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Morning Headlines 12/11/18

December 10, 2018 Headlines No Comments

Former Director Of Healthcare Services Company Charged In Alleged $300 Million Investment Fraud Scheme

Federal officials arrest Pavandeep Bakhshi, a former Constellation Healthcare Technologies board member, for his role in a scheme that attempted to trick investors out of $300 million meant to help take the company private.

University of Maryland Medical System investigating malware attack

The University of Maryland Medical System recovers from a ransomware attack that impacted 250 of the system’s desktop computers.

GI Partners and TA Associates to Acquire Allscripts’ stake in Netsmart Technologies

Shares of Allscripts rise on the news that GI Partners and TA Associates will acquire its stake in Netsmart Technologies for $525 million.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Partners with T-Mobile to Help Expand Access to Health Care for Veterans

T-Mobile will provide the VA with 70,000 lines of wireless service to help it expand telehealth services for veterans.

Seattle Children’s spin-out MDmetrix adds operating room capabilities, looks to expand

Health data analytics startup MDmetrix expands into operating room capabilities with OR Advisor, and looks to expand beyond its Seattle Children’s roots.

Curbside Consult with Dr. Jayne 12/10/18

December 10, 2018 Dr. Jayne 3 Comments

The physician lounge was abuzz on Friday due to a piece on CNN claiming that Australian researchers have developed a “10-minute cancer test.” Supposedly it “can detect the presence of cancer cells anywhere in the human body” and stems from research looking at the structure of cancer DNA when placed in water. Physicians were mostly grumbling about having to respond to patient questions about such a sensational announcement when the ink on the publication was barely dry. Patients tend to take hold of these kinds of announcements, especially if they have a particular concern about cancers for which there aren’t good screening tests, such as ovarian cancer.

There’s always more to the story when these announcements are made. Despite author Matt Trau’s statements that the study “led to the creation of inexpensive and portable detection devices that could eventually be used as a diagnostic tool, possibly with a mobile phone,” in this case, the test hasn’t even been used on humans. People tend to hear the part about diagnosing cancer with their phones and miss the part about animal studies. The authors are excited and with good reason, but it’s a long way from where they are with this test to having it available at the primary care office.

The test mentioned in the publication, which was released this week in “Nature Communications,” has only been used to detect lymphoma, along with cancers of the breast, prostate, and bowel. It’s also only been used on around 200 samples, although it did have 90 percent accuracy. Researchers using high-resolution microscopy noted differences between the structure of cancerous DNA fragments and non-cancerous fragments when the DNA was placed in water. The test uses colloidal gold particles to bind to cancerous DNA, creating an electrochemical reaction that can be quantified.

One of the urologists around the table was particularly vocal about suggesting that this test could be used for prostate cancer since there has already been a fair amount of controversy about prostate cancer screening. We’ve seen the Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) fall in and out of favor – first approved by the FDA in 1986 to monitor prostate cancer progression, it was approved in 1994 to be used along with a digital rectal exam for screening of asymptomatic patients. Over the next two decades, we saw patients with “abnormal” tests who underwent procedures that may have been overly aggressive given the slow-moving nature of prostate cancer, not to mention the non-cancerous conditions that can cause PSA elevation. Over time, we learned that the test was being relatively overused certain populations without definitive evidence that it drives outcomes in a beneficial way, leading to recommendations that we don’t just order it, but rather have a risk/benefit decision between the patient and the physician before deciding to test.

As we consider new technology and new tests, we need to heed the lessons of the past and proceed with caution, guarding against “shiny object syndrome” and the assumption that just because we can theoretically use a smart phone to do a test that it’s a good idea. CNN ran a similar piece back in January, covering a test developed at Johns Hopkins University that screens blood samples for eight common cancers by detecting cancer proteins and gene mutations. That test, called CancerSEEK, is still being studied to determine its applicability in clinical medicine and whether it can be widely used to screen patients who aren’t experiencing symptoms. CancerSEEK was evaluated in a much larger study that included humans with almost 2,000 patients participating. The test was 70 percent sensitive among the eight cancers, but the range of accuracy for individual cancers ranged from 33 percent in breast cancer to 98 percent in ovarian cancer. The Hopkins team also used an algorithm to evaluate the source of the cancer for positive tests, but the ability to pinpoint a source was only 63 percent.

It will take a tremendous amount of money to bring either of these technologies to the point of care, and unfortunately with medical research, the money doesn’t always follow the hype. Even when tests are promising, they have to be shown to be effective and to be able to make a difference across large patient populations before payers will cover them, which often the main barrier to patients receiving new tests and treatments. EHR and other healthcare vendors follow these discoveries closely since they need to stay ahead of the curve for supplying appropriate clinical decision support information and including new discoveries into order sets and EHR content.

Those changes don’t happen overnight. I work with one EHR vendor that still hasn’t incorporated standard-of-care screenings that were recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) back in 2007. It’s understandable that providers are frustrated when it takes more than a decade to update the EHR.

The conversation about detecting cancer DNA quickly segued into one about the recent “gene-edited baby” announcement coming out of China. A scientist claims to have used the hot new CRISPR gene-editing technology to alter two human embryos to be resistant to HIV. The babies have now been born and the news led to significant outrage from the international scientific community. The processes of announcing the research has broken with the standards of research, with the information being revealed via YouTube rather than through rigorously-reviewed scientific channels. That’s not surprising in the era of social media, but should be viewed with caution. There are many other concerns with the research, including lack of appropriate Institutional Review Board protection for the participants, lack of documentation of the work actually done, and the lead researcher owning patents around the techniques used in the process. It wouldn’t fly in the US or in many other nations.

The conversation came full circle when one of family medicine docs at the table spoke up. She said she felt sad that everyone was excited about these media sound bites around research whose practical use was years away, but she has difficulty getting medical professionals engaged around her work with school-based clinics and mobile outreach to our city’s homeless population. I mentioned working with providers who struggle with EHR adoption and the challenges of trying to get them to use the guideline prompts and alerts that are already in the system for tests that are proven to be clinically effective as well as cost effective. It’s certainly something to think about in this world where we’re used to getting our information 200 characters at a time and the deeper discussions sometimes elude us. Physicians don’t have the time to pull the original articles and read the primary source data, so it’s unlikely that patients asking about these new advances are going to have done so either.

Given our work in healthcare information technology and the seemingly relentless push for innovation, we often become skeptical (if not cynical) about developments. We’ve seen plenty of creative new technologies fizzle and watch the industry continue to search for the next big thing. And we understand how hard it is to take technology from the idea stage to practical use at the patient bedside whether physical or virtual. It will be interesting to look back on these developments in a year, or five or 10, and see where we have landed.

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Morning Headlines 12/10/18

December 9, 2018 Headlines No Comments

NHS banned from buying any more fax machines

In England, Health Secretary Matt Hancock bans NHS from buying new fax machines and insists that they be phased out by March 31, 2020.

Hospital Beds Get Digital Upgrade

Hill-Rom’s newest hospital bed will include FDA-approved sensors for monitoring heart and respiratory rates, checking vital signs 100 times per minute, and alerting nurses of abnormalities.

Apple scoops up CEO of Mango Health, a start-up that helps people keep track of their medications

Apple hires former Mango Health CEO and co-founder Jason Oberfest, spurring speculation that the company is looking to tackle medication adherence.

Top cancer center’s business deals created a web of conflicts, say ethics experts

STAT calls into question Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s deal with data analytics vendor Cota, whose founder helped to broker a partnership between MSK and his employer, Hackensack Meridian Health.

Monday Morning Update 12/10/18

December 9, 2018 News 3 Comments

Top News

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In England, Health Secretary Matt Hancock bans NHS from buying new fax machines and insists that they be phased out by March 31, 2020.

The Royal College of Surgeons agrees, estimating that NHS still has 8,000 fax machines in service.

Here we hospital people thought we were being cutting edge by moving to multifunction devices that at least bundled faxing with printing and scanning. On the other hand, if a business case exists for using something other than fax, they would already be gone.


Reader Comments

From Digital Debonair: “Re: paging systems. A Texas hospital found that Epic-issued consult pages were not being delivered if the message size exceeded character limits – 280 characters for pagers, 160 for mobile phones. The hospital limited Epic’s ‘reason for consult’ field to 100 characters and added an alert to the intended recipient’s mobile device when the limit is exceeded. Once again, technology’s unintended consequences bring us to the least common denominator instead of fixing the problem by breaking the message into segments or getting the communications vendors to increase their character limits. It’s fascinating that each hospital has to discover and solve this problem on their own. Sigh … we have so many miles to go.” Unverified, but the hospital’s email warning to the medical staff was attached. I verified that Sprint and Verizon have 160-character limits, while ATT breaks messages into multiple 160-character segments automatically. SMS stands for “short message service,” so perhaps the real problem is that hospitals try to use that service for something for which it was not intended (not short, in other words) regardless of the convenience of doing so. There’s also the question of whether PHI should be sent over SMS instead of via an encrypted messaging app that could also provide a larger character limit.

From Wan Complexion: “Re: Most Wired. You didn’t list the winners.” I don’t see the point, even as someone who has run IT in organizations that won. We should judge health systems on outcomes, cost, and consumer focus, not on using tools that should drive those results (but usually don’t). I ate at a McDonald’s and it was still awful despite (or perhaps because of) an enviable arsenal of enterprise-wide technology. By “Most Wired” standards, I should have loved it.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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Poll respondents fear that Amazon will use the medical data they can get to influence their buying habits, although to be honest I’d trust Amazon a ton more than Google or Facebook since Amazon’s business model involves moving merchandise, not serving up ads that clearly were chosen using information those companies really shouldn’t have.

New poll to your right or here: should hospitals be prohibited from using fax machines? Vote and then click the poll’s “comments” link to explain.

