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News 9/9/09

September 8, 2009 News 19 Comments


From Cynical CIO: “Re: Cerner. Interesting initiative. What’s in it for them?” Click the graphic above to see the letter from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to Cerner CEO Neal Patterson, taking him up on his offer to create an H1N1 surveillance network made up of Cerner clients. Attached to the letter was Cerner’s pitch to its customers, asking them to sign an agreement allowing Cerner to distribute HIPAA-compliant aggregated data from their facilities. It sounds kind of cool. Benefit to Cerner? Well, Cerner got face time with Sebelius, did her sort of a favor, and may get unspecified IT vendor benefit someday. Add that to having a former Cerner director as President Carter’s … err, President Obama’s healthcare reform czar and you’ve got friends in high places who are spraying great gouts of taxpayer dollars directly at healthcare IT. Still, I’d say Cerner’s intentions were more noble and focused primarily toward their clients and their patients, so I tend to believe their claims of sincerity.

From Michael: “Re: Texas Toast. A certain high profile technology / billing service company issued walking orders to 30 practice management billing employees at 2:00 PM Thursday. Word on the street is that physicians are ‘heated in Houston’. Silicon Valley VC types have learned that hand-to-hand combat the physician office billing trenches is a different kind of war. The VC types ‘donated’ $13.8 million to a lost cause in March of ‘08. I’m wondering about the physicians, their cash flows, and how many physician-initiated lawsuits are on the dockets.”

From Bells are Ringing: “Re: UPMC. From their site: ‘Alcatel-Lucent, a telecommunications industry powerhouse, has played an important role in delivering innovative communications platforms, including multimedia and data infrastructures, wireless and wireline broadband access, and full network optimization.’ Fact: so-called high tech telecom has been disruptive to care processes at the new Children’s Hospital since inhabitation in May. Shhhhh.” UPMC and Alcatel-Lucent are joint venture partners, so there’s no chance of discouraging words being heard.

From Fred: “Re: Meditech. Their latest technology first was known as Focus (internally), then C/S 6.0, and the latest is Advanced Technology. You wonder how long they spent thinking about this one.” That name makes me think of the IBM PC AT, which wasn’t advanced for very long. Interesting: did 6.0 sound too much like an easy upgrade when it wasn’t, or maybe was it a good marketing opportunity to rebadge a big technology change to impress the market? I have to say I like the strategy even though the name is kind of white bread. I’d have gone with Meditech Optimized FOcus , or MOFO for short. Quick, no peeking — which name do you remember, theirs or mine?

From Mike Mills: “Re: HIEs exchanging data. Maybe the people living in those regions could get stimulus funds for travelling to the other regions, where they could get sick, so that the providers could actually have a reason to view clinical data for someone who lives four hours away!” I tend to agree that the “unconscious in the ED while on vacation” is a stretch, but somehow people always assume that happens a lot. I figure it’s 0.005% of the healthcare that raises the interoperability cost by maybe 25,000 times over just connecting everybody in a single region, but everybody likes irrelevant analogies like those involving cell phone service or ATMs.

From Mick: “Re: Steve Hess at Christiana Care. What happened to him?” Nothing that I’ve heard. His name is still on some recent press releases and his LinkedIn profile says he’s still there.

Listening: relatively new music from David Byrne and Brian Eno, reader-suggested. I’m not a huge fan of either (maybe more of their former bands, Talking Heads and Roxy Music, respectively), but it sounds pretty good.

HealthHiway, an India-based HIE platform vendor that offers connectivity to doctors in India for as little as $200 per year, gets $4 million in funding from Greylock Partners.

I’ve been getting hammered lately by vendors and organizations wanting me to provide free advertising. For Webinars and conferences, you can add them to my events calendar yourself at no charge. I won’t link to your survey, run your press release if it doesn’t interest me, or give you space for your promotional article, sorry. Everybody would stop reading if I cluttered it up with all that stuff like lots of industry sites do.

Craneware announces FY09 results, with sales up 68%, revenue up 23%, and profit up 29%. I just now remembered that I was on the hospital IT steering committee that approved what must have been one of their first US sales going back at least eight years ago. They had a pretty good story even then.

