Recent Articles:

EPtalk by Dr. Jayne 4/27/17

April 27, 2017 Dr. Jayne No Comments


I attended the Physician Compare Benchmark and 5-Star Rating webinar this week. The team shared information about their new ABC Benchmark methodology and asked for physician feedback on the proposed approach.

Frankly, after attending the webinar, I’m disheartened. What they are proposing is complex and there is debate about whether a cluster method or equal-ranges method should be used to assign the ratings. There is also debate on what to do when providers are so high performing they can’t determine how to allocate fewer than five stars. For those measures, they’re discussing only displaying those providers who had five stars vs. not displaying those measures at all. It seems counterintuitive to not report something that people are good at. Not to mention, if it’s this complicated, it’s going to be less meaningful for patients.

At the beginning of the webinar, the speaker specifically stated that sometimes when they use a five-point scale, that people see it like school grades: A, B, C, D, F. But that’s not what they’re trying to do here, etc. I challenge the people involved in this to understand that most of the public is still going to see this like school grades. Regardless of footnotes or explanations on the website, people see three stars and think you’re a C performer.

These ratings become even more complex for measures where everyone is doing well. So how about this proposal: set benchmarks related to a grade scale and let patients truly compare not only from physician to physician, but across measures. Say we want 100 percent of diabetic patients to have a foot exam. Ninety percent is five stars, 80 percent is four, 70 percent is three, etc. Or heck, just use letter grades to make it easier. Maybe your physician gets As and Bs on everything relevant to your needs and you’re good to go. Maybe they get Bs and Cs and you need to look for someone else. Maybe all physicians get a C on some measures, which helps you understand that it’s difficult to achieve. It certainly would save the millions of dollars they’re spending to put this together and would create a system that fits into an already accepted cultural schema rather than creating something new that takes a statistician to explain.

The slides are available here if you want to check them out yourself, and if you want to share feedback, it can be sent to with a subject line of “5-Star Rating Feedback” prior to May 10.


NCQA announced a new Oncology Medical Home recognition program, following the Patient-Centered Medical Home and Patient-Centered Specialty Practice models already available. They’ll host a webinar on May 5 to discuss the new program and how to achieve recognition. I’ve assisted several organizations through the NCQA recognition process and it’s not for the faint of heart (or the light of pocketbook).

Regenstrief Institute, along with the American Medical Association, has launched a mock EHR tool for use by medical students. It contains simulated patient data and allows students to practice documentation along with processing information in a typical EHR format. These kinds of tools are increasingly needed as hospitals institute fragmented policies around whether students are allowed to document in the EHR, and if they are, what kind of user rights and training they receive. My hospital allowed students to use the EHR, but didn’t give them full rights for ordering, writing scripts, or many of the other functions they had in the paper world.

The Regenstrief EHR Clinical Learning Platform tool was co-developed with Indiana University School of Medicine and is also in use at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and the University of Southern Indiana College of Nursing and Health Professions. AMA will assist in its distribution.

Given the expansion of patient-generated health data through home monitors, fitness trackers, and more, ONC has created a challenge to find solutions to the problem of capturing data provenance. I know many physicians who are reluctant to allow patient-generated data into the EHR due to concerns about reliability as well as quantity. Anyone who has been faced with home blood pressure logs documenting five or six readings a day for three months knows what a burden this data can be. ONC recognizes that reliability and trustworthiness of data are issues.

The $180,000 challenge is in two phases, the first involving submission of white papers describing current methods with the second phase requiring winners to develop and test their solutions. Information about the challenge can be found here and phase 1 submissions are due May 22.

I’m enjoying reading Mr. H’s coverage of Missouri’s ongoing failed attempts to create a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. Hopefully they’ll eventually arrive at a workable solution. Opioid addiction continues to be a national issue and CDC recently launched an online training series around opioid prescribing. The first of eight modules is now available. Future modules include patient communication, non-opioid pain management options, dosing/titration, and risk reduction. I’m still slogging through a bunch of online CME, so let me know if you’ve test driven the module and what you thought.


I subscribe to dozens of communications from various governmental organizations in an attempt to keep up with all the warnings, alerts, proposed rules, and dictates that impact physician practices. Every once in a while I see an email subject line that truly catches my attention, as did this one about “Mixing Kentucky Spirits with Food Safety.” We think about the FDA as regulating medications and foods, but it also has jurisdiction over veterinary issues. Grain byproducts of brewing and distilling are often used as livestock feed. The 20-member FDA team found their visits to various production facilities (including Woodford Reserve, Wild Turkey, and Jim Beam) to be “extremely productive” with there being “no substitute for actually seeing how these beverages are produced.” I can say that I felt the same after a recent pilgrimage to the distillery responsible for my favorite adult beverage. However, I wonder if the FDA tour ended with a complimentary drink and a souvenir glass, as mine did? I also wonder if the FDA sends as large of a contingent to less-exciting venues such as sunscreen manufacturers.

Email Dr. Jayne.

Morning Headlines 4/27/17

April 26, 2017 Headlines 3 Comments

The MacArthur Amendment Language, Race In The Federal Exchange, And Risk Adjustment Coefficients

Health Affair’s Tim Jost, JD reviews the new AHCA amendment proposed that has won the support of the GOP Freedom Caucus, substantially improving its chance of passing both chambers of Congress.

CMS notifying clinicians of MIPS participation status

CMS announces that by the end of May it will send letters to practices to notify them that they are required to participate in MIPS in 2017.

Sepsis Solutions Are Saving Lives and Enabling Better Care, According to New KLAS Report

In a small survey, KLAS reviews sepsis surveillance solutions marketed by major EHR vendors and niche surveillance vendors. 69 percent of respondents reported improved outcomes, with some reporting up to a 50 percent drop in mortality.

Prize-Winning DxtER “Tricorder” Makes a Public Appearance With Tech Legend Steve Wozniak

Basil Harris, MD, the team leader of Qualcomm Tricorder X-Prize first place winner Final Frontier Medical Devices, demonstrates his team’s Tricorder design to Steve Wozniak at the 2nd annual Silicon Valley Comic Con.

Readers Write: A Prescription for Poor Clinician Engagement with Health IT: Stop Communicating and Start Marketing

April 26, 2017 Readers Write 12 Comments

A Prescription for Poor Clinician Engagement with Health IT: Stop Communicating and Start Marketing
By David Butler, MD


David Butler, MD is associate CMIO of the Epic/GO project of NYC Health + Hospitals of New York, NY. 

My first lesson in healthcare marketing came in the spring semester of my junior year at Texas A&M University, when I accepted a prestigious internship with a little company called Merck Pharmaceuticals. Believe it or not, I hadn’t even heard of this company, but I soon found out one of the many reasons for their meteoric rise.

That summer, Merck was releasing a new prostate drug. They posed the question to their young crop of interns: where should we market this drug? Field & Stream! Men’s Health! Cigar Aficionado! We shouted rapid-fire.

Wrong, wrong, and wrong again. Our instructor basked in our ignorance for a moment before he uttered the answer: Good Housekeeping. Targeting the significant others of the drug’s target audience was actually the smarter way to go. They were more likely to notice changes in their partner’s behavior and push them to go to the doctor.

Fast-forward 25 years later and healthcare is approaching physicians and nurses with the non-WIIFM, non-behavioral economics approaches similar to what my intern class suggested.

We spend hundreds of millions of dollars to implement technology for our best and brightest to leverage to care for patients, yet we continue to allow these transformative changes to the software to enter into their workflows without rollout efforts that match the investment and the desired results.

Healthcare needs to stop communicating and start marketing new health IT projects and improvements to existing provider-facing solutions. Too many initiatives fail not on the merit of the technology, but because the organization failed to successfully relay the value to the end users.

Here are five ways to help launch a full-fledged marketing campaign to capture your end users’ attention and effectively roll out new technology and important updates to current systems:

Change the mindset.

Health IT project teams need to think of their communication differently. It should not only inform, it should persuade. If you were going to sell something to physicians to get them to actually buy it, how would you change your communication? That should be a question asked during the creation of every piece of project collateral. How do you find the wife or the Good Housekeeping marketing equivalent from my opening example?

Get docs and nurses to want to do your desired action, or even better in some cases, understand why it would hurt not to do it.

Spotlight the value.

Too often healthcare organizations spend a bunch of R&D resources creating or improving something really cool, and then communicate that in an email with a laundry list of other changes that aren’t as meaningful. If you’ve added technology that will help save lives or otherwise have a profound impact on clinician efficiency, give it the spotlight it deserves.

For example, it used to be a policy at Sutter Health (my former organization) that if a nurse gave a patient insulin, a second nurse had to log in to double-check the dose. The organization finally changed the policy so that second nurse and verification was no longer needed. Some genius asked how much nursing clicks, time, or dollars would this save. We actually took the time to figure it out.

After calculating the size of organization and the insulin doses given each day, we figured that policy change resulted in $400,000 in savings of nurses’ time—and that’s the value we marketed. Not only to the nurses, but also to the board. We told the nurses how much of their time we were giving back to them and told the board about the significant cost savings for the organization.

Once you find the value to spotlight, think about what that value means to different parties and market that ROI.

Devise a catchphrase.

If you want end user attention, you’re going to have to earn it. There are too many competing priorities for a busy physician’s or nurse’s attention. Have some fun and get some eyeballs by devising a catchphrase for your campaign.

For example, when I was helping roll out a secure messaging solution to thousands of physicians, we could have promoted it with “New! Secure Messaging” or even “Pagers to Smartphones” messaging. Instead, we used “Safe Text.” It was fun and catchy—there were plenty of good-natured jokes and buzz around the campaign—and it also tapped into their own motivation to protect PHI. Make your catchphrase not only descriptive, but also memorable. That’s marketing.

Include a call to action.

What do you want your audience—physicians, nurses, or whichever group it may be—to actually do after they’ve read your communication? Good marketing always includes a call to action, or CTA. After you create marketing for the group, ask yourself what the CTA should be. Do you want them to download an app or an update? Submit their feedback? Add an event to their calendar? Always make the CTA big, bold, and if possible, frictionless.

For example, include a link that can automatically add the event to their calendar, or seamlessly forward it to a friend or colleague. You can also think about the tools you already have and how you might get innovative with them to drive follow-through.

One prominent health system in the Pacific Northwest used their EHR alerts to creatively capture clinician attention at various workflow points within the EHR. They were greeted by a respected physician leader — their CMO — whose image and quote reminded them to complete certain crucial activities within the EHR. Having his face staring at the clinicians alongside that CTA made it much more influential.

Rinse and repeat.

If a company you already like and engage with introduces a new product, they’re going to be marketing that to you on every channel they can: Direct mail, email, TV commercials, social media ads, display ads. Follow a similar approach for internal projects: Emails, flyers, reader boards, table tents in the cafeteria, digital banners on internal websites, announcements at town halls, free tchotchkes—anything you can think of where your end users might see it.

