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News 10/10/08

October 9, 2008 News 6 Comments

From The PACS Designer: "Re: Rich Internet Applications (RIA). The next wave of improvements for the web includes RIA. Microsoft Silverlight is a cross-browser, cross-platform, and cross-device plug-in for delivering the next generation of media experiences and rich interactive applications for the Web. Click on the video screen for each of the presented videos to see where RIAs are going to enhance the viewing experience." Link.

From Charles Chipps: "Re: Modern Healthcare’s Best Places to Work. I got a e-mail invitation that looked like a big deal, listing cocktails and dinner and asking for an RSVP. I clicked through and finally got to the RSVP screen and tickets cost $175!" Maybe they should have sent an invoice instead of an RSVP. It’s kind of tacky not to mention in the original e-mail that you’re just being solicited to buy a ticket, not come on over for free.

From Bailey Quarters: "Re: Misys. The Raleigh layoffs have begun, mostly in management." The Raleigh paper quotes a Glen Tullman statement that says an unspecified number of duplicate positions are being eliminated, but that hiring goes on in Raleigh. From Afar report 9 people in R&D were cut loose Wednesday.

From Tucker Garvey: "Re: Misys. Being one of the people that got laid off today due to the merger of Misys/Allscripts, many people were affected, just as John McConnell and others knew they would be. The salespeople were let go prior to their joint sales meeting on Sunday and the others occurred Thursday."

From Skip Battin: "Re: Streamline Health. Heard they’ve had a considerable cut in their workforce, up to 25%." A couple of folks told us that some salespeople who weren’t making their numbers were replaced, but that’s not surprising these days.

From UNoMe: "Re: IBM. As a former IBM’er and a reader of your informative site, I’m curious as to why we don’t see more news about/from them in healthcare IT. Have they become insignificant?" I’ve never followed them, to be honest, so I can’t say that I know what they’re up to. All I could drag up from memory was their big data warehousing project with Geisinger and whatever they’re doing with UPMC.

From Heather McNamara: "Re: CNN. Mr. HIStalk, I forgot to send you this link that was on CNN this weekend. I saw your complaint about CNN and then thought, ‘Shoot, where else could I get a story like this?’ LOL." Link. It’s a story and huge disgusting picture of a guy’s root-like warts that earned him the nickname Treeman. Check these current headlines that CNN’s hard-working journalists have crafted: 7-foot snake found under hood of car, Man paddles giant pumpkin 150 miles, Leaping dolphin lands on boaters, and Brinkley’s ex tells why he slept with teen. Any resemblance to actual news is purely coincidental. Right about the time I think that maybe we can pull ourselves out of our current economic mess, I think about those large numbers of Americans who can’t be bothered to read about it because the paddling pumpkin story has worn out their moving lips.

From MSC: "Re: Medsphere. There’s some confusion regarding the recent VueCentric press release. There is no relationship between the company called VueCentric and Medsphere’s product with the same name — it is simply a case of confused identity." Having the exact same name as another software company’s product that’s #1 in Google PageRank is indeed confusing. I found the press release hard to follow, I admit, like it had been hacked on by committee until the very soul was sucked from it (if I get time, I’ll write it my way for comparison). Still, sounds like a good development for anyone who can figure it out.


Cerner CEO Neal Patterson says that healthcare will need a bailout that will dwarf what the financial industry is getting unless reform is undertaken. "The Wall Street bailout is a one-time number. To bail out health care, it is not a one-time fix. When the bailout comes … it’s going to be a very gloomy day." We’re good on those already, but thanks anyway. He said in a user group speech that the company will allow customers to participate in software development, which one write-up called "open source" but that doesn’t sound exactly like it, even though customers can share stuff they’ve built.

Canadian EMR vendors Healthscreen and Wolf Medical will jointly offer their uninsured services and EMR applications, respectively.

Several readers e-mailed me to say that the Fox Meadows EMR vendor I mentioned is actually just a MediNotes reseller, not an EMR developer. That brought back the creepy, powerless feeling of trying to deal with our local Medical Manager dealer back in the day, an unresponsive, unethical, and incompetent bunch that turned us against Medical Manager even though the product was fine. So, we did the only thing we could: dumped it and bought Medic (now Misys, soon to be Allscripts). That was the first I’d heard of buying software from a dealer since hospitals don’t otherwise do that.

Adena Health System (OH) gets $278K in USDA grants to connect its sites for distance learning and telemedicine.

If you think about it, click on that "E-mail This to a Friend" button at the top right of the page and tell a few folks you like about HIStalk. I don’t advertise, so you’re my only hope.

Jobs: Nursing Informaticist – Meditech, Project Manager – EDIS, Director of Clinical Informatics, User Interface Designer. Gwen will send you a weekly job blast if you sign up.

Prison HIT systems are getting better, even though they’re 10 years behind healthcare, which is 20 years behind everybody else. Howard Salmon of Phase 2 Consulting, who I know from another life, said that. I thought Phase 2 was folded into Rehabcare when John Short took that company over. In fact, I checked and it’s a wholly owned subsidiary. Now I’ve achieved closure.

