Inspector General includes several EHR-related items beyond the usual Meaningful Use payment audits. OIG will audit the security of cloud-based service providers (including EHR vendors) and will review the downtime policies of hospitals. OIG’s future efforts “may consider the significant challenges that exist with respect to overseeing expenditures for health IT, the interoperability and effective sharing and use of health care data for medical care, and emergency preparedness and response.”


Reader Comments

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From Zippy: “Re: Alameda Health System. The outgoing CEO removes the blame for its financial problems from Siemens Soarian.” The five-hospital system’s CFO told its board last month that its financial meltdown was caused by its $77 million Siemens/NextGen implementation, but the outgoing CEO says the system’s own managers — not Siemens — caused its problems. He specifically blamed two unnamed former health system executives.

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From Sauerkraut: “Re: Siemens. The hearing aid business sold for more than twice the HIT business with lower revenues and the usual higher multiples of software businesses. Perhaps Ben Rooks can explain.” Singapore-based Siemens Audiology Solutions posted $860 million in 2014 revenue and just sold for $2.68 billion, or three times revenue. The healthcare IT business had about $1.2 billion in annual revenue and sold for $1.3 billion. I would guess the revenue multiples are based on profitability, market position, and future prospects rather than revenue. My impression is that Audiology is a turnkey business while Health Solutions is a slightly shabby fixer-upper with a reputation problem. There’s also the issue of having few qualified buyers, which would have kept the price down and given Cerner a clear shot at picking it up for a bargain basement price.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

This week on HIStalk Connect: Microsoft and Jawbone unveil new fitness trackers, Microsoft in an attempt to capitalize on the digital health trend and Jawbone trying to differentiate itself in the emerging smartwatch market. Rock Health raises its next investment round and announces that it will fund accepted startups with a $250,000 seed round. Google revamps its Flu Trends platform to include CDC data in an effort to boost accuracy.

This week on HIStalk Practice: Healthcare buzzwords reach a "tipping point." DuPage Medical Group begins offering e-visits. The Eye Institute of Utah implements a new patient portal. Portland’s healthcare IT accelerator scene doubles. 5 O’clock Records rebrands. ONC launches a new innovation challenge. Thanks for reading.

I was clearing out space on my phone for an iOS upgrade, which forced me to decide which apps to delete since some are data hogs. My “can’t live without” survivors are below. What are yours?

  • Yelp. Probably my most-used app.
  • Motion-X GPS Drive. The best GPS I’ve used and the only paid app on my list, although it barely qualifies at 99 cents.
  • Slydial. lets you call someone’s cell phone voicemail directly in case you just want to leave a message without talking to them.
  • Airline apps. American is my most-used one.
  • GateGuru. Helps me find decent airport food and check an airport’s flight board.
  • OpenTable. I will sometimes make a restaurant reservation an hour before eating just to make sure there’s a table waiting, plus I trust the reviews and lists (I often also look at TripAdvisor).
  • Uber. I use it occasionally, although I’ve been burned expensively a couple of times by the surge upcharge.
  • Kindle. I don’t mind reading books on my phone’s small screen.
  • Spotify. I subscribe to Premium so I can play music offline.
  • Speedtest. I check Internet speed the moment I set foot in a hotel or house where I need to work, although usually I can’t do much more than swear and fret at Stone Age speeds (less than 3 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up).

Listening: new indie folk from Portland, OR-based The Decemberists, which sound a bit like R.E.M. Peter Buck has played on some tracks, although not on their pretty good cover of my favorite R.E.M. track, “Cuyahoga”.


Webinars

November 12 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. Three Ways to Improve Care Transitions Using an HIE Encounter Notification Service. Sponsored by Audacious Inquiry. Presenters: Steven Kravet, MD, MBA, FACP, president, Johns Hopkins Community Physicians; Jennifer Bailey, senior director of quality and transformation, Johns Hopkins Community Physicians; Robert Horst, principal, Audacious Inquiry. Johns Hopkins Community Physicians reduced readmissions and improved quality by implementing a real-time, ADT-based encounter notification service (ENS) to keep the member’s healthcare team informed during transitions in care. Johns Hopkins presenters will describe the clinical, operational, and financial value of the ENS for care coordination along with its technology underpinnings.

November 18 (Tuesday) 1:00 ET. Cerner Takeover of Siemens, Are You Ready? Sponsored by HIStalk. Presenters: Frank L. Poggio, president and CEO, The Kelzon Group; Vince Ciotti, principal, HIS Professionals. The Cerner acquisition of Siemens impacts 1,000 hospitals that could be forced into a “take it or leave it” situation based on lessons learned from similar takeovers. This webinar will review the possible fate of each Siemens HIS product, the impact of the acquisition on ongoing R&D, available market alternatives, and steps Siemens clients should take to prepare.

November 19 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. Improving Trial Accrual by Engaging the Digital Healthcare Consumer: How to Increase Enrollment with Online Consents and Social Marketing. Sponsored by DocuSign. Presenters: B. J. Rimel, MD, gynecologic oncologist, Cedars-Sinai Medial Center; Jennifer Royer, product marketing, DocuSign. The Women’s Cancer Program increased trial accrual five-fold by implementing an online registry that links participants to research studies, digitizing and simplifying a cumbersome, paper-based process. This webinar will describe the use of e-consents and social marketing to engage a broader population and advance research while saving time and reducing costs.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Aspen Advisors will be acquired by healthcare management consulting firm Chartis Group, with Aspen’s Managing Principal Dan Herman joining the board of Chartis.

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Allscripts announces Q3 results: revenue up 4 percent, adjusted EPS $0.06 vs. $0.05, missing analyst expectations for both. Shares dropped sharply in after-hours trading following Thursday afternoon’s announcement, down around 15 percent to levels not seen since early 2013.

Meanwhile, activist hedge fund Blue Harbour Group increases its ownership in Allscripts to 7 percent of the outstanding company shares, up from 5 percent. Blue Harbour Group says it avoids public shareholder fights by investing only in companies that welcome its ideas for unlocking value, happy to make money from share price appreciation rather than selling off parts piecemeal. Its Allscripts ownership stake looks like around $170 million worth, right in line with its stated sweet spot of $100-$200 million. Allscripts shares have dropped 7 percent in the past year and 38 percent in the past five years.

