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Monday Morning Update 6/29/15

June 27, 2015 News 2 Comments

Top News


A federal grand jury indicts a foreign suspect for using employee information obtained in the 2014 hacking of UPMC’s computer systems to file 900 fraudulent federal tax returns that netted a group of conspirators $1.5 million.

Reader Comments


From FM: “Re: Brian Weiss’s article. Great article, Brian. The ‘HIE of one’ is the most simple, and most disruptive, way to achieve interoperability, and all enabled by simple technical building blocks (Direct, C-CDA) plus our inalienable civil rights. All we have to do now is ask. #GetMyHealthData.” I’m doing my own HIE of one, as you’ll read in the next paragraph. I invite readers to do the same and report their results. We keep talking about information blocking, so let’s name names in trying to wrest an electronically transmitted C-CDA from providers who have eagerly lapped from the Meaningful Use trough and therefore should be able to provide one.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

I am accepting Brian Weiss’s suggestion that we all become Open Provider Authorized Testing Bodies in requesting an electronic copy of my discharge summary from my one and only hospital admission, which lasted less than a day. It’s an EMRAM Stage 7, Epic-using, MU2-attesting medical center that should be able to send a C-CDA to my newly created Direct address (via Carebox, signup for which took 10 seconds). I suspect clashes with a clueless bureaucracy are in my future as I’ve already had to print a confusing HIM-centric paper form, fill it out (minus my medical record number, since it’s ridiculous that they expect patients to know that), and fax it back (using a free Internet fax service since I don’t even have a landline, much less a fax machine). I’ll be interested to see how they verify my identity and respond to my request for an electronic copy, which could be either easier or harder since they use an outsourced release of information company. The form didn’t even ask what method of delivery I preferred, so if it weren’t for the fact that they’ll probably call up wanting a per-page fee paid before sending me my records, I would probably get a package of paper in the mail by default.

Speaking of Brian’s article, I’ll offer a counterpoint to his suggestion that getting a copy of your own C-CDA means the sender’s EHR is open. That’s a great start, but it doesn’t do a whole lot for interoperability with other providers. It’s annoying for health systems and practices to send out C-CDAs to patients, but it’s downright threatening for them to open up their full patient information to competitors, which is what you would want as the subject of the overused “unconscious in the ED” scenario.


Poll respondents are split as to whether the EXTREME criteria adequately define open, interoperable EHRs. The no-voters unfortunately didn’t tell us what the authors missed. IP address analysis showed no evidence of ballot box stuffing, but I noticed that most of the Epic-based respondents chose “no.” New poll to your right or here, as suggested by a reader’s comment: is HIPAA’s impact on privacy positive or negative? It seems like an obvious “positive” on first glance, but as the reader points out, HHS gave providers complete control to use patient information without consent and with minimal disclosure requirements, pretty much killing the idea that patients own their data (not to mention that the full law failed to accomplish the “P” of insurance portability that didn’t happen until ACA). Rampant misinterpretation of HIPAA, where providers conveniently claim that anything they don’t want to do is prohibited by HIPAA, is a different issue.


Need consulting help? Consider using the RFI Blaster, which lets you send a brief description of your project to one or several consulting firms via one simple online form, also allowing you to choose your desired method of contact (phone number is optional, in other words). The CIO of a large health system suggested I create it and he’s had success using it since it puts him in control while requiring little of his time or energy.

I’m on a pet peeve streak, apparently. For those who latched onto the trite phrase “not so much,” it’s as eye-rollingly out of touch as a leisure suit. I’m also annoyed at the traffic-desperate “news” sites that repeatedly tweet out old stories like “Epic CEO to donate 99 percent of fortune” over and over again for many days (the actual story was published 12 days ago and they’re still tweeting about it, while another just-tweeted story was posted 22 days ago) hoping to eventually con followers into clicking. It’s also like CNN, which keeps old stories high on the page hoping bored passers-by will click out of instinct, which at least isn’t as bad as milking minimal impact stories (still-missing flights or still-fleeing prisoners) while ignoring less entertaining but far more important topics, such as whether Greece will default or the impact of terrorist attacks in Tunisia.

