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Morning Headlines 7/17/14

July 16, 2014 Headlines 1 Comment

Acting head of VA says agency needs $17.6 billion to fix problems

Interim VA Secretary Sloan Gibson testified before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee today, reporting that the VA would need $17.6 billion in additional funds over the next three years to fix the departments problems.

Program Evaluation of Remote Heart Failure Monitoring

A study published in Telemedicine and e-Health finds significant reductions in overall hospitalization rates followed the implementation of a remote patient monitoring system, but equivalent drops in hospitalization were also seen within the studies control group, leaving researchers with little choice but to conclude that remote monitoring seems promising, but additional research is needed.

States shirking Medicaid fraud reduction: report

An OIG report finds that 14 states are still not reporting enrollment data used to fight fraud within the Medicaid Interstate Match program.

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July 16, 2014 Headlines 1 Comment

Readers Write: Medication Electronic Prior Authorization, the Next Big Thing for EHRs

July 16, 2014 Readers Write 3 Comments

Medication Electronic Prior Authorization, the Next Big Thing for EHRs
By Tony Schueth

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Electronic prescribing (ePrescribing) has surpassed the tipping point, where more prescriptions are being written electronically than on paper. Now the industry must start thinking about the next big thing that will take ePrescribing to the next level and address one of healthcare’s most inefficient processes: prior authorization (PA) of prescriptions.

With ePrescribing considered table stakes in an electronic health record (EHR), software developers should be thinking about innovations that will take ePrescribing from a humdrum utility to a must-have. Electronic prior authorization (ePA) for the pharmacy benefit offers that innovation opportunity.

EPA is the #1 ePrescribing capability desired by physicians, according to market research conducted by NCPDP’s ePA Task Group. In order to foster a standardized approach to satisfy this demand, NCPDP approved an electronic data interchange (EDI) standard for ePA last year.

By design, the ePA transaction can be integrated with the EHR ePrescribing work flow, enabling prescribers to complete the prior authorization process within two minutes as compared with the manual process, which involves many phone calls and faxes that can take days to weeks to complete (15 days, on average). Considering that specialty medications dominate the drug pipeline and require prior authorization up to 95 percent of the time, the need for ePA is urgent.

Seven states have mandated the use of ePA beginning in late 2014 and eight others are engaged in ePA regulatory activity. In May, the National Committee on Vital Health Statistics (NCVHS) recommended that the Department of Health and Human Services adopt the NCPDP transaction as the standard for medication PAs. NCVHS recommendations regarding ePrescribing and related transactions often become requirements for payer participation in Medicare Part D.

The coming regulatory mandates afford EHR vendors the opportunity to be ahead of the curve. Rather than scrambling to meet multiple state regulatory deadlines at the last minute, vendors can take advantage of the interval between Meaningful Use (MU) Stages 2 and 3 to begin development of ePA functionality while there is still breathing room to concentrate on work flow enhancements.

The availability of ePA may sway some physicians in their EHR choice. Recently, Surescripts found that 28 percent of physicians surveyed would switch their EHR for one that supports ePA. While this percentage may be exaggerated based upon a single feature, there is no question that a robust replacement market for EHRs exists. Many physicians are looking to transition from early purchases of basic EHRs to more sophisticated solutions.

EDI networks such as Surescripts have begun offering ePA connectivity, while such established ePA services vendors as CoverMyMeds have introduced APIs to ease EHR integration. Some service providers offer connectivity for all ePAs – even if a pharmacy benefit manager or other payer isn’t electronically enabled, electronically initiated ePAs are delivered via fax.

The time is right. EPA is a logical and useful enhancement that physicians desire. A transaction standard that ensures compatibility is in place. Regulators are beginning to mandate its use. The number of PAs is growing. EDI networks and service vendors are eager to ease integration.

With the rare opportunity posed by the MU Stage 2 delay, vendors can roll out a new feature that is a “win-win-win-win” benefit for physicians, patients, payers, and EHR vendors.

Tony Schueth is founder, CEO and managing partner at Point-of-Care Partners of Coral Springs, FL.

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July 16, 2014 Readers Write 3 Comments

Readers Write: Data Exchange with C-CDA: Are We There Yet?

July 16, 2014 Readers Write 8 Comments

Data Exchange with C-CDA: Are We There Yet?
By Brian Ahier

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Do you think you have all the interoperability criteria to meet current and future stages of the EHR Incentive Programs? A new study published in JAMIA found that most providers don’t.

The study concluded that providers likely are lacking critical capabilities. It found that some EHR systems still don’t exchange data correctly using Consolidated Clinical Document Architecture (C-CDA), which may prevent providers from receiving future Meaningful Use (MU) incentives.

After sampling several platforms used to produce Consolidated Clinical Document Architecture (C-CDA) files, the research team from the Substitutable Medical Applications and Reusable Technology (SMART) C-CDA Collaborative — funded by the ONC as part of the SHARP research program — found a number of technical problems and obstacles which prevented accurate data exchange between different EHR systems.

There is already wide-scale production and exchange of C-CDA documents among healthcare providers this year due to the EHR incentive program and for meeting Meaningful Use requirements. Indeed, live production of C-CDAs is already underway for anyone using 2014 Certified EHR Technology (CEHRT). C-CDA documents enable several aspects of Meaningful Use, including transitions of care and patient-facing download and transmission.

Stage 2 Meaningful Use requires that providers be capable of producing C-CDA files, which contain both machine-readable and human-readable templates used to exchange patient data between EHRs during transitions of care. While all 2014 CEHRT must have the ability to create these files, some vendors are unfortunately not using the basic XML and HL7 technology correctly.

To find out how these variations affect providers and their participation in Stage 2, the researchers sampled 107 healthcare organizations using 21 EHR systems. They examined seven important elements of the documents: demographics, problems, allergies, medications, results, vital signs, and smoking status, all of which are required to be included in the C-CDA for Stage 2. They found errors in the XML that conflicted with HL7 standard usages, rendering the document ineligible to meet the Stage 2 rules for interoperability.

One key takeaway from this research is that live exchange of C-CDA documents is likely to omit relevant clinical information and increase the burden of manual review for provider organizations receiving the C-CDA documents. Common challenges included omission or misuse of allergic reactions, omission of dose frequency, and omission of results in interpretation. Unfortunately, only some of these errors can be detected automatically.

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The team found 615 errors and data expression variation across 11 key areas. The errors included “incorrect data within XML elements, terminology misuse or omission, inappropriate or variable XML organization or identifiers, inclusion versus omission of optional elements, problematic reference to narrative text from structured body, and inconsistent data representation.”

"Although progress has been made since Stage 1 of MU, any expectation that C-CDA documents could provide complete and consistently structured patient data is premature," the researchers warned. The authors also note that more robust CEHRT testing and certification standards could prevent many of these troubling errors and variations in the technology and that the industry may also benefit from the implementation of data quality metrics in the real-world environment.

The researchers recommended several steps to improve interoperability: providing richer, more standardized samples in an online format; requiring EHR certification testing to include validation of codes and vocabulary; reducing the number of data elements that are optional; and improving monitoring to track real-world document quality.

The researchers make the case for using a lightweight, automated reporting mechanism to assess the aggregate quality of clinical documents in real-world use. They recommend starting with an existing assessment tool such as Model-Driven Health Tools or the SMART C-CDA Scorecard. This tool would form the basis of an open-source data quality service that would:

  • Run within a provider firewall or at a trusted cloud provider
  • Automatically process documents posted by an EHR
  • Assess each document to identify errors and yield a summary score
  • Generate interval reports to summarize bulk data coverage and quality
  • Expose reports through an information dashboard
  • Facilitate MU attestation

"However, without timely policy to move these elements forward, semantically robust document exchange will not happen anytime soon," the authors stated. “Future policy, market adoption and availability of widespread terminology validation will determine if C-CDA documents can mature into efficient workhorses of interoperability,” the report concludes. It would seem that if policy changes are not put in place, there could be risk in the Meaningful Use program not actually being all that meaningful.

This month CMS released the proposed 2015 Physician Fee Schedule. Among other things,it includes proposals to revise the physician supervision requirements for Chronic Care Management (CCM) services and proposes to require CCM practitioners to use EHRs certified to meet at least the 2014 Edition Meaningful Use criteria, which require the ability "to capture data and ultimately produce summary records according to the HL7 Consolidated Clinical Document Architecture standard."

Since this new proposed rule includes expanding the use of the certification program beyond Meaningful Use and specifically mentions the C-CDA standard, I thought I would ask Joshua Mandel, one of the authors of the study, for his thoughts.

"It’s not too surprising that CMS’s efforts to improve chronic care management would build on Meaningful Use requirements," he said. "In the section you’ve quoted, CMS, is simply saying that Eligible Providers would need to use MU-certified systems (just as they must use MU-certified systems to attest for MU incentive payments). And so C-CDA capabilities come along for the ride in that decision. I can certainly say C-CDA is better than nothing; and C-CDA 1.1 is a specification that exists and has been implemented today, so it’s a natural choice here."

