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Monday Morning Update 2/22/10

February 20, 2010 News 2 Comments

From Luke O’Voron: “Re: Privacy and Security Standards Workgroup. Their meetings are now open to anyone by teleconference. This week, Judy Faulkner of Epic was in fine form, defending her 30-year-old product as the only way to go. Look for transcripts.” They haven’t been posted yet, but I’m watching for them.

From All Hat No Cattle: “Re: Looks like HIStalk is now a source of news! Congratulations.” Healthcare IT News has been openly scornful of HIStalk in the past (“a sorry commentary on journalism today”), so I’m not sure how I feel about having them cite HIStalk (I know it didn’t result in many incoming hits). I don’t claim to be a journalist, so I likewise assume nobody there claims to be a healthcare IT expert. I sometimes glance at it during the more boring educational sessions at HIMSS, especially since early print deadlines mean I can read what the keynoters will say before their sessions are even held, making me feel temporarily psychic and opening up the possibility of a “Dewey Defeats Truman” collector’s edition if the speaker would happen to cancel or go off script with an unplanned rant.

From Kiley: “Re: CEO. You should check out this guy’s past. Nobody seems to question his background when he’s speaking or writing.” We’re on journalistic thin ice here, even for a non-journalism major. I did some extensive Googling and it seems the individual named recently pled guilty to big-time federal income tax fraud. I got copies of the court records, but received no response when I sent details (twice) to the organization’s PR e-mail address and asked for confirmation. I can’t decide if that’s fair game or not, although I’m leaning toward no.


Long-range weather forecasts are notoriously inaccurate, but the Atlanta 10-day version predicts highs in the lower 50s for the start of HIMSS. If it’s not too cloudy, that should be pretty nice, especially compared to Chicago last year (or Chicago right now – snow and highs in the 30s).


Looks like Sully’s HIMSS audience will be about the same size as when he made that “we’re going down in the Hudson” PA announcement, with 88% of us planning to be long gone from Atlanta by the time he hits the podium on Thursday. New poll to your right: given the government’s track record in fulfilling its financial promises to providers, do you think ARRA money will be paid as stated?

Listening: Crucified Barbara. Sometimes you just need beautiful, non-English speaking Swedish women playing nasty biker metal hard rock.

Inga asked our BFF Tammi from AT&T a reader’s question about iPhone presentations at HIMSS, of which there are basically none on the education track since annual conference proposals are due nearly a full year before the conference (it’s ludicrous to be paying to sit through year-old presentations just because HIMSS can’t shorten its lead time, but that’s always been the case – this year’s sessions were finalized by May 29, 2009). Anyway, she mysteriously suggests dropping by the AT&T booth to check out “exciting developments.”


Thanks to MedVentive for supporting HIStalk as a Platinum Sponsor. The Waltham, MA-based company provides a wide range of solutions that include pay-for-performance systems, registries, evidence-based algorithms for quality management, point-of-care decision support for physicians that integrates information in its repository with claims data, managed care tools, and scorecards and provider profiling for payers. It was started by CareGroup and BIDMC in1997, expanded for a broader audience as MedVentive in 2005. If you want to connect with their folks at HIMSS, shoot them an e-mail. I appreciate their support.

Inga has been working her pretty fingers to the bone getting ready for HIMSS. Somehow she found time to prepare this guide to what our HIStalk sponsors will be doing at HIMSS, complete with booth and contact information, a description of their products and services, and their message to you about their HIMSS activities (including some giveaways, charitable projects, and the all-important snacking opportunities). You can download a PDF version to print and take to Atlanta if you like. If you enjoy HIStalk or benefit from it, please click their ads, check out their HIMSS activities, and drop by their booths and say thanks. We have some super-nice people and companies who are fans of HIStalk, which we as amateurs with day jobs sure do appreciate.

I don’t know about your hospital, but mine is packed to the gills. It’s a good thing flu activity was a lot less than expected or we would be having patients sleeping in the hall instead of just the ED holding area.

England’s Accountancy and Actuarial Discipline Board will conduct hearings this week on an accountant for iSoft Group, whose former executives are themselves are the subject of an investigation related to accounting irregularities alleged to have occurred from 2003 until 2006.


Former RelayHealth VP Bob Katter joins First DataBank as VP of sales and marketing.

The Racine paper weighs in on the EMR implementation at Wheaton Franciscan-All Saints (IL), saying some doctors anonymously told reporters that its $67 million McKesson Horizon Clinicals implementation is “one of the cheapest, worst systems available.” The docs complain that Wheaton spent nearly as much as nearby Froedtert, which installed #1 KLAS-ranked Epic for $70 million. The hospital defends itself, saying its McKesson system (#7 ranked in KLAS, the paper says) is comparable to Epic and the #12 ranked Cerner system that another nearby hospital bought, neither of which had extensive problems (actually, that sounds to me like they defended their vendor pretty well, but themselves not so well). Since the hospital and its doctors were already fighting about unrelated issues, I’d take anything said there with a grain of salt. Other places run Horizon Clinicals just fine.