A family practice group in Minnesota launches a CHF management program after the local hospital shuts theirs down because of budget cuts. Family Practice Medical Center credits its EMR with allowing it to identify and monitor target populations.

SCI Solutions announces a new version of its Schedule Maximizer rules-based enterprise scheduling application. Enhancements are included for large facilities and for the new advance beneficiary notice forms.

A software company’s CIO survey didn’t quite work out as planned, judging from the company’s rather testy announcement of its results. Only 40% of CIOs said that software quality is important (or so the software company claims without showing the actual survey instrument), leading the company to editorialize about "corporate apathy," "disregard," and "high-profile horror stories." As I always say, "Don’t ask a question if you don’t want to know the answer." And, don’t use a press release to slam your respondents/prospects.


Andy sent this odd hospital lawsuit: a man brings his wife to Beebe Medical Center (DE) for indigestion, but ED doctors somberly tell the man an hour later that his wife has died of a heart attack. An hour after that, a nurse notices that the woman is breathing in the morgue, even with an endotracheal tube in place. The woman is healthy enough now to join her husband in suing Beebe. The hospital claims "Lazarus syndrome," a documented condition in which clinically dead patients spontaneously regain heartbeat and breathing, possibly due to delayed delivery of administered epinephrine to the heart or reduction of intrathoracic pressure after ventilation and compressions are stopped. The irony, of course, is that they’re being sued by a live patient for mistaking her for dead, a condition that most of us would be pretty happy about considering the alternative.

Baptist Health System (KY) goes with ADC Telecommunications for an antenna system to improve in-building cellular coverage for McKesson’s Horizon MobileCare Rounding and other applications that run on smartphones and PDAs. Interesting: they bought Nextel phones originally because docs wanted push-to-talk, but passed on Nextel’s repeater because it worked only for Nextel, it was expensive, and the doctors weren’t really using Nextel anyway.

CMS says faxed prescriptions don’t count toward the 2% eRX bonus.

Covisint signs a deal to create an HIE for three big Michigan physician groups.

Cardinal Health will pay $34 million to settle Justice Department charges that it didn’t report suspicious narcotics orders to the DEA.

When questioned by the local paper about who won the Obama-McCain debate, a Florida woman said, "McCain sounded like a socialist on health care with sponsorship of electronic medical records and community health clinics." Seems like kind of an odd thing to say.

UPMC is trimming the management ranks at some of its hospitals.

The former chairman of Staten Island University Hospital’s (NY) pathology and laboratory medicine is charged with tampering with the hospital’s billing system to steal $19,000 in insurance payments.

Healthcare Growth Partners gets a mention for being retained by clinical trials software vendor Datatrak of Mayfield, OH as its advisor.

E-mail me.

HERtalk by Inga

From Sam Matalone: “Re: politician initiative. I have been trying nearly every day contacting the political camps and no traction. The last time I heard the word ‘unavailable’ so much was when I was asking my friends to help me move. Either way, I will keep on keeping on.” Sam is referring to his attempt to get our presidential candidates to provide some specifics on their proposed healthcare IT programs. I have gone through the same exercise a couple of times in last few months and the most I have gotten is daily spam from the Obama campaign (and nothing from McCain’s). Sam also notes that he has been “spammed like you wouldn’t believe” from the Obama camp.

From Missouri: “Re: Cerner. FYI, Cerner is in Missouri, not Kansas!” My apologies. I knew that, now that I think about it. The Missouri connection reminded me of some mindless trivia I learned a few years back. Who knew that the Missouri’s state animal was the mule?

From Travelin’ Man: “Re: healthcare spending. A WSJ article from 9/22 might be of interest in discussions with your readers. Rising out-of-pocket expense is having an impact. CitiGroup says the hospital market will be flat for the next couple of years." The article says that Americans are cutting back on healthcare spending, with examples: first drop in filled prescriptions in decades; physician office visits are down 1.2% year over year; 22% of people say they’re going to the doctor less often because of the economy; areas hit include hip and knee replacements, mammograms, and ED visits. On the other hand, more than 3/4 of people say that economic conditions are stressing them out, leading to other medical problems.

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From Man Connoisseur: “Re: Peter Pronovost. I can’t be the only one who thinks he gives Prince William a run for his money in the perfect man department, can I be? Damn.” Agreed. He’s quite the package.

From IT Writer: “Re: ultraportable laptops. Looking for those who are either using or managing the use of them, such as the Asus Eee PC. What are the special security considerations? This article is scheduled to appear in Computerworld. Drop me a line at ekeiser@john-edwards.com. Eve Keiser." This note came my way via Gwen Darling of HeathcareITJobs.com. If you can help, you might earn 15 minutes of fame.

I’ve been checking out MGMA sessions and exhibitors and was surprised by the absence of PHR-related ones. I realize many physicians question the value and validity of a patient-maintained record and perhaps see PHRs as one more administrative task. And, for the most part, patients aren’t rushing to get their PHRs updated. But for exactly those reasons, why wouldn’t Microsoft, Google, etc. want to jump on the chance to educate a captive audience of thousands on the virtues of PHRs? It seems odd that they don’t find the MGMA crowd important enough for a bit of self-promotion.