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Healthgrades acquires digital marketing form COCG to enhance its strategic marketing services for hospitals.

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Siemens reorganizes its remaining healthcare lines into a separate business as it suggested it might do several months ago, which won’t do much to squelch the rumors that it wants to sell of the whole package and get out of healthcare completely. Siemens just announced that it will sell its hearing aid business for $2.7 billion. It previously sold the HIT business to Cerner and its microbiology line to Beckman Coulter. Like GE, Siemens is putting big money into energy-related product lines.

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Francisco Partners invests an unspecified amount in medication benefits network provider CoverMyMeds.

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Shares in Merge Healthcare hit a 52-week high Wednesday, having jumped 33 percent in the past two weeks. Above is the one-year MRGE share price (blue, up 23 percent) vs. the Nasdaq (red, up 18 percent).

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The Department of Defense awards Fulcrum a five-year, $13.9 million contract to update the systems used by DoD’s year-old Richmond, VA EHR testing facility and to open a second health IT testing center in West Virginia. Both will support DoD’s DHMSM EHR replacement project.

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Global Healthcare Exchange will acquire Atlanta-based procurement software vendor Vendormate.

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Etransmedia wins a multi-million award in its deceptive trade practices lawsuit against Allscripts. An arbitration panel ruled that Allscripts convinced Etransmedia to buy MyWay EHR licenses in advance to improve its own financial performance, but then “deliberately sabotaged” MyWay sales by retiring the product in October 2012, leaving Etransmedia holding millions of dollars in unsold licenses. Etransmedia has since developed its own Connect2Care product.


Sales

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Beaumont Health System (MI) chooses PHYND’s Provider Population Management Platform for 20,000 physicians.

Rhode Island awards 3M the analytics contract for its All-Payer Claims Database that will aggregate claims and provider data to publish consumer-facing quality and cost information.

The VA will add two service networks to its Philips eICU program, expanding its ICU remote monitoring service to 1,800 beds.


People

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Prison health provider Corizon Health names Andy Flatt (HealthSpring) as CIO.

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Fogo Data Centers hires William Esslinger, Jr. (Esslinger Tech Law) as CEO and board member.

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Peter Dolphin (PatientKeeper) joins Advanced Practice Strategies as EVP of sales.

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National Library of Medicine Director Don Lindberg, MD will retire in March 2015 after more than 30 years on the job. He was also the first president of AMIA.


Announcements and Implementations

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Cerner CEO Neal Patterson says in a blog post that the company will provide CommonWell services to its clients at no charge (after a “nominal setup fee”) through January 1, 2018. He adds that CommonWell will make its interoperability services available at a low cost, passed through from participating vendors to their clients. He emphasizes that CommonWell will never sell data.

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A new startup, MD Revolution, launches RevUp, which allows providers to collect Medicare’s new $40 per month chronic care management payment through team-based monitoring of a user’s fitness device data. The HealthKit-enabled RevUp supports provider-user messaging, personal health coaching, and an unspecified level of integration with EHRs. It appears that the company provides all of the coaching services. Founder Samir Damani, MD, PharmD is a Scripps cardiologist. Also on the executive team is CIO Jean Balgrosky (former Scripps SVP/CIO) and SVP of Business Development Parker Hinshaw (founder of maxIT). The company’s page also neatly summarizes the requirements to collect the monthly payment that starts in January 2015 — 20 minutes of non face-to-face care of Medicare patients with two or more chronic conditions. .

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Blood Bank of Alaska implements Mediware’s blood center management and donor recruitment systems.


Government and Politics

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An ONC survey finds that most consumers (75 percent) are concerned about the privacy of their medical records whether paper or electronic, but few (less than 10 percent) are worried enough to withhold information. Three-quarters of respondents want their providers to use EHRs and share their information with their other providers. Survey pluses:  it was a random-dial telephone survey that removes online-only and self-selected participant bias and it had a good number of responses, but the folks willing to take a cold-call survey may not be representative. Survey minus: it was conducted last year.

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CMS postpones its eHealth Summit, scheduled for December 5, until further notice.


Innovation and Research

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The Wall Street Journal highlights companies that are working on diagnostics that can detect Ebola quickly, including BioFire Defense (which I wrote about quite a bit last week), CorGenix Medical (a $15 non-instrument system that works like a home pregnancy test), Chemnio Diagnostics Systems (a $10 finger-stick test),  and OraSure Technologies (which is considering development of a mouth swab-based test like the one it offers for HIV).

A nine-hospital study finds that use of a structured patient handoff procedure among medical residents was associated with a 23 percent reduction in medical errors and a 30 percent drop in preventable adverse events. Residents used a mnemonic-driven checklist for both oral and written handoffs.


Technology

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Microsoft announces free versions of Office for the iPhone and updated versions for the iPad, with Office for Android coming soon.

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Qualcomm Life Director of Business Development Kabir Kasargod urges wearables developers to move from activity trackers to the real healthcare industry:

Go from the children’s table to the grown-up table. If you’re serious about this, embrace the FDA. Learn how HIPAA works. Make sure it’s connected to the [electronic medical record] and that all the health laws are observed. There’s a tremendous dearth of innovation here. I would move away from fitness and go hardcore into health. That’s where the money is.


Other

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A Pennsylvania business paper profiles Pittsburgh-based Health Monitoring Systems, whose service monitors hospital EHR information to provide real-time outbreak information to public health departments.

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PayPal co-founder and early Facebook investor Peter Thiel says he is skeptical about healthcare IT, big data, and cloud computing.

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Epic responds to Cerner CEO Neal Patterson’s calling the company “immoral” for being an interoperability “black hole” among EHR vendors at Cerner’s user group meeting. Epic’s statement:

Epic is No. 1 for interoperability performance as ranked by actual users surveyed by the highly respected firm KLAS. Epic can interoperate with any other electronic health record that meets government standards, regardless of vendor. We support open standards rather than private platforms such as CommonWell that further privatize and monetize exchange of health information.