While there are challenges in implementing and making good use of C-CDA documents, there is little doubt that HHS is continuing to drive the use of these standards forward through various policy levers. The ability to exchange relevant clinical information for transitions of care is a key enabler in transforming our healthcare system to paying for quality instead of quantity.

Despite these challenges, we are beginning to see success in the marketplace. Building on this success and continuing to improve content standards is critical if true interoperability is to become a reality.

Brian Ahier is director of standards and government affairs for Medicity, A Healthagen Business of Salt Lake City, UT.

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July 16, 2014 Readers Write 8 Comments

CIO Unplugged 7/16/14

July 16, 2014 Ed Marx 2 Comments

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

Abdication of Authority and the Poets

I used to write a fair amount of poetry in my early teens. I continued writing for about 10 years, but stopped shortly after marriage and after the birth of our first child. Julie remarked one day that my poetry had lost its romantic flair and creativity, reading more like a stuffy business letter. As I re-read some of the stuff I wrote, she was absolutely correct. “Dear Julie,” I would begin, and then end with something akin to, “With all due respect.”

Actually, even as I review some of my earliest material, I become increasingly critical of my writing. I think of how I might rephrase specific stanzas using today’s vernacular. Then again, sometimes when you mix the old and new, the outcome is not all that much better. I finally came to accept that while imperfect with today’s eyes, the poems of old were indeed perfect for the time in which I originally wrote them. A zeitgeist sort of thing, I suppose.

As I rummaged through old online files, I found several presentations I’d done around IT governance. I was shocked to find myself in disagreement with many of my original suppositions. But, as with my retrospective with poetry, those governance models were possibly the best for that point in time.

Or were they? With this historical vantage point, I noticed a disturbing trend that not only led me into a long-term malaise, but many of my peer group as well. Subconsciously, we ceded more and more control of IT to our customers, unknowingly setting the stage for a silent yet unintended overthrow.

Today, we are scratching our heads and wondering where the power of the CIO has gone. As I’ve said before, many of us are downright impotent, and I’m ringing the bell loudly to awaken the sleeping spirit.

My findings were disturbing. At one point, I want to cry, and then in the next second, laugh. We often blame our customers for uncontrolled IT costs and say crazy things like, “There is no such thing as an IT project.” We load governance councils with individuals who are unqualified to help make technology decisions and yet complain about the insufficient funds for infrastructure. Giving away control only doomed us to the Tragedy of the Commons.

From a historical perspective, the pendulum has swung a full 180 degrees. I applaud inviting others into the tent. Absolutely it was and remains the right thing to do. But somewhere along the line, we left the tent. We maintained our responsibility but abdicated our authority. We abandoned our leadership rights.

Many are now outside the tent looking in, running IT by title only. Not influence. Not leading. Just reacting. Yuck!

Do we want to swing all the way back? No! I suspect for most of us we need to shift more toward center. The governance continuum will vary by the culture, organizational challenges, environmental factors, and ultimately our individual leadership capabilities. We need to appreciate the journey, learn from it, and modify.

Let’s reconnect to our mantle of authority and lead governance. Not be ruled by governance.

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

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July 16, 2014 Ed Marx 2 Comments

Morning Headlines 7/16/14

July 15, 2014 Headlines No Comments

M*Modal Receives Approval to Emerge From Chapter 11

MModal confirms that it will emerge from bankruptcy within three weeks as its Plan of Reorganization is approved by the courts.

Novartis and Google to Work on Smart Contact Lenses

Google and medical device manufacturer Novartis have entered into a licensing agreement to commercialize Google’s recently unveiled glucose monitoring contact lenses.

Best Hospitals 2014-15: Overview and Honor Roll

US News and World Report publishes its 2014 Top Hospitals list with Mayo Clinic taking first place, followed by Massachusetts General Hospital and Johns Hopkins.

New challenge for team that passed Turing test: health insurance

Three computer scientists from the team that recently claimed to have beaten the Turing Test are leaving the artificial intelligence field and heading to a Santa Rosa company where they will help build a website designed to help consumers shop for Medicare plans.

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July 15, 2014 Headlines No Comments

News 7/16/14

July 15, 2014 News 9 Comments

Top News

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IBM and Apple announce a partnership to develop business applications for iPhones and iPads. IBM will also sell Apple products and provide on-site services to business clients, while Apple gains business credibility and a tie-in to IBM’s big data capabilities that will make its devices decision-making tools. The deal also gives Apple’s iOS more enterprise credibility against the more widely used Android operating system. The companies say more than 100 business apps will be available by fall.


Reader Comments

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From Baron Schkinn: “Re: Siemens. The rumor is surfacing again that Cerner will buy the health IT division of Siemens and close the deal by the end of the summer, coming from an inside source who I trust. That would give Cerner a replacement for its failed ProFit, a backup center in another earthquake zone, a shot at selling to the significant number of Invision and MedSeries4 clients, and would make Cerner the #1 vendor over McKesson in revenue. They would still be left with two poor ambulatory solutions that would make them non-competitive with Epic.” Unverified, other than the seemingly solid rumor that Siemens is shopping the business it describes on its website in a predictably confusing fashion as “the Siemens Healthcare Information Technology business of Health Services, Siemens Healthcare” (which offers several humorous acronym-powered punning opportunities.) Cerner might be willing to pay the rumored $1.4 billion just to get the Siemens customer base and a few worthwhile niche-filling nuggets (MobileMD, although nothing else comes to mind given Soarian’s minimal-and-dropping competitiveness) but it would seem to be a better fit for private equity. Cerner doesn’t do a lot of acquisitions and one that size might spook Wall Street, which Cerner doesn’t like doing, but anything can happen when it comes to acquisitions.

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From BadBuy: “Re: Sunquest. Significantly behind full-year sales target, with the top two reps at just over 50 percent. Vista/Huntsman Gay made out like bandits.” Unverified. Roper Industries acquired Sunquest in July 2012 for $1.42 billion after what I’ve heard was shockingly minimal due diligence. I would assume that former owners Huntsman Gay Global Capital and Vista Equity Partners did indeed do quite well for themselves given that the former paid only $208 million to acquire 51 percent of Sunquest in December 2010, with Vista holding on to 49 percent. That means Roper paid more than three times that valuation just 19 months later. Roper executives talked up Sunquest’s revenue growth and implementation improvements in the company’s most recent earnings call, adding that Sunquest will have “quite an exceptional year in 2014.” Roper’s diversified growth is steady – share price has more than tripled in the past five years. The longer you work in this or any other industry, the more you realize it’s the generic money guys, not the deep subject matter experts or passionate advocates, who do really well. “Owning” has more potential reward (and risk) than “doing.”

From Binge and Purge: “Re: Johnathan Samples. You’ve probably already heard, but he has left Greenway after 13 years and started a new company.” Samples, who was Greenway’s chief innovation officer through last month, threw in with former Greenway Chief Product Strategist Jason Colquitt at Across Healthcare, which offers what appears to be an unfocused array of consulting and software development services.

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From Yalie: “Re: Yale-New Haven. Anything in writing about their hard Epic downtime system-wide for two days last week?” The local paper says a network switch went down Friday for a handful of hours, requiring the hospital to cancel elective surgeries. Epic information was still available from cached copies.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

I’ve confirmed that Epic’s FDA 510k submission was for a bedside matching system, not a blood bank system.

We hear a lot about the suits in the healthcare corner offices, but not enough about the cube-dwellers who perform the actual work that pays for them. I am offering the HIStalk BOSS (Beacon of Selfless Service) Award to recognize those trench warriors (provider or vendor) who toil without bonuses, reserved parking spaces, or the ever-present validation of company-paid butt kissers. The BOSS Award isn’t a trophy or cash, but rather recognition in HIStalk of a non-management employee who went above and beyond during a specific event (downtime, sales demo, screaming surgeon demanding a new laptop, etc.) to save the day. Anyone who observed the individual’s laudable effort firsthand can nominate someone – a supervisor, peer, or customer. Submit your candidate here.

We like to keep in touch with HIStalk’s sponsors and we just sent an e-mail to all the contacts on our list. Let Lorre know if we missed you.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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The US Bankruptcy Court approves MModal’s reorganization plan, allowing the company to emerge from bankruptcy in August as it had originally announced.

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The Teamsters Union urges McKesson’s shareholders to approve its proxy proposal to eliminate the company’s change-of-control terms that will give its top executives $283 million if new owners fire them, including $140.5 million for John Hammergren alone.

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Craneware announces $70 million in sales in the first half of 2014, up 80 percent year over year.


Sales

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Saint Mary’s Hospital (CT) selects Wellsoft’s EDIS.

Wheeling Hospital (WV) adds Sunrise Financial Manager to its Allscripts systems.

Carrus Hospitals (TX) will deploy Medhost’s clinical and financial solutions via the company’s hosted Medhost Direct platform.


People

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Rob Lipowski (Cleveland Clinic) joins Perceptive Software as director of healthcare solutions.

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Perry Lewis (McKesson) is named VP of industry relations of CoverMyMeds.

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“Inc.” profiles Beyond Lucid Technologies Founder and CEO Jonathon Feit, who has Tourette Syndrome. It points out the difficulty he has in performing company pitches and recorded videos without the characteristic twitching. His company sells an electronic patient record system for first responders.


