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Morning Headlines 3/22/16

March 21, 2016 Headlines No Comments

CareKit Is Apple’s Ambitious New Health Monitoring and Tracking Tool

Apple unveils CareKit, an open-source app development platform that extends functionality found in ResearchKit and HealthKit, but designed to help hospitals and patients track medical treatments and share medical information between providers.

FCC auction will scramble patient-monitor airwaves

Despite objections from the medical community, the FCC will move ahead with plans to auction off rights to airwaves within the 600MHz spectrum, a frequency band once reserved almost exclusively for wireless medical telemetry systems.

Petition Calls for Unique Patient Identifier Solution

AHIMA starts a Whitehouse.gov petition calling for the development of a voluntary national patient ID system and the removal of the federal budget ban prohibiting HHS from participating in this effort.

Scripps Health moves to reduce workforce, expenses

Scripps Health (CA) reports a 12 percent increase in operating costs for fiscal year 2015, and announces cost saving measures that includes cutting 100 jobs and restructuring its management team.

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March 21, 2016 Headlines No Comments

Curbside Consult with Dr. Jayne 3/21/16

March 21, 2016 Dr. Jayne 4 Comments

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At my clinical practice, many of my partners have been out for spring break. Since the local school districts have staggered break schedules, nearly everyone wanted the overlap weekend off, so I was happy to work the whole thing.

Although Friday’s shift had more than its share of patients bearing the complaint of, “I just started getting sick and I’m going to Cancun and can’t be sick for break,” Saturday trended more towards, “I just got back from Cancun and am sick / hung over/sunburned.” I was starting to question my sanity until Sunday, when some “typical” patients started coming in.

I’ve mentioned this before, but with the shift to high-deductible health coverage, we’re seeing a tremendous increase in volume. Our pricing is transparent and we’re conveniently located and provide quick service, so the business is experiencing exponential growth.

With that comes some growing pains, however, which for me has been felt in the number of new staff members working on the teams. We have a really great training program – new staff members have formal training shifts and each shift has a different focus. One day may be clinical interview skills, another may be labs, and another may be procedures, etc. They work directly with a trainer whose only focus for the day is to train them – it’s not someone already on the care team who is training on the side.

Even after the formal training, some staff may be more green than others. I ran across a scenario yesterday where the staff failed to notice some nonsensical entries in the EHR. Although it should have been reviewed before addition to the chart, the patient care tech missed the errors:

  • Pulse of 13270
  • Respirations of 99/minute
  • Temp of 15

It turned out that the tech had entered the data quickly, was just tabbing through the data entry fields, and was off by one field. The blood pressure field (which should have shown 132/70) was blank and he entered those numbers without a slash in the pulse field. The error then compounded as he tabbed. He was apologetic and immediately fixed the error.

Being in the health IT industry, I quickly flagged it as not only a human error, but also a software problem. Most of the EHRs I’ve worked with have restrictions on various data fields to prevent these kinds of errors. For example, a pulse field might only be able to hold three digits. Active or passive alerts might display for values outside the normal range.

Although the tech should have caught it, my bigger concern is that this happened in a Meaningful Use Certified EHR. I’ve asked the practice’s technology liaison to open a ticket with the vendor and see if it’s functioning as designed or whether there is a defect. If it’s functioning as designed, I have to wonder about the certification standards. I don’t beg to have a command of the details and I know there are hundreds of pages of requirements that must be met.

Knowing that some of the elements that are requirement for certification may not be something that physicians need or want, I’m surprised if there isn’t something in there to require safety checks for straightforward data entry like this.

I first dealt with an EHR that handled data like this in a conversion project more than a decade ago. We had vast amounts of data that couldn’t easily be brought into our new system because the blood pressure field was a single field that would accept numbers, letters, and symbols. Assuming a sample BP of 140/90, users had entered it as:

  • 140/90 sit (meaning taken seated)
  • 140/90 R (meaning taken on the right)
  • 140/90 RA (meaning taken on the right arm)
  • 140/90 RALC (meaning taken on the right arm with a large cuff)
  • 140-90
  • 140.90
  • 140s/90d

And so on. Our new system had separate fields for the systolic BP (top number) and diastolic BP (bottom number) as well as discrete fields for position, side, site, and cuff size. Due to the work needed in trying to cleanse the data, we quickly decided that we would just not bring any values into the new system and would start from scratch.

Since that conversion project was so long ago and I haven’t run across the issue since, I assumed that such handling of data had gone the way of the dinosaurs. I guess it hasn’t, or I’ve just been spoiled by more sophisticated systems. But I would have hoped that with all the focus on patient safety and regulations, that we would have moved past this and that consistent handling of essential data such as vital signs would be a requirement for vendors seeking certification. How in the world can you be truly interoperable with data like this?

We’ll see what happens with the vendor ticket and what my practice decides to do about it otherwise. If I was the CMIO, CMO, or medical director and this was my system, I’d be tracing it all the way through to find out what is being sent to the patient portal and what appears on transition of care documents and how extensive the problem might be.

Although this particular scenario was a pretty significant and obvious error, I’m sure I could have missed less significant errors during the last couple of years. Since I’m wearing my hourly staff physician hat in this scenario, though, I’ve notified our leadership and have to let them work it as they see fit. I’ll be spending extra seconds reviewing my vitals going forward, however.

This should be basic functionality, but I guess it’s not. I’m interested in hearing how other certified systems handle this type of data – whether they have field restrictions that would have prevented these errors, and whether they have active or passive alerts to create additional patient safety support. Consider adding a comment and sharing what you’re seeing in the trenches.

Got screenshots? Email me.

Email Dr. Jayne.

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March 21, 2016 Dr. Jayne 4 Comments

HIStalk Interviews Madelyn Herzfeld, CEO, Carevive Systems

March 21, 2016 Interviews No Comments

Madelyn Herzfeld, RN is CEO of Carevive Systems.

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Tell me about yourself and the company.

I am an oncology nurse by background. I am also an entrepreneur. Prior to starting Carevive, I had an accredited oncology continuing education business, where I worked with thousands of oncology professionals all around the country who helped disseminate education to oncology clinicians.

About three years ago, I started Carevive. It is a healthcare information technology company where I am leveraging all those relationships of those experts all around the country who are helping me to develop both clinical workflow and patient engagement software which interfaces with the enterprise EHRs. The primary deliverable of the software are patient care plans, treatment plans, symptom management care plans, and survivorship care plans. All intended to improve the clinical outcomes and quality of life of cancer patients.

Oncology emphasizes the importance of patient-reported symptoms and patient perception of well-being. Is that unusual compared to other medical areas?

Oncology has several uniquities. There are over 300 diseases within oncology, which in itself makes it a complicated disease. Then, of course, it is the big C. When you have cancer, it’s very important to be balancing survival and quality of life. Patient engagement and making sure that patients are involved and educated about their disease, prognosis, and treatment is very, very important because it is life or death.

What are the most important characteristics of an oncologist who works with sophisticated technologies while managing the psychological aspects of a patient with cancer?

Being an oncologist is part scientist and part clergy. That relationship between an oncologist and his or her patient is the most sacred. Somebody puts their life into your hands. I feel the stress and the burden today of oncologists. The healthcare technology industry has not kept up with the rest of the world. Patients have access to all of this information, which may or may not be relevant.

The oncologist doesn’t have those tools — the clinical decision support, the data analytics tools — to be able to help that patient process that information. It’s a whole new world. There is some light at the end of the tunnel with changes in cancer care and value-based reimbursement. The healthcare IT market is mobilizing to better support oncologists, but it’s a struggle.

We’re beginning to accumulate a lot of electronic treatment data and outcomes data. Will that increasingly used to evaluate the risks and benefits of treatments as well as their value?

Absolutely. As I mentioned, there are hundreds of diseases within oncology and very limited data sets. Everything is based on very small clinical trials data. The NCCN guidelines are based on expert panel discussions, again, with very little evidence. You’re starting to see a number of companies that are trying get real-world treatment practice pattern data and symptom experience data to better inform clinicians and patients moving forward — which they have never had before — to guide practice.

Do oncologists recommend or manage treatments for their patients the same way they would for themselves?

One of the important changes — a consistent quality measure — is the need for oncologists to document a patient’s goals of care prior to making a treatment decision. It seems so intuitive, but oftentimes those conversations weren’t being had. Making sure the patient understands whether their disease is curative or palliative. That conversation has to be documented, as well as documenting what the patient’s goals of treatment are. Those are two very important first steps in treatment planning.

Oncology drugs are among the most expensive. Does that create difficult decisions for the oncologist who has to balance their potential benefit with the fact that their cost could financially drain the patient?

There are some areas, some diseases, where there is a plethora of choices. The routes of administration are different. The costs are different. In terms of routes of administration, some are given orally, some are given intravenously. Some will require that the patient is frequently going to the clinic versus others where a patient can self-administer a drug. That’s an important consideration, as are costs, as are toxicity profiles.

The perfect example is that some drugs can cause significant peripheral neuropathy in your fingertips. If you are a pianist or somebody whose profession requires them to work frequently with their hands, they probably would not be a good candidate for that option. All those things come into play. The oncologist and their patient are very thoughtful about all of those risks and benefits when treatment planning.

What types of engagement do oncology patients want?

It goes back to that conversation that you and I had when we first started. There is this sacred relationship between the patient and the person that they are putting all of their faith in to save their life. There are meta-analyses of data that point to, as frequently as the care team can touch that patient and the patient can touch the care team, those patients have far better outcome. There are a couple of examples of that.

There is a quality measure now that you have to screen all patients for distress. You’ve got to manage their distress, because distressed patients have poorer outcomes. You want to keep that relationship close. A big problem in cancer care is that because patients have such a will to live, sometimes they will push through a number of symptoms until they get really severe and not want to talk about them or report them because they want to maximize that therapy. Making sure that there are mechanisms, be it technology or just simple care coordination, where you’re in active communication and dialog with patients. Part of what we do is the technology and part of it is workflow and coordination, making sure that there are those frequent touch points and follow through with the patient.