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A Health Affairs blog post by MedStar Health’s influential informatics expert Peter Basch, MD says the Meaningful Use program is impeding interoperability by its rigid, metric-driven approach that fails to meet the needs of providers and patients. He adds that EHRs don’t work well for advanced primary care models that emphasize chronic disease management and care coordination and observes that today’s version of interoperability makes matters worse by more widely spreading clutter-filled summary of care and visit summary documents.

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S&P downgrades the bonds of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center (NC) because of large receivables write-offs and the high ongoing expense of its Epic system.

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PeaceHealth (WA) ends affiliation talks with Ocean Beach Hospital (WA), with PeaceHealth’s CEO saying his organization is too busy and too far over budget on its Epic implementation to take on a new hospital.

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The tweets of Scripps cardiologist Eric Topol, MD have the highest signal-to-noise ratio of just about anybody even though he gets a bit app-happy at times, so I enjoyed this interview, in which he made some interesting points. He’ll be delivering a keynote presentation at the Digital Health Conference 2014 November 17-18 in New York City.

  • Patients will help diagnose and monitor themselves using algorithms, leaving doctors to focus on treatments.
  • Continuous monitoring will allow patients to stay at home, reducing hospital usage.
  • Virtual visits can help with the difficulty involved in getting a PCP appointment, which he says requires a six-week lead time in Boston.
  • A major shift to virtual visits will reduce trips to the doctor’s office.
  • Patients will bear much of the responsibility and cost of their health.

Weird News Andy expects this story to fill a void. A bus driver in Egypt attempts to dodge a mandatory urine drug screen by submitting a sample from his wife and is surprised to hear from officials, “Congratulations, you’re pregnant.”


Sponsor Updates

  • RazorInsights publishes a company video, a brilliantly done history that includes founder interviews.
  • Surgical Information Systems names Indiana Orthopaedic Hospital (IN) as a Center of Excellence.
  • HCI group posts “Meaningful Use to Meaningful Care” by William Bria, MD and Robert Steele, RN.

EPtalk by Dr. Jayne

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The November 30 deadline for eligible hospitals to report for the 2014 Medicare EHR Incentive Program is fast approaching. I haven’t been on the attestation site lately, but I am told that the 2014 Flexibility Rule options are available. If that doesn’t work, you can still apply for a hardship exception, but if you’re just now figuring out that you need one, I feel for you.

Speaking of Meaningful Use, several providers at my hospital forwarded links to articles about the dismal attestation statistics, demanding that we consider “stopping this nonsense” and “get back to practicing real medicine.” They’re not alone, although most national groups are focusing on shortening the reporting period for 2015 and adding additional flexibility. CHIME, the AMA, MGMA, and of course HIMSS are among the loudest voices.

With the Flexibility Rule slowing some organizations’ upgrade schedules, CMS also made some updates to the final 2015 Medicare fee schedule. Primary care practices can report Chronic Care Management codes on whatever certified EHR they were on as of December 31 of the previous calendar year, rather than being required to use 2014 CEHRT. Additionally those services can be billed using a CPT code instead of a G code. I’m not sure why that’s an advantage, but provider groups seem happy about it.

If you have nothing else to do this weekend, it’s 1,185 pages of glory and includes summaries of comments received while it was under consideration. Comments are being accepted through December 30 and it goes into effect January 1, so read up. Any document that includes five and a half pages of acronym explanations is bound to be a hit.

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I’ve been recovering this week from a Continuing Medical Education conference. I’m not a huge fan of Las Vegas, but it seems like a lot of conferences are held there. After learning about dermatological diseases in a drab hotel ballroom for two days, a conversation in the row ahead jogged my memory that the NextGen One user group meeting was starting at the tail end of my trip. A quick call to Bianca Biller confirmed that she was also in town, which improved my spirits. In addition to being one of the smartest revenue cycle experts I know, she is also the most fun.

She warned me that tight security was keeping non-registered people out of the conference center, but was able to score me a pass to the Navicure client event on Monday at the Hard Rock Live. I was feeling a little giddy when I got carded at the door until I realized they were carding everyone. We arrived fairly early, but the party was already in full swing. The Atlanta-based band was fantastic and it was fun to watch medical practice folks kick back to Journey and James Brown covers. Since MGMA had wrapped up a few days earlier, she said there were a lot of vendors staying over, so we headed out to hit a couple more get-togethers. We ended up with the obligatory wild and crazy taxi ride, during which Bianca received a marriage proposal from the cabbie.

We dialed it down a notch and stopped by the Intelligent Medical Objects suite at Mandalay Bay for a glass of wine and some much-needed time off our feet. There we ran into one of Bianca’s nurse informaticists, who lured us to the casino with the promise of riches to come. I was content to watch others gamble and to do some people watching – the number of folks still in Halloween costumes several days after the fact was pretty entertaining. Although I missed MGMA this year, I felt like I at least got my party fix and that will hold me until HIMSS.

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My new nurse friend was the big winner of the night, where I was lucky to walk away with the same $20 I started with. The Cerner conference was also this week, but I haven’t heard anything about it.

Do you have conference pictures or a crazy taxi story? Email me.


Contacts

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

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.

Get HIStalk updates.
Contact us online.

 

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November 6, 2014 News 14 Comments

Morning Headlines 11/6/14

November 5, 2014 Headlines No Comments

More Problems Expected on Federal Health-Insurance Site in New Year

The Wall Street Journal reports that known bugs and unfinished development efforts on Healthcare.gov will likely cause a fresh set of problems for consumers this enrollment period, including erroneous renewals of cancelled policies and duplicate enrollments for those that try to switch insurers.

AHIMA/eHealth Initiative 2014 ICD-10 Readiness Survey Results

A recent survey conducted by AHIMA finds that 63 percent of health systems will be ready for end-to-end ICD-10 testing by the end of 2014, while 10 percent report that they plan to forgo testing altogether.

Office of Inspector General: Work Plan 2015

HHS’s OIG will increase its focus on EHRs in 2015, according to its recently published work plan. Audits will focus on validating downtime contingency plans, securing medical devices that interface with EHR systems, and verifying entitlement to Meaningful Use incentive payments.

