100% agree about the remote employees - particularly in health care. If you think you can 100% work from home…
ONC revokes certification for Platinum Health Information System’s SkyCare EHR (the former PlatinumMD) after the apparently defunct company ignores information requests, forcing the 48 SkyCare users who attested to Meaningful Use Stage 1 to either replace the system or drop out of the MU program. I’m guessing the company has gone out of business since its website is down and several Ripoff Reports say it closed its doors in March, leaving customers in a lurch right after it threatened to sue users for $10,000 if they stopped paying their monthly fees that were financed through external lenders as five-year contracts. The company was apparently owned by UBcare, a huge South Korean holding company. The complaints of users seem to revolve around the company’s squeaking by on MU Stage 1 certification with unfulfilled promises to develop MU Stage 2 enhancements. That, unfortunately, is a business rather than a certification issue and small practices are notorious for being naive in letting major decisions be made by inexperienced and minimally educated office managers (often chosen from a pool of candidates consisting of the spouse or other relative of the solo physician).
Here’s a January 2015 snip from someone claiming to be a customer of SkyCare, although it misspells the name of SkyCare President and CEO Alex Chang.
From Red Corvette: “Re: Salesforce interview. They have ambitious plans and have brought on a team that understands the industry’s big players, but I think they will struggle for traction. I assume their new product is a healthcare-optimized version of their Force Platform, which requires third-party developers to flesh out features and functions. Those potential developers will want to know how many healthcare organizations have deployed Salesforce, just as prospects will want to know how many third-party applications are available immediately. This will be a difficult cycle for Salesforce to break. The Saleseforce exec team will need patience to wait for their healthcare vertical to gain traction, which will take much, much longer than they think. Salesforce needs to make a strategic acquisition to give them a customer base and to fast-track third-party developers.” I’m always wary of big companies suddenly barging into healthcare as their latest lust interest, but Salesforce has chosen a good time to address the new need for providers to engage with consumers. They have a highly recognized name, thrive on an open ecosystem, are already working with big-name sites, and make sensible arguments as to why patient relationship management is more their domain as a customer relationship management technology vendor than for traditional healthcare-only software vendors.
On the other hand, Salesforce has to figure out how to play nice with Cerner, Epic, and Meditech, and leading off the launch by calling out their closed walls and dated technologies probably wasn’t the best way to start cultivating those relationships. Their main problem, however, will be getting in front of provider decision-makers who have a million other problems to worry about, keeping the sales plates spinning through infinitely long sales cycles, and giving providers the hand-holding they’re accustomed to. Still, what they’re offering is just a healthcare-tweaked version of their existing products, so it’s not a huge leap into the abyss. I’ll be interested to see whether they appeal only to the marketing function of health systems instead of the much more interesting and lucrative clinical outreach and patient engagement side of the house. The track record of outsiders barging into healthcare with guns blazing is abysmal – nearly all of them end up whimpering away quietly with their tails between their legs. But for yet another counterpoint, health systems are starting to look more like health plans in dealing with large numbers of consumers who aren’t necessarily regular patients, and for that kind of marketing, EHRs aren’t going to cut it.
Speaking of the Salesforce announcement, clueless writers suggested that Health Cloud: (a) solves interoperability; (b) competes with Athenahealth; (c) is an EHR; (d) is a personal health record; and (e) might required FDA approval. Others spat out unrelated old news from other health IT companies in adding confusion while struggling to say something original that wasn’t already contained in the press release. It’s depressing to think that someone might believe some of this misinformed but confidently presented drivel.
From Kitty Carr: “Re: St. Luke’s, Idaho anti-trust case. Epic finding itself in the eye of an anti-trust spat isn’t new to Partners or the Northeast.” The US district judge agreed with the plaintiffs (competitors of St. Luke’s) that its acquisition of a big medical practice would give it a near monopoly since even without St. Luke’s expressly mandating practices to send them all their business. One aspect of that is encouraging practices to use the same EHR as the health system to make referrals to it easier and to prevent “leakage.”