Inga is turning into Weird News Inga, having sent me this: a 65-year-old man gives the finger at a healthcare rally — literally. Healthcare reform advocates and protesters in California get into the stereotypical heated discussion (likely armed with lots of emotion and minimal facts) when a pro-reformer allegedly confronts an anti-reformer. The anti-reformer, saying he “felt threatened”, punches the pro-reformer in the nose. They get into a full-on fight and the pro-reformer bites off the anti-reformer’s pinky. It’s nice to know that such an important issue is being debated with civility by well-informed citizenry. I’m beginning to think that 90% of Americans don’t have the intelligence or knowledge to debate laws, vote, or serve on a jury, being intellectually suited only to vote contestants off reality shows.

The US Patent Office grants TeraMedica a patent for its Evercore solution and its concept of Clinical Information Lifecycle Management. 


Regenstrief EMR pioneer, HL7 co-founder, LOINC developer, and IOM member Clem McDonald receives the President’s Medal for Excellence from Indiana University. He’s now director of The Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications, a research organization that’s part of the National Library of Medicine.

A great PR gimmick: the MyMedicalRecords PHR people offer to reimburse subscribers up to $5,000 if they get H1N1. The relationship between the offer and the product is tenuous at best, but it’s kind of fresh.

Up to 11% of doctors aren’t offering immunizations because insurance pays less than the cost of the vaccine itself. Studies show doctors send patients to public health clinics instead, but parents don’t often follow up and kids aren’t being immunized. CDC is very interested, having observed that half of kids with measles were seeing doctors, but didn’t get the shot.


Which of these doesn’t belong with the others: Eclipsys, athenahealth, HIStalk Practice, and Sage. The answer: none — all of those organizations (and others) are sponsoring the AAP Pediatric Office of the Future exhibit at the American Academy of Pediatrics conference in Washington, DC October 17-20. This isn’t one of those lame “media sponsor” deals where all you do is run free ads. HIStalk Practice is a real, “I’m writing a check” sponsor in support of our regular contributor, Dr. Gregg Alexander. Now I doubt you’ll start making travel plans just because HIStalk Practice is involved, but if you’re going to the conference anyway, check it out and maybe find Gregg to say hi. There’s no booth or anything, just a PC running a presentation that I haven’t figured out yet.


Norwalk Hospital (CT) CIO Jamie Mooney is named as a mentor for Columbia’s technology management program.

Former Eclipsys SVP Keith Figlioli is named SVP of the healthcare informatics division of Premier. He has no informatics background that I can discern.

From Weird News Andy: in Australia, Queensland Health has the answer to patient harm caused by overworked medical residents whose on-call shifts run up to 80 hours: drink six cups of coffee a day and eat more sugar. Maybe they should have added regular trips outside for a smoke or maybe a snort of cocaine.


Doctors from St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan develop an AIDS exposure treatment widget that will be available throughout New York State. They treat exposure “as a gunshot wound in terms of urgency”, saying that infection risk is reduced by 80% if treatment is started immediately.

The Social Security Administration gives a former IBM futurist his first job as CIO, putting him charge of a $1.3 billion IT budget. He’s a good blogger, so maybe that sealed the deal.

Just as I suspected: using Facebook is a good mental workout that keeps your mind sharp, while texting, reading Tweets, and watching YouTube make you stupid. Evidence abounds.


The Army’s MC4 battlefield EMR wins two government technology awards. 

Fidel Castro editorializes on healthcare in Cuba, railing against Philips for offering discounts on medical equipment for Cuba and Venezuela, but backing off when the British government started investigating the patented software and parts it was sending there. They’re buying instead from Siemens, which is hardly shocking.

Former 3M executive Alan Wittmer joins Mediware as SVP of corporate development.

Ambulance chasers increased their TV advertising by 1,400% in the past four years.

E-mail me.

HERtalk by Inga

The nation’s unemployment rate increases to 9.7% in August. Also up: the number of jobs in healthcare, with the industry adding 28,000 more last month. Since the recession began in December 2007, the sector has added 544,000 new jobs. The biggest growth areas are in ambulatory care, nursing, and residential care.

Given the current employment situation, it’s not too surprising that more college students are showing interest in healthcare informatics and information management. Colleges offer 270 accredited programs (53 at the bachelor’s level) and another 30 are expected to be certified by the end of the year.