Announcements and Implementations

Summit Healthcare announces that 26 facilities are live on its Summit Care Exchange technology, which allows providers to send CCDs to a Health Information Service Provider via Direct to meet Meaningful Use requirements.  

EHNAC and WEDI launch an accreditation program for practice management systems, announcing GE Healthcare, Medinformatix, and NextGen as pilot participants.

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Elsevier Clinical Solutions announces its Clinical Documentation Improvement Reference App, which provides clinical term look-up and medical necessity information with an emphasis on ICD-10.

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New Orleans-based startup Clinicate launches its clinical file-sharing solution for providers and patients. It also contains some unrelated tools such as drug lookup. It’s free for patients and a single provider can use the system free for up to 100MB of storage.

Healthcare Data Solutions announces availability of the HealthcareData360 EHR market intelligence database, which allows looking up EHR decision-makers both within and across connected provider organizations.


Government and Politics

NIST and OCR will co-host “Safeguarding Health Information: Building Assurance through HIPAA Security” on September 23-24, 2014 at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, DC. Onsite attendance runs $345, while Webcast attendees will pay $200.

The FCC’s 17-year-old system crashes under the weight of 800,000 comments filed regarding net neutrality, forcing it to extend the comments deadline until midnight Friday. Comments can be filed (and read, in the case of the most recent 10,000 comments) here.

Eighty-nine House lawmakers sign a letter requesting that CMS remove penalties for clinical laboratories that perform tests for Medicare patients, explaining, “Pathologists have limited direct contact with patients and do not operate in EHRs. Instead, pathologists use sophisticated computerized laboratory information systems (LISs) to support the work of analyzing patient specimens and generating test results.” CMS granted pathologists a hardship exception for 2015, but the College of American Pathologists wants the requirement to be eliminated permanently.


Innovation and Research

Three computer scientists who developed the first program that passed the Turing test — convincing a human that they are interacting with another human rather than a computer — have joined startup Wholesale Change, which will develop online tools to help consumers choose Medicare insurance plans.

@Cascadia tweeted about Israel-based Tyto Care, which offers a handheld device and cloud platform that allows patients to do their own physical examination while being guided remotely by their doctor.

Chicago-area researchers query the EHRs of 23 primary care practices to identify patients likely to have undiagnosed hypertension based on their historical pattern of in-office blood pressure readings, inviting those patients to follow up with a more comprehensive series of readings. The practices not only alerted patients, but also turned their work into a quality improvement project by continuing to remind both patients and physicians of the need for follow-up until an ICD-9 code was entered indicating that hypertension had been either confirmed or ruled out.


Technology

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The Alcon division of Novartis AG licenses Google’s smart contact lens technology that will measure and report blood glucose levels. Meanwhile, the former Google X director who led the development of the contact lens as well as Google Glass announces his departure from Google and his excitement at going to work for Amazon. He made headlines last week by saying that Glass is “not necessarily the definitive answer” for wearable technology.

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Welch Allyn adds customizable patient scoring to its Connex vital signs monitor, allowing hospitals to use their own Early Warning Score to identify deteriorating patients. The company’s clinical surveillance system can send the results wirelessly to the hospital’s EMR and can also monitor for falls, pressure ulcers, and respiratory distress.


Other 

A new HIMSS Analytics report says “germ-related hospital applications” have high growth potential. That oddly phrased category (clinicians never say “germs” unless talking slowly to laypeople who possess limited medical comprehension) includes systems for infection surveillance, patient acuity, and laboratory outreach.

HIMSS14 is named the fourth-largest medical meeting of 2013 with its 36,5325 attendees, following the FIME (Florida International Medical Expo) trade show in Miami, the Greater New York Dental Meeting, and RSNA.

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Two surgeons from UNC Hospitals (NC) open a burn center in Malawi, which has 14 million people and only 20 surgeons. One of the UNC surgeons added that UNC’s new Epic electronic medical record and potentially the addition of telemedicine services will help it treat patients in their local areas of North Carolina rather than transporting them to Chapel Hill.

Let’s hope Massachusetts isn’t the national healthcare model everybody brags on: healthcare will eat up almost a third of the new state budget vs. the 20 percent it consumed in 2001.

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An article describes how 25-bed Cottage Hospital (NH) became one of the first hospitals to attest for Meaningful Use Stage 2. It’s a Medhost facility and hired an informatics nurse to keep things moving along.

“US News & World Report” lists its “Best Hospitals 2014-15”: (1) Mayo Clinic; (2) Mass General; (3) Johns Hopkins; (4) Cleveland Clinic; (5) UCLA Medical Center; (6) New York-Presbyterian; (7) HUP; (8) UCSF; (9) Brigham and Women’s; (10) Northwestern Memorial; (11) University of Washington; (12) Cedars-Sinai, tied with UPMC; (14) Duke; (15) NYU Langone; (16) Mount Sinai; and (17) Barnes-Jewish. 

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“The Wall Street Journal” reports that the ambitious $54 million biotech facility created from the converted Brooklyn Army Terminal stands nearly empty, reportedly because of squabbles between its two developers, SUNY Downstate Medical Center and the city’s Economic Development Corp. The project’s former executive director, who left last year, said public agencies are lousy at running speculative developments because they have too much bureaucracy behind them and lack the mindset to get it done. The project is limping along by renting space to non-biotech companies at a discount despite its mission of boosting the city’s biotech presence.

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Madison, WI’s weekly hippie newspaper covers Epic’s purchase of wacky artwork at the summer art fair run by the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, saying that Judy Faulkner brings an employee team armed with a “generous budget” (some of it in cash) to find big, bold, and whimsical pieces.

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A father whose six-week-old daughter died of a liver tumor after spending her entire life in the hospital posts a request on Reddit asking for help to Photoshop the only photos he had of her, all of them showing her with tubes in place since she had never been without them. His post generated 2,700 comments of support and many photographs and drawings. He called attention to “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep,” whose volunteer photographers take portraits of families with their dying or deceased child.


Sponsor Updates

  • The Sunquest User Group conference is being held this week at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort in Scottsdale, AZ.
  • HealthMEDX sponsored the “Prescription for Change” technology discussion for long-term and post-acute care providers, with CEO Pam Pure and Medical Director Charles Rogers, MD participating.
  • Laura Argauer of CTG co-presented “Using Transformational Data Analytics to Improve Care Valuation, Management and Outcomes of Chronic Kidney Disease Patients” at the Healthcare Analytics Symposium & Expo 2014 this week.
  • Health Catalyst shares a case study on Crystal Run Healthcare (NY), explaining why they bought rather than built a data warehouse.
  • Predixion CEO Simon Arkell will discuss the explosion of connected devices and predictive analytics challenges in healthcare during the Microsoft Worldwide Partnership Conference in Washington, DC this week.
  • Kari Bunting, RN of MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center (MD) will present her research on reducing excessive uterine contractions aided by PeriGen’s PeriCALM Patterns EFM at the Summer Institute in Nursing Informatics in Baltimore, MD this week.

Contacts

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

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.

Get HIStalk updates.
Contact us online.

 

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July 15, 2014 News 9 Comments

Morning Headlines 7/15/14

July 14, 2014 Headlines No Comments

E-Prescribing Trends in the United States

E-Prescribing rates in the US have climbed dramatically since 2011, according to new data published by ONC. In 2011, just seven percent of providers were live with e-prescribing, compared to 70 percent that use the technology today.

New resources improve states’ abilities to advance Medicaid payment and delivery system reform

HHS unveils a new program called the Medicaid Innovation Accelerator Program which will work with state agencies to award $100 million in federal funding help promote innovation aimed at advancing Medicaid-specific delivery system improvements.

MMRGlobal Subsidiary Receives Clinical Trials Patent

MMRGlobal receives a US patent titled “Electronic Health Records in Clinical Trials” which the company’s press release says will “opens the door to completely new revenue generating opportunities,” likely by demanding license fees from research organizations and pharmaceutical companies using EHR data within clinical trials.

British Government Picks Illumina to Sequence 100,000 Genomes

US-based gene sequencing firm Illumina lands a $160 million deal with the British government to sequence 100,000 human genomes.

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July 14, 2014 Headlines No Comments

Curbside Consult with Dr. Jayne 7/14/14

July 14, 2014 Dr. Jayne No Comments

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I wrote a few weeks ago about my adventures with the CMS physician portal. Since the reporting of payments and gifts from drug and device manufacturers to physicians is now mandatory, physicians are wise to make sure the information is accurate because it is going to be released to the public.

I had gone on the site and registered for basic portal access in June, but had read that I would have to return in July to register specifically for access to the Open Payments data. Once I went to the Open Payments link (thank goodness the website at least has a decent breadcrumb trail at the top), it asked me to create my profile. It also allows physicians to nominate “authorized representatives” to handle physician information.

It also requires entirely too much other information that CMS should already know about us from our NPI, Medicare, and other applications: NPI, license number, practice type, specialty code, DEA number, etc. The first words that popped into my head (of course in a snarky voice) were “administrative simplification.”