Physicians rarely understood why drug companies would provide free prescription pads, pens, and other items. They stated, “It doesn’t affect my prescribing patterns.” However, after many years of research on this, it actually does. So let’s wise up and follow other marketing examples from other verticals to keep the messaging in front of them. It may take several exposures for the message to resonate, but you can keep it fresh by switching up the format, colors, and graphics.

Finally, don’t forget to ask for help if you need it. Most healthcare organizations have talented marketing teams that are consumer-facing, but may be willing to help out with internal initiatives. They’re just not always asked.

With these five strategies, you can help your organization’s IT team pivot from communicating new technologies from boring emails to full-fledged campaigns that truly market the value to doctors and nurses and successfully bring them on board.

Readers Write: Deep Neural Networks: The Black Box That’s Changing Healthcare Decision Support

April 26, 2017 Readers Write 1 Comment

Deep Neural Networks: The Black Box That’s Changing Healthcare Decision Support
By Joe Petro


Joe Petro is SVP of research and development with Nuance Communications.

Don’t look now, but artificial intelligence (AI) is quietly transforming healthcare decision-making. From improving the accuracy and quality of clinical documentation to helping radiologists find the needle in the imaging haystack, AI is freeing clinicians to focus more of their brain cycles on delivering effective patient care. Many experts believe that the application of AI and machine learning to healthcare is reaching a crucial tipping point, thanks to the impact of deep neural networks (DNN).

What is a Neural Network?

Neural networks are designed to work in much the same way the human brain works. An array of simple algorithmic nodes—like the neurons in a human brain—analyze snippets of information and make connections, assembling complex data puzzles to arrive at an answer.

The “deep” part refers to the way deep neural networks are organized in many layers, with the intermediate (or “hidden”) layers focused on identifying elemental pieces (or “features”) of the puzzle and then passing what they have learned to deeper layers in the network to develop a more complete understanding of the input, which ultimately produces a valid answer. For example, a diagnostic image is submitted to the network and the output may be a prioritized worklist and the identification of a possible anomaly.

Like us humans, the network is not born with any real knowledge of a problem or a solution; it must be trained. Also known as “machine learning,” this is achieved by feeding the network large amounts of input data with known answers, effectively teaching the network how to interpret and understand various inputs or signals. Just like showing your child, “This is a car, this is a truck, this is a horse,” the network needs to be trained to interpret an input and convert it to an output.

For example, training a DNN for medical transcription might involve feeding it billions of lines of spoken narrative. The resulting textual output forms a truth set consisting of spoken words connected with transcribed text. This truth set expands over time as the DNN is subjected to more and more inputs. Over time, errors are corrected and the network’s ability to deliver the correct answer becomes more robust.

A key feature of a neural network is that when it gets something wrong, it is corrected, Just like a child, it becomes smarter over time.

The Black Box

Here’s where it gets interesting. Once the DNN has that baseline training and it begins to analyze problems correctly, its neural processes become a kind of black box. The DNN takes over the sophisticated, multi-step intelligence process and figures out how the inputs are connected or related to the outputs. This is a very powerful concept because we may not fully understand exactly how the network is making every little decision to arrive at an output, but we know it is getting it right.

This black box effect frees us from having to contemplate—and generate code for—all the complex intermediate variables and countless analytical steps required to get to a result. Instead, the DNN figures out all intermediate steps within the network, freeing the technologist from having to worry about every single one. And with every new problem we give it, we provide additional truth sets and the neural network gets a little bit smarter as it trains itself, just like a child learning its way in the world.

How smart is smart? One of the biggest challenges with speech recognition is accommodating language and acoustic models, the specific and very individual aspects of the way a person speaks—including accent, dialects, and personal speech anomalies. Traditionally, this has required creating many different language and acoustic models to cover a diverse range of speakers to ensure accurate speech recognition and improve the user experience across a large population of speakers.

When we started using special purpose neural networks for speech recognition, we discovered something surprising. We didn’t need as many models as before. A single neural network proved robust enough to handle a wider range of speech patterns. The network essentially leveraged what it learned from the massive amounts to speech data we used as a training set to improve its accuracy and understand people across the entire speaker population, reducing the word error rate by nearly 30 percent.

Anecdotally, I’ve heard from people seated across from a physician dictating with such a thick accent at such high speed that they could not comprehend what was said, yet DNN-driven speech recognition technology understood and got it right the first time.

It’s important to note that neural networks are not magic. DNNs require problems that have clear answers. If a team of trained humans agrees with no ambiguity and they can repeat the agreement across a large set of inputs, this is the kind of problem that neural nets may help to solve. However, if the truth set has grey areas or ambiguity, the DNN will struggle to produce consistent results. The problems we choose and the availability of strong training data is key to the successful applications of this technology.

Putting DNNs to Work in Healthcare

So how are DNNs changing the way healthcare is practiced? Neural networks have been used in advanced speech recognition technology for years, and that’s just the beginning. The potential applications are nearly endless, but let’s look at two: clinical documentation improvement (CDI) and diagnostic image detection.

Clinical documentation includes a wide range of inputs, from speech-generated or typed physician notes to labs, medications, and other patient data. Traditionally, CDI involves having people who are domain experts reviewing the documentation to ensure an accurate representation of a patient’s condition and diagnosis. This second set of eyes helps ensure patients receive the appropriate treatment and that conditions are properly coded so the hospital receives appropriate reimbursement. The CDI process requires time and resources and can be disruptive to physicians’ workflow since the questions coming from CDI specialists are generally asynchronous with the documentation input.

Technology is used to augment the CDI process. Applications exist that capture and digitize CDI processes and domain expertise, creating a CDI knowledge base at the core. This involves processing clinical documentation, applying natural language processing (NLP) technology to extract key facts and evidence, and then running these artifacts through the knowledge base. The output of this complicated process is a context-specific query that fires for the physician in real time as she is entering patient documentation, linking, say, a relevant lab value with key facts and evidence from the case to indicate the possibility of an undocumented infection, for example. This approach to addressing a common documentation gap is a technically arduous and complex processing task.

What if we applied neural networks to change the paradigm? Many institutions have been doing CDI manually for years and we can leverage not only the existing clinical documentation (the input), but also the queries generated (the output) from those physician notes to create a truth set for training the neural network with a repeatable, deterministic process. The application of neural networks allows us to skip over complexity of digitizing domain expertise and processing the inputs through a multi-step process. Remember the black box concept? The DNN essentially determines the intermediate steps, based on what it learned from the historical truth set. In the end, this helps improve documentation by having AI figure out the missing pieces or connections to advise physicians in real time while they’re still charting.

The applications of neural networks are not limited to speech or language processing. DNNs are also changing the game for evaluating visual data, including radiological images. Reading the subtle variations in signal strength associated with identification of an anomaly requires a highly-trained eye in a given specialty. With neural networks, we can leverage this deep experience by training the network with thousands of radiological images with known diagnoses. This enables the network to detect the subtle differences between a positive finding and a negative finding. The more images we feed through it, the more experienced and accurate the DNN becomes. This technology will streamline the busy workflow of the radiologist and truly amplify their knowledge and productivity.

Augmenting, Not Replacing

While the possibilities for neural networks are incredibly exciting, it’s important to note that they should be viewed as powerful tools for augmenting human expertise rather than replacing it. In the case of diagnostic image detection, for example, a DNN can serve as a first line review of films, helping prioritize them so radiologists focus first on those that are most critical. Or it might serve as an automated second opinion, possibly spotting something that might have been overlooked.

Today, AI in healthcare decision support is still in its infancy. But with the exciting possibilities created by DNNs, that infant is poised to transition from crawling to walking and even running in the foreseeable future. That’s good news for providers and patients alike.

CIO Unplugged 4/26/17

April 26, 2017 Ed Marx 6 Comments

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

The Disintermediation of the CIO

The role of the CIO has reached its zenith. Over the next several years, we will see the title deconstruct. Just as the baby boomers held on to “Data Processing Director” concepts as long as they could, a few of us diehard GenXers will grasp on to the CIO title until our retirement. Millenials and Gen Z will jump on the chance to blaze new trails and transform our profession to reflect the rapidly changing world we live in. There will be less concern with title and more focus on the depth of impact on business and on remaining relevant.

The transition began the day the CIO title was adopted. Moore’s Law became the norm and change a constant. As a profession, we metamorphosized through a variety of stages ranging from pure technical manager to today’s C-level executive. The changes ahead are not for lack of skill or talent, but are at best reflective — at worst reactive — to cultural and technological changes.

What makes this transition more profound is that the majority of CIOs never made it to the C-suite. They allowed themselves to get stuck someplace in between. The opportunity for them to close the gap is gone..

Empowered internal and external consumers and the ubiquitous nature of technology are key drivers for the change. We are seeing the democratization of data, information, and knowledge. CIOs can no longer control technology proliferation nor cap or meter its utilization. Service desks are becoming a relic of the past. Millennials grew up in a self-service age and have expectation of the same. The average consumer has 30+ applications on their smartphone and few if any come with call center support. Think cloud, blockchain, mobile, big data, consumerization, and social supported by disruptors. There is diminishing need for traditional IT.

Granted, there will always be a need for technical expertise. IT will revert back to pure technical play. IT divisions will become cost centers again and will fade into the background. IT will be focused on providing safe networks and connections and can be summed up as “interoperability and security.” Staff size and budgets will shrink and investment cut by 50 percent or more. Data centers will go lights-out and most companies will either convert the space for document storage or sell them outright. The data center is a financial albatross ripe for partnering. “Shadow IT” will become partners, not adversaries. It is not the old centralization versus decentralization, but pure and simple disintermediation.

So where are today’s CIOs headed? We are already seeing some directional signs. I was contacted twice this year by recruiters who were trolling for chief digital officers (CDO). In both cases, the existing CIOs were bypassed and would report to the CDO. While I think CDO has legs and will stick, it is not the final destination, but perhaps an intermediate layover. Just as Uber disrupted transformation, IT is being disrupted. Uber is an intermediate step for the next wave in transportation. We are beginning to see self-driving vehicles and the proliferation of drones for transport.

I don’t have a savvy prediction on how you spell the CIO title five years from now. What I am confident in is that we need to change and adapt or report to those that do. We must evolve and continuously retool ourselves and focus heavily on innovation, entrepreneurship, and value creation. We must be able to see the future and collaborate with partners, developing strategic solutions grounded in the practical realities of taking the best care of our patients. We must be the one trusted advisor who can see across the business enterprise and facilitate change at 10 times the speed of Moore’s Law.

Finally, we can’t forget that our primary talent must remain focused on being experts in the people business. When consultants say people, process, and technology, it is really people (85 percent), process (10 percent), and technology (5 percent). This is how we add value and remain relevant. Retool, yet never forget that we are in the people business and always keep the patient in the center of all we do. This is not the age of the stodgy hotel; this is the age of AirBnB.

If we don’t shape the future, others will change it for us and leave us behind.


Ed encourages your interaction by clicking the comments link below. He can be followed on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or on his web page.

