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June 25, 2009 News 8 Comments

From HIPAA Hound: “Re: interesting take on the resistance to electronic medical records. I have to say I agree with much of this reasoning, most especially where HC costs are increased by for-profit insurance companies looking to avoid paying claims by constantly moving the target for approved claims, thus sending admin costs for providers sky high, and the avoidance of any mechanism which might expose any of these practices to the general public. I am amazed that these practices have not been exposed already in our debate over HC reform.” Bet on it: whoever has the most lobbyists wins. This Technology Review (MIT) article is hardly complimentary: it says healthcare could have already gone digital if it wanted to, but resists to keep its lucrative business model out of the public eye. It also hints an another truism: it takes a lot of sick people to keep the big bucks flowing, so there’s not much incentive to lose customers by making them healthier.

From Bignurse: “Re: cheap technologies. I am using a free time clock software (Web-based) to keep track of time working on a part-time consulting job. Just click the timer while working and it records the minutes, later creates an invoice which can be e-mailed to the client. I can even put the timer on hold when the dogs need walking or to take dinner out of the oven. Love it.”

From Dr_Duped: “Re: HCNN. I signed up for a service at www.hcnn.net that promised an FDA targeted alert system based on my primary specialty. Sounded great. However, several FDA alerts did go out that would have been towards internal medicine and I did not receive a notification through HCNN. I called their listed number, and according to the gal that answered the phone, what I signed up for had nothing to do with the FDA. This company is trying to capitalize on the ‘Dear Healthcare’ letters we receive in the mail. The whole operation is deceptive and all my colleagues need to be aware. Those notifications go in the garbage for a reason – the medical community would prefer not to receive them by any communication method from Pharms companies.” I would hope the medical community pays attention, since those ‘Dear Doctor’ letters are related to patient safety, not drug company marketing (I think of them as anti-marketing). HCNN is non-profit and free, is clear about its separation from FDA, (it merely repackages paper FDA Dear Doctor letters into e-mail for faster delivery), does not share subscriber information, and has a ton of endorsements. I don’t know about the missed alerts and I’d keep an eye on them to make sure someone doesn’t try to cash in, but they seem on the up-and-up to me and a good service.

kohane  mandl

From The PACS Designer: “Re: iPhone. With the ever-increasing population of iPhones, it won’t be long before they are used in everyday hospital activities. The informatics program at Children’s Hospital Boston (CHIP) has embarked on a project to bring the iPhone application selection process into their everyday decision processes by mining their legacy databases to migrate the information to the web for iPhone access. They have listed ten features on their website for anyone to view that could lead to further information sharing in healthcare to improve patient care. Participants of their May workshop believe that an infrastructure based on ‘substitutable’ components is a highly promising way to drive down healthcare technology costs, allow flexibility, support standards evolution, accommodate differences in care workflow, foster competition in the market, and accelerate innovation. Thanks to John at Chilmark Research for the alert.” The NEJM article is here. I like the anti-certification jab in #10 of their platform principles, probably nurtured along by participant and EHR realist David Kibbe (click below to enlarge). Isaac Kohane and Kenneth Mandl (above) are the chief CHIP guys involved.


Misys announces its expectation of a 40% rise in sales for FY2009, although all but 3% of that came from the Allscripts merger and currency values. Allscripts says it expects to slightly beat full year revenue and earnings estimates after a strong Q4.

Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson die on the same day, ensuring that the rest of us who remember their 70s and 80s prime reflect on our own mortality. Apple CEO Steve Jobs lives on, meanwhile, although raising a lot of questions about how he was desperately ill enough to jump to the head of the Tennessee liver transplant line (and ahead of 16,000 Americans waiting for a transplant) yet the company disclosed nothing about his condition to shareholders to correct the fact that his claimed “hormonal imbalance” was actually “I’m in complete liver failure and will die shortly without a transplant.”

Some random thoughts as I endorsed the Declaration of Health Data Rights: (a) given the undecipherable nature of medical records to most laypeople, who’s going to explain them? Doctors won’t have time, so it’s a good business for a nurse to start. (b) It will be embarrassing how much misleading and plain wrong information they find there, kind of like when hospitals used to let patients see their error-filled charges and stopped because they couldn’t really explain them either; (c) Patients will be surprised at how much stuff is in there about them as a customer and not a patient (entries created entirely for billing purposes). (d) they may be surprised at the lack of continuity, especially with referrals and records sent from one provider to another.

From Weird News Andy: Reese’s Cups as health food? And, as he says, “a slide show for those not eating lunch” showing X-ray oddities.

