Recent Articles:

Morning Headlines 10/12/16

October 11, 2016 News 2 Comments

Unintended Consequences of CPOE

An emergency physician describes an event in which an intern using a CPOE system they were unfamiliar with ordered a CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis with contrast, and then separately ordered oral contrast, the combination of which resulted in contrast nephropathy.

Epic Fact Check

Epic responds to a recent Jonathan Bush interview during which he suggests that achieving interoperability with Epic sites was difficult until recently.

Google DeepMind has doubled the size of its healthcare team

Google’s UK-based AI team DeepMind has doubled its healthcare division from 20 to 40, including some of the biggest names in the AI industry.

Siemens Healthineers and IBM Watson Health Forge Global Alliance for Population Health Management

Siemens Healthineers announces an agreement to start reselling IBM Watson as part of a new population health management solution.

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October 11, 2016 News 2 Comments

News 10/12/16

October 11, 2016 News 2 Comments

Top News

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Hedge fund operator Partner Fund Management sues Theranos for securities fraud, saying Theranos and CEO Elizabeth Holmes told “a series of lies” about its lab testing capabilities and prospects in soliciting a $100 million investment.

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Above is Holmes holding the company’s remaining credibility.


Reader Comments

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From Ken Bone: “Re: Athenahealth. JB got Trumped.” Epic posts a fact check for a recent interview with Athenahealth’s Jonathan Bush. Thankfully, JB’s brother Billy was not available to facilitate an uncomfortable Judy-JB hug.

From Looming Presence: “Re: HIStalkapalooza. Here’s video of Jonathan Bush doing his Donald Trump imitation at HIStalkapalooza earlier this year.” I had forgotten about that. JB, the most politically connected person in health IT, has said that he can’t support his Republican party’s nominee in calling him “a clinical narcissist” and “a wack job,” but says he’ll vote Libertarian instead of Democratic, explaining, “Why going for the nut on the right or the nut on the left when you can have the Johnson?” Bush downplayed his own political aspirations a few weeks ago by saying, “We need another Bush like I need a hole in my head,” although technically speaking, all of us need a hole in our head, just not another one that isn’t a mouth, nose, eyes, or ears (or in cases of emergency, a surgical trepanation). 

From PitViper: “Re: blockchain conference in Nashville last week. Humana’s CIO gave the keynote and his team participated in many of the breakout sessions. Nothing is production-ready and vendors themselves admit the technology is immature, but the ideas are interesting and if there’s truly a common trusted data layer in our future, it will address a lot of the issues we face.”


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor Agfa HealthCare. The company, which provides eHealth and digital imaging solutions to half the world’s hospitals, offers Care You Can See, an enterprise-wide approach to medical imaging that provides a single patient record within a single EHR view. Its product line includes enterprise imaging (VNA, universal viewer, ECM, image exchange, patient portal, scheduling, business intelligence and clinical apps); integrated care (data aggregation for multiple sites, patient engagement); and digital radiography. The company focuses its radiology commitment to maximize the value of medical images within an interoperable ecosystem to support collaboration and the availability of image to all caregivers under value-based care. Its Engage suite provides a first step toward an integrated care model, offering patient-centric views and actions, native mobile functionality, support for clinical networks, and integration with third-party systems. The company is the #1-recommended image sharing vendor in a recent Peer60 report. Thanks to Agfa HealthCare for supporting HIStalk.

Here’s an Agfa HealthCare intro video I found on YouTube.


Webinars

October 13 (Thursday) 2:00 ET. “Glycemic Control During Therapeutic Hypothermia.” Sponsored by Monarch Medical Technologies. Presenter: Tracey Melhuish, RN, MSN, clinical practice specialist, Holy Cross Hospital (FL). Using therapeutic hypothermia (TH) as a method of care can present risks of hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, and blood glucose variability. Maintaining safe glucose levels during the cooling and rewarming phases of TH reduces the risks of adverse events. Tracey Melhuish, author of “Linking Hypothermia and Hyperglycemia,” will share best practices for optimal glucose control during TH and the success Holy Cross Hospital sees while using a computerized glucose management software.

October 25 (Tuesday) 1:30 ET. “Data Privacy/Insider Threat Mitigation: What Hospitals Can Learn From Other Industries.” Sponsored by HIStalk. Presenters: Robert Kuller, chief commercial officer, Haystack Informatics; Mitchell Parker, CISSP, executive director of information security and compliance, Indiana University Health. Cybersecurity insurers believe that hospitals are too focused on perimeter threats, ransomware, and the threat of OCR audits instead of insider threats, which are far more common but less likely to earn media attention. Attendees will learn how behavior analytics is being used to profile insiders and detect unusual behaviors proactively and to place privacy/insider risk within the risk management matrix.

November 8 (Tuesday) 1:00 ET. “A CMIO’s Perspective on the Successful 25 Hospital Rollout of Electronic Physician Documentation.” Sponsored by Crossings Healthcare. Presenter: Ori Lotan, MD, CMIO, Universal Health Services. UHS rolled out Cerner Millennium’s electronic physician documentation to its 6,000 active medical staff members — 95 percent of them independent practitioners who also work in competitor facilities — across 25 acute care hospitals. UHS’s clinical informatics team used Cerner’s MPage development toolkit to improve the usability, efficiency, communications capability, and quality metric performance of Dynamic Documentation, embedding clinical decision support and also using Nuance’s cloud-based speech recognition product for the narrative bookends of physician notes. This CMIO-led webinar will describe how UHS achieved 70 percent voluntary physician adoption within one month of go-live, saved $3 million in annual transcription expense, and raised EHR satisfaction to 75 percent. It will include a short demonstration of the software that UHS developed to optimize the physician experience.

November 9 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “How to Create Healthcare Apps That Get Used and Maybe Even Loved.” Sponsored by MedData. Presenter: Jeff Harper, founder and CEO, Duet Health. Patients, clinicians, and hospital employees are also consumers who manage many aspects of their non-medical lives on their mobile devices. Don’t crush their high technology expectations with poorly designed, seldom used apps that tarnish your carefully protected image. Your app represents your brand and carries high expectations on both sides. This webinar will describe how to build a mobile healthcare app that puts the user first, meets their needs (which are often different from their wants), creates "stickiness," and delivers the expected benefits to everyone involved.

Contact Lorre for webinar services. View previous webinars on our HIStalk webinars YouTube channel.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Siemens Healthineers will resell  IBM Watson Health’s population health management solutions. The companies will also work together to create new solutions in a five-year strategic alliance.

3M Health Information Systems and Verily Life Sciences will work together to analyze population-level datasets into usable quality measures for complications, readmissions and mortality, and cost.

Pharmacy software vendors Rx30 and Computer-Rx announce their merger.


People

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AMN Healthcare-owned contingent workforce management systems vendor ShiftWise names Steven Rodriguez (Asure Software) as president.

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Outpatient rehabilitation therapy technology vendor Clinicient hires T. Kent Rowe (ZirMed) as CEO.

CTG promotes Rick Sullivan to VP of strategic staffing services.


Announcements and Implementations

HIMSS Europe is conducting a “Women in Health IT” survey whose results it will use to tailor future female-focused offerings. 


Privacy and Security

In India, Chennai city police have filed 43 cases against people they say have spread rumors about the health of the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, who has been hospitalized since September 22. The latest two arrests are of a website manager who published audio claiming to be from an Apollo Hospitals employee and an IT engineer who they said posted false information on Facebook. They’re charged under a law prohibiting statements intended to cause public panic.

The incarcerated human rights activist who coordinated an Anonymous-led denial-of-service attack against Boston Children’s Hospital in April 2014 to protest the involuntary commitment of a teenager stages a hunger strike to protest behavior modification programs for non-adults.


Technology

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China-based search engine Baidu launches Melody, a smartphone chatbot app that asks consumers AI-generated questions in performing basic triage before sending the information to a doctor to take over. The company says it’s talking to US healthcare companies as a potential market.

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London-based, Google-owned DeepMind has doubled its team to 40 employees since its February 2016 launch, hiring experts in artificial intelligence and from the NHS to help develop its products.


Other

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The Wall Street Journal says apps that help migraine sufferers predict their attacks or identify their triggering factors hold promise, but they struggle to distinguish triggers (causation) from warning signs (correlation).

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CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt is one of my favorite tweeters, with refreshing recent examples above.

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Family physician, CMIO, and AAFP board member Carl Olden, MD says that EHRs provide important benefits despite the extra work they require of doctors. He suggests that documentation responsibilities be spread to non-physician care team members and that payment reform “get us off the E/M treadmill.”

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An emergency medicine professor blames CPOE for an error in which an intern ordered “CT Abdomen and Pelvis with contrast” and somehow thought she would need to order oral contrast separately, which she did in sending the patient into contrast nephropathy when both agents were administered. I disagree with blaming CPOE for these reasons:

  • The intern ordered an item without understanding it.
  • The same error would likely have occurred with paper-based ordering, especially if the hospital was equally sloppy in how it phrased the orderable’s description on paper.
  • All the other doctors appeared to have understood and used this orderable without problems. 
  • Receiving a non-paper, non-verbal order does not eliminate the responsibility of the employees acting on it to review it for mistakes, electronic or otherwise.
  • It’s hard to understand how an undertrained intern’s one-off mistake – without the author’s seeing even basic evidence, such as how the hospital built the pick list in question — provides sufficient rationale to throw CPOE under the bus.
  • I agree with only one point of the article – system administrators should monitor cancelled or replaced orders to help them understand where there system setup might be confusing users.

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Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard Tyson says in a conference presentation that 52 percent of KP’s 2015 physician-member interactions were conducted via technology rather than face-to-face visits. The article’s author calls those encounters “virtual visits,” but I would bet that the huge number is mostly portal text messages, refill requests, and lab test communication. KP has turned in those big numbers going back to at least 2014, so this is really not news.

Canada-based drugmaker Valeant, known for acquiring old drugs and then jacking up their price, does it again with a drug for lead poisoning it bought in 2013, raising its price from $950 to $27,000. The company’s excuses (short shelf life, low sales volume) don’t hold much water since they haven’t changed since the previous owner was presumably making a nice profit at $950.

An expert criticizes vendor-operated company wellness programs, saying that data from the program that was recently chosen as the industry’s best suggests that employees were actually harmed rather than helped. He also cites the 2015 winner McKesson, who claimed savings despite no change in employee biometric risk factors.

In India, illegible doctor handwriting forces medical examiners to switch to computer-completed autopsy forms that police and juries can more easily read.

The Atlantic profiles Tristan Harris, a former Google employee who created an advocacy group called Time Well Spent that is trying to convince app developers to take a Hippocratic Oath that they won’t turn their users into slot machine-like tech addicts by exploiting their psychological vulnerabilities. He says app developers are like junk food vendors in introducing the digital version of sugar, salt, and fat into their apps to profitably satisfy user craving in earning “likes” and impressive LinkedIn connections via pointless yet hypnotic auto-play videos and clickbait stories. He’s thinking about developing an app to measure app usage vs. user-reported benefit in calling out apps that create addiction without satisfaction. Harris responds to the magazine’s reporter who expresses anxiety at trying not to check his cell phone during their interview:

Our generation relies on our phones for our moment-to-moment choices about who we’re hanging out with, what we should be thinking about, who we owe a response to, and what’s important in our lives. If that’s the thing that you’ll outsource your thoughts to, forget the brain implant. That is the brain implant. You refer to it all the time.