Rather than have the specialty codes on a pick list, I had to launch a 359-page PDF to figure it out. Finally, Page 212 had a link to Appendix C, where the answer was still nowhere to be found; the appendix had a link to the CMS taxonomy crosswalk. I’m not sure why they couldn’t have hooked up the link on the actual application to the crosswalk in the first place.

Even though the crosswalk lists my specialty code as “08” in the column that says “Medicare Specialty Code,” what they actually wanted was the code in the “Provider Taxonomy Code” column. Don’t bother trying to cut and past the 10-digit code into the form because it won’t work right. I was able to finally get through all the steps, only to learn that I won’t be able to do anything else until my profile is “registered” after my identity as a physician is confirmed. I’m surprised they didn’t ask for my blood type.

When I write about my initial experience, I also asked for a good martini recipe to help me get through it. Weird News Andy was happy to oblige with one that plays to my literary passions:

Charles Dickens Martini

1) Make a martini as you see fit

2) Add an olive or twist

I’m still laughing. There are so many Dickens titles that seem appropriate for healthcare IT: Great Expectations, Hard Times, and Bleak House, to name a few. It looks like my attempts to see my Open Payments data are turning into either a serial or a novel.

Have a literary suggestion that meshes with our lives in the IT trenches? Email me.

Email Dr. Jayne.

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July 14, 2014 Dr. Jayne No Comments

HIStalk Interviews Susan DeVore, CEO, Premier

July 14, 2014 Interviews No Comments

Susan DeVore is president and CEO of Premier, Inc. of Charlotte, NC.

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Describe what Premier does, especially with regard to healthcare IT and data.

Premier is, I think, the largest healthcare improvement alliance in the country. We are integrating data from hundreds and thousands of hospitals on our platform to solve the cost, quality, safety, and population health or outcomes problems.

We’ve got a 59 percent footprint. We’re serving 3,000 hospitals in various ways. We have about 110,000 non-acute care sites. We have insights with data on one in three patients in the country.

It’s a massive business intelligence platform that we’re wrapping around services and capabilities to help these healthcare systems transform from the inside.

 

Premier was a hospital group purchasing alliance and is now a publicly traded informatics company that offers solutions for supply chain, labor management, population health, and quality. How does that all fit together to help hospitals as payment models change?

We’ve been building these data assets and this supply chain capability for a long time. Over the last three or four years, we’ve fundamentally rebuilt our entire foundational infrastructure. It was clear to us that all of these one-off solutions and individual vendor solutions aren’t going to solve the complexity of healthcare problems.

We decided a while back that providers needed to be able to connect the data, have the business intelligence come from all vendors and all payers, and be normalized and cleansed and standardized. We needed a social business capability on the front end so that we could accelerate the best practice sharing, content review, and knowledge transfer among these healthcare systems. We decided this was going to be the only way you could really solve the cost, quality, and outcomes problems.

 

As a provider, knowing where you stand in the continuum and not just how well you improve on your own is a pretty big deal. Will vendors struggle to compete as the market finds that their single tools may not offer enough?

The problem for any single vendor is that they only have a piece of the picture. Even EHR vendors. In our mind, they’re only one system of probably 12 or 13 different sources of data that you need to solve the problem. Any one payer that tries to solve the problem, or comes from a payer, has a view into only the payer population.

When we set out to do this, we said, we’ve got to be vendor agnostic and we’ve got to be payer agnostic. Health systems want to change the way patients get cared for, regardless of which EHR system they use or which payer they have a contract with. They want to change the way care is delivered for a patient population.

We think it’s a differentiator. We think that it will be critical that vendors are required to make their information exchangeable and not require that our health systems have to pay every time they want to make the information exchangeable.

 

How do you see that happening? It’s been a sore spot with providers that systems are supposed to be interoperable, yet they often aren’t unless you write a check and probably accept less functionality than you want.

I think there are three things that are going to drive it. The first is that providers are going to drive it, a coalition of providers who need the information to be more effective at what they do. Providers are increasingly dissatisfied with the lack of the exchangeability or the interoperability, so I think they’re going to require it.

Secondly, I think consumers are going to require it. Consumers are going to say, I need to make the decisions. I need the transparency to the information. I want it.

Thirdly, we need policy change. The thing that will accelerate it is if policy makers start to realize we can’t solve the cost, quality, and outcomes problem in healthcare without it. Those three things could push it faster.

 

Hospitals are trying to figure out what role they will play in the retooled healthcare system. How can information help them determine their business model?

Because we have this 59 percent footprint and we cover basically every geography, we see health systems that have been morphing now for several years. They have affiliated physicians. They have affiliated nursing homes. They have partnerships in the community. They’re building virtual IDNs, virtual ACOs, real IDNs, and real ACOs and have been for a long time.

They also usually have in those community markets more sophistication, maybe, and more capital to help build the integrated capabilities and to help access the integrated capabilities.

From our perspective, if and when the healthcare system moves to a more bundled payment world — whatever form that takes — this integrated data is going to be extremely important. It doesn’t have to all come from the source system. Many of our health system’s big IDNs are saying, do I really have to switch everything out? Or in an open data, big data, cloud-based, shared infrastructure world, can I find ways to go get the data and put it together?

These health systems are going to be an integral part of what healthcare looks like in a future state world. They’ve been starting to build this capability and put these pieces together for a long time.

If the pie gets bigger for our healthcare system, and they have a lot of pieces as opposed to one singular hospital piece, I think this is a pretty natural evolution.

 

Are providers jumping too quickly into ACO arrangements?

I think they’re experimenting with ACO models. As opposed to jumping all in, they’re trying it on a population. They’re now receiving data from CMS, which was something healthcare systems had never historically been able to do. They’re learning a lot. They’re figuring out how to manage the provider risk.

What we say to them, and what they say to us is, we’re trying to future-proof them and they’re trying to future-proof themselves. Whether it’s an efficiency measure that is measuring cost three days before acute care stay and then post, a bundled payment program, an ACO, or Medicare Advantage — if you’re able to connect data and you’re able to turn that data into business intelligence, pulling it from all vendors and all payers and putting it in the hands of your providers and change the way care is delivered, then there may be multiple models for a while we’re in the transition. That infrastructure is going to position you to navigate through those various models.

 

How will it be different for an academic medical center versus a community hospital?

They have different challenges. Community-based systems are integrating physicians very significantly. They have to have data and connected information in order to influence the practice of medicine.

In an academic center, you’ve got a more employed model that you can deal with, but you have other challenges. How do you fund research? How do you fund all the other activities and pay for and compete in the community healthcare system?

We have them all. We have academics. We have small. We have large. We have big IDNs. Some of our academics will tell us it’s easier for small community systems to drive change. Our community systems will say it’s easier for academics because they’re larger with more funding and more resources.

The truth is, this is performance improvement. You need the data. You need the data connected. You need to operate and change your operation. Whether you’re an academic or whether you’re a community health system, we can see the change happening in both and in neither. It has more to do with the culture, the measurement, the data, the infrastructure, and the willingness.

 

You’ve suggested the possibility of acquisitions. What areas interest you?

We report publicly in two segments — a supply chain segment and a performance services segment, which is where all of our HIT assets, informatics, and consulting and collaborative activities are.

We have said, and continue and to say, over on the performance services side, we are interested in ambulatory data acquisition and connectivity of ambulatory data to acute care data. We’re interested in all kinds of population health and data analytics technologies and capabilities for our members to build this population health capability. We’re interested in major things in both of those buckets.

We’re also interested in the area of patient-reported outcomes and in the implementation of standardized, more cost-effective, clinically-effective healthcare. We’re looking at all kinds of things in those areas.

On the supply chain side, we think there’s still a ways to go in changing supply chain capabilities in healthcare systems. We’re looking at workflow kinds of capabilities, alternate site capabilities, and the connectivity for supply chain between all the alternate site locations and the hospital or health locations. We have a specialty pharmacy. We think it’s a critical element to population health, so we have some interest there also on the supply chain pharma side.

 

Do you have any final thoughts?

It’s a very dynamic time. Integrated information that’s vendor agnostic and payer agnostic is critical.

Health systems have spent hundreds of millions of dollars installing EHRs. They’re increasingly dissatisfied with the inability to exchange information. They’re not so interested in spending hundreds of millions more to build data warehouses.

We think there’s a real opportunity for shared infrastructure and shared integrated data management capabilities. We are making significant investments there.

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July 14, 2014 Interviews No Comments

Morning Headlines 7/14/14

July 13, 2014 Headlines No Comments

WellPoint CEO: Insurer readies for technology wave

Joseph Swedish, CEO of the insurance company WellPoint, says in an interview that he will drive the company to adopt new technologies to reduce health costs, including telehealth, workplace health kiosks, and participation on insurance exchanges.

Verona’s Epic Systems adding employees

Epic adds 600 employees since February, bringing its total to 7,400. Epic has seen tremendous growth in the past three years when, in June 2011, the company’s head count sat at just 4,200.

Duke Medicine’s Big Data Plan to Improve Population Health

Ex-NASA Geospatial Scientist Sohayla Pruittan launches Duke Medicines new location-centric population health platform that will analyze health trends down to individual neighborhoods. She says, “When we visually map a population and a health issue, we want to give an understanding about why something is happening in a neighborhood. Are there certain socioeconomic factors that are contributing? Do they not have access to certain things? Do they have too much access to certain things like fast food restaurants?”

