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News 10/17/08

October 16, 2008 News 6 Comments

From Jaitar: "Re: McCain. What’s with McCain repeatedly saying he wants to put medical records ‘online?’ Maybe he should also say he wants to put our financial histories online. He should get this straight – I’m not sure he is doing us any favors given the privacy hawks out there who leverage any public sentiment to slow down information exchange."

From HISWatcher: "Re: NextGen. Their buy on Practice Management Partners today and HSI a while back means they want to take athenahealth on in the RCM space. Should be interesting …" Agreed. PMP was doing great covering just a tiny part of the country, so they get a prime time slot with NextGen.

From Monsieur de Groot: "Re: hospital of the future. Here is a story about the "Hospital Room of the Future" that features Cerner products. Some of the entries in the ‘Comments’ page are  interesting." Link. It’s interesting (and scary) to see what’s inside the minds of average Americans when it comes to healthcare. 


From MC Hammersmith: "Re: CAROL. My colleague forwarded me the link. They give price and care information (with online scheduling) for procedures or care bundles. So far it looks like only a few providers have signed on, but I like the interface. I believe that the prices are still fiction, since they can charge whatever they want but will get what insurance pays, but, still looks pretty good for version 1.0." Link. I think I gave it a look and mention right after it launched. Looks pretty good. Actually, it looks very good once you dig into individual provider pages. I would use it.

Greenway launches PrimeResearch, a research solution that connects PrimeSuite EHR to clinical studies, quality and safety initiatives, and analytics. Researchers list their active studies on PrimeResearch, physicians choose those to participate in, and PrimeSuite runs a list of patients (de-identified using PHI scrubbing rules) that meet the study criteria. Now I’m not a practicing doc, but someone who is told me once that the biggest overlooked source of physician revenue is providing electronic information to companies doing drug or other clinical research. This guy, who was a really smart futurist and an MD/PhD, said that those organizations are happy to pay because they need quickly selectable data from big patient populations in electronic form, so it’s still cheaper for them than doing traditional paper studies. Finding patients out in the field, especially those with unusual conditions or demographics for niche drug studies, is nearly impossible otherwise, plus it does patients a favor by getting new treatments to market faster. I think it’s a great idea, one of the big benefits of having electronic data instead of manila folders. Expect that to really mushroom once genetic data is in there and more linkages between genes and disease (and drug responsiveness) are uncovered.


A medical helicopter crashes in the Chicago area while heading to Children’s Memorial Hospital from Valley West Hospital, killing three crew members and a 13-month-old baby. The helicopter, owned by the Air Angels emergency medical transport service in Bolingbrook, clipped an antenna guide wire and crashed in a field, killing the pilot, nurse, paramedic, and patient. The crash is the third involving Air Angels and the ninth in the past 12 months nationally involving medical helicopters. The pilot, Dell Waugh, was a two-tour Vietnam vet with two purple hearts who started a company after he retired from the Army, writing software for hospitals and creating instructional videos for drug companies. Condolences all around.

Mrs. HIStalk was having some impressive coughing fits but couldn’t get an appointment for several days at the practice we use, so I suggested she try the local back-of-the-drugstore retail clinic (because I was tired of hearing the hacking, but it probably sounded caring the smooth way I said it). The diagnosis: her first case of bronchitis, which we already knew since we’re medical types. Total time spent for visit and prescription pickup: 15 minutes. Visit cost: $60, but they took our insurance too, so it was $30 or something. Her grade for the experience: A+. She was the only patient there, the NP was experienced and efficient, and she was treated like an actual human being. She’s happy about it, but maybe that’s the Tessalon Perles talking. She’s cute as a button when she takes the cough syrup and makes that Robitussin face.

If you want to buy a "top of the line hospital information system" from India, this guy is selling one.

Listening: Montrose, hard-driving early 1970s rock with Ronnie Montrose and Sammy Hagar.

MacPractice, the Mac-based practice management system, has a new release and an iPhone interface. I would have told you how it looks since I tried to check out their demo, but of course the wiley marketers make sure you can’t actually see it without first completing a truly massive online form so they can pester you later (do they really need to ask what time zone you’re in when you have to give them your whole address?) You want people to watch your demo. You trust them to follow up if they like what they see. What’s so hard about that? I bet they sit around and moan that more people should be watching their demo.

