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News 5/23/08

May 22, 2008 News 8 Comments

From Garrnut: "Re: TEPR. TEPR was a bust. Not very well managed. Badges were hard to read (titles were bigger than company  names – who cares about them when you can’t tell where someone is from?) Exhibits were few and small and staffed by 10-year-olds. Sessions were repetitive and some were downright boring. I read somewhere that they’re trying to shake the boring stuff and broaden it like a poor man’s HIMSS for 2009. The one and only time I went years ago, it was horrible, fraught with logistical problems and bad speakers who would have emptied a HIMSS local chapter meeting room in about 60 seconds (no lie: one poorly credentialed speaker was so badly prepared that within 10 minutes, an irritated audience member had hijacked his session and turned it into a freeform discussion group while the presenter watched helplessly from the podium). I’m not entirely convinced that the vendor awards (you must be present to win) and gimmicky product shootouts really require a whole separate conference. They had a few good speakers this year, but the vast majority of presenters were vendor people. I’ve never known anyone who has attended, but someone must go (HIM people trying to get into IT, maybe?)

From Intel_Inside: "Re: Dossia. Dossia has fired Indivo/Children’s Hospital and is now working with a third partner." Not true, according to the two CHIP sources we contacted. I tried Dossia and haven’t heard back, but unless the scoop is so hot that the CHIP folks haven’t been told, this looks to be wrong. Confirmation welcome, however.

From DRPend: "Re: soup story. I could be mistaken, but I think that pretty much any meat-based soup contains body fluids, albeit not human. Seems strange though, I have done coliform counts on restaurant food, but never a fluid analysis." Reminds me of an old story about Adolf Hitler. Right as people started sipping bouillon at dinner, he’d squick them out by referring to it as "corpse tea." What a funster.

From The PACS Designer: "Re: PACS/RIS integration. TPD has done numerous posts on the various aspects of integrating PACS and RIS. As we are seeing more installations of PACS, it would be a good time to mention how important an integrated system PACS/RIS is for improving radiology efficiency and workflow processes. Since more modalities are now tied to the PACS/RIS, it would be best for a fully integrated system from the same manufacturer, which in turn will eliminate the need for custom application interfaces to the older systems."

From Alex Handris: "Re: retail clinics. Back in the 90s, consultants suggested that hospitals sponsor retail clinics to serve the community and bring in new patients. There was a HUGE pushback from their attendings, who saw it as a threat to their office practices. No one seems to be mentioning this, but I bet it’s still an issue."

If you’re thinking about presenting as HIMSS09, your proposal is due May 30. They could use better presentations, so jump right in. Maybe I’ll submit a scientific topic and then get up there and instead pitch HIStalk shamelessly for the entire session, flanked by Fake Ingas.

Speaking of HIMSS, its new Organizational Affiliate offering looks like a strategy to rope in lots of new members with dues even less than the usual token $140 a year. Example: a "healthcare provider" of any size (at least it appears) can have unlimited individual members for $2,975 a year, which also includes conference discounts, two complimentary annual conference registrations and some e-learning stuff. So, your 10,000-employee IDN can register everybody down to the janitors for 30 cents a year each. I guess this is an acknowledgment that individual members are profitable even if they don’t pay a penny in dues. It’s like bars that offer free drinks to the ladies (providers) because what they really like are men (vendors) who pay full price while checking out the ladies drinking free. Hospitals will save money, which is nice, and HIMSS will report a gazillion new members and tempt some of them to attend the conference to keep it growing as well. Smart, although it’s tough enough already for vendors to find a real decision-maker in the throngs and it’s about to get tougher.

An interesting article on Internet-attached sensors that provide "situational awareness." Example: apartment complex washers and dryers that show their status online and e-mail people when their laundry is finished. The UW professor notes that RFID and GPS sensors are cheap, but organizations need to retool to take advantage of the possibilities. Smart.

If you hit HIStalk last night or early this morning, you were greeted by a serenade that got old fast. The graphics person for new Platinum Sponsor Loftware got overly creative with their ad, adding a sound effect that looped endlessly (I should have caught it, but my adserver software doesn’t play sound in preview). Here’s their mea culpa: "While we certainly meant to ‘make a little noise’ in the HCIT market with our HIStalk ad sponsorship, we didn’t intend to toot our own horn too loudly. In the future, we’ll have to let the value of our products speak for themselves." Some of you cynics might think it was a stunt, but I’m pretty sure they were shocked when I forwarded over some of the blistering comments and told them I had to pull the ad or risk losing all my readers in one day. Let’s not hold it against them, OK? Their comeback was pretty cool.

Speaking of ads, in case I haven’t mentioned it (I don’t remember), I’m having some redesign done that will make the ads smaller and better-positioned. A few folks (sponsors and readers alike) said the ads are too big, which is a nice problem to have since I wasn’t getting many complaints when I had just Medicity as a sponsor, brave souls going it alone with me and my ten readers several years ago (OK, admit it: has anyone been reading all the way back to June 2003 when I started HIStalk?). Anyway, I hear you and the sponsors have responded positively to the changes, so look for them in a few weeks. And, needless to say, thank you for supporting the sponsors who support HIStalk.

