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News 7/31/09

July 30, 2009 News 10 Comments

Cerner boosts earnings on cost cutting, but misses estimates and issues warnings
FTC pushes Red Flags rule back again
Ad industry worries about increased government oversight of healthcare advertising

From Michael:Re: trouble. A number of reliable sources are saying that the high visibility HIE vendor in the Boston area is in trouble. The senior engineers have left. Less than a handful of employees can be seen entering the building. Phones are not answered. Customers are bailing.” We guessed at the vendor in question and Inga placed some calls to their offices, all of which went to voice mail. It’s hard to believe that a company in that business would scale back right on the cusp of massive government HIT spending, but I can’t explain why they’re so hard to reach. Lots of their developers are offshore, I’ve heard, so maybe nobody’s left near the phone.

From Perez: “Re: site name. ‘So,’ my wife said walking by, ‘what’s new on your his story website?’ An avid reader of Perez Hilton, she’s always looking for similar vices she can nail me on. ‘It’s HIStalk’, I said. ‘Hiss – like the noise a snake makes. It’s an acronym, not a guy thing.” This got me thinking … what IS the gender ratio of HIStalk readers?  And is it even possible to have a cool name for a site like this that someone like my wife would understand as something more than just another celebrity gossip website?” According to one of the site analyzer tools, the HIStalk audience is 63% male, 37% female. As to names, maybe we need a synonym since I made up HIStalk back in 2003 with the firm belief that I would be the only one reading it, so the name wasn’t too important. I bet some of those marketing people I’m always making fun of could come up with something.

From C.C. Ryder: “Re: Utah’s law requiring patient ID. You’ll note that this is useless — there are no penalties for the provider not asking or the patient not providing.” Right you are, according to the bill’s text.

From Raleigh in Raleigh: “Re: Allscripts. Heard that Allscripts has offloaded their field engineering staff to Decision One. The move will be announced by the end of this week. All the field engineers were told about it on Monday.” Unverified.

From The PACS Designer: “Re: HP printers in sync. TPD got a kick out of some guys who synced a group of printers to produce a clever video of printing coordination.” It’s brilliant.


Summa Health (OH) goes live with Sentillion’s single sign-on and context management, with an eventual rollout to 4,000 caregivers.

A software entrepreneur whose wife was dying of cancer promised her he would develop tools to help home medical companies. He started Ankota.

Nurses at St. Joseph Hospital (CA) accused by administrators of intentionally oversedating ICU patients blame what sounds like Pyxis Consultant narcotics tracking software, claiming it didn’t give a true picture of their activities. One of them admitted that the night crew regularly brought in food, played their guitars, read books, played games, checked eBay, and watched Internet video, but said they gave good care nonetheless.


Cerner reports Q2 results: flat revenue, with obvious cost cutting to earn $0.52 vs. $0.42, missing estimates slightly and warning of lower Q3 earnings and FY09 revenue. Global revenue declined by 21%, but domestic revenue was up 6%. Pat yourself on the back for helping the cause if you’re paying maintenance fees because that revenue was up 13%. From the earnings call: as everybody is finding out, providers are not making capital expenditures and are also waiting until meaningful use is defined (thanks for the slowdown, Uncle Sam). They announced plans to take over more of the IT operations of customers and to sell Lighthouse clinical optimization services. They’re also looking to sell into small hospitals (better be ready to cut the price). This sounds interesting, even though I don’t have a clue what it means: “For the most part, the core of our business runs on several hundred large relationships, across a few thousand individuals. The real consumers that establish the success of our brand are those that rely on our solutions and services as part of their day-to-day role in healthcare … This is only one click away from an even bigger audience, patients. The number jumps to 60 million to 70 million plus interactions across our client base annually … We envision a day when Cerner has more than 120 million relationships, self organizing all with a contextual identity, consuming Blue Sky services to navigate and address their healthcare needs.” Sounds like they’re trying to add some dot-com sexiness or maybe planning to get into some kind of consumer advertising, maybe to avoid talking about Epic. Blue Sky is Cerner’s cloud computing strategy. Neal wasn’t on the call.

The government wants to ban peer-to-peer software from government and contractor computers following reported information leaks and a consultant’s demonstration of how installing LimeWire opens up the My Documents folder for full sharing. LimeWire’s chairman showed up to dispute that claim, stating that no files are shared by default and Office and PDF files aren’t shared at all. Arguments aside, there’s no reason anyone needs LimeWire to do their jobs, so banning it makes perfect sense to me.

