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Monday Morning Update 11/17/08

November 15, 2008 News 8 Comments

From GatorFan: "Re: Philips. Rumor has it that Philips is undergoing a significant restructuring that could result in a layoff of 5,000 people. The announcement will supposedly be made early next week." Apparent confirmation is here — the Plain Dealer says 5% of the healthcare headcount will be cut loose.

From Carlotta Ailes: "Re: retail clinics. RediClinic opens that largest retail clinic in the nation with Memorial Hermann. The clinics are using athenahealth’s EMR/PM system." Link. It’s in a Houston H-E-B grocery store, 926 square feet with three exam rooms and a blood draw room.

From Bill the Cat: "Re: OSF. Our company was told by the higher-ups at OSF that they were moving to Epic about four months ago. Plans are in place and it should be done in 2-3 years (migration is never easy)." And from Techsan: "Re: OSF. They are already live on Epic’s Ambulatory EMR and Scheduling, but they are now also replacing existing ‘core’ systems (i.e., remaining rev cycle and inpatient EMR) with Epic."

From NotADupe: "Re: Clara Barton. Sounds like you were duped by a marketing plant. I was at AMIA and I didn’t see Allscripts/Misys there." Could be, but it’s hard to tell. The comment (barely) passed the sniff test, I admit, but it was just believable enough that I ran it. Companies try planting PR sometimes, but I don’t run it if I’m suspicious (a consulting company that I should name tried it today, posing as a customer innocently inquiring about a competitor’s acquisition). A few companies have also stiffed me on their HIStalk sponsorship in one way or another (want me to name them?) and they won’t be getting mentioned here, either, at least not in a positive way.

From Nasty Parts: "Re: Sage Healthcare. Rumor is that [name omitted]’s days are numbered. Top consultants are looking at internal processes, comp plans, etc. All of Andy Corbin’s former hires are slowly being excised from the company. Everyone is happy." I didn’t feel right mentioning the name, but if it happens, I’ll give you credit for predicting it.

From Pro from Dover: "Re: layoffs. A week ago, McKesson began laying off salespeople, approximately 20% of ‘new’ salesforce. Also, Misys/Allscripts sales layoffs are beginning this week." It would be more newsworthy if a company wasn’t laying off, especially in sales, where "layoffs" is often a nice synonym for "parting ways with under-performers who aren’t making their numbers." It’s always been a cold business, but likely to be colder still for at least a short while. No one in sales would be surprised by that revelation. On the other hand, stocking up on cheaper noobs is hardly a recipe for success, so companies will have to balance expense vs. potential long-term benefit. 

From Chuck Lumley: "Re: Sensitron. Rajiv Jularia, CEO of Sensitron, died last month rather suddenly. The company and product status are unclear. While they struggled, they had an early stage, device-agnostic, Bluetooth-enabled vital sign data capture system."     

Listening: The Who, Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970. Video here. Keith Moon was the most exuberant and charismatic drummer in modern history, arguably the lead instrument instead of Townshend’s guitar, especially amazing since Moon was probably stoned out of his mind most of the time (a video from another concert shows him extracted unconscious from the drum kit by roadies and hauled offstage, with an audience volunteer chosen to finish up the set in his place). He died in 1978 at 32; bassist John Entwistle died in 2002. Daltrey is now 64, Townshend is 63. Also: The Dilettantes, 60s-sounding psych-pop.

Streamline Health isn’t so good at keeping secrets (or maybe they’re crafty about technically honoring a hospital’s wish not to be named, but identifying them nonetheless). This press release (warning: PDF) coyly refers to a "leading New York City-based medical institution" without naming it. Check out the link address, though. Super sleuth Inga noticed that. I told her this week that she’s like a terrier when she latches onto a rumor, instilling 60 Minutes-type fear in PR and executive offices as she starts bugging everyone she can find to tell her the truth. Readers benefit from that, of course.


Sentry Data Systems of Deerfield Beach, FL has shown its support for HIStalk by becoming a Platinum Sponsor, for which I am most grateful. If you’re in hospital IT, your pharmacy contact will be interested in Sentry because they offer Sentinel RCM (supply chain compliance, GPO, and 340b tracking), Datanex (secure technology backbone with APIs), and Sentrex (pharmacy claims, including 340b replenishment). Just announced: the HealthBIT business intelligence platform for hospitals, which constructs a queryable data set from clinical and administrative data sources and provides tools for reviewing clinical protocols, identifying patient safety concerns with pharmacy procurement, cost analysis, and a notification engine. Thanks to Sentry Data Systems for supporting HIStalk and its readers.

