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March 10, 2011 News 12 Comments

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3-10-2011 8-33-39 PM

The Center for Health Information and Decision Systems at the University of Maryland announces its HIE Evaluation Framework, which assesses HIEs on sustainability, organizational structure, technology, community engagement, and trust. The announcement points out that of 200 HIE initiatives, only 18 are covering expenses.

Carilion Clinic (VA) will collaborate with Aetna on an ACO initiative

Reader Comments

mr h thumb From Klaatu: “Re: Healthland. About to be acquired by [company name omitted]. [company name omitted] is also about to be acquired.” Unverified. I redacted the company names because both are publicly traded and I don’t want to be like the bawling Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) getting hauled off in SEC handcuffs in Wall Street. I’d rather be Tiger Blood Charlie, the male equivalent of a smarter but even goofier version of Meltdown Britney. Winning!

mr h thumb From HITChat: “Re: HIEs using the Practice Fusion or RealAge model of selling de-identified data. What do  you think?” First, I don’t think there’s any such thing as sure-fire de-identified data. If there’s enough information to be useful, it can probably be matched back to patients. That you don’t hear of that happening isn’t a confirmation that the information is secure – it’s that there’s not much payoff for re-identifying it. Otherwise, my main objection is that I don’t trust companies that buy data, not because they aren’t operating legally or ethically, but because they’re looking for new ways to increase healthcare costs by lining their own pockets. Providers, unfortunately, are often illogical consumers who just happen to be wearing white coats and suits, and they are often unreasonably susceptible to data-fueled sales pitches. We discussed that in a hospital benchmarking meeting today – drug vendors are getting some very detailed information on our treatment outcomes from somewhere and trying to use benchmark data to shame us into using their product. You wonder, too, with everybody and his brother peddling de-identified patient data, how does the purchaser know they aren’t buying duplicate information?

mr h thumb From Dabney: “Re: former Sentillion exec departures from Microsoft. Microsoft transferred their 800 Health Solutions Group people into the small-to-medium commercial sector group (Microsoft Business Solutions) last Monday. Peter Neupert and his whole organization have been pushed out of the incubation group in Microsoft Research with the guys who sell Microsoft Axapta ERP and CRM for small commercial customers. That will mark the end of acquisitions and spending of Microsoft on health because they haven’t had any significant sales of Amalga UIS in the past year after already withdrawing Amalga HIS and Amalga RIS/PACS from the market. Microsoft is slowly edging towards an exit stage left in health IT.” Unverified.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

mr h thumb Two-thirds of readers prefer the category-based layout you’re reading now, so we’ll stick with it for a couple of weeks (and fine tune along the way). A suggestion, however: don’t get so enamored with the categories that you skip everything else – we wouldn’t include something if we didn’t think it was worth reading. From our end, we promise not to lose our quirky and sometimes funny commentary, although it may have seemed like it last time since I was really struggling to get finished with the changes right up until I had to go to bed.

mr h thumb Speaking of which, a reader suggested tagging each item in front with a tiny avatar, which sent Inga furiously to her photo editing software. We won’t tag most of the posts, such as the straight news items. We’ll save that for when we write something that might be clearer if you knew who was “talking.” We’re willing to experiment to make HIStalk as good as we can make it, so bear with us – we’re day job amateurs. 

inga thumb What you missed this week if you aren’t properly tuned into HIStalk Practice: the first-year cost for EMR in a five-physician family practice averages $233,927, or $46,659 per doctor. Vermont and Alabama RECs add to their preferred EHR vendor lists. Emdeon triples its revenues in the Q4. NextGen VP Dr. Jan Lee heads to the Delaware Health Information Network. ONC recruits Meaningful Use champion providers. By the way, 78% of readers say HIStalk Practice helps them do their job better; ergo, sign up for the instant updates on HIStalk Practice and perform your job better.

mr h thumb The comfortingly familiar usual reminders: (a) put your e-mail address in the Subscribe to Updates box so I can tell you immediately what’s new; (b) check out HIStalk Practice and HIStalk Mobile; (c) show your love on Facebook, that thing that just put six kids on the billionaire’s list; (d) send me rumors, news, secret e-mails, or whatever you think we’ll enjoy; (e) support our sponsors by perusing and clicking in the obvious locations; and (f) send us good karma on occasion, which we’ll reciprocate. Thanks for reading.

