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May 1, 2014 News 4 Comments

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Defense contractor ManTech International will acquire 7Delta, which provides healthcare IT contracting to the VA, DoD, and HHS. ManTech wants a piece of the VA’s Transformation Twenty-One Total Technology program, for which 7Delta has won more task orders than any other vendor.

Reader Comments


From Matthew Holt: “Re: HIMSS Analytics interview. Can the HIMSS PR people just stop with the BS? How many times do they have to say that they are a ‘cause-based, mission-based organization?’ This guy is selling market research to IT vendors and HIMSS non-vendor ‘members’ are all providers feeding at the federal teat. None of them are helping the starving in Africa. HIMSS has been on an acquisition tear in the conference and media business, including doing some extremely uncharitable activities towards its competitors there (not to mention the way they treat their vendor clients.) And Steve Lieber got paid $900K in 2011 and presumably over $1m by now. I’m a capitalist, I have no problem with anyone making money in healthcare while trying to change the world for the better, and I support the idea of more IT being a good thing. But seriously, who are they trying to fool with this rhetoric?” I seem to remember that HIMSS Analytics was originally set up as a for-profit subsidiary of HIMSS when it was first acquired many years, but something (presumably the IRS) forced a change. HIMSS is like hospitals: somehow it keeps minting more and more money and using it to buy for-profit companies (conference organizers and publishers, mostly) and then suddenly declaring them to be non-profit. The annual conference generates a ton of cash that can only go so many places: big salaries (check) and acquisitions (check). Or the less-obvious choice: HIMSS could scale its income to its expenses rather than vice-versa.


From Boy Wonder: “Re: Allscripts. The company sent an email to its portal users saying Medfusion caught the the company off guard with its announcement.” Medfusion announced this week that an unspecified payment dispute will force it to shut down access to its portal by Allscripts customers as of May 31, 2014 unless they sign a new contract directly with Medfusion. The Allscripts email reassures those users that they can be live on the Allscripts FollowMyHealth portal (the former Jardogs product it acquired in March 2013) by October 1 if they commit by May 31. The bottom line is that those 30,000 users have to make a commitment to one of the companies within four weeks, and if they choose Allscripts, they’ll have to try to strike their own deal with Medfusion to keep their portal running until they can make the switch. The Tullman-era Allscripts made a colossally bad decision to redistribute Medfusion’s portal instead of developing or acquiring its own, making both the company and its customers vulnerable to the actions of an external vendor. Allscripts predecessor Misys made a similarly bad decision in licensing a customer version of iMedica (now Aprima) that Allscripts resold as MyWay before retiring it and leaving those users in an equally unpalatable position through no fault of their own. In both cases, Allscripts gets a black eye for putting its customers in a jam and then trying to migrate them to another Allscripts product to fix it.

Dim-Sum provides the usual cryptic and amusing update of the Department of Defense’s commercial EHR system selection process, or as he or she describes, “Status and latest rumors in the halls of bedlam, located right K Street.” This is a huge many-billion dollar deal and the only insider reports I’ve seen are coming right here from Dim-Sum, so thanks for the update.