Sponsor Updates

  • AHIMA will add Meditech’s EHR to its Virtual Lab for HIM student training.
  • Haystack Informatics publishes a white paper on insider data breaches.
  • Aprima will exhibit at the Texas Association of Community Health Centers meeting October 17-18 in Dallas.
  • Arcadia Healthcare Solutions CMO Rich Park, MD will present at the inaugural meeting of the American Association of Strategic Regional Organizations October 17 in Philadelphia.
  • Bernoulli will exhibit at AARC16 October 15-18 in San Antonio.
  • Besler Consulting, Clinical Architecture, Direct Consulting Associates, and FormFast will exhibit at AHIMA October 15-19 in Baltimore.
  • The Chartis Group adds three principals: Mary Jo Morrison, Mark Pasquale, and Robert Schwartz, MD, MPH. 
  • Besler Consulting releases a new podcast, “Five keys to mitigating risks associated with hospital-physician contracting.”
  • Dimensional Insight and Hayes Management Consultants will exhibit at the Centricity Healthcare User Group October 13-15 in Austin.
  • MedScape includes E-MDs as a leading vendor for usability and customer satisfaction in its latest EHR report.
  • Elsevier Clinical Solutions features predictions from Geeta Nayyar, MD in its celebration of 100 years of medical clinics.
  • EClinicalWorks will exhibit at the AOAO Annual Meeting October 13-15 in Washington, DC.
  • HCS will exhibit at the NASL annual meeting October 16-18 in Nashville.Healthgrades will exhibit at the Built in Colorado Fall Startup Showcase October 13 in Denver.

Blog Posts


Contacts

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

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October 11, 2016 News 2 Comments

Morning Headlines 10/11/16

October 10, 2016 Headlines 1 Comment

More Than Half of Kaiser Permanente’s Patient Visits Are Done Virtually

Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard Tyson reports that last year, 52 percent of the health systems 110 million patient interactions were done via smartphone, videoconference, kiosk, or other technology tool.

Major Investor Sues Theranos

San Francisco-based hedge fund Partner Fund Management sues Theranos, arguing that Elizabeth Holmes lied in order to secure nearly $100 million in investments from the firm.

Trade-Off or Turn-Off? The Privacy Dilemma

Joseph Kvedar, MD discusses common health data privacy concerns raised by the public and argues that providers need to address these concerns with patients because the potential benefits of data sharing outweighs the risks.

Physicians beat symptom checkers in test of diagnostic accuracy

A JAMA study measuring the accuracy of online symptom checkers concludes, not surprisingly, that doctors are still far more reliable diagnosticians.

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October 10, 2016 Headlines 1 Comment

Curbside Consult with Dr. Jayne 10/10/16

October 10, 2016 Dr. Jayne 3 Comments

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I picked up an additional clinical shift this weekend to help out one of my partners whose travel was interrupted by Hurricane Matthew. Weekends in the urgent care world are always busy, especially on Sundays when people who have put off care earlier in the week decide they can’t wait until Monday to try to get an appointment with their regular physician. Others don’t have a regular physician and just see us when they’re sick. Another subgroup of patients tries to use us as their primary care home even though we’re really not equipped to do so.

When you’ve seen 40 patients in the first six hours of a shift, that’s a bad sign. Even with a scribe I couldn’t keep up, so we had to send up the bat signal and try to get more reinforcements. Flu season is moving into high gear, overlapping with a bad run of hand/foot/mouth disease for kids in our area. Most of our patients were acutely ill and we always try to move patients into exam rooms rapidly so that they’re not cross-contaminating each other in the waiting room.

For a while, things were backed up, though. Looking at the roster of patients in the waiting room, I couldn’t help but think that telemedicine would have been a good option for quite a few of them.

There are many conditions we treat regularly that can be diagnosed with accuracy based on the patient’s history and some targeted questions. Important data points are the duration of the illness, the specific symptoms, anything that has made it better or worse, and the patient’s health status and other existing conditions. Although the physical exam can confirm a working diagnosis, it usually doesn’t make a difference in the treatment plan for these patients.

Offering telemedicine services would have keep these patients at home where they could be recovering rather than potentially exposing them to other communicable diseases. In my area, however, insurance doesn’t cover telemedicine services, so they’re not being offered.

Assuming insurance would cover the services, our EHR isn’t equipped to handle telemedicine. It’s not just this system, though. The last three platforms I have used for patient care wouldn’t have supported it very well, either. The closest workflow they could offer was to couple the documentation pathway for a telephone call with some of the elements of a standard office visit. It certainly wasn’t a streamlined workflow and there wasn’t a good way to include video links or patient-provided pictures of rashes or other findings.

Although the new federal programs seem to encourage these types of alternative visits, it seems to me that many EHR vendors are just trying to keep up with all the reporting requirements and specifications of the new certification scheme and don’t have many development resources to shift into these kinds of nice-to-have workflows.

Some of the cases I saw today really made me think about how our country is addressing (or not addressing) healthcare delivery. We’re so focused on cost reform that we’re missing other significant factors that influence care-seeking behavior.

Many of our patients come to the urgent care due to access issues – they can’t get a timely appointment with their primary care physician or they can’t leave work during the hours the office is open. Although many employees have sick time benefits from their employers, the reality for many of the patients we see (as well as many of my friends and colleagues) is that it’s often difficult to use that sick time.

Employers put a variety of strategies in place to keep people from abusing the benefit, but those strategies can also function as a barrier to care. The rise of high-deductible health plans is also a barrier to care, and we sometimes see people with serious illnesses who have deferred coming to care because they can’t afford the deductible. It’s not an overall cost savings if the patient has to have an amputation because they didn’t have a $90 visit that could have mitigated the condition weeks ago.

We try to engage our patients and encourage them to follow up with a continuity physician, providing them View/Download/Transmit access to their note as soon as the physician completes it. We also have nearly-real-time surveys of patient satisfaction, which can be a bit unnerving when you receive an email with your rating before the patient is even out of the parking lot. It’s definitely a different world than what I thought I was getting into when I went into medicine.

I’m not sure how many patients actually engage via a records download, though. Although we can accept and consume inbound records, I’ve not seen any in the two years I’ve been working with this organization. I have had a couple of patients who have personal health records that they access on their phones during the visit and many who have accessed their pharmacy records to tell me about previous treatments if I can’t download them via our EHR’s pharmacy management link. But I’ve never seen a C-CDA and I’m betting that my staff would be confused if one turned up.

Our organization is growing steadily. We’ve doubled in size in the last two years. Although it’s great from a business perspective, when you really think about it, it’s terrible from a patient care strategy standpoint. Although patients come to us because it’s convenient and we’re fast and economical, we’re not a primary care office and we don’t handle preventive screenings or other universally recommended services.

I firmly believe that patients do best when they’re cared for by a physician and/or care team that knows them well and can manage their issues over time, looking for trends or linked events. This is what old-school family physicians used to do, before insurance companies pushed patients into networks based on costs and contracts. When I was in solo practice, I had patients who were forced to change primary physicians every year or two because their employer would change insurance plans or the insurance plan would change their roster of contracted physicians.

With the rise of the medical home movement in the last decade, you’d think this trend would be somewhat reversed, but we’re not seeing as much change as we need to solve the healthcare delivery problem. Physicians are stressed and don’t want to provide after-hours services without additional compensation and patients don’t want to pay for it.

We’ve thrown billions of dollars of technology at it, but it doesn’t feel like we’re much better off than we were before. Physician practices have been disrupted. Once they settle in, there is a tremendous opportunity to harness the technology, but now we’re seeing a second wave of disruption as providers and organizations change EHR vendors, often sending provider workflows back into chaos.

Programs such as the Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative and its successor CPC+ are trying to shift care delivery to the medical home model through additional payments and support, but it’s still tremendously difficult for organizations to make these changes, especially since they’re already coping with additional federal and payer regulations.

I’m not sure what the answer is, but it feels like we’re reaching the breaking point. Is anyone building the killer app that will help providers and care delivery organizations truly transform how we care for patients in the 21st century? Or will the regulators just keep tightening the screws? As we sit here on the edge of our chairs waiting for the next Final Rule, it feels more like the latter.

What do you think is the answer to truly reforming healthcare delivery? Email me.

Email Dr. Jayne.

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October 10, 2016 Dr. Jayne 3 Comments

Morning Headlines 10/10/16

October 9, 2016 News No Comments

Court won’t take Parkview rate suit

Parkview Hospital (IN) has been ordered to release its chargemaster prices and insurance discounts after an uninsured patient that was charged $625,000 for his care sues the hospital, arguing that the bill is inflated and unreasonable since insured patients receive the same care at a significant discount.

Physicians’ Take on EHRs

A Peer60 survey of physician EHR satisfaction finds that usability and missing functionality still top the lists of physician frustrations.

Millions of Australians caught in health records breach

In Australia, Health Minister Sussan Ley apologizes at the annual conference of the Royal Australian College of General Physicians after the health department inadvertently published confidential data from three million patients.

How body-worn cameras improve EMS documentation

A pilot study finds that EMS documentation improves significantly if body-worn cameras are used so that EMS staff can review events after care is delivered.

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October 9, 2016 News No Comments

Monday Morning Update 10/10/16

October 9, 2016 News 18 Comments

Top News

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The legal effort by Parkview Hospital (IN) to keep its chargemaster prices and insurance discounts secret fails, forcing it to provide the information demanded by an uninsured patient who sued the hospital after receiving a bill for $625,000 for a three-month stay after a car accident. The patient says the bill isn’t reasonable since the hospital discounts its services to insurance companies while charging uninsured patients list price. The state’s Hospital Lien Act allows patients to negotiate bills when a hospital files a collection lien against them.

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The hospital’s attorney argues that insurers are given discounts because of the patient volume they provide and that the patient’s guardian signed a an admission agreement that included a 35-word “agreement to pay” paragraph. “We don’t think a person who is not a member of the club should get the benefits of the club,” he said. Other healthcare lawyers say hospitals don’t have a choice in offering discounts because insurers won’t sign a contract with them otherwise.

Legal experts say that if their debt collection practices are questioned by a ruling for the plaintiff in this case, hospitals will probably switch tactics to instead use breach of contract lawsuits, which have favorable legal precedents in Indiana.

A billing expert hired by the patient concludes that the reasonable value of the services he received was $247,000, which would represent a 60 percent discount to billed amount.


Reader Comments

From Stick and Rudder Man: “Re: Epic. Does its Boost program even exist? Our experience from making requests is that no one is ever available. Recent networking with other clients suggests that our experience is not unique.” I’m not familiar with that program and found no references to it on Epic’s site, so I’ll ask knowledgeable readers to comment.

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From Golan Heights: “Re: MedCPU. Looks like leadership change.” I didn’t see an announcement, but comparing old vs. new versions of the company’s executive page calls out the removal of the company’s two co-founders, promotion of the CFO to the CEO position, and the departure of two other executives. MedCPU has raised $51 million, $35 million of it in May 2016.