Morning Headlines 4/26/17

April 25, 2017 Headlines No Comments

USCG Electronic Health Record Acquisition RFI

The Coast Guard issues an RFP soliciting bids for an EHR that will integrate with both the DoD and the VA. The Coast Guard abandoned its 2015 Leidos-run Epic installation without going live anywhere.

Mayo Clinic Health Information Offered Through Epic Patient Apps

Epic partners with Mayo Clinic to offer patient’s health information within its MyChart and MyChart Bedside apps.

Erlanger reports solid earnings for third quarter

Erlanger Health System reports strong Q3 results, but warns that the $100 million Epic implementation, which begins May 1, will impact future revenues.

Former NFL Player, Myron Rolle, To Start Neurosurgery Residency at Harvard

Former Tennessee Titans defensive back Myron Rolle has earned a medical degree from Florida State University College of Medicine following and recently announced that he has been matched to Harvard medical School, where he will start his neurosurgery residency program.

News 4/26/17

April 25, 2017 News 2 Comments

Top News


The Coast Guard posts an RFI for an EHR that can achieve interoperability with the EHRs of the Department of Defense and VA.

USCG gave up on its Epic implementation in 2015 without going live anywhere and finally elected not to renew its Epic contract that expired in early 2016, citing unspecified risks. It had spent five years and several dozen million dollars, also deciding along the way to add the US State Department to its ultimately failed rollout.

After the Epic project was halted, the Coast Guard determined that it could not revert back to its previous CHCS/AHLTA system and went back to paper instead.

The lead contractor in USCG’s Epic project was Leidos, which later won the DoD $4.3 billion bid in offering Cerner.

SAIC, which spun itself off in 2013 as its parent company renamed itself to Leidos, originally developed the DoD’s CHCS system (interestingly, as a customization of the VA’s VistA) in a billion-dollar 1988 initial contract. The DoD is rumored to have spent at least $20 billion on CHCS and its add-on AHLTA, which was not interoperable with the VA’s VistA. Defense contractor Northrop Grumman was paid at least $5 billion to develop AHLTA, rated in a 2016 physician survey as the worst EHR in the country. The DoD keeps giving Leidos and Northrop Grumman high-dollar contracts to keep the old systems running.

Cerner should have a slam dunk here unless a well-connected defense contractor takes the Coast Guard down a puzzling path or if the DoD’s project isn’t faring as well as they’ve announced. Leidos might have taken a black eye in the Coast Guard’s failed Epic project, but I still assume they’re the frontrunner as long as Cerner is game to partner with them again, which surely they are given their strong bidding position after their DoD win. Or maybe the Coast Guard will figure out how to participate in the DoD’s Cerner contract instead of mounting a separate project, given that it’s a uniformed service just like the Army, Marines, Navy, and Air Force.

Reader Comments


From Indigenous Species: “Re: Orion Health. Laid off 20 people last week – I have the list of those affected if you want it. My position was eliminated two weeks ago. Share price is way down from last year.” The New Zealand-traded shares of the company have shed 66 percent in the past year, valuing it at $223 million. The stock was pounded earlier this month on the company’s announcement of expected lower annual revenue and continuing (but improving) annual operating losses. CEO Ian McCrae said in that announcement that Orion will launch a cost reduction program and will evaluate partnership or minority investment interest.


From Dense Matters: “Re: Readers Write articles. Some of them are pretty lame. Do you run all of those submitted?” I actually reject most of them. Folks with creative ideas and insightful opinion apparently aren’t writing articles since most of those I receive are PR-polished vendor fluff pieces. I justifiably rejected one of those this week by randomly choosing five sentences from it and defying the PR person who sent it to me to find a single original or interesting thought in any of them (example: “Payers and providers recognize that future survival in the fee-for- value world depends on having the right systems in place.”) Restating dull, obvious facts isn’t a good way to draw the interest of my readers and yet people keep proudly sending me that crap like it’s wonderful. If you don’t like what I’ve run, imagine how bad the articles were that I rejected.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

image image

We funded the DonorsChoose grant request of Ms. B in Arizona, who asked for a document camera for her second grade class. She provides this update: “Since I teach math, we use it almost every day and now I wonder how we survived without it before! My students love it because they get to see what I and their peers are doing from the document camera to the projector. It arrived at the perfect time — the week before our measurement unit. I put the ruler under the camera, and when it appeared huge, detailed, and gigantic on the screen, the class was in awe. I know that thank you letters were not requested but my students seriously thank you. They feel lucky that there are people out there who care about their educations that they spent their time and money donating an expensive tool to their classroom to benefit their learning. It is so, so helpful. You really helped out a great group of second graders immensely.”

I needed to get my medical records from an old, distant provider today and called the office. They need me to sign a release form, which is fine, but the only way they can send me this generic, blank form is via fax or mail. The conversation went like this:

Office person: We can send that form to you. Do you have a fax machine?
Me: No, this is actually the 21st century, where the only fax machines left running are in hospitals and doctors’ offices. I don’t even have a landline even if I wanted to set up my multifunction printer to fax. It’s just a blank form. Can you email it to me?
Office person: No. If you don’t have a fax machine, we will have to mail it to you and you can fill it out and mail it back.

My only secret weapon is those online fax services that allow you to send an ad-supported free fax, where I can at least scan and send the completed form back to them quickly. I am baffled why no doctor’s office I’ve ever asked can (or will) send email attachments for routine, non-PHI containing forms like this. Probably because nobody’s willing to pay them to change their ways.

Listening: Kiefer Sutherland (yes, Donald’s boy Jack Bauer). Movie stars obviously get a fast track for crossover music deals (especially when they own the record label as Kiefer does), but his 2016 album is really good with his gruff, whiskey-sounding voice, which is probably appropriate given his string of DUI arrests and prison time. The album has been characterized as country, but despite an occasional on-stage cowboy hat, it sounds more like blues-rock tinged Americana to me. Here’s a healthcare connection – Keifer’s grandfather created North America’s first universal healthcare program in Saskatchewan, Canada as the father of Canada’s Medicare program. If you’re instead feeling proggish, there’s a new album by former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett, who provides an alternate ending to Phil Collins turning the shockingly talented prog rockers into the Archies.


April 26 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “SSM Integrated Health Technologies Clinical Data Migration: Functional and Technical Considerations.” Sponsored by Galen Healthcare Solutions. Presenters: Sandy Winklemann, MHA, RHIA, project manager, SSM Integration Health Technologies; Tyler Mawyer, MHA, managing consultant, Galen Healthcare Solutions; Kavon Kaboli, MPH, senior consultant, Galen Healthcare Solutions. GE Centricity and Meditech to Epic EHR transition. Join us for a complimentary webinar as present the decisions that are important to consider when performing a clinical data migration from the point of view of  the healthcare organization program manager, the clinical analyst, and the technical implementation team. Our expert panel will survey data migration considerations, best practices, and lessons learned. The webinar will present a unique client perspective, offering insight into considerations surrounding staffing, clinical mapping, legacy application support, and validation and testing.

April 28 (Friday) 1:00 ET. “3 Secrets to Leadership Success for Women in Health IT.” Sponsored by HIStalk. Presenters: Nancy Ham, CEO, WebPT; Liz Johnson, MS, FAAN, FCHIME, FHIMSS, CHCIO, RN-BC CIO, Acute Care Hospitals & Applied Clinical Informatics – Tenet Healthcare. Join long-time C-level executives Liz Johnson and Nancy Ham as they share insights from nearly three decades of navigating successful healthcare careers, share strategies for empowering colleagues to pursue leadership opportunities, and discuss building diverse executive teams. This webinar is geared toward female managers and leaders in healthcare IT seeking to further develop their professional careers. It’s also intended for colleagues, executives, and HR personnel who are looking to employ supportive techniques that ensure diversity in the workplace.

Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre for information on webinar services.

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


Specialty drug prescribing software vendor ZappRX raises $25 million in a Series B funding round, increasing its total to $33 million.


Mpirica, which publishes surgery quality scores for hospitals and surgeons using claims data, receives a $4.6 million crowdfunding investment. 


Clinical communication system vendor Doc Halo receives $11 million in a Series A funding round. 


Care management company Lumeris acquires analytics vendor Forecast Health.


HealthVerity, which sells drug companies de-identified healthcare research data that it assembles from 30 suppliers, raises $10 million in a Series B round.


UK-based video- and chat-based virtual visit provider Babylon Health raises $60 million in funding, valuing it at $200 million. The company is also working on an AI-powered chatbot for NHS’s 111 non-emergency line and plans to further develop AI-powered diagnosis.

Surgical Information System acquires SourceMed, which sells ambulatory surgery center software. SourceMed’s president, CEO, and board chair since December 2014 is Jamie Coffin, PhD, who was VP/GM for Dell’s healthcare and life sciences business from 2007 to 2013.

Announcements and Implementations

Epic will offer patients health information from Mayo Clinic in its MyChart and MyChart Bedside tablet apps, available by clicking an Infobutton or on a keyword.


Apache Software Foundation releases v4.0 of its open source cTakes natural language processing engine for healthcare-related free text.


Smartphone clinical study participation vendor Medable will use API services from Redox to integrate EHR data into their system.


PolicyMedical announces GA of Integrity Manager, which automates the electronic review of vendors, business associates, and employees to meet the compliance requirements of OIG and OCR.


Cerner will integrate concussion management software from NeuroLogix Technologies into its HealtheAthlete health management system. I’ll be honest in admitting that I’ve never heard of HealtheAthlete.


This seems bizarre: Klick Labs releases a “tele-empathy” device that allows Parkinson’s Disease patients to transmit their tremors to a Bluetooth-connected muscle stimulation armband, allowing whoever is wearing it to feel their tremors and understand their effect on activities of daily living. The company says future versions will transmit symptoms to remote doctors for diagnosis. It’s also working on “symptom transference” for diabetes and COPD and hopes to use virtual reality to “virtually put other people in that patient’s shoes.”

Partners HealthCare will work with Persistent Systems to create an open source, SMART/FHIR-powered platform that will allow providers to exchange best practices knowledge.

Medsphere releases a patient scheduling tool for its OpenVista inpatient and ChartLogic ambulatory EHR.

QuintilesIMS will develop Salesforce solutions for managing clinical trials, recruitment, and marketing that will be marketed to life sciences companies.

Government and Politics


Former President Barack Obama will speak at the healthcare conference of Wall Street investment banker Cantor Fitzgerald in September for a rumored $400,000 fee. I bet someone at HIMSS is talking to his people about opening HIMSS18, which would certainly represent an improvement in the string of vendor CEOs to which HIMSS has recently bestowed the prime time speaking slot, although maybe the former President is too expensive (HIMSS paid Hillary Clinton $225,500 for her HIMSS14 speech). You’ve likely heard the Cantor Fitzgerald name – 658 of its 960 New York-based employees died in the World Trade Center attacks of 2001.

