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April 4, 2013 News 16 Comments

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At this week’s HIT Policy Committee meeting, members discussed the CommonWell Health Alliance and its implications for the industry. Committee member Paul Egerman outlined the Alliance’s goals, which focus on providing a nationwide data exchange program that is paid for by participating vendors. Judy Faulkner, who also serves on the committee, reiterated that Epic was not initially invited to participate in the Alliance and questioned whether the group would favor the founding companies and if it planned to sell de-identified data. Other members expressed concerns that Alliance efforts may inhibit other regional and national HIE initiatives.

Reader Comments


From The PACS Designer: “Re: patient engagement. TPD and spouse had our first experience this week with Epic’s MyChart as we were encouraged by our provider, Yale New Haven Health System, to create our online medical record. As more of us seek treatment, you can expect to be coaxed into having an online medical record so other future providers can verify your past medical history so as to provide high quality services to their patients. MyChart is on TPD’s List of iPhone Apps.”

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

A few highlights from HIStalk Practice  from the last week: Vitera launches an iPad app for Intergy EHR. The AAP recommends pediatricians adopt e-prescribing systems with pediatric functionality. Forty percent of physicians say they are burned-out. Legal experts recommend that physicians pay closer attention to ADA requirements when adopting computerized tools. More physicians are suing former patients and their families over negative ratings and reviews posted on the Internet. Dr. Gregg explains the correlation between scrambled eggs and MU, HIT, and HITECH. NextGen Healthcare’s SVP and Ambulatory Division Manager Michael Lovett discusses his company, the industry, the competition, and the future. And, one last plea: please take a moment to complete our annual HIStalk Practice reader survey. Thanks for reading.


Texas Health Services Authority selects InterSystems to develop and implement its HIE infrastructure based on the HealthShare platform.

Inland Empire Health Plan will deploy MedHOK’s platform for managing patient populations.

The NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute awards SAIC a prime position on an IT support services contract worth up to $184 million over five years.


4-4-2013 11-35-46 AM

Healthcare consulting firm Qualidigm names Timothy M. Elwell (Misys Open Source Solutions) as CEO, replacing the retiring Marcia Petrillo.

SAIC promotes Robert Logan from director of engineering for IT services to CIO. Logan will also serve as CIO for Leidos, SAIC’s planned spinoff company that will provide national security, health, and engineering solutions

Agilex hires former VA CIO Roger W. Baker as its chief strategy officer.

4-4-2013 1-50-57 PM  image

Besler Consulting hires Maria Miranda (Multiplan) as director of reimbursement services and Arthur Baxter (Hayes Management Consulting) as RVP of sales..

Announcements and Implementations


Summerville Medical Center (SC) completes a one-year pilot program with GE Healthcare for its hand-washing monitoring technology. The program monitors data from employee badges and soap and hand sanitizer stations and has been recording several thousand hand-washing events per day.

Austria’s Landeskrankenhaus Feldkirch goes live with iMDsoft’s MetaVision in its ICU.

Government and Politics

ONC awards the NY eHealth Collaborative a cooperative agreement to participate in the Exemplar HIE Governance Program on behalf of the EHR/HIE Interoperability Workgroup.

ONC launches the State Meaningful Use Acceleration Challenge 2.0, which will encourage states to set aggressive goals on EHR adoption and meeting MU criteria.


Intermountain Health (UT) will pay the federal government $25.5 million after admitting it illegally compensated more than 200 of its referring physicians for more than 10 years. The health system reported the violations in 2009 following a review of employment contracts and lease agreements among its hospitals and doctors.

Bay County (FL) commissioners vote to approve $360,000 in incentives to to keep iSirona’s operations in Panama City. The company will consolidate its operations, which will either created 300 full-time jobs to Panama City or lose 117 jobs if it chooses another of te three locations it is considering.

Sponsor Updates

  • PeriGen highlights some of its Q1 2013 achievements, which included $6.4 million in funding, the addition of Thomas J. Garite, MD as chief clinical officer, NIH validation of its PeriCALM Patterns software, and a record number of bookings.
  • Holon Solutions participates in the TORCH Annual Conference in Dallas April 17-19.
  • Orion Health offers a white paper on demystifying direct messaging.
  • Lifepoint Informatics participates in the Clinical Laboratory Management Association’s annual KnowledgeLab conference April 7-10 in Orlando.
  • MedAssets recognizes University Health System with its 2012 MedAssets President’s Award for saving more than $13 million and realizing $14 million in cash flow improvement.
  • McKesson executives will share perspectives on technology innovation and strategic network design and management at next week’s World Health Care Congress in National Harbor, MD.
  • Medseek continues its discussion of why mobile is a must for healthcare organizations.
  • A Ping Identity survey of security professionals finds that organizations are embracing BYOD and the culture of work anywhere/anytime.
  • Ben Marrone, principal advisor with Impact Advisors, offers insights into balancing improved access with patient privacy concerns.