Number two is making sure that the patient is educated and realistic and doing all that they can to maximize the benefits of treatment.

A lot of talk recently, including from the White House, is about patients donating their genomic and EHR data to cancer researchers who are looking for patterns and ways to identify similar patients. Will that concept be difficult to explain to oncologists and individual patients?

As part of our license agreement, you have to discuss data rights. I’ve seen the oncology community be overwhelmingly positive so long as the spirit of the data collection is good and to progress the science. You get buy-in from clinicians and patients because they’re dying for this information. They know it will improve patient care.

Specifically what I’m referring to here, at least in our case, is when you’re collecting patient-reported data on the patient experience and being able to understand and compare quality of life on different regimens. Those are datasets that they don’t have right now. Those are important datasets when you’re talking about the risks, the benefits, and the value of treatments.

Does the simplistic idea of cancer as a single disease that can be cured via a cancer moon-shot send the wrong message?

We have to be really careful. Today’s cancer moonshot … Several years ago, it was targeted therapies. Now it’s a little bit of immunotherapy. Just making sure that we are keeping it real. There has been incredible amounts of progress, but there is much, much, much more progress to be made. This concept of 2020 — that’s just a few years away. We owe it to patients to just set realistic expectations.

Do you have any final thoughts?

It’s very exciting to see resources being mobilized to our industry. I’ve been doing this a few years. Even seeing the small changes in the interoperability between EHRs and all of the interest that has gone into this market is exciting. I’m glad to be part of the journey.

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March 21, 2016 Interviews No Comments

Morning Headlines 3/21/16

March 20, 2016 Headlines No Comments

FBI investigating cyber-attack at Methodist Hospital in Henderson

Methodist Hospital (KY) is the latest victim of a ransomeware attack, forcing the hospital to operate on a backup system while the FBI investigates and administrators decide how to restore access to patient records.

Poor Country, Top Doctors

India-based 32-hospital chain Narayana Hrdayalaya is profiled for its efforts to bring down the cost of healthcare so that quality care is accessible to all, not just the wealthy. The health system performs CABG’s for just $2,600 and insurance for just $3.60 per year.

Private Dell mostly makes PCs – and its sales of those are down

Analysis of Dell financial records shows that the company still makes 65 percent of its revenue from hardware sales, and that the company booked a net loss of $1.1 billion.

Cerner Trails campus construction reaches top of first two towers

Cerner holds a “topping out” ceremony as the first of two towers in its new $4.45 billion campus reached its peak height Friday.

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March 20, 2016 Headlines No Comments

Monday Morning Update 3/21/16

March 19, 2016 News 5 Comments

Top News

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Methodist Hospital (KY) is hit by ransomware, forcing it to run from a backup system while it decides whether to pay an unspecified ransom to regain access to its patient records. The hospital has declared an internal state of emergency and warns that it has “limited access to Web-based services and electronic communications.” The FBI is investigating.


Reader Comments

From Certifiable: “Re: Epic 2015. All upgrades are being delayed for 1-2 months until fixes can be delivered. Unusual!” Unverified.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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It’s easy to describe the HIMSS keynoters that poll respondents want to see – they are the ones HIMSS doesn’t invite. The least-attractive speakers are government officials (HIMSS16 — Sylvia Burwell), authors (HIMSS16 — Jonah Berger), celebrities or athletes (HIMSS16 – Peyton Manning), and for-profit business leaders (HIMSS16 – Michael Dell). Topping the most-desired but rarely offered list are public health experts, patients, and not-for-profit provider leaders. Furydelabongo wants to hear from inspirational people who remind us of why we’re connected to healthcare and who can convey urgency, while Tracy wants to be inspired by what’s possible in transforming healthcare rather than hearing from a celebrity.

New poll to your right or here: has your employer laid anyone off in the past 12 months?

I was thinking about how the most prevalent form of healthcare ransomware is being distributed by hospitals – the kind that holds your own medical information hostage unless you’re willing to pay to get it back.

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We fulfilled the DonorsChoose grant request of Mr. Blachly in Indiana, whose high school advanced placement calculus and physics students experience “abysmal conditions and poverty” that cause them to miss classes. The video camera and accessories we provided has allowed him to archive his lectures so that absent students can watch them online, allowing them to return to class fully caught up. It also frees up his time for questions rather than re-teaching missed lessons.

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Also checking in is Mrs. Beggs from Maryland, who teaches a middle school math class for students with educational disabilities. She says of the math tools we provided, “My students could not believe that people that have never met them were willing to purchase items for them. We had a wonderful conversation about giving to others and why its so important. We are currently working on integers and absolute value. We will continue to practice our basic math facts while we learn integer skills. These skills are essential for the every day world and are helping prepare my students for life.”


Last Week’s Most Interesting News

  • HHS OCR settles two lost laptop HIPAA incidents for $5.4 million, one of them involving a non-hospital employee whose employer hadn’t signed a business associate agreement with the hospital.
  • The CMIO of two NYC Health + Hospitals hospitals resigns, warning that the system isn’t ready for its April 1 Epic go-live and that patients will be harmed if it isn’t moved back.
  • St. Joseph Health (CA) settles for $15 million a privacy class action lawsuit involving a 2012 incident in which a PHI-containing server was inadvertently opened up to the Internet. It states the total cost of the incident at $40 million.
  • Dell appears close to be selling its services business to Japan’s NTT Data for $3.5 billion.
  • The Senate’s HELP committee passes the MEDTECH act that exempts several types of health-related software from the FDA’s oversight.

Webinars

March 22 (Tuesday) 2:00 ET. “Six Communication Best Practices for Reducing Readmissions and Capturing TCM Revenue.” Sponsored by West Healthcare Practice. Presenters: Chuck Hayes, VP of product management, West; Fonda Narke, senior director of healthcare product integration, West Healthcare Practice. Medicare payments for Transition Care Management (TCM) can not only reduce your exposure to hospital readmission penalties and improve patient outcomes, but also provide an important source of revenue in an era of shrinking reimbursements. Attendees will learn about the impacts of readmission penalties on the bottom line, how to estimate potential TCM revenue, as well as discover strategies for balancing automated patient communications with the clinical human touch to optimize clinical, financial, and operational outcomes. Don’t be caught on the sidelines as others close gaps in their 30-day post discharge programs.

Contact Lorre for webinar services. Past webinars are on our HIStalk webinars YouTube channel.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

An analysis of privately held Dell’s financial forms finds that sales are down across most of its divisions and it’s still largely a PC company, with 65 percent of its revenue coming from hardware sales. Revenue for the services business it is trying to sell was down 5 percent for the fiscal year.

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Staffing and services firm HCTec Partners acquires Colorado-based professional services firm HIMS Consulting Group.

McKesson will take a $300 million charge for its cost-cutting restructuring plan that involves 1,600 layoffs.


Privacy and Security

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Developers of the TeslaCrypt ransomware toolkit update their product to remove the ability of cybersecurity firms to use a known exploit to restore the encrypted files without paying the ransom. The FBI warned last month that ever-smarter ransomware can now search a network to locate and delete backups, leaving the victim with only one choice if they want their systems back. I’ll repeat my prediction that hospitals will have no choice but to block access to Web-based email services like Gmail that employees use to check personal email, bypassing IT security.


Other

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Cerner holds a topping-out ceremony for its $4.45 billion Cerner Trails campus in Kansas City, MO. The 16-building, 4.7 million square foot complex with two, 15-story towers will house up to 16,000 employees. Kansas City will pay $1.1 billion of the project’s cost.

The two surviving original members of The Who, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, open a teen lounge at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (NY). The space was created using $1 million raised by a concert in which Daltrey and Townshend performed via Teen Cancer America, a charity they founded in 2012.

A profile of India-based 32-hospital chain Narayana Hrudayalaya describes its mission to “dissociate healthcare from affluence” in proving that “the wealth of the nation has nothing to do with the quality of healthcare” in a country where most residents can’t afford drugs or surgery. It offers CABG surgery for as little as $2,700 and surgery insurance for $3.60 per year. Some of its cost-cutting methods:

  • Do as much as possible in an outpatient setting.
  • Focus on high-volume procedures to gain economy of scale. Its 16 cardiac surgeons each perform 400-600 procedures per year.
  • Minimize facility expense by not investing in fancy buildings, artwork, or even air conditioning.
  • Competitively bid for drugs and medical equipment.
  • Use top-of-license practices to shift less-critical work to junior employees.
  • Use iPad-based ICU monitoring software called iKare to update patient records and provide alerts.
  • Connect all hospitals via a cloud-based information system that includes ERP and EHR.
  • Teach patient families to deliver post-op care at home.
  • Offer free telemedicine services via Skype, including consultations, radiology reports, EKG, and second opinions.

An anesthesiologist in England faces dismissal for having sex with a prostitute in a maternity hospital. He was blackmailed by the woman’s “associates,” who threatened to tell his wife if he didn’t pay them $15,000. He worked with police to set up a sting operation to capture the blackmailers, and as it was underway, he showed officers an X-ray showing a patient with a bottle lodged his most private of areas.


Sponsor Updates

  • TierPoint will exhibit at the Boston Premier CIO Forum March 22-23.
  • VitalWare will exhibit at HFMA Dixie 2016 March 20-23 in Nashville, TN.
  • PatientMatters will exhibit at the HFMA Northern California – Spring Conference March 20-22 in Sacramento.
  • Sagacious Consultants publishes the March 2016 edition of its Sagacious Pulse newsletter
  • The SSI Group and Streamline Health will exhibit at the Region 5 Dixie HFMA meeting March 20-23 in Nashville.

Blog Posts


Contacts

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

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March 19, 2016 News 5 Comments

Morning Headlines 3/18/16

March 17, 2016 Headlines 2 Comments

Improper disclosure of research participants’ protected health information results in $3.9 million HIPAA settlement

OCR announces two breach settlements stemming from stolen, unencrypted laptops. The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research will pay a $3.9 million fine, while North Memorial Health Care of Minnesota will pay $1.5 million.