Privacy and Security


Ambulatory EKG monitoring services vendor CardioNet pays $2.5 million to settle HIPAA charges following the 2012 theft of an employee’s laptop that contained the PHI of 1,400 people. HHS OCR found that the company didn’t perform adequate risk analysis and risk management and hadn’t implemented its draft security policies. My conclusions from this:

  • CardioNet would have had no HIPAA responsibilities if it were simply a technology vendor, but the company provides services to Medicare patients and thus is a covered entity subject to HIPAA.
  • It would seem true in most cases that a breached covered entity could be accused of failing to provide adequate risk analysis and management.
  • The company will begin encrypting laptops, flash drives, SD cards, and other portable media.
  • I’m not sure what this means, but HHS will require the company to implement training that includes “out of-office transmissions.”


A Nemours Children’s Health System survey finds that while only 15 percent of parents have used telemedicine services for their children, 64 percent plan to do so within the next year, the unlikely massive uptick in projected usage recalling that consumer responses to surveys often differ vastly from their actual behavior. It was also an online survey, which doesn’t necessarily draw a representative sample of all patients. I couldn’t find the 2014 version of the Nemours survey, which I expect contained rosy telemedicine projections that didn’t pan out. Respondents said they favor using telemedicine for their own convenience (acute conditions such cold and flu) but have little interest in having the chronic conditions of their children managed remotely.

Erlanger Medical Center (TN) posts improved quarterly revenue, but the CEO warns the board that its $100 million Epic rollout that starts May 1 will temporarily cause reduced revenue due to loss of productivity until staff become comfortable with it.


This is not sustainable in a globally competitive environment: healthcare employs one in nine Americans as communities embrace expanding health systems whose swollen headcount replaces jobs lost from dying industries. More than half of the $3.4 trillion spent annually on healthcare is made up of labor costs, with each physician being outnumbered by 16 other workers, half of whom function in non-clinical roles.


A Warren Buffett-backed insurer offers life insurance for poorly controlled diabetics in the UK using a process called “robo-underwriting” in which the insurer uses technology-powered medical data analysis to set premiums based on user behavior such as medication adherence and having their blood glucose levels tested regularly. Customers are required to comply with the company’s diabetic control policies, with their annual monitoring results sent directly to the company for premium adjustments that can range from a 4.5 percent discount to a 7.5 percent penalty.


Kaiser Health News notes the proliferation of breast milk banks, some of which are run by for-profit companies that pay new moms $1 per ounce for milk that they then resell to other mothers and even hospital NICUs for up to $300 for a one-day supply or to drug companies who use the milk in manufacturing. The facilities are not overseen by the FDA and studies have found that a significant amount of the product being sold is either contaminated with bacteria or has been diluted with plain old supermarket milk. 


I missed this great story from last month. Myron Rolle — a former NFL player and a Rhodes Scholar from Florida State University – has not only earned a master’s in medical anthropology at Oxford, but has also graduated from FSU’s medical school and has matched to Mass General’s neurosurgery residency program. He says he had football playing years left, but was anxious to avoid the potential concussions and hand injuries that could have ended his dreams of becoming a neurosurgeon.


Police use home network and fitness tracker data to charge a Connecticut man with murdering his wife. Home network logs showed that the husband logged into Outlook at the time he claimed to have been at work, the couple’s home security system log showed doors opening at times that didn’t agree with his story, and the wife posted to Facebook and recorded her Fitbit steps after he claimed to have found her dead.

Sponsor Updates

  • Impact Advisors publishes a new white paper titled “Ensuring Effective Physician Engagement.”
  • Besler Consulting releases a new podcast, “A look at the United Healthcare orthopedic bundled payment program.”
  • The Advisory Board includes CareVive Systems in its Cancer Care Transformation Playbook.
  • Casenet will deliver evidence-based content from XG Health Solutions via its care management platform.
  • Crossings Healthcare Soutions GM Justin Monnig is featured in a Goliath Technologies case study.
  • Health Catalyst wins the Gallup Great Workplace Award for the second year in a row.
  • Cumberland Consulting Group will exhibit at the Asembia Specialty Pharmacy Summit 2017 April 30-May 3 in Las Vegas.
  • Direct Consulting Associates will exhibit at the iHealth 2017 clinical informatics conference May 2-4 in Philadelphia.
  • ECG Management Consultants will present and exhibit at the 2017 ASCA Annual Meeting May 3-6 in Oxford Hill, MD.
  • EClinicalWorks will exhibit at the CAMGMA 2017 Annual Conference April 27-29 in San Diego.
  • Evariant will exhibit at the Healthcare Communications Conference May 1-3 in Baltimore.
  • Healthwise will exhibit at ZeOmega’s client conference May 2-4 in Plano, TX.
  • Imprivata and Intelligent Medical Objects will exhibit during the HIMSS UK eHealth Week May 3-4 in London.
  • Ingenious Med will exhibit at the Society of Hospital Medicine’s 2017 annual meeting May 1-4 in Las Vegas.
  • InstaMed will present at the World Health Care Congress May 3 in Washington DC.
  • InterSystems will exhibit at the HL7 international meeting May 6-12 in Madrid.

Blog Posts


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


Morning Headlines 4/25/17

April 24, 2017 Headlines No Comments

$2.5 million settlement shows that not understanding HIPAA requirements creates risk

OCR announces a $2.5 million HIPAA settlement with remote mobile monitoring vendor CardioNet after a stolen laptop exposed 1,391 patient records. During its investigation, OCR found that CardioNet never implemented finalized policies on safeguarding ePHI.

AHIMA Letter to Congress

AHIMA sends a letter to ranking members of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education lobbying for sufficient ONC funding to allow the office to meet expanded obligations established under the 21st Century Cures Act.

HHS to stand up its own version of the NCCIC for health

HHS announces that it will form the Health Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, which will work to educate healthcare organizations and consumers about cyber threats and data security.

Prescription monitoring program stalls in Legislature

The future of Missouri’s prescription drug monitoring program is once again uncertain after the Missouri House rejects the most recent version of the bill after several new amendments were added, one limiting the type of drugs monitored and another defining how long patient records would be kept. Missouri’s bill is now at a standstill, leaving it the only state without a PDMP.

Curbside Consult with Dr. Jayne 4/24/17

April 24, 2017 Dr. Jayne 1 Comment

I’ve been working with several challenging clients over the last several weeks. All of them have been playing various versions of the blame game: clinical blames IT, IT blames operations, operations blames clinical, some blame the consultant, most blame the government and payers, and everyone blames the vendor.

I think I’ve finally put my finger on the underlying problem: learned helplessness. Essentially, learned helplessness happens when a subject undergoes repeated painful stimuli and loses the ability to employ escape or avoidance behaviors. The subject feels they have lost control and ultimately stops trying.

In the case of healthcare IT, the repeated painful stimuli have taken the form of multiple rounds of governmental regulations, reduced physician payments, increasing numbers of risk-bearing arrangements, and shrinking organizational pocketbooks in response to greater uncertainty. The complexity of the environment in which healthcare organizations are asked to work makes it difficult to manage all the details unless one has full-time teams dedicated to doing so. Most smaller organizations simply can’t afford that kind of infrastructure, so they try to cobble together resources from local and state medical societies, professional organizations, and their IT vendors to try to make sense of all of it.

Many of these organizations are struggling to make sense of it themselves, depending on their size and level of funding. Based on my clients’ experiences, the amount of information put forth by EHR vendors ranges from comprehensive to zero. One vendor was even worse than zero, putting out information that was incorrect and therefore placed their clients at risk. Clients who use web-based platforms where the vendor upgrades them automatically have one set of issues, where they have to keep up with the vendor’s plans and be ready to roll out workflows over which they have little control. At the other end of the spectrum are clients who can choose when to upgrade and which features to enable, which can lead to analysis paralysis.

Provider organizations are understandably worried about the certification status of their vendors. A recent surfing of the Certified Health IT Product List shows a shrinking number of vendors who have completed the most current certification. Those organizations that need 2015 Edition software installed before January 1, 2018 are understandably nervous, especially those that are large or complex. These are the kinds of organizations that are finding their way into my client pool, trying to completely avoid the pain of an upgrade by outsourcing the entire thing.

I’m not sure what other consulting organizations do, but the first thing I explain to these potential clients is that it’s very difficult to entirely outsource an upgrade (or a go live, or many other IT processes). There will always be parts of the project plan that require ownership and involvement by the client for best results. These steps may include decision-making around new features; training schedules; whether or not demonstration of mastery will be required; and user acceptance testing.

Regarding the latter, I’ve found that no matter how good your test scripts might be, there are always undocumented (and often aberrant) workflows that no one will know to test that will cause you heartburn on go-live day. The best way to avoid issues is to have actual end users perform user acceptance testing, rather than analysts or contractors.

Clients also need to have active involvement if there are decisions to be made around customizations. Whether to retire or retain customizations depends on whether the vendor’s workflows are equivalent to the customization or will create issues. Although a third party can make an objective analysis of the pros and cons, we sometimes don’t have the understanding of organizational culture that is needed to make the ultimate decision. I’m not saying we can’t do the majority of the heavy lifting for our clients, but we’re not going to allow them to completely abdicate all responsibility.

Another critical piece of upgrades that often involves organizational culture is the training plan. Clients need to take ownership of whether providers and end users will be pulled out of clinic for training, whether they will be compensated for training, whether it will be mandatory, etc. Although we as consultants can execute on whatever is decided, we can’t force an organization to mandate training for providers and ensure they actually show up. Sure, we can beg, plead, cajole, and even put monetary incentives around getting a client to perform one way or another, but ultimately the client has to participate in the process.

I went through the discovery process with a potential client last week, who has some major barriers between them and an upgrade. They’ve had near total staff turnover during the last two years and are three versions behind on their vendor’s software. They can’t find any previous project plans, testing plans, test scripts, or training plans from previous upgrades. They want to hire someone to “just take care of it,” but are reluctant to pay for the time it would take to document their existing workflows, create a testing strategy, determine a training plan, etc.

They keep mentioning that they are a community health center with limited budget, but don’t seem to appreciate that third-party vendors can’t give away their services for free. It makes for a very challenging business relationship, and with this particular prospective client, I’m not sure we’re ever going to have a relationship.

I’ve also run into some passive-aggressive clients who expect EHR vendors to spoon feed them information on various governmental programs while taking no accountability themselves. Although vendors can be good sources of information, clients still have to create their own policies and procedures and operationalize them to ensure compliance with regulatory programs. Your vendor isn’t going to stand behind your staff and make them perform medication reconciliation. Ultimately, provider organizations have to ensure that their staff members do their jobs and meet expectations.

My team provides first-line support for a handful of small practices. Sometimes there are basic workflow questions, such as, “How do I document XYZ?” Other times they’re outside of scope of EHR support.

One of those came in this week from a provider. He wanted to know how to document in the EHR that he disagreed with the nurse practitioner’s assessment and plan, and how to reject it and send it back to her. My team escalated it to me since it had medico-legal ramifications, so I got on the phone with the provider. I asked how he would have documented it in the paper chart and his answer confirmed what I suspected: he wouldn’t have documented it in the paper chart — he would have had a conversation with the NP, asked her to adjust the treatment plan, and then documented his review after the patient had been notified, etc.

