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December 9, 2008 News 8 Comments

From Kentomatic: "Re: ComputerWorld 100 list just published. Several notable healthcare CIOs made the list." On it: Joseph DeVenuto, Norton Healthcare; Karen Graham, Cooper University Hospital; Jeremy Meller, Marshfield Clinic; and Gregory Veltry, Denver Health & Hospital Authority. Congratulations to all.

From Wompa1: "Re: Video of healthcare seminar. Cato Institute, a libertarian organization, did an event called ‘Does America’s Health Care Sector Produce More Health?’ You can stream it in Real Video or MP3." Link. I like the Libertarian message, but it’s been totally lost as the government nationalizes entire industries of incompetent businesses and runs the printing presses 24 hours a day to create funny money to pay for it all. At least they could bring back the Civilian Conservation Corps, which built some truly inspiring national parks back in the previous depression.

From Inspector Clouseau: "Re: rumors. How safe is your site and how traceable are the reported rumors?" If you e-mail me or use the Rumor Report, I delete your message, leaving no trace (even though I also use an anonymous Yahoo account). I don’t name names and I often rewrite stuff so that nobody can recognize the writing style. Since I don’t know who the tipsters are, putting me on the stand wouldn’t help, either.

From The PACS Designer: "Re: modular data centers. Microsoft is publicizing its vision of a future style for modular data centers  With their Generation 4 concept for a data center, the need for more computer resources can be quickly set up using vans loaded with the configurations needed for each customer who wants to employ Microsoft Live solutions." Link (warning: video).  

From At the Mouse’s House: "Re: Pyxis. Cardinal announces new Pyxis MedStation 4000. Pyxis literature in the hotel drop bag at the show includes a footnote that Cardinal may not offer the MS4000 for sale. Their press release makes no such disclaimer. Is it real or a concept?" Cardinal announced the launch of Medstation 4000 Monday, but that could mean anything, especially since some of its businesses will be spun off within months. I saw no mention or pictures on Cardinal’s site, which is usually a symptom of vaporware. Here’s how to find out: (1) corner a company exec in the booth and ask who the beta site was; and (2) tell them your Omnicell contract is almost up and you need to know how quickly they could get 4000 up and running in your place. Enjoy the Midyear.

From Rogue: "Re: cheap technologies. This company has a 10-number pad with a programmable display that administers patient questionnaires. Used in drug trials but neatest app. I saw a waiting room sleep apnea questionnaire that was on the chart before the doc walked into examine the patient. Full disclosure: I know the guy who owns it, but have no financial interest." Link. I usually delete stuff like this, but it’s from a hospital guy. Look or not – I’m neutral.

From Moishesdad: "Re: Glen Tullman. I have to believe he is going to be making the trip to DC at some point. Glen has deep ties with Obama. Given the news over the weekend about the push to EMRs, Glen would be an obvious choice. And for Glen, an elegant way to wind down at MDRX." It wouldn’t surprise me either way. And while we’re on the subject, here are some of the motley crew nominated for ONCHIT by you readers: Scott Shreeve, John Glaser (that one is recent, so he must have scored points with his Being John Glaser), Orlando Portale, and Mr. HIStalk (hah!). If you’ve ever read the congressional transcripts of all those politicians ripping viciously and personally into Brailer mostly because he was GW’s boy, then you would know ONCHIT isn’t for the faint of heart.

McKesson announces (actually, the press release says "unveils," which sounds more dramatic) results of its pharmacy performance survey, then launches right into a plug for highlighted "good example" Vanderbilt, which was touted in the next paragraph as having paid McKesson to improve its performance (what a happy coincidence!) McKesson also sponsors the Most Wired nonsense, so they’ve mastered the art of making supposedly industry-serving surveys nothing more than a Trojan horse for a commercial pitch.

Thanks to John Glaser for offering to write occasionally for HIStalk. I had e-mailed him asking if he knew any good CIOs who write well who might want to contribute here (assuring him I wasn’t like a recruiter asking, "Do you know anyone who would be interested in this job?" to see if you’ll bite). He offered to share his thoughts on occasion, which is quite an honor given his stature in the industry (and his sharply honed dry sense of humor). Give him a little love by dropping a nice comment onto his piece from today so he knows he’s appreciated by someone other than me.