From EpicUGM: “Re: TV clips played in the Cool Stuff Ahead and executive address sessions. Did Epic license those from Gilligan’s Island and Batman? If so, that must have been one really expensive show.”
From Lookie Here: “Re: contributed articles. I thought you don’t post articles that have appeared elsewhere, but ‘Can We Create a Market for Health Tech?’ comes right from the contributor’s blog.” Thanks for catching that since I didn’t. I’ve deleted that article and notified the author that he’s banned from submitting future posts. You only get one strike when it comes to sending me something claimed to be unpublished anywhere.
From FlyOnTheWall: “Re: Emdeon. Announced today that they are becoming Change Healthcare.” Verified. Emdeon acquired consumer engagement technology vendor Change Healthcare in November 2014 and will now adopt its name.
HIStalk Announcements and Requests
I’m reminiscing about my early days as a hospital software analyst, thinking about how I viewed (and still do) programming as a personal form of art. I would look at thousands of lines of intricate code that handled extraordinarily complicated clinical and billing functions, marveling at how much thought went into figuring out how the program should work and making sure that every weird thing a user might do was corralled by carefully defined exceptions. Programmers characterize each other by how they code – do they favor elegant, brilliant analysis and clean and well-documented programming, or do they just jam in brute force changes to handle a specific problem without really understanding it? Programmers sit alone, immersed in the artificial world a program creates and mentally turning dry lines of code into a visual picture of what the program does and should do. I think that’s the mark of an exceptional analyst – not necessarily their code-slinging proficiency, but their ability to understand and then visualize what the user needs the program to do. I think the proudest moments of my career were in working solo to create occasionally ingenious programs that helped people do their jobs or helped patients to get out of the hospital unharmed.
This week on HIStalk Practice: MGMA calls on CMS to extend Meaningful Use reporting deadlines for medical groups. BCBS of Minnesota picks Doctor on Demand as its preferred telemedicine provider. Wisconsin looks to join the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact. CenturyLink sees telemedicine potential thanks to $500 million FCC grant. HHS makes an example out of Cancer Care Group’s HIPAA violations. The Independence Blue Cross Foundation invests in healthcare tech for safety net health centers in Pennsylvania.
This week on HIStalk Connect: Google announces a strategic partnership with French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi focused on developing a platform of Bluetooth enabled insulin pens and glucometers. The American Society of Clinical Oncologists updates its statement on the use of genetic testing in cancer screening and care delivery. Voalte raises a $17 million Series D that it will use to ramp up as demand for its point-of-care communications platform grows. Providence, RI-based digital health startup Sproutel launches Jerry the Bear, a diabetic patient education tool for children built in the form of a stuffed bear.
I admit that I ignore the instructions and don’t stir frozen dinners when microwaving then – I just set the timer for the total number of minutes and figure it won’t make that much difference.
September 9 (Wednesday) 2:00 ET. “Need to cleanse, unify and manage the provider data in your EMR master file and other IT systems?” Phynd’s Unified Provider Management platform allows healthcare organizations to maintain a single, verified, customized profile for each provider across legacy IT systems. This 30-minute presentation will explain how Phynd’s system can help synchronize internal provider information in real time; create provider interoperability among systems; and manage, update, and analyze provider information with workflow tools to improve revenue cycle and clinical communication.
Previous webinars are on the YouTube channel. Contact Lorre for webinar services including discounts for signing up by Labor Day. We get a lot of webinar page views and registrations from interested readers.
Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock
Analytics vendor MedeAnalytics sells a majority interest in the company to Thoma Bravo.
Healthcare communications platform vendor Voalte raises $17 million in a Series D funding round, increasing its total to $60 million. Investors are Ascension Ventures, Cerner Capital, and Bedford Funding. The company reported Q2 YOY growth of 250 percent with 44 new sites signed last year. Founder and CEO Trey Lauderdale told me that the health systems that created the industry were academic medical centers and pediatric hospitals and the capital infusion will help Voalte reach the big health systems as demand shifts to enterprise standardization in replacing pagers and legacy smart phones. Cerner will get a Voalte board seat as part o the investment.