I’m questioning those frantically gesticulating TV weather people who this weekend are milking camera time with what they call a “winter storm,” “winter weather,” and of course the inevitable “wintry mix.” It’s not winter until December 21, although I recognize that the less-hysterical “fall storm” won’t keep hunkered-down eyeballs glued to the TV commercials and the result isn’t any different regardless of what the calendar says.

Thanks to the following companies that recently supported HIStalk. Click a logo for more information.

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Webinars

None scheduled soon. Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre for information.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

Allscripts shares hit a 52-week low last week, having shed 34 percent in the past three months. Anonymous posters on TheLayoff.com claim that around 80 percent of the 1,700 McKesson EIS people who joined Allscripts with the acquisition 14 months ago are no longer there.

IBM sells off several software lines to an India-based company, among them Lotus Notes/Domino, which should elicit hope from IBM’ers who have been stuck on that unpopular platform while the rest of the world moved on. Maybe they’ll replace it with GroupWise.

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Medication reminder technology vendor MyMeds issues a press release whose headline appears to be intentionally misleading, dutifully picked up by some crappy health IT sites as a “partnership” between the company and Mayo Clinic. Plowing through the fluff reveals the actual development – the app will offer users Mayo Clinic’s drug information (for which I assume the company is paying). Any resemblance to “teaming up” appears to be coincidental.

InterSystems releases a cloud-hosted version of its TrackCare EHR for hospitals in the UAE and Middle East, licensed in a pay-per-usage model.

Hill-Rom’s newest hospital bed will include FDA-approved sensors for monitoring heart and respiratory rates, checking vital signs 100 times per minute and alerting nurses of abnormalities. The price was not announced, but the company’s traditional bed is among the most expensive with a list price of $20,000.


Decisions

  • Northside Hospital System (GA) replaced Allscripts with Cerner in October 2018.
  • Gifford Medical Center (VT) went live on EClinicalWorks in April 2018, replacing Evident.

These provider-reported updates are supplied by Definitive Healthcare, which offers a free trial of its powerful intelligence on hospitals, physicians, and healthcare providers. )


Announcements and Implementations

Citizens Memorial Hospital (MO) upgrades to Meditech Expanse.

Hospital Sisters Health System integrates Epic with SeamlessMD’s patient engagement solution using SMART on FHIR. 


Government and Politics

Six pain management doctors in Michigan are charged with insurance fraud and unjustified opiate prescribing in submitting $464 million in phony insurance claims.


Other

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Here’s an interesting tweet from Apple CEO Tim Cook. I’m not sure the silver bullet for people managing their health lives inside of an IPhone, but I’m sure a citation-desperate academic will compare life expectancy of IOS and Android users vs. a control group of non-cell users.

An article by Penn’s Wharton School weighs in on Amazon’s announcement that it will mine unstructured patient data using AI and machine learning in its Comprehend Medical program, saying the service could:

  • Empower consumers.
  • Deliver new insights, particularly with regard to radiology, and connect people with clinical trials.
  • Allow insurers to deny enrollment of patients with potentially expensive conditions.
  • Lighten the workload of doctors.
  • Erode physician loyalty as patients could manage their own medical information or choose to share information with competitors such as retail clinics.
  • Replace consultants who perform custom predictive analytics for individual clinical conditions.
  • Raise questions about data accuracy, especially if consumers are allowed to add or change their information.
  • Cause major problems if Amazon were to be breached.
  • Raise questions of who’s paying the bill for the Amazon service.
  • Lure clinicians into becoming overly reliant on technologies instead of learning, improving, and questioning how the models work.

A ProPublica report finds that journal articles written by physician researchers often don’t disclose the money they’re paid by drug and medical device companies as required, with the medical journals doing little checking of their own. Among them is the dean of Yale’s medical school, the president-elect of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and the president of clinical operations at Sarah Cannon Research Institute. The reports didn’t have to dig all that deeply – they simply looked up compensation as reported to CMS’s Open Payments Database and compared that to the disclosures section of published articles.

Weird News Andy says this patient hacked up a lung, kinda. A patient coughs up what looks like a bright red, leafless tree, which turned out to be a six-inch-wide blood clot formed in his right bronchial tree (and now you can see how apt that name is). I’ll spare you the photo just in case you’re eating  breakfast since it’s both fascinating and disturbing.


Sponsor Updates

  • Liaison Technologies awards its Data-Inspired Future Scholarship to BYU dual-major student Andrew Pulsipher.
  • Loyale Healthcare introduces the Patient Financial Bill of Rights.
  • Mobile Heartbeat will exhibit at the ONL Winter Meeting December 14 in Burlington, MA.
  • National Decision Support Co. and Redox will exhibit at the IHI National Forum December 9-12 in Orlando.
  • NextGate launches a fundraising campaign to help customer HealtheConnect Alaska recover from the earthquake.
  • Netsmart will exhibit at the TAMHO Annual Conference December 11 in Franklin, TN.
  • The Business Gist features Sansoro Health CEO Jeremy Pierotti in a new video, “The challenge of sharing medical records.”
  • New data from Surescripts shows that its benefit optimization tools have saved patients as much as $8,032 in out-of-pocket costs on a single prescription.
  • Vocera launches three leadership councils to accelerate healthcare transformation.
  • ZappRx will exhibit at Advances in IBD December 13-15 in Orlando.
  • Healthwise discusses why its partnership with ZeOmega benefits clients.

Blog Posts


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Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jenn, Dr. Jayne.
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Weekender 12/7/18

December 7, 2018 Weekender No Comments

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Weekly News Recap

  • Apple’s Watch 4 OS update includes the ECG app and arrhythmia notification capability.
  • Meditech acquires its London-based partner Centennial Computer Corporation as part of its creation of Meditech UK.
  • A KLAS report finds that most EHR vendors are progressing well toward supporting a national patient record network now that CommonWell is connected to Carequality.
  • In Australia, Queensland Health’s hospital EHR project will run $188 million over budget if implemented in the remaining hospitals.
  • A ProPublica report concludes that three supporters of President Trump had influence over the VA’s $10 billion Cerner contract and got former VA Secretary David Shulkin fired.
  • Allscripts confirms an unstated number of employee layoffs.
  • Athenahealth files shareholder notice of a vote on its proposed acquisition by Veritas Capital and Elliott Management.
  • Connected health technology vendor ResMed will acquire Madison, WI-based Propeller Health for $225 million.
  • Leading UK EHR vendor Emis Group will shift 40 million patient records from its servers onto AWS as part of a continued  push in the UK for more flexible health data exchange.

Best Reader Comments

Interoperability will never be fully solved by creating more regulations and layering on all sorts of requirements on data then making portions of it voluntary. It’s truly a confusing system mired in all sorts of administrative burden and muck with too much conflicting self-interest. There are many models from other countries that work more effectively, have lower mortality rates, less physician burnout. Perhaps instead of spending billions on more regs and administrative burden, maybe step back spend some of that on evaluating effective healthcare delivery models and select one that works. (Renee Broadbent)

Cerner is THE founder of CommonWell and they make it hardest for their customers to implement. Further mucks up DoD and VA plans for interoperability, though they seem to be all talk little action on interoperability anyway. Thank you Athena, EClinical, and Epic for leading the way! (Charlie Harris)

Is the above for real? Who dreams this stuff up? Mixing two disparate protocols for a transaction activity? Lets make this a complex as possible! It is as if they really don’t want organizations implement this functionality so they make the cost of entry as high as possible. (David Coffey)

Dentists are taught in dental school that they are going to be small business owners, and taught how to run a profitable business. Medical schools seem to focus on a world where all doctors stay in academia, instead of the reality that millions of doctors are small business owners. The expectations that dentists have for the successful operations of their dental healthcare businesses drives the advances in their industry. (Julie McGovern)

I am sure the bigwigs and muckity-mucks that come into consulting after losing their comfy jobs make the rest of us look pretty bad and desperate to outsiders, but from my experience (seven years of consulting, running my own little shop, loving it each and every day) there are plenty of opportunities to work, great clients to help, unbelievable experiences to have, and we have a bit more freedom to live a life that supports having a family, raising children, and balancing a life that isn’t just an identity of “I work for [blank company name].” (Consulting Union Needed?)

An ONC Safety Center (which Congress didn’t fund) with peer review and anti-trust protection for IT vendors is the right answer here. Maybe ONC could focus on that instead of dithering around with tefca and “information blocking.” (Charlie Harris)


Watercooler Talk Tidbits

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Readers funded the DonorsChoose teacher grant request of Ms. G in Utah, who asked for an an Osmo Wonder Kit for her third grade class. She reports, “We have been using the kit during our small group time. The games that came with the kit help the students practice phonics, number sense, math facts, logic, and other important skills. The students beg to get it out and use it, and even want to stay in during recess to play! I love watching them manipulate the tools to get the right answers. The looks on their faces when they get the answers right are priceless! My absolute favorite part, however, is watching them work together as a team to find the answers. They help and encourage one another, and even when someone gets an answer wrong they encourage their classmates with phrases like, ‘Everyone makes mistakes! Let’s try again!’ I never expected the Osmo Genius Kit to have that sort of impact in my classroom.”

