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News 12/11/13

December 10, 2013 News 6 Comments

Top News

12-10-2013 5-23-25 PM

Practice Fusion closes a $15 million Series D round led by Qualcomm Ventures, bringing the company’s total funding raised to date to $149 million.

Reader Comments

12-10-2013 5-53-48 AM

From Lorre: “Re: mHealth. So many people were coming up to me asking if I was Inga that I finally had to make this sign. I am going to get a well-made one for HIMSS. At one point today I showed someone my shoes and he said, ‘Yeah, you’re not her.’” Lorre was holding court at our little HIStalk booth at this week’s mHealth conference. I’m going to recommend that she not only get a better sign for HIMSS but step up her shoe attire, just to confound suspicious readers.

From Helen: “Re: mHealth Summit. I met Lorre – she rocks!” Lorre enjoyed meeting those (few) readers who attended the conference this week. I’m not sure it was relevant enough for a return next year, but we’ll see.

From ASMD: “Re: floppy disks. New York Times or Dilbert?” An article points out that government is not the most sophisticated technology user, noting that The Federal Register often receives submissions from federal departments via 3.5” floppy disks.

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

12-10-2013 5-26-09 PM

HealthLoop, which offers an automated patient follow-up solution, raises $10 million in Series A funding led by Canvas Venture Fund. The company’s CEO is Todd Johnson, the former CEO and president of Salar.

IMS Health, a big data firm that aggregates and sells large databases of de-identified healthcare data, acquires Pygargus, a Swedish health analytics firm. Bloomberg, by the way, reports that IMS Health is considering an IPO in 2014 and  may seek a company valuation of at least $8 billion.


The Indiana HIE selects AT&T’s healthcare Community Online information exchange platform for clinical messaging and medical record sharing.

12-10-2013 1-49-05 PM

Crystal Run Healthcare (NY) selects the Health Catalyst data warehousing and analytics platform.

12-10-2013 1-48-17 PM

UF Health Shands (FL) contracts with Besler Consulting for its Transfer DRG recovery services.


12-10-2013 1-50-04 PM   12-10-2013 1-53-47 PM

HMS Holdings names Joel Portice (Verisk Health) divisional president of government solutions and corporate strategy and Douglas M. Williams (Aveta) divisional president of commercial solutions.

12-10-2013 1-54-45 PM

Teleheatlh solution provider AMC Health appoints Lisa J. Roberts (Viterion Corporation) SVP of its government market division.

12-10-2013 11-54-26 AM

Juan Diaz (Association Capital Resources) joins The HCI Group as SVP/general counsel.

12-10-2013 4-37-04 PM

Bobbie Byrne, MD is named SVP/CIO of Edward-Elmhurst Healthcare, created by the merger of her former CIO employer Edward Hospital and Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare. She will also have responsibility for the facilities and construction departments at Edward as well as the two locations of the Edward Cancer Centers.  

Next Wave CONNECT names Doug Cusick (HP/IBM), Robert Cothron (Singing River Health System), Becky Heflin (IBM), John McDowell (Oslo’s), and Sherry Reynolds (HHS) to its community management team.

Announcements and Implementations

12-10-2013 8-21-45 AM

St. Mary’s Health Care System (GA) makes the Epic MyHealth portal available for hospital patients.

Billings Clinic (MT) implements Omnicell automated dispensing cabinets integrated with Cerner Millennium EHR via the CareAware iBus.

Mercy Medical Center (MD) deploys BridgeHead Software’s Healthcare Data Management for the protection of its Epic system data.

PA eHealth, eVantage Health, and Caradigm will complete the pilot for their HIE project in early 2014.

The Mount Sinai Health System (NY) will use $5 million in funding from the NYC Economic Development Corporation to establish the Mount Sinai Institute of Technology. The Institute will initially focus on digital health technologies, biologically integrated technologies, and prescription technologies.

Government and Politics

The FDA, ONC, and FACC will release a report early next year outlining strategies and recommendations on an HIT framework that promotes innovation, protects patient safety, and avoids regulatory duplication.

Do as I say, not as I do: the OIG finds that the HHS Office of Civil Rights failed to comply with certain federal cybersecurity requirements for the IT systems used to store HIPAA-compliance investigation data. The OCR says all deficiencies have now been corrected.


Almost 76 percent of the largest not-for-profit senior living organizations are implementing EHR technology and 83 percent are implementing point-of-care systems.

12-10-2013 12-25-49 PM

KLAS finds that despite vendor claims of the importance of technology differentiation, providers find that technology platforms do not accurately predict EMR capabilities or clinical success.

12-10-2013 12-45-36 PM

Also from KLAS: StatRad, Rays, and TRS earn top scores for overall customer satisfaction in a report on teleradiology in the ED.

12-10-2013 12-33-20 PM

Thanks to Brian Ahier for forwarding an updated graphic that clarifies the newly proposed timeline changes for MU. Brian notes, “I think the important point here is that although there will very likely be more changes to come, healthcare organizations and providers should not count on any delay or changes but prepare for plans to proceed under this current current regulatory framework.”

Further thoughts on the MU Stage 2 extension: the Stage 2 timeline is unchanged, as Brian’s graphic depicts. Just because Stage 3 has been pushed back a year doesn’t mean that ONC is ignoring concerns about Stage 2 as CHIME and other groups seem to assume by their ballistic reaction to the Stage 3 announcement. ONC’s decision-making process has been thoughtful, participative going back to when Farzad was named National Coordinator. ONC announced the Stage 3 decision Friday and mentioned this week that it will offer a public comment period for the regulatory strategy being worked on with HHS and FDA when that report comes out in in early 2014. Those events show show that nothing has changed just because Farzad has moved on – ONC is listening and won’t blindside anyone with salvos of dictatorial imperatives. The pundits are also missing another important point – decoupling product certification from MU gives vendors more predictable certification updates and the change to give input. Vendors can deliver what the market wants (usability and patient safety features, for example) instead of chasing certification checkboxes.

A Massachusetts man spends about $10 and 20 minutes to make a prosthetic hand for his 12-year-old son on a 3D printer using plans he found on the Internet. The estimated cost for a traditional prosthetic hand is $20-$30,000.

Sponsor Updates

  • API Healthcare reports that more than 250 hospitals and other healthcare providers have chosen its ShiftSelect to automate staffing and scheduling processes.
  • HMS will integrate Medi-Span Controlled Substances Drug File from Wolters Kluwer Health into its Prescriber Eligibility solution.
  • Visiongain includes AT&T and Airstrip on its list of Top 20 Mobile Health Companies for 2014.
  • Anthelio Healthcare Solutions and Encore Health Resources align to promote economies of scale and expand available services.
  • Certify will participate in next month’s IHE NA Connectathon 2014 in Chicago.
  • Caristix posts a white paper on managing predictable outcomes and margins with  HL7 integrations.
  • Iatric Systems hosts a December 12 webinar on integrating EHRs with Welch Allyn vitals.
  • Billian’s HealthData shares its list of the five most popular health market reports for 2013.
  • Twenty-nine percent of patients participating in the 2013 Connance Consumer Impact Study rate their most recent hospital billing experience with top satisfactions scores, though 19 percent express full dissatisfaction.
  • PeriGen hosts a December 11 webinar featuring the company’s chief clinical officer Thomas Garite, MD and a discussion on problems with Category II fetal heart rate problems.
  • KLAS gives 3M Health Information Systems the highest overall performance score among vendors for the 360 Encompass System, 3M’s inpatient CAC technology.


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

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.

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December 10, 2013 News 6 Comments

From the mHealth Summit 12/9/13

December 9, 2013 News 2 Comments

12-9-2013 5-01-58 PM

12-9-2013 4-00-25 PM

I’m at the mHealth Summit at the Gaylord National Resort and across the Potomac River from Washington, DC on the Maryland side. It’s a 2,000-room hotel surrounded by chain restaurants and stores in one of those destination developments aimed squarely at tourists who want to travel without being exposed to anything new, or heaven forbid, local (think Orlando on the Potomac. ) The weather has been terrible with snow and freezing rain, which has added to the feeling of captivity of being in a hotel intentionally located far from competing restaurants and stores and with no convenient shuttle service or Metro station access, meaning everything you eat or drink will cost twice what the market would otherwise command. It’s an expense account crowd, so they don’t seem to mind.

The last time I attended this conference was in 2010, when it was still being run by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health and held in the Washington Convention Center. HIMSS took over in the meantime and attendance has more than doubled to around 5,000. Quibbles aside, HIMSS knows how to run conferences much better than the NIH, meaning there is good signage, an annoyingly peppy opening session featuring questionable curated pop music and lighting, and a strong vendor and commercial presence. It’s much more enjoyable.

I felt as though I had intruded on a geeky academic conference in 2010, although with Bill Gates, Ted Turner, and Aneesh Chopra speaking, the keynote star power was a lot higher then than now. Presentations back then were often about public health projects in Africa, government informatics research, and government policy. The “exhibit hall” was mostly just a part of the hallway where public health poster presentations were displayed, along with a modest presence by the telecom companies. I felt somewhere between virtuous and bored being there.

HIMSS, as it usually does, put all of that unsexy and unprofitable subject matter almost out of sight. Now the conference is a freewheeling ode to capitalism showcasing companies willing and able to pay big bucks for space in the exhibit hall and in the endless number of HIMSS-owned publications. The exhibit hall is like a downsized version of that at the HIMSS conference and most of the educational sessions are either about companies or feature vendor people as presenters or moderators. The attendee demographic seems to have shifted from a heavy non-US presence to the same kind of minimally diverse suited people who go to the HIMSS conference, except few of the folks here are from hospitals since we hospital rabble are seen as part of the problem, not of the solution.

HIMSS seems to be positioning the mHealth Summit as the minor league of its conference portfolio. Most of the small mHealth exhibitors will be toast in a couple of years, but those who survive will graduate to the big show, the HIMSS conference. It’s an untapped market for HIMSS since companies at this conference aren’t selling to hospitals and practices. It’s become more of an investment conference than anything else.

The same issues dominated this year as in 2010. Nobody’s really sure what mHealth is, basically punting off by saying anything that runs on a smart phone must be, which means the subject matter is entirely unfocused and confusing. Startup companies keep trying to convince each other that they can hang on long enough to be bought out. Everybody fervently believes that mobile apps and brash startup spirit can transform the US healthcare system into one that’s cheaper, more health-focused, and more consumer driven. It’s always easy for me to be cynical and dismissive, but especially so at the mHealth Summit.

Speaking of disruptive, I had firsthand experience with a business that truly is. Take a look at Uber, which is fairly new to DC and several other cities. Cab companies and the local governments that regulate and tax them are freaking out over Uber. You punch up on your smart phone that you need a run (either a limo-type service or  cab). Uber tells you how many minutes it will be until your car arrives, and you can watch it moving toward you in real time on a map. Your driver calls to confirm, takes you to your destination, and then you just walk away since Uber charges your credit card plus a 20 percent gratuity automatically. You don’t have to flag down a cab, figure out the whole payment forms/ tip / receipt issue, or explain on the phone where you need picked up. It’s pretty amazing, and clearly the deceptively simple app is connected to a super-sophisticated back-end system. I loved everything about it except the two cab problems that even it apparently can’t solve – my driver spoke no English and never heard of National Harbor so I had to punch it up on my phone and show him the screen so he could type it into his phone’s GPS.

12-9-2013 5-02-46 PM

The opening keynotes I saw all involved vendors or investors. It almost made me miss the puzzlingly unrelated but occasionally interesting HIMSS conference speakers, like Dana Carvey or that mountain climber who sawed his own arm off. The Qualcomm guy proudly mentioned its venture arm’s new investment in Practice Fusion, which has zero to do with mHealth, but given that everybody wanted to talk about investments and valuations, maybe he was just caught up in the moment.

Investor Ester Dyson was interesting, although a bit prickly. She observed that cell phones didn’t compete with land lines, they just showed up and created their own market. She said that mHealth is like that, where it doesn’t have to compete with or earn the approval of entrenched companies. She also observed that mHealth has too many iffy apps and not enough real companies.

AOL founder Steve Case said mHealth needs to move from features to products to platforms. He gave an example in the early days of the PC, companies did nothing but sell printer drivers, but that didn’t last long. He says the market will open up in 5-10 years (the timeline apparently hasn’t changed much since the 2010 conference since that’s what they were saying then). Steve’s Revolution Health was a flop so he got rid of most of it and turned it into an investment vehicle that doesn’t seem to have kicked much of a dent in the universe either, so I don’t know if finding a rich, clueless buyer for AOL right before the dot-com bust makes him a sage, so take it for what its worth.

Dyson made an observation I heard a couple of brave skeptics utter at the 2010 conference. All of these cool apps haven’t had much impact on health. One company doubled the rate of smoking cessation, but that was still a jump from just 5 percent to 10 percent. In 2010 they were talking about the need for more outcomes research; apparently there still isn’t much of it. Case may have explained that in his talk – healthcare and education are the two sectors in which consumers have so little influence (and government has so much influence) that you can’t encroach on them via consumer pressure, you have to partner with the entrenched players.

12-9-2013 4-57-29 PM

12-9-2013 4-58-58 PM

I floated around some sessions and the exhibit hall, not really seeing much that interested me. Apparently the Twitter crowd was more easily impressed since they were lighting up the Twittersphere with observations about both the educational sessions and the exhibits. The biggest and busiest booths were Qualcomm and the National Institutes of Health, which should illustrate my “unfocused” observation pretty well.

I went to a session on government mHealth policy and outcomes. Jodi Daniel of ONC said the FDA, HHS, and ONC are working on a draft strategy report related to the FDASIA report and the FDA’s potential role in regulating healthcare IT. She said the report will go out for public comment in early 2014. Credit ONC for always trying to get input from all stakeholders before just laying the law down.

12-9-2013 4-54-25 PM

The exhibit I appreciated most was Alego Health, which not only had a bartender handing out wine and beer, they also had a nice cheese board that prevented me from having to pay $8 for a cold wrapped sandwich. I looked them up and they do EMR consulting, which doesn’t seem like a good fit for this conference, but I was glad to see them.