I asked him why he would now want to have that liability-rich conversation in the electronic record rather than verbally. It took a few beats but he finally got my point, that there are certain things that just need to be done outside the EHR. But in some ways, he had become unable to think it through on his own, instead relying on the EHR’s workflows to direct him what to do.

I’m not sure what the answer is in these situations, but it’s good for those of us in the trenches to be able to commiserate.

What examples of learned helplessness are you seeing? Email me.

Email Dr. Jayne.

EHR Design Talk with Dr. Rick: Keep or Replace VistA? An Open Letter to the VA 4/24/17

April 24, 2017 Rick Weinhaus 26 Comments

Mr. Rob C. Thomas II
Acting Assistant Secretary & Chief Information Officer
US Department of Veterans Affairs

Dear Mr. Thomas:

The decision whether to bring state-of-the-art innovations to the VistA electronic health record (EHR) system or to replace it with a commercial EHR such as Cerner, Allscripts, or Epic will have far-reaching and long-term repercussions, not just for the VA, but for the entire country’s healthcare system.

Several years ago, when Farzad Mostashari was head of ONC, I attended a conference (see post) where he stated that when talking with clinicians across the country, the number one issue he heard was that their EHR was unusable, that "the system is driving me nuts." After his presentation, we had the opportunity to talk. I asked him, given the dominant market share (nearly monopolistic for hospital-based EHRs) that a handful of EHR vendors were in the process of acquiring, where would innovations in usability come from? His answer was that they would come from new “front ends” for existing systems.

In your deliberations, I would urge you to consider how innovative front end EHR user interfaces, based on the science of Information Visualization, could improve our country’s healthcare system. The field of Information Visualization systematically designs interactive software based on our knowledge of how our high-bandwidth, parallel-processing visual system best perceives, processes, and stores information. Stephen Few describes the process as translating “abstract information [e.g., EHR data] into visual representations [color, length, size, shape, etc.] that can be easily, efficiently, accurately, and meaningfully decoded.”

Sadly, while EHR technology has almost totally replaced paper charting over the past decade, not much has changed in EHR user interface design. For a number of reasons, the major EHR vendors have not made it a priority to develop better front ends based on principles of Information Visualization. The adverse consequences for physicians and other healthcare providers, for patients, and for our entire healthcare system are immeasurable. An Institute of Medicine Report found that current EHR implementations “provide little support for the cognitive tasks of clinicians . . .[and] do not take advantage of human-computer interaction principles, leading to poor designs that can increase the chance of error, add to rather than reduce workflow, and compound the frustrations of doing the required tasks.”

A well-known example of an EHR user interface design contributing to a medical error is the 2014 case of Mr. Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where there was a critical delay in the diagnosis and management of Ebola Virus. No doubt, this case is just the tip of a very large iceberg because most major EHRs use similar design paradigms (and because many medical errors are never reported or even recognized, and even when reported, are rarely available to the public). In the most comprehensive study to date of EHR-related errors, the most common type of error was due the user interface design: there was a poor fit between the information needs and tasks of the user and the way the information was displayed.

Furthermore, current EHR user interfaces add to physician workflow. A recent study found that nearly half of the physicians surveyed spent at least one extra hour beyond each scheduled half-day clinic completing EHR documentation. In addition, current EHR user interfaces frequently fail to provide cognitive support to the physician.

Innovative EHR user interfaces, based on principles of Information Visualization, are the last free lunch in our country’s healthcare. EHR usability issues are becoming increasingly recognized as a major barrier to achieving the Triple Aim of enhancing patient experience (including quality and satisfaction), improving the health of populations, and reducing per capita costs. Well-constructed EHR user interfaces have the potential to improve the quality and decrease the cost of healthcare while improving the day-to-day lives of physicians. In my opinion, a well-designed EHR user interface would easily increase physician productivity by more than 10 percent, probably by much more, while reducing physician stress and burnout.

On the design front, innovative EHR front end designs, based on principles of Information Visualization, are already being created by a number of research groups, including Jeff Belden’s team at the University of Missouri (Inspired EHRs). See also my design for presenting the patient’s medical record chronologically using a dynamic, interactive timeline.

In addition, technological advances in computer processing speed and programming language paradigms now support the development of a comprehensive, open source library of interactive, dynamic Information Visualization tools. In this regard, see the work of Georges Grinstein and colleagues at the Institute for Visualization and Perception Research at UMass Lowell.

The beauty of building new front ends on top of existing EHR data bases is that the underlying data structure remains the same. This makes the design much easier to implement than if the underlying data base structure and software code had to be rewritten. Fortunately, all of the EHR systems being considered by the VA, including VistA, have excellent and robust underlying data base structure and organization.

The question then becomes, which EHR system is most likely to embrace intuitive visually-based user interface designs and make these designs widely available? In my view, the clear winner is VistA, for the following reasons:

  • VistA, unlike the other for-profit vendors, is government owned. Its goal can be to improve the VA’s and the country’s healthcare system.
  • VistA became a world-class EHR through its now famous open source model of distributed development, incremental improvement, and rapid development cycles. Using this same model, visually-based cognitive tools for the EHR could be rapidly created, developed, tested, and implemented. Commercial EHRs do not use the same development model and their development cycles are typically much longer.
  • VistA is the only EHR in contention which is open source. Any innovative user interface designs developed in VistA would be freely available to commercial EHR vendors and third-party developers and would thereby benefit our entire healthcare system.
  • A major federal health IT goal is for EHRs to “be person-centered,” permitting patients to aggregate, organize, and control their own medical records, regardless of the sources. Innovative user interface designs developed in VistA could, with modification, serve as the basis for an intuitive, open source patient-centered medical record.

If the VA’s goal in selecting an EHR, both for the VA and for the country as a whole, is to improve health outcomes, reduce costs and errors, and improve physician satisfaction, then VistA is the clear choice. Any other choice will set our country’s healthcare system back decades.


Rick Weinhaus, MD practiced clinical ophthalmology in the Boston Area until 2016. He writes on how to design simple, powerful, elegant user interfaces for electronic health records (EHRs) by applying our understanding of human perception and cognition. He welcomes your comments and thoughts on this post and on EHR usability issues. E-mail Dr. Rick.

Morning Headlines 4/24/17

April 23, 2017 Headlines No Comments

Surgeon general dismissed, replaced by Trump administration

US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD is fired and replaced by Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams, who is the current Deputy Surgeon General.

The Mumps Programming Language

The MUMPS programming language catches the attention of Hacker News, with 178 comments discussing its peculiarities and its use at Meditech and Epic.

Theranos Secretly Bought Outside Lab Gear and Ran Fake Tests, Court Filings Allege

A lawsuit filed by former investors accuses Theranos of setting up a shell company to secretly buy commercial lab test equipment.

ECMC, hit by cyberattack, continues massive task of restoring computer functions

Erie County Medical Center (NY) continues to operate on paper as it works to restore network services after a cyberattack on April 9.

Monday Morning Update 4/24/17

April 23, 2017 News 5 Comments

Top News

image image

US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA resigns as the Trump administration announces its intentions to replace the ACA-supporting, Obama-appointed physician.

Serving as interim is Deputy Surgeon General Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams, BSN, RN, MSN, PhD.

Trent-Adams is the first non-physician to hold the role (either as interim or permanent) since veterinarian Robert Whitney served as acting Surgeon General for a few months in 1993. Whitney was at that time the first non-physician to hold the role since its creation in 1871.

Reader Comments


From Obi-Wan 2.0: “Re: HIMSS buying Health 2.0’s conferences. What’s your take?” I’m not sure I have a relevant opinion since, as an enterprise health system IT guy, I just can’t get interested in startups that often feature unoriginal or irrational ideas, spotty execution, questionable leadership, and naiveté about how to sell into health systems if indeed that’s their target market at all. That’s not to say that interesting companies never make it to the next level, only that I don’t waste time following the gaggle until they beat the long odds and actually do it (otherwise, it’s like scouting tee ball games to find future MLB stars). It’s a great exit for the Health 2.0 folks, who matched up with the only potential buyer who had the money and unbridled ambition to buy their conferences since HIMSS has to spend its profit on something relevant to its non-profit mission. In that respect, it’s a poetic ending since most of the companies in their universe dream similarly of finding a willing, deep-pockets buyer (for many of those techno-toddlers, it’s a race to cash out before the wheels come off). Matthew Holt and Indu Subaiya presumably get deservedly rich, while their ragtag band of pink socks-wearing, self-proclaimed disruptors who cling together seeking relevance among far bigger players are left to wonder whether they will find a comfortable home within Diamond Member-fawning HIMSS, the odds of which are not favorable. I’m not clear on what happens with the remaining parts of Health 2.0, or in fact what those parts actually are.


From Conga Dipper: “Re: Medhost. I doubt its website visitors are fluent in translating nursing benefits from Lorem Ipsum filler text.” Maybe it’s a sales message for prospects in Latin America.

From TxHIT45: “Re: MedStar. Interesting idea mixing ride-sharing and healthcare in this way.” Inexpert HIT fanboy site writers often misstate a hospital’s “partnership” with Uber for patient rides home as though it were hot technology news (failing to see that it’s no different than giving patients a cab company’s telephone number), but this is a bit more interesting. A Texas ambulance service’s nurses are triaging 911 calls and sending low-acuity callers a Lyft ride instead. It costs $450 to roll an ambulance, while that same amount covered all of the 38 Lyft rides it substituted in February. At least that’s a small step in trying to manage costs incurred by people who visit the ED for non-emergent conditions for a variety of reasons, some of them rational only because our healthcare “system” is anything but.

From Oregonian: “Re: Mid-Columbia Medical Center’s layoffs due to losses. The additional $3 million in unpaid debt appears to be due to legacy AR write downs as a result of the audit, which has nothing to do with what rev cycle product is being installed.”


