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February 12, 2009 News 10 Comments

kkFrom Squirmy: "Re: Compuware. Compuware’s Covisint subsidiary hires convicted former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick for their Dallas office." Kilpatrick, on five years’ of probation and disbarred after serving 99 days in jail for obstruction of justice and assault following his sex-and-text trysts (and his administration is still under a federal corruption investigation), bags a job as a Detroit-based Compuware account executive. Hopefully he’ll be well paid since he owes $1 million in restitution.

From Mark: "Re: stimulus. I was looking for comment or perspective on a disturbing article published in the WSJ. As a healthcare IT professional who works with EMRs, this scares me." The article, A Health-Tech Monopoly, is actually an editorial that claims the bill will make ONCHIT all-powerful, concluding it will "be deciding which platforms are up to code and shutting down competitors" and will hamstring IT users with "faux privacy provisions," leading to government healthcare price controls and micromanaging providers. The author isn’t named, but if it’s not Betsy McCaughey, it’s someone who thinks like her. ONCHIT is not new and has been entirely benign, although I’d double check once their bank account gets all those extra zeroes. They won’t (can’t) shut down software vendors, at least those able to pay a not-huge sum to earn CCHIT certification (maybe that would have been a nice use of the stimulus money – fund CCHIT and make its EMR certification free). Also, the stimulus bill isn’t a never-ending blank check for imposing socialism or running roughshod over privacy — voters will still have some say. Right-wingers like me hate the bill because it’s probably going to be one giant wasteful failure that will eventually leave the country worse off once the big spending party is over and they bring the bill to our children. Democrats love it because it tries to do something, at least, and might help average people now that the fat cats have gotten their handouts. Like always, zealots on both sides preach loudly to the choir and breathe each other’s air, convincing nobody who wasn’t already in their camp (here’s a liberal counterpoint, for example). Right or wrong, the stimulus bill is pretty much a done deal at this point, so editorializing is pointless. You saw the effect of grassroots opposition to the bank bailout – zip (about the same as its results).


From HawkI: "Re: University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. They had a successful go-live of Epic’s Inpatient Pharmacy, Critical Care, and eMAR products this week. May 2, they go live house-wide with documentation and CPOE." Nice. Congratulations to them. How’s Epic Pharmacy and the connection to CPOE? I haven’t heard anyone say.

From Inside Outsider: "Re: Sunquest. More layoffs yesterday, including the remainder of the Service Exec team, which coordinated support for clients."

From Art Vandelay: "Re: HIMSS conference. Never thought of it before, but another alternative could be some podcasts, video podcasts, and use of SlideShare for an ‘open source’ conference. Mr. HIStalk, you could take the next step with this one. Allowing attendees to make requests would be pretty cool and then use the normal discussion board to have a time-bound Q&A. The authors could distribute free with HIStalk as the coordination point pointing to their URLS." A brilliant idea. An HIStalk education center, which could also screen presentations imposing publication-like standards (disclosure of interests, author affiliations, etc.) and no commercial pitches (or at least clearly labeling them since those can be educational, too). And, letting readers vote on each using a star system (like Amazon’s) and with a mini-discussion board for each presentation like Art said. All free, of course. Art and I just ran the idea up the flagpole — are you saluting or not? Let me know.

Listening: Sunny Day Real Estate, defunct emo since 2001 for obvious reasons: they declined publicity, refused to play in California, lost their lead singer when he converted to Christianity, used gibberish for lyrics to get the songs out faster, and released an all-pink album with no writing. I admire that, although I’m not sure why.

Harris Corp. gets a 10-year outsourcing contract from nearby Health First (FL) to provide support, training, and network security.

Cerner gets a two-year extension of its UK contract with Atos for Choose and Book. And, BT will resume its Millennium rollouts in London after fixing earlier problems.

Students in Rwanda can take an 11-month software development program that encourages them to further develop the OpenMRS system, a project led by Regenstrief Institute and Partners in Health. Students are trained in Java programming, web development, and informatics.