Key statistics for Summary Care Records

In England, the Health & Social Care Information Centre announces that nearly 41 million Summary Care Records have been generated by 5,454 practice offices thus far.

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July 13, 2014 Headlines No Comments

Monday Morning Update 7/14/14

July 12, 2014 News 6 Comments

Top News

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Former health system CEO Joe Swedish, now CEO of WellPoint, says he’ll focus the company on technologies such as telemedicine, kiosks, and smartphone-based instruments (he didn’t mention the company’s partnership with IBM to develop Watson-powered applications). Swedish is also driving use of WellPoint’s databases that are populated from processing 581 million medical claims each year. It’s good to work for an insurance company – Swedish’s shares are worth $15 million and he’s paid $7.5 million per year. I remember him way back when he was CEO of Winter Park Hospital (FL).


Reader Comments

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From A Concerned Customer: “Re: NantHealth. We as a customer are hearing of extensive layoffs of the iSirona people. Almost all of the account executives were let go.” Unverified.

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From LISPro: “Re: Epic. I’ve heard the company has submitted to the FDA for 510k certification of their new blood bank module.” Unverified.

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From Not From Me: “Re: Intermountain. The short-term choice (three or so years) would have been Epic, but we went with Cerner because of Epic’s dated technology, Cerner’s openness, and the feeling that we would be more of a partner than a customer with Cerner. The partnership is more than words. We’re working closely with Cerner and their horde of sharp, dedicated people on the implementation. We have some pieces they don’t and those are being built into the Cerner system, while some of our own development efforts have been redirected since Cerner already has that functionality. The first rollout is scheduled for December and I think it will go well due to the way the teams are working together.” Unverified.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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Two-thirds of poll respondents have used their PCP’s patient portal in the past six months. New poll to your right: what contributed most to your present success? Young people will be interested to learn what worked for their more experienced healthcare IT peers. Click the “comments” link in the poll to elaborate further.

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

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Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock 

Epic says that it has 7,400 employees, 600 more than it reported in February, probably boosted by the college graduation of its latest round of hires.

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QPID Health will move its offices to Federal Street in Boston to accommodate expected growth.


People

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Brad Holcomb, RN (St. John’s Health System, First Consulting Group, BHL Consulting Group) died on May 14 at 47. His wife Lucretia said it would be OK for me to mention the donations page a family friend has set up for their children.


Announcements and Implementations

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Valence Health announces its Further 2014 conference, September 10-12 in Chicago. It’s open to anyone and the cost is amazingly low: $500 includes registration, meals, entertainment by Second City, and two nights’ accommodations at the Drake Hotel ($400 per night on the hotel’s site for those dates.) If you’re local to Chicago, you can go for $199 without hotel. Some of the agenda is specific to customers, but a lot of it isn’t, covering value-based care, clinically integrated networks, patient engagement, and predictive risk. I would attend myself if I didn’t have a conflict , and may yet in fact, since it looks worth juggling other stuff around.


Technology

A hospital in Spain is using the Oculus Rift virtual reality gaming headset in the OR for nervous surgical patients. The immersive device provides calming scenic movies with music that minimize the patient’s perception of the OR’s noises and bright lights. Facebook must have been impressed since it bought the company for $2 billion in March even though the headset won’t be available to consumers until next year. The founder of Oculus is a 21-year-old California college dropout.

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An article profiles the use by Duke Medicine (NC) of a geographic information system tied to its homegrown clinical database query tool, allowing researchers to study medical issues by neighborhood, socioeconomic indicators, and even proximity to fast food restaurants, all in real time.


Other

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In England,the Health & Social Care Information Centre reports that Summary Care Records have been created for 41 million patients, with only 1.4 percent of them opting out of the program. The SCR program was intended to give off-hours providers fast access to a patient’s medications and allergies using information from practice-based EHRs. Around 5,500 practices have created SCRs for patients. SCR was until recently a floundering part of the now-defunct National Programme for IT. A British Medical Association IT committee chair called for its shutdown in early 2013, saying that while 23 million SCR records had been created, only 100 hospitals and after-hours providers were using them.

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An article by former FDA Deputy Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD says existing policies don’t encourage researchers to develop high-priced cures for diseases that would reduce overall lifetime patient cost for chronic conditions. He suggests a system in which payers can finance their longer-term benefit through government-backed guarantees and accounting rule changes.

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I found a cool heart rate app that  works sort of like a pulse oximeter – you put your finger on the phone’s rear-facing camera, the app turns on its flash so it shines through your finger, and then it measures and displays your heartbeat as a real-time graph. It seems to be quite accurate, making it useful for people who exercise or who have atrial fibrillation. The developer claims 25 million users and offers others for cardio exercise, sleep cycle analysis, biofeedback stress reduction, and blood glucose logging.

Weird News Andy sniffed out this story: a woman who received experimental treatment for paralysis eight years ago in which cells from her nose were injected into her spine grows another nose from the injection site. WNA also suggested taking the stairs in hospitals after a study finds that elevator buttons have more germs than restrooms.


Contacts

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

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.

Get HIStalk updates.
Contact us online.

 

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July 12, 2014 News 6 Comments

Morning Headlines 7/11/14

July 11, 2014 Headlines No Comments

HIT Policy Committee DRAFT Summary of the June 10, 2014 Virtual Meeting

During Tuesday’s HIT Policy Committee meeting, CMS reported that only 972 providers and 10 hospitals have attested for Stage 2 of Meaningful Use.

Cerner ups campus cost to $4.45B, will seek $110M TIF bump

Cerner increases the budget on its new Kansas City campus by $160 million, to $4.45 billion, and is asking the local and state government to cover $110 million of that through tax breaks.

The Experience of Young Adults on HealthCare.gov: Suggestions for Improvement

A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine concludes that Healthcare.gov’s user interface was perceived as confusing and unintuitive by millennials.

Moody’s Assigns AA3 To Providence Health & Services Series 2014B Bonds; Outlook Stable

Moody’s gives Providence Health’s bonds a strong, stable Aa3 rating, something that is not always the case for health systems in the midst of an Epic implementation. The rating notes, “PHS has nearly completed its system-wide implementation of the Epic electronic medical record (EMR) system. Implementation has spanned many years, and has occupied a significant portion of the system’s capital budget. Outsized operating expenses related to Epic have suppressed margins but are now expected to reach a steady state going forward.”

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July 11, 2014 Headlines No Comments

News 7/11/14

July 10, 2014 News 5 Comments

Top News

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National Coordinator Karen DeSalvo reorganizes the HIT Policy Committee. Also announced by ONC: only 972 EPs and 10 hospitals have attested to Meaningful Use Stage 2. Athenahealth users lead the EP Stage 2 attestation by far. Clearly ONC’s budget and influence are shrinking as disenchantment with the Meaningful Use program grows and providers focus on more strategic goals than lapping at Uncle’s Sam’s ever-distancing carrot.


Reader Comments

From McLayoffs: “Re: McKesson. Decimated their ranks last week, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they sold off that business. It’s not one that John Hammergren ever wanted to be in, but inherited when he took over. All non-essential implementation teams were dissolved and upgrades are rumored to be handled by national support. A lot of good people were lost last week. I’m not surprised that Siemens is calling it quits as well, with Epic dominating the market. I’m even seeing Cerner to Epic conversions now.” Unverified.

From Punch Bowl: “Re: Nuance. Acquiring Notable Solutions, Inc.” Unverified. NSI offers solutions for document capture and forms processing to a variety of industries.

From Kites Away: “Re: research question for your audience. Is strategic planning a useful exercise? Why or why not?” I will let readers weigh in. My opinion is that it’s a good exercise even though the assumptions and predictions often turn out to be wildly off. It makes people focus on the current state and to consider the array of possible future states.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

This week on HIStalk Practice: Key takeaways from the 2015 proposed physician fee schedule. The ONC Health IT Policy Committee presents the latest round of Meaningful Use attestation numbers (and notes the vendors leading the pack). Cigna creates 100 collaborative care arrangements with large physician groups. The Accountable Care Coalition of Greater New York uses new grant money to launch a medication adherence program, while Milwaukee Health Services uses new funds to upgrade its EHR. Online consumer service providers and the DMV pilot a patient identity management program. Thanks for reading.

This week on HIStalk Connect: Dr. Travis breaks down Rock Health’s recent “Mid-Year Digital Health Funding Report.” In Europe, the $2 billion Human Brain Project is under threat of boycott from the scientific community over its hard line stance on funding out-of-scope projects. Syria is getting international support through an ICU telehealth program that is helping resolve the country’s physician shortage. AdhereTech raises a $1.25 million Series A for its connected pill bottle. 

I received two items from readers that I’m going to decline to run because I don’t think it’s fair to the companies involved, but I want to explain why. First was a healthcare IT vendor CEO who was arrested for battery, which I don’t think is fair game because it’s personal and being arrested isn’t the same as being found guilty. Second is a lawsuit brought against a company that alleges it broke its contract with an offshore development shop, which has the same problem in being just an allegation so far. I like good rumors and gossip as much (probably more) than the average person, but both of these documents name people who shouldn’t be tried on the pages of HIStalk. I’ll report the final legal decisions once they are out.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Revenue cycle vendor RevSpring acquires Talksoft, which offers an automated appointment reminder service.

