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June 11, 2009 News 5 Comments

From Whistler Ski Gal: “Re: Grady. Grady Hospital has not awarded the contract to Epic – they have only been selected. Negotiations have slowed down. Community leaders, politicians, and board members are challenging the total cost of ownership that was approved initially by the board. Apparently only a three-year cost for acquisition was provided, not a TCO over 5-7 years.” One of the rags ran a piece saying the contract had been signed, but maybe they messed up since that story was dated from when the initial announcement was made.

From BlueDogSpirit: “Re: CCHIT. I would like to see a poll regarding what you just commented on, whether CCHIT Chair Mark Leavitt and CCHIT Trustee Chair (and HIMSS CEO) H. Stephen Lieber should step down from their respective roles at CCHIT. Keep up the good work! I enjoy reading your column first thing in the morning with a cup of coffee. I only wish I had known about your column last year. I know have missed so much.” Enrobing your request with flattery is a solid strategy, so consider it done. New poll to your right.

From Needs_Gas: “Re: Noesis Health. It appears Santa Rosa Consulting has acquired them.” True. Inga found this June 9 announcement (warning: PDF) announcing the acquisition. Santa Rosa Consulting is run by mostly former Superior Consultant people (including former CEO Rich Helppie) and former FCG COO Tom Watford. Noesis did consulting and integration work.

From Someone: “Re: Merge Healthcare. Anything on laying off support staff in Toronto?” A stock message board posting says the whole group was laid off, but it’s hardly authoritative. Inga reached out to the Merge folks and received this message from the chief marketing officer: "Thank you for giving us the opportunity to clarify this information. Merge Healthcare opted to consolidate support functions for its Fusion product line to better serve those customers. As a part of this process, some job functions were moved from Toronto to Milwaukee. This is not a reduction in force for the company."


Norman Regional Health System (OK) turns the IT function over to COO Greg Terell.

Philips is named the official medical equipment supplier of the New York Yankees, providing digital radiology for its players ($201 million a year worth, with 14 players making more than $5 million a year). People actually go into dumb stuff like teaching or medicine instead of playing games and charging those same teachers and doctors dearly to sit and watch them. I obviously don’t get pro sports.

HIMSS says 3,000 people registered for its Virtual Conference, which ended Wednesday.

Final count on the EMR lemon law poll: 53%, would support one, 47% wouldn’t.

OB software vendor and McKesson partner LMS Medical Systems (nameplated as Horizon Perinatal Care) files bankruptcy in Canada. I figure the company has one strong candidate to buy it.


This CIO of a 2,000 bed hospital in China isn’t exactly a supercharged optimist, but maybe it sucks to be him: he has only 12 IT employees, few of them with any informatics experience. The hospital is looking for ERP and PACS systems, having ruled out self-development (good idea). Maybe we’re getting closer to Chinese-style communism: he, too,is hoping the government’s healthcare reform plan will include interoperability goals, along with government money to pay to meet them (their communist economy seems to be kicking sand in the face of ours, plus they’ve got the “you’ll do as we say” thing going for them, so they’re the safe bet). HIMSS will be in Beijing for AsiaPac ‘10 in case you’ve got travel money to burn.

A big vendor gets a Cerner implementation and joint venture deal in the UK. It’s UPMC, the Pittsburgh health system (and Cerner development and marketing partner) that knows no bounds when it comes to global reach and non-taxpaying status. Interesting: the trust approached Cerner, but Cerner didn’t want to sell direct, maybe to avoid competing with its customer/partner (man, those lines are really blurred).

Speaking of NHS, low pay and few training programs are causing a shortage of informatics professionals there.

Jobs: Nursing Systems Product Specialist, Statistical Analyst, SVP Professional Services, COO-Healthcare Software. Job blastage signup is here.

Speaking of jobs, I checked in with HIMSS Jobmine to see what was happening since I’ve not looked in months. I must have missed that they gutted the site and put in a “newly enhanced” system (a third party run one from JobTarget) that is really confusing. According to the Open Systems by Category, it’s got five jobs listed (hopefully that’s on the bug list, although it’s not far off: a search shows only 28 positions listed). There’s no longer an Executive category, just General Management. Candidates can now submit resumes that employers have to pay to see (“Pay-Per Prospect", the site says). I can’t say I’m a fan.

Medicity is offering a Webinar on HIE for Meditech customers on June 25, with CIO and CMO presenters from two Meditech hospitals.


