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Monday Morning Update 11/17/14

November 15, 2014 News 2 Comments

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EHealth Initiative releases its “2020 Roadmap” as a preliminary private sector alternative to the federal government’s Meaningful Use agenda, obviously sensing as others have that ONC’s rapidly decreasing influence will leave a power void in the industry. Some of its points, all of which are aimed at the federal government:

  • Reward providers for outcomes (quite a few of the proposed activities involved incentive payments, with no suggestion that the federal handouts be curtailed).
  • Focus federal policy on interoperability.
  • Simplify quality measurement programs and standardize measures for quality, cost, patient satisfaction, and value.
  • Hold the October 2015 ICD-10 date firm.
  • Push Meaningful Use Stage 3 back.
  • Focus federal policy on the minimum necessary data requirements to manage the health of individuals and populations.
  • Encourage HISPs to publish their provider address directories.
  • Encourage the use of APIs to support core functions.
  • Put more emphasis on Direct-based capabilities, including awareness.
  • Encourage the use of REST and FHIR.
  • Shift EHR certification to measure what the market wants, including interoperability, safety, and security.
  • Consider post-acute and behavioral health providers in interoperability programs.
  • Help define the elements of a nationwide interoperability ecosystem, help overcome privacy and security barriers, and use government purchasing and regulatory clout to advance interoperability.
  • Align federal interoperability efforts across the DoD, VA, NIH, FDA, and CDC.
  • Improve patient and data matching capabilities.
  • Study the costs and benefits of letting patients control the use of their own information.
  • Create a data breach policy guidebook and a trust framework.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests


Nearly half of the respondents to my poll have withheld information from a provider because of medical records privacy concerns. New poll to your right or here: why did you leave your last job? You can elaborate further after voting by clicking the poll’s comment link. I especially like stories involving management incompetence since I’ve seen plenty of that.

Last Week’s Most Interesting News

  • The Institute of Medicine recommends adding 17 new mandatory patient social history data collection items, such as financial resources and social connections, to EHRs via the Meaningful Use program to give researchers more insight into social determinants of health.
  • UCSF School of Medicine Professor Bob Wachter, MD adds his voice to those calling for ONC to either be refocused on interoperability or shut down.
  • The UK’s Department of Health issues a broad and bold patient-focused health IT plan covering the next several years.
  • Reuters reports that the Federal Trade Commission is reviewing how Apple’s HealthKit manages and shares user health information, adding that Apple is considering hiring a health privacy expert.


November 18 (Tuesday) 1:00 ET. Cerner Takeover of Siemens, Are You Ready? Sponsored by HIStalk. Presenters: Frank L. Poggio, president and CEO, The Kelzon Group; Vince Ciotti, principal, HIS Professionals. The Cerner acquisition of Siemens impacts 1,000 hospitals that could be forced into a “take it or leave it” situation based on lessons learned from similar takeovers. This webinar will review the possible fate of each Siemens HIS product, the impact of the acquisition on ongoing R&D, available market alternatives, and steps Siemens clients should take to prepare.

November 19 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. Improving Trial Accrual by Engaging the Digital Healthcare Consumer. Sponsored by DocuSign. Presenters: B. J. Rimel, MD, gynecologic oncologist, Cedars-Sinai Medial Center; Jennifer Royer, product marketing, DocuSign. The Women’s Cancer Program increased trial accrual five-fold by implementing an online registry that links participants to research studies, digitizing and simplifying a cumbersome, paper-based process. This webinar will describe the use of e-consents and social marketing to engage a broader population and advance research while saving time and reducing costs.

Recent webinar videos on YouTube:

Keeping it Clean: How Data Profiling Leads to Trusted Data

3 Ways to Improve Care Transitions Using an HIE Encounter Notification Service

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


Siemens says it will keep its healthcare unit, ending speculation that it wanted to sell that business as it did its healthcare IT and hearing aid divisions.


Cleveland Clinic creates a company and website to distribute its self-developed software and technology developed by the academic medical centers in its Healthcare Innovation Alliance.


Mercy chooses Emmi Solutions to provide patient information tools.



UnitedHealth Group announces executive changes that include adding to the duties of its Optum division CEO Larry Renfro, who was named vice chairman of UnitedHealth Group in charge of strategic and key client relationships. His responsibilities include OptumInsight, which is the software and consulting part of the business.


Ross Martin, MD, MHA tweeted out this picture from Sunday’s Fun Run at the AMIA annual meeting in Washington, DC.  In the photo are Ross (AMIA), Danny Sands,MD (BIDMC),  Tom Payne, MD (UW Medicine), and Bill Hersh, MD (OHSU).


Also from the AMIA conference: John Glaser of Siemens receives the William W. Stead Award for Thought Leadership in Informatics.

