Merge Healthcare announces Q1 results: revenue up 16%, EPS -$0.02 vs. –$0.04 GAAP, $0.13 vs. $0.15 non-GAAP. Both revenue and earnings fell short of expectations, sending shares reeling to a 36% drop on Tuesday and trimming the company’s market cap to $229 million. The company also announced that it will divide itself into two operating divisions, with CEO Jeff Surges continuing to lead the Merge Healthcare group (85% of revenue) and Justin Dearborn leading Merge DNA, which will focus on consumer health stations and clinical trials software (the former eTrials Worldwide, which Merge acquired in 2009). Both groups are moving to subscription-based pricing, with the resulting revenue recognition changes causing the Q1 numbers miss, according to Merge.
From Smith: “Re: Accretive Health. Pulling out all the stops, having Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel ask the Attorney General to back off.” There’s never a shortage of political scumbaggery in Chicago, but in this case it’s hard to decide which is more unsavory: Accretive presumably calling in favors or Emmanuel granting them. The mayor provides his unsolicited counsel, saying he doesn’t want the Minnesota AG talking to Accretive customers about its alleged strong-arm hospital collections tactics until she first talks to Accretive CEO Mary Tolan. AG Lori Swanson was unimpressed, saying Tolan has declined to meet with her, also declaring, “This is a law enforcement matter. Unfortunately, Accretive appears to address it as a political one. It has retained or contacted numerous heavyweights in the national Democratic Party.” That’s Emmanuel hanging out with Tolan in the photo above from the Chicago Tribune and Swanson on the right. Being an Obama coattail-rider doesn’t seem to carry the clout it once did given that fellow Democrat Swanson is happy to tell Emmanuel to take a hike.
From Gino: “Re: HIStalk from Epic. It’s a sign of a healthy atmosphere when a number of employees can’t access an industry blog so they bring it up to their supervisors, who bring it up to the COO, who contacts the blog.” I agree. Carl gets extra points for not only taking ownership of the problem reported to him by employees, but also for slyly slipping in my grammar pet peeve in closing his e-mail to me with, “Any way (not anyway) you could help me out?”
From Reality TV Watcher: “Re: The Amazing Race. The finale reminded me of an EHR implementation – no shortcuts to completing an install. Also typical that the Epic team made it work, regardless.” Dave and Rachel Brown of Madison, WI were revealed Sunday night as the million-dollar winners of CBS’s The Amazing Race. She’s a project manager for Epic. If she stays at Epic, you’ll know it’s a pretty good place to work, just like that billionaire lady who hasn’t given up her day job there either.
From Not Very Innovative: “Re: CMS’s first round of innovation grants. Winners announced this morning from thousands of submissions. I’m probably being a sore loser, but I really do think we would see more mileage out of this taxpayer money if awards were given to younger, smaller organizations (maybe some private companies, too). If these huge hospital systems and research universities were going to be doing the kind of innovation that CMS is looking for, one might think they would have already done it out of the hundreds of millions CMS pays most of them each year. Total grant funding may eventually get to $1 billion.” The only project I’d heard of (and was impressed by) was telemedicine-based Project ECHO, and that was because I interviewed its director, Sanjeev Arora MD, in 2009. Otherwise, I have no idea if any of the projects will amount to a hill of beans, and for those large organizations you mentioned, I’m just as skeptical as you are. If those highly profitable non-profits had it in their power to improve outcomes and reduce costs but didn’t bother to do so until Uncle Sam made it rain, shame on them.
From Kathy: “Re: Nurses Week. We have a talented HCA Communications Group who wrote, sang, and starred in this video.” Nice and catchy.
From Charles Rivers: “Re: Partners HealthCare. Rumor is they’ve started to notify physicians of their decision to implement Epic. Any truth to that? I’m curious if how they’ll switch PCHI practices from GE Centricity or LMR.” Unverified, but several folks have told me that Partners has chosen Epic, which is hardly surprising news if true other than that former Partners CIO John Glaser runs Siemens, which I’ve heard was the other vendor being considered.