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November 5, 2014 Headlines No Comments

Readers Write: A Practical Response for Ebola Relief

November 5, 2014 Readers Write 3 Comments

A Practical Response for Ebola Relief
By Paul Molingowski

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The noise surrounding the current Ebola outbreak is tremendous, with a Google search producing 385 million results. Hospitals, clinicians, NGOs, and governments around the world are scrambling to develop effective responses and put preventive measures in places.

Despite all of the attention – or perhaps because of it — there have only been four confirmed Ebola cases in the United States. Compare that to Sierra Leone, which has 3,778 confirmed cases (5,338 suspected) in a population of only 6 million people.

My point in writing this article is to help shed light on an overlooked problem that is a terrible side effect of Ebola: starvation.

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I was blessed to be able to travel to Sierra Leone early this year. It is a wonderful country. We know many men, women, and children who have been impacted by Ebola. Our group’s scheduled departure was just as the first Ebola cases were being diagnosed. Our friends in Sierra Leone with literal boots on the ground have done a tremendous job with limited resources to provide education, medical supplies, basic healthcare, and village support.

There is still a huge need for food for the suspected Ebola victims and their families who are quarantined. Normally in Sierra Leone, hospital food is supplied by the families of patients. Since the patients are isolated and often treated with fear, this sometimes means they are not fed.

When families are quarantined in their homes for 21 days, they are surrounded by armed guards and left with little food or water. Some escape to avoid starvation, spreading the disease to other villages. Also, the already fragile economy of Sierra Leone has been hurt by the epidemic, causing food prices to rise dramatically. Simply put, providing food to starving victims will help stop the spread of Ebola.

Other big needs are for medical supplies and effective transportation. Hospitals and treatment centers do not always have the resources to provide gowns and do laundry, so patients who are sick are often left dirty and naked to fend for themselves.

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I can personally attest to the poor condition of the roads in Sierra Leone. Most are dirt, which means they are severely rutted and can become almost impassable in the rainy season, making it very difficult to deliver aid. Motorcycles are a great way to get around and we are providing more.

The practical response is to donate to Ebola relief efforts.

Paul Molingowski is sales director of Skylight Healthcare Systems of San Diego, CA. He is on the board of EduNations, which builds and operates schools and digs wells in Sierra Leone.  One hundred percent of donations go directly to food, medical supplies, and motorcycles.

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November 5, 2014 Readers Write 3 Comments

Morning Headlines 11/5/14

November 4, 2014 Headlines No Comments

HIT Policy Committee

At Tuesday’s HIT Policy Committee meeting, ONC released updated Stage 2 MU attestation numbers. 93 hospitals and 2,282 providers have attested for Stage 2, compared to the 4,000 hospitals and 266,067 providers that attested for Stage 1.

CPSI Announces Third Quarter 2014 Results

CPSI reports Q3 earnings: revenue was up 14 percent to $53 million, while net income jumped 29 percent, EPS $0.83 v $0.66.

Novant Health to cut pay for medical secretaries

Novant Health will demote and reduce the wages of 150 medical secretaries after its EHR implementation eliminates one of their core job functions, order entry.

Cerner will break ground Nov. 12 for $4.45B Three Trails Campus

Cerner will break ground on its $4.45 billion Three Trails Campus construction next week. The project will add 3.7 million square feet of offices and eventually house 16,000 employees.

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November 4, 2014 Headlines No Comments

News 11/5/14

November 4, 2014 News 9 Comments

Top News

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The HIT Policy Committee reports that 93 hospitals have been paid Meaningful Use Stage 2 payments through September vs. nearly 4,000 that earned Stage 1 money. EPs had 2,282 MUS2 attesters vs. 266,067 who earned Stage money. None of that matters much since attestation runs all the way through 2015 and there’s not a lot of reason for providers to jump on early, but critics will miss that point in calling MUS2 a failure early in the game. The total of the Meaningful Use money handed out so far exceeds $25 billion.


Reader Comments

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From Popinjay: “Re: Remedy Informatics. Has apparently shut down, according to customer QOPI.” Oncology quality assessment organization QOPI cancels its fall reporting round, saying it has no choice after technology provider Remedy Informatics “unexpectedly ceased all business operations on October 21.” The Salt Lake City-based company, which provide registry and research informatics products, hasn’t responded to my inquiry. I interviewed CEO Gary Kennedy several years ago and was impressed with the technology, but the company’s business model changed a couple of times since then.

From Remy C: “Re: [company name omitted]. The company, one of the larger former-Epic consulting firms, is losing faith from its partners after ‘spreading itself too thin.’ Two of its staffing partners are withdrawing from offering subcontracts after the company’s problematic attempt at adding go-live support.” I’ve removed the company names since the rumor is so vague that there’s no easy way to confirm it, but I’m more interested in the overall trajectory of Epic consulting firms anyway. Epic go-live support would seem to be a good business line as long as there’s enough of them to keep people working.

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From Walkin’ Dude: “Re: Neal Patterson’s keynote speech at Cerner Health Conference Tuesday. He skewered Epic (without naming them) by saying that it’s immoral that they use their closed system for competitive advantage. He sais CommonWell will cover 50 percent (of patients? data? visits?) and that he’s reasonable sure Meditech will join and add another 25 percent of market share. He said that Epic, with 30 percent of the market share, is a data sharing black hole.” That’s Neal above on the right, sharing the CHC podium with John Glaser from Siemens Health Solutions, which will become part of Cerner early next year. Neal said GPS devices are an example of what can happen when proprietary standards are opened up.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

Listening: reader-recommended indy folkers The Accidentals, two newly-graduated female high school students from Traverse City, MI who have written 45 songs, played 500 shows, scored two movies, and play 13 instruments between them. 