The Army buys 10,000 more Dragon Medical licenses for its physicians as part of a provider satisfaction project with the AHLTA EMR. "Being able to speak notes into an e-health record at the patient’s beside — rather than staring at a computer screen typing — also helps improve doctors’ bedside manner and allows them to narrate more comprehensive notes while the patients are there, or right after a visit. That cuts down on mistakes caused by memory lapses and boosts the level of details that are included in a patient record.”

Former Summit Healthcare CTO Charles Williams starts his own company, Infinity Healthcare, which I ran across in this news item.

Odd: a visitor reaching into his pocket to pay for lunch in a Colorado hospital’s cafeteria hits the trigger of the gun in his pocket, shooting himself in the leg (he’s been Burressed!)

I swear those Hollywood types need to start writing spec scripts about the Emageon saga. It’s off-again for the umpteenth time, as HSS’s parent company, Antigua-based Stanford International Bank, won’t provide the money for it to acquire Emageon. Meanwhile, these blogs (Link 1, Link 2, Link 3 – thanks to the reader who sent them) paint an interesting picture of the bank, which the first one claims has one shareholder, a single board member who is an 85-year-old used car dealership owner, is audited by a tiny Antigua company run by a 72-year-old local, and somehow manages to pay abnormally high interest rates on CDs despite big losses. That last linked article makes some rather strong statements, claiming the bank is a scam and "going down very soon." All unverified by me, of course.

Strange lawsuit: A Florida woman is arrested and charged with practicing medicine without a license after two women suffered injuries from the "buttocks enhancement" injections she administered.

Canada is running its own EMR stimulus: $500 million more to Canada Health Infoway, bringing the total to $2.1 billion ($1.7 billion US).


Want to see the real-time ED load of several Western Australia hospitals? Sure you do.

Open source software companies (seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?) urge President Obama to consider open source EMR applications. "Open-source software brings transparency to software development. There are no ‘black boxes’ in open-source software and therefore no need to guess what is going on ‘behind the scenes.’ Ultimately, this means a better product for everyone, because there is visibility at every level of the application, from the user interface to the data implementation. Furthermore, open-source software provides for platform independence, which makes quick deployments that benefit our citizens much easier and realistic."

Another Vendor You Won’t See at the HIMSS Conference

A reader had asked us to confirm that Picis will not attend the HIMSS conference (along with several other companies that we already told you about). Inga jumped to action and e-mailed some questions to CEO Todd Cozzens. Since I’m a neurotic rule-follower, I’ll run his answers here instead of as a "Moment With" since she asked only three questions, not my standard five.

How’s business?

toddcozzens We’re holding up pretty well. We just finished a very strong year in 2008, with new bookings up well over 40% over 2007 and solid improvements across all business lines in a quarterly customer satisfaction survey. Our SaaS business is driving a lot of that, but we were pleasantly surprised to contract with many net new ED and OR customers in the back half of the year. In all we picked up over 20 new hospital systems – not many companies doing that these days. And of course these contracts also help drive better margins and cash flow. 

We also released a slew of new products in 2008 – most notably our integrated EDIS and facility coding system and some very well received BI tools and decision support capability in our OR product line. Our focus in recent years of integrating point of care revenue management seamlessly into our high acuity clinical automation products is helping us maintain good traction throughout the slowdown in hospital capex spending.

Has Picis pulled out of HIMSS?

We’re being very conscious and prudent about controlling costs and hunkering down on our business. Don’t let anyone tell you there isn’t a completely different environment out there now — if they do, they’re either lying to you or have their head in the sand. For example, we’re balancing our portfolio with our marketing spend — we’ve increased our attendance at domain-focused trade shows (ACEP, ASA, ENA, HFMA, etc.) and decreased our presence at more general shows such as HIMSS. 

We surveyed our prospects and customer base and found that over half had imposed a travel ban or would not be attending. We figure that spend is about the equivalent of an investment in a small R&D team that could work on a new product. We want to maintain our focus on innovation and R&D in this downturn to come out even stronger on the other side. We still will do a lot of HIMSS-sponsored events, such as HIMSS virtual tradeshow presentation. Our Webinars on driving profitability through clinical business intelligence had record attendance for HIMSS last year.

