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News 2/15/08

February 14, 2008 News 6 Comments

From B. A. Strothers: “Re: CHOP. CHOP’s CIO announced he is leaving effective April 1 (no joke). The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is conducting a national search for CIO and the newly created position of CTO. It’s a terrific opportunity for someone who can take charge and who wants to do something special at a very special institution.”

From Charles Chips: “Re: your PC. You said you Microsoft isn’t important on your PC. Linux bigot!” Nope, no Linux here. Like more people than you realize, I just run very few local apps any more for home use. I’d much rather run Web-based stuff that’s just as good, free or cheap, and that I can access from any PC. I used to hang around the software store and keep current with everything from office suites to photo editing utilities. That seems incredibly primitive now. I want to be on the grid, not bound to a specific PC (especially at upgrade or system crash time). Personal productivity apps installed on a local PC? So 1995. As long as I’ve got a broadband connection, I don’t need much of anything on the desktop. In fact, I could easily run Linux. The network is the computer, don’t you know.

Listening: PJ Harvey.

Microsoft announces that it’s now in the HIS business, renaming Azyxxi (thanks!) to Amalga and making up a new software category for it called Unified Intelligence Systems. Also in the new blended family is Microsoft Amalga HIS and RIS/PACS. I say “blended” because this is the Hospital 2000 software Microsoft bought from Global Care Solutions just three months ago, developed for Bumrungrad Hospital in Thailand.

Apparently Microsoft has studied our industry carefully because it followed all the longstanding rules with Amalga: (1) buy something that some hospital developed for its own use instead of doing your own R&D; (2) roll it out with much fanfare even though it’s got only a handful of live sites; (3) proclaim it to be integrated with the step-siblings; (4) start selling it quickly even though so little time has passed between its acquisition that there’s no way it’s really ready for production use; and (5) “upgrade” the hospital that developed it, at least on paper, so it can serve as a reference site so somebody might actually step forward to be its first paying customer. The whole enterprise had only 71 Thailand-based employees when Microsoft bought it, so one might logically question exactly how they’ll provide support and implementation services (unless one knows Microsoft, which nearly always pre-announces its intentions as a blocking or testing-the-waters move long before really having anything ready to go).

There’s an Amalga web page, by the way, but if you click the the Contact Us button and then choose your inquiry type, nothing happens if you use anything other than Internet Explorer.

The biggest beneficiary of Microsoft’s forced entry into the HIS applications business: Red Hat. You can bet that application vendors now competing with MSFT will be more than happy to steer prospects to non-Microsoft operating systems and databases.

Registration for the HIStalk reception Monday evening at HIMSS will be closing down no later than Wednesday 2/20 at noon or until we hit 400 RSVPs, whichever comes first (we’re at 250 or so now). If you’re waffling because you’re afraid it won’t be A-list, fear not: I counted 32 presidents or CEOs, 33 VPs, and a bunch of other Cs (CIO, CTO, CMIO, COO, etc.) on the list, along with investment people, press, academics, economists, and clinicians. And, not to mention our own Miss HIStalk and Inga and a celebrity speaker. We’ll be in the Florida III room on the convention level of the Peabody. Many thanks to Healthia Consulting for sponsoring this cool event. I remember when they first offered, we agreed we were worried about attendance, but for different reasons: I was picturing 10 lonely people staring at each other in an empty room, while Healthia envisioned hordes. Inga and I are really happy that everybody’s dropping by, especially since she’s obsessing about couture.

For HIMSS goodie-seekers: RSM McGladrey will have some “bonus” HIStalk badge ribbons of a different color/type than those I listed. Reason: the ones I mailed to them never made it, so they went out on their own (and at their own expense) to have new ones made in some different colors and choosing from a list of suggested pithy messages that I provided. All so you wouldn’t walk away crestfallen at their unintentionally bare cupbard. So, if you’re a collector, make sure to stop by Booth 4038 (along with those other companies who are graciously handing out ribbons: DB Technology #4442; IntraNexus #1851; Novo Innovations # 4128, and Stratus Technologies #569). And don’t forget Red Hat’s shoe-shining Inga and the possibility of some stuff at the Healthia booth (no guarantees since it may all be gone Monday night).

Inga mentions the Allscripts earnings announcement below, but in the mean time, investors are spooked by supposed issues getting the new version of TouchWorks installed. Sell volume on MDRX spiked hugely, dropping it from $15.39 to $11.27 and the market cap to $640 million (raising acquisition possibilities, some might speculate).

A province-wide Nova Scotia electronic health records system will use McKesson Horizon Physician Portal, Horizon Care Record, and Initiate Systems.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve received at least five e-mails from companies bragging that they’ll be exhibiting at “HIMMS”. Delete.

Wal-Mart’s co-branding deal with RediClinic for in-store clinics requires them to use PM/EMR software from eClinicalWorks.

Perot Systems is looking for HIT acquisitions in India.

Pick your villain: Prime Healthcare Services, owned by the oft-reviled Prem Reddy, sues Kaiser Permanente for “managing bills rather than managing care.” Reddy’s company, which takes over struggling hospitals, has been accused of cancelling insurance contracts, dropping needed services that don’t contribute enough profit, failing inspections, and turning away patients without insurance. Kaiser — well, you know already.

DiagnosisONE develops a disease surveillance system for use in Pakistan.

BCBS of Massachusetts will require hospitals to use CPOE to get maximum payments starting in 2012, claiming CPOE makes health care more affordable (case studies, please, where hospitals reduced prices after implementing?)

E-mail me.