Healthcare data analytics company Verisk Health acquires TierMed Systems. The acquisition will allow Verisk to offer TierMed’s HEDIS reporting solution.

Here is a new iPhone app that sounds kinda cool, but I wonder if it will take off? For $2.99, you can buy ICEbeacon, which allows you to add family/physician contacts, allergies, medical conditions, and current meds. You also get a sticker to put on your phone, which alerts emergency personnel how to access the information. Personally, I don’t want to put a sticker on my phone. And do EMTs spend much time looking for patients’ phones?

The Department of Defense Military Health System extends its 16-year relationship with EDS, signing an $8.1 million, 12-month add-on contract. EDS will make technical enhancement to to DHIMS systems.

Christ Hospital (OH) implements EpicCare Ambulatory EMR at its 35-physician medical group and regional therapy centers. The hospital is also giving community physicians the opportunity to purchase the EMR and connect to the hospital’s system. When I went to the hospital’s Web site, I noticed they have end-user training roadmaps that can accessed (not sure if that is by design or mistake). The level of detail is pretty impressive.

The local newspaper discusses the recent Epic live at Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital (VA) and its sounds as if all went smoothly. The hospital’s IT director is quoted as saying, “No one has cried, and that’s a good thing.” Yup.

I see the AMA has set up a Facebook page to communicate updates to physicians and patients. I guess I am not social media-savvy enough to appreciate using Facebook to get news from groups like AMA or HIMSS. I’d rather use Facebook to learn what my friends are up to (stuff like, “I washed the dog today,” and “My daughter had her first soccer game”). I also got yet another request in my Inga inbox to set up an account. I guess I could and then post things like, “Boy, was that CIO I interviewed today boring!” or take some inane quizzes like, “Which shoe are you?” Or not.

E-mail Inga.

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Currently there are "19 comments" on this Article:

  1. I miss my first AAP NCE in 20 years and you guys finally decide to show up? Figures.

    Of course, the other folks there haven’t been very prominent at the AAP over the years either 🙂

  2. Mr. H,

    Thanks for the shout out on the AAP Pediatric Office of the Future exhibit. I also very much appreciate receiving your first-ever sponsorship. HIStalk Practice fits perfectly with our agenda of helping to educate the attendees about ways to help enhance patient care, practice life, and personal life via technology, including HIS/EHR/EMR tools, as well as sharing our technology knowledge and experiences with one another.

    Please let me clarify one thing: when Mr. H said “There’s no booth or anything”, he meant no separate booth for HIStalk Practice. The Office of the Future booth most definitely exists.

    Also, as I am so very grateful to all our sponsors for their support, I hope you won’t mind if I fill out the rest of the group you started to mention. Thus far, Doctations, Eclipsys, athenahealth, Sage, Medicomp’s CliniTalk, Welch Allyn, PediaPals, Quick Medical, and, of course, HIStalk Practice have all generously agreed to sponsor this educational event. I, as one of the members of the AAP’s Council on Clinical Information Technology (COCIT) working to bring this exhibit to life, gratefully appreciate each and every one them and their commitment to the world of pediatrics.

  3. “CDC is very interested, having observed that half of kids with measles were seeing doctors, but didn’t get the shot.”

    I agree at times the news is getting stranger, and wanted to add a strange note that the CDC is interested in H1N1 and is selling the “plush” version of the virus. There’s a video at the link from a local news station with the full story and what worries me is the the plush teddy bear in danger:) There are other stuffed goodies for sale.

    I hope you don’t mind me sharing, we need a laugh and this is just so out there. The H1N1 virus can be purchased for 7.95, cheaper than stocking the vaccine:)


  4. Perot Systems is beefing up its physician practice outsourcing group with a crew of left over sales weasels from GE Healthcare IIT – where they failed to dominate the outsourcing market once already. They are aggressively using back office resources from India in a retreaded effort to ‘wring synergies from lowcost offshore assets’. Some old Per Se and IDX types are surfacing there too.

    You can edit this to change sales weasel to sales executive. I just couldn’t help myself…

  5. Cerner and H1N1 technical question – how are they going to track the swine flu when there isn’t an official ICD-9 code for it, yet? Actually comb through their customer chart notes and look for strings like “H1N1” or “swine”?

    Or, will they just assume that all instances of a flu diagnosis are trackable events?