12-9-2013 5-00-06 PM

The exhibit hall had an Innovation Zone, where smaller, newer companies got a small demo space in a dedicated area in the back.

12-9-2013 5-06-45 PM

We had a little HIStalk booth (a freebie from the conference people as a media partner, meaning we write about the event, like right now) where Lorre said hi to anyone who dropped by. Enough people were convinced that Lorre is actually Inga and challenged her on it, so we made her a sign to put front and center assuring that she isn’t. She will be in the booth again tomorrow (#1305).

I’ve chosen some session for Tuesday that sound interesting. It’s fun to see a different side of healthcare and healthcare IT than I’m used to as a hospital person. If you’re at the conference, feel free to leave a comment with your takeaways so far. Let me know if you saw something amazing in the exhibit hall that I shouldn’t miss.

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December 9, 2013 News 2 Comments

Morning Headlines 12/6/13

December 5, 2013 Headlines No Comments

To Make Hospitals Less Deadly, a Dose of Data

Tina Rosenberg, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, writes an op-ed in the New York Times calling for more transparency within hospital quality reporting data. She cites as her reason for concern a recent report published in the Journal of Patient Safety that attributes 440,000 US deaths per year to preventable medical errors. That’s one-sixth of all deaths nationally and the third leading cause of death in the United States.

Boston Children’s Hospital study shows significant reduction in hospital medical errors with improved handoff communication

A Boston Children’s Hospital study published in JAMA finds that by implementing a formal communication protocol for conducting patient handoffs and supporting the process with a structured, pre-populating, handoff tool within an EHR, substantial drops in medical errors were realized. Researchers noted a 46 percent drop in overall medical errors after the changes were implemented. Medical errors decreased from 33.8 to 18.3 per 100 admissions and preventable adverse events decreased from 3.3 to 1.5 per 100 admissions.

Carl Icahn buys up more Nuance shares

Active investor Carl Icahn ups his stake in Nuance to nearly 19 percent after the company’s unexpectedly low Q1 forecasts sends stock prices down 15 percent.

Largest Study of Critical Care Telehealth Reveals Improvements in Patient Outcomes and Reductions in Health Care Costs

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School publish a  study that measures the effectiveness of tele-ICU programs implemented across 56 intensive care units over a five-year period. The study found that with telehealth support in the ICU,  patients leave the ICU 20 percent faster and are 16 percent more likely to survive hospitalization and be discharged.

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December 5, 2013 Headlines No Comments

News 12/6/13

December 5, 2013 News 8 Comments

Top News

12-5-2013 8-03-31 PM

Healthcare Informatics owner Vendome Group acquires The Institute for Health Technology Transformation (IHT2), which offers executive health IT conferences, webinars, and research reports.

Reader Comments

12-5-2013 8-52-52 PM

From Quilmes Boy: “Re: Medseek. Underwent another round of layoffs this morning. My role was one of them.” Medseek CEO Peter Kuhn provided this response to our inquiries: “Over the past 12 months, Medseek has developed a significant offshore development operation, adding almost 150 personnel in India to accelerate product development and enable us to respond quickly to changing market dynamics and evolving customer requirements. In addition, weeks ago we funded the acquisition of Madison, WI-based Symphony Care, a leading population health and care management solution provider. Today, the company initiated a planned restructure to take full advantage of these recent investments. Medseek has retained all key personnel to deliver on customer commitments and deliver on near and long-term strategic goals.”

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

inga_small Some recent goodies from HIStalk Practice include: McKesson may close its Seattle office. Physician EMR adoption in the US is up but still lags behind many countries. Texting while doctoring could negatively impact patient care and safety. CMS finalizes the 2014 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule, which includes a 24 percent pay cut if the SGR formula is not amended. Patent data from EHRs provide reliable measures of the process of care and the patient-centeredness of a primary care practice. A gastroenterologist finds pleasure in his move to a low-tech office. Lab ordering rates among primary care physicians decline with providers have a real-time display of cost information within their EMRs. Dr. Gregg takes a trip back to the future. Thanks for reading.

On the Jobs Page: Program Manager – Healthcare Resellers.

Upcoming Webinars

December 17

How to Drive ROI in Your Healthcare Improvement Projects,” presented by Bobbi Brown and Leslie Hough Falk, RN, MBA, PMP of Health Catalyst. Sponsored by Health Catalyst. Tuesday, December 17 at 1:00 Eastern. At a time when average hospital’s margins are stagnating, executives should be asking tough questions about the ROI of "indispensable" technologies. Will new technologies prove their worth or drive them further into the red? How do you measure and track ROI?

December 10


Paperless Practices: Harnessing EHR Value by Improving Workflows with Electronic Data,” presented by Jay Ward of Kryptiq, Mike Kelly of DocuSign, and Sam Clark of  Asheville Head, Neck, & Ear Surgeons, P.A. Sponsored by DocuSign. Thursday, December 10 at 1:00 Eastern. During this Webinar, panelists will discuss how industry and market trends have aligned to rationalize the adoption of e-signature in healthcare. They will also review primary, practical considerations such as legality, security, and mobility. Finally, panelists will highlight case studies and relevant examples of organizations that have successfully jumped onto the “path to paperless”.

December 11

Audit Readiness: Three Simple Steps to Protect Patient Privacy,” presented by Mark Combs of WVU Healthcare System and Rob Rhodes of Iatric Systems. Sponsored by Iatric Systems. Wednesday, December 11 at 2:00 Eastern. Join us for this insightful Webinar to learn what you can do to keep your healthcare organization safe from unauthorized access to patient data.

December 12

Looking Behind the Curtain: Value Based Care’s Impact on the Revenue Cycle ,” presented by Karen Marhefka, MHA, RHIA of Encore Health Resources. Sponsored by Encore Health Resources. Thursday, December 12 at 1:00 Eastern. This webinar provides a basic understanding of value-based health care, or accountable care, explain why value-based reimbursement may not impact the core revenue cycle components immediately, discuss the key focal points for change needed to maintain profitability in a value-based reimbursement model, review why organizations will be pressured to consolidate revenue cycle systems, list the type of tools that are being introduced or are changing with the move to value-based reimbursement and name the major changes that will be required from organizations to move to value-based care and reimbursement.

December 17

The Power of Doctor Happiness: Why The Ideal Patient Experience Needs to Start with the Ideal Provider Experience,” presented by Lyle Berkowitz, MD, FACP, FHIMS (DrLyle). Sponsored by HIStalk. Thursday, December 17 at 2:00 Eastern. Hear from a "Doctor Happiness Guru" who describes how to think innovatively about using healthcare IT in ways which can automate and delegate care, resulting in time savings to doctors as well as improved quality and efficiency for patients.

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

12-5-2013 5-49-33 PM

ClearDATA Networks closes a $14 million Series B funding round.

Accelera Innovations will pay $4.5 million in cash for Behavioral Health Care Associates, a billing and PM provider.

12-5-2013 6-48-07 PM

The College of American Pathologists (CAP) confirmed with Inga that it will shut down its CAP Consulting business over the next few months, concluding that, “The Board decided to exit the CAP Consulting business, our division located in our Lake Cook Road office that provides terminology and clinical information consulting services. CAP Consulting has made steady progress against its business objectives over the past several years; the services it provides are incredibly important and valuable. But with current fiscal constraints, the CAP is not able to continue to invest at the level needed to sustain and grow the business.” Employees were told on November 21. CAP hopes to place those affected in open positions, but also recognizes that the vendors it works with may have an interest in hiring them. CAP will continue to support existing products such as Electronic Cancer Checklists and Electronic Forms and Reporting Module.

12-5-2013 9-50-01 PM

Carl Icahn raises his stake in Nuance to nearly 19 percent of the company’s shares. NUAN shares rose around 6 percent in the past week.


St. Luke’s Hospital (TX) will add Craneware’s Pharmacy ChargeLink.

San Diego Orthopaedic Associates Medical Group (CA) selects SRS EHR.

12-5-2013 5-54-24 PM

Marin General Hospital (CA) engages MedAssets to support the optimization of clinical support resources through cost and operational management improvements.

Baptist Health South Florida will implement the Medseek Empower enterprise patient portal and integrate it with its existing Siemens and NextGen EMRs.

12-5-2013 7-25-07 PM

Banner Health selects Wolters Kluwer Health’s Health Language solutions to navigate the ICD-10 conversion process.

University Physicians of Brooklyn-Anesthesia (NY) will implement OpenTempo’s staff scheduling and case management solutions.


12-5-2013 3-59-33 PM

Experian names Jennifer Schulz (Visa) group president of its vertical markets group, which includes the company’s healthcare business. Its healthcare-related acquisitions include SearchAmerica (December 2008), Medical Present Value (June 2011), and Passport Health Communications (November 2013).

12-5-2013 8-24-11 PM

The National Association of Professional Women names Trudy Easton, RN, senior clinical consultant with McKesson, as its Professional Woman of the Year.

MedSynergies hires Doug Hansen (Accelion Health) as CFO.

Announcements and Implementations

12-5-2013 9-52-27 PM

Homecare and medical staffing company Interim HealthCare implements Procura Home Care Software across 47 locations.

Pediatric genetic testing laboratory Claritas Genomics will implement Cerner’s Millennium Helix solution, join Cerner’s Reference Lab Network, and collaborate with Cerner to develop a laboratory solution for molecular diagnostics. Cerner Capital has also invested in Claritas, closing the company’s Series A round.

Impact Advisors completes a feasibility analysis for Sutter Health (CA) that consider the possibility of Sutter sharing its EHR platform with a community hospital.

Healthix and the Brooklyn HIE (NY) complete their merger and will combine their separate technology platforms over the next year. The organization will retain the Healthix name.

PerfectServe introduces Clinical Event Push, which automatically informs physicians of important clinical events as they occur.

Coastal Healthcare Consulting announces Fusion, a solution to help healthcare organizations achieve peak performance from their EMR investment.

12-5-2013 9-21-07 PM

Mediware releases the MediLinks WTS workload solution for respiratory therapist staffing. 

Government and Politics

ONC’s HIT Policy Committee votes to urge HHS to abandon a proposed requirement for providers to give patients reports showing who looked at their EHR data. Though patient advocacy groups support the requirement, opponents claim the option would be technically impractical and administratively burdensome.

CMS reports that 85 percent of eligible hospitals have received a MU incentive payments through the end of October and 60 percent of Medicare EPs are meaningful users. Agency representatives also note that 89 percent of EHs have attested to Stage 1 MU using a primary vendor that had any 2014 edition product, while 70 percent of EPs used a primary vendor that had any 2014 edition product.

12-5-2013 1-35-14 PM

Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA) introduces the Health Savings Through Technology Act, which would create a commission to investigate how digital health technologies could help reduce healthcare costs and how they could be integrated into federal healthcare programs.

Innovation and Research

Researchers find that physicians who receive email notifications of lab results for tests pending at the time of patient discharge are significantly more likely to be aware of abnormal test results. Authors of the AHRQ-supported study suggest that widespread use of such automated systems could improve patient safety.

When it comes to HIE adoption, physicians are more influenced by other physicians with whom they interact and have common patients than by geographical proximity or other factors, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association,


12-5-2013 9-50-31 AM

inga_small Microsoft researchers develop a smart bra prototype embedded with sensors that flash smartphone warnings when the wearer’s mood suggests they might be about to eat too much. Enterprising hackers would be well advised to seek fast food chains willing to underwrite lingerie infiltration activities to redirect consumers’ dietary choices.

12-5-2013 7-01-41 PM

A study of 19 healthcare systems using the Philips eICU ICU telemedicine system finds that mortality and length of stay were reduced, adding that patients were 26 percent more likely to survive their ICU stay and were discharged from the hospital 15 percent faster. The study also identified the most important criteria in delivering patient care and cost benefits from an tele-ICU program:

12-5-2013 7-00-32 PM

I spoke to principal author Craig M. Lilly, MD, professor of medicine, anesthesiology, and surgery at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and director of the eICU program at UMass Memorial Medical Center (MA), who told us, “All of the things we found made sense." The most important factors affecting patient outcome and cost were:

  • Having a remote or local intensivist review the patient and care plan within an hour of ICU admission
  • Reviewing the results of the program regularly
  • Responding faster to patient alerts and alarms
  • Following ICU best practices
  • Conducting interdisciplinary rounds
  • Running an effective ICU committee

Lilly clarified that the organizations studied were hospitals which had not outsourced their intensivists to a for-profit company.

I asked about previous vendor-supported studies that claimed benefits from tele-ICU programs that independent studies rarely validate. He emphasized that no commercial ties existed in this study. "Any meta-analysis that’s done going forward will definitely show improvement whether you include or whether you exclude the studies that were done by the commercial manufacturers."

Several health systems have shut down their tele-ICU programs due to cost and questionable benefit, most recently MaineHealth, and I asked Lilly about that. He said, "The MaineHealth outcome is really interesting. They had withdrawn it from about 35 community hospital intensive care beds and those folks actually signed up with another vendor. Even though MaineHealth wasn’t going to support it or subsidize it — and they were providing a pretty darned good subsidy, I can tell you, to have it in these community hospitals, which I think is when it became financially unviable and that was one of the reasons they wanted to cut it down — these other community hospitals absolutely saw the value in it for their patients and also for their financial outcomes.They signed up with another vendor and paid a lot more money to do so."

In summarizing his study, Lilly told me, "It didn’t matter whether you had in-house intensivists or didn’t and a lot of these places did. They still got better when they added this layer on. Even though they had somebody in house, that person couldn’t be everywhere they needed to be when they needed to be there. Because while they were dealing with the emergency in Bed 1, the patient in the the ICU three floors above them in Bed 7 was really getting sick and they didn’t know about it. This technology allowed hospitals with good intensivists and great bedside nursing to get the right expertise when they needed it, where it needed to be there because they were able to get on the alerts and alarms in less than three minutes and they couldn’t before."


Allscripts India opens a new and expanded office in Vadodara to house 275 existing employees and to accommodate up to 400. Allscripts has 2,000 employees in India, up from 850 in 2010.

