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January 5, 2012 News 13 Comments

Top News

HHS introduces streamlined rules governing electronic fund transfers from health plans to doctors, which it says will cut approximately $4.5 billion in administrative costs over the next 10 years. The new rules require remittances from health plans to include tracking numbers, making it easier for doctors to match payments with bills.

Reader Comments

inga_small From NoVegas: “Re: animated ad. When reading yesterday, I noticed that there are still some animated ads up. I thought they were going away?” A handful of well-intentioned sponsors missed the deadline to switch out their banners, but have assured us their new ads are forthcoming. Meanwhile, join me in a collective “thank you” to those who were happy to comply with readers’ requests to retire the flashing ads.

1-5-2012 7-06-28 PM

inga_small From Swami: “Re: MedPlus. An RFP posted by New Mexico HIC says they’re exiting the HIE market. Are you aware of their plans?” We asked the company, which provided this response:

MedPlus, the healthcare IT subsidiary of Quest Diagnostics, has made the decision that the company will no longer enhance or further develop the product known as the FirstGateways Clinical Portal or Centergy Clinical Portal. MedPlus continues to satisfy its support and contract obligations to each customer of this product. When all such support and contract obligations expire, however, the product will be permanently sun-setted.

mrh_small From Birdie Little: “Re: McKesson Provider Technologies. [executive’s name omitted], a 20-year veteran SVP of product management and marketing, is leaving, supposedly to take a small company CEO job. The Horizon fallout had influence.” Unverified, with the name omitted for that reason. Another person reported a similar rumor about the same person, but gave the new employer as HealthMEDX, which former McKesson EVP Pam Pure joined as CEO a few weeks ago.

1-5-2012 9-01-48 PM

mrh_small From The PACS Designer: “Re: Apple’s 2012 launches. The rumor mill from the Far East is heating up again, with info circulating that we may see the launch of Apple’s iPad 3 with the LTE communications upgrade. Since Steve Jobs’ birthday was February 24, the launch may happen then. Later this year, we’ll see the launch of Apple’s iTV, not to be confused with the current $99 Apple TV product.” February 24 would be a lousy date since vendors will be giving away bunches of iPad 2s that very week at the HIMSS conference, just in time for them to be rendered obsolete. That happened last year, as the iPad 2 was released on March 2, a week after the conference. As an alternative, how about the above as a giveaway to Apple fanboys (most of us, I suspect): a creepily lifelike 12” Steve Jobs action figure (that’s an actual photo of the doll above). The manufacturer provides free accessories: two pairs of glasses, a chair, two apples (one with a bite taken out of it), and a backdrop that says “One More Thing.” It goes on sale next month as long as Apple’s lawyers can’t figure out how to shut down a company operating in China.

1-5-2012 7-23-17 PM

mrh_small From Rumble:

“Re: Partners HealthCare. The earth shook in 1994 when MGH and Brigham and Women’s joined to form Partners. Rumor has it that they’re definitely going commercial for their clinical systems – the end of home-brewed. They spent $200M for Siemens ADT before Glaser became CEO of Siemens. Several sources, none official, are confident they’re going Epic. I feel the earth moving again.” Unverified, but I would be shocked if they decided otherwise.

1-5-2012 6-56-34 PM

mrh_small From Roots Fan: “Re: Burlington, VT. Men’s Health just listed it as the #1 Best City for Men, with emphasis on the local hospital’s implementing of Epic, especially MyChart.” The real objective is to sell magazines, and junk stories based on a numbered list (often presented via a lame slideshow) to bait intellectually lazy readers. They’re the literary equivalent of fast food restaurants, providing overly processed, nutrition-devoid fat calories (“The 15 Hottest Actresses You Will Never See Naked On Film” “10 Humor Sites to Make You LOL” … notice they always start with a number to make it clear that minimal mental effort is required to skim them.) I’m not sure having MyChart available is that big of an advantage and Burlington is hardly unique in that regard, but the magazine was mightily impressed, suggesting that doctors just needs your encouragement to implement Epic so you can play with MyChart on your iPhone:

“Our major medical center recently introduced electronic medical records, which will hopefully further boost rates of preventive care,” says Dr. Vecchio. Doctors will soon be able to program preventive-care reminders into patients’ e-records so they never miss screenings. Ask your M.D. about switching to digital records, and then download the MyChart app, which lets you use your smartphone to view your medical file and any screening reminders.

mrh_small From HIPAA Hound: “Re: doctor’s perspective on end-of-life care. Exactly what I’ve often thought, but never heard much like this, especially from a physician. Adherence to this treatment philosophy would surely save the country billions each year.” I’m glad you sent the link since I read and enjoyed the piece, but forgot where I’d seen it. The gist of the article is contained in a quote from it: “… Doctors die, too. And they don’t die like the rest of us. What’s unusual about them is not how much treatment they get compared to most Americans, but how little.” It argues that doctors are expected to recommend care that they themselves wouldn’t want, with procedures that are not only futile, but painful or degrading. It’s restrained in barely mentions the huge cost taxpayers bear as all the stops are pulled out for Medicare patients in their final days of life, with minimal benefit to anyone.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

inga_small  One of our creative sponsors suggested a new and fun event for HIMSS this year: the HIStalk Booth Crawl. More details will be coming soon, but it’s likely that Crawl participants will have a better chance of winning an iPad 2 than they would hitting it big in the $1 slot machines. If you are a sponsor and have not received details on the Crawl, drop me a note ASAP. Potential players, stay tuned.

1-2-2012 5-03-35 PM

inga_small  After last week’s getaway in the part of the world Mr. H called “The Land Without Broadband,” I am back in full force. If by chance you failed to peruse HIStalk Practice over the last couple of weeks, here are a few gems you missed. Who to contact to appeal 2011 PQRS or e-prescribing payments. A family practice doctor’s use of social media includes posts entitled, “Are You Smarter Than a Medical Student?” My secret indulgence and 2012 predictions and resolutions. CareCloud adds a director of clinical technologies. Don Michaels offers excellent insight into EMR attestation in 2012 (it’s going to be crazy) and ACOs (the jury is still out.) Dr. Gregg and the percolating e-patient revolution. It just takes a few minutes to be enlightened on happenings in the HIT ambulatory world, so come join the fun.

1-5-2012 7-08-00 PM

mrh_small Over 500 people have signed up for HIStalkapalooza invitations in the first couple of days, so if you are contemplating attending, click here or on the graphic in the upper right column. We always get an interesting mix of executives, unsung in-the-trenches grunts, students, investment people, and semi-celebrities, and this year’s event was designed to encourage them to network (lots of conversation-friendly small spaces, for example, not to mention an open bar.) We’ll close down registration in a few days and e-mailed invitations will follow. It’s only a handful of weeks away, shockingly.

mrh_small I mentioned that I’m not a fan of year-end industry predictions, given that (a) many of the pundits don’t have the credentials and experience to be making them; (b) nobody wants to look stupid in print, so they predict the obvious; and (c) their predictions are often tediously defended with shallow and unconvincing reasons they believe themselves to be right. Not true of our own Travis on HIStalk Mobile, whose 2012 predictions are specific, bold, and concisely convincing. I like his attitude: “I’ve tried to be specific with some of them, not because I necessarily have any inside information, but because I’ll look good if I’m right and people will likely have forgotten if I’m wrong.”

mrh_small Listening: reader-recommend Arkells, Canadian semi-hard rockers with a blue-eyed soul sound and strong vocals (think Hall & Oates meets Kings of Leon meets Springsteen.) I’ve listened to the album a couple of times and it’s really good. Nice call by the reader. I’ll definitely be giving it several more listens.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

MedAssets announces that is has paid the $120.1 million deferred purchase consideration due to the former owners of the Broadlane Group as part of the acquisition completed in November.

1-5-2012 6-28-34 PM

Frontier Capital invests inHealthx, an Indianapolis-based vendor of health plan portals for patients, employees, and physicians.