From Block and Tackle: “Re: HIStalk. It’s being blocked in the Middle East countries, which I experienced when traveling to Bahrain and Dubai over the past two weeks. Not sure if you care much about getting traffic from there, although given the level of IT activities and the global nature of your sponsorship base, it could be an expansion opportunity. Not getting our weekly dose of HIStalk news causes a lot of anguish!” I’ve heard that before, although reports were inconsistent.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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Attention speakers and Webinar presenters: people hate it when you: (a) read from your slides; (b) place your pitch ahead of the educational needs of your attendees; (c) cram too much material on your slides; and (d) talk too much about yourself and your employer. I’ll side with the majority: PowerPoint, when used by unskilled presenters as a Teleprompter instead of as a visual aid to complement their enthusiastic and not overly rehearsed verbal narrative, is pure evil.

New poll to your right or here: how much of your work day involves talking about patients and their needs?

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

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Thanks to the IT department of Centura Health (CO), which raised $1,500 for my DonorsChoose project, doubling last year’s total. I applied matching funds in fulfilling these STEM-related grant requests Friday and have already received grateful emails from all of the teachers. Classroom photos will follow once the students begin using their new materials.

  • Genetics kits (plant lights and seeds) for Ms. T’s high school class in Juneau, WI
  • A document camera and wireless keyboard for Ms. N’s third grade class in Lugoff, SC
  • Math games for Ms. L’s kindergarten class in Chicago, IL
  • A math gaming system for Mrs. S’s second grade class in Virginia Beach, VA
  • A media studio for producing a daily school news show for Ms. C’s middle school class in Citrus Heights, CA
  • Multimedia teaching technology for Ms. C’s high school class in Philadelphia, PA
  • Math manipulatives for Ms. R’s elementary school class in New York, NY
  • Six tablets for Mrs. P’s kindergarten class in Dry Ridge, KY

I also received a donation from Mark and Tammy, which provided programmable robots for Mrs. E’s elementary school class in Greenwood, SC.

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Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor Black Book. The Tampa, FL-based company offers unbiased, transparently collected, survey-powered research services such as Black Book Rankings, vendor comparisons, customer satisfaction, and market and competitive intelligence. It measures image, attitudes, opinions, awareness, and market share. Users are invited to participate in its user satisfaction and loyalty surveys via its app, with their responses validated using sophisticated data quality tools to ensure accurate, authentic results. Kudos to the company for recently fine-tuning its methodology after noticing and fixing questionable results caused by hospitals completing surveys on behalf of their EHR affiliates, which it likened to a salesperson rating their own merchandise. Here’s the best part: nobody at Black Book has a financial interest in a vendor; the company doesn’t allow companies to pay to participate; and vendors don’t get to review the results until they’re published for the whole world to see. Thanks to Black Book for supporting HIStalk.

I’ve worked in hospitals affected by hurricanes. I would be interested in hearing about your experience with Hurricane Matthew. People might forget that while they’re being urged to evacuate or stay home, hospitals are being staffed by people who are protecting someone else’s family instead of their own.


Last Week’s Most Interesting News

  • Theranos exits the laboratory business, laying off 40 percent of its staff to focus on commercializing its MiniLab testing machine.
  • A single Brigham and Women’s researcher gets a $75 million, five-year grant to analyze study participant data, including that generated by wearables, hoping to find early predictors of heart disease.
  • Warburg Pincus Private Equity files FTC documents indicating that it will acquire Intelligent Medical Objects.
  • Evolent Health completes its acquisition of Valence Health for $219 million.
  • Cerner tells the local newspaper that it will aggressively expand its revenue cycle business.

Webinars

October 13 (Thursday) 2:00 ET. “Glycemic Control During Therapeutic Hypothermia.” Sponsored by Monarch Medical Technologies. Presenter: Tracey Melhuish, RN, MSN, clinical practice specialist, Holy Cross Hospital (FL). Using therapeutic hypothermia (TH) as a method of care can present risks of hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, and blood glucose variability. Maintaining safe glucose levels during the cooling and rewarming phases of TH reduces the risks of adverse events. Tracey Melhuish, author of “Linking Hypothermia and Hyperglycemia,” will share best practices for optimal glucose control during TH and the success Holy Cross Hospital sees while using a computerized glucose management software.

October 25 (Tuesday) 1:30 ET. “Data Privacy/Insider Threat Mitigation: What Hospitals Can Learn From Other Industries.” Sponsored by HIStalk. Presenters: Robert Kuller, chief commercial officer, Haystack Informatics; Mitchell Parker, CISSP, executive director of information security and compliance, Indiana University Health. Cybersecurity insurers believe that hospitals are too focused on perimeter threats, ransomware, and the threat of OCR audits instead of insider threats, which are far more common but less likely to earn media attention. Attendees will learn how behavior analytics is being used to profile insiders and detect unusual behaviors proactively and to place privacy/insider risk within the risk management matrix.

November 9 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “How to Create Healthcare Apps That Get Used and Maybe Even Loved.” Sponsored by MedData. Presenter: Jeff Harper, founder and CEO, Duet Health. Patients, clinicians, and hospital employees are also consumers who manage many aspects of their non-medical lives on their mobile devices. Don’t crush their high technology expectations with poorly designed, seldom used apps that tarnish your carefully protected image. Your app represents your brand and carries high expectations on both sides. This webinar will describe how to build a mobile healthcare app that puts the user first, meets their needs (which are often different from their wants), creates "stickiness," and delivers the expected benefits to everyone involved.

Contact Lorre for webinar services. View previous webinars on our HIStalk webinars YouTube channel.


Decisions

  • Logan County Hospital (KS) will go live on Athenahealth’s RCM system in January 2017.
  • Bayhealth (DE) switched from McKesson Horizon to Epic in August 2016.
  • Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System (LA) will replace Cerner with Epic.

These provider-reported updates are provided by Definitive Healthcare, which offers powerful intelligence on hospitals, physicians, and healthcare providers.


People

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Kyruus hires John Downey (McKesson Health Solutions) as SVP of sales.


Announcements and Implementations

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Peer60 publishes “The Physician’s Take on EHR Suppliers 2016,” which surveyed around 1,000 doctors (75 percent of them in ambulatory practice) about EHRs. Adoption was 85 percent, with the most common systems being those from Epic, Cerner, and Allscripts. Most respondents say they aren’t planning to replace their current systems. Top-ranked Epic joined its competitors in scoring low in Net Promoter Score, but few of Epic’s users reported specific problems or plans to replace it. Usability topped the list of user concerns for all systems, while first-time adopters say cost is what’s holding them back. As Peer60 points out, the market seems to violate Economics 101 in that users are nearly universally unsatisfied with their systems, but don’t see more attractive alternatives.


Privacy and Security

The health minister of Australia apologizes to doctors for publishing a file of de-identified claims data covering 10 percent of the country’s population that was quickly re-identified by researchers who matched the records with other publicly available datasets. 


Technology

A small study finds that paramedic documentation improves significantly when they are equipped with body-work video cameras that allow them to review their work afterward.


Other

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The Green Beret brother of Maggie Stack, who played the lead role in the Epic UGM production of “Alice in Wonderland” two weeks ago, was killed by an IED while on patrol in Afghanistan last week. Staff Sgt. Adam S. Thomas of the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 31, had earned several Army medals in deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. ISIS has claimed responsibility for his death.

Vince and Elise close out their “Rating the Ratings” series with ideas on a “do it yourself” rating.


Sponsor Updates

  • Nordic is recognized in “Best Places to Work in Healthcare” for the third straight year.
  • T-System and Wellsoft will exhibit at ACEP16 Scientific Assembly October 15-18 in Las Vegas.
  • TierPoint completes a $12 million TekPark data center expansion.
  • Valence Health will exhibit at TAHP Annual Conference October 14-16 in Dallas.
  • Huron offices across the country donate over 4,000 backpacks to local nonprofit organizations.
  • ZeOmega will exhibit at Washington State Hospital Association’s annual meeting October 12-14 in Seattle.
  • Zynx Health will exhibit at the 2016 Meditech Physician and CIO Forum October 20-21 in Foxborough, MA.

Blog Posts


Contacts

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

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October 9, 2016 News 18 Comments

Morning Headlines 10/7/16

October 6, 2016 Headlines No Comments

An Open Letter From Elizabeth Holmes

Theranos announces that it will close all of its clinical labs and wellness centers, and layoff the employees that work there, to focus its efforts on securing FDA clearance of its MiniLab.

This is how far phishers will go to make you click on a bogus link

In England, NHS Digital COO Rob Shaw discussed a situation in which hackers crafted a personalized phishing attack against an NHS employee, using his LinkedIn profile to learn about his background, and creating a fake email account in the name of one of his past colleagues. The extra effort paid off and the hackers managed to infiltrate the hospital’s network undetected for two weeks.

Chelsea and Westminster picks Cerner, and Jarrold as CIO

In England, 430-bed Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust will implement Cerner in partnership with fellow NHS trust Imperial College Healthcare.

Remarks by Andy Slavitt: Talking with the industry about the future of health care in America

CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt discusses the transformation the health insurance industry is facing in a Wednesday speech.

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October 6, 2016 Headlines No Comments

News 10/7/16

October 6, 2016 News No Comments

Top News

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Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes announces that the company will close all its clinical labs and wellness centers and lay off nearly half of its employees to focus exclusively on trying to commercialize its MiniLab testing platform.

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Theranos investors continue their high level of cluelessness by inexplicably keeping Holmes as CEO, although at this point her train wreck behavior is about all that remains interesting about the former high flyer.

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My bet: Theranos will bleed out all its remaining investor cash before it can get its machine through the FDA to market, and even if the company is successful, nobody’s going to buy a MiniLab given the company’s historical lack of transparency and shady business practices (would you really want to buy diagnostic equipment from someone who is federally banned from all lab involvement?)


Reader Comments

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From Tripp the Lite Fantastic: “Re: Drummond Group. A shakeup after it was sold – President Kyle Meadors has left.” Unverified. He’s still showing on the certification company’s executive page (which lists only two people), but his LinkedIn profile shows that he left the company in July. He took the job in November 2015 after the two co-founders stepped aside. I don’t recall that I knew (or cared) that the company was acquired. Drummond and CCHIT were named by ONC as the first authorized testing bodies for EHRs in 2010.

From Nasty Parts: “Re: NextGen. There’s a sales book on the street, according to contact there. The only insiders who will benefit are the Cardinal hires brought over by CEO Rusty Frantz, such as the new CFO whose package included 75,000 restricted stock units.” Unverified.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

Sixteen companies have joined my little HIStalk sponsor family in the past handful of weeks, motivated in part by the fall new sponsor special offer that throws in the rest of 2016 free for a full-year 2017 sponsorship. Contact Lorre to join them.

