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Monday Morning Update 2/15/16

February 13, 2016 News 7 Comments

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Partners HealthCare (MA) announces that it made $13 million in operating profit on $3 billion in revenue in the most recent quarter and lost $38 million overall including investment losses. The CFO says its Epic implementation will negatively impact profit by $200 million over the next three years. Brigham and Women’s in December said it made $68 million in profit in FY2015 instead of the $121 million it expected, blaming most of the shortfall on unexpected Epic implementation costs. The Boston Globe reported in June 2015 that original cost estimates had been doubled to $1.2 billion.

Reader Comments

