French IT services vendor Capgemini is looking for IT services acquisitions in the US, particularly in the healthcare sector. Says the CEO, “We are a marginal player in several of the key markets. For instance, we are non-existent in healthcare in the US, which I think is a mistake. So we need acquisitions.” You may recall that Cap bought Ernst & Young Consulting in 2000, stuck their name on it (above), then sold it to Accenture five years later after losing a ton of money. I worked with E&Y quite a bit at a previous hospital employer back in their heyday and they were excellent for strategic planning, IT governance stuff, and security work. I had a couple of occasions to work with Cap and they were clueless.
From Susan: “Re: Kettering Medical Center (OH). Went live on Epic May 1 on inpatient, ambulatory, and revenue cycle.” The video is here.
From CloseToEpic: “Re: Epic. Heard from a Madison, WI apartment owner that Epic has hired approximately 2,000 new employees who will be starting end of summer. Apartments filling up around Madison.” Unverified, but reasonable.
From WildcatWell: “Re: Google PHR dead. Told ya so. Give a brother some love! Your EMR/EHR insight is THE industry leader. Let’s get all your readers together – I’ll buy the first round.” WCW is a good information source, but I notice that his drink offer was made anonymously.
From Academic CIO: “Re: HIStalk’s eighth birthday. You have really created a resource that, on top of the insight, information, and perspective you deliver, has replaced the trade mags we used to read to try to get a handle on what was happening in the industry (and which were really only giving the vendor-approved view anyway).” I really appreciate those kind words – thanks. The best part about it is getting to connect with some really interesting people and to help bring a variety of opinions to the table.
HIStalk Announcements and Requests
Inga’s taking a semi-break, so I’m soloing this time around. She’ll be back shortly.
Vince Ciotti poses this (easy) question: “What vendor spends (wastes?) the most of its clients’ money on extravagant architecture and frivolous artwork?” Examples above from Vince’s collection.
Ed Marx added an update to his June 15 post with responses to reader comments.
Sentara Healthcare (VA) contracts with TeleHealth Services for its interactive patient education solution.
SSM Health Care (MO) contracts with revenue cycle solutions vendor Passport Health Communications for SaaS-based eligibility and financial screening solutions and services for its 15 hospitals.
Practice Fusion names Cora M. Tellez to its board. She’s the former president of Health Net and CEO of Blue Shield of California-Bay Region.
Mark Lederman, formerly VP/CIO at Interfaith Medical Center (NY), has been named VP/CIO at Chilton Hospital (NJ). We swap e-mails occasionally and he sent over the update, so congratulations to Mark.
Announcements and Implementations
UMass Memorial Health Care (MA) integrates MyCareTeam’s MCT Clinical diabetes management system with its Allscripts ambulatory EHR, enabling patients to upload their glucose readings.
Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel announces that Allscripts will add 300 new jobs in the city by the end of 2012. The company will also host its annual user convention at McCormick Place starting next year.
UPMC implements Oracle GoldenGate with Cerner’s 724Access software to help reduce potential EMR downtime.
A Bama Buddy find: a hospital reports that a batter’s box-type outline made of duct tape outside the rooms of infected patients helps reduce infections, reminding employees about contact precautions and giving them a safe zone in which they can still interact with patients without gowning up.
Allscripts announces Allscripts RCM Services at HFMA, which it describes as a cloud-based, outsourced business office for physician practices that is charged as a percentage of monthly collections.
Government and Politics
CMS selects The Lewin Group for a project to reduce the number of hospital readmissions for Medicare beneficiaries and improve quality outcomes for patients transitioning from hospitals to other care settings. The company, which is part of OptumInsight, will receive $2.3 million for the first year of the five-year program.
California lawmakers put together a bill that would require clinicians to flag any information they change in electronic medical records. The bill originally required all changes to be identified by user and to let patients see changes to their own records, but those requirements were removed after big healthcare organizations expressed their opposition that California’s standards would then differ from federal standards.