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Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor Learn on Demand Systems. The company’s OneLearn training management system allows organizations of all sizes to deliver experience-based training, software demos, and performance-based assessments in managing programs, instructors, classrooms, schedules, and metrics. Its OneLearn lab-on-demand platform automates the delivery of hands-on labs and product demonstrations, using the hospital’s custom EMR instance (a mirror image, not a simulation) to deliver an Interactive Digital Lab with testing to identify those departments that are (or aren’t) ready for an implementation or upgrade go-live. Everybody gets a sandbox to play in whenever their schedule allows – no more marathon classroom sessions. You can try a live preview of a training lab – I did and it’s very cool (scroll down on the page to launch a sample environment with no sign-up required).  The company has reached users in 145 countries, launched 10 million labs, and trained 5 million students for customers that include Google, Microsoft, Citrix, and Caradigm. Thanks to Learn on Demand Systems for supporting HIStalk.

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Here’s a screenshot of my playing around with a live preview of Learn on Demand Systems. It presented an exam on the right with links to resources such as a network diagram while in the middle of the screen was a virtual live session of Windows NT (browser based, no setup required), allowing the student to work on a live server while completing a test on how to configure user e-mail accounts.

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We provided math games for the third-grade class of Ms. Burkett in Missouri in funding her DonorsChoose grant request. She says her students get excited about math every day because the activities are fun and allow them to work together to solve problems.

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The industry’s most talked-about HIMSS party is on. Would your company like to help me pay for it since I’m otherwise personally on the hook for the rather shocking price tag in entertaining 800 or so industry notables? Contact Lorre for sponsorship options that can range from small to blow-out.

This week on HIStalk Practice: Central Virginia Coalition of Healthcare Providers selects CCM software from Smartlink. CityMD partners with Par80 for referral management. Survey shows patients want pricing up front, but providers aren’t prepared to comply. Internet icon advocates for an "NIH for Cybersecurity." AMA unveils new MACRA tools for physician prep. MTBC acquires MediGain and Millenium Practice Management. NHHIO ED Jeff Loughlin helps New Hampshire providers set up a centralized data repository now that they’ve gotten over the EHR implementation hump.


Webinars

October 13 (Thursday) 2:00 ET. “Glycemic Control During Therapeutic Hypothermia.” Sponsored by Monarch Medical Technologies. Presenter: Tracey Melhuish, RN, MSN, clinical practice specialist, Holy Cross Hospital (FL). Using therapeutic hypothermia (TH) as a method of care can present risks of hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, and blood glucose variability. Maintaining safe glucose levels during the cooling and rewarming phases of TH reduces the risks of adverse events. Tracey Melhuish, author of “Linking Hypothermia and Hyperglycemia,” will share best practices for optimal glucose control during TH and the success Holy Cross Hospital sees while using a computerized glucose management software.

October 25 (Tuesday) 1:30 ET. “Data Privacy/Insider Threat Mitigation: What Hospitals Can Learn From Other Industries.” Sponsored by HIStalk. Presenters: Robert Kuller, chief commercial officer, Haystack Informatics; Mitchell Parker, CISSP, executive director of information security and compliance, Indiana University Health. Cybersecurity insurers believe that hospitals are too focused on perimeter threats, ransomware, and the threat of OCR audits instead of insider threats, which are far more common but less likely to earn media attention. Attendees will learn how behavior analytics is being used to profile insiders and detect unusual behaviors proactively and to place privacy/insider risk within the risk management matrix.

November 9 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “How to Create Healthcare Apps That Get Used and Maybe Even Loved.” Sponsored by MedData. Presenter: Jeff Harper, founder and CEO, Duet Health. Patients, clinicians, and hospital employees are also consumers who manage many aspects of their non-medical lives on their mobile devices. Don’t crush their high technology expectations with poorly designed, seldom used apps that tarnish your carefully protected image. Your app represents your brand and carries high expectations on both sides. This webinar will describe how to build a mobile healthcare app that puts the user first, meets their needs (which are often different from their wants), creates "stickiness," and delivers the expected benefits to everyone involved.

Contact Lorre for webinar services. View previous webinars on our HIStalk webinars YouTube channel.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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ICU surveillance monitoring technology vendor Sotera Wireless, which offers the ViSi Mobile wireless sensor, files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company had raised $84 million in nine funding rounds, but none since early 2014.

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Consumer wellness software vendor Welltok raises $33.7 million in a Series E funding round, increasing its total to $164 million.

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In an unpleasant health IT flashback special, Vista Equity Partners will take England-based Misys public again on the London Stock Exchange, valuing the company at $7 billion in England’s largest IPO of 2016. Vista bought the company for $1.6 billion in 2012, five years after the banking software company sold off its Sunquest and CPR product lines as well as its majority stake in Allscripts in its hasty exit from the healthcare market (they’ve since added “financial software” to their logo to remind themselves of their unsuccessful sector unfaithfulness). I remain amused even now that two British banking software vendors – Misys and Sage – nearly simultaneously made a major mess in their pathetic and fortunately short-lived attempts to milk a US healthcare IT market that they clearly didn’t understand.

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Evolent Health completes its acquisition of Valence Health, paying $219 million rather than the originally announced $145 million since the sale price was tied to Evolent’s share price. Evolent says Valence will generate revenue of around $85 million this year.

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UPMC Enterprises makes an unspecified investment in RxAnte, a UPMC vendor that uses analytics to predict medication adherence. The company reports $4.6 million in fundraising, all of it in 2012.

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Xerox, preparing to split itself into two publicly traded companies, names its business process services segment (which includes healthcare) Conduent. You’ll either be inspired or appalled by the lengthy, marketing-heavy explanation of what every aspect of the made-up word and logo signifies other than that they let creative types run expensively amok (“A bold typeface conveys stability and complements the symbol while acknowledging a 30-year history supporting the critical operations of businesses and governments. A connection between the ‘N’ and the ‘T’ in the typeface of ‘Conduent’ reinforces that the constituent is at the core of the company’s business model. The connected letters also draw the reader’s eye to this unique pronunciation of the coined name.”) Apparently the most important factor in the new company’s eventual success is allowing those last two letters to touch.


Sales

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Harrison Memorial Hospital (KY) chooses Santa Rosa Consulting’s InfoPartners subsidiary as its Meditech 6.1 Ready implementation partner.

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Island Hospital (WA) chooses Meditech.

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In England, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust selects Cerner, sharing its implementation with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. 

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In Canada, William Osler Health System will implement Extension Engage for unified clinical communications and collaboration.

Choosing Wellsoft’s EDIS are Angleton ER (TX) and the third freestanding emergency center of Cypress Creek ER (TX).


People

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Harry Greenspun, MD (Deloitte) joins Korn Ferry as chief medical officer and managing director of its KF Health Solutions business.

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PM/EHR vendor InSync Healthcare Solutions promotes Roland Therriault to president, replacing Tom Wilson.

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Gregg Waldon (RedBrick Health) joins Kareo as CFO.


Government and Politics

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CMS discloses that it (meaning we taxpayers) paid over $1 billion per year for the past five years buying Mylan’s EpiPens for Medicare and Medicaid patients. The government also claims that Mylan misclassified the allergy injection as a generic drug –which earns CMS only a 13 percent rebate– instead of a brand name product for which CMS would have received at least a 23 percent discount. CMS indignantly tells the press that it has repeatedly warned Mylan that they were mischaracterizing the drug, but doesn’t explain why it kept paying the inflated price anyway.

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CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt describes the state of healthcare insurance marketplaces in a Wednesday speech:

We’ve chosen to address the need to transform in most traditional American way possible– through the private sector. Which means we’re relying on innovation and competition to serve consumers best … If anyone’s premise was that by passing one law, we would fix the affordability of health care all at once, that’s just not how it works. We’re here because the law sets a path in motion … Particularly if you see churn in your book– as people move in and out of jobs and struggle with affordability, how do you build loyalty? Are you building on-boarding processes, monthly touch points, and other initiatives that create “stickiness?” Remember, consumers don’t like churning any more than you do … do you have your first tier hospitals contracted to manage aggressive ER utilization so people can get care in the right setting? Have you set up telemedicine, nurse lines, and other convenient forms of both coaching and steerage? Is there free primary care and other incentives to detect health concerns early?

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CMS opens a search for a replacement for former CIO David Nelson, who was brought on to save Healthcare.gov before moving to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in August.

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CMS adds hospice payment information to its publicly available datasets.


Privacy and Security

In England, an NHS security official provides a specific example of how far hackers will go to penetrate a hospital. They targeted an employee, looked up his background on LinkedIn to find that he played college rugby, spoofed an email account using the name of the team captain he played with, and included an attachment claiming to be an old team photo of the two of them together. The victim clicked on the attachment, clicked OK to allow it to open, and in doing so permitted the installation of Trojan spyware that probed the network for two weeks until it was discovered. NHS’s particular problem is that 15 percent of its PCs still run the insecure Windows XP either because old apps and devices require it or that money is too tight to upgrade everything.


Innovation and Research

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The American Heart Association, Verily Life Sciences (Google), and drugmaker AstraZeneca award a $75 million, five-year grant to Calum MacRae, MD, PhD, chief of cardiovascular medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (MA), for a big data-powered study in which he will apply engineering, computing, and genomics expertise to the data of heart study participants to look for early markers for heart disease. His team will use data from wearables and patient-reported information in attempting to answer the question of why so many patients get heart disease despite having none of the currently known risk factors.


Technology

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The RWJF-funded project The Mood Challenge names the finalists of its competition to use Apple’s ResearchKit to assess mood and its relationship to PTSD. BiAffect tracks and predicts mood episodes by the speed and accuracy of the user’s typing, while Aware Study administers weekly surveys and two daily tasks.


Other

In Australia, doctors at Cairns Hospital request an independent review of its Cerner rollout after learning that 48 mislabeled blood specimens have been identified this year vs. nine in all of 2013. Employees say the specimen collection workflow is convoluted and that printing tube labels for multiple patients on a single printer has caused mixed-ups.

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The AMA publishes new MACRA tools for doctors: a calculator to predict the impact of payment changes on a given practice, new MACRA tools for its STEPS Forward practice redesign program, and a podcast series.

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Internet pioneer and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen says in an interview that rising-cost sectors (mostly healthcare and education) are dragging down the economy in canceling out the benefits and lower prices created by technology, leading to stagnant incomes, loss of jobs, and a bigger chunk of personal income spent on those sectors:

You have the sectors in which prices are rapidly rising: healthcare, education, construction, prescription drugs, elder care, and child care. Here there’s very little technological innovation. Those are sectors with insufficient productivity growth, innovation, and disruption. You’ve got monopolies, oligopolies, cartels, government-run markets, price-fixing — all the dysfunctional behaviors that lead to rapid increase in prices. The government injects more subsidies into those markets, but because those are inelastic markets, the subsidies just cause prices to go up further … The problem is insufficient technological adoption, innovation, and disruption in these high-escalating price sectors of the economy. My thesis is that we’re not in a tech bubble — we’re in a tech bust. Our problem isn’t too much technology or people being too excited about technology. The problem is we don’t have nearly enough technology. These cartel-like legacy industries are way too hard to disrupt.

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Odd: a closed Ohio bridal shop sues a Texas Health Resources hospital for $1 million, saying it lost hundreds of thousands of dollars after one of the two THR nurses who contracted Ebola in 2014 tried on dresses there before she knew she was infected, after which the stigma of being known as “the Ebola store” caused the store’s failure.

