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Curbside Consult with Dr. Jayne 11/14/16

November 14, 2016 Dr. Jayne 1 Comment


Since I’m working both as a consultant and as an employed physician/CMIO, I have the opportunity to interact with quite a few different hospitals, health systems, physician organizations, and vendors. Maybe it’s the Supermoon effect, but it feels like some of the organizations and teams I’ve been working with have lost their rudder. It’s resulting in unpredictable situations that create challenges all the way around.

With one organization, I feel like I’ve been immersed in a spy novel. They’ve been planning to switch EHR vendors for quite some time and are well down the contract negotiation pathway with another vendor. Still, they keep stringing the legacy vendor along, demanding that executives be flown to the client site to address the issues and the relationship so that they can demand discounts and credits for perceived software inadequacies. I say perceived, because I’ve been working with them for well over a year and know firsthand that they haven’t implemented the legacy system correctly and refuse to take my advice or the advice of the other two consulting firms they have on site.

I wish there was some kind of whistleblower hotline to let the legacy vendor know they’re being played, as well as to warn the incoming vendor of the kind of people they’re dealing with. Maybe there is already some level of understanding of the situation, but in working with the earnest and dedicated sales and client management teams, the individual folks working hard to save the client don’t seem to have been clued in and are taking it personally when they figure out the client is lying to them. Client leadership is open about how much they can get out of the legacy vendor on their way out the door and it’s sickening. I’m grateful my contract with them expires at the end of the year because I won’t be offering them a renewal.

Another organization recently engaged me to do some coding education with its providers. In the decreasing world of fee-for-service, they’re eager to get every last dollar out of their problem-oriented encounters. The first thing I did was to look at the coding distribution across their providers, which was fairly close to what I expected. There were two physicians who were significant outliers, but the rest fell nicely along a curve that didn’t vary much by patient mix or payer mix. I figured my task was to first work with the high-end outliers, to find out whether they were over coding and putting the organization at risk. When groups get caught in that situation, the penalty is calculated by extrapolating the overage as if all visits had been handled that way. It’s to an organization’s benefit to rein that in so they don’t have a huge penalty in an audit.

In fact, the group wanted me to address those they perceived as under coding and get them up to the level of their outlier peers. I’m sorry, but if you’re a walk-in primary care clinic that isn’t even addressing complex chronic conditions or significant comorbidities, it’s hard to get a viral upper respiratory infection up to a 99214 E&M code without at least documenting the chronic conditions and how the infection might impact them. Just because you add a prescription medication to the plan or perform a 40-point physical examination doesn’t mean it was medically necessary or that the higher level of coding was justified. I was happy to provide the nuts and bolts coding education. but if they want to encourage up-billing. they’re going to have to use their own physician executives to explain how they want that done.

Another group who engaged me to do a workforce evaluation is being crippled by ineffective management and poor human resources policies. Workers routinely fudge their time cards to make sure they reach 40 hours a week, even though they’re exempt employees who aren’t necessarily required to document 40 hours a week. Unfortunately, they’re damaging their team’s reputation and creating risk for their company. Some of the workers are adding the time to administrative buckets, which negatively impacts the team’s productivity. The worst offenders are padding time on client-facing projects, in effect stealing from their clients six minutes at a time as they increment the billings almost imperceptibly to make up for their own shortages. I recommended that the 40 hours requirement be removed and time be monitored over the next few months to see if there are weeks that people are working more and weeks that people are working less, and to see if they were averaging 40 hours a week as expected. HR cited company policy for the 40 hours requirement, and failed to address the outright dishonesty by their client-facing employees.

I was raised in a world where people should be prepared to face the consequences of their actions, but in these situations, it’s clear that there have been no consequences to date and that those involved don’t even worry about the potential consequences. My business career has been under leadership that expected people to deliver what they said they would deliver, but to do it ethically and in a way that keeps the client at the front of their thoughts and actions. I’ve worked for leaders that were tough but fair, and were honest about the decisions they were making and the potential impact on downstream employees and clients. It’s what I’ve tried to be in my work, but sometimes I feel like the idea of “greed is good” has come back into vogue.

I don’t want to think that so many organizations are spiraling into the muck, and just as I was starting to feel that way, I had a company impress me with its integrity. I helped them with an extremely sensitive project and they made sure that as it unfolded I was in no way compromising my principles or proceeding in a way that didn’t make me comfortable or interfered with my other clients or responsibilities. They didn’t assume that just because I was a consultant and being paid a good amount of money that I was on board for anything they requested. I’ve never worked with a group that was quite that deliberate in how they handled their business relationships, but it was certainly refreshing. It was the kind of engagement that makes a consultant hope that if they eventually want a full-time resource, they’ll keep you on their short list.

I like working with people who say what they mean, mean what they say, and do what they say they are going to do. Are you fortunate enough to have that in your workplace culture? Email me.

Email Dr. Jayne.

HIStalk Interviews Bill Corsten, President, Agfa HealthCare

November 14, 2016 Interviews No Comments

Bill Corsten is president, North America of Agfa HealthCare.


Tell me about yourself and the company.

I’ve been at Agfa HealthCare since September of 2014, but I’ve been in healthcare IT for just over 20 years, about half of that at McKesson Corporation. I grew up in sales and sales leadership and I still love it, quite honestly, but right now I find myself more motivated by the operational and cultural challenges of running a business like Agfa HealthCare.

This is an old company. We’ve been in business for 150 years and in healthcare since the 1940s. That’s a long and meaningful history because of a commitment to innovation. If you look at the evolution of the company, we’ve been able to maintain a market-leading position in our two primary businesses of medical imaging IT and x-ray technologies.

How is imaging changing with the push for value-based care and care coordination?

When people think imaging, I suppose they think traditional radiology and cardiology, the birthplace of medical imaging. Our more successful customers are taking advantage of the power of medical imaging throughout the hospital and beyond the four walls of that hospital. We’ve got customers who are using it, distributing it, or viewing in upwards of 35 and 40 different departments, so it has gone beyond radiology and cardiology.

Medical imaging in that expanded use can have a tremendous impact on patient care. No medical record is complete without clinical data, medical imaging data, and of course content document management data. There’s still a lot of paper in hospitals these days. We believe we’re completing the medical record and making it better for patients who are our ultimate customers or consumers of healthcare, making it easier for our hospital customers to deliver care more efficiently and effectively for our consumers.

Imaging contains the image itself as well as any clinical commentary or analysis that has been added. What’s the best value case for each of those?

It’s evolving. It’s getting there, but we’ve still got a way to go. If you look over the last decade at the importance of the electronic medical record and the Affordable Care Act’s impact on adoption, it did leave a gap in completing that story. It is really over the last couple of years that we’re seeing the adoption of enterprise imaging and the expansion and the use of that.

If you’re a patient, if you’re a care provider, if you’re a referring physician, to have that picture go along with the words is really completing the story of the patient. It’s not until you have that full story we believe can you make a comprehensive diagnosis and care plan for that patient.

Does imaging have a population health or research component?

Absolutely. Is Agfa HealthCare a population health management primary company? No. Do we participate in that space and are we going to be a key component to an overall solution? Absolutely.

With respect to medical images themselves and the use or data mining of those images, there are use cases where we can look at historic studies. For example, lung nodules, if we’ve got a patient that presents with a lung nodule, a physician may look at that and make a determination — based on the size, based on how long that nodule’s been present — to either act or not to act. To incur that expense and that patient experience or not.

If we can roll forward and have that volume of data or those studies and put together trends, we could use this predictively to make sure we’re making proactive recommendations or not based on like studies that have been stored over time at a particular institution or across the industry itself.

Patients still complain that new providers don’t have access to their previously taken images. Are we making progress on sharing them?

That is the power of our platform. On a single platform, it’s consolidating all of the image data from multiple service lines. It could be from multiple PACS, multiple departments inside the hospital, and outside in a secure manner, which gives access to patients. Lets them see their medical images. It could be providers who are giving the care and it could be the referring physician. Anytime, anywhere. It is absolutely enabling and perpetuating that medical image regardless of proprietary specifics.

How would I as an office-based physician best gain access to a health system’s images of my patient?

Historically you would have CDs. A patient would leave a hospital with a CD, or going way back to the film days, a big manila envelope. What happens to those CDs? They get misplaced or a patient forgets to bring the CD to the referring physician’s office. Then you either lose the time with that physician or that patient doesn’t get the care that they need at the time, it could result in reprinting or populating of that CD.

With the technology that Agfa brings, there is exchange and distribution of that image from the single platform where it was captured. Then there’s viewing capabilities by anybody who participates in that image chain or in that image experience. If I’m a patient or if I’m a referring physician, through the technologies — over and above the original capture of that image — they’re able to distribute and or view that image, taking advantage of eliminating the need for film or CDs.

What is the state and the future state of integrating images with EHRs?

There’s a reason that the big EHR vendors don’t necessarily label themselves as experts in medical imaging. It’s difficult, it’s complex, it’s vast, and it’s a critical component of the legal medical record.

To put our industry in a position where we can take advantage of a single EHR integration across departments, regardless of where they exist, and to connect that to the patient’s medical records so as to bring it all together, it’s only going to make it a better experience, more efficient, more economical. There’s going to be lower total cost of ownership with respect to the number of disparate systems that you’re having to maintain. It will facilitate the flow in the way the physician wants to experience it or the way the patient wants to experience it. That is what is driving our development efforts and our integration efforts when it comes to playing with some of the larger EHR vendors in North America.

What are people doing with VNAs beyond just storing DICOM images?

