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November 19, 2009 News 13 Comments

From Sam Shem: “Re: mammograms. An independent body, after review and analysis of eight clinical trials, comes out with EVIDENCE that mammogram screening in under-40-year-olds has little or no value. What happens? The radiologists are up in arms and the Obama administration, in the person of DHHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, tells patients to just keep doing what you did last year. And they want to cut costs by a billion dollars over the next decade to pay for national health insurance? If anyone really believes this country will ever control the costs of health care, they are living in a dream land!” Interesting, too, that nobody’s paying much attention to the study that showed that electronic medical records haven’t improved outcomes or cost so far, even as the government is spending lots of money on those, too. At least EHRs have potential. In an economy where jobs are dying out, politicians don’t have the guts to make serious change since the people unhappy with healthcare don’t have the clout of those who like it just fine. I cited statistics here years ago saying that healthcare was making a staggering economy look robust because of rising costs, profits, and high employment, all unsustainable in a global economy.


From Fred: “Re: Lattice. Lattice has been threatening to sue KLAS for the past few months. I guess Lattice didn’t like their ratings.” Unverified. I hadn’t really heard of the Wheaton, IL company, which sells point-of-care systems to hospitals. Far more interesting to me is its company history. I’d heard the name in seemingly wildly different contexts, but it’s the same company: they wrote the first C compiler for the IBM PC in 1982, sold the company to SAS in 1987, developed programming systems for the System/36 and AS/400 in the 80s and 90s, then went private again in 1993 and started selling application software. I haven’t seen their scores.

From Interoperator: “Re: SNOMED-CT and ICD-9-CM crosswalk. Here’s a guided tour.”

From J. Lo: “Re: Epic. Do they have or will they soon have patient registry functionality? If so, will it meet NCQA standards for Patient-Centered Medical Home designation? Some say it’s coming in February, others say never.” If you know, please post a comment.

From Nasty Parts: “Re: another Sage resignation. Maureen Peszko, SVP of strategy and business development, resigned last week.” Unverified since I didn’t have time to ask Sage.

Charlie McCall is finally found guilty. I’m flabbergasted that his ultra-expensive legal team couldn’t get him off since that’s usually how it works (although they may wangle a light sentence). To paraphrase the otherwise ineloquent Gerald Ford, our long industry nightmare is over. And now that he’s as officially guilty as everybody unofficially knew he was, I hope he will be as uncomfortable in prison as McKesson’s shareholders were watching the stock drop due to his actions (with the help of inept McKesson management who paid premium dollars for what was obviously a house of cards).

A hospital in India is piloting software that will send retinal images to the iPhones of specialists, allowing quick diagnosis and treatment of retinopathy in newborns. The software was developed by i2iTeleSolutions, a Singapore-based telemedicine software vendor. As the company says, the iPhone is now an EyePhone.


Ministry Health Care (WI) starts its implementation of Marshfield Clinic’s CattailsMD EHR, a $40 million project.

Ben Rooks didn’t sound too keen on Healthport’s business model, saying it was trying “to convince portfolio managers and buy-side analysts that even though over 85% of revenues are related to release-of-information services, it really is a revenue cycle management company and should be valued as such.” Those efforts apparently failed, as Healthport withdraws its IPO citing poor market conditions, but almost admitting that having never made a profit might have diminished some of the market’s enthusiasm. The always-vigilant Ben, however, floated the possibility that maybe a bidder emerged to buy the company outright, which he called the “dual path” in filing the IPO as “stalking horse.” I love that Gordon Gekko talk. Blue Horseshoe loves HIStalk.

The MyMedicalRecords people announce their partnership with a Chinese technology company to build PHR and document imaging applications for that country. That might make more sense there than here since I’ve read that in China, it’s the responsibility of patients to bring their paper medical records with them when seeking medical services. I don’t know if that’s necessarily worse than our way of having each provider keep their little chunk of a given patient’s medical record, never to be combined.


The UK division of UnitedHealth acquires ScriptSwitch, a prescribing decision support vendor.

Greenway Medical Technologies starts up a series of Webinars covering HIT Regional Extension Centers.

Odd lawsuit: a hospital surgery tech is suing her former employer after she was fired for complaining about unsanitary OR conditions that included bugs, holes in the walls, rusty surgical instruments, mold, and biological fluids splatter in the rooms. She took pictures. What will become fodder for lame morning zoo radio shows is her claim that a scrub nurse “actually defecated inside her clothes during a surgery and continued to work with fecal matter pouring down her legs and onto the floor.” She didn’t get pictures of that, I guess.

