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November 13, 2007 News 4 Comments

From TGIG (Thank God I’m Gone): “Re: Misys Connect. Just one of many great decisions. How about taking a pass on NextGen; how about putting a Windows overlay on Medic PM but keeping the underlying COBOL code; how about stopping the bidding for MedicaLogic (now Centricity) at $25M; how about firing the guy from GE running Physicians Systems who was exceeding his numbers; how about putting  his “Peter Principle” buddy in charge of BD? Misys is where it is due to lack of leadership and a failure to make courageous decisions. The new leadership can do no worse.” Jon Phillips thinks they’re doing better, but with some unknowns in front of them.

From Sonomaca: “Re: Jon Phillips. I’m interested in the payer tech side of HCIT. Would like to know Jon’s views of present and future here. Companies in the space are Medecision, Click4Care (private), Kryptiq, Trizetto, and bigger companies such as DST and McKesson. Also, will UnitedHealth spin off Ingenix at some point. What’s that business worth? Also, what about the CDHC platforms such as CareGain (Fiserv), ConnectYourCare (Express Scripts), HealthEquity, ASI (DST). Also, banks such as BofA are getting into this, in part because of huge opportunities in financing consumer HC debt.”

From Money Money: “Re: Healthvision. Anyone know or can guess how much it sold for?” I have no idea, but I’ll guess with everyone else. Reported revenue was in the $20 million range but trending down from all appearances, so I’d say it was worth maybe $25-30 million tops given the employee losses and cash flow struggles. I’m sure there was some debt involved.

From The PACS Designer: “Re: Google Android. Google is muscling its way into the mobile phone marketplace by releasing Android, its free and open sourced software stack for the mobile marketplace. Healthcare institutions will most likely show some interest once there is a stable platform for mobile viewing and some new options developed that will benefit daily work routines. Developers will be going after Android’s Software Development Kit (SDK) since Sergey Brin, Google’s president, is offering $10 million for the best new design applications using Android as the platform for new mobile features. Google hopes to challenge Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 5 (WM5) by enticing independent developers to work to improve the  application’s functionality with new features. Since 3D is the newest software that has penetrated the healthcare workspace, it would be nice to have 3D images viewable on your mobile phone. The YouTube video shows a 3D application running on their new platform.”

From Inside Outsider: “Re: Andreessen’s Stanford gift. This is not like the old Bill Gates (prior to Melissa coming into the picture), where he’d donate 100,000 copies of MS Word to poor schools, then write off the donation at full cost. This is a real monetary gift and he should be commended. Think of how much less giving there would be if someone decided who we had to donate to. We should not look a gift horse in the mouth, even if it is giving to a better-off hospital.”

Speaking of alternative practice models, Bruce Friedman has an interesting piece (and I’m not just saying that because he quotes me) on a company that provides medical services by telephone. You get a telephone consultation and prescriptions for $35. Sounds like small potatoes until you notice the headline on their site – they just signed up their millionth customer. Imagine the cost savings if prescriptions didn’t require prescriptions (is it reasonable to require a prescription for drugs that might hurt you but not for alcohol, fast cars, dangerous power tools, and handguns?)

Listening: new from The Hives.

QuadraMed’s Q3: revenue flat, EPS -$0.01 vs. $0.08, some of the loss from the expense of buying Misys CPR.

Several new profiles are in flight for HIStech Report. The interview with Novo’s Robert Connely is fun, of course. Great HIMSS product previews are coming.

Initiate Systems announces plans for a $75 million IPO, with heavy hitter Goldman Sachs bringing them out. The company also announces Initiate Master Data Service version 8.0.

My newsletter editorial for tomorrow: “Two Economic Theories That Explain Why Epic’s Competitors Had Better Improve Fast.”

Sage Software Healthcare announces John Lopiano as division president. He’s new to healthcare, it appears, with previous stints at Spinet Associates, Xerox, and IBM. A West Pointer, which we like here.

Post-acute care services provider CareCentric announces that CEO John Festa and CFO Lyle Newkirk are gone. Says it’s part of a plan “to refocus the company on operations, software development, and infrastructure.” Wonder what were they focused on before?

Symantec announces some kind of healthcare provider package with software and stuff.

The Kansas City paper covers Mediware’s retooling, including a new CEO, restructuring, product retirement, and layoffs.

Industry longtimer Kerry de Vallette joins HealthPort as SVP of Solution Sales.

Thomson announces PDRhealth, an online version of the Physicians’ Desk Reference with some health tools added on (can yet another PHR be far behind?)

Government Health IT, probably my favorite online HIT publication, runs a well-written profile on Brent James of IHC.

Odd: a Florida cardiologist’s office is raided by the DEA, he’s named in several civil lawsuits, and his office manager is shot dead by a coworker who later kills herself. Now, his physician partner gets a court order and takes all the equipment from their angiography practice. The partner had started an EMR company at one time (I’m guessing it was AutoMedicWorks).