I mentioned previously that long-time HIStalk reader Tim Dodson, senior analyst with Children’s Medical Center in Texas, died unexpectedly this past Friday, May 4 at 34 years of age. Here’s what Ed Marx had to say about him:
Tim Dodson’s death is tragic on many levels. He will be missed by his beautiful family, community, and those who ever had the opportunity to work with him. Tim was a reverse mentor of mine and I learned so much from him. One quick fun memory to share. Tim revered Epic and especially CEO Judy. The bulk of Tim’s career was working for health systems that used Epic and he had just about every Epic certification known to man. One day Judy was in our HQ to meet with our C-Suite and was making her way up to our Board Room. I called Tim to our Board Room and the timing worked out that we were in our foyer as Judy walked in. So Tim was able to meet one of the people he most admired in life. He was beside himself and ironically had worn an Epic polo shirt that day. Judy was gracious with her time and completely engaged. I will never forget the glow on his face. The only times I saw Tim with a brighter glow was when he was with his family. Tim, you are missed already. You will not be forgotten.
The memorial service will be Saturday at 1:00 PM at Park Springs Bible Church in Arlington, TX.
Tim leaves his wife Wendy and four daughters. I’ll hazard a guess that a 34-year-old hospital analyst isn’t leaving a million-dollar trust fund, so if you’d like to help his family out, click the Donate button in the right column below the poll and give whatever amount you like. I’ll match the first $250 in donations dollar for dollar. Our collective donation, which I’ll flag as being from Tim’s fellow HIStalk readers, will go to a fund that has been set up to help raise the little girls. Thanks.
Note: this is a PayPal donation function, which I’ve used before for other charitable endeavors. You don’t need a PayPal account – instructions will be displayed on the left side of the page for making a straight credit card payment and printing a receipt. If you have trouble with it, let me know how much you’d like to donate and I will e-mail you a money request from Google Checkout.
Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock
The board of directors of Allscripts approves a Stockholder Rights Plan that would allow stockholders to buy Allscripts shares at a 50% discount in the event of a hostile takeover attempt. Allscripts says the move was not done in response to any current attempts, but says the stock price does not adequately reflect the company’s long-term potential. The plan effectively means management has to approve any takeover, even one that would represent a financial windfall to its shareholders.
Mediware reports Q3 numbers: revenue up 22%, EPS $0.22 vs. $0.17. The company attributes the improved numbers to its blood bank and blood center systems and its Department of Defense projects.
Emdeon acquires TC3 Health, a provider of cost containment solutions for healthcare payers.
Israel-based RTLS vendor AeroScout will be sold to an unnamed “international infrastructure and services company” for $240 million.
Stilwell Memorial Hospital (OK) selects Medsphere’s OpenVista.
Beaumont Health System (MI) contracts for the HealthShare platform from InterSystems to share patient information and analytics across internal and external systems.
The VA awards Harris Corporation a one-year, $1.2 million contract to design and develop a rules-based eligibility system.
University of Louisville Physicians (MO) contracts with Peak 10 to provide IT infrastructure and disaster recovery services.
UC Irvine Medical Center (CA) selects iSirona’s device connectivity solution to connect its medical devices to Allscripts EMR and to export data to a research database.
Mission Health (NC) appoints Marc B. Westle DO as SVP of innovation. He was formerly president and CEO of Mission Medical Associates.
Press Ganey hires Greg Ericson (Maxim Healthcare) as corporate SVP and CIO.
Ernst and Young names MedSynergies CEO J. R. Thomas a finalist in its Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 program for the Southwest Area North.
Jocelyn DeWitt PhD is named VP/CIO of University of Wisconsin Health. She was previously with University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers.
Pamela Banchy RN is named CIO of Summa Western Reserve Hospital (OH). She was previously with Summa Health System.
Prognosis HIS names Dustin R. Whisenhunt (TransUnion) as EVP of client solutions.
Cathy Mueller, VP of client experience at Cerner, died Sunday, May 6 after a long battle with cancer. She was 65.
Announcements and Implementations
The Indiana HIE launches SeeMyRadiology.com’s cloud-based imaging platform, giving physicians and hospitals access to shared radiology images.
Columbus Regional Health (IN) will go live on its $15 million Cerner system on June 24.
Sonoma Valley Hospital (CA) will go live on McKesson Paragon on May 22.
M*Modal will interface its computer-assisted coding solution with 3M’s coding and reimbursement system.
McKesson releases a 2012 update to its InterQual clinical criteria tool, adding condition-specific capabilities for managing admissions and length of stay.
Craneware announces GA of enhancements to Insight Medical Necessity, including customize keyword pick lists, commercial payor prior authorization, and expanded reporting capabilities.