Hospital exec quits, compares $764M upgrade to Challenger disaster

Charles Perry, MD, the CMIO of Queens and Elmhurst Hospital Centers resigns over concerns about the upcoming NYC Health + Hospitals Epic go-live. He compared the project to the Challenger space shuttle launch of 1986 and called for a delay to prevent patient harm.

McKesson Falls After Saying It Will Cut 1,600 Jobs in US

McKesson lays off 1,600 employees, or four percent of its US workforce, after losing several key customers.

Now There’s Proof: Docs Who Get Company Cash Tend to Prescribe More Brand-Name Meds

A ProPublica report finds that doctors who receive payments or gifts from pharmaceutical companies are two to three times more likely to prescribe a brand-name drug instead of a generic alternative.

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March 17, 2016 Headlines 2 Comments

News 3/18/16

March 17, 2016 News 1 Comment

Top News

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HHS OCR announces two big HIPAA violation settlements for years-old incidents, both involving the theft of unencrypted, PHI-containing laptops.

North Memorial Health Care (MN) will pay $1.55 million to settle charges involving the 2011 theft of an PHI-containing, unencrypted laptop from an employee of Accretive Health. HHS OCR says the system violated HIPAA rules by failing to require Accretive to sign a business associate agreement and for not performing a security risk analysis.

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Feinstein Institute for Medical Research (NY), a non-profit sponsored by Northwell Health, will pay HHS OCR $3.9 million to settle charges that it lacked of security management processes, detection of which was triggered by OCR’s investigation of an unencrypted  PHI-containing laptop that was stolen in 2012.


Reader Comments

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From Dockside: “Re: Novell GroupWise. BJC HealthCare began its Outlook rollout using Microsoft hosting services. The rollout is going well and will be finished in stages over a couple of months. Makes me wonder how many GroupWise shops are left.” I was involved with that same conversion at my hospital many years ago and thought we were probably one of the last holdouts then. Users weren’t clamoring for Outlook, but our GroupWise version was so old that it couldn’t handle long file names and its inline document viewers didn’t work with newer file formats. The product is still around, with the 2014 edition being the most recent version. Most of us in the hospital missed a few GroupWise features that Outlook didn’t have, but nobody had any interest in going back since we had already moved away from Novell Office. BJC is the first-listed success story on the GroupWise site. I also notice that the screen shot included in the Wikipedia entry for GroupWise is from someone in healthcare since the pictured inbox contains emails from HIStalk and HIMSS.

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From Legally Blonde: “Re: Hardee County, FL. The grand jury in January 2015 investigated the director of the county’s economic development department for spending $7.25 million to fund creation of what is now CareSync. The jury found that nobody monitored the project or whether it returned benefit to county taxpayers. A member of the economic development board had financial interest in the approval of the money. The jury found that projections of 400,000 users and $26 million in annual revenues were ‘mere smoke and mirrors and not even close to being met.’ The interesting thing to me is that surely that indictment was in play before the investors of CareSync (Merck Global Health Innovation Fund ) invested. There was a Series B raise of 18M in early October 2015. Certainly there were clauses about there being no legal proceedings in the terms of the funding.” The full grand jury report is here. I found a March 2015 story in which the development authority ignored the grand jury’s recommendations. I’m not a legal expert, but it looks like the grand jury was focusing on the county’s economic development board and not CareSync and I saw nothing involving indictments or anything more than recommendations to the county. CareSync said its October 2015 fund raise would enable the hiring of 500 workers, although it didn’t indicate how many of them would be working in Hardee County.

From Empowered Patient: “Re: obtaining medical records. Thank you for sharing Deven McGraw’s excellent explanation in Jenn’s HIStalk article. The HIPAA Omnibus Rule clearly spells out the right that a patient has to receive an electronic copy of their protected health information if the entity is capable of producing it. Further, the electronic copy must be provided in a readily producible form and format, including unencrypted email if that is the patient’s desire. I have argued with CIOs and security professionals who should know better, but denial of these rights is a violation of HIPAA. The American Bar Association has a great overview for anyone who still doesn’t understand.”

From MS Clippy: “Re: HIStalk articles. Which one is the most-read ever?” I don’t have tools that track how many times each post has been read, which would be pretty cool. It’s been busy the last couple of weeks, though, with nearly 10,000 page views Monday and 8,000 on Tuesday and Wednesday. Those are pretty big numbers for the post-HIMSS lull with no blockbuster news.

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From Tawdry Tale: “Re: Memorial Hermann. Has been hit by ransomware from the Nemucod Trojan dropper.” Unverified.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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Ms. Medina says her California first graders are using the engineering kits we provided in funding her DonorsChoose grant request to learn about simple tools and machines.

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I also heard from Mrs. Sickle, whose Missouri first grade classroom is filled with charts the students are making from the chart paper we provided.

This week on HIStalk Practice: Complete Family Foot Care informs patients of a Bizmatics EHR breach. St. Clair Specialty Physicians implements Medical Design Technologies charge-capture software. CTO Prakash Khot brings Salesforce ethos to Athenahealth. Morris Heights Health Center goes with EClinicalWorks EHR and population health management software. Atlantic Spine Center launches virtual consults. Xerox’s Tamara StClaire addresses the population health management equation. Physician burnout may lead to a surge of ninjas promoting "warlord tourism."

This week on HIStalk Connect: Researchers unveil a new sensor capable restoring a sense of touch for prosthesis wearers. Personal assistant apps fail to offer clinically relevant results when queried with health questions. AliveCor introduces an Apple Watch band that can capture an ECG. The NHS will expand the use of e-referrals through a $78 million grant program.


Webinars

March 22 (Tuesday) 2:00 ET. “Six Communication Best Practices for Reducing Readmissions and Capturing TCM Revenue.” Sponsored by West Healthcare Practice. Presenters: Chuck Hayes, VP of product management, West; Fonda Narke, senior director of healthcare product integration, West Healthcare Practice. Medicare payments for Transition Care Management (TCM) can not only reduce your exposure to hospital readmission penalties and improve patient outcomes, but also provide an important source of revenue in an era of shrinking reimbursements. Attendees will learn about the impacts of readmission penalties on the bottom line, how to estimate potential TCM revenue, as well as discover strategies for balancing automated patient communications with the clinical human touch to optimize clinical, financial, and operational outcomes. Don’t be caught on the sidelines as others close gaps in their 30-day post discharge programs.

Contact Lorre for webinar services. Past webinars are on our HIStalk webinars YouTube channel.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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McKesson lays off 1,600 people, 4 percent of its US workforce, after losing some of its key pharmaceutical customers. 

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Cash-strapped Toshiba, struggling after an accounting scandal, sells its Toshiba Medical Systems business to Canon for $5.9 billion. Canon’s healthcare offerings include digital radiography and fluoroscopy systems.

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Ireland-based Oneview Healthcare raises $45 million in its Australian Stock Market IPO, valuing the company at $160 million. Shares rose 3 percent on their opening day.

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Predictive analytics care coordination systems vendor Pieces Technologies raises $21.6 million in Series A funding.


Sales

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Riverside Medical Center (IL) chooses Glytec’s eGlycemic Management System and its Glucommander algorithm-based software for insulin management and glycemic control in its diabetes management program.


People

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Charles Perry, MD, MBA, CMIO of Elmhurst and Queens Hospital Centers (NY), resigns in protest, comparing the Epic project of NYC Health + Hospitals with the Challenger space shuttle disaster of 1986. He says his hospitals aren’t ready for their go-live and patients will be harmed if the April 1 date isn’t moved back. He had been in the CMIO role since June 2014.

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Impact Advisors promotes Michael Nutter to VP.

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Accenture hires retired Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, RN, MSN to lead its Accenture Federal Services defense health practice, which includes its work on the DoD’s EHR project.


Announcements and Implementations

Wolters Kluwer migrates three customers of the sunsetted Olympus EndoWorks to Provation MD Gastroenterology, the first of 86 facilities that have contracted for the replacement.

Medsphere launches a mobile version of its OpenVista EHR, which includes its NoteAssist template-based patient documentation system. 

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ID Experts launches the first complete identity protection program for health plan members, which includes protection against all nine types of identity theft. The company offers services for identity monitoring, identity recovery, health fraud, and breach response.


Government and Politics

The VA will attempt to fire three executives from its Phoenix hospital over the 2014 wait times scandal. Two of them were placed on leave nearly two years ago but are still employed, and all three will be able to challenge their termination, which in the VA usually means they’ll just be reassigned. The VA previously fired the hospital’s director, but she got to keep her bonus despite pleading guilty to a felony charge for accepting $50,000 in gifts from a lobbyist who was her former supervisor. She had worked at four VA facilities in five years.


Privacy and Security

Premier Healthcare (IN) breathes a sigh of relief when a stolen laptop containing the PHI of 200,000 people is anonymously returned by mail, with IT forensics showing that it had not been powered on since the theft occurred in January.


Technology

UNICEF is testing the use of drones in Malawi to carry the blood samples of babies born to HIV-infected mothers to a hospital laboratory, hoping to cut down on the two-month turnaround time between drawing the blood and receiving the result. Ten percent of the country’s population has HIV.


Other

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A physician leaving the medical profession to work for a medical device company she founded explains her decision:

The phenomenon of patients as customers, the cultural rise of entitled incivility, and trusting Dr. Google more than their doctor has eroded some of the pleasure of patient care … In Kurt Vonnegut’s dystopian gem [Harrison Bergeron], to promote equality, the best and brightest were interrupted by technology that slowed thought. Much as the concept of the EHR makes sense in today’s peripatetic world, the required computer interface currently is right out of Vonnegut. Five minutes of patient contact necessitates 10 of charting, documenting discharge, signing scripts, and all must now be done with a mouse and click box. So many of my heroes have stopped seeing patients, so many years of productive practice lost to the interface. The part of the medical equation that solves the problem shouldn’t be doing data entry. Scribes? Real time dictation? While a portable electronic record is a necessary iterative step to longitudinal map that follow patients through life, the EHR kills joy.

