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October 7, 2008 News 6 Comments

From Pharmacy IT Goddess: "Re: layoffs. Layoffs coming at the University of MN Medical Center-Fairview. Sounds like multiple departments." Fairview announced Monday it will cut 150-200 jobs this month, caught in a bind of declining investment value, increasing interest rates, lower Medicaid reimbursement, and unpaid patient bills. The first of many hospitals that will have the same unfortunate problem and solution, no doubt.

From Pedro Guerrero: "Re: Picis departures. Nivaldo Diaz, Chief Technology Officer, and Scott Lentz, Sr. VP of Business Development, have resigned." We asked Picis. "We can confirm the recent departure of Nivaldo Diaz from Picis. Nivaldo was a long-time member of the Picis team and we will miss him. Scott Lentz, on the other hand, is still with us in a consulting capacity. It’s not unusual for talented technology executives to choose to make a change periodically. Each made his recent career decisions for his own set of personal and professional reasons. We owe much to both of them for the success the company has experienced."

From Pitt News: "Re: big changes at West Penn Allegheny Health System. The latest is the CIO position." Pitt News forwarded the internal e-mail announcing the departure of CIO Nick Valadja, effective October 6. John Foley, new in the CTO job, is named CIO. He doesn’t appear to have a healthcare background. West Penn found a $73 million revenue overstatement in July that got the SEC’s attention, but it’s not clear whether that’s related. According to the Pittsburgh business paper, West Penn hasn’t released fiscal year results that were due June 31 ("30 days hath …")  Maybe it’s like those leap year babies that have a birthday only one year in four.

From Kelly Tarr: "Re: HIMSS 2008. I’m trying to find an electronic version of the exhibitor list. Does anyone have one to share?" If anybody does, e-mail it my way and I’ll pass it along.

From Nancy Greenly: "Re: HIT adoption panel next week." Link. The panel discussion will be next Thursday, 10/16, in Chicago, with Steve Lieber of HIMSS, Jane Horowitz of NAHIT, Dan Michelson of Allscripts, and Ralph Fargnoli of Beacon Partners. The topic is rather veiled, referred to only as "the pending healthcare IT bill," surely meaning Pete Stark’s bill (warning: PDF) that HIMSS doesn’t like (may we assume that the invited co-panelists aren’t fans either?) Another clue: HIMSS dearly loves every other HIT bill because they all call for more government spending, but the blurb says this: "some think that its official passage is inevitable," like they are referring to global warming or prostatitis. What HIMSS doesn’t like about it: it calls for open source solutions, it does not pay specific homage to CCHIT for certification, and it stiffens HIPAA penalties and allows patients to request audit trails. The party is at the Sheraton Chicago if you’d like to crash (well, register first, anyway) and argue the other side.


Trivia: we stayed at the Sheraton Chicago once and while Mrs. HIStalk was watching While You Were Sleeping on TV in the room, we recognized that several scenes in it were shot right outside the hotel, on the river. Mrs. H can’t get enough of Sandra Bullock’s mindless chick flicks (she’s a big Miss Congeniality fan).

From Frank Pulver: "Re: HIStalk. I have not only enjoyed, but have also benefited greatly from your breaking news and insights. Not a lot of industry rags that I choose to keep up with – issue of effort versus value. You are very much appreciated!" That e-mail made me feel so good I anonymized it and put it up here like a proud mom sticking pictures of the kids on the refrigerator. "Frank" is a quite high-ranking vendor guy and I’ll leave it at that. I sure do appreciate everyone who reads here.

Speaking of Picis, Christine Cournoyer takes over one of three titles held by Todd Cozzens, being named president in addition to her current COO title. Todd is still CEO and vice-chairman of the company. Lourdes Engel, as mentioned above, also gets an expanded role as SVP of product development and CTO.

ValueAct Capital is down $35 million on its Misys investment that hasn’t even closed yet, raising its estimated losses in the company to nearly $160 million overall.


If you work with databases of any kind, you’ll thank me later for telling you to download and try this $150 query tool.

Just in case watching the world economy implode isn’t depressing enough, here’s a year-old tome (warning: PDF) that predicted it all. There’s some great stuff in there about the mysterious Federal Reserve, the certain failure of policy efforts to create prosperity, and the postulation that we’re now entering Kondratieff Winter (15 years of hard times that will be needed to correct the previous 45 of prosperity). I hope it’s wrong since I’d rather not work until I drop, at least at jobs other than HIStalk, anyway.