EPtalk by Dr. Jayne

CMS is hosting calls for groups considering participation in Medicare’s 2014 Accountable Care Organization program. Calls will be held on April 9 and April 23 and registration will close when space is full.

Practices using web tools, tablets, and kiosks for patient data entry, online bill pay, and other functions may want to consider whether those media are accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Department of Justice is working on regulations for accessibility of Web-based content, which should be out later this year.

A Cochrane Library review shows that computer-based tools to help diabetes patients manage their condition have a small impact on blood glucose control. There was no documented impact on weight loss, depression, or other quality of life metrics. Those using mobile phones did slightly better than other devices.


My Twitter-induced laugh of the day was “How People Sit in Meetings and What it Really Means.” Which style are you?

From Easter Bunny: “Re: EMR pimp. Did you hear Dan Marino is now pimping an EMR because IF ONLY his orthopedists had access to his complete medical records, he wouldn’t have been the greatest quarterback to never win a championship. Or, is he just repeating his old Isotoner gloves experience of being a shill for an underwhelming product or industry?” I do love some of the comments in the press release:

  • “Surgeons often see injuries they haven’t seen before…” Not according to my orthopods, who claim they see the same thing over and over and therefore should be able to document any visit in one click or less.
  • “Since no two orthopedic surgeons practice the same way…” Have they never heard of evidence-based care?

Not surprisingly, Marino is not only a spokesperson, but also an investor.

March 30 was Doctors’ Day. Although the AMA sent me an e-mail as did a locum tenens agency I worked for three years ago, there were no happy words from my hospital. Happy belated Doctors’ Day to all.



Mr. H, Inga, Dr. Jayne, Dr. Gregg, Lt. Dan, Dr. Travis.

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.

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Currently there are "16 comments" on this Article:

  1. It is my understanding from some very reliable sources that Epic was indeed contacted and invited to participate in CommonWell a few weeks prior to announcement and there continue to be ongoing discussions between Epic and CommonWell.

    What likely happened is that Epic got invited to the party after the CommnWell structure was defined, thus had little to no opportunity to put its own stamp on it and declined. Also, something like CommonWell runs directly counter to Epic’s GTM strategy so not at all surprising that they would not be a fan of Interop across a heterogeneous EHR network.

  2. Judy Faulkner, is questioning that a group like CommnWell can impact the overall market in a way that may be unfair to others not involved. Is this possibly based on her experience of recommending policies that negatively impact competing firms while she was on the GAO Health Information Technology Policy Committee?

    She also spent over $100,000 on political contributions in 2008 and another over $100,000 after the 2008 election.
    Reference: http://dailycaller.com/2011/12/27/an-epic-conflict-of-interest/

    Would this amount of money indicate an effort to gain influence to improve Epic’s place in the market?

  3. Dr. Jayne,
    Regarding your email from the AMA… if it is not too personal a question, would you mind explaining your rationale for being a member?

    This request is meant seriously; I ask it on the (rare) occasions that I run across someone who is still a member. I really would like to understand why people belong.

  4. At a discussion this week there was a panel of CommonWell functional contributors, i.e. the people behind the strategy and work. They did mentioned that they are having discussions on bringing Epic into the mix, but it looks like Epic is concentrating more on the defensive for right now. I hope they change their tune and get in the game.

    The basic strategy, as I understand it, will be to have link patient’s across multiple different platforms using existing identifiers and then hold the location mapping within CommonWell, but not hold any patient information. One presenter (I can’t remember the name), likened the process to email. Although we all use different methods on email, there is essentially no cost to exchange emails across those vendors.

    Mr. H, have you made any inroads to getting some of the CommonWell founders on to discuss the plan? I think a dual interrview with David McCallie of Cerner Corporation and Arien Malec of Relay Health would be pretty interesting.

  5. CommonWell:
    Whether or not Epic was invited is a moot point, because if there ever was a cunard this has to be it. A few big time legacy HIT vendors decide to gang up on a competitor because the new kid on the block is succeeding where they have failed for years.

    Think about this – the core CommonWell vendors for years has stymied integration and the sharing of information inside a client health facility. You may have had the best lab system on the planet but if Cerner or McK would not interface with your lab system the provider was out of luck. And if they said they would interface they would charge an arm and a leg, and take years to implement it. And then it was usually only a one way link. Of course there was (is) HL7 standards but anyone that has been in the HIT world more than a month knows that can be another ruse. If everybody plays fair HL7 works fine, but historically the big boys never have.

    When is ONC going to understand that moving CCDR/CCD data from one care level to another is a minor problem compared to moving real time transactional data (in two directions) within a health institution. That’s called real interoperability.

    When these big boys agree to support INTERNAL interoperability then maybe we can believe their story about CommonWell. And by the way where is Siemens, Meditech, CPSI, etc in all this?