May 2014

  1. DHMSM competitive teams are almost in place.
  2. Themes are being discussed, ideas are being circulated and people are starting to wonder, “Why did I pick this team?”
  3. CACI, where are you, and has anyone seen where Harris, SRA, and yes even CGI went?
  4. HP is getting press and nobody knows why. I bet you wish you thought of the Newseum “experience” (outstanding job by IBM/Epic, or should it be Epic/IBM?)
  5. Whatever you do, IBM, do not mix Epi-BM for your team moniker. That is a bad connotation in healthcare.
  6. GDIT is sitting on the sideline with Northrop Grumman watching in awe as their fellow poobah Lockheed has found functional and willing partners in Siemens and Athena. Good luck, best of breeders! Lockheed please note: Boston is an academic mecca, you will be comfortable there. Now the firm in the Philly suburb, whatever you do, do not wear a Redskins tee shirt — Eagles fans will hurt you.
  7. CSC is trying to figure out how they can make a cloud in the shape of an EHR – fun!
  8. Accenture is still confident, proof positive that their strategy was focused on any large EHR vendor in the Central time zone. Personally, I like the combination – well done, Jim and Ken – airline tickets are cheaper to Kansas City anyway. Kansas City, sadly, is located 70 miles south of the airport.
  9. Teams are congealing. However, smalls are scrambling and the ones invited to the table are excited. They tend to pontificate upon their vast knowledge of the current environment and then wonder if that is something to brag about.
  10. IBM, can you please bring back the Blue Man Group for an epic focused percussion’ fest? That would be very cool, and yes, the pun was intentional.
  11. There will be an online course for all participating COTS vendors explaining  cutting edge Kyrgyzstan interoperability standards like FTP, as well as expressing how each and every hospital across the Military Health System has one single positive attribute — they serve heroes. Outside of that, the technology is fair to awful.
  12. Had some initial thoughts about themes for each team:IBM / EPIC: “Judy and Watson, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!”
    Lockheed / Athena, Siemens: “We build planes, ships, and missiles. How tough a nut can healthcare be?”
    Accenture / Cerner: “DHMSM is like an onion — lots of layers and lots of tears.” Sorry, Accenture, my kids are watching Shrek.

More in June…

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

I hear through murky sources that a huge acquisition will be announced Friday morning (by “huge” I mean “you won’t believe it.”) I’m skeptical, but also receptive to being tipped off early if you are knowledgeable of the supposed deal. The fact that I’ve heard it only once suggests that my caution is well placed.


The latest “CMIO Rant” from Andy Spooner, MD is on HIStalk Practice where he addresses “The Problem List: Foe or Enemy?” complete with screen mockups. His first rant was “The Great Prescription Pad Race.”

Highlights from HIStalk Practice this week include: Medfusion parts ways with Allscripts over payment disputes. The EHRA opposes ONC’s proposed 2015 voluntary EHR certification criteria. A National Quality Forum panel finds pay-for-performance programs unintentionally worsen disparities between rich and poor. Forty percent of physician practices are looking to replace their EHRs, while those struggling to improve collections are taking on more aggressive billing strategies. Researchers find that almost one-third of patients fail to fill first-time prescriptions. 2014 MU incentive payments indicate a potential slow-down in EP participation. Thanks for reading. This week on HIStalk Connect: NIH announces a series of grants aimed at spurring mHealth research focused on chronic disease management, remote patient monitoring, and telemedicine. Doximity, often described as LinkedIn for doctors, announces a $54 million Series C round. Israeli startup Consumer Physics launches a Kickstarter campaign to fund a handheld digital spectrometer that it claims can scan food and calculate calorie and nutritional content. Dr. Travis discusses the 10-year horizon of connected health devices and the implications that they could one day have on healthcare overall.

Upcoming Webinars

May 7 (Wednesday) 1:00 p.m. ET. Demystifying Healthcare Data Governance. Sponsored by Health Catalyst. Presenter: Dale Sanders, SVP, Health Catalyst. Challenged with governing data? This vendor-neutral discussion will cover the need to develop a data governance strategy, including general concepts, layers and roles, and the Triple Aim of data governance (quality, literacy, and exploitation.)

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


The Kuwait Investment Authority takes a $100 million position in Patrick Soon-Shiong’s NantHealth. I wasn’t paying attention to the company’s logo placement on the page above and thought that the female on the left was sporting a Hiawatha-like Native American headdress.


Merge Healthcare reports Q1 results: revenue down 20 percent, adjusted EPS $0.04 vs. –$0.01. From the earnings call:

  • The ICD-10 delay moves up window during which hospitals may consider upgrading their imaging systems.
  • The company’s MU2 certifications give it opportunities with ambulatory radiology and orthopedic customers.
  • Merge improved its Epic integration and avoided an issue involving provisional patents.
  • Merge’s eClinical OS clinical trials system has 18,000 users.
  • The company will introduce a retinal screening product for diabetes and glaucoma patients, with the target customer being hospitals that are bearing risk.


