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Morning Headlines 8/27/14

August 27, 2014 Headlines 1 Comment

DoD Takes Next Step in Modernizing Electronic Health Records

The Defense Department issues an $11 billion RFP for its next generation EHR. The RFP calls for initial field testing by the end of 2016.

There’s finally someone in charge of HealthCare.gov

CMS names Kevin Counihan to the newly created CEO of Healthcare.gov position. Counihan was previously the chief executive of Connecticut’s largely successful health insurance exchange.

VA Takes Next Step to Modernize Scheduling System

The VA announces that it will issue an RFP for a new medical appointment scheduling system by the end of September, one of many corrective actions being put in place following the VA’s recent off-the-books scheduling scandal.

In Indiana, state government tries using big data project to reduce infant mortality

Indiana will spend $9.1 million to implement SAP’s data analytics platform with goals of reducing its infant mortality rate from 7.7 to 6.89 deaths per 1,000 births.

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August 27, 2014 Headlines 1 Comment

News 8/27/14

August 26, 2014 News 10 Comments

Top News

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The Department of Defense issues an RFP for its $11 billion EHR replacement. Dim-Sum brought up a great point in our conversation the other day: the government requires that a significant chunk of the bid be awarded to companies owned by women, minorities, and veterans. That means a lot of companies beyond the winning primary contractor and EHR vendor will earn business. Stay tuned for Dim-Sum’s September 18 HIStalk webinar. I didn’t think of it until this minute, but I bet he could provide a good overview of how to do business with the DoD – that would give small players time to get their ducks in a row.


Reader Comments

From Medwreck: “Re: cloud. I’m on a life sciences panel for an upcoming cloud-based content management software conference. Will all healthcare hosting and apps go the way of the cloud at some point?” Yes, for the most part. Data center operation isn’t the core competency of providers, security challenges are exceeding local resource capabilities, access to bandwidth is nearly universal, and cloud providers can offer higher reliability and recoverability. Assuming the price point is comparable or favorable and the cloud provider offers solid service levels, it makes no sense for providers to run data centers, just as it makes no sense for them to run electrical generators or wells when electric and water companies can do it better and with the higher efficiency that specialization brings once the grid has been established. The exceptions will be applications from small vendors that don’t offer them via the cloud or charge excessively for that option, which won’t be the case for long because they’ll be out of business. 


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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The CHS Heartbleed-related breach is getting a lot of interest. I’m putting HIStalk Advisory Panel reactions together for a post next week since I suspect many hospital IT people are scrambling to explain what it means to their peers. Please add your thoughts here if you work for a hospital.

Listening: masterful early 1970s progressive rock from Peter Gabriel-led Genesis (Phil Collins was just drumming in overalls then – it was later he moved out front to lead the band to bubblegumdom) and the even more talented but criminally underappreciated Gentle Giant and the brilliant Kansas. Forty-year-old music shouldn’t sound this good and the now-balding and rotund 64-year-old Gabriel shouldn’t  have been quite so androgynously attractive in video from his early 20s.


Webinars

August 27 (Wednesday) 1:00 p.m. ET. Enterprise Data – Tapping Your Most Critical Asset for Survival. Presented by Encore, A Quintiles Company. Presenters: Jonathan Velez, MD, FACEP, CMIO, Hartford Healthcare; Randy Thomas, Associate Partner, Encore, A Quintiles Company. This first of a webinar series called “It’s All About the Data” will describe the capabilities provider organizations need to become data driven. The presenters will provide an overview of the critical role of an enterprise data strategy, creating the right data from source systems beginning with implementation, real-world data governance, how to avoid “boiling the ocean” with an enterprise data warehouse, and the role of performance feedback to transform analytics insights into improved outcomes and efficiencies.

September 4 (Thursday) 2:00 p.m. ET. MU2 Veterans Speak Out: Implementing Direct Secure Messaging for Success. Presented by DataMotion. Moderator: Mr. HIStalk. Panelists: Darby Buroker, executive director of health information exchange, Steward Health Care; Anne Lara, EdD, RN, CIO, Union Hospital of Cecil County, MD; Andy Nieto, health IT strategist, DataMotion; Mat Osmanski, senior application analyst, Steward Health Care; Bill Winn, PhD, Meaningful Use service line executive, Navin, Haffty & Associates. Panelists will discuss the strategy and tactics of meeting the transitions of care requirements for MU2, including assembling the team, implementing Direct Secure Messaging, getting providers on board, and reporting results.  

September 11 (Thursday) 1:00 p.m.ET. Electronic Health Record Divorce Rates on the Rise — The Four Factors that Predict Long-term Success. Presented by The Breakaway Group, A Xerox Company. Presenters: Heather Haugen, PhD, CEO and managing director, The Breakaway Group, A Xerox Company; Bill Rieger, CIO, Flagler Hospital, St. Augustine, FL. Many users are considering divorcing their EHR as dissatisfaction increases. Many are spending 90 percent of their time and resources on the wedding  (the go-live) instead of the long-term commitment to new workflows, communication, education, and care outcomes (the marriage). Hear more about the findings of research published in “Beyond Implementation: A Prescription for Lasting EMR Adoption” about EHR adoption and success factors.  Registrants get a free electronic or paper copy of the book.

The Breakaway Group created this fun intro to their September 11 webinar.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Premier, Inc. reports Q4 results: revenue up 17 percent, adjusted EPS $0.34 vs. $0.29.  The company also announced that it will acquired Raleigh, NC-based supply chain analytics vendor Aperek for $48.5 million. It’s Premier’s third acquisition so far this year and the announcement hinted at more to come, which CEO Susan DeVore suggested when I interviewed her last month.

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AirStrip raises $25 million in funding. New investors include The Gary and Mary West Health Investment Fund, Leerink Partners, and AirStrip customers Dignity Health and St. Joseph Health.

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Visage Imaging’s parent company, Australia-based Pro Medicus Limited, discusses FY2014 results.

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Sunquest owner Roper Industries announces two medical acquisitions: Strategic Healthcare Programs (post-acute care analytics) and Innovative Product Achievements (surgical scrub dispensing). 

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Columbia City, IN-based supply chain software vendor Solstice Medical secures $2.5 million in funding, $1 million of that from a state investment program for potentially high-growth businesses.


Sales

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Greater Hudson Valley Health System (NY) chooses Strata Decision’s StrataJazz for complete financials.

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Baptist Health (FL) selects Explorys for analytics.

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Flagler Hospital (FL) chooses MModal for speech-driven clinical documentation.

Integrated Health Network (NJ) selects eClinicalWorks EHR and population health management for its 45 practices.

North Carolina Pediatric Associates will deploy NextGen Ambulatory EHR, PM, and patient portal.


People

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UPMC EVP/CIO Dan Drawbaugh will resign after 30 years with the health system to pursue unspecified other professional interests. SVP Ed McCallister will serve as interim CIO. Drawbaugh was one of the highest-paid non-profit CIOs in the country, earning $1.6 million in 2012.

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Emanuel Medical Center (GA) promotes David Flanders from CIO to COO.

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CMS names Kevin Counihan (Access Health CT) to the newly created position of CEO of Healthcare.gov. Connecticut’s exchange, built with minimal functionality to meet ambitious deadlines, was one of few state-developed exchanges that worked, to the point that other states with overly ambitious visions and questionable contractors asked it for help. Earlier this week, when asked if the federal government would benefit from Connecticut selling its services to other states, he said:

I think this idea about trying to keep things as efficient and cheap as possible, and simple as possible, has a lot of value whether it’s to a state or to the federal government. And, as I said, I just believe that this is about simplicity and ease in doing everything that either the states or the feds can do to make a complex purchasing decision easy as possible. If there’s opportunities within something that a state has, like Connecticut, I think the feds have to look at it.


Announcements and Implementations

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Philips introduces its Lifeline smartphone-based medical alert app for seniors. I didn’t realize that Framingham, MA-based Lifeline Systems was founded in 1972 by a Duke gerontologist on sabbatical, was bought by Philips in 2006 for $750 million, and is now the number one medical alert service with 7 million subscribers.

The NextGen Share HISP solution earns DTAAP and EHNAC accreditation.

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Caradigm will offer providers unlimited identity and access management for a single annual all-inclusive price that includes provisioning, single sign-on, and context management for an unlimited number of applications.

3M announces its Coding and Reimbursement System Plus (CRS+) coding system.

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Lincor launches an Android-based TV system MediaLINC for education, entertainment, and clinical content delivered to hospital beds via standard HD TV sets.

Imprivata introduces enhancements to Imprivata OneSign Secure Walk-Away that include advanced 3D camera technology, video tracking, and facial recognition.


Government and Politics

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The VA will open an RFP for a commercial patient scheduling system in September and will award a contract by the end of the year. VA CIO Stephen Warren says the agency will “acquire a commercial, off-the-shelf scheduling system,” but then oddly adds that it wants a system “tailored specifically for our Veterans.” (the VA always capitalizes “veteran” even though that’s incorrect).

A White House video profiles the first day at work of former Googler Mikey Dickerson, recently named the first administrator of the new US Digital Service under the White House CTO (the departing Todd Park is prominent in the video, sitting beside President Obama). Dickerson also helped revive Healthcare.gov. The government modeled the service after a similar UK one, but skeptics say a lack of clout will probably hamper this effort like it did a couple of previous open government initiatives that everyone has forgotten. Dickerson seems sufficiently nerdy, although working for the White House isn’t nearly as lucrative as banking Google stock options and DC is a very long way from the Silicon Valley. The President brags on camera about the small-team success with Healthcare.gov, not mentioning that its development was the exact opposite with pathetic CMS oversight, political meddling, and poor contracting practices — Todd Park wasn’t brought in until it blew up. It’s a fun video even if it propaganda for a White House program that probably will amount to very little (pardon the redundancy).

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A New York Times article exposes Medicare’s nursing home rating as irrelevant, where plush amenities and unaudited self-reported statistics earn high marks for clinically dangerous facilities that have figured out how to game the system. One five-star home was fined the maximum state penalty after a killing a patient in a medication error and despite having twice the average number of consumer complaints and a dozen lawsuits from patients and families. In that facility, residents are often housed three to a room, quality employees are in short supply, and basic supplies are scarce. According to one resident, “If I fell down, they’d pick me up, but that’s about it.” Two-thirds of the 50 homes on a federal watch list for quality still have four- or five-star ratings due to their self-reported staffing and quality numbers.

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Tuesday’s HITPC interoperability Workgroup Governance Subgroup suggests five problems (above) that ONC should address through policies or programs. Overall barriers for the quantity of information exchanged were named in responses (a) lack of a national provider directory; (b) inconsistent data sharing laws; (c) DirectTrust accreditation is not universal and is not inexpensive; (d) lack of a common trust bundle for HISPs; and (e) inconsistent data matching methods.