The Healthcare IT Transition Group, fresh off their report urging RHIOs to find local funding instead of relying on federal grants, announces a new resource directory to make that easier. It’s $395 per region, which seems like a pretty good deal. Those guys must be busy all the time.

Allina is urging staff to take PTO and will probably have layoffs by Christmas. Its 2004 tax form shows a $198 million profit, an $835 million warchest, and a CEO compensation of $1.4 million. For all that (plus the $249 million Epic project) I would have expected something more creative. But, hospitals have zero willpower when it comes to position control (at least of the preventive persuasion).

An Oregon community college and Asante Health System join forces to offer informatics training, with plans to expand it to a certificate and then associate’s degree program. It’s not exactly what I’d call informatics since it has no clinical component mentioned and the maximum pay at Asante will be $19 an hour, so it’s more like field support and training for applications. Sounds like a good program, though.

Steve Starkey of Healthcare Management Systems is promoted to COO.

State funded UT Southwestern takes heat after the local newspaper obtains a list of 6,400 wealthy, influential, and connected people who would be given concierge-like VIP treatment if admitted. Other hospitals contacted rationalized their own VIP lists, saying that UTS went too far by including people with whom it had no relationship, according to an overheard conversation between the pot and the kettle. I like the frankness of a county commissioner who found out that he was on the list when the paper called: “I get there at 7 a.m. and there’s not much of a wait. Ain’t nobody hardly at work. I’m glad I’m on somebody’s VIP list, because I’m damn sure I don’t have any money.” The hospital’s president does: he gets a $1.1 million salary, according to tax records.

Oracle will offer freely downloadable server virtualization software starting on November 14, knocking down VMware’s share price.

E-mail me.

Inga’s Update

Turbulence at Medquist continues. Three independent directors announce their resignation amid concerns over the potential sale of the company. Costa Brava Partnership III, a five percent stakeholder, wants to inspect the books. And, the company lost $8.9 million in the third quarter.

Meditech Chairman Neil Pappalardo donates $2.5 million to Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. The university plans to build a medical center with the funds. No word as to whether they plan to use Meditech products at the new facility, but perhaps Michael Dell can advise him on this strategy.

The Georgia Department of Community Health announces winners of $853K in grants to promote EHR and electronic prescribing initiatives. One of the four facilities was Sumter Regional, which received $250K.

Sentillion announces a new Channel Partner Program and already has at least three initial members. The company also reveals that it signed six new customers in the third quarter and now has 335,000 live users.

Oschner Health System in New Orleans goes live with master patient indexing for 2.7 million records across 10 hospitals and 32 health centers. IBM and Initiate Systems helped create the EMPI.

An ambulatory vendor employee commented that his company missed their third quarter projections, though not as badly as Allscripts. His question: “Do you think the ambulatory market is slowing?” I personally don’t have the answer to that question, but I am curious what readers think. Despite missing projections, Allscripts earnings were up 26% from the same period in 2006 and QSI’s were up 16%. I doubt Misys and Sage will announce similar growth, however.

The FCC announces a proposal to fund a $400 million Rural Health Care Pilot Project to deploy broadband telehealth networks. The project would target rural and underserved communities and is designed to facilitate telemedicine programs.

Perhaps the FCC read this report before making their announcement. The Center for Information Technology Leadership conducted a study that found a national implementation of telehealth technologies could save $4.28 billion in annually, including $912 million in patient travel costs. AT&T helped pay for the study.

SCI Solutions will provide its Order Facilitator solution to HCA’s TriStar Health System, which includes 18 facilities.

E-mail Inga.

Art Vandelay on IT Project Work

I wanted to comment on a great topic and pending analysis to be completed by Will Weider.

Will would like to determine how much effectiveness he is receiving from his IT staff time spent on project work. Competing demands lead to sub-optimized use of his staff’s time. No project assembly line exists to ensure that work is contiguously and effectively sequenced for his staff.

What factors drive the lack of effectiveness of work in health care IT organizations? From my experience, it is a combination of the following:

1. Effective IT governance. Who, how, and how quickly can decisions be made that are binding in order to prioritize projects?
2. Tactical prioritization of resources. Day-to-day prioritization of resources doing the project and operational tasks.
3. Effectively estimating, measuring and communicating resource capacity within or outside of IT. Who is truly available to do what?
4. Vendor providing qualified resources. Experienced and trained people who are capable of mapping the capabilities of a product to the client’s goals while addressing the unique characteristics of a client’s environment.
5. Evolving project scope and requirements. May impact project approval and re-approval, which leads to idle time for resources while decisions are made.
6. The lack of early determination of product fit ( i.e., usability,technical, response time) with the resources, processes and technology capabilities of the organization. Results in potential idle time as issues regarding product fit are resolved.

