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January 13, 2016 News 3 Comments

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The Meaningful Use program will be shut down soon, according to a series of tweets from CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt from the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference. He says it will be replaced by outcomes-based measures, with details to follow in late March. The full transcript of Slavitt’s comments is here, in which he says:

The Meaningful Use program as it has existed, will now be effectively over and replaced with something better … the focus will move away from rewarding providers for the use of technology and towards the outcome they achieve with their patients. Second, providers will be able to customize their goals so tech companies can build around the individual practice needs, not the needs of the government. Technology must be user-centered and support physicians, not distract them. Third, one way to aid this is by leveling the technology playing field for start-ups and new entrants. We are requiring open APIs in order to the physician desktop can be opened up and move away from the lock that early EHR decisions placed on physician organizations so that allow apps, analytic tools, and connected technologies to get data in and out of an EHR securely. And finally, we are deadly serious about interoperability. We will begin initiatives in collaboration with physicians and consumers toward pointing technology to fill critical use cases like closing referral loops and engaging a patient in their care. And technology companies that look for ways to practice “data blocking” in opposition to new regulations will find that it won’t be tolerated.

From Iroquis: “Re: Andy Slavitt CMS tweets. Isn’t CMS prohibited from unilaterally commenting on MU or other policy changes? And ‘deadly’ serious – gimme a break.” I don’t know what he’s allowed to tweet about, but it does seem unusually frank. “Deadly” doesn’t seem like the best choice of words given the subject and I don’t know that showy Mom-like threats will change anything in the absence of specific definition, legislation, and investigation.

Reader Comments


From FlyOnTheWall: “Re: medical transcription and coding provider Amphion. The grapevine says it has been acquired by competitor IMedX, which if true would be one of the larger recent deals in the space as the HIM follows the EHR market in consolidating.” IMedX responded to our inquiry and confirmed the acquisition. We also reached an anonymous IMedX insider, who offered some unverified opinions:

  • The IMedX CEO came from poorly regarded C-Bay and shifted the company’s emphasis from sales to mergers and acquisitions, resulting in a “rat’s nest” of 17 supported systems that are difficult to manage.
  • The IMedX business model is to grow dangerously fast and hope to sell quickly to the highest bidder.
  • The transcription market has been decimated by EHRs, so IMedX is trying to boost its coding revenue.
  • Two recent company acquisitions saw their KLAS scores drop 10-20 points afterward.
  • Amphion employees are being let go without notice. One found out that he had been fired when he couldn’t log in to his work computer.


From Ample Sample: “Re: Peds2040 conference last week. It was great and covered AI, big data, 3D printing, genomics, and health IT. I was blown away by how much cool stuff is going on at peds centers and by the energy, intelligence, and positive feelings there. This was a Patients Included conference, with patients and their parents involved both as attendees and speakers, helping attendees remember the humanity of what we do.” I hadn’t heard of Patients Included, which requires conferences that use its logo to attest that they will:

  • Involve patients in the program’s design.
  • Invite them as attendees to all sessions.
  • Pay the travel costs for patients who are presenting.
  • Accommodate any disabilities.
  • Offer free streaming video when possible to support virtual participants.

From In the Wind: “Re: McKesson. Paragon employees jumping ship are being replaced by offshore employees. At least two clients that were moving from Horizon to Paragon have abandoned their efforts.” Unverified. Jenn is reaching out to current and former Paragon and Horizon customers to get a feel for what’s going on. Let me know if you’re one and willing to speak on or off the record.


From SeahawkDoc: “Re: new UCLA Health CEO Johnese Spisso. Word is that she left University of Washington Medicine because of an impending $500 million Epic price tag that she was previously championing. The CFO also retired at the end of 2015. Seems like no one wants to be left holding the hot potato.” Unverified.

From Little Caboose: “Re: HIMSS16. My employer has rejected my travel request. Should I spend $4,000 and use vacation time to meet friends and former colleagues and hopefully accelerate my job search?” I would spend the money in hopes of making the right contacts, especially since your employer has declined to pay and thus is questioning (a) your importance to them; (b) the value of the conference; or (c) their ability to fund the travel. Registration will set you back $865 if you sign up by February 2, although maybe you know a vendor who will slip you one of the exhibitor’s badges that they usually have in abundance. Bid an off-Strip hotel on Priceline for maybe three nights and don’t plan to spend much on food and entertainment because it will be everywhere at no cost. The biggest expense will be the flight, but you could even compare the cost of flying to Los Angeles, Phoenix, or other not-too-far cities and driving a rental car to Las Vegas. It will be worth whatever the cost if it lands you a better job, which could happen if you reach out to your contacts (through LinkedIn, for example) and let them know you’re interested in talking to companies that week.


