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December 6, 2007 News 7 Comments

From Art Vandelay: “Re: Emergin. Nice move by Philips. Why build when you can buy the best? This puts a crimp in the competition’s next incremental strategy for their products. The strategy was to continue to increase safety by sending alarm notifications outside their systems – integration. This move will allow Philips to focus on creating a next-generation architecture for their products and leapfrogging their competition. Hey, what do you know, a big fish acquiring a value-added bolt-on. I am very surprised Emergin lasted this long as an independent without receiving an offer they couldn’t refuse. GE, Siemens, Johnson Controls, Draeger, Cisco, Ascom, or SpectraLink could also have been interested suitors. Now let’s see who tries to one-up the move by acquiring Capsule Technologie or vendors also playing some role in the integration market, such as Global Care Quest, Nuvon, Sensitron, LiveData, iMetrikus, Cain Medical, Delphi Medical, or Pervasa. Best wishes to Michael and the team. Now, only if Philips-Epic relationship would have worked-out (AnswerMan – there is one more for the Epic quota).”

From Dr. Lisa Cutty: “Re: Agfa. Agfa Pulls ORBIS From Dutch Market. According to the Dutch ehealth portal ICTzorg, Agfa decided to resign from the Dutch market. After a fit-gap analysis, Agfa learned that the international version of ORBIS HIS is not ready for the Dutch market. Where are the European next generation HIS products? Lorenzo delayed, Soarian delayed, ORBIS delayed … will the U.S. help Europe once again?” Link. She also mentions that General Atlantic sold only about a million of its 4.7 million Eclipsys shares, reported earlier this week as a potentially larger number.

From Lacey Underall: “Re: vendor support. When you’d call the vendor in the 80s, you’d get transferred to a techie who would resolve the problem on the phone. Now, vendors require that you learn how to use their software for problem tracking. Attach enough supporting evidence to take the case to the US Supreme Court, and they will come back and ask you for more. Last week, we installed code that didn’t work as we had hoped. I opened multiple cases and was invited to a conference call, during which the vendor’s person asked for case numbers. I told them I used their case reporting tool, so look them up. The response from a manager: ‘I don’t know that techie stuff. Please just send a list of the case numbers.'” I’m with you. First, customers of some vendors end up being their outsourced QA department since they don’t bother to test otherwise. Then, you have to log on to their clunky web tool, slogging through cryptic fields that a customer should never have to see. Then, they insist on working from that system, which you invariably download to Excel since they speak no other language when you talk to them, or they dump it into an RTF and e-mail it. Lastly, you not only better be able to repeatedly duplicate the problem and provide ironclad evidence if you don’t want your ticket closed immediately as ‘working as designed’ or ‘unable to duplicate’, you then have to explain it to the clueless help and test the usually dysfunctional and sloppy fix that results. The obvious goal: to put the burden of their mistake and its rectification (no pun intended) on the customer. You prove it, you help them fix it, you test it, you pay big maintenance fees for the privilege. I should name my vendor right here, which I’m betting is the same as yours since our experiences are identical.

Kaiser CIO Phil Fasano is interviewed on video by ZDNet. I asked Justen Deal for his impression just to get the counterpoint. Here are a few of his excerpted thoughts. “The interviewer says Fasano ‘parachuted in to fix some big problems.’ Interesting. KP has never really acknowledged that there were problems when he came. This interview doesn’t talk about any of them. It’s a lot of fun talk about Web 2.0, RFID, mobile computing, and social networking, all the glamorous buzzwords. The interviewer was excited about remote and mobile computing, but the extent of KP’s remote access infrastructure is its Cisco VPN Concentrator and the RSA SecurID tokens it rations out to worthy IT employees, managers, and a few doctors. As for mobile computing, KP is notoriously un-mobile. Tablets and PDAs just aren’t used in clinical settings at any of KP’s medical centers. Finally, I estimated last December on my blog that KP was spending $2.6 billion per year on IT, which KP disputed to anybody who would listen. But Fasano says in the interview it’s $3 billion a year. So, $330 per year, per member. The VA is at about $296 per individual, but has more than four times the number of medical centers and double the number of clinics. And, the UK’s NHS spends less than a third of what KP is spending per citizen (including NPfIT).” And speaking of Justen, a reader (someone from Kaiser) liked his scathing, well-research comments about Kaiser’s CEO.

