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April 12, 2011 News 11 Comments

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4-12-2011 2-36-14 PM

image  UnitedHealth Group unites its health services businesses under the Optum brand and renames Ingenix to OptumInsight. In addition, Prescription Solutions becomes OptumRx. UnitedHealth says the brand unification makes it easier for the market to understand the company’s full capabilities and helps align market engagements. I say the name change makes it easier for me to be confused and I’ll need awhile to align the name in my head. Mike Mikan will serve as CEO of the Optum group, while the CEOs of each company will remain the same.

HHS launches a $1 billion patient safety initiative aimed at making hospital care safer, more reliable, and less costly. The Partnership for Patients is a public-private collaborative and will work to decrease hospital-acquired infections 40% and reduce hospital readmissions 20% by the end of 2013. If successful, HHS predicts $50 billion in Medicare savings over the next ten years.

Reader Comments

image  From P. Cockroft-Gault: “Re: open source biology. Love this guy’s drive and motivation.” Stephen Friend, MD, PhD, a former Merck SVP of cancer research, quits his job to start a non-profit to turn genomic analysis into a “wisdom of the crowds” type project, putting more intellectual horsepower behind unlocking genetic secrets and making the results non-commercial. “Our hallowed academic institutions have become factories for people who are trying to keep their own employment, their tenure … the whole reward structure keeps people from sharing the data that makes that connection …We’ll make it or not depending on whether our community of interest goes viral,” he says. In the TEDx talk above, he says the era of defining a disease by its symptoms is over since much more information is available at the molecular level.

image From Veronica: “Re: Epic. Judy’s making noise in Wisconsin.” An article says the Greater Wisconsin Committee PAC is funded by children of George Soros, labor unions, and “Madison liberals who don’t unionize their own companies” (that would be Judy).

4-12-2011 7-17-19 PM

image From Harold: “Re: John Caswell. I thought it would be nice if you mentioned his passing. He was with Compucare/QuadraMed for more than 28 years and will be missed by many in the industry.” Sorry it took so long to get this up, but I was waiting on confirmation from QuadraMed since I found nothing online. John David Caswell, 53, died on April 1, 2011. Details, guest book, and memorial contribution information can be found on the funeral home’s site. They did a nice job on his tribute video, set to Steppenwolf’s Born to be Wild. Condolences.

image From Ling Cod: “Re: Black Swan moment. That book suggests that humans are wired to explain complex, chaotic events with simple theories that make them sound plausible even though they don’t predict anything (like reasons that stock markets crash). I challenge your readers to think about the Black Swan moments that may affect the alleged rapid adoption of EHRs and the possibility that, within a couple of years, providers will find the compliance wasn’t worth the aggravation. Possibilities: (a) some or all of the stimulus could be revoked, or (b) CMS may make EHR adoption mandatory with no further incentives if you want Medicare / Medicaid money.” The gauntlet has been thrown down. Feel free to add your thoughtful comments or submit something to me directly. The Black Swan reference, by the way, is the title of a book taken from the fact that experts had all kinds of convincing reasons that swans are always white (chief one being that they’d never seen a black one), which sounded great until a black swan was found.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests 

image Listening: Royal Hunt, a Danish progressive band. Hits the spot in a Dream Theater kind of way.

image Bored? Feeling as though the whole world is a tux and you’re a pair of brown shoes? My suggestions: (a) put your e-mail address in the Subscribe to Updates box to your right and feel immediately spiritually connected to the 7,288 folks who get my spam-free e-mail updates the instant I write something new; (b) do all those friendy / likey / connecty things on Facebook and LinkedIn, which will let you ride the vast social network that Inga, Dr. Jayne, and I enjoy (not really since we’re anonymous, but we get some superficial satisfaction as long as we don’t think too much about it); (c) send me news and rumors suitable for mongering; (d) peruse the sponsor ads to your left or their links to your lower right and investigate their offerings while feigning deep interest; and (e) use your considerable interpersonal influence to send new readers my way by telling people how the information you regularly glean from HIStalk has made you wealthy, self-actualized, and simply irresistible. Thanks for reading.

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

4-12-2011 8-22-32 PM

EMR/PM provider ClearPractice forms a strategic partnership with Prognosis Health Information Systems. The companies are collaborating to offer an integrated SaaS-based EMR solution for rural and community hospitals and their affiliated physicians.

A quote from the CEO of Aetna provides some insight into the company’s $500 million acquisition of Medicity:

We recently bought Medicity, a health information exchange (company). We’re using that as a platform to create a data exchange. We will shift risk (financial responsibility for medical costs) to the provider system. We’ll provide them cover with capital as re-insurers. We will be the Intel-inside, if you will. We have dozens of these conversations going on with major systems. We spend $400 million a year on new developments: We are as much a health information technology company as an insurer.


4-12-2011 8-24-43 PM

The VA selects Authentidate Holding Corp.’s Electronic House Call solution as part of its home telehealth program.