Innovation and Research
Deborah Peel MD of Patient Privacy Rights sent a link to this story about Personal, a soon-to-be-launched site that lets consumers store information about themselves and then sell it to commercial organizations willing to pay for it. It’s 100 “gems” include such information as when your next oil change is due and what kind of food you like, which they’ll broker on your behalf for 10% of the proceeds. It has some big-time financial backers. Her interest: something like that could give consumers control of their healthcare information, which is being freely sold without their consent for purposes not necessarily in their best interests. It could be used like a PHR, where people enter information that could be made available to sell (to companies) or to providers (for free).
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation introduces an online directory that includes performance measurements for hospitals and doctors. It links 197 reports with information on outcomes, cost of care, and whether patients received recommended tests and treatments.
The LA Times picks up the story reported here awhile back, in which a premature baby was killed by sodium chloride overdose due to a data entry error into a hospital pharmacy’s IV compounder software. The article tries to link that human error to IT safety in general, but the problem really was a lack of IT: Advocate Lutheran General Hospital apparently had no interface between its pharmacy system and the compounder software, so they let unlicensed personnel (pharmacy techs) do the manual data entry, where it’s pretty easy to accidentally swap the values of the electrolytes (although properly installed software should have given a warning). I’ve seen that problem first hand (unfortunately) and developed a simple but elegant solution (fortunately). If you’re a CIO, e-mail your pharmacy director and ask how IV formulas get to Abacus or whatever IV compounding software your hospital uses and whether they have warnings set up in it.
1-800 Labwear brings out a lab coat with outside pockets specifically designed to hold an iPad (which they spell incorrectly).
- Kony is named the Most Innovative Company of the Year by the American Business Awards in the technology company category.
- Hayes Management Consulting adds a Regulatory and Compliance services division that will focus on federal healthcare mandates, HIPAA billing and security policy, EDI V5010, and ICD-10. Anita Archer will lead the division.
- Northeast Valley Health Corporation (CA) and Community Health Center Network (CA) are among 32 community health centers to select NextGen EHR solutions.
- Vitalize Consulting Solutions earns an average score of 88.62 in its five service areas as measured by KLAS in its mid-term performance review.
- T-System celebrates its 15-year anniversary.
- Northern Virginia Regional Health Information Organization (NoVaRHIO) launches a pilot program with Picis that will allow ED clinicians from Inova Alexandria Hospital ED clinicians to quickly access prescription information.
- Medicity’s Health Information Exchange Solution for hospitals receives Federal Certification for meaningful use.
- Inland Northwest Health Services announces that the Spokane Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) pilot is now enabling the secure exchange of electronic health information using the Nationwide Health Information Network (NwHIN) Exchange. The use of VLER improves the portability of health information to Veterans and active duty Service members in the Spokane, WA area.
- CMS awards the Medicare Part D Transaction Facilitator contract to RelayHealth.
- Orthopedic Institute (SD) chooses the SRS EHR for its 38 specialty providers.
- East Liverpool City Hospital (OH) goes live on ChartMaxx by MedPlus.
- Thomson Reuters launches Infection Xpert, a clinical intelligence dashboard that combines real-time clinical surveillance information, patient information, and patient-specific reference content from Micromedex for reducing and managing hospital-acquired infections.
- Nashville’s 211 Call Center health navigator program, operated by Family & Children’s Service, chooses MyHealthDIRECT to allow operators to connect callers with available area providers specific to their needs, including the ability to search available provider appointments.
- Ness County Hospital (KS) goes live on the ChartAccess Comprehensive EHR from Prognosis Health Information Systems just four months after its selection. The hospital plans to meet Stage 1 MU requirements by the end of the year.
- Main Line Health (PA) signs a five-year extension with MobileMD for its 4D health information exchange service, which it has used since 2007 to connect four hospitals and more than 30 practices to create a virtual complete medical record.
