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News 6/18/08

June 17, 2008 News 8 Comments

From Dr. Know: "Re: CIO job at Caritas Christi. You are on to something here. Unfortunately many CIO jobs are down in the weeds and not viewed as strategic. In this particular example, I can see the handwriting on the wall: just keep Meditech running; there is nothing new going on here.  Also, it highlights a common problem with headhunters and HR folks — they just don’t get the ‘strategic CIO’ argument."

From Jimmy B. F. James: "Re: lawsuits. The problem with requiring plaintiffs to pay if they lose is that a small guy may back out even if he knows he’s right because he knows the big guy’s 100 lawyers will cost him a fortune if he loses. Before Microsoft knew (or cared) what the Internet was, a guy came out with an application called Internet Explorer. He owned the name. Along comes Microsoft and they call their application (wait for it) Internet Explorer. The man sues. Microsoft takes him on in courts. Man runs out of money and eventually goes bankrupt. Microsoft wins. I agree that we need tort reform in this country, but our less-than-wise government has not had a good record of late of protecting its citizens. It’s been all too concerned about protecting businesses, though." I found coverage of the 1996 lawsuit.

From Madrigal: "Re: Epic. Interesting article. The more I read about Epic, the more I see their similarities with Meditech." Link. Worth a scroll down to see what I hope is an old picture of Dave Garets, sporting what looks like a monstrous set of Texas longhorns made of hair under his nose. All he needs is a boater hat, a red vest, and three guys behind him singing Sweet Adeline.

From Wayne Newton: "Re: Emageon shareholder proxy. Emageon represents a huge amount of intellectual/IT capital, significant enterprise imaging software market share (7-8%), and long-term recurring revenue agreement with some of America’s finest facilities. These Carl Icahn wannabes (OPP) from New York wouldn’t know a decent investment in digital imaging  if it bit ’em on the butts. The bubbas from Alabama deserve another chance to smack the cheeks of GE, Philips, Agfa, Siemens, and McKesson once again. OPP are flippers looking for a quick buck without any knowledge about healthcare IT or imaging. I hope they lose their A$$."

Listening: Union Carbide Productions, Swedish psych-punk, defunct since 1992, but still kickin’ out the jams with Chameleon Ride here in HIStalk Music Heaven.

McKesson says it has reinvented revenue management and made up a word to describe it: enterprise revenue management. It sounds like a marketing package that includes applications, RelayHealth, InterQual, and consulting.

Futjitsu bailed on NPfIT four years into a 10-year contract because it has lost an estimated $670 million so far and new terms being sought would have made it worse. That’s almost to the penny the amount Accenture hemorrhaged before ran for NPfIT cover two years ago (note to self: don’t hire Accenture to negotiate contracts).

Doctors at Sault Area Hospital (ON) are questioning lab results after problems interfacing its Meditech EMR to its contract outpatient lab.

Six-hospital SSM HealthCare-St. Louis axes 75 management employees, many of them bigwigs. I would say that’s close to unprecedented. I don’t know about you, but I’m seeing quite a few hospital layoffs that nobody seems to be noticing, trend-wise.

Some Sunquest employees have registered www.sunquest.org and put a discussion forum there. Not all of them are happy.

Jobs: Senior Systems Engineer – Healthcare Vertical (Symantec), Clinical Analyst (MEDHOST), Consultant (Healthia Consulting). Sign up for job blasts. A hospital HR person sent this to Gwen: "We’re extremely pleased with the response of applicants we received from HealthcareITJobs.com. Within 24 hours of our Director of Information Systems position being posted, we had received numerous qualified applicants. This is the first time we had used this website and we were very pleased with the response. We had a very nice applicant pool to choose from."

Here’s the zillionth story of a doctor who decided EMRs were too expensive, so he developed his own and wants to sell it. He ran the design by some advertising company programmers and got the advertising company owner’s wife market it. He says the Cerner system used by nearby Clarian is "as popular as malaria." From the screen shots, it appears to have been designed in ColdFusion, certainly the kind of underpinnings a technical novice might choose, but web-based nonetheless. For the same $5,000 upfront for the first doc and $200 a month for hosting, you could buy well-established and CCHIT-certified systems with pretty good support, of course, but maybe this one’s better (being nice). And down the street, a programmer is running a Craigslist ad to perform discount surgery, claiming that, as a former surgical patient, he’s entirely qualified to undercut people who wasted all that time in medical school. (that’s what you call your satire right there).

Dell donates $75,000 worth of computer equipment for the EMR project at Mercy Medical Center of Northwest Arkansas.

I upgraded my SnagIt to the new Version 9. I wish healthcare software companies were as well run as Techsmith. They send great newsletters, their software is unendingly powerful and flexible, and they make it easy to upgrade or to migrate to a new PC.

Speaking of a new PC, I got one of those too since mine was getting long in the tooth: AMD 6000 dual core, 4 gB, big SATA hard drive, Asus motherboard, WinXP, neon-lit case with a humongous fan, and Fedex shipping – all for $580. Got a 22" Acer LCD coming from Newegg for $199. It’s fun times in the nerd-cave. Mrs. HIStalk is demanding to know what we’re going to do with the four obsolete towers and three monitors already in here, but I might need them someday (right).