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Former FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach says the agency is holding back innovation by requiring too much red tape for conditional drug approval and by not recognizing the possible benefits of drugs combined with medical devices or diagnostic tests. He also advocates using EHR data along with specific molecular patient characteristics to streamline pre-market testing and post-market surveillance.


Innovation and Research


An Indiegogo campaign for The Defender rape defense system raises far more than its $100,000 goal. It sprays pepper spray, takes a photo of the assailant, connects with a 24-hour response center, and sets off an alarm and flashing light.

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Tennis ball boys at the US Open will wear Ralph Lauren’s Polo Tech Smart Shirt for testing as the company plans for a spring retail rollout. An accelerometer, gyroscope, and heart rate monitor are embedded in the shirt, with wires woven into the shirt’s fabric serving feeding them information.


Technology

MOVEO Foundation, which advocates for the use of virtual reality in surgical training, creates a video showing the use of the Facebook-owned Oculus Rift during surgery.

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Microsoft claims at a partner conference that several hundred customers have switched from Google Apps to Office 365, displaying a slide of 15 organizations that include University of Colorado Health. Google researched those 15 and found quite a bit of Microsoft inaccuracy, including its listing of UC Health, which had never been a paid Google Apps user. University of Colorado Boulder uses Google Apps exclusively for students and is considering moving faculty to it. I’ll say this: I use Gmail and hate it and the entire Google Apps suite, vastly preferring Office 365 to Google’s ugly, quirky, minimally maintained, and unreliable apps. I use Gmail mostly to read other hosted email accounts, so I should probably just move to Outlook since it now appears to have a web client that doesn’t require a locally maintained Exchange server.


Other

Ice Bucket Challenges have jumped the shark, but are still fun to watch when it’s someone you know. Here is Matt Hawkins of Sunquest, calling out Tee Green of Greenway Health to ice up (or is that ice down?)

Health Affairs offers a short-term solution for the seemingly random pricing of the same test and procedure at different hospitals: cap payments at 125 percent of the price Medicare pays since that price is already adjusted by local cost of living. Then, they say it’s time to dump the AMA-supervised committee (RUC) of mostly specialists who set Medicare prices, which not surprisingly recommends paying more for procedures like they perform and less for primary care and prevention. Not many industries would let a trade group set government-paid prices.

A security expert analyzing the healthcare breaches such as that experienced by Community Health Systems says the suspected China-based group seems to be most interested in stealing oncology data, either to create knockoff chemo drugs or to try to address China’s cancer problems. Patients have already started filing class action lawsuits against the chain. Meanwhile, in more of an old-school breach, ProPublica uncovers the illegally hushed and still-unreported case in which an unvetted Chinese national was hired in 2007 to work in the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center and is believed to have returned to Beijing that year with the personal information of 5 million Arizona drivers. Lastly (for today anyway) the Chinese government announces plans to develop an operating system to eventually replace Windows, Android, and iOS.

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The information of 595 patients of Steward-owned St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center (MA) is exposed when the personal laptop and thumb drive of a formerly employed physician are stolen from his home. Hospital policy prohibits storing PHI on personal devices. Neither were encrypted.

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Greenville Health System (SC) will issue $91 million in bonds, with the proceeds partially used to pay $97 million in Epic implementation costs.

A New Jersey paper describes how for-profit hospital operators turn facilities around (note that IT isn’t on their list, for-profit hospitals being minimally interested in technology outside of the billing area in my experience):

  • Buy struggling or bankrupt hospitals cheap.
  • Hire well-connected political influencers to get the deal approved.
  • Sell the property to investors and lease it back.
  • Lay off employees, cut staffing, and use more per-diem workers, especially if buying a bankrupt hospital where union contracts can be renegotiated.
  • Squeeze vendors using corporate leverage.
  • Streamline and standardize care to get patients out the door faster.
  • Cut executive positions and salaries.
  • Improve billing and collections.

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Fitness tracker Jawbone collects the sleep tracking data of its users (Quantified Someone Else?) and creates this analysis of the Napa earthquake, in which it could even tell how many users were awakened by tremors and didn’t go back to sleep that night. They could probably perform some interesting sexual metrics.

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I was thinking about this on a plane recently when the guy in front of me kneecapped me by reclining his seat hard even before takeoff. An altercation between two United passengers forces the flight to divert for an unscheduled landing at O’Hare when a male passenger uses the banned Knee Defender gadget to block the seat in front of him from reclining so he can use his laptop, causing the angry woman in the seat to throw water on him. The irony is that both passengers were in extra-room seats. I can’t blame the guy – I’ve had my laptop screen jammed and nearly broken when the person in front of me decided to recline, which squeezed the laptop under the tray table latch.


Sponsor Updates

  • Nuance announces that users of its PowerShare Network have shared 3 billion medical images, with the number growing 30 percent per year.
  • PerfectServe announces the formation of its customer advisory panel.
  • Also making the Inc. 5000 list run here earlier is Direct Recruiters, Inc.
  • Wellcentive releases its 2014 PQRS application.
  • The World Economic Forum announces the selection of Health Catalyst as one of 24 global Technology Pioneers.
  • Versus discusses the hospital’s responsibility to prevent violence against healthcare workers.
  • Administrative Eyecare Magazine features Versus Technology client Key-Whitman Eye Center for its use of RTLS to increase patient volume while reducing wait times.
  • The Advisory Board Company recognizes four healthcare organizations for RCM improvements up to $8.2 million.
  • CareTech Solutions presents a case study titled “Maximize Uptime with Stretched Clusters” at VMworld 2014 this week in San Francisco.
  • Beacon Partners offers seven ways organizations can protect themselves against hackers.

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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August 26, 2014 News 10 Comments

Morning Headlines 8/26/14

August 25, 2014 Headlines No Comments

Assessing The Financial Impact Of 4.5 Million Stolen Health Records

Forbes looks back on prior data breaches to calculate the likely true cost that Community Health System will incur as a result of its recent 4.5 million-record data breach, pegging the total cost at between $75 million and $150 million.

No proof deaths caused by delay in care, VA says

After completing its assessment of scheduling improprieties at the Phoenix VA Health System, a VA inspector general’s report concludes that there is no evidence that the unethical delays in care directly contributed to preventable veterans deaths.

EMR Market Share by the Numbers: The Cerner/Siemens Acquisition, Part I

In the first of a two-part piece, KLAS covers the Cerner/Siemens acquisition and what it might mean for Cerner’s market share in the years ahead.

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August 25, 2014 Headlines No Comments

Curbside Consult with Dr. Jayne 8/25/14

August 25, 2014 Dr. Jayne 6 Comments

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I usually start my day with a bagel and the local news, courtesy of a newspaper website. Once I catch up on homefront happenings (the comments are usually more entertaining than the articles they accompany) I hit a couple of national websites.

In the course of my usual surfing, I came across a link to “The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection.” I was able to find a couple of reviews and it looks like it will probably be one of my next reads.

Author Michael Harris looks at people born before 1985, namely because they “know what life is like both with the Internet and without.” For non-IT professionals and the general consumer base, I’d broaden that to include those that experienced life BC and AC: before computers and after.

I enjoy history, but never thought of myself as having lived through a major transformation. Don’t get me wrong — there have been many sociopolitical changes in the last few decades, but I missed out on the moon landing and other key “tech” touchstones.

I remember thinking some years ago about my great grandfather (who was born in the late 1800s and died in his 90s) and all he had seen in his life: from the Wright Brothers to the Concorde, and from Sputnik to space stations. He also saw the progression from the crank-powered phone to the cell phone and many other advances. At the time I thought of how cool that would be – to see that kind of change – and I also remember thinking that technology had come so far that I couldn’t fathom something that revolutionary.

Back then, broadband Internet was available, but it wasn’t a fixture in peoples’ daily lives like it is now. There was no Facebook, no Twitter, no cell phones in every person’s pocket. The iPod had barely been invented and it was for music only. We didn’t know we were on the cusp of an information revolution.

I was talking about this idea with a friend of mine over lunch yesterday. She has kids in middle and high school and was joking about the classic “back in my day, we rode dinosaurs to school uphill both ways” sayings she finds herself throwing at them. We talked about when we were exposed to our first computers (Commodore 64, anyone? TI-99? Apple II?) and what kids of today would think if they saw them in action compared to the smartphone firepower in everyone’s pockets. It used to be a major undertaking to put a computer lab in a school and now it’s expected.

Still, there are completely different sets of issues that today’s kids are dealing with involving technology and its appropriate use or lack thereof. At my friend’s local school, some teachers demand that students use technology in the classrooms and others ban it. I can only assume that the pre/post Internet generation gap might have something to do with it.

In thinking about my physicians who complain about the EHR, I don’t see a clear line age-wise. At least in our group, some of the older physicians tend to be more forgiving of the software’s shortcomings, perhaps because they expect less than the more tech-savvy physicians who tend to be younger. It would be interesting to do some actual research on their attitudes and opinions regarding technology in general as well as the EHR, but I’m not likely to find the time (or funding) to do something like that anytime soon.

One of the other concepts the book addresses is how people now use technology to quantify their self worth. I know the HIStalk team enjoys seeing how many Facebook friends, LinkedIn connections, and Twitter followers we have, but we don’t let it drive who we are.

I’ve seen multiple discussions on physician forums looking at teenagers who have significant psychological issues that stem from interactions with social media. One might infer that those of us in the “before” column had established our own sense of self independently of that kind of input, where those in the “after” column “lose the ability to decide for ourselves what we think about who we are,” according to the review’s interview with Harris.

I mentioned my own run-in with the “quantified self” after my running GPS was waterlogged. Being able to translate subjective experiences such as daily activities into actionable numbers is a powerful thing. It’s made a tremendous difference in my health and well-being, but I can see how data points might be overwhelming or discouraging to some. I can’t run a half marathon as fast as I could three years ago, but I can chalk that up to a bad knee and an uncooperative training schedule rather than letting it get me down.

Harris ends up taking a month off from the Internet while writing the book. Most of us could never do that for occupational reasons, but I like the idea of the challenge. As a physician, I frequently ask patients to limit “screen time” for their children. For many adults, it might be time to do the same. A quick search of ICD-10 codes fails to reveal much Internet-specific pathology, but we’ll have to see what ICD-11 brings.

Who’s with me for some time off the ‘net? Email me.

Email Dr. Jayne.

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August 25, 2014 Dr. Jayne 6 Comments

Morning Headlines 8/25/14

August 24, 2014 Headlines No Comments

U.S. CTO stepping down

Todd Park steps down as US CTO after two-and-a-half years in the position and will transfer to a new White House staff position where he will lead a team responsible for recruiting technology leaders from Silicon Valley to work on government projects.