Shareable Ink will change its name to Shareable following the departure this year of CEO Laurie McGraw and founder/CTO Stephen Hau.
Leidos covered its DoD EHR contract award in a Wednesday investor webcast. It was mostly a glossy overview with some details on how the company will recognize revenue as it completes task orders. The go-lives won’t start until summer 2017 and will take six years to finish. Leidos says it earns $50-$75 million per year in revenue supporting the current AHLTA system, which will wind down as it implements the new system. The company says profit margins will be at or slightly above its usual margins, but declined to explain further. Leidos says that it expects the contract to be worth the awarded $4.3 billion despite rumored higher numbers, saying those higher dollar estimates include internal government costs that won’t be paid to contractors. The company declined to say how the money will be divided among the subcontractors.
Holyoke Medical Center (MA) chooses QPID Health to identity behavioral health patients at risk for ED visits and readmissions.
Cerner announces its much-discussed replacement of Epic ambulatory at Glens Falls Hospitals (NY), which also uses Cerner’s ITWorks.
Medecision promotes Kathy D’Amario to SVP/CTO.
The Greater Houston Healthconnect HIE hires Deepak Chaudhry (Nexus Health Systems) as CTO.
Peter Schmitt (Nomacorc) joins release of information vendor MRO as president/COO/CFO.
Hunt Blair, former Vermont health IT coordinator and consultant to ONC, has died.
Announcements and Implementations
Salesforce launches Health Cloud, a patient relationship management solution that was designed with the help of UCSF and Centura Health. I interviewed Salesforce Chief Medical Officer Josh Newman, MD this week, who described the new application as:
What we want to do for healthcare is what we’ve done for business, which is to enable those relationships. Service Cloud is our product name. It’s like a call center app, but customized for healthcare so that everyone can have that same relationship with the patient wherever they are, on any device, to support healthcare. Not the stuff the EMR does — not medication ordering, laboratory ordering and resulting, or procedure ordering or notes — but the interpersonal communication that supports the success of those other things.
The FDA clears the $199 Eko Core digital add-on for stethoscopes following completion of clinical trials at UCSF. Stanford University Department of Medicine will issue the devices to its internal medicine residents. The device provides amplification, background noise filters, and Bluetooth connection to its app that powers its dashboard and can send recordings to EHRs.
Government and Politics
A VA OIG report commissioned by the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs finds that the agency’s poor recordkeeping and sloppy IT processes makes it impossible to accurately report the rumored extent of backlogged healthcare applications, the number of veterans who died while their claims were pending, and suspicions that the VA intentionally deleted records. The report states, “Enrollment program data were generally unreliable for monitoring, reporting on the status of health care enrollments, and making decisions regarding overall processing timeliness, in spite of the costs to collect the data and maintain ES [enrollment system].”
NIH awards 10 grants of around $3.5 million each to researchers studying how to add DNA sequence information into EHRs. Receiving awards were Group Health Research Institute/University of Washington, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (two grants), Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center, Mayo Clinic, Geisinger Health System, Columbia University, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Northwestern University. Brigham and Women’s and Baylor College of Medicine already received $8.4 million each in funding.
Privacy and Security
A jury throws out the $1.25 million data breach lawsuit brought against UCLA Health System by a woman whose sexually transmitted disease diagnosis was sent to to her former boyfriend by a UCLA temp (who also happened to be the former boyfriend’s current girlfriend).
In England, an NHS clinic sends out its HIV patient newsletter by using Outlook’s CC function instead of BCC, exposing the names of all 780 people to each other. The clinic tried using Outlook’s recall feature, then sent another email containing an apology and an urgent plea for everybody to delete the original.
Sony Pictures settles the proposed class action lawsuit filed by employees whose medical information was exposed in last year’s data breach.
In South Australia, a hospital radiologist who complained that administrators were deleting his notes and entering orders under his name is vindicated by state investigators who find that four employees tried unsuccessfully to delete a patient’s record from the imaging system.
