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News 12/19/07

December 18, 2007 News 3 Comments

From Saas Man: “Re: athenahealth. Here is a link to a recent CNBC interview with athenahealth’s Bush on other companies doing what they do – all about execution. As someone who follows the SaaS industry, I can say comfortably that athenahealth is light years ahead of any HIT vendor and I would put them up with other SaaS superstars like Salesforce.com. They understand it has so little to do with software except that it needs to be one app and centrally hosted that is how they inject their acquired knowledge into their clients’ workflow to get the results they are known for in the industry and on Wall Street. In my opinion, you will see them connecting to more and more payers and labs etc and then building out their network in ways that traditional HIT software vendors can not with just hosting an app  – it has to all be integrated and centralized. I doubt HIT vendors will jeopardize their software margins to do the heavy lifting.” Link. “Healthcare’s got to get onto a network,” Jonathan Bush says. Good interview, although mostly a quick sound byte sampling since they obviously were in a short segment. On real-time adjudication: “Can you imagine if the Gap had to wait 30 days to decide what to charge you for the jeans?” On traditional competitors: “They can’t keep the knowledge in that software current every day.”

From Art Vandelay: “Re: VISICU. Philips makes another bold move by acquiring VISICU. Both Emergin and VISICU are covered in their press release. Philips is serious about integration and the services they offer. VISICU has a pioneering remote monitoring outsourcing service. Their product has solid data capture and real-time decision support functionality. They lack a broad critical care system providing robust flowsheets, charting, task coordination and orders. Philips has a critical care system in the CareVue product it acquired from HP. Combining the two could position them to extend into new areas ( i.e., NICU, Clinical Decision Units). Too bad the Epic partnership didn’t pan-out. Epic and the Philips applications and devices with the integration could have been a killer offering. SpaceLabs Medical is a common partner of Emergin and VISICU – new acquisition? Another move that could put the competition on-notice would be to buy-out Globestar (similar to Emergin) or Capsule Technologie. Perhaps these are their next steps?”

Stiill need convincing that real-world medical device connectivity is the next battleground (as Laurent Rotival strongly suggested)? Cerner brings 32 medical device to KC to get briefed on its CareAware connectivity kit.

The White Stone Group’s OptiVox communications handoff product is featured in a customer’s presentation at the IHI forum just ended in Orlando, describing their 75% reduction in admission time for ED patients.

Listening: Jessica Prouty Band. Hard-rocking and tight pop-metal, a la Evanescence, Lacuna Coil, or Nightwish. Funny thing is that everybody in the band is aged 12 to 14, but they don’t sound like it. Mom’s an HIStalk reader (she’s in the the HIT industry). Amazon has the MP3 single, coming soon to iTunes. I listen to music like this quite a bit and it’s very good.

New ads to your right: Dragon Medical’s on sale and a discharge referral product is ready for your perusal. Check it out.

Six London trusts finish their rollout of surgery systems from Picis.

Now here’s a fascinating story (unverified for now, but the source is solid and I’m trying to get the technical party involved to go on record with me). A few years ago, Vendor A was selling de-identified patient data to Vendor B. Vendor A found that Vendor B had figured out a way to re-identify the patient data and was selling in that form (!) Vendor A cut them off, claiming they were breaking state privacy laws. Vendor B countersued for breach of contract. Supposedly a security expert who had been called to testify took Vendor A’s file and, using nothing more than a desktop PC and a voter registration database purchased over the Web by credit card, was able to re-identify somewhere between half and 3/4 of the records, instantly destroying the illusion that de-identified data is permanently anonymous.

Another privacy story, coming from another credible source (not Deb Peel, even though it’s about her). Peel was giving a presentation and mentioned a huge insurance company’s plan to sell de-identified patient data to employers without consent. She was interrupted loudly in mid-sentence by someone from that company who tried to argue, saying the data was to be used for all kinds of noble purposes. Trouble is, she’d talked to someone at the insurance company already and was told the sole purpose of the database was to save money for employers (and make money for the insurance company, obviously). Doh! You know those guys have heavy duty data miners looking for fun projects.

I hear that SCI Solutions has moved up to #6 in KLAS’s list of top vendors, a big jump up from #11.

MedMatica Consulting Associates is named to the INC.’s list of 5,000 fastest-growing private companies.

AHRQ gives KP a $600,000 grant to study the role of EMRs (HealthConnect, in their case) in heart disease prevention (do they really need taxpayer money?) The Kaiser guy brags on how HealthConnect lowers medical costs, so expect those premium reductions any day now.

The local newspaper profiles the doc and programmer who developed ChartConnect, a Web-based community patient records system that they say connects 80% of the providers in their area. They’ve already received (and declined) a buyout offer from McKesson (apparently a handful of big companies will own the entire industry in a few years).

Congress is considering a $2 billion IT budget for the VA, creating the hope of an early Christmas present for the usual technology trough-lappers.

Australia will create an integration testing and accreditation lab to verify vendor claims of interoperability.

I know some folks will be taking off early for a Christmas break. I’ll be here as usual, but in case you don’t check back in, have a wonderful holiday.

E-mail me.

Inga’s Update

Former Cerner VP of worldwide sales and business development Michael Mickens is named VP of sales and client services for etrials. Chuck Piccirillo, who previously worked at Hill-Rom, Kodak, and Carestream Health was named VP of product development.