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I would say drug pricing and profits are way too complicated when I can’t even understand a dumbed-down graphic of where prescription money goes. I do understand, however, that despite the title that suggests middlemen are raking it in, the last line shows that the brand-name manufacturer still keeps 75 percent of whatever made-up price they choose (thus encouraging them to price accordingly).

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A writer whose 34-year-old wife died in CHA Cambridge Hospital (MA) pens a moving letter to the ICU employees who cared for her:

When I needed to use a computer for an emergency email, you made it happen. When I smuggled in a very special visitor, our tuxedo cat, Cola, for one final lick of Laura’s face, you “didn’t see a thing.” And one special evening you gave me full control to usher into the ICU more than 50 people in Laura’s life, from friends to co-workers to college alums to family members. It was an outpouring of love that included guitar playing and opera singing and dancing and new revelations to me about just how deeply my wife touched people. It was the last great night of our marriage together, for both of us, and it wouldn’t have happened without your support.


Sponsor Updates

  • VMware shares its vision for intelligent analytics from VMware AirWatch.
  • Impact Advisors volunteers with SCARCE DuPage as part of its annual Operations Team meeting.
  • Catalyst’s HITRUST CSF certification is extended to customers using Microsoft Azure.
  • InstaMed recaps its event at Epic’s UGM.
  • HCI Group will exhibit at the Ministry of Health & HIMSS Middle East conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia next week.
  • Glytec is named an innovation award finalist for its diabetes management solution.
  • John Yurkschatt of Direct Conulting Associates is named to “2016 Millennials in Staffing.”
  • MedData will exhibit at the ACEP Scientific Assembly October 16-19 in Las Vegas.
  • A Spok survey finds that most hospitals are formalizing their mobile strategy, often with the help of outside experts, but are challenged by deficiencies in Wi-Fi and cellular coverage.
  • Meditech celebrates October’s health literacy heroes.
  • Wellsoft will exhibit at ACEP October 16-18 in Las Vegas.
  • Medicity President of HDMS Analytics Patrice Wolfe will keynote the New Jersey & Metro Philly HFMA Annual Institute taking place this week in Atlantic City.
  • Obix Perinatal Data System will exhibit at the Tennessee State AWHONN Conference October 7-8 in Memphis. 
  • Experian Health will exhibit at the HFMA SoCal/Imperial Chapters Fall Conference October 9-11 in Newport Beach.
  • Red Hat will host its North America Partner Technical Exchange October 10 in Chicago.

Blog Posts


Contacts

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

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October 6, 2016 News No Comments

EPtalk by Dr. Jayne 10/6/16

October 6, 2016 Dr. Jayne 1 Comment

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At my clinical practice, we frequently use scribes to document in the EHR while we focus on patients. While most of our scribes are cross-trained emergency medical technicians or medical assistants, some are college or graduate students who are looking for experience in the field while they apply to medical school.

My favorite scribe was recently admitted to medical school. Since he doesn’t have any family in town, he invited me to sit in for his family at his school’s white coat ceremony. We didn’t have that ceremony when I went to medical school, but quite a few schools have them now. Often in their first year of training, students are presented with the traditional white coat and may take an oath.

Schools have gotten away from the traditional Hippocratic Oath (mine used the Declaration of Geneva), but his school encourages each class to write their own oath. It was quite moving to see the students promise to keep the patient at the center of care and to deliver care equitably regardless of gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation. I didn’t hear anything about sacrificing patient care time to address burdensome regulations and reporting requirements, but they’ll be learning about those aspects of medicine soon enough.

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October is Health Literacy Month, aimed at helping promote the importance of understandable health information. Greater health literacy can lead to improved health status and may be more of a contributor than other factors such as race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. Although many EHR vendors try to increase health literacy by making sure their patient education materials are at an accessible reading level, there are other factors at play. The National Patient Safety Foundation is promoting its “Ask Me 3” program that encourages patients to ask three questions to better understand their health: 1) What is my main problem?; 2) What do I need to do?; and 3) Why is it important for me to do this? I’d love to see more EHR-generated patient plan documents that address these questions in a readable format rather than just spitting out codes and canned phrases that may not make sense for patients.

The rising cost of health care and subsequent attempts at reform are impacting care delivery across the country. My local school board just voted to investigate the possibility of onsite health clinics for employees and their families. They’re not ready to address health clinics for students, but the employee clinics are seen as a possible way to not only get employees back to work more quickly, but to control costs. We perform similar corporate health services at my clinical practice and can generally get patients treated and back to work with their medications in under 45 minutes. I’ll be interested to see how it turns out and whether the promise of efficiency and cost-control outweighs any privacy concerns.

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Nearly 180 members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to CMS claiming that recent payment reforms announced by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) exceed the authority of CMS and are therefore illegal. The legislators contend that voluntary programs are acceptable, but mandatory participation in programs such as bundled payment programs can “commandeer clinical decision making and dramatically alter the delivery of care.” They go on to “insist CMMI stop experimenting with Americans’ health.” I’ve spoken with many of my peers who feel that MU and other programs are out of control experiments with no requirement for institutional review board approval. It remains to be seen if using financial incentives against providers will really drive the needle on patient outcomes.

I wrote earlier this week about some downtime/disaster recovery adventures I had with one of my clients. A reader commented on my mention that “since crossing to the IT dark side, I’ve had more late night phone calls for database disasters than I’ve had for patient care issues, but the steps are surprisingly similar,” wanting to know more.

  • Getting to the root cause of an information technology misadventure can be a lot like trying to diagnose a patient who presents with vague symptoms or a complex condition.
  • Like a person with a stroke, it’s important to know when was the last time that the system was normal, what the presenting symptoms were, and how quickly it progressed.
  • Similar to a person having a heart attack, you have to act quickly within a limited time frame so that more extensive damage doesn’t happen.
  • You have to assimilate data from a variety of sources and try to put it all together in the hopes of figuring out what happened, what is currently going on, and how you can identify the best intervention.
  • Sometimes you try maneuvers that are both diagnostic and therapeutic. They may or may not work depending on the status of the patient/system.
  • It’s important to have a skilled team that can work well together and has common goals.
  • When we teach CPR and advanced cardiac life support, we talk about closed-loop communication and following algorithms for prescribed interventions. Both of those apply to downtime and disaster recovery situations.
  • Not unlike medicine, sometimes you lose a patient. But when you make a save, it’s extremely gratifying.

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Mr. H recently polled the reader base on desirable qualities for sales team members. He mentioned that military service ranks #1 on his list. I work with numerous veterans and have to say they’re high on my list of desirable employees and co-workers as well. I recently finished reading a book called CONUS Battle Drills by Louis J. Fernandez. Subtitled “A guide for combat veterans to corporate life, parenthood, and caging the beast inside” it also offers good perspective for those of us who hire or work with people who have been through situations we can barely imagine. I’m grateful for all the men and women who have served and who have continued to serve and look forward to having them on my team.

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I’m going to put my physician hat on for a minute and remind everyone to get a flu vaccine. There was some buzz earlier this year about whether receiving the vaccine too early can reduce its effectiveness, which may have led some people to wait. Although some think the flu is no big deal, it kills nearly 24,000 people in the US every year, including 100 children. It can also cause life-threatening complications. The vaccine used to be recommended only for high risk patients, but now vaccination is universally recommended for everyone over six months of age. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get the herd immunity going.

Does your employer mandate flu vaccinations? Email me.

Email Dr. Jayne.

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October 6, 2016 Dr. Jayne 1 Comment

Morning Headlines 10/6/16

October 5, 2016 Headlines No Comments

Scientist using big data against heart disease wins $75 million award

The American Heart Association, Verily Life Sciences, and AstraZeneca have awarded their $75 million “One Brave Idea” research award to a single researcher, Calum MacRae, MD, chief of cardiovascular medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (MA), who will work with MIT engineers to analyze data from the Framingham and Million Veterans studies to learn more about how heart disease begins.

Surgeon General sends warning to own staff: Your personal information may have been stolen

The Surgeon General’s office confirms that hackers have stolen the personal information of its staff, including 6,600 medical professionals that report to the Surgeon General.

Chinese billionaire says he’s not interested in buying CHS

After increasing his stake in CHS, Chinese billionaire Tianqiao Chen says that the health systems recently enacted ‘poison pill’ defense is unnecessary. A spokesperson states “We believe it is important to reiterate our previously stated position of being a passive investor in the company. We have no intention to influence or control the company and have communicated this to the company on various occasions.”

It pays to be kind at Geisinger

Geisinger Health System has paid out $400,000 in reimbursements as part of a money-back guarantee to patients who say that their experiences were not met with kindness and compassion.

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October 5, 2016 Headlines No Comments

Readers Write: Guaranteeing MACRA Compliance at the Point of Care

October 5, 2016 Readers Write No Comments

Guaranteeing MACRA Compliance at the Point of Care
By David Lareau

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MACRA will affect every physician and every clinical encounter. Current systems have been designed to produce transactions to be billed. MACRA will require that clinical conditions have been addressed and documented in accordance with quality care guidelines. The only way to ensure that happens is to do it at the point of care.

The challenge is that physicians need to address all conditions, not just those covered by a MACRA requirement. One approach is to just add another set of things to do, slowing doctors down and getting in their way. This is the transactional approach — just another task.

Most current systems have different tabs that list problems, medications, labs, etc. Users must switch back and forth looking for data. The data cannot be organized by problem since the systems lack any method for correlating information based on clinical condition. Adding another set of disconnected information to satisfy quality measures will only make it worse for users.

A better approach is to integrate quality care requirements for any condition with all the other issues the physician needs to address for a specific patient and to work it into a physician’s typical workflow. A well-designed EHR should have a process running in the background that keeps track of all applicable quality measures and guidelines for the patient being seen. The status of all quality measures must be available at any point in the encounter in a format that ties all information together for any clinical issue.

This requires actionable, problem-oriented views of clinical data, where all information for any clinical issue is available instantly. Physicians need to be able to view, react to, and document clinical information for every problem or issue addressed with the patient. This includes history and physical documentation, review of results, clinical assessments, and treatment plans as well as compliance with quality measures.

Guaranteeing MACRA compliance at the point of care can be accomplished by using a clinical knowledge engine that presents all relevant information for any clinical issue so that MACRA quality measures are seamlessly included as part of the patient’s overall clinical picture, not as just another task to be added on to the already burdensome workflows of current systems.

David Lareau is CEO of Medicomp Systems of Chantilly, VA.

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October 5, 2016 Readers Write No Comments

Readers Write: Telemedicine Is Just Medicine

October 5, 2016 Readers Write 6 Comments

Readers Write: Telemedicine Is Just Medicine
By Teri Thomas

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Telemedicine. MHealth. Remote healthcare. What’s the best term for a given use case? A large portion of my job is focused on it, yet my answer is, “I don’t much care what term you use.” 

Well, I guess I care a little if I see confusion getting in the way of progress. Don’t get me wrong — I’m glad that nobody has been saying “mMedicine” yet (would that be like, “mmm…medicine” or “em-medicine?”) I don’t love “virtual health” as it makes me wonder if I watch lots of exercise shows and raw food infomercials, could I get virtually healthy? 