I come from the EMR industry with 10 years at McKesson. The parallel between then, the clinical data repository and the Web portal or physician portal viewer, and today’s VNA and the viewer … much of our competition had gotten a head start on that and we let them run. We gave them that head start because we took a more holistic approach to this. We wanted to deliver a full solution that was not simply about a repository and a viewer, but it was about the capture and the distribution of those DICOM images to all caregivers, patients, and referring physicians across all settings of care. We took a little different approach to it.

There is non-DICOM imaging. It is a major component. Agfa Healthcare has a very successfully deployed an enterprise content management system in our European customer base that we are now considering bringing to North America. Not for the benefit of competing nose-to-nose with those existing vendors in that space, but actually taking the enterprise imaging and document management and bringing them together so that one and one becomes three for our customers. We’re able to bring that workflow. We’re able to bring the advantages of having non-DICOM and DICOM images managed by the same vendor and distributed into the workflow of our care providers and other caregivers in a seamless and efficient way. That is something that we’re investigating quite seriously.

It’s been said that no doctor wants a physician portal. Is it a challenge to go beyond pull-type systems to pushing the new information automatically to the systems in which the provider works all day?

It can be. You’re right — patient and physician portals have been in the industry for 15 to 20 years. Agfa’s approach to this functionality is different, where we are utilizing it in a use case scenario or problem-solving opportunities as it relates to our enterprise imaging application. We’ve got a portal solution that we are marketing to make it easier for our patients to experience the care provided by their community hospital or their integrated delivery network. We are doing it on a problem-solving approach.

Rather than say we’ve got a physician portal or a patient portal that is to replace the legacy systems that are out there, we are integrating it deeply into our solution so it becomes a seamless component to that experience, whether you’re a care provider or a patient. You’re right — pushing that information is more important than pulling that information. We’re making sure that, much like we have in the development of our core solutions, the information is where they need it and it’s in the hands of the right person on that image chain at the right time.

Where do you see the future of imaging as it relates to medical informatics?

The opportunity is only going to get bigger. The opportunity is for those vendors who are in this for the right reasons, with the right vision, and not trying to isolate themselves but rather to avail themselves to the greater good, which our ultimate patient, the ultimate consumer. Those that recognize interoperability is a must and that we are not going to be all things for all people.

But I absolutely firmly believe that medical imaging, enterprise imaging in the manner that we’re espousing, is going to be a critical component in our delivery of healthcare, whether you look at the development of population health solutions and the participation in HIEs or if you look at a small community hospital. They are the HIE, if you think about it. In their community, they’re everything to their patients.

It’s how we choose to work with our customers to align to their outcomes. That’s going to make the difference and those are the vendors that are going to survive, those vendors that are driving the patient outcomes, driving our customers’ outcomes, and letting those outcomes drive our R&D. That will drive our direction as we look to develop our place in the marketplace.

Morning Headlines 11/14/16

November 13, 2016 News No Comments

Social Security and Veterans Affairs Partnership Means Faster Disability Decisions for Veterans

The Social Security Administration integrates its disability claims processing system with the VA, speeding up the claims approval process by granting SSA immediate access to medical documents.

Donald Trump, in Exclusive Interview, Tells WSJ He Is Willing to Keep Parts of Obama Health Law

During a Wall Street Journal interview, Donald Trump says that he will preserve some components of the ACA, such as the pre-existing condition exemption and the ability to keep children on a parents insurance plan until the age of 26.

Cerner uses employees’ DNA in pilot research; aims to use genetic info to improve health

Cerner is analyzing full DNA sequences donated  by 82 employees to help the company study how genetics impacts obesity, metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis, and depression.

Monday Morning Update 11/14/16

November 13, 2016 News 5 Comments

Top News


The Social Security Administration connects to the VA’s IT systems via the eHealthExchange, allowing it to retrieve the VA’s medical records of veterans applying for Social Security disability. It went live nationally on Friday, Veterans Day.

Reader Comments


From Nasty Parts: “Re: NextGen. Rumor here at UGM is that IKS Health is a potential suitor. Former NextGen and Quality Systems President Pat Cline sits on their advisory board and is CEO of Lightbeam Health Solutions. Maybe they are bringing the band back together – IKS, NextGen, and Lightbeam.” Unverified. UPDATE: Pat Cline’s passed along this comment: ““I am proud to be a member of the IKS Advisory Board but I am fully committed to and focused on Lightbeam Health Solutions and the continued growth of our company and the population health solutions we deliver to healthcare providers. While I believe that QSI/NextGen is a fine company, I am not involved in any acquisition discussions nor am I trying to open any such discussion. I’m squarely focused on the growth and success of Lightbeam so that we continue to deliver the value that our customers, investors, partners and employees expect.”

HIStalk Announcements and Requests


Most poll respondents think the medical practice of their most recent doctor is pretty well run. I asked for details and received these:

  • Health IT Chic Extraordinaire says her Epic-using doctor at Palo Alto Medical Foundation and the Cerner-using hospital he sent her (it’s one of five hospitals in which he practices) had mismatched records due to lack of interoperability. She had to fill out the same medical history and medication questions at both, but the hospital’s discharge instructions missed a drug he prescribed immediately before on Epic. She also notes that on the day of surgery, all the information of her tests and other information had been repackaged into a three-ring binder, leading her to ponder if we’ve really come as far as we think.
  • Betsy says her OB-GYN was clearly not interested in using practice’s EHR, and during her first visit, his tablet batteries ran out and he called in a MA to take sparse notes. She also observes that she always waited at least an hour (even if she was the second appointment of the day), the practice forgot prescriptions, and their phone tree was dysfunctional. They also collect all payments upfront but failed to return any excess after insurance paid.
  • Susan is a big fan of her PCP’s office, which communicates well internally and externally and offers prompt appointments and walk-in sick hours.
  • PatientX entered questions before the visit on the practice’s portal that the doctor brought up on his own, making the visit feel more like an ongoing health conversation rather than just a metrics-driven checklist.
  • PharmarH had a tracheostomy and even though it’s documented, they always ask him or her to call them.
  • Jill loves that the pediatric office where she takes her kids has transformed into a patient-centered medical home that offers same-day appointments and makes it a point to obtain the hospital’s infant records before the first visit.
  • My recent experience with the front-office staff of my single-doc PCP (my first visit with her) was unimpressive with their indifference paired with inefficiency, both plainly obvious, and I questioned the choice of playing country music in the waiting room. I was herded off to the exam room a few minutes behind schedule and was told I was the next patient, but I still waited 75 minutes. I was about ready to walk out when the doctor wheeled in a mobile cart running Practice Fusion, apologized for the wait, cheerily introduced herself by first name with a big smile, and asked for and told stories (“I love stories,” she said) in wanting to hear my medical history as a narrative to which she listened intently without focusing on the laptop and she related the experience of other patients. It was a “getting to know you” session that was probably 10 percent relevant to my immediate medical needs (getting routine annual lab tests), but I left a big fan without feeling like a patient widget in her medical factory. It was almost like corralling a doctor at a party who actually wanted to chat about my medical needs. I suspect her documentation of my encounter (which lasted nearly an hour) was skimpy, but I have no doubt she will remember all the important parts regardless.

New poll to your right or here: do you expect the business if your employer under a Trump presidency to be better or worse? Click Comments after voting to explain.

The Greatest Generation of World War II is mostly gone now, but taking its place at the head of the next-to-die line is the ever-dwindling roster of the Greatest Entertainment Generation of the 1960s, as evidenced by last week’s death of poet-musician Leonard Cohen and “Man from UNCLE” Robert Vaughn, PhD. The cool thing about 1960s TV stars is that they hustled on whatever shows hired them for next to nothing, so you can spot them as small players on shows ranging from “The Twilight Zone” to “Wagon Train.” Unlike the rest of us, their digitally preserved work lives on forever and earns news fans daily, allowing people to feel irrationally but happily connected to an impossibly youthful Napoleon Solo forever fighting THRUSH and charming mini-skirted mods with suave indifference.

Last Week’s Most Interesting News

  • Siemens announces plans to take its Healthineers medical business public.
  • Experts and amateurs alike try to forecast the healthcare impact of the presidential election win of Donald Trump.
  • McKesson confirms the layoff of 60 employees of its Charlotte, NC-based Enterprise Information Solutions business that includes Paragon, for which it previously took a $290 million write-down and expressed hopes of selling the business.
  • Walgreens files a $140 million breach of contract lawsuit against lab company Theranos.
  • ECRI Institute get a $3 million, three-year to study optimization of EHRs and avoidance of patient harm.


None scheduled soon. Contact Lorre for webinar services. View previous webinars on our HIStalk webinars YouTube channel.

Here’s the video of one of our webinars from last week, “CMIO Perspective on Successful 25-Hospital Rollout of Electronic Physician Documentation.”

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


Patient education vendor PatientPoint acquires MedCenterDisplay, which offers digital signage, apps, and marketing solutions.


  • Ellenville Regional Hospital (NY) will switch supply chain software from Medhost to Jump Technologies in February 2017.
  • Cameron Memorial Community Hospital (IN) went live on Infor supply chain management in October 2016.

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



Virtual doctor visit provider MDLIVE hires Scott Decker (HealthSparq) as CEO, replacing demoted founder Randy Parker.

