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Monday Morning Update 1/26/09

January 24, 2009 News 6 Comments


From RSNA Body: "Re: RSNA. Don’t believe this RSNA whitewash about attendance. These were pre-attendance numbers — wait for the audited RFID traffic numbers. I was there and, for the first time, there were hardly any lines for anything. I spoke to cabbies, bus drivers, restaurateurs, vendors, etc. who all reported thin crowds. One cabbie asked me on Wednesday if the radiology show was over because he said the traffic was so light. Several vendors told me that a number of hospital customer contingents had cancelled their RSNA trip or only sent a few rather than the scheduled dozen or so staff. With IT vendor layoffs since November and a worsening economy, I predict a huge decrease in HIMSS attendance." You’re probably right. Conferences, like sports venues, have been known to report big attendance despite obviously empty seats.

From Eclipsys on the Ropes?: "Re: Eclipsys. I understand that McKesson just took another revenue cycle customer away from Eclipsys: ‘Baptist Healthcare System Selects McKesson to Optimize Physician Revenue.’ Can you verify this for your readers?  If so, it seems like Eclipsys is in a certain death spiral. Also, the client that represents 10% of the ECLP revenue is probably North Shore Long Island Jewish since they have both outsourcing and software." I’ll have to call in a lifeline on that because I have no idea. It’s the Baptist group in Kentucky that contracted with McKesson for physician revenue cycle management. I don’t recall hearing anything about Eclipsys there, but it may well be. Update: the group is not an Eclipsys customer, so the reader’s understanding is incorrect (to the other reader who said my facts are incorrect, they aren’t my facts: the blue text is a reader’s question; my answer in black text was "don’t know, never heard of ECLP being there.")

From I’m Just Saying: "Re: Eclipsys. The 10% of revenues client may be Baylor. Also, expect more layoffs this week in Services. One VP resigned in December (J. Bell) and two others were termed last week (B. Pille & D. Tom). J&J could be a good answer."


HIMSS is not too many weeks away. I haven’t come up with any HIStalk-related activities yet since I’ve been swamped, but we’ll have some HIStech Report interviews coming very soon. The conference was awash last year in Fake Ingas, HIStalk shoeshines, badge ribbons, the big bash, and probably stuff I’ve forgotten (like that $1,000 worth of tote bags I bought – is anyone still using theirs or did I waste my money?) I’m open to ideas from vendors on anything that would be cool for readers.

A Georgia family puts everything they own except their house up for auction on eBay to pay the medical bills of their children, a 7-year-old with an autoimmune disease and another with autism.

HHS announces acceptance of HITSP interoperability standards (warning: PDF) that took effect January 16. Complete list here.

Jobs: Sales Account Executive, Northeast, Director of Channel Sales, Epic Clinical Reports Writer, MEDITECH Consultant – Advanced Clinicals. Sign up here for a weekly jobs blast.

Speaking of jobs, several folks at Eclipsys lost theirs this week, which I reported as a rumor on Wednesday. At least 100 have been shown the door, a couple of folks say, and the purge may not be over yet.


And speaking of layoffs, Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters (VA) laid off 28 employees on Friday and also cut 90 unfilled positions. It’s also shutting down its child care center. Mike e-mailed about Alegent Health (NE – Immanuel Medical Center pictured above), which laid off seven VPs this week and will eliminate 285 more positions by March. It also forced 20 senior managers to take a 10% pay cut.

And more layoffs: GE Healthcare dumps an unnamed number of employees in Burlington, somewhere between 8 and 39 given their sketchy announced percentage range. The staggering giant has never been forthright about its cutbacks in the old IDX office, probably due more to smothering bureaucracy rather than intentional obfuscation. Kind of like when Jeff Immelt put on his happy face about GE Capital while the rest of the world (me, anyway) proclaimed loudly that the company could not possibly avoid fallout from the financial sector meltdown. Let the record show that Jeff was way wrong: GE’s Q4 numbers announced Friday after the market close showed revenue down 5%, EPS $0.35 vs. $0.66. GE Healthcare’s profits were down 9%. The stock dropped nearly 11% during Friday trading and is down another 11% after hours.

And even more layoffs: NorthShore Skokie Hospital (IL), 150; Frankford Health System (PA), 100; Hamilton Health Sciences (Canada), 250; Irvine Regional Hospital and Medical Center (CA), 510.

Intel’s chairman Craig Barrett will retire in May. He’s been loud about healthcare and technology (I quoted him in July 2007), so maybe we’ve not seen the last of him.


Two PricewaterhouseCoopers executives in India are arrested and charged with conspiracy for the company’s role in signing off as auditor on the books of Satyam Computer Services, whose chairman admitted that $1 billion of claimed cash didn’t exist. I mostly associate PWC with dumb names: its own and the one it announced for its consulting organization in 2002, "Monday," which thankfully never happened because the company sold the whole organization to IBM just five months later.

The State of Massachusetts signed a big mandatory EMR law in August with $25 million a year in funding to get doctors online by 2015. The state cut the budget to $15 million two months later, which everybody agrees is far short of what’s needed to get the job done. Also agreed, judging from the comments, is that not much benefit has been derived so far.

Another victim of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme: Charleston Area Medical Center (WV), whose foundation lost $800K and the hospital $200K.