Defining telemedicine as a subset of telehealth related to direct care at a distance vs. provision of healthcare-related services at a distance, while correct—who cares? Consider if when indoor plumbing was new, people discussed “s-water” (out of a stream), vs. “i-water” (from in the home). I guess i-water would be better than p-water from pipes (it’s OK to giggle a little — be a middle-schooler for a minute). We care about perhaps three factors:

  • Is it modified/sparkling/flavored?
  • Do we have to pay for it (bottled water vs. tap water)?
  • Is it clean enough to drink?

Medicine is medicine. Healthcare is healthcare. It’s care: good, bad, and a ton in the middle. Yet I hear murmurs like, “Telemedicine isn’t good quality healthcare.” That’s like saying tap water isn’t good enough to drink because you’ve spent time in Flint.

Good quality care isn’t determined by the location of the provider or patient. Care can be done very well without requiring the patient and the clinician to be in the same room. It can also be done very poorly. Probably the majority of it — just like when the doctor and patient are together in a room — is not perfect, not bad, and mostly OK. 

Not every type of visit is appropriate over video, but many types are. In dermatology, providers have been using photos for decades. Camera cost and image resolution have dramatically improved so that even inexpensive systems can provide more image detail than a physician with the sharpest of vision. Stethoscopes, lights, cameras, video connections, telephones—all are tools to help us practice medicine better.  Sometimes the tools work great and are helpful and sometimes not.

If the Internet connection is slow or the battery dies, quality is impacted. But think for a minute about the impact on quality of care for the physician who had an extra-complex first appointment and is running an hour or more behind. The patients are stacking up and getting upset about their wait times. The clinic day is lengthening. The pressure to catch up mounts. Finally, consider the patient taking off work, driving to a clinic, parking, sitting in a waiting room with Sally Pink Eye, feeling at bored at best and anxious and angry at worst about their wait times.

How high of quality will that encounter be compared to the patient connecting with the provider from home or work? The patient didn’t have to drive, and even if waiting, likely they were in a more comfortable environment with other things to do.

Keep in mind that if the patient were physically there in the dermatology office and the lights went out or the dermatologist’s glasses were suddenly broken, it would be very hard to provide a quality exam. For a remote derm visit, if you can ensure reliable “tool” quality (history from the patient and/or GP, high enough resolution video/images, clear audio), why should there be a care quality concern? Yet these kinds of “visits” — heavily image-focused encounters — are still traditionally accomplished by asking a patient come to the provider. 

Thank you to Kaiser and other telemedicine leaders for providing us with the validating data: remote visits can be done with high quality, lower costs, and positive quality care and patient satisfaction outcomes. On behalf of patients who are increasing expecting more convenient care, healthcare providers who are hesitant — please invest in video visit technology and seek opportunities to provide more convenient care for your patients. Payers, please recognize that this is in everyone’s best interest and start financially rewarding those providers.

Teri Thomas is director of innovation for an academic medical center.

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October 5, 2016 Readers Write 6 Comments

Readers Write: What Hospitals Can Learn from the Insurance Industry About Privacy/Insider Threat Risk Mitigation

October 5, 2016 Readers Write No Comments

What Hospitals Can Learn from the Insurance Industry About Privacy/Insider Threat Risk Mitigation
By Robert B. Kuller

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The drumbeat of hospital PHI breaches marches on. Every day there seems to be another news article on a hospital being hit with a ransomware attack. Hospital CEOs and bards are placing ever-increasing demands on their CIOs to pour technology and resources into preventing these perimeter attacks.

Who can blame them? They don’t want to have to appear before the media and explain why the attack wasn’t prevented given the current high threat environment, how many patients records were affected, and how they will deal with the aftermath of the breach.

Even though these perimeter attacks are no doubt high profile, there is a larger threat that is not being given high enough attention by CEOs or their boards and certainly not the same level of technology and resources to deal with it — privacy and insider-borne threats. According to a recent study by Clearswift, 58 percent of all security incidents can be attributed to insider threats (employees, ex-employees, and trusted partners).

The primary causative factors were identified as inadvertent human error and lack of awareness or understanding. Only 26 percent of organizations are confident they can accurately determine the source of the incident. There are plenty more statistics to throw around, but suffice to say, insider threat is a major problem and represents a large part of hospital breaches even though they do not routinely get the same level of media coverage.

Let’s take a quick review of what the hospital landscape looks like in terms of dealing with insider threat today. Most privacy staff are very small, usually about two people. They are charged with identifying potential breaches; investigating those identified potential breaches to determine actual breaches; interfacing with department heads; internal, and regulatory reporting on actual breaches; putting together a breach reaction plan; assisting with staff education; and preventing future breaches. With a typical 400-bed hospital exceeding five million EHR transactions per day — all of which need to be reviewed — any reasonable person would conclude that is a very high set of expectations for such a small staff.

The vast majority of hospitals continue to use inferior, outdated technology because of severe budget limitations that are applied to the privacy function, while tens of millions of dollars are spent on perimeter defenses. The capabilities of these systems are very limited and basically dump tens of thousands of audit logs entries into Excel spreadsheets that need to be reviewed by the privacy staff. Cutting edge, behaviorally-based systems with advanced search engines, deep insight visualization, and proactive monitoring capabilities are available, but not regularly adopted.

Privacy/insider threat is primarily viewed as a compliance issue. Many hospital CEOs and boards justify giving low priority and resources to this area by looking at the potential fines that OCR will levy if their hospital’s PHI is breached. In fact, the fines are relatively low; breaches have to break the 500-record threshold (although OCR recently announced an effort to delve into breaches below this threshold); you have to be found guilty of not doing reasonable due diligence; and you are given multiple chances at correcting bad practices prior to fines being assessed. Combine this with an overreliance on cyber risk insurance and you have a potential for disaster.

The actual risk profile should start first and foremost with loss of hospital reputation. A hospital brand takes years and millions of dollars to build. One privacy breach can leave it in ruins. The second risk is patient loss and the associated costs of replacing those patients. A recent poll by Transunion showed that nearly seven in 10 respondents would avoid healthcare providers that had a privacy breach. The third major risk is lawsuits, legal costs, and settlements. Settlement costs are large and juries generally rule against institutions and for the damaged plaintiff. Fourth would be compliance.

There also seems to be a misunderstanding of cyber risk insurance. Like other insurance, it will not reward bad practices or flawed due diligence on behalf of the policyholder. Insurers will do a pre-audit to make sure that the risk they are undertaking is understood, that proper prevention technologies are in place, and that best practices are being documented and followed. Once a breach has been claimed, they will generally send out another team of investigators to determine if the items mentioned above were in place and best efforts were maintained during the breach. If they weren’t, this could lead to a denial or at least a prolonged negotiating process. Premium costs will also be reflective of level of preparedness and payouts generally do not cover anywhere near the full costs of the breach.

Prior to coming back to the hospital industry, I spent six years in the disability insurance industry, where top management and Boards take both insider threat and the actual risk matrix of PHI breach very seriously. I believe the hospital industry can learn a valuable lesson from the disability industry. This lesson can be summarized as

  1. Take the real risk matrix seriously.
  2. Put the proper amount of technological and human resources in place in alignment with the actual risk profile.
  3. Buy the best technology available, update it as frequently as possible, and get proactive rather than reactive.
  4. Educate and remind your staff constantly of proper behavior and the consequences of improper behavior (up to and including being terminated).
  5. Don’t overly rely on cyber risk insurance.
  6. Review the CISO’s reporting structure (avoid natural conflicts of interest with the CIO) and have them report to the board for an independent assessment of privacy/insider threat status on a regular basis.

As difficult and expensive as hospital data security is, it is both mandatory to protect patients and part of the price of admission to the market. Although we are in a constant battle to stay one step ahead of the bad guy, we often find ourselves one step behind. That, I’m afraid, is the nature of the beast.

Let’s place privacy/insider threat on an equal footing with the real risks associated with it. It simply makes sense to do so, from the patient, risk, financial, and fiduciary perspectives.

Robert B. Kuller is chief commercial officer for Haystack Informatics of Philadelphia, PA.

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October 5, 2016 Readers Write No Comments

Morning Headlines 10/5/16

October 4, 2016 Headlines No Comments

Warburg Pincus Private Equity XII, L.P.; Intelligent Medical Objects, Inc.

Clinical nomenclature vendor Intelligent Medical Objects will be acquired by PE firm Warburg Pincus.

Massive U.K. Brain-Mapping Project Releases First Results

UK researchers working to capture MRI scans of the brains of 100,000 people and then combine the data along with detailed health questionnaires from each person have released an early data set from the first 5,000 subjects to participate in the study.

WHO develops electronic solution to child, maternal deaths

The World Health Organization is developing an app to guide less skilled clinicians through labor-related clinical emergencies in sub-Saharan Africa in an effort to reduce child and maternal death rates.

Bill Clinton calls Obamacare ‘the craziest thing in the world,’ later tries to walk it back

While campaigning for his wife, Bill Clinton drew immediate attention when he described the ACA as a “crazy system where all of a sudden 25 million more people have health care and then the people who are out there busting it, sometimes 60 hours a week, wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half. It’s the craziest thing in the world.” He went on to reiterate that “the people that are getting killed in this deal are small businesspeople and individuals who make just a little too much to get any of these subsidies.”

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October 4, 2016 Headlines No Comments

News 10/5/16

October 4, 2016 News 7 Comments

Top News

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Private equity firm Warburg Pincus will acquire Intelligent Medical Objects, according to an FTC pre-merger filing.


Reader Comments

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From The Truth: “Re: lying on contracts. I know a major EMR vendor who does it.” Only one? However, allow me to take the other side of the argument: a client who rightly insists on a properly detailed set of terms and conditions with appropriate non-performance penalties makes vendor lying pointless. My experience is that while salespeople might on occasion embellish the truth, skate to where the puck is going in describing offerings that technically might not actually exist, and sometimes speak in soothing but non-binding generalities, wise customers include everything they expect in their contracts. Hospital people are often so exhausted by their product selection process and so loath to restart it that they subconsciously align themselves with their vendor in treating the contract as a relief-inducing ceremonial formality than what it really is – the only tangible manifestation of all that prep work and the sole protection against an undesirable future state. Don’t be that football player who spikes the ball and commences a showily choreographed celebratory dance before the ball has actually crossed the plane of the goal line. 

From In the Know: “Re: eClinical Works. Has lost two huge customers in their own back yard that are switching to Epic – the physician networks of Boston Children’s Hospital and Mount Auburn Hospital.” Unverified.

From Twice Bitten: “Re: Streamline Health. Laid off half its financial management and scheduling team (the 13 year in a row KLAS winner).” Unverified. Streamline Health acquired patient scheduling system vendor Unibased Systems Architecture in early 2014. USA’s product has always ranked high in KLAS but is pretty low profile, both in terms of existing customers and in STRM’s promotional material.