Government and Politics


President-Elect Trump moderates his previously scathing opinions of the Affordable Care Act, which he had promised to scuttle on his first day in office, and says he wants to keep the elimination of pre-existing conditions and the ability for parents to leave their children on their policies for extra years. He (hopefully) appears to be moderating his over-the-top and ultimately successful election hyperbole with more thoughtful actions. A Washington Post opinion piece describes the problems involved with replacing Obamacare:

To guarantee that people with pre-existing conditions can get affordable health insurance, you need to have rules requiring guaranteed issue and community rating. To keep insurance companies in business because of guaranteed issue and community rating, you need to have an individual mandate. And because poor people can’t afford health insurance, you need subsidies. Combine all three, and what you have, in a nutshell, is … Obamacare … Of course, if you want to scrap guaranteed issue, scrap community rating, scrap the individual mandate, and scrap the subsidies, as Republicans, propose, then you end up where the country was in 2008—with a market system that inevitably gives way to an insurance spiral in which steadily rising premiums cause a steadily rising percentage of Americans without health insurance … you can’t have all the good parts of a socialized system (universal coverage at affordable prices) without freedom-reducing mandates and regulations and large doses of subsidies from some people to other people. Anyone who says otherwise – anyone promising better quality health care at lower cost with fewer regulations and lower taxes—is peddling hokum.

President-Elect Trump announces that his HHS transition advisor will be Andrew Bremberg, JD, who served as HHS special assistant and chief of staff from 2001 to 2007.

A Washington Post opinion piece explains why the author will never join AARP – the organization is a powerful Washington lobbyist that claims to protect Medicare and Social Security while it actually “prevents any serious discussion of meaningfully reforming these programs, which are in great danger of becoming insolvent.”

Privacy and Security



  • An IT recruitment site announces that an unnamed person accessed one of its development servers that it later determined had not been properly secured by its contractor Capgemini, exposing the information of its job seekers to the Internet. The UK file alone contained the information of 780,000 people, with the possible total exposure being in the millions or tens of millions.
  • An encrypted laptop containing the information of over 1,200 members of the Indiana Health Coverage program is stolen from the car of an HP Enterprise Services employee, but HPE disabled it remotely.
  • Vanderbilt University’s counseling center exposes the contact information of 468 of its clients to each other when an employee emails a survey using :CC rather than :BCC.
  • Kaiser Permanente notifies 8,000 members that a website upgrade’s new caching mechanism could have exposed their information to other people visiting the website at the same time.
  • A Texas dermatology practice is hit with ransomware that the practice says it was able to remove.


image  image

The local paper features a fun look back at Atomedic Hospital, the 1950s “futuristic hospital for the atomic age” for which prototypes were installed at demonstration sites, most notably the 1964 World’s Fair. The windowless, round, nuclear powered, and modularly constructed 28-bed hospital had an outer corridor for visitors, an inner circle for patient rooms, and a central core for services such as the OR, with patient rooms having doors at either end to allow moving them to the ICU within the central core. The low-cost, pre-packaged hospital was designed to make healthcare affordable. Patients would be served warmed frozen dinners with disposable dinnerware and disposable linen eliminated the need for a laundry. I Googled and found the Atomedic Foundation, which seeks to preserve the idea of quickly constructed, low-cost hospital buildings as envisioned by the original concept. Kaiser Permanente ran a history of the Atomedic Hospital idea last year even though it passed on the idea in 1961, mostly likely because of its high expense at $19,000 per bed and, perhaps most importantly, the fact that the federal government’s Hill-Burton program wouldn’t pay for it as they did for most of the hospital buildings that were erected in the 1960s.

Cerner participates in a study of 82 employee volunteers who turned over their DNA sequencing to the company, signaling Cerner’s continued interest in broadening its reach to healthcare service delivery.

In England, a doctor is jailed for possession of child pornography, which he attempted to hide by occasionally throwing his computers into a river.

Netsmart honors its veteran employees on Veterans Day with a nicely done video.


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


Morning Headlines 11/11/16

November 10, 2016 Headlines No Comments

Siemens plans public listing of healthcare business

Siemens announces plans for an IPO of its $15 billion Siemens Healthineers medical business.

Red Hat mHealth survey shows strong ROI and anticipated growth despite budget headwinds

A Red Hat survey of healthcare organizations finds that 82 percent have a fully implemented mobile strategy, outperforming commercial enterprises. 78 percent of those healthcare organizations also report an ROI on their mobile app investments.

VA to launch online appointment scheduling

The VA will begin offering online appointment scheduling in January 2017, starting first with primary care appointments, and then followed by mental health, optometry, and audiology appointments.

‘The polls clearly got it wrong’: The autopsy will take months

Experts say that understanding how statisticians got the election polling forecasts so wrong will take approximately six months of analysis.

News 11/11/16

November 10, 2016 News No Comments

Top News


Siemens will IPO its $15 billion Siemens Healthineers medical business, offering an unspecified stake while remaining a long-term majority shareholder.

Siemens CEO Joe Kaesar says Healthineers has gone from “good to great” by allowing it to focus and the IPO will “make it a fascinating business.” He says the company will invest in molecular diagnostics and consulting services.

Siemens Healthineers is the German conglomerate’s most profitable business unit. It offers medical imaging, laboratory diagnostics, point-of-care testing, therapy systems, imaging and laboratory diagnostics software, and services.

Reader Comments


From Dell EMC Spokesperson: “Re: Fairview Health Services. The City Pages article was inaccurate and misleading across a wide range of facts, including the comments relating to the Dell EMC products. The Dell EMC products never went down or failed at any point. XtremIO was not the root cause of any incidents referenced in the article. Dell EMC values its strong partnership with Fairview and to serving as a top trustworthy and dependable partner from a technology, support, and strategic IT relationship perspective."

From Lever Puller: “Re: your article on election analytics. I loved it – you nailed down many reasons polls should be taken with a grain of salt. The media should take blame, too, for spending so much energy vilifying the eventual winner so that anyone who wanted to vote for him wouldn’t admit that to pollsters, throwing off their results.” Media people do indeed have their own agendas despite their claims of impartiality and they didn’t try very hard to hide it this time (that’s a big no-no when trying to gauge rather than influence opinion). My takeaways: (a) don’t believe any survey, clinical study, or product ranking until you’ve reviewed its methodology and the motivations of the authors; (b) choose carefully the people you allow to feed you predigested conclusions, especially if you plan to take important action from what they tell you; and (c) follow the money because the biases held by most companies and people are directly linked to their wallets. I’ll also add that actions are more important than words, so when a patient says they are medication-compliant or a company boasts that they have only ecstatic customers, ask to see their data proving it. What I was really saying in that article is that no amount of analytical firepower, even when correctly applied, can reliably predict the behavior of humans, especially when it pertains to their health. Meanwhile, if you really believe what people say instead of what they actually do, you should buy shares in UHAL and make a fortune from all the hand-wringers who swear they’re moving to Canada.


Meanwhile, polling expert Nate Silver says in an analytics debrief, “We got a lot of crap for pointing out that the polls showed a fairly close election and that a fairly ordinary polling error could shift the Electoral College to Trump. People just didn’t want to hear it,” adding that the actual polls weren’t too far off in predicting the popular vote that Clinton won so far (Arizona, Michigan, and New Hampshire apparently ran out of fingers and toes and are still counting). The Huffington Post, which gave Clinton a 98 percent chance of beating Trump, has apologized to Silver for criticizing his projections as the news site earned its permanent place in the digital Dewey vs. Truman spotlight.

From Survey Says: “Re: your article on election analytics. As always, quite good and spot on. You would think a bad miss like Election Night would drive both some introspection and hesitancy to pontificate. I suppose nature abhors a vacuum and people have space on their sites that needs fresh content.” I’m already tired of self-proclaimed health experts confidently telling us what to expect from a Trump presidency, even trying to fine-tune their fuzzy crystal balls down to the level of health IT while barely holding back their post-election bitterness and fear. Some of them appear to simply be parroting each other judging from the identical ideas and similar wording.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests


Today (Friday) is Veterans Day, which we set aside to honor everyone who has served in the US armed forces. If you spent time in uniform on US soil or elsewhere, in a combat role or not, thank you. Every service member experiences sacrifice, time away from family, the possibility of personal harm, and some degree of opportunity cost.

I was thinking about people who are said to have “died suddenly” versus the possibly more accurate “died unexpectedly,” although I’m not sure either phrase is any better than just “died.” Nobody knows when they’re going to die other than executed prisoners and suicide victims, so it’s otherwise always sudden and never expected.

This week on HIStalk Practice: Coordinated Care Oklahoma Chief Administrative Officer Brian Yeaman, MD gets excited about analytics and image sharing. Texas Association of Business CEO stumps for telemedicine. SRSsoft adds InteliChart tech to its practice software for specialists. ONC’s annual report to Congress shows patient engagement office progress. Practice Fusion receives funding from Orix Growth Capital. Glendale MRI Administrative Director Pamela Fletcher speaks to the value of pricing transparency when it comes to keeping up with the competition. BCBS of Kansas offers value-based contracts to Aledade Kansas. Jonathan Bush weighs in on next administration’s impact on healthcare. Northwest Physicians Network CEO Rick MacCornack highlights the value found in working with small technology startups.


None scheduled soon. Contact Lorre for webinar services. View previous webinars on our HIStalk webinars YouTube channel.

Here’s the recording of this week’s webinar titled “How to Create Healthcare Apps That Get Used and Maybe Even Loved.”

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


Agfa’s board will enter non-exclusive discussions with CompuGroup Medical about being acquired. CGM’s CFO said Wednesday, “It’s either up or out (for the hospital information system business). If you wanted to step up and become a high-profitability, high-growth player, the position that our friends in Agfa have would be the number one choice.” Meanwhile, I’m pondering why Agfa’s logo lists the company’s name twice.

Sunquest acquires Sandy, UT-based UniConnect, which offers software for molecular laboratories.



Carrus Hospital (TX) selects Nuance Power PDF to create, convert, and assemble PDF files.