It’s going to be an easy read today because nearly nothing is happening in healthcare IT this holiday week. I won’t waste your time passing off junk as news.

Last Week’s Most Interesting News

  • The Supreme Court upholds the legality of the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies for residents of states that don’t run their own health insurance exchanges, leaving ACA intact and sending shares of insurance companies and for-profit hospital companies soaring.
  • Google confirms that it is developing an industrial-grade, prescription-only wristband that will collect patient and environmental information for clinical studies.
  • Aurora Health Care (WI) takes a lead investor role in StartUp Health.
  • A Federal Aviation Administration RFI discloses its intentions to connect its pilot medical exam system to government EHRs, hoping to detect safety-endangering medical conditions such as depression.
  • Video visit provider MDLive raises $50 million in funding.


June 30 (Tuesday) 11:00 ET. “Value Based Reimbursement – Leveraging Data to Build a Successful Risk-based Strategy.” Sponsored by McKesson. Presenters: Michael Udwin, MD, executive director of physician engagement, McKesson; Jeb Dunkelberger, executive director of corporate partnerships, McKesson. Healthcare organizations are using empowered physician leadership and credible performance analysis to identify populations, stratify risk, drive physician engagement, and expose opportunities for optimized care. Attendees will learn best practices in laying a foundation for developing a successful risk-based strategy.

July 14 (Tuesday) noon ET. “What Health Care Can Learn from Silicon Valley.” Sponsored by Athenahealth. Presenter: Ed Park, EVP/COO, Athenahealth. Ed will discuss how an open business structure and strong customer focus have helped fuel success among the most prominent tech companies and what health care can learn from their strategies.

Previous webinars are on the YouTube channel. Contact Lorre for webinar services including discounts for signing up by July 31.

Announcements and Implementations


Private equity firm co-founder Joshua Harris donates $5 million to create a precision wellness center at Mount Sinai Hospital (NY).

Privacy and Security

Google is caught secretly installing audio listening software as part of its Chrome browser extension that allows it to respond to audio commands.


A Veracode report finds that healthcare implements security poorly, with 80 percent of applications having cryptographic issues such as weak algorithms and  only 43 percent of known vulnerabilities being fixed. Still, healthcare scored much higher than the bottom-dwelling government. The numbers aren’t necessarily relevant, however, since they include only those self-selected organizations that engaged Veracode to assess their software risk.


A grand jury finds that Ventura County, CA prepared poorly for its $50 million Cerner implementation, with frequent downtime causing care delays. The agency defended itself by questioning why their project required a third review, with the jury foreman explaining, “We had complaints from the public concerning what happened after the system was live. There were still an awful lot of complaints.”


Bristol Hospital (CT) lays off 5 percent of its workforce in four areas, one of them the IT department.

The City of Pittsburgh drops its lawsuit challenging UPMC’s tax-exempt status and UPMC does the same with its countersuit, with the cash-strapped city hoping that more cordial relations will save legal costs and possibly convince UPMC (as well as Highmark, the University of Pittsburgh, and Carnegie Mellon University) to chip in some of the $20 million the city wants non-profits to pay toward their consumption of city services.


A former executive of Blue Shield of California files a wrongful termination lawsuit claiming that he was fired for trying to reduce its use of outsourcer Cognizant. He claims that a Cognizant VP tried to bribe him by offering, “You can join me for a party at a sex club in Sacramento. We have some very beautiful women there.” The company fired him for sexual harassment of women, saying his homosexuality was irrelevant.

Weird News Andy says this was an easily made termination, although firing isn’t enough. The Detroit Fire Department terminates an EMT who refused to respond to the house of an eight-month-old baby whose mother called 911 to report that she wasn’t breathing, with the EMT providing as an excuse to the dispatcher, “I’m not about to be on no scene 10 minutes doing CPR. You know how these families get.”