What’s your take on the HITECH part of the economic stimulus package?

When I ask the same to CEOs and CFOs of providers, they say, "Make my hospital solvent and viable and I’ll have the right capital to invest in IT." So, the $80 billion to prop up Medicare for the states will surely help there.

Another little-known provision is expanded tax credits for municipal bonds. That’s a major source of hospital financing that’s been completely shut down, and getting that market churning again will have a big affect. The average hospitals only has about 50-75 days of what they call uncommitted cash on hand to bridge the gaps between operating expense obligations and revenue from payors. It’s sad to see hospitals laying off people, not because their numbers are particularly bad, but because they need to bridge their working capital shortfalls

As to the grant money, we still haven’t seen wording in the final bill that obligates hospitals to spend the grant money on healthcare IT. I’m also curious to see how the incentive money is applied and what the criteria are — that still has not been worked out, to my knowledge. The increased funding for the national HIT office and interoperability could be very useful if spent wisely. Re-inventing the wheel is not the answer — there are already many interoperability standards available. 

The key is obligating the vendors to be interoperable. Don’t let them talk out of both sides of their mouth by saying they’ll comply with all standards, then propose proprietary data lockout products to health systems. I like Peter Neupert of Microsoft’s term of "data liquidity." We need to increase data liquidity in healthcare as much as we need to increase monetary liquidity!

E-mail me.

HERtalk by Inga

From Gary: “Re: NCR brings Patient Self-service Downunder. Love your work. Mr. H is lucky to have someone as dedicated and talented (and beautiful) as you on his team. Now that the obligatory ‘sucking up’ is done, we are doing a rather ‘soft launch’ of our entrance into the South Pacific region.” Since Gary appears to know how to work the system at HIStalk, I agreed to give him a plug. Plus I was excited to know we have readers in Australia, especially since he has agreed to take me shoe shopping in Melbourne any time. Gary is heading up sales in the South Pacific for NCR’s healthcare self-service group.

Marisco Capital Management acquires a 5.7% stake in athenahealth. The 1.88 million shares of stock are estimated to be valued at $630 million.

athenahealth also names David E. Robinson as executive VP and COO. His most recent role was executive VP at SunGard Data Systems.


Cancer Treatment Centers of America opens the nation’s first all-digital cancer hospital at Western Regional Medical Center in Goodyear, AZ, which would make it the first Stage 7 hospital in the HIMSS Analytics EMR Adoption Model. It’s using Eclipsys Sunrise.

Speaking of Eclipsys, it picks up an endorsement from Genesis Physicians Group, a 1,450-member IPA in Dallas. IPA members purchasing the PeakPractice product will be eligible for discounted pricing.

USC agrees to pay Tenet Healthcare $275 million to acquire USC University Hospital and USC Kenneth Norris Jr. Cancer Hospital. The deal ends a three-year fight over the control of the facilities. Employees will stay on.

A 57 year-old woman who questions a $143 pregnancy test charge on her detailed hospital surgery bill is told it’s standard procedure even at her age. She’s pushing for a policy change. I am still hung up on the fact that the test is $143 when the at-home version is about ten bucks.


Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital (GA) opens this week and will feature a Cerner CareAware my Station system in each of the 45 patient rooms. I also noticed the hospital offers four private luxury suites with two separate living quarters. Amenities include fine linens, plush towels, two fax machines, a conference/dining table, in-room newspaper delivery, and gourmet room service.

HCA seeks to raise $300 million in a bond offering to repay bank debt and to amend terms of some of its loans. Earlier this month, HCA announced its 2008 net income was $673 million, down 23% from 2007.

The son of an 89-year old woman who died at a UPMC hospital charges that the facility’s new and untested Cerner EMR system was a major factor in her death. The woman, who was undergoing treatment for strokes and dementia, left her unit and ended up freezing to death on the hospital’s roof. The suit claims that the staff caring for the woman was struggling with a system that “they were not properly trained on,” placing patients “at a severely increased risk of harm and death.” The family’s attorney charges that UPMC ignored warnings that the records system could put patients at risk because UPMC had an ownership interest in Cerner Corporation.