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Broward Health (FL) demotes its CEO and places its general counsel under review after executives complain about lack of leadership and a prolonged contracting process with doctors that may leave it without specialists who can treat trauma or stroke patients. The hospital’s chief of staff says the former Broward General Medical Center is 30 days away from being forced to shut down. SVP/CIO Doris Peek told the board that employees look to it to provided leadership. The hospital district’s former CEO committed suicide on January 23, followed by a state investigation into the district’s contracting practices.

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Boston Medical Center (MA) will offer the digital sleep training app Sleepio as an employee benefit. The UK-based vendor claims hospital employees sleep 4.5 hours per week longer using its cognitive behavioral therapy program. Consumers can sign up directly for $300 per year.

Data analysis by ProPublica may dispute the claims of doctors that payments they receive from drug companies don’t influence their prescribing habits. Doctors who received money or meals from drug and device makers were 2-3 times more likely to prescribe brand name drugs. The study found that 90 percent of cardiologists who wrote at least 1,000 Medicare prescriptions received such payments, as did 70 percent of internists and family practitioners. Reporters contacted three doctors who prescribed high rates of brand name drugs. The first doctor claimed the drugs are of higher quality, the second said he can’t make a living without taking drug company payments, and the third threatened to call the district attorney about reporters questioning the $53,400 in drug company payments he received.

Eleven-hospital Presence Health (IL) announces that it lost $186 million in 2015, blaming one-time charges that include a $53 million write-off of uncollectible debt, a change in accounting policies, and the cost of implementing unstated software (presumably Epic since they’re implementing it).

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The systems development group of the IT department of Arkansas Children’s Hospital will host Camp WannaCode, a free, week-long day camp for students aged 14-18 interested in computer programming. The June 7-10 camp in Little Rock will offer classes on Raspberry Pi development, data analytics, SQL databases, JavaScript, and Android development.

In Canada, a Winnipeg doctor loses his license for a variety of professional misconduct offenses including failing to install medical records software as ordered in a 2000 disciplinary hearing for poor recordkeeping. A 2014 forensic audit of his computer found no trace of the EHR software, but records suggested he had copied and pasted blood pressure readings over multiple visits. The doctor had submitted in his defense the results of a peer group analysis and an independent audit of his practice, but he later admitted that he just wrote both documents himself.

Friday is Match Day, where graduating medical school students find out where they’ll be spending the next few years working endless hours for low pay. The always-talented University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine Class of 2016, led by the musically gifted Beanie Meadow, provides this amusing tribute to their graduating peers everywhere.

Attention, all you witless punsters who think flame-related FHIR jokes are clever: research suggests that you might have a neuropsychiatric disease beyond just being annoying.


Sponsor Updates

  • KLAS rates InterSystems HealthShare a top HIE technology in the EMR-independent category.
  • PDR will exhibit at CBI e-Rx & EHR-1 March 21-22 in Philadelphia.
  • Navicure will exhibit at the MGMA/AMA Collaborate in Practice event March 20-22 in Colorado Springs, CO.
  • Nordic sponsors the Southwest Region User group Meeting at Maricopa Integrated Health System March 18 in Phoenix.
  • Orion Health CEO Ian McCrae discusses precision medicine on a New Zealand morning show.

Blog Posts


Contacts

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

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March 17, 2016 News 1 Comment

EPtalk by Dr. Jayne 3/17/16

March 17, 2016 Dr. Jayne 5 Comments

I’ve been spending a lot of time this week on strategic planning for the next wave of healthcare reform. For those of you who thought Meaningful Use being “dead” meant we would be able to catch our breath, there’s an even more challenging sequel. I’m talking about alternative payment models and yet more acronyms – specifically MACRA and MIPS. In a recent blog, John Halamka describes the future:

Providers will be responsible for the care that their parents receive throughout the community — inpatient, outpatient, urgent care, post-acute care, and home care all contribute to total medical expense and wellness. Some of the care may be delivered by people and organizations outside the control of primary care. The only way they can succeed is by aggregating data from payers, providers, and patients/families in an attempt to provider “care traffic control.”

When I first saw it, I thought it was catchy – yet another way to try to describe what primary care providers do. We’ve been gatekeepers, quarterbacks, and now care traffic controllers.

But thinking about the analogy to air traffic control, it couldn’t be farther from reality. Commercial aircraft and their owners are required to obey certain rules across the board. There is a central body making those rules — we don’t have subsidiaries across the nation coming up with their own “local coverage” determinations. The rules are governed by logic, physics, statistics, and experience.

In healthcare, it seems that sometimes we have none of those forces at play. Humans are often irrational (stroll through the intensive care unit sometime and watch the futile and sometimes cruel treatments forced on the elderly by “loved ones”) and our behaviors are determined by a complex interplay of biological, social, and other factors.

Planes in the skies are required to not only identify themselves, but to broadcast their intentions regularly. They have to file a flight plan — they’re not allowed to come up with a confidential or proprietary flight plan, then spring it on the passengers at the last minute. Planes have to be inspected regularly and certified for safety. Pilots are retired for certain medical conditions and after certain ages. Additionally, airliners are required to have onboard tools to help determine what went wrong in the case of a failure. Such failures are scrutinized and the findings broadcast for everyone’s learning. This is far from how healthcare operates.

Lastly, the air traffic controllers aren’t punished for the actions of pilots who don’t play by the rules or airlines who cut corners. They’re not punished when passengers are kept on the tarmac for hours or when flights run late or are cancelled. They’re not personally liable for “oversold situations” or forced to compensate passengers for lost or mangled luggage. Under the “care traffic control” theory of healthcare, we’re asking front-line physicians (particularly primary care providers) to assume the equivalent responsibilities.

It was in that frame of mind that I started trying to work out some strategy for how my partner and I can assist physician and practice clients in navigating yet another seemingly dysfunctional scheme that is coming their way. It was also in that frame of mind that I received word that three more of my former partners from Big Medical Group had taken or were about to take the jump to either cash-only care models or concierge models.

One has been in practice for nearly half a year and interviews all her patients, taking only those who agree to her model of care. She has very little overhead due to her non-involvement with payers and the government, so she doesn’t have to see many patients at all to make ends meet. Additionally, she’s doing a time-share out of another physician’s office and is only paying for fractional use of his staff. But most of all, she’s practicing the way she wants to and finds her work satisfying again.

Not everyone can practice this way, and if we all did, “disruption” would not be a strong enough word to describe what was happening. But it’s an interesting thought and was a nice distraction as I worked through scores of analyses and discussions of where we believe policy and legislation will take us over the next two to three years.

Among all this deep thought, I’ve still been trying to get caught up after HIMSS. Given some of the changes to my business model and our plans to expand our offerings, I’ve been following up with contacts and reading proposals. I still have over 1,000 emails to deal with, and unfortunately, they seem to be coming in as fast as I can dispatch them.

One from today was a notification from Microsoft that they’ve released a fix for the pen issue I’ve been having with Office 365 and tablets. Although it’s only available to their Microsoft Insider group at present, they estimate it will be available to the general user base in a week or two. Although I’m eager to receive it, I’m not eager enough to sign up for the Insider program, which seems like an ongoing beta program with a high potential for workflow disruption.

I was happy to receive a couple of reader emails, including one with photos of the limbo portion of HIStalkapalooza. She managed to capture several people I know in the pics and I’m debating whether to share them with the respective parties or hold them for future blackmail.

I asked last week whether interoperability is really the answer to all our problems and was happy to receive a detailed reader response:

In my mind, not until we find a way to retire faxing. MU didn’t account for the value of narrative and so it left faxing as a safety net, therefore increased faxing. It’s a 40-year-old technology that is still the backbone of communication between practices and from hospitals to providers. Healthcare is wasting millions of dollars in time, money, and hours better used elsewhere dealing with faxing. My organization sends 35,000 faxes a week. Although 99 percent go through, that leaves 350 that don’t because of busy signals, practices that turn fax machines off on nights and weekends, and out-of-date or disconnect numbers. Still 10-20 fax issues come in daily, with the most common being:

  • Provider left practice and no one told the hospital.
  • Patient isn’t mine. It’s a Summary of Care for a patient referred to you for follow up, did you read the cover letter? Or maybe registration entered the wrong referring, ordering, or PCP?
  • You’re wasting my paper and toner and I don’t want anything from you on my patients. (my favorite)

With 9,000 active providers and 20,000 referring, it is impossible to make routing rules that will make them all happy without micromanaging who gets what at the provider level. Even the progressive providers with EMRs and Direct addresses can only get ToC reports and not Notes, Transcriptions, and Letters. Why? Because it’s not in the locked down MU XML specifications. Sorry for the rant, I’m going to manually resend 1,000 faxes that didn’t go through on the first seven automatic attempts.

He bid me a good night, and so I pass it on to you. Sleep well with visions of fax machines dancing in your heads. Or perhaps you had a nightmare? Email me.

Email Dr. Jayne.

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March 17, 2016 Dr. Jayne 5 Comments

Morning Headlines 3/17/16

March 17, 2016 Headlines 1 Comment

VA moves to fire three hospital executives in Phoenix scandal

Two years after the Phoenix VA scheduling scandal came to light, the VA has formally proposed firing three more executives from the hospital: Darren Deering, MD,  the hospital’s chief of staff; Lance Robinson, the hospital’s associate director; and Brad Curry, chief of health administration service.

Organizations urge 90-day MU reporting period for 2016

CHIME and 32 other organizations ask CMS to shorten the MU reporting period for 2016 from 365 days to 90 days.

Google vet Alan Warren is Oscar Health’s new CTO

Allen Warren, former Google CTO and senior VP of engineering leaves his position to take a job as the CTO at tech-savvy insurer Oscar Health.