On the Jobs Board: Clinical Project Manager, RVP Sales – Western Territory, Performance Management and Revenue Cycle Director. On Healthcare IT Jobs: Business Intelligence Lead Developer, Epic Clin Doc or Orders Analysts, IS Manager General Financial Application, Programmer/Analyst III.


Catholic Health Partners (OH) signs a multi-year agreement with RealMed to provide RCM products to its affiliate providers.

Beloit Health Systems (WI) selects TeleHealth Services as its interactive patient education and entertainment partner for its 10 locations.


UK-based Clarity Informatics Group replaces its CEO founder with Tim Sewart, a 32-year-old law firm partner who leads a technology practice (and who will continue in that role as well). The company provides the NHS Clinical Knowledge Summaries (evidence-based medicine clinical information) and the Clarity Drugs Suite drug database. Ian Purves, the professor who founded the company, seems like fun: his company bio lists titles of MBBS, MD, FRCGP, MIoD, DRCOG, DCCH, RYA Ocean Yachtmaster.

Announcements and Implementations

3-10-2011 10-28-41 AM

Hoboken University Medical Center (NJ) is scheduled to go live on Medsphere’s OpenVista EHR March 22. Pharmacy already made the switch in January.

St. Luke’s Health System (MO) deploys Central Logic ForeFront to facilitate logistics and documentation requirements for patient transfers in and out of its 11-hospital system.

University of Utah Health Care System goes live with Epic’s MyChart for patient records access on smart phones.

Meridian Health (NJ) goes live with ICA’s CareAlign solution for its multi-county HIE.

Government and Politics

inga thumb Grace Community Health Center (KY) secures $150,000 as part of Kentucky’s Medicaid EHR Program. They have selected but not yet implemented NextGen’s Ambulatory EHR, and thus got HITECH money without having yet achieved Meaningful Use. I mentioned this on yesterday’s HIStalk Practice and commented that if I were selling EHR, I would be knocking down the doors of all eligible Medicaid providers and telling them to sign my contract because that’s all it takes to get their money from the government. A reader suggested that I didn’t have my facts right and that providers were in fact required to “install” the certified EHR technology. However, a CMS representative confirmed that I’m correct and forwarded this link from the CMS website. A couple of key passages:  “a provider does not have to have installed certified EHR technology” and all a provider must do is demonstrate the “acquiring, purchasing, or securing access to certified EHR technology.”

The state of North Carolina and CSC successfully implement the first phase of the state’s EHR Medicaid Incentive Payment System. The system is scheduled for full release in April.

Innovation and Research

3-10-2011 7-18-31 PM

mr h thumb Jardogs, an 18-employee subsidiary of Springfield Clinic (IL), is profiled in the local paper for its FollowMyHealth patient portal. Says John Pacione, the company’s president, “We’re creating data exchange, just like an HIE, but we’re putting the patient at the middle of it, to authorize that information to be released.” The company has eight large customers, including its parent organization, of course. Most intriguing is the company’s name, which it declines to define, saying only “it’s a closely guarded secret.” A smart one, since every Google search hit is theirs (something to think about when choosing a company name). Also interesting: CEO James Hewitt is also CIO at Springfield Clinic and formerly held that role at Allscripts, which was also the previous employer of both John Pacione and chief architect Ron Ward.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota are using Xbox Kinect in project to improve diagnosis of mental disorders in children. Said the researcher, “Is a $100,000 system being outsmarted by a $150 toy? Indeed this is the case … I don’t think Microsoft has realized that [Kinect] is something that could change medicine.”


