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October 4, 2015 News 4 Comments

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Mercy Health opens a $54 million telemedicine center, where 290 clinical employees will monitor patients in 33 hospitals covering four states. The service, which seems to be marketing itself to other hospitals without actually saying so, offers teleICU, telestroke, nurse on call, electronic visits, specialist consultations,  a sepsis monitoring service, skilled nursing facility monitoring, home monitoring, remote hospitalist services, chronic disease management, and analytics services. Consider the implications of offering services like these to small and rural facilities that have physical proximity to patients and a desire to improve their health, but that also don’t have the resources to do so on their own.

Reader Comments


From PM_From_Haities: “Re: Allscripts. Borrowing more money with terms that require it to pay 50 percent of the company’s excess cash flow each fiscal year if it doesn’t meet certain leverage ratios.” The SEC filing is over my head, so anyone with corporate finance expertise is welcome to comment. Above is the one-year price chart of MDRX (blue, down 9 percent) vs. the Nasdaq (red, up 6 percent). Your $10,000 worth of Allscripts shares purchased five years ago would be worth $6,769 today, while the same investment in Nasdaq index funds would be valued at $19,600. Had you bought Cerner shares instead, your $10,000 would be worth $28,450.


From Doctor Mom: “Re: ICD-10. Our doctor’s system combined the correct ‘juvenile dermatomysositis” with the incorrect ‘juvenile polymyositis’ to create a new code for the combined non-existent disease. Otherwise, no issues for us.” I haven’t heard of any significant ICD-10 issues, other than one reader who said his insurance declined a prescription refill because of its existing ICD-9 diagnosis code but approved it when the pharmacist fixed the code. It’s too early to claim victory since ICD-10-based claims haven’t yet been paid, but I’m already feeling sorry for all the vendor and provider people who spent a ton of time preparing for the conversion that everyone is now saying was uneventful, implying in Y2K-like fashion that it all was a false alarm that could have been ignored. It was only a non-event because a lot of people did their best to make it so.

From The PACS Designer: “Re: ICD-10. Now that ICD-10-CM is officially in use worldwide, it will be vitally important that no shortcuts creep into the clinical decision solutions. For instance, if you encounter a present for a ‘burn due to water-skis on fire’ — V91.07XA — you should not enter the present as V9107XA, v91.07xa, or v9107xa.”

From Frank Poggio: “Re: Blue Cross Blue Shield poll question. In 1939, the AMA started Blue Shield and in 1942 AHA created Blue Cross because healthcare costs were too high and volume was down. To drum up business, they both came up with the idea to sell a medical insurance policy. Unions loved it and employers thought of it as a low-cost benefit. One insurance for both was not possible because they didn’t trust each other and physicians wanted to remain as independent as possible. The split was perpetuated when the Feds created Medicare in 1966. The Feds could have forced the two together (a la ACO) but the politics were too tenuous, so the Feds created two separate payment programs — Medicare Part A (hospital) and Medicare Part B (doctor) to mirror BC/BS. Then in 1972 as the health insurance industry matured, the Federal Trade Commission became concerned that doctors and hospitals selling insurance was a conflict of interest. The AMA had to spin off Blue Shield and AHA split with Blue Cross. As time moved on and healthcare costs grew, the Blues saw themselves more as insurance companies than part of the medical establishment. Many of the Blues merged and eventually morphed into today’s UnitedHealth, Anthem, Wellpoint, etc. Not much is different today as providers are trying to protect their revenue, and since the friendly Blues have morphed into nasty enemies, why not create your own more friendly insurance program? Here we go again.”

HIStalk Announcements and Requests


Two-thirds of poll respondents characterize Blue Cross Blue Shield (the association of companies) as a villain vs. the one-third who think they are a hero. Mobile Man explains, “Necessary evil? Absolute power corrupts absolutely? Follow the money? The ‘business of healthcare’ is an oxymoron? You name it …”  New poll to your right or here: should consumers be allowed to order their own lab tests?




I received photos from teachers whose DonorsChoose grant projects we funded: Ms. Bruder from New York (electronics kits), Ms. Thomas from Georgia (a math exploration station), and Ms. Lemos from California (two Amazon Fire tablets).

Thanks to the following sponsors, new and renewing, that recently supported HIStalk, HIStalk Practice, and HIStalk Connect. Click a logo for more information.


Last Week’s Most Interesting News

  • ICD-10 goes live with few reported problems.
  • EClinicalWorks will spend $50 million on a new building in preparation for doubling its Westboro, MA headcount to 2,000.
  • MedAssets announces a restructuring plan that includes laying off 180 employees.
  • Mayo Clinic-backed Better announces that it will shut down its technology-powered personal health services company on October 30.
  • Leaders of the Senate’s HELP committee continue pressing HHS to change Meaningful Use Stage 2 and to delay Stage 3.
  • Patients sue two DC-area health systems for refusing to provide electronic copies of their medical records and charging them thousands of dollars for paper copies.
  • A study by researchers from England finds that most consumer health apps give bad advice, fail to secure user information, and provide no documented health improvement.


October 7 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “Develop Your Analysts and They’ll Pay for Themselves.” Sponsored by Health Catalyst. Presenters: Peter Monaco, senior business intelligence developer, Health Catalyst; Russ Stahli, VP, Health Catalyst. It takes years for analysts to develop the skills they need to build reports and dashboards that turn data into valuable insights. This webinar will describe how to cultivate those analytical skills, including technical prowess and adaptive leadership. Leaders will learn how to develop a culture that fosters improvement, how to encourage analysts to develop the right skills, and ways to remove the barriers that stand in their way.