Usability and Impact of a Computerized Clinical Decision Support Intervention

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Health System test CDS alerts designed to boost timely urinary catheter removals and found that customized CDS alerts are far more effective, and result in more significant improvements to patient outcomes, than basic CDS alerts provided by EHR vendors.

Oregon: State Sues Over Health Website

Oregon files its anticipated lawsuit against Oracle over the state’s failed health insurance exchange website, which Oracle was contracted to develop and deploy.

Patient Portals. Patient Engagement: The Holy Grail of Meaningful Use

Peer60 publishes a report that trends patient portal engagement rates by hospital size, patient portal vendor, and local population sizes.

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August 24, 2014 Headlines No Comments

Monday Morning Update 8/25/14

August 23, 2014 News 9 Comments

Top News

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Todd Park will reportedly step down as US CTO but will remain a White House employee, moving back to the Silicon Valley to work on brokering relationships between technology companies and the federal government.


Reader Comments

From HIEway Robbery: “Re: HIEs holding registries hostage per Carl Dvorak’s testimony to ONC. Several CIOs have told me that HIEs have been allowed to use state-based immunization and public health registries to as a leverage point under Meaningful Use, forcing their health systems to join the HIE for up to several hundred thousand dollars.” Hospital IT people, please let me know if you’ve had such pressure applied. I promise to keep your details confidential, but I’d like to know the registry, state, and price quoted for HIE access. ONC needs to know that the generally noble idea of connecting to public health agencies as part of MU2 is being milked as a profit center by revenue-desperate HIEs if that’s the case. I’ve heard that one health system had to pay $700K to an HIE just to access the state’s immunization registry.

From Surveyor: “Re: Modern Healthcare’s top employers and Inc. 5000. These lists are a joke and your running the results is questionable.” I only mentioned in the Sponsor Updates which sponsors won. I don’t think the lists are a joke, but publications give awards to sell magazines and generate ad revenue, no different than those full-page airline magazine ads for “best steakhouses” or “best plastic surgeons.” Which means: don’t take them too seriously either as a reader or a winner. Let’s take a look at those two awards based on what I could find online. Readers with more information are welcome to chime in.

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Modern Healthcare’s Best Places to Work

  • Participation is free, but companies are offered a detailed employee feedback report that isn’t (the price, however, is modest).
  • Information is self reported and not verified by the magazine.
  • The survey asks for the voluntary employee turnover percentage, but it’s not clear how that number fits into the rankings even though it’s arguably the best way to assess employee satisfaction.
  • A random number of company employees are surveyed directly using an adequate sample size from the entire employee database. The survey company was created specifically to conduct “Best Places to Work” programs across all industries and is a division of a publishing company.
  • My grade of the methodology: B+. The employee survey portion seems sound and is of sufficient depth, but online survey of company programs and benefits is self reported and apparently unaudited (but the company HR people who respond aren’t likely to game the system to win). I’d like to see the voluntary turnover number reported in the profile of the winners. I think the winners are probably doing a good job in how they manage their employees, but it’s easy to forget that most companies don’t participate. It’s not quite perfect, but as good as can be expected from a voluntary survey type program designed to simultaneously stroke the egos of winners and the magazine.

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Inc. 500/5000 list of fastest-growing private companies

  • Information is self reported and not verified by the magazine.
  • Companies send in 2013 gross revenue vs. 2010 gross revenue and basic demographic information only.
  • Applicants have their short entry form signed by any CPA, financial analyst, or attorney. No proof of the claimed revenue numbers is required.
  • Companies could be losing a ton of money and still make the list as long as their gross revenue increased in the previous three years. Privately held companies aren’t going to disclose profits, so the magazine has to go with revenue alone.
  • Companies have to pay $150 to submit their information. The magazine pitches the exposure they’ll get as a result. They don’t indicate the number of applications received, but the 5,000 winners alone would generate 5,000 x $150 = $750,000 for very little work on Inc.’s part since they don’t verify the submitted information – they basically plug it into an Excel worksheet, sort by revenue growth percentage, filter by industry and a few other factors, and call it done.
  • My grade of the methodology: F. The entire premise of the award – that revenue growth is the single best measure of company success – is suspect enough, but choosing winners from fee-based unaudited company submissions is lazy. Winners aren’t necessarily even the fastest growing companies – only the fastest growing of those that dash off the quick information form and mail in their $150. I wouldn’t dock a company points for trying to generate some easy PR in return for an investment of $150 and the five minutes it takes to complete the application form, but I also wouldn’t necessarily think more highly of the winners, especially noticing that some of the highly-ranked companies have only an employee or two. I like seeing fast-growing companies, but I wouldn’t buy shares of a publicly traded company’s stock based on a one-time snapshot of unaudited revenue growth. 

 

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From The PACS Designer: “Re: iPad vs. Android L. The iPad monopoly may start to start to shrink with the Android L, scheduled for release in late October with a true 64-bit system.” I would argue that the iPad doesn’t have a monopoly even now, representing less than a third of tablets sold in Q1 2014. Samsung is gaining ground quickly and Lenovo is coming on strong in the past year, although tablet sales seem to be hitting the wall anyway since there’s not much incentive for people to trade up.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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Nearly two-thirds of poll respondents thing Cerner is getting a good deal in buying the Siemens healthcare IT business for $1.3 billion. New poll to your right or here, for health system IT employees: is your organization taking new security steps in reaction to the Community Health Systems breach? I would be interested in hearing more … click the Comments link after voting.

Listening: new from SOJA (Soldiers of Jah Army), an eight-piece DC-based reggae band.  It’s not my favorite genre, but I like this since it sounds more like decent pop music instead of formulaic noodling by ganja-stupefied Rastafarians.


Last Week’s Most Interesting News

  • Chinese hackers steal the data of 4.5 million Community Health Systems patients, most likely enabled by outdated network software as vendors responded slowly to address the Heartbleed exploit after it was announced in late spring.
  • Oracle’s lawsuit against the state of Oregon says state officials should have hired a systems integrator to oversee the creation of its failed health insurance exchange, comparing Oregon’s project to an inexperienced company deciding to build a skyscraper without hiring an architect. The failed rollout of Healthcare.gov has been similarly attributed to CMS’s attempt to serve as its own project overseer.
  • CMS statistics show that few providers (and thus few vendors) are clearing the Meaningful Use Stage 2 hurdle, with the early trend suggesting that practice-based users appear to be moving from smaller vendors to Epic, Cerner, athenahealth, eClinicalWorks, and Aprima.
  • A New York Times article says CMS’s Medicare fraud prevention efforts are expensive and ineffective due to its poor management of private recovery audit contractors and the bogged down provider appeals process.
  • The private equity owners of revenue cycle vendor TriZetto are rumored to be shopping the company at a price of $3 billion.

Webinars

August 27 (Wednesday) 1:00 p.m. ET. Enterprise Data – Tapping Your Most Critical Asset for Survival. Presented by Encore, A Quintiles Company. Presenters: Jonathan Velez, MD, FACEP, CMIO, Hartford Healthcare; Randy Thomas, Associate Partner, Encore, A Quintiles Company. This first of a webinar series called “It’s All About the Data” will describe the capabilities provider organizations need to become data driven. The presenters will provide an overview of the critical role of an enterprise data strategy, creating the right data from source systems beginning with implementation, real-world data governance, how to avoid “boiling the ocean” with an enterprise data warehouse, and the role of performance feedback to transform analytics insights into improved outcomes and efficiencies.

September 4 (Thursday) 2:00 p.m. ET. MU2 Veterans Speak Out: Implementing Direct Secure Messaging for Success. Presented by DataMotion. Moderator: Mr. HIStalk. Panelists: Darby Buroker, executive director of health information exchange, Steward Health Care; Anne Lara, EdD, RN, CIO, Union Hospital of Cecil County, MD; Andy Nieto, health IT strategist, DataMotion; Mat Osmanski, senior application analyst, Steward Health Care; Bill Winn, PhD, Meaningful Use service line executive, Navin, Haffty & Associates. Panelists will discuss the strategy and tactics of meeting the transitions of care requirements for MU2, including assembling the team, implementing Direct Secure Messaging, getting providers on board, and reporting results.  

September 11 (Thursday) 1:00 p.m.ET. Electronic Health Record Divorce Rates on the Rise — The Four Factors that Predict Long-term Success. Presented by The Breakaway Group, A Xerox Company. Presenters: Heather Haugen, PhD, CEO and managing director, The Breakaway Group, A Xerox Company; Bill Rieger, CIO, Flagler Hospital, St. Augustine, FL. Many users are considering divorcing their EHR as dissatisfaction increases. Many are spending 90 percent of their time and resources on the wedding  (the go-live) instead of the long-term commitment to new workflows, communication, education, and care outcomes (the marriage). Hear more about the findings of research published in “Beyond Implementation: A Prescription for Lasting EMR Adoption” about EHR adoption and success factors.  Registrants get a free electronic or paper copy of the book.


Announcements and Implementations

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The Albuquerque business paper profiles Seamless Medical Systems, which will release SNAP Express RX on Monday. It’s an iPad-based patient self-history system for pharmacies (vaccines, immunizations, and medications). The company also says its SNAP Practice check-in system will be piloted at Houston Methodist Hospital starting in October.


Government and Politics

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The state of Oregon finally files the lawsuit it has been threatening against Oracle, saying it paid Oracle $240 million to build the dysfunctional Cover Oregon health insurance exchange site. The Associated Press named the spectacular failure of Cover Oregon, which will be shut down, as the state’s top news story in 2013:

Once considered a national healthcare leader, Oregon produced the worst rollout in the nation of the new national health insurance program. While the crippled federal website eventually got up and walked, Oregon’s remained comatose, unable to enroll a single person online. The state had to resort to hiring 400 people to process paper applications. Officials lay much of the blame on the primary information technology contractor, Oracle Corp., and withheld some $20 million in payments. But state officials’ own actions played a role, too. In the face of disaster, they insisted on doing things The Oregon Way, clinging to a grandiose vision of creating a grand health IT system that would not only enroll new people in the national health insurance program, but also provide other vital services.

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The personal information of 25,000 Homeland Security employees is compromised when hackers penetrate the systems of a federal contractor that performs security clearance. The contractor, USIS, says the cyberattack appears to be the work of an unnamed country’s government.

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For-profit hospital operator Steward Health Care System (owned by a private equity firm) and The Boston Globe engage in legal wrangling over the hospital’s use of a patient’s medical records. The newspaper is running an in-depth feature about the man’s experience with the mental health system that Steward expects to be uncomplimentary to its hospitals, so it filed a lawsuit asking to be able to publicize the man’s records to tell its side of the story. The court said no. All of this happened before the article ran in Sunday morning’s paper and it appears that Steward’s heavy-handed actions were premature – the article touches little on the patient’s experiences at the chain’s Quincy Medical Center and Norwood Hospital and focuses more on the challenge of fitting mentally ill people into society so they can’t harm themselves and others.