McKesson CEO John Hammergren gets his name and picture in The Wall Street Journal, although it’s hardly a flattering mention. The article addresses the methods companies use to calculate executive pension value into a single lump sum payment, with some using an obsolete federal formula that boosts the number as "a sneaky way to give executives larger pay." McKesson tweaked the formula for Hammergren last March, jumping his parting gift’s value to $85 million (everybody’s outraged about healthcare costs, so you might think that would raise an eyebrow or two).

Former QuadraMed CEO Larry English gets a new job as CEO of CIFG Holding, Ltd., a Bermuda-based holding company running a French bond insurer recently bailed out after getting burned on derivatives.


Think we’ve got healthcare challenges? Malawi has 14 million people, of which 1 million are HIV positive, and only 280 doctors. Their answer: treatment protocols managed by non-physicians using touch screen clinical workstations (developed in Ruby on Rails) at the point of care. Scroll down for several YouTube demos. It would never work here, of course, because vendors couldn’t load it down with proprietary bells and whistles to boost the price. Still, you have to like this quote extolling the virtues of designing systems to take the use through a consistent, guided function (which I always argue in saying that charting a med should be as easy as the import wizard in Excel): "If the system is useful, then other people want to use the system. This is a nice problem that gets solved with…training! But soon, the developer notices that users keep using the system in a way that was totally unexpected. Time for another training session… But there is another approach that doesn’t rely on training. They are called constraints … The amount of training required is usually inversely proportional to the number of constraints in the system.."

Two sides of a Connecticut hospital’s proposed health information exchange. Pro: the hospital is raising money for the $8 million project and hopes the federal government will pay for it while it’s slinging money around. Con: the president of the state medical society says the government shouldn’t pay because mandated physician usage would just make the state’s doctor shortage worse because they’d steer clear of Connecticut.

Debbie Turpin, clinical systems manager at Alton Memorial Hospital (IL), is named chief nurse executive.

Odd lawsuit: a mentally disturbed female prisoner is taken by corrections officers to a hospital for psychiatric treatment, where she "went berserk" and bit the nurse’s hand. The officers watched and did nothing, later saying they believed it was outside their jurisdiction. The nurse is suing the city.

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Currently there are "6 comments" on this Article:

  1. Intrinsiq’s board, the Waltham, MA company that develops and sells Intellidose chemotherapy mgt system and oncology drug data has dismissed their president, Brent Clough. It was about time and a good example of how someone from financial industry tried to run a healthcare IT/data company and failed miserably. Jeff Forringer (formerly over the data business at Intrinsiq) takes over which shows KKR appears to only be looking at the data side of the business as its future.

  2. FRom the Dallas Morning News website:

    Economists and staffing experts say that while other industries are cutting back and laying off employees, the health care industry is in dire need of workers.

    In fact, health care will generate 3 million new wage and salary jobs between 2006 and 2016, more than any other industry, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    “People are coming out of other industries and getting into health care because it’s still growing,” said Cheryl Abbot, regional economist with the Labor Bureau. “No other industry can say that.”

    In December, while the U.S. economy shed more than half a million jobs, the health care industry added 32,000, the Labor Bureau reported.

    For all of 2008, the economy lost nearly 2.6 million jobs while health care added about 372,000, the bureau said.

    The trend in Texas is the same: Texas added more than 28,000 jobs in health care and social assistance during the 12-month period ending in December.

    Abbot said the industry is growing because of the aging population and because the political climate favors improving health care, which requires more workers.

    Sarah Friedman, Baylor’s director of recruiting, said the Dallas hospital system’s hiring has grown steadily, from 3,500 in 2006 to 4,100 last year.

  3. Not sure if this is appropriate venue, but rec’d email from Northeastern here in Boston looking to recruit students for fall semester. In light of the comment above and the forthcoming HIT stimulus package, looks like we’ll be needing more folks trained in HIT.

    Here’s the text from that email sent by Stanley Hochberg, MD, Director, Graduate Program in Health Informatics:
    The Masters Program in Health Informatics at Northeastern is now accepting applications for the Fall of 2009. Since its inception two years ago, the program has grown to over 70 students, the majority of whom work full time and enroll in the program part time. The program has 18 adjunct faculty who come from senior positions in health care delivery and private industry. Several of the faculty are well known nationally for their professional accomplishments and involvement in setting policy in the area of health care IT. Each class meets once a week at night from 6 to 8:30 pm on Northeastern’s Boston campus and most part time students take 2 or 3 classes a semester. Students come with backgrounds in health care or technology, and include nurses, pharmacists, physicians, programmers, project managers, and analysts amongst others.

    Additional information about the program and application process is on the web at http://www.healthinformatics.neu.edu

  4. Interesting note about the GE layoffs i Burlington. That might explain why when I (a former IDXer) logged in to LinkedIn this morning there were 26 “Just Joined LinkedIn” folks who were connected to IDX.

  5. I don’t know what the fascination is with Larry English and Quadramed in general on this site. English was an outsider who dropped in on a sagging company, made the requisite cuts in expenses and personnel, did nothing to grow sales, and bailed. He never exhibited an interest in learning about HIT, but played the CEO role well. James Earl Jones would have been a better actor, and about as competent.

  6. Eclipsys death spiral??
    Considering how their contracts are subscriptions, their ascent would not be steep, nor their decline rapid. From what I can tell they were still profitable last year, and even if missing estimates, you can stay in business an infinite number of years if you maintain profitability. Methinks there’s too much editorailizing in that comment. Major customers move around like musical chairs, frankly because none of the applications from a sole source are as good as they demo.

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