Webinars

November 5 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. Keeping it Clean: How Data Profiling Leads to Trusted Data. Sponsored by Encore, A Quintiles Company. Presenters: Lori Yackanicz, administrator of clinical informatics, Lehigh Valley Health Network; Randy L. Thomas, associate partner of performance analytics, Encore, A Quintiles Company; Joy Ales, MHA, BSN, RN, senior consultant, Encore, A Quintiles Company. Data dictionaries, organizational standards, and pick lists for data entry fields may describe the intent of a particular data field, but don’t guarantee that the data captured in the source system actually reflects that intent. Data profiling is the statistical analysis and assessment of the data values in source systems for consistency, uniqueness, and logic to ensure that the data landing in a data warehouse or analytic application is as expected. Attendees will learn which projects benefit from data profiling and the resources needed to accomplish it.

November 12 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. Three Ways to Improve Care Transitions Using an HIE Encounter Notification Service. Sponsored by Audacious Inquiry. Presenters: Steven Kravet, MD, MBA, FACP, president, Johns Hopkins Community Physicians; Jennifer Bailey, senior director of quality and transformation, Johns Hopkins Community Physicians; Robert Horst, principal, Audacious Inquiry. Johns Hopkins Community Physicians reduced readmissions and improved quality by implementing a real-time, ADT-based encounter notification service (ENS) to keep the member’s healthcare team informed during transitions in care. Johns Hopkins presenters will describe the clinical, operational, and financial value of the ENS for care coordination along with its technology underpinnings.

November 18 (Tuesday) 1:00 ET. Cerner Takeover of Siemens, Are You Ready? Sponsored by HIStalk. Presenters: Frank L. Poggio, president and CEO, The Kelzon Group; Vince Ciotti, principal, HIS Professionals. The Cerner acquisition of Siemens impacts 1,000 hospitals that could be forced into a “take it or leave it” situation based on lessons learned from similar takeovers. This webinar will review the possible fate of each Siemens HIS product, the impact of the acquisition on ongoing R&D, available market alternatives, and steps Siemens clients should take to prepare.

November 19 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. Improving Trial Accrual by Engaging the Digital Healthcare Consumer: How to Increase Enrollment with Online Consents and Social Marketing. Sponsored by DocuSign. Presenters: B. J. Rimel, MD, gynecologic oncologist, Cedars-Sinai Medial Center; Jennifer Royer, product marketing, DocuSign. The Women’s Cancer Program increased trial accrual five-fold by implementing an online registry that links participants to research studies, digitizing and simplifying a cumbersome, paper-based process. This webinar will describe the use of e-consents and social marketing to engage a broader population and advance research while saving time and reducing costs.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Drug information provider PDR Network merges with LDM Group, which improves medication adherence by connecting patients, prescribers, and pharmacists via personalize messaging. PDR says its network will now include 250,000 prescribers and 16,000 retail pharmacies. Former LDM Group President and CEO Mark Heinold is named CEO of PDR, while former PDR President and CEO Richard Altus will join majority shareholder Lee Equity as operating advisor.

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Aetna will acquire Chicago-based retail health insurance platform vendor Bswift for $400 million to extend Aetna’s proprietary insurance exchange strategy.

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CPSI announces Q3 results: revenue up 14 percent, EPS $0.83 vs. $0.66, beating revenue estimates but missing on earnings. Above is the one-year share price chart of CPSI (blue, up 3.8 percent) vs. the Nasdaq (red, up 17.8 percent). President and CEO Boyd Douglas (above) said in the earnings call that 38 of the 200 hospitals that have attested for Meaningful Use Stage 2 are CPSI users, placing it behind only Epic. CFO David Dye, responding to an analyst’s question about CPSI’s KLAS scores, said, “Our KLAS scores have been hit or miss now for 25 years. We don’t have particularly good relationship there. But I’ll put our performance up against anybody else who’s been ahead of us over that time frame” and says the company’s churn rate is at an all-time low. Dye said in answering a question about CPSI’s CommonWell participation that it’s not opening up sales opportunities, but adds, “It’s probably a bit cheesy to say that we all did this out of the goodness of our hearts, but I think it’s closer to that. I think it’s going to help us with new business. I will say that we’ve got some competitors in our space that haven’t joined yet, and that we certainly aren’t afraid to mention that when we’re talking to the potential hospital clients. But to say that we expected and/or now expect that to benefit us competitively, I think would be a stretch … we didn’t think the government was ever going to do it.” 

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Imprivata announces Q3 results: revenue up 41 percent, adjusted EPS –$0.16 vs. –$0.34, beating earnings expectations and meeting on earnings.

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Physical therapy EHR vendor WebPT acquires WebOutcomes, which offers an online outcomes tracking tool for PT/OT.

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Release of information vendor Healthport, which entered into an agreement last week to be acquired by a New Mountain Capital investment found, announces its merger with competitor Supna Healthcare Solutions.

Truven Health Analytics acquires JWA Consulting, which offers Lean consulting that Truven will pair with its data analytics and consulting capabilities.

CVS Health reports Q3 results: revenue up 9.7 percent, adjusted EPS $1.15 vs. $1.06, beating expectations for both in a quarter in which it changed its name from CVS Caremark halted tobacco sales.

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In Canada, Clearwater Clinical raises $2 million in funding. The company, founded by an ENT surgeon, offers Clearscope (smartphone video recording for endoscopy) and Shoebox (an iPad-powered hearing tester). Mayo, Hopkins, Mass General, and CHOP are among its listed clients.


Sales

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St. Mary’s Hospital (CT) chooses Imprivata Cortext for clinical communications.

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Campbell County Health (WY) chooses Cornerstone Advisors to lead its Meditech Pathway Implementation project.


People

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Don Reed, VP/CIO of Crozer-Keystone Health System (PA), receives a lifetime achievement award from the Philadelphia business newspaper.

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UPMC’s Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh names Srinivasan Suresh, MD, MBA (Children’s Hospital of Michigan) as CMIO.

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Jim Gibson (Jimenez Consulting Solutions) joins Hayes Management Consulting as VP of strategic services. 

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GetWellNetwork CIO David Muntz is awarded CHIME’s Board of Trustees Legacy Award.


Announcements and Implementations

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Cerner will integrate data from the smart glucose monitor of Livongo Health, launched by former former Allscripts CEO Glen Tullman in September 2014.

EHR vendor Amazing Charts announces GA of its new practice management system.