Ben and Michelle of ST Advisors always include my DonorsChoose project in their annual charity support. Their generous donation, matched with funds from my anonymous vendor executives and other sources (some with 10-times matching!), fully funded these teacher projects:

  • Robotics tools for Mr. D’s junior high class in Cedar Creek, TX (classroom was affected by Hurricane Harvey)
  • Math and reading centers for Ms. T’s kindergarten class in Oroville, CA (classroom was affected by the Camp Fire)
  • Programmable robots for Mr. A’s grade school class in Bronx, NY
  • 30 sets of headphones for Ms. B’s sixth grade class in Spring, TX (classroom was affected by Hurricane Harvey)
  • Four Chromebooks for Mr. V’s high school class in Bridgeport, CT
  • Math manipulatives for Ms. L’s first grade class in Washington, DC
  • 14 sets of headphones for Ms. H’s high school class in Mesa, AZ
  • 25 sets of headphones and solar system learning tools for Mr. F’s elementary school class in Porter, TX (classroom was affected by Hurricane Harvey)
  • Diversity and multicultural learning activities for Ms. H’s elementary school class in Wellington, KS

I heard back quickly from several of these teachers, including Ms. T, who said, “I was so surprised when I peeked at my email at lunch and read the great news. I wish I had recorded the squeals of joy from my students when I shared the fun that is to come in the mail for them. Your generosity is appreciated. Merry Christmas!”

This research might have been more appropriately released on April 1. A study finds that a parasite found in cat poop is associated with a higher likelihood of entrepreneurial behavior (I would have expected bull manure given the success of some executives). Actually, my theory is this – Toxoplasma gondii is more commonly acquired by consuming contaminated food or water, which would be far more commonly found in countries such as India whose society values entrepreneurial behavior, hard work, and academic achievement more than ours. I love that many US business are created and run by hardworking, well-educated, family-focused people from other countries who in many ways exemplify the American dream better than many native-born citizens whose goals seem to be consuming mindless entertainment, taking advantage of entitlement programs, and ridiculing those who work harder and smarter and are rewarded accordingly.

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I wanted to replace my old, cheap wireless router to make sure I’m using the most current protocols and ran across this fantastic $75 mesh router. I plugged it into the modem, connected to it via its app, entered my desired network name and password, and it was running flawlessly literally within two minutes of opening the box. Setting up a guest network took another 30 seconds (again, just entering a network name and password). The range is excellent, but I had ordered a second one just in case and the only setup required was to plug in the power cord – it instantly connected to the first router and started beaming the signal even further away.

Walgreens partners with FedEx to offer next-day prescription delivery, with same-day service in some cities. 

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Hurricane-damaged Bay Medical Sacred Heart (FL) will lay off 800 employees – half its workforce – when it reopens in January at one-fourth its original size.

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Former MD Anderson CIO Lynn Vogel, PhD publishes “Who Knew? Inside the Complexity of American Health Care.”


In Case You Missed It


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Morning Headlines 12/7/18

December 6, 2018 Headlines No Comments

Partners goes down (and then back up)

Politico reports that Partners HealthCare (MA) briefly took its Epic EHR offline Wednesday to handle unspecified technical issues.

U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and Walmart Announce Telehealth Collaboration to Reach Underserved Veterans

The VA announces at its telehealth event in Washington, DC that it will offer telemedicine services to vets at select Walmart stores.

Apple now says its smartwatch tech to detect atrial fibrillation is not for those with atrial fibrillation

Apple emphasizes that the ECG app and irregular heart rhythm feature launched today on the Apple Watch 4 are not intended for people with atrial fibrillation, but should rather serve as conversation starters with physicians.

Telehealth Virtual Care Platforms 2018

Epic and InTouch lead in telemedicine value and impact, according to a new KLAS report, while only Epic, American Well, and MDLive have more than half their customers moving along an EHR integration path.

News 12/7/18

December 6, 2018 News No Comments

Top News

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It’s been a busy week for Apple when it comes to healthcare:

  • The FCC clears an Apple-branded sleep monitor built using technology the company gained from its Beddit acquisition last year. 
  • Apple Watch 4 users who update to watchOS 5.1.2 can now use the ECG app and notification feature for irregular heart rhythm.
  • The US PTO awards the company a patent for interchangeable AirPod earbuds that can incorporate biometric sensors for heart rate and temperature monitoring.

Reader Comments

From Bjorn Again: “Re: out-of-work executives temporarily consulting. Many just need a title while playing out their parachute and await their next position. I’m a career consultant and these folks distract our prospects from the skills and work we propose, sometimes even making us look bad as we don’t expect to be paid $300/hr. Sometimes they bid or leverage their previous relationships to win over a better, but slightly lesser known option. The big one for me is the old-time vendor execs who have been culled out and are now consulting, suddenly claiming to understand BI, blockchain, machine learning, cloud, etc. after working 27 years for a mainframe-based company, passing off a hobby or reading LinkedIn articles as a professional skill.”

From Former Startup CEO: “Re: startups. Graduating from an incubator or developing a minimally viable product is just the beginning. Companies don’t know how to grow to profitability and the time and expensive of onboarding one new client doesn’t match growth expectations of 10 per week for several months. They don’t know how to gain business or traction. Investor portfolios are filled with dogs (bad investments) and puppies (soon to be dogs) because it’s too hard to deploy their solution.”


Webinars

None scheduled soon. Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre for information.


People

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Pam Matthews, RN, MBA (Collie Group Consulting) joins Georgia Health Information Exchange Network as executive operations officer.


Sales

  • Nicklaus Children’s Health System (FL) selects Health Catalyst’s Data Operating System to optimize its RCM.
  • CaroMont Health (NC) will deploy physician time-tracking and payment software from Ludi.

Announcements and Implementations

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A new KLAS report on telehealth platforms finds that few vendors have customers using their product for all three forms of telehealth (on-demand care, virtual visits, and specialty consultations). Epic — whose product works only within its own system — and InTouch lead in value and impact, while only Epic, American Well, and MD-Live have more than half their customers moving along an EHR integration path.


Privacy and Security

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Politico reports that Partners HealthCare (MA) briefly took its Epic EHR offline Wednesday to handle unspecified technical issues. A hospital spokesperson was quick to rule out the possibility of a data breach. This Twitter thread, prompted by the Partners event, provides some amusing insight into provider attitudes towards downtimes.


Government and Politics

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The VA announces at its telehealth event in Washington, DC that it will offer telemedicine services to vets at select Walmart stores.


Other

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In Canada, physicians argue for more input into the already-contentious bidding process for Nova Scotia’s One Person One Record System. Cerner and Allscripts are vying for the contract. The Doctors Nova Scotia association says the process needs more providers involved to avoid the EHR problems faced by Cerner customer Island Health in Vancouver. According to DNS President Tim Holland, MD, “If you look at how the electronic health record was set up on Vancouver Island, it crippled their healthcare system, it completely paralyzed their ability to deliver care in hospital, and it had a huge negative impact on patient health and patient safety … if done poorly, this could cripple our healthcare system. It’s very important that frontline healthcare workers — doctors, nurses, and the organizations that represent them — are involved in the development and implementation of this system.”

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I missed this in Health Affairs last month: Pascal Metrics develops software that uses machine learning and EHR data to detect and alert providers to medical errors in real time. Developers found that the program could detect errors as they happened at higher rates than current methods, but experts have pointed out that the false positives triggered by the software would a pain for hospitals to deal with.

Medical City Dallas mistakenly bills a patient for $13,000 after a “patient portal mix-up,” according to MCD. The situation was remedied only after the patient took her predicament to the local news. Coincidentally, University of Michigan researchers find that out of 2,300 patients, only one-third used a patient portal in 2017. Respondents cited lack of need, a desire to speak with their provider face to face, and not knowing about portal availability as top reasons for their lack of use.

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Teladoc is quick to refute claims of inappropriate employee relations and insider trading that were made in an article from the Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation. The report says the CFO was having an affair with the lower-level employee and shared company stock advice with her. The employee bragged to co-workers who complained to their boss, who pushed through an investigation. The CFO got off with a warning and a one-year loss of share vesting, his girlfriend was not disciplined and later left the company with an unstated severance, but the boss who pushed the investigation was fired. Nobody was investigated by the SEC for insider trading. The company said it acted swiftly and fairly in taking appropriate disciplinary action.

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I find it ironic that Googlers argue for fairness in machine learning when their co-workers are preparing to strike over the company’s plan to launch a censored search engine in China.

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A Weird News Andy wannabe reader is happy he beat WNA to the punch with this story. In England, a pharmacist faces life in prison for strangling his wife in a staged burglary that he hoped would allow him to collect $2.6 million in life insurance. He planned to use the money to join his same-sex lover in Australia, where they would use the wife’s frozen embryos to start a family. Police examined the IPhones of the man and his wife, discovering that Apple Health showed her resting while he was frantically staging the phony crime. It also showed that her phone was moved 14 steps as he took it outside and dropped it for police to find, with the time stamp disproving his claim that she was alive when he left.


Sponsor Updates

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  • The CoverMyMeds team stuffs backpacks for chronically ill campers and their families at Flying Horse Farms.
  • Imprivata partners with DigiCert to enable remote identity proofing for electronic prescribing of controlled substances.
  • EClinicalWorks will exhibit at the 2018 National Ryan White Conference on HIV Care & Treatment December 11-14 in National Harbor, MD.
  • The EHealthcare Leadership Awards honors Formativ Health as the Platinum winner in the Best Patient Access & Convenience category.
  • FormFast and Healthgrades will exhibit at the IHI National Forum December 9-12 in Orlando.
  • HCTec features former University of Virginia Health System CIO Rick Skinner in a new Executive Insights video on “Characteristics of a Trusted Partner.”
  • The Health Information Resource Center honors Healthwise with three Digital Health Awards for its patient education videos.
  • Imat Solutions releases a new podcast, “Phil Beckett of HASA Discusses Why Data Quality Matters.”
  • Wolters Kluwer joins the Healthcare Services Platform Consortium to help advance interoperability efforts and improve patient care.
  • Forrester ranks Arcadia.io’s Analytics as top in the current offering category in its Healthcare Analytics evaluation.
  • Spok partners with Standard Communications to implement Spok Care Connect across VA hospitals.
  • Healthfinch releases a new e-book, “Implementing Standardized Refill Protocols.”
  • T-Systems offers its T-Sheets flu templates to all EDs and urgent care staff free of charge during National Influence Vaccination Week.
  • Solutionreach partners with Jive by LogMeIn to offer customers easier, faster communication options.
  • Nuance will integrate clinical data exchange capabilities from Halfpenny Technologies with its AI-powered clinical documentation solutions.