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Allscripts acquires UK-based Oasis Medical Solutions and will implement its Oasis Patient Administration System as a single-source solution for the UK market.

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USA Mobility, along with its previously acquired Amcom Software, changes its name and Nasdaq ticker symbol to Spok (pronounced “spoke”).

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Oncology data analysis vendor Syapse raises $10 million in a Series B funding round. Its product integrates genomic information with the EMR to display data for decision-making, suggest treatment plans, and track outcomes.


Sales

Centegra Health System (IL) adds revenue performance improvement solutions to its existing MedAssets agreement.

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Carrus Hospitals (TX) will deploy Medhost’s clinical and financial solutions via the company’s hosted Medhost Direct platform.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center will implement Allscripts dbMotion and continue its use of Sunrise EHR.


People

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Health Data Specialists promotes Chad Jones to Cerner practice director.

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Harold Paz, MD (Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center) is named EVP/CMO of Aetna.

George Murillo (Leidos Health) is named western area VP of Orchestrate Healthcare.


Announcements and Implementations

Awarepoint announces the availability of awareAssets V3.0 for RTLS-based asset tracking and workflow optimization.

Lexmark’s Perceptive Software launches Perceptive Cloud Share, a cloud-based content management system for video, images, and other rich media.

DSS adds real-time abnormal lab results alerts to the VA’s VistA CPRS Version 31.

Elsevier launches PolicyNavigator, a knowledge management tool for healthcare policies and procedures.

Healthcare Engagement Solutions launches the Uniphy clinician communications platform.

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MediSafe releases its medication adherence app for Google’s Android Wear smartwatch technology.


Government and Politics

The HIMSS EHR Association weighs in on HHS’s proposed Meaningful Use changes, saying pretty much the same thing as other groups before it: (a) turn the proposed rule into a final rule quickly and without changes since providers are otherwise forced to make decisions blindly; (b) define the types of delays that are acceptable for not implementing 2014-certified EHRS – vendor delays, lack of provider resources, lack of local interoperability options, etc.; (c) simplify the combinations stages, objectives, and EHR certification year; (d) simplify the proposed CQMs; (e) delay MU Stage 3 to avoid the same rush and confusion that accompanied the rollout of Stage 2.

A tiny observational study published in Annals of Internal Medicine finds that the government failed in its attempt to make Healthcare.gov as easy for millennials to use as popular websites. Its recommendations: (a) allow clicking on health insurance terminology to bring up a definition; (b) make it clearer that preventive care is included in all plans offered; (c) make the dental insurance option clearer; (d) improve sorting and filtering of available plans; (e) explain the available tax credit and cost-sharing options that reduce cost; and (f) call “catastrophic” plans something else, such as “minimal” or “value.”

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CMS designates non-profit Health Care Cost Institute as the first national Qualified Entity, meaning it can merge Medicare claims data with commercial payer data to provide price and quality transparency.

CMS gives Tennessee 10 days to fix its $35 million Medicaid eligibility system, saying it is preventing people from signing up for insurance on Healthcare.gov. CMS says state workers ignored requests to assign more people to the project and failed to help new users navigate its system. The state blames Northrop Grumman for missed deadlines and has paid the company only $5 million so far.

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A GAO report says the VA-DoD integrated EHR (iEHR) plan met only one of six required conditions in FY2013. The VA and DoD abandoned their two-year-old plan to develop a single EHR in February 2013 due to cost and timelines, leading Congress to threaten to cut off 75 percent of the iEHR budget unless six conditions were met (define a budget, set a timeline, break out annual and total spending, define how costs would be shared, establish data standardization, and comply with government acquisition policies.) The only fully satisfied condition was creation of a cost-sharing schedule. The joint oversight group says the plan has changed to the point that the original goals no longer measure the program’s success, leading GAO to recommend holding the VA and DoD responsible for publishing accurate budgets, maintaining a deployment schedule, developing data standardization rules, and proving that they are indeed compliant with federal purchasing policies.


Other

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Cerner increases the estimated cost of its new 16,000-employee campus to $4.45 billion and wants Kansas City’s tax commission to chip in an additional $110 million in tax breaks, boosting the total taxpayer support to $1.745 billion.

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Quick — who’s the CEO of Microsoft? No, it’s Satya Nadella, and he plans to rejuvenate the company by moving from “devices and services” to “platforms and productivity,” emphasizing mobile-first and cloud-first.

Partners HealthCare seeks a $145 million loan to help it pay for a new building, raising its total debt to $4 billion. Part of that money was targeted for its $1.2 billion Epic implementation.

A Florida lawsuit questions whether release of information companies can charge lawyers more than patients for copies of their hospital medical records. An attorney became upset at being charged $1.00 per page by HealthPort for a client’s medical records when state law specifies $0.25 per page, but HealthPort says the lower rate only applies to patients even though it recently lost a case using that argument.

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A new bond issue for Providence Health & Services (WA) gets high, stable rating, with its ratings agency noting that, “PHS has nearly completed its system-wide implementation of the Epic electronic medical record (EMR) system. Implementation has spanned many years, and has occupied a significant portion of the system’s capital budget. Outsized operating expenses related to Epic have suppressed margins but are now expected to reach a steady state going forward.”

Weird News Andy likes the idea of “virtual gastric banding” described in this article, where hypnotists convince patients they’ve had weight loss surgery, sometimes even causing them to lose weight afterward from the power of suggestion alone. Of course WNA questions the $1,500 cost in  wondering, “Can the patient then hypnotize the hypnotist to induce memories of payment?” WNA also likes a rare case in which a man suffers a blood clot in his brain after head-banging at a Motorhead concert, leading WNA to suggest renaming the band “Subdural Hematoma.”

Bizarre: city police charge a 17-year-old boy with child pornography for sending explicit photos of himself to his 15-year-old girlfriend and then ask a judge’s permission to inject him with arousal drugs in a local hospital so they can snap new pictures to compare to those he allegedly sent. I immediately thought of the “sketch artist” principal’s office scene in “Porky’s,” not safe for work or for those with a non-warped sense of humor but possibly the funniest four minutes (shot straight through with no edits) in movie history.


Sponsor Updates

  • PatientSafe Solutions’ Cheryl Parker shares how informatics nurses contribute to products roadmaps through analysis, compliance, consultation, coordination, facilitation. and integration.
  • Lucca Consulting Group offers post-implement feedback and testimonials.
  • MedData will participate in the Annual MI Emergency Medicine Assembly July 27-30 in Mackinac Island, MI.
  • A report by Imprivata and the Ponemon Institute says pager inefficiency and the inability to use text messaging costs the average hospital approximately $1.75 million per year.

EPtalk by Dr. Jayne

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One of the things I enjoy least about my work in the CMIO trenches is keeping up with the ever-present stream of new rules, proposed rules, and all the supporting documents that go with them. It shouldn’t be a surprise that only a very small percentage of Eligible Providers have attested to Stage 2 Meaningful Use. As of May 1, only 50 Eligible Providers were on the books. Although the individual measures are not that difficult, keeping up with the voluminous documentation on all of them is a chore, as is preparing the documentation needed for attestation and potential audits.

CMS hasn’t disappointed in releasing its proposed rule to update the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule in 2014. I didn’t have time to read the 600-plus page rule myself, but luckily one of my vendors digests the information for its customers and sends out the highlight reel. As we always suspected, parts of MU are becoming mandatory independent of the actual MU program. Physicians billing for chronic care management would be required to use an EHR certified under 2014 criteria.

I was excited to see that Medicare is considering coverage for telemedicine services, including psychotherapy and wellness visits. I question, however, exactly how the digital prostate exam (and I don’t mean high-tech digital) or other sensitive exam maneuvers can be done via telemedicine, although I agree that a lot of the preventive counseling aspects of an annual visit don’t require a face-to-face visit if you already have a good relationship with your patient. Although those services aren’t specifically part of the Medicare “Annual Wellness Visit” paradigm, they are recommended services.

Are we setting ourselves up to have different kinds of wellness visits for patients, such as the Medicare Annual by phone, the Medicare Annual in person, the “G-Code Special” for those physical exams that have to be performed in person, and more? Patients can barely keep track of the services they need at present without having to worry how they’re delivered. And you can bet that if we try to bundle any of them into other in-person services, we won’t get paid. The Medicare Annual Wellness visit does recommend biometric assessment. I’m not sure I trust my patients to report what the scale actually says and we’re not yet in the Star Trek world of the medical tricorder. Although coverage for telemedicine sounds great in person, it just goes to show that the devil is in the details.

One of the other things I enjoy least about my work is dealing with difficult physicians. Although I’m not responsible for physician discipline per se, I do have to provide input when physicians are creating issues during implementation and training. I had mentioned a few weeks ago that we would start deploying new practices after Independence Day. This week has not disappointed for sheer magnitude of “stuff you just can’t make up.”