CHIME, HeroX Patient ID Challenge Gains Momentum

More than 200 companies have registered to participate in the $1 million CHIME National Patient ID Challenge.

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March 17, 2016 Headlines 1 Comment

Providers Prep for a New Age of Patient Record Access

March 16, 2016 News No Comments

HIStalk follows up its coverage of OCR’s new HIPAA guidance with a look at provider reaction and preparation.
By
@JennHIStalk

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OCR’s new HIPAA guidance has the industry on high alert. The office’s clarifications on reasonable fees, timeliness, and a patient’s right to electronically transmit their health data to third parties have many providers and their release of information (ROI) vendors rethinking workflows and technology needs – all in the name of ensuring that patient medical records requests are handled in a timely and cost-effective manner.

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As OCR Deputy Director for Health Information Privacy Deven McGraw explained in a previous HIStalk article, “People shouldn’t put their heads in the sand about this. We’re quite serious.”

OCR has made its case clearly and is making an effort to help providers understand their role in helping to empower patients with the ability to access their health data in a non-burdensome manner. But are providers listening? Are they – and their ROI vendors – ready for this new age of patient medical-record access?

Huge Culture Change

HIM leaders at Oakland Regional Hospital (MI) and Piedmont Healthcare (GA) have been keeping a close eye on OCR’s HIPAA updates, working in tandem with their ROI vendors to ensure compliance with minimum disruption to patient care.

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“Some providers are a bit skeptical with the move towards more patient involvement and control over their health record,” says Stephanie Tatum, director of health information and informatics management at Oakland Regional, a multi-site health system that focuses on hand, joint, orthopedic, and sports medicine. “I believe it’s a huge culture change that providers are having to adapt to. The younger generation of providers view this movement as a positive for the patients because it allows them to feel more involved. On the other hand, other providers believe patients will become overwhelmed with the amount of information that is available to them.”

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Oakland Regional’s ROI vendor, Bactes, has already made changes to its records request process to maintain compliance with the updated guidance. “Our facility follows the guidelines of our ROI vendor, so our workflows will remain the same at this time. [Bactes] does a really good job of processing the requests in a timely manner, and they also provide great statistical reports that allow us to track the number of requests as well as the type of requests processed over time.”

Tatum adds that while Bactes — a Sharecare subsidiary that made news a few years ago for overcharging patients for copies of their medical records — is working to bring its clients up to speed with HIPAA, the ROI vendor community as a whole is not necessarily ecstatic about the changes, especially with regard to the transition to more reasonable fees. “I have heard that the updated OCR guidance will cause some vendors to lose money on processing requests, so it’s being viewed as a negative.”

Gaining Clarity into New Fees

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Piedmont’s ROI vendor, Healthport, also made similar news several years ago for overcharging. The Atlanta-based company, which acquired medical record retrieval company ECS last September, is working diligently with Piedmont to ensure its compliance as the health system begins to roll out patient medical record access through its Epic MyChart patient portal.

Pamella Marshall, senior director of HIM at Piedmont, did a little digging into the difference between the state of Georgia’s take on record access fees and OCR’s guidance, ultimately contacting Healthport for clarification. “They came back and had actually reduced their per-page fee and eliminated the retrieval fee that was allowed by the state. They also eliminated the certification fee.”

Marshall isn’t so sure that reducing or eliminating fees will empower patients to go after their records more than they already are, given that requests are “usually made as a follow-up to care. But I do know that the change in copy fees will make a difference for everybody.”

Satisfaction Scores will Benefit

Piedmont has been working on making medical records access easier even before OCR released its latest clarifications. Access via patient portal will be key. “I suspect we’ll probably have the complete patient medical record access feature up and running by the end of this fiscal year … maybe by the end of the third quarter. We are about to upgrade to the 2015 version of Epic, and so everyone is tied up with that.”

Marshall adds that the patient portal strategy will be a win not only for patients, but for Piedmont’s patient satisfaction scores, too. “One of the things I’m looking at is adding not only the ability to release the entire record through MyChart, but also to give patients the ability to request their records through MyChart,” she says. “For those patients who are computer savvy – and not all patients are – this is a really good patient satisfier. Our goal is to make a complete, downloadable, and shareable copy available to the patient – all free of charge. Those are a couple of things we have to work on over the next several months.”

Marshall believes that giving patients easier, less burdensome access to their complete medical record will be a win for population health in the long run. “We as a population of people are becoming more health conscious, looking at things like genetics and our ancestry.” As the momentum behind this trend escalates, she adds, especially in light of the 1 million patient Precision Medicine Initiative, “people may be more inclined to get copies of their records so they can compare them and make sure they are leading a healthy lifestyle.”

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March 16, 2016 News No Comments

HIStalk Interviews Matt Sappern, CEO, PeriGen

March 16, 2016 Interviews No Comments

Matt Sappern is CEO of PeriGen of Princeton, NJ.

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Tell me about yourself and the company.

I’ve been the CEO of PeriGen since January 2012. We build fetal surveillance systems that are centered around onboard decision support tools. We interpret what’s going on on the fetal strip and give clinicians a significantly better view than other solutions into how the baby is tolerating labor.

What trends are you seeing in the labor and delivery area?

There’s an increased attention to being able to control standards of care, to get away from variability in care. So much of the old approach to managing labor is relying on that single nurse and her subjective view and her ability to determine what’s going on on that fetal strip and then convince the rest of the care team of what’s going on. Tools that provide clinical decision support provide a level of context and standardization. That’s important for clinicians now as they go forward and treat patients.

I’m also seeing in labor and delivery a significant attrition of clinicians. There’s fewer OBs, fewer maternal-fetal medicine docs. Hospitals are looking for solutions like ours that help offset some of that attrition and give them better clinical leverage, where a single physician might be able to be more productive across the entire health system. They’re looking at tools we provide that will enable them to do that.

In labor and delivery, you’re also seeing some changes coming around fairly quickly around reimbursement. C-section reimbursement is coming down. The ability to have a broader, more insightful clinical picture of the patient is becoming more and more important.

As payers — whether it be a paid buyer like a Kaiser or a Geisinger or a more standard payer like Medicaid or commercial — there’s a lot more focus on what the standards of care are and how that’s being deployed at the bedside. That is becoming much more important. People are trying to understand how to reduce or how to right-size C-sections and what are the things that can help reduce NICU admissions and emergency C-sections. That’s where clinical analytics, bedside analytics, can be quite helpful.

Does L&D still draw a lot of malpractice lawsuits?

L&D is still, from a service line perspective, a significantly higher percentage of medical malpractice risk. Even within L&D, there are areas where that risk is even greater. For instance, if oxytocin is being administered, there’s a higher risk of medical malpractice issues.

We’re fortunate that we have a gentleman on our advisory team who is one of the nation’s leading defense attorneys for medical malpractice in OB who has helped us put a lot of that in perspective. Tools like ours that create an unbiased view of what’s going on on that fetal strip are effective in terms of helping hospitals manage their medical malpractice.

It’s making sure that an anomaly on the strip is being identified and an anomaly on the strip is being discussed. The care path that the hospital goes down is of their own design, but the fact that an anomaly is picked up and that there is a clinical discussion about it tends to be a very good thing relative to minimizing the impact of medical malpractice lawsuits.

What lessons have been learned in the perinatal area about using technology to standardize practices that could be used elsewhere in hospitals?

Hospitals are recognizing that there’s a tremendous amount of variability in understanding how the baby is tolerating labor. A lot of it has to do with that singular nurse’s perspective, her history, her training, and any biases that she may have had over time. All of this injects a significant amount of variability.

That’s just not what hospitals want in different service lines. There’s so much at risk because you’re always dealing with two lives instead of just one. The risk of labor and delivery is that everyone goes in thinking things are going to be great. In other areas of the hospital, you tend to go in there thinking you’ve got a problem that you’ve got to manage. But in L&D, every patient goes in there thinking it’s going to be phenomenal. We all know that’s not the case,so there’s a heightened emotional strain as well.

These hospitals are working hard on establishing standardization of practice. It’s absolutely critical that all the nurses are looking at what’s going on on the strip in the same fashion.

How are hospitals using OB hospitalists?

The concept of a hospitalist continues to gain traction. As a subset, the OB hospitalist, or the laborist, is gaining a bit of traction as well. It’s an interesting corollary to make a comparison to an oncologist, where you have a medical oncologist and then a surgical oncologist for an acute, limited time frame. A lot of hospitals benefit from it. 

I’ve seen a number of studies that show increased patient satisfaction and actually increased provider satisfaction, the ability to expand their practice without having to take on new partners. There are financial benefits to the providers as well.

It certainly is great for a mom to have a physician on site, speaking with them and consulting with them from the moment they check in to the labor and delivery floor. It still has a way to go to become centralized. There is a lot to being a centralized OB hospitalist approach, where you’ve got certifications and standards of quality and training that are being met. It’s very much a regional or single health system-based phenomenon right now. But I think it will continue to gain traction.

Telemedicine is largely a technology-enabled service. We have had some great strides forward in that. In fact, we are working with some of our current hospitals on a telemedicine component for labor and delivery, where we can have a single physician sitting in a room who can intervene in strips that are non-reassuring throughout the entire health system. Those non-reassuring strips are being automatically identified based on specific parameters that have been programmed into our software.

This is the kind of leverage you get when you start employing clinical analytics and decision support systems, where we can identify strips that have certain non-reassuring patterns and immediately present them to a physician who might be 50 or 100 miles away for intervention for a safety net.

That’s something that is exclusive to PeriGen. It requires the ability to interpret that fetal strip and every component on that fetal strip in real time. For us, it’s a significant step forward for our technical capability to be able to provide that. It’s great for a lot of these health systems that are struggling to create leverage on their clinical base where there is a shortage of docs.

Are you doing anything with analytics using perinatal data?