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From Freddie Kroger: “Re: [publication name omitted]. They just gave a big splash to their EHR satisfaction results. Note the small print: they received only 340 responses.” That didn’t stop them from running a bunch of brashly written articles that tried to sound authoritative but were embarrassing given the complete lack of statistically defensible methodology. They got even fewer responses than the 400 last year that fueled a ridiculous salvo of pointless articles and overly cute graphics. The survey also seems to confuse inpatient and ambulatory EHRs and fails to distinguish among multiple EHRs offered by a single vendor. It’s a worthless survey other than for fueling clickbait. I ended my critique of last year’s version by listing factors to ponder in deciding whether to trust a survey’s results:

  1. How did you choose your pool of potential survey respondents? Was random sampling of a known population used?
  2. How did you invite participation?
  3. What was your survey’s sample size and response rate?
  4. What were the characteristics of your survey’s non-respondents?
  5. What is the motivation of those who responded? (unsatisfied people are more likely to respond in most cases).
  6. What were the demographics of your respondents?
  7. How did you prevent ballot box stuffing?
  8. What did your survey instrument look like? Were your questions clear, unbiased, and appropriate for those surveyed? Did the sponsoring organization create bias (unintentional or otherwise) in the choice and wording of questions?
  9. Does your survey report include raw data that prove its conclusions? What type of statistical methods did you apply in analyzing the responses?
  10. Do your conclusions overreach the underlying data in trying to gain publicity with catchy headlines and graphics that aren’t supported? Do your published results state the limitations of the survey?

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

Thanks to Jenn for covering for me as I took a few days off. I’m happy nobody missed me so I could enjoy my little vacation without feeling too guilty. I love traveling with my Chromebook for instant-on connections with a fantastic keyboard instead of an on-screen one. It has fully replaced my tablet and laptop for traveling, other than using the tablet as a Kindle reader on planes.

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I was unfortunately imprecise in last week’s poll question, where I was interested in learning how providers view the resumes of salespeople, but my poor wording suggested I was also cultivating the opinions of those in a sales hiring role. Nonetheless, I’ll go with the most important salesperson attributes as voted: (a) a lifetime career in health IT; (b) a healthcare professional degree; and (c) consulting experience. Since earning a non-healthcare graduate degree ranked low, nothing important on my list is easily undertaken by someone already in sales who wants to make a better LinkedIn first impression, which means that professionalism, honesty, and interpersonal skills rule the day. I’m an outlier in that military service ranks #1 on my list, especially if the person either graduated from one of the service academies, served as an officer, or deployed overseas.

New poll to your right or here: what speaker tendency annoys you the most when attending a conference session or webinar? Early returns suggest the same problems that we vigorously coach against when we help people make their planned webinar better.

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Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor Dimensional Insight. The Burlington, MA-based data analytics and business intelligence solutions vendor offers the award-winning (Best in KLAS in BI/Analytics for five years) Diver Platform, an end-to-end enterprise reporting and analytics system that provides actionable, role-based business intelligence. Capabilities include diabetes management, MU compliance, quality reporting, population health, payroll analysis, product line analysis, reimbursement management, asset utilization, EHR reporting, staffing requirements forecasting, and strategic planning. Specific solutions include Physician Performance Advisor, which brings all KPIs into a single application; Surgery Advisor for OR management; Meaningful Use Advisor that allows measuring, analyzing, and attesting from a single app; and GL Advisor for allowing finance departments to answer their own questions using data integrated from multiple systems such as accounting, payroll, and time and attendance. See the case studies. Thanks to Dimensional Insight for supporting HIStalk.

I found this just-published Dimensional Insight customer testimonial from Henry Mayo Hospital (CA) on YouTube.

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Welcome to new HIStalk Gold Sponsor Kyruus. I like the company’s description of what it does as “precise demand-supply matching,” which advocates that as an alternative to standardizing medical practices into a one-size-fits-all model, we should instead “understand, measure, and embrace the heterogeneity” in identifying patient outliers and matching them with doctors who are best at managing their condition. I had marginally fond, acetone-fumed memories of organic chemistry classes in reading the origins of the company’s name, which is derived from the word “chiral” and features two U’s to represent using big data to unleash physician potential. The company’s ProviderMatch helps access centers and networks (and even patients themselves) connect patients with the right doctor, taking into account doctor expertise, insurance acceptance, locations, availability, demographics, and business rules to enable real-time provider search, scheduling, and referral instead of the creaky and nearly worthless “doctor finder” webpages offered by most hospitals. The company’s executive roster boasts folks with impressive backgrounds. Customers include Beaumont, Keck Medicine of USC, MedStar Health, MercyHealth, Partners HealthCare, Providence and Swedish. Thanks to Kyruus for not only supporting HIStalk, but for putting up an interesting and passionate website. 

I found this Kyruus video called “The Patient Access Journey” on YouTube.

Listening: new from Metallica, which sounds just like Metallica. They aren’t the most musically amazing group and aren’t likely to extend their loyal fan base with this offering, but they stick to their Flying-V knitting nicely and remain intense on stage.


Webinars

October 13 (Thursday) 2:00 ET. “Glycemic Control During Therapeutic Hypothermia.” Sponsored by Monarch Medical Technologies. Presenter: Tracey Melhuish, RN, MSN, clinical practice specialist, Holy Cross Hospital (FL). Using therapeutic hypothermia (TH) as a method of care can present risks of hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, and blood glucose variability. Maintaining safe glucose levels during the cooling and rewarming phases of TH reduces the risks of adverse events. Tracey Melhuish, author of “Linking Hypothermia and Hyperglycemia,” will share best practices for optimal glucose control during TH and the success Holy Cross Hospital sees while using a computerized glucose management software.

October 25 (Tuesday) 1:30 ET. “Data Privacy/Insider Threat Mitigation: What Hospitals Can Learn From Other Industries.” Sponsored by HIStalk. Presenters: Robert Kuller, chief commercial officer, Haystack Informatics; Mitchell Parker, CISSP, executive director of information security and compliance, Indiana University Health. Cybersecurity insurers believe that hospitals are too focused on perimeter threats, ransomware, and the threat of OCR audits instead of insider threats, which are far more common but less likely to earn media attention. Attendees will learn how behavior analytics is being used to profile insiders and detect unusual behaviors proactively and to place privacy/insider risk within the risk management matrix.

October 26 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “How to Create Healthcare Apps That Get Used and Maybe Even Loved.” Sponsored by MedData. Presenter: Jeff Harper, Founder and CEO, Duet Health. Patients, clinicians, and hospital employees are also consumers who manage many aspects of their non-medical lives on their mobile devices. Don’t crush their high technology expectations with poorly designed, seldom used apps that tarnish your carefully protected image. Your app represents your brand and carries high expectations on both sides. This webinar will describe how to build a mobile healthcare app that puts the user first, meets their needs (which are often different from their wants), creates "stickiness," and delivers the expected benefits to everyone involved.

Contact Lorre for webinar services. View previous webinars on our HIStalk webinars YouTube channel.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Infor systems integrator Avaap acquires Falcon Consulting, which offers Epic consulting services that are ranked #1 in KLAS.

Consumer health site Sharecare, founded by TV huckster Dr. Oz, acquires BioLucid, which offers the You 3D human body simulator. The product might even accurately depict that portion of Dr. Oz’s anatomy from which his medical claims originate (it’s conveniently located right next to his wallet).

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Wolters Kluwer will acquire patient engagement systems vendor Emmi Solutions for $170 million.

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The innovations group of the ProMedica health system (OH) partners with app development technology vendor Kaonsoft to form Kapios health, which will apparently commercialize apps developed by ProMedica.

Cerner tells the Kansas City business paper that it will expand its revenue cycle management business “aggressively.”


Decisions

  • Cooperstown Medical Center (ND) will go live on Epic on November 2016 under the Community Connect program of Altru Health System.
  • Keefe Memorial Hospital (CO) went live on CPSI’s EHR and revenue cycle systems in June 2016, replacing systems from CPSI-acquired Healthland.
  • University Medical Center of Southern Nevada will replace McKesson Horizon with Epic in 2017.

These provider-reported updates are provided by Definitive Healthcare, which offers powerful intelligence on hospitals, physicians, and healthcare providers.


People

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Keith Hagen (IHM Services) joins Aviacode as CEO.

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Spok hires Andrew Mellin, MD, MBA (RedBrick Health) as chief medical officer.


Announcements and Implementations

In Africa, the World Health Organization is completing development of a phone-based app that will help non-specialists manage pregnancies, hoping to reduce child and maternal death by applying the knowledge gleaned from the hospital records of 10,000 pregnant women in a “patients like me” model.

Varian Medical Systems releases its 360 Oncology care management platform that supports virtual tumor board meetings, care coordination, trials management, and patient engagement.

Providence Hospital North Houston (TX) goes live on Wellsoft’s EHR. It’s a micro-hospital, a small facility that offers full services but with only a handful of inpatient beds intended for short stay, often built by a large health system that can’t justify developing a full-sized hospital in an otherwise attractive geographic area. Advisory Board has a nice overview of the concept, which is pretty fascinating. That handful of beds might be enough even for larger areas if hospitals can ever be financially convinced to manage the health of the populations they claim to serve instead of feeding their never-ending edifice complex.

FormFast launches Connect, which guides patients through their healthcare experience by making sure they read and complete forms and checklists before and after each care event, such as for pre-admissions or post care follow up.

VMware adds smart glasses management features to AirWatch, the first unified endpoint management solution to extend into wearables.

Carevive Systems will offer a CME/CNE-accredited symposium on applying the IOM care management plan to patients with non-small cell lung cancer on October 26 in Philadelphia.


Government and Politics

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Non-profit Maryland insurer Evergreen Health switches to a for-profit company as it brings in private equity investors to avoid its imminent shutdown, leaving intact only five of the 23 non-profit insurance co-ops funded by the Affordable Care Act. The insurer blames ACA’s risk adjustment program, which resulted in the company’s receiving a $23 million bill for not having as many expensive patients as other insurance companies. Its website (and perhaps its mission) might need an update since it continues to declare that, “for far too long, health insurance carriers have put profits ahead of people.”

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Former President and would-be First Gentleman Bill Clinton, stumping on behalf of his wife, calls the Affordable Care Act “the craziest thing in the world” that has provided insurance for 25 million more people, but with premiums doubled and coverage halved because those individuals have no leverage with insurers since they aren’t part of a big risk pool. He advocates Hillary Clinton’s proposal to allow middle-class consumers who aren’t eligible for federal insurance subsidies to buy into Medicare and Medicaid.

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Meanwhile, UnitedHealth Group’s startup Harken Health, which offered relationship-based, lower-cost ACA insurance plans and healthcare services, pulls all of its offerings from the marketplace and fires its founding CEO, citing huge losses due to – like even the less-hip insurance companies — unexpectedly older and sicker enrollees.  

The DEA will require opiate drug manufacturers to decrease production by 25 percent next year, with the federal government trying yet again to impose a war on drugs by limiting the supply instead of the demand. The main result will be to drive up the street price and shift more addicts to impure street products that will in many cases kill them.


Privacy and Security

From DataBreaches.net:

  • The US Surgeon General warns the 6,600 medical professionals of the Public Health Service that their information has been accessed by hackers.
  • An illegally operating medical marijuana dispensary in Canada exposes the identities of 500 of its customers when a now-fired employee uses CC: instead of BCC: in sending them a mass email.

Johnson & Johnson warns users of its Animas OneTouch Ping insulin pump, which the user controls via a Wi-Fi remote control, is susceptible to hacking, assuming the would-be hacker can get within 25 feet of it.