A former endoscopy tech from a Connecticut hospital is arrested for stealing the names and social security numbers of six patients.

William Young, CIO of Ellis Hospital in Schenectady, NY, is appointed to the board of the Healthcare Information Exchange of New York.

Medsphere announces the open source release of the OpenVista clinical system beta, which can be downloaded from its site. There’s lots of open source licensing terminology that would probably turn a CIO off rather than on, but I suppose this is good news even if I don’t understand most of it (like, haven’t they been saying all along that it was open source?) Hopefully they won’t sue anyone this time.

Looks like Microsoft is beefing up the imaging capabilities of Amalga (aka Azyxxi) in a new release. 

I do this rarely and only when I hear about layoffs (so please don’t ask): if you’re an experienced implementer of physician systems and have recently become unemployed, an implementation VP wants to talk to you.

Cerner’s Care Console sounds pretty popular with patients at Spectrum Health (MI).

Wisconsin’s Department of Commerce is taking shots for not including any high-tech businesses in its promotions, but defends itself by saying it tried to get Epic’s Judy Faulkner, who passed. Says a spokesperson: "Her staff told us she is a private person and wasn’t looking for any publicity."

A big German insurance company require doctors to to go online, but the mandatory software is sold by just one company, a joint venture of some doctors and an IT firm.

A University of Florida medical professor is fired when it was discovered that a PC he gave to friends contained the medical information of 1,900 patients. University policy requires PHI storage only on university servers, so he’s history.

The Massachusetts Medical Society doesn’t like having it doctors ranked for cost and quality, to it’s suing the state agency that runs the program.

Philips finally unloads its albatross MedQuist stake to CBay for $285 million. Philips paid way over a billion dollars before the MedQuist lawsuits started flying, so I’m sure nobody dares utter the word in polite Dutch company.

Aetna’s CEO pooh-poohs Google Health and HealthVault, declaring that Aetna’s own system is better since those other companies don’t have "an interest in improving the system or looking for gaps in care."

Here’s some outstanding Verichip snark: "And on people who’ll be walking around for the next decades with slivers of dead glass injected in ’em. Kinda hope they don’t grow tumors, as there may be nobody left to sue."

WebMD plans to outdo real science with ad-support crapware, as evidenced by the 10 most popular articles being sought by its dimwitted audience (note the preponderance of headlines that promise pictures or lists for those who need to rest their lips before forging ahead): 10 Surprising Health Benefits of Sex, The Flat Belly Diet, Pictures of Adult Skin Problems, 6 Serious Medical Symptoms, Sex Myths vs. the Facts, Learn How to Spot Bedbugs, 12 Embarrassing Body Problems, 7 Causes of Fatigue, Personal Questions from Women, View Common Childhood Skin Problems. And these are the people who are supposed to maintain their own medical records online?

Have fun this weekend and don’t forget those who lost a lifetime of weekends on your behalf. You may not agree with the jobs they’re ordered to perform, but respect the soldiers and sailors who do it for their country, allowing the rest of us to remain blissfully unaware of the horrors of war and of being maimed or killed on hostile, distant soil. Fly the flag, thank a veteran and their family, and remember the fallen this Memorial Day, even if for only a minute, OK?

Photo: Charles Dharapak/AP

E-mail me.

Inga’s Update

CDW selects EnovateIT for its Sapphire Partner Program. Sapphire partners typically provide in industries that represent emerging trends in the technology marketplace.

From Wompa1: “I appreciate your defense of Dr. Peel. Why is it that privacy advocates and civil libertarians are always lumped in with the tin-foil hat crowd? Thanks for your rebuttal to the bleating of the sheep that don’t ever concern themselves with corporate or government entities accessing their private information. I understand that practitioners have a ‘work product’ that becomes the health record. However, the individual is paying for that work, either directly or through an insurance company. Should that individual have no say in how it is used? No one wants an employer having access to their health records, but this is a direct result of allowing the employer to provide your medical coverage. Would we rather have the government (at any level) providing that coverage and accessing the information? Dr. Peel is contributing to the discussion in positive ways, her detractors’ whining notwithstanding.” Wompa1 shares some additional thoughts on Dr. Peel, Matthew Holt, insurance, and discrimination on the Forum.

From Computer Nurse: “As a female and a nurse informaticist, I am concerned that this survey is billed as an ‘HIT’ survey, when in fact the survey population consisted of 633 readers of Health Imaging & IT and subscribers of Health Imaging News. The results are in no way representative of the vast variety of specialties involved in HIT, especially those in other clinical areas outside of radiology/imaging. The survey should be renamed ‘The Imaging in HIT Salary Survey’.”

EMR vendor Pulse Systems is a new reseller for Stratus Technologies and their 99.999 % uptime ftServer fault-tolerant servers.

Constellation Software increases its stake in Mediware to almost 14%, making it one of the company’s largest shareholders.

Troubled Merge Healthcare enters into a private financing deal with with Merrick RIS, netting Merge $16 million to be used to settle a class action securities lawsuit. Merrick RIS gets to replace five Merge board members with its own people.