  6. Dear Mr. H.:
    Several issues ago I believe you were seeking information from hospitals who may be implementing EMRs, and their expectations with regard to ARRA money.
    The good news is that we implemented a strategic plan nearly four years ago — about one year after I took on the CIO role at this facility. The major component of the strategy was to replace very aged, disparate systems with Meditech. So we’re well on our way to brining version 5.6 clinicals live very shortly and from a timing standpoint, at least, we would achieve the compliance deadline.

    Although I am keeping up with the ARRA/HITECH discussions, at this point I feel like I’m trying to hit a dart board while blindfolded and facing backward. It’s still not clear to me what we need to demonstrate, to whom we need to demonstrate it, and what the true criteria of success will be. Perhaps the government will publish a cash-for-clunkers type instruction manual which will bring clarity. Right now, I feel like I’m flying blind.

  7. Add that to having a former Cerner director as President Carter’s … err, President Obama’s healthcare reform czar

    Better Carter than Grampa Simpson.

  8. While it isn’t exciting to put a sticker on any of our phones; many people (especially kids) have started listing their parents and any emergency contact under ICE as a first name. ICE being In Case of Emergency. Many phones have the ability to add info, so you could use ICE as the first name and put MEDS or Diabetes, etc with info and family doc, etc. I’m “assuming” EMTs do sometimes look for cell phones or the ER docts do for contact info – if not, they should. Just about every kid and even our seniors now carry phones. As much as I love iPhones – I with you, I don’t want a sticker on my phone, so we just need to educate the EMTs and ER departments if they aren’t already doing that!

  9. As a former ER social worker for a Level 1 Trauma center, I always looked for ICE in a trauma patient’s cell phone (EMTs brought it with wallet/purse more often than not) when the patient was not able to tell us who to contact. It was always harder to guess who to contact otherwise.

  10. MyMedicalRecords is argueably one of the worst PHRs in the market as it is really nothing more than a dumb fax server. But to their credit, they do a very good jobarketing themselves and getting publicity with such silly stunts as the $5K reimbursent you mentioned.

    Hats off to them for continuing to get ink.

  11. 1) Steve Hess moved on to University of Colorado for family reasons.

    2) Cerner’s H1N1 early surveilance will be looking at all ED admissions with fever above a certain level etc etc

  12. “…intellectually suited only to vote contestants off reality shows.”

    A little harsh, perhaps. You may be forgetting the massive numbers of American Idol votes that clearly required a certain level of educationally refined judgement – not to mention untold hours of mental focus for weeks on end.

  13. “2) Cerner’s H1N1 early surveilance will be looking at all ED admissions with fever above a certain level etc etc”

    Wow, really really lowbrow reporting. How many H1N1 folks are even going to end up at the hospital? How many false positives do we have in there?

    I applaud the concept and effort from Cerner, but it seems like all smoke, no fire. How is this really better than CDC’s results?

  14. Programmer: Sorry, but I gotta disagree. Both Grampa AND Homer Simpson beat out Carter

    Sorry, but Obama won. Grampa Simpson is back in the Springfield Retirement Castle, and Homer went back to Crawford, TX.

  15. Programmer – who cares? The point of what Mr. HISTalk was saying is that Obama is a lot like Carter. Is he worse or better than any of the Bush’s you loathe? Depends on what political side you choose to align yourself with, but doesn’t change the fact that he reminds everyone of Carter. You are just choosing to take that as a negative… I think we all hope that he can be a strong leader like Reagan since we really haven’t had one since, but right now he is just a really good speaker. Still have a few more years…

  16. The Cerner H1N1 data play for HHS could be only the tip of the iceberg folks…before you know it, the “Public Health Insurance” option/group/company Obama proposed tonight will have all sorts of data on us to regulate what YOU end up paying in premiums. Aggregated HIPPA compliant data…right, under all those 0’s and 1’s will be your SS#. Or at the very least, a profile of your health that could me matched to what you end up paying. Where there is data, there is power….

  17. Pezman, who cares of he reminds right wingers of Carter? He’s still a lot better than the Grampa Simpson/Ellie Mae Clampett team the GOP put up against him. If you want to keep telling people he reminds you of Carter, I see no reason why I can’t keep telling people that the best the GOP could put up against him was Grampa Simpson.

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