One of our surgeons decided to book two elective cases at the same time as his prearranged EHR training, then demanded that we train him later that evening. What do you even say to that? They weren’t emergencies. Although our trainers are happy to accommodate evening sessions when requested in advance, they can’t do it on short notice due to family and other obligations. I really think that he hopes to stall his go-live by staying untrained.

His power play failed, however, and he only ended up short-changing himself since his partner showed up and training was delivered. He’s just going to have to play catch-up because we have 22 go-lives teed up behind this cohort and there’s no room for game playing. His partner was an absolute joy to work with and decided to move his own go-live forward. I’m betting the practice dynamic is going to be pretty interesting in the coming weeks. Hopefully positive peer pressure will win the day.

One of the things I enjoy most about my work is the people I have gotten to know over the years. Although it seems like there’s a lot of movement around the industry, especially among the sales force, there’s still a sense that we’re all in this together and a willingness to help out whether you work directly together or not. I was able to meet up with a friend who used to work for one of my vendors and learn about his adventures in a different part of the industry. Another consultant I worked with early in my career turned up on a project I’m peripherally attached to. It’s definitely a small world and I’m glad to have people with whom I can commiserate. Maybe if I’m lucky though one will read the 600 pages of federal regulations and give me the Cliffs Notes version.

Will trade wine for summaries – email me.


Contacts

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

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.

Get HIStalk updates.
Contact us online.

 

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July 10, 2014 News 5 Comments

Morning Headlines 7/10/14

July 9, 2014 Headlines 1 Comment

RWJF Project Tracks Impact of Reform on Hospital Utilization

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation announces a new surveillance program called the Hospital ACA Monitoring Project designed in collaboration with state hospital associations  to measure the impact that the Affordable Care Act has on hospital utilization.

Electronic Health Records: Fiscal Year 2013 Expenditure Plan Lacks Key Information Needed to Inform Future Funding Decisions

The DoD and VA have failed a GAO audit of their integrated EHR plans, satisfying just one of the six areas evaluated. When Congress approved the 2013 VA and DoD EHR budget requests, a provision was added preventing more than 25 percent of the funds from being distributed unless the GAO confirmed that the departments were on track with their plans.

2014 Most Wired

2014 Most Wired Hospital’s list has been published, an effort collectively undertaken by the American Hospital Association, CHIME, McKesson, AT&T, and H&HN.

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July 9, 2014 Headlines 1 Comment

Health IT from the Investor’s Chair 7/9/14

From a recent HIStalk post:

CareCloud borrows $25.5 million from a growth capital lender. I’m never cheered by a company taking on debt just like I wouldn’t be thrilled about a relative signing up for a home equity loan, but I guess it’s good news to be found credit-worthy and to have your plan for using the money vetted by someone whose objectivity is inarguable given their interest (no pun intended) in being repaid.

Investor’s Chair Thoughts

Let me present an alternative viewpoint on venture debt. Debt can be a great part of a company’s capital structure. Let’s use my favorite fictional company, eEngageLytics, as an example.

eEngageLytics has an outstanding business with high recurring revenues and a good margin profile, but needs growth capital to continue to expand, hire more sales people and finally sponsor HIStalk! In fact, with an additional $25 million, it would grow even faster than it has to date, and I have a fancy business plan to prove it!

Rather than sell more shares through a venture fundraising though, I’ll finance it through venture debt, as that can be a much more capital efficient way of funding the company. This fact remains true even if I expect to raise more equity capital in the future: the longer I wait, the more eEngageLytics will grow, and the higher the valuation will be for a subsequent equity round. Raising some debt right away allows me to kick the can down the road a bit, perhaps until after eEngageLytics is actually profitable (another major valuation inflection point).

How does the debt versus equity math work? To help us understand more clearly, let’s start by assuming that eEngageLytics would be valued at $100 million in its Series C round. That would mean that the company would have to sell 25 percent of its equity to current or new investors to raise the $25 million it needs to support its meteoric (but achievable) growth plan. Not only would an equity capital raise involve diluting current investors (who would now own a smaller slice of the eEngageLytics pie), but there would likely be other restrictions and obligations demanded by the investors (such as a board seat or two, some kind of dividend and many other “bells and whistles” inherent in a Series C preferred stock).

Now, there are, of course, other costs and complications inherent in both options:

  • Like all lenders (except maybe Mom), venture lenders charge interest – but we’re currently living in a very low interest rate environment, so the CFO must model out the difference between the interest payments from debt and the dividend payments that equity investors often require. Venture debt for a quality company like eEngageLytics is running between 5-9 percent of the total amount (varying based on how much and when I actually pull down the money from the $25 million commitment – another example of the flexibility of debt financing). Let’s call it 7 percent on average, so that’s a max of $1.75 million per year.
  • Also unlike Mom, debt holders always want to be paid back – often before a liquidity event, so our company must have a way to pay back out of future cash flows (a topic our lender will obviously focus on).
  • Venture lenders have other ways to get paid besides the interest payments. There’s generally a warrant component, which allows them to purchase stock at a preferred rate – but it’s typically less than 1 percent, so dilution is minimal (especially in comparison to an all-equity deal).
  • There’s typically various fees associated with the debt commitment, similar to closing costs for a mortgage; but, again, they are typically fairly reasonable (in this example, the likely fee would be about 1 percent of the total loan amount and some end of term fee to the lender (around 3 percent of the aggregate amount loaned.) Contrast that to the 6-7 percent ($1.5 – 1.75 million) that an investment bank would generally charge for a capital raise of this size.
  • Don’t forget, however, that the availability of debt of this size is highly stage dependent. When eEngageLytics was developing its products and getting its first few customers, it was a bad credit risk and could barely get a corporate credit card – hence its need to fund through equity. Now that it needs money “only” to accelerate growth and tide itself over until profitability (or to buy hardware, or to make an attractive acquisition, etc.), it’s a far better candidate for debt.

Taking the various fees and interest payments together, eEngageLytic’s CFO can generally calculate an effective interest rate (like my mortgage broker does) and we see that, in this case, I’m paying a fully loaded interest rate of 15 percent per year, inclusive of the various fees. That’s about $3.75 million per year. Factor in the effects of compound interest and it costs current shareholders $32 million to repay the loan (assuming they borrow the full amount over the three-year term we’re using for illustrative purposes).

Let’s now flash forward a few years and assume that I’m able to sell eEngageLytics for a cool half a billion dollars (maybe a national payer like Aetna or United will step up – they’re always good for that). Had we sold 25 percent of our equity, the earlier eEngageLytics shareholders would collectively receive gross proceeds of $375 million (75 percent of $500 million). Fortunately, however, the management team are regular HIStalk readers (or get good advice from other sources) and, realizing that the amount of money they raise in no way equals how cool they are, raises the $25 million in debt rather than equity capital. Factoring out the debt repayment discussed above, and eEngageLytics shareholders in this scenario receive $468 million, a whopping $93 million more (which will allow even Inga to buy a few new pairs of shoes!).

So, bottom line, I see using debt as part of a company’s capital structure as a powerful tool to grow a business while minimizing dilution to founders, employees, and other shareholders. Here in the Bay Area (as shown on the HBO series Silicon Valley with occasionally frightening accuracy), the size of one’s capital raise is often viewed as a proxy for all sorts of things – “coolness” being just one of them. The bottom line is that entrepreneurs need to consider all the costs and benefits of different sources and types of capital, and when it’s appropriate, to use each to fund a business.

Finally, to return to Mr. HIStalk’s home equity loan analogy: assuming I’m taking out equity for a good reason (say, to renovate my kitchen, not to go on vacation), I’d rather have to pay back the loan (debt) than have to share part of my house (or proceeds when I sell it) with another party if I allow them to purchase some of my equity instead. Debt has responsibilities that equity doesn’t (such as an obligation to repay), but it typically allows the borrower more control and the opportunity to maintain their ownership. Which option makes sense depends on the situation.

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Ben Rooks spent a decade as an equity analyst and six years as an investment banker. He has many friends who are venture capitalists, but he’d rather see returns go to entrepreneurs then to investors! Five years ago he formed ST Advisors to work with companies on strategic issues, only one of which is capital structure. He lives in San Francisco and absolutely loves e-mail.

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July 9, 2014 Investor's Chair 4 Comments

Morning Headlines 7/9/14

July 8, 2014 Headlines No Comments

Siemens Said to Explore Sale of Hospital IT Business

Bloomberg reports that Siemens is soliciting buyers for its health IT business unit, valued at $1.4 billion, so that it can focus on its energy and industrial units.

What Looks Like Overcharging By Your Hospital Might Not Be

A study finds that Medicare reimbursement rates at hospitals using EHRs are comparable to those still working on paper, contrary to earlier allegations suggesting that EHRs were driving up reimbursement by promoting copy and paste fraud. Critics point out that the study only analyzed inpatient records, and fails to address the original fraud allegations which were focused on ED reimbursements.

Critics worry health IT regulatory plan is already outdated

The public comments period closes on the FDASIA’s recently proposed health IT regulatory framework. The comments offered a mix of both criticism and support from various industry groups. The ONC’s policy advisory committee today moved immediately forward in a vote to endorse the framework.

