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January 16, 2014 News 7 Comments

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1-16-2014 7-51-54 PM

Streamline Health will acquire St. Louis-based patient scheduling and surgery systems vendor Unibased Systems Architecture.

Reader Comments

From Salient Point: “Re: vendor layoffs. I’ve never had so many colleagues (most of them older), including high-performing salespeople, being let go. Seems like more than the usual Q4 pruning. Are you seeing this?” I will defer to readers. It does seems as though companies are cutting back, maybe because the HITECH boom is pretty much over unless you are Epic, Cerner, or a consulting company.  The EMR dance partners have largely been chosen, other than the likely ambulatory rip-and-replace caused by unmet expectations and acquisitions.

From Eclipsys Gal: “Re: Chad Eckes, chief strategy officer at Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Replacing Sheila Sanders as CIO at Wake Forest Baptist University Medial Center (NC).” Unverified. Sanders resigned after four years at WFBUMC in May 2013 following a disastrous Epic rollout, although the hospital said her departure was unrelated.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

A few highlights from HIStalk Practice over the last week include: CareCloud reports the addition of 520 new clients in 2013, including the 20-provider Urology Austin (TX). The PCMH model leads to lower cost, better access to care, higher patient satisfaction, and fewer avoidable or unnecessary services. Practice Fusion achieves 2014 Complete EHR certification in time to beat its December 31 “guarantee” deadline. More than half of providers say they have not yet estimated the impact of ICD-10 on their cash flow. Doximity claims it has more physician members (250,000) than the AMA. SureScripts adds almost two dozen vendors to its clinical network for secure HIE. A dozen HIT vendors share opinions on the biggest challenges facing physicians and physicians practices in 2014 in part one of a three-part series. Thanks for reading.

1-16-2014 4-26-31 PM

Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor MBA HealthGroup of South Burlington, VT. The company’s consulting services include Epic, Allscripts, ICD-10, EHR optimization, Meaningful Use, and RCM. They’ve trained and supported more than 5,000 physicians on Allscripts EHR, trained 3,000 users on Epic 2012, and provided RCM services to 400 physicians in 38 states. Fletcher Allen CIO Chuck Podesta mentioned using the company’s Epic 2012 upgrade services when I interviewed him earlier this week (the case study is here.) I noticed a new company blog post on the benefits and pitfalls of personalizing Epic that contains good nuts-and-bolts advice. Thanks to MBA HealthGroup for supporting HIStalk.

Listening: The Neighbourhood, a new California-based five-piece that skillfully blends alternative music with R&B. The singer is 22, which must be the coolest thing ever.

HIStalkapalooza and HIMSS

1-16-2014 3-16-49 PM

HIStalkapalooza registration will continue for several days. Everybody who wants an invitation has to register individually (that includes Inga and me, so don’t expect sympathy after the fact if you didn’t bother). We would love to invite everyone, but that’s not possible given that we had more than 750 requests in the first few hours, so watch your inbox for invitations on February 4 or so and follow #HIStalkapalooza14 on Twitter. Imprivata is doing an amazing job to make it the best event possible, as you’ll see if you score an invitation. It’s hard to comprehend that this will be the seventh version, going all the way back to Orlando in 2008 when it was 200 or so people in a Peabody Hotel conference room. I was thrilled because I was secretly hoping for 100 but expecting 25.

HIStalk sponsors: let Lorre know if you’ll be attending our sponsor-only networking reception on Sunday evening, February 23 at the HIMSS conference. It’s going to be pretty cool and a nice way to finish to the pre-conference weekend. Contact Inga if you haven’t sent your information for our HIMSS guide.

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

1-16-2014 3-38-29 PM

The price of Allscripts shares climbed nine percent Wednesday following the company’s prediction of five to eight percent adjusted revenue growth per year from 2014 to 2016. Analysts were expecting five percent growth in 2014. Above is the one-year chart with MDRX in blue and the Nasdaq in red, with shares rising 60 percent.