GE Healthcare will integrate EKG data with EMRs from e-MDs, eClinicalWorks, GEMMS, McKesson, Medinotes, and Medtuity.

QuadraMed completes a one-for-five stock reverse split, hoping to boost share price to the $5.00 minimum that would allow it to move up from Amex to Nasdaq. That’s looking good so far, as shares are at $10.35 after the split.

Taxachusetts will give the state’s life science industry $1 billion over ten years.

Ambulance chasers didn’t wait long to file a class action suit against University of Utah Hospital and its courier company after last week’s theft of backup tapes from a courier’s car.

Idiotic hospital lawsuit: an illegal immigrant was an inpatient at Martin Memorial Hospital (FL) for two years, racking up an unpaid $1.5 million bill before the hospital paid his way back to Guatemala. He sued for being sent home and the hospital has spent $250,000 so far in its defense. Half the hospital’s births are to illegal immigrants who don’t pay a cent, so they’re kind of steamed that the feds aren’t interested.

Idiotic citation: a patient flakes out in a 40-bed hospital’s ED at 2:00 a.m., leading frightened staff to call the police. They came and subdued him with a Taser, after which he was medicated and transferred to another hospital with a psych unit. The state’s health department cited the hospital for the incident, saying it should have been better prepared for psych patients.

E-mail me.

Inga’s Update

I was so very sad Friday to hear that Tim Russert died. In my mind, he was the expert who knew exactly how to take all the political rhetoric and boil it down to simple terms for the rest of us. I’ve decided Mr. H, who claims he never watches TV and hardly knew who Russert was, is the Tim Russert of the HIT world; he has the same passion about his work and is an expert at reading the lay of the land and communicating his take on things.

The University of Maryland Medical System is in the process of going live on CareMedic System’s Financial Record revenue cycle software.

The AMA is discussing the pros and cons of provider-sponsored secret “shopping” to evaluate physicians and healthcare facility performance. Personally I would be happy to volunteer for the shopping gig if it enabled me a free Botox treatment or the like. On the other hand, I’m not sure hanging out for hours on end waiting for some medical treatment would be the most exciting job, regardless of how many People magazines were in the waiting room.

Picis announces a new social networking website to facilitate interaction among its clients. Picis Exchange Network was announced at the company’s Exchange Customer Conference that finishes up Wednesday. Also during the conference, Picis recognized five customers who have improved their organization’s performance using Picis software.

Last week a reader informed me she had figured out my “true” identity but would keep it top secret if she could be a fake Inga next year at HIMSS. I not sure she really has it figured out, but I am happy to support a fake Inga or two. In fact, I am thinking about creating a new line of Inga attire that goes beyond the original “Kiss me, I’m Inga” or “I’m Hot, I’m Inga” sashes. I could set up a site on eBay. Maybe it will include The Inga shoe, which I envision as a very high-heeled red pump. If you are a fashion aficionado, I’m open to suggestions.

Actually, speaking of HIMSS, I was on their site recently and see that attendees can start reserving rooms online for next year’s meeting. I also checked out the prices of those Chicago hotel rooms. Ouch. I’ll need to sell a ton of Inga goodies just to pay for the hotel room!

A Commonwealth Fund-supported study concludes hospitals that implemented Leapfrog-endorsed patient safety practices, including CPOE adoption, reported better quality of care and lower mortality rates.

Interesting article about why women quit IT careers. The top reason is not (perhaps surprisingly) because of family and work life balance issues but because of the “machismo that continues to permeate these work environments.” An estimated 51% of women are out of IT before age 40.

The Association of Academic Health Centers reports that HIPAA is negatively impacting biomedical research. The biggest issues include burdensome administrative procedures associated with HIPAA and declining participant recruitment.

John Hammergren, with the help of a few employees and execs, will Ring the Opening Bell at the NYSE Wednesday. McKesson is celebrating the 175th anniversary of its founding.

Sunquest announces a $4.6 million sale to ACL Laboratories for its CoPathPlus Anatomic Pathology System. ACL has been a Sunquest client since 1987 and runs several other Sunquest applications. In another press release, Sunquest congratulated sales rep Patty Miller for winning the Clinical Laboratory Management Association Member of the Year Award. CLMA is an international association with 5,300 members.

And speaking of Sunquest, a number of employees and former employees have recently shared company commentary on the HIStalk Forum. In case you’ve missed it, there is quite a mix of happy and disgruntled posts about the company, its various owners, and managers.

E-mail Inga.

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Currently there are "8 comments" on this Article:

  1. I object!! Call the lawyers!

    ‘McKesson says it has reinvented revenue management and made up a word to describe it: enterprise revenue management. It sounds like a marketing package that includes applications, RelayHealth, InterQual, and consulting.’

    They did not invent the term ERM – I did…see HCI June 2002, and a HIMSS presenttaion in 2003!

