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Monday Morning Update 11/2/15

November 1, 2015 News 8 Comments

Top News


Medication management technology vendor Omnicell will acquire Aesynt, which offers pharmacy robotics, for $275 million. As reader WhoKnows points out, McKesson bought the former Automated Healthcare in 1996 for $65 million and then sold it in late 2013 to Francisco Partners for a rumored $52 million. That’s either horrible McKesson mismanagement or a truly spectacular performance by Francisco Partners, which gets a five-bagger in just two years. The only acquisition I recall Aesynt having made was Italy-based Health Robotics, which was having limited success with its IV room robotics technology. FP didn’t even change the CEO when it bought the company – Kraig McEwen came on board in November 2011 and remains to this day.

Reader Comments


From All Hat No Cattle: “Re: John Glaser. I noticed his CV lists his HIStalk Lifetime Achievement Award from 2011. I wonder if any of the other HIStalk award winners list theirs?” Probably not, but someone new will have that chance in around four months when we do it again. 


From Over Easy: “Re: Hoag Hospital in Orange County. Rumor is another senior IT leader was released or resigned, which makes the third in the last four months. The hospital has implemented drastic budget cuts in IT and overall in the past two years.” Unverified. I don’t think I know anyone there.

From Wayne Tracy: “Re: VA-DoD interoperability. As a retired Naval Officer having commanded a field hospital (Fleet Hospital 13B) I have come to the conclusion that until Congress holds the Surgeon Generals of the Army, Air Force, and Navy as well as the head of the VA personally responsible, nothing is going to change. Give them a two-year deadline and withhold all medical computer budget funds until they are fully interoperable in real time (say, using HL7’s FHIR) or the budget goes away. It seemed to work when the railway system was not going to meat the end-of-year (2015) deadline — the New York to Washington line miraculously got done in two weeks. Somebody with big brass ones needs to be put in charge. Congressional oversight hasn’t worked to date,  just more deadline extensions. Congress, grow some!”


From Wealthy and Wise “Re: Highmark. As patients grovel for care and medications, these guys are raking it in. No wonder they are struggling financially and cutting care and services. Shameful and despicable.” It’s big money in Pittsburgh healthcare, where Highmark Health’s former CEO earned $10 million in 2014 having worked there less than two years before he was paid to go away. Highmark paid its human resources chief $2.7 million and its treasurer $3.3 million. The CEO of arch-rival UPMC made $6.4 million.

From Purple Hay: “Re: UnityPoint Health System, Iowa. VP/CIO Joy Grosser is gone.” Unverified. Her LinkedIn profile is unchanged, but her patch of real estate on the health system’s executive page is now vacant. I searched their site for information and found only that she was paid $591K last year, with other fun information from their Form 990 being that their largest-expense contractors were all IT related: Epic ($7.8 million), McKesson ($4.7 million), and IBM ($4.5 million). Fifth-highest was a “branding agency” that earned $4 million for doing whatever vital, patient care-focused work that branding agencies are known for doing.

From Maven PR: “Re: headlines. You need sexier ones to bring more attention to what you write. I can help you.” I won’t stoop to the level that many or most sites do in shamelessly fooling readers into clicking over to crap stories by using CNN-type click-bait headlines, mind-numbing slide shows, pointless stock photos, and “listicle” articles that start with a number (in the form of “6 Tricks You Won’t Believe that Lame HIT Sites Use to Suck In Readers.”) I would hope that health IT people and advertisers are smart enough to realize that the steak they hear sizzling is usually just cotton candy, but regardless, I would rather have 100 smart, influential, engaged readers than 1,000 who mindlessly click on whatever shiny object is thrust in their face without recognizing that they’ve been had.

From Atom Heart CIO: “Re: DonorsChoose. I think your legacy will be more about the charitable work you have done than with HIStalk, which is amazing given how successful HIStalk has become.” I don’t seek or expect a legacy either way, but it’s exciting thinking about how the donations readers make to DonorsChoose might, through some unlikely chain of events, help some kid become a legacy themselves. One of these days I’ll either decide to quit writing HIStalk or just die in the saddle, in which case I’ll fade away with my planned or unplanned final post being the only artifact of my anonymous existence (and leaving Weird News Andy homeless).