Innovation and Research

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Wired profiles Enlitic, a just-announced startup that will use deep learning algorithms to diagnose medical conditions. Data scientist founder Jeremy Howard says the company’s approach is different from that of IBM, which tries to teach Watson by feeding it textbooks that contain information that doctors already know vs. giving the computer raw data and letting it figure out the patterns that represent new knowledge. I’m not sure doctors need as much help diagnosing patients as computer people tend to think, but at least a small percentage of patient conditions are baffling.


Other

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Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (CA) reports exposure of the information of at least 500 patients following the theft of a laptop from an employee’s home. The hospital says the device was not encrypted per hospital policy because of an installation mistake. The description of the employee’s job suggests that he or she has IT responsibilities since it includes “troubleshooting software used for clinical laboratory reporting” and requiring off-hours availability.

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A peer60 report on patient portals finds that the most implemented are from Cerner and Epic, while those most often being considered by the 10 percent of providers who don’t have one are Cerner, Medfusion, Meditech, Epic, eClinicalWorks, and Medhost. Generally deficient functionality includes meeting the needs of specialists, EHR integration, appointment scheduling, streamlined enrollment, bill pay, and  managing the information of patients under 18. It concludes that health systems can hit the 10 percent engagement threshold required by Meaningful Use Stage 2.

Jonathan Bush’s 1990s business idea as described in his book finally happens: EMTs are providing primary care services in the home instead of just giving 911 callers expensive rides to the ED for non-emergent issues. It’s a smart idea: the supply of relatively easily trained EMTs and paramedics exceeds the available jobs (often in fire departments) and most people would prefer being evaluated and treated at home, especially if the EMR/paramedic was in touch with a doctor via telemedicine as needed.

A University of Pennsylvania Health System study finds that urinary catheters were removed more promptly (presumably reducing the chance of urinary tract infections) when EHR provider reminders were replaced with an integrated homegrown alert that required fewer clicks to generate the DC order.

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Interesting: improved guidelines and more widespread use of less invasive surgical procedures have reduced blood transfusions by a third and blood profits by 70 percent in the last five years. The Red Cross takes in nearly $2 billion of its $3 billion annual budget from selling blood and employs 17,000 of its 26,500 employees in its blood program, requiring layoffs and expense cutting. People don’t realize that their thoughtful blood donations are sold to hospitals for hundreds of dollars per unit, sometimes by for-profit blood centers that don’t exactly broadcast that fact, one more aspect of healthcare that doesn’t seem like it should be a business but very much is one.

An investigation of the corporate support services department of Health and Hospitals Corporation of New York finds that officials contracted with friends and neighbors for no-work temporary jobs and hired unqualified but connected employees. In one case, a supervisor who was also a minister performed a wedding in his office during work hours.


Memorial Hermann Southeast (TX) fires an employee after someone complains to it about a racist comment she posted on her personal Facebook, on which she doesn’t identify herself as a hospital employee. The hospital announced the employee’s firing on Twitter, ironically. According to a legal analyst, “People have the right of free speech, but employers can fire you for whatever they want in the state of Texas.”


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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August 23, 2014 News 9 Comments

Morning Headlines 8/22/14

August 21, 2014 News No Comments

FBI warns healthcare firms they are targeted by hackers

The FBI issues an alert to the healthcare industry that hackers are targeting them following their breach of Community Health Systems.

Oracle Calls State’s Health Exchange Planning Akin To Building ‘A Skyscraper With No Architect’

Oracle blames Oregon officials for not hiring a systems integrator for developing its health insurance exchange.

AliveCor Receives First FDA Clearance to Detect a Serious Heart Condition in an ECG on a Mobile Device

The free app, which requires a $199 sensor, monitors ECG activity to detect atrial fibrillation.

HealthQuest Capital raises $110M for healthcare investments

The investment group plans to invest in medical devices, diagnostics, and healthcare IT.

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August 21, 2014 News No Comments

News 8/22/14

August 21, 2014 News 10 Comments

Top News

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The China-based hackers who stole the information of 4.5 million patients of Community Health Systems used the Heartbleed exploit for access, the first major cyberattack to do so since Heartbleed received major world attention in April 2014.  Community Health Systems provides employee VPN access using networking equipment from Juniper Networks, which along with other networking vendors was slow to update its products in response to Heartbleed. The hackers were able to log in as employees in the weeks after Heartbleed was announced and before vendors updated their software. There’s a lesson to be learned: watch for unusual behavior from user accounts and certainly for huge data files being sent outbound. Meanwhile, the FBI issues a flash alert to healthcare firms, warning that that they’re being targeted by hackers.


Reader Comments

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From Former SMSer: “Re: former Shared Medical Systems employees. A members-only Facebook group was started on August 15 and has 1,200 members. It is special to have so many warm personal connections 14 years after the Siemens acquisition.”

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From Eek How? “Re: Ekahau. Let its president go and the VP of marketing walked out. The company has gone from 119 employees to fewer than 45 in the past year. WiFi-based RTLS still disappoints hospitals.” Unverified, but former CEO Mark Norris has updated his LinkedIn profile to indicate his immediate availability.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

This week on HIStalk Practice: Micky Tripathi digs deep into data on the EHR replacement market. Industry representatives weigh in on Walmart’s foray into primary care. Newt Gingrich makes the case for integrating mobile health tools into care for veterans. Greenway Health and Apple are granted patents, though for decidedly different innovations. A physician in Alaska gets creative when attempting to opt out of Meaningful Use. Azalea Health CEO Baha Zeiden dishes on the simplifyMD acquisition and the role of telemedicine in rural communities like his. Thanks for reading.

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I talked today with the brilliant and articulate Dim-Sum,  who knows everything about the Department of Defense and its impending choice of EHR vendors for its $11 billion EHR project. He graciously agreed (probably while grimacing at the arm-twisting Lorre and I were applying) to host one or more webinars on the topic. Mark your calendar for September 18 at mid-day for the first one, in which Dim-Sum will describe the DoD’s healthcare reach, current systems, relationships with contractors and other government agencies, and selection process. The webinars will be fun, slightly cynical, and highly educational to those of us who don’t really understand military health, as well as crucial to those with a vested interest in what will be one of the largest and most expensive government IT projects in the world.

Also in September: the virtual launch of Ed Marx’s upcoming book, “Extraordinary Tales of a Rather Ordinary Life.”

I’m always interested in hearing from providers who would like to be interviewed, write guest articles, or otherwise participate in HIStalk. Let me know if you are willing. I get plenty of volunteerism from vendor people, but not much from those working on the provider side. 


Upcoming Webinars

August 27 (Wednesday) 1:00 p.m. ET. Enterprise Data – Tapping Your Most Critical Asset for Survival. Presented by Encore, A Quintiles Company. Presenters: Jonathan Velez, MD, FACEP, CMIO, Hartford Healthcare; Randy Thomas, Associate Partner, Encore, A Quintiles Company. This first of a webinar series called “It’s All About the Data” will describe the capabilities provider organizations need to become data driven. The presenters will provide an overview of the critical role of an enterprise data strategy, creating the right data from source systems beginning with implementation, real-world data governance, how to avoid “boiling the ocean” with an enterprise data warehouse, and the role of performance feedback to transform analytics insights into improved outcomes and efficiencies.

September 4 (Thursday) 2:00 p.m. ET. MU2 Veterans Speak Out: Implementing Direct Secure Messaging for Success. Presented by DataMotion. Moderator: Mr. HIStalk. Panelists: Darby Buroker, executive director of health information exchange, Steward Health Care; Anne Lara, EdD, RN, CIO, Union Hospital of Cecil County, MD; Andy Nieto, health IT strategist, DataMotion; Mat Osmanski, senior application analyst, Steward Health Care; Bill Winn, PhD, Meaningful Use service line executive, Navin, Haffty & Associates. Panelists will discuss the strategy and tactics of meeting the transitions of care requirements for MU2, including assembling the team, implementing Direct Secure Messaging, getting providers on board, and reporting results.  


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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HealthPrize Technologies, which offers a medication adherence app, raises $3 million in its first institutional financing. Co-founder Tom Kottler’s first startup was MedAptus.  

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HealthQuest Capital raises a $110 million fund to invest in medical devices, diagnostics, and healthcare IT.

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Aging services technology vendor Healthsense, which offers a remote monitoring system for chronic diseases, adds a $10 million funding round.

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Vocera shares touched a 52-week low this week, closing Thursday at $8.48 and valuing the company at $216 million. Above is the one-year price of VCRA shares (blue) and the Dow (blue).


Sales

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Saint Agnes Hospital (MD) chooses clinical alerting and secure texting solutions from Spok, also upgrading its hospital call center suite.

Baylor Scott & White Health chooses the Allscripts dbMotion HIE platform.

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Baystate Health (MA) selects Premier’s PremierConnect Enterprise to support development of solutions within its Health Informatics & Technology Innovation Center, a co-working space and late-stage accelerator.

The Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin network chooses the analytics platform of Explorys.

Atlanta Gastroenterology Associates chooses Greenway PrimeSUITE EHR/PM.


People

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Surescripts names Tom Skelton (Foundation Radiology Group) CEO.


Announcements and Implementations

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PerfectServe opens an Atlanta office.

Forbes names Cerner to its list of the world’s most innovative large, publicly traded companies. Salesforce.com came in #1, and other familiar companies joining Cerner in the top 30 are Amazon, VMware, Red Hat, Stericycle, and Express Scripts. The ranking is derived from the somewhat questionable metric “Innovation Premium,” representing the degree that share price exceeds current business value.

SAS and 39-hospital Dignity Health (CA) will create a big data platform to reduce readmissions, create best practices for CHF and sepsis, and manage drug costs.

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Greenway Health receives a patent for the function of automatically aligning billing codes with payer- and location-specific fee schedules.

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AliveCor receives FDA clearance for its atrial fibrillation detection app that monitors ECG in real time and allows the user to email, print, and analyze their single-channel ECG records. The app is free, but the monitoring hardware costs $199.

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UltraLinq’s cloud-based image management solutions will be available through athenahealth’s No More Disruption Please program.


Government and Politics

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Oracle, in its lawsuit against the state of Oregon for not paying the company for its work on the state’s failed healthcare insurance exchange, says the state should have hired a systems integrator instead of trying to run the project itself. CMS made the mistake in trying to run the Healthcare.gov project without outside help.

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CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner didn’t just accidentally delete Healthcare.gov-related internal emails as she claimed, although this request pertains to a largely dull conversation about training telephone reps handling manual insurance sign-ups after Healthcare.gov failed. 

The FDA releases an API to allow programmers to access its MAUDE medical device problem database.