Iowa e-Health selects ACS to implement and manage its HIE.

1-5-2012 3-34-47 PM

Summit Medical Group (TN) signs a three-year contract renewal with Zix Corporation for its e-mail encryption services.

The Illinois HIE awards InterSystems a $7.25 million contract to implement its HealthShare HIE technology platform.

1-5-2012 9-12-32 PM

North Shore LIJ Health System selects Wolters Kluwer Health’s ProVation Order Sets as its electronic order set solution.

Prognosis HIS announces new sales to Colorado-Fayette Medical Center (TX), Biggs-Gridley Memorial Hospital (CA), Plumas District Hospital (CA) and Shamrock General Hospital (TX).

1-5-2012 9-14-11 PM

Mammoth Hospital (CA) will deploy Allscripts RCM services and EHR at its 11 outpatient clinics.

Independence Blue Cross (PA) selects Kony Solutions’ Write Once, Run Everywhere as its mobile application platform.

Mental Health Partners (CO) chooses Stockell Healthcare Systems’ InsightCS RCIM to integrate with the MindLinc behavioral EMR.

Pacific Eye Specialists (CA) selects SRS EHR for its 10 providers.

Doctor’s Medical Center (FL) signs up for Vitera Intergy Meaningful Use Edition for its 23-physician practice.


1-5-2012 12-24-50 PM

Olathe Health System (KS) hires George Dix as CIO. He was previously with Cape Fear Valley Health System (NC).

1-5-2012 2-46-32 PM

Andrew Ziskind MD, previously with Accenture, joins Huron Consulting Group as a managing director in the company’s healthcare practice.

Announcements and Implementations

1-5-2012 3-38-39 PM

St. Joseph’s Medical Center (CA) implements PerfectServe’s clinical communication and information delivery system.

Continua Health Alliance and some of its member companies will exhibit personal connected solutions at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas next week. That show outdoes HIMSS in terms of celebrity sighting potential, with Dennis Rodman, Justin Bieber, Snooki, and 50 Cent among the glitterati collecting big corporate paychecks for serving as set dressing for booths.

athenahealth announces that it proactively sought and received a favorable Advisory Opinion from HHS’s Office of Inspector General relating to athenaCoordinator, a fee-based offering that would provide order transmission and coordination services to providers. The opinion clears the way for athenahealth to offer a per-transaction pricing model that charges fees to parties that are exchanging clinical data, but steering clear of anti-kickback statutes.

Government and Politics

1-5-2012 1-52-13 PM

HHS announces two winners of its contest to create HIT applications using public data for cancer treatment and prevention. The ONC awarded $20,000 each to the developers of  Ask Dory!, submitted by Applied Informatics, and My Cancer Genome, submitted by Mia Levy PhD, MD of Vanderbilt University Medical Center.


mrh_small Serbia’s health minister says the introduction of an electronic health card system has turned doctors into scribes, forcing them to fill out forms instead of taking care of patients. He offers a solution: “When a doctor finishes examination, he/she enters data into computer and then takes a health card and fills it in manually. I asked them why not printing the findings and attaching them to the health card. That would speed up the process.”

1-5-2012 9-15-38 PM

mrh_small University of Mississippi Medical Center lays off 115 employees and cuts 90 unfilled positions, saying it’s struggling with increased charity care and coming up with the $80 million it needs to implement Epic.

mrh_small An Iowa public policy analyst discussing the pre-caucus healthcare climate there says the governor accepted $7 million in federal HIE grants while calling it a government takeover of healthcare. “The practical side of that is that many don’t want the government telling them what to do, and the only way that can happen should this continue forward is by setting up your own exchange, otherwise the feds will set up their own.”