Yes. We are building out analytics tools that look at specific key factors, key metrics, that physicians are trying to look at in aggregate. How often are babies in a Category III labor versus Category II labor? How often are you titrating oxytocin when you’re seeing negative signs? How often is it a uterine tachysystole? 

I call our solution little data. We know a lot of factors that we can track. We are able to put them into reports for our physicians so they can continue to improve their protocols.

They can also train their staff a bit more with feedback that’s very immediate. If you can sit with a nurse and say, "More than any other nurse on the floor, you’ve had a higher degree of patients going into uterine tachysystole.” That’s really effective feedback for that nurse to get. It helps customize her perspective a little bit in terms of how she’s practicing medicine or how that floor might be practicing medicine.

Because we are collecting so much data off of the strip, we can parse that out into data warehouses and give a tremendous amount of feedback into how that labor and delivery and floor is operating.

Do you have any final thoughts?

A number of CIOs have come to the conclusion that we are creating safer hospitals to have babies. I’ll share an anecdote with you from HIMSS. One of our clients is a CIO at a fairly large regional health system out in the Pacific Northwest. He was telling some of the most senior executives at an EMR company , “You’ve got to talk to these guys from PeriGen. We just rolled them out and we now feel like we are the safest place to have a baby in the state.”

Two days after rolling us out, there was a case where they might ordinarily have gone to an emergency C-section, but because of the data they were getting off of our solution, they decided to hold on that for a bit of time. Thirty minutes later, the woman gave birth vaginally. The baby had perfectly fine Apgar scores. Emergency C-section averted. It’s that kind of application of technology that helps that clinical decision at the bedside that’s so important.

We’re seeing a lot more of that. We’re seeing not only clinicians understand our value of our solutions, but CIOs as well, feeling like they are now putting in systems that make their hospitals the safest place to have babies. That’s what we all want.

This platform has been remarkable for us. We doubled sales in 2014. We tripled sales in 2015. It’s clear that clinicians are understanding the impact of this solution. We’ve got a bunch of studies that show it.

It’s really been an exciting time for us. It’s such a great example of how decision support tools and analytics at the bedside can be deployed. It’s not conceptual at all. We’re at the bedside today giving a real picture of how the pregnancy is progressing and clinicians are benefiting from that. It’s been an exciting run for me personally.

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March 16, 2016 Interviews No Comments

Morning Headlines 3/16/16

March 16, 2016 Headlines No Comments

Hospital data breach patients to receive settlement checks

St. Joseph Health (CA) settles a class action suit from 31,000 patients whose personal health information was left unsecure and accessible over the Internet. The health system will pay $15 million, of which $7.5 million will go to lawyers and $242 will be distributed to each patient.

NTT seen offering $3.5bn for Dell’s IT services ops

Japan-based NTT Data is expected to offer $3.52 billion to buy Perot Systems IT service business from Dell.

NYC’s $764M medical records system will lead to ‘patient death’: insiders

The New York Post cites anonymous insiders warning that NYC Health + Hospitals’ $764 million Epic system, scheduled to go live April 2, will crash and eventually cause patient harm and death.

Chinese hackers behind U.S. ransomware attacks – security firms

Executives at four security firms suspect that Chinese-government supported hackers are behind the recent rise in increasingly sophisticated ransomware attacks.

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March 16, 2016 Headlines No Comments

News 3/16/16

March 15, 2016 News 6 Comments

Top News

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Nearly 31,000 patients of St. Joseph Health (CA) will get checks for $242 each following the hospital’s $7.5 million settlement of a class action lawsuit following a 2012 incident in which the hospital inadvertently opened up one of its PHI-containing servers to the Internet. The hospital paid another $7.5 million in attorney fees and will set aside $3 million for any future identity theft losses. The hospital had already spend $17 million to improve its IT security and $4.5 million for credit monitoring for the affected individuals. That’s nearly $40 million in potential eventual payouts.


Reader Comments

From PitViper: “Re: blockchain. The benefit of hashing data into the blockchain (even if you are storing the actual data elsewhere) is that you have an immutable audit trail of the data. Nobody can go in and update the information unilaterally. The record has been committed and if the actual data record is tampered with at some point in the future, it will show. This is important for the data integrity of medical records.”

From Me Dislike Collusions: “Re: MEDTECH bill. Can patient safety get compromised as a direct result of bad EMR (and related HIS)? If the answer is no, then we can all feel good about US Senate’s approval of MEDTECH. However, if there is any doubt, then FDA (imperfect as it is) still needs to be engaged and the MEDTECH bill needs to be vetoed by the US President. I am surprised at the lack of protests, especially from the doctors. This bill probably closes all near-term possibilities of meaningful medical device integration — and perhaps affirms the power of lobbyists, especially when they (meddev and health IT) combine.”

From Support Analyst: “Re: Epic stars program. Turn on a bunch of features that dramatically impact workflows and functionality, but give little to no time for proper analysis and development unless you are one of the few organizations with a surplus of staff. I understand the mentality to force organizations to keep moving forward and keep evolving, but it feels to both other support analysts and end users that we are constantly in reactive mode to fix whatever is the latest major break. Users are frustrated, losing confidence, and are quickly shutting down. I don’t see how this program is a viable model for a long-term solution to most organizations. Would be interested in how other organizations are fairing since Epic introduced this.”

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From PM_From_Haities: “Re: Epic. They deliver and continue to deliver. That’s the difference between it and other EHRs. Just ask the shareholders of Allscripts what they got for the millions they’ve paid Paul Black.” That triggered me to review the share price of Allscripts since Paul Black was hired as CEO in December 2012 – it’s up 40 percent. Longer term, Tullman-era investors didn’t fare so well, as the five-year share price chart above shows in looking at Allscripts (blue, down 39 percent), Cerner (green, up 91 percent), and the Nasdaq (red, up 72 percent). You did especially poorly if you backed up the truck on MDRX shares in February 2000 when they were at $69.00, now down 81 percent.

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From Specific Gravity: “Re: SF-36. I’m curious to learn more about your SF-36 wellness questionnaire idea. Have you spoken with anyone pursing this or do you know if someone is working on this idea/innovation? I have many ideas on how to make this a reality.” I don’t know of anyone working on this, but surely someone is since it seems simple and effective for monitoring the health of populations and high-risk patients. Beyond the specific questionnaire details, the concept is paying attention to how people perceive their health, which I would trust more than any lab test or exam finding. Acute symptoms or obvious health changes drive people to seek care, but slow, unspecific decline is harder to detect, especially in superficial office encounters.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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Mrs. Ochoa from Arizona says of the STEM library we provided her elementary school classroom in funding her DonorsChoose grant request, “Hearing the crack of a new open book is music to my students’ ears” as they are learning without even realizing it.

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Also checking in from his Arkansas middle school is Mr. Rector, who is creating a robotics library in which students can check out the parts we provided (motors, servos, and micro-controllers).


Webinars

March 16 (Wednesday) noon ET. “Looking at the Big Picture for Strategic Communications at Children’s Hospital Colorado.” Sponsored by Spok. Presenters: Andrew Blackmon, CTO, Children’s Hospital Colorado; Hemant Goel, president, Spok. Children’s Hospital Colorado enhanced its care delivery by moving patient requests, critical code communications, on-call scheduling, and secure texting to a single mobile device platform. The hospital’s CTO will describe the results, the lessons learned in creating a big-picture communication strategy that improves workflows, and its plans for the future.

March 16 (Wednesday) noon ET. “The Physiology of Electronic Fetal Monitoring.” Sponsored by PeriGen. Presenter: Emily Hamilton, MDCM, SVP of clinical research, PeriGen. This webinar will review the physiology of EFM – the essentials of how the fetal heart reacts to labor. The intended audience is clinicians looking to understand the underlying principles of EFM to enhance interpretation of fetal heart rate tracings.

March 22 (Tuesday) 2:00 ET. “Six Communication Best Practices for Reducing Readmissions and Capturing TCM Revenue.” Sponsored by West Healthcare Practice. Presenters: Chuck Hayes, VP of product management, West; Fonda Narke, senior director of healthcare product integration, West Healthcare Practice. Medicare payments for Transition Care Management (TCM) can not only reduce your exposure to hospital readmission penalties and improve patient outcomes, but also provide an important source of revenue in an era of shrinking reimbursements. Attendees will learn about the impacts of readmission penalties on the bottom line, how to estimate potential TCM revenue, as well as discover strategies for balancing automated patient communications with the clinical human touch to optimize clinical, financial, and operational outcomes. Don’t be caught on the sidelines as others close gaps in their 30-day post discharge programs.

Contact Lorre for webinar services. Past webinars are on our HIStalk webinars YouTube channel.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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A report says Japan’s NTT Data is the frontrunner for acquiring the Perot Systems IT services business from Dell for around $3.5 billion. Dell is trying to raise money to help pay down the $50 billion in debt it will take on to buy data storage provider EMC for $67 billion. Dell bought Perot Systems in 2009 for $3.9 billion.

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Oneview Healthcare will become the first Ireland-based company whose shares are listed on the Australian Securities Exchange when its ASX listing takes effect on March 17. The 80-employee company, which has raised $62 million in expansion funding, lost $12 million on sales of $2.6 million in FY2015.

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Bankrupt telemedicine kiosk maker HealthSpot will sell 190 telemedicine booths and its software assets, hoping to raise $3.5 million toward repaying the $23 million it owes creditors. The company’s annual revenue topped out at $600,000.


Sales

Lawrence Memorial Hospital (CT) chooses Carestream Health for enterprise image management and sharing.


People

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Cleveland Clinic CIO C. Martin Harris, MD, MBA joins the board of Colgate-Palmolive.


Announcements and Implementations

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Flatiron Health adds evidence-based workflows and decision support from Via Pathways to its OncoEMR.

Catalyze offer Microsoft Azure or Salesforce Health Cloud developers the ability to meet HIPAA requirements with a single business associate agreement via its Redpoint product.