A psychiatrist warns peers about blanket authorizations that patients sign to get their insurance companies to pay for their care, with an example of a subsidiary of Quest Diagnostics requesting the complete paper file on one of his patients. He found that the company mines prescription data and sells it to life insurance companies to consider when deciding whether to issue policies. Psychiatric News, which ran the story, said, “Steven Daviss, MD, chair of the APA Committee on Electronic Health Records, told Psychiatric News that health information exchanges (HIEs), which connect different sources of patient health care data for the use of practitioners caring for patients, can also be an unexpected source of sensitive information. In Maryland, for example, the HIE contains information on hospital treatments, laboratory and radiology data, diagnoses, and medications. ‘This is valuable information that improves the continuity of care, but states have different policies regarding access to these data beyond treatment purposes,’ he said. ‘Most states have mechanisms that allow one to opt out of the HIE and to see who has accessed your information.’”

12-5-2013 10-02-58 PM

Boston Children’s Hospital (MA) reports a substantial drop in medical errors with the introduction of more standardized communication during patient handoffs, including a structured handoff tool within the EMR that self-populates standard patient information.

Vendors, beware: lawsuit-happy MMRGlobal is awarded its tenth healthcare IT patent entitled “Method and System for Providing Online Records,” which covers prescription and appointment reminders as well as e-prescribing.

12-5-2013 7-43-28 PM

A New York Times opinion piece by Pulitzer-winning writer Tina Rosenberg says hospital quality data is inconsistently reported and hard to understand. She says, “But at times it seems as if hospitals aren’t trying very hard. They like to report process measures on which they score well. But with 440,000 deaths from hospital error per year, their record is poor on key safety outcomes. This somewhat dampens their enthusiasm for public reporting. And what hospitals want matters a lot.”

12-5-2013 7-52-42 PM

A study finds that hospitals have a median of two employees assigned to manage population health, with mid-level managers being the most likely to be involved. It concludes that hospital population health approaches are inconsistent and poorly integrated.

In Europe, big drug companies are enlisting patient groups to lobby against legislation that would require them to publish all results of clinical trials, not just favorable ones, so that independent researchers could validate their conclusions. The two drug company trade associations want patient advocates to protest the release of such data by expressing concerns that it would be misinterpreted by non-experts. According to a trade group SVP, “EMA’s proposed policies on clinical trial information raise numerous concerns for patients. We believe it is important to engage with all stakeholders in the clinical trial ecosystem, including the patients who volunteer to participate in clinical trials, about the issue. If enacted, the proposals could risk patient privacy, lead to fewer clinical trials, and result in fewer new medicines to meet patient needs and improve health.”

Adoption of core medication MU elements reduces adverse drug event rates with cost savings that recoup 22 percent of IT costs, according to a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care.

12-5-2013 6-40-22 PM

An op-ed piece in New England Journal of Medicine reviews the OpenNotes initiative that calls for patients to have access to the notes made about them by their clinicians, citing previous studies showing that most patients read the notes and reported improved understanding, medication adherence, and feeling of control, with the vast majority of both patients and clinicians urging that the program continue. However, the article finds that while electronic medical records created the opportunity, they also complicate it:

Early adopters are learning that implementation means more than simply mailing notes or visit summaries or having patients log on to a portal. For starters, the knowledge that patients (and often their families) will have access to records affects the intent and sometimes the content of clinical documentation. Writing accurately about a suspicion of cancer, for instance, can be difficult for clinicians who don’t want to worry patients unnecessarily, and addressing character disorders or cognitive dysfunction in ways that are useful to patients, consulting providers, and others who use the records requires carefully considered words. These challenges are compounded by today’s electronic records, in which the story weaving together social, familial, cultural, and medical contributors to the patient’s health and illness often disappears, obscured by templates. A boon to billers, quality assessors, and researchers, such records can become formulaic and susceptible to data-entry errors. Moreover, they’re often filled with copied-and-pasted information that buries the essential narrative under voluminous repetitive text.

You may think you possess an unnatural ability to speak Siamese Thai when watching this video from Bumrungrad International Hospital in Thailand that describes its planned January go-live with inpatient nursing documentation using Medicomp’s Quippe.

12-5-2013 7-34-04 PM

Weird News Andy racked his brain to come up with “From Doobies to Boobies” as his working title for this article, which describes the potential for marijuana smoking to cause gynecomastia in men (i.e., moobs). WNA also likes the story of Ben Taub Hospital’s ED director (above), who is charged with breaking into the home of another female physician and using red lipstick to write “whore” and “homewrecker” on her bathroom mirror, presumably for reasons not involving emergent care.

Sponsor Updates

  • Clinical insights platform vendor QPID is named a finalist for a publisher’s innovation award, as chosen by a panel of hospital CIOs and other executives.
  • Greythorn conducts a market survey for HIT professionals to analyze compensation, benefits, job satisfaction, hiring trends, and industry participation. Greythorn will donate $1 to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Bellevue and Chicago for every submission.
  • MedcomSoft partners with Liaison Healthcare to connect its Record EHR platform to more than 120 labs and imaging centers integrated within the Liaison EMR-Link Lab Hub.
  • Aprima Medical integrates DMEhub into its EHR, allowing physicians to write orders for durable medical equipment directly from their Aprima EHR.
  • First Databank begins publishing the National Average Drug Acquisition Cost pricing file from CMS.
  • Aspen Advisors spotlights Baystate Health’s (MA) EHR optimization efforts following Aspen’s review and analysis of the organization’s EHR options.
  • API Healthcare highlights the top 10 interview questions to ask nurses.
  • The Indiana HIE details its work with Predixion Software to develop predictive analytics healthcare solutions at this week’s National Readmission Summit.
  • Truven Health Analytics extends its contract to use Post-n-Track’s cloud-based web services platform for the exchange of eligibility data.
  • AT&T launches EverThere, a wearable device that connects to a 24/7 call center if it detects that the wearer has fallen.
  • Impact Advisors principal Laura Kreofsky discusses the sharing of patient data between hospitals.
  • Quantros launches Quantros Member Center, a customer portal that provides immediate access to support cases, training videos, release notes, and user groups.

EPtalk by Dr. Jayne

From The Grey Goose: “Re: RSNA. Booth traffic felt like it was up. The temps were much warmer than last year (except they dip to the 20s later this week) so that probably helped improve the moods. All the big anchor exhibitors continue to improve their booths – more flash, more high tech, better organized space – so people wouldn’t get log-jammed in the middle. Lots of focus on moving data to HIPAA-compliant clouds and being able to access it securely on any device, anywhere. Folks not looking at that seem to be in the minority now which is a big shift from a year or two ago. People want to be more efficient to drive down costs in the land of Obamacare.” Thanks for sharing your experience. It’s great to have roving reporters fill us in on the meetings we’re not able to fit onto our busy dance cards.


From Converse All-Star: “Re: your Thanksgiving column. Mentioning readers sending photos of shoes brought to mind a pair of shoes that my lovely wife possesses. As you might expect, she saves them for special occasions and they also occupy a place of honor in our closet at home.” I’ll let our readers guess what state they represent. The coordinating scarf definitely puts these over the top! Is this the beginning of a 50-state themed challenge? Or better yet, perhaps we could convince The Walking Gallery’s Regina Holliday to branch out into shoes?

Dr. Jayne’s HIMSS Registration Update


More fun and games on the HIMSS website this week. After the HIMSS14 registration site couldn’t figure out how to charge my membership, I decided to go to the HIMSS main website to try to update my membership first so I wouldn’t have to do that step on the conference page. No luck – this critical error message was all I received. The site also refuses to recognize my MD and I can’t figure out how to update that part of my demographics (although it does refer to me as “Dr.” so it’s even more confusing).

I tried it again a couple of days later. I didn’t get the critical error, but when I tried to renew my membership, it adjusted the expiration date by a month since I’m renewing before mine expires, making it effectively only good for 11 months. At that point I was just glad my housing reservation was successful. I gave up for the night.


I decided to go back to the conference website and try it again that way. I am still receiving an alert that it can’t find the pricing for a membership renewal, but at least it has my expiration date in the wrong year. For those of you who are not familiar with the concept of positive pessimism, that’s an example: following up a negative statement with another negative statement to take the edge off the current problem. You’ll learn more about it if you are actually able to register for HIMSS and stay until Thursday to hear Erik Weihenmayer speak. He’s one of the best motivational speakers I’ve heard.


I tried to do it again without the membership renewal (thinking I’d try to do it on the main HIMSS site in January) and got this great new alert. Unfortunately it doesn’t tell me what to do with “please note” rather than “error” or “warning.” Perhaps we could use this as a testing scenario for next year’s Clinical Informatics board exam. Is anyone else having these issues? Or is it as I suspect and half the attendees are either vendors or media so they have a different registration process entirely and no one has complained yet?

I finally broke down and called because I didn’t want to miss the Early Bird discount. I was directed into a phone queue that didn’t have an option that applied to my scenario. Unfortunately the best advice the live agent could give was, “log out and log in again” and we all know how much end users love to hear that. I explained that I had been trying to register using multiple browsers on multiple different devices over many days, so I didn’t think logging out would help.

I asked if they could manually register me. She had to ask a supervisor. Ultimately the blame was placed on the data file that HIMSS sent with the incorrect expiration date, although they said they had no access to the file to try to verify the correct dates. After roughly half an hour of back and forth, they were able to shadow me in their system and bypass the problematic steps, so I suppose now I’m good to go. Inga and I are well into planning our social schedules, so please keep those event invitations coming.


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

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.


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December 5, 2013 News 8 Comments

CIO Unplugged 12/4/13

December 4, 2013 Ed Marx 55 Comments

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

Identity and the Leader

I vividly recall, at age 17, jumping off the bus at the in-processing station of Ft. Dix, New Jersey, where a drill sergeant greeted me—screaming. By the third day, I was wearing a uniform, had a shaved head, and was organized into a squad and a platoon.

The drill sergeant shouted, “Look to your left, look to your right, and now look down at yourself. In nine weeks, one of you will not be here, because you do not have what it takes to be a United States warrior!” Gulp. He scared the crap out of me.

But looking around myself, I determined I was better than at least one or two of my fellow trainees. Yep, I would be OK.

A couple of weeks after I graduated as Private Marx, I entered freshman orientation at Colorado State University as a poster child for insecurity. I have no recollection of who spoke that day, but I do remember him saying that 80,000+ students had graduated in the past 100 years. I pondered the odds and decided that surely there were other bozos who made it, so I, too could succeed.

Since childhood, the comparison method had been a pervasive mindset. My identity had been in what I was rather than who I was. And I had based my success on what I could create rather than why I had been created. I floundered under that junior-high mentality of “I am significant because you are less significant.”

This warped attitude gave me a false confidence in the workplace. I compared myself to my peers and to those above me. Sometimes I would try to learn from others who were stronger and smarter than I, but more often than not I would pounce on their weaknesses to climb over them and up the career ladder. Sure, my skills and talents have helped boost my success, but I was also counterfeiting my identity and confidence based on others’ deficiencies and weaknesses.

Leaving that mindset behind, I’ve been searching for the real me and trying to live as the genuine Ed—insecurity surrendering to conviction.

After qualifying for the USA national championship Duathlon (run-bike-run) as an average athlete, I had just hoped to finish the darned race. Qualifying for a spot on Team USA was not only about to become a dream come true, but also a test of my desire to be the genuine Ed.

At first, I suffered second thoughts based on my insecurities. The odds for success were not in my favor. In fact, competing at this elite level, I would likely end up embarrassing myself. But there I was already comparing myself again. Yet this was my only shot to compete with the gifted.

When I arrived in Tucson and began the registration process, I started doing what most athletes do—comparing myself to others. That guy has less body fat. Another athlete was clean-shaven all over. The guy next to him had a $10,000 bike. The woman in the corner was sponsored … And pretty soon I stood there mentally defeated with the race a mere two days away. I was still basing my success on how I compared to others, not on who I was.

Damn that warped thinking! I stopped it and chose to walk in the opposite spirit. I decided that what I had—a strong heart, a decent bike, and an OK albeit hairy body—was sufficient. I chose to look forward and not to my right or left. The outcome wasn’t in my hands anyway. As an athlete, what mattered was, how will my stats in this performance compare to my stats in the previous races? Was I improving? Forget the guy racing next to me. If I was meant to represent Team USA at the 2014 World Championships, then that would happen.

Identity is a tricky thing. What is it? How is it formed? How does it impact who we are and our performance? Most of the time, I base my identity on how I believe I compare to others. I suspect most of us are mis-wired to think this way.

I don’t claim to have it figured out; I already proved that. My true identity is squaring who I was made to be and living congruent with this truth. I’m still working on it, but as I approach 50, I’m finally getting close. If these ideas help nudge you in the right direction, I will have accomplished my goal for this post.

Some self-reflection ideas:

  1. Is my life/career mission about me, or about the betterment and growth of those around me?
  2. What do I stand for?
  3. Do my values reflect a desire to see others succeed, or do they revolve exclusively around my personal success?
  4. Does my behavior reflect a value for the human soul?
  5. What’s my gauge for comparison: other people or stable virtues?
  6. Am I able to sincerely rejoice in others’ accomplishments, or do I have to one-up people all the time?
  7. Do I go to bed praying that no one finds out how insecure I am?

Who are you really? And are you happy with you?

To view my full reflections in depth, leave a comment with a request and I’ll send you “Identity and the Leader” Part 2.

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

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December 4, 2013 Ed Marx 55 Comments

Morning Headlines 12/4/13

December 3, 2013 Headlines No Comments

Hearst Corporation Agrees to Acquire an 85% Stake in Homecare Homebase, LLC

Hearst Corporation acquires an 85 percent stake in Homecare Homebase, the #1 KLAS rated home health and hospice software vendor.

Martin Health System Adopts RightPatient™ Iris Biometrics for Patient Identification

Martin Health System (FL) will deploy a new biometric patient identification solution from RightPatient that uses iris scanning to positively identify patients. MHS executives expect that the new system will help stop patient identity fraud, eliminate the creation of duplicate medical records, and reduce billing errors.