Sponsor Updates

  • Free EMR vendor Practice Fusion streamlines its e-prescribing workflow.
  • Greenway Medical Technologies and NextGen will join MedAllies at the HIMSS12 Interoperability Showcase to demonstrate MedAllies’ Direct HISP patient data exchange solution.
  • Computerworld includes Ugo Mattera, VP of information technology operations at McKesson Health Solutions, in its 2012 class of Premier 100 IT Leaders.
  • MED3OOO announces a free webinar regarding its PQRIwizard powered by CECity.
  • McKesson introduces its cloud-based supply chain solution to support supports multiple materials management information systems.
  • Southern Tier HealthLink (NY) expands its use of Lawson Cloverleaf Hosted HIE.

EPtalk by Dr. Jayne

An article in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine discusses barriers to use of formulary information by physicians who e-prescribe. It wasn’t a huge study and the authors claimed it looked at eight practices of varying size and specialty, but a closer look finds the practice size to range from one to four physicians, which I would generally consider to be small practices. Each was using a standalone eRx program. Information was gathered both through observation and through interviews.

Some interesting points. The study included the use of a standalone EHR program, which I bet that made it easier for providers to consider a paper-based workaround. I wonder if the results would have been different if the eRx solution were part of a reasonably robust EHR or if larger practices were reviewed. The researchers had backgrounds in medical anthropology and labor relations, which is certainly an interesting combination.

Although few users were using formulary and benefit references prior to the study, there was a central theme of provider distrust of the electronic resources due to inaccurate data. Providers continued to use paper-based workarounds to find information. Three key difficulties were noted: (a) health plans aren’t required to provide a full set of formulary information; (b) some software packages “normalize” the data, creating groups such as preferred, formulary, or off-formulary which really don’t mean anything; and (c) some payer information is group-level rather than plan-level, which can mean a huge difference in insurance coverage information.

In my market, only 70% or so of the patients have valid formulary information accessible through the EHR despite our attempts to make provision of formulary information a part of our contract renewal process with payers. I agree that the coverage groupings are confusing, but they were confusing in the paper world as well. Personally, I’d like to see some realistic ideas of coverage such as “covered and dirt cheap” vs. “covered but crazy expensive” or even “don’t even think about it.” That would certainly help me be a more Meaningful User.

In addition to immunization and disease surveillance registries, some states are offering registries for Advance Directives, with Virginia being the most recent to head online. I love the idea of patients being able to document what kind of healthcare they want in the event they are no longer able to make their own decisions, and putting it online is a lot more helpful than stashing it in a file cabinet at home or in a bank lockbox. State information exchanges may eventually allow physicians access.

Unfortunate things can happen when patients lose the capacity to indicate their wishes, especially if they haven’t communicated those wishes to family members. Whether you have an online registry in your state or not I, encourage everyone to talk to your loved ones about what you might or might not want done should the situation arise. Some nurses made fun of me when I arrived for an elective procedure (as a sassy 20-something patient) with my advance directive and healthcare power of attorney documents in hand, but I wanted to make sure that in the event of something horrible, it was clear how I wanted my care to proceed.

Speaking of cheery topics, the American College of Physicians recently released its update to its Ethics Manual. The sixth edition features new guidelines that address the issue of cost effectiveness and efficiency in care delivery. Other new or expanded sections include: confidentiality and EHRs; health system catastrophes, social media and online professionalism; pay for performance and professionalism; and patient centered medical home.

Websites like Groupon that offer daily deals are increasingly prone to offer health-care related services. Patients without coverage use the discounts to receive dental care, while others may take advantages of bargains on elective or non-covered services such as Botox or laser vision surgery.



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

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Currently there are "13 comments" on this Article:

  1. Gerry Mccarthy is the person who left McKesson. He called to let us know that he was leaving because of the opportunity not the issues with McKesson. We are very concerned because he was one of the few people left that truly understood healthcare. Healthmedics customers are lucky to have him.

  2. McKesson announced on Monday that Gerry McCarthy was leaving. Gerry confirmed to all of us that he was going to work for Pam Pure at HealthMEDX. The suits and most of the employees are flipping out trying to figure out who can replace him. He is staying through January to transition which is stupid because there is a line of people outside his office with resumes in hand.