Streamline Health announces that its Q4 and FY2013 results will be delayed until the end of May as the company’s new auditors review its internal controls. The company says three unnamed go-lives will contribute recurring revenue beginning in Q2 and it booked a new sale for one of the products it obtained in its $6.5 million acquisition of Unibased Systems Architecture in February 2014.


Etransmedia Technology acquires Medical Billing Solutions, expanding its geographic presence placing it in the top 10 large scale RCM services business.


Athenahealth announces that CFO Tim Adams will leave the company to take the same role with electronic commerce vendor Demandware, naming VP/Controller Karl Stubelis as acting CFO.


New York City Health & Hospitals chooses UpToDate from Wolters Kluwer Health for mobile clinical decision support.


Citizens Medical Center (TX) chooses electronics forms management from Access.



IBM names Keith Salzman, MD (CACI International) as CMIO for IBM Federal, which hopes to sell Watson and other technologies to the federal government for healthcare use.


Health Data Specialists promotes Bill Chandler to national accounts manager.


TriZetto announces John McAuley (PatientPoint) as president of its provider solutions business.


John Thornbury, a highly awarded hospital IT leader in England, died on April 28.

Announcements and Implementations

St. Vincent’s Medical Center (CT) goes live with Cerner, according to a tweet from the hospital’s CEO.

Government and Politics


CMS proposes increasing Medicare payments by 1.3 percent overall for FY2015 for the 3,400 acute care hospitals that participate in the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting Program and that have met Meaningful Use EHR requirements. Hospitals that haven’t met Meaningful Use would lose 0.675 percent of the proposed increase.

ONC releases a 30-second promotional video about Blue Button.


The VA says it will develop the next generation of its VistA EHR with the help of contests and challenges. Former VA guru Tom Munnecke is unimpressed: “It is not clear how the government owning all submissions in a contest will attract the best in the field. It is unlikely that many people would be interested in spending time and money to enter a contest where they give away their intellectual property.”

The Health IT Policy Committee will hold a May 7 public hearing in Washington, DC to review ONC’s certification process. It seeks input on allowing anyone to submit test cases so that certification measures real-world scenarios.


HHS didn’t want the Congress-mandated ICD-10 delay in the first place so it’s hardly shocking, but a proposed 1,700-page rule changing Medicare payments seems to confirm that ICD-10 will be implemented at the earliest date allowed by law – October 1, 2015. It could be that someone just updated the pre-delay document and forgot that Congress mandated only the earliest date, not the actual date – it’s only a proposed rule. The same document also spells “HIPAA” as “HIPPA,” so even the federal government gets confused.


Most physicians order unnecessary tests and procedures if their patients insist, but they also agree that ordering such tests and procedures is a big problem. They think doctors are better equipped to solve the problem (58 percent) than the government (15 percent), according to the telephone survey funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


Athenahealth VP Kyle Armbrester explains the company’s More Disruption Please program:

Our unique spin is that, because we take a percentage of net collection, we don’t actually partner with technology companies. We partner with outcomes companies like ourselves. So to be a part of the More Disruption Please program, we give our partner the scorecard, and that scorecard shows how they’re either driving more revenue to the doctors for doing the right things, or decreasing operational inefficiencies inside the providers’ workflow, or helping to improve patient and provider outcomes.

I’m always fascinated when family members riot and destroy hospital infrastructure after an unfortunate patient outcome (which doesn’t usually happen in the US, thankfully.) In Pakistan, a mob riots at a hospital, trashes the place, vandalizes cars in the parking lot, and beats up doctors and other employees after an appendectomy goes wrong and the patient ends up on a ventilator. Five days later, doctors haven’t declared the patient dead, and I wouldn’t either given the situation.