Strange: why is the non-profit Cleveland Clinic buying Google ads to brag on its technology and IT people on its own EMR site? This ad came up when I Googled “healthcare technology.” 

I’ve mostly quit reporting on government HIT handouts, you may have noticed. Truth be told, it makes me sick to my stomach to read, much less write, about all those undisciplined politicians bragging to the locals about how great it is they managed to snare taxpayer money to pay for local projects. Enjoy the economic party because it can’t last; the generations-long hangover is going to be brutal.


The Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center (OH), concerned about medical residents who clutter up the EMR with copied-and-pasted information, audits the notes of first-year residents and gives movie tickets to the best one. The newspaper article quotes a journal article: “The copy-and-paste function has led to a number of unexpected problems and concerns about electronic note writing and its impact on the culture of medicine, including reducing the credibility of the recorded findings, clouding clinical thinking, limiting proper coding and robbing the chart of its narrative flow and function.”

Facing a threatened libel countersuit, GE Healthcare drops its libel lawsuit against a Danish radiologist who had shared research findings unflattering to one of GE Healthcare’s contrast agents at a medical conference. The suit was featured Tuesday in The Globe and Mail in an article called London, sue capital of the world, describing “libel tourism” in which suits involving no English parties are tried there, mostly because unlike in the US, the burden of proof rests on the defendant and a libel defense costs 140 times anywhere else in Europe, leading to pocket-lining settlements for lawyers. At stake: self-imposed medical censorship, such as the Danish radiologist, who says, “I am not giving lectures any more in the U.K., where it seems you can be sued for telling the truth.” I liked this quote: “It’s acutely embarrassing for the government that various American states have passed laws to protect their citizens from English libel law.”

WebMD finds itself on the wrong side of Senator Chuck Grassley, who wants to know why the company’s TV ads pitch a pharma-sponsored depression screening test while it claims to provide objective medical information to consumers. WebMD claims editorial independence, but the Senator wants it to provide details on its drug company connections. Chuck’s all over the place, but I usually like his choice of targets.

Bizarre: the FBI gets involved in the case of a Pennsylvania school system that remotely activated the webcams of school-issued Apple laptops used by students. The school supposedly accused a student of selling drugs, providing as evidence a photo snapped by his school laptop from inside his house. The school claims the webcams were used only to recover laptops that had been stolen.

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Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. Mr. Histalk, I agree with you that it is LUDICROUS to pay to sit through year-old presentations just because HIMSS can’t shorten its lead time.

    What is even more ludicrous is that HIMSS “finalizes” its sessions topics a year in advance, only to have the vendor change the topic, the presentor, and the handouts at the last minute.

    The vendor controls the topic, what THEY think is relevant, and HIMSS has no choice but to agree with the change. HIMSS has to fill the time slot. It is laughable if the industry things that process for selecting annual conference session topics is organized.

    HIMSS has had this problem for many years. That is why HIMSS is continually scrambling to make its print deadline year after year.

    It is a Catch 22 for HIMSS. Do they reprimand their HIMSS EHRVA vendors and risk alienating the hand that feeds them, or do they fill their conference sessions with topics the vendors want?

  2. I have an idea for a HIMSS Roundtable Discussion that may be useful to engage all of the stakeholders for a change, especially the ones we know are there but who rarely speak up. So then, just to make things a little more stimulating then the usual business why not throw some hot chili peppers in the pot and stir things up a bit with a Round Table Presentation Proposal:

    TITLE: EHRs should not be part of the game –but evidently they are and the billions of dollars flowing into this nightmare make the game irresistible.

    Theme: The big game be with a big barn-fire before?

    With tales of convenience, and the wonders EHRs work to improve safety and efficiency, the industry more powerful than a locomotive surely can withstand burden of proof testing.
    if this is true; then submit voluntarily to FDA testing or the equivalent of 1200 hours of product safety testing. Remove the industry’s quartering soldiers from the ranks of government offices, committees, public comments and stand down accepting an honest appraisal. Accept the tenet of the greatest good for the greatest number and declare an ethical basis for involvement in healthcare. Shed the self cloaking language that conceals intrusion on the traditional physician-patient relationship. Remove the electronic hurdle-mania that prevent patients from interacting with the physician or declare publicly, a mandate orders all of this changed and across every agency.

    Stakeholder Discussion: answer the charge that such mandate requires us to burn the medical codices with electrons. Convert every written thing to microcosmic particles no longer seen by the unaided eye and add to each unit of data, −1.602×10−19 coulomb that we may know nothing of a reality that was once captured and recorded and saved as evidence of human life. Strip away our culture and tangible artifacts and give us vaporware- healthcare built upon the incineration of tradition that is a thousand years old.

    After torching the health records of the people , decide what will be burned next? And how much will that cost and what will be the ROI?

    Stakeholders Buy-in : can we expect the important folks to participate; HIMSS-ONC, HIMSS-FDA, HIMSS-AHRQ, HIMSS-CMS, HIMSS…?

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