1-16-2014 3-40-14 PM

Valence Health reports revenue growth of 35 percent for 2013 and a 65 percent increase in bookings.

1-16-2014 3-41-01 PM

Craneware says its first half earnings are expected to be up five percent over last year.

1-16-2014 6-11-24 PM

Mercom Capital Group issues its healthcare mergers and acquisitions report for 2013, reporting $2.2 billion and 571 deals in 2013 vs. $1.2 billion and 163 deals in 2012. The top five VC-funded companies for the year were Evolent Health ($100 million), Practice Fusion ($85 million), Fitbit ($73 million), MedSynergies ($65 million), and Proteus Digital Health ($45 million). Above are the largest M&A transactions of the year. The full report costs $599.


Center for Diagnostic Imaging (MN) extends its use of Merge Healthcare solutions to include the iConnect Network interoperability platform.

Long-term care provider Grace Healthcare (TN) selects the Daylight IQ disease management system from COMS Interactive.

1-16-2014 3-55-06 PM

NorthBay Healthcare (CA) selects Health Catalyst’s Late-Binding Data Warehouse and Analytics platform.

1-16-2014 3-56-44 PM

WakeMed Health & Hospitals (NC) will implement population health and final risk management solutions from Evolent Health.

Kaiser Permanente (CA) renews a multi-year agreement with MedAssets for strategic sourcing and spend analytics solutions and to serve as Kaiser’s exclusive GPO for its nationwide facilities.


1-16-2014 4-21-50 PM

ISalus Healthcare hires Jason McDonald (Kareo) as chief sales officer.

1-16-2014 4-22-51 PM

HIMSS names its former board chair Willa Fields (San Diego State University) the winner of the 2013 HIMSS Nursing Informatics Leadership Award.

1-16-2014 4-23-41 PM

Rick Roycroft (MedAssets) joins Huron Consulting Group as managing director of the company’s healthcare practice.

Cureatr names Vik Shah (Medidata Solutions) as EVP of client services and operations.

Announcements and Implementations

Johns Hopkins HealthCare (MD) and BlueRush Media Group will co-develop an online portal that provides information for employers and their employees who are undergoing or have gone through cancer treatment.

1-16-2014 8-30-37 PM

The City of New Orleans EMS integrates its EMS Service Bridge electronic patient care reporting system from ImageTrend with the Greater New Orleans HIE.

In Canada, Cerner completes deployments of its ambulatory EMR  at three Ontario ambulatory clinics, supported by Canada Health Infoway.

1-16-2014 4-55-49 PM

Compass Oncology (OR) pilots My Care Plus, a patient portal designed specifically for cancer patients by McKesson Specialty Health.

1-16-2014 8-33-42 PM

The VA deploys Health Level’s critical case management platform for all its VA National Teleradiology Program medical centers.

The Ministry of Health of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia launches nationwide open access to Wolters Kluwer Health’s UpToDate for the country’s 80,000 physicians and nurses.

1-16-2014 4-53-06 PM

Lincoln Hospital (WA) and Community Wellness (WA) use the INHS TeleHealth system to offer diabetes and pre-diabetes education to rural communities in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Government and Politics

1-16-2014 5-00-05 PM

1-16-2014 5-03-31 PM 1-16-2014 5-04-40 PM 1-16-2014 5-06-52 PM

ONC releases the Safety Assurance Factors for EHR Resilience (SAFER) Guides, which include checklists and recommended practices to help providers assess and optimize the safety and safe use of EHRs. The set of nine guides are High Priority Practice, Organizational Responsibilities, Contingency Planning, System Configuration, System Interfaces, Patient Identification, CPOE with Decision Support, Test Results Report and Follow-Up, and Clinician Communication. Each starts with a checklist of recommended practices for optimizing EHR safety. The guides were developed by Joan Ash, PhD (OHSU), Hardeep Singh, MD (Houston VA, Baylor), and Dean Sitting, PhD (UT Health Science Center). This is some really good work.