Banner Health Network (AZ) chooses Evolent Health’s care performance management platform.



Mike Tarwacki (Forte Research Systems) joins Ability Network as SVP of sales.

Announcements and Implementations

A Red Hat survey finds that 82 percent of large healthcare organizations have fully implemented a mobile strategy, a much higher rate than non-healthcare business, and 80 percent of them say their ROI is positive. However, budgets aren’t keeping up with their development and maintenance plans. The biggest reported technical challenges are back-end integration and securing data access.

Government and Politics


A Health Affairs article says a Donald Trump presidency with Republican control over both houses can’t immediately kill the Affordable Care Act despite the President-Elect’s statement that he will ask Congress for its repeal the day he takes office. The article notes that such a proposal would likely be stopped by a Senate filibuster and adds that the ACA is so deeply ingrained into Medicare and other programs that it can’t simply be rolled back. However, funding for specific parts of “Obamacare” could be cut off, preserving features like coverage of pre-existing conditions, elimination of lifetime dollar caps, and age underwriting restrictions intact but leaving insurers to deal with their financial implications. The newly elected president will also need to quickly replace HHS’s many political appointees with people who might choose not to enforce regulatory requirements and could make it easier for states to pull out completely. The administration could also elect to drop its defense of ACA-related lawsuits, which could, as an example, immediately halt cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies in making marketplace participation undesirable to eliminate participation. Experts seem to agree that there’s little doubt that the Obamacare portion of the ACA will go away, with no firm proposals on the table to replace the health insurance carried by 20 million people.

Meanwhile, ACA sign-ups hit record levels the day after the election as people fretted less about skyrocketing premiums and more that the pre-existing condition policies could come back and leave them uninsurable.


Anad Sharma, the founder of iPhone health tracking app vendor Gyroscope, is among a group of California technology company executives who say they’ll financially back the so-called #Calexit fringe movement in which California would secede from the US in protest of Donald Trump’s election.


Former bad boy pharma exec Martin Shkreli follows through on his promise to publicly play his $2 million, one-copy-only Wu-Tang Clan album if Donald Trump were to win the election, calling Trump’s victory “fantastic.”


The VA will launch online appointment scheduling in January 2017, using a system developed internally by the VA along with Accenture Federal Services.

Privacy and Security


  • Broward Health (FL) is notified by law enforcement authorities that its patient facesheets were found at the home of an unidentified individual.
  • The Eastern Colorado VA system says the names and diagnoses of 2,100 veterans were exposed when one of its employees emailed unencrypted documents to her personal email account.
  • In Canada, the privacy commissioner of Newfoundland and Labrador orders Eastern Health to implement mandatory user log-outs and to consider proximity-based security after someone accesses patient information using the still-active Meditech session of a doctor who had left the area for rounds.



The Madison paper covers a new bus service that targets Epic commuters with hardwood floors, free coffee, Wi-Fi, and a widescreen TV.


The USDA celebrates Allene Rosalind Jeanes, PhD (1906-1995), an agricultural chemist who was asked by a soft drink company to figure out why a batch of its root beer had thickened, leading her to develop a manufacturing process for the life-saving plasma substitute dextran. She and her team also discovered xanthan gum, used to thicken ice cream, medicines, and other products.


Weird News Andy is ‘appy this didn’t ‘appen in England since “first, do no ‘arm” wouldn’t be convenient. A plastic surgeon in China grows an artificial ear on a man’s arm that will eventually replace the one he lost in an accident.

Sponsor Updates

  • Valence Health will exhibit at the AMGA Institute for Quality Leadership November 15-17 in San Francisco.
  • Verscend will exhibit at the NHCAA Annual Training Conference November 16-19 in Atlanta.
  • Optimum Healthcare IT is mentioned positively in the KLAS Healthcare Consulting 2016 report.
  • Group health extends its ZeOmega contract and will upgrade to the latest version of its Jiva population health platform.
  • ZirMed will exhibit at Wave 2016 November 17-18 in Austin.
  • Hilo Medical Center (HI) moves procedure consents to Web-based forms and electronic signatures from Access.
  • Zynx Health will exhibit at Cerner Health Conference 2016 November 12-16 in Kansas City, MO.
  • Sunquest will exhibit at the Association for Molecular Pathology Annual Meeting November 10-12 in Charlotte, NC.
  • Consulting Magazines names Impact Advisors VP Jenny McCaskey one of the “Women Leaders in Consulting” of 2016.
  • NCQA recertifies 17 Medecision disease management programs.
  • Imprivata, National Decision Support Company, and MedCPU will exhibit at Cerner Health Conference 2016 November 14-17 in Kansas City, MO.
  • LogicStream Health will host a networking event for Cerner Health Conference attendees November 15 at the Drum Room.
  • InterSystems will exhibit at AMP’s annual meeting November 10-12 in Charlotte, NC.
  • Intelligent Medical Objects, Meditech, and Streamline Health will exhibit at the AMIA 2016 Annual Symposium November 12-16 in Chicago.
  • Kyruus will host its annual ATLAS Conference November 14-15 in Boston.
  • The Kansas City Business Journal profiles Netsmart.
  • Obix Perinatal Data System will exhibit at the HIMSS Midwest Fall Technology Conference November 13-15 in Bloomington, MN.
  • Experian Health will exhibit at HFMA North Dakota November 12-13 in West Fargo.
  • The SSI Group will exhibit at the 2016 HFMA Mid-Atlantic Region Meeting November 13-16 in Asheville, NC.
  • SK&A publishes a new report, “Top 50 Free-Standing Surgery Centers.”

Blog Posts


Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Lt. Dan.
More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.
Get HIStalk updates. Send news or rumors.
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EPtalk by Dr. Jayne 11/10/16

November 10, 2016 Dr. Jayne 3 Comments


Most of the physicians I have interacted with over the last two days have commented about potential healthcare impacts from Tuesday’s election. Although the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act was at the top of multiple conversations, there were many local and state questions with a health-related focus.

Colorado voters failed to pass Amendment 69, which would have allowed for a single-payer healthcare program to replace the state’s insurance exchanges and also private plans. Voters there approved Proposition 106, which would allow physicians to prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill adults who are certified by at least two physicians as having less than a six-month life expectancy. Colorado voters also said no to increased tobacco taxes, with similar rejections in North Dakota and Missouri. The latter had two tobacco tax issues on the ballot, which likely caused confusion.

Regarding other smoking options, medical marijuana was legalized in Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota, while Montana amended its existing regulations. Recreational marijuana use was approved in California, Maine, Nevada, and Massachusetts. Those eager to partake will have to wait a bit longer while states finalize the details around the actual sales and dispensary processes.

California voters approved a tax of one cent per ounce on sugar-laden drinks in Oakland, San Francisco, and Albany, while voters in Boulder, Colorado approved a two cent tax. California voters also elected to continue fee assessments on private hospitals, with the proceeds being used to fund Medicaid.

The most interesting ballot questions I saw were in Florida, with two non-binding referendums on the release of genetically modified mosquitoes to reduce disease. It’s an interesting idea as a public heath intervention and passed in Monroe County, but not in Key Haven. I’m a big fan of Jurassic Park and I can’t help but wonder if voters thought about what happened with those genetically modified dinosaurs when they made their decisions.

California was certainly a leader in the number of health-related questions, although voters failed to pass Proposition 61, which would have blocked pharmaceutical companies from charging state payers more than they charge the Department of Veterans Affairs. Not surprisingly, big pharma spent more than $100 million to oppose the measure.

Although the president-elect promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act as part of his platform, Republicans failed to earn a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. The ACA was a long time in the making and had support from both sides of the aisle, so efforts to reverse are sure to be interesting. Filibusters are always attention-grabbing as well as a way to hear some interesting literature and potentially pick up some new recipes.

There is a chance that a budget reconciliation maneuver might be used, which only requires a simple majority, but this requires a review of the parliamentary process around budgeting to ensure that the process is compliant. This process was used earlier this year, but the bill ultimately suffered a Presidential veto.

Changing the ACA might be more difficult than people think, as more than 20 million people would stand to lose insurance coverage. Additionally, many Americans have been pleased with the portions of the law that protect patients with pre-existing conditions and extend the length of time that dependents can remain under their parents’ coverage. This enthusiasm has been tempered, however, by concerns over high coverage costs and rising premiums.

Trump has also mentioned allowing the import of prescription drugs from outside the US, as well as allowing Medicare to negotiate drug pricing directly with pharmaceutical manufacturers. Similar efforts have been blocked by the GOP in the past, so it will be interesting to see what’s different this time. It’s likely that a Republican-controlled legislature will take up the issue of funding for Planned Parenthood and perhaps other regulations related to reproductive healthcare.

The issue of filling the existing vacant Supreme Court spot was also the topic of several discussions. I’m sure the nomination process will be interesting once our new president takes office. We’re certainly in for an interesting ride over the next several months.

What chatter are you hearing about the future of healthcare after the election? Email me.

Email Dr. Jayne.

Morning Headlines 11/10/16

November 9, 2016 Headlines 3 Comments

Policy experts say quick repeal and replace of ACA unlikely

Health policy experts say that despite GOP control of the White House, Senate, and House of Representatives, and persistent promises from Congress to repeal or replace, a full repeal of ACA remains unlikely due to the simple fact that millions of Americans would lose their health insurance.

Cerner, HCA stocks dip with ACA uncertainty

On the stock market, healthcare stocks are slipping on uncertainty around a potential ACA repeal. Cerner stock fell 4.6 percent overnight, while HCA’s stock price fell 12.4 percent.

Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals Report Year-to-Date and Third Quarter 2016 Financial Results

Kaiser Permanente reports Q3 results: revenue grew to $48.3 billion, resulting in $672 million in operating income, up from $363 million for the same quarter last year.

How some hospitals are replacing pricy EpiPens with a $10 version

In response to increasing EpiPen prices, the University of Utah Health Care system is replacing EpiPen’s within the system with a $10 EpiKit, which will include a vial of epinephrine, two needles, alcohol wipes, two syringes, and instructions.

The Election Lesson Learned is to be Healthily Skeptical of Analytics

November 9, 2016 Readers Write 18 Comments

The Election Lesson Learned is to be Healthily Skeptical of Analytics
By Mr. HIStalk


It was a divisive, ugly election more appropriate to a third-world country than the US, but maybe we can all have a Kumbaya-singing moment of unity in agreeing on just one thing – the highly paid and highly regarded pollsters and pundits had no idea what they were talking about. They weren’t any smarter than your brother-in-law whose political beliefs get simpler and louder after one beer too many. The analytics emperors, as we now know, had no clothes.

The experts told us that Donald Trump was not only going to get blown out, but he also would drag the down-ballot candidates with him and most likely destroy the Republican party. Hillary Clinton’s team of quant geeks had it all figured out, telling her to skip campaigning in sure-win states like Wisconsin and instead focus her energy on the swing states. The TV talking heads simultaneously parroted that Clinton had a zillion “pathways to 270” while Trump had just one, an impossible long shot. The actual voting results would be anticlimactic, no more necessary to watch than a football game involving a 28-point underdog.

The (previously) respected poll site 538 pegged Trump’s chances at 28 percent as the polls began to close. Within a handful of hours, they gave him an 84 percent chance of winning. Presumably by Wednesday morning their finely tuned analytics apparatus took into account that Clinton had conceded and raised his chances a bit more, plus or minus their sampling error.

This morning, President-Elect Trump is packing up for the White House and the Republicans still control the Senate. Meanwhile, political pollsters and statisticians are anxiously expunging their election-related activities from their resumes. They had one job to do and they failed spectacularly. Or perhaps more accurately, their faulty analytics were misinterpreted as reality by people who should have known better.

Apparently we didn’t learn anything from the Scottish referendum or Brexit voting. Toddling off to bed early in a statistics-comforted slumber can cause a rude next-day awakening. Those darned humans keep messing up otherwise impressive statistics-powered predictions.

We talk a lot in healthcare about analytics. Being scientists, we’re confident that we can predict and maybe even control the behavior of humans (patients, plan members, and providers) with medical history questionnaires, clinical studies, satisfaction surveys, and carefully constricted insurance risk pools. But the election provides some lessons learned about analytics-powered assumptions.

  • It’s risky to apply even rigorous statistical methods to the inherently unpredictable behavior of free-will humans.
  • Analytics can reduce a maddeningly complex situation into something that is more understandable even when it’s dead wrong.
  • Surveyors and statisticians are often encouraged to deliver conclusions that are loftier than the available data supports. We humans like to please people, especially those paying us, and sometimes that means not speaking up even when we should. “I don’t know” is not only a valid conclusion, but often the correct one.
  • Be wary of smoke-blowing pundits who suggest that they possess extra-special insight and expertise that allow them to draw lofty conclusions from a limited set of data that was assembled quickly and inexpensively.
  • Sometimes going with your gut works better than developing a numbers-focused strategy, like it did for Donald Trump and for doctors who treat the patient rather than their ICD-10 code or or lab result.
  • Confirmation bias is inevitable in research, where new evidence can be seen as proving what the researcher already believes. The most dangerous bias is the subconscious one since it can’t be statistically weeded out.
  • A study’s design and its definition of a representative sample already contains some degree of uncertainty and bias.
  • Sampling errors have a tremendous impact. We don’t know how many “hidden voters” the pollsters missed. We don’t know how well they selected their tiny sampling of Americans, each of whom represented thousands of us who weren’t surveyed. Not very, apparently.
  • Response rates and method of outreach matter. Choosing respondents by landline, cell phone, email, or regular mail and even choosing when to contact them will skew the results in unknown ways. Most importantly, a majority of people refuse to participate entirely, making it likely whatever cohort they are part of leaves them unrepresented in the results.
  • You can’t necessarily believe what poll respondents or patients tell you since they often subconsciously say what they think the pollster or society wants to hear. The people who vowed that they were voting for Clinton might also claim that they only watch PBS and on their doctor’s social history questionnaire declare their unfamiliarity with alcohol, drugs, domestic violence, and risky sexual behaviors.
  • Not everybody who is surveyed shows up, and not everybody who shows up was surveyed. It’s the same problem as waiting to see who actually visits a medical practice or ED. Delivering good medical services does not necessarily mean effectively managing a population.
  • Prediction is best compared with performance in fine-tuning assumptions. The experts saw a few states go against their predictions early Tuesday evening, and at that moment but too late, applied that newfound knowledge to create better predictions. Real-time analytics deliver better results, and even an incompetent meteorologist can predict a hurricane’s landfall right before it hits.

It’s tempting to hang our healthcare hat on piles of computers running analytics, artificial intelligence, and other binary systems that attempt to dispassionately impose comforting order on the cacophony of human behavior. It’s not so much that it can’t work, it’s that we shouldn’t become complacent about the accuracy and validity of what the computers and their handlers are telling us. We are often individually and collectively as predictable as the analytics experts tell us, but sometimes we’re not.

Readers Write: Don’t Get Stuck in the Readmissions Penalty Box

November 9, 2016 Readers Write No Comments

Don’t Get Stuck in the Readmissions Penalty Box
By Lisa Lyons

The Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP) requires the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to reduce payments to inpatient hospitals with relatively high 30-day readmission rates. CMS applies up to a three percent reduction for “excess” readmissions using a risk-adjusted ratio that compares a hospital’s performance to the national average for sets of patients with specified conditions.

Payment adjustments for FY 2017 (based on performance from July 2012 through June 2015) will be applied to all Medicare discharges starting October 1 of this year and running through September 30, 2017. Payment reductions for FY 2017 will be posted on the Hospital Compare website this October.

Total HRRP penalties are expected to reach $528 million for FY 2017, up sharply from about $420 million in FY 2016, with more than half of the nation’s hospitals affected, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis. The average penalty will spike in similar fashion, from 0.61 percent in FY 2016 to 0.73 in FY 2017.

The situation calls for a thorough understanding of the readmissions penalty environment and a strategic mindset for taking action.

Prior to FY 2017, CMS measured excess readmissions by dividing a hospital’s number of “expected” 30-day readmissions for heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, hip/knee replacement, and COPD by the number that would be expected, based on an average hospital with similar patients.

For FY 2017, CMS expanded the list of cohorts to include coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) procedures. The agency also added to the existing pneumonia cohort: the assignment criterion now includes cases where the principal diagnosis of non-severe sepsis includes secondary diagnosis of pneumonia and aspiration pneumonia. This creates a bigger set of patients from which a hospital could have readmissions — in fact, it may expand the pneumonia cohort by 50 percent in many hospitals.

Complicating matters, excess readmissions found in any of the six cohorts will result in an overall penalty. A hospital gets no credit for making readmissions improvements along the way.

At the same time, all hospitals are working on readmissions, so the average of excess readmissions is decreasing. That means it’s harder than ever for hospitals to stay under the penalty bar.

Also, due to HRRP’s reporting cycle, an excess readmission stays in CMS’s data for three years.

These factors make it hard for hospitals to know if they have passed the tipping point for readmissions penalties before notification from CMS — which typically happens just four months prior to penalties being imposed. In practical terms, there’s not enough time to impact results.

Further, analyzing CMS data is challenging for most hospitals because:

  • CMS data is retrospective. CMS calculates fiscal year penalties by looking back at data over a range of two to five years. As such, current improvements to readmission reduction programs will not be seen right away.
  • CMS data includes readmissions from “non-same” hospitals. Most hospitals can’t view cases where a patient initially admitted to their facility ended up being readmitted in another facility.
  • CMS data only includes readmissions among the Medicare patient population. Many commercial payers have instituted pay-for-performance programs, which should also be analyzed. Limiting your view to the Medicare HRRP program will only reveal part of your overall readmissions.
  • CMS’s Measure Methodology for Readmissions can’t be easily replicated. CMS risk-adjusts each qualifying patient using Medicare Part A and Part B data for a full year prior to admission, and 30 days post-discharge. Since hospitals don’t have access to this information, they can’t replicate the methodology to calculate their excess readmissions.

Fortunately, with the right data, there’s a way to emulate the CMS methodology to help estimate the volume of excess readmissions that will be attributed to your hospital. You can do so well before receiving your hospital-specific reports from CMS.

Here are four ways advanced analytics can help position hospitals to be more proactive in managing their readmissions:

  1. Purchase de-identified Medicare Part A and B claims data from CMS. Advanced analytics makes it possible to match historic claims data with known patients in your hospital information systems. In this way you can see longitudinal care histories for the patients you are discharging today. Algorithms can also predict the rate of non-same hospitalization from current readmission data, effectively filling in the blanks on readmissions that occur outside your hospital. That may give you up to two years advance notice regarding which readmissions will be counted as excessive. With that knowledge, you can do something about readmissions before the end of the evaluation period.
  2. Know how many readmissions will put you in jeopardy of incurring penalties. This is the previously mentioned tipping point. Surprisingly, for many hospitals, only a few excess readmissions per month can send them to the penalty box. Predictive analytics identify patients at greatest risk for unplanned readmissions. Look for algorithms with a high degree of accuracy in matching the CMS dataset to your own database to single out cases that were identified in the assignment criteria. Once you’re able to identify trends, you can fix the issues.
  3. Since CMS measures readmission back to any hospital, partner with other hospitals in your region to which you commonly refer patients back and forth. Concentrate on areas of improvement in either coordination or quality of care.
  4. Analyze clinical conditions across the board among your hospital’s patient population, not just within the six CMS-defined cohorts. Taking a broader view establishes more effective data patterning to help determine if a systemic problem exists. Dashboards and pre-formatted reports signal where to drill down for more detail (for example, whether you discharged the patient to home or a different care setting).