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EPtalk by Dr. Jayne 12/6/18

December 6, 2018 Dr. Jayne 3 Comments

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Following the ONC annual meeting at the end of November, I received an email that the slides and webcast would be “made available in the near future.” This always aggravates me after conferences, because by the time they make the content available, people have moved onto other things and momentum is lost. Especially with a relatively small (two-day) meeting, it shouldn’t be that hard to get the materials together since presumably people had to submit their slides in advance for review and approval. Webcasts also aren’t that hard to get online, especially if they’re not edited. Making the materials available quickly would help engage those who couldn’t be there and allow them to be part of the discussion.

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I finally had some time to dig into the draft “Strategy on Reducing Regulatory and Administrative Burden Relating to the Use of Health IT and EHRs” document that ONC issued last week. It offers three goals for reducing clinician burden, including reducing time and effort to record information, reducing time and effort for reporting requirements, and improving EHR functionality and ease of use. I’m not sure whether or not I should read something into how those goals were constructed, since fixing the third goal would likely solve a big portion of the first one. When you dig deeper into the document, it becomes apparent that the first item refers not only to documentation effort, but the fact that the documentation required for billing is a burden above the documentation required for clinical care.

The usability discussion specifically addresses poor design of clinical decision support tools, including pop-ups that require “excessive interaction.” It also mentions poor implementation of electronic summary of care documents, lack of standardization around the presentation of clinical content, and the need for improvements to configuration and implementation processes that should “proactively engage the end user.”

One of the problems here is the fact that EHR vendors simply don’t want to spend as much money as would be needed to make EHR systems substantially better. I worked with one vendor that had a limited development budget, which essentially meant that the only work they could afford to do was that which was mandatory – either required for them to maintain certification or to address severe patient safety defects. Even minor patient safety defects were put into the deferred maintenance bucket to sit until more development hours became available, which often meant that they didn’t get fixed. When there’s not enough money to fix patient safety issues, that means that the “nice to have” and usability enhancements logged by customers over the years rarely made it to the requirement stage.

They also go in-depth about reporting issues and the fact that “regulatory requirements and timelines are often misaligned across programs and subject to frequent updates, which require significant investments from clinicians to ensure annual compliance. Government requirements are also poorly aligned with the reporting requirements across many of the federal payer programs in which clinicians may participate …” How about this — let’s put a freeze on federal reporting requirements until the federal payers can get their own houses in order. Present us with a unified set of reporting requirements that make sense clinically and actually allow us to drive the needle for clinical quality rather than just make us report for reporting’s sake.

While we’re at it, here are my other suggestions to solve the issues (although I’m sure they’d never be accepted): First, allow physicians to bill office visits based on time. Not the current “greater than 50 percent of this visit was spent in counseling and coordination of care” nonsense, but actually billing on time like a lot of businesses do, including attorneys, accountants, auto mechanics, and the guy who does my hair. If you’re more complex and take more time, allow us to be compensated for what we do. If you’re a quick visit, let us see you and get you on your way. One might say this may lead to abuses, so let’s put reasonable caps on it, such as a maximum of 16 hours a day. It can’t be any worse than our current system that doesn’t even detect fraudulent physicians that are billing many more procedures than they could possibly do in a day.

Second, let’s also address the usability issue by requiring vendors to issue standardized reports to their clients on how much development time is spent on regulatory requirements, remediation of software defects, patient safety issues, usability, new content, and the like. I know vendors hate this idea because they’re afraid the information will wind up in the public eye, but it’s important for customers to understand whether their vendor is really putting their money where their mouth is. This is hard for publicly traded companies, since actually spending money on development eats into the profit margin. Still, there has to be some kind of accountability for where the millions of R&D dollars are being spent.

While we’re at it, let’s also think about adding some requirements that will just make everyone’s lives easier. Let’s standardize to LOINC for laboratory orders and results. It’s there, it works, and it would save time for hospitals and healthcare organizations. Not just in the EHR, but with the laboratories – I’m tired of federal mandates that put the onus on the physicians, but don’t do anything to make lab vendors comply. I can’t even count the number of practices I’ve worked with whose vendors aren’t sending LOINC codes with results, but the practices have to have the codes mapped in the EHR, so much manual mapping occurs. Why not just fix the problem at the source? The strategy does allude to this a bit with standardization of medication information, order entry content, and results display conventions, but it’s shameful that we’re still talking about this a decade after the start of Meaningful Use.

What about patient matching and interoperability issues? There’s no federal funding for a universal identifier, but what if the vendors came together and created a voluntary one? Let patients opt in or opt out, but if they want to opt in, let’s give them a unique ID they can carry around to their providers that can be used to assist with matching. It’s clear that it’s never going to be a federal priority even if they blockages in front of it are cleared.

I ended up having to stop reading the document, because what I thought was going to be a quick blurb about it has rapidly turned into a semi-angry rant about the state of things. I’ll have to refine my thoughts before I enter my formal comments, which I will certainly do before the January 28, 2019 deadline. ONC plans to post all the public comments that are received, which should make for some entertaining reading in front of a nice fire on a snowy evening.

If you were in charge of all things healthcare IT, how would you fix these problems? Leave a comment or email me.

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Morning Headlines 12/6/18

December 5, 2018 Headlines No Comments

Enzyme Health Adds $1.7M for Clinician Telemedicine Job Marketplace

Austin, TX-based Enzyme Health raises $1.7 million in a seed funding round led by Silverton Partners.

Teladoc Health Refutes SIRF Report Claims

Teladoc refutes claims of inappropriate relations and insider trading made in an article from the Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation.

Researchers find way to catch medical errors as they happen

Pascal Metrics develops software that uses machine learning and EHR data to detect and alert providers to medical errors in real time.

Readers Write: What’s Good for the Dentist is Good for the Medical Doctor as Well

December 5, 2018 Readers Write 4 Comments

What’s Good for the Dentist is Good for the Medical Doctor as Well
By Robert Patrick

Robert Patrick is president of dental at Vyne of Dunwoody, GA.

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Medical professionals might be tired of the endless requirements of mailing x-rays or other documentation to the insurance company every time they file a claim. Some of them might simply want the ability to add their supporting documentation to claims electronically for easier adjudication.

While medical professionals continue to wait for developments and guidance related to the use of electronic attachment solutions and technologies, their dental colleague counterparts have no such obstacles. Even though there’s no formalized standardization from an organization like the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for dental, there is a range of solutions that have permeated the sector and enjoy robust use by many thousands of dental practices. Why the disparity?

The simplest reason is that the solutions are readily available in the dental sector, Their use has been embraced despite there being little formal regulation or guidance related to submitting electronic attachments. For example, as long as the solutions are compliant with HIPAA, their use is fair game. Per recent reporting, some on the medical side of healthcare are waiting for a push toward standardization in the way electronic attachments are sent before moving forward with similar solutions.

According to reporting by MedPage Today, Robert Tennant, director of health information technology policy at the Medical Group Management Association — a trade group that represents medical practices — said that HIPAA includes a directive for the federal government to develop standards for electronic attachments. But the HIPAA provision still is not seeing traction or light of day. Even when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed in 2010, it included a provision requiring the federal government to issue a final rule on standardizing electronic attachments, and a deadline of January 1, 2014, for doing so, but nothing yet.

The delay, Tennant speculates, might relate to how CMS can address “solicited” versus “unsolicited” attachments. Maybe the use of a secure attachment protocol or portal for data submission could eliminate this concern. For example, with dental electronic attachment solutions, providers can simply upload their supporting documentation via HIPAA-compliant software services. The respective payer is then notified that attachments are available for claim processing. No muss, no fuss. 

While there’s no requirement or mandate for dental providers to submit attachments, just like there is not one for medical doctors, dental providers are leading the way having embraced the move to electronic attachments years ago, unlike their medical colleagues. Any care professional can (?) make use of the technology, and there is a market on the medical side of the fence, so why the delay in adoption?

One potential issue is that some believe submitting attachments to be “a fairly complex transaction” for health plans to implement. “Since CMS also controls Medicare and Medicaid, they would be required by law to implement this standard, and maybe there is some pushback in terms of the cost to implement this transaction,” said Tennant in the report.

Is regulation on electronic attachments forthcoming for medical providers? The federal electronic attachment conversation continues and was included in the federal government’s unified agenda — a plan of action issued by the Office of Management and Budget — that might not be considered until later this year.

According to regulatory guidance, the electronic attachments rule must contain data formats to be used for the attachments. In 2016, the National Committee for Vital and Health Statistics, a public group that advises the Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary on health data issues, laid out its recommendations for electronic attachments, including suggested formats, in a letter to then-HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell:

  • For the request for attachments, the group recommended using the ASC X12 format
  • For the response with a submission of attachment, the HL7 format is recommended
  • For the acknowledgement of the response, the ASC X12 format is recommended

For reference, the Accredited Standards Committee X12 (ASC X12) provides standards that can be used for nearly all facets of business-to-business operations conducted electronically. The committee aims to:

  • Develop high-quality e-commerce standards that are responsive to the needs of the standards user
  • Collaborate with other existing standards to make the standards developed more interoperable
  • Avoid any conflict, confusion, and duplication of effort
  • Publish and promote the standards along with their education
  • Drive the implementation and adoption of the standards developed by the committee

Health Level 7, or HL7, refers to a set of international standards for transfer of clinical and administrative data between software applications used by various healthcare providers. These standards focus on the application layer, which is “layer 7” in the OSI model.