    There is no justice…

  2. I believe your statement related to the requisite skill level and experience necessary to be an effective CIO is half correct.

    I agree that HR people and Headhunters don’t often “get it” very well. Of course there are some exceptions, however, as a whole the knowledge of the market and position is far from stellar.

    On the other hand, once any individual is in that position it is all up to what they make of it. An effective leader will demonstrate their worth and value to the organization.

    It’s not just a matter of doing a good job, it’s also doing a good job of making sure that others know what a good job you’re doing.

  3. I alternate from being perplexed to amused when I read the comments and complaints re EPIC or MEDITECH similarities by the same people who complain about Cerner, McKesson or GE treating customers badly, not caring about quality, money in their coffers and employee mistreatment. What do you want people?! You want to see the gold plated bathroom and Vision Center and get wined and dined after your spin in the company jet or dinner at Neal or Cliff’s or you don’t? EPIC and MEDITECH make people very uncomfortable with their approach. Why? This is the area I hear people complain about most in observations – they are “different”.

    Last observation – I also feel CIO role is strategic but I think people are shortsighted in the comment re Caritas CIO – did anyone think perhaps the decision to note vendor experience was strategic? Knowing how to navigate the inner workings of any vendor is important – someone keeps noting MEDITECH or EPIC are “cult-like”. Could it be they are looking for an executive to navigate a vendor approach that is not just like all the others? Here is a place in MEDITECH’s backyard. If this place could be a flagship institution just as one exists in other vendor communities I would venture to guess the CIO is going to get a lot of attention and atta-boys. A new CIO coming in to threaten (a la SMS) MEDITECH, be taken golfing (so many to fit here) etc is in for a rude awakening. It pays to know their corporate culture so you can navigate it. I didn’t read where it said you need to know how to use their software.

    Frankly MEDITECH, EPIC or any vendor I think its time everyone stops thinking they should have the same CIO experience of their mentor had or from 10 years ago. The HCIS world has dramatically changed and we all need to change with it. Its easy to throw adjectives about however I have also found it interesting that a pithy anecdote is given and taken as gospel by the masses and the individual has not ever worked with the vendor via a hospital or as an vendor employee. Me? I think I’ve worked for them all now except MEDITECH and EPIC. Perhaps I need to get myself to Wisconsin and see if Judy F will show me her campus.

  4. re: Inga’s “Women in IT” piece.

    Women find the IT culture to be to “machisimo”? Are you serious? Speaking as a male IT guy, you can’t find a bigger bunch of nerds, dorks and D&D players grouped together in one profession. I’m one of ’em and not ashamed to admit it, but geesh, if THAT culture is too machisimo for 51% of women then there’s no job in the world they can survive in except maybe working in an estrogen factory.

  5. RE: Mass. Governor Expected to Sign $1B Life-Sci Bill Into Law This Week. Hey remember the one where Ted Turner donates $1B USD to the UN?

    Thank you Ted, for setting a good $1B philanthropy example from the private sector; Anymore of you out there? While in Atlanta in the early 2000s at a global CDC conference, I came across a small Guyana hospital manager that allocated its electricity to four hours a day for patient care. Thanks to Ted’s “trickle down” donation this was made possible.

  6. Agent99 has a great point about Caritas’ proximity to Meditech.

    Speaking as a headhunter (no, I am not offended or defending our industry honor; we’re a thick-skinned bunch), in many organizations, I have found the CIOs hands to be tied for one reason or another. I was blown away when I discovered just how many CIOs report to the CFO. How are you going to impact any strategy there? “Hi, I’d like some money for this.” “Hmmm, ahh, NO!”

    Certainly your average HR “technician” isn’t going to always appreciate the higher level skills that a CIO can bring. However, I have to speak up on behalf of our HR cousins (I never thought I would do this). Even though they represent the Neanderthal stage of recruitment, the HR person may not always be the cause of one’s frustration. There are many executive teams that, when putting together a set of criteria for a new CIO, have no clue what they need, want, etc. I have also seen some CIOs (not the majority mind you), that did not ask the right questions in terms of their scope, their level of influence, hot buttons, etc. More often than not though, I would look to the peers on the executive team when wondering about the components of a job description.


  7. Does ERM – enterprise revenue m mean that they have integrated all aspects of hospitals financials..

    One would be better adviced to keep the patient portions seperate from the rest of hospital / corporate accounting.
    Combining it would seem like combining two big complex unmangeable peices.
    Better to solve one probelm at a time rather than trying to get it all done by one.

  8. An ERM system typically covers all areas that can directly impact revenue generation, management and control. It does not cover the classic ERP elements of AP /GL/ materials and fixed assets. A true ERM system touches everything from the initial scheduling of an appointment thru the final collection of the account. It is focused on cash INFLOW, as opposed to an ERP which deals with cash outflow (things you spend money on).

    This is very different than in commercial industry where an ERP system usually includes the billing /invoicing activities.

    I have always said that if hospitals have been willing to spend millions on a better ‘cash outflow’ system (ERP)…why not tens of millions on the more important cash inflow – ERM system???

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