Let’s hope that the former junior senator from Illinois and President-elect is the apparent first completely uncorrupt Chicago politician. Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich is busted by the Feds after trying to conduct an eBay-style auction of Obama’s former Senate seat. He also reportedly considered appointing himself to the office to give him a better chance to beat corruption charges (he could still do it, in fact, since Obama’s replacement is still his choice). He also suggested, according to affidavits, that he be named HHS secretary and also tried to take away $8 million in state money from a children’s hospital because one of its executives declined to give him a $50,000 political contribution. Odds are good that he’ll be the second consecutive Illinois governor to earn federal corruption jail time. The scary thing is that people from Illinois keep voting these scumbags into office, only to watch them get hauled off.


ANCC and Cerner announce that Abington Memorial Hospital (PA) is the winner of their 2008 Magnet Prize for innovative ANCC Magnet-recognized programs. One might be struck by the irony that Abington is a showcase Eclipsys site.

A laptop containing PHI of 50 patients is stolen from the cardiology department of Salem Hospital (MA).

Allscripts CEO (and Obama campaign policy advisor) Glen Tullman says he expects the incoming administration to promote EMRs and e-prescribing, although maybe spending less than the $50 billion Obama promised while campaigning.

HHS is looking for an ONCHIT policy analyst in DC, with pay topping out at $127K. I’m disappointed, of course, that they didn’t list it on Healthcare IT Jobs, but other jobs there include Epic Rx Trainer, Account Executive – Northeast States, Texas Regional Sales Manager, and Regional Sales Director.

A Harvard study finds that e-prescribing saves money if it informs doctors of the relative costs of various pharmacologic alternatives. That’s great, provided it takes the entire cost of therapy into account (required lab monitoring, likelihood of compliance for complex dosing schedules, true cost and not just phony AWP, side effect profile, etc.) It’s odd that everybody talks about consumer transparency, but nobody’s telling doctors what drugs, labs, and treatments cost. Surely among all those crappy dot-com business models some startup could have attacked that angle.

Brigham and Women’s signs for Omnicell’s SinglePointe medication management system, which provides automated distribution of all meds, not just those in the dispensing cabinet. I’m hating the name, of course, since it’s both conjoined and faux-Brit (like "centre" and "grille").

Software developed in Australia for GPS-equipped Nokia and Symbian phones allows security guards and other high-risk employees (including those in healthcare) to be tracked by supervisors. it also gives then a panic button that sends their location instantly when pressed.

Fifty Kaiser medical directors will be trained by an "anger management guru" in emotional intelligence, which takes just four hours (must not be some of the docs I know). Cut up in the class and see what happens.

GE’s Wisconsin-based diagnostic equipment unit will cut costs and jobs due to declining demand for big-ticket MRIs and CT scanners.

Everybody’s applauding (their words) Obama’s post-campaign, pre-inauguration HIT warblings. You may recall the same reaction back in 2004 when President Bush ("The Google") made his quickly forgotten Vanderbilt speech that claimed an unswerving commitment to technology-driven healthcare reform ("The president went to Vanderbilt and all I got was this CCHIT.")  Politicians get elected making rhetoric-filled promises, a tiny minority of which actually amount to anything, but then again, I’m a cynic with a long memory. I hope I’m wrong.

Interesting: a hospital in Thailand aims to become a "hospital without walls" in three to five years, using technology to deliver its services anywhere. Steps so far: a wireless network, electronic medical records, and patient TVs that allow doctors to use the EMR by inserting their ID card. Coming: home monitoring and telemedicine. That could be done by any number of institutions here, of course, except for one big roadblock: getting paid for it.


Pittsburgh has few jobs that don’t involve non-profits, but never underestimate the economic power of being a highly compensated healthcare middleman. Highmark Inc. is on a hiring tear, especially for techies. Experience in writing claims denial routines and indecipherable patient communication letters preferred (sarcasm mine).

DoD starts testing of Google Health and HealthVault.

I saw this headline ("Your mouth can signal your overall health") and wasn’t thinking about the gum condition it is actually about. I was instead picturing a tonsil-baring scream or curse-laden begging for Dilaudid, which isn’t usually a good sign, either.

Oakwood Healthcare Systems (MI) freezes hiring, postpones a hospital improvement project, and delays computer upgrades. It will get really interesting if the Big Three pink slips start flying, which should be the case if they have such a crappy business model that even government oversight ("Car Czar") is more innovative and nimble. Even Beaumont is throttling back.

E-mail me.