From Reluctant Epic User: “Re: the MUMPS programming language. Made it to the top of Hacker News a few weeks ago with a lot of talk about Epic and Meditech. The 176 comments make common complaints that we’re mostly already aware of, but some of the defenders raise interesting points as well.” Some of the points made:

  • All variables are global and are named with a maximum of six capital letters.
  • Meditech writes all of its own languages, databases, operating systems, and tools.
  • Meditech’s new programming hires, most of whom aren’t computer science majors, go through a 6-12 month training program that allows them to succeed at Meditech, but they are stuck there because experience in a company’s proprietary language isn’t worth much elsewhere (a similar situation holds true for Epic developers, another commenter says).
  • “I find Epic to be more horrifying than Meditech because Epic has somehow managed to convince many healthcare workers that it is a ‘modern’ product worthy of praise despite all evidence to the contrary. People talk about SmartPhrases like it’s some miracle instead of a damn snippets manager (and a bad one at that). The fact that they’re moving away from VB6 to a web-based front-end in 2017 should be reason enough to assume that whatever they come out with is going to be excruciating.”
  • “The MUMPS codebase I worked on in the 80s was so fragile that deleting a single global string could cause the whole system to break down in ways that required a restore from backups. Don’t ask me how I know that.”
  • “A MUMPS program tends to be an unreadable mess to anybody who hasn’t touched it in the last 30 seconds.”
  • “I’m very, very happy to not be using this language any more. After my first year on the job, I read some JavaScript code and I nearly wept at how comparatively beautiful it was.”
  • “The tech stack was a real resume killer. I still get contacted by recruiters desperate for MUMPS developers and they make me feel like someone trapped inside a house besieged by zombies. I get really quiet and hope they don’t break any windows.”
  • “Companies like Epic are why healthcare costs in the US are huge and growing. Epic never refactors anything that still works well enough to hold together with some expensive human labor. It is a technology company that runs on well-trained people instead of well-designed code and processes.”
  • “I found Epic MUMPS to be remarkably readable. Lots and lots of documentation, quite consistent coding standards, and although I would have preferred to write SQL queries rather than MUMPS routines, I didn’t find it that abhorrent.”

From Big Data Hard Times: “Re: Atigeo. The analytics software firm seems to have been hit by hard times, listing 95 employees in April 2016 and now listing only 49. That seems to be the wrong direction for a company that received $18.5 million in VC investment in late 2015. I’m looking to including them as part of the vendor pool our hospital is looking at, but won’t if they are headed for the big data crunch in the sky.” Unverified. The company was founded in 2005, has received funding only through a Series B round, and lists no customers or recent sales on its site. The company’s “About” page grandly describes it as, “Atigeo is a compassionate technology company for a wiser planet,” which makes me think that maybe too much of that Series B money went toward hokey marketing. The company’s excessive tweeting dried up to nothing in October 2016, suggesting that something happened then (I like to think that the corporate tweeter was the “wiser planet” hack and the company wised up to their prior lack of supervision).

HIStalk Announcements and Requests


About half of poll respondents have volunteered to give up their seats on flights. Me being one, which worked great the two times my offer was accepted (most recently, I got a $400 voucher for giving up a seat to take a flight just three hours later). One reader recommended going for cash, not a voucher, and trying to wangle a first-class upgrade. Nick longs for the good old days when airlines sometimes offered a voucher good for a ticket to any domestic destination served by the airline. Everyone seems to agree that if you can get a seat on another flight that leaves shortly, or if you can choose a nearby airport and drive to your destination, it’s a pretty good deal.

New poll to your right or here: what will be the VA’s biggest challenge if it decides to implement Cerner or Epic?

Grammar peeve: the innumerable folks who write sentences such as, “The building houses 10 different companies,” apparently believing readers require the redundant clarification of “different” to comprehend that it’s not 10 of the same company.

Vocational dissonance: the puzzlement that results from trying to reconcile the lofty accomplishments and skills claimed by someone on their inflated, largely fictional LinkedIn profile with first-person knowledge that suggests far more modest capabilities.

image image

We funded the DonorsChoose grant request of Mrs. O in Texas, who asked for programmable robots and electronics kits for her library maker space. She reports, “The technology that was donated is really helping my students become independent problem solvers. My students are learning to work with one another and most importantly communicate effectively with one another in order to learn how the new technologies work. Students come to the library in the mornings for about 50 minutes of maker space time and I give them the opportunity to use all the different technology. I provide a risk-free learning environment and give them this time to engage in creative play, but they don’t realize that they are really learning because they are having so much fun! Surprisingly, more girls than boys are attending the maker space technology days. I am really impressed that the girls are really drawn to creating things with the Little Bits.”

Listening: new from Chris Cornell, who in addition to his solo career is also lead singer and songwriter for both Soundgarden and Audioslave. He has an amazing voice and his compositions are strong.

This Week in Health IT History


One year ago:

  • Federal prosecutors launch a criminal investigation to determine whether Theranos misled investors about the state of its technology and operations.
  • UnitedHealth Group pulls its plans from ACA exchanges, citing $1 billion in losses.
  • CMS announces that it will hold off on publishing quality ratings for hospitals for several weeks amid questions from healthcare providers and Congress over its methodology.
  • Five-hospital health system Centra (VA) contracts with Cerner to replace EHRs in use at each of its hospitals and 50 ambulatory and long-term care facilities.
  • New York insurer EmblemHealth lays off 250 IT and operations employees after contracting with Cognizant to modernize its IT systems.

4-19-2012 4-20-06 PM

Five years ago:

  • Cerner CEO Neal Patterson makes the cover of Forbes in a piece called Obamacare Billionaires.
  • Mediware closes its $2.2 million acquisition of Cyto Management System, an oncology management system.
  • Thomson Reuters announces it will sell its healthcare unit to Veritas Capital for $1.25 billion in cash.
  • Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital chooses Allscripts Sunrise, the company’s first sale to a UK trust.

Weekly Anonymous Question

I asked respondents to describe the most patient-endangering IT issue they’ve seen personally, with these responses:

  • Medication reconciliation that isn’t a priority, done well, or enforced.
  • The usability of patient identity functions being so bad in a new EHR that the front desk just defaulted to making a new patient record and let HIM sort it out. Who then … didn’t. We found it later in trying to do analytics in support of an ACO.
  • The way that our major commercial EMR vendor handles medications. When you make an adjustment in the med dose without issuing a new script, there is absolutely no way to show that as part of the formal medication history.
  • At a previous hospital, we had a EHR from a vendor whose name starts with Mc. It was mixing up sigs on medications, literally assigning them to the wrong patient and med in the database. Issue was quickly discovered and software was declared unfit for use and was yanked.
  • On an old system no longer in use, there was not any logic not to prevent a new line in the middle of a medication dose. It happened leaving ‘0.’ on the line above and 10 beginning the next line. It was not until a patient was injured and a very competent nurse was devastated during root cause analysis that this issue came to light. At the time there was a comment about the "stupid nurse," which made my blood boil.
  • Wrong med given due to system having order on wrong patient.
  • Lab labels generating on the wrong patients.
  • Oh, my God, this one still causes me panic. Zero-day architectural decision in erx by people with no concern for safety or even basic understanding of the practice of medicine caused the wrong prescription to be created, depending on how a medication was ordered. The mistake was invisible to physicians in the UX, due to yet *another* terrible design decision. Two patients received scripts that would have killed them, one was caught by the doctor who thankfully double-checked the printed rx, the other by the pharmacist.
  • Lack of a singular and accurate person identifier across all systems.
  • Letting unqualified people do patient merges.
  • Malfunctioning IV pump used (on me), supposedly to deliver much-needed pain medication after emergency orthopedic surgery.
  • Upper EMR managers: "If it saves the physician one click, nobody cares about the downstream effects to <insert department>.” Do the customization.
  • CPOE architecture that required only selection of a single generic name as the drug product despite the directions (it’s too hard for physicians to select a specific product or dosage form). The product would be automatically selected by the CPOE system. The first item alphabetically would always be selected, so for instance, all fentanyl orders would be sent as Fentanyl 100 mcg/hr patch whether instructions were 50 mcg IV q1h prn, patch, PCA.
  • Allowing entry of orders prior to allergy entry.
  • Suppressing all physician alerts. Everyone ELSE needs to deal with allergies, duplicates, and order requirements.
  • Endless customization and lack of standardization. It might seem like a great idea to have a zillion versions of the same thing and have unseen programming operating in the background, but it is not.
  • Implementation of an inpatient EHR that included a pharmacy and MAR application, where the MAR had incorrect doses listed.


This week’s question: If you are a former or current individual HIMSS member who either considered quitting or actually did so, what led to your decision?

Last Week’s Most Interesting News

  • Alphabet’s life sciences business Verily launches its Project Baseline initiative, a four-year project to create a database that will be used to look for early warning indicators for a variety of illnesses.
  • AMA introduces a web-based EHR training tool developed by Regenstrief Institute that uses the de-identified records of 11,000 patients with built-in medical histories going back as far as 40 years.
  • Theranos settles its ongoing legal battles with CMS over unsafe practices at its Newark and California labs and settles its legal battles with the Arizona Attorney General, agreeing to issue a full refund to all 175,000 Arizona residents who received Theranos blood tests.
  • The Phoenix VA Medical Center announces plans to partner with CVS to expand coverage locations, including local MinuteClinics.
  • HHS Secretary Tom Price, MD announces the availability of $485 million in state grants for combatting the opioid epidemic.


April 26 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “SSM Integrated Health Technologies Clinical Data Migration: Functional and Technical Considerations.” Sponsored by Galen Healthcare Solutions. Presenters: Sandy Winklemann, MHA, RHIA, project manager, SSM Integration Health Technologies; Tyler Mawyer, MHA, managing consultant, Galen Healthcare Solutions; Kavon Kaboli, MPH, senior consultant, Galen Healthcare Solutions. GE Centricity and Meditech to Epic EHR transition. Join us for a complimentary webinar as present the decisions that are important to consider when performing a clinical data migration from the point of view of  the healthcare organization program manager, the clinical analyst, and the technical implementation team. Our expert panel will survey data migration considerations, best practices, and lessons learned. The webinar will present a unique client perspective, offering insight into considerations surrounding staffing, clinical mapping, legacy application support, and validation and testing.

April 28 (Friday) 1:00 ET. “3 Secrets to Leadership Success for Women in Health IT.” Sponsored by HIStalk. Presenters: Nancy Ham, CEO, WebPT; Liz Johnson, MS, FAAN, FCHIME, FHIMSS, CHCIO, RN-BC CIO, Acute Care Hospitals & Applied Clinical Informatics – Tenet Healthcare. Join long-time C-level executives Liz Johnson and Nancy Ham as they share insights from nearly three decades of navigating successful healthcare careers, share strategies for empowering colleagues to pursue leadership opportunities, and discuss building diverse executive teams. This webinar is geared toward female managers and leaders in healthcare IT seeking to further develop their professional careers. It’s also intended for colleagues, executives, and HR personnel who are looking to employ supportive techniques that ensure diversity in the workplace.

Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre for information on webinar services.

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


A hedge fund that is suing Theranos deposes 22 former company employees or directors who told it:

  • Theranos formed a shell corporation to buy commercial lab equipment from companies like Siemens, then modified the machines to run its proprietary finger-stick blood samples.
  • The company ran fake investor demonstrations of what it claimed was its innovative technology that was actually equipment sold by other companies.
  • The company’s financial projections for investors that called for $1 billion of annual profit in 2015 were vastly different from similar estimates provided to the IRS just two months later, which estimated $100 million in 2015 annual profit.



Stephens County Hospital (GA) will deploy Wellsoft’s EDIS including clinical documentation, CPOE, patient tracking, results reporting, and charge capture.



Voalte founder Trey Lauderdale returns to the CEO role. Former CEO Adam McMullin has left the company after a year “to pursue other opportunities.”