Announcements and Implementations

ONC released its 10-year plan Thursday. While it captured at a high level some of the same ideas expressed in eHealth Initiative’s “Roadmap 2020” report, it was less prescriptive and more self-congratulatory. I didn’t find much interesting in it other than its intention to define common data elements and to create a feedback loop between EHR-collected information and published quality information. The UK’s Department of Health digital strategic plan was a lot more interesting and patient focused than either of these in my mind.


Baystate Health (MA) opens the TechSpring healthcare IT incubator where it will work with vendors such as Premier and Cerner, funded by a $5.5 million grant from the Massachusetts Live Sciences Center.


Vanderbilt University will move Vanderbilt University Medical Center into a financially separate organization that can “act nimbly and more independently in a rapidly changing healthcare environment.”

Healthcare IT companies making the Boston Globe’s “Top Places to Work” list include Kronos, athenahealth, Philips,  NaviNet, Imprivata, and Park Place International.

Wolters Kluwer Health launches the Consumer Education Center, which allows providers to create their own consumer health information website using the company’s medication handouts, drug interaction checker, and drug identification tool.

Government and Politics


A Securities and Exchange Commission investigation finds that CMS employees apparently tipped off investment firms that Medicare was about to increase provider payments 19 months ago, sending insurance company shares soaring two days before the decision was announced publicly. Investigators found that at least 456 CMS employees knew about the increase beforehand and believe that 44 investment funds made trades based on the information insiders provided. An internal CMS email says CMS struck a deal to raise Medicare Advantage payments in order to  get Marilyn Tavenner confirmed as CMS administrator.


Meanwhile, a Washington Post investigation finds that HHS paid MIT economist Jonathan Gruber $400,000 to help design the Affordable Care Act even as the White House cited him as an unbiased expert who supported its plan. HHS paid him another $2 million to review Medicare’s prescription drug program. Gruber is best known for his comments from several recently discovered videos, including, “If you have a law that makes explicit that healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it wouldn’t have passed. Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage and basically call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever … This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure the CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies.” Gruber help design the Massachusetts reforms that inspired the ACA, of which yet another video captures him saying, “The dirty secret in Massachusetts is the feds pay for our bill … Ted Kennedy … and smart people in Massachusetts had basically figured out a way to sort of rip off the feds for about $400 million a year.” The New York Times says at least CBO was clear on providing guidance on how to write the ACA legislation “in order to not move trillions of dollars of healthcare expenditures onto the federal budget.”


Reuters reports that early Google Glass developers and users appear to be losing interest in the product, which is still in beta with no announced rollout date. Of 16 Glass app developers, nine abandoned their projects because of poor business or device limitations, while three that were working on consumer apps refocused on businesses. Several key Glass developers have left Google and a funding consortium of high-profile VCs appears to have shut down.


A Wharton School African forum called “Can Technology Enable Healthcare for All?” finds that simple technologies could improve poor conditions, such as giving expectant mothers cell phones and tracking vaccines with barcodes. A speaker said that Kenya Airways quickly deployed technology and protocols to limit the spread of Ebola, with a result of “Ebola is actually more feared in New York than Nairobi.”


The Columbus, MS paper describes the iPad-powered EHR created by local dentist Patrick Singley, DMD (on the left in the photo above) for his medical mission trips to underdeveloped countries. He has formed a non-profit organization and is offering the system to other groups.

In the UK, Cambridge-affiliated Addenbrooke’s Hospital says rumors of widespread problems with its $300 million Epic IT system are false, but admits a patient’s on-screen OR record was missing information and that surgeries have been postponed due to problems with blood transfusion analyzer interfaces.

“Remote Area Medical,” a film covering the non-profit volunteer medical relief corps of the same name, opens in New York on November 28 and nationwide December 5. It focuses on a single three-day clinic held at the Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee. Remote Area Medical was founded by former “The Wild Kingdom” host Stan Brock in 1985 to provide free medical clinics. Most of its work is in its home state of Tennessee, which is apparently the only state that allows volunteer doctors licensed in other states to practice.


Boston Magazine runs a feature on the completely solar powered 1966 Volkswagen Bus of Daniel Theobald, co-founder and CTO of patient check-in system vendor Vecna Technologies. He chose that particular vehicle to convert because it’s a “big open box” for experimentation and it was large enough to hold his wife and their seven children. 


Sing along with Weird News Andy: “I am stuck on the MRI ‘cause the MRI’s stuck on me.” Two hospital employees in India are injured when one of them brings a patient’s oxygen tank into an MRI room, pinning both employees to the giant magnet for four hours as staff tried to turn it off.  The hospital blames GE Healthcare for what it says was a malfunctioning switch.


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

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.

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Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. Being from Massachusetts, I would like to thank all the gulible and stupid Americans (just quoting Gruber) who are paying Massachusetts $400 million to support our version of Obamacare. You are just mad because you did not have a Ted Kennedy as your moocher senator!
    Anyway the truth is, the liberal government of Massachusetts never reveals the full truth of what our vesion of Obamacare is actually costing the taxpayers. If the money train from Washingron stops, it surely will bankcrupt the state. Thanks again!

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