From The PACS Designer: “Re: ICD. With our first month under ICD-10-CM with no major issues, it’s time to focus on the next aspect, ICD-10-PCS (Procedure Codes). Since it will be done first here in the US, it gives us the opportunity to choose where we do it initially. TPD proposes that we do it with the VA and DoD so that a breakdown occurs to the barriers each of them currently have against each other working together to improve healthcare for our military and veterans.”

HIStalk Announcements and Requests


Poll respondents were evenly split on whether they’d want Theranos running their lab tests. I agree with Don, who said that using the company’s services has nothing to do with a pinprick blood sample and everything to do with convenience and pricing. I enjoy visiting LabCorp and Quest about as much dealing with the people at the driver’s license office. New poll to your right or here: if your customers (or patients) knew what you know about your employer, would they be more impressed or less impressed?

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Mrs. G sent photos of the printer supplies, reading games, and early literacy books we provided to her Los Angeles pre-kindergarten class via her DonorsChoose grant request, adding, “There are no words to describe the impact this has had on my life. My students and I feel so blessed for your kind donations.”  Ms. G from Oklahoma sent photos of her students using the earbuds we provided to her elementary school class for online math intervention work.

I thought sure Facebook would collapse this weekend under the weight of every single parent in America posting pictures of their costumed children. Speaking of which, I was also thinking that people seem to like spending Halloween prowling around old buildings where people have died, making any former hospital an ideal choice since the number of deaths inside any of them must be huge.

Last Week’s Most Interesting News

  • A diverse group of lawmakers slams the VA and Department of Defense for their expensive and stubborn failure to integrate their electronic medical records systems.
  • Theranos restructures its board and takes another hit when the FDA labels its proprietary Nanotainer blood draw system as an uncleared medical device.
  • CMS reports a quiet, non-eventful October following the ICD-10 switchover.
  • The AMA and MedStar Health rank EHRs on user-centered design without actually doing any research or measuring usability.
  • Xerox and Lexmark announce poor quarterly results and announce plans to review and possibly restructure their operations.
  • Athenahealth shares jump sharply after beating quarterly expectations, while those of Huron Consulting tank on lowered guidance due to delays in two academic medical center projects.


November 11 (Wednesday) 2:00 ET. “Trouble Upstream: The Underinsured and Cash Flow Challenges.” Sponsored by TransUnion. Presenter: Jonathan Wiik, principal consultant, TransUnion Healthcare. The average person spends nearly $15,000 per year on healthcare as deductibles keep rising. Providers must educate their patients on plan costs and benefits while controlling their own collection costs by using estimation tools, propensity-to-pay analytics, and point-of-sale collections. This webinar will highlight industry trends in managing underinsured patients and will describe ways to match patients to appropriate funding.

November 12 (Thursday) 1 :00 ET. “Top Predictions for Population Health Management in 2016 and Beyond.” Sponsored by Medecision. Presenters: Tobias C. Samo, MD, FACP, FHIMSS, CMIO, Medecision; Laura Kanov, BS, RRT, MBA, SVP of care delivery organization solutions, Medecision. With all the noise and hype around population health management, the presenters will share their predictions for 2016 and their insight into meeting the mounting pressures of value-based reimbursement and the tools and technology needed to manage care delivery.

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

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


Quality Systems Inc. will acquire cloud EHR vendor HealthFusion for up to $190 million. QSI announced just over a week ago that it sold its NextGen hospital business to QuadraMed.


CPSI announces Q3 results: revenue down 16 percent, EPS $0.31 vs. $0.83. Shares took a 15 percent dive Friday on the news. The company seems to be struggling now that HITECH-fueled hospital EHR sales are drying up, leaving it to hope that a replacement market emerges. Above is the one-year share price chart of CPSI (blue, down 39 percent) vs. the Nasdaq (up 9 percent).



Sarika Aggarwal, MD, MHCM (Fallon Health) joins XG Health Solutions as SVP of population health and chief medical officer.


LifeImage names Matthew Michela (Healthways) as president and CEO. He replaces co-founder Hamid Tabatabaie, who will move to EVP and remain on the board.


Former Siemens Healthcare North America President and CEO Gregory Sorenson, MD takes a minority interest in Deerfield Imaging, which offers image guiding technology, and will become its executive chairman.


Jim Macaleer, co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Shared Medical Systems until he sold the company to Siemens in 2000, died last Thursday.