Announcements and Implementations


Video visit provider PlushCare launches Lemur, the telehealth EHR used by its 50 doctors. The announcement (and the fact that the company felt compelled to make one) suggests that PlushCare is commercializing its EHR, but I think it’s actually just pointless PR puffery in describing its internal-only product.

TransUnion Healthcare adds a prior authorization solution to its patient access offerings and enhances its existing eligibility product.


In Saudi Arabia, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center goes live on GetWellNetwork’s in-room interactive patient services.

RadmediX launches its urgent care digital radiology solutions.

Privacy and Security


Computer systems of Erie County Medical Center (NY) remain down following an April 9 ransomware attack. 


A patient seeks class action status for her lawsuit against virtual visit vendor MDLive, which claims that the company’s app sends an average of 60 screenshots per visit to an Israel-based app performance testing company.

A proposed class action lawsuit claims that Bose’s wireless headphone app collects the music listening habits of users and that the company then then sells that information to other companies.

Government and Politics

Some AMIA members participated in Saturday’s March for Science in Washington, DC and other locations, which depending on your point of view was created to: (a) protest the Trump administration’s policies; (b) highlight scientific acccomplishment; or (c) influence the government keep taxpayer dollars flowing into the pockets of scientists via federal research grants.

Innovation and Research

Atlanta NPR reviews blockchain in healthcare, with the CEO of one personal health record startup unconvincingly explaining why she’s trying to duplicate the health record storage practices of Estonia, 95 percent of which involves blockchain. A blockchain-related vendor disagrees in saying that blockchain isn’t good at storing large amounts of data, instead suggesting that its healthcare use focus on storing digital signatures of patient records to maintain an access log of who has viewed them.

Apple hires Steven Keating, the MIT mechanical engineering PhD who is best known for creating a 3-D printed image of his own since-excised brain tumor (he’s still on chemo). He described in a conference presentation last week that he learned from his experience in collecting 75 gigabytes of his own health information (his “medical selfie”) that it’s hard for patients to obtain their own data:

My doctors are incredible for sharing my data and encouraging me to learn more from it. However, the process raised some questions for me, as I received my data on 30 CDs, without easy tools to understand, learn, or share, and there was no genetic data included. Why CDs? Why limited access for patients to their own data? Can we have a simple, standardized share button at the hospital? Where is the Google Maps, Facebook, or Dropbox for health? It needs to be simple, understandable, and easy, as small barriers add up quickly. Imagine having your whole medical record that you could not only share with doctors and scientists but also with friends and family, too. Patients could get second opinions very easily, and doctors can follow what leaders in the field are doing.



The dean of Stanford’s medical school says that “innovation is at the algorithmic level,” predicting that significant medical and health advancements will be driven primarily by the ability to interpret huge datasets.


Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Bernard Tyson tells the Nashville Health Care Council that the future isn’t in “heads in the beds,” but rather in virtual visits. He asked the 300-plus attendees how many of them can do as he can in pulling up their medical record on their phones, which resulted in fewer than a dozen raised hands. Tyson also says KP is mimicking the Starbucks concept of community and coffee in creating buildings that provide walking paths, healthy foods, and areas where people can study and share health information. 


A Reaction survey finds that nearly half of McKesson customers didn’t know that the company was spinning off its IT business with Change Healthcare, although both customers and non-customers were neutral about the potential effects and nearly no respondents say they’re more likely to buy products from the new company.

Bizarre: men are signing up for telemedicine visits using false IDs just to flash their video-connected doctors. Sherpaa says people have sent its doctors more than 30 unrequested penis photos, while American Well explains that as with face-to-face medical visits, the solution is to ban problematic patients and to verify all IDs by credit card. A guy must really be desperate to showcase his package to unwitting viewers if he’s willing to pay telemedicine fees to do so. Armed with this newfound knowledge, I’m sensing a business opportunity in creating an app that matches pervs to people willing to look at their private parts for cash (my working name is Glory Telehole).


A doctor in England faces suspension for looking up a patient’s personal details in her medical record; using her information to contact her to suggest having sex with him to help restore sensation in her genitals that had been reduced by multiple sclerosis; and then discouraging her from researching her condition in assuring her, “Trust me, I’m a doctor.” The married urologist’s version of the story is that the woman asked him for sex.

Vince and Elise review physician practice EHR vendors. I would, however, be cautious about assuming that each vendor’s client base can be inferred by the number of MU user attestations, especially given vendors like Epic that have relatively few (but also relatively large) health system customers that have lots of doctors as employees and affiliates.

Sponsor Updates

  • TierPoint completes its most recent round of HIPAA, PCI-DSS, GLBA, and SOC 2 Type II annual compliance audits.
  • ZeOmega introduces the Jiva Consultant Certification Program.
  • Employees of Clinical Computer Systems, Inc. raise $10,500 for the March of Dimes annual fundraising walk.
  • Visage Imaging will exhibit at ConHIT April 25-27 in Berlin.
  • First Databank Senior Director of Clinical Knowledge Charles Lee, MD will present the company’s recently acquired Meducation solution at Health Datapalooza this week.
  • ZeOmega will exhibit at Health Integrated Empower April 26-28 in St. Petersburg, FL.
  • ZirMed publishes a new infographic, “Riding the Sea of Change.”
  • Spok posts a case study of Hospital for Special Surgery’s use of Care Connect for medical, gas, and fire alarm alerting.

Blog Posts


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


Morning Headlines 4/21/17

April 20, 2017 Headlines No Comments

Secretary Price Announces HHS Strategy for Fighting Opioid Crisis

HHS Secreatry Tom Price, MD announces $485 million in funding that will be made available to all 50 states fund efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.

Tanium exposed hospital’s internal network in product demos

Cybersecurity company Tanium puts its own client’s network at risk by using an installation of its software at El Camino Hospital (CA) to do product demonstrations for two years without permission, revealing server and computer names, employee information, and real-time security vulnerabilities during the demonstrations.

Using telephony data to facilitate discovery of clinical workflows

National Coordinator for Health IT Don Rucker, MD publishes a paper suggesting that analyzing telecommunication activity within healthcare settings may help developers target clinical workflows in need of redesign.

How technology supports accurate risk adjusting for Medicare ACOs

The Advisory Board Company EVP Jon Kontor, MD offers a primer on how to optimize EHRs to be able to better manage clinical and financial risks within value-based payment models.

Direct to Consumer Digital Medical Devices – A Cautionary Tale for Entrepreneurs

Venture Valkerie offers a warning to entrepreneurs considering a direct-to-consumer approach to medical device sales.

News 4/21/17

April 20, 2017 News No Comments

Top News


Alphabet’s life sciences business, Verily, launches its Project Baseline initiative, a project aimed at creating a database that will be used to look for early warning indicators for a variety of illnesses. The project will sequence the genomes of 10,000 volunteers, and then use an activity tracker to monitor a participant’s sleep, activity, heart rate, and other health metrics over the next four years.

Reader Comments


From Not Surprised: “Re: HIMSS buys Health 2.0. HIMSS continues to gobble up industry trade shows, this time opting for one that it hopes will ‘make it possible for HIMSS to have a greater influence on the cutting edge of health IT.’ While I’ve never been to a Health 2.0 event, I always got the impression that it was a far more energetic, grassroots affair than the typically straitlaced HIMSS events. Healthcare IT is already filled to the brim with boring suit-and-tie shindigs that, instead of moving the industry forward, serve only to line the pockets of organizers. I can only hope that this deal won’t result in Health 2.0 losing its edge.” HIMSS has indeed acquired the Health 2.0 conferences, which now span five continents. Health 2.0 CEO Indu Subayia, MD will join HIMSS as an EVP, while co-chairman Matthew Holt will move into a consultant role.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

This week on HIStalk Practice: Providence Medical Group plans roll out of Chiron Health telemedicine services. GAO report outlines challenges, benefits to Medicare telemedicine programs. CMS proposes MU reporting changes, exceptions, and exemptions. Evans offers ambulatory providers emergency preparedness protocols. Michigan goes live with new PDMP. Practice EHR, Sequel Systems announce e-prescribing capabilities. Grand Rounds opens its first East Coast office. MDLive faces class-action lawsuit for alleged patient privacy violations. Thanks for reading!


April 26 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “SSM Integrated Health Technologies Clinical Data Migration: Functional and Technical Considerations.” Sponsored by Galen Healthcare Solutions. Presenters: Sandy Winklemann, MHA, RHIA, project manager, SSM Integration Health Technologies; Tyler Mawyer, MHA, managing consultant, Galen Healthcare Solutions; Kavon Kaboli, MPH, senior consultant, Galen Healthcare Solutions. GE Centricity and Meditech to Epic EHR transition. Join us for a complimentary webinar as present the decisions that are important to consider when performing a clinical data migration from the point of view of  the healthcare organization program manager, the clinical analyst, and the technical implementation team. Our expert panel will survey data migration considerations, best practices, and lessons learned. The webinar will present a unique client perspective, offering insight into considerations surrounding staffing, clinical mapping, legacy application support, and validation and testing.

April 28 (Friday) 1:00 ET. “3 Secrets to Leadership Success for Women in Health IT.” Sponsored by HIStalk. Presenters: Nancy Ham, CEO, WebPT; Liz Johnson, MS, FAAN, FCHIME, FHIMSS, CHCIO, RN-BC CIO, Acute Care Hospitals & Applied Clinical Informatics – Tenet Healthcare. Join long-time C-level executives Liz Johnson and Nancy Ham as they share insights from nearly three decades of navigating successful healthcare careers, share strategies for empowering colleagues to pursue leadership opportunities, and discuss building diverse executive teams. This webinar is geared toward female managers and leaders in healthcare IT seeking to further develop their professional careers. It’s also intended for colleagues, executives, and HR personnel who are looking to employ supportive techniques that ensure diversity in the workplace.

Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre for information on webinar services.

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


Cardinal Health will acquire Medtronic’s Patient Care, Deep Vein Thrombosis and Nutritional Insufficiency businesses for $6.1 billion in cash.


Siemens Healthineers will acquire Medicalis for an undisclosed sum. Siemens plans to fold the San Francisco-based company’s clinical decision support, imaging workflow, and referral management technologies into population health management line.


Care Innovations will relocate and expand its R&D center in a $1.7 million project that will create 24 jobs in Louisville, KY. The Roseville, CA-based home health and remote monitoring company – a joint venture between Intel and GE – opened its first office in the area 18 months ago.


image image

James “Butch” Baxter (Santa Rosa Consulting) joins Nashville-based secure messaging vendor Medarchon as CEO. Founder Baxter Webb will take on the role of chief strategy officer.

Announcements and Implementations


LifeBridge Health (MD) moves forward  with an enterprise-wide roll out of Cognizant’s Onvida communications software.

NTT Data Services will offer Praxify’s Mira voice-enabled charting technology.


Experian Health works with MyHealthDirect to add patient self-scheduling to its line of self-service payment tools.


Surescripts develops an accuracy monitoring tool for e-prescribing to help providers and pharmacists reduce callbacks and faxes, and better understand utilization patterns.