Vials of Smallpox Virus Found in Unapproved Maryland Lab

Six vials of the smallpox virus, thought to be misplaced remnants from a 1950’s research lab, were found abandoned in an FDA lab in Maryland this week and are now undergoing testing to determine if they are still active. Smallpox samples are now considered so dangerous that only two labs in the world are authorized to store the pathogen, a CDC lab in Atlanta, and a VECTOR Institute lab in Russia.

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July 8, 2014 Headlines No Comments

News 7/9/14

July 8, 2014 News 1 Comment

Top News

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Siemens AG is reportedly considering the sale of its healthcare IT unit (potentially worth over $1.4 billion) to focus on its industrial and energy businesses. The company considered selling its microbiology unit earlier this year, and is already spinning off its hearing-aids unit in an effort to give its healthcare businesses “operational independence.” A HIStalk reader familiar with these types of M&A scenarios notes that this rumbling is “sort of like rumors of McKesson selling off its IT division. They both keep losing customers, so who would want to jump on that mess? But, Siemens probably feels it’s best to sell now before it is worth less.”


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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CliniWorks announces a strategic alliance with Pfizer in which the companies will work to develop a population health management platform that will enable large medical groups and IDNs to improve patient engagement, and deliver more efficient and effective quality healthcare in nearly real time.

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Blackberry announces plans to open a healthcare services platform in India that will enable the integration of medical devices to aid in the early detection of illness. Blackberry India has several trial projects underway at local hospitals, all of which include integration with health information systems and medical equipment. A presence in India will likely serve Blackberry well, as providers there are expected to spend $1.08 billion on IT products and services in 2014. It seems likely the company will introduce those providers to the clinical operating platform from NantHealth, which it acquired a minority stake in earlier this year.

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Blackberry’s interest in niche markets may just help it stand out from larger players like Samsung, which expects to post second-quarter earnings that fall $1.4 billion short of analyst expectations. The company attributes its loss to low demand in a saturated global market, and cannibalization of tablet sales by “phablet” phones. No word yet on whether a heist in Brazil affected Samsung’s earning predictions. Thieves held hundreds of factory employees hostage while they stole $36 million worth of Samsung tablets, mobile phones, and laptops.

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N.C.-based Validic acquires Infometers Inc., a California-based technology company that connects remote healthcare monitoring devices to healthcare organizations. As a result, Validic has opened a Silicon Valley office and seems well on its way to achieving its goal of 300 clinical and wellness device and application integrations this year.

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Following a disappointing second quarter, Royal Philips announces it will implement a new management structure within its healthcare sector, with all healthcare business groups reporting directly to Philips CEO Frans van Houten. Philips Healthcare CEO Deborah DiSanzo has decided to leave the company.

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Capsule Tech announces it will open a Singapore subsidiary to support its growth in the region. Capsule Singapore will provide medical device integration implementation, technical and commercial support, pre-and post-sales assistance, and customer service.


Sales

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Southern Illinois Health System expands its use of Ascend Software, selecting the company’s SmartTouch HR Imaging technology to create a paperless environment in its HR department. The 20-facility health system already uses Ascend solutions in its accounting department.

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Holy Name Medical Center (NJ) selects Wolters Kluwer Health Language Workflow-Enhancing Search solutions. HNMC will use the solution to support encoding its problem lists in SNOMED-CT for Stage 2 Meaningful Use and the transition to ICD-10.

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Cumberland Medical Center (TN) implements DataMotion’s Direct Secure Messaging with its Meditech EHR, resulting in successful attestation for Stage 2 Meaningful Use. The 189-bed hospital is a member of the East Tennessee Health Information Network, for which DataMotion provides Direct addresses.


People

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T-System names Roger Davis (Accenture) president and CEO.

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IPC The Hospitalist Company appoints Jeffrey Winter (Correctional Medical Services/Corizon Health) senior vice president of sales and marketing.

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ESD names Richard Armstrong (Leidos Health) Cerner practice director.

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HealthTrust appoints Kent Petty (Wellmont Health System) as CIO.


Government and Politics

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FDA officials are likely starting to sift through the 158 submitted comments addressing the FDA Safety and Innovation Act draft report. Several health IT industry groups seem to have reached a consensus, citing the need for limited regulation of clinical decision support software, and a desire for the FDA to dig deeper when it comes to specifics. The EHR Association noted in its comments that “the limited number of examples of applications in each category provided in the report is not sufficient to determine the risk categories for the many existing and new applications being developed, and we urge their expansion as this proposal is finalized.” Concerns around the proposed Health IT Safety Center were also raised, though recent media coverage suggests that the ONC’s policy advisory committee has endorsed workgroup recommendations for the center.

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The Health Care Cost Institute announces that CMS has certified it as a “Qualified Entity,” making it the first organization to have full access to national Medicare claims data for reporting on the costs and quality of healthcare services. The Qualified Entity program, created as part of the ACA, permits certain organizations to combine Medicare Parts A, B, and D claims data with other payer data to evaluate the performance of healthcare providers, services, and suppliers. HCCI plans to pursue a research agenda using the combined dataset containing information on over 100 million individuals.


Research and Innovation

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A study finds no evidence to suggest that hospitals are systematically using EHRs to increase reimbursement. Hospitals that adopted EHRs increased billing to Medicare at a rate comparable to that of non-EHR adopters. Detractors of the study, which only looked at inpatient records, think the real billing problem is more likely to be found in EDs and outpatient clinics, which are increasingly run by hospitals.

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Results from a new international study highlight four myths about the future of healthcare IT, particularly as it pertains to helping global healthcare organizations transition to all-digital environments:

  • People don’t want to use digital services for healthcare – 75 percent of patient respondents expect to use digital services in the future.
  • Only young people want to use digital services – Digital-service use is expected to increase across all age groups.
  • Mobile health is the game changer – Awareness and process execution are in fact core drivers of digital-service adoption for patients.
  • A comprehensive platform of service offerings is a prerequisite for creating value – The services that Singaporean patients request most show it’s not always necessary to start big (good news, no doubt, for Capsule Tech).

Other

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Sensationalist headlines aside, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is in fact backing development of wireless, implantable birth control that could be effective for up to 16 years. Massachussetts-based MicroCHIPS is working on the implant, which can be turned on and off via remote control. The device will begin pre-clinical testing in the U.S. next year, during which the company will no doubt work with the FDA to overcome hacking concerns.

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The New York Times profiles Kevin Tracey, MD president and CEO of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research for the North Shore-LIJ Health System (NY). Tracey shares his view on great leadership in the operating room: “It’s about clearly stating the purpose and asking people how they’re doing and really listening if someone needs something different that day. If the operating team can accommodate the needs of that person without deviating from the plan, that person will be a better member of the team.”

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The New York Attorney General files suit against Beth Israel and St. Luke’s-Roosevelt hospitals, and Continuum Health Partners, accusing them of accepting over $1 million in Medicaid payments they were not entitled to, and had in fact received as a result of a known computer error in 2009 and 2010. (Continuum owned both hospitals prior to a recent merger with Mt. Sinai.) A Mt. Sinai representative has firmly stated it intends to argue the case “vigorously” in court.


Sponsor Updates

  • HealthTronics signs a distribution agreement with HS Medical to provide HS Amica microwave ablation apparatus to providers.
  • Arcadia Healthcare Solutions client Carlos Olivares, CEO of Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic, is named CEO Visionary of the Year.
  • A.D.A.M.’s SmartCare V1.2 receives MU certification with eClinicalWorks V10.0.
  • The Advisory Board Company profiles the new Medicare patient in a recent research brief, offering five ways they’re different and how to engage them.
  • LifeImage’s Hamid Tabatabaie discusses transparency and OpenTable for medical imaging in a recent blog post.
  • Hennepin County Medical Center (MN) details how it was able to save almost $11 million after working with Leidos Health on a revenue cycle optimization plan.
  • LDM Group provides an overview of what population health management’s purpose and goals within healthcare actually are (and what they are not).
  • GetWellNetwork is profiled for starting GetWell Labs to assistant fledgling health technology companies develop their software.
  • Divurgent shares how pharmacists and pharmaceutical companies assist in remaining relevant as an ACO and CIN in a new white paper.
  • AirWatch by VMware launches Partner University and updates its Academy Certification Program.
  • BCBS of North Carolina integrates with CoverMyMeds to streamline the prior authorization process.
  • Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust uses InterSystems HealthShare for its regional master patient index.
  • Hayes Management Consulting explains the details of decision support extracts.
  • Emdat explains the benefits of dictating documentation within the EHR in a fun, informative video.
  • CareTech Solutions achieves ONC HIT 2014 Edition Modular EHR Certification from ICSA Labs for its iDoc solution.
  • Western Medical Associates (WY) is live on its eClinicalWorks patient portal.
  • Wolters Kluwer Health partners with Logical Images to offer VisualDX to its Lexicomp clients.
  • Quintiles completes the acquisition of Encore Health Resources, which will now be known as Encore, a Quintiles Company.
  • DrFirst announces in a new briefing that there are now over 28,000 pharmacies nationwide that accept electronic prescriptions for controlled substances.

Contacts

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

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.

Get HIStalk updates.
Contact us online.

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July 8, 2014 News 1 Comment

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