- Workforce management software vendor Concerro licenses two labor analyses tools from Workforce Prescriptions to allow it to offer labor efficiency review services that cover scheduling practices, agency use, care delay causes, and policies that impact labor ability. Hospitals average $7 million in annual realized savings from labor misalignment. The company’s take on labor management is covered in its blog, with the latest topic being the complexity of managing hospital labor costs.
- NCR is exhibiting at HFMA this week (Booth 1420), talking about self-service solutions that improve efficiency, cost, and revenue cycle.
More Thoughts on Google Health
Nobody’s really disappointed or even surprised that Google Health is dead (actually, few have even noticed, which tells you all you need to know about its problems). The only surprise is that such an unenthusiastic effort came from one-time paradigm-buster Google in the first place.
Actually, maybe the biggest surprise is that Google is shutting Google Health down in an embarrassingly public raising of the white flag. It would be one thing if they were spending a lot of R&D money on it, but there’s no evidence of that. The app is somewhere between simple and ugly, announcements of new functionality or connectivity have come along once in a blue moon, and no lofty promises were made that it would ever be anything more than it was. Given that GOOG’s market cap is $156 billion, and that pretty much nobody was using Google Health anyway, maybe they should have just abandoned it to die quietly instead of convening a very public funeral, raising ugly questions about the cause of death.
The only real traction Google Health got was among folks who wanted to see a brash, smart, and well-funded upstart barge its way into the healthcare IT vendor mix, elbowing out the companies that have been around for decades to shake them out of their maddening complacency. In that respect, Google ironically did what the non-healthcare IT vendors are sometimes blamed for doing: it laid down a smokescreen of rosy PR, under-delivered on even modest promises, ignored the advice that users and experts were giving, and then just cut and run when the going got tough, another healthcare dabbler that should have known better.
I thought Google Health would do OK, if for no reason other than the company seemed committed to hanging in there, at least initially (they threw the stereotypical launch party at HIMSS, then went silent). But the signs were there. The inexperienced folks they put in charge were replaced by even less experienced folks. Their HIMSS booth was a joke, an empty table with a few black-and-white photocopied half sheets of paper handouts. They didn’t make any acquisitions; they didn’t create any innovative technologies; they didn’t differentiate themselves publicly from HealthVault; and they made no apparent attempt to flex their muscle with the providers, EMR vendors, and insurance companies that were sitting on the key asset needed to make their product fly: data.
Sometimes visionary companies can create a market by thinking big and solving a problem consumers didn’t even know they had (MP3 players and Facebook, for example). This wasn’t one of those times. Google Health was a solution looking for a problem, much like its high-flying and equally dead stable mate Google Buzz. If nothing else, Google Health proved that Google is just as fallible as arch-rival Microsoft in thinking it understands what customers want without bothering to actually ask them.
Here’s my epitaph for Google Health, not as a PHR expert (which I’m not, since I have little interest in them) but as an average consumer/patient.
- Google knows just one business: pushing ads in the faces of users willing to tolerate them in return for getting free access to some reasonably useful Web tools. Without large numbers of eyeballs, Google wasn’t interested, and without those useful tools, neither were the eyeballs.
- The Google Health model required massive uptake to be successful by its standards, but it was designed to address the health needs of the vocal 2% rather than the indifferent 98%. Hospitals learned that lesson long ago – if you want doctors to use CPOE, you aim your technology at the average doc (busy, struggling, and administration-suspicious), not the geeked out, administration-friendly CMIO who has little in common with them other than wearing a white coat but who sometimes can dangerously convince everyone else they speak for the majority (not like Dr. Jayne, in other words, who actually practices medicine and uses the systems she supports).
- When it comes to healthcare, consumers are not empowered, and no amount of technology will change that. They have a tiny bit of discretion when it comes to choosing a doctor, but almost none when choosing a hospital or insurance company. Cool Web tools or not, Joe Sixpack has no leverage over the massive bureaucracies of the average academic medical center or insurer.
- Those massive bureaucracies suck big time at managing their own data. The last thing they want to do is (a) share their crappy and unreliable information with patients, or (b) import unvetted patient information from some other source and then have to figure out what to do with it since they are paid for piecework, not thoughtful reflection of piles of information.