KLAS Investing in the Future of Medical Imaging

KLAS forms an imaging advisory board to lead a new project focused on imaging-based research.

Adventist to launch updated system

Adventist (CA) will go live with Cerner across 50 clinics this week, completing a network-wide install.

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December 3, 2013 Headlines No Comments

News 12/4/13

December 3, 2013 News 4 Comments

Top News

12-3-2013 6-04-00 PM

Hearst Corporation will acquire 85 percent of Homecare Homebase, the #1 KLAS-ranked software provider for the homecare and hospice market. Hearst’s other healthcare IT companies include First Databank, Map of Medicine, MCG, and Zynx Health.

Reader Comments

From N2InformaticsRN: “Re: CAP Consulting. The College of American Pathologists is dissolving CAP Consulting, its informatics consulting practice. This is the group that was doing exceptional work in terminology and standards with a deep understanding of the information needs and challenges faced by providers across the health care delivery and laboratory spectrum. More recently they developed an effective framework to assess and tackle health information management.  The team has unique skill sets and helped us ensure ontological correctness by developing a terminology roadmap. It will be interesting to see who picks these folks up or whether they form a consulting group on their own.” Unverified. We have a call scheduled for Wednesday with CAP Consulting to learn more.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

12-3-2013 6-53-05 PM

Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor Physician Technology Partners. The physician-owned and led consulting company offers provider-to-provider services that make Epic-using physicians more productive. Its physician champions hold ASAP and EpicCare Ambulatory certifications. PTP’s six-phase approach to building to optimize for quicker ROI includes strategic planning, implementation, build and validation, training, go-live support, and optimization. They’ve done it for customers that include Ohio State, UCSF, Sutter, Exempla, Texas Children’s, Providence, University of Miami, and a bunch more names you would know. PTP’s expertise also includes making Dragon speech recognition work optimally in an Epic environment. Thanks to Physician Technology Partners for supporting HIStalk.

I have an interesting challenge with HIStalkapalooza. Jonathan Bush has a conflict and, for the first time since the inaugural HIStalkapalooza in 2008, we may need to find someone else to present the HISsies awards (travesty, I know.) I need someone who has commanding stage presence, a wicked sense of humor, and a cynical view of healthcare IT (extra points for being able to swig large-format bottles of high-gravity beer while uttering a non-stop stream of one-liners during the otherwise august proceedings.) Let me know if you’ve seen anyone who can approximate JB’s on-stage magic since otherwise Inga’s going to have to get up there and she will be terrified.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

12-3-2013 6-06-47 PM

Post-acute care software provider Brightree acquires MedAct LLC, a developer of home medical equipment and DME software solutions.

12-3-2013 6-07-45 PM

Entrada, a developer of workflow products that are integrated with EHRs from athenahealth, Allscripts, Greenway, and NextGen, raises $1.12 million in new equity.

12-3-2013 6-16-06 PM

Shareable Ink closes $10.7 million in Series C financing and names former Allscripts CEO Glen Tullman to its board.

12-3-2013 6-16-57 PM

Lexmark will consolidate four acquired businesses — Pacsgear, Saperion, Twistage, and Acuo Technologies — under its Perceptive Software subsidiary.


12-3-2013 9-21-02 PM

AnMed Health (SC) will implement technology from Iatric Systems to integrate multiple hospital and departmental systems.

The Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council selects HIE technology from Sandlot Solutions.

Children’s National Medical Center (DC) will deploy Streamline Health’s OpportunityAnyWare business analytics software suite.



12-3-2013 7-47-10 PM

Kristina Greene (Proxicom) joins Lucca Consulting Group as RVP.

12-3-2013 8-14-35 AM

Acusis names Richard Simonetti (Horiba Medical) VP of strategic business solutions.

12-3-2013 8-35-54 AM

Kareo hires Amyra Rand (HireRight) as VP of sales.

12-3-2013 8-34-56 AM

Perigen appoints Chip Long (Merge Healthcare) SVP of growth and development.

12-3-2013 6-11-55 PM 12-3-2013 6-12-47 PM

RCM service provider MedData appoints Paul Holland (QuadraMed) VP of sales and Carl Naso (Aleris International) corporate controller.

12-3-2013 6-14-43 PM

Stephen Bernard (Accretive Health) joins Connance as VP of professional services.

12-3-2013 12-51-06 PM    12-3-2013 12-50-27 PM

Valence Health names Nathan Gunn, MD (Verisk Health) VP of population health and Dan Blake (AirStrip Technologies) SVP of software product development.

KLAS names six members to its first-ever imaging advisory board: Mark Christensen (Intermountain Healthcare), Karen McGraner (Exempla St. Joseph Hospital Denver), Eugene V. Pomerantsev (Massachusetts General Hospital), Peter S. Rahko (University of Wisconsin Hospital), Pablo Ros (University Hospitals HS Cleveland), and Brian Wetzel (Our Lady of Lourdes Memorial Hospital Binghamton.)

Announcements and Implementations

Pro-Laudo, a teleradiology practice in Brazil, implements eRAD PACS with integrated reporting and speech recognition.

12-3-2013 8-53-08 AM

PeaceHealth Medical Group in Longview, WA goes live on Epic.

Hospitals and skilled nursing facilities in California’s Santa Clara county will deploy CareInSync’s Carebook platform to coordinate care transitions.

12-3-2013 9-24-47 PM

Cheyenne Regional Medical Center (WY) converts patient information and data from seven legacy systems into a single platform integrated with Epic using Hyland Software’s OnBase ECM solution.

More than 50 Adventist Health/Central Valley Network (CA) facilities go live this week on Cerner.

12-3-2013 6-19-51 PM

Martin Health System (FL) deploys the RightPatient iris biometrics patient identification system from M2SYS Healthcare Solutions.

Providence Health & Services (WA) opens a clinic without a waiting room in its first go-live of RTLS from Versus Technology.

UCLA Health System (CA) opens the Lockheed Marking UCLA TeleHealth Suite and Lockheed Martin Outpatient Recovery Suites for Wounded Warriors of Operation Mend, which were made possible by a $4 million gift from Lockheed Martin.

GE Healthcare launches Centricity 360, an online clinical collaboration tool that provides real-time sharing of data.

3M Health Information Systems releases 3M ChartScriptMD Software for Radiology, a reporting application that allows radiologists to create, sign, and distribute complete reports and communicate diagnostic findings from a single, integrated system.

12-3-2013 7-33-20 PM

Congratulations to Tampa General Hospital (FL), which VP/CMIO Richard Paula tells me has earned HIMSS EMRAM Level 7 with its $90 million Epic system.

Innovation and Research

Researchers from NORC at the University of Chicago will study how Cerner employees respond to cost transparency tools from Change Healthcare. The RWJF-funded study will assess the impact of price, quality, and engagement approaches on consumer choice of healthcare.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh create a publicly searchable digital database of infectious diseases cases dating back 125 years.



12-3-2013 9-47-33 AM

The Leapfrog Group publishes its annual list of top hospitals based on quality of care.

Carolinas HealthCare System launches analytics capabilities that integrate data for evidenced-based health management, individualized patient care, and predictive modeling. The health system’s in-house analytics group built the data analytics models and are using de-identified clinical and financial information from 10.5 million patient encounters. I interviewed SVP/CIO Craig RIchardville in September.

Happtique certifies 19 health and medical apps, which requires them to meet privacy, security, and operability standards and pass clinical content testing.

WEDI, EHNAC, and DirectTrust partner to promote and accelerate the adoption of a national accreditation program for information “trusted agent” service providers.

12-3-2013 1-46-45 PM

inga_small The New York Times highlights the insanity of US hospital charges, including pricing that is often arbitrary; wide variations in pricing for the same service across different facilities and regions; and, heavily inflated prices for routine supplies and services. For example, the average cost of treating a cut finger in an ER ranges from $790 in New England to $1,377 in the Pacific. Also noted: the hefty incomes of many executives in non-profit health systems, including 28 Sutter Medical Center officials who each make more than $1 million a year.

12-3-2013 1-31-36 PM

inga_small A tone-deaf boy in Denver suffers a concussion playing lacrosse, recovers, and develops the ability to play 13 instruments. His physician theorizes that the musical talent was “latent in his brain and somehow was uncovered by his brain rewiring after the injury.” Sort of gives new meaning to the term, “one-hit wonder.”

Crain’s Chicago Business points out that despite the hoopla around the 34 hospitals MetroChicago HIE has announced as members, it has failed so far to sign at least three of the biggest ones: Northwestern, University of Chicago Medicine, and NorthShore.

Weird News Andy finds himself thankful for piercings after reading this story, which describes a joystick-like device implanted as tongue piercing that allows paralyzed people drive their wheelchairs by flicking their tongues.

WNA may have a new competitor, as a reader provided this toothsome morsel of prose. A Swedish prisoner escapes two days before his scheduled release to have a tooth fixed, having been denied service by the prison dentist. He has the tooth removed and then returns to his cell. The prison gives him an oral warning and extends his stay by 24 hours to make up his time.


Sponsor Updates

  • Administrators from Nemours Children’s Hospital (FL) explain how Rauland-Borg Corporation, Versus Technology, and GetWellWork integrated their technologies to inform patients about their doctor or nurse as they walk into a patient room.
  • Mike Silverstein and Kasey Fahey of Direct Recruiters, Inc. interviewed 21 healthcare IT executives about trends and predictions.
  • Capsule Tech joins the Continua Health Alliance.
  • Greenway Medical Technologies will integrate data analytic tools from Inovalon into its PrimeSUITE EHR platform.
  • AirWatch develops app reputation scanning technology for its platform in support of corporate-owned and BYOD deployments.
  • Vital Images showcases clinical enhancements to its VitreaAdvanced software at this week’s RSNA meeting.
  • MedAssets shares a video case study highlighting how it helped the Texas Purchasing Coalition achieve $60 million in cost reductions and increase efficiencies.
  • Culbert Healthcare Solutions hosts a December 13 webinar on the ICD-10 impact of revenue cycle operations and clinical workflows.
  • Quantros offers a December 11 webinar on quality reporting requirements for inpatient psychiatric facilities.
  • Nuance adds speech recognition accuracy and workflow enhancements to the PowerScribe 360 platform.
  • Beacon Partners publishes a white paper outlining best practices when connecting affiliated physicians to the health system.
  • Merge Healthcare releases iConnect Network, an imaging network for the secure electronic exchange of imaging information.
  • FUJIFILM Medical Systems introduces Synapse VNA technology and demonstrates Synapse RIS EHR solution at this week’s RSNA meeting.


RSNA Impressions

12-3-2013 7-12-28 PM
Deborah Kohn checks in with a high-level reaction to RSNA.

Based on my observations of RSNA 2013’s multitude of imaging informatics products, radiology (and other image-generating “ology” or department) PACS continue to be “deconstructed”.

For example, the “A” in PACS (for Archiving) remains the focus of many Vendor Neutral Archive (VNA) system products. No noteworthy independent (of PACS vendors) VNA products are being introduced this year, and most of the PACS vendor VNA products are trying to catch up to the independents by highlighting new functionality. This year’s newer focus centers on enterprise viewers, which consolidate provider organizations’ large number of disparate clinical system viewers, such as those of the multi-modality PACS (DICOM), Enterprise Content Management (non-DICOM), and even EHR system viewers.

Also moving to the enterprise level are the image share / image exchange capabilities, which include the taking-along of key clinical content down/uploaded from/into the EHR. An impressive Johns Hopkins Medicine work-in-progress at IHE’s Image Sharing Demonstration included Face Time/Skype-like (yet HIPAA secure) video conferencing for consultations and/or second opinions. The remote providers collaborated on diagnostic-quality views of DICOM images with side-by-side, structured EHR data and unstructured text reports – all in one view at the click of a button.

In summary, traditional PACS functionality continues to be siphoned off into other, more robust and often enterprise components, leaving traditional PACS as the important workflow engines for the modalities.


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

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.


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December 3, 2013 News 4 Comments

News 11/27/13

November 26, 2013 News 2 Comments

Top News

11-26-2013 7-24-25 PM

Nuance Communications reports Q4 results: revenue up less than 1 percent, adjusted EPS $0.30 vs. $0.51. Unenthusiastic company guidance sent shares plummeting 18 percent Tuesday; they’ve sunk 41 percent in the past year. Above is the one-year price graph of NUAN (blue) vs. the Nasdaq (red).

Reader Comments

11-26-2013 3-42-24 PM

From BR549: “Re: Health Care DataWorks. Laid off 35 percent of its workforce last Wednesday.” HCD CEO Jason Buskirk provided this response to our inquiries: “We do not share specific statistics, but the percentage that you quote is incorrect. Based on feedback from our clients, we are realigning the organization to be laser focused on our software, KnowledgeEdge. HCD will continue to hire the best and brightest technical talent in the industry.” Buskirk was announced as CEO on September 18, replacing founder Herb Smaltz, who had held the CEO position since 2008 but remains on the company’s board.

11-26-2013 12-51-59 PM

inga_small From TomT: “Re: holiday wishes. It’s that time of year when we should take a moment to give thanks for for all 141,000 new ICD-10 codes coming our way. I hope you and the rest of the HIStalk gang avoid any of these turkey-related injuries and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.” Yet another reason to buy the frozen Butterball. Many thanks to TomT and all the other readers who have sent us holiday greetings!

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

11-26-2013 3-13-32 PM

Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor Medfusion. The Cary, NC-based company enhances the patient-provider relationship by providing new ways for them to communicate, improving patient engagement and allowing providers to meet MU Stage 2 requirements. The former Intuit Health’s patient portal allows providers to spend more time on patients through the efficiencies gained from online messaging, appointment scheduling, bill payment, payment plans, refill management, and results sharing. Medfusion’s portal also integrates with popular EHRs and provides patients with mobile access. See for yourself – you can test drive the patient portal instantly with no signup required just like I did. I interviewed founder Steve Malik, who bought the company back from Intuit in August 2013. Thanks to Medfusion for supporting HIStalk.