Speaking of the economy’s effect on healthcare, a Hewitt Associates study estimates that in 2009, overall employees’ healthcare costs – including employee contributions and out of pocket costs – will increase 8.9%, from $3,513 in 2008 to $3,836 in 2009. Who’s getting that additional money? Not the providers, I bet.

Good news for the Drink and Download e-mail crowd. Gmail has a new feature called “Mail Goggles” (cute name) that will prevent you committing e-mail faux pas, like sending nasty-grams to co-workers or whiny notes to your ex after a night of drinking. The system can be set up to make you answer five simple math problems when sending e-mail at odd hours. If you can’t get them right within 60 seconds, you will have to wait until you sober up the next day.


HIMSS Analytics and the American College of Clinical Engineering are jointly conducting a research study of medical devices in American hospitals. The goal is to evaluate patient safety and quality care benefits of medical devices that share data.

athenahealth COO James M. MacDonald resigns as the company’s COO and EVP due to health concerns.

DR Systems announces four new contracts for its Unity RIS/PACS totally about $2.19 million.

StatCom announces survey results showing that 89% of healthcare execs believe their facility has poor patient flow. The root causes: poor communication (67%), ineffective scheduling of activities and resources (36%), lack of beds (36%), lack of staff to help facilitate patient flow (34%), and poor centralized knowledge about the location and status of each patient (32%).

Merge Healthcare releases preliminary 3Q financial results through the end of September. Expected net income is $.01/share. Considering their long string of losses, even that small profit is good news.


Not so good news for the folks at UTMB Galveston. Following $709 million of hurricane damage last month, officials are contemplating layoffs for up to 4,000 of its 12,000 employees. State lawmakers are looking at ways to avert the workforce reduction to Galveston Islands’ largest employer.

E-mail Inga.

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Currently there are "6 comments" on this Article:

  1. Regading the positions of presidential candidates on healthcare (in reference to Sam Matalone’s comments):

    The HIMSS Virginia Chapter is having it’s annual conference in Williamsburg, VA next week, and has secured two physician keynote speakers, including a congressman from Texas, who will talk about each candidate’s respective positions on healthcare and healthcare IT. The Commonwealth of Virginia’s Secretary of Technology will also speak at the conference. See announcement below.

    Healthcare IT Perspectives from the Obama and McCain Campaign

    2008 Presidential Perspective and Health IT in the New Administration

    • Blackford Middleton, MD, MPH, MSc, FHIMSS
    Chairman, Center for IT Leadership, and Director, Clinical Informatics R&D, at Partners HealthCare System on behalf of the Barack Obama Presidential Campaign

    • The Honorable Mike Burgess, MD
    U.S. House of Representatives, Texas 26th District
    on behalf of the John McCain Presidential Campaign

    The keynote speakers at the 4th Annual Virginia Healthcare Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) will be Rep. Michael Burgess, MD of the 26th District of Texas who will speak on behalf of the John McCain Presidential Campaign and Blackford Middleton, MD of Partners Healthcare System who will speak on behalf of the Barack Obama Presidential Campaign. “These keynote speakers will provide unique insights into how each Presidential administration will address healthcare information technology issues, if they were to be elected” says Colin Konschak, Past President of Virginia HIMSS and Managing Partner with DIVURGENT.

    This key event attracts over 250 senior level healthcare stakeholders from across Virginia including clinicians, Information Technology executives, directors and managers who work in leading healthcare provider institutions, payer organizations, the military and other branches of government, and supplier and consulting companies. Other presentations of interest include a panel session with the Chief Information Officers of Virginia’s major healthcare providers and a presentation from Virginia’s Secretary of Technology, Aneesh Chopra where he will discuss Virginia’s healthcare technology strategies. Registration is now open at http://www.vahimss.org.
    “The keynote speakers are expected to discuss how legislative initiatives can influence the growth, development and adoption of information technology in healthcare”, says Konschak. “Additionally, attendees will want to learn more about Virginia’s potential to become a health IT leader in the nation and how the industry can work with government to advance health IT issues.”, says current Virginia HIMSS President Mike Sanders.

    The keynote presentation will take place at the Kingsmill Resort and Spa in Williamsburg, Virginia on October 16th, 2008 at 3:45pm Eastern Time. Registration is open and can be found at

  2. RE: CIO’s and quality. The quote from the article is “When asked how the importance of their software quality is perceived within the business, more than 40% of CIOs admitted “not at all” or “as a nice to have”. ” That’s not the same as asking the CIO’s how important THEY perceive software quality to be. My guess is that it was a poorly worded question, which as you note is impossible to know for sure since they didn’t provide the actual survey.

  3. RE: “McCain sounded like a socialist on health care…” Sadly, a fine example of ideology overcoming common sense.

  4. Re: Candidates’ positions on HIT
    Don’t hold your breath folks.
    Was at a recent debate at Harvard, each candidate represented by their chief health policy/economic adviser. Both stated that the current financial crisis is the number one priority and all resources going towards that. They were not explicit, but strongly implied such so don’t expect much in the first year or two.

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