HIMSS sent out its ballots today. My first rule of thumb: I never vote for anyone who isn’t FHIMSS. If they can’t take the time to qualify for HIMSS Fellow, what are they doing running for HIMSS national office?

Healthcare Growth Partners releases its Q3 HCIT Transaction Report. Download here (warning: PDF).

Rush-Copley Medical Center (IL) will implement McKesson’s closed loop solutions (Meds Manager, PACMED, Robot-RX, MedCarousel, Admin-RX). Notably omitted from the list: Horizon Expert Orders, since I believe the hospital went with Eclipsys SunriseXA instead, leading to some confusion about which loop they closed and what they closed it with.

Someone sent a rumor that Medsphere just laid off 15 people after moving to Carlsbad supposedly because of rapid headcount expansion. Inga asked the company about it and was told they don’t discuss rumor or personnel matters. I have my guess what that means and you’re entitled to your own. I don’t like to see anyone lose a job.

Bravo to the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), which tabulates information to remind government agencies which big contractors and companies have been guilty of major misconduct (hint: drugs, oil, and consultants). #1 by far is Merck ($5.8 billion) and GlaxoSmithKline ($4.2 billion). Surprisingly, McKesson is the fifth biggest offender at $996 million (thanks, HBOC). IBM is way up the list, as is Cardinal Health, Health Net, and the the usual contractors like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. Somehow BearingPoint came in way down the list with just $54.2 million (heck, CoreFLS was nearly ten times that amount of utterly wasted taxpayer dollars).

Nashville-based onFocus Healthcare, which sells enterprise performance software, completes a round of private equity financing. Here’s what impresses me: the chairman has a Carnegie Mellon doctorate (damn).

Grand Bahama Healthcare System will go live on its first Centricity Pharmacy install in a couple of weeks. You know the GE implementers are fighting to go there this winter.

CSC, new owner of Covansys and FCG, will hire 2,000 IT professionals in the next six months, all of them in India.


Taiwanese hardware vendor Unitech launches a healthcare PDA made from antimicrobial materials and offering both RFID and barcode readers.

State of Ohio CIO Steve Edmonson, formerly of Cardinal Health, will leave his position this week.

Rumor: GE Healthcare Financial Services has cut 30 salespeople, with more to come. And speaking of GE and its sudden problems related to its financial and healthcare units, the credit squeeze will hit GE and Siemens hard, the New York Times says, as hospitals finally have to adjust their capital-heavy ways in a down economy and with shrinking investment portfolios.

UVA goes with AtStaff ClairVia for staff and demand management.

Nuance says users are pumping 1.4 billion lines of medical transcription per year through eScription’s computer aided medical transcription system, with 17 new customers this year. John Halamka says it has saved BIDMC $5 million in transcription cost, while Orlando Health says turnaround time on clinical reports is down two hours just eight weeks after go-live.

Odd lawsuit: a man is beaten in the head with a yard-long log at a party in 2002, mistaken for the guy his assailant really meant to clobber. He is taken to the hospital, waits 90 minutes, and is later transferred to another hospital for emergency neurosurgery. He is paralyzed and  settles with the first hospital and its doctors and nurses for $8.5 million US, coincidentally the precise amount of the hospital’s malpractice coverage. And in Greenwich, Connecticut, eight women are suing the hospital and seeking class action status for allowing a drug-addicted plastic surgeon to perform breast reconstruction surgeries. The doctor turned in his medical license after being accused of injecting a patient’s painkiller into himself and later died of a heroin overdose.

E-mail me.

HERtalk by Inga

From Southern Rocker: “Re: Glen Tullman interview. Congrats on the interview with Allscripts. Seems like quite a coup to have a company of that stature select HIStalk as the forum of choice to communicate directly with the market.” Mr. H was pretty darned excited that Allscripts suggested it. So what if McCain and Obama won’t answer our e-mails? We got Glen. If anybody has suggestions about the format, time of day, etc. let us know so we can decide about future chats.

The X PRIZE Foundation and insurance giant WellPoint team up to develop a $10 million contest to improve health care quality and reduce costs. The finalists will have their proposals tested in state markets. Not to sound like Mr. H or anything, but don’t you just know the winner is going to have a solution that’s pretty health insurance company-friendly?