11-26-2013 4-07-10 PM

I’ll have details about our HIMSS activities (including HIStalkapalooza) after New Year’s, but here’s something fun: we’ll be having an HIStalk sponsor networking reception Sunday evening, February 23 from 6:30 until 8:30 (an easy walk from the HIMSS opening reception, which runs from 5:00 to 7:00). Sponsor executives always enjoy the chance to lay aside their competitive armor in renewing old acquaintances and making new ones in a relaxed setting, so this should be a fun evening in which business will be inevitably conducted as well. Lorre will be hosting and I’ll provide great food and drinks. Watch for your invitation.

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

11-26-2013 9-21-29 AM

Patient engagement and education provider PatientPoint completes the acquisition of publishing assets from American Hospitals Publishing Group International, a developer of customized patient guides and communication tools.

11-26-2013 10-51-41 AM

Genophen, a developer of a health management platform and clinical support tool, raises $2 million in a third round of funding.

11-26-2013 4-10-12 PM

Streamline Health Solutions prices its secondary stock offering of 3 million shares at $6.50 per share for net proceeds of $17.1 million.

11-26-2013 6-11-00 PM

Cumberland Consulting Group acquires life sciences implementation firm Mindlance Life Sciences

11-26-2013 7-01-17 PM

PM/EMR vendor CureMD acquires medical billing company AviaraMD.


11-26-2013 9-22-31 AM

AtlantiCare (NJ) selects MedCurrent’s OrderRight Radiology Decision Support system, which will be integrated with AtlantiCare’s existing Cerner PowerChart platform.

Madera Community Hospital (CA) will implement Passive Incident Management software from RGP Healthcare.

UK Healthcare (KY) will implement medical image sharing services from lifeIMAGE.

Allina Health (MN) expands its use of MedAssets Contract and Episode Management solutions into outpatient settings.

Bone marrow donor center DKMS chooses registry software from Remedy Informatics.


11-26-2013 9-33-17 AM

Brigham and Women’s Health Care (MA) names Cedric J. Priebe, MD (Care New England Health System) CIO.

11-26-2013 11-16-35 AM

Michael Dal Bello, managing director of Emdeon’s parent company Blackstone Group, resigns from Emdeon’s board.

11-26-2013 12-50-23 PM

The Pennsylvania eHealth Partnership Authority appoints Michael Fiaschetti (Highmark) to its board.

11-26-2013 6-03-02 PM

Outpatient specialty care software vendor Net Health hires Mary Mieure (Greenway) as VP of training and implementation.

Announcements and Implementations

The Kansas HIN and the Lewis and Clark Information Exchange agree to connect their HIEs, allowing the networks to keep $1 million in federal funding.

Huntsman Cancer Institute (UT) deploys the NLP-based I2E software platform from Linguamatics to extract discrete data from unstructured texts in clinical notes.

ProHealth Care (WI) becomes the first healthcare system to use Epic’s Cogito data warehouse tool, which combines patient data from Epic with information from other EMRs and data sources.

Government and Politics

11-26-2013 3-08-55 PM

Several industry organizations ask the House Ways & Means and Senate Finance Committees to ensure that MU Stage 3 includes interoperability requirements for EHRs and remote patient monitoring systems.

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin reprimands Health Access Commissioner Mark Larson for lying to state representative earlier this month when Larson was asked directly if the state’s insurance exchange had experienced any security breaches. Larson failed to disclose an October incident in which a user pulled up the personal information of someone else due to a reassigned username.

Seven Democratic senators call on the President to name a CEO of the Healthcare.gov website who would report directly to the White House instead of to HHS.

Innovation and Research

Researchers find that rural ED physicians are less likely to make medication administration errors when using telehealth technology to consult with specialists.


11-26-2013 3-10-31 PM

The AHA urges CMS to ensure Medicare contractors and state Medicaid agencies  begin end-to-end testing on ICD-10 by January in order to prepare for the October 1, 2014 deadline.

11-26-2013 8-04-17 PM

Epic will build two laboratory installations of its EpicCare EHR at Oregon Health & Science University for medical informatics and research purposes. On the research side, the University will have access to Epic’s source code. 

Weird News Andy notes breaking news from Good Shepherd Medical Center (TX), where a male suspect is being held in the Tuesday morning stabbing death of a female nurse in the hospital’s ambulatory surgery center. Another employee and three visitors were also injured.

An Idaho state senator video chatting with her son on her iPhone on Face Time has a stroke, which her son notices from seeing her confusion and facial drooping . He rushes her to the hospital in time for speedy treatment and she’ll make a full recovery. She says, “I’ll always be a dedicated fan of the iPhone,” while her son adds, “If you have adults that live away, you need an iPhone for ‘em. I’m serious, that’s huge. … Seeing their face, you can actually see if something’s amiss.”

USA Today talks up the promise of analyzing large healthcare databases to its audience of hotel guests and airport travelers,  although the article wanders around with a few unrelated facts and no real conclusion other than “it’s coming.” It did contain one interesting factoid: a study found that diabetic hospital readmissions weren’t dominated by older patients who had forgotten to inject their insulin, but rather young female diabetics who had intentionally skipped their dose trying to lose weight.

Sponsor Updates

  • Nuance Communications announces the general availability of Dragon Medical 360 l Network Edition 2.0, which allows clinicians to document using multiple devices and provides an accuracy level of 98 percent or higher out of the box.
  • E-MDs Solutions Series 8.0 achieves Complete EHR 2014 certification for Stage 1 and 2.
  • MModal integrates radiology report measurements from PACSGEAR’s ModLink with MModal Fluency for Imaging Reporting.
  • Merge Healthcare will showcase iConnect Access Version 5.0, its universal viewing and imagine sharing solution, at next week’s RSNA meeting in Chicago.
  • Iatric Systems announces that Meaningful Use Manager with Clinical Quality Measures Version 3.0 has earned ONC 2014 certification as an EHR Module.


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

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.


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November 26, 2013 News 2 Comments

Morning Headlines 11/26/13

November 25, 2013 Headlines 2 Comments

Analysis of huge data sets will reshape health care

USAToday covers the rise of big data in healthcare, imagining that, " Insurers will soon reassess how they predict costs; patients will let doctors know what medications won’t work with their particular genomes; and researchers will look at hospital records in real time to determine the cheapest, most effective ways to treat patients."

ProHealth adds Epic Systems’ ‘population management’ tool

ProHealth Care, a Wisconsin-based health system and ACO, becomes the first Epic customer to use Cogito, Epic’s population health data miner.

Congress Pushed for Stage 3 Criteria for Telehealth

The American Telemedicine Association, Association for Competitive Technology, Continua Health Alliance, and the Telecommunications Industry Association send a letter to Congressional leaders asking that they ensure that Meaningful Use Stage 3 includes interoperability requirements that address not only data within EHRs, but also data captured via remote patient monitoring systems.

FDA tells 23andMe to halt sales of genetic test

The FDA has ordered personal genome testing vendor 23andMe to pull its services from the market until it proves to the FDA that its tests are scientifically valid.

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November 25, 2013 Headlines 2 Comments

HIStalk Interviews David Chou, CIO, University of Mississippi Medical Center

November 25, 2013 Interviews 5 Comments

David Chou is CIO of University of Mississippi Medical Center of Jackson, MS.

11-25-2013 9-34-39 AM

Tell me about yourself and the medical center.

University of Mississippi Medical Center is an academic medical center. We’re here supporting our research sector, our hospital sector – healthcare, and the medical school. We’re the state’s only Level I Trauma Center and the state’s only children’s hospital. Given that, we are also a state entity, so we are here to provide outstanding care for the state of Mississippi.

I’ve been on the ground here for about almost two months now. I previously came from Cleveland Clinic. I was overseas in Abu Dhabi working on the joint venture project that they had with the government of Abu Dhabi. I was there for almost two years before leaving to come back to the states. I’m originally from southern California in Los Angeles, so I’m accustomed to being in a big city throughout my life until now where I’m in Jackson, Mississippi. Overall it’s going well.


What are your biggest projects and your biggest challenges?

The biggest one now is that we’re looking at optimization. We went live with Epic about 16-17 months ago with a big bang installation. All the hospitals and all the clinics, so campus-wide we rolled out Epic, which is a very great task that was undertaken. Now we’re looking at ways to optimize it.and utilize the system to our advantage. I’ll say that’s probably the number one thing for me right now.


What are your goals for the system and what do you hope to accomplish using Epic?

I would say just utilizing the system to its fullest capability. Right now, we’re utilizing probably about 40-45 percent of the system’s functionality. I want to get it to at least 85-90 percent. In addition to that, some of the main technology initiatives are moving toward the BYOB environment and we’re moving toward virtual desktops. We’re going mobile. I want to get us where we’re one of the very few healthcare players that’s able to support a mobile environment. I want to get away from the traditional client-server setup.


What do you need in terms of infrastructure to support a mobile workforce?

We currently have Citrix as a main partner in terms of supporting Epic. We’re almost there, we’re pretty far ahead. In terms of infrastructure, we just need to take a look at some of the hardware upgrades, then we should be ready. We rolled out Citrix for all of our clients. Everything’s running through our Citrix client. What that means is that we just have to get some of the other healthcare applications to work well with our Cisco container and we should be good to go. We’re very close, closer to what I originally imagined coming on board.


Are other clinicians other than physicians going mobile as well?

Primarily physicians, medical staff and nurses. We have a really big telehealth program here. We have over 85 hospitals on site that are utilizing our telehealth program. Our goal is to get it to over 100+ sites and capture not just the state of Mississippi, but we want to capture the southeastern region of the US and potentially go global. They’re going to be a big player in terms of utilizing the mobile platform.


What’s the vision for global telehealth?

We grew so fast here, in terms of this telehealth program. I think the vision is to be able to provide care for the state of Mississippi and the rural areas first. We want to scale it to where obviously just to be able to service the area of Mississippi, but I think we have the potential to expand it globally. We need to be able to showcase and show everyone what we’re doing here in Mississippi from a telehealth perspective.

It is fast-evolving technology that right now is still very premature, so we’re scrambling at this point. But hopefully we’ll get to stage to where we’re solid and we have a few solid partners that are working with us. Then I think we’ll be able to extend it globally, working with some of the other countries that are in need of telemedicine. You know, given the fact that I was in Abu Dhabi, I see a strong need for healthcare players in North America to boost healthcare globally throughout the world.


Are there specific services that you plan to use in your own institution?

I would say anything. I don’t think the organization has thought about expanding globally, but that’s the sort of the goal that I have in place of the organization, along with my director of telehealth.


Are you doing anything else that you would consider innovative or unusual?

Telehealth and getting solid on a more mobile strategy. Those are the two primary things I would say that’s very innovative right now. We’re still trying to get some of the basics in terms of the basic functionalities in place, but from a healthcare perspective, I would say those are the two biggest areas. From a medical college standpoint, there are a lot of things we want to do as far as mobile strategy as well, but that’s something that’s still a work in progress.


You were a hospital analyst 10 years ago and now you’re the CIO of a large health system. What advice would you give people who are interested in a similar career path?

It’s very important to understand the business side of healthcare. I was fortunate enough to where I was able to roam and understand the various departments. I’ve had various departments report up to me as well, such as supply chain. I have a lot of knowledge from a revenue cycle standpoint. 

I would say really get involved and understand operations, how things work. That’s going to carry a lot of weight in terms of fitting technology into the business side. After all, business drives technology, so it’s very important and very valuable for someone to actually understand how to operationalize the hospital and how to make it profitable.


In terms of educational background as well as experience, what do you think would be ideal for today’s CIO role?

A technology background would be ideal, just to understand how things work and have that foundation. But ideally, someone with a business background, specifically in the healthcare sector. If there’s a passion for that individual on the technology side, that’s a plus, primarily having to be a little more business savvy. Most of the CIOs today have been in technology for a long time and they understand technology, but when you ask them to transfer that knowledge from a technology terms to business terms, there has been a challenge.


How is your relationship with your CFO and how can CIOs improve that relationship?

What’s helped me is the fact that I work closely with my CFO as a partner. He trusts me to help him solve things that are going wrong on the revenue side because I have that knowledge from a business side as far as how to run a business office. That’s helped me tremendously in that relationship to where I’m viewed as a solid partner, not just a technology advisor. I’m there helping from a financial perspective as well. That’s what’s very critical, and that’s what’s lacking these days.


Is the industry is doing a good job of preparing the next generation of IT leadership?

No, I don’t think so. I was very fortunate that at my previous organization, AHMC Healthcare, I was very close to the chairman of the board. I had his trust and he allowed me  roam and take note of the various stakeholders from a business perspective. That was how I was able to understand how healthcare operates from an operational perspective. Without that experience, I don’t think I would be where I am now. I would say that in general we do not do a good job of educating technology leaders on the business side to groom them for the next level.


Your background illustrates that sometimes you have to take jobs that are either geographically unusual or maybe not even desirable jobs to be able to move up. It’s not likely that you’ll just stay in one place and 20 years later you’ll suddenly be promoted. Do people understand that you can’t just stay put and work your way up to the one and only CIO job?

You have a point. You do have to navigate and move around a lot, just to be able to get where you want to be from a career path. Obviously you’d like to stay in one place, but there’s only one role. The chance of someone younger getting that high-profile role is a little bit tougher unless you move around and get some exposure outside the one organization.

I think you brought up a really good point as far as being able to grab on to an opportunity and take the challenge. Once folks get comfortable, it’s hard to get them out of that comfort zone. That’s a big separation divider between someone being able to lead and take on the next role.


Do you think a lot about government decisions about healthcare IT?

I do. I try to stay involved, but that piece is a little bit tougher. But given that we’re a state entity now, I am a little bit more involved than I have been in the past. I did come up from a for-profit institution as well. Now that we’re a state entity, I am heavily involved with the regulatory that goes around in healthcare IT.


Are there lessons you learned on the for-profit side that you can bring to your current employer?

Oh, yes. That was a big separation divider, given that I have a good background in terms of maximizing return on investment and being able to be profitable for an organization. That’s helped coming to this sector, where traditionally from a non-profit, academic standpoint, that has not been the key driver. As healthcare is consolidating, everyone is looking at ways to maximize their return on investment.