Government policy statements clearly indicate Medicare payments becoming more heavily weighted on quality or value measures, and HRRP will be part of that determination.

What’s more, CMS has proposed that the readmission measure itself be expanded to count excess days associated with readmissions — taking into account ED patients and those assigned to observation status — rather than singular readmission events for inpatients. Expect increased involvement of care management and quality teams in this area, and another layer of potential penalties.

Don’t wait to react to how these measures will impact your hospital’s operations and finances. Now’s the time to implement data analytics tools to intelligently manage your hospital’s readmission risk with a high degree of accuracy.

Lisa Lyons is director of advanced analytics and population health and interim VP of consulting at Xerox.

Morning Headlines 11/9/16

November 8, 2016 Headlines No Comments

Healthcare company laying off 60 workers in Charlotte

McKesson lays off 60 Charlotte, NC-based employees from its Enterprise Information Solutions (Paragon) business.

Knowing When and How to Use Medical Products

CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt co-authors a JAMA article with two senior FDA officials calling for more diverse clinical trial populations and an increased use of data from EHRs, claims, and registries to support the decision to approve and pay for new drugs.

Walgreen Sues Theranos, Seeks $140 Million in Damages

Once a key strategic customer, Walgreens sues Theranos for breach of contract, seeking $140 million in damages, equal to the amount it invested in the startup.

Adelaide hospitals hampered by nine-hour system outage

In Australia, three major hospitals report that a nine hour network outage prevented clinicians from accessing its Allscripts EHR.

News 11/9/16

November 8, 2016 News 2 Comments

Top News


The Charlotte, NC paper confirms the reader rumors I ran on October 28 that McKesson has laid off 60 employees in its Enterprise Information Solutions (Paragon) business.

Reader Comments

From Look Now: “Re: Shriners Hospitals for Children. Signed a contract with Cerner to implement their EDW solution HealtheIntent across their 21 hospitals live on Millenium. Project started this week.” Unverified.


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

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

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


NantHealth reports Q3 results: revenue up 76 percent, EPS –$0.30 vs. –$0.24, beating earnings expectations but falling short on revenue.


Siemens Healthineers acquires Conworx Technology, a Berlin-based developer of point-of-care testing device interfaces.


Clinical communication platform vendor Doc Halo opens its new corporate headquarters in Cincinnati, OH, committing to adding 65 positions in the next few months.


Silicon Prairie News profiles Kearney, NE-based provider management software vendor Phynd, which chose that location because its software developer Expanxion is located there.


Walgreens files a $140 million lawsuit against Theranos, claiming that the lab company violated confidentiality agreements about their partnership to offer lab testing in Walgreens drugstores in Arizona. Theranos responded by saying that Walgreens mishandled the partnership and says it will “hold Walgreens responsible to the damage it has caused to Theranos and its investors.”



Grand River Hospital (Ontario) selects Wellsoft’s EDIS.



Ann Mendlowitz (Leidos Health Consulting) joins Orchestrate Healthcare as VP of EMR consulting services.


Telehealth technology vendor Zipnosis hires Scott Brown (Ulfbehrt Software Systems) as CTO.

Announcements and Implementations


ECRI lists its “Top 10 Health Technology Hazards for 2017:

  1. IV pump errors (hardware failure, staff overriding safety features, and nurse programming mistakes).
  2. Improper cleaning of reusable instruments.
  3. Missed ventilator alarms due to alarm fatigue or notification failures.
  4. Undetected opioid-induced respiratory depression.
  5. Infection risks from cardiothoracic surgery heater-cooler systems.
  6. Software management gaps.
  7. Radiation exposure to clinicians working in operating suites that have built-in imaging systems.
  8. Automated medication dispensing cabinet setup and use errors.
  9. Surgical stapler misuse and malfunction.
  10. Device failures caused by cleaning products and practices.

image image

Burke Mamlin, MD and Paul Biondich, MD of Regenstrief Institute will receive AMIA’s Donald A.B. Lindberg Award for Innovation in Informatics this week for their work in developing and using open source software in developing countries.


New York – Presbyterian adds video visit services to its app, offering virtual visits and the ability to ask an ED physician about minor illnesses that may or may not require an in-person ED visit.

Government and Politics

ONC publishes its annual report to Congress.

A JAMA opinion piece by two top FDA officials and CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt says FDA and CMS are coordinating FDA’s approval of drugs with CMS’s decision to pay for them. They urge that clinical trials include diverse populations; that healthcare delivery data from EHRs, claims, and registries be used to reduce the cost of generating evidence and to study more representative populations, and that public-private collaboration groups such as PCORI lead efforts to integrate broader evidence generation into practice.

In New Zealand, the Ministry of Health hires an Accenture-led consortium to help it create a business case for a national EHR.

Privacy and Security

Madison County, IN officials will pay the ransom demanded by an unknown hacker when their systems are taken offline by ransomware. The county’s insurance company recommended payment and will cover part of the cost. Some county offices went back to paper, while others closed due to lack of computer access.


A New York Times article questions whether the US really has a doctor shortage despite low numbers of practicing physicians and medical school slots. Instead, it says, we have a distribution problem in which doctors prefer to live in big cities (often where they trained and are paid more by Medicare for practicing there) and we have too many specialists as high medical school debt steers new graduates into more lucrative areas of practice. The article offers solutions: (a) train more doctors or allow more to immigrate; (b) decrease the number of specialty residency positions and pay primary care doctors more; (c) improve the efficiency of the healthcare system, changing regulations and licensing to use more mid-level practitioners. 


Ram Raju, MD, CEO of the financially hemorrhaging New York Health and Hospitals, will resign.

The annual physician compensation survey of ECG Management Consultants finds that the income of PCPs and specialists increased by 1.5 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively, in the past year. Most respondents say their compensation models will incorporate value-based metrics such as quality, patient satisfaction, panel size, and adherence to evidence-based medicine.

In Australia, the first three sites to go live on the Allscripts-powered EPAS system go down for nine hours when a software module “consumed the bulk of all the computer resources.”

Sponsor Updates

  • Aprima will exhibit at the Practice Management Institute November 9-11 in Las Vegas.
  • Catalyze CEO Travis Good will present at Voalte’s VUE16 user conference November 9-11 in Sarasota, FL.
  • Medicomp Systems recaps its annual training event that was held October 3-7 in Bangkok, Thailand.
  • Besler Consulting releases a new podcast, “The relationship between EMR and physician documentation.”
  • CoverMyMeds COO Michelle Brown will speak at the BioOhio Women in Bioscience Conference November 9 in Columbus.
  • Visage Imaging will demonstrate its Visage 7 Enterprise Imaging Platform at RSNA later this month.
  • Wolters Kluwer redesigns its UpToDate online clinical decision support website to give clinicians who can’t use the company’s app a robust, Web-based alternative.
  • Impact Advisors VP Jenny McCaskey is named is named to “Women Leaders in Consulting.”
  • Crossings Healthcare Solutions will exhibit at Cerner Health Conference 2016 November 14-17 in Kansas City, MO.
  • Cumberland Consulting Group’s Lori Nobles will present at the NCHIMA Mid-Year Workshop November 11 in Concord, NC.
  • The success of National Decision Support Company CareSelect Imaging users will be highlighted at Cerner Health Conference 2016 November 14-16 in Kansas City, MO.
  • Direct Consulting Associates and HealthCast Solutions will exhibit at the HIMSS Midwest Fall Conference November 13-15 in Bloomington, MN.
  • Dimensional Insight and Extension Healthcare will exhibit at the HIMSS South Florida InteGrate Conference November 14-15 in Davie, FL.
  • EClinicalWorks will exhibit at the Kentucky Primary Care Association 2016 Conference November 9-11 in Lexington.
  • Impact Advisors publishes a white paper titled “The MACRA Final Rule: Key Takeaways on MIPS and Advanced APMs.”
  • Healthwise’s Leslie Hall will present at Partnering for Cures November 13-16 in New York City.

Blog Posts


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


Morning Headlines 11/8/16

November 7, 2016 Headlines No Comments

2016 Report To Congress on Health IT Progress

ONC submits its HITECH-mandated annual report to Congress. The report predictably focuses on the current state of interoperability and the path to improvement. Site Straining to Keep Up With Enrollees

Since the November 1 start of the 2016/2017 enrollment period, has been using virtual waiting rooms to temporarily hold end users during peak enrollment periods so that the site does not crash under the increase in traffic.

Head of NYC’s cash-bleeding public hospital system to step down

NYC Health & Hospitals president Ram Raju, MD will retire at the end of this month, and will be temporarily replaced by Stanley Brezenoff, who ran New York’s health system in the 1980s, until a permanent replacement is named.

Dangerous Infusion Errors Top ECRI Institute’s Annual Health Technology Hazards List

ECRI Institute publishes a list of the top 10 health tech hazards for 2017.

Curbside Consult with Dr. Jayne 11/7/16

November 7, 2016 Dr. Jayne 2 Comments

One of the key tenets of the shift towards value-based care is the idea that physicians are increasingly graded on patient outcomes. Not surprisingly, this grates on many physicians.