AirStrip Technologies got time on the center stage at the big Apple developer’s conference this past Monday, being one of eight companies invited to demo iPhone apps. Their product being tested is a real-time system for showing data from OB or ICU. A free demo is available on the App Store.

Speaking of Apple, the Mac and iPod Touch are pretty amazing, now that I’m one of those smug artsy types who’s been in the Apple store a couple of times this week with my newly Mac-packin’ family member (last time we were there, the rugged individualism was even more apparent: one 60-something employee with a gray ponytail and was wearing a camouflage kilt, which makes the usual Hawaiian Shirt Friday sartorial jollity of tech companies look lame in comparison). It looked like a crowd that would be equally comfortable passing around recreational drugs. I admit I like the whole Apple vibe, even though it involves a startlingly different (but not exclusive) demographic of creative types vs. the beige box geek crowd. I was so inspired that my editorial this week for Inside Healthcare Computing was WWJD: What Would (Steve) Jobs Do If He Worked in Healthcare IT Instead of Apple? in which I editorialize: “And, Steve Jobs in his jeans and turtleneck was one beret short of being a full-on artiste, while Microsoft gave us the hyper-annoying loudmouth Steve Ballmer as the cartoonish, kill-our-enemies capitalist pig who was ideally cast for the political climate of that time.”

Speaking of Microsoft, it’s teaming up with University of Miami to see if the health of a small sampling of diabetics (25 patients) improves if they use a portal to interact with doctors and nurses. Technologies include HealthVault and SharePoint (they seem to like those two-words-without-spaces trade names).

And speaking of Apple, biotech company Illumina  announces at the Consumer Genetics show (!!) that consumers can buy their own genetic information for $48,000, which includes an Apple computer loaded with their DNA sequence and software to read it (other companies sell genetic information cheaper, but they only offer a genotype, not the more complex genome).

Illumina is touting the health benefits of knowing your genome, so it will be interesting to see how EMR vendors whose products were not developed in the current millennium (which is nearly all of them) will handle that information (Cerner seems to be the leader, at least judging from earlier announcements of its intentions). And like EMR vendors, Illumina has an information page and special pricing related to customers chasing stimulus money.

Simba Technologies announces its release of a free ODBC driver that connects Excel and Access to HealthVault.

A Wharton professor says what I’ve been saying all along: “No one has done the careful research to indicate that if one health care system has information technology and the other doesn’t, then the care is different. There are no controlled trials. The best-case scenario is that information technology will improve quality but not lower costs. The worst case is that there’s no difference at all.” That’s not saying that IT is bad, only that mileage varies depending on who’s using it and how, like any other tool such as a hammer or a sculptor’s chisel. Many hospitals have spent lots of money on a vast array of IT tools and people, yet they don’t seem to have a lower cost profile than those that haven’t (in fact, the opposite is often true). Outcomes also don’t seem to be positively correlated either (not to mention proving actual cause and effect). My conclusion: it’s no different than giving an employee a PC — if you are a very good hospital, carefully deployed IT will usually make you a little bit better. Otherwise, don’t count on it (although you really are counting on it, as a taxpayer buying a lot of IT-inspired blind hope).

InformationWeek covers use of VMware’s end-user virtualization software at Norton Healthcare (KY) to run Meditech desktops on thin client PCs. Norton says Meditech didn’t work in Citrix.

A Massachusetts startup led by a BIDMC clinical pathologist develops Pubget, a search tool for life sciences literature that crawls sites like PubMed to link searches to full-text PDF articles (the search beta is here).

A US News & World Report piece called 7 Ways Health Reform Is Going to Affect You likes interoperability, worries about privacy, and seems uncertain about quality (“Standardized practice guidelines will be evident everywhere, even embedded into your doctor’s government-certified computer: As described in the Obama budget, computer pop-ups will appear to help your doctor make decisions. (And through the same systems, his or her choices can be monitored for consistency with the guidelines.) More uniform care will certainly improve weak performers, but many experts worry about intruding on the seasoned judgment of the good physician. It remains to be seen how government micromanaging—if not rationing—of care, driven by reasons other than patient well-being, will go down, particularly when that patient has a face.”)

Former Emageon CEO Chuck Jett joins pharmacy management services vendor Principle Pharmacy Group as CEO.

E-mail me.

HERtalk by Inga

Those wacky guys at Compuware sent me a link to their mockumentary featuring the release of the Vantage 11 product. The piece features "Simon," who seems pretty hip in an IT-nerd sort of way. There is a Michael Moore look-alike, who is the interviewer/producer. I have a pretty short attention span, but this amusing and clever video kept my attention for the full four minutes.