Innovation and Research

A UK-based project is studying 100,000 people in matching their brain imaging results to their demographic and medical history to identify early markers of age-related brain problems


Other

A fifth Texas man pleads guilty for his involvement in a scam in which the co-conspirators created a company called Cerner LLC and sold Summit Medical Center (OK) a new MRI machine. You might wonder how a surgery center’s due diligence could be insufficient to the point of not being aware that Cerner doesn’t sell MRI machines.

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The mainstream press is amused that a hospital charged a father $39.95 to hold his newborn. They should be outraged that if he was a cash-paying customer, he would have been stuck with a $13,000 bill since he wouldn’t get the $5,600 discount extended to his insurance company.

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In case you didn’t know, non-profit healthcare is a pretty big business.

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Here’s some nicely dry wit from Acting CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt.

Here’s the new video from ZDoggMD.


Sponsor Updates

  • Medicomp Systems is hosting a sold-out training program in Bangkok, Thailand this week in which customers will learn how to integrate the company’s Quippe documentation tools into their EHRs.
  • Healthegy names Health Catalyst as its Digital Healthcare Innovator of the Year.
  • Optimum Healthcare IT launches a new website and branding.
  • Aprima will exhibit at the Patient-Centered Medical Home Congress October 7 in Chicago.
  • Audacious Inquiry releases a new video on “How to Reduce Hospital Readmissions.”
  • CompuGroup Medical releases a newly rewritten version of its Labdaq Teleios laboratory information system that includes best practices rules, an interactive performance dashboard, and an interface monitoring tool.
  • Bernoulli will exhibit at the American Association for Respiratory Care Congress 2016 October 15-18 in San Antonio.
  • Catalyze publishes daily recaps of Health 2.0.
  • Besler Consulting releases a new podcast, “Revenue recovery opportunities from class action settlements.”
  • CapsuleTech will exhibit at HIMSS Middle East October 12-13 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
  • CTG’s Angela Rivera is featured in the San Diego Business Journal.
  • Cumberland Consulting Group Principal Taylor Ramsey speaks at the South Carolina HFMA Women’s Leadership Conference.
  • EClinicalWorks will exhibit at IPHCA’s 2016 Leadership Conference October 5-7 in St. Louis.
  • The Connecticut Technology Council and Marcum name Evariant to the Marcum Tech Top 40 list.
  • Two locations of Sutherland Healthcare Solutions earn URAC Credentials Verification Organization Accreditation, recognizing the company’s commitment to quality and best practices in the areas of credentialing, provider data management, claims administration, and population health solutions.
  • GE Healthcare creates a Centricity Partner Program.
  • A Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology study demonstrates Glytec’s superiority in meeting ADA guidelines.
  • HCS will exhibit at the NJ HFMA Annual Institute October 5-7 in Atlantic City.
  • Healthwise will exhibit at AdvancedMD Evo16 October 11-12 in Salt Lake City.

Blog Posts


Contacts

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

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October 4, 2016 News 7 Comments

Curbside Consult with Dr. Jayne 10/4/16

October 4, 2016 Dr. Jayne 1 Comment

The last 43 hours has been some of the most agonizing time I’ve spent in the IT trenches in recent memory. I’ve been working with a client on a small CMIO augmentation project, mostly helping them get organized from a governance and change control standpoint. It’s a mid-sized medical group, roughly 80 physicians, but none of them want to take time away from patient care to handle the clinical informatics duties. I suspect that this is because they’re mostly subspecialists and there’s no way the group would be willing to compensate them for the time they would miss from their procedural pursuits.

Until I arrived on the scene, the IT resources would just build whatever the physicians wanted, regardless of whether it made sense for everyone. This in turn led to a whole host of issues that is impacting their ability to take the upgrades they need to continue participating in various federal and payer programs.

I’ve been spending eight hours a week or so with them, mostly on conference calls as they work through a change control process. Much of my work has been in soothing various ruffled feathers and in trying to achieve consensus on issues that have to happen regardless, but I hope to get them in a good place where they can be well positioned for the challenges of shifting to value-based care. Nothing at their site has been on fire from an operational standpoint, and other than telling the IT team to stop building whatever people ask for, I haven’t had much interaction with them.

I stayed up late Saturday night working on a craft project (curse you, Pinterest), so I was awake when they called me in the wee hours of Sunday morning. It was the IT director. I could immediately tell he was in a panic. It took several minutes to calm him down. I was able to figure out that something had gone very, very wrong with their ICD code update.

Hospitals and providers have to update their codes every October 1 to make sure they have valid codes that can actually be sent out to billers. Most cloud-based vendors do the updates themselves and push it out to their clients, while non-cloud vendors that I have worked with provide a utility that allows the client to update their systems. Usually it’s no big deal, except for the vendors who are habitually late sending out their update packages and whose clients are cringing on September 30.

This particular client is on a non-cloud format and had planned to run the utility on their own. Although they had a solid plan with a lead resource and a backup resource, they never really anticipated having to use the backup resource. On the evening of the 30th, the lead resource became seriously ill and wasn’t able to do his duties. They decided to wait it out a day since they weren’t open on the weekend and see if he could handle it later in the weekend. When he was admitted to the hospital with appendicitis, it was clear that they would have to engage Plan B.

Although the backup resource had gone through the documentation, he had never run the utility or even seen it run. Apparently there was some confusion with a downtime playbook. Users were supposed to be dropped from the system before the backup cycle started and then were to be allowed back on the system after the code update was complete.

Somehow the users weren’t forced to exit and ended up being on the system while the backups started. Once the analyst realized users were still on the system, he attempted to halt the backups, but instead, the ICD update was started. I’m not sure what happened next, but the bottom line is that the database became unresponsive and no one was sure what was going on. To make matters worse, the fail-over process failed and they couldn’t connect to secondary/backup database either.

A couple of analysts had tried to work on it for a while and couldn’t get things moving, so they tried to reach the IT director, who didn’t answer. I can’t blame him since it was now somewhere near 1:00 a.m. After working their way through the department phone list, somehow I got the call. I’m not a DBA or an infrastructure expert, but I’ve been through enough disaster recovery situations to know how to keep a cool head and to work through the steps to figure out what happened. Since crossing to the IT dark side, I’ve had more late night phone calls for database disasters than I’ve had for patient care issues, but the steps are surprisingly similar.

Things were a bit worse than I expected since they couldn’t tell if the transaction logs had been going to the secondary database since we couldn’t connect to it. Even worse, I looked at the log of users who were on the system when it crashed and the senior medical director had been in, potentially documenting patient visits for the day. It took me at least 20 minutes to talk people down and get them calm before we could make a plan. The next several hours were spent working through various steps trying to get access to the secondary database to preserve patient safety. It was starting to look like a network switch might also have given up the ghost.

What surprised me the most was that they really didn’t have a disaster recovery plan. There were bits and pieces that had clearly been thought through, but other parts of the process were a blank canvas. Although there are plenty of clinical informatics professionals who are highly technical, it’s never a good sign when the physician consultant is calling the shots on your disaster recovery.

We engaged multiple vendors throughout the early morning as we continued troubleshooting issues. The IT director finally responded to our messages around 8:00 a.m. I realize it was Sunday morning, but he was supposed to be on call for issues due to the ICD code update and he frankly didn’t respond.

By 4:00 p.m. things were under control, with both the primary and recovery systems up and appearing healthy. My client created a fresh backup and decided to go ahead with the ICD code update. We weren’t sure how much of it had actually run given the aborted process from the night before. It appeared to be running OK initially, but after a while, it appeared that the process was hung. By this point, the team was stressed out and at the end of their proverbial ropes and there wasn’t any additional bench to draw from.

I finally persuaded them to contact the EHR vendor, thinking they would have had resources available since this was the prime weekend for ICD code updates even though my client was now more than a day late. It took several hours to get a resource to contact us back and then we had to work through the various tiers of support. Eventually midnight rolled around again and things still weren’t ready, increasing the anxiety as the team knew they’d have billing office users trying to access the system starting at 5:00 a.m.

Once we arrived at the correct vendor support tier (aka, someone who knew something), the team was run through checklist after checklist trying to figure out what was going on and whether we should continue to let it run or whether we should try to stop it.

The IT director finally made the decision at 6:00 a.m. that the practices should start the day on downtime procedures, and thank goodness they had a solid plan for that part of the disaster recovery game. The practices were given access to the secondary database in a read-only capacity for patient safety purposes and each site was said to have a “lockbox” with downtime forms. The group subscribes to a downtime solution that creates patient schedules, so they were quickly printed in the patient care locations along with key data for the patients who were already on the books for the day. Anyone who presented as a walk-in could be accessed through the secondary database.

At least on downtime procedures, users weren’t assigning any ICD codes to the patient charts since the utility hadn’t completed yet. It was restarted a couple of times and finally got its act together, completing around 4:00 p.m. Monday. After an hour or so of testing, we were able to let users back in the primary system to start catching up on critical data entry and billing.

Most of the day, though, was extremely stressful, not only for the IT team, but for everyone in the patient care trenches. It was also stressful for the patients since the group has a high level of patient portal adoption and there is no backup patient portal. Anyone who sent messages or refill requests or tried to pay their bills today was simply out of luck.

When an event like this hits your organization, all you want to do is just get through it. That’s not the hard part, though – the challenge is just beginning with the post-event review and attempts to determine the root cause of various breakdowns. It usually takes at least a couple of days to untangle everything and the work is not yet over. I’m happy to report that the analyst with the appendicitis did well in surgery and was discharged home before the EHR system was back online. I’m not sure having the primary analyst would have made a difference in this situation. I hope he continues to make a speedy recovery.

You never know when something like this is going to happen in your organization, and if you haven’t prepared for it or practiced you plan, you need to do so soon if not today. Similar to the practice of medicine, sometimes the most routine events can have significant complications.

Are you ready for a downtime? Is your disaster recovery plan solid? Email me.

Email Dr. Jayne.

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October 4, 2016 Dr. Jayne 1 Comment

Morning Headlines 10/4/16

October 3, 2016 Headlines No Comments

Community Health Systems Adopts “Poison Pill’

Community Health Systems (TN) has enacted a ‘poison pill’ stockholder protection agreement as Chinese billionaire and activist investor Tianqiao Chen increases his stake in the company to 9.9 percent.

New Wearable Microscope Could Enable Continuous Patient Monitoring at Home in the Future

Researchers from UCLA and Google’s Verily Life Sciences lab have miniaturized a microscope that can track biochemical reactions through the skin. Researchers see applications in remote patient monitoring and medication adherence.

The New Data Experts Our Health-Care Professionals Need

Drew Harris, MD and director of health policy and population health at Thomas Jefferson University’s College of Population Health publishes an op-ed calling for an increased focus on analytics in medial, nursing, and health professional schools as providers continue to generate more data but struggle to generate meaningful intelligence from it.

What it’s like when Alphabet’s venture arm invests in your startup — and helps grow it to a $1.2 billion company

Business Insider profiles Nat Turner and Zach Weinberg, founders of Flatiron Health, which secured a $130 million Google investment in its oncology clinical decision support software.

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October 3, 2016 Headlines No Comments

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