The group also recommended that HHS define attachments as the “supplemental documentation needed about a patient(s) to support a specific healthcare-related event (such as a claim, prior authorization, referrals, and others) using a standardized format.”

One thought is that with such guidance and with the backing of CMS, there might be a reduced “provider burden.”

What about the payers? Why not a push by payers for standardized operations? Why don’t payers and providers just decide on standards and implement them without any government help? This hasn’t happened because payers argue that it will cost too much money to implement; no one is going to bother if vendors don’t create products for the providers. Some vendors, of course, are not willing to produce a solution for such without payer’s backing.

In medical care, it seems that everybody’s waiting for somebody else, and no one will do it until the government issues the standard. Perhaps these arguments are valid for physicians, but for dentists, this foundation already is laid. Perhaps infrastructure is the real problem for medical providers. Nevertheless, the technological capabilities exist and have for many years.

If electronic attachments were implemented in medical care, the result could be savings for both health plans and providers, according to the Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare (CAQH), a non-profit alliance of health plans and other organizations whose goal is to streamline healthcare administration. The 2017 CAQH Index report found that only six percent of medical attachments were submitted electronically that year, but the report also found that providers could it save 51 cents per claim – 30 percent of their current cost — if electronic submission were employed, while health plans could save $1.64 per claim, a 94 percent savings.

CAQH launched a project under its Committee on Operating Rules for Information Exchange (CORE) division — a group of about 130 organizations developing operating rules for healthcare administration — to scan and discover where the healthcare industry stands in relation to electronic attachments, including use of a standard format. The organization is examining the varying types of use cases for documentation and the products available in the marketplace to support an automated approach to move the industry forward.

While the number of electronic attachments exchanged is quite small in volume, at least for medical providers, there is a clear path in place that can be executed with or without the support of an organization like CMS or others, as we have seen on the dental side of the house. While doctors may have been waiting for some guidance since HIPAA’s creation in 1996, dentists have been successfully using electronic attachment solutions since at least 1997, and with great results.

Thus, if more than 60 percent of the dentists in America who need to send supporting documentation to payers to get paid for their service are doing so electronically, why can’t the medical professionals of America do the same? America’s dental payers have agreed to participate in electronic attachments while America’s medical payers seem to be waiting for a mandate.

Machine Learning Primer for Clinicians–Part 7

Alexander Scarlat, MD is a physician and data scientist, board-certified in anesthesiology with a degree in computer sciences. He has a keen interest in machine learning applications in healthcare. He welcomes feedback on this series at drscarlat@gmail.com.

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Previous articles:

  1. An Introduction to Machine Learning
  2. Supervised Learning
  3. Unsupervised Learning
  4. How to Properly Feed Data to a ML Model
  5. How Does a Machine Actually Learn?
  6. Artificial Neural Networks Exposed

We’d like a ML model to learn from past experiences, so post-training, it should be able to generalize when predicting an output based on unseen data. The ML model capacity should not be too small nor too large for the task at hand, as both situations are not helping to achieve the goal of generalization.

Under and Overfitting

In the funny yet accurate description below: 

  • Knowledge sits in some form, but a ML model with not enough capacity will fail to see any relationships in the data.
  • Experience is the capability to connect the proverbial dots. Once a ML model achieves this level, training should stop. Otherwise,
  • Overfitting is when the model tries to impress us with its creativity. The ML model just had too much training and is now overdoing it.

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Regression and Classification Examples of Under / Overfitting

We are searching for the sweet spot — a good, robust fit so the model would be able to generalize with unseen data.

The model should have sufficient capacity to be able to learn and improve and yet at the same time, not necessarily become the absolute best AI student on the training set.

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Underfitting

Consider the left side of the above figure. The upper diagram displays data which is obviously not linear. Still, the ML model we’ve applied is linearly restricted – the model capacity is limited for the task.

The lower diagram displays a classification task, but the model is restricted to a circle. Its capacity is limited, so it cannot classify the dots better than with a circle separation line

When a ML model is underfitting, it basically doesn’t have enough or the right type of brain power for the task at hand or the model is exposed to a poor choice of features during training. We can help the ML model by:

  • Using non-linear, more complex models.
  • Increase the number of layers and / or units in a NN.
  • Adding more features.
  • Engineering more complex features from existing ones (using BMI instead of weight and height).

Underfitting is also called high bias and low variance and is one of the causes for a model to underperform. The model has a high bias towards a linear solution (in the regression example above) and a low variance in terms of limited variability of the features learned

Overfitting

You’ve trained your ML model for some time now and it achieves an amazing performance on the training set. Unfortunately, once in production, the ML model is only slightly better than just random predictions. What happened?

As the right side of the above figure shows, the model has used its large capacity to memorize the whole training set. The ML model became a memory bank for the training samples’ features, similar to a database. This overfitting caused the model to over train, to become “creative,” and also to become the best-ever on the training data. 

However, the overfitted model fails on real-life test data because it has lost the ability to generalize. We need the ML model to learn with each experience to generalize, not to become a memory bank

Overfitting is also called low bias and high variance, as the model has a low bias to any specific solution (linear, polynomial, etc.). The model will consider anything, any function, and it has a huge variance. Both factors contribute to an increased overall model prediction error.

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How do we achieve a balance between the above two opposing forces of bias and variance? We need a tool to monitor the learning process — the learning curves — and a method to continuously test our model at each and every epoch, the cross-validation technique.

Training, Validation, and Testing Sets

Once you’ve got the data for a ML project, it is customary to cut a random 20 percent of samples, the test set and put it aside, never to be looked at again until the time of testing. Any transformation you plan on doing (imputing missing values, cleaning, normalizing, etc.) should be done separately on the training and test sets. 

This strict separation will easily prevent the scenario where normalizing over the whole data set and learning the average and standard deviation of the test set in the process may influence the model decision making in a way similar to cheating or letting the model know information about the test set, which the model should not know. The rest of the data after removal of this test set is the original training set.

As the model is going to be exposed to the training data multiple times — with different hyper-parameters (see below), architectures, etc. — if we allow the model to “see” the test data repeatedly, the model will eventually learn the test set as well. We want to prevent the model from memorizing all the data and especially to prevent the model exposure to the test set .

The original training set is used in a cross-validation scheme, so the same training set can be used also for validating each learning epoch. In a fivefold cross-validation scheme, we create each epoch, a 80 percent subset from the original training set and a validation set from the remaining 20 percent. Basically, we create a mini-test set for each learning epoch — a validation set — and we move this validation set within the original train set with each learning epoch (experiment in the figure below):

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Learning Curves

With a cross-validation arrangement as detailed above, we can monitor the learning process and identify any pathological behavior on behalf of our student ML model during training.

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Underfitting learning curves above show both the training and the validation curves remaining above the acceptable error threshold during the epochs of the learning process. Basically the model does not learn: either not enough model capacity or not good, representative enough features it can generalize upon. We need to either increase model capacity, increase the number or complexity of the features, or both. Adding more training samples will not help.

Overfitting learning curves show that pretty early during the learning process, the model started overfitting, when the two learning curves separate. The training curve continued to improve and reduce the training error, while the validation curve stopped showing improvement and actually started to deteriorate. Decreasing the model capacity, decreasing the number of features, or increasing the number of samples may help.

Perfect fit happens when the validation error is below the acceptable threshold and it starts to plateau and separate from the training curve. At that number of training epochs, we should stop, call an end for the learning session, and give our ML model a short class break.

Learning Rate

A ML model has parameters (weights) and hyper-parameters such as the learning rate.

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With a too-low learning rate, the model will take its time to find the global minimum of the cost function (left in the above figure). Too high a learning rate will cause the model will miss the global minimum because it jumps around in too large steps. Modern optimizers can automatically modify their learning rate as they approach the minimum in order not to miss it with a too large jump above it.

Data Augmentation

Usually collecting more samples to feed an overfitting model is a time, money, and resource-consuming activity. Consider an image analysis ML model that identifies between dogs and cats in an image. Until recently, this exercise was used by CAPTCHA to distinguish between humans and malicious bots trying to impersonate humans. Machines recently achieved the same level as humans, so CAPTCHA is not using this challenge any more. Nevertheless, dogs vs. cats became one of the basic, introductory exercises in computer vision / image analysis.

While developing such an image classification model, one usually increases the model capacity gradually until the model starts overfitting. Then its customary to add data augmentation, a technique used only on the training set, in which images are being reformatted randomly around the following image parameters:

  • Zoom
  • Scale
  • Brightness
  • Skew
  • Mirror around vertical / horizontal axes
  • Colors

By exposing the algorithm during training to a more diverse range of images, the ML model will start overfitting at a much later epoch, as the training set is more complex than the validation set. This in turn will allow the model to bring the validation error to an acceptable level.

Data augmentation allows a ML model to realize that a cat looking to the right side is still a cat if it looks to the left side. With data augmentation, the ML model will learn to generalize that a dog is still a dog if it is scaled to 80 percent, flipped horizontally, and skewed by 20 degrees. No animals were harmed during this data augmentation exercise.

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Regularizers

Eventually, a big enough model will start overfitting the data, even if the training set has been augmented. Another technique to deal with overfitting is to use a regularizer, a model hyper-parameter. Basically it penalizes the model loss function on any large modifications to the model weights. Keeping the changes to the weights within small limits during each epoch is important, as we don’t want the model to literally “jump to any conclusions.”

Dropout

An interesting, different, and surprisingly very efficient approach to overfitting that can prevent a ML model from learning the whole training set by heart is called dropout. Like data augmentation above, dropout technique is used only on the training set. It takes out randomly up to 50 percent of a NN layer units from one learning epoch, like randomly sending home half of the students for one class. How can this strategy prevent overfitting? 

