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Monday Morning Update 1/13/14

January 11, 2014 News 1 Comment

1-11-2014 2-49-45 PM

From Yogic Flyer: “Re: Merge. How could a sales rep hide being paid for non-existent contracts unless there are absolutely zero controls in place in that company?” Merge announced last week that a former sales rep created phony contracts worth $15 million to meet his or her sales quota, earning the rep more than $250,000 in sales commissions. The rep worked in the eClinical OS business, which sells clinical trials software to drug companies. It’s hard to believe that some level of collusion (individual or corporate) wasn’t required for a sales rep to just make up contracts that were used not only to pay commissions, but also to be rolled into the corporate orders backlog of a publicly traded company. It’s also interesting that customers weren’t billed for the amounts specified in the contracts, so Merge’s internal processes must be majorly disjointed. MRGE shares dropped more than 10 percent on the news, decreasing the company’s market capitalization to just over $200 million. The share price is down nearly 70 percent from February 2013. Chicago-based vendors Merge and Allscripts seemed likely at one time to cause a worldwide shortage of feet to shoot themselves in.

From It’s a Sledgehammer: “Re: Allscripts. [sales exec name omitted], another former IBMer hired by Glen Tullman, has been terminated. Paul Black’s master plan of putting the Cerner band together takes one more step.” Unverified.

1-11-2014 2-47-59 PM

From Willing Participant: “Re: HIStalkapalooza. I enjoyed last year’s event and read that invitations will be sent next Wednesday. Do I need to do anything to be eligible?” The registration page will go live Wednesday, January 15 (CGI isn’t building it, so hopefully we won’t have problems.) Sign up  then if you want to come. We will email invitations on around February 1 to those we can accommodate since we always have a lot more demand than supply. The most important thing to remember is that you have to register if you want to attend. Every year I get emails from people ranging from pleading to angry who didn’t register and who apparently expected the Official HIStalk Psychic to divine their attendance intentions and send them an unsolicited invitation. It doesn’t matter if you are a swaggering CEO, a sponsor executive, or a self-identified industry celebrity – you have to register (just like I do) to be considered for an invitation. Please don’t embarrass both of us by claiming I didn’t mention it on HIStalk since I clearly do multiple times, and once the spots are assigned, it’s too late. I can say this so far having had several conversations with the sponsor: HIStalkapalooza (#HIStalkapalooza14 on Twitter) is going to be amazing.

Upcoming Webinars

January 16 (Thursday), 1:00 p.m. Advanced Efforts to Identify and Eliminate Waste from Healthcare. Sponsored by Health Catalyst. Presenter: David Burton, MD, executive chairman, Health Catalyst. Based on a breakthrough analyses using several large healthcare data sets as representative samples, Dr. Burton and team will present insights designed to help executives struggling to identify, quantify, and extract waste from their systems.

Webinar questions? Contact Lorre.

1-11-2014 8-15-37 AM

Respondents think ICD-10 will challenge hospital CIOs more than other high-profile issues in 2014. New poll to your right: how much impact will IBM’s Watson computer have on healthcare?

1-11-2014 3-48-30 PM

1-11-2014 4-27-21 PM

Speaking of Watson, IBM announces plans to spend $1 billion to improve Watson’s slow sales progress, with most of the money earmarked to bring in more salespeople and consultants and to create an app store program. The smothering hype after Watson’s “Jeopardy” performance obviously set unreasonable expectations, so there’s a little bit of desperation as it slides in the Trough of Disillusionment. At least it’s being used: Elsevier will employ the technology to enhance the online search capabilities of its medical journals and textbooks, allowing users to search by natural language questions rather than a list of keywords.

1-11-2014 9-21-29 AM

Welcome to new HIStalk and HIStalk Connect Platinum sponsor Voalte (that’s pronounced “volt,” in case you were wondering.) The Sarasota, FL-based company provides caregiver-connecting mobile technology that includes Voalte One (all-in-one smartphone communication including VoIP calling, alarm notification, and text messaging), Voalte Me (secure texting that can be used securely on personal smartphones), and Voalte Connect (mobile device management, powered by AirWatch). Available case studies include Cedars-Sinai, Texas Children’s, and Sarasota Memorial. I interviewed Trey Lauderdale, president of the company, in September and we talked a lot about pagers, medical device alarms, and BYOD. Thanks to Voalte for supporting HIStalk.