I’ve temporarily overcome my frugal tendencies and am sending Inga to MGMA in San Diego, so she’ll be reporting from there starting next weekend. We like meetings and it’s fun to write live from them, but it’s hard to get away.

MedAptus announces its charge capture solution for physicians who bill for providing hospital services, such as hospitalists, intensivists, and anesthesiologists.


It’s a pleasure to introduce you to new HIStalk Platinum sponsor Informatics Corporation of America (ICA) of Nashville, TN (that might be my favorite company name – it says what they do and it’s unapologetically old school). ICA’s solution offers an aggregation platform (patient lists, filtering, alerts and reminder), workflow tools (messaging, patient portal, forms, eRx, chart deficiencies, and outpatient orders), and population management (dashboards for wellness, disease, and clinical metrics). Vanderbilt created the technology to address inefficiencies among its organizations that allow process improvement without ripping and replacing; ICA is commercializing it. Bassett Healthcare (NY) had 90% physician utilization in a month. Thanks to ICA for supporting HIStalk and the people who read it.

ScriptRX says it hopes to earn 35% of the urgent care eRX market. The Florida company‘s system costs $7,000 per year.

Board members at Regional Medical Center (SC) are still fighting over the hospital’s proposed Cerner contract and the bidding process that preceded it. The topic morphed into heated discussion about procurement policies and parliamentary procedure.

Medsphere adds the VueCentric GUI to its commercialized VistA product. VueCentric apparently changed its company name to that of its main product, MortgageDashboard, so I don’t really know what that’s all about, but the press release says it has unspecified roots in the VA. Medsphere is odd; they blast press releases, but then don’t get them up on their own site quickly, so you won’t find it there.

The Department of Justice joins a whistle-blower lawsuit against McKesson and other companies for Medicare fraud. The complaint says McKesson paid kickbacks to nursing home operator Beverly Enterprises in return for earning its durable medical equipment business.

A guest blog post by US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) pitches billions in savings from "a national health information technology system," which he says is like the interstate highway system (no, not too expensive to afford – "a national solution proportionate to the problem"). Here’s his bill. He wants money, of course, and makes this argument: "The financial market knows how to capitalize a revenue stream, and the market discipline on the revenues and capital will be beneficial." I think we’ve seen some good examples of how the financial market capitalizes a revenue stream ("irresponsibly" comes to mind). Still, given specifics, he might have some good ideas.


"The MRI machine has finally arrived," the headline says, referring to the MRI machine Lockport Memorial Hospital (NY) won in the Siemens contest early this year. I had visions of them excitedly flinging packing material everywhere while standing in the box like in A Christmas Story, when the Old Man gets his leg lamp delivery, announces "It has arrived," and then ponders over the wording stenciled onto the box ("ruh JEE lay … that must be Italian") until Ralphie’s mom points out that it actually says Fragile since the F is off the edge.

RelayHealth gets a mention (even if its name is misspelled) in a story on patient satisfaction in Most Wired hospitals. Memorial Savannah cites patient-physician e-mail capabilities, appointments, prescriptions, pre-registration, and bill-paying as RelayHealth services that patients like.

While I’m thinking about that, I had a great ED experience recently that made me appreciate IT from the patient’s viewpoint. I drove to the ED in the middle of the night (nothing serious, just worrisome), gave only my name and address, and the ED person pulled up all my records from the hospital’s affiliated practice where my PCP works. No further questions, no discussion of insurance, no handing over an insurance card for photocopying, etc. The wrist band printed from existing information, the nurses and doctors worked from swing-arm EMR monitors and had everything right there: allergies, meds, history, etc. I’ve never been to the ED as a patient and expected the worst, but it was an utterly satisfying, compassionate, and efficient experience. IT is ugly from the trenches, but as a patient, it was just damned cool. I should pimp myself out as a spokesperson for the vendor.