  3. Why’s the most interesting healthcare IT blog on the web also the most unreadable in terms of its layout and UI? The removal of Flash based ads was long overdue but it is too little, too late.

    If you need some inspiration, there are several well designed blogs on the web. See the featured blogs on the WordPress site: http://wordpress.org/showcase/.

  4. If you don’t like the ads and you are running Chrome or FF, try the Evernote Clearly add on and it will only show the text of the blog. I use it daily and it works great for clipping the text and getting rid of the ads. Not that I want the ads to go away, just makes it easier to read or clip the juicy updates!

  5. As a 40yo male born and still living in Burlington, VT, I can’t argue with the article (Burlington makes a lot of Top 10 lists) but the comments about Epic are pure horseshit. The pediatrician to whom we bring our kids loathes his Epic experience (“I’ll retire first” – I’m in tr business, so I ask…) and my personal physician waited 6m for the Hospital to install the product in order to apply for ARRA in 2011 but gave up when they pushed it back again (this is after a hefty deposit of course). Apparently, the hospital isn’t ready to roll the product out to private offices yet. Cost my doc 2011 ARRA.
    So, the suggestion in the article looks like a paid ad to me. Burlington is a small small place. Unless your doc is at the hospital, MyChart won’t do anything for you.

  6. @Doc Daneeka,

    Too little, too late….for what? This blog, and the work that everyone involved puts in, continues to be a cornerstone for industry news.

    I can’t disagree that there are some UI enhancements that can take place, but I don’t think we should lose the forest for the trees.

  7. Inside employee in sales at Allscripts tells me that they cancelled upcoming sales meeting in New Orleans with only about a month’s notice. Did not say cost was the reason. Said the move to three regions was the reason, letting them put on their own meetings. I have seen companies scale down meetings, spend less on meetings, meet in corporate office town, but have never seen this large of a company with this big of a name cancel the annual sales meeting. I smell something brewing on the horizon with Phil Pead, Chairman, pulling some m&a strings.

  8. Re: Iowa Healthcare Insurance Exchange

    I wonder how many times the acronym HIE has been misunderstood. Healthcare Insurance Exchanges are part of the healthcare reform law, and have nothing to do with Health Information Exchange (which, in its noun form, is the new name for RHIO).

    BTW, Healthcare Insurance Exchanges are the mechanism to combine private insurance market with universal healthcare (c.f. the Swiss healthcare system: http://healthcare-economist.com/2008/02/26/swiss-healthcare-system-part-ii/)

  9. @Johnny B

    This blog, and the work that everyone involved puts in, continues to be a cornerstone for industry news.

    Agreed. And the layout and readability of this blog doesn’t do justice to that work. Hence my comment.

  10. Jedi: Um, yeah, especially when IDX board members also sit on your hospital board.

    But after years of mismanagement (ask anyone in town how many months transpired between their Fletcher Allen visits and their statements…often double digits; my WIFE got a well known local attorney’s heart surgery bill; etc.) and a major financial scandal – the CEO went to jail – IDX was on the no-no list. At one point, the board – again, with IDX crew on it – knowingly split an $11m IDX payment into <$1m chunks in order to avoid state limitations…until they got caught.

    At one point, the local paper did some math on the front page which effectively attributed a few million $$ loss to their billing system, even though said billing system was never named. Shocking. Ultimately, the hospital brought in a billing service, I believe, to clean it all up. Now they're on Epic.

    IDX is a bit of a cult in town, so I will stay anonymous for sure. We all know people who work there. Good people. Tough company.

  11. In an effort to be fair and share some sweet irony, one of my coworkers told me a story yesterday about a harrowing ER experience over the holidays. One of his comments with relevance to his experience was, “…and I am so glad that they were all linked in to Epic. Each person I saw – my pcp, my hemotologist, the ER – could see all of my lab results and medications.”

    I still stand by my comments about Epic/the hospital’s failures in the local private practices, but I felt compelled to share evidence that it’s not a complete failure 🙂

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