Other

Cerner CEO Neal Patterson not only dumps ice water over his head, he issues an Ice Bucket Challenge of his own to John Glaser, CEO of the Siemens health IT business that Cerner is acquiring. Glaser accepted the challenge.

As simultaneously cute and annoying as the virally spread ice bucket challenge videos are, this one is worth watching if you really want to understand the non-entertaining aspects of the disease as one of its sufferers takes the challenge and then explains how ALS affects him.

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Jamie Stockton of Wells Fargo Securities provides updated slicing and dicing of CMS hospital attestation data through June 30. The significant Stage 1 vendors are (in order) Meditech, Epic, Cerner, CPSI, McKesson, and Medhost. Of the 10 hospitals that have attested for Stage 2, Cerner has four, Meditech and CPSI have two each, and Medhost and Allscripts have one each. Top vendors of the EHRs used by the 977 physicians who have attested for Stage 2 are, in order, athenahealth, Epic, and Practice Fusion, who have 97 percent of the Stage 2 attestations among them.

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Economist Uwe Reinhardt writes a brilliant and remarkably compact criticism of the bizarre payment system of US healthcare. A tiny sample:

For starters, we allow our providers of health care – doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and other providers—to use classic price discrimination in the markets for their products and services. That tactic helps sellers to extract from buyers with different abilities or willingness to pay as much total revenue as can possibly be extracted from the buyers collectively … Altogether, the highly complicated cash flow resulting from this strange system of financing, flowing through so a myriad of capillaries, makes it almost impossible to hold any providers formally accountable for all of the moneys they receive. Somehow this rickety Rube Goldberg contraption of financing health care has worked in some fashion in this country, for over half a century. Many hospitals have thrived financially under it, while hospitals located in mainly low-income areas have struggled or gone under. And as a series of journalists—most recently Steve Brill in “The Bitter Pill”—have reported, this system also has put brutal financial stress on the budgets of many American households.

Aaron Carroll, MD, MS, a medical school professor and contributor to “The Incidental Economist,” explains why doctors have plenty of data problems without having to deal with patients sending them their fitness tracker information.

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The Columbus business paper profiles CoverMyMeds, which is doubling in size every year while remaining profitable as a bootstrapped company.


Apple CEO Tim Cook visited the VA hospital in Palo Alto, CA, tweeting a photo from the facility that is using iPads.

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Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative President and CEO Micky Tripathi examines the EHR replacement market in an HIStalk Practice post:

  • The number of EHRs used to attest has dropped considerably from MU Stage 1 to Stage 2.
  • Customers are switching from smaller vendors to the benefit of Epic, Cerner, athenahealth, eClinicalWorks, and Aprima.
  • Athenahealth and eClinicalWorks are losing customers to Epic.
  • Allscripts lost more customers than anyone, most likely because of its retirement of MyWay, which boosted Aprima’s customer base.
  • Epic, Greenway, and athenahealth are the EHR vendors most acceptable both to larger practices as well as hospitals given their maturity,support, and product stability.

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Burke Mamlin, MD of Regenstrief Institute pens a letter in response to the Indianapolis newspaper’s article on medical scribes, recommending caution since physicians don’t always review scribe EHR entries until after the fact, they don’t see clinical decision support recommendations, and they become dependent on the scribe. The letter describes Regenstrief’s vision:

Rather than using a scribe to reduce the computer’s role in the exam room, we envision the medical scribe’s role to increase the computer’s role. By using the scribe as a “Wizard of Oz” replacement for the keyboard and mouse, the computer can become an intelligent, anticipatory and active participant in the conversation between patient and physician. Physicians can become super-users as they learn from watching the scribe, there is less chance for errors when the physician is actively monitoring input, and benefits of real-time decision support will not be lost.

Weird News Andy finds this article interesting in that not only have an estimated 90 percent of hospitals and clinics lost patient data, the black market pays $50 per stolen medical record vs. just $1 for credit card information.


Sponsor Updates

  • Craneware will hold its first Revenue Integrity Summit October 14-16 in Las Vegas.
  • HCS participates in LeadingAge Center for Aging Services Technologies (CAST) EHR 2014 Selection Portfolio.
  • Ingenious Med employees complete their third annual 100-day team-centric Thrive Challenge.
  • Andrew Borland, Wellcentive’s director of architecture and research, is interviewed on Atlanta Business Radio.
  • The SSI Group adds contract management to its RCM offerings.
  • Aspen Advisors, Clinovations, CoverMyMeds, CTG Health Solutions, Cumberland Consulting Group, Encore Health Resources, Hayes Management Consulting, Health Catalyst, Iatric Systems, Impact Advisors, Imprivata, Intelligent InSites, Nordic, Santa Rosa Consulting, and The Advisory Board Company are named on Modern Healthcare’s 2014 Best Places to Work in Healthcare list.
  • Besler Consulting, Clinovations, CompuGroup Technologies, Cornerstone Advisors, CoverMyMeds, CSI, Cumberland Consulting Group, Divurgent, eClinicalWorks, ESD, Etransmedia Technology, Forward Health Group, GetWellNetwork, Health Catalyst, Health Care Software, Healthcare Data Solutions, Impact Advisors, Imprivata, Informatica, Ingenious Med, Patientco, pMD, Santa Rosa Consulting, SRSsoft, Strata Decision Technology, HCI Group, and Wellcentive are named on the Inc. 5000 Fast Growing-Growing Companies 2014 list.

EPtalk by Dr. Jayne

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One of my CMIO duties is to periodically review the patient care protocols in our EHR and recommend updates and additions. Evidence-based guidelines have been a part of our organization for almost two decades, but they’re constantly evolving. I like to do a comprehensive review every year, but there are always guidelines that change on the fly.

Occasionally, it seems like every day brings a new recommendation for screening or treatment. Some of the updates are relatively straightforward, but others can be quite controversial.

This year my review process took a twist. Our organization wants to start building financial information into our care protocols, including the cost and accessibility of various services according to the patient’s insurance coverage. Most payers are fairly transparent about what they do or don’t cover. Sometimes, however, the nuances between different plans offered by a given payer tends to make me a little crazy.

In addition, our state legislature has mandated coverage for certain services, but most of the laws were written to apply when patients enroll in a plan after the law goes into effect. For patients who are on older or existing plans, they may not be covered for the services until they change jobs or their employer changes plans or payers. We have some large regional employers who self-insure and somehow they seem to skirt some of the payment requirements as well.

Medicare has always been the steady player as far as knowing what will be covered and how. The payment guidelines are transparent and usually follow along with other federal guidelines. This year we have a bit of a wrinkle since the Medicare Evidence Development and Coverage Advisory Committee has decided not to cover CT screening for lung cancer, which is a “B” grade recommendation by the US Preventive Services Task Force. I read the commentary from their meeting and they cite the American Academy of Family Physicians, which feels the evidence is insufficient to recommend for or against the test.

This is where it gets really fun. In accordance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, marketplace insurance plans and many private plans are required to cover the screening with no out-of-pocket costs to the member. However, the law does not specifically state that Medicare is required to pay the full cost to Medicare beneficiaries. Instead of being able to do some relatively clean development around the USTSPF “A and B Recommendations” list,  we have to continue with the patchwork approach.

Quite a few guidelines have been revised for 2014 and more are under revision, so this project is definitely the gift that keeps on giving. I’ll be taking my recommendations to our clinical quality committee in the next week or so and then the development team can get to work. I’ll also be giving a report of my findings to our managed care negotiation team so we can try to leverage better coverage for the services we find most clinically appropriate.

Got guidelines? 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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August 21, 2014 News 10 Comments

Morning Headlines 8/21/14

August 20, 2014 News No Comments

US hospital hack ‘exploited Heartbleed flaw’

A cybersecurity firm claims that the theft of information on 4.5 million patients of Community Health Systems was performed using the Heartbleed exploit. The firm says CHS used network equipment from Juniper, which was slow to correct software vulnerabilities.

Cerner lands on Forbes’ most innovative companies list

Forbes names Cerner #22 on its list of large, publicly traded companies that invest in innovation.

SAS to build cloud-based big data analytics platform for Dignity Health

Analytics software vendor SAS will create a big data platform for Dignity Health to support care planning, value-based reimbursement, and outcomes and value performance analysis.

Wearable Intelligence is raising $8.4M for Google Glass for doctors

San Francisco-based Wearable Intelligence has raised $7.9 million of its goal of $8.4 million from investors that include Google Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz. Its Google Glass technology displays information from EHRs,clinical alerts, and real-time information from patient monitors.

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August 20, 2014 News No Comments

HIStalk Interviews Chris Longhurst, MD, MS, CMIO, Stanford Children’s Health

August 20, 2014 Interviews 9 Comments

Christopher Longhurst, MD is CMIO of Stanford Children’s Health, founding program director of the clinical informatics fellowship of Stanford University School of Medicine, and clinical associate professor of pediatrics and biomedical informatics at Stanford University School of Medicine of Palo Alto, CA.

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Tell me about yourself and your job.

I’m the chief medical information officer at Stanford Children’s Health. I have a faculty appointment in pediatrics and a courtesy appointment in biomedical informatics at the Stanford School of Medicine. I help to lead our clinical information technology and strategy for the health system as well as the academic fellows training program.

 

The new clinical informatics board certification allows physicians working in an informatics role to be grandfathered in for the first few years. Can you describe how you see that morphing into the requirement that applicants complete a clinical informatics fellowship and explain how your program is structured?

This started in 2011 when the American Board of Medical Specialties approved informatics as a board-eligible subspecialty. It’s a particularly unusual subspecialty because you can board in a subspecialty after training in any of the 24 primary specialties. Until 2017, people can grandfather in through extensive work experience and education, after which time the only way to be board eligible will be to have completed an accredited fellowship training program.

 

What is the audience that you anticipate will sign up for the fellowship?

When we opened the Stanford clinical informatics fellowship last year, we got dozens of applications. Some of those were from physicians with strong computer science backgrounds who wanted to write code and develop apps. While they have an important place in the ecosystem, that’s not what the fellowship program is looking for.

We’re recruiting physicians who are interested in driving improved healthcare delivery outcomes. We’re looking for people who are going to keep their eye on the ball in terms of where we’re headed and using informatics and IT as a tool to improve the delivery of the care that we provide. 

We’re really excited about our first two fellows, Lance Downing and Veena Goel, who are doing some amazing work and will be future healthcare leaders. In fact, the mission of the program, we decided, was not to train physicians to become informaticists, but to train the next generation of healthcare leaders in the skill of informatics.

 

Once the grandfather period is over, who will offer fellowships for those people working in an applied informatics CMIO role that isn’t research based but rather feet on the ground technology adoption?

There are 140 or so medical schools in the United States and 6,000 hospitals. If the fellowship programs are only at those academic medical centers with medical schools, we’re not going to train enough people for the next generation of healthcare leaders. I anticipate, though, that we will see training programs coming up at non-academic medical centers.