I just remember that HIStalk is now six years old as of the beginning of the month. For the new folks, put your e-mail address in the Subscribe to Updates box to your upper right to get instant notification when I write something new (I don’t use that list for anything else, by the way, so it’s guaranteed spam-free). The Search HIStalk box invokes a Google site search to dig through those six years’ of stuff, looking for the name  of companies, people, or obscure rock bands. The sloppily designed Report a Rumor box in brilliant green asks nicely to be clicked when you’ve got something secretive to tell me (it’s secure, anonymous, and accepts attachments). Keep reading down the right column to see what’s on HIStalk Practice, to see what’s been posted to HIStalk Discussion or the Industry Events, and to see what comments have been recently posted.


Markle Foundation says 56 organizations have endorsed its PHR framework.

Inga interviewed QuadraMed CMO Joe Bormel on HIStech Report, covering a lot of ground including translational medicine and taxonomies along with the usual industry-type questions. 

A study finds that the Phoenix area has a high rate of EMR adoption, but also a high rate of EMR deinstallation due to inadequate training, missing functionality, or lack of affordability.

Red Hat’s Q1 numbers buck the tech trend with EPS up 7%, beating estimates.

Two laptops stolen from Alberta Health Sciences (Canada) contain some patient information, but are password-protected. Apparently no medical institution in the world enforces a policy of storing data only on the network, not on the local device where it can be stolen or lost (nobody backs up PCs across the network, either, although users always have some vague confidence that IT magic is going on in the background).

HIMSS may be non-profit, but it’s looking for a sales jock “to generate sales and achieve revenue objectives for the Organizational Affiliate program,” prospecting hospitals for its all-you-can-eat plan of unlimited individual memberships for one institutional price. Required: to “aggressively solicit new customers,” “be alert to competitive organizations,” and “understand the process or art of selling.”

Speaking of HIMSS, the local paper mentions its office in Ann Arbor, MI. I assume that’s where MS-HUG lives, but I don’t really know.

TriZetto founder, chairman, and CEO Jeff Margolis receives the 2009 National Human Relations Award from the American Jewish Committee for his healthcare and community service work.

Jobs: Healthcare IT Project Managers, Account Executive – South Central, McKesson SQL Consultant.

If you’ve got $4,000 to spend and want to hang out with Goldie Hawn, David Blaine, and some big-name healthcare people, you could go to TEDMED2009 in October in San Diego. It was dead for four years (reason not given that I could find) and revived this year in what looks like a business rather than a love-in, but at least there will be only 400 attendees. I bet the bloggers are falling over each other trying to nab a press pass so they can tweet their brains out to a breathlessly waiting world.

The head of Siemens Healthcare, like all device and drug makers, tries to convince Congress that the company’s technology actually saves patients and insurance companies money, also making the case that most doctors who order diagnostic tests don’t personally profit from doing so (he’s probably right about that, but that still leaves scumbag malpractice lawyers as a key reason for overuse).

Fairview Health Services (MN) is defending itself against a lawsuit over patient information posted on a MySpace page. A woman being treated in a clinic for a sexually transmitted disease was spotted by an employee related to the woman’s husband, who when told another relative at the hospital, who then told the husband. Both employees were fired, but a Web page soon popped up with the woman’s medical information, her picture, and claims that she cheated on her husband and was addicted to plastic surgery. The woman sued the hospital and the employees, but I’m not interested enough to try to understand all the other legal wranglings detailed in the article. What I did find interesting was a claim by the defense: that HIPAA pre-empts state privacy laws and therefore precludes private lawsuits.

Another odd hospital lawsuit: a patient at Memorial Hermann Beaumont Hospital takes a swing at a hospital employee, misses, and instead hits another patient in face, breaking the other patient’s jaw and requiring him to undergo surgery when infection sets in. The broken jaw guy is suing the hospital (but not the non-deep pockets guy who decked him, of course). Oddest of all, his lawyer is a former Super Bowl starting cornerback for the Buffalo Bills.

HERtalk by Inga

Nuance Communications recognizes 20 healthcare organizations for saving one million dollars or more in transcription costs using the eScription platform. Brigham and Women’s Hospital (MA) tops the list, having accumulated $10 million in savings since installing the product. eScription also reports that eight new healthcare organizations have gone live on their platform since the beginning of the year.


Sharp Healthcare (CA) selects Anakam Identity Suite to provide patient access to Sharp’s patient portal.

Nyack Hospital  (NY) chooses McKesson’s Paragon community HIS solution for EHR and financial management.

Medicity and Eclipsys announce a partnership to provide a HIE to Eclipsys clients. Eclipsys will leverage Medicity’s Care Collaboration platform to deliver its new HeatlhXchange solution.

Stephen P. Wood, a senior VP for Ingenix Consulting, is named a Top 25 Consultant by Consulting Magazine in the “Excellence in Healthcare” category.

RCM vendor Capario names Charles Lambert CFO, making him the forth former Misys executive to join the company once known as MedAvant Healthcare Solutions.

HIS vendor Healthland partners with Sentillion to resell its SSO solution expreSSO.