OK, I need your help. Several folks who should know have told me that they’re sure that specific HIT software vendors are selling the patient data of their customers. Logistically, those vendors would need contractual permission and (for non-hosted systems) remote data access. If you have any (anonymous) proof of that practice, I’d sure like to hear about it. Contract terms would be good, first-hand knowledge even better. I’ve never heard of that happening, but I figure it’s a good time to either prove it or put it to rest.

GE, McKesson, and Microsoft are rumored to be interested in buying Canadian HIT applications and services vendor Emergis, but telecom company Telus may get it outright.

Former QuadraMed VP Michael Lanza is named EVP and general counsel of Selective Insurance Group.

Some idiot blogger is involved in a new online HIT job service.

Ronald Crall is named CIO of Quincy Medical Center (MA).

A group of healthcare companies will develop and use security practices developed with Health Information Trust Alliance.

Red Hat and HP will collaborate to facilitate healthcare data sharing in India. Interesting …

AHRQ releases 17 patient safety toolkits created from its research projects.

Cedars-Sinai, stung from being front-page tabloid fodder, abandons any pretense of offering a non-punitive culture. Everyone involved in the heparin overdosing of Dennis Quaid’s twins has been suspended and a reported 1,400 nurses will be required to attend special training. One story said that nurses have been warning the suits for years that staffing cutbacks and poor labeling were causing increasing numbers of medication errors.

Singapore’s HIE will be extended to community hospitals in the next few months, allowing public facility records to be viewed in community hospitals.

Survey: 60% of US adults think EMR benefits outweigh privacy concerns; 40% don’t. 75% want to be able to e-mail their doctor, but only if it’s free (apparently 25% don’t want that option even at no cost, proving that only idiots are sitting at home during the day, people willing to take a break from Jerry Springer to do telephone surveys).

The CareSpark RHIO chooses Wellogic’s physician portal.

Sunquest announces plans to expand its CoPathPlus anatomic pathology software.

Erie County Medical Center (NY) says the PeriOptimum wireless surgical patient tracking system is saving it big bucks, boosting OR utilization from 55% to 92%. Hospital CEO quote: “Think of it as a kind of air-traffic control system … You have 10 runways, 10 planes landing or taking off, 10 queued up waiting to take off, X-number in the air waiting to land. The rare commodity is the runway. The closer together you can get them landing and taking off, the more business you can do.”

Steve Case’s Revolution Health buys HealthTalk, a social network for those with chronic conditions (should it be called a social disease network?) and invests in fitness goal website vendor SparkPeople. Overnight futures prices were up for companies whose unimaginative names were created by simply jamming two words together (the company’s other businesses are CarePages, RediClinic, and Extend Health … how did they miss that last one?) And lest you think the companies are just a hobby for Steve to spend his AOL money, the young parent company gets serious and lays off a quarter of its staff, explaining “What you will see is a flatter organization, with a greater emphasis on revenue generation.” Aw, that’s so 1.0.

E-mail me.

Inga’s Update

“Differences in management philosophy” have led to Gregory Burfitt’s resignation as CEO of Centura Health after just over two years.