Here’s a demo of Voalte One that I found on YouTube.

Stuff you can do to support HIStalk: (a) sign up for email updates, thereby entering an exclusive club of 11,194 well-informed and slightly offbeat healthcare IT experts; (b) connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn so that Inga, Dr. Jayne, Lorre, and I can pretend we are socially active despite the reality of spending most of our time alone in front of a computer; (c) join the HIStalk Fan Club that reader Dann started in 2008, which now has 3,349 members who are all above average and cute besides; (d) send me news and rumors so I don’t miss something important; and (e) peruse a few ads of sponsors and their listings in the Resource Center, confident that despite your differences with their role as vendors and yours as a prospect, you all show your innate coolness by reading HIStalk for sophomoric humor and scandalous rumors.

Listening: Ozma, serving up Pasadena-based power pop since 1995 and best known as being Weezer’s tour mates (not to mention sounding a good deal like them). They are better than you might expect.

1-11-2014 2-43-08 PM

Quality Systems announces that it will review certain assets in its NextGen Hospital Solutions division and record a charge against those assets in Q3. The announcement mentions the division’s poor performance and implementation backlog. The company also announces that its Q3 results will fall short of expectations due to poor Hospital Solutions Division results, a reduction in capitalized software development expense, and higher expense amortization related to new versions of NextGen Ambulatory. The hospital division is made up of the acquired Opus Healthcare Solutions and The Poseidon Group.

1-11-2014 8-50-37 AM

The White House fires Canada-based CGI Federal from the Healthcare.gov project, handing Accenture a one-year, $90 million, no-bid contract. The outcome of that should be interesting.

I’m getting a little bit annoyed by carefully cloaked Twitter bragging disguised as humility, i.e. “Thanks to all my great co-presenters at XXX conference” or “I’m honored that XXX Magazine has chosen to run my article.” We get it, you are wonderful and way better than the rest of us. 

1-11-2014 4-07-12 PM

Andrew Ury, MD, who founded Practice Partner and sold it to McKesson in 2007, raises $1.9 million in funding for his new venture, ActX. The Seattle startup is working on technology to incorporate patient genomic information into medical practice.

1-11-2014 10-04-46 AM

Five University of California medical centers test the use of game-based clinician education sent to their smartphones in small sections over a three-month period. It’s delivered by Harvard-based Qstream, whose primary offering supports sales rep coaching. 

Harvard Business Review finds that the impact of potentially disruptive retail clinics has been disappointing, with slow growth, little expansion to underserved areas, and an unclear impact on healthcare spending. Reasons: (a) poor people would rather go to the ED for free than pay even low retail clinic prices; (b) the clinics are usually staffed by nurse practitioners , whose reimbursement is less than that of physicians; and (c) Medicaid doesn’t want to pay for services delivered by retail clinics. In other words, hospitals are so unwilling or unable to make ED abusers pay that the market can introduce no acceptable alternative. It’s tough to compete with “free.”

1-11-2014 10-28-16 AM

ONC is looking for someone to lead its EHR certification team.

In Australia, an anesthesiologist says he’s being harassed by his hospital employer after complaining that a study of blood transfusion patients failed to de-identify them properly, allowing him to easily determine their names via an Internet search.

Bill Gurley, a partner in Benchmark Capital (Uber, Zillow, OpenTable, and Yelp) is looking for  “orthogonal/disruptive” approaches that don’t “partner closely with current players.”

Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (GA) fires two employees over two PHI-containing laptops that were stolen from one of its clinics in November, hinting that the terminated employees violated the hospital’s policies.