VMware announces availability of its free VMware View Client for the iPad, which allows users to run their virtual Windows desktops from anywhere. The announcement mentions Children’s Hospital of Central California, which will use the technology to provide “follow-me desktops” for iPad users.

A column in The Atlantic covers the InstyMeds vending machine for drugs, leased to physician practices for dispensing prescription medications.


3-10-2011 3-37-13 PM

inga thumb I feel like I have barely unpacked from Orlando, yet HIMSS is announcing the deadline for HIMSS12 proposals. The proposal form will be available March 21 through May 23. I wonder how many relevant topics are overlooked by having a deadline this far in advance?

The average cost of a data breach in the health care sector jumped from $301 per compromised record in 2009 to $345 last year.

mr h thumb Listening: the debut album of Beady Eye, the Beatles-esque reincarnation of Oasis. It sounds as though it could have been recorded straight to four-track tape in 1965, which is refreshing if you’re tired of electronica, music written for hammy dance moves instead of listening, and writers who can’t write songs for singers who can’t sing. And watching (sometimes painfully): the lowbrow but hilarious Fat Actress. Kirstie Alley is fearless, I’ll say that.

3-10-2011 6-38-29 PM

University of Toledo’s medical school is placing first- and second-year medical students in a scribe program in its ED. They transcribe into the EMR, keep an eye on lab and rad results, and get 100 hours of ED experience before their clinical rotations start.

mr h thumb A patient sitting in an overcrowded doctor’s waiting room sues the doctor, claiming a heavy filing cabinet toppled over on her, causing head, neck, and back injuries. I guess you could say that it was paper medical records, not the electronic kind, that reached the tipping point.

Sponsor Updates

  • COSSMA, a Puerto Rico-based community health center, selects Sage Intergy EHR and PM to replace its existing HealthPro PM system. Sage says it’s not charging the clinic for the new software.
  • dbMotion and Matrix Knowledge Group partner to market and deploy the dbMotion solution throughout the UK.
  • Space City Pain Specialists (TX) chooses the SRS EHR.
  • Parkland Memorial Hospital (TX) picks ProVation MD from Wolters Kluwer Health for its gastroenterology procedure documentation and coding.
  • Pacific Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology Laboratory (CA) increases its collection rates from 55% to 90% after contracting with Orion Health for billing and practice management services.
  • HANYS Solutions, the for-profit-subsidiary of the Healthcare Association of New York State, expands its relationship with RelayHealth as the preferred partner for RCM solutions. The agreement includes the RelayClearance, RelayAssurance, and RelayResolution offerings.
  • Speaking of RelayHealth, the company just upgraded its Website. Very 2.0-ish and easy to navigate.
  • Windham Hospital (CT) chooses the Intelligent Forms Suite from Access, the Siemens Strategic Alliance Partner for electronic forms management, to create barcoded electronic forms on demand form MS4.
  • Merge Healthcare announces the release of Financials 6.1, which adds ANSI 5010 and PQRI capability.

EPtalk by Dr. Jayne 

HIStalk’s new Curbside Consult feature has generated a good discussion. I value reader input and response and had a few thoughts in follow-up.

From Charles Babbage: “You say vendors are trying to make their products better and better and then list scores of issues that should have been fixed decades ago… More important, after the hospital spends $150 million on the system, and $500 or $600 million implementing it … the vendor has little worry about making the customer happy.”

Looking at some of the vendors and products in question, they weren’t around decades ago. Don’t get me wrong, some were, and they should be appropriately criticized.

I’m sure there are some organizations out there that fall into the figures you specify, but not the vast majority of implementations. Even with smaller implementations, given the dollars out there and the competition, vendors seem to be keenly aware of the need to make the customer happy. The last thing they want is for a significant install to fail. They know it takes ten happy customers to make up for one aggressively vocal and unhappy customer.

