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February 4, 2016 News No Comments

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Free practice EHR vendor Practice Fusion lays off 74 employees – around 25 percent of its workforce – in the face of ongoing losses.

Reader Comments


From Bottled Lightning: “Re: Practice Fusion layoffs. Its IPO has been off the table since Ryan Howard left. I’m not sure why the press keeps propagating that fantasy when the company hasn’t been pitching IPO. They’ve been trying to find a buyer with no luck. Now they’re hunkering down and will try to survive with a much smaller team, filling functionality gaps in the product and trying to make it viable in a real market. You get what you pay for, and since most of its customers pay nothing, the product has some pretty deep gaps.” Unverified. Other readers have said the IPO story was floated as an excuse for dismissing founder and CEO Ryan Howard in August 2015. Investors have poured $155 million into the free EHR vendor in the past seven years. Companies yearning to IPO don’t usually fire the CEO, replace him with someone with no CEO experience, and conduct mass layoffs. It’s a tough time to be in the post-Meaningful Use EHR business.

From Boom Goes the Dynamite: “Re: Practice Fusion layoffs. The CEO is nice but unqualified – the board seems to think he can sell the company so they can get their $300 million (or more) back. Steve Filler quit his Oliver Wyman consulting job to become PF’s COO with much internal fanfare in November 2015 and he’s already gone. The CFO was let go and the chief marketing guy from Google didn’t take long to run away. The company’s 2015 revenue was $15 million, all of it from pharma, and its burn rate is $3 million per month. The board just forked over another $30 million to keep the lights on. Tom the new CEO predicts that they will become revenue positive by Q3 2017, but I don’t see a path to the top of that mountain.” Of the 13 executives listed on Practice Fusion’s website a year ago, only six are still there. If that $15 million annual revenue estimate is accurate, then Practice Fusion is a tiny, struggling company in a shrinking market segment in which it’s not among the top 10 companies (based on Meaningful Use attestation numbers). I don’t see even one attribute that would make me want to buy shares if indeed the company survives long enough to do a Hail Mary IPO.


From Karen Green: “Re: lack of technology vs. lack of adoption. We have plenty of technologies that have begun to interoperate – DSM and HIE messages from acute care partners to post-acute specialists. MU attestation? Check! Not so on the continuum of care, where we are getting care summaries 1-3 days after discharge, rendering them useless for transitions of care. Why? Because the discharge and admissions planners on the front line are still using phone calls and fax to refer the patient. We have to enable the ‘intoperators’ on the front line and within the clinical practice so they can be informed about their patients in a timely way. Gartner suggests that CIOs have to be ‘digital humanists’ to lead the design of systems and technology to ‘enable people to achieve things they never thought possible.’ We must provide solutions that make it easy to give up proven convention for something that goes beyond the automation of processes.” Karen is CIO at Brooks Rehabilitation (FL).


From Brass Ones: “Re: Mackenzie Health in Ontario. Going Epic.” Verified from their job postings. I don’t know of any other hospitals in Canada that run Epic inpatient.


From The PACS Designer: “Re: augmented reality in healthcare. There’s a new term that created a buzz at the recent Consumer Electronics Show and that’s augmented reality. AR works differently than virtual reality (VR) in that the viewing device can be worn while doing other activities like walking or at work.” The mock-up above is from Microsoft’s HoloLens, which will start shipping soon. The company offers a $3,000 developer edition.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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Ms. Johnson from Oklahoma says her students, many of whom begin school speaking only Spanish, are using the five MP3 players we provided via DonorsChoose to listen to the recordings of books she creates. Meanwhile, Ms. Johnson from Pennsylvania reports that her inner-city third graders are using their new Chromebook and accessories to access online reading and math interventions as well as to perform research – they previously had computer access in just one class three times per week.

This week on HIStalk Connect: Doctor on Demand announces that it will offer psychiatry sessions over its telehealth platform, expanding nationwide by mid-year. Pear Therapeutics raises $20 million in funding to roll out its substance abuse recovery support app. The University of Southern California announces eight strategic partners that will support its Virtual Care Clinic initiative.


