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News 5/22/09

May 21, 2009 News 5 Comments

From Deborah Kohn: “Re: ONC’s deadline to publish guidance on Regional Extension Centers. I can’t speak for the Secretary of HHS nor the National Coordinator of HIT, both of whom as you know officially took office only a few / several weeks ago, respectively. However, in Monday’s (May 18, 2009) published Implementation and Operating Plan ‘in fulfillment of the 90 day deadline established by Division A, Title XIII of ARRA’, ONC added that a notification for funding availability for the regional extension center grants will be published by the end of FY 2009, and that awards are anticipated to be made in early FY 2010. (That’s the federal gov’s FY, October 1).” Here’s a little plug for Deborah (which she didn’t ask for) for her contributions.

From The PACS Designer: “Re: RIS/PACS integration. Smaller hospitals need to find solutions that make them more cost efficient and competitive, and what better way than to employ a fully integrated RIS/PACS solution?Chinese Hospital of San Francisco has just made such a move recently by installing a RIS/PACS from the same vendor, gaining better coordination of its scheduling to enhance the flow of patients for its MDCT procedures.”

From Kelly Greene: “Re: why the feds should stay out of healthcare.” Link. NIH spends $178K to determine why Thai prostitutes (both women and transgender) get HIV, $400K to figure out why Argentinian gay men engage in risky sex while drunk, and $2.6 million to teach Chinese prostitutes to drink less while working. Imagine what they’ll do with the billions in stimulus dollars headed their way.

From Fish n’ Chips: “Re: Sutter. $1B spent, Burlingame is live on Epic, and this by any measure is a successful EHR implementation? Sounds more like the Fed dumping megabucks into the economy and announcing all is well.” I doubt they spent anywhere near the full billion the project was rumored to cost, but I’ve not seen numbers one way or another. I bet most of it was on labor after the initial hump of hardware and licenses, so stopping early probably saved a big chunk.


From CDiff: “Re: Wolfram Alpha. If you have not played around with Wolfram Alpha yet, you can explore all sorts of things and the response time is pretty good. The extended overview screencast on the far right side is impressive. Unfortunately, when I asked for some basic data on healthcare, HIS, and women’s shoes, the program could not provide it, but perhaps some day soon.” I lost interest when searching for HIStalk turned up no hits. I’m finding no deficiencies in Google that would lead me to look elsewhere for search, but maybe those folks will come up with a better mousetrap.

Listening: Guster, witty and melodic Boston-based alternative rock.

Cerner says ARRA could boost its revenue up to $600 million a year, a 33% increase.

Industry long-timer Bob Restagno, who worked for Florida’s Dynamic Control and all the companies that it became all the way through McKesson, died last weekend at 69 after a long fight with cancer. Condolences.



A reader asked if I would consider putting HIStalk on Amazon’s Kindle. I aim to please, at least if there isn’t too much work involved (there wasn’t), so here you go. Amazon sets the price without author involvement, unfortunately, so I see they’ve pegged it at $1.99 per month instead of the “free” that I would have made it. I admit the new Kindle is pretty cool: thinner than a pencil, holds 1,500 books, downloads directly over WiFi, and costs $359. If you try reading HIStalk on it, let me know how it works out. I’m a little bit tempted to get a Kindle – the $9.99 price for books seems like a good reason to go paperless (except you can’t buy used books like I do). You roadies would probably love it.

The Washington Post follows up its somewhat critical HIMSS piece with another that goes after CCHIT. The title is more exciting than the article: “Group Seeks Sway Over E-Records System — Health Association With Ties to Stimulus Lobbying Effort Pursues an Oversight Role.” All it says is that HIMSS created CCHIT, lobbied for big stimulus dollars, and now recommends CCHIT as the EMR certifying body. “Critics in the health-care industry have expressed concern that the certification commission is too close to information technology and health-care companies to be the best judge of what equipment doctors and hospitals ought to buy. Although the group is funded through a contract with Health and Human Services, it is run by a former HIMSS executive and one trustee also is the president of the trade group. Several board members work for technology vendors.”

In the UK, NHS Wandsworth passes on Cerner Millennium, saying it’s not suitable for the clinic model there.