HERtalk by Inga

From Lauryn Hill: "Re: holiday gifts. You inspired me with one of your recent posts regarding a company that is donating money to a food shelf instead of having a holiday party. We have decided to donate money to a food shelf in honor of our clients who we would normally send gifts to at this time of year. We are sending the clients a letter letting them know of the donation. Not the same as a box from Godiva, but I think this year is exceptional." Godivas are great, but nothing beats food on the table. A couple of weeks, ago a reader commented that when companies cancel/scale back their holiday parties, it’s bound to hurt the local economy and those in the hospitality industry. I can’t disagree. However, I’ll never forget the first time I helped deliver food and holiday gifts to families many years ago. My life seemed pretty rosy after seeing the one-bedroom home shared by three generations. Grandpa was sleeping on a mattress in the living room and everyone had coats on. The only heat they had was coming from the stove’s gas burners, which were set to high. So thanks, Lauryn, for helping make a difference.

Here is an oldie but a goodie. If you’re a manager worried that budget cuts and trimming the holiday festivities will negatively affect morale, try handwriting a note of appreciation to staff. That advice comes from a Harvard Business School expert, no less.

A survey conducted by CHIME, NAHIT, and AHA Solutions finds that hospitals are delaying capital projects and cutting capital and operating budgets in order to cope with the financial crisis. Though overall hospital employment is still rising, one in four hospital CIOs and CFOs claim to have recently laid off workers and/or instituted a hiring freeze. Fifty-seven percent of the respondents also indicated they are deferring IT equipment purchases and 52% are lengthening time frames for HIT implementations. More than a third of CIOs are reducing spending on outsourced IT services.


Wen Chyan, a 17-year-old Texas high school student, creates a polymer that could help prevent hospital infections. It can be used on catheters, breathing tubes, and other medical devices. His feat earned him a $100,000 college scholarship as part of the national Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology. What does one invent to follow that up?

The Arkansas nurse who stole accessed and disclosed a patient’s health information for personal gain is sentenced to two years probation and 100 hours of community service. The US District judge who sentenced Smith recommended that she spend some of her community service hours educating others on the consequences of violating HIPAA. Hey – maybe she’ll do a column for HIStalk!

The University of Oklahoma College of Nursing contracts with Medsphere for the OpenVista EHR solution, including implementation and support. Medsphere offers a discount as part of its Academic Incubator program, designed to help educate students in nursing and medical schools about HIT and clinical informatics.

The 105-physician Sadler Clinic (TX) selects NextGen for its EHR, enterprise practice management, patient portal, and image control solutions.

Sunquest Information Systems receives FDA clearance for its Sunquest Transfusion Manager.

Kaiser Permanente is ordered to pay a former radiologist $3.9 million for forcing him to resign after he tried to improve hospital standards. He quit after his supervisor accused him of racism and sexually harassing behavior toward a male technologist.

E-mail Inga.

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Currently there are "8 comments" on this Article:

  1. We keep electing crooked governors here in Illinois so we can keep our pension costs down. Let them serve their 8 years driving our state even further into the ground, and then let the Feds take care of them for the rest of their lives. They like it since they probably have more faith in the Feds being able to do it than in the State budget they squandered and misused…..

  2. Glen Tullman and Obama. No surprise there. I used to work for Glen. Talk about a well spoken master of presenting information. Glen is definitely that person. The nice thing about Glen when I worked for him is that he followed up his words by hitting deadlines and targets. Hopefully he can do the same here but I doubt that will happen.

  3. FYI: The CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp) of FDR’s New Deal did more than national parks and zoos. It built over a 1/3 of the bridges in this country. Of great importance now, btw, those bridges had a 50 year life expectancy. You can do the math.


  4. TUllman once interned in the Reagan Whitehouse. If he works for Obama, he can say he worked for the most conservative and the most liberal president’s of our generation. Does that make him a “Maverick”?

  5. While watching Eli Stone on TV this last evening – they had on the stand a hospital executive who referred to their Pyxis (and used the word Pyxis) Meds distribution system. Our company has researched getting our name/product onto shows like ER, Private Practice etc. but they always want us to pay (as they see it as advertising) BIG bucks.

  6. “…try handwriting a note of appreciation to staff.”

    And if they’re really interested in boosting morale, try wrapping the note around a $100 bill.

  7. 3 Senior sales folks at Allscripts moving on in the last 2 months. There is supposedly a very strict non-compete being circulated for the sales force. If this is true, there will be even more of an exodus of talent. Some of this is to be expected, but seems like the floodgates might be opening.

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