HIStalkapalooza Featured Sponsor – NextGen Healthcare


Visit NextGen Healthcare at HIMSS16 Booth #4421. See for yourself how we help ambulatory organizations achieve real interoperability, improve population health, and transition to value-based care. By focusing less on IT and more on care, our clients are driving the changes you hear about in healthcare. Of course, we’re not all work and no play! We’ll also be taking professional headshot photos in the booth; not to mention Happy Hour the last hour of each day at our booth, #4421!  Stop by after a long day pounding the convention floor for a pick-me-up.


None scheduled soon. Contact Lorre for webinar services. Past webinars are on our HIStalk webinars YouTube channel.

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


Houston-based Decisio Health raises $2 million as it starts marketing its FDA-approved patient dashboard that uses technology licensed from University of Texas Health Science Center of Houston.


Health information vendor IMS Health acquires AlphaImpactRx, which apparently pays doctors to provide feedback about drug salespeople via a mobile app and then sells that information to drug companies. The company also surveys oncologists and pathologists about oncology molecular diagnostic testing, pitching itself to drug companies by, “It’s important to understand how testing is impacting the oncologist’s choice of brand.” I like that doctors want consumer drug advertising to stop, but I also wish they would stop giving or selling their own information to companies like IMS that help drug companies sell drugs that might not be the best option. Drug companies target those doctors using the information they themselves provided.


Athenahealth announces Q4 results: revenue up 21 percent, adjusted EPS $0.45 vs. $0.58, missing revenue estimates but beating on earnings. 



David Crutchfield (Maestro Strategies) joins Conway Medical Center (SC) in the newly created position of VP/CIO.


Don Soucy (Orion Health) joins Spok as EVP of global sales.


Leidos names Donald Kosiak, Jr., MD, MBA (Avera Health) as chief medical officer. I’m not sure if he’s trying appear edgy or to hide a bald spot with his head-cropping LinkedIn photo, but kudos for his 18 years of service in the Army National Guard with deployments to Iraq.


E-MDs names Derek Pickell (Convergent Healthcare) as CEO and board director. He replaces David Winn, who retired with the March 2015 announcement of the company’s acquisition by Marlin Equity Partners.


Vocera hires Kathy English, RN (Cisco) as VP of marketing.

Announcements and Implementations

Orchestrate Healthcare launches an information security practice.

KLAS announces members of its Interoperability Measurement Advisory Team. The press release’s headline mentions an inaugural meeting that someone forgot to include in the release itself. 

Philips will use Validic’s technology to integrate consumer health data with its HealthSuite connected health products.

CCSI Distributors, a subsidiary of Clinical Computer Systems, Inc., obtains exclusive US distribution rights to the OB-Tools TrueLabor Maternal Fetal Monitor.

VCU Health (VA) used its Spok communications technology to manage its medical coverage of the nine-day UCI Road World Cycling Championships, which attracted 1,000 cyclists and 640,000 spectators to Richmond, VA.


Healthcare Growth Partners publishes its “2015 Year-End Market Review.” HGP’s reports are brilliant and eloquent and I savor every one of them. Even folks who aren’t interested in business or investing will find them to be concise and insightful, with passages like this:

We urge innovators to approach the market pragmatically and not get carried away by idealism during this transitionary time of policy-based innovation. In health IT, disruption seems to come in increments versus all at once. We find that when health IT companies fail to achieve objectives (or founders get significantly diluted), it’s most often because the product or strategy arrives on the scene too early versus too late.

Government and Politics


A group of senators and representatives introduces the CONNECT for Health Act, which would promote expanded use of telemedicine in Medicare by removing existing restrictions.



Pharma bad boy Martin Shkreli pleads the Fifth Amendment in refusing to answer questions posed to him during a House committee hearing on drug pricing.


A VA care alert warns that its CPRS system rejected an large number of consult/procedure orders, which it discovered while reviewing the system after the October 1, 2015 ICD-10 switch. Clicking the warning’s OK button cancelled the order. The VA says it fixed the problem in a December 29 patch, adding that a few examples were found to have occurred before October 1.

Federal judges reverse the VA’s demotion of two executives who had schemed to force their subordinates to transfer jobs so they could take those lower-level jobs themselves while keeping their executive pay. The judges ruled that the pair’s bosses knew what they were doing and did nothing to stop them. The same two VA executives are being investigated for being reimbursed $400,000 for questionable moving expenses.