Nortel dumps ballast overboard (employees and executives) trying to stay afloat after a $3.4 billion quarterly loss. It appears to not be working as the stock sheds another 28% Friday to end up at $0.56 per share, dropping its market cap to just $278 million. 

Think your company is the only one struggling a little and laying off staff? Not so. I hear a lot of insider stuff and the headlines you see only begin to tell the story. Hospitals are getting stung hard by investment losses and lack of capital funds, so IT will take hits in many of them. I think that’s why companies are acquiring consulting firms — business should be good as hospitals try to implement and improve systems already on the books and new hires will be hard to get approved. Consulting firms are good at making a sound business case to strapped hospital CFOs (much better than the average IT department, unfortunately) so I think you’ll see more CIO replacements, more outsourcing, and more contract implementations tied to specific patient care and financial results. None of that’s bad unless you’re on the wrong end of it.

And speaking of providers, here’s a question for hospital CIOs, CTOs, and other IT management. Let’s say an average 400-bed hospital is cutting back on some big-ticket IT projects, leaving the IT department looking for high impact, short-term projects to knock out during the slack time. Let’s say the limits are $25,000 not counting internal labor, it can’t require capital funds, and it has to deliver high visibility/high ROI with immediate operational impact. What projects have you done that you would recommend?


Max Baucus (D-MT), chairman of the Senate finance committee, releases his Call to Action paper (warning: PDF) on health reform. From his remarks: "Let me be clear about one thing: There’s no way to really solve America’s economic troubles without fixing the health care system.If you fix Wall Street, you fix the housing crisis, you change taxes, you fix everything else, and you don’t fix health care, then government spending will keep going up. Health care costs suck up more than 16 percent of our economy, and they’re growing. Deficitswill continue to rise. And America will just have more economic troubles down the road."


Fundraising ends for Project Valour-IT on Thanksgiving, so click the graphic to your right to help provide assistive technology laptops to severely wounded soldiers. $37,000 has been donated so far and our Navy team is in the lead (although all money goes to all service branches – having teams is just a way to keep score). The project has no money for laptops at the moment and is hoping for $250,000 in donations to buy a bunch of laptops at around $700 each (DoD was so impressed with Valour-IT that they buy the Dragon NaturallySpeaking). Any amount is appreciated.

John at Chilmark Research likes the idea that big players are studying PHRs, but is skeptical about CITL’s optimistic, vendor-sponsored report. "For the cost/benefit analysis, CITL proposed a scenario of 80% user adoption within 10 years that will generate $19B in annual savings. 80% adoption? $19B is savings? What are they smoking over there?"

Odd: a Seattle dentist and oral surgeon (but also an MD) is sued for messing up a 15-year-old girl’s non-cosmetic breast reduction surgery. He’s been sued for malpractice at least 10 times, has paid out over $1 million in claims, and was mildly reprimanded (fined $4,000) for being implicated in the death of a liposuction patient, for whom CPR was initiated six minutes after the patient stopped breathing.

An industry rag wrote this, a reader reports, although it was fixed in the online version by the time I went for a screen shot: "In addition, Epic won the first certification for an enterprise EHR that provides comprehensive ambulatory, inpatient and emergency department EHRs that are inoperable."

Emageon’s acquirer HSS announces Q3 numbers: revenue up 106%, EPS -$0.42 vs. -$0.40. They’re good at hiding the loss, not mentioning it until the eleventh paragraph after leading off with a revenue headline and jamming in all the good-sounding numbers first. Readers with a short attention span might be impressed by their quarterly results.


Citrix will release its XenDesktop and XenApp software available for the iPhone in a few months, allowing all Windows applications to be virtualized and then run over an iPhone virtual desktop. That’s already available for Windows Mobile and Symbian devices, but the iPhone version will allow using the cool gesture stuff. I imagine this will be hot, although I don’t know how much work you could do on that little screen that doesn’t have a real keyboard.

An SVP of drugmaker Gilead Sciences advises Microsoft on healthcare IT: "If Microsoft really wants to own the world, create a standardized electronic medical records system and give it away for free the first five years. Then start charging." I bet he’s not nearly as keen on the idea of doing the same in his own industry, i.e. making generic Tamiflu and Flolan at a cheaper price instead of charging to much to treat diseases like HIV for a $2 billion annual profit. He’s got a point about standardizing by offering a free product that sets the standard by its own ubiquity, but then again, even a free EMR isn’t much of a deal for doctors unless it saves them time.

A British surgeon is suspended for downloading NHS medical information about his secretary, her family, and her boyfriend after becoming infatuated with her. He claims his current wife was a bad choice and he hoped to do better by turning the secretary’s information over to a private detective to check her out before he made his move. The secretary found out when the surgeon’s wife accused her of having an affair with her husband, after which the secretary then snooped around on his work computer and found her own medical records, the surgeon’s list of tactics on how he planned to win her over, and an impressively massive porn stash.