You weren’t there when the Epic decision was made, but what return on investment assumptions were built in? What are you measuring and expecting?

Going Epic is the right path. Every healthcare system in the US is trying to get to that consolidated platform. I think they made the right choice. The main drive, the key metric to measure, is how do we look from a revenue standpoint after go-live versus before go-live? I think we’re at the point where we’re above where we were before in terms from a revenue standpoint, but we’re still pretty far from where we can be. We’re looking at a lot of ways to optimize and be that far ahead in terms of from a revenue standpoint.


Do you think Epic will provide a positive return on investment?

We will. We’re utilizing Epic for almost every module. I think we will see a positive return.


People are always asking me what kind of healthcare IT company they should start. What would you say to somebody who’s contemplating that and wonders where the opportunities might be?

The best opportunity is to be a partner and a problem solver. Obviously if they’re not able to solve complex problems, then that niche is not there. Understand the various problems that facilities and healthcare facilities are facing these days and try to find a niche as far as where they can fit in. It’s very easy for someone to be a generalist, but I think focus on a specific area, a few specific niches. That’s where they would stand out.

A perfect example that came to my mind is I worked with a consultant that knew how to help a healthcare facility qualify for and maximize their DSH, Disproportionate Share Hospital, reimbursement. That’s a niche market. There aren’t too many people that can go into successfully and help a non-DSH hospital become qualified for DSH. These are special sort of niches that are valuable. Otherwise, it’s very hard for a small firm that is more of a generalist to be successful in the long run.

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November 25, 2013 Interviews 5 Comments

Monday Morning Update 11/25/13

November 23, 2013 News 13 Comments

From HIT Newbie: “Re: Jonathan Bush of athenahealth. Here’s his recent interview at Duke’s Fuqua Distinguished Speaker Series. Great stuff.” It’s very interesting even for non-athena fans and less manic (but still as full of quotable sound bites) as his shorter-form interviews. It’s hard to stop watching once you start.

From The PACS Designer: “Re: Android’s coming up fast. The latest information available on shipping volumes for mobile platforms shows the Android platform beating everyone else easily. While the healthcare space is benefiting from the huge volume of available Apple apps, it won’t be long before Android development expertise grabs the opportunity to offer solutions for big data applications which are sorely needed by researchers and practitioners.”

11-23-2013 9-01-21 AM

Our field involves technology and health, but only about half of respondents use apps to monitor or improve their own health. New poll to your right, inspired by Dr. Jayne: if you’re going to the HIMSS conference, will you be open to the possibility of finding a new job?

Healthcare IT news is always slow in November and December unless some company decides to do a year-ending acquisition, so don’t think a shorter HIStalk post means you’re missing anything. It’s not a magazine with an incentive to pad out the issue with non-newsworthy junk. As I always say, 90 percent of my job is deciding what “news” to ignore. I hate reading stories with attention-getting headlines and cleverly written prose that turn out to be a complete waste of time.

11-23-2013 6-54-31 PM

Sunquest forms The HIT Group, soliciting member companies that agree with its position that the FDA should regulate healthcare IT, with particular emphasis on patient safety and software development practices. I wouldn’t expect many companies to join except those who, like Sunquest, are already regulated by the FDA, but it would be a bold move for vendors to encourage regulation and use their influence to make it reasonable rather than waiting for the FDA to spring a potentially vendor-unfriendly surprise. As a patient, it’s hard to argue against external oversight of systems that are becoming more influential in how care is delivered. I’m not quite sure why the announcement letter capitalizes words and phrases that don’t require it, such as “patient,” “health information technology,” “government,” and “patient safety.”

The New York Times finds that Healthcare.gov was doomed from the start by an unbroken string of bad decisions: the White House’s infatuation with creating a dazzling site, its inflexibility on an October 1 go-live that required ill-advised shortcuts, White House meddling that caused weeks of delay in answering simple software engineering questions such as whether the user should be required to enter their Social Security number, CMS’s decision to use the NoSQL database despite warnings from contractor CGI that not many people know how to program against it, CMS deciding to act as its own systems integrator instead of hiring an experienced company, and putting a CMS official in charge without giving him the authority to make decisions without first contacting the White House. The gist of the article is that White House arrogance combined with CMS incompetence created a disaster that everybody saw coming but nobody could stop.

Encore Health Resources will present an HIStalk Webinar, “Looking Behind the Curtain: Value Based Care’s Impact on the Revenue Cycle” on Thursday, December 12 at 1:00 Eastern.

11-23-2013 6-57-50 PM

Health Canada apologizes to 40,000 medical marijuana users when it mails an information update with a privacy-torching return address of the Marijuana Medical Access Program.

Block Island Medical Center, a two-doctor practice in Rhode Island, reports frustration with its conversion to an unnamed EMR in its quest to collect HITECH incentives. The executive director says “it takes hours to enter records” and one of its doctors reports, “What used to take minutes to write in is now taking hours. The other night I was here until midnight.” A board member says the EMR is “totalitarian,” while the board president said they should have had an implementation person or guide.

The western Montana region of Providence Health & Services lays off employees to offset the cost of new positions required to support Epic.

11-23-2013 6-59-44 PM

Virginia-based gastroenterologist Michael P. Jones, MD (who, interestingly enough, also holds a degree in dentistry) writes a Los Angeles Times opinion piece on EMRs, saying it takes doctors more time to document procedures than to actually perform them and that the main role of EMRs is to create “a bill of sale” to get insurance companies to pay for services. He’s not a fan of the healthcare system in general, either:

My job is to listen and observe, to figure out who really does have something bad going on and who may simply be feeling the effects of life’s wear and tear. There’s a huge difference between that and the healthcare industry, which is more about industry than health or care. Third-party payors don’t really care what happens in an exam room. The visit that you, as a patient, have been anxiously waiting for could just as easily be shoes or oranges or pork bellies to these folks. It’s just a commodity. It’s just data. And now the industry wants it documented in a format that works for billers and statisticians but not so much for doctors: the electronic medical record.

Sponsor Updates
  • Prominence Advisors is named as a “National Best and Brightest Companies to Work For” for 2013.
  • Infor announces enhancements for its MediSuite system for hospitals in Canada, including workflow enhancements, the addition of care models, and improved physician integration.


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

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.


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November 23, 2013 News 13 Comments

News 11/22/13

November 21, 2013 News 9 Comments

Top News

11-22-2013 12-23-38 AM

HIMSS names Children’s Medical Center (TX) its 2013 Enterprise HIMSS Davies Award of Excellence winner.

From Ricky Roma: “To shag or not to shag… Please weigh in to help with our HIMSS 2014 booth decision, as our team is split along gender lines this year. Do we go with the high shag, ‘flooring equivalent of a peacock’s tail’; or the low shag, ‘it’s apparently easier to endure if you’re in heels’ booth carpet? What’s a sales leader to do?” I will solicit the collective knowledge of the HIStalk readership to answer this very important question.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

inga_small A few HIStalk Practice highlights from the last week include: AMA continues to push for an ICD-10 delay. I share my recent experience with physician rating websites. The majority of physicians express dissatisfied with their ambulatory EHRs. A reader offers a music review from the NextGen UGM. A New Jersey practice manager shares details of her office’s EMR selection and implementation and discusses how the EMR has help improve the quality of care for patients. Thanks for reading.

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

Catalyze.io, which offers a platform to accelerate the development of mobile health apps, secures a Series A financing round. The CEO of Catalyze.io is HIStalk Connect’s own Travis Good, MD.

Experian completes its acquisition of Passport Health.


Healthconnect HIE (TX) selects Surescripts services to make prescription and medication fill data available to hospitals.

11-21-2013 1-58-44 PM

Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin will implement Health Catalyst’s Late-Binding Data Warehouse and Analytics platform.

11-21-2013 2-00-16 PM

Inland Imaging (WA) will expand its use of MModal products to include MModal Fluency for Imaging and MModal Catalyst for Radiology.

11-21-2013 2-01-29 PM

Christiana Care Health (DE) selects grants management software from Huron Consulting Group.

11-21-2013 2-03-10 PM

Texas Health Resources will implement patient engagement technology from Emmi Solutions.


11-21-2013 2-05-07 PM

Huron Consulting Group names William T. Foley (Vanguard Health Systems) managing director of its healthcare practice focused on public healthcare systems and academic medical centers.

11-21-2013 9-34-48 PM

Randy Fusco (Microsoft Health & Life Sciences) joins Emdeon as SVP/CIO for revenue cycle services.


St. Luke’s Health System (ID) promotes CMIO Marc Chasin, MD to VP/CIO.

Announcements and Implementations

Clinovations launches the Clinovations Center for Population Health Management to help stakeholders design and implement infrastructures and operating models to support population management and value-based care delivery systems.

11-21-2013 6-58-02 AM

Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland (CA) completes the first phase of its $89 million Epic implementation.

Michigan Health Connect delivers diagnostic-quality images to its HIE member hospitals using the eHealth Connect Image Exchange platform from eHealth Technologies.

Visage Imaging implements its Visage 7 Enterprise Imaging Platform as part of vRad’s RG2 radiology operational management solution.

Roskilde Sygehus in Denmark goes live with iMDsoft’s MetaVision in its ICU, NICU, OR, and PACU.


The US Patent and Trademark Office issues SCI Solutions a patent for its method and systems used for secure online patient referral and ordering.


11-21-2013 12-51-41 PM

inga_small I’m thrilled to have found the perfect Christmas or Hanukah gift for all my favorite  clinicians (you know who you are, so just skip down to the next item if you don’t want to ruin the surprise.) Struck by Orca includes dozens of illustrations that depict artists’ visual interpretations of their favorite ICD-10 codes. I’m impressed that many of the illustrators are healthcare professionals and I thought the $20 price tag sounded reasonable. One of my favorites (because I’ve had this injury numerous times) is the above work by Sarah Bottjen, an Epic project manager.

Forbes profiles Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s (CA) implementation of Voalte One technology combined with Epic.

Weird News Andy titles this article “Unconventional Therapy.” A Florida doctor uses whips and blindfolds to perform sadomasochistic acts in attempt to cure a female patient of depression. He wasn’t charged because the relationship was consensual, but he may lose license.

Sponsor Updates

  • Wolters Kluwer Health launches an enhanced web application within ProVation Order Sets.
  • Awarepoint is named the seventh fastest growing medical device company in North America in Deloitte’s 2013 Technology Fast 500.
  • RelayHealth Financial announces that all its financial connectivity solutions meet the current ICD-10 standards and that ICD-10 testing is available at no cost to its customers.
  • Troy Group and LRS install tamper-proof prescription printing capabilities at a North Carolina hospital.
  • Ping Identity introduces PingAccess, an identity gateway that combines web access management with mobile and API access management.
  • The Huntzinger Management Group reports that this year the company has increased its managed and advisory services and launched Huntzinger Staffing Solutions, a healthcare staffing company.
  • Perceptive Software’s Records Manager product is certified against Chapters 2 and 5 of the DoD 5015.2 standards for records management.
  • Intelligent Medical Objects highlights the integration of IMO’s Problem and Procedure solutions with Aprima EHR, which gives users on-demand access to over 180,000 medical terms from within the Aprima application.
  • MedDirect releases its upcoming conference schedule.
  • iHT2 interviews Wesley Valdes, DO, the medical director for telehealth services at  Intermountain Healthcare.
  • Vital Images will participate in the Image Sharing demonstration at next week’s RSNA meeting in Chicago.
  • UnitedHealth Group and Optum offer a free emotional support help line for people affected by recent tornados in the Midwest.
  • Liaison Healthcare wins four Gold, three Silver, and three Bronze awards at the Golden Bridge Awards ceremony. 
  • WisBusiness.com discusses the growth of HIT in Wisconsin with Nordic Consulting CEO Mark Bakken.
  • Bonnie Cassidy, Nuance’s senior director of HIM innovation, offers some key questions to consider when evaluating the efficacy of an ICD-10 coding program.
  • A Washington neurologist explains the benefits of the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record, which uses technology and services from INHS.
  • The Business Application Research Center ranks QlikView first in collaboration and performance satisfaction among large international vendors offering BI software products.
  • HIMSS Analytics and The International Institute for Analytics launch DELTA Powered Analytics Assessment to allow healthcare provider organizations to evaluate and benchmark their analytical maturity relative to their peers.

EPtalk by Dr. Jayne


Readers who follow me on Twitter @JayneHIStalkMD may have seen me kvetching about problems with the HIMSS registration sit. I tried it multiple times on Firefox over a multi-hour period and even tried Internet Explorer. Previously it just said “something went wrong” but now it’s displaying a specific error. HIMSS did respond and offer to help me get squared away. If it’s not working in the next few days I might have to call. It’s expensive enough without missing the early bird registration and particularly so since my hospital no longer pays for anyone to attend.

Speaking of HIMSS, I was looking at last year’s “HIStalk Ladies Social Schedule” and it’s not too early to ensure your party makes it onto the Inga and Jayne must-see list. Email Inga inga@histalk.com or me drjayne@histalk.com and let us know why your event should make the cut. I’ll be arriving a little early to relax before the exhaustion of sessions, the exhibit hall, and of course HIStalkapalooza. I should probably take a few days off on the tail end of the meeting however my boss (probably assuming no one would actually pay his or her own way to HIMSS) scheduled a leadership retreat for Thursday and Friday so that’s not going to happen. Let’s hope it gets canceled or bumped.

I’m looking forward to HIMSS as a time to meet up with old friends and perhaps to explore some new opportunities. I’m starting to become a little leery of how our hospital is planning to tackle MU2 and various other initiatives. Several key members of our leadership have fallen victim to vulture-like consultants that have been circling. (Incidentally, did you know a group of vultures is called a committee? Makes perfect sense to me.) After dozens of hours of assessments the consultants have determined that our fairly conservative approach to Meaningful Use is overly strict and that we need to relax a little bit.