NextGen announces at its UGM a mobile version of its patient portal, native iPad EHR support, a population health management solution, a HISP Direct Secure Messaging connectivity offering, and a cloud-based version of its EHR/PM systems that will be released in 2015.


Government and Politics

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CHIME uses CMS’s new (and very early, like election returns an hour after the polls close) Meaningful Use Stage 2 numbers (17 percent of hospitals, 2 percent of EPs) to again urge the agency to reduce the 2015 reporting period from 365 days to 90 days. Parent organization HIMSS jumps with a melodramatic stretch in suggesting that raising the bar on taxpayer EHR handouts “hinders our nation’s ability to improve the quality, safety, cost-effectiveness, and access to care.”

An ONC-commissioned report finds that providers participating in accountable care models are hindered by lack of EHR interoperability, with more work also required on analytics and clinical decision support systems.

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HHS names Anjum Khursid, MBBS, MPAff, PhD (Louisiana Public Health Institute) as the public health representative to the HIT Policy Committee.


Innovation and Research 

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Microsoft opens the preview release of Skype Translator, which performs real-time speech translation between users. Translation is a big and expensive problem for hospitals, so it could be interesting.

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Microsoft again – the company opens up unlimited OneDrive storage for Office 365 customers (Home, Personal, and University users – coming soon for Business).

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Cerner will break ground on its $4.45 billion Three Trails campus in south Kansas City on November 12.


Technology

Nudge launches Nudge Coach, which combines information from a person’s wearable devices into a single “Nudge Factor” number that doctors can quickly review. The company was formed by two 2010 Wofford College graduates who played semi-pro soccer together. 

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Butterfly Network raises $100 million to create an iPhone-sized ultrasound scanner that it says will be as cheap as a stethoscope.

A three-subject study finds that Google Glass creates blind spots in the eyes of users.


Other

University of Colorado Health CMIO CT Lin, MD performs a non-model version of “House of the Rising Sun” for hospitals going live on Epic, recorded at UGM. He didn’t mention his ukulele when I interviewed him in April.

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In Australia, the opposing political party says the April 2016 opening of New Royal Adelaide Hospital at risk unless the government fixes its Allscripts Sunrise patient management system, rollout of which was put on hold in July following billing and medication errors, physician complaints, and lack of funds due to higher than expected legacy system maintenance costs. South Australia Health hinted originally that it might sue Allscripts because of rollout delays, but now says it expects to resolve its issues with the company privately

The Wall Street Journal covers EHR vendors that are adding Ebola-specific functionality. It profiles Mass General, which is using a new application from its own EHR-searching spinoff QPID Health that matches patient symptoms and travel history to alert users of potential infection.

In Canada, William Osler Health System holds its second competition for students to develop Android patient experience apps next week, offering a $10,000 first prize. Last year’s winner created HosNav, which gives diagnostic testing patients parking directions, way-finding, and test preparation instructions.

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A Boston news service highlights big Massachusetts campaign donors, with InterSystems billionaire founder Terry Ragon topping the list with $3.3 million in contributions to Democratic super PACS and candidates.

Novant Health (NC) will demote 150 medical secretaries to medical unit receptionists and cut their pay up to 10 percent following its EHR implementation that eliminated the position’s most complex task — order entry. The local paper notes that the timing could have been better given that executive retirement plan changes caused recent eye-opening lump sum payouts, such as the $8.2 million paid to CEO Carl Amato in 2013, of which $6.1 million was pension related.

A poorly written article in The Michigan Daily covers the student health service implementation by University of Michigan Health Systems of what it calls a “filing system” and then “MiChart,” not only misspelling MyChart but confusing the Epic patient portal with the provider-facing inpatient and ambulatory modules. The article says 50 percent of patients are using MyChart, but only 5 percent are using it to schedule appointments.

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Odd: a six-foot, iPhone-shaped monument honoring Steve Jobs at a St. Petersburg, Russia university is taken down, with an executive explaining that the announcement by Apple CEO Tim Cook that he is gay violates Russian law as “a public call to sodomy.”


Sponsor Updates

  • Strata Decision Technology is named a winner of the Chicago Innovation Awards.
  • ZirMed will host its user group meeting November 10-12 in Louisville, KY.
  • EClinicalWorks, Greenway Health, PerfectServe, RazorInsights, Sandlot Solutions, and Shareable Ink are named to CIO Review’s “20 Most Promising Healthcare Tech Solutions Providers 2014.” The publication’s “20 Most Promising Healthcare Consulting Providers” includes DataMotion, Leidos Health, and TrainingWheel. 
  • ESD wins a CHIME CIO Fall Forum award for best video.
  • KLAS ranks Premier’s ACO advisory services as #1 in best overall performance.

Contacts

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

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.

Get HIStalk updates.
Contact us online.

 

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November 4, 2014 News 9 Comments

Morning Headlines 11/4/14

November 3, 2014 Headlines No Comments

Bids are in for $11B DOD health records system

The deadline to submit a bid on the DoD’s EHR search passed Friday, with submissions from teams proposing Epic, Cerner, Allscripts, and VistA making up the competition.

Oregon’s transition to federal exchange on track

After scrapping its health insurance exchange website after a failed launch in 2013, Oregon reports that it is on track to merge with Healthcare.gov by the November 15 enrollment period.

Onward and upward: Big news at Rock Health

Health IT startup accelerator Rock Health announces that it has raised a new $250 million investment fund and that it will begin offering $250,000 in seed capital to startups accepted to its program, up from $100,000.

CDC National Health Report

The CDC releases its National Health Report which shows a one year jump in life expectancy over the past ten years, topping off at 78.7 years. The increase is attributed to lower heart disease and cancer-related deaths.

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November 3, 2014 Headlines No Comments

Curbside Consult with Dr. Jayne 11/3/14

November 3, 2014 Dr. Jayne No Comments

I’ve taken a few clinical informaticists under my wing over the last couple of years. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am still baffled that organizations expect someone to take a lead role with clinical software but don’t give them any training or support. I’m not talking about software training (although that may be a factor) but rather assistance with the skill set needed to manage the things that are about to come their way.