In an attempt to expose medical students and doctors to its new surgical procedures, surgeons at Henry Ford Hospital (MI) use Twitter to provide real-time time surgery updates. During a surgery on a kidney cancer patient, doctors used a laptop in the operating room to give a play-by-play of the action, plus answer online questions. Is it really 1.0 of me to hope my surgeon doesn’t Twitter during my next surgery?

A new KLAS research report claims that more hospitals are looking for aggregation solutions that provide a more complete view of medical records and documentation. Such solutions would help clinicians improve patient safety. The report names six vendors that account for 85% of contracted deployments, with MEDSEEK owning the largest installed base. KLAS concludes the solutions from Microsoft and dbMotion are the most functional. The other top vendors include Medicity, PatientKeeper and CareFx.

Greenway Medical Technologies and Navicure partner to offer more integrated solutions and services. Both are “Best of KLAS” winners in their respective areas.

Perot Systems announces its Q4 financial results, which included a profit of $29 million, compared to $44 million in the same period last year. Perot blames the bulk of the 34% drop in profit on a client termination.

iMedica names Mark L. Richards its new VP of Sales. Prior to iMedica, he was the divisional VP of group practice sales at McKesson’s Physician Practice Solutions business unit.

Data Dimensions, a provider of business process outsourcing services for healthcare, promotes Jon Boumstein to CEO.

SCI Solutions wins three eHealthcare Leadership Awards for its Consumer Portal self-scheduling application. The awards included Best Business Suite, Best Overall Internet Site, and eHealth Organizational Commitment.

Healthvision closes the fourth quarter with 22 new client engagements.

Infinity Healthcare Solutions partners with Stratus Technology to resell Stratus hardware, software, and service products.

NextGen announces that AltaMed Health Services (CA) and Valley-Wide Health Systems (CO) have selected its enterprise software solutions. Both are community healthcare facilities.

E-mail Inga.

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Currently there are "10 comments" on this Article:

  1. No wonder Obama has been seemingly in absentia on the stimulus package, as many of his critics charge. He’s been too busy reading all those open letters from HIT experts!!


  2. There is an error in the athenahealth investment article link. Since the company’s market cap is only about $1.2B, it is unlikely that a 5.7% investment by Marisco Capital Management would be worth over $600m.

    [From Mr. HIStalk] The newspaper article is incorrect. Based on current ATHN share price, they should have said $63 million instead of $630 million.

  3. Re: Your bit on the Aussie ED dashboard:

    It is really interesting that when you do an Internet search on IT standards, healthcare etc, how often .au sites are cited.

    Maybe they are on to something.

  4. HIStalk education center has my salute. This industry needs to stop the current trade show cycle being perpetuated by HIMSS. The current economic conditions may be the catalyst that encourages (forces) people to think outside the box and try new things. HIStalk has the following that might help generate the grass roots effort.

    Full disclosure would be a welcome change. Let’s label things for what they are – vendor demonstration, vendor education with a bias, user education sponsored by a vendor, etc. A rating system would help keep vendors in check as well. Vendors that demonstrate value will always have an audience.

    The HIMSS Conference will always provide a level of value. Perhaps some competition will help HIMSS re-focus and ultimately create more value. (Win-win-win?)

    My full disclosure = I work for a vendor.

  5. Regarding your $10 pregnancy test — if your daughter needs a CT scan we can hand her one to use. Be sure to have her tell the rad tech if it’s positive.

  6. Bar Code…I think you took Inga’s comment out of perspective. As a medical professional, I share Inga’s incredulence that the $10 preg test costs $150+ in a hospital setting.

    As I read your comments, It appears that you think a hospital should be compensated that much to have a rad tech read a piece of paper or look in a computer to see the word ‘positive’ or ‘negative?’ Ridiculous! After all, we know the real reason that we test patients because of liability issues….so maybe the hospital should be doing the test for FREE since it protects them!

    One absurd comment deserves another…

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