The analogy with these students being dismissed from that class / epoch caused all the other units (students) in the layer to work harder and learn features they were not supposed to learn otherwise. This in turn zeroed the weights for up to half of the units while forcing other units to modify their weights in a way that is not conducive towards a “memory bank.” Shortly, dropout destroys any nascent memory bank a ML model may try to create during training.

Testing

Once training is completed, hyper-parameters have been optimized, data has been re-engineered, the model has been iteratively corrected, etc. then and only then one brings out the hidden testing set. We test the ML model and its performance on the test set will hopefully be close to its real-life performance.

Next Article

Predict Hospital Mortality

Morning Headlines 12/5/18

December 4, 2018 Headlines No Comments

Curavi Acquires TripleCare, Prepares to Rapidly Expand Telemedicine Services

UPMC-backed Curavi Health acquires competitor TripleCare, a telemedicine vendor that caters to the post-acute, long-term care market.

MEDITECH UK Announces Acquisition of Centennial and the Formation of Medical Information Technology UK LTD

Meditech acquires its London-based partner Centennial Computer Corporation as part of its creation of Meditech UK.

Interoperability 2018: Real Progress with Patient-Record Sharing via CommonWell and Carequality

A KLAS report finds that most EHR vendors are progressing well toward supporting a national patient record network now that CommonWell is connected to Carequality.

Queensland digital hospitals program facing $250m cost blowout

In Australia, Queensland Health’s hospital EHR project will run $188 million over budget if implemented in the remaining hospitals, with an auditor-general’s report noting that Cerner can name its price for contract extensions knowing that alternative systems haven’t been considered.

News 12/5/18

December 4, 2018 News 11 Comments

Top News

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A ProPublica report finds that the so-called “Mar-a-Lago gang” of three wealthy supporters of President Trump reviewed the VA’s proposed $10 billion Cerner contract before it was signed even though none of them had healthcare IT or military experience, naming themselves as an “executive committee.”

The physician member of the group, Bruce Moskowitz, also pressed the VA to use his self-developed ED locating app instead of collaborating with Apple. He named his son as the VA’s point person for the proposed project that was eventually abandoned.

The group reportedly got VA Secretary David Shulkin fired for being inadequately deferential to them.

Member Ike Perlmutter (chairman of comic book publisher Marvel Entertainment) has reportedly turned his guns on current VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, angered that Wilkie stopped taking his calls and that he released emails that contained Perlmutter’s name in relation to the VA’s no-bid Cerner contract.


Reader Comments

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From Avenel Can’t Save This Trainwreck: “Re: Allscripts. Confirming that at least 250 were laid off, 40 of them from sales. Paragon and HHS support to be offshored. Closing offices and laying employees off is necessary because the company has a debt problem.” Unverified. I didn’t see a WARN notices, so perhaps the company is closing offices and offering transfer opportunities to those displaced, meaning that the resulting intentional attrition isn’t technically considered to be a layoff. With regard to your debt observation, I looked up the debt-to-equity ratio of these publicly traded health IT vendors (lower numbers are better):

  • Cerner: 9
  • NextGen Healthcare: 12
  • Athenahealth: 24
  • CPSI: 91
  • Allscripts: 116

From Smattering: “Re: consulting. Can all these health IT people really make a living as independent consultants?” It should be obvious from the LinkedIn profiles you sent that “consulting” is a euphemism for “desperately seeking a full-time job.” Offering to consult isn’t the same as actually earning a living as a permanent consultant. I suspect that quite a few formerly high-flying health IT executives have been shocked to find that their consulting services were in low demand once they lost their purchasing influence, especially since it’s obvious that a sudden urge to become a consultant coincided with being unceremoniously shown their employer’s door. Reading LinkedIn profiles can be depressing. 


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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Welcome to new HIStalk Gold Sponsor PatientBond. The Elmhurst, IL-based company’s solutions address consumerism and evolving reimbursement models, amplifying patient engagement initiatives by using consumer psychographics (attitudes, values, lifestyles, and personalities) and digital engagement. Health systems use it for marketing, targeted patient acquisition, reducing no-shows, performing digital follow-up, sending health reminders, performing surveys, closing care gaps, and reducing readmissions. Clients include Partners HealthCare, Shawnee Mission Health, Aurora Health Care, and Trinity Health. The company’s psychographics and digital engagement were paired with the American Heart Association’s care plans to create AHA’s Health Motivation Platform to drive patient behavior change. You can determine your own patient segment by taking the company’s 12-question survey. Thanks to PatientBond for supporting HIStalk.


Webinars

December 6 (Thursday) 11 ET. “Make the Most of Azure DevOps in Healthcare.” Sponsor: CitiusTech. Presenter: Harshal Sawant, practice lead for DevOps and mobile, CitiusTech. Enterprise IT teams are moving from large-scale, project-based system implementations to a continuously evolving and collaborative process that includes both development and business teams. This webinar will review healthcare DevOps trends and customer stories, describe key factors in implementing a DevOps practice, describe how to assess Azure DevOps, and lay out the steps needed to create an Azure DevOps execution plan.

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Medical device manufacturer ResMed continues its recent string of health IT acquisitions by announcing plans to buy inhaler use monitoring technology vendor Propeller Health for $225 million. Madison-based Propeller Health has raised $70 million.  

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Medication safety technology vendor Tabula Rasa HealthCare will acquire Australia-based parenteral medication dosing calculation vendor DoseMe.

Meditech acquires its London-based partner Centennial Computer Corporation as part of its creation of Meditech UK.

I was barely interested in McKesson even before it bailed on health IT, but for those who still care, the company will relocate its global headquarters from San Francisco to Las Colinas, TX. Not shockingly, that’s where the company’s incoming CEO Brian Tyler lives (and where costs are much less). Pretty much every place I’ve ever worked that changed office locations ended up near the CEO’s opulent house since the commute time of that one person outweighs that of hundreds of employees despite HR’s claim that its ZIP code analysis makes that location best for everyone.

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Athenahealth files the SEC notice of its shareholder vote on the company’s proposed acquisition by subsidiaries of Veritas Capital and Elliott Management. Interesting points:

  • The acquirers will take on several billion dollars of debt to finance the acquisition.
  • Termination fees of several hundred million dollars are specified for both sides of the transaction.
  • 65 companies expressed interest in acquiring Athenahealth — 32 companies and 33 financial sponsors.
  • Athenahealth’s board worried that the company could not meet financial expectations due to declining market opportunities because of low customer switching rates from competing products, a declining win rate, and the need to spend more money on product development to remain competitive.
  • Athenahealth’s change-in-control plan for its top executives provides each with a one-year severance; a year’s bonus; 9-12 months of medical and dental coverage depending on title; full vesting of unvested shares; and up to $10,000 in outplacement costs. That provides Golden Parachute Compensation ranging from $800,000 (for the former interim CFO) to $5.5 million (for the CFO).
  • Former CEO Jonathan Bush would get $4.8 million under a previously negotiated separation agreement. He also owns 900,000 ATHN shares valued at around $122 million.
  • Jeff Immelt, who served as board chair for nine months, leaves with $420,000 and shares worth $1.8 million.

Sales

  • Arizona HIE Health Current chooses Diameter Health for data interchange and clinical data quality.

People

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Harry Greenspun, MD (Korn Ferry) joins consulting firm Guidehouse as chief medical officer.


Announcements and Implementations

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An excellent new KLAS report finds that most EHR vendors are progressing well toward supporting a national patient record network now that CommonWell is connected to Carequality, which the authors call “the connection heard round the US” as users of Cerner and Epic can now exchange information. Another factor is the connection of Meditech to CommonWell and NextGen Healthcare to Carequality. Click the above graphic to see fascinating adoption numbers by vendor. Interesting facts:

  • Allscripts and Medhost have not enabled connectivity at all.
  • Allscripts says it will connect TouchWorks and Sunrise in 2019, but the company hasn’t committed to enabling Paragon, Professional, or other products.
  • Longstanding CommonWell member Medhost has yet to connect anything.
  • EClinicalWorks customer connections have tripled since March 2018 and CPSI has done a good job in integrating connectivity.
  • Virence Health (the former GE Healthcare IT) and Greenway Health have made little progress.
  • Cerner customers face the most significant technical hurdles in connecting, requiring 3-6 months to install Resonance and to perform mapping, making Cerner is the vendor furthest away from plug-and-play interoperability.
  • Epic and Athenahealth enable connectivity by default and thus nearly all users of Epic and Athenahealth have connected, which has given them the chance to move on to other pressing projects.
  • The CommonWell-Carequality connection has removed the final obstacle to widespread sharing of records as nearly all EHR users can connect quickly and inexpensively.
  • The biggest interoperability barrier is that providers don’t really care about sharing data and thus don’t bother to actually share records even though EHR vendors have stepped up to make it possible for them to do so.

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Another new KLAS report reviews clinical surveillance technology, finding that despite the claims of several vendors, Epic and Cerner are the only vendors whose surveillance tools have significant usage. It notes that Epic’s surveillance tools are the hardest to set up due to lack of vendor guidance and best practices, but users who have gone live have created the largest variety of use cases. Cerner, Epic, Stanson Health, and Bernoulli users say the alerts improve patient care and reduce readmissions

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UCSF will study and manage weight loss in newborns by using SMART on FHIR to integrate Epic with NEWT, a free, web-based, hospital-developed newborn weight loss tracking tool. UCFS’s study is called Healthy Start.

UK-based EMIS Group announces a new cloud-based version of EMIS Web, the UK’s most widely-used clinical system. New features include federated appointments, a voice assistant, video consultations, and analytics.