In fact, I think it’s important that that happens just as with other specialties. We have internal medicine programs at over 800 hospitals. I think we’ll see opportunities for training informaticists at many, many other healthcare settings.

What’s different between this and the master’s degree programs of the past is that these fellowship programs offer experiential training. It’s the opportunity to come in, be part of the office of the CMIO or other applied clinical informatics environments, and contribute in a meaningful way to real projects. I think that this type of experiential training complements the didactics, but is a critical piece for training our next generation.

 

The Institute of Medicine’s recent review of medical education questioned why it’s only offered in hospital settings. Why wouldn’t a public health setting for informatics training be equally desirable given the need for population health management?

As part of our fellowship program, we offer rotations not just at the two hospitals at Stanford, but also in the clinical research informatics group at Stanford medical school. We also offer elective rotations in the industry. Our fellows have the opportunity to spend a month at a large company like HP Labs, where they do healthcare analytics research, as well as at a small startup company, Doximity. We think that there are physicians who are going to be working in all sorts of settings and having those experiences is important.

We also have our fellows rotating through the Kaiser and Sutter healthcare systems, where they have an opportunity to see a large, integrated delivery network that’s not an academic medical center.

 

What subjects will be covered in the two-year fellowship?

We break it down as follows. We think that it’s important that our clinical informatics fellows maintain clinical activity. They’re expected to spend 20 percent of their time seeing patients. We’ve partnered with Bill Hersh and the Oregon Health & Science University distance learning program to provide didactic support, so we anticipate they spend another 20 percent of their time with the classwork. That leaves 60 percent of their time, which is a combination of these experiential rotations and unstructured time for scholarship and longitudinal projects.

 

The OHSU program is rigorous and you are adding additional elements to it. It will take some work to complete the fellowship.

[Laughs] Well, we expect that the fellows will be working hard, but we also think it’s going to be a really gratifying program to complete training.

 

What training are medical students receiving in practicing with an EHR and then performing data analysis for research or for population health management?

At most health systems, the training for medical students is pretty limited. They may get a little introduction to the electronic health record systems, but it’s generally focused on the front-end data input and review on single patients, not on population health. Dr. Bill Hersh just co-authored a publication suggesting new competencies for undergraduate medical student training in informatics. I think that we’ll see adoption of those concepts widely moving forward.

 

Everybody wants to get their specific area covered in medical school education, but it’s already a busy program even though informatics is in some ways as important a stethoscope or a scalpel. Do you think the 10×10 program is meeting that need now and will that change over time?

I think the AMIA 10×10 program has played a really important role in raising the bar on informaticists. Ten years ago, any consultant with experience in clinical information systems could declare themselves an expert. But having some formal classroom understanding of what’s happened in the last 50 years in this field and where the grand challenges lie is important for coming together as a field to attack those big problems.

 

You’ve done work with a “patients like mine” button idea where a doctor can quickly find similar patients to the one they’re seeing. Are you doing that or is it still a concept?

We have an exciting story that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2011. The story was about a 13-year-old girl with a known diagnosis of lupus who was admitted to our hospital with a flair in her lupus. One of my colleagues, Dr. Jenny Frankovich, asked a really important question, which was whether her lab findings made her at higher risk for clotting and whether we should consider prescribing anticoagulants for her.

Of course, we did what any good evidence-based clinicians would do and looked in the literature, but as in many special areas of pediatrics, there was no literature on teenagers with lupus and risk of clotting. We then asked our colleagues, and the first colleague we asked said absolutely you should anticoagulate. The next colleague we asked said absolutely not. We were left holding the bag with one of these clinical decisions that occurs every day across this nation, but has to be made in the absence of data.

My colleague Dr. Frankovich did something at this point which had not been done before. She used her IRB-approved access to a data warehouse to look at a holistic experience with teenagers with lupus at Stanford over the last five years. She found 100 similar patients, and on the day that we admitted this teenager, was able to determine that her lab findings put her at six- to seven-fold increased risk of clotting. Based on that, we made the decision to anticoagulate her. That was the experience that launched my interest in using aggregate electronic health record data for point-of-care decision making.

We just published in Health Affairs last month in the big data issue the concept of a green button. Just as a blue button is both a metaphorical and visual indication of patient’s abilities to download their own data, the idea behind the green button is that in the absence of good peer-reviewed evidence on a clinical decision, that you would be able to use the aggregate data in your electronic health record — or perhaps federated across multiple databases — to generate real-time, personalized comparative effectiveness cohorts, or “patients like mine.”

Imagine if you saw a 55-year-old woman with hypertension, asthma, and of Vietnamese heritage. Recognizing that this lady would not fit well into the American Heart Association guidelines, you could look at the experience of all 50- to 60-year-old Vietnamese women with hypertension and which medications have the most efficacious impact.

This could really change our clinical decision-making and our cost effectiveness and value of care across the United States. But there will have to be some important policy changes as well as technology developments to ensure this happens in a systematic and formalized way.

 

Kaiser has done interesting things given their huge database and control over all care settings for their patients. The PCORI project generates cohorts across participating health systems. Do you see the use of data going beyond the four walls to make clinical decisions as a trend?

Absolutely. I think a lot of good work on interoperability of databases is occurring. I2B2 is one example. PCORI is another and the PCORnet. Kaiser and Geisinger have been leaders in using their own data sets to make more data-driven decision about what medications they offer on formulary, for example.

But I think ultimately we need to get to a point where rather than go into a group of analysts and researchers to mine data for six to 12 months, we need to enable the clinicians with the right tools to do these queries at the front line of care. That’s really what the green button concept is about.

 

Do you think that’s a significant argument for virtual affiliations? The six Wisconsin hospitals jut announced plans to work together to share patient information from their Epic systems.

Unquestionably. In fact, we use the Epic electronic health record system at Stanford. One of the things that’s really exciting to us is the amount of data exchange that’s occurring in Northern California. We have such a high rate of data exchange that in the first 10 weeks on the Epic system at the children’s hospital, we connected with over 35 outside institutions for over 30,000 patients.

We know that enables continuum of care for our patients who are receiving primary care elsewhere as well as for the subspecialty care that we offer at Stanford Children’s. But the next step is using that data to provide better analytics for population health. The Wisconsin example that you describe is a great pilot and prototype for what I believe will occur increasingly as we move forward.

I should also mention that one of our clinical informatics fellows, Dr. Downing, is actively working on a project now to look at data exchange in Northern California in a 360-degree view. Most studies to date of healthcare information exchange are focused on what it means to the emergency department that they can get outside data, but in fact, the major use case that we’re seeing is that we offer tertiary care services and a lot of our patients get primary care elsewhere. 

We’re really supporting the continuum of care. Being able to look at data that’s sent and received from the perspective of multiple different health systems in Northern California is one of the benefits that this fellowship offers.

 

Putting on your CMIO hat, what are some other interesting projects that you’re working on?

I also have the opportunity and privilege to lead our analytics and data warehouse team. I believe, as in the green button concept, that the future of leveraging these electronic health records is going to be how we use it not just for the care of an individual patient, but for the care of populations of patients. 

We’ve got a number of innovation pilots in our analytics team. My colleague Dr. Jon Palma, who’s also the associate program director for the fellowship, is leading some exciting work in text analytics that’s already benefited our hospital in an operational way. We’re also looking at predictive analytics and forecasting. For example, our census report right now looks at historical trends. Shortly we will be adding the ability to forecast census trends for the next week.

 

Any final thoughts?

Stanford is accepting applications now for 2015-2017 fellows in clinical informatics. We welcome applications from candidates of any any clinical background.

I would close by saying that we’re at an exciting junction of the field. I believe in the future, as we see more and more physicians involved with health information technology, that this board certification will become a mark of somebody who’s achieved a certain set of core competencies and will be increasingly important across the spectrum of physicians working in these settings.

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August 20, 2014 Interviews 9 Comments

Morning Headlines 8/20/14

August 20, 2014 News 1 Comment

Community Health Systems data hack hits 4.5 million

Chinese hackers hit the for-profit operator of 206 hospitals for the identities of 4.5 million patients.

Apax seeks $3 billion sale of healthcare IT firm TriZetto : sources

The private equity firm is rumored to be seeking a buyer for revenue cycle vendor TriZetto in the $3 billion range after taking the company private for $1.4 billion in 2008.

White House won’t reveal documents related to ObamaCare website security

CMS and the White House refuse to turn over documents related to the security capabilities of Healthcare.gov, citing HIPAA concerns.

A Medicare scam that just kept rolling

Medicare paid $8.2 billion for power scooters, many of them for patients who had no medical need for them.

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August 20, 2014 News 1 Comment

News 8/20/14

August 19, 2014 News 1 Comment

Top News

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For-profit hospital operator Community Health Systems says it was the victim of a cyberattack in which the demographic information of 4.5 million patients of its 206 hospitals was stolen. The attack, which occurred in May and June, appeared to originate in China. The FBI is investigating. Community Health Systems is in the Fortune 500 with $7.2 billion in annual revenue and a pending $3.6 billion acquisition of Health Management Associates, which would make the company the largest for-profit hospital operator in the US.


Reader Comments

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From Changing Wind: “Re: Orion Health. With the upcoming IPO, employee bonuses are being changed from four times a year to once, holding cash at the expense of their employees.” According to a forwarded email from Orion Health CEO Ian McCrae, “As part of the Board and Management review of the company measures and targets, a decision has also been made to move the frequency of the Company Incentive payment to annual, which aligns with the personal component of the Short Term Incentive. This change now aligns us with what is common market practice and also takes into account the recognition that the achievement of the revenue target is heavily reliant on our performance in the second half of this financial year.”

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From Anonymous Tipster: “Re: Carl Dvorak’s testimony. To hear Mr. Dvorak complain about their customers bearing the cost of participating in data exchange governance mechanisms while spending many millions of dollars on Epic and then during verbal testimony claim that Epic is the underdog of the EHR industry made me laugh.“


Webinars

August 27 (Wednesday) 1:00 p.m. ET. Enterprise Data – Tapping Your Most Critical Asset for Survival. Presented by Encore, A Quintiles Company. Presenters: Jonathan Velez, MD, FACEP, CMIO, Hartford Healthcare; Randy Thomas, Associate Partner, Encore, A Quintiles Company. This first of a webinar series called “It’s All About the Data” will describe the capabilities provider organizations need to become data driven. The presenters will provide an overview of the critical role of an enterprise data strategy, creating the right data from source systems beginning with implementation, real-world data governance, how to avoid “boiling the ocean” with an enterprise data warehouse, and the role of performance feedback to transform analytics insights into improved outcomes and efficiencies.