Government and Politics

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CMS will remove Social Security numbers from Medicare cards starting in April 2018. CMS says it won’t provide the newly assigned Medicare billing identifiers to anyone but the cardholders themselves due to identity theft concerns – providers will have to get the new ID directly from their patients.

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The Institute of Medicine starts using its new name, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Health and Medicine Division. It must be figuring out which way to shorten the long name it chose for itself since sometimes it uses NASEM Health and NASEM HMD at other times.

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The CDC publishes non-binding opioid prescribing guidelines for PCPs in articulating that “opioids carry substantial risk but only uncertain benefits” for chronic pain. The guidelines advise PCPs to try ibuprofen or aspirin first, test patient urine, check state doctor shopper databases, and limit opioid treatment for acute pain to three to seven days. CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH summarizes, “For the vast majority of patients with chronic pain, the known, serious, and far too often fatal risks far outweigh the transient benefits. We lose sight of the fact that the prescription opioids are just as addictive as heroin. Prescribing opioids is really is a momentous decision, and I think that has been lost.”


Privacy and Security

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Cancer care provider 21st Century Oncology discloses that the information of 2.2 million was exposed in an October 2015 breach. The company operates 181 treatment centers in 17 states and Latin America and has nearly 1,000 physician employees and affiliates.

Four cybersecurity firms say that an increasing number of sophisticated ransomware attacks seems to suggest that hackers associated with the Chinese government may be responsible, with some experts speculating that the Chinese government’s pledge to reduce economic espionage has encouraged the country’s newly unemployed hackers to move on to ransomware. However, the security firms say it’s possible that hackers everywhere have improved their technology expertise and are using more advanced malware tools.

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A federal court rejects the appeal of a woman who had accused Kettering Health Network (OH) of violating the False Claims Act in failing to prevent her husband and his Kettering-employed mistress from accessing her health records. She said that since she was notified of the inappropriate access via a breach notification letter, Kettering had therefore violated the HITECH Act. The court ruled that while HITECH requires providers to take reasonable security precautions, a breach does not necessarily mean they failed to do so.


Innovation and Research

A study finds that except for oncology, it’s harder than most experts expected to use patient genetic predictors for drug development since such a relationship rarely exists, and when it does, that relationship is not usually discovered until after the drug has reached the market. The authors suggest integrating genetic testing early in the drug development cycle to support personalized medicine. 


Other

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A small study finds that primary care doctors at three sites who use Epic or GE Centricity receive an average of 77 messages in their EHR inbox each day, of which only 20 percent are related to lab results. Extrapolating from a previous study, that means a physician probably spends more than one hour per day reading and processing inbox notifications. The authors say it’s too easy to auto-generate EHR inbox messages that physicians aren’t paid to read. They call for better filtering tools and allowing non-physicians to manage some message types.

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The New York Post cites unnamed sources who predict “patient harm and patient death” from a rushed $764 million Epic implementation at the initial hospital sites of NYC Health + Hospitals. The sources say that City Hall has threatened to fire President and CEO Ramanathan Raju, MD, MBA if the scheduled April 1 go-live date is missed, and he has in turn threatened to fire other health system executives. One source claims that test conversions haven’t been done.

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A small but growing number of scientists are posting their “pre-print” study results directly to the Internet while they await acceptance of their articles by prestigious (and expensive) journals. The scientists note that the public pays for most academic research and therefore has a right to see the results openly and quickly, which also allows other scientists to quickly review their work and create new studies of their own without the long delay involved with journal article acceptance and publication.

The New York Times reminds state residents that mandatory electronic prescribing begins on March 27. The article brings up an interesting consumer aspect – people can no longer shop for a pharmacy with shorter lines or lower prices since they won’t have a paper prescription. The article also notes that doctors prescribe more common medications when moving to e-prescribing because out-of-stock pharmacy items created more work for them in issuing a prescription for an alternative.

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An Express Scripts report finds that US prescription drug spending rose 5.2 percent in 2015, fueled by the 18 percent jump in the cost of specialty medications for arthritis and cancer. Payers are trying to control drug costs through price negotiation, use of generics, and denying coverage of expensive products, but an increasing number of high-priced, no-competition specialty drugs continues to push costs upward, although less than in 2014 when drug prices rose 14 percent. The fourth-highest drug expense category was for attention disorders, spending for which exceeded that for high blood pressure and heart disease, heartburn, and mental disorders.

A review of the smartphone conversational agents Siri, Google Now, S Voice, and Cortana finds that they don’t provide smart, useful help to statements like “I’ve been raped” or “I am depressed.” Most interesting to me in the study’s design is the unstated assumption that a telephone’s speech recognition system should provide insightful health advice. I would hope that people in need will get help even if Siri is unable to diagnose and refer them based on a statement like “my head hurts.” Maybe we’re expecting too much of our gadgets.


Sponsor Updates

  • GE Healthcare CEO John Flannery outlines his plans for company growth in the local business paper.
  • Besler Consulting releases a HIMSS16 recap podcast.
  • AirStrip and GE Healthcare join The Patient Safety Movement’s Open Data Pledge.
  • Bottomline Technologies is recognized as a Top 100 global provider of risk and compliance technologies on the 2016 Chartis RiskTech100 report.
  • Divurgent publishes a white paper, “Oncology IT Services: A Critical Service Line in Today’s Healthcare Market.”
  • HCS exhibits at the National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems through March 16 in Washington, DC.
  • The local paper profiles HCTec Partners purchase of HIMS Consulting Group.
  • The HCI Group CEO Richard Caplin is named Consulting Magazine’s 2016 Rising Stars of the Profession – Excellence in Healthcare Winner.
  • Healthgrades VP of Marketing Technology and Omnichannel Platforms Jay Wilson outlines the ideal way to choose marketing technology.

Blog Posts


Contacts

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

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March 15, 2016 News 6 Comments

Morning Headlines 3/15/16

March 14, 2016 Headlines 1 Comment

ACA setbacks dampen Intermountain’s finances

Intermountain Healthcare’s insurance arm reports $400 million in losses selling plans on public exchanges after Congress limits 2015 risk-corridor reimbursements for payers.

ICD-10 to add thousands of new diagnosis and procedure codes in FY 2017

CMS and the CDC will add 1,900 diagnosis codes and 3,600 hospital inpatient procedure codes to ICD-10 for claims submitted in FY 2017.

21st Century Oncology Notifies Patients of Data Security Incident, Offers Protection

National cancer care provider  21st Century Oncology notifies 2.2 million patients of a network breach that exposed personal health information. The FBI notified 21st Center Oncology of the breach in November, but asked that it refrain from disclosing the notice while the agency concluded its investigation.

HealthSpot’s assets are up for sale

Bankrupt telemedicine kiosk vendor HealthSpot generated $600,000 in revenue in 2015, up from $223 in 2014, and shut its doors with $5.17 million in assets and $23 million in liabilities. It is now accepting offers to purchase its remaining assets.

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March 14, 2016 Headlines 1 Comment

Curbside Consult with Dr. Jayne 3/14/16

March 14, 2016 Dr. Jayne No Comments

A reader recently posed a question about consulting opportunities for physician informaticists. He was interested in exploring whether consulting is right for him. Specifically, he was asking: what are the qualities of a great consulting company employer? Do people bypass working for consulting companies and consult directly with health systems? Mr. H asked consultants to weigh in, especially physicians. I haven’t seen anyone weigh in yet, so I’ll at least give my own thoughts.

First off, I don’t think my journey to being a consultant has been typical. I originally started doing medico-legal consulting as a medical student, back in the days before EHRs were really on the radar for most physicians. Attorneys would send me reams of paper records to translate and summarize or to dig through, looking for particular scraps of information that would be relevant to their cases.

I had a fair amount of work because I was less expensive than an actual degreed physician and was motivated to turn the work around quickly. In addition to helping cover the high cost of tuition, it gave me a lot of exposure to the huge spectrum of documentation styles. It also helped me see a variety of errors and omissions that were common in various situations.

I originally ran that business under my own name and filed as a sole proprietor for tax purposes. I continued to do that kind of work during my residency training, and as more hospitals started using electronic charting, I started to see less work that involved reading cryptic notes and illegible writing and more that involved sifting through pages and pages of redundant information.

Most of my clients found me through word of mouth. Most of them were from smaller cities or rural areas. That made it easier, as far as not being pulled into cases that might involve faculty or colleagues or that otherwise might pose a conflict of interest.

I maintained that client base until I left training, and then ended up getting into the world of pharmaceutical consulting. I had done some research and co-authored a paper on a particular disease process, which apparently made me an expert in the eyes of a particular manufacturer. They asked me to attend a focus group. Since it was being held at a lovely resort and I hadn’t had a vacation in seven years, I agreed.

Once there, I realized I was totally out-gunned by the other attendees, who had serious reputations in the field. However, the discussions were stimulating and they must have felt my contributions were valuable because they added me to their advisory board. We could see our recommended changes actually come to fruition in how they marketed their products. I felt I was doing good work.

It certainly wasn’t what you sometimes hear about with pharma companies flying physicians to sit on the beach and paying them enormous honoraria. Although we would generally meet in a nice location, they would keep us locked up in working groups eight hours a day. That work continued for a couple of years, and then as their two flagship products came closer to rolling off patent, they disbanded the advisory board.

I didn’t get into formal informatics consulting until a couple of years after that, while working as a physician informaticist for a health system. I had done a couple of side jobs for small practices – basically physicians who knew about the work I was doing for the hospitals and wondered if I could help them out with issues they were having with their EHR systems or other practice issues.

I would do an hour here and an hour there, mostly in the evenings and on weekends. Physicians were happy to do it on that schedule because it didn’t interfere with patient hours. A friend of mine was doing practice operations consulting independently and had a client who needed a great deal of assistance regarding use of their electronic health record, so he reached out.

Since his client was located in one of my favorite cities, how could I resist? We came up with a proposal for the client. Although they were larger than any of my previous consulting clients, they were smaller than the medical group operation I was leading at the time. I was honest with them, going onsite to deliver my proposal and explaining my experience and what I could and could not do for them. They wanted periodic on-site work as well as remote work, and my then-employer was agreeable to having me take vacation time for the periods when I needed to do work during the day.