Government and Politics
NIST and ONC will host an EHR usability workshop, Creating Usable EHRs: A User-Centered Design Best Practices Workshop, on Tuesday, May 22 in Gaithersburg, MD. Farzad Mostashari MD (ONC) and Jacob Reider MD (ONC) will provide a welcome and overview. Beyond the usability workshops, technical guidance on NIST’s guide for EHR usability will be offered. It’s not a budget-buster: registration is $35 and hotel rooms are $125, provided you get signed up before the 60-attendee registration cutoff is reached. CORRECTION: the afternoon session has two tracks. One is a hands-on session by IDEO, a highly notable design and innovation consultancy whose presence indicates a strong government interest in truly user-centered, out-of-the-box thinking EHR design, which is impressive. That’s the session with the 60-participant limit. The other afternoon track of presentations has no limit on the number of participants, and there’s no registration cutoff.
Innovation and Research
Researchers at University of Arkansas develop the e-bra, wired with sensors that transmit blood pressure, body temperature, respiratory rate, oxygen consumption, and a full EKG via Bluetooth or WiFi. The bra, intended for female athletes, can be programmed to send alerts if it detects abnormalities. The team plans to create a vest version for men.
athenahealth earns the #4 spot on Forbes annual Fast Tech 25 list of “growth kings.” Quality Systems, the parent company of NextGen, was ranked 19th.
KLAS reviews Microsoft Amalga, which it says has limited sales and a 14-point drop in performance scores over the past two years. Half of the interviewed customers said its implementation and maintenance costs were higher than they expected. Others noted that the product is flexible, but complicated.
The Kansas City newspaper profiles Cerner’s Neal Patterson and reveals a few lesser-known facts about his background and personal life, including:
- He and his brothers shared chores growing up on the outhouse-equipped family farm in Oklahoma
- To put himself through college, Patterson and his brothers raised hogs
- He visits a certain “dive bar” a few times a year with friends to discuss politics, business, and family
- Patterson’s wife Jean is battling cancer.
The 2nd International Summit on the Future of Health Privacy will be held June 6-7 at the Georgetown Law Center in Washington, DC. Speakers include Farzad Mostashari MD of ONC, Ross Anderson PhD of the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, and Latanya Sweeney PhD of Carnegie Mellon University. It’s sponsored by Patient Privacy Rights.
The wife of Army Chief Nurse Captain Bruce Clark, deployed in Afghanistan, watches her husband die 7,500 miles away during their Skype video chat. She tried frantically for two hours to contact someone in the military to check on him as the video feed continued. The army is investigating, but say they do not suspect foul play.
Memorial Hermann Hospital (TX) will run a Twittercast of a live brain surgery on Wednesday, May 9, with live tweeting and delayed photos and video.
A UK hospital nurse apologizes for the care she gave to a newly admitted 91-year-old patient who later died. Abnormal results from labs drawn immediately after his arrival were posted on the computer and called in by the lab, but the agency nurse did not alert doctors. In addition, the patient was never given the antibiotics that had been ordered. The hospital says it has has increased training, now requires senior employees to sign off on the assessment, has moved patient details from the white board to an electronic system, and has issued a mobile phone to the charge nurse so the lab could make direct contact. The hospital also banned the agency nurse.
In Canada, Hospital for Sick Children rolls out Pain Squad, an iPhone game app it developed that helps children communicate the pain symptoms they’re experiencing. Several TV crime show stars appear on it. I noticed Toronto-born Enrico Colantoni — who I know only as Keith Mars from the excellent Veronica Mars — at the 2:19 mark. The video suggests that the app will be made available (sold, I assume) throughout Canada and the US.
UnitedHealth Group reaches $100 billion in annual sales, buoyed by 71 acquisitions in 12 years.
- Medicomp CEO David Lareau discusses HIEs and the data tsunami they are creating in a guest article.
- OTTR Chronic Care Solutions will participate in next month’s American Transplant Congress convention in Boston.
- PatientKeeper hosts its user group conference this week in Cambridge, MA.
- Shareable Ink partners with Medical Web Technologies to integrate preoperative information collected through Medical Web’s One Medical Passport system with Shareable Ink’s intraoperative solution.
- The County of Fairfax Virginia, a MED3OOO customer, earns recognition from CMS for its 100% accuracy rate in billing of emergency medical services.