There are complex issues involved when trying to get a patient to change behavior, even when it’s a relatively straightforward recommendation such as taking a medication. Conventional wisdom and multiple studies have demonstrated that close to half of all prescriptions aren’t taken as directed and many are never even filled. There are many factors involved: cost, convenience, commitment, side effects, etc. Additional factors related to specific patient populations may also include transportation, safety, health literacy, cultural barriers to care, and more.

When a significant lifestyle change is recommended, the factors involved become exponentially more complex. We live in a society that focuses on instant gratification. Health-related lifestyle changes typically challenge that paradigm and require ongoing hard work that results in slow change that can sometimes feel imperceptible. People want quick wins. Any clinician who has tried to discuss the pros and cons of moderation in diet and increased exercise vs. various celebrity-endorsed weight loss programs knows what I’m talking about. Patients see the claims of a dropping significant weight in a short time period and find the contrast of a slow, sustainable loss of a pound a week to be off-putting.

Other lifestyle changes are impacted by socioeconomic factors, including food insecurity, variable availability of healthy grocery options in the urban core, joblessness, homelessness, abuse, and more. Although physicians can refer patients to community supports and programs (assuming that the programs exist in your area and can maintain their funding in the face of increased need), there are limits to what we can do. That is where the idea of being graded on patient wellness starts to feel unwelcome.

Once you’ve considered the logistical issues involved in a change in patient health status, you have to contemplate the ethical ones. Autonomy and personal freedom are major issues in America today. Governments from the national level to the local level are trying to address issues such as the consumption of high-calorie drinks and the inclusion of unhealthy ingredients in foods. I still miss the trans-fat in my Oreo cookies, but I understand why it’s no longer there. But when you try to convince a patient to make a change, things can often get challenging.

Physicians are at the front line of trying to drive outcomes, but often our advice is often challenged. When I recommend diet and exercise for weight loss, patients want a pill. When I recommend a pill for high blood pressure because diet and exercise failed, I’m accused of being in the pockets of the drug companies. Even though 95 percent of the prescriptions I write are for generic drugs and many of those are on the $4 list at the local supermarket, it’s assumed that we’re getting kickbacks and are part of the healthcare cost problem.

Physicians have long been in a position of paternalism, although that is changing with the focus on patient-centered care. Still, there are patients who want to choose their treatments based on what I would do for myself or a family members. They don’t want to be part of their own decision-making, they just want to be told what to do.

But the next room you enter might have a patient and their entire extended family, all of whom have been all over the Internet researching treatment options, and want to discuss each one of them independently. It certainly makes one feel scattered when trying to see patients as well as a bit fragmented when you have to shift back and forth between two completely different frames of mind. Not to mention that it’s difficult to get payers to compensate physicians for the time spent in those conversations, and patients aren’t eager to pay for it out of pocket.

Then, there’s the principle of beneficence. By pushing patients to comply, are we still doing right by the patient? Where is the boundary between trying to engage your patient to take charge of their health and being pushy? At what point do you agree to disagree on the colonoscopy order the patient is never going to complete? I’m on the hook for the patient’s performance regardless of whether they go or not and regardless of how many times I’ve tried to get them to go or how persuasive my arguments might be.

Under the new healthcare payment schemes, our incomes are directly tied to our ability to motivate our patients to do what we recommend. A recent study may shed some light on which approaches are more productive in moving patients towards change. It confirmed the results of a previous study that identified potentially effective strategies for supporting patient self-management:

  • Emphasizing patient ownership
  • Partnering with patients
  • Identifying small steps toward change
  • Scheduling frequent follow-ups
  • Showing care and concern

Researchers created a scale to measure where primary care clinicians stand and found that performance on the scale was associated with patient efforts. I found it interesting that they only looked at primary care physicians. Although everyone assumes we’re “most responsible” when trying to attribute certain elements of care, it really does take the proverbial village to care for patients. The study found that primary care providers who spent more than 60 percent of their time “counseling, educating, and coaching” their patients scored higher than those who spent less time in those activities. For most of us, being able to spend that portion of the visit motivating our patients would be a luxury.

I also found it interesting that some of the strategies they cite are challenging under new reimbursement schemes. Frequent follow-ups aren’t going to happen for patients on high-deductible health plans. The usual response to that concern is telemedicine, but most payers still don’t cover it. That translates to unreimbursed physician work, which is less likely to happen than actually reimbursed work.

Even something that seems relatively simple such as showing care and concern is increasingly difficult under payment reforms and technology incentive programs. Many physicians are stressed to the breaking point. Scarcity of primary care physicians in traditional continuity practice makes for long waits and short visits. When you have to spend time trying to hit as many metrics as possible in as little time as possible, it doesn’t make it very easy to get to know your patient. Adding the stress of technology issues doesn’t help.

Another factor that doesn’t help is the assumption that patient engagement is a software problem. The reality is that patient portals and online interactive education are just part of the toolkit, but it takes time to help physicians learn how to best use those tools, how to best encourage their patients to use them, and how to put processes and policies in place in their offices so that their use doesn’t increase the burden of physician work.

I’ve done formal training in motivational interviewing and healthcare coaching and know that physicians struggle with finding the time away from their practices to get that kind of training. Some of my rural colleagues have difficulty getting coverage for even a few days out of office. Regardless, having those as options for practice improvement activities under some of the regulatory requirements might have been additional motivation to move clinicians in that direction.

What are your plans for greater patient engagement? Email me.

Email Dr. Jayne.

Morning Headlines 11/7/16

November 6, 2016 Headlines No Comments

Grant Aims to Boost Health IT Safety Initiative

ECRI Institute lands a $3 million grant to fund a 3-year project aimed at improving the design, implementation, and use of EHR and other health IT products.

Data Analytics in Healthcare | 2016

A Peer60 report finds that 90 percent of health systems have a data analytics strategy in place, but that 22 percent rely on a homegrown solution, and another 43 percent use multiple analytics vendors to cobble together actionable intelligence.

Tracker flags up failures to report clinical trials

Researchers create an automated tool that identifies organizations that withhold clinical trial results by comparing completed clinical trials listed in with reports in PubMed and then calculating what percent of an organization’s trials have no published results. Sanofi was found to be missing results from 65 percent of their trials, while Mayo Clinic is missing 50 percent of its results.

Remarks by Andy Slavitt: The Need to Partner on Drug Innovation, Access and Cost

In a speech given at a pharma conference, CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt warns that significant drug price increases has become the healthcare issues Americans most want action taken on, noting that in the next few years “these costs will put unsustainable pressure on the Medicare program and action is going to be necessary to address them.”

Monday Morning Update 11/7/16

November 6, 2016 News 2 Comments

Top News


The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation awards the non-profit ECRI Institute and its Partnership for Health IT Patient Safety a $3 million, three-year grant to study ways to optimize EHRs while avoiding patient harm.

The foundation said in the announcement, “With the increasing presence of health IT in all aspects of health care, we need to remain mindful of safety issues that are unintended consequences of this new technology. We are happy to see the Partnership advising health IT developers, users, and policymakers on how to optimize technology and avoid patient harm.”

The Partnership previously analyzed patient safety incidents that were reported to ECRI’s patient safety organization and issued recommendations for using copy-and-paste in EHRs. Its advisory panel includes experts such as David Bates, MD, MSc; Peter Pronovost, MD, PhD; Hardeep Singh, MD, PhD; Dean Sittig, PhD; and Paul Tang, MD, MS.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests


Only 20 percent of poll respondents think FHIR will have a lot of impact on interoperability. Cosmos, who works for an EHR vendor, says APIs are like wall sockets in that you can plug in anything and it just works even if you don’t know anything about electricity, with the potential that FHIR can power a new generation of plug-and-play connected health tools. Mobile Man says interoperability has never been a technology problem and ManAboutTown agrees that interoperability will occur only as healthcare’s business models change. Furydelobongo suspects he or she won’t live long enough to see true interoperability where information flows to the point an entry in System A shows up in System B as though it were natively entered there, opining that a unified view isn’t enough. HIT Geek provided a thoughtful response:

FHIR is an API specification. It does not specify how data gets to the API, nor what happens after a corresponding API receives it. Being stateless, it does not support a workflow with state transitions, nor coordination of multiple related actors. The data vocabularies referenced in FHIR, such as clinical code sets, are not controlled within the FHIR standard. The underlying RESTful transport specifications for FHIR are also not controlled within FHIR. The corresponding EMRs, IHRs, and PHRs are outside of the standard, And it says nothing about the end-user interfaces needed to create, read, and update data. The policies and regulations envelope for FHIR is a political and organizational crazy quilt, inhibiting interoperability even if FHIR supports it. Similar things could be said about HL7 v2 and v3, including CDA. While FHIR promises to resolve some technical issues, and that’s certainly a necessary piece of the puzzle, we still have a lot else to do. The referenced and supporting standards for FHIR are relatively easy to coordinate, but will require ongoing effort. FHIR itself will need to evolve to incorporate changes in health care data, also with ongoing effort. Permanent sources of funding for the work, and willing participants, are needed. Volunteerism needs to be obtained from a wider set of sources and disciplines, including patients. Dealing the crazy quilt is the most difficult problem. It’s a whack-a-mole with more moles than whackers.

New poll to your right or here: how well managed did the medical practice where you most recently seen appear to be? Dr. Jayne loves hearing first-person stories, so click Comments after voting and describe what you experienced. 

Jenn is working on a story about telemedicine and would like to hear from doctors who have provided those services. Let me know if you have time for a quick chat (anonymously if you’d rather). We know what a video or telephone visit is like for a patient, but what’s involved on the other side?


