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June 14, 2007 News 1 Comment

From Jean Roberts: “Re: AHIC. I am in complete agreement with Rep. Stark – ANOTHER setback. We all know the big vendors talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk on interoperability. It’s NOT in their best financial interest to interoperate.” Rep. Pete Stark is not happy with HHS secretary Mike Leavitt’s decision to privatize AHIC, the government’s main advisory board on HIT, from which David Brailer just resigned. From Stark’s announcement: “If the private sector was interested in developing or able to promote interoperable standards for health information technology, it would have done so years ago – and private companies wouldn’t today be asking the government to pay for it … It is well past time for federal leadership to fix this market failure.”

From Rogue: “Re: katrinahealth.org. A sponsor told me they plan to make the prescription database an ongoing thing. Pharmacies, PBMs, payers, and government agencies all feeding terabytes of data to Big Brother. Is anyone else fearful of a national database, accessible by tens of thousands of people, cataloging every medication I’ve ever had filled at a pharmacy? The medical director of the life insurance company to which I’m applying will now know everything. Where is the patient control of all this data? The list of participants at katrinahealth.org is downright scary. Your right to share my data with someone has to depend on my right to opt in. I’d love to hear from SureScripts, the Markle Foundation, or one of the other sponsors of this atrocity. How about the Privacy Foundation?”

Tim Thomerson: “Re: new design. The new logo character looks like you, I assume?” No, I just asked the art person for a 50s looking, square-jawed doc with an old-school white coat, the reflector thingie, and an ironic smoking pipe. It’s a boring industry sometimes, so I like to make it fun.

From Duuude: “Re: GE. I’ve heard similar talk from GE about Centricity Enterprise, formerly Carecast: ‘The Stark law will boost sales of our product, don’t forget RHIOs, etc.’ I’m not seeing much of anything. Am I missing something? $1.2 billion is a pittance for GE – do you think GE is rethinking the whole IDX thing? Did they just want Imagecast and thought the rest was throw away?” So far, it’s Soarian II. If great things are happening at Intermountain, they’re good at keeping secrets. Isn’t it about time to back that baby out of the garage?

Speaking of which, from Lefty: “Re: GE. Te massive GE Project at Intermountain Healthcare seems to be a big-time disaster. One of our affiliates has an office in Utah. They are innundated with resumes from IHC people who are trying to jump ship. When these computer guys come in for interviews, they express complete disdain for GE while complaining about what they have done to IHC.”

From Abe Froman: “Re: FCG. I don’t think there is any truth to the ‘FCG going after ex-employees’ rumor.  FCG would be crazy to do it. I did hear two additional VPs have resigned.” Thanks. Outstanding phony name, by the way. A couple of former FCG’ers emerge again: Jeff Schaefer goes with IT consulting firm BluWater and Ken Light joins OmniComm Systems.

From T2: “Re: FCG. Heard that FCG has put out a financial ‘book’ on themselves in an attempt to sell the company. Any truth to that?” 

From MrMisyster: “Re: Misys. Now that Paul Lewis is trying to breath life into Misys as a services company, seems that the pressure is even greater to put Hospital Systems group (the only one making money, by the way) on the auction block. Expect more on this around the yearly client conference in Dallas
next month.” As I reported earlier, there’s little doubt that they’re looking for a buyer. OK, all you smart readers: who should buy the hospital group? Discuss here – I’m listening.

Father Pablo Martinez: “Re: secret shoppers. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has a two-year-old Mystery Shopper program giving good results. Customer service jumped from 2.6 (fair) to 4.8 (excellent). And, these people are more than customer service sleuths — they are sniffing out potential PHI violations, safety issues, etc.” It takes guts to implement that kind of program — you’re somewhat obligated make changes from what you learn. Hospitals aren’t good at holding employees to standards, demanding that obnoxious doctors tone it down, and firing malcontents. You don’t have to go undercover to see lots of opportunities for improvement.

Like in this case: our favorite third-world hospital (LA’s King-Harbor, formerly King-Drew) let a patient bleed to death unattended right in the ED. The patient’s boyfriend, who spoke no English, managed to get through to a 911 operator, who told him (justifiably, IMHO) that emergency services doesn’t deal with hospital quality issues. Relatives claim they asked for help from police, who then arrested the woman for a parole violation. She bled to death of a perforated bowel. I wrote a really long, impassioned, and vitriolic rant about King-Drew a couple of years ago, blasting wide enough to hit LA County, FEMA, Navigant, and Halliburton in just a few wincingly direct sentences. That wasn’t the only time (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). I don’t know if I was right, but I was definitely worked up. My vote for my own best line: “Why would someone not paying their own medical bills anyway risk their lives in a dump of a hospital like King-Drew, who admits that it killed several patients with medical screwups? Take a cab to a better one (Medicare or Medicaid is probably being larcenously billed for the ride as medical transportation anyway.)”