ONC announces the beginning of a 30-day period for organizations to submit requests for ONC-Approved Accreditor status, which is valid for up to three years. This the organization that accredits EHR certification organizations, with ANSI as the incumbent since the role was first defined in 2011.

CMS and ONC select McKesson and Meditech as its first designated “Test EHRs.” In order to meet the transition of care objective in Stage 2, EPs, EHs, and CAHs must successfully exchange an electronic summary of care document with a CMS-designated test EHR or with an EHR technology different that the provider’s EHR technology.

1-16-2014 8-39-31 PM

Several North Carolina doctors file a class action lawsuit against the state for delayed Medicaid payments, claiming that the the state’s Department of Health and Human Services and its contractors — CSC, Maximus Consulting, and SLI Gobal Solutions — were negligent in their rollout of the state’s $484 million NCTracks payment system.

Brian Ahier provided this audio of Karen DeSalvo’s introduction of herself to the HIT Policy Committee earlier this week. She sounds kind of fun, but for some reason her voice goes up in tone at the end of some sentences like she’s asking a question when she isn’t.


1-16-2014 3-43-21 PM

A HIMSS Analytics report predicts accelerated growth for patient portals, clinical data warehousing and data mining, and radiology barcoding applications. The number of patient portal vendors rose from 28 in 2009 to 62 today.

CTG will add 300 jobs in its home city of Buffalo, NY in a medical informatics partnership with University of Buffalo’s Center for Computational Research in a genomics and big data initiative. The company helped create UB’s Institute for Healthcare Informatics in 2010 and contributed funds for Roswell Park Cancer Institute’s Center for Personalized Medicine.

1-16-2014 3-12-00 PM

A California highway patrol officer stops a California software developer for speeding, also citing her for wearing Google Glass. He considered the device to be covered under the same laws that prohibit playing video in the driver’s field of vision.

Texas and the city of Austin offer athenahealth $5.7 million in incentives to open an R&D center that would create 607 jobs with a capital investment of $13 million. The company is also considering locations in California, Massachusetts, and Georgia, the latter two of which have previously provided athenahealth with similar incentives.  

1-16-2014 9-21-33 PM

BIDMC CIO John Halamka says he has written two books, one a reflection on his blog writings and other a fictional thriller. He’ll be signing the former at HIMSS. He really is a Renaissance man now that he’s turned into a gentleman farmer (I’m hooked on his “Building Unity Farm” series.) I just can’t understand how he finds the time to get so involved in so much, maybe because I’m lazy.

The governor of Guam signs a bill approving a $25 million loan to Guam Memorial Hospital to help it repay its previous bailout loan and to pay the support fees of NTT Data, which threatened to cut the hospital off from software support.

1-16-2014 7-35-53 PM

Michael Gilbert, MD, a family medicine physician with St. Joseph Health (CA), writes a good ONC post for practices called “How to Use a Patient Portal.” As an Allscripts Enterprise user, he says the company pushed him to use Jardogs FollowMyHealth after they bought that company, resulting in a 40 percent drop in registrants from their previous portal (presumably Intuit Health). Current problems include the large number of pending registrations that never become active (which throws off the MU Stage 2 denominator), the requirement for users to install the Microsoft Silverlight graphics browser plugin (which hangs up my browser regularly, so I can understand that), and  the need for providers to motivate patients to participate. Interestingly, the practice bought a software development company and will build its own portal and HIE (!!!), but in the meantime seems fairly happy with the Allscripts product:

[providers] participate in secure online clinical communication, schedule appointments, refill medications, and answer routine questions with and for patients. The new portal automatically uploads all results within minutes of being verified by the provider and patients can directly schedule into providers schedules, ask for medication renewals and pay bills. The portal also offers a computer, iPad and iPhone application with all of the above functionality to patients. We have over 30,000 patients registered, and have achieved 10 percent penetration of all registered patients across both medical groups. Some providers have almost half of their patients registered. Our physicians encourage their patients to message them via the portal.