1-11-2014 10-48-13 AM

@Farzad_MD tweeted this table from an Annals of Internal Medicine “study of studies” article showing good historical outcomes for healthcare IT, leading me to accept his broadly issued challenge of, “I bet the next negative study of some bad health IT implementation gets more ink.” I pondered this and concluded that negative articles are more popular because:

  • With the money and effort involved with implementing systems, it shouldn’t be newsworthy that they work and provide ROI and patient value. It should instead be newsworthy when they don’t.
  • It’s still hard to convincingly prove that healthcare IT saves money or improves outcomes, and experience is still inconsistent because of not only lack of standardization, but even the lack of consensus that standardization is a good thing.
  • Successful implementations often don’t have any conveniently easy lessons to learn since they often involved big organizational commitment and slow, steady progress. The closest thing to a magic bullet is not what to do, but what to avoid doing, and the negative articles call out those potential potholes.
  • Technology is incorrectly viewed by technologists as the solution rather than a way to enhance the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of a given organization. Amazon doesn’t make you smarter – it just makes it easier to buy the kind of books you already read.
  • The industry is small and there’s always animosity toward a given vendor or provider organization based on personal or organizational history.
  • People feel superior when someone else fails in ways they are convinced they themselves would never be guilty of doing.
  • Organizational HIT success often is accompanied by selective user discontent, so it’s common for a physician to write emotional editorials against the intrusion of technology (as well as government, health systems, and insurers) into the practice of medicine while their employer can demonstrate positive improvements from that very same technology. The “organizational good” story gets buried if it’s written at all, while the “public good” story gets even less exposure.
  • Most of the people writing don’t have any direct experience with healthcare IT or reading peer-reviewed journals and find it easier to make names for themselves with sensationalistic or negative headlines pulled from questionably newsworthy source stories. 
  • Organizations with successful HIT outcomes don’t get any benefit from telling the world about their experiences, while those that fail are usually mad at someone they blame instead of themselves and are happy to talk about it.

HIMSS exhibitors, take note of “Confessions of a Former Booth Babe,” written by a “brand representative” assigned to the huge CES in Las Vegas. Her summary: (a) at $25-$50 per hour, it pays better and was at least less demeaning than being a shot girl or go-go-dancer; (b) it’s the hiring company and not the attendees that sets the level of lewdness; and (c) you know what you’re being hired to do if the application requires full-body photos rather than sales experience. Another expresses discomfort with photo-seeking male attendees who are far right on the horndog-pervert continuum: “You kind of wonder where your picture’s going to end up. I had someone ask to take a picture just of my feet. One guy asked to take a picture of me while I was wearing nude fishnets. Then, after he took the photo, he wanted to talk to me about his pantyhose fetish.”

Weird News Andy titles this story “Right Bullet, Wrong Gun.” A couple finds via DNA testing that their daughter, born by artificial insemination in 1992, was fathered by a fertility clinic employee rather than the husband who provided sperm. Testing suggests that the part-time employee may have swapped out his own sperm sample for that of hundreds of prospective fathers. The couple is urging former clinic patients to have the DNA of their children tested.

1-11-2014 3-54-51 PM

WNA says he can’t put his finger on what’s wrong with this story, which he names “Proctally Perfect in Every Way.” Researchers develop an artificial robotic butt for teaching medical students to perform prostate exams. It warns them not only if they press too hard, but also if they don’t make enough eye contact beforehand. I can think of far more lucrative consumer applications.

Vince is wrapping up his HIS-tory series after a several year run on HIStalk, which leaves me disappointed since I enjoy the heck out of them. His next-to-last one tries to untangle the remaining hairball of McKesson’s acquisitions that turned into 200 products.


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

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.


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Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Vince’s series have been just excellent–speaking as noob who’s only been watching Health IT since 1993….but I think he missed one tiny one in the mess of McKesson M&A! McKesson bought a company called Medivation in 2000 which as far as I can tell did EXACTLY the same thing that RelayHealth did (secure messaging between physicians and patients). It seemed to disappear in the memory hole (as I wrote at the time of McKesson buying RelayHealth

    But I wonder how many of the 200 acquisitions were just direct duplicates of stuff they already had… (and I suspect McKesson is not the only company that applies to!)

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