Greenway introduces a new program to extend discounted pricing to physician groups within HIEs. Qualified organizations can purchase Greenway’s PrimeSuite 2008 for discounts of up to 25%.

The state of Vermont was recently recognized by Surescripts as the “most-improved” state in terms of sending prescriptions electronically. Surescripts also honored the nation’s top individual e-prescribing physicians, include three using standalone e-prescribing software and three using EMRs. Interestingly, 44% of Vermont’s e-prescriptions were generated by Allscripts users, as were three of the six top prescribers. A fourth provider uses Eclipsys Practice Solutions.

u of i

A University of Iowa official admits that despite spending $55 million on an Epic system, the UI Hospitals and Clinics will not be able to communicate seamlessly with other hospital systems. It’s unclear whether this is a surprise to the school’s Board of Regents or merely to the reporter covering the story in the local paper. The officials also indicated that users have been required to go through an “onerous” training process, which consisted of 12 hours over the last fall and spring. (just 12 hours?) The  medical school representatives also praised the system for its flexibility and wide variety of features.

Opus Healthcare Solutions becomes the second company to receive CCHIT ‘08 Inpatient EHR certification, after Epic.

Diagnostic Center of Medicine (NV) selects Allscripts EHR/PM for its 16-provider, three-location practice, replacing Misys practice management and adding an EMR.

NCQA releases a reporting highlighting the important role of small medical practices, which provide almost three quarters of ambulatory care in the US. The report points out that smaller practices are more likely to lack the resources to improve quality of care, implement EMRs, and serve an increasingly diverse population.

Perhaps Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper read the NCQA report. The chair of a House Small Business subcommittee on health care proposes a bill to create a new SBA loan program to help doctors in small or solo practices to buy and maintain EMRs. The program  would rely on private sector loans of up to $350,000 and $2 million for groups, be 90% backed by the SBA.

And, the AHRQ is considering developing an electronic toolkit to assist small and medium sized practices change their workflow when adopting HIT. The AHRQ issued an RFI to gather information on how clinics and physician groups redesign their workflow when adopting technology.

I must say this report depresses me. Common Cause calculates that so far this year, healthcare industry participants are spending an average of $1.4 million a day to lobby members of Congress. That means lobbyists are on track to spend half a billion dollars this year. Half of the spend comes from the pharmaceutical industry; hospitals, doctor groups, and suppliers of “healthcare products” (which I assume includes HIT items) make up the balance. The reports also shows the amount of campaign contributions received from the health industry to each senator and representative. Arlen Specter wins that contest in a landslide;  Mr. H’s man-crush Senator Grassley is way down on the list. Meanwhile I’m trying to calculate how much healthcare we could buy with $1.4 million a day.


E-mail Inga.

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Currently there are "8 comments" on this Article:

  1. RE: Resistance to EMR

    Maybe that resistance would fade with a truly independent study showing an improvement in quality and an increase in efficiency in the delivery of healthcare.

  2. Re: quadramed CMO Interview. I like his views on “Science 2.0” and genomic medicine, but has he ever used QCPR? If there’s one enterprise system out there that is lacking in the decision support capabilites necessary to integrate genetics into practice (not to mention your typical bread and butter quality measures) it’s QCPR. I’m surprised there wasnt even one question about it in the entire interview.

  3. Great news that revenues are up for Misys due to Allscripts acquisition. However, I hear the only sales group hit numbers are those promoting the MyWay product to resellers. Meanwhile, Allscripts recently did some “restructuring,” which included the exit of several senior sales reps/directors (mostly former Misys folks.)

  4. Accounting question – If a software provider sells 100 licenses to a reseller, can the company recognize the revenue prior to the reseller deploying the software in the field? I’ve seen a number of reseller deals lately at both Allscripts and NextGen. It’s been positioned as an attempt to address the anticipated demand, but the other motive is to help generate sales b/c the market had a slow Q1 and beginning of Q2 as practices tried to get their arms around legislation.

  5. “(nobody backs up PCs across the network”

    Mr. HISTalk should be careful when making blanket statements such as the above. We do and I know of other provider and non-provider organizations that do. Not all of us are able to convince upper management to utilize NAS (network attached storage). However, with HITECH, I do have another tool to convince them.

  6. “so there’s not much incentive to lose customers by making them healthier.”

    I disagree… if you keep the weak alive two things happen that will generate even more revenue:
    1) By keeping the weak alive we turn the natural law upside down – the weak will hand down the defective genes and reproduce more weak and that means more (sick) customers!
    2) The longer they live the more health resources they will use over their remaing lifecycle.

    So…is it not a conflict of interset to keep the weak going? 😉

  7. Steve Jobs didn’t necessarily have liver failure. Metastatic tumor in the liver can be an indication for transplant, although standard indications are very limited. The hospital in Memphis may have a specific research protocol going and that may be why he went there, but I haven’t been able to confirm that.

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