The advertising industry is upset that the government is raining on its parade — frowning on consumer drug advertising, considering laws against Internet user tracking, threatening increased FDA oversight of nutritional claims, and flexing control over ad budgets at Chrysler and GM. They’re also worried about potential FDA regulation of health-related searches. But, this advertising CEO had a brilliant comeback: “Advertising is the makeup on the public face of capitalism, for better or for worse, so any tension that people feel about capitalism comes right down to their feelings about advertising. If what happens in business offends them, the advertising gets blamed.”

Computer Weekly points out that the UK’s NPfIT is being used as an example, but not as the government planned. It quotes an Economist article: “They’d wanted the NPfIT to be used by various governments as an exemplar. It is – as a type of scheme to be avoided.” And, quoting another newspaper editorial: “We only have to read current headlines from England to see the unintended consequences of trying to implement a nationalized HIT system … the programme was started in 2002 and implementation began in 2005. It was originally supposed to cost $3.7bn over a three year period of time for full implementation … it  should have been up and running successfully since 2008. As of this month, only very small parts of the NHS NPfIT are working correctly and two of their four main contractors have either been fired or quit. There is now a revised completion date of 2015 and a revised projected cost of $32.9bn – if it is even finished…”

Former MedAssets software VP Wade Wright joins RemitDATA as CTO. The Memphis company sells Web-based tools for practice reimbursement and document management.


The National Library of Medicine’s PubMed search engine will get a Web page makeover later this year, with the goal of improving the way related information is presented when users search.

Buffalo-based Computer Task Group’s profits fell 32% in Q2, but the CEO says the company is getting lots of EMR activity that should help business.

The big Medicare fraud raids this week were made possible by cooperation among the FBI, HHS, DEA, and the Texas Attorney General, but also software that can detect fraud “as it’s happening, using real-time data analysis of Medicare billing records.”

Odd lawsuit: an anesthesiologist claims someone at his previous hospital employer caused him to lose his new job by stealing his credit card and ordering a sex toy under his name, shipping to a female colleague.

HERtalk by Inga

From Richie Simmons: “Re: obesity rates. I think we should start with Congress reducing their obesity rates! While at Healthcare Unbound Conference, I was appalled by the number of obese participants. Surely they see the numbers every day as to why there is now such a market for remote patient monitoring. Check out this related article.” The article, entitled “Overweight and Obese Health Providers Aren’t Taken Seriously”, looks at the problem of overweight providers who struggle when they need to advise a patient to lose weight.  Maybe we need to start some virtual HIStalk weight-loss contest. Perhaps the winner could have his/her picture posted in HIStalk in a speedo/bikini (a la Valerie Bertinelli in People magazine).

From Friend of Minne’s: “Re: new Allscripts partner. Allscripts does have a new partnership with mPayGateway. I’m at the ACE meeting in Orlando and they are showing off the new product, called Patient Payment Assurance. It’s already in GA for the Tiger product and will soon be available for the other product lines.”


Speaking of the Allscripts Client Experience (ACE), the company announces a record 2,700 registrants for the event, which includes both Allscripts customers and the former Misys clients.

Last week we noted that Cardinal Health hired the former Motorola exec Patricia Morrison as CIO. Interestingly, Morrison sits on the board of SPSS, the company IBM just announced it was buying.

Genesis Physicians Group, a 1,400 member physician organization in Dallas, has secured Covisint to provide its cloud-based healthcare platform. The solution will provide physicians a centralized view and SSO access to such applications as e-prescribing, EMRs, and referral management.

The FTC again pushes back the deadline to enforce the “red flags” rule, moving it from August 1 to November 1 to provide additional resources and guidance to businesses.

St. Elizabeth Healthcare (KY) announces plans to roll out Epic throughout its entire system, which includes 31 primary care offices. Beginning in September, St. Elizabeth’s will  introduce EpicCare Ambulatory to its nearly 1,000 physicians. St. Elizabeth’s is also adding Resolute Hospital Billing, EpicCare Inpatient, Prelude Registration and Cadence Scheduling.

Legacy Hospital Partners (TX) announces four new management team members, including former PHNS COO Lawrence V. Schunder as CIO and SVP of business processes.