Weird News Andy appropriately finds this story sad. An ambulance takes 18 minutes to arrive at the scene of a shooting in a mall parking deck, unable to enter the facility because of the low ceilings. The crew had to roll the gurney up the ramp to get to the male victim, who had refused to hand over his keys to four carjacking assailants, who then shot him as his wife sat beside him in the car. He died.

An Iowa state prison psychiatric hospital employee is fired for downloading patient photos from the hospital’s computer, Photoshopping them, and emailing them to co-workers, who often responded with additional requests (some of those folks were also fired, apparently.) One of his works involved patient faces superimposed on a “Star Wars” poster whose title he changed to “Tard Wars.” He was also found to have used work PCs to visit adult site including “Heavy Hotties.” The man said his job mostly involved playing cards or Wii with patients, which enabled him to “Photoshop at the same time I am changing lives. It’s called multi-tasking.”

Sponsor Updates

  • The coreANALYTICS health system performance improvement system from Encore Health Resources earn ONC 2014 certification as an EHR module. Catholic Health Initiatives is using it.
  • Allscripts announces that its KLAS scores are on the rise, with Allscripts Enterprise EHR up 11 percent for the 12-month period ending December 2013 and Sunrise Clinical Manager up four percent.
  • Coastal Healthcare Consulting introduces Convergence, a patient identity management solution that uses NextGate’s Enterprise MPI.
  • NextGen will map its EHR directly to the IRIS eye disease registry.
  • Josh Byrd, Patientco’s director of marketing, shares his perspective on why the patient experience matters.
  • Joseph Petro, SVP of healthcare R&D for Nuance, explains how clinical language understanding is critical for helping providers drive productivity while remaining focused on patient care. 
  • TriZetto’s Provider Solutions Business unit introduces the Top Codes Report, which allows providers to chart their most frequently billed procedure and diagnosis code pairs in preparation for ICD-10.

EPtalk by Dr. Jayne


ONC releases SAFER Guides to aid providers in safe use of health information technology. The Safety Assurance Factors for EHR Resilience Guides contain best practices for EHR use and include checklists for practice assessment. ONC Chief Medical Officer Jacob Reider discusses the nine guides on his “Health IT Buzz” blog.

There was a lot of discussion in the physicians’ lounge this morning regarding the suggestion that medical school could be reduced to three years. Certainly the idea of saving a year’s worth of tuition and living expenses might be attractive to those who already know what residency they want to pursue. Several of the programs currently in place reduce electives and require summer classes in order to meet required educational standards.

My medical school’s fourth year curriculum was all elective, and in hindsight, I’m glad I had it. Being at an urban academic medical center allowed me to see things I wouldn’t have been exposed to in residency and also allowed me to practice my clinical skills with less focus on competing against my peers. Coupling reduced medical school experiences with resident work hour limits could create a rocky start for some physicians entering practice.

The other hot topic in the lounge has been the recent New York Times article on scribes. After reading the article, several of my colleagues now think scribes are the be-all, end-all answer to their EHR problems. I enjoy moonlighting at a local emergency department that uses scribes, but physicians need to understand the limitations of the scribe model. Although they’re very popular for episodic care (emergency, urgent care) there are challenges in office-based medicine. One of the major issues is that using a scribe doesn’t relieve the physician of the need to learn the EHR. He or she will need to be able to access the system to view data and to handle after-hours patient contacts such as hospital admissions, phone calls, cross-coverage, etc.

