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February 3, 2015 News 5 Comments

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Cerner completes its $1.3 billion acquisition of Siemens Health Services as announced in August. Cerner reiterated in the announcement that it will continue to support Siemens core systems for an unspecified period, with Soarian maintenance guaranteed for 10 years. Former SHS CEO John Glaser has joined Cerner as SVP and a member of the company’s executive cabinet. Julie Wilson, Cerner’s chief people officer, says Monday was “the biggest single hiring day in Cerner history” as its employee count jumped from 16,000 to 22,000 with the acquisition. CERN shares rose 0.57 percent Monday on the news, giving them a slightly better performance (blue, up 20 percent) than the Nasdaq as a whole (red, up 17 percent) over the past year.

Reader Comments


From Lemmy: “Re: Athenahealth’s purchase of BIDMC’s WebOMR. Not sure why Athenahealth would be interested – WebOMR is a complete piece of crap being held together with gum.” I mentioned the acquisition in last weekend’s post as a rumor provided by reader InTheKnow, although I left out specific details since ATHN is publicly traded. More discussion follows below – I got details from John Halamka that go well beyond the announcement and invalidate some incorrect assumptions I had.

From Mr. Smith: “Re: national patient identifier. HHS and ONC are prohibited by law from even discussing anything related to an NPI even though they are acutely aware of the challenges posed by not having one. The legislative branch should address the issue, but HHS and ONC are trying to create a workable solution.”

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

Welcome to new HIStalk Gold Sponsor West Corporation and its healthcare practice. The Omaha, NE-based company processes billions of voice-related transactions each year. Its West Engagement Center drives patient engagement, care coordination, and provider collaboration using a variety of technologies (voice, text, email, mobile, contact center). Available solution sets include telehealth, patient access, prevention and wellness, and chronic disease management. It is used by providers, payers, and employers that are transitioning to value-based care, managing populations,  creating chronic disease care coordination programs, or adding patient engagement capability to existing population health management technologies. Sign up for an online tour here. Thanks to West Corporation for supporting HIStalk.

Here’s a YouTube video that shows how patients report their daily blood pressures using the West Engagement Center.


We’ve received just a handful of requests from real-life patients who want to take advantage of our HIMSS15 conference scholarship ($1,000 in travel cash plus registration). We’re accepting applications through February 9 and will choose the five based on their patient stories and their writing ability. See Regina’s description and send entries to Lorre.

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

Athenahealth makes its second recent  push into the inpatient EHR market by acquiring the WebOMR system that was developed by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (MA). Terms were not disclosed. The company will integrate WebOMR with its AthenaNet system. The internal announcement from BIDMC CEO Kevin Tabb says that BIDMC will do a “trial implementation” of “some of athena’s current products” in “select areas of our network.” BIDMC’s only obligation to Athenahealth is to help its engineers understand how WebOMR works “so they can try to expand its use beyond our walls” as “the days of self-built information systems will not last forever.” Athenahealth acquired small-hospital EHR vendor RazorInsights on January 14. Athena shares ended the day up just over 1 percent, the same daily gain as the Nasdaq composite.


I spoke to BIDMC CIO John Halamka, MD for clarification about the agreement:

  • BIDMC originally developed WebOMR as an ambulatory application, but it has been extended to include all BIDMC-developed automation – a certified inpatient EHR, OR management, oncology, laboratory, radiology, electronic medication administration record, and bedside barcoding. The only external dependency is First Databank for drug information. The only excluded module is the ED information system (which had been previously commercialized as Forerun) and the agreement doesn’t cover billing (which is performed by a McKesson application). BIDMC has done work with Google Glass and Apple Health and those components are included as well.
  • Athenahealth is buying BIDMC’s intellectual property, but it will not use BIDMC’s programming code, which was developed by a 25-member team using Cache’ and Cache’ server pages. Athenahealth will instead rewrite the entire product (or at least the parts they want to commercialize) using their own workflow, user interface, and business logic to create a new platform.
  • BIDMC will not act as Athenahealth’s development partner. What Athenahealth bought for an unstated cash investment is the intellectual property, one BIDMC FTE for two years to help them understand the applications, and access to an alpha site in BID-Needham, which has a 29-bed medical-surgical ward running Meditech (which will not be replaced there).
  • BIDMC gets a 20-year license to use the code that Athenahealth develops, but they do not have to move to Athenahealth’s version and are not precluded from replacing WebOMR with a commercial product, which Halamka says may happen at some point.
  • Halamka estimates that it will take Athenahealth 18 months to rewrite the product.
  • Athenahealth and BIDMC signed two agreements. The first covers the intellectual property as described above. The second is an agreement in which three practices within 38-site BIDMC Healthcare will begin phased implementation of Athenahealth’s ambulatory product, but BIDC has no further obligation to continue or extend the trial beyond those three practices that are participating in the trial.
  • Halamka says in a blog post that BIDMC won’t necessarily choose Athenahealth products when they consider replacing WebOMR since “we are a meritocracy and the best services at the lowest cost will win.” He adds, “Just as Mayo chose Epic to reduce the number of different IT systems, BIDMC will pursue a parsimony solution – the fewest moving parts possible. That might be one vendor, but hopefully it will not be more than two … While we want to continue to innovate, we know that commercial vendors will be able to leverage their knowledge and capabilities to build future platforms at larger scale.”