The 49-bed Seymour Hospital (TX) purchases ChartAccess EHR from Prognosis.

image Oakwood Healthcare (MI) signs a $60 million Epic deal, at least from what I can tell from the half-sentence teaser that Crain’s Detroit Business allows non-subscribers to read.

Methodist Dallas Medical Center chooses RemedyMD for its joint registry.


4-12-2011 2-01-11 PM

image The Indiana HIE hires James S. Hill as VP of sales, tasked with managing sales operations, including market competitiveness, pricing, and strategy. I have to admit I was surprised the HIE world has matured enough to warrant a VP of sales.

Resurrection Health Care (IL) names Bradley Howard, MD its first-ever CMIO to lead its Epic EMR implementation.

4-12-2011 5-40-07 PM

Kent McAllister joins fellow Sage Healthcare alum Lindy Benton at Medical Electronic Attachment / National Electronic Attachment (MEA/NEA). McAllister, a former VP of client solutions for Sage, is MEA/NEA’s new CIO. Benton is Sage’s former COO and now serves as MEA/NEA’s CEO.

4-12-2011 6-41-46 PM

Healthcare analytics vendor Sg2 names Steve Lefar as president. He previously founded compliance and risk management software vendor MediRegs (acquired by Wolters Kluwer in 2007) and was an Allscripts SVP before that.

4-12-2011 7-34-05 PM

Capella Healthcare (TN) names Alan Smith as VP/CIO. He was formerly with Vanguard Health Systems and Cerner.

Announcements and Implementations

4-12-2011 1-54-06 PM

El Centro Regional Medical Center (CA) implements eMix for the secure transmission of radiology images and patient reports.

Dell launches a mobile clinical computing solution for Meditech. The product leverages technology from VMware and Imprivata’s OneSign SSO technology.

image Here’s what happens when you let HITECH drive your IT projects instead of common sense. Carthage Area Hospital (NY) replaces its Meditech system with CPSI, saying it had to “move quickly to ensure we would receive the $2.8 million in stimulus funding.” So quickly, in fact, that they didn’t have time to train staff or work out billing kinks, resulting in a flood of complaint calls from patients. They say they’ll get everything fixed within a few months.

Government and Politics

4-12-2011 5-57-04 PM

image The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health brings in HIMSS to help it run the mHealth Summit conference, the third of which takes place in Washington, DC in December. I have mixed feelings about that. I went to the last one and while it wasn’t nearly as fun as the HIMSS conference, it was refreshingly wonky and geeky, with mostly academics and non-profit developers sharing ideas with barely a break between sessions and a small, low-key exhibit hall. I’m sure the HIMSS involvement will bring the glitz, vendors who will dominate the entire conference, and the booth babes. I may go since I haven’t been to anything this year other than HIMSS and I like to get out of the house on occasion.

A proposed but floundering bill in Florida would require insurance companies to cover telemedicine services.

Innovation and Research

image HCA Johnston-Willis Hospital (VA) wins a patient care innovation award for its Cancer Survivorship Program, which includes specialized software developed with Varian Medical Systems to generate care plans, schedule visits, and create a comprehensive summary based on evidence-based care. Above is their quite nicely done Pink Glove Dance.


4-12-2011 5-38-05 PM 

Nashville Medical News profiles Shareable Ink, which moved its headquarters from Massachusetts to Tennessee a few months ago. Shareable Ink President and CEO Stephen Hau provided this comment on the local tech talent pool:

We’ve built an impressive team in Nashville with top-notch, local talent. On the technology front, there are strong candidates in Nashville, but they are few and far between. While I’m not worried about finding the next five strong engineers, sourcing the next 50 will be a challenge.


In honor of National Volunteer Week, 15,000 McKesson employees will build 28,000 care packages for deployed military in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other regions. The initiative is in affiliation with Operation Gratitude and is part of McKesson’s annual Community Days corporate volunteer program.

Singing River Health System (MS) seeks to borrow $37.5 million to upgrade its EMR. Jackson County supervisors are considering issuing a bond to finance the purchase.

4-12-2011 3-34-39 PM

image Occasionally readers will forward me photos or links of interest. I enjoy most of the items, especially since I work out of my house and some days those e-mails are my only link with the “real” world. Quite often the submissions have little to do with HIT, but serve to assure me that I am not the only one who reads the stuff I write.  Thus, thank you to the thoughtful HIT traveler who enjoyed this bottle of wine and thought of me. Good to know I am not the only one who believes shoes and wine are two of man’s best creations.

Here’s the latest installment of Vince Ciotti’s HIStory.

image Fortune’s list of “ridiculous job interview questions” includes one from Epic: “You have a bouquet of flowers. All but two are roses, all but two are daisies, and all but two are tulips. How many flowers do you have?” Pretty easy, and not as ridiculous as my favorite ones, from Intel (“Explain quantum electrodynamics in two minutes, starting now”) and Capital One (“Using a scale of 1 to 10, rate yourself on how weird you are.”)