Scribes hired from third-party agencies are expensive – up to $28 per hour in my market. It’s hard for physicians to cover that expense in primary care. The alternative chosen by many physicians is to train a medical assistant to scribe. That approach can be effective as long as the medical assistant is relieved of their other daily responsibilities. It is extremely difficult to try to play both roles in a busy primary care practice. The article says physicians using scribes can see up to four extra patients per day. That’s not been the experience of physicians in our community, who are lucky to see one or two extra patients per day. Scribes may not be as helpful with telephone messages, provider-to-provider communication, and other administrative burdens that impact physicians.

Physicians also need to spend time reviewing the scribe’s notes for accuracy. At my site, there is a pool of scribes and we may work with three or four during a single shift. Although the overall quality of their work is acceptable, the work of some is much stronger than others. Their work requires careful review, especially when they are new. Scribe training programs may be only a few weeks long. If you get lucky and have one who is a pre-med student or a nursing student, it can be a lot of fun since you can do some teaching along the way and they are generally very motivated to do a good job in the hopes they will be able to ask for a recommendation. If you get unlucky and have a scribe who has been up late the night before cramming for exams, it can be a challenge.

Speaking of challenges, today HIMSS invited me to attend a focus group. How could I resist their opening line: “Are you a CIO with a bed size of 150-400 or an IT Director/Manager with a bed size above 300 and not a practicing physician?” Why do they keep demographic files on members if they aren’t going to use them? Between that and the overall lack of HIMSS social invites, I’m starting to wonder whether this meeting is going to be more work than play. I’m confident, however, that with Inga’s vast social network, things will turn around. What are your HIMSS social plans? Email me.


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

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.


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Currently there are "7 comments" on this Article:

  1. Re: Streamline Health will acquire St. Louis-based patient scheduling and surgery systems vendor Unibased Systems Architecture.
    It won’t be long before Bob W. Destroys that group!

  2. @histalk “… like she’s asking a question when she isn’t.”

    Yep, I noted that too, sort of the tone inflection they use on teen age and young adult sit coms! Usually a sign that the speaker watches too many of those shows.

  3. #saferguides

    To whom is this bland generic program directed? After the $ billions spent on HIT with little to no benefit (except for the equity prices of the vendors), this is too little too late. It failed to heed the IOM recommendations.

    The influence of big business and EHRA is well recognized in this document. Call it a faux safety guide.

  4. Re Karen Desalvo: By my calculations, she is about 45 years old. That means she is not in the age group that suffers from the “uptalk” affliction, so pervasive among people in their twenties or even thirties. Probably, TV or younger peer influenced.

    [From Mr H] I did the same calculation and arrived at the same conclusion. Maybe she has teens at home. It’s a curious speech defect, the reverse of Pittsburghers who inflect downward at the end of a question.

  5. @histalk “… like she’s asking a question when she isn’t.”

    Almost every installer from Epic assigned to our project talked this way – all the time. After awhile, the ridiculousness became almost comical.

  6. RE: ONC SAFER Guides. “This is some really good work.”

    I couldn’t agree more. But why wasn’t this available years ago? And why did it take the government to fund production of this?


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Reader Comments

  • Sam Lawrence: Except in this case, coding = medical billing, not development. Though the same warning may be true...
  • BeenThere: Partners will find the savings from their cuts of coders as fools gold. There are a lot of hidden costs running an outs...
  • JC: If there is not there can be. VistA has a reference lab interface that can create the manifests/labeling and such as we...
  • Tom Cornwell: Great stuff from Dr. Jayne as usual. One small typo, last sentence of second-to-last paragraph: should be 'who's' not 'w...
  • HIT Observer: What I find most interesting here, is people defending their common practices rather than truly taking this as invaluabl...
  • Bob: There's no incentive for the provider to spend time doing a price comparison for the patient. Nor is it a good use of th...
  • Peppermint Patty: Veteran - can you clarify what was "fake "? Was something made up (definition of fake) or did you disagree with Vapo...
  • Pat Wolfram: Such a refreshing article. Thanks -- there really can be a simpler version of an acute HIT implementation. But I do ...
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