  6. Tnx John,
    Likely the case….Is Judy’s pouting supposed to make us all feel sorry for her & EPIC. EPIC has never even been in the sandbox, much less play nice in it….THE EPIC ONLY way is just is not going to work long term – You have to connect and she’s likely seeing this effort by the other HIT vendors/industry will pass her by. Not going to…but what happens if the commonwell did blackball Judy. A few years go by and the rest of the HIT vendors are providing a superior quality of care and at a lower cost to us “The Patient”. Maybe her connection fees should be grotesquely high – likened to her grotesquely high fees for her systems.

  7. CommonWell has a business model?! For-profit companies fund a non-profit organization to advance the industry. I don’t know if that’s ever been done before. Maybe they should have taken a page out of Epic’s book and created a for-profit company that makes money off of non-profits. Much easier to make a billion dollars using a government-sponsored program to take advantage of non-profits.

  8. So basically CommonWell is an industry work-around for the failure of HIPAA to legislate an NPI back in ’97. It definitely helps because EMPI technology solutiosn are really expensive but I still don’t see how this leads to widespread health exchange. More interested in Direct and the changes it is fostering in the ambulatory space.

  9. The Epic (not EPIC) way IS going to work long term. At least for them.

    Why? Health systems have already shelled out way too much money to another direction. And the rest of the health IT vendors have little or no credibility.

    What will happen is years and years and hundreds of millions MORE dollars spent on trying to make local Epic implementations able to work in a collaborative environment.

    Anything is possible with enough money up front and for the foreseeable future…

  10. The emergency room EHR system will not interface with the main hospital EHR system, leaving meds, orders, and diagnoses to tedious re-entry. Neither vendor assumes responsibility nor do they want to reduce the integration costs. Who knew and who suffers? The patients’ safety is at risk; and the careful doctors must waste their time with these interoperability failure.

    On a national scale, these CommonWell folks, including P. Egerman, are in a delusional state and are putting the cart before the horse.

  11. Epic interoperability strategy..As Anderson suggests the Epic Only way is not a viable long term strategy for health care .. That approach has been tested already and failed miserably..where you may ask? In the UK under the now defunct NHS Technology initiative.. A single vendor strategy just does not work..

    FLPoggio is right.. Ironic these vendors can’t even interoperate within their own enterprise level solutions where in some cases multiple interface engines are required and literally hundreds of interfaces are needed in order to support a single process (cpoe)..

  12. Spoiler Alert: healthcare is a for profit enterprise in the US. And there’s more than one company that profits from taxpayer dollars in the healthcare industry. Doctors, hospitals, EHR vendors, consultancies, even businesses that exist solely to defraud. Every EHR vendor that’s made a single sale since HITECH has taxpayer dollars in the bank. All this righteous talk here about who profits from taxpayer money taxpayer money while anyone that’s interested enough to read a blog about healthcare is probably making money off it too.

    John while I’m here, I’d like as much as the next guy to see it come out that Epic turned down the CommonWell offer, but none of the members are stepping out with proof, not a single one will publically comment or directly answer the question, or simply produce said invitation. Seems like this should be a pretty simple thing to verify without some heresay channel, but it doesn’t look like anyone’s got the guts to do it.

  13. @SamLawrence: Perhaps you should read the article before commenting.

    For his part, McKesson CEO John Hammergren told Healthcare IT News in March that he was “hopeful” that Epic “will see it the same way we see it” and sign on with CommonWell.

    He added that “the only reason they weren’t at the table,” at the alliance’s initial announcement “is that we needed speed to get the deal done, and I don’t think anyone [at McKesson and Cerner] had as close a working relationship, perhaps, with Epic as we do with this group,” referring to Allscripts, Greenway and athenahealth.

    Hammergren said he planned to spend the coming months “engaged in trying to recruit more companies into the alliance,” in hopes that “every day we’ll have a more ubiquitous group of people saying, ‘This makes sense for us, and we want to participate.'”

  14. Sam, maybe the founders of CommonWell don’t have the cajones to come out and say that Judy/Epic are simply lying. Then again, maybe this is all a very delicate situation right now and CommonWell would really like to get Epic on-board and not just aggravate the situation for if Epic did indeed join in with CommonWell it would basically be game over. My belief is that it is likely the latter.

  15. Touche, didn’t see the link. I was just referring to the comment from John up top RE: being contacted weeks before the announcement, however it appears from the Hammergren statement that contact didn’t take place. Perhaps we’ll never know who’s lying, but I suppose it doesn’t matter. I’ll be watching closely to see if CommonWell can actually make any progress in the years to come. I’ve seen first hand that some vendors struggle to inter-operate across their own products under one roof.

  16. @Numbers Skeptic: I have a life membership in the AMA, purchased in residency when it was dirt cheap and before AMA became irrelevant. I certainly wouldn’t pay the annual dues they charge now. The funny thing is that lay people think AMA is a “powerful doctor’s union” that controls pricing. Guess they haven’t met CMS.

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