Healthgrades rolls out CareChats to help providers and patients stay in touch between appointments. The automated text- and email-based communications software integrates with the company’s CRM.

ImageMoverMD creates a Web-based solution to import medical images into a user’s EHR.



Arkansas Surgical Hospital selects PeerWell’s PreHab mobile app to help patients prepare for and recover from joint replacements.


Hill Hospital of Sumter County (AL) will add CPSI subsidiary Evident’s Thrive EHR to its existing Evident financial management tech.

Privacy and Security


Tanium finds itself in hot water after the Wall Street Journal reports that the cybersecurity company tapped into live hospital networks without permission during product demos between 2012 and 2015. Desktop and server management details were exposed, with some even showing up in videos. While patient data was not compromised, providers like former Tanium customer El Camino Hospital (CA) are not taking the intrusion lightly. “We are dismayed to learn that desktop and server management information was shared,” a hospital spokesperson told the WSJ.  “We are thoroughly investigating this matter and take our responsibility to maintain the integrity of our systems very seriously.”

Government and Politics

At a meeting earlier this week with White House officials, health insurance lobbyists and executives seeking assurances that subsidies would continue to be paid for low-income consumers buying individual marketplace plans – a step seen as critical to stabilizing the individual markets – were given no assurances and were instead told to take the matter up with Congress.

Innovation and Research


Nearly a month after Elon Musk announces his intent to develop an implantable brain-computer interface, Facebook unveils its plans to develop a similar interface that lets you type with your thoughts. The ultimate goal, according to Facebook researcher Regina Dugan, is to develop an interface that enables a person to to type even faster than they could with their hands, at close to 100 words per minute.


AMA introduces a web-based EHR training tool developed by Regenstrief Institute that uses records from 11,000 de-identified Eskenazi Health (IN) patients with built-in medical histories going back as far as 40 years. The EHR training platform includes functionality based on Meaningful Use Stage 2 certification criteria so that the workflows will be similar to what residents will see in a hospital setting. I interviewed Regenstrief Institute CEO and Indiana University School of Medicine Professor Peter Embi, MD last month.

Sponsor Updates

  • Intelligent Medical Objects will exhibit at the European Federation for Medical Informatics meeting April 24-26 in Manchester, England.
  • Kyruus, Experian Health, and the SSI Group will exhibit at the NAHAM Annual Conference April 25-28 in Dallas.
  • LogicWorks will exhibit at the Alert Logic Cloud Security Summit April 26 in New York City.
  • MedData will exhibit at the HFMA Hawaii annual conference April 20-21 in Honolulu.
  • Clinical Computer Systems, developer of the Obix Perinatal Data System, will exhibit at the Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative meeting April 27-28 in Tampa.
  • PatientKeeper will exhibit at the MUSE Community Peer Group-Canada East Coast April 27 in Nova Scotia.
  • Optimum Healthcare IT publishes a new infographic, “The Importance of Data Security.”
  • PokitDok cofounder and CTO Ted Tanner will present at Business and the Blockchain April 24-25 at Rice University in Houston.
  • Sphere3 Consulting moves into new office space in St. Joseph, MO.
  • Surescripts will exhibit at Health Datapalooza April 27-28 in Washington, DC.
  • PMD makes the San Francisco Business Times 2017 Best Places to Work list.

Blog Posts


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


EPtalk by Dr. Jayne 4/20/17

April 20, 2017 Dr. Jayne 1 Comment


The Leapfrog Group released the most recent iteration of its Hospital Safety Scores, grading over 2,600 hospitals from A to F. Transparency is a good thing, but I was surprised to see how some of my local hospitals (including a world renowned tertiary care center) fared. In going through the detail, it looks like there were several areas where they declined to report, but another is confusing. They scored low on “specially trained doctors care for ICU patients,” which is funny because they have one of the leading critical care fellowship programs and all patients are cared for by intensivists. The average patient isn’t going to be knowledgeable enough to dissect the rankings. Several smaller hospitals in town received A rankings but I still wouldn’t go there for a cardiac procedure or other specialized surgeries.


CMS announces upcoming webinars regarding the Achievable Benchmark of Care (ABC) and five-star rating programs. The data will appear on the Physician Compare website, so clinicians should become familiar with what their patients are seeing. I have need of a new specialist, looked up the physician I am considering, and didn’t find any information that helped support (or contradict) my choice. The webinars will be hosted:

I’ve been receiving encrypted summary-of-care records from one of my local hospitals, for patients who used to be mine when I was in traditional family medicine practice. The most recent one was over 145 pages long and contained every single laboratory test performed on the patient, including bedside blood glucose testing performed four times daily. Somehow I’m still listed as the primary care physician of record for this patient, which is surprising because he lives in a group home and has to have orders reauthorized every six months, so he must be seeing someone in the community who should have received this document instead of me. A call to the hospital wasn’t helpful, and I’m planning to call the group home to try to straighten it out myself. I assume that if this data was directly imported to my EHR it would make sense, but as a 145-page PDF it’s pretty overwhelming. The best part of it was the discharge diagnosis: “Recent Acute Hospitalization.”

I recently had lunch with some of my physician colleagues and the recent approval of direct-to-consumer genetic testing was a hot topic. Since I just went through genetic counseling and testing, I decided to investigate the 23andMe process. It’s easy to order the testing package – no more challenging than ordering something on Amazon. However, I got to the “enter your payment information” screen without any mention of some of the critical things that patients should consider before they have genetic testing: Do they have adequate disability and life insurance in place, should something be found? Is there a concern regarding long-term-care insurance? Are there concerns about a specific disease process or does the patient want a “shotgun” approach? I’m not sure the average person is going to think about these things and I would have liked to have seen them at least mentioned before consumers plunk down $199 for a testing kit. I opted to proceed conservatively with my recent testing and only test for a single mutation, which ended up being present. I was able to use the results to justify why I need early screening. I wonder if insurance carriers will accept data from 23and Me to justify early intervention. The panel that they offer to consumers looks a little scattered. I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has had testing with them.

I’ve been working through some continuing education and maintenance of certification (MOC) activities over the last week and have come to the conclusion that sitting for my family medicine board exam next year is going to be more of a challenge than I thought. The MOC activities are making me crazy with their “which is the most appropriate intervention” questions when all of the choices present are appropriate interventions. The definition of appropriate can be nebulous. Which is the most appropriate from a cost/utilization perspective? From a patient satisfaction perspective? From a patient acceptance and compliance perspective? Does the patient have insurance? Are they working three jobs? Determining the appropriate intervention for a given patient takes many more factors into account than statistical minutiae. Is the difference between 28 percent and 33 percent statistically significant enough to merit spending time on analyzing what the right answer is supposed to be?

It’s also particularly challenging for those of us that no longer practice what our board certifying organization considers to be full spectrum family medicine. Although I delivered over 150 babies, the last one was more than 15 years ago, but I’ll still have to field OB questions. Even if I wanted to give up my clinical certification and keep my informatics certification, I can’t do that since informatics requires primary certification from another board. Losing board certification is the kiss of death for insurance credentialing, so if I want to play the game and keep seeing patients, or keep being a board certified clinical informaticist, I’ll need to comply.


Wisconsin has designated this week as Healthcare Decisions Week and encourages people to complete an advance directive to document their wishes for end-of-life decision making. It’s unfortunately not enough just to have the document, but people need to talk to their loved ones about their wishes and why they have made particular decisions. We had one of these conversations at a recent family gathering and it was instructive, with revelations about what people did or did not want as far as medical treatment and funeral arrangements. As a physician, I’ve seen many arguments about care, and having both the conversation and the documentation is the best way to make sure your wishes are honored. It’s also not just for older people – there are plenty of things that go wrong with routine happenings like childbirth or small elective surgeries, so everyone should be prepared.

Email Dr. Jayne.

Morning Headlines 4/20/17

April 19, 2017 Headlines No Comments

Innovative EHR Platform Brings 11,000 True-life Cases to Med Ed

AMA introduces a web-based EHR training tool developed by Regenstrief Institute that uses records from 11,000 de-identified patients with built-in medical histories going back as far as 40 years. The EHR training platform includes functionality based on Meaningful Use Stage 2 certification criteria so that the workflows will be similar to what residents will see in a hospital setting.

Alphabet will track health data of 10,000 volunteers to ‘create a map of human health’

Alphabet’s life sciences business Verily launches its Project Baseline initiative, a 4-year project aimed at creating a database that will be used to look for early warning indicators for a variety of illnesses. The project will sequence the genomes of 10,000 volunteers and then use an activity tracker to monitor participant’s sleep, activity, heart rate, and other health metrics over the next four years.

Social networks push runners to run further and faster than their friends

A study published in Nature finds that sharing exercise activity over social networks does have a positive influence on the exercise habits of friends.

Health Insurers Make Case for Subsidies, but Get Little Assurance From Administration

At a Tuesday meeting with White House officials, health insurance lobbyists and executives seeking assurances that subsidies would continue to be paid for low-income consumers buying individual marketplace plans, a step seen as critical to stabilizing the individual markets, were given no assurances and were instead told to take the matter up with Congress.

Morning Headlines 4/19/17

April 18, 2017 Headlines No Comments

Theranos Reaches Resolution with Centers For Medicare & Medicaid Services

Theranos settles its ongoing legal battles with CMS over unsafe practices at its Newark and California labs, agreeing that it will not own or operate a clinical laboratory for the next two years in exchange for reduced monetary penalties.

Arizona Attorney General Reaches Settlement With Theranos

Theranos also settles its legal battles with Arizona Attorney General, agreeing to issue a full refund to all 175,000 Arizona residents who received Theranos blood tests.

Increasing Access to Care for Phoenix Veterans

The Phoenix VA Medical Center will partner with CVS to expand coverage locations to include local MinuteClinics.

Cardinal Health’s $6.1 billion deal for Medtronic unit ignites debt concerns

Cardinal Health announces that it will acquire Medtronic’s Patient Care, Deep Vein Thrombosis and Nutritional Insufficiency businesses for $6.1 billion in cash.

Subscribe to Updates



Text Ads

Report News and Rumors

No title

Anonymous online form
Rumor line: 801.HIT.NEWS



Founding Sponsors


Platinum Sponsors


































































Gold Sponsors




















Reader Comments

  • ex epic: Art V, hardly a mistake. The RFP called for hosting in a tier 1 DOD data center. More like a bait n switch. Here here on...
  • Machete: Re Govt and politics. Car insurance is not mandated by the federal government doh! And it's not tax payer subsidized...
  • Terwilliger Robertson: So, a lot of people die from safety and quality issues in Indian hospitals. One must stay focused on the positive: the u...
  • DrLyle: I think you were too hard on the "Automated Doctor Car" conceptual idea from the design firm Artefect - which is a very ...
  • Art_Vandelay: On another note, I am eager to see if the DoD's information security and privacy policies make it into Cerner's architec...

Sponsor Quick Links