Cerner rang Nasdaq’s opening bell Tuesday.


Voalte lays off 25 percent of its staff, or around 40 employees, in a reorganization.


Canada-based consulting and services vendor Accreon is acquired in a leveraged buyout funded by its management team, its founders, and Mansa Capital. As part of the deal, the company gives up its 49 percent ownership in Velante, which ran a controversial e-heath project in New Brunswick, and turns it over to the other partner, the New Brunswick Medical Society.



Yale New Haven Health (CT) chooses Mobile Heartbeat’s clinical communications system.


Boulder Community Health (CO) chooses Voalte’s smartphone caregiver communication for its newly expanded facility.


Pocono Medical Center (PA) selects Authentidate’s telehealth solution.



Murray Reicher, MD is named CEO of DR Systems, which he co-founded in 1992. He replaces co-founder Rick Porritt, who has retired.

Announcements and Implementations


Vancouver, WA-based patient monitoring systems vendor OSTAR launches a cellular network-powered blood pressure monitoring system to reduce CHF readmissions.

Mediware announces CareTend, which combines its home care solutions into a single platform.

Government and Politics


HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell announces a $28 million ONC-funded HIE grant program, described as, “Grantees will address interoperability workflow challenges, technical issues, and improve the meaningful use of clinical data from external sources. Providers will be engaged from across the entire care continuum, including those who are not eligible for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs such as long term care facilities, to be able to send, receive, find, and use health information both within and outside their care delivery systems.”


ONC requests $92 million for its FY2016 budget, up from $60 million. ONC wants $5 million to establish a Health IT Safety Center that will go live in FY2016.


This is a great quote from former National Coordinator David Blumenthal, MD, tweeted by ONC annual meeting attendee @PharmDJD: “It is cognitive dissonance to want cutthroat competitive markets but to expect healthcare players to share valuable data.” It would be great if hospitals, retail stores, quick lube stations, and hair salons shared customer information freely for the benefit of their shared customers, but only healthcare providers are being (unsuccessfully) shamed into doing so.



Health IT equities researcher Jamie Stockton of Wells Fargo Securities provides a slice and dice of CMS’s Meaningful Use Stage 2 data. Hospital attesters included 97 percent of eligible Epic users, 63 percent of Allscripts, and 60 percent of CPSI, with everybody else falling under that number (Medhost and NextGen trailed the pack at under 40 percent). Physician Stage 2 rates were predictably abysmal, with Athenahealth out front at 58 percent and Epic at 26 percent, but vendors such as Allscripts, Greenway, Cerner, NextGen, and McKesson (the latter at 0 percent) having less than 5 percent of users attesting. Obviously it’s dangerous to read too much into the vendor vs. the customer, especially given the mass EP Stage 2 bailout.

Privacy and Security


Paper records from several New York City hospitals are lost when a Brooklyn document warehouse is destroyed in a seven-alarm fire that scattered charred patient charts over several blocks. Cleanup crews attempted to retrieve partially burned papers that contained patient clinical and financial information. New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation is among the organizations that stored documents in the warehouse, but says that as early EHR adopter, it expects no operational impact.

The creator of PGP encryption software (now owned by Symantec) says the Sony Pictures breach highlights the need for companies to redirect efforts from security to privacy by encrypting emails and documents and retaining less information online. “If you look at all the things that have been developed – firewalls, intrusion detection systems, all these things put in place to protect computers? They haven’t really hit a home run: they keep getting breached. But if you look at the Snowden material, the one thing that does seem to do well is strong encryption. Of all the things you see getting broken into, it’s conspicuously absent from that list … In the 90s, if you were using strong encryption, you’d have to defend yourself and justify what you were doing: ‘What, are you a terrorist or a drug dealer?’ Now, if you aren’t using strong encryption, you have to justify it. You’re a doctor? What do you mean you’re not encrypting your patient records? Or you left your company laptop in a taxi with 2,000 customer names on it? You better hope that data is encrypted or you’re in trouble.”