Government and Politics

A Tennessee nurse practitioner pleads guilty to scamming the military’s Tricare medical insurance out of $65 million via the usual route – conducting telemedicine sessions that resulted in prescriptions for expensive compounded medications that were provided by pharmacy co-conspirators who were also charged.


Privacy and Security

A Florida hospitalist staffing group will pay $500,000 to settle HHS OCR charges that it violated HIPAA in 2011-12 by sharing patient information with someone posing as a billing company employee who then exposed the information to the Internet, all without having a business associate agreement with the billing company or having performed a risk assessment.


Other

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In Australia, Queensland Health’s hospital EHR project will run $188 million over budget if implemented in the 12 remaining hospitals, with an auditor-general’s report noting that Cerner can name its price for contract extensions knowing that its customer has not considered alternative systems. The report also concludes that the project can’t continue without further funding and says the system does not provide value for money.

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Bill Gates names “Bad Blood” as one of five of this year’s books he recommends. Gates says it is “insane” that Theranos hard-coded demo blood testing machines to display a stuck status bar so they could blame connectivity for the machine’s not working. He says Theranos stumbled because it didn’t have healthcare experts on its board; it sported a Steve Jobs-inspired take-no-prisoners outlook that isn’t appropriate for healthcare; and it allowed Elizabeth Holmes to make her personal legacy the company’s most important goal.

In Canada, the health minister of Newfoundland and Labrador blames Telus Health’s Med Access lab results distribution software for delays in delivering results to several hundred patients in the past year.

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Darn, this was almost a clean sweep – an offshore company’s expensive CPOE market report lists six “global top players,” five which are trivia questions having not sold CPOE systems for a long time.

A Wired article says that unlike Amazon and Google, Facebook has no interest in furthering mankind beyond simply growing its own business and assuming that the world will benefit, leaving it with a platform whose chief attributes are tracking and targeting users. A member of Canada’s parliament said in a hearing involving the governments of nine countries – at which Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was a no-show – that “While we were playing on our phones and apps, our democratic institutions seem to have been upended by frat-boy billionaires from California.”

I was thrilled to discover Fakespot, an AI-powered analyzer of reviews on Yelp, Tripadvisor, and Amazon that spots reviews that are likely phony and then recalculates the star rating accordingly. Those sites could do this themselves, of course, but then they wouldn’t have nearly as many reviews to brag about and their advertising revenue might be threatened. Amazon should allow reviews only from people who have actually purchased the item via Amazon, Yelp should ignore reviewers who have posted few reviews or who are posting about businesses all over the world (likely for cash unless they travel extensively), and Tripadvisor really can’t do much about the flood of fake reviews since neither of these methods would work for a global travel site.

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In Japan, National Center for Child Health and Development will work with Sony to see if that company’s AI-powered robotic dog Aibo can measurably reduce stress and provide emotional support to children facing long hospital stays. Sony is selling Aibo’s “First Litter Edition” for the US market for $2,900, although there’s a wait list and they won’t ship to Illinois for some reason. Reviews have been OK, although some testers didn’t expect that having a robotic pet that learns that, like a real puppy, you have to train them (although presumably not in the peeing or chewing kind of way).  

Speaking of robots, Weird News Andy volunteers to spearhead an ICD-10 revamp to include the trendy electric scooters that are sending 1,000 people a month to EDs. WNA notes the billing challenge when available codes consider only scooters of the mobility and non-motorized varieties. I swear we’re regressing to children in fawning over scooters, wasting most of our free time playing with toys (of the Internet-enabled variety), and reducing discourse about global events and politics to a spirited game of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots.


Sponsor Updates

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  • Burwood Group helps patients connect with Santa at Advocate Children’s Hospital.
  • AdvancedMD publishes a new guide, “In or Out-source Your Value-Based Care Revenue Cycle Management.”
  • Aprima announces EHR integration with SE Healthcare’s Physician Empowerment Suite software.
  • Bernoulli Health will exhibit at the AARC Congress through December 7 in Las Vegas.
  • KLAS recognizes Bernoulli Health in its 2018 clinical surveillance report.
  • Clinical Architecture will exhibit at the AHIMA Data Institute December 6-7 in Las Vegas.
  • Dimensional Insight will exhibit at the MDM-Forum through December 6 in Denver.
  • DocuTap’s Eric McDonald will present at 1 Million Cups in Sioux Falls, SD December 5.
  • Meditech adds diabetes management capability to Expanse Ambulatory.
  • Access releases EFR Mobile, which supports electronic forms and signatures capability on mobile devices.
  • EClinicalWorks publishes a podcast titled “Strengthening Patient Engagement in Illinois.”

Blog Posts


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Morning Headlines 12/4/18

December 3, 2018 News No Comments

ResMed to Acquire Propeller Health, a Leader in COPD and Asthma Connected Health Solutions, for $225 Million

Connected health technology vendor ResMed will acquire Madison, WI-based Propeller Health for $225 million.

Tabula Rasa HealthCare to Acquire DoseMe, a Precision Dosing Software Company

Tabula Rasa HealthCare will acquire DoseMe, which will become part of its CareVention HealthCare technology and service division.

VA Shadow Rulers Had Sway Over Contracting and Budgeting

Newly released documents show that President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Trio reviewed confidential VA documents including the $10 billion Cerner contract, despite having zero military or health IT experience.

Minnesota among states suing over health data hack

Minnesota is among several states suing several Indiana companies, including Medical Informatics Engineering, for a 2015 data breach that exposed the PHI of 4 million patients.

Curbside Consult with Dr. Jayne 12/3/18

December 3, 2018 Dr. Jayne No Comments

My former employers at Big Hospital System recently reached out to me, requesting some assistance with practices they’ve acquired. In the years since I left, they’ve consolidated their empire onto a single EHR platform and have streamlined a number of IT departments including the EHR implementation team that I used to manage. The current implementation team is relatively green, having been hired with job descriptions that only allow them to address the new EHR, and not to think critically about or assist with any other systems. They’re also a relatively small team and their time is spoken for over the next 120 days. Whoever made the decisions to restructure the team this way apparently didn’t talk to the business owners of the employed physician group, which has continued to acquire independent practices at a rapid pace. These practices are then left in limbo because they can’t get a deployment slot on the new EHR for months and months, but they still have to try to run a practice either on their legacy system (if they owned rights to it and can keep it) or possibly even on paper.

The acquired physicians are frustrated and rightfully so. Being added to the main health system EHR platform was part of the decision-making for employment for many of these struggling independent practices, allowing them access to a repository of information about their patients along with professional referrals and communications. Several of them were already frustrated with their existing EHRs, and the idea of having to stay on broken systems for another six months is unacceptable. Unfortunately, they either didn’t understand or overlooked the contractual agreement regarding EHR migration, which clearly gives the health system control of the timeline for retirement of their current systems and movement to the mother ship’s platform.

I was asked to do some contract work with these practices, trying to reduce the frustration factor on their existing EHRs while they wait for migration. The health system also asked me to look at the installations from a support perspective, to determine the best strategy to handle upgrades and issues with the systems in the interim. I asked myself why this wasn’t done during the courtship process, and of course it has to do with money and convenience for the employer. That’s the way many physician contracts are these days, unless the contracting practice reads them with a careful eye and is willing to walk away if they don’t get an acceptable outcome. There’s also the factor of the physician group’s leadership assuming that the health system’s IT team would be willing and available to support the new practices and failure to gain an understanding of existing migration and implementation resources before setting a verbal (and unenforceable) timeline in front of the practices they were wooing.

I was happy to take on the work, not only because it was local and would keep me from having to travel much during the holiday season, but also because I know some of the impacted physicians personally, either on a professional basis or through community organizations. The work has been a flashback to my early days as a medical director for informatics, as I’d go out with recently-implemented physicians and try to optimize their day-to-day workflows. It’s always gratifying when you find quick wins that can impact physicians in a positive way – maybe they’re not using medication favorites or order sets. Those findings are common among small practices that may not have had dedicated EHR super users or that may not have spent the money and time needed for advanced training.

I’ve also had some flashbacks about working with systems that don’t seem to have a lot of clinical oversight. When I saw some of the workflows, they made me wonder whether a physician at the EHR vendor performed user acceptance testing before the content went out the door. One of the more obnoxious “features” I saw was part of a lab interface, where the ordering user has to handle those pesky but necessary “ask at order entry” (AOE) questions. For many tests, there should be a 1:1 relationship between the test code being ordered and the specimen type. For example, if you’re ordering “Stool for Ova and Parasites” the specimen type is “stool” and it should only have to be entered once. In one system I worked with, the ordering user (the provider in this case) had to enter “stool” as the specimen type twice for the same test. Since she was a GI doc and was ordering three different stool panels, she had to enter a specimen type of “stool” no less than seven times, even though each test was prefixed with “stool.”

I thought maybe it was just a configuration issue since there are situations where there still needs to be a more specific specimen type entered even though there is specimen information in the test name. For example, urine cultures – even though “urine” is in the test name, one has to specify whether it’s a clean-catch or catheterized specimen, etc. It was clear that it was a design issue, however, when we got to the blood tests, when the user had to select “venous draw” for all seven tests in the basic metabolic panel. That’s pushing absurdity, and no wonder the providers are frustrated since the BMP characteristically is performed using a single blood tube, not seven different samples.

I also ran into some examples of management absurdity. One practice has been performing weekly backups from their server, which resides in a data closet in the office. I asked them if they ever restore from the backups, and they said no. We talked a little bit about the need to practice downtime procedures and to make sure the backups are working properly. They agreed to do some downtime testing, and we restored the most recent backup to their test environment. I thought it was a bit weird that their test environment was hosted outside the practice but their production server was still in the closet. When we restored the backup, the most recent data entry was from June 2013. This led to some detective work, and after burning through some billable hours I was able to determine that they had been migrated from their self-hosted server to a cloud-based platform in the summer of that year. No one must have understood the significance of the migration, because the practice had been paying a third-party IT resource to perform regular backups of a server that was no longer being written to and had spent tens of thousands of dollars over the last five years for no reason. They were grateful that I figured out that they could stop with the backups, but were fairly aggravated about the whole situation.

