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Monday Morning Update 4/26/10

April 24, 2010 News 6 Comments


From Alphonso: “Re: CattailsMD. The Marshfield Clinic’s CattailsMD project is in serious trouble and may be dead. Senior leadership for the project has been let go or moved to ‘new opportunities’ inside the organization (Bob Carlson and Paul Olinski). Project has gone nowhere for the past few years.” Unverified. I’m not sure why they had a booth at HIMSS or why they would try to commercialize their own product in the first place since that hardly seems core to their mission. Their own use of CattailsMD seemed imperative to them, so I’d be surprised if it’s being allowed to fade.

From Wade Wells: “Re: log on. What’s the fastest, most secure way to log on to PCs in health institutions? We key in our usernames and passwords, but with the rollout of clinical systems and speed being an issue, I’m interested to hear of others’ experiences. Some are suggesting card readers, biometric, etc.” Thoughts?


From Mad Max: “Re: WellPoint cancelling insurance for newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. This ought to be criminal activity. Please keep this story in the public eye and drive those insurance actuary slugs back under the rocks where they belong.” It’s the age-old debate of whether healthcare should be a noble calling or a cutthroat business. It’s in the same vein as to whether Cerner should use its legislative clout to squash competitors – who decides where good business yields to compassionate care? Meanwhile, HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius asks WellPoint’s $13 million-a-year CEO to voluntarily stop the cancellations, noting that the practice will “soon be illegal” (which obviously reinforces the concept that it’s legal now). The company’s response claims that computer algorithms aren’t used for that purpose, that one patient who complained isn’t a WellPoint member, and that they’ll divulge specifics about her case that proves their side of the argument if she’ll sign a HIPAA waiver.

From The PACS Designer: “Re: iPad review. Another more complete test review of the iPad as a business tool comes to us from InformationWeek’s Fritz Nelson.”


The sponsors-only job board seems to be working fine, so I’ll consider it open for business. It has quite a few job listings already, thanks to volunteers who helped out by testing. This is a lightweight replacement for the job listing topic in the discussion forum. It’s not as fully featured as Healthcare IT Jobs and, unlike that site, it’s open only to HIStalk Platinum and Founding Sponsors (and is free to them).

I gave the iPad a quick grope yesterday. As you’d expect from Apple, it’s very sleek and has great graphics, with a display size that seems perfect for Web browsing or running apps. On the other hand, I’d worry about dropping it since there’s nothing to grab onto. I wouldn’t pay $499 for it since I could buy a full-feature Wintel laptop for less (with a real keyboard and everything). Travelers with computer needs mostly involving entertainment would probably like it, although they’d need to add on a data plan and even then I’d probably stick with an iPhone. Apple is selling a bunch of them even though they don’t really replace anything, though, so I will defer to public opinion.

Thanks to those who responded to my little survey about what hospitals readers are from. I’ve posted the list of organizations (without the job titles). 


Half or fewer doctor will get the HITECH money they expect, said 78% of readers. Only 9% think most of the doctors will get the full payoff. New poll to your right: are you personally aware of a situation in which a healthcare computer system directly caused patient harm?


EHRtv posts over 40 video interviews from the HIMSS conference.

The FDA will step up its oversight of IV infusion pumps, citing 10,000 complaints, 79 recalls, and at least 710 known patient deaths.

McAfee apologizes for its antivirus fiasco that took down computers all over the world, blaming its poor testing. A hospital reader’s comment you may have missed suggests VIPRE Antivirus from Sunbelt Software as a superior alternative.


Brigham and Women’s will freeze hiring and cut its operating budget by 3%, but says those actions are unrelated to the decision by Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates to shift its referrals to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center instead. BIDMC implies that its shared EMR access was a key factor in that decision.

An MIT mobile health group says open source mobile platforms are important for affordability and accessibility, making its first choice Google Android and eventually Symbian.

MedQuist completes its acquisition of Spheris.