Contact Lorre for webinar services. Past webinars are on our HIStalk webinars YouTube channel.

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

This might be a clue that the frothy health IT investor bubble is about to burst: hospital asset tracking vendor Kokicare files its IPO documents even though it has existed for just five months, it has no website, and its official address is the home of its founder, who still works full time as a sales director for another software company. The company, which has no record of previous funding, is hoping to sell $330,000 worth of shares.


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Falcon Consulting hires Bill Wilson (IBM) as VP of strategic services, Steve Hayter (Providence Health & Services) as VP for technology solutions, Dan Stoke (Medfusion) as VP of client relations, and Paul Tinker (Grant Thornton LLP – not pictured) as executive director of clinical services.

Announcements and Implementations

In Texas, Texas Health Resources and UT Southwestern Medical Center announce plans to create a single cooperative network that will include using a single “compatible interactive IT platform,” which should be made easier since both organizations use Epic.

Privacy and Security


Experian, which offers identity theft and credit protection among its financial and data brokering services, is itself breached, exposing the information of 15 million people who had credit checks performed when requesting service from cell phone provider T-Mobile. Experian was scammed a couple of years ago into selling the in-depth financial information of 200 million Americans to a guy in Vietnam who was reselling their financial identities online to any willing fraud operator.


The August theft of two portable hard drives from the electrophysiology lab of Sentara Heart Hospital (VA) exposes the information of 1,000 patients. The drives were not stored in a secure location and were not encrypted, although the hospital says “we’ve stepped up our procedures.”


A study of primary care practice visits in England finds that 27 percent would have been unnecessary with better use of technology and and coordination with other providers. One in six of the visits could have been handled by pharmacists or nurses.


Walter De Broweur, CEO of Tricorder-aspiring device manufacturer Scanadu, lists concepts he thinks will be important over the next five years:

  • Mobile health technology impact is lagging because it fails to pass the “toothbrush test” in which users go to several times each day. He says that means letting consumers aggregate their own information and then present it to their doctor with their own point of view.
  • The “industrial medical complex” will yield to consumer demands only when consumers start to collect their own health-related data such that it adds more value than the EHR contributes.
  • Big companies will take over preventive care.
  • Consumers will automatically collect their own data into digital dashboards and contact providers only when needed.
  • Algorithms will take over medication prescribing, which is the main reason people see doctors, with telemedicine as the first step into avoiding time-wasting appointments just to get prescriptions.
  • Regular, automatic collection of health data will become more important than the snapshot of health that’s involved in a typical office visit.

Sponsor Updates

  • Wellcentive will exhibit at the NAACOS Fall Conference, October 8-9 in Washington, DC.
  • Nordic launches a strategic affiliate management training program.
  • Valence Health will exhibit at the CAPG Colloquium October 5-7 in Washington, DC.
  • VisionWare will exhibit at AEHiX15 Fall Forum October 7-9 in Orlando.
  • Huron Consulting Group closes its acquisition of Cloud62.
  • ZirMed is featured in a TechRepublic feature on parental leave policies and work-life balance.
  • Sunquest will participate at CAP October 4-7 in Nashville, TN and at ASHG in Baltimore October 6-10.
  • Zynx Health will exhibit at the 2015 ANCC National Magnet Conference October 7-9 in Atlanta.
  • XG Health launches a new website.

Blog Posts


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

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Currently there are "4 comments" on this Article:

  1. Thanks for the info on Kokicare – Best laugh this weekend – no website, no revenues, no problem. I wonder if this is an example of the JOBS Act allowing companies to go public. Needless (I hope) to say, no institutional investor (that I’ve ever seen) ever touches the micro-Nasdaq land of Bulletin Board Stocks (shown as a OTCBB). Another way of describing OTCBB stocks is “Open your mouth and close your eyes”, or, in the words of Gordon Gekko “A fool and his money are lucky enough to get together in the first place.”

    In other news, your humble Investor Chair is at Health 2.0 Any readers who’d like to grab a coffee – please let me know.

  2. ” I haven’t heard of any significant ICD-10 issues, other than one reader who said his insurance declined a prescription refill because of its existing ICD-9 diagnosis code but approved it when the pharmacist fixed the code. It’s too early to claim victory since ICD-10-based claims haven’t yet been paid, but I’m already feeling sorry for all the vendor and provider people who spent a ton of time preparing for the conversion that everyone is now saying was uneventful, implying in Y2K-like fashion that it all was a false alarm that could have been ignored. It was only a non-event because a lot of people did their best to make it so.”

    In DC, docs and hospitals are quickly being seen as the people who cried wolf too often. They ( I should say we here) cried the same foul when the X12N4010, then 4010A1 and again when 5010 HIPAA transaction standards came out. Strap it on, my colleagues, MU3…here it comes as a result because the Feds are tired of us whining all the time.

    You know, of course, that if we in the industry could get our collective stuff together, the feds wouldn’t have had to intervene and do it for us. We would have just come up with and maintained a standard set of transactions for business and clinical care that every system would have had to support but alas, we did not, we do not and now we live with the results regardless of how much feedback we provide to CMS, ONC, FDA, FCC, etc…

    We created this monster. Good luck trying to kill it now that it’s strolling through the countryside killing our Sheeple.

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