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February 24, 2009 News 6 Comments

openofficeFrom The PACS Designer: "Re: OpenOffice. In these tough times, everyone is looking for free software applications that are tried and tested for usefulness. One that comes to TPD’s mind is OpenOffice. Since it’s Java-enabled and supported by Sun Microsystems, it is a solution that is gaining in popularity and is a good one for use by collaboration teams." Link.

From Cam Winston: "Re: Eclipsys. I’ve heard a rumor that Philip Pead, former CEO of Per-Se, has joined the board of directors of Eclipsys and that he ‘may’ replace Andy Eckert by year-end. As CEO of Eclipsys since 2005, Andy has failed to turn around this second-tier HIT company." You’re at least half right – Pead’s on the BOD. Nothing else has been suggested or announced (so far). I just remembered when checking that information that Jay Pieper of Partners HealthCare is still on the ECLP board after 13 years, maybe going back to the days when SCM was going to ride the Brigham’s BICS rules into market dominance (but those seemed to disappear quickly right after). Partners got almost a million shares of ECLP stock for their clinical rules, which was a fantastic deal (for Partners).

Speaking of Eclipsys, the company announced Q4 numbers after the market close Tuesday: revenue up 2%, EPS $0.06 vs. $0.44, missing expectations on earnings but beating on revenue. Weak sales and a slow services business were blamed.

Georgetown University Hospital sets up six webcam-equipped laptops in its ped onc department, allowing elementary school patients to take part in their classes remotely with video and Skype audio.

Verden Group releases (warning: PDF) its insurer ranking report for Q4.

Amicas will pay $39 million for Emageon, which presumably includes the $9 million Emageon just got from failed suitor HSS. It’s a long way from the $62 million that HSS was supposed to pay, but still more than the market thinks Emageon is worth (shares were at $0.82 when Amicas offered $1.82, which seems irrationally generous).

Jobs: Clinical Systems Analyst, Business Development Executive, Client Services Director. Hot jobs gravitate right into your inbox if you sign up here like I did (always be looking, I say).

Matthew Holt posts a rational look at the man-made tempest in a teapot over CCHIT, concluding that the government naturally wants some kind of oversight in return for spending money directly on EMRs. He also suggests a better firewall between HIMSS and CCHIT, which I think is an excellent idea given that HIMSS has called itself a trade group in the past and also lobbies on behalf of its members (primarily the vendor ones). While we’re changing CCHIT from the cheap seats, we might wish for reduction or elimination of vendor members (of 14 ambulatory work group members, eight appear to be from large vendors; and of 21 commissioners, only six appear to be from provider organizations and none from the typical 1-2 doc practice). I suppose small vendors and practices don’t have the time to participate, thereby ensuring (like always happens) that big groups are over-represented. 


Speaking of CCHIT, PCC blogger Chip Hart says he was Cyber-SLAPPed by HIMSS, who was unhappy about the anonymous individual who keeps posting raving anti-CCHIT comments on any sites vaguely healthcare-related. To be honest, I thought the attorney’s e-mail was polite and careful to not impugn Chip rather than his anonymous commenter (at least it wasn’t full of the usual lawyerly fake threats using words like "demand," "immediately," and "further action.") Here are the funny things I noticed, though: (1) the attorney managed to mangle the acronym for HIMSS, turning it into HIMMS (maybe he’s a "HIPPA" lawyer); (2) the crank making the anonymous post used the name Rocky Ostrand and the lawyer’s name is Ernst Ostrand (another Leavitt conspiracy!); and (3) the attorney works for a labor law firm (do they suspect a rogue current or former employee, maybe, from this looney comment accusing HIMSS of violating human rights?) Adding icing to the conspiracy theory cake, a couple of bloggers desperate for attention keep posting identical comments (with their blog links, of course, and without their names) urging the other blog’s readers to come over to their place for the definitive word. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough of all this grandstanding, so I’m done with the topic unless someone turns up something a lot more interesting than I’ve seen so far. Let’s turn this into something useful: assuming CCHIT isn’t going away and will continue to be the government’s certification body, what would you like to see changed about it?

I’ve worked in a couple of hospitals that made dumb payroll errors in paying out excessive severance and then sheepishly asked the former employees to return the excess, so I predicted this would happen. Microsoft finally gives in, saying the laid-off workers it accidentally overpaid can keep the change, for the same reason my two hospitals did (the PR is terrible and you’ll never get the money back anyway).

Consumer Watchdog, which wailed about Google’s "rumored lobbying effort aimed at allowing the sale of electronic medical records," is now officially and publicly unhappy that a Google executive referenced that incident in suggesting to a philanthropic foundation that it stop giving Consumer Watchdog money. Sounds like each hit the other where it hurts.

Ignacio Valdes wants Congress to ban the use of federal money to purchase proprietary EMRs, saying, "Without a ban on federal money for purchasing proprietary Electronic Medical Record software and requirements for licenses such as the Affero General Public License that safeguard public rights and ensures sustainability, we will become a nation of renters of poorly performing health IT software infrastructure that taxpayers paid dearly for, and will pay for again and again."

Steve from the Transforming Healthcare Summit says 400 people have registered for the Thursday evening event, so it’s your last chance (the text ad to your right saves you 10%).

An Atlanta conference that kicked off Tuesday puts Israel-based telemedicine companies in front of US-based vendors for potential deal-making.

Scottish charge master services vendor Craneware books a 59% increase in profits and says it expects to benefit substantially from US HIT (space carefully double-checked) stimulus money and requirements around recovery audit contractors.