I don’t disagree that there are bad apples out there, but I also don’t believe in painting all vendors with the same brush. Even with their flaws, many systems provide measures of patient safety that couldn’t exist in the pre-electronic world. (Think allergy and drug interaction checking – it just didn’t exist on paper. How many people were killed by those kinds of basic medical errors?)

Like many of you, I’m a practicing clinician too (not just a suit) and have seen both good and bad systems. But then again, I’m an active and constructive participant in my organization’s choices and decision-making and understand why things are the way they are. I’ve spent most of my efforts in improving the system, not just yelling. That has allowed for real change to come, not only with my hospital, but with our vendors. (Although believe me, I’ve done some yelling, and sometimes that’s what it takes.)

From Sherry Reynolds: “One challenge that we see with OBs who deliver and work at multiple clinics and hospitals is the cognitive overload when they have to learn multiple different systems and workflows.”

I hear you! This is extremely frustrating. Coming from a “best of breed” hospital, that’s my reality. Different vendors for emergency department, labor and delivery unit, inpatient units, etc. … and this is within a single hospital. Add on the different ambulatory system and it’s even worse. And then if you are on staff at multiple hospitals in different health systems? Forget making sense of it.

I think this is why Epic has done so well with their integrated platform — it’s a really strong selling point. On the other hand, the so-called integrated platforms of some vendors really aren’t that integrated at all, but people keep buying them.

Looking at other technology platforms, those with great usability lend themselves to emulation (think Apple phone technology). Since we are still in an unregulated industry and this is a free market economy, customers need to vote with their checkbooks for the vendors that support cross-vendor standardization and uniform workflows.

From MIMD: “Many vendors are working hard to remedy these and to implement aggressive protocols to bake quality into their products and design defects out. What took so long for them to do this?”

I agree this question deserves an answer. For some of the products out there, there is NO excuse. Patient safety-related defects should be fixed — end of story. And they should be fixed in a timely fashion.

The short answer: vendors didn’t clean up their act because they didn’t have to.

I don’t believe in blaming the victim, but there are customers out there whose actions reinforce bad vendor behavior and vendors take advantage of it. Customers can band together through regional or specialty organizations and apply pressure to vendors to change the way business is done. They can refuse to accept releases that are known to be problematic at other institutions.

When vendors don’t respond, consider exercising contractual remedies. Unfortunately, too few people have done this — it’s messy and time-consuming when your goal is caring for patients.

The market has also reinforced this. People continue to purchase systems from dysfunctional vendors due to pricing, perceived product sexiness, etc. I’ve helped some small practices select systems and have seen them choose systems that their consultants specifically advised against (due to known defects, poor service, etc.) just because the price was right. Ultimately, you get what you pay for, although there are some expensive lemons out there, too.

No one wants to de-install and go through it all again. Having done it myself, trust me, it’s not the worst thing that can happen.

If you choose wisely, it just might make you go from spending four hours a night entering your notes after dinner to finishing on time and walking out the door before the last patient has left the building.


Mr. H, Inga, Dr. Jayne, Dr. Gregg.

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Currently there are "12 comments" on this Article:

  1. The Cayman Islands National Health System is soliciting vendor partners for participation in the Enterprise Healthcare Information Systems Project. At present, the core enterprise applications are provided by the Cerner Corporation. The contract for those services expires in June 2013. This RFI begins a re-compete process for the award of that contract. The intent is to evaluate other vendors and products, and determine if it is in the best interests of the Cayman Islands to remain in partnership with Cerner. Cerner will be invited to participate in this re-compete.

    You can download the RFI at: http://bit.ly/fhVZVu

  2. Microsoft- as an FYI, most Sentillion folks (Leadership and Sales) have left MSFT at this point. It’s sad, that Microsoft took an energetic organization like Sentillion and in a year has buried them into the Microsoft pile. For all the bright minds at Microsoft, they really don’t have the right people in place who understand healthcare-and that is really mind boggling!