Sponsor Updates by DigitalBeanCounter

  • Consulting magazine names Aspen Advisors one of “Seven to Watch” in 2011 and beyond. Mr. H interviewed Aspen’s founder and managing principal Dan Herman earlier this year.
  • Clairvia adds Care Value Analytics, a new tool that aligns data from individual patient experiences with an organization’s clinical and financial objectives.
  • Capario partners with Data Media Associates to offer customers customized patient statements, statement mailing, and a  payment portal.
  • Hawaii’s Public Safety Department selects eClinicalWorks for its EMR at its seven correctional facilities.
  • Bridgehead Software will provide data backup and protection solutions for The London Clinic.
  • MD-IT merges with MDnetwork.
  • Brad Swenson, VP and national healthcare leader for Winthrop Resources Corporation, is participating in the American Bar Association’s Spring Meeting this week in Boston. He’ll serve on a health law roundtable.
  • PatientKeeper releases a white paper entitled Toward Meaningful Usability: Five Keys to Creating Physician-Centric CPOE.


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

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Currently there are "11 comments" on this Article:

  1. My husband and I just wanted to thank you for mentioning the recent passing of John Caswell, such a wonderful, knowledgeable, thoughtful, caring and talented individual and a legend at Compucare/Quadramed. We both consider ourselves very lucky to have had the pleasure to know and work with John for many years and he will be dearly missed by so many that he touched. Again thank you for acknowledging in print this sad loss to the healthcare information technology field and to his many friends and collegues.

  2. HHS is handing out another $ billion to improve safety. What were the results of the $ billions they have already doled out for EHRs and CPOE? I was led to believe that CPOE was the saviour of safety when the POTUS repeatedly stated so in his speeches.

    Does this move by HHS confirm naysayers and truthtellers here on this very thoughtfully creative blog that CPOE and EHRs facilitates as many new errors as the handwriting errors it corrects?

    This would appear to be the beginning of the bailout for the HIT industry, using business software that has been dated for a decade.

  3. Thank you for mentioning the passing of QuadraMed’s John Caswell. Before joining the sales ranks a few years ago, he was one of those behind-the-scenes technical wiz-kids who helped turn the Affinity product into a record setting, multi-year “Best in Klas” product. While we see the likes of Glaser, Cozzens, Bush, Halamka, Patterson and Faulkner splashed on HIStalk routinely, we rarely get a peek at those people who really dig in and get their hands dirty in creating the tools of the industry. Many prestigious healthcare organizations and community hospitals across the country unknowingly benefitted from John’s creativity, his dedication, and his expertise by using the product he helped engineer. John will be missed.

  4. Linda & Keith H… what you’ve said about John Caswell – clearly a loss for everyone, even for those of us who didn’t know him. Those are rare words you’ve expressed, which honestly I find inspiring and a little humbling. Thank you sending that in.

  5. CPSI unseats Meditech? Having worked with many hospitals that size, I was shocked to read that. The outcome of software selections I managed in that market were heavily Meditech and McKesson Paragon. Those two vendors either wipes the floor with CPSI in head to head competition or were brought in to fight it out as a replacement to CPSI.

    Based on what I know about the CPSI implementation methodology and training, I’m not surprised at the billing disaster in Carthage.

  6. On Stephen Hau of Shareable Ink’s comment on finding it difficult to source the next 50 engineers;

    Embrace the wonders of WebEx and teleconferencing, and teach your people how to use web cams. There is more than enough capability to integrate teams beyond the “if they aren’t here working they’re not working” mindset. You’ll find out just like many other organizations have that you can put together an AMAZINGLY talented tech team if you just drop the physical walls. Some of the best and brightest already like where they live and have no desire to be groped by the TSA.

  7. The for-profit healthcare world is significant. HCA has gone public again (as I’m sure every knows) and the stock is rated a strong buy and it is dialed up for growth. Meanwhile, on other fronts in Nashville we are seeing HIT leadership turnover across the for-profits, including Vanguard and Capella. A reflection of the challenges this segment faces as they seek to operationalize IT. Of course, we see tremendous turnover across the not-for-profit segment as well.

  8. Are all CIO’s simply lemmings? Why in the name of all that is holy woukd anyone in their right mind spend $100’s of millions of dollars on EPIC? For all that money they get an infleixble system designed, implemented and trained by individuals who haven’t worked a day in healthcare………so, at a time with ICD10 on the horizon they end up putting all of their revenue cycle at risk to say they have kept up with the jones’………There’s a reason most of these clowns end up being “released into the general community” and show up recycled somewhere else……all of their installs go over budget and never reach a milestone………what a feakin’ joke!

  9. Black Swan:

    There is a common misunderstanding about causation vs correlation. You hear frequently on the news that “X causes Y” when at best there is only a correlation. It may be coincidence; or Y may cause X; or X and Y may both be caused by another unknown factor. You can’t find causation through statistics; you have to find it by reasoning out the connections.

    So, the stock market is up today, and the newscaster says that investors are optimistic about job growth. Tomorrow it’s down, and the same newscaster attributes it to pessimism about oil prices. My bet: it’s just random fluctuations.

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