September 4 (Thursday) 2:00 p.m. ET. MU2 Veterans Speak Out: Implementing Direct Secure Messaging for Success. Presented by DataMotion. Moderator: Mr. HIStalk. Panelists: Darby Buroker, executive director of health information exchange, Steward Health Care; Anne Lara, EdD, RN, CIO, Union Hospital of Cecil County, MD; Andy Nieto, health IT strategist, DataMotion; Mat Osmanski, senior application analyst, Steward Health Care; Bill Winn, PhD, Meaningful Use service line executive, Navin, Haffty & Associates. Panelists will discuss the strategy and tactics of meeting the transitions of care requirements for MU2, including assembling the team, implementing Direct Secure Messaging, getting providers on board, and reporting results.  


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Private equity firm Apax Partners LLP is looking for a buyer for payer and revenue cycle vendor TriZetto, according to rumors. Apax took TriZetto private in 2008 for $1.4 billion and hopes to sell it for up to $3 billion. TriZetto made $190 million in profit in the most recent fiscal year.

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Inc. profiles the British doctor who founded hospital workflow software vendor Medisas and the expensive, lengthy process involved in getting a visa to set up shop in this country.  

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Clinician rounding app vendor Listrunner raises $500,000 in seed funding from independent physician investors. A trial version of the app is free.

Physician services group Mednax will acquire revenue cycle management vendor MedData. I’m hoping new ownership doesn’t interrupt the delicious flow of fresh-baked scones that MedData provided in the exhibit at HIMSS14 since they were a high point of the conference.


Sales

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MultiCare Health System (WA) chooses Infor’s human capital management system.


People

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Surgical Information Systems promotes Jonathan Lujan to EVP of North American sales for SIS and AmkaiSolutions.

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Paul Sinclair (Allscripts) joins Beacon Partners as VP of business development.

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Ford Phillips, who has worked in healthcare IT for 38 years, has written a short story collection about growing up in a small town in southern Illinois called “East of the Sun and West of of the Moon.”


Announcements and Implementations

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KPMG will use Blue Cross Blue Shield claims information from Blue Health Intelligence, along with the CMS claims database, to enhance its service offerings.  

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A Baltimore technology site profiles Maven Medical, an eight-employee startup that offers a medical procedure price transparency app that helps doctors choose cost-effective tests based on average Medicare reimbursement rates.

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Self Health Network raises $5.6 million to further development its patient communications and private social network platform that supports patient-clinician communications, personal health records, home monitoring device data collection, and caregiver alerts.

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Accelerator Rock Health signs three new corporate sponsors: Abbott, Blue Shield of California, and Deloitte.

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Two Michigan senior living facilities implement the Visibility Resident Care call system, powered by Versus Technology’s RTLS.


Government and Politics

The White House denies a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Associated Press that asked CMS to disclose records related to the security capabilities of Healthcare.gov. CMS refused to turn over the documents, claiming that doing so could violate HIPAA by making it easier for hackers to access consumer information. A legal expert comments, “Here you have an example of an agency resorting to a far-fetched privacy claim in an unprecedented attempt to bridge this legal gap and, in the process, making it even worse by going overboard in withholding such records in their entireties.”

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Premier, responding to a call from the Senate Committee on Finance for ideas that would make healthcare data more useful while maintaining privacy, says that ONC should mandate open APIs for data access as recommended in the recent JASON report. Other suggestions: open up access to government-related claims data, allow researchers access to EHR information, and provide incentives for interoperability that includes patient matching.

A Washington Post investigation finds that Medicare has paid $8.2 billion buying power wheelchairs and scooters for patients, many of whom didn’t need them. Companies, many of them set up by immigrants who became overnight millionaires, paid recruiters to get Medicare patients to participate in the scam. One patient found it odd that the medical equipment company that claimed he couldn’t walk had second-floor exam rooms with no elevators. Medicare put out fraud alerts, but kept paying, required by law to pay most claims within 30 days and reviewing only about 3 percent of them before paying. Medicare is a bit wiser, so criminals are moving on to selling drugstore shoe inserts as $500 orthotics and prosthetic arms and legs for patients in Puerto Rico who have no record of amputations.


Other

A Brookings blog post says HIEs are “Facebook for doctors,” with three factors that encourage doctors to use them: (a) receiving referrals; (b) being located where other communications channels are limited, such as in rural areas; and (c) peer influence.

In Australia, South Australian Health argues with Allscripts over lack of functionality in its Sunrise billing module, falling short so far over exchanging lawsuits.  


Sponsor Updates

  • Billian’s HealthDATA discusses five hospital hiring trends in the C-suite.
  • Kareo CMIO Tom Giannulli will speak at the UBM Medica’s Practice Rx conference September 19-20 about the role technology plays in improving patient care.
  • Medhost announces that Cottage Hospital (NH) has attested for Meaningful Use Stage 2.
  • CoverMyMeds doubles its employee count and is expanding into a larger office space.
  • Quantros will showcase its Pharmacy Safety Suite of Solutions at the NACDS Total Store Expo 2014.
  • Navicure launches Navicure Payments that enables clients to estimate and secure patient financial responsibility and collect balances before service and after adjudication.
  • South County Radiologists (MO) selects McKesson Business Performance Services for its 14-physician practice.
  • The Advisory Board Company explains how it became a “Best Place to Work.”
  • DocuSign publishes a blog entry, “Fuel the Digital Revolution in Life Sciences with SAFE-BioPharma.”

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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August 19, 2014 News 1 Comment

Morning Headlines 8/19/14

August 18, 2014 News No Comments

Community Health says data stolen in cyber attack from China

The for-profit chain of 206 hospitals says the information of 4.5 million patients was stolen, possibly by hackers with links to the Chinese government.

Microsoft cloud service Azure restored after partial outage

The hosting platform for cloud-based applications went down in multiple centers Monday evening, but the issue has since been resolved.

When Patients Read What Their Doctors Write

NPR covers the OpenNotes project with an opinion piece from an ED doctor and author.

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August 18, 2014 News No Comments

Curbside Consult with Dr. Jayne 8/18/14

August 18, 2014 Dr. Jayne 1 Comment

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Thanks to Bianca Biller, who shared information about the new Practice Management System Accreditation Program (PMSAP).  The accreditation was developed through a partnership between EHNAC and WEDI. Three vendors (GE Healthcare, Medinformatix, and NextGen Healthcare) will be participating in a pilot program.

The program’s web page says the program “reviews the key functions of portability, interoperability, clinical integration, compliance monitoring, billing, reporting, and industry certification/accreditation” and that it will serve “as a baseline standard for providers in the process of PMS vendor selection and KLAS reviews.”

Although I like the idea of a program to ensure practice management systems meet the baseline needs of practices, I worry about yet another certification program whose hoops vendors will have to jump through. They can barely keep up with Meaningful Use, ICD-10, and CMS rules. Now we’re going to throw another set of requirements at them.

I also wonder whether practices will really find the separate certification of practice management systems to be meaningful. Many sites use systems that have combined practice management and EHR features. I doubt the lure of PM certification would be enough to convince physicians to consider changing systems when they are still struggling to attest for Meaningful Use. For those who may use separate EHR and PM systems, interfacing is a challenge that most wouldn’t want to repeat with a new vendor.

There are also the vendors that don’t allow interfacing with other systems. Others require you to purchase their PM system with the EHR and most physicians don’t have enough spare cash lying around to purchase a separate PM and interface it. On the other hand, if there is anyone who wants to make a change in their systems, transitioning from one PM system to another is often easier than trying to do an EHR conversion.

I downloaded the criteria document. Some of its elements include:

  • A diagram of “all sites that create, receive, maintain, or transmit PHI for the delivery of the services provided, whether company sites or outsourced organizations.”
  • Determination of the candidate’s status as a Covered Entity, Business Associate, etc. under HIPAA.
  • PHI disclosure and protection policies.
  • Controls against malware.
  • Documented customer service and escalation policies.
  • Minimum availability and redundancy to assure 98 percent system access.
  • Capacity monitoring and plans for handling peak load.
  • Compliance with applicable federal and state requirements and regulations.
  • Offsite six-month backup archive, storage, and retrieval capacity for all batch transactions with progress toward a seven-year back-up archive.
  • Ability to regenerate transactions going back 90 days within two business days.
  • Intrusion/attack monitoring capabilities.

One of my favorites is the requirement that “candidate must have sufficient qualified personnel to perform all tasks associated with accomplishment of the stated mission.” In speaking with most of my ambulatory-based colleagues, many feel their vendors are understaffed and overwhelmed most of the time. It’s a good thing that particular element isn’t mandatory for certification.

I find it interesting that the certification program only targets practice management systems. In my experience (both clinical and administrative), the inpatient financial systems are much more in need of supervision than their outpatient counterparts.

What do you think about the new PMSAP certification program? Email me.

Email Dr. Jayne.

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August 18, 2014 Dr. Jayne 1 Comment

Morning Headlines 8/18/14

August 18, 2014 News 1 Comment

Health IT Policy Governance Subgroup

Epic President Carl Dvorak testifies on the company’s position and progress on interoperability.

M*Modal Announces New Board

MModal CEO Duncan James resigns and a new board is named two weeks after the company emerges from Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Pervasive Medicare Fraud Proves Hard to Stop

A New York Times article says HHS’s fraud prevention efforts are minimally effective because the agency doesn’t manage private contractors well and provider appeals have overwhelmed the system.

Variation in charges for 10 common blood tests in California hospitals: a cross-sectional analysis

A study of 2011 California data finds that hospitals charged between $10 and $10,169 for the same lipid panel lab test. The same author previously found that the list price for an uncomplicated appendectomy prices ranged from $1,500 to $187,000.

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August 18, 2014 News 1 Comment

Monday Morning Update 8/18/14

August 16, 2014 News 9 Comments

Top News

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Epic President Carl Dvorak testifies at an ONC HIT Policy Committee interoperability governance subgroup hearing. Some of his points:

  • Epic’s Care Everywhere exchanges 4.6 million C-CDA documents each month with 26 non-Epic vendor systems, 21 HIEs, 29 HISPs, and 28 government agencies. Its connections to other organizations carry 20 billion transactions annually to 88 public health agencies, 18 research societies, 51 immunization registries, and 17 research registries. This, Dvorak says, portrays a broader definition of interoperability than just exchanging patient summary documents.
  • Dvorak said providers who receive Meaningful Use money should be required to participate in a national list of exchange-ready participants.
  • Epic recommends that Meaningful Use Stage 3 add eHealth Exchange standards for unplanned transitions of care.
  • Epic suggests allowing multiple trust verification services since DirectTrust is too expensive for some organizations.
  • Dvorak says data exchange should be simplified for data used only for patient treatment and not for the “payment and operations” part of HIPAA where information is often sold or redistributed to business associates.
  • Epic says ONC should give patients control of information sharing with a simple opt-in/opt-out option and let patients who want finer control to use their own personal health record instead.
  • Epic customers are reporting that state and local HIEs are demanding payments that exceed their connectivity value and that some are trying to pass laws requiring providers to pay their full fee just to access state immunization registries. Epic says immunization and public health reporting should be free to users and paid for by the states, and providers in states that refuse to do so should get an exemption from those Meaningful Use requirements.
  • Epic urges ONC to be wary of “political agendas and commercial competition” in assessing interoperability, adding that if ONC wants to get a true picture, they should encourage health care systems to voluntarily report their interoperability statistics directly to ONC. 