Microsoft gives in on its “no more updates for Windows XP” policy after the Department Homeland Security warns people to stop using Internet Explorer until the company fixes a security hole present in versions 6 through 11 that “could lead to complete compromise of the affected system.” The company says it will issue a one-time-only Windows XP auto-update to fix the vulnerability.


CHIME tweet out this photo of its 1994 Board of Trustees. Who can name them all?

Weird News Andy calls this story “Well Shut My Mouth.” Pediatrics nurses in a Saudi Arabian hospital are caught taping the mouths of babies shut to stop them from crying.

Sponsor Updates

  • First Databank will present new safety guidelines for pediatric dosing at the 2014 Pediatric Pharmacy Conference April 30-May 4 in Nashville, TN.
  • NC HIE upgrades its Orion Health Direct Secure Messaging.
  • Ingenious Med will integrate Entrada’s dictation and content fulfillment technology into its charge capture platform.
  • A report names Allscripts, Health Catalyst, McKesson and Verisk as key players in the population health management market.
  • HCS will lead a discussion on LTCH CARE data set changes at the NALTH meeting in Washington, DC this week.
  • Gartner names Validic in its 2014 Cool Vendors for Healthcare Payers report.
  • Health Catalyst announces speakers and topics for the Healthcare Analytics Summit 2014, to be held September 24-25 in Salt Lake City, UT.
  • DrFirst expands its Rcopia e-prescribing with electronic prior authorization functionality from CoverMyMeds.

EPtalk by Dr. Jayne

Mr. H already scooped me on this one, but the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) recently adopted “Policy Guidelines for Safe Practice of Telemedicine.” My gut reaction is that this is just another way for licensing boards to extract more money from physicians by requiring additional licensure. My second response in actually reading the document (numbered line by line such that it reminded me of a deposition) is that there seems to be a whole lot of self-importance going on here. The seven-and-a-half page document has a Preamble, for goodness sake.

Physicians have been practicing by telephone and using secure messages for years, but apparently now we need to codify new standards just because there is technology involved. News flash: all the old standards (HIPAA, standard of care, ethics, etc.) already apply.

Some of the policy’s contents are very much common sense:

  • The need for a “credible physician-patient relationship.” I suppose they’re trying to prevent physicians from turning into so-called pill mills, but then again they haven’t done a great job of preventing those in traditional face-to-face medicine. A quick look at the number of dishonest physicians selling work excuses and gratuitous prescriptions for controlled substances proves that.
  • Adherence to privacy, security, consent, and safety principles. Again, already in force simply because we’re physicians.
  • Proper supervision of non-physician clinicians.

On a subsequent read, however, several other provisions caught my eye.

  • “Where appropriate, a patient must be able to select an identified physician for telemedicine services and not be assigned to a physician at random.” Isn’t this exactly what happens when a patient presents to the emergency department, an urgent care, or many public health clinics? They are seen by the next available physician. They don’t get to pick and choose. Same thing with the assignment of patients to managed Medicaid panels, at least in my state. Again, not a lot of choice there and often a random assignment. Why should telemedicine be treated any differently?
  • “A physician must be licensed by, or under the jurisdiction of, the medical board of the state where the patient is located.” Again, this feels like a money-grab. I practice in a border town. The idea that I should have to get a different state license to practice telemedicine on a patient when I can see them in person with the license I already have if they’re willing to hop in the car, bus, or train is preposterous. What is magical about telemedicine that I should have to prove my competence to another state board?
  • “The practice of medicine occurs where the patient is located.” I tend to think the practice of medicine occurs where my brain and ears are located – where I can hear, understand, and process the patient’s story. In medical school, we learned that 80 percent of the diagnosis comes from the history. The exam just confirms it and provides additional information when it is unclear. I guess the FSMB is now going to turn that old adage on its head. What if my patient sends me a camera phone picture of her rash (via a secure patient portal message using Certified EHR Technology) while on her beach vacation? Do I need a Florida license now because that’s where the patient is? The policy seems to say so, per Page 4, Lines 3-5 and 13-14. Maybe those line numbers were handy after all.
  • “The maintenance of preferred relationships with any pharmacy is prohibited.” Excuse me? I have had preferred pharmacies my entire career. I prefer Mom and Pop shops rather than chains, especially when they know their stuff and don’t try to sell my patients aisles of junk food, questionable candy, and outdated cosmetics. I really prefer a pharmacy that doesn’t tell the patient, “The physician never sent your script” when they’re too busy to check the secondary screen on their prescribing software. I agree with the follow-up sentence that physicians shouldn’t send scripts to a specific pharmacy in exchange for benefits if we’re talking about SIGNIFICANT benefits (oh yeah, there’s a typo on Page 7, Line 23) but really, no preferred pharmacy? Does the fact that the Mom and Pop down the street brings a physician homemade cookies during the holidays make her unduly coerced? After all, that’s a benefit. What if the physician also takes them cookies because she’s grateful they are so meticulous with her patients’ scripts? Does that negate the benefit?