I know for a fact that I don’t look good in either black and white stripes or prison orange so some of the things they have suggested we do are downright frightening. They’re fairly cavalier in their interpretation of some of the rules and I’ve already made enemies by printing out specific CMS FAQ items and bringing them to meetings. I know the consultants think they’re impressing us by showing how much money we could be collecting (since we already ruled out a good chunk of providers as likely to not be able to attest) but it seems to be a shell game to me. Given the all-or-none nature of the Meaningful Use program it doesn’t seem like cooking the books even a little bit is a good idea.

They’re also pushing hard that we reorganize our employed medical group so we can start doing provider-based billing. I find it a fundamentally offensive approach to charge patients more a) just because you can, and b) just because everyone is doing it. We dabbled in this a couple of years ago with laboratory billing and the backlash from patients was overwhelming. It seems we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Watching this happen is just one symptom of the growing dysfunction within the organization. It’s not easy to admit that you’re working at a place that is allowing its values to slip away in pursuit of profit (despite being a non-profit entity). I’m all for efficiency and streamlining, but there is a difference between that and cutting corners. We had a pretty significant layoff earlier this year and people genuinely fear for their jobs so what used to be a fairly transparent team-oriented workplace is rapidly becoming factious and paranoid. Many of the most talented analysts and team leads have already left with a fair amount of them going to work for either competing hospital systems or for vendors.

I’m not sure what I think about working for a vendor having been in non-profit health care for so long but sometimes it looks pretty good. On the other hand, I’ve seen how our CIO behaves towards some of our vendors and I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of that kind of treatment. I’m watching him pit two vendors against each other for a large rip-and-replace project and it reminds me of the movie “Gladiator.” It’s unpleasant yet I am still tugged by loyalty to an organization that I’ve been with a long time. Regardless, I’ll be dusting off my curriculum vitae (why can’t physicians just call it a resume?) and seeing what’s out there. What do you think about job hunting at HIMSS? Email me.


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

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.

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November 21, 2013 News 9 Comments

HIStalk Interviews Todd Plesko, CEO, Extension Healthcare

November 21, 2013 Interviews No Comments

Todd Plesko is CEO of Extension Healthcare of Fort Wayne, IN.

11-21-2013 9-20-08 AM

Tell me about yourself and the company.

My career began in the ambulatory space in the mid-90s. It was a very interesting time where CMS, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. had mandated that ambulatory care move from paper-based billing and scheduling, primarily billing, to electronic billing. That created a huge boom right around 1996 in the first wave of HIPAA for every ambulatory practice in the country to switch to an electronic practice management system. Then as we know, EMRs came 10 years later, with Meaningful Use and the Recovery Act.

Extension Healthcare is my third startup. We’re well past the startup stage now. We focus on acute care. At Extension Healthcare, we believe fully that the enemy is alarm fatigue.We believe that that enemy will be beat over the next 770-plus days as the Joint Commission focuses on solving that problem via their National Patient Safety Goal on alarm safety.

Today we’re just under 200 hospital clients. Right around 90 staff and four registered nurses. We’re poised to grow very, very quickly as the problem of alarm safety and alarm fatigue in particular becomes more and more relevant, becomes more and more of a discussion point, and of course with the Joint Commission focusing on eradicating this problem, or helping to solve it, with a National Patient Safety Goal on alarm safety.


The ECRI Institute also recently named alarm safety as its number one technology hazard. With all that attention, what’s been the response from the monitor manufacturers, the companies like yours, and the hospitals themselves?

There are only a handful companies that can solve the problem of alarm fatigue. In fact, that’s a very small amount. What’s important for your readers to understand is there’s a very distinct difference between an alarm and an alert. There are many companies out there focused on alerting, which is low priority — something that may not be clinical in nature and doesn’t require a response to that event. Alarming is very, very different. 

As it relates to the monitor manufacturers, some of the EHRs and other companies that are just on the outside or adjacent to the middleware space – which is a word traditionally used to describe what we do — we see some of them entering the market. But most of them are leveraging tried and true companies, like Extension Healthcare, to deliver those alarms and alerts and allow a knowledge worker — a nurse or a physician or someone else in the hospital clinical — to respond to those alerts. Event response is a very, very important topic for us. It’s something that’s not talked about a lot. But in our view, it’s at least as important as delivering an alert with context to the caregiver.

Most of the companies understand that middleware, alarm safety, alarm management, and event response is a business all its own. It’s taken us years and many, many millions of research and development dollars to get to the place where we support every major device on the market, every EMR on the market. Every input that you can imagine, we support. Every output you can imagine, we support as well, which is equally important.

As the world moves towards smartphones, specifically iOS and Android, what people often overlook is that the majority of devices in place at a hospital today continue to be voice over IP devices. We believe that the only way to effectively begin to solve the alarm fatigue problem is to recognize that most communication begins with an event, an alarm or an alert; recognize the fundamental difference between an alarm and an alert; be able to support hybrid environments from pagers to voice over IP phones to smartphones; and be able to work inside the four walls of the hospitals and outside as more and more workers begin to work outside of the hospital.

Those several statements alone are enough to deter a lot of would-be companies from entering the space because it’s just a daunting challenge, not to mention the regulatory environment. We are a Class II regulated medical device focusing on alarm safety in the alarm safety category. That’s a daunting challenge for any company and something that obviously we take very, very seriously.


Just to put the market in perspective, who are your top two competitors?

I don’t consider any company in the space to be competitors with what we do because we go about it a different way. In the traditional middleware space, Emergin and Connexall are probably our top two competitors. Two companies that I have a lot of respect for.

Emergin created the industry. They changed dramatically when Philips bought them. We have many, many — upwards of 20 — ex-Emergin staff with us now, something that I’m proud of. They bring with them tremendous knowledge.

The way we handle data is very, very different from anyone else on the market. We believe that context is king. Context means everything when it comes to solving the problem of alarm fatigue, truly solving it. 

The two companies I mentioned, I would consider first generation middleware companies. We consider ourselves the next generation of alarm safety and event response companies because of the way we handle data, because of inside the four walls, outside the four walls, and most importantly, because of the way we enable event response. That’s very, very important.

I had mentioned earlier that the most important thing, we believe, to solving the problem of alarm fatigue is delivering context with an alert.  We’re running a clinical study now where we’ll soon share with the community exactly what that number is — what percentage of clinical communication begins with some event, an alarm or an alert. We believe it’s very, very high. Soon we’ll have those data.

If you believe that, and you believe that context is king as we do, that means that the only way to truly solve the problem of alarm fatigue is to deliver the five Ws — the who, what, why, where, when — in the form of an alarm or an alert to the appropriate caregiver at the right time on the right device, whether that’s a smartphone or a voice over IP phone, and whether it’s inside the four walls or outside the four walls. Then the event response piece occurs. That event response today is predominantly secure text messaging. 

Those are the full components required to solve the problem of alarm fatigue. If you don’t have context, you are sending an unintelligent alert. If you are not sending the who, what, why, where, when, the user has to ask those questions. That’s just yet another interruption that contributes to the problem of alarm fatigue. That’s why we believe that those first generation companies or competitors are missing the boat on actually solving the problem. Evidence exists over the last five years that hospitals that have installed first generation alarm safety middleware have indeed contributed to the problem and not solved it. 

We’re taking a very, very different approach, which includes delivering context inside the four walls and outside and allowing event response via the form of voice or secure text messaging – point-to-point, point-to-group, etc., to truly finally solve that problem. It’s killing people, it’s costing a lot of money, and it’s a big dissatisfier for nurses and for physicians. 

We believe over the next 778 days, the time between now and the Joint Commission mandate, that the problem can mostly be solved by intelligent, contextual systems that allow for event response.


A lot of the work with alarm management seems mostly to be routing and prioritizing an excessive number of alarms or notifications that weren’t significant to begin with. Can monitors be made smarter so that they do more than just display information and make noise all the time?

That’s what our system does and that’s what other systems do. It’s not just our system that can solve that problem. To take data in, parse out what’s relevant and what’s not relevant, determine what’s actionable and what’s not actionable. That’s really a small sliver of the problem.

Imagine stripping out some of the data that the alarm is sending, the physiological monitor in this case. Stripping out what’s relevant and what’s not relevant, packaging what’s relevant with the other who, what, why, where, when. Typically that’s not coming from the monitor. That’s going to come from the EHR and from other systems like nurse call systems. Often the “who” comes from there.

That’s going to, in delivering an intelligent alert, someone who can be actionable with it. What happens today is a lot of those alerts go to someone who’s on break. The system is not intelligent enough to understand presence and whether someone is actually available, or whether that person can actually solve the problem or act on it. We don’t see the monitors doing that any time soon. That’s why we work closely with those companies and we’re proud to do it. That’s precisely the problem we solve. 

Most importantly, it’s just a fraction of the problem is getting that monitor alert to the right person at the right time. That’s a sliver of the problem. The bigger problem is context and how the user will interact with those data, something that we call event response.


Has anybody done statistics on how many of the alerts that go through your system or other systems are found clinically useful by the clinician?

There is a cacophony of bells and whistles going off in a hospital. Walk through one someday and it doesn’t take long to get a headache. You can imagine what those nurses do day in and day out, God bless them.

To my knowledge, the clinical studies, as it relates to alarm safety, are lacking. I’m really glad that you asked this question. One of the things that we’re doing with a new program that we call Extension Evaluate, a free service designed to collect those data for a hospital. Think black box recorder. We put Extension Evaluate in. Because of the way we handle data, it works out of the box. 

As opposed to sending alarms, triggering alarms, and communicating with endpoints, Extension Evaluate sits and listens. It listens for 30 days. And at the end of the 30-day period, our consulting group sits down with the hospital and shows them a very deep and illustrated picture of what’s happening with their alarming and alerting environment. Those data are incredibly valuable, especially spread over time. Nobody to my knowledge ever in the space has collected those data longitudinally over time and reported on them. From an academic, clinical study standpoint, that’s exactly what we intend to do with Extension Evaluate. 

We’re solving two problems. One is allowing hospitals for free, no risk, to get a very good and deep picture of their alarming environment. Then of course a gap analysis between where they are today and what they need to do to be compliant with the new Joint Commission mandate. But also building a compendium; building a library of data that can be used and regressed to answer the question you just asked. To answer how many alarms are actionable. How many alarms beget a clinical communication. We believe that number’s incredibly high.

That’s another clinical study that’s currently underway. If you have to communicate with someone as a nurse or a physician, how often does that begin with an event, an alarm, or an alert? We believe the number is very, very high, well into 80-90 percent. Soon we’ll have that exact number. That’s something that we’re very excited about — contributing to the academic community on true statistics taken from real-life hospitals longitudinally over time.


Nurses are on the hook to not only set up and adjust the monitors, but respond to the messages they issue. Are problems caused by nurses not having the time or knowledge to perform as monitor maintenance techs?

While some of that may be true, we would never, ever blame the nurse. Our view at Extension Healthcare is truly the nurse and the physician are the most important knowledge workers in the country. Nurses in particular have an incredibly challenging job, maybe the most challenging of any job in America. I believe it’s incumbent upon companies like us and the monitoring companies, perhaps biomed and IT, to design clinical workflows that truly contribute to solving the problem.

That is where a lot of the first generation alarm safety middleware companies have not spent enough time – pausing to evaluate what is truly causing the problem and what’s contributing to it. It’s very easy to send out, for instance, a Code Blue alert to a code blue team when someone is in asystole. It’s easy to send that via a phone or a pager or overhead. What’s not easy is to do it in a silent way and allow the first responder to respond in a silent way,and inform everyone else on that team who’s in different areas of the hospital, perhaps even outside the hospital, of exactly what’s going on — the who, what, why, where, when. That is what we call event response and probably the most important thing. 

For me, for us at Extension Healthcare, it’s about educating and informing the nursing community about which workflows make sense and which ones don’t. Because a lot of the time, tried and true methods that are in place today are actually contributing to the problem and not solving the problem of alarm fatigue.


Do you have any final thoughts?

The future is very important. Our space is dynamic. It continues to evolve. Data handling will become more and more contextual. Alarm management systems will continue to become much more advanced in terms of rules engines and complex rules processing. Clinical algorithms will become part of the system. All of this will advance patient safety and complexity even further. 

It’s very, very important to take into account not only where we’re at today in lessons learned from the past, but also where the industry’s going. Not only in terms of which device a nurse will use, but which data to deliver to a nurse or a physician, the context, and how they’ll interact with that. Not only now, but in the future, to drive down this evil, evil problem of alarm fatigue.

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November 21, 2013 Interviews No Comments

Morning Headlines 11/21/13

November 21, 2013 Headlines No Comments

FDA approves next gen sequencers in watershed for personalized med

The FDA has cleared toe manufacturers of four next generation high-throughput DNA sequencers to market the devices to help identify gene mutations that are linked with cystic fibrosis.

Children’s Oakland completes Phase 1 of $89 million electronic records system

Children’s Hospital & Research Center in Oakland (CA) goes live with its $89 million Epic rollout across its inpatient and oncology/hematology clinics. The remainder of its ambulatory clinics are scheduled to go live in April.

Health dept pleads for PCEHR patience

In Australia, Department of Health secretary Jane Halton is asking for patience as the nations newly elected Prime Minister calls for a review of the nations failing $1 billion patient-controlled EHR portal program. To date, only 11,136 shared health summaries had been uploaded into the system despite being live for more than a year.

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November 21, 2013 Headlines No Comments

Readers Write: Seven Safety Checks Before Diving into the Big Data Ocean

November 20, 2013 Readers Write No Comments

Seven Safety Checks Before Diving into the Big Data Ocean
By Frank Poggio

When I last visited the topic of big data (BD) and analytics, I proposed that big data could easily become a wasteland for health providers and the next EHR boondoggle that could generate wads of cash for system vendors. I noted a large investment in big data could easily go for naught if we do not pay attention to at least two key issues. They were employing bad data as a foundation and blindly accepting analytics or mathematical models that do not correctly represent your world.

I received several responses to that piece, some stating that I was opposed to big data and analytics. Not true. As a one-time practitioner of analytics, back when it was called operations research in commercial industry, I saw firsthand the value of BD but also the very large expense and pitfalls. At the close of my first writing, I promised to follow up with a list of safety checks you should employ to avoid drowning in the big data ocean. Here they are.