Speaking of EDs, Parkland Memorial Hospital (TX) is on the hot seat after a patient waits 19 hours for treatment in the ED and finally collapses in an exam room, dying of a heart attack. He had checked in on the ED’s fancy kiosk, but that wasn’t much consolation since he was 165th in line among a logjam of accident victims and non-emergent patients. A study last year found that patients waited nearly 13 hours to be admitted to a bed there. The bad thing is that it’s not just them – that kind of situation is common. Hospitals just haven’t been able to use available tools and technologies to unclog the ED, which is mostly not the fault of the tools and technologies.

Greenway Medical announces that its PrimeSuite EHR meets 2009 requirements for earning the 2% increase in Medicare reimbursement for e-prescribing.

Baton Rouge General (LA) outsources IT staffing and services to PHNS.

Southern University (LA) is live on an EMR system in its student health center after Hurricane Katrina convinced it to move from paper. They chose a system from South Carolina-based Fox Meadows, which says it’s the leader in EMRs, but I don’t think I’ve heard of it. The site features many happy-looking stock photo people.

E-mail me.

HERtalk by Inga

I will be checking out all the latest in the medical practice news and trends at MGMA in San Diego starting next weekend, and of course, visiting the exhibit hall. My plan is to collect lots of trinkets and also check out a few EMRs, PMs, and assorted other technology. I’ll be sending reports back to Mr. H at headquarters to keep all informed of my findings. Just thinking about it makes me want to go buy some new shoes!

The Bronx RHIO is the first NYC RHIO to begin exchanging data. Since July, the RHIO has received consent forms for over 4,000 patients of the borough’s 1.36 million residents. dbMotion has provided the RHIO’s technology platform with additional services and applications provided by Emerging Health Information Technology, Initiate Systems, and RxHUB.

John C. Lincoln Hospital (AZ) and a hospital in Vietnam sign a joint venture agreement to provide American healthcare expertise and technology to Vietnamese patients.

Former Healtheon/WebMD COO Steve Curd is taking over as PracticeOne’s new CEO. Curd was also CEO of VantageMed until its acquisition by Nightingale.

SAP appoints John Papandrea senior VP of its healthcare industry business unit. He comes from Deloitte Consulting, where he advised healthcare organizations on IT strategy.

The Cerner user conference is not the only big HIT event in Kansas this week. Mercy Health Center, located about an hour and a half south of Kansas City, happened to go live on Epic the same day the Cerner event commenced.


Lenox Hill Radiology (NY) claims it reduced A/R 40% since integrating ZirMed and MedInformatix’s RIS. Since going paperless, Lenox has also grown the practice 200% without hiring more staff and has reduced check-in times from six minutes to one.

Here’s a creative strategy for raising revenue by the end of the year to offset ongoing losses: Merge Healthcare announces an amnesty program to address unauthorized use of its software. Users can pay up by the end of the year or the company will seek damages starting in January.

Emdeon announces the appointment of Frank J. Manzella as the company’s senior VP of corporate development.

Eclipsys is hosting its user conference this week in Atlanta. About 1100 clients from 250 sites are participating in the 2008 Eclipsys User Network Outcomes Conference.

This news may be a bit troubling to parents. A survey finds that nearly half of pediatricians would not disclose a medical error to the parents or patient. However, if the error were obvious, they were more likely to admit it.

Public Hospitals Authority in the Bahamas purchases Sunquest’s LIS, along with some other Sunqest solutions, for $1.5M.

If you are in the ambulatory care world, particularly if you have an interest in EMRs, Jewson Enterprises’ new POMIS Report is a must read. You can download (for free!) the 135-page document to learn all you need to know about vendor market share, delivery models, marketing spend, practice demographics, and more. Jewel and Vinson Hudson have spent 35 years studying healthcare IT for physicians and they clearly understand the market. Did I mention it was free?

Mr. H is always coming up with creative ideas to keep me from going back to a real job. To that end, I need a few reader volunteers to assist on two different projects. If you are either a physician or a CIO (or a high level hospital IT exec), drop me an e-mail saying you’d be willing to participate in a 10-minute survey (either via e-mail or phone.) In return, I will fill you in a bit on our secret plans.

E-mail Inga.

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Currently there are "6 comments" on this Article:

  1. Inga: I could not find a link to download for free the Jewson Enterprises’ new POMIS Report. You said it was a PDF — more info please. Thanks.

  2. Re: Baton Rouge General (LA) outsources IT staffing and services to PHNS.

    This is a renewal and Baton Rouge owns a significant portion of PHNS. Not a real earth shattering press release.

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