The official definition of electronic medical record: "an electronic record of health-related information on an individual that can be created, gathered, managed, and consulted by authorized clinicians and staff within one health care organization." For more official definitions, check out the National Alliance for HIT’s report, “Defining Key Health Information Technology Terms.” Thanks to the OHC, who funded this multi-month project, no one should ever again be confused by the terms EMR, EHR, PHR, HIE, and RHIO.

Private equity firm Lindsay Goldberg is investing $75 million in Ambulatory Services of America for future expansion. Nashville-based ASA provides alternate-site health care services.

The federal government is spending about $2 million of our money on full-page newspaper ads to inform consumers of hospital satisfaction rates for more than 2,500 hospitals. The ads note patient ratings on two measures of quality of care, including the percentage of patients who always got help when they needed it and the percentage of patients who got antibiotics one hour before surgery. The rankings don’t include hundreds of hospitals who didn’t release patient satisfaction scores.

In case I get carried away sipping adult beverages on the beach this weekend and forget to send Mr. H an update, hope everyone has a happy and safe Memorial Day. And take a moment to memorialize those who have sacrificed to give the rest of us the freedom to play in the surf and enjoy our good lives.

E-mail Inga.

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Currently there are "8 comments" on this Article:

  1. I’m impressed that you knew Hitler was a non-drinking non-smoking vegetarian. I’d add it’s nNot a fact the crunchier-than-thou crowd generally emphasizes. (Not that you are in that crowd.)

    Question: Is there really a company called “loftware”? Vis-a-vis the german theme here, luftmensch = air-man = full of hot air. Sort of like naming a company vaporwear. Wow

  2. For at least $500K of taxpayer money, you would think we could at least get definitions that conform with the most basic principle of non-circularity. That is, using the words “electronic”, “record”, and “health” to define “electronic medical record” violates this most basic principle of creating a definition, that you don’t use the words that make up the term you’re defining to define the term itself. Does no one care about excellence any more?

  3. Wompa1 – It is not the civil libertarians and privacy advocates are mixed in the with “tin-foil crowd.” However, when the solutions they propose are largely impractical from a policy perspective, nearly technically impossible to implement, and potentially would cause greater problems they solve, I do have a problem with the views/stances. Always has to be some compromise and I haven’t seen enough in the way of credible data/studies or policy positions coming from Deborah Peel and the Privacy Rights folks.

  4. Winston: It seems many such basics continue to fade away, like manners and modesty. I suppose we might define the National Alliance for Health Information Technology as an alliance, on a national scale, for technology which deals with health information. How could anyone argue with that, eh?

  5. TEPR, I was there and ain;t ever going back. What a waste of time and effort. And if one of my marketing people ever proposed exhibiting there, I’d be tempted to fire them.

    Dossia and the folks at CHIP are doing just fine. Spoke with both parties earlier this week and they were actually together on a panel at TEPR. So, that rumor is false, unless of course these relatively high ranking people did a great job of acting.

    Gave the fine folks at HHS/ONC the Golden Fleece Award (www.chilmarkresearch.com) for that fine effort they supported in defining those six critical acronyms that were holding up HIT adoption. Boy, for a half million dollars, looks like the tax payer certainly got fleeced on this one.

  6. do this rarely and only when I hear about layoffs (so please don’t ask): if you’re an experienced implementer of physician systems and have recently become unemployed, an implementation VP wants to talk to you.

    I’m confused – Misys has just laid off how many 10+ year employees in implementations and now Imedica is looking for experienced implementation people?

    Aren’t they one and the same. How dysfunctional is Misys. One hand fires the same people that the other hand needs to hire. Unless they just want to bring them back at a lower salary?

    [From Mr. HIStalk] Misys and iMedica are not the same. Misys licensed iMedica’s product, but didn’t buy the company. Gutsy call for iMedica to actively recruit the former employees laid off by its biggest customer? Could be. I kind of admire them for that.

  7. Charles Babbage @ 1: yes, there is indeed a company called Loftware. No vaporware is involved (your experience with the many claims over the years, year after year, about the arrival of the computerized patient record have left you jaded!)

    I understand the derivation of the company’s name comes from it starting business operation in the loft of its founder’s Maine house. Some 20+ years and 40,000+ customers globally later, its come a ways (literally: it’s not even in Maine anymore).

    And, yes, we were shocked at the reaction to the sound in the Loftware ad. I don’t have sound on my machine (personal choice) so I didn’t get the impact some did of recurring sound while reading the blog. I am actually gald the ad was pulled abruptly. I would have requested it be pulled had Inga et al not already realized that was the right step and done so.

  8. Thanks for noting the Massachusetts Medical Society’s legal action on the Group Insurance Commission’s physician ranking program.

    IMPORTANT correction, however. We’re not against public rankings of physicians. Patients have every right to good information. And this information can be very helpful to doctors, too.

    But we’re against ranking programs that provide inaccurate and misleading information. Bad information forces patients to pay more for their health care based on false premises. We assert that the GIC’s effort is seriously compromised by these shortcomings, which we are going to court to try to correct.

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