  3. IDK, I’m not keen on the new layout. Maybe I am like those old docs who are resistant to change and won’t use electronic records.

  4. Re: What took so long?

    Thanks for the answers. They are on the money.

    Utimately, you get what you pay for

    Actually, as I teach my students, you get AT MOST what you pay for – usually less – and there just is no Santa Claus.

    — SS

  5. If icon background colors have contrast, they’ll be even easier to differentiate. (why aren’t all traffic lights all green?)

  6. Re: Dabney

    That will mark the end of acquisitions and spending of Microsoft on health because they haven’t had any significant sales of Amalga UIS in the past year after already withdrawing Amalga HIS and Amalga RIS/PACS from the market. Microsoft is slowly edging towards an exit stage left in health IT.”

    This was easy to predict.

    I did so.

    In July 2006.

    See my post “Bill, Have You Lost Your Mind?” at this link.

    Some juicy history in there from the 1990’s as well.

    — SS

  7. RE: Beady Eye

    A Beatles-esque off shoot of an already Beatles-esque band. Modern music isn’t all formulaic nonsense check out Animal Collective, Mogwai, The Walkmen, Deerhunter, Iron & Wine , Engineers, TV On the Radio, Arcade Fire, Radiohead, 65daysofstatic, The National, Decemberists…..

    [From Mr. HIStalk] I’m on it! I’ve already recommended Iron and Wine, Arcade Fire, Radiohead, and Decemberists in the past. I’ll check out the others.

  8. Mr. H:

    You should create a EMR bracket system in spirit of the upcoming March Madness and title it “The EMR Dead Pool”. 230 EMR teams in the field…who will remain standing? Signs of early exits abound…the consolidation after consolidation of EMR vendors makes for interesting speculation!

  9. I love the bracket idea. I bet Glenn Tulman and this team will be up for the challenge. Rumor has it that he and Barrack have played a game of pickup or two in Chi town…

  10. RE: Dabney and MIMD:
    Peter Neupert (head of Microsoft Health Solutions Group) boasted a couple of years ago about having spent a billion dollars in acquiring and building up his portfolio of software assets that would transform the world of Health IT (http://healthspottr.com/fh100/585-peter-neupert). Somehow, that list placed him as the #1 influential person in Health IT. Really – ahead of people like Don Berwick#6 and George Halverson #8??? A few years later there’s very little to show for it.

    In reality HSG has only one product, Amalga UIS (Amalga RIS/PACS, Amalga HIS and MedStory have all been discontinued. HealthVault itself is free). UIS came from the acquisition by HSG of Azyxxi from Medstar. This is basically just a clinical data repository – scripts run continuously to extract data from labs and patient admin systems or pick up HL7 messages. The data all gets denormalised into one huge data table, then views are built on top of this denormalised table, each of these views kind of looking like spreadsheets. That’s pretty much it – not exactly revolutionary and hardly the basis for a billion dollar health IT business!

    But worst of all it’s not a very relevant technology for the HITECH and meaningful use requirements where Microsoft neither has an EMR for physicians or an EHR for hospital groups. And because Amalga eschews standards, they don’t have much of a story for HIE’s either. So although Microsoft’s made big investments and admittedly with HealthVault made a bit of a splash, they’re in the wrong areas to make money. The execs who sold their companies must see that and how Microsoft’s experiment in health IT doesn’t have much life in it, beyond the marketing hype.

    That’s perhaps why Pat Dowing, former CEO of Global Care, Paul Roscoe and Rob Seiliger, CEO of Sentillion and most of the other talented people who joined HSG from those acquisitions have walked away after selling their companies to Microsoft.

  11. Anyone have information on JarDogs? Is Jardogs FollowMyHealth an easy integration with Allscripts Touchworks? Are they a recognized partner? How does their product compare with the Allscripts Intuit PHR/Patient Portal?

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