I’m glad I can help some local physicians, but I hope they realize this is just the beginning of their relationship with Big Hospital System. The grass may have seemed greener on the corporate side of the fence, but now they’re just a handful of physicians among thousands. Despite what they may have been told during negotiations, they’re going to have to wait their turn for everything including migration to the shiny new EHR. In the meantime, I have a feeling we’re all going to get to know each other rather well as I spend some time on the helping side of the help desk.

How does your health system handle practice acquisitions? Are they live on the communal EHR day one? Leave a comment or email me.

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Morning Headlines 12/3/18

December 2, 2018 Headlines No Comments

U.S. judge raises prospect of not approving CVS-Aetna deal

A federal judge involved with the final legal step in the CVS/Aetna acquisition delays court proceedings, telling lawyers that he is very concerned and that “you all are proceeding on a rubber-stamp approach to this.”

AI health firm Myia raises $6.75m in seed funding

Remote patient monitoring startup Myia raises $6.75 million in a seed funding round led by BootstrapLabs and Zetta Venture Partners.

Improving Electronic Health Record Usability and Safety Requires Transparency

Physicians argue against EHR vendor gag clauses, saying that an inability to share screenshots and other types of visual media prevent end users from sharing and learning from usability issues that may endanger patients.

EMIS Group unveils the future of connected healthcare

Emis Group will shift 40 million patient records from its servers onto AWS as part of a continued  push in the UK for more flexible health data exchange.


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Monday Morning Update 12/3/18

December 2, 2018 News 3 Comments

Top News

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Reuters reports that a federal judge involved with the final legal step in the CVS/Aetna acquisition feels as if he has been just a cog in the wheel of a shady business deal – one that vocal opponents have said will drive up costs and steer patients away from traditional providers. Judge Richard Leon, who ended up pushing final court proceedings to December 3, told DoJ, CVS, and Aetna lawyers that after reviewing the approved motion, “I kind of got this uneasy feeling that I was being kept in the dark, kind of like a mushroom. I’m very concerned, very concerned that you all are proceeding on a rubber-stamp approach to this.”


Reader Comments

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From underTheRadar: “Re: Allscripts. Allscripts is having significant layoffs this week. Rumor has it that 250 people in services and development will be let go. Merry Christmas.” Unverified. Comments left at TheLayoff.com from within the last week may provide some context:

  • Most US based Paragon Support staff will be terminated on either 12/16/2018 or 2/1/2019. Offshore resources are not impacted and hiring.
  • Just got the call, position no longer needed, last day 12/14.
  • Was told seven US Allscripts offices closing before January, a consolidation effort. Separate from ongoing space reorgs, such as Alpharetta. Anyone know which offices?

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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A tiny pool of respondents finds more value in HIMSS than RSNA. Steve Gould says of RSNA, “Any show that doesn’t ruin Thanksgiving weekend with family provides more value. It is unconscionable that the dates have not moved to run Tuesday-Friday instead of requiring people to arrive either Friday or Saturday for a Sunday morning start.” John Wayne is a fan of neither: “I think both conferences are a waste of time and money and have become cash cows for the organizers with mediocre content, massive and poorly organized exhibit areas, and inconvenient dates with difficult travel requirements. Can’t the Internet make these obsolete?”

New poll to your right or here: As a consumer, are you worried about Amazon potentially using your medical data to influence your purchasing decisions?

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HISsies nominations are still open. Coveted honors like “Industry figure in whose face you’d most like to throw a pie” and “Industry figure with whom you’d most like to have a few beers” will be based on your recommendations. Given that Jonathan Bush didn’t leave Athenahealth until June, I suppose he’s still eligible.


Webinars

December 5 (Wednesday) 1 ET. “Tapping Into the Potential of Natural Language Processing in Healthcare.” Sponsor: Health Catalyst. Presenters: Wendy Chapman, PhD, chair of the department of biomedical informatics, University of Utah School of Medicine; Mike Dow, senior director of product development, Health Catalyst. This webinar will provide an NLP primer, sharing principle-driven stories so you can get going with NLP whether you are just beginning or considering processes, tools, or how to build support with key leadership. Dr. Chapman’s teams have demonstrated phenotyping for precision medicine, quality improvement, and decision support, while Mr. Dow’s group helps organizations realize statistical insight by incorporating text notes along with discrete data analysis. Join us to better understand the potential of NLP through existing applications, the challenges of making NLP a real and scalable solution, and the concrete actions you can take to use NLP for the good of your organization.

December 6 (Thursday) 11 ET. “Make the Most of Azure DevOps in Healthcare.” Sponsor: CitiusTech. Presenter: Harshal Sawant, practice lead for DevOps and mobile, CitiusTech. Enterprise IT teams are moving from large-scale, project-based system implementations to a continuously evolving and collaborative process that includes both development and business teams. This webinar will review healthcare DevOps trends and customer stories, describe key factors in implementing a DevOps practice, describe how to assess Azure DevOps, and lay out the steps needed to create an Azure DevOps execution plan.

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Remote patient monitoring startup Myia raises $6.75 million in a seed funding round led by BootstrapLabs and Zetta Venture Partners. The San Francisco-based company has developed software that analyzes data from wearables and sensors to predict relapses in chronically ill patients. Co-founder and CTO Bryan Smith came to the company from PokitDok.


Decisions

  • Eastland Memorial Hospital (TX) will switch from Azalea Health to a new EHR vendor. Two companies are under consideration.
  • Adams Memorial Hospital (IN) replaced its Evident financial management software with technology from Harris Healthcare.
  • Titus Regional Medical Center (TX) switched from Allscripts to Epic’s EHR and revenue cycle management software.

These provider-reported updates are supplied by Definitive Healthcare, which offers a free trial of its powerful intelligence on hospitals, physicians, and healthcare providers.


Announcements and Implementations

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Memorial Hospital (NH) moves from three EHRs to Epic as part of its unification with MaineHealth.

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In the UK, NHS vendor Emis Group will shift 40 million patient records from its servers onto AWS as part of a continued national push for more flexible health data exchange and easier set up of digital health services like video consults and chatbot triage.

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Beatrice Community Hospital and Health Center (NE) goes live on Epic.


Other

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In Finland, researchers determine that Instagram can be an accurate predictor of flu outbreaks after combing through 22,000 posts spanning six years and then comparing them with public health data from the same time period.

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USA Today points out that the National Practitioner Data Bank is sorely underused by licensing boards when it comes to keeping up with malpractice payments and disciplinary actions taken against doctors. Nearly half of state medical boards checked the database less than 100 times last year, while 13 boards didn’t check it at all, amounting to 137,000 total searches by the boards. The analysis is part of a year-long investigation into medical licensing system deficiencies that have kept dangerous doctors in practice.

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In JAMA, physicians argue against EHR vendor gag clauses, pointing out that an inability to share screenshots, video, and other types of visual media prevent end users from sharing and learning from usability issues that may endanger patients. They advocate for policies that require EHR vendors to:

  • Permit the release of information in a timely manner when it informs the usability and safety of the EHR product and enables comparison of specific challenges across products.
  • Promote a culture of safety that encourages identification and dissemination of usability and safety issues by EHR vendors and provider organizations.

Sponsor Updates

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  • TriNetX team members make 300 sandwiches for the Life Science Cares Food for Free program.
  • LiveProcess will exhibit at the Oklahoma Hospital Association 2018 Convention & Tradeshow December 5-7 in Oklahoma City.
  • LogicStream Health, OmniSys, and Sansoro Health will exhibit at the 2018 ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting December 2-6 in Anaheim, CA.
  • Inc.com features Waystar CEO Matt Hawkins in “31 Tech Predictions for 2019.”
  • Netsmart will exhibit at the I2I Center for Integrated Health’s Visionary Voices conference and exhibition December 5-7 in Pinehurst, NC.
  • The Visiting Nurse Association Health Group joins PreparedHealth’s EnTouch Network.
  • Redox will host a networking event at the IHI National Forum December 7 in Orlando.
  • Vocera will exhibit at the Healthcare Patient Experience Transformation Assembly December 3 in Denver.
  • The Phoenix Business Journal awards WebPT President Heidi Jannenga with the Ed Denison Business Leader of the Year Award.

Blog Posts


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Get HIStalk updates. Send news or rumors.
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Reader Comments

  • GenesRFree: Your first sentence points out the problem, "a piece on CNN". Turn that fake news off!!...
  • Frank Poggio: I would file these announcements under...Almost fake news....
  • ErinsDad: Unfortunately, money frequently follows the hype, before the reality sets-in... "Please be advised that on September 12,...
  • Weather Man: The terms “winter weather, “winter weather,” “winter weather advisory, and “winter storm warning,” are defin...
  • Mr. HIStalk: Thanks! You provided my "today I learned" item for the day, and one I will surely remember. I had no idea that meteorolo...
  • Ex-Epic: Semi-angry rant... I was disappointed it ended as soon as it did. The LOINC codes are ridiculous. It's all there ready...
  • THB: It IS a winter storm ... meteorological winter is defined by "weather folks" as the three coldest months of the year ......
  • Robert Lafsky: Semi-angry rant but a good one...
  • Renee Broadbent: The issue regarding interoperability will never be fully solved by creating more regulations and layering on all sorts o...
  • Vaporware?: Charlie & 'Answer' ... No answer is coming. Cerner's "vision" was invented to make the sale. CommonWell was invented...

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