Bad data. Big data and bad data do not mix. Before you jump in, you should get clear answers to these questions. Do you thoroughly understand what is in your data? How old is it? Where and how it was originally generated? What coding structures were used? How has the coding structures changed over time? How many system conversions and mutations has the data gone through? What is the consistency and integrity of your data?

Scrubbing your data, particularly if it goes back several years and/or transcends different information systems, is critical. A recent HIStalk piece written by Dan Raskin, MD covered this topic well. If you can’t answer these questions before you apply analytics, then all the conclusions you draw from your sophisticated analytics will be on a foundation of quicksand. And be aware, scrubbing historical data can be very time consuming and costly, which leads us to the next safety check.

Focus. Keep your focus as narrow as possible. When you jump in the BD ocean, keep your eyes on that floating life preserver. If you do not, you’ll get overwhelmed and sink fast. Most big data projects will fail because you tried to do too much or you were too broad in our goals, which led to loss of control, missed target dates, and over budget situations.

It’s very easy to fall into this riptide. For example, with a sea of data at our disposal, we surely should be able to predict census or institution-wide patient volumes for the next five or 10 years. The complexity of such an analytical model could easily overwhelm. As an alternative, try something more restricted and focused. For example, maybe just trying to predict volumes of a narrow specialty practice or identifying the three primary causes of re-admits. With a narrow focus, the probability of your model being useful will be far greater, which takes us to our next safety check.

Validate your model. Run simulations against past time periods with known outcomes. Did you get the answer you expected? If not revise, or replace the algorithm(s). Smaller models are easier to validate. Apply basic common sense against any prediction. Remember the end user, usually an executive or physician group, must buy in to the model logic and have full trust in the data before they can accept any predictions. If they do not understand it, they will not trust the forecasts and it the model will never be used. Once smaller models are validated, you can link multiple ones together to create larger organizational-wide models.

Change can sink your analytics. One of the primary reasons to apply models to big data is to predict change, then use that new knowledge to deal with the change before it becomes a problem. Unfortunately, there are some changes that your historical big data can’t predict. You need to understand them and factor them into any decisions you make. For example, can your model anticipate changes within the practice of medicine? Medical protocols change almost every month due to new research and new technologies. Hardly a week goes by without reading about a new protocol for medications, diagnostic testing, and chronic disease management. Your ocean of big data cannot predict these changes, and yet if you are planning a new medical service, you need to somehow factor in these elements.

Another unpredictable element is government regulations. A good deal of industry change will be driven by what party wins each election. Today it’s MU, ACOs, P4P, value-based purchasing, and many other regulations that did not exist five years ago. Tomorrow it will be something else. If you can predict those changes, you probably would do better in another profession. The analytics and models you build will only reflect past practices and governmental policies, and like they say on Wall Street, past performance may not be indicative of future results. In modeling building, these are known as ad hoc or exogenous variables. You take the model’s output then make a one-time swag adjustment to reflect your best guess for exogenous factors.

Pick the low-hanging fruit first. There are two major kinds of analytics: strategic models and operational models. Strategic analytics try to predict enterprise-wide outcomes and volumes five to 10 years out. They focus on questions such as: What are the population trends in our market? What patient programs should we be moving towards? Can they be financially viable? Where should they be located? What are the competitive factors?

Operational models deal with more immediate issues, such as: How can we handle higher patient volumes using less resources? What can we do to reduce re-admits? What is the ROI on a large capital investment? They are by nature near term and usually address efficiency questions.

Due to their complexity and time horizon, strategic analytics are tough to measure in terms of efficacy. Operational models are far easier to measure, while strategic models are sexier and costlier to build. Until you have had repeated good results with operational models, you should stay away from strategic models. The low-hanging fruit are in operational analytics. Moreover, there are a myriad of them that could quickly generate real ROI and may only require “little data.”

Paralysis by analysis. You could spend a long time drifting in the big data ocean and paralysis by analysis could easily set in. Remember, there will always be flaws in your historical data, and no model can be perfect, so do not let perfection become the enemy of good. This is not an academic exercise and you do not have an unlimited budget. All analytics need to be improved, so do it incrementally. Lastly, after many iterations and revisions and based on your real-life experiences, if the model still does not make sense to you, toss it out and move on.

Educate and understand. What problems are you really trying to solve? Many organizations waste time and money building models for problems they really do not have or understand. Due to hype, department managers come to believe the model will fix operational problems. Department managers need to be trained in how to use and interpret these powerful tools. Understand what the tool can and can’t do and what the real limitations of the model are. This step must come first or analytics projects can easily run amok

If you use outside resources, make sure they understand the healthcare industry and your particular venue. Being expert in quantitative tools is not enough. Having a sound footing in the complex relationships that drive the delivery of patient care is critical to the success of employing analytical tools.


The annual budget is an excellent example of an operational model. Before you jump into BD, take this test. How effective is your organization at budgeting? How close do you routinely come to hitting budget targets? Have you used variable budgeting successfully?

If you can’t answer these questions positively, you are not ready to swim in the BD ocean. Big data and analytics can be powerful tools when used with foresight and care. Applying BD without clearly identifying your objectives, being familiar with the weaknesses of your data, and not understanding the limits of mathematical modeling or analytical tools will be a costly and fruitless exercise.

Frank Poggio is president of The Kelzon Group.

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November 20, 2013 Readers Write No Comments

Morning Headlines 11/20/13

November 19, 2013 Headlines No Comments

The Anatomy of Health Care in the United States

Researchers at Johns Hopkins publish a study in JAMA that evaluates the economic mechanisms contributing to the rise of healthcare costs in the US. The study finds that costs are increasing for a number of reasons: 1) hospital and practice consolidation is weakening the purchasing power of healthcare consumers 2)  drug and medical device costs are increasing 3) expensive investments in health IT have not resulted in a significant savings.

eClinicalWorks Makes Additional $50 Million Investment in Patient Engagement & Population Health

Westborough, MA-based eClinicalWorks will spend $50 million bolstering its patient engagement business unit, adding 100 employees over the next year to enhance the company’s patient portal mobile app.

Icahn says would ‘never’ push Apple to buy Nuance

Active Investor Carl Icahn, who has a 16.9 percent stake in Nuance and a significant stake in Apple, says that he will not pressure Apple to buy Nuance.

Healthsherpa Helps Thousands Get Insurance Quotes

Three entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley code a healthcare.gov competitor, called TheHealthSherpa.com, in just three days. The site is able to generate insurance quotes based off zip code, age, and smoking status, and estimates federal subsidies based on annual income. It stops short of actually enrolling consumers in new plans, but does serve as a research tool for consumers, not to mention proof of how quickly and efficiently projects can be rolled out if the right people are involved.

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November 19, 2013 Headlines No Comments

News 11/20/13

November 19, 2013 News 2 Comments

Top News


A Johns Hopkins-led study published in JAMA concludes that the major factors driving healthcare costs up are consolidation of hospitals and practices that increase pricing power, high drug and medical device costs, and heavy IT investment with questionable value. It notes that costs are not visible to doctors or patients, which prevents healthcare from functioning as an efficient market.

Reader Comments

From Flash: “Re: AMIA. Perhaps the biggest news at AMIA so far is the non-news that CMS probably won’t delay Stage 2 MU. That’s essentially what the ONC’s Jodi Daniel said during a session Monday.” At this stage in the game, it would be more surprising if CMS did consider changes or delays.

Upcoming Webinars

DocuSign will present “Paperless Practices: Harnessing EHR Value by Improving Workflows with Electronic Data” on Tuesday, December 10 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. “Audit Readiness: Three Simple Steps to Protect Patient Privacy”, presented by Iatric Systems, will be presented on Wednesday, December 11 at 2:00 Eastern. More information on both programs is on the Webinar page.

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

CareFusion will acquire respiratory care and anesthesiology medicine manufacturer Vital Signs from GE Healthcare for $500 million.

11-19-2013 10-15-57 AM

Acupera, developers of population healthcare and coordination workflow management technology, secures $2 million in bridge financing.

MDS Medical, Greenway Medical’s top-producing channel partner, acquires the assets of EHRsolutions, Greenway’s second largest reseller.

Carl Icahn, who owns 4.7 million shares of Apple and a 16.9 percent stake in Nuance Communications, tells participants at an investment summit that he will not push Apple to buy Nuance.

Truven Health Analytics provided this comment related to its recently released 10-Q forms that a reader commented about in the Monday Morning Update:

Truven Health Analytics has performed well in 2012 and through the first three quarters  of 2013, with steady increases in revenue and robust margins for adjusted EBITDA.  Reported losses are due to accounting changes stemming from our divesture from Thomson Reuters and one-time costs associated with the migration of our data center from Thomson Reuters onto a standalone platform, neither of which affects ongoing operating performance.



The 25-bed Van Buren County Hospital (IA) selects McKesson Radiology and McKesson Study Share.

MModal adds new customers for its MModal Fluency for Imaging product including Coastal Radiology (NC), Coosa Valley Medical Center (AL), Greensboro Radiology (NC), Maricopa Integrated Health System (AZ), and Radiology Associates (OR).

Avera Health selects Craneware InSight Medical Necessity for 28 of their 33 hospital organizations.

11-19-2013 9-37-37 AM

King Khaled Eye Specialist Hospital in Saudi Arabia will implement InterSystems TrakCare. The hospital, by the way, is part of a compound that includes six five-story apartment buildings, 22 villas, a community center, tennis courts, playgrounds, a cinema, a supermarket, and a mosque.

Ophthalmology Associates (WI) selects SRS EHR for its six providers.

Avera Health (SD) chooses Craneware’s InSight Medical Necessity. 


11-19-2013 3-15-47 PM

The Georgia HIN names eHealth Services Group CEO Denise Hines executive director.

11-19-2013 3-19-47 PM

Recondo Technology appoints Lori Prestesater (McKesson Provider Technologies) chief growth officer.

11-19-2013 3-22-30 PM

Verisk Health promotes Nadine Hays from EVP of sales, marketing, and strategic partnerships to president, replacing Joel Portice who is leaving to pursue other interests.

Nuance extends the existing employment agreement with its CEO Paul Ricci through November 11, 2015 and agrees to pay him a base salary of $800,000 plus annual performance bonuses of up to $1.2 million.

MediTract, a provider of automated contract management solutions, names David F. “Buddy” Bacon (Meridian Surgical Partners) CEO.


Announcements and Implementations

eClinicalWorks will invest an additional $50 million over the next 12 months in addition to the $25 million it had already committed to enhance and expand population health solutions and patient engagement tools under its Health & Online Wellness business unit. Part of the funding will be used to hire an additional 100 software developers.

Southeaster Overread Services (NC) implements eRAD PACS with integrated speech recognition technology from MModal.

11-19-2013 10-47-26 AM

Parrish Medical Center (FL) expands its use of products from Strata Decision Technology with the implementation of  StrataJazz Decision Support.

11-19-2013 11-14-47 AM

Florida Governor Rick Scott joins iSirona employees to announce the company’s plan to create 300 new jobs over the next three years at its Panama City headquarters.

HIMSS Analytics and The International Institute for Analytics announce the launch of a service that will allow hospitals to assess the maturity of their analytics capabilities and benchmark against peers.

The Boston Globe names Meditech as one of the Top Places to Work in Massachusetts.

iMDsoft integrates the Electronic Whiteboard from  Intelligent Business Solutions into its MetaVision AIMS solution.


Government and Politics

House lawmakers introduce legislation that would create and expand physician reimbursement of telehealth services to active-duty service members, their dependents, retirees, and veterans.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) proposes a bill that would extend MU incentive payments to behavioral health providers, including psychiatric hospitals, substance abuse facilities, and psychologists. The legislation would also address EHR-related adverse drug reporting to patient safety organizations, clarify that EHRs are not subject to the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act, and limit electronic discovery in EHRs.

Medicare will cut reimbursements by as much as 1.25 percent to 1,451 hospitals next year as a result of their performance in CMS’s value-based purchasing program. An additional 1,231 hospitals will see payments increase by as much as 1.25 percent based on their performance across quality indicators.


The American Academy of Ophthalmology unveils the IRIS Registry, the nation’s first eye disease and condition patient database. The registry is designed to interface with any EMR system and will handle data on more than 18 million patients by 2016.

11-19-2013 8-22-44 PM

Three young programmers create HealthSherpa.com, which one-ups Healthcare.gov by allowing consumers to quickly get insurance prices by entering only their ZIP code. It took them only three days to develop and test the site. I tried it and had insurance prices and details in less than five seconds.

Weird News Andy finds this story to be strange but true. Researchers find that patients with a wide range of red blood cell sizes are more likely to have depression.


Sponsor Updates

  • Greenway Medical releases Intergy v9.00, which includes a dashboard to track the progress of a practice’s transition to ICD-10 or MU attestation.
  • The Drummond Group certifies Allscripts dbMotion 5.0  as an ONC-ACB 2014 compliant EHR Module.
  • Lifepoint Informatics announces the details of its March 13, 2014 user conference in Orlando.
  • National Decision Support Company, Montage Healthcare Solutions, and Nuance Communications collaborate to bring Imaging 3.0 tools to radiologists.
  • Medical Staffing Network (FL) completes their companywide implementation of API Healthcare’s solution suite.
  • Aspen Advisors raises $2,300 for Florida’s Health First health system during the company’s annual retreat in Ft. Lauderdale.
  • The Detroit Free Press names CareTech Solutions the top workplace in the large-company category based on employee satisfaction.
  • Surveys from Porter Research and Imprivata indicate that healthcare is beginning to trust cloud technology for the storage of PHI.
  • Emdeon discusses the challenges and opportunities of CPOE under Stage 2.
  • Sagacious Consultants launches Sagacious Connect to support hospitals extending their EMR software to independent practices and hospitals.
  • T-System’s Tonda Terrell offers seven considerations for payer contracting in the healthcare reform-era. The company’s Elizabeth Morgenroth also provides communication tips for a successful ICD-10 implementation and conversion.
  • Imprivata earns a spot on the Boston Globe’s Top Places to Work 2013 in the medium company category.


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

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.

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November 19, 2013 News 2 Comments

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