Clinical informaticists come in all shapes and sizes and with all kinds of titles and varying levels of experience. That’s the first thing I tell them – to forget about what their title might be and figure out what their duties actually are. The second thing to do is to figure out whether they have the skills to tackle their given areas of responsibility and to put together a plan to prepare for them.

Organizations tend to be penny-wise and pound foolish in this regard. They expect physicians to learn many of these things on the job, but sometimes forget to tell teams they’re responsible for helping to build that provider. That can create fiction among the teams and is often a challenge when providers are not comfortable with exposing a lack of knowledge and need for assistance.

In my first CMIO-type job, I was responsible for managing clinical content for a good-sized outpatient medical group. There was a team of young-ish (well, at least younger than me after umpteen years of training and medical practice) analysts that held the keys to the system as far as modifications were concerned. I was overwhelmed in my role (trying to do the job in four hours a week) and trusted that they were being straight with me.

They weren’t too keen on trying to help me learn the back side of the EHR. The IT team didn’t budget any time for me to go to training other than what I had as an end user. I decided to dig in with the system’s user manual and, believe it or not, read it cover to cover.

That experience was a serious eye-opener. First, I learned that the system had many more capabilities than I knew of. Second, I learned that my team had been snowing me as far as how challenging various configurations and customizations really would be if we wanted to perform them.

The trick was figuring out how to leverage my new knowledge without letting the team know I had discovered the mismatch between their work capacity and the product delivered. In hindsight, the portable putting green and disc golf equipment in their part of the office should have been a clue.

Although I tell them to try to forget about the title, it can be important especially if the title indicates the level of respect or support a clinical informaticist will have in the broader organization. My first stab at this was as a medical director. The CMIO title wasn’t even an option, as there had never been one and the CIO stated he didn’t feel it was necessary to have a CMIO. In itself, that gave me significant insight as to what I was signing up for. However, the only other titled physician leader was also a medical director and that was reassuring.

Regardless of the title, the ambulatory arm of the organization positioned me well and publicly explained my role and responsibilities as far as approving clinical content and working with providers to optimize the EHR implementation and ongoing use. This was important when physicians pushed back in areas that were clearly in my realm because I knew I could count on leadership to back me.

Unfortunately, some of my new colleagues are facing less than optimal situations. One is already chief of service in his procedural subspecialty at the hospital (with all the committee meetings and responsibilities that go with that) and yet is charged with leading a rollout for a largely ambulatory medical group. Although he’s very interested in clinical informatics and has done some coursework, the deck is already somewhat stacked against him.

The odds are also not in his favor regarding how the leadership positions him. Although they’re publicly telling physicians he is going to “run” the application team and “lead” implementations, the staff actually reports in a different vertical whose top leader is openly hostile to the idea of physician leadership. He’s gone on record as saying that CMIOs are “useless” and it does not appear anything has been done to modify the behavior or to ensure public support of the new physician leader.

I’ve seen that before firsthand, when IT and operational teams had difficulty working together. In one organization where I worked, the project’s executive sponsor forced the IT director and the operations director to have regular breakfast meetings with a report out of the issues they were working on to build their relationship and ability to collaborate. No one likes being “forced” to play nice, but sometimes that type of structured intervention is helpful (and often necessary).

In addition to title and responsibilities, the other thing newly minted clinical informaticists need to address up front is compensation. There are still organizations out there that think the job can be done under the “other duties as assigned” clause of the job description. Unless a clinician is only expected to manage a narrow window of content or functionality, it’s just not realistic.

I’m a full-time CMIO (my clinical practice is all on the side, outside of my primary employer’s control) and trying to manage user needs, application limitations, regulatory requirements, accountable and value-based care, and everything else requires coordination with multiple teams and resources. Compensation needs to be appropriate for the level of work being done as well as the responsibility involved and the overall impact to the organization.

Compensation should also include a budget for continuing education in informatics as well as the calendar protection needed to attend sessions and spend time gathering new skills. In my first medical director position, I actually lost my continuing education budget because our bylaws decreed that only full-time clinical physicians received CME funding. It took me 18 months to get training courses approved through our IT staff development budget, which specifically excluded CME courses. Talk about a Catch-22.

Being a CMIO, medical director, director of medical informatics, or clinical champion — or in my case, Jayne of All Trades — can be a rewarding experience. It’s even more so when organizations are committed to setting us up for success, although that’s not always the case.

Have a CMIO horror story? Email me.

Email Dr. Jayne.

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November 3, 2014 Dr. Jayne No Comments

HIStalk Interviews Sam Rangaswamy, CEO, ZeOmega

November 3, 2014 Interviews 1 Comment

Sam Rangaswamy, MS is founder and CEO of ZeOmega of Plano, TX.

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Tell me about yourself and the company.

I started ZeOmega in 2001. I came from a technical background in the airline industry and realized that the healthcare industry is really far behind in terms of adoption of IT tools.

We started the company to service the needs of payers who wanted to do disease management and care coordination. Fourteen years later, we have 24 or so million American lives on our platform. We are making a difference in the way healthcare is being managed in the country today.

 

How far along is the industry in the journey toward population health management and the technologies that are required to support it?

It’s an interesting perspective from where we started. What we realized was that getting provider engagement was always a challenge. Providers were never really required to do population health management or focus on value.

We quickly realized what was happening was that the kind of interventions or the care that the provider should  own was pretty much outsourced to the plans, in a sense, since there were no billing codes. There were no real mandates for providers to do this. They were more focused on volume. The payers had to take on this burden, obviously, because of the full risk that they take.

We quickly realized that ultimately providers will need the same kind of capabilities. Today we are starting out with maybe a Medicare shared service program. A lot of tools out there are focusing on the population segmentation and focusing on getting them up to par with measures that are published by CMS.

But really, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Over the last 14 years, the kind of problems we’ve solved with entities taking full risk … there will be a day of reckoning for a lot of the provider systems that that’s where they ultimately need to be.

The tools that are out there right now are just focused on population segmentation and providing gaps in care alerts. They’re just the tip of the iceberg. Ultimately, we have to get to a point where these providers can take on full risk, maybe service employers directly. That’s where we would like to see the industry mature.