In this day and age with the mobility of our society, mobility of physicians, and the technology at hand, it seems more and more preposterous that individual states should continue to license physicians individually and/or without a greater degree of reciprocity. There are all kinds of problems with physicians being disciplined in one state and just going for a license in another state. Why not have a national licensure process? I suppose a counter argument would be that Medicare has a single provider identifier but still can’t correctly identify fraud, but that’s another story.

I really like their closing paragraph. Here’s a winner: “…physician remuneration or treatment recommendations should not be materially based on the delivery of patient-desired outcomes (i.e. a prescription or referral)…” Why should this be unique to telemedicine? Isn’t this something we grapple with on a daily basis, patients who come in wanting a script or referral they don’t need? What about those that want a test “because Medicare pays for it” whether they need it or not? Often our remuneration is ultimately based on whether we comply, either through patient satisfaction scores or the simple fact that they will vote with their feet. On the flip side, what about aesthetic medical services? Aren’t those ultimately driven by patient-desired outcomes? Especially ones like this recent find for aesthetic foot surgery.

On its face, this policy regulates us too much in regards to telemedicine, but perhaps I’ll go a little Jonathan Swift and suggest that maybe we’re not regulated enough in regards to everything else. It’s like saying we’re going to regulate wine in a box but not in a bottle. At this point, the policy is “advisory” so states can take it, leave it, or modify it.

What do you think about the FSMB’s plans for telemedicine and telemedicine technologies? Email me.


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

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.


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Currently there are "4 comments" on this Article:

  1. Nant – Headress…LOL – marketing at it’s finest – good analogy – lots of indians no chiefs

  2. Love Dim-Sum’s update on the DOD EHR competition (is that the right word?). It sounds like a silly confusing party to me. I hope that whoever wins can produce something usable for the DOD. Wait–aren’t the DOD and the VA supposed to be moving closer together ? (i.e. the two of them should choose Vista or a commercial EHR, but if DOD goes w/ Epic/Cerner/whatever and VA stays w/ Vista that won’t be a win in the big picture) What the heck?

  3. FSMB on telemedicine – complete barely veiled money grab. They add some filler that doesn’t add to the value of their statement to distract us from this, but that’s all it is. They clearly care nothing about one of the core benefits of telemedicine, which is to increase access for patients by limiting it to a specific state, and would shut down a lot of the creative methods I’ve seen for providing these services due to the costs.

    Plus, wouldn’t this also create the totally nonsensical situation where a patient on vacation calling their out-of-state physician for help would be told no? So much for supporting continuity of care too. Are these “medical” boards that promote the safe practice of medicine, or money making organizations with a very successful regulatory capture scheme? Any physician working on this proposal should be ashamed.

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  5. Dr Jayne is noticing one of the more egregious but trivial instance of bad behavior by allegedly non-profit organizations. I…

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