A problem with the patient verification software used by Australia’s Medicare service causes several hundred errors, the significance of which is disputed. The software vendor had urged the agency to notify the 2,700 affected medical practices in February and March when the problem was found, but the agency declined.

This sounds like something Oracle would do: a formerly free Sun plug-in for Microsoft Office that allows saving documents in OpenDocument Format will now cost $9,000 for 100 users plus annual support, now that Oracle owns Sun.

Odd lawsuit: a Connecticut woman is charged with impersonating a nurse and forging prescriptions for narcotics while employed in a physician’s practice as an RN. Prosecutors say she spent $2,000 to make up a “Nurse of the Year” dinner in her honor from the Connecticut Nursing Association, an organization that she also made up. She sent her boss an invitation on fake letterhead to be a guest speaker at the dinner, which he did.

E-mail me.

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Currently there are "6 comments" on this Article:

  1. Fastest and most secure are usually opposing criteria. Card readers are OK but it takes some time in lining-up the card and hitting the typical reader (slot insert vs. swipe which would be somewhat faster if ergonomically/accessibly located). Biometrics like fingerprint readers take some time for users to get the hang of logging-on. Depending upon the reader and the software, they can be a bit of a hassle to line-up. It took roughly the same amount of time. In some time motion studies we did with biometrics vs. card readers, they were roughly the same. Costs were higher with smart cards (readers + cards vs. just readers for biometrics… both have software interfaces that usually cost about the same). Proximity readers were about the fastest tool (Xyloc, Encentuate iTag) when combined with roaming profiles (Citrix or other software vendors with similar solutions). There are a few ways to implement tools like Xyloc and Encentuate (now part of IBM Tivoli). You often trade speed for some level of security.

    An interesting twist that we considered looking into was using a tool like Passfaces with another proximity sso tool so that the users weren’t really doing typing, they were just doing some clicking. I don’t know where those types of offerings stand these days. With Microsoft and Sentillion being one-in-the-same, there are some real opportunities to move a very modular, yet AD-integrated solution forward.

  2. We rolled out new clinical systems last fall. Our PCs and mobile workstations use single sign-on which still requires a user name and adherence to a strict password protocol but users don’t seem bothered by it. The Emergency Department was another story. Physicians complained about the time it took to log in so we provided a biometric device which they are reasonably content with.

  3. Re: McAfee apologizes for its antivirus fiasco that took down computers all over the world, blaming its poor testing. A hospital reader’s comment you may have missed suggests VIPRE Antivirus from Sunbelt Software as a superior alternative.

    How about Microsoft’s own ‘Security Essentials’ (http://www.microsoft.com/security_essentials/). It’s free and doe snot have a huge memory footprint like some anti virus apps. Seems to work well.

  4. “are you personally aware of a situation in which a healthcare computer system directly caused patient harm?”

    I know this is a sophisticated audience, but still that question is ripe for misinterpretation and misuse. It’s of the same ilk as sensationalistic examinations of people who have met others via the web and then been harmed. From a population perspective to asses the value of the technology, what you want to know is whether the NET harm is greater with the new technology. We’ve got hundreds of thousands of people being harmed by the medical (non) system every year using paper.

  5. RE: PC Logon — I have been following and have been impressed by the approach offered by Anakam (www.anakam.com). They offer a novel two-factor authentication approach that can work with both providers and patients. I haven’t had a chance to work with them directly (nor do I have any affiliation – though their VP for healthcare, Dr. John Makaulay, did let me try on his Super Bowl ring once–it fell off my thumb), but I hear they have had some good success implementing at various IDNs like Sharp Healthcare. I’d like to hear if others have had any experience implementing and can comment on how well this works in the real world.

  6. I’ve been wondering how many hospital administrators are making plans to stock pile the government funding for when medicare reimbursement is further tightened.

    On a personal note I recently applied to be “certified” for a software company’s product and one of the contract terms listed was that I could not work for any competitor software vendor for 2 years. I’m still deciding whether I want to restrict my job opportunities that way but it would have been simple to miss in the contract.

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