IBM announces real-time data analysis software called System S (Stream Processing System) that helps users recognize patterns in huge amounts of data, making it useful for the financial and healthcare industries. A company example is monitoring all of a hospital’s databases in real time, including monitor data, to let caregivers know about emerging patient problems (if you trust your data and your own ability to interpret it, anyway). I think a better use of it (which they didn’t think of yet, apparently) would be healthcare fraud detection.

Some big-name healthcare people form the Institute for Interactive Patient Care, which will advocate for patient engagement via bedside technologies as a way to improve quality and decrease cost in the context of healthcare reform. Among the members of its advisory board are David Nash (Thomas Jefferson University), Leah Binder (The Leapfrog Group), Michael O’Neil (GetWellNetwork), and Barbara Summers (MD Anderson).

I was thinking about ARRA as I read the press release above since nobody’s talking about anything except EMRs. ARRA puts all the financial eggs in one basket: electronic medical records for providers. It funds nothing that benefits patients directly, like consumer information and tools to manage wellness. In other words, it encourages automating the treatment-focused model that is responsible for putting the US healthcare system right up there with those of Slovenia and Cuba. We lead the world in sophisticated interventions, but those are expensive compared to avoiding the need for them in the first place.

The money guys who funded Premise got an internal rate of return of 79% when Eclipsys bought the patient throughput company for $38.5 million in cash on December 31. Their current holdings, some of which are healthcare-related, are here.


CareTech Solutions wins medical marketing awards for creating a virtual Wall of Hope for MetroHealth (OH) and a content management system for the Chris Evert Children’s Hospital (FL).

Hotel Dieu Grace Hospital (Ontario) rolls out Bosch Security Escort to all of its 2,200 employees. Its wireless fob lets employees send an immediate “code white” to security staff and tracks their location until help arrives.

A Florida ophthalmologist hopes to make money from his sideline business, QuikView Medical Records, software for eye doctors.

Germany’s CompuGROUP increases revenue by 36% in Q1, the headline blares, making it clear the real story will be in much smaller print: earnings were down, with EPS $0.05 vs. $0.13 (I assume that’s Euros, not that there’s anything wrong with that). The company bought 51.6% of EMR vendor Noteworthy Medical Systems in February.

An Ohio health department executive is being investigated after complaints that he was selling drugs over the Internet, which he denies. The probe has already uncovered the fact that he doesn’t hold the degrees he claimed when hired, however.

White Pine Systems gets a $225,000 early-stage investment from a State of Michigan-supported fund. It’s a PHR vendor running under the name SPINN (Secure Personal Information & Notification Network).

St. Luke Hospitals (KY) goes live with IntraNexus SAPPHIRE Patient Financial Management.


Enjoy the Memorial Day holiday. Please don’t forget that its purpose, other than to give you a long, pre-summer weekend, is to honor those military members who died in service to our country.

E-mail me.

HERtalk by Inga

Sentry Data Systems releases a new mini-site for the Deficit Reduction Act (Section 6002). The site includes detailed explanations of the compliance requirements issued by state Medicaid directors, an overview white paper, and additional resources.

I like most everything we post on HIStalk Practice, but I found the recent post by Dr. Joel Diamond to be hilarious. Entitled “What’s Wrong with ICD,” it will likely relieve any 300.4 that you might have.

Axolotl appoints Robert Scarbrough director of IT operations. He’s a former VP of IT for Swope Community Enterprise Services.

I visited the Huntzinger Management Group’s website today and checked out their “First Quarter Highlights” page. It was flattering to see that their HIStalk Platinum sponsorship made the top of the list! Other top Q1 happenings included a HIMSS Gold Sponsorship and the securing of several key engagements, including multiple not-for-profit, community-based, and academic healthcare organizations. That’s George Huntzinger, of course, formerly of CSC and Superior Consultant.


If you are attending MUSE International next week, send us some updates from the field. This year’s meeting is in one of my favorite cities, Vancouver, which I expect is especially beautiful this time of the year. A few of our sponsors will be exhibiting, so stop by their booths and tell them thanks for supporting HIStalk. Those listed on the exhibitor’s guide include API, Vitalize Consulting, PatientKeeper, MEDSEEK, Ingenix, QuadraMed, and Stratus Technologies.

Docusys announces a partnership with Medusind Solutions, an end-to-end revenue cycle management service company.