I have given up on Congress to pass any meaningful legislation about healthcare IT. (Now that I think about it, I am not sure about Congress’ ability to pass much meaningful legislation on anything, but I digress.) Despite my pessimism, I liked the new proposal that would require all doctors seeing Medicare patients to e-prescribe by 2011. It would also “bonus” doctors who use e-prescribing starting next year, although the bonus will likely be wiped out by lower Medicare reimbursements. Regardless, I say let’s get some legislation on the books and start forcing the HIT issue. E-Rx is probably one of the easiest tools to use in any EMR. If you have doctors resistant to technology, e-Rx is a great way to dip their toes in the pond. And obviously if you are able to convince a doctor that one aspect of an EMR is easy, then maybe the doc will move to other functions. E-Rx is also one aspect of automation that has great returns in terms of patient safety. It’s harder to argue that it’s not worth the money/effort. And if you get more doctors using e-Rx and the products are deficient, then there will be more voices crying for enhancements.

Meanwhile, check out Martin Jensen’s comments about the topics (especially if you want a totally different perspective!).

MedcomSoft adds James Haveman to its board. His background includes a stint as Senior Advisor for Health to the Ministry of Health in Iraq.

Statcom names Jim Rosenblum as executive vice president, products and chief technology officer. Rosenblum comes from Emmi Solutions and Allscripts before that.

athenahealth agrees to provide its practice management services to Indiana State Medical Association members. The organization has over 840 member doctors. Interesting that the press release doesn’t mention EMR. If athena is able to get a physician’s billing business, then its more likely to get the EMR as well. And, without having to discount.

E-mail Inga.

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Currently there are "7 comments" on this Article:

  1. Please explain the difference between the security standards recently released by HITSP and the annoucement by Health Information Trust Alliance?

  2. Good luck with the Healthcare IT Jobs site. It should prove to be useful to the entire industry. Sadly, I tried to do this myself about 10 years ago with a site called 123HealthJobs.com but it was at a time when you had to pay hundreds of dollars just to get a search engine to look at your site and most wouldn’t list your site if they didn’t feel like it (or if you didn’t pay them even more) so it never took off.

    I’m sure yours will be successful. And, as always, keep doing what you’re doing. I love your blog.

  3. In looking for folks selling patient data, it is incredibly important to distinguish the use of properly de-identified data from identifiable data. Having worked to improve patient safety and quality, properly de-identified data for benchmarking and analysis is essential to study practice and improve performance. If we categorize the use of patient data without making this distinction, we risk a crucial tool in work to make care better, safer and more efficient.

    That said, if anyone is selling IDENTIFIABLE patient data without proper authorization from the patient, they should go to jail.

  4. Re: General Atlantic selling only a million shares of Eclipsys stock. Insider Transactions reported the folowing sales by Steve Denning of General Atlantic:
    11/13– 686,464 shares
    8/21– 1,626,182 shares
    8/13– 1,911,933 shares

    I’m not a math major, but these sales add up to more than a million shares.

  5. I have to disagree with Inga on the need for health IT legislation. Having been around MDs long enough (and being one myself) I’ve learned that MDs will start using IT readily (even the cranky old ones) if you demonstrate the value for *them*. Not for their employers, their payors, their co-workers. Patients might work, but the payoff had better be worth it.

    That said, few healthcare IT products have been shown to be a slam dunk for even the patients, and most are known to make MDs’ lives worse. To date no healthcare IT system has been shown to be better than good ol’ aspirin. If you want to have the massive negative reaction akin to the one HIPAA currently has among MDs (particularly at research institutions), by all means legislate another un/under-funded project onto their plates.

    If you really want to change the way MDs respond to healthcare IT through legislation, get Congress to change their E&M documentation requirements. My EMR knows everything that I saw and did; that should be enough to get paid without forcing me to write it out, and should be able to send in a standard format that 100% completed any requirements so that my denials should be limited to poor care alone. If you linked those changes to EMRs, MDs would be lining up the block to get them.

  6. re: lacy … if an Epic customer calls with a problem they will be directed toward their tech services rep immediately and if that person is not available or if it is after normal business hours reception will bend over backwards to find them someone with the technical knowledge to help them.

  7. Shares sale
    Even I stayed away from numbers, but that does look like a huge number of shares and it seems it all went away in one small period. Will this also be followed by a change of guard….?

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