Sponsor Updates and Housekeeping

I mentioned before the unSUMMIT on bedside barcoding, which has a very strong program. There’s an ad to your right for it. Considering our lukewarm progress on implementing it in hospitals industry-wide, it should be of widespread interest.

Reminders of stuff to your right: signup forms for electronic updates when I write something new and for the Brev+IT newsletter, Google Search to go back through the nearly five years and millions of words of HIStalk, and links to the jobs site, forums, etc.

Inga’s Update

Aetna announces it is the first healthcare organization to require its EDI vendors to be CORE compliant. CORE (the Committee on Operating Rules for Information Exchange) is working to develop more robust eligibility transaction rules. Call me a cynic, but I bet there is some hidden twist in here that will allow Aetna to delay paying claims.

Here is an announcement about a study funded by the CA HealthCare Foundation and conducted by CAQH as part of the CORE initiative. The study found that providers who routinely verify patient insurance eligibility and benefits through electronic or other means experience higher rates of paid accounts (I could have told them that).

The Misys Center for Community Health Leadership invites more healthcare organizations to apply for EHR software and service grants to build connected communities that facilitate clinical data exchange. The program has already awarded grants to New Haven, CT and Tampa, FL since 2006 and plans to ultimately distribute $10 million.

Microsoft Dynamics GP is selected by Holy Infant Hospital in SD to supply enterprise resource planning. Apparently Microsoft beat out Dairlyland, CPSI, and Quickbooks.

I am amazed by the number of (female) readers who have dropped me a note inquiring about the proper attire for the HIMSS cocktail party. Specifically, they want to know if Mr. H has provided a clothing allowance, if I plan to go cocktail attire or just the “convention” look, and especially what shoes I’m wearing. Well, you will all have to wait and see what fits into my suitcase because I haven’t quite figured out all the details. But feel free to continue asking me for fashion tips.

Allscripts announces its Q4 and year-end numbers, which were up from the previous year just about any way you look at it. Net income: up. Total revenue: up (including an 18% increase in software and related services.) Profits: up. However, the revenue numbers were below analyst expectations. Stock price: down 26%. Their 52-week high was exactly a year ago ($29/share) but looks like it will close around $11/share.

Allscripts EHR, by the way, will be installed at the 113-provider Mankato Clinic in Minnesota.

Eclipsys also announces Q4 numbers. Profits were up from $4.7M in 2006 to $24.2M, though excluding one-time costs and benefits, were $15.8M, up from $13.8M. Also excluding the one-timers, profit went from $30M in Q4 2006 to $43M in 2007. Sales grew almost 12%. The street was a bit kinder to them as the stock slip only about 6.5% (on a day the market lost about 1.5% as a whole.) Eclipsys also announces a new VP and GM for their Asia-Pacific operations. David J. van Eck will set up shop in Singapore. van Eck previously worked for Elekta AB and Oracle before that.

NextGen announces that Adventist Health System is expanded its commitment for EMR and PM software. Adventist plans to implement the products in all of its employed physician practices.

Quadramed makes its first sale of CPR since acquiring the product from Misys last year. Sibley Memorial Hospital will be upgrading from QuadraMed’s Affinity to QuadraMed CPR and plans to integrate it with with QuadraMed’s Patient Registration, Revenue Cycle Management and Electronic Document Management applications.

E-mail Inga.

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Currently there are "6 comments" on this Article:

  1. Go Microsoft! At least someone has gotten off their dead IT-ass and trying to rapidly make a difference. God knows, healthcare needs a savior.

    Another boring IT day!!!

  2. Unlikely that other HIT vendors will run from Microsoft and into the arms of Red Hat as a result of their acquisition of Global 2000 and the roll-out of Amalga. Many moons ago I made a similar prediction in the ERP space when MS acquired Great Plains and then Navision. Sure, the ERP companies all stood back from MS for a period of time and reassessed the relationship, but within a relatively short period of time, they were back talking with MS and putting the MS certified sticker on their website. Why? Quite simple, customers – they aren’t going to change their MS-based infrastructure just because MS gets into the market.

    As for MS making a new category of software, ala Unified Intelligence System – well maybe it is new to the HIT space, but this is very old in other sectors, eg manufacturing where there have been such systems for years.

    And where did they ever find that name Amalga – sounds like something out of a Bugs Bunny cartoon – short for amalgamation, but maybe that gives us some idea o their overall HIT strategy 😉

  3. I doubt Microsoft will have anything useful to show anytime soon, so don’t hold your breath. At best, we’ll see a rollout along the timeline of the Dynamics (Great Plains) product line. 5+ years before the first useful version? That’s a guess.

    In other MS HIT news, has anyone started using HealthVault? At all?

  4. TPD was a little surprised that MS would venture into the PACS/RIS space as it can be quite challenging with the large number of DICOM/HL7 issues one must face to get a truly integrated product for hospitals. No one has yet to come up with the fully integrated DICOM?HL7 PACS so Microsoft is just another wannabe that will be reviewed by the FDA before it will be approved for sale.

  5. Agree p_anon, took MS forever to get something useful into the ERP market, though Navision (particularly the Axapta solution) was and is a good solution.

    I banged on the HealthVault platform pretty hard when it was first released (pretty extensive review at http://www.chilmarkresearch.com – just search on HealthVault). Bottom-line, not ready for prime-time, and certainly not ready for your average consumer. Reports from the field are that progress is being made and a whole host of various PHR/PHA companies have been working with MS to get HealthVault to a point where it might actually be useful. Be interesting to see if they’ll have any demos at their HIMSS booth (how much visibility will they give HealthValut vs Amalga.

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