The head of California’s insurance marketplace says UnitedHealth Group is “driving me bonkers” for blaming the Affordable Care Act for its losses from selling individual policies. He says the company’s competitors participated and learned from the beginning while UHG initially stayed on the sidelines, then set its rates higher than everyone else and offered broad networks that attract sicker people to sign up.

Privacy and Security


A second former Tampa General Hospital (FL) employee is charged with stealing patient information used to file fraudulent tax forms.



Melissa Memorial Hospital (CO) brings self-pay billing back in house and goes back to separate inpatient and ambulatory statements following problems with First Party Receivable Solutions and its “OK, but not stellar” NextGen billing system.

Glassdoor places Epic as #16 on its list of “Top 20 Employee Benefits & Perks,” scoring the company four spots ahead of Google for offering a paid four-week sabbatical after five years.

The Charlotte newspaper notes that Carolinas HealthCare paid its retiring CEO $6.6 million in 2015, with all of the health system’s top 10 executives earning more than $1 million in total compensation. Even the chief HR officer made $1.3 million.


I like this graphic, available here. The only problem I see is that it seems to be aimed at providers who probably either won’t see it or will ignore what it says. A patient-focused version would be nice if there was a way to blast it to the masses.


OpenNotes sponsor Robert Wood Johnson Foundation lists its three-year goals for the project: (a) expand OpenNotes to 50 million people; (b) conduct pilot projects to see how clinical notes are being used to engage patients and families; and (c) measure the value of sharing notes.

Sponsor Updates

  • PharmaPoint incorporates the Surescripts Medication History for Panel Management solution into Xchange Point 5.0.
  • InterSystems is listed among the top 25 privately held companies in Massachusetts in the 2016 Boston Business Journal Book of Lists.
  • Premier awards Versus Technology a group purchasing agreement for its RTLS/RFID products.
  • Leidos Health will exhibit at McKesson Southeast February 10-11 in Charlotte, NC.
  • Outsourcing Gazette names MedData one of its Top 25 Most Promising Healthcare Services Providers of 2016.
  • Medicomp Systems will host Quipstar at HIMSS16.
  • Orion Health will present with CAL Index on March 1 at HIMSS16.
  • Sunquest announces UPMC, BSA Health Systems, and Carolinas HealthCare as winners of its client innovation awards.
  • PeriGen announces a new online training tool for its Patterns systems.
  • Red Hat releases a now viral employee rap video paying homage to its hometown of Raleigh, NC.
  • RelayHealth shares a video interview with VP Arien Malec.
  • The SSI Group opens registration for its 2016 user group events.
  • Streamline Health will exhibit at the 2016 Florida HFMA Regional – Space Coast event on February 5 in Titusville.

Blog Posts


Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Lt. Dan.
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Reader Comments

  • Susan Hassell: You can't simply pile on more work and expect employees to not be stressed. How about not reducing FTEs until you implem...
  • Cindy Gagnon: Excellent article -- I 100% agree. Thank you for consistently articulating the realities of the healthcare informatics ...
  • Randy Bak: Re: Biden's remarks-- I've been letting slide all this talk of patient "data" and access to it, feeling it isn't worth t...
  • Brian Too: It's eerie to hear a healthcare vendor story about Lake Mary, FL. We used to get McKesson support for our Series produc...
  • Janice Willingham: As a recent new reader of this excellent site and former IT worker now on the quasi tech side of the "business side" of ...
  • Another Dave: Orwellian Aeron chair: If sitting is the new smoking, I sure this exercise motivator will have some real health benefit...
  • Art_Vandelay: The instability of the Operating and Capital budgets from year-to-year. Understanding where dollars are sourced, how, fr...
  • SoCal grunt: I for one did select Meditech. The people were welcoming and seemed to be the only ones insterested in having a discussi...
  • Annon: 100% agree, this is vaporware, they are not doing anything remotely close to interoperability. Not the only ones though,...
  • Brian Too: Wait... I thought that any voids in the brain automatically filled up with cerebro-spinal fluid? Wouldn't an air void c...

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