Announcements and Implementations

Fitch Ratings holds its rating of MetroHealth’s bonds as stable, concluding that the Ohio health system “has demonstrated the ability to be profitable with its challenging payor mix due to its longstanding electronic medical record (Epic), closed medical staff, and care management processes.”



Peer60 publishes “Healthcare IT Trends in England.” NHS hospital executives say their top challenges are physician and nurse shortages, care coordination, and managing and analyzing data. Allscripts, Cerner, and Epic hold high mind share in both EPR (above) and PAS, suggesting they are well positioned to gain business in both clinical and administrative areas.


Greencastle Associates Consulting is named as one of three finalists for the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s “Hiring Our Heroes” award for hiring veterans and military spouses. Malvern, PA-based Greencastle was founded by Army Rangers and its three primary executives are all veterans.

Struggling Kinston Hospital (NC) ends its shared services agreement with Novant Health — which included IT improvements — after less than a year,

In Northern Island, Belfast NHS Trust underpays 1,500 employees due to a software error. The union declares the situation to be “totally unacceptable,” apparently finding it even worse than just “unacceptable.”

A healthcare IT entrepreneur says entrenched software vendors are stifling innovation by refusing to open up their systems to startups, causing new companies to burn through their seed rounds without sales to sustain them. He concludes that patients are harmed because “interoperability into the legacy systems of their customers still remains a primary roadblock.” To which I would offer a counterpoint: rightly or wrongly, we’ve defined healthcare (and therefore healthcare IT) as a business. As with any business, it’s irrational to expect competitors to behave in any way that isn’t self-serving, as much as we like to pretend that everybody’s primary motivation is altruistic patient care. Provider or vendor, you are naive and likely to be insolvent if your business plan assumes that your computers will voluntarily lower your barrier to entry.

I asked Vince Ciotti if he would write something about Jim Macaleer in way of tribute for the folks who knew him and who may not have heard that he passed away.

Sponsor Updates

  • DataMotion publishes an infographic titled “A Brief History of Data Breaches and Security Regulations in Healthcare.”
  • Ear, Nose and Throat Associates of Texas describes its easy implementation of Talksoft’s RemindMe application.
  • Vital Images will exhibit at HIMSS Latin America November 4-5 in São Paolo, Brazil.
  • VitalWare SVP of Operations Doug Picatti is featured in a CNBC report on key issues in the presidential debate.
  • Huron Consulting Group releases the latest edition of its clinical research management briefing.
  • ZeOmega will exhibit at the TAHP Managed Care Conference & Trade Show November 2-3 in San Antonio, TX.
  • Zynx Health will exhibit at the Meditech Physician and CIO Forum November 5-6 in Foxborough, MA.

Blog Posts


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

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.

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Currently there are "8 comments" on this Article:

  1. Nice obit Vince, met with JM several times in the 70s, neat guy. But you missed one thing. Jim was truly the father of cloud computing…long before anyone knew of Google or silly valley.

  2. Great tribute the Big Jim Macaleer. I still say SMS was the best job ever. It was just a cool place to work with extremely bright coworkers and an executive staff that truly cared about the employees and the clients we served. Nothing has compared since then. RIP Jim.

  3. Very nice tribute to JM. I didn’t know him, but thanks to the slide show, it gave me a great feeling for the kind of man he was and I wish I had met him somewhere in my career. Thanks again VInce and RIP JM.

  4. @TPD. ICD-10-PCS is already being used in virtually every hospital in the country. It went into effect on 10/1, along with ICD-10-CM, for all inpatient encounters (for HIPAA-covered entity payers).

  5. Been there, done that. I agree that ICD-10-PCS also went into effect on 10/1 but my contacts tell me it’s a futures thing and will be started in 2016. TPD!

  6. @WealthyandWise

    AHN/Highmark spends lavishly on commercials stating “Health for All” and spends lavishly on its “leadership” team which demands obedience and beats the refrain into its employees, yet, it will not fix or replace a CT scanner at one of its remote UrgiCare Vlinic sites.

    Would it be more accurate to state, “Health for Some”, maybe? Hmmmm.

  7. @Peter_thomas

    Did you know that the $10 million dollar man presided over the Walter Reed patient neglect catastrophe some years back?

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Reader Comments

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