Surescripts President and CEO Kevin Hutchinson is leaving the company at the end of January. The press release doesn’t indicate where he’s going or why, but does have plenty of quotes from board members singing his praises. Rick Ratliff, SureScripts COO, will serve as acting CEO.

McKesson CEO John Hammergren sells a few company shares and nets $3.5MM. I wouldn’t mind being on his Christmas list.

Misys announces that, in addition to selling its MyWay solution as a hosted service, practices can now buy the solution for on-site installation.

Sunquest earns an impressive fourth straight year as Best in KLAS for its Sunquest LIS. Good for them for still being able to deliver strong support, even in the face of the turmoil of an ownership change.

Other notable KLAS honors: eScription earns top honors for transcription and back-end speech recognition, Hayes Management is named overall leader in the Professional Services segment with #1 rankings in Planning and Assessment and Technical Consulting.

Another VC company makes its debut. Santé Ventures has $100 million in committed capital to invest in seed and early-stage companies developing new medical technologies and healthcare services. The managing directors include former Ascension Health president and CEO Douglas French and a former Ascension hospital CMIO Joe Cunningham.

Quadramed’s board of directors authorizes the repurchase of up to $5 million of common stock.

A new report predicts healthcare IT spending over the next couple of years will be greater than investments in service or building expansions or acquisitions. Three out of four of the 464 hospital executives participating in the survey indicated they will acquire or upgrade new equipment worth more than $500,000 over the next two years and 65% will be making major IS investments. If you are selling, the best place to be is in the Northeast, where 96% of the hospitals are investing in new technologies and 89% in IS.

Since my post last week about the Mac O/S, a couple of amusing things have happened. First, all these Mac people have come out of the woodwork to advise me on all things Mac, including its reliability and all the cool features (fortunately I already knew you guys were fanatics). The second (and really not amusing) thing is my latest Microsoft update is giving me fits with Internet Explorer (lock ups, can’t reach sites, etc.) No, I am not ready to dump my nice laptop, but do wonder which one of you secret Mac fans is sabotaged my system.

The Madison, WI paper has an article on the tasty cuisine at the Epic cafeteria. The best perk seems to be the ability to raid the fridge if you work past 7 p.m.

E-mail Inga.

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Currently there are "3 comments" on this Article:

  1. Why does everything think the athenahealth is lights-years away from everyone else in the RCM business? Do they have a nice value prop with a solid business product right now for physician practices? Sure, but some of the comparisons and boasts are I hear are flat out ridiculous. “Health 2.0” company? – No. “Redefining the payer-practice relationship” – Not quite.

    If you look at, athenahealth was really a outsourcing billing company/managed service organizations with RCM services. for providers. Meant athenahealth was competing with two major groups of companies – traditional clearninghouses (emdeon, Gateway EDI, McKesson) and select vendors who provide RCM services to providers (e.g., Navicure, Realmed, Perot Systems). Lot of vendors but a pretty big pie slice too. Say $2-$3 billion annually depending on how you break it out.

    It is only recently that athenahealth have begun to offer their EMR product. athenahealth did this for two main reasons: additional revenue streams from an ambulatory EMR product and the trend for a consolidated EMR/PMS solution for physicians who were looking to replace/upgrade their PMS solution. I don’t know what kind of traction the athenahealth EMR is getting but I would imagine most physicians are pretty leary of being a guinea pig. I could be completely wrong though since I know next to nothing about their install base and the actual product.

    One thing that is It is important to note though that the big EMRs guys like GE Healthcare, NextGen, and others who have already a decent EMR install base have seen what athenahealth did and are moving to offer RCM services to their EMR install base. I can’t say for sure what effect this might have but I am willing to make a bet that athenahealth will be hard pressed to move into practices that already have a NextGen EMR and are getting RCM services from them too.

    There is still a huge market pie that athenahealth can gradually expand on the RCM side and it will be interesting to see what kind of traction their athenahealth EMR gets but lets not go overboard. Solid company with solid value proposition for RCM but it is not like they are the greatest thing since sliced bread.

  2. Re: Privacy case: The details in this case are sparse as presented here, but if it is the case I am thinking of, I didn’t participate in it, but I know it well. Re-identification was made because the records contained full DOB, full Zip and gender which are unique for over 80% of Americans. For anyone thinking about it, this would be pretty obvious.

    A few notes about this (again assuming it’s the one I am thinking of): 1) This case was litigated PRE-HIPAA. As such, these companies were not subject to the definition of of “de-identification” that is currently operative in the U.S.. Essentially it was the bad old days when name, address and SSN were removed and every other unique detail (like zip, full DOB, etc) was left in the record.; 2) Cases like this served as the basis for the deliberations on how de-identification was defined in HIPAA. Loopholes like this were closed by provisions that prohibit attempts to re-identify data and that prohibit the release of any data that could be combined with data like voter registry rolls to re-identify patients. So while I believe a lot of HIPAA has been problematic, I think the definition of de-identification is actually pretty good. There were some very smart experts in this science consulted about how to frame that definition .

    So while I think this case is very interesting, it must viewed in the legal context in which it was litigated.

  3. “Can you imagine if the Gap had to wait 30 days to decide what to charge you for the jeans?”

    Yes – because clearly selling a pair of jeans is as clearcut and straightforward as diagnosing and performing complex procedures.

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