Community Health Network (IN) announces its PillBox medication management application for the iPhone.


The school of pharmacy at Keele University (UK) develops virtual doctors, patients, and a pharmacy for training students in communication and decision-making. That sounded great until this line of the press release: "They have also developed a ‘virtual doctor’ to help with the training of pharmaceutical sales representatives." (video demo here). Why would a pharmacy school train drug salespeople? The sleazy computerized drug rep keeps using hard-sell phrases like, "I’m sure you’ll agree" and "this benefits the patient greatly enough to be worth the extra cost." Maybe they have to provide virtual lunch.

E-mail me.

HERtalk by Inga

Huron Consulting Group posts a 95% increase in operating income for its health and educational consulting segment in Q4. The company as a whole saw a 20% increase in revenue in Q4 and a 22% increase for the full year.

Here is a curious consequence of the economic downturn. Despite strong demand for nurses, hospitals and nursing schools lack funds to recruit additional staff.

A study conducted on behalf of Wolters Kluwer Health and ProVation Medical finds that cardiovascular information systems are not delivering quantifiable financial benefits, according to participating cardiac cath directors. Sixty-nine percent of the respondents said that physicians were continuing to dictate and 31% reported no quantifiable improvements in revenue or revenue cycle.


MEDSEEK promotes Peter Kuhn to CEO and SVP of operations and Daren McCormick to president and COO, saying the changes reflect the company’s record success over the last year.

Catholic Health Initiatives completes its deployment of Lawson’s software suite of business applications, claiming it has already saved $125 million in supply chain costs. The Denver-based healthcare system anticipates it will continue to reduce annual operating costs by $50-60 million a year.

CMS predicts that the government will be paying more than half of the country’s healthcare spending by 2018. Kind of makes you sick just thinking about it.

Here is a scary report: a survey finds that 59% of workers leaving a job within the last 12 months admitted to stealing company data, while 67% used the former employer’s confidential information to get a new job.

Sandlot, a subsidiary of North Texas Specialty Physicians, takes its HIE and integrated EMR platform live. The HIE is powered by Healthvision and is integrated with Allscripts and NextGen Healthcare EMR systems. Sandlot is a 600-physician IPA in Fort Worth, TX.


Indiana University Health Center launches the NoMoreClipboard online PHR solution for its students. Sounds like a great place to use the application because students are already well versed in using online tools. Their doctors at home may or may not want to help populate a patient’s history, but I bet graduates will come to expect their physicians to use similar online tools.

The Military Health System places a $14.1 million order with Vangent to develop a clinical solution to improve the workflow of patient’s behavioral health information and integrate it with military’s EHR.

Dialog Medical announces that St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System (TX) has extended its contract for Dialog’s iMedConsent.

UnitedHealthcare offers a portable medical record option that benefits the patients and physicians of Southwest Medical Associates (NV). Patients willing to sign an advanced directives statement will receive a CD that contains the directives plus current medical records information. The 14-clinic, 250-doctor practice is a subsidiary of United Healthcare.

HealthGrades identifies (warning: PDF) the country’s top 50 hospitals based on highest performing outcomes. They were found to have a 27% lower mortality rate than their competitors and eight percent fewer complications. Funny how few of them are Most Wired (and despite the Massachusetts saturation of big-name medical centers, IT hotbeds, and ultra-expensive care, that state has zero hospitals on the list).

CareTech Solutions adds three large health systems to its client roster, saying it has grown its client base 69% since 2007.

E-mail Inga.

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Currently there are "6 comments" on this Article:

  1. I’ve been using OpenOffice for years after spending over a week tracking down a problem with an Excel spreadsheet that boiled down to an addition bug. It’s not perfect, but nor is MS Office (I run into compatibility problems between Office 07 and old versions every day).

    Why small businesses – or even large ones – don’t use OO is beyond me.

  2. “…67% used the former employer’s confidential information to get a new job.” ?

    So, MOST people do this? I’m such a dunce. What kind of information could they use to get a new job?

  3. For what it’s worth, I gave Open Office a shot. I was very excited about it, and put it to use for several months. BUT, it sucks resources like there’s no tomorrow. If you have plenty of operating memory, you’ll be fine, otherwise be ready for slowdowns. I finally (and sadly) uninstalled. The functionality of the package is great. What sunk the ship for me was how slow it made my PC run. It’s been a few years since I used it, so here’s hoping that they’ve improved since then.

  4. RE: Indiana Health Center: It sure seems to me that I read a print ad from Cerner directing people to NoMoreClipBoard (or NoMore Something) and maybe Neal was even pictured.

  5. Obama to cut Medicare by $318 billion…What the government giveth the government taked away…
    You get $20 bill for healthcare IT, but you give back $160 bill (at least half of the $318, my guess). So the govt expects an 8 times ROI from IT improvements. Anybody seen that analysis /study? I am sure the vendors will be happy to put that performance clause in their contratcs.
    Hospitals will be just like the banks, the CIO comes up with say $10 mill stimulus dollars for IT, and the CFO says, nope we can’t spend it, must hang on to it, they just cut our Medicare funding $15 mill!

  6. Openoffice may not be for everyone, but one of my client hospitals just finished a pilot and is deploying OO on 1500 desktops – mostly in-unit clinical workstations where an occasional spreadsheet or word doc will be read – not poweruser desktops. 6 months later they’ll do another 1500… Having had massive layoffs and decreased revenues, I think the savings off the CAL costs will make a difference.

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