The Buffalo, NY-area HIE HEALTHeLINK negotiates special EHR pricing on behalf of its physician members. HEALTHeLINK is also setting up a demonstration lab that includes demo EHR software for each of the participating vendors. Area physicians looking for EHR solutions will have access to the lab to evaluate the different EHR products.

Mediware signs an agreement to acquire SciHealth, Inc., the designers of the Insight business and clinical intelligence software package.

As many as 29% of Americans would consider traveling abroad for medical procedures, even if they are routinely performed in the US. If the quality were equal to what you get in the US, but significantly cheaper, as many as 40% would consider treatment abroad. In case you are wondering, 30% of us would go abroad for plastic surgery, if we were without insurance and the procedures were cheaper and quality of care was good.

St. Luke’s Hospital (MO)  extends its use of Thomson Reuters’ Micromedex solutions with the addition of the Micromedex physician portal and medication reconciliation tools.

Nine St. John Health System (MI) employees file a $1.5 million lawsuit against their employer, claiming the hospital owes them for unpaid sick days. Last year the hospital announced it would no longer pay employees for sick days accumulated prior to 1995 because it could not afford the $4 million-plus cost. Attorneys are seeking class action status, which could extend the suit to 1,400 employees. The lawyers are also claiming age discrimination since all the affected employees have at least 14 years tenure with St. John.

Over the next few months, healthcare HIS recruiter Intellect Resources is offering free career management workshops across multiple US cities. The 45-minute "Managing Your Career Search" presentations are designed for HIT professionals who need to organize their job search. First stop is NYC on June 3rd.

The ONC extends a $102K grant to the American Hospital Association to measure the adoption and use of EHR by hospitals.

Coordinated Health (PA) selects Allscripts Enterprise EHR and PM for its 50 physicians an 50 mid-level providers and PTs.


Ochsner Health System (LA) selects MedAssets to provide revenue cycle services.

For the first time, HealthSouth founder and federal prison inmate Richard Scrushy testifies under oath that he did not know about the $2.7 billion accounting fraud that put his company into financial jeopardy. That fraud led to the shareholder lawsuit that put him in the witness box.

Check out the cool Webinar coming up May 27th from the folks at Hayes Management Consulting. Topic: physician adoption of EHRs.

UnitedHealthcare and CalRHIO partner to facilitate the transfer of patient information to EDs. UnitedHealthcare will pay CalRHIO to deliver the clinical data of its members to hospital EDs.

E-mail Inga.

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Currently there are "5 comments" on this Article:

  1. Re: Dr. Diamond on ICD. Anyone who thinks the switch from ICD-9-CM to ICD-10-CM will make life better suffers from 297.3 (now F24 in ICD-10-CM).

  2. As for the NIH STD study, I’ll go ahead and assume that the poster has a better idea for how to stop the AIDS pandemic. The NIH took a creative, low-technology approach to evaluating ways to stop the spread of AIDS and other STDs. None of our high-tech approaches have worked (unless you’re still holding out for that AIDS vaccine), so I wouldn’t go knocking these studies until we have a better solution. Science = good. Uninformed punditry about science = bad.

  3. re: MUSE – Vancouver is a beautiful city, but MUSE attendance is way down, roughly 2/3 from previous conferences. There are almost as many vendor attendees as member attendees – which shouldn’t be a problem since the vendor hall is conveniently located several floors from the rest of the conference happenings. The big news of course is that MEDITECH will officially be there in virtual form (via a webcast about their new 6.x FOCUS platform) for the first time since exiting MUSE in 2000. Let the good times roll.

  4. RE: U.S. Healthcare Model. Thankfully someone else has recognized the WHO fact that the U.S. Healthcare Model is sandwiched between Slovenia and Cuba. What are we going to do about that fact? Shoot the statisticians?

  5. “NIH spends $178K to determine why Thai prostitutes (both women and transgender) get HIV, $400K to figure out why Argentinian gay men engage in risky sex while drunk, and $2.6 million to teach Chinese prostitutes to drink less while working. Imagine what they’ll do with the billions in stimulus dollars headed their way. ”

    Imagine. Sounds Sensational. I don’t suppose any of that could have been taken out of context? And is the point that all gov’t spending is wasteful? Some? If so, what %.

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Reader Comments

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