- “Health” is a good thing that everybody wants for everyone else, but “healthcare delivery” is a cutthroat fight for the financial pie. Collaborative tools are tough sell when the folks at the table are trying to stab each other in the back without being noticed, but especially so when Google didn’t even seem interested in working with them.
- The average person (be careful who you picture – the masses are not healthcare- or IT-savvy) sees his or her own healthcare as someone else’s problem. They get sick, they use someone else’s money (insurance) to see a provider, they want immediate gratification from pills or surgery, they aren’t interested in information or recommendations of lifestyle changes. Few of them study the government’s dietary recommendations, interface their bathroom scale to a computer program, or participate in online support groups. They just want to be left alone, secure in the knowledge that their poor health choices can be overcome by an insurance-assigned doctor or hospital. Any suggestion that electively unhealthy folks pay more for their healthcare than electively healthy ones is met with cries of discrimination. The only way to get their attention would be to pay them to take better care of themselves, just like giving your kid $10 for each A on their report card.
- Only a tiny number of zealots will accurately and consistently enter their health information into an online shoe box. Not only is it work, there’s no apparent payoff since most providers don’t have the time or interest to read what those folks entered (partially because the technologies they use don’t play well with others any more than those providers themselves).
- Consumers use technology for three reasons: it provides them with emotional satisfaction (Facebook), it offers them convenience (Amazon, paying bills online), or it saves them money (eBay, Groupon). Google Health and most PHRs offer none of these benefits.
- Addressing the convenience aspect requires removing the friction of healthcare delivery system transactions. They are horribly inefficient, often because the doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies themselves are horribly inefficient (which lends credence to the argument that arming either Joe Sixpack or providers with a lot of technology doesn’t necessarily make things better, particularly when it comes to patient outcomes).
- Nobody really trusts big companies all that much, and people are especially suspicious of who sees their health information. Geeks might trust Google with their entire identity, but the average person probably won’t.
Now is probably a great time to retire the term Personal Health Record. It had a questionable premise to start with, but now Google has tainted it as being a plain, static Web page that’s about as fun to use as TurboTax and a whole lot less useful.
I’m an average patient and I want nothing to do with a Google-like PHR. What I want is to be able to:
- Make electronic appointments, including being able to search for openings at multiple locations or among competing providers. I don’t want to have get on the telephone or compose an e-mail.
- Request prescription refills.
- See my lab results as soon as they are available, with a personalized explanation of what they mean.
- E-mail my doctor and get a timely response.
- Get specifically requested information to my doctor efficiently, and know that he’ll ask for the information he needs, it will remain on file in case it’s needed again, and I’ll have a say in the decisions made from it.
- Get automatic reminders for EMR-triggered events (vaccinations, next physical exam due, etc.) but with the option to suppress those that aren’t helpful.
- Manage someone else’s health with their permission, such as a child or parent.
- Earn an insurance or treatment discount for following recommendations that result in measurably improved health.
- Solicit bids or search prices for services not covered by insurance.
- View any health information recorded about me with an efficient mechanism to correct any errors.
The average PHR doesn’t do most of these things. They can’t unless providers, insurance companies, and EMR vendors can be convinced to work together. Patients don’t have the sway to make that happen. Employers might, or perhaps some kind of government mandate.
Short of that, PHRs are going to struggle since, by definition, they are trying to bring competing parties together electronically without giving them an incentive to do so. That leaves PHRs as little more than a spreadsheet on which a few consumers can record their own information that nobody will look at.
Many folks who cheerlead for PHRs do so with a vested interest instead of as a consumer. So here’s the challenge to those inclined to comment on this post: instead of the usual pedantic posturing about PHRs as a technology or a business, tell me how YOU PERSONALLY use a PHR, what benefits you’ve received, and what you wish it would do. The “experts” can’t stop talking about Google Health, but none of them so far has admitted actually using it or any other PHR.