The Madison paper covers the kickoff of Epic’s UGM, which is themed around classic (meaning off the air for decades) TV shows. A new offering, Cosmos Research Network, was apparently announced that involves commingling the information participating Epic clients for clinical research. CEO Judy Faulkner told attendees that Epic is talking to Congress about telehealth and cybersecurity.
The call for an anti-trust investigation into Epic was one of the last healthcare-related posts on the blog of former BIDMC CEO Paul Levy, who says he’s finished writing about healthcare and will instead focus future articles on his current interest — negotiation.
I don’t recall having heard of the provider-led, non-profit Healthcare Services Platform Consortium that is working on interoperability, but it announces founding members Intermountain Healthcare and LSU Health Care Services Division.
Speaking of BIDMC, the health system is rumored to be talking again with Lahey Health about a merger to compete with Partners HealthCare.
A KLAS report finds that only Epic, Cerner, and Athenahealth gained inpatient EHR market share in 2014. Athenahealth (the former RazorInsights) and Epic were the only vendors who didn’t lost customers last year. Epic’s customer count increased the most, but Cerner’s market share is larger following its acquisition of Siemens Healthcare Solutions.
The United Auto Works suggests that Detroit car manufacturers form a single healthcare purchasing group to increase their bargaining power in providing health benefits to 1 million people.
In England, a few newspaper-contacted doctors and organizations express unhappiness with the plans of Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to give patients access to their entire medical record by 2018 and to allow them to read and update their records by smartphone within a year. Most interesting is the response by the chair of the Royal College of GPs, who says, “GPs are under incredible pressure, seeing more patients than ever before, and we simply do not have the resources to analyze data that patients upload to their records as a matter of course.” Articles like this suggest that all doctors are unhappy with the announcement even though the writer didn’t contact any practicing physicians, a method quite a few publications use to stir up emotion without having to expend effort in doing real research that proves the headline’s pre-digested conclusion.
An interesting analysis of episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “House” finds that TV patients survived CPR at twice the rate of real-life patients, which might unduly influence anyone making Do Not Resuscitate decisions.
PhantomAlert, a competitor to Waze (the GPS and directions service Google bought for $1 billion in 2013) sues Google, claiming the pre-acquisition company stole its mapping information. PhantomAlert says it can prove it because it placed fake locations in its databases just to catch copycats, adding that Waze needed to steal its information in its desperation to find a buyer that turned out to be Google.
- Impact Advisors is named to Modern Healthcare’s “Largest Healthcare Management Consulting Firms” list.
- Forward Health Group creates an overview video called “Population Health Management for the Real World.”
- TransFirst will provide payment processing solutions that integrate with PatientPay.
- Medicomp announces Medcin U North America and New Asia conferences.
- Nordic brews up an EHR IPA to raise funds for veterans and the unemployed during Epic’s UGM in Madison.
- NTT Data partners with the City of Plano, Texas in its Food 4 Kids program.
- Experian Health/Passport will exhibit at the North Carolina Association of Healthcare Access Management
- PerfectServe releases a new case study featuring IPC Healthcare’s Memorial City practice.
- Impact Advisors releases a white paper titled “Realizing Value from an Enteprise EHR Investment.”
- PMD makes the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. for the fourth consecutive year.
- RelayHealth is named a leader in clinical data exchange in IDC’s latest MarketScape report.
- Flip the Script: Delivering the Unexpected (Visage Imaging)
- 4 Ways Front Desk Staff Impact Your Revenue Cycle (Hayes Management Consulting)
- Securing Critical Patient Data and Closing the Gaps in Communication Processes across the Continuum of Care (MEA|NEA)
- How “Patient-Focused” Drives MedData’s Operational Philosophy (MedData)
- Traveling the Path to Population Health: Data Acquisition (Orion Health)
- Patient Financial Engagement: Grinnell Regional’s Practice Experience (Patientco)
- The Future Will be so Bright That We Will Have to Wear Shades! (Phynd Technologies)
- Edward Tufte’s Powerful Message for Healthcare Analytics (Sagacious Consultants)