Remember: HIStalk Discussion is open. Anyone can read the messages and you can register to add one (it takes only seconds.) Over to your right, here on the main HIStalk page, the newest forum messages are listed under “Latest Topics from HIStalk Discussion,” if you’re reading the new format, anyway (still working on the old one) and you can click any title to jump right to that message. What can you do there? Add a comment about today’s HIStalk, read or post news or rumors, talk about vendors, start a poll, upload an attachment. Inga and I will meet you there.

A dedicated physician reader is heading off to Australia and generously asked if I’d like an on-the-scene report on anything HIT-related down there. I know a tiny bit about a few Australian vendors, but little else. Ideas? Let me know.

Maybe these guys: the South Australian Department of Health launches big upgrades of its patient and nursing systems.

Fred Trotter points out that Google is dropping some healthcare hints on its blog. (I notice that Roni Zeiger, their physician product manager, comes from the Palo Alto VA and Stanford, of course, specializing in informatics – sweet job!) Fred’s interpretation of the post is that Google is planning a PHR. I don’t read it that way. It sounds to me more like a carefully controlled and categorized medical search for laypeople with some kind of personal folder option (Google already has tools to save information for future reference.) Whatever it is, you know it will have ad capability.

athenahealth will hold a free webinar on Thursday, June 28 from 12:15 to 1:15 PM Eastern time. They’ll talk about their PayerView Rankings: how fast payers pay, their denial rate, industry trends, and how PayerView is improving efficiencies between payers and providers. You can register here.

Here’s a picture of folks in Cerner’s new Dubai office. Looks like Doug Krebs in there.

McKesson CEO John Hammergren’s 2006 compensation: $23 million. At least his shareholders did well, too, unlike those of several other richly compensated CEOs.

Some great quotes from this article by Andis Robeznieks on patient privacy and electronic records. John Halamka on interopability: “We have only one opportunity to build a healthcare information superhighway that patients and providers can trust. We should let the patients decide if they want to drive on it.” Peace Health’s Marc Pierson on information sharing: “We have yet to see anyone say they don’t want the ER doc to see anything. They’re not dumb. They want the ER doc to see everything—but why should their dermatologist know about the gonorrhea they had in their 20s?” And Pierson on cost: “They could probably give every patient in the country a PHR for what it would cost to give every doctor in Chicago an EMR.”

Siemens will partner with Partners (ha!) on service-oriented architecture technologies. Siemens brags that Soarian is SOA (or is that DOA?)

Michigan’s Trinity Health signs with MEDSEEK for web stuff.

Millennium Pharmacy Systems (PA) has interesting medication error prevention technology for nursing homes. “Its technology, used in nursing homes, tracks drugs from the time doctors prescribe them to the instant patients ingest them, documenting each step in real time, with warnings to prevent various errors, including drug incompatibility. It also creates electronic medical records for each patient, including a photograph, with a system of checks and balances in the dispensing and administering of prescriptions.” The company has 145 employees and just raised $40 million for expansion.

Kaiser says two of its hospitals — West LAMC and Santa Rosa — are fully running HealthConnect. 24/7, the press release says, although reports place that number closer to 23/6. Kidding.

The idiot whose botnet infected Cook County’s healthcare systems, including hospital radiology and pharmacy applications, is indicted on two counts of computer fraud. He’s facing a maximum 20 years in jail and a $500,000 fine.

News, rumors, biting satire: e-mail me, or use the confidential Rumor Report form to your right.

Discuss today’s HIStalk.

Inga’s Update

eClinicalWorks announces it will be releasing its unified EMR and practice management solution on Microsoft SQL Server 2005.

Cerner opens a new office in Dubai to supplement its Solutions centre in Abu Dhabi. Plans are to continue expanding their healthcare IT presence in the Middle East.

Eclipsys India has opened a new office in Pune. More support services will be off-loaded to the offshore operations for North American clients in order to improve cost efficiency and improve turnaround times.

E-mail Inga (you know you want to.)

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Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Re. Rep. Stark’s DEEP concerns about vendor interoperability…favorite quote from his announcement:

    “It is well past time for federal leadership to fix this market failure.”

    Uh huh. When the hell has federal “leadership” fixed anything. We can look to their numerous recent successes in Social Security reform, immigration reform, the prosecution of a successful war in Iraq as examples of federal leadership fixing things.

    Now I realize Stark is a congressman and so meddling in things he knows next to nothing about is his life’s work, but when people start looking to the government to “fix” things I start wondering if those people have been hit in the head with a baseball bat or something.

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