E-mail me.

HERtalk by Inga


University Hospitals Geneva Medical Center and University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center (OH) go live on ISirona DeviceConX. The technology delivers patient medical device data to Eclipsys Sunrise EMR.

API Healthcare announces that Version 9.0 of its Navigator payroll and HR system is now in GA. Enhancements include a new user interface designed to facilitate integration with other API Healthcare applications.

HHS awards CSC an IDIQ contract, which has a three-year base period and four, one-year options. CSC will have the opportunity to compete with one other vendor for specific IT tasks defined in the IDIQ.

ACL Laboratories selects Accenx Exchange to provide EMR integration between ACL Labs and its customers. Accenx is a wholly owned subsidiary of Initiate Systems.

The OMB says about 5% of federal spending was paid improperly in 2009, including $54.2 billion for Medicare and Medicaid programs. Those programs actually had improper payment rates of 15.4% and 9.6%. I believe OMB Director Peter Orszag wants Americans to feel encouraged because better detection methods have uncovered more improper payments than in previous years. Orszag cites the example of an invalid doctor signature, which was much more likely to trigger an improper payment in 2009 than 2008. I wonder how much sooner I could retire if Mr. H improperly overpaid me 15% every month.

health net

Yet another health insurer loses financial, health and personal information on patients. Health Net says an unencrypted portable drive went missing and contain data on 1.5 million patients. The company took more than six months to report the breach, leading Connecticut state attorney to chastise it for “incomprehensible foot-dragging.”

Informatics Corporation of America captures "Best of Show" honors across both Provider and Insurance categories at Everything Channel’s 2009 Healthcare IT Summit.

Florida’s online medical records system for the state’s 2.6 million Medicaid recipients is now live. The site, developed with Availity, allows patients and their doctors to access 18 months of Medicaid claims data.

Trinitas Regional Medical Center (NJ) settles with the federal government, agreeing to pay $3 million in a Medicare fraud lawsuit. The hospital admits no wrongdoing. Meanwhile the whistleblower who originally alleged Trinitas illegally inflated charges gets a nice paycheck from taxpayers.

Image Movement of Montana,  a grassroots organization that includes 30 Montana healthcare facilities, plans to implement DR Systems’ eMix, a cloud-based technology for the secure sharing of radiology images and reports.


E-mail Inga.

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Currently there are "13 comments" on this Article:

  1. Just to be clear, it’s not that I wasn’t keen on Healthport’s business model, nor did I suggest that. ROI is actually a pretty good business – high recurring revenues which leads to high earnings visibility; also nicely scalable. It’s not, however, RCM (or for your software types: ROI<>RCM.
    BTW, my cellphone is much cooler than Gekko’s (but back in the day, I did admire his).
    Finally, as an analyst who once had a buy recommendation on HBOC, I confess I smiled today.

  2. Mr. HisTalk wrote “Interesting, too, that nobody’s paying much attention to the study that showed that electronic medical records haven’t improved outcomes or cost so far,”

    There were two studies in recent days. The one outlined in the New York Times the other day by Jha at Harvard School of Public Health, or the new one in the American Journal of Medicine “Hospital Computing and the Costs and Quality of Care: A
    National Stud” by Himmelstein, Wright, and Woolhandler at Harvard Medical School ( http://www.healthleadersmedia.com/content/242433/topic/WS_HLM2_TEC/Electronic-Medical-Records-Dont-Save-Money-Says-Study.html ).

    I have a question, though. Considering the chaos that surrounds many healthcare IT projects – the clinician disruptions, the raw politics, the mistakes, the ever-present mission hostile user interaction designs, the leadership by non medical personnel, the waste, the fraud, the dyscompetent consultants, the Keystone Kops atmosphere: how can anyone rreasonably expect significant improvements in costs or quality from such efforts?

    The National Research Council’s concession that “success of HIT will depend upon accelerating interdisciplinary research in biomedical informatics, computer science, social science, and health care engineering” could be construed as a plea to end the nonsense that infests the HIT industry and wil utlimately be its downfall.

  3. You said “At least EHRs have potential. ”

    Mr. H,

    There is not any evidence that overall medical care run by these inferiorly designed products will ever be advanced unless they are rigorously tested in the live hospital setting and vetted for safety and efficacy. The readers of your blog whose patients have suffered injury ought be complaining to the JC, the FDA, and to the Congress.

