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July 4, 2013 News 8 Comments

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A Dow Jones article says Intuit not only found its healthcare portal business to be a poor fit in its financial product lineup, the company had to write down $46 million in May after Allscripts bought Jardogs, which offered a patient engagement platform that will likely eliminate the dependence by Allscripts on the Intuit Health patient portal. The customer comments I heard at ACE 2010 (the Allscripts user group meeting) weren’t complimentary about Intuit’s portal, which it had just bought with its acquisition of Medfusion. It will be interesting to see if Allscripts will make a play for Intuit Health since it has already acquired Jardogs as an alternative.

Those with memory deficits might want to study yet another example of how outsider companies throw down big money to buy their way into the healthcare market because it looks easy, then slink off licking their wounds shortly afterward as they dump customers off to any bidder willing to take over the smoking wreckage of what used to be a decent company and product. That might be a fun exercise: leave a comment about which big company screwed up the most in its unsuccessful foray into healthcare. I always vote for Misys, which I’ve always suspected was created solely to amuse the industry with an exaggerated parody of incompetence.

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7-4-2013 9-40-51 PM

From RustBeltFan: “Re: HIPAA Omnibus Rule Advisory Panel responses. Scary answers! Maybe you’d be doing all of us a favor by developing a HIPAA Omnibus Rule 101 series for HIStalk!” Most of the CIO/CMIO respondents said their organizations were generally oblivious to the new rule, which kicks in September 23, 2013. If you are an expert on the topic, consider presenting an HIStalk Webinar to enlighten readers. This would be purely educational, with no commercial bias or sponsorship, and I’ll provide the platform and promotion to let you reach an appreciative audience (and it’s not bad for resume expansion and industry exposure besides.) Contact me if you’d like to present on this or any other educational topic.

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Happy Independence Day. I’m not a fan of calling it the “Fourth of July” since that’s devoid of creativity and as dull as calling Christmas the “Twenty-Fifth of December” or New Year’s Day the “First of January.” About the only good thing about calling it the Fourth of July is that politicians weren’t tempted to make it a Monday holiday and thus destroy its historical significance simply to give Federal workers (and eventually the rest of us) a long weekend. At any rate, my flag is flying outside and I hope yours is, too. I worked a regular day today at the hospital and now I’m writing HIStalk, so I’ll celebrate by watching a few minutes of “A Capital Fourth,” which I’ve actually seen in person on the National Mall once. It was fun but dangerously hot, and while I’m glad I did it once, I have no plans to do it again other than on TV.

Other than HIStalkapalooza, what HIStalk activities, if any, would you like to see at the HIMSS conference in February? Let me know. I’m planning it now before I get swamped again starting in October.

On the Jobs Board: Senior Healthcare Policy Analyst, Epic Project Director, Android Developer – Healthcare + Google Glass, Staff Software Engineer .NET.


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Scott MacLean, deputy CIO and director of operations at Partners HealthCare, starts his one-year term as chair of the HIMSS board. Carol Steltenkamp, MD (CMIO, University of Kentucky Healthcare), is named vice chair; Paul Kleeberg, MD (CMIO, Stratis Health) becomes chair elect; and Pete Shelkin (Shelkin Consulting) is named vice-chair elect.

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New HIMSS board members starting their three-year terms this month are Beverly Bell, RN (VP, Health Care Dataworks); Beth Halley, RN (principal advisor, MITRE Corporation); Rick Schooler (VP/CIO, Orlando Health); and Michael Zaroukian, MD, PhD (VP/CMIO, Sparrow Health System).

Government and Politics

7-4-2013 9-02-50 PM

The Wall Street Journal apologizes for not having been critical enough of the Affordable Care Act, which it calls “a fiasco for the ages” and a “rolling train wreck.” It speculates that the Treasury Department pushed for delayed implementation (possibly illegally since Congress didn’t approve a delay) of the employer mandate because its own software isn’t ready to handle the changes. Apparently only the WSJ missed the obvious point that employers could bypass new healthcare expenses by either (a) cutting their headcount to drop below the 50-employee minimum; or (b) turning full-time positions into part-time positions. Their conclusion: the whole ACA could go right down the toilet because it was sloppily written, is impossible to execute, and will hurt employment. 

Speaking of the ACA, here are some interesting thoughts from a well-connected reader who knows what he’s talking about: with the announced delay in the ACA employer mandate and the uncertainty about the individual mandate, will hospitals ever really see the influx of newly insured patients they have expected? And if they have any doubt about that (which they should), will they curtail big software investments now?


7-4-2013 9-08-46 PM

US Army Sgt. Kyle Patterson and his wife Ashley thank The Aroostook Medical Center (ME) for using an iPad and Skype to create a video connection that allowed him to participate in the March 29 birth of his daughter from his post in Afghanistan. According to Ashley, “Kyle was just over the moon. He told me before the birth that he was not going to cry, but he did. He sure did.” The family presented TAMC with a flag that Sgt. Patterson flew in their honor at Bagram Airfield. The hospital flew that flag on July 4 to honor all members and veterans of the military.

