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News 4/4/08

April 3, 2008 News 12 Comments

From Stu Mascarpone: "Re: Siemens. Even after flying in its entire top brass to NJ, Siemens in now only a clicking clock away from losing one of its key flagship Soarian clients, HIMSS President’s Award-winner Hackensack Univ Med Ctr. After basically turning nothing on since 2004, HUMC is now in negotiations with Epic. The kicker: Epic is telling HUMC, which has an IT department of over 100 FTEs, that it is understaffed. So, before the Epic project can start, the hospital has to hire in excess of 50 FTEs and then send them to Madison to become Epic certified. Total cost is already estimated at well over $100M." Unverified. Makes sense on the staffing though. I can’t imagine installing Epic or any other big system with just a handful of reassigned staff and 100 total in the shop sounds light. Scrimping on help after spending millions on the system doesn’t make sense since the project will never get done. But, that’s an argument for considering all costs carefully upfront instead of just taking a hiring leap of faith after you’ve signed the deal.

From Gatorray: "Re: your article on CIOs. There are other factors involved in the success or failure of a project. One that drives me nuts — having the IT department off-site. I know space is at a premium in the hospital, but sticking all of us IT types in another building away from the main campus removes us from the care-giving environment. It helps foster an us vs. them attitude." I’m with you there. It’s cool being off in the geek building where you can wear flip-flops and leave campus for lunch easier, but you’re just another vendor at that point. It’s much easier for users to hate people they never see face to face. 

From Tina Recruiter: "Re: McKesson. They reorganize every year, change sales leadership every year, change sales strategy every year. Why would this year be any different?  The resumes are flowing on the streets, so something must be happening. BTW does anyone know what is happening with the McKesson ED product?" I had another company tell me they’re getting snowed under with Misys resumes (other than the recruiter I mentioned a couple of days ago), so it’s not just McKesson, I’m thinking.

From Carl Kibble: "Re: Cerner picture. If Neal Patterson reads HIStalk, he must be beside himself (again) because your picture of the Cerner headquarters shows the parking lot (scroll to the left or right) as 98% empty. It must have been about 5:05 PM. No pizza deliveries to be seen either." I meant to comment on that, but I figured those parking spaces must be for visitors since most companies make the help park out back. I doubt he reads, although if I were a shareholder or employee, I’d want him to.

Listening: Wolfmother. Aussie Zep/Sabbath clones.

Welcome and thanks to new HIStalk Gold Sponsor Renaissance Resource Associates. They’re in University Place, WA and provide consultants for projects involving Epic, Centricity, Picis, Sunrise Clinical Manager, and other hospital systems. They’ve got some positions available too, I noticed.


Take your last fond look at Merge Healthcare as it slips into likely oblivion. Shares are at $0.52, the company adds to its thick Nasdaq folder a delisting notice because of share price, and just-announced Q4 revenue was a paltry $15.6 million with EPS was -$0.28 vs. -$0.93. Improving, but they’re bleeding cash and not exactly inspiring confidence in prospects (if there are any). Stick a fork in ’em, I’ll predict.

Medicity just sent out its latest electronic newsletter, which I always enjoy. The company did 10 million clinical transactions in the last quarter, has 97,000 physician users, announced Hospital Sisters Health System as a customer, and hired Gifford Boyce-Smith as CMO. They also mentioned my positive comments about their booth, which I thought was very cool, and included a picture that I’m stealing since the HIMSS Police made me holster my camera before I could take one. Looks like you’re headed up the stairs of a spaceship.


If you’re a hospital CIO or IT manager, please take my medical device survey for our little white paper project. Thanks. 

More HIPAA problems at UCLA Medical Center: the hospital fires an employee for selling information from Farah Fawcett’s chart to a tabloid. The rag got the ultimate scoop — reporting her cancer relapse even before she’d had the chance to tell her family and friends. It’s like drugs, though: you will never win trying to curtail supply instead of reducing demand – all that does is raise the price. Most of the country seems to be preoccupied with reality TV and gossip sites, too busy to worry about war, the economy, or their own financial future.

Doctors order inappropriate lab tests because of computers, including ordering prostate screening levels like PSA on teenagers who don’t need them.

Teddy Kennedy and the usual suspects urge passage of what must be the hundredth health IT bill, of which the previous 99 have gone down in flames. It would codify ONCHIT, give the office $5 million a year, and provide IT grants. Among the rosy verbiage was nothing about the bill’s cost: $692 million (when it was originally proposed in 2005, anyway).

GE Healthcare will shut down its Tampa office, with 72 jobs moving to Milwaukee and to Finland.

Royal Bolton Hospital (UK) goes live with the Ascribe web pharmacy system in 12 weeks.

Philips signs a research partnership with 5,000-bed West China Hospital, one of the largest in the world, to develop medical imaging procedures and cardiovascular monitoring.

OK, here’s a couple of hospital pictures from Google Street View to guess. I’ve been to both campuses and I recognize them – how about you?

hospital1   hospital2
E-mail me.

Inga’s Update

Mobile computing supplier Socket Mobile announces the results of an “informal” survey conducted during HIMSS. The top concern of HIT professionals is apparently improving patient care, with 1/3 mentioning bedside POC as their top IT initiative. Lack of employee computer proficiency and cost factors were the chief impediments to implementations. The survey also noted that most institutions were considering laptops and COWs, not handheld devices like Socket Mobile sells.

Saint Clare’s Health System says it has saved thousands of dollars a year on paper costs using DB Technology RAS and RASi for enterprise-wide data and report management system. I am sure that saving “thousands” is a good thing, but for an organization the size of St. Clare’s (four hospitals), I sure hope the “thousands” are more like $90,000 than $3,000.