Thanks to Optimum Healthcare IT, Validic, and Healthwise for signing up as sponsors of HIStalkapalooza on Monday of HIMSS week. Contact Lorre to join them – I appreciate the help in covering the cost and we can accommodate most any budget.

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Mrs. W says her South Carolina fifth graders used the math games we providing in funding her DonorsChoose grant request to prepare for state testing, adding, “This was by far the most fun and pumped up math review that I have ever been able to lead thanks to your generous donation … Every day they would ask as they walked into class if we were going to get to play the math games that we received thanks to our donor on DonorsChoose.”

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


Listening: new from Deap Vally, all-female grunge that sounds sort of like Janis Joplin covering Black Sabbath in Courtney Love’s basement. Also: new from Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds.  

Last Week’s Most Interesting News

  • McKesson, Allscripts, and Cerner post disappointing quarterly results.
  • NTT Data completes its acquisition of Dell Services.
  • CMS publishes changes to the EHR Incentive Program that will allow returning participants to use a 90-day reporting period.
  • Athenahealth lays off nearly 150 employees.
  • A hospital in Canada pays doctors extra to keep using its Cerner system after they voice patient safety and productivity concerns.
  • CompuGroup Medical announces its interest in acquiring Agfa.


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

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

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

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


From the Allscripts earnings call:

  • Sales dropped off unexpectedly as clients held off purchases and upgrades in waiting for CMS to publish its final MACRA rule, although the company does not expect MACRA itself to drive incremental software sales.
  • Netsmart’s bookings were down from the previous quarter, which the company attributes to seasonality and deal delays.
  • RCM services bookings were up 90 percent quarter over quarter.
  • The company sees big opportunity in selling RCM services to its ambulatory EHR customers.


Meal planning app vendor Zipongo raises $18 million in a Series B funding round, increasing its total to $28 million. The founder and CEO is Jason Langheier, MD, MPH.


Leidos posts Q3 results: revenue up 44 percent, adjusted EPS $1.25 vs. $0.74, beating earnings expectations but falling short on revenue. Chairman and CEO Roger Krone mentioned the DoD’s MHS Genesis project in explaining that it will contribute lower revenue next year:

I want to make sure that you understand what we said is that relative to revenue, we don’t see the program being delayed. What we’re doing is we’re actually maturing some of the software, we’re conducting some more tests, we’re doing some cyber scans. And so the installation at the first facility will be a few months later than we had anticipated, but the level of activity is essentially the same. And the entire program if you think about deployment to all of the facilities within the Department of Defense will essentially remain on track. So we’ll be a little bit later on the first couple facilities, but we expect to pick that back up as we go into the implementation phase.



The Joint Commission chooses Clinical Architecture’s Symedical terminology management platform for semantic normalization, mapping, and value set creation.


Get Real Health will use technology from Validic to add patient-generated health data to its patient engagement offerings.


  • Missouri Delta Medical Center (MO() will replace Infor with Premier for supply chain management in March 2017.
  • UMass Memorial Medical Center (MA) is underway with a PACS change from Philips to Agfa.
  • Throckmorton County Hospital (TX) changed EHR and revenue cycle systems from CSS Health Technologies to CPSI Evident in January 2016.

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



Lisa Stump is promoted to SVP/CIO of Yale New Haven Health System after holding the interim role since November 2015.

Government and Politics


CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt in a Friday speech to a pharma group expresses his candid opinion about drug prices:

You know, last year when I spoke here, the price increases at Turing were making news, and I told you I didn’t want this industry to be defined by its worst actors. I defended the industry then, but the more data that’s revealed, the more bad actors you find, and I’m telling you now: it’s too many … Drug costs have become the health policy issue Americans are most anxious to see us act on, and we have a responsibility to them to explore all the options available us to make their medications more affordable. I hear occasionally from some that life sciences needs to tell its “value story” better. Perhaps. But it also needs to do the math. If something is growing by 11 percent, unless it’s causing something else to decrease by 12 percent, it’s not going to last forever. The reality is that in the next few years these costs will put unsustainable pressure on the Medicare program and action is going to be necessary to address them.


China-based laboratories are feeding America’s drug addiction by creating new designer opioids faster than the Drug Enforcement Administration can declare them illegal, allowing addicts to buy them semi-legally and inexpensively over the Internet without seeking out street dealers. Several hundred people have died from known popular drugs like U-47700 and various forms of fentanyl. The labs get their recipes from old drug company research papers that describe painkillers that were never marketed. Ironically, U-47700 was studied by drug company Upjohn as a less-addictive painkiller but was never developed because it had the same addictive properties and side effects as other opioids, exactly what the copycat chemists want.

Privacy and Security


In England, Papworth Hospital describes its near-miss with ransomware infection after an employee clicks on a malicious email link, allowing the malware to spread via file shares. The ransomware started encrypting the hospital’s files just after its midnight backup had completed, allowing it to quickly restore its systems from its fresh copy. The hospital changed to hourly incremental backups using tape since ransomware often encrypts backups digital backups along with everything else.



I’m not sure I need to replace my old iPhone 5, but Wired magazine says the Google Pixel is the best smartphone on the market, giving the company perfect timing as Samsung goes up in smoke and Apple putters around with yawn-inducing iPhone tweaks. The Pixel comes with a “Quick Switch Adapter” for moving everything over, includes deep Google integration, charges for seven hours of use in just 15 minutes, offers Google Assistant that sounds smarter than Siri, and provides a best-in-class camera. I may have to check it out at Best Buy since AT&T isn’t selling it yet.



Medical device manufacturer Medtronic donates $5 million to the Patient Safety Movement Foundation to help the organization pool de-identified patient data collected from the devices sold by several companies to improve patient safety via predictive analytics.

MD Anderson Cancer Center will lose $450 million in FY2017 following a $267 million loss in FY2016, according to an internal report obtained by The Cancer Letter. The report blames four factors, starting with the cost of its Epic implementation.


Coulee Medical Center (WA) cancels its Meditech upgrade when the project’s cost swells from the budgeted $1.3 million to at least $4 million. The 25-bed hospital says it didn’t understand the extra costs required for third-party software, with the CEO likening the project to buying “a car without an engine, brakes, or exhaust.” The hospital will keep its existing Meditech system even though it’s on the hook to pay licensing fees for the new system it won’t use.


The local paper says the switch from Hitachi to EMC storage at Fairview Health Services (MN) has caused three crashes of Epic in the past year, the most recent lasting 10 hours.


A new Peer60 reports finds that 90 percent of hospitals have an analytics strategy, but it ranges from a piecemeal approach with multiple vendors to homegrown systems to a single enterprise approach. The short-term replacement market for data visualization and enterprise analytics is significant, but consulting services and data warehouses have less short-term demand. Health Catalyst and Cerner are the strongest healthcare-specific vendors.


A researcher develops a tool to identify which drug companies and universities aren’t publishing the results of their clinical trials, which it determined by matching the studies registered on with results published there or in PubMed-covered journals.


The US Marine Corps profiles use of its TMIP-MC battlefield EHR, recently testing during the DoD’s Global Medic joint patient movement and medical field training exercise at Fort McCoy, WI. Information from the training exercise will be used in designing its MHS Genesis replacement.


Sutter Health notifies San Francisco area employers that it won’t offer in-network prices to their employees unless the companies sign an arbitration clause that waives their right to sue Sutter over pricing issues. Healthcare software vendor Castlight Health received one of the letters from its plan administrator Anthem (above) even through it is self-insured and has no direct relationship with Sutter. Castlight’s general counsel says Sutter is flexing its market dominance with prices that are 25 percent higher than those of other hospitals. Castlight hasn’t decided if it will sign the letter, but says declining to do so would allow it to “maintain our flexibility in fighting against what we consider to be difficult, anti-consumer provisions in provider networks.”


Southampton Hospital (NY) bans political conversations in its cardiac rehab gym following an incident in which a treadmill-using patient was stuck between two people arguing over Trump versus Clinton for 15 minutes.

Sponsor Updates

  • Smart Business Magazine includes TeleTracking COO Diane Watson in its “Smart 50” list of executives.
  • TierPoint gains traction in new Gartner DRaaS report.
  • Valence Health will exhibit at the Children’s Hospital Association Annual Leadership Conference November 7-9 in Phoenix.
  • KLAS rates Voalte a top platform vendor for improved care team communication.
  • Huron Consulting Group representatives will present at the Children’s Hospital Association Annual Leadership Conference November 7-9 in Phoenix.

Blog Posts


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


Morning Headlines 11/4/16

November 3, 2016 Headlines 3 Comments

Allscripts announces third quarter 2016 results

Allscripts reports Q3 results: revenue climbs 11 percent to $392 million, adjusted EPS $0.14 vs. $0.13, missing on both.

Cerner (CERN) Q3 2016 Results – Earnings Call Transcript

In its Q3 earnings call, Cerner CFO Marc Naughton explains that revenue and bookings came in below guidance because of lower than expected technology resale and software licensing sales, with technology resale revenue declining 21 percent and software licensing declining 12 percent.

University College London Hospitals set for Epic adventure

In England, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust selects Epic as its next EHR vendor.

HHS announces Phase 1 winners of the Move Health Data Forward Challenge

HHS selects ten teams as the winners of the first phase of its Move Health Data Forward Challenge, which asks developers to use APIs to help patients securely share their health data with providers, family members or other caregivers.

Inside Magic Leap, The Secretive $4.5 Billion Startup Changing Computing Forever

Forbes profiles Magic Leap, a secretive virtual reality startup that has raised $1.4 billion in investments from major firms, including Google, Andreessen Horowitz, and Kleiner Perkins.

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