Sponsor Updates

  • Valence Health announces Penn professor and author Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, PhD a keynote speaker for its value-based care conference in Chicago September 30 – October 2.
  • Aventura describes implementation of its Roaming Aware Desktop at Republic County Hospital (KS).
  • Surgical Information Systems announces that motivational speaker Denise Ryan will keynote its Go!2015 User Meeting August 23-26 in Atlanta.
  • T-System will exhibit at TxHIMA June 28-30 in San Marcos, TX.
  • Zynx Health posts “Going Beyond the Web and Mobile Tech: Enhancing the Patient Experience Through the Next Wave of Digital Innovation.”
  • Valence Health will exhibit at the Health Technology Research Alliance & Council Summit June 28-30 in Gettysburg, PA.
  • ZirMed offers “How to reduce time spent working denials by 66%, streamlining front-end tasks to spend more time on patient care, and ANI news.”
  • Voalte offers “With Humility Comes Many Blessings.”
  • West Corp.’s Laura Bramschreiber offers “Helping patients graduate to good health” on the HIMSS Future Care blog.
  • ZeOmega offers “Payer/Provider Collaboration: What Works?”
  • Xerox Healthcare offers “Data Science That Simplifies Healthcare Delivery Analytics.”
  • Verisk Health partners with the Association for Community Affiliated Plans to provide its members with healthcare analytics education and results-driven programs.


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

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Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. I agree on the news issues, and I saw news rigging has arrived. UMPC decided to quit advertising and banned the sale of the Post Gazette in the hospital gift shop. I guess the paper didn’t rig the news adequately to suit UMPC. This stuff is getting old and its said that 60% of what is out there in news is written by bots. The bots are getting good, but I call it knock off news as one journalist writes an article and the other medias sick their bots on it tiorewrite with changing the words so they legally avoid plagiarism. Knock off news is indeed getting old. Papers are all in trouble so doing what they need to do to stay in business but it’s awful. Wall Street Journal should depreciate I think in news value sometime next month when a bunch of their journalists are gone..in come the bots.

    I used the Narrrative Science free bee just to see how it works with their free offering of Quill, that takes Google stats and writes you a story as I wanted to what it did. It’s been doing that now for me for a year and its very boring stat news, but a bot like that is good for staff meetings to write a story for discussion I would say but a steady diet of news..yuk. High tail is the most sophisticated bot created and they guy wrote 10k books and put them on sale at Amazon. It’s so bad that people can’t tell the difference between real and fake grass root campaigns anymore and I found a good TED video that tells that story, big time with pharma. The stock folks and I started chatting about news rigging over a year ago and sure what’s stopping the jounobots from talking to stock bots and kicking out a news article on markets every 30 seconds..nothing..so we get junk. Maybe papers should try to be non profit. In the OC where I’m at the Orange County Register journalists have to go out and deliver the papers too, it’s that bad. LA Times did it for them until they got into them for about 3 million in non paid delivery services.

    Indeed there are still good journalists out there and I seek them out versus reading a bot story too and really I don’t want them to go away or all we’ll get is bot news, which I’m sure is a hit for Facebook as their bots can talk to news bots too. Here’s the video and yes I’m tired of click baiters as well. It’s interesting though how few know that bots are doing news out there, and that’s scary in another sense. Who wants to comment on an article written by a bot?? Anyone? The bot could care less but a human journalist has interest.


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  1. Part of my attitude relates to an experience I had. And this was within a single HIS. I wanted to…

  2. For what it's worth, the VA currently releases C-CDA (or HITSP C-32...my memory fails me) via eHealth Exchange and has…

  3. Unfortunately, I can't disagree with anything you wrote. It is important that they get this right for so many reasons,…

  4. Going out on a limb here. Wouldn't Oracle's (apparent) interoperability strategy, have a better chance of success, than the VA's?…

  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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