A New York Times article entitled “American Way of Birth, Costliest in the World” says we spend $50 billion per year on four million births, a lot more than other developed countries that provide comparable access to services and technology. It describes a pregnant woman whose insurance doesn’t cover maternity costs trying to figure out how much money she would need, only to be told by the local hospital that it would be between $4,000 and $45,000. Her response: “How could you not know this? You’re a hospital … I feel like I’m in a used-car lot.” 

7-4-2013 9-46-58 PM

Maine Medical Center says it has fixed its problems with Epic, with Epic itself issuing a rare statement in saying MMC’s problems weren’t related to software defects. The hospital admits that the computer issues caused budget problems, but says those aren’t related to the buyout offers it will send out to 400 employees this week.   

7-4-2013 9-48-12 PM

The bonds of North Mississippi Health Services (MS) are downgraded because of financial losses largely due to $11 million in one-time expenses in implementing Allscripts at its Tupelo campus. Fitch Ratings says the implementation required more staffing and budget than expected and also increased length of stay.

In England, the head of the defunct NPfIT is called out, along with two other executives, for spending more than $100,000 for a consultant to help them look good in a single meeting with the Public Accounts Committee. A Member of Parliament describes their performance at the hearing as “woeful,” and suggests, “Perhaps they should ask for their money back.”

7-4-2013 9-58-56 PM

Weird News Andy succinctly titles this photo, “The ‘M’ stands for … “

EPtalk by Dr. Jayne

A Minnesota study demonstrates improved blood pressure readings using telemonitoring technology. Patients also kept their blood pressures controlled six months after the intervention ended. Pharmacists provided consultation and education over the phone once readings were received.

We know that exercise helps many of us deal with stress. Princeton researchers show that exercise creates new brain cells while also creating calm in other parts of the brain. The study involved mice running on wheels, which is a lot like being employed in the health information technology realm, especially during the summer. So many people assume summer is a “slow” time but I’ve found it to be stressful with many co-workers on vacation and the same amount of work to be done. Don’t forget to get your exercise and be glad you don’t have to be immersed in ice-cold water to be stressed (like the mice were.)

Thank you to everyone who sent comments (both posted and e-mailed) regarding my “tale of the ED” Curbside Consult. I’m happy to report that my sweet grandmother was discharged home to continue living independently. Her medications were adjusted, she’ll have some home therapy, and we’re off tomorrow to see if she’s a candidate for an injection of the pinched nerve that seems to be the root of the problem. I’m pleased to report that the care she received on the med/surg unit was both high touch and high tech, which renews my hope that we don’t have to sacrifice one for the other.


Thank you also to HIStalk contributor Ed Marx, who was the first to wish me a Happy Birthday this morning even though he is in the midst of climbing Mount Elbrus. His team is scheduled to summit on the 10th, so please join me in wishing them a safe journey. For our US readers, enjoy the Independence Day holiday. If you’re working in the trenches, double thanks to you.


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

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect



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Currently there are "8 comments" on this Article:

  1. Misys is a good choice for longevity but is beat by (pick one) Pantry Pride, Revlon or Alltel’s fleeting ownership of then Technicon Data Systems. It was ugly.

  2. You missed or forgot – ALLTEL’s acquisition of then clinical information system leader – TDS …I remember an ALLTEL executive telling me a healthcare transaction was just like handling transactions at an ATM. I knew we were in deep trouble …a patient as a transaction!!!

  3. As a current user, I wish the Intuit Portal for Allscripts Professional was as slick as the well produced video that tries to sell it.

    I wonder if Allscripts knew that Intuit was going to offload their health division and hence their move to acquire Jardogs. I understand Jardogs “Follow My Health” offering is much more robust then Intuit. I think Allscripts would be wise to ditch Intuit and stay with Jardogs. How many different portal offerings does an EHR vendor need anyway?

  4. Regarding delay of the employer mandate, please note that 96% percent of companies have fewer than 50 employees. Of the roughly 10,000 firms with 50 or more employees, around 90% of them offer insurance to their full time employees already. So we are talking less than half a percent of companies, with around 1% of Americans for whom this would have a meaningful impact.

    Not surprisingly, these 10,000 large non-insuring firms have mostly low wage employees. These people are now eligible for subsidies on the Exchanges. The 1% of Americans affected in many cases will be getting a better deal than they would have received from their employer. The main impact of this enforcement delay is that it will increase the deficit rather than reduce it in 2015. It will also increase the number of people using the Exchanges, and it will reduce the role of employers in providing health insurance (which many on the left and right think is a good thing).

  5. RE: Big Company foray into healthcare: I vote for Sage buying Emdeon Practice Services (Medical Manager –> WebMD –> Emdeon Practice Services). Sage didn’t know what they were buying, and then didn’t know what to do with it after they bought it. Could not stop the bleeding of customers or talent. They bailed and now you have Vitera.

  6. The ALLTEL, Misys and Sage stories are probably the best and most well known but let’s not forget some of the lesser known stories and debacles such as Ameritech’s acquisition of Knowledge Data Systems for cash in their attempt to build what we now know as the a Health Exchange or eSystem’s (now Raytheon) acquisition of the tele-radiology company Image Data now E-Med also for tons of cash in an attempt to get into the PACS business..

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