Crittenden Regional Hospital selects Healthcare Management Systems to supply financial and ancillary clinical HIT solutions, planning to go live in October.

The University of Miami UM-JMH Center for Pain Safety deploys a hand hygiene compliance pilot project that uses IR-RF sensors in soap dispensing units. The IR-RF devices read staff ID badges and monitor the location and timing of hand-washing events. Dynamic Computer Corporation and Versus Technology provided the technology for the project, which I am going to propose to a couple of my favorite dive restaurants.

Affiliated Computer Services promotes Connie Harvey to group president of business process solutions.

Did we really need a scientific study to figure this out?  A PhD surveyed 1,400 adults and concludes that taking time for leisure activities helps people function better physically and mentally. And, the more time you spend doing different enjoyable activities, the better one’s health tends to be. I’m thinking about heading to a beach to confirm if this is true.


Here is a brilliant new business model for healthcare. An Iowa dentist gives up his traditional practice and sets up shop at Iowa 80 Truck Stop (the world’s largest truck stop). About 35,000 people a week stop at Iowa 80 and Dr. Thomas P. Roemer correctly guessed he could stay busy helping truckers who needed immediate dental care (apparently he does a lot of extractions.) Some days he doesn’t see any patients; others he sees as many as 15.  I bet it’s only a matter of time until some enterprising doctor follows suit.

E-mail me.

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Currently there are "10 comments" on this Article:

  1. I enjoy TPD’s posts but why does TPD refer to TPD in the 3rd person? My favorite 3rd person quote of the last week was from baseball’s Rickey Henderson: “Rickey don’t like it when Rickey can’t find Rickey’s limo.” TPD should ride in a limo too.

  2. Clueless in Cambridge: The same high profile HIE vendor is rumored (several sources) to have lost its last big HIE customer. The HIE in question, according to people from the Harris Corporation, are in production with SSA. The customer is the first private entity on the NHIN gateway using the Government’s open source CONNECT. The customer ‘pulled the plug’ on IBM and went live on CONNECT this week.

  3. Regarding doctors setting up highway clinics, there is already a Convenient Care organization setting up clinics at truck stops …Roadside Medical. They have 3 locations providing clinical care for truckers.

  4. +1 to Yogi’s statement about TPB.
    Reminds me of the Seinfeld eps where the character called Jimmy always talked about himself in the 3rd person.

  5. Perez: Don’t change the HIStalk name – there’s too much brand equity in it! It would be like letting the wind out of a sail -it’s hard to get going again. Plus, what about HERtalk? It’s hysterical. I say, if it ain’t broke, don’t mess with it!

  6. RE: Clueless in Meaningful Use. “I think that the film Clueless was very deep. I think it was deep in the way that it was very light. I think lightness has to come from a very deep place if it’s true lightness.” – Alicia Silverstone.

    Eureka! I now understand the definition of Meaningful Use. Thank you Alicia.

    — A slow day in HIT

  7. RE: Summa – nice to hear about their single signon and moving the ball up the field. Little known unless you have been there, St. Thomas has a small plaque on the wall, maybe 3 x 5 or 4 x 6, noting the room where the first meeting of AA was held. Unless things have changed, nothing else to attract your attention to this history. Great folks, with patient centered care, in a struggling Midwest city with an amazing manufacturing legacy.

  8. RE: Meditech – take a look at the 10Q. They continue to take money out of the business. $45m paid in dividends against $38m in net income. Is this business growing or are the long-timers cashing out without leaving?

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Reader Comments

  • Sam Lawrence: Except in this case, coding = medical billing, not development. Though the same warning may be true...
  • BeenThere: Partners will find the savings from their cuts of coders as fools gold. There are a lot of hidden costs running an outs...
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  • Tom Cornwell: Great stuff from Dr. Jayne as usual. One small typo, last sentence of second-to-last paragraph: should be 'who's' not 'w...
  • HIT Observer: What I find most interesting here, is people defending their common practices rather than truly taking this as invaluabl...
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  • Peppermint Patty: Veteran - can you clarify what was "fake "? Was something made up (definition of fake) or did you disagree with Vapo...
  • Pat Wolfram: Such a refreshing article. Thanks -- there really can be a simpler version of an acute HIT implementation. But I do ...
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