From Supplemental Fluids: “Re: JP Morgan conference. Sign of a bubble!”

From Graying CIO: “Re: Meaningful Use. CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt said at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference that data blocking will not be tolerated. Interoperability and data blocking are two separate topics. Our lack of focus on making interoperability work (blame that we all share equally — vendors and health systems alike as well as a MU schema that undervalued actual data sharing) does not equal data blocking. There are many of us who do not have well-developed systems to share patient data easily. That does not mean that we are actively data blocking or seeking to retain information for our own gain.” The data blocking issue is receiving unwarranted government attention due to some poorly researched news stories that provided no evidence that the practice exists. The term suggests a level of intent that would be impossible to prove.


From Pee Gee: “Re: drive-up window of my local pharmacy. I thought you would get a kick out of the ‘HIPPA’ sighting!” It’s a slippery slope when people try to make unpronounceable acronyms into words because, as here, reverse engineering them back into the original acronym is fraught with potential error. We should have stuck with sounding out each letter or reducing the number of letters. How would you spell “JCAHO” (or now Joint Commission) if all you heard is people pronouncing it “Jayco?”

From Fly on the Wall: “Re: Mike Tarwacki, Zynx Health SVP of sales and marketing. Is out of the company for reasons unknown.” Unverified, but his executive bio page has been expunged.


From Rational Exuberance: “Re: DonorsChoose. The reader’s comment that it sounded like your write-ups are bragging is nuts. Your style in describing the wonderful results attained by small amounts of money is perfect and they are more likely to give when they can see the direct result. I’ve thought once or twice that you might overtly ask readers to contribute. The only thing you might to differently is add more photos of the faces of the recipients – the smiles and excitement about learning on their faces shows how much it’s worth it.” I’m uncomfortable asking readers to donate since everybody’s charitable works are their own business, so I’ve only provided instructions when someone asked. Readers can also donate directly to DonorsChoose and do what I do in finding worthy projects and matching funds. With regard to photos, I think some schools must have a policy of not running student photos since it’s sometimes apparent that they intentionally omitted or obscured the faces, which is understandable.

From Woodstock Generation: “Re: TPD’s comments about VNAs from last month. They make no sense. He said it’s easier to connect to an HIE with an electronic data warehouse instead of a vendor-neutral archive, not surprising since historically EDWs manage only discrete, ASCII, structured data. The ability to federate internal storage and external data sources is something mature VNAs have done for a while. Taking the ‘A’ (archive) out of PACS accounts for perhaps 10 percent of provider value, while robust VNAs also provide bi-directional, dynamic tag mapping as well as matching disparate (image) studies, something an HIE would require. In thinking about this, perhaps a better name for VNA would be EDW or perhaps Enterprise Service Bus, operating with all sources and types of data, storage, and applications.”

HIStalk Announcements and Requests


Ms. Oelrich says her Wisconsin sixth grade class of at-risk students have become energized as they use the materials we provided (math manipulatives, calculators, and blank journals) in funding her DonorsChoose grant request. She reports, “In our math intervention group, students learned about fractions by playing our new Pizza Fraction Fun game. During this time, one student shouted, ‘Wait, this piece of pizza is a fraction of the whole! Math is so fun!’”


Signups are still open, so act now if you want to come. Several folks said “I signed up last year but wasn’t invited,” which must mean their company’s spam filter was hyperactive in rejecting my invitation since everybody who signed up was sent one. I’m amused that a couple of vendors had an admin sign up dozens of executives, a list I’ll enjoy trimming since people who can’t be bothered to sign up on their own usually don’t actually show up. Some vendors seem to think I’m throwing them a company party.

I’m a bit anxious that Sagacious Consultants has cancelled plans to handle the HIStalkapalooza check-in table again this year following the company’s acquisition by Accenture, which doesn’t want to participate. I could use a company’s help in providing a few folks to get everybody checked in, even better if they have experience with barcode-scanned invitations that would get everybody in the door more quickly. Let me know if your company can help.

Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the fun comments that folks added to their sign-up:

  • I love the nightlife. I love to boogie.
  • I’ve been a devout HIStalk follower since 2006, but have never been at HIMSS long enough to chase the Palooza dream. Hopefully this is the year I get to rub shoulders with the celebrities and snarkists, or I can assist with velvet rope bouncing since I’m bigger than their security. Thanks for all you do, keep breakin’ necks and writin’ checks.
  • Thanks HIStalk for so many good reads over the years! You guys are routine part of my workday. Actually, since I moved from the east coast to the west coast, I read it every evening before I go to sleep. So thanks for all the evenings hanging out in my bedroom. I go to sleep now with a smile.
  • Pretty sure it’s the best cardio I get every year. Who wouldn’t dance with that band?
  • FYI, I am an informatics celebrity. As a long-time clinician and informaticist, have the dubious honor of being the first person in the United States to have been sued while documenting with an electronic record. The plaintiff’s attorney contended the record of care was not mine, as I had not written it, a machine had.
  • I only seem to get to dance once a year. Hope to do so again!
  • I’m 25, this is my first job out of college, and older women seem to love me. The older women thing is certainly a contributing factor as to why I’ve made the ever-shrinking list of people my company sends to HIMSS. Whatever, I’ve never been to Vegas so I guess I’ll take it. Here’s a haiku about HIMSS: “This place is a zoo, Wish I wasn’t hung over, Give demos all day.”
  • I’ve been known to tip bartenders heavily and uncomfortably dance to the music, which in its own right is impressive given my lack of wealth and rhythm.
  • Me! Me! Pick me! In exchange I will dance, smile, laugh and generally entertain all attendees within a fair radius of my being.

Only 17 sponsors have responded to our invitation to submit information for our HIMSS guide, so this is the final heads-up for those that haven’t. Contact Lorre or the guide is going out without your company’s information in it, which would be a shame. 


January 13 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “Top 5 Benefits of Data as a Service: How Peace Health Is Breathing New Life Into Their Analytics Strategy.” Sponsored by Premier. Presenter: Erez Gordin, director of information management systems, Peace Health. Finding, acquiring, and linking data consumes 50 to 80 percent of an analyst’s time. Peace Health reduced the time analysts were spending on data wrangling, freeing them up to create new actionable insights.

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

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

McKesson shares drop 10 percent Monday after the company lowers the upper range of its 2016 earnings per share guidance.


Health media company Healthline Networks spins off Talix, its risk management analytics software business.


The American Medical Association invests $15 million to launch for-profit incubator Health2047, naming venture capitalist Doug Given, MD, PhD as CEO.


DrFirst acquires the assets of mobile e-prescribing app vendor iPrescribe.net.


Higi, which offers retail health kiosks for measuring and rewarding consumer health metrics, raises $40 million in funding.


The management of Hayes Management Consulting buys out the ownership interest of founder Paul Hayes.



Partners HealthCare (MA) will use QPID Health’s quality reporting system to ensure that surgical procedure decisions are evidence based.


UPMC will implement Health Catalyst’s data warehouse and has licensed its cost management technologies and content to the company for commercialization.


Meridian Health (NJ) chooses Patientco for patient-friendly billing and payments.

Reconstructive Orthopedics (NJ) selects the eClinicalWorks EHR.

Marin General Hospital (CA) signs a $90 million, 15-year agreement with Philips, which will provide the hospital with imaging systems, patient monitoring, telehealth, and informatics technologies as well as consulting services.



Ron Wozny (ZeOmega) joins Healthx as VP of marketing.


University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers CIO Sue Schade resigns and will hang out her shingle to offer consulting, coaching, and interim management.


Capital BlueCross hires Scott Frank (Aetna) as CIO.

image image image

Sunquest hires Rob Atlas (Atlas Medical) as SVP of strategic solutions, Tom Arena (General Genetics) as SVP of North American sales, and Andrew Branski (GE Healthcare) as VP of finance.

image image

Healthgrades names Scott Booker (Stella & Dot) as CEO. Former CEO Roger Holstein, who had been CEO since early 2012, will remain on the board but return to his venture capital firm.