To speak in statistical terms, these are the factors (in my opinion) driving a good R-squared if we were to model this relationship. Your organizations may have other factors that may be “statistically significant” driving ineffectiveness. The other factors likely involve your organization’s competitive environment, financial situation, leadership styles, cultural norms, and a lack of standardization in resource roles, technology capabilities and processes.


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Currently there are "4 comments" on this Article:

  1. TGIG – wasn’t TIGER a “windows” front-end to the +MEDIC (MEDIC PM) proprietary COBOL flatfile backend already?

    IHMO – going after MedicaLogic is a good move. It has a well-entrenched base of docs who aren’t going to switch easily. It also has a community content sharing capability for those who want a specialty jump start beyond the starter set of content. The real question to me is if they are buying Millbrook (a GE acquisition in the PM space) along with MedicaLogic. At $25m, the two would be a steal.

  2. Re: Allina … will probably have layoffs by Christmas. Its 2004 tax form shows a $198 million profit, an $835 million warchest … after the 249M Epic Project.

    Mr HISTalk – you can’t let people get away with playing both sides of the issue… Do we want HealthCare to be a national jobs program or do we want to cut costs?
    Staff costs are the lions share.

    Integrated solutions carry big price tags, but only because all accumulates to one name. It’s still tons cheaper than supporting the myriad systems out there in non integrated facilities. Easy to put up big Epic numbers, but at the end of the day, they generate a net saving in hard $$$s, an improvement in quality, and with less staff. The magic question – would you go back to paper? Can you find one who has?

    Doesn’t mean there won’t be any complaints (some very real) along the way. But the savings are for real. And by the way, the lions share of that 249M doesn’t go to Epic at all, it goes to wonderful IT workers like yourself who bust their ***es to get the job done. Ask anyone who’d gone through one of these. It’s hard work but its very rewarding.

  3. Bigger insurance payers have money to spend on IT but it is a tough nut to crack. First, you have to overcome the initial reluctance of any larger payer to utilize their own IT personnel to write and manage the application. Much easier to do if it is an IT area that the payer doesn’t regard as a core competency (e.g., medical underwriting) and instead is a pain in the ass to deal with internally.

    Even once you clear that hurdle, you still are going to be stuck in a lengthy negotiation with a payer that likely will last 12-18 months before you sign a deal. Almost never have a quick turnaround and sign. Plus, a lot of this business seems to be done without an RFP and instead on a recommendation/personal connection.

    Large payers spend a lot more of their IT budget on financial/administrative applications than clinical applications. Generally the 80/20 rule holds pretty well here for large payers from what I have seen. Funny, since the medical loss ratio is one of the most important benchmarks to this business. You would think real innovative clinical IT applications could really impact the medical loss ratio but there is a catch-22 here – health insurers have a huge annual churn rate of 20-30% per product line. That means that most of their membership will turn over in 3-5 years. Tough to justify spending huge dollars on clinical IT applications if you won’t reap the reward. Plus, you can always debate how much impact health insurers actually have on patient behavior too.

    There just isn’t much interest from IT vendors in payers with less than 100k covered lives in general. Too much of a fragmented market, not a huge revenue generator if you sign a client, and it would be a pain to support for a IT vendor to support too many small fish.

    Self-insured market is really interesting considering that 50-60 million Americans are covered under this arrangement but really a black hole. There is no good source of data on the entire TPA market (over 2,000 in the U.S) and a tough market to sell IT applications. Price competition is brutal among TPAs and they don’t have the large IT bucks to spend on administrative costs even though it is 20-30% for TPAs compared to large payers with admin costs of maybe 5-10%..

    So basically, large payers have the money but a tough nut to crack for IT vendors, not much interest in any payer below 100k covered lives from the IT vendor perspective, and TPA market is challenging to figure out because of fragmented nature and lack of large funds to spend on IT administrative applications.

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Reader Comments

  • Sam Lawrence: Except in this case, coding = medical billing, not development. Though the same warning may be true...
  • BeenThere: Partners will find the savings from their cuts of coders as fools gold. There are a lot of hidden costs running an outs...
  • JC: If there is not there can be. VistA has a reference lab interface that can create the manifests/labeling and such as we...
  • Tom Cornwell: Great stuff from Dr. Jayne as usual. One small typo, last sentence of second-to-last paragraph: should be 'who's' not 'w...
  • HIT Observer: What I find most interesting here, is people defending their common practices rather than truly taking this as invaluabl...
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  • Peppermint Patty: Veteran - can you clarify what was "fake "? Was something made up (definition of fake) or did you disagree with Vapo...
  • Pat Wolfram: Such a refreshing article. Thanks -- there really can be a simpler version of an acute HIT implementation. But I do ...
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