 

Insurance companies have had those capabilities for years and now they’re turning the responsibility over to folks who don’t have them. What are the biggest pitfalls for those providers who are just starting to understand the new expectations?

What you saw at HIMSS the last couple of years is a focus on technology and analytics and very nice dashboards for providers and decision-makers to look at. But ultimately it needs to go to the next level, where there’s provider engagement, where providers are really looking at this and have a way to act upon that information without having to build entire care teams that are a very expensive resource.

Also, to a point that when they go on to take on full risk and maybe service local employers, the ability to slice and dice administrative information, not just clinical information, so that you can target people for the right set of programs. That’s where ultimately they will realize the gaps in the current tools that are available in the industry. A lot of the players that have been doing this in the disease management arena or care coordination arena for a long period of time understand these challenges and have those kinds of solutions.

 

Are patients, especially the most expensive ones, interested in being engaged?

You’re talking of consumer engagement. In our experience, it is probably the 1 percent of the population that are really, really obsessed with their health or taking care of themselves that will engage with all the fancy tools that are out there. The 20 percent that are the sickest that really need access to the physician, that would love to have their personal phone number because access is a big issue for them and they have complex issues, ultimately it is focusing on those individuals in terms of patient engagement that will yield the results.

 

Amazon uses its databases to communicate with its customers on a massive scale, yet it makes the relationship feel personal. Can that be done in healthcare?

Yes, absolutely, to the extent that you have that patient-centric view. We like to call them members because everybody starts off as a member in a community or in any system until they become a patient. To the extent that you have information about them, you can make it a very personal experience, especially with the advent of sophisticated tools on the mobile devices. You can target interventions and get engagement at that level. It’s definitely the ones that have complex conditions will be more than willing to engage.

 

Is patient engagement a technology problem or is it just hard for providers who never had to make an effort to keep in touch with patients to change the way they think?

Technology is an enabler, as in any human situation. Ultimately you need a whole set of staff that are trained to address this problem on the provider side. Just simple issues around health literacy or care coordination. I’ve talked to executives of hospital systems who basically think that most of the nurses should be retrained as case managers because that’s the level of intervention you need with some of these members.

As long as a human element is involved, the technology only enables and helps. Clearly the automation for the 80 percent of the population is where the technology will help. The 20 percent need that human touch in order to make that patient feel secure and trusted and participate in the process.

 

Going back to your early history in the market, not many companies have had both providers and insurance companies as customers. Is it hard to reach and target both sets of audiences to talk about your product?

It’s a traditional sales challenge because there are different markets and how you position the product to address their specific pain points. It’s a different set of vocabulary, if you will, at least at the current time because providers really don’t know what they need.

It is a challenge in telling the story and helping them understand where they will need to be in the future. They’re starting off ground zero with whatever platforms they can purchase today to meet their MU requirements, for example. But eventually they will need to scale up and they will need those kinds of platform capabilities. Obviously it’s the messaging and helping them understand what they don’t know is always a challenge in the new market and that’s what we are also seeing.

 

Do you think Meaningful Use is driving bad decisions or encouraging providers to make decisions too quickly just to check the box?

Yes, absolutely. Whenever there’s a mandate and when the requirements are a checklist item and how you meet them is up to you, you can cobble together a set of platforms that are really not integrated, becoming more inefficient than what you were without them. Certainly I think there is that aspect as well.

 

How do you distinguish he company from competitors and get your message out among all the noise in the market?

We have to continue to tell the story like we have. Obviously there’s a education piece. We have to get the ear of the decision-makers and paint the picture of what they will need in the future.

While they may start off with just a little widget on our platform, eventually the benefits of scaling up and going from purely analytics to complete analytics-enabled workflow, where we reach out across the care continuum, especially when you have bundled payments and all the complexities associated with full risk. That’s the message that we are putting out there and we continue to do that.

I think we are probably an year or two away from serious providers who want to take on risk and really understand that. In a year or two, I think the market will finally come around for enterprise platforms like us.

 

Cerner just said in their earnings call that the population health management systems market will be bigger than the electronic health records market. How do you see that market evolving and what factors will determine which vendors emerge as the leaders?

From my standpoint, it all goes back to the reform that the Federal government is mandating. It goes back to payment reform and the focus on value, which means now the providers will have to get really efficient in their care management processes, redesigning workflows.

In terms of the EMR vendors, they were glorified data collection tools and a lot of static information for humans to process. But when we are talking about large populations to the extent of a million or two million, the kind of sophistication you need to slice and dice the population and target them to the interventions that are specific to the population, that’s where ultimately the providers will have to head. 

Ultimately the EMR vendors, as much as they’re installed in a group practice or in a single delivery system, will quickly realize that healthcare information is fragmented. It’s all over the place. It’s not just about data integration, but then delivering that actionable intelligence back to the stakeholders that may not necessarily be on one EMR platform.

That’s where technologies that can take that actionable information and communicate with multiple systems in the healthcare delivery system and bring all of these payers, especially in the bundled payments scenario, being able to do effective care transitions between all the players involved in that bundled payment … that’s where eventually everybody will have to end up. It’s rules-driven workflows. It’s not just clinical data, but administrative information, information around multiple domains of health, which will ultimately drive how these processes are enabled.

Unless you can handle information across multiple domains and use that in a meaningful fashion, just collecting data and presenting a report is not going to help. I think that’s where you’ll see the industry mature to eventually.

 

Do you if you have any final thoughts?

Ultimately while the dashboard vendors and the analytics vendors today are getting their foot in the door, it will be interesting to see how much more the federal legislation or the laws that are unplanned or planned will impact how providers take to this. We are focused on major players, dominant players in our market like maybe a hospital system or a payer system, who have the leverage to make change in a certain region or a geography. That’s where we are focused on right now because they are the ones who have the real challenge.

We see that as the foundation. Lessons learned from these players will eventually impact how the legislation and how the laws are designed to truly affect change across the healthcare system in the country.

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November 3, 2014 Interviews 1 Comment

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Reader Comments

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