Researchers at Penn State College of Medicine suggest 10 situations where it would be acceptable for doctors to Google a patient, boiled down to (a) if they suspect the patient is lying to them about their history; (b) if the patient could be a doctor-shopping drug user; and (c) if the patient seems to have the capacity to harm themselves.


I received the email above from a well-known B2B spammer who apparently got an email list of HIMSS15 exhibitors and is offering to sell a database of full attendee details. The fraud clues are numerous: (a) the email purporting to be from “Tracy Nixon” was clearly not written by a native English speaker; (b) the company’s website is just a placeholder full of “lorem ipsum” text; (c) the domain owner’s name is blocked in its registration records; and (d) clearly a 7,500-record HIMSS conference attendee database is at best incomplete given the 40,000 or so attendees. The same company has scammed companies in other industries by selling them junk lists at high prices and then refusing to give refunds.


Weird News Andy titles this story “Heaven Scent” and adds that the device should be worth the cost of at least 1,000 Fitbits. A smartphone-powered cancer detection system called the SniffPhone detects the odor of lung cancer on the breath with 90 percent accuracy

Sponsor Updates

  • SyTrue CEO Kyle Silvestro posts “The Secret Life of your Healthcare Data.”
  • Verisk Health’s HEDIS measures are certified by NCQA for 2015.
  • Nordic publishes a blog post titled “Optimizing My Birkie and Your EHR.”
  • Four Medicity HIE customers are named in “Survivor: Edition HIE"–Can Statewide HIEs Achieve Sustainability?”
  • Dan Hamilton, COO of Nor-Lea Hospital District (NM), writes an article titled “Handling the Demands of a Population Boom: Using RTLS to Improve Patient Care and Workflows” about its use of Versus Advantages Clinic RTLS.
  • ADP AdvancedMD asks, “Has the ICD-10 Delay Hurt Provider Preparedness?” in its latest blog.
  • Bottomline Technologies will exhibit at the NAMIC Claims meeting February 10-12 in Phoenix, AZ.
  • Divurgent offers a new white paper entitled, “From the Trenches: Leadership Strategies from the US Navy SEALs Applied to Healthcare.”
  • Clinical Architecture’s Charlie Harp posts the second installment of the company’s blog series on “The Road to Precision Medicine.”
  • Caradigm will exhibit at the iHT2 Health IT Summit February 10-11 in Miami.
  • Matt Patterson, MD asks “What stage of Meaningful interoperability are you?” in the latest AirStrip blog.
  • CareTech Solutions will exhibit at the Health Forum Annual Rural Health Care Leadership Conference February 8-11 in Phoenix.
  • Amber Harner blogs about her trip to Costa Rica to help build houses with Habitat for Humanity, courtesy of the CoverMyMeds 2014 CoverMyQuest competition.
  • Michael Passanante writes about the physician’s role in lowering hospital readmission rates in the latest Besler Consulting blog.


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

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Currently there are "5 comments" on this Article:

  1. So essentially BIDMC can make some coin off their existing software and put towards a commercial system in the future. Great deal for them.

    Athena better make this work, otherwise the marketing material will write itself: Athena couldn’t even license software back to the org that created it.

  2. The SniffPhone sounds like a fantastic breakthrough. Unfortunately, many smokers spend all their money on cigarettes and can’t afford smartphones.

  3. The simple fact they acquired two inpatient EMR systems within a few weeks of each other is just colossally dumb. Doing so undermines the value of either of them.

    The days of buying an EMR customer is sort of behind us.

    If you couldn’t compete and win over the last 5 years, when on earth (and where on earth) are you going to be successful?

    You have to build a world class EHR and then GIVE IT AWAY FOR A LONG TIME

  4. The simple fact they acquired two inpatient EMR systems within a few weeks of each other is just colossally dumb. Doing so undermines the value of either of them.

    The days of buying an EMR customer is sort of behind us.

    If you couldn’t compete and win over the last 5 years, when on earth (and where on earth) are you going to be successful?

    You have to build a world class EHR and then GIVE IT AWAY FOR A LONG TIME IN ORDER TO JUST GET A SEAT AT THE BIG GAME!!!

    How on earth and again where on earth will you succeed doing this? Maybe you could spend more money and do it for cheaper and then make money some other way, but good luck with that given the fact that everyone else will be able to do that too if you ever find a path.

    This is a loser strategy.

  5. RE:“Re: national patient identifier. HHS and ONC are prohibited by law from even discussing anything related to an NPI even though they are acutely aware of the challenges posed by not having one. The legislative branch should address the issue, but HHS and ONC are trying to create a workable solution.”

    Wow! Now doesn’t that seem fair? Your boss (Congress) won’t do their job and tells you to never mention it. And you turn around and say to your ‘customers’ (remember ONC is here to help per the good Dr. M) that if you do not solve this problem we created we will punish you…UGH!

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