  4. Lattice – TRULY amazing. I gues Lattice still does not have a clue how KLAS collects data to rate vendors. Suing KLAS for Lattice’s own deficiencies really falls in the “NOt So Bright” catagory. Lattice really has two choices.

    1. They can sue their client base for telling KLAS how unhappy they are with their vendor, (not a real bright thing to do) or – – – –

    2. They can stop crying, attempt to get their own house in order and at least try to satisfy their existing clients (a very bright thing to do).

    It is amazing how KLAS ratings change when there is a happy customer base.

  5. ++It is amazing how KLAS ratings change when there is a happy customer base++ by IT Pro

    Certain companies are sufficiently slick to work deals with their hospital clients, to “keep them happy”, if you will…even if the doctors and nurses have to spend their waking ours protecting their patients’ safety.

  6. RE:electronic records and HBOC/McKesson for that matter – heard on the radio this morning a promotion for Scot Simon of NPR will do a story Saturday on the companies who stand to make a lot of money…may or may not be worth a listen. Also, just so I can be on the record first, what folks in Illinois have known for a while, get your bumper stickers now for Tammy Duckworth in 2012 or 2016 to do what the current Secretary of State could not quite make happen in her bid for the Presidency. How is it related? Come what may in the current Senate and House tussle (and the rest of this Presidency) with health care, she will make it her mission to fortify the footprint of what “works” in health care and most anyone connected to the HIT industry will benefit. (Possible alternative path: if Daley does not run, then she may sweep back to Chicago to take over the machine instead, which is not working so well these last few years and could use a new commander.)

  7. Regarding Charlie McCall/HBO & Company: It seems he’s finally gotten what he deserves. Although, the shareholders and employees that were invested in the company will never completely recover. The sad part, in my perspective as a former employee – prior to the merger, is that the products were good and the customers were pretty happy. The company would have done well anyway, without the dishonesty. Obviously the problem was the greed of those at the top, as it usually is in this kind of situation.

  8. Hold on folks on the search for cost savings and quality improvements as a result of EHR adoption. Not all that surprising really when you look at Jha’s other study that found nearly 91% of hospitals do not even have a fully functioning EHR! We are in the very early stages of adoption folks, and this will take time.

    Look over at mfg, the sector I hail from where IT adoption began in earnest in the 80’s but manufacturers did not see measurable productivity improvements till a decade later. Plenty of research has been published on the subject, just search IT, paradox, productivity and manufacturing.

    As for MyMedicalRecords in China, well good luck to them, the Chinese that is as MMR is good on marketing and poor on tech, really nothing more than a glorified fax server.

  9. Re: Marshfield using COBOL – what is wrong with using COBOL? If it works, you are not looking to throw-away money rewriting what you already have, you can support it now, you can continue to train programmers to support it into the future, and compilers exist for the hardware platforms that are required to support your processing volume – WHO CARES?

    “According to analyst estimates, 60-80 percent of the world’s enterprises still rely on COBOL to run their business. There are over 200 billion lines of COBOL currently in operation globally across every industry, and the language supports over 30 billion transactions per day – many of which impact our lives every day.” Source: Microfocus Study (sure they have a vested interest but it has been validated with other independent studies as well… take a minute and Google it).

    COBOL is not a dead language. It is alive and well. In fact, it is one of the few languages that was “healthy” enough to AGE WELL.

    Here is a thought-provoking calculation (the time when the world could be COBOL free):


  10. Did you hear?

    The VA has a big IT Department too, they use MUMPS, and they have a huge and decentralized IT organization! Everyone, get the pitchforks and torches!

    While we thrash Marshfield and the VA, we should also prepare to go to war against these vendors and all their customers too:

    * Intersystems (MUMPS)
    * Epic (MUMPS)
    * SunQuest (MUMPS)
    * Siemens Medical (COBOL, RPG)
    * McKesson (COBOL, MUMPS)
    * GE Medical (COBOL, SCOBOL, MUMPS)
    * Eclipsys (MUMPS in SDK)

    I feel another Czar-appointment from our President coming.

  11. In regards to cutting back on mammograms… so many women under the age of (the study I read said 50) are diagnosed early due to early exams… cutting back will only lead to later detection and MORE healthcare costs. When will our country’s medical “Gods”, insurance companies and government figure out that its about Prevention…??

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