What Nurses Want” — a completely electronic health record, which they believe will give them more time for patient care and improve patient safety and quality of care.

For those of you who tried but were unable to read Ed Marx’s CIO Unplugged blog. Ed, as well as his editor, dropped me a note saying there were some technical difficulties and the link is now working. I suspect the outage was related to a flood of his HIStalk fans visiting his site, but Ed was too modest to admit that was the issue.

And if you were trying to check out the Soarian user group I mentioned earlier this week, here is the correct link: www.soarianusers.com.

Perot Systems names John Hummel its new CTO for global healthcare. Hummel was most recently CIO of the California Prison Healthcare Receivership and Sutter Health CIO prior to that.

Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest is using Patient Care Technology’s Amelior ORTracker in its perioperative department. The automatic tracking software uses an ultrasound indoor positioning system from Patient Care’s business partner Sonitor Technologies.

Six facilities have signed a total of $3.2 million in contracts with RIS/PACs vendor DR Systems. The contracts range from $195,000 to $1.1 million.

Only five VC-backed staged IPOs came out in Q1, the lowest number in about five years. Of the five, four were medical device or biotech companies and one was a computer security technology company.

I suppose looking at IPO numbers is as good a way as any for gauging the state of the economy. My next door neighbor surveyed our regular UPS and Fedex drivers, who both said their companies are laying off drivers and consolidating routes to cut costs. Personally, I have found that getting in for a pedicure is easier than ever, so I am blaming (thanking?) the economy, too.

E-mail Inga.

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Currently there are "12 comments" on this Article:

  1. So Hackensack has already funneled millions of $$ down the drain with Siemens and now they are going to hand over fist for Epic. Come on where is the fiscal responsibility. At least they could have put in meditech for 2$ and at least say they turned something on…..

  2. ATA and Aloha Airlines have ceased operations, in the middle of the day even, citing operating costs and fuel prices as reasons. FYI.

  3. It truly amazes me that hospitals are still willing to invest a fortune in a HIS system when there are leading technology solutions available from proven companies at a fraction of the price the “big boys” charge! At the end of the day, their ROI is no where to be found! I guess you could say that this is just one more reason why healthcare costs are soaring! Too bad – for all of us.

  4. Re: Gatorray’s comment: You are so right – IT has always had a huge Us vs. Them problem as it is, and isolating IT invariably feeds that attitude. It also keeps IT from seeing the caregivers and the patients themselves on a regular basis, making it too easy to forget who they’re really supporting, and why. So we ITers can become very disconnected from the impact of our work – good or bad.

  5. Not unusual for Epic. But at least they are saying up front what most will not want to discuss. At least they realize that you have the FTEs that you have to keep complicated systems running and you cant instantly cut them loose to build a whole new system. Or, what we are famous for, do what you are doing today and here is you new job also. Epic realizes it will take 50 FTEs to install their product and if you dont have them or dont have the resources to properly train them, you should not be seriously anticipating the change.

  6. That Medicity booth scared me at HIMSS.

    People go up the stairs, Soylent Green wafers come out the back, I think.

  7. GE Healthcare has reorganized a significant amount of services under Kent Rowe. Also apparently laid off 30 employees. Big focus appears to be to zero in on their DME install with Medtronics – among other things.

    Would like to say that GE is doing something positive but that has not been the case. However, Kent Rowe is one of the remaining good guys.

  8. When I first saw photos of the Medicity booth I thought… wow you could probably set that up outside and charge rent. I would move in!

    I found the “What Nurses Want” article to be very interesting. From a developer’s perspective I couldnt help thinking about how if they got everything they asked for they would have very little to do anymore with robots, sensors for everything and one device that does it all.

  9. Healthsparks comments indicate a very limited knowledge of nurses and their workflow. Nurses just want things to work and if you are going to force IT on them, make sure that it works together and does the things they need it to do. How many devices should a nurse have to carry with them as they walk their estimated 1-5 miles for their 12 hour shift? It is bad enough having a non clinician running a supply room and not knowing (or caring) what items are for and how they should be logically grouped, we also have HealthSparks who doesn’t understand (or care) what nurses are requesting and just giving them what he thinks they need.

    Did you read that piece on CIO’s and their role in clinical system decisions and implementations?

  10. Wow, sorry you were offended by the comment but it was meant as a joke. As I mentioned when I wrote that I only have a developers perspective. Obviously I dont know every detail about nursing, but nurses dont know every detail about the technology they request either.

    Obviously the value of a nurse will not be replaced by a handful of gadgets and sensors.

    I dont appreciate you assuming that I dont care either. I dont make the decisions about what you get and dont get. If it were up to me you would get all those things. Of course business is business and people sometimes make decisions based on the cost rather than the value it could bring.

    I did read that piece on CIO’s and honestly I didnt know it worked that way until I read it.

  11. Re: “Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest is using Patient Care Technology’s Amelior ORTracker in its perioperative department. The automatic tracking software uses an ultrasound indoor positioning system from Patient Care’s business partner Sonitor Technologies.”
    LVH-CC is using a system from Patient Care Technology SYSTEMS. PCTS shouldn’t be confused with PtCT, a company in the home health industry.

  12. Healthsparks,
    No worry about the comments. I actually owe you an apology. I re-read my comments and was surprised that they were actually attacking you, by name, not what I intended. I was refuting the line of thought that you were introducing and apologize for assuming you don’t care. I checked out your website and blog and encourage other to do the same.

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