Cleveland Clinic doctors pick the Top 10 procedures and products that will influence medicine in the next year. On the list: NHIN (#10), which the good doctors must not know much about if they’re thinking it will have an effect in the next 13 months.

South Korea and its hospitals want a piece of the medical tourism action, trolling for budget-conscious Americans as well as rich Arabs who can’t get a US visa because of terrorism-induced red tape. One hospital is building a hotel, a concert hall, and an art museum to complement its 18-hole golf course. Immigration rules were changed to allow patients and families to stay up to four years without a visa. "For Hassan and Fatima Abdulla, the trip has been one seamless surgery/tourism package. When they arrived in Seoul in October, a car from Wooridul and an English-speaking nurse were waiting for them at the airport. Abdulla found his wife’s hospital room – furnished with a television, broadband Internet access, private bathroom, sofas and an extra bed – so comfortable that he decided to stay with her rather than go to a hotel." Reminds me of the old days of pre-outsourced, small-town hospital cafeterias, where local cooks made food that was good enough that townspeople would actually drop by for lunch. Now it’s just surly Aramark contractors heating up Sysco TV dinner quality fare, not much different than feeding prisoners.

University of Iowa Hospitals fires one employee and suspends seven more for snooping in electronic patient records.

Vendor Deals and Announcements

  • Mac enthusiasts have a new kiosk option with the release of MacPractice Kiosk Interface with signature pad.
  • Wandering WiFi is now providing wireless service at six Ardent Health Services hospitals in Oklahoma and New Mexico for patient and visitor Internet access.
  • Perot Systems acquires Tullurian, a managed services hosting provider serving 13,000 physicians and 565 practices. Perot, by the way, has launched healthcare service operations in China. David Miller will serve as managing director for the region’s consulting and clinical transformation services.
  • Lake Charles Memorial Hospital (LA) announces the start of a $6 million, three-year process of migrating to McKesson’s Paragon and Practice Partner digital health record solutions.
  • Beaver Dam Community Hospital (WI) selects McKesson’s Paragon HIS and document management solution.
  • Clarian Health (IN) activates a MobileAccess Universal Wireless network across three hospitals, covering more than 4 million square feet.
  • HIE SharedHealth is using Orion Health’s Concerto Portal Solution to enable an EHR solution and provide access to its Clinical Xchange platform.
  • Ochsner Health Systems (LA) is installing InterSystems Progeny Anatomic Pathology information system.
  • Spectrum Health (MI) selects InterSystems Ensemble software for integration initiatives across the entire enterprise.
  • Passport Health Communications and SelfPay Company announce a strategic partnership to provide electronic charity care assessments.
  • Charlotte, NC-based Patient Care Technology Systems is more than doubling its office space to support its growing employee base.
  • DocuSys names David Young, MD medical director for its Presurgical Care Management solution. Young founded Prompte, a company acquired by DocuSys earlier this year. He is also medical director of presurgical testing at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital (IL) and a faculty member at UCSD.
  • The 45-radiologist practice Radiology Associates (AR) will utilize AMICAS Web-based PACS, AMICAS Reach, and AMICAS Teleradiology solutions.
  • Former Misys Transaction Services and IBAX exec Denis Connaghan is named president and CEO of etrials Worldwide, a provider of adaptive eClinical software and services.
  • Clinical Solutions will integrate HLI’s Language Engine clinical decision technology into its IntefleCS Telephone Triage and IntefleCS Face to Face applications.

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Currently there are "8 comments" on this Article:

  1. Ok, not sure where the layoff info came about McKesson. I know that they did a huge tightening of the budgets, but no “let go’s” have occurred. I believe they put a freeze non-billable hires to save headcount. Rumor debunked.

  2. Does anyone have any information/opinion regarding Agfa’s RIS, in particular scheduling functionallity, benefits, shortcomings, etc.?

  3. Ralph – was it sales as it was alluded to in the rumor? Sucks to hear that for your friends, but 20% is a strong number to say that is being laid off. I would be surprised if they layoff more than any of the other HIT companies during this economic slowdown as they have a little bit more of a diversification of their company.

  4. Yes, layoffs true at Sage. 3 Vice Presidents have either resigned or “moved on” in the past month.
    COO brought in to curb expenses and increase revenue. Sales force reduced by 5-10%.

  5. I work for McKesson now and they have not laid off as of yet. They have stopped raises and if there are layoffs or have been layoffs it has been contract employees. Also we are hiring I have interviewed 6 people in the past month for 2 positions we have open at this time. PezMan hit the nail on the head with all of his comments.

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