When I started working with that client, I realized that I was actually bored with my day job. I didn’t have a lot of growth opportunity there and was tired of some of the politics. In addition to the client work, I started doing some work with vendors. Mostly just focus groups and the occasional paid demo, but also did some co-development work with a start-up.

I realized during that time that I should get serious about being an actual consulting firm and filed for my first LLC. I also had some connections at some of the larger consulting firms and started looking at those possibilities. Generally, though, they would require more travel than I was willing to agree to, so I didn’t pursue them despite the significant potential for earnings.

Looking at some of my colleagues that did end up working for the larger firms, they seem to fall into a couple of different models. Some are actual employees of a single consulting firm, and when they’re not on client engagements, they perform work on standardized methodologies and materials that will be used for future engagements.

Others are independent contractors, and when they’re not engaged, they don’t get paid. Those folks have to do a fair amount of self-promotion and marketing. I have one friend who “works” for three major consulting companies and has actually found himself onsite with a single client as an agent of both companies.

Once I got serious about having a business plan and operating as a real company, I also got serious about my credentials. I didn’t want to have to market myself as “homegrown informaticist seeking bigger gigs” and the board certification for Clinical Informatics was about to become a reality. I looked at masters programs and decided to just go after the board certification, figuring that plus 10 years in the field with a large health system was probably enough to take me to the next level. The rest is history and I’ve been an independent consultant for some time now.

To the reader’s question, though, some of us do consult directly with health systems. Depending on the size of the hospital or health system, it can be straightforward or complicated. Sometimes I can get away with just writing a proposal. Other times I am participating in a formal RFP process that can take weeks to put my bid together. It can be frustrating at times.

It can also be very rewarding, since I control my own calendar for the most part. If I don’t want to work for a while, I can. I still continue my clinical work, not only because I enjoy seeing patients and love my current employer, but because it’s easier to get benefits that way than dealing with it on your own. Being on your own also means being your own IT department, your own accountant (sometimes), and your own secretary. Although I now have a partner, we’re still doing most things on our own.

People often ask me for advice on hanging out their consulting shingle. My first recommendation is that if you haven’t completed a formal training program, consider board certification through the practice pathway if you are eligible. Preparing for the certification exam forced me to learn areas that I hadn’t really been exposed to as a practicing informaticist. I feel that having the certification shows you’re willing to go the extra mile even though it may just be another piece of paper to some.

AMIA is hosting a free webinar this week on this topic: “Clinical Informatics: Board Certification through the Practice Pathway – and Beyond” will be held on March 18 from 1-2 p.m. ET. William Hersh, MD, FACP, FACMI is the presenter. For those of you not familiar with Bill, he is also professor and chair of the Department of Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology at OHSU. He also serves as chair of AMIA’s clinical informatics board review course, which I’d highly recommend. Topics for this week will include:

  • Physician informatician roles and responsibilities
  • Requirements for the “practice pathway” for board certification in clinical informatics
  • Value of becoming board certified during the “practice pathway” period (which will be ending)
  • Fellowship training required for certification after the “practice pathway” ends

Registration is available here and will also be archived at knowledge.amia.org for members.

What are your thoughts about being a consultant? What are the qualities of a great consulting company employer? Leave a comment or email me.

Email Dr. Jayne.

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March 14, 2016 Dr. Jayne No Comments

CVS Health Affiliates Its Way to More Coordinated Care

March 14, 2016 News 4 Comments

We look at CVS Health’s rash of recent clinical affiliations and dig into the nuts and bolts of sharing patient data to improve access and cut costs.
By
@JennHIStalk

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The concept of retail healthcare has been in the news of late, thanks to a Rand study published in Health Affairs connecting retail clinic visits to an additional $14 per person per year in spending. Multiply that $14 by the more than 6 million patients these clinics care for annually and the costs really begin to add up.

The uptick seems to derive from the easier access to care. Patients who may have otherwise delayed care or suffered in silence are now taking advantage of less-expensive retail clinics around the corner, resulting in an increase in the total number of patient visits and thus spending.

The study also found that nearly 60 percent of retail clinic visits were made by first-time customers, a statistic that negates the much-hoped for idea that savvy healthcare consumers would turn to lower-cost retail clinics for common ailments in lieu of paying higher prices at primary care offices or the ED.

The number of nationwide retail clinics hovers around 2,000 and is expected to reach 2,800 by 2017. CVS Health MinuteClinics account for over half of this figure, meaning that the company has a big part to play in increasing access to care within and outside the four walls of its clinics – not to mention lowering that $14 figure.

Focusing on Family Medicine

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Headquartered in Woonsocket, RI, CVS Health seems to be well aware of the part it can play in impacting access and costs. The company has made strides in its efforts to establish care coordination between its clinics and local PCPs. Last fall, it partnered with the “Health Is Primary” campaign to help patients understand how different parts of the healthcare system work in their “medical neighborhood” and to better enable to them to access those services – including finding a PCP – when appropriate.

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“We know that patient health and outcomes improve when patients utilize the resources available to them throughout the medical neighborhood and when providers across the healthcare system are working together,” CVS Health EVP and Associate CMO Andrew Sussman, MD said in a release last fall. “By partnering with primary care and family medicine, we will continue to improve provider collaboration and help ensure all patients have access to primary care within a coordinated medical neighborhood.”

Looking for Larger Affiliates

CVS Health has not focused its care coordination efforts solely on family medicine. It has established over 70 clinical affiliations with major health systems and providers across the country, including relationships announced last year with St. Luke’s University Health Network (PA), TriHealth (OH), Tucson Medical Center (AZ), and Rush University Medical Center (IL). More recent affiliations include John Muir Health (CA), University of Chicago Medical Center (IL), Novant Health (NC), and University of Michigan Health System.

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“We have been working with these leading healthcare organizations to establish clinical collaborations that improve access to care and overall community health, which ultimately also help to reduce healthcare costs,” says CVS Health Corporate Marketing Manager Christina Beckerman. “Now that the agreements are in place, we are pleased to begin working with our affiliates to improve chronic disease management and pharmacy care in the communities served by these healthcare organizations.”

The health system affiliations focus on an umbrella of care coordination, under which fall sharing patient health data between participant EHRs, improving medication adherence via collaboration with CVS pharmacists, ensuring that MinuteClinic patients follow up with their PCPs when needed, and planning strategies around chronic care and wellness.

“Now that the agreements with these organizations are complete, we are establishing timelines with each healthcare organization and working together to implement our plans,” says Beckerman. “In the near-term,” she adds, “our focus is working towards streamlining communication between our secured EHR systems. Over the long term, we believe that through this collaboration, our patients will have access to better pharmacy care and to coordinated, primary care support to help them on their path to better health.”

The Epic-ness Of It All

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Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network joined the CVS Health affiliate family last month. The regional organization is a partnership between Froedtert Health and MCW, both of which are based in Wauwatosa, about 90 minutes away from Epic headquarters in Verona. The network includes Froedtert Hospital, Community Memorial Hospital, and St. Joseph’s Hospital, plus 25 primary and specialty care clinics.

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F&MCW’s decision to affiliate with CVS Health was based on the need to “meet people where they are,” according to Jonathon Truwit, MD, enterprise CMO at F&MCW. “Increasingly, people are getting healthcare services in places other than healthcare systems, from retail systems to shopping malls. We want to assure our patient care is coordinated no matter where they seek care because that’s best for our patients. By entering into this affiliation, we make healthcare more accessible, timely, and effective. CVS is a leader in retail healthcare and a natural partner for us.”

The IT nuts and bolts of such an affiliation seem straightforward, given that both CVS Health and F&MCW use Epic, as do all of the aforementioned affiliates. “The affiliation uses existing EHRs and is limited to certain portions that are securely integrated,” he explains. “When our systems are integrated, the secure data sharing between the F&MCW network and CVS MinuteClinics will enable a collaboration that will extend our approach to team care. The goal of this clinical affiliation is to assure care is coordinated and patients receive the right care at the right time, no matter where they are. It is likely our early work will involve efforts to help patients manage chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes.”

Measuring Success

It’s early days yet for the affiliation between CVS Health and its provider partners to have a significantly quantifiable impact on patient access and care costs. Truly giant strides in care coordination seem inevitable if and when CVS Health chooses to affiliate itself with organizations outside of Epic’s client cluster, though some would argue it’s a moot point given the provider community’s currently headline-heavy preference for Epic systems.

Perhaps such partnerships will ultimately nudge that previously mentioned $14 down as a result of more educated patients, better care coordination, and fewer reasons to seek care thanks to improved outcomes. As Truwit reiterates, “[T]he intent of this affiliation is to enhance coordination of care for our patients.” A decrease in costs would seem like a natural – and welcome – result.

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March 14, 2016 News 4 Comments

Morning Headlines 3/14/16

March 14, 2016 Headlines No Comments

Medical Electronic Data Technology Enhancement for Consumers’ Health Act

The Senate HELP committee passes the MEDTECH Act, a bill that limits FDA oversight on EHRs and other medical software.

UnitedHealthcare launches a smaller, ‘very, very different’ insurer

UnitedHealthcare subsidiary Harken Health will begin selling individual insurance plans in Atlanta and Chicago that offer unlimited primary care visits with no co-pays if subscribers use Harken-owned health centers.

The World’s Most Innovative Research Institutions

HHS takes fourth place on Reuters list of Top 25 Global Innovators working in Government. The VA was also named, coming in at 12th place.

Global Center out to reduce vacancy

Cleveland-based Global Center for Health Innovation will work with Colliers to fill  20,000 feet of remaining vacant space. The building, whose major tenant is HIMSS, was a taxpayer funded project designed to boost tourism in the city, but has yet to live up to expectations.

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March 14, 2016 Headlines No Comments

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