Atlanta-based mPacts becomes the latest reseller of the  Allscripts-Misys MyWay PM/EHR.

dbMotion and SNOMED Terminology Solutions (STS) announce a partnership to define a semantic HIE ontology based on SNOMED Clinical Terms. STS is a divsion of the College of American Pathologists.  Likely more revealed at a July 1st webinar hosted by dbMotion, STS, and UPMC entitled, "Semantics—Bringing ‘True’ Meaning to Health Information Exchange." Details here.

It’s official: the World Health Organization declares a swine flu pandemic, the first global flu epidemic in 41 years. Almost 30,000 people in 44 countries have been infected, with 144 reported deaths. WHO chief  Dr. Margaret Chan calls the virus "unstoppable."

In an unrelated porcine story, a Washington woman sues a restaurant after being bitten by the establishment’s potbellied pig. The restaurant apparently has its own pigpen (why?) and the diner was trying to feed the pigs. The complaint claims the woman has suffered "lasting injuries from the attack."

Streamline Health reports a small profit of $16,341 for its first quarter ending April 30th. This compares to an $814K loss for the same period last year. The document imaging and management software vendor also saw a less than 1% increase in revenues, to $3.8 million.

US Oncology launches the iKnowMed EHR to the open market. US Oncology bought the EHR in 2004 and has been tweaking the product ever since. The company is now marketing the software to community-based physicians.

EnovateIT releases its first internally designed, developed, and assembled medical computing cart. More details on the new made in the USA carts here.

More than 50 radiologists from London’s Royal Free Hospital are now live on Nuance Communications’ SpeechMagic system. The software is fully integrated with the hospital’s RIS and PACS systems.

RCM-provider Caprio secures a contract with University Health Alliance (HI) for claims and electronic remittance advice.

The 425 member Oakland Physician Network Services (OPNS) selects my1HIE to electronically connect its members. OPNS is the fifth Michigan provider organization to join the exchange, which is working with Covisint to develop its online patient health information network.

Less than 20% of hospitals have any sort of electronic surveillance system to detect and investigate potential healthcare-associated infections real-time. Budget constraints are partly to blame.

CollaborateMD partners with 3M Health Information Systems to integrate 3M’s medical necessity coding content into CollaborateMD’s billing software applications.

CCHIT names 265 volunteers to staff 19 different workgroups. Vendors were not allowed to count for more than one-third of the positions, but I saw just about every major vendor represented once or twice. Over 600 applicants vied for the spots.

Sage’s Healthcare division donates half a ton of food to America’s Second Harvest in Tampa Bay. Each year Sage supports a global effort to give back to the community and this year the focus was on donating food. Thumbs up.

First Mr. H encouraged readers to puruse Atul Gawande’s piece in the New Yorker. Next thing you know, President Obama makes it required reading for aides and calls them to the Oval Office to discuss. Clearly just about everyone looks to Mr. H for thought leadership.


E-mail Inga

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Currently there are "5 comments" on this Article:

  1. Inga,

    Thanks for the Vantage video link, but I’m aghast that you blew the Spinal Tap reference! It goes to 11!

  2. PubGet—I was disappointed to see your description for it’s functionality. I was hoping it was some sort of search engine to find pubs—a product who’s time is way overdue !!

  3. RE: Grady – Not surprised the Atlanta community is wising up to the negotiations with Grady. My understanding of the contracts is they came in over $10M more than the other vendors in the initial upfront cost. Good to point out the longterm costs… Sounds like there might be hope for Grady after all…even if it is just a small glimmer.

  4. I agree that, for the sake of transparency, Steve and Mark should step down from their CCHIT roles. However, it may be important for whoever runs CCHIT to understand software development cycles (as Mark does, having run MedicaLogic). And while Steve does represent 300+ corporate members, many of whom are EHR suppliers, he also represents 25,000 individual members, many of whom are buyers and users of same. If there wasn’t such rampant mistrust of HIT vendors, would we be having this conversation?!

  5. Re: …Steve Jobs in his jeans and turtleneck was one beret short of being a full-on artiste, while Microsoft gave us the hyper-annoying loudmouth Steve Ballmer as the cartoonish, kill-our-enemies capitalist pig who was ideally cast for the political climate of that time.

    BUT Steve Ballmer has one of the most inspirational YouTube videos ever — Developers, Developers, Developers! (not to mention Developers / Remix).

    As much as I love the part where he is so worked up that he twists his knee, grimaces, and continues on his rant — what sense of purpose! – the day I saw that video, I sold my MSFT shares….

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