Jonathan Cook (NCQA) joins Arcadia Healthcare Solutions as CTO.

Announcements and Implementations

MindLeaf Technologies will offer Security Audit Manager from Iatric Systems along with its medical compliance and support services.

HCS extends access to its HCS Interactant Incident Management to the SaaS environment.

Government and Politics


Public research non-profit National Center for Policy Analysis criticizes the state of Texas for restricting the use of telemedicine, noting that the Texas Medical Board has resisted efforts to expand telemedicine “with the possible exception of patients few doctors want to treat – prisoners.” It also points out that Texas is one of two states (with Arkansas) that require a face-to-face visit first and one of three (with Alabama and Georgia) in requiring an in-office visit afterward, both of which it says are “striking considering Texas ranks 51 out of 51 (including Washington, DC) for access to medical care in the United States.”

Kentucky will shut down its $290 million Kynect state health insurance marketplace, moving signups to Healthcare.gov.

Privacy and Security

A South Carolina newspaper covers several instances in which a physician practice closed without warning, failing to tell patients how to get copies of their medical records. The state is considering new regulations that would set requirements for medical records protection when a doctor “is incapacitated, disappears, or dies.”



A review of a national malpractice claims database finds 248 cases in which health IT caused patient harm, one-third of which involving medications. The authors conclude that technology-caused harm is more significant than previous studies suggested even when looking only at those incidents that triggered malpractice lawsuits. They recommend that organizations focus on higher-risk settings (ambulatory specifically) and common problems (medications and diagnostic errors) rather than attacking a list of specific technology problems.


The Denver paper observes that several executives of Denver Health Medical Center have quit since a new CEO took over, also noting that the health system will spend $170 million to implement Epic after eliminating 122 full-time nurse positions in 2013. The article adds that CIO Gregory Veltri parted ways with the organization after warning his bosses that the cost of the Epic project could balloon to $300 million.

The Boston business paper covers the switch from Meditech to Epic at South Shore Hospital (MA), which was a primary reason it had hoped to be acquired by Partners HealthCare until the state nixed the deal over antitrust concerns. Now they’re implementing Epic on their own at unstated cost.

Weird News Andy seems unduly fascinated by fecal transplant news, so he urges that we “don’t poo-poo this idea” in which scientists gut microbes from thin people in capsules that obese people will take to see if it makes them lose weight.

Sponsor Updates

  • Burwood Group achieves Cisco Master Collaboration Specialization in the US.
  • Atlanta Tech Village includes Clockwise.MD’s graduation in its list of 2015 achievements.
  • CoverMyMeds recaps hosting Startup Weekend.
  • Clinical Computer Systems, which offers the Obix perinatal data system, adds new videos to its Obix University.
  • Valence Health signs a collaboration agreement with risk and benefits solutions vendor Aon.
  • First Databank VP of clinical applications Dewey Howell, MD, PhD publishes “Improving care transitions in 2016.”
  • Wellcentive CEO Tom Zajac offers “5 Population Health Management Predictions for Providers in 2016.”
  • First Databank releases a new issue brief on medication adherence.
  • Healthcare technology analysts and organizations honor Extension Healthcare throughout 2015.Blog Posts

Blog Posts


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Currently there are "3 comments" on this Article:

  1. Maybe I haven’t had enough coffee, but on the health IT patient harm article – 129 + 156 = 285 so where are they getting the 248 from? I checked on the actual article to ensure it wasn’t a typo on here, but same thing.

  2. Woodstock Generation, I greatly appreciate your comments! Actually, A VNA is a primitive EDW! Since there really isn’t much accomplished in building healthcare EDWs just yet, there will be many more EDW installs in the coming years which hopefully new HIEs will embrace using bi-directional architectures. Also, the term Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) has been used for decades, and should be the acronym that healthcare embraces when planning new applications for improved information flow for everyone using care treatment systems including the patient. Lastly, I agree the “A” for archive is a small aspect of a PACS. For those of you less familiar with who coined the term Picture Archiving and Communications System, it was Agfafilm when analog films transitioned to digital films in the 1980’s.

  3. UPMC moving forward with Health Catalyst does not speak very well to Allscripts/dbMotion as they are a competitor and this is essentially a step in grabbing one of Allscripts’ biggest customers in that space.

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