CTG Healthcare Solutions announces (warning: PDF) it will be providing implementation for a number of Epic Systems implementations. Interestingly, the press release provides such details such as it is providing “services to a major children’s hospital with a large pediatric research program” for $1.7 million, but, doesn’t name of the hospital. Another project is for “one of the nation’s largest faith-based integrated delivery systems… which operates hospitals, physician practices, outpatient clinics, health plans, and related health and human services in seven states.” I bet we have readers that could name those hospitals off the top of their heads.


Dan Nigrin, MD, MS, CIO of Children’s Hospital Boston, is mentioned in this article that revisits the question of which is better: CIOs who come up through the IT organization or those with a more diverse business background? Dr. Nigrin is not only CIO, but also an endocrinologist who went back to school for a master’s degree in informatics from Harvard Medical School and MIT. Obviously those are some pretty strong credentials. I also hear he owns a recording label and is an HIStalk fan. Doesn’t get much better than that.

An Employee Benefit Research study (warning: PDF) finds that 60% of us believe that centrally maintained EMRs shareable by authorized health care providers are extremely or very important. However, 62% indicate they are either not too or not at all confident that such records would remain confidential.

Mediware is expanding its stock re-purchase plan. In addition to the $4 million earmarked earlier this year, the board has authorized an additional $3.3 million. Stock is currently trading around $4/share, down from $7.25 less than a year ago.

QuadraMed is also repurchasing shares, though they are buying from a single shareholder. QuadraMed is buying 620,614 shares at $5.50 for $3.4 million. Though the stock closed at $5.85 Tuesday. It was close to $10/share when the company was listed on Nasdaq in July. The purchase represents approximately 7% of the common shares outstanding.

Teleradiology is the latest service being outsourced to India because of a US shortage of radiologists, particularly those willing and able to work night shifts. Other likely services soon to be offshored include telecardiology, telepathology, teledermatology, telephathology and robotic telesurgery.


Rick Norling, president and CEO of the national healthcare alliance Premier, announces his retirement as of June 30, 2009. The company earned the 2006 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality award under his leadership. His replacement has not yet been named.

According to a blog sponsored by the local paper, Lawrence Memorial Hospital (KS) has approved a five-year contract for Cerner to provide technical hosting services for the hospital’s clinical information systems. The transfer, scheduled to take place in April 2009, is predicted to save the hospital $1.5 million over five years.

Officials from a California elementary school claim HIPAA privacy rules prevented them from informing parents of a teacher’s sexual "reassignment." The music teacher, previously a woman, returned to school this fall asking to be addressed as Mister.

Last call for survey participants! If you are either a physician or a CIO/IS director and are willing to give me 10 minutes of your time, let me know. As a participant, you’ll get to hear about some of our latest scheming and have an opportunity to influence the future of HIStalk. Come on, you know you want to hear more!

E-mail Inga.

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Currently there are "6 comments" on this Article:

  1. I thought I’d send you an email letting you know about a recent Homeowner Association Board meeting I attended. The board President, when asked about a list of all of the homeowners and their contact information, said that he couldn’t because of HIPAA. ??? Of course, most of the homeowners aren’t in the medical field, and probably didn’t know what he was referring to, but those of us that are in healthcare got a laugh out of that one.

  2. RE: Mccain and “online patient records” I can forgive him for not know the nuances of online patient records, PHR, EMR, etc. as few in congress do The thing that scares me the most is that no politician sponsoring legilation for this entire area really understands what they are talking about. Great buzz words to throw around, but they are going to spend our money and have no clue what the proper outcome or expectation should be of that expense.

  3. Grizzled Vet: You’ve hit the nail on the head there. DC politicos are so adept at tossing out cool new buzz words with practised ease, but far too many seem completely uninterested in really learning the subject – whatever it may be. They prefer that corporates and other monied types do the work and write things up for them. It’s disgusting how many are said to not even read what is put in front of them before voting or professing support. !(@#@&!!!

  4. Greenway Prime Research
    Maybe Greenway can get it right, but in my discussions with several different pharma/biotech research leaders, digital data may be easier to sort through than paper, but garbage in = garbage out and most find it extremely difficult to get meaningful info out of EMR systems that they can actually work with.

  5. Hey Jaitar…
    Where you been? Your financial records are on lne and have been for more than 5 years. If you have a credit card, do online banking or want your credit report it’s all there for a mouse click and a password.
    So…what’s the big deal with an (secure) online EMR?

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