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Also testifying at the subgroup meeting, CORHIO Executive Director Morgan Honea said one practice was quoted $50,000 to connect to its network. He also said independent providers and small health systems should get Meaningful Use money for connecting to HIEs since they have little incentive otherwise.

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Tim Burdick, MD, CMIO of OCHIN, said that data are tethered to one EHR and one patient portal, giving an example of a cancer patient who has to log into the patient portals of six organizations to see her information, then send messages to the other five asking them to update their EHRs. He says that most of the 22 states in which OCHIN operates have their own technical standards and they are often outdated, vague, or impractical (example: data standards for immunization registries required 15 different interfaces.) He said that his organization struggles with connecting to specialized registries as MUS2 requires because not only is every state different, some registries are run by drug and device companies and require each participating doctor to pay a monthly fee or make them agree that the patient data they submit can be sold or used for any purpose. He says it’s hard to match Direct addresses to specific providers because some of them work for multiple organizations and it’s not clear whether each role has its own Direct address or what happens when that doctor stops working at that location. He finished by suggesting that ONC rate organizations that are using HIE best practices, which he calls “Yelp for HIE vendors.”


Reader Comments

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From HIErarchical: “Re: new insurance company-sponsored HIE in California. This has CalRHIO 3.0 written all over it. The program came from the president of UCLA, where former CalRHIO head Molly Coye, MD is chief innovation officer. She has surfaced to restart what was thrown out in 2010.” CalRHIO’s ambitious California-wide RHIO plans were thwarted in early 2010 when the state created a new entity that paired CalRHIO with a competitor with whom it had fought over HITECH money. CalRHIO, like former National Coordinator David Brailer’s Santa Barbara project, talked a lot but accomplished little – it brought one county’s EDs online. The chair of the newly created Cal Index HIE, which is funded with $80 million from Blue Shield of California and WellPoint’s Anthem Blue Cross, is the president of UCLA’s health system.  

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From Information Governor: “Re: information governance. I’m curious whether organizations have an information governance policy as described by a recent AHIMA white paper.” AHIMA recommends that hospitals define information as a critical business asset that is managed using published standards and the appropriate resources. Two-thirds of survey respondents said their organizations haven’t developed that kind of strategy. The most interesting part to me was the information life cycle management of electronic information, including accuracy, access, protection against loss, preservation for legal holds, managing data deletion, and plan for technology obsolescence. Actually, maybe even more interesting was the section on information controls: documentation requirements, downtime planning, data definitions, software testing, how information is corrected, and how data quality is measured. The survey went out only to AHIMA members, which may have skewed the results. Leave a comment if you’d like to describe your organization’s efforts.

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From Lodi: “Re: EMRs and quality improvements. You are a hospital IT person. Why do you always question study results proving that EMRs improve care?” Because the studies prove no such thing. It’s appalling to me that the people who conduct those studies, many of whom have a vested interested in being EMR cheerleaders, misstate their results as proving causation rather than correlation. Clueless reporters then add another layer of obfuscation by writing punchy but flat-out wrong headlines. I believe that hospitals using EMRs have better outcomes. I also believe that hospitals that have bigger profits, prettier buildings, cafeteria sushi bars, and showcase helicopters also have better outcomes. I’m throwing down a challenge to anyone who claims EMRs improve outcomes: show me your data.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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Cerner handily won the vote of which EHR vendor is best equipped to support population health management, although the IP addresses of respondents suggest that a huge percentage of the nearly 1,500 votes it received came from inside the company. Cerner contacted me to say they didn’t encourage ballot box stuffing, but non-Cerner voters nonetheless left scathing poll comments upon seeing the results, one of whom suggested giving the win to Epic by default (who also had some homers clicking away, with 62 of its 216 votes.) Let’s move on to a new poll to your right or here: is it a good deal for Cerner to buy the Siemens HIT business for $1.3 billion? Vote and then click the Comments link to expound further. Add some insightful comments and I bet some healthcare publications will use the results for further articles since information is otherwise scarce.

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I asked readers whether their employer requires them to share hotel rooms for group travel. The results: only 12 percent of respondents said yes, which is about the same percentage as reported in other national surveys. The numbers were the same for both vendor and provider employees. My thoughts:

  • Vendors theoretically save their customers money by forcing the rank and file to share rooms, but the frugality often ends when executives are involved as the lavish salaries and stock options dwarf the cost of a few hotel nights. Customer costs never go down, and it’s likely that customers of the room-sharing vendors pay just as much.
  • I would bet anything that company executives don’t share rooms. I’m not a fan of policies that only apply to people in the trenches.
  • A better option would be to book single rooms in cheaper hotels and provide group transportation to the event’s location.
  • The “two same-sex people should be comfortable and safe as roommates” idea is a dated concept that makes incorrect and stereotypical assumptions about sexuality and body image.
  • A shared employer isn’t enough reason for me to be comfortable with forced cohabitation with someone I barely know.
  • I’m a big fan of asking employees if they will share rooms instead of insisting they have to. That gives people who are uncomfortable with the idea for any reason a discrete way to opt out.
  • Lawyers would salivate at the chance to represent someone exposed to sexual harassment or violence because of employer-mandated room sharing.

Last Week’s Most Interesting News

  • Epic hires a lobbying firm, breaking from its long-held claim of having nobody assigned to sales, marketing, and government relations roles.
  • Free EMR vendor Practice Fusion raised the ire of practice customers and hopefully the awareness of other cloud-based system users in reminding those customers to insist on access to local copies of their data for downtime situations.
  • A survey of ACOs finds that most have only basic IT systems.
  • Massachusetts says it will spend more money to fix its struggling health insurance exchange website rather than move to Healthcare.gov.

Webinars

August 27 (Wednesday) 1:00 p.m. ET. Enterprise Data – Tapping Your Most Critical Asset for Survival. Presented by Encore, A Quintiles Company. Presenters: Jonathan Velez, MD, FACEP, CMIO, Hartford Healthcare; Randy Thomas, Associate Partner, Encore, A Quintiles Company. This first of a webinar series called “It’s All About the Data” will describe the capabilities provider organizations need to become data driven. The presenters will provide an overview of the critical role of an enterprise data strategy, creating the right data from source systems beginning with implementation, real-world data governance, how to avoid “boiling the ocean” with an enterprise data warehouse, and the role of performance feedback to transform analytics insights into improved outcomes and efficiencies.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Cerner shares (blue) are up nearly 12 percent since the company announced that it will acquire the healthcare IT business of Siemens on August 5, but they still lag the Nasdaq (red) over the past year.


People

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MModal announces that CEO Duncan James will resign from the company, which exited Chapter 11 bankruptcy two weeks ago. MModal has also brought in a new board.


Government and Politics

The New York Times reviews the government’s Medicare fraud efforts that cost $600 million per year, concluding that the 90 percent of fraud isn’t caught because HHS doesn’t manage the private recovery audit contractors it uses very well. The article says hospital pushbacks and extensive appeals have nearly completely shut down recovery efforts and cases can take up two years to get in front of a judge. It also notes that RAC bounties are so high that the companies paying fraudulent claims are sometimes the same companies paid to investigate them.


Other

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I missed this: Health Information Technology Exchange of Connecticut died a quiet death on July 1, 2014 when a new state budget bill repealed the creation of several quasi-public agencies, of which HITE-CT was one. Nobody seemed to notice or care, so that probably says it all.

In Canada, B.C. Emergency Health Services drops its $2.8 million ambulance electronic patient care record a year after it was supposed to go live, saying that, ”the vendor was unable to meet our business requirements.” The vendor was Interdev Technology.

A study of 2011 California data finds that hospitals charged between $10 and $10,169 for the same lipid panel lab test. The same author previously found that the list price for an uncomplicated appendectomy prices ranged from $1,500 to $187,000. Nobody pays list prices except the uninsured, who obviously wouldn’t be able to afford the ridiculous prices even if they wanted to pay. Healthcare prices are even more irrelevant than the inflated nightly rates listed on the back of hotel room doors.

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In a relevant story, a man who went to the ED of for-profit Bayonne Medical Center (NJ) to have them look at a finger he had cut days before is billed $9,000 for a tetanus shot and a bandage. The hospital’s CEO says it went out-of-network for the insurance company because of low payments and that it needs high ED charges to survive. The insurance company says the CarePoint Health-owned hospital is deliberately gouging consumers by dropping out of networks since New Jersey law requires the insurance company to pay for ED services anyway. The insurance company settled with the hospital for $6,640, and after the local TV station picked up the story, the hospital wrote off the balance owed by the patient. It’s ridiculous to put in-network verification responsibility in the hands (no pun intended) of a patient seeking emergency treatment, or to ask every employee who walks in the door whether they are in-network since hospitals always have private doctors and contractors running around who issue their own bills.

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The top 10 executives at the non-profit Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama made more than $1 million each in 2013, doubling their 2011 pay. The president and CEO made nearly $5 million.


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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August 16, 2014 News 9 Comments

Morning Headlines 8/15/14

August 14, 2014 Headlines 1 Comment

Keys to HIT Success: Results from the 2014 Survey on ACOs

A survey of 62 ACOs finds that most operate with a basic health IT infrastructure comprised of an EHR with clinical decision support features, a data warehouse, and a disease registry. Most do not use population health systems, referral management systems, or telehealth platforms and more than 90 percent reported having concerns with the cost and return on investment potential of health IT solutions.

Update: 8/14/14 – Intermittent EHR access restored

Practice Fusion’s cloud-based EHR went down Tuesday and Wednesday, leaving customers unable to access their schedules or patient charts. Practice Fusion reported that the problem was likely caused by a “global internet brown-out,” citing a recent Fox News report as evidence.

The Meaningful Use Stage 2 Finish Line

John Halamka, MD and CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, reports that the hospital will attest for Stage 2 by the September 30 deadline, but that they are struggling to meet the 10 percent transition of care threshold because there are not enough practices ready to receive CCDs electronically.

HHS on the hunt for HealthCare.gov emails Issa wants

HHS has spent 23,000 staff hours trying to recover deleted emails from CMS administrator Marilyn Tavenner’s email account in response to Congressional investigations into the failed Healthcare.gov rollout. Tavenner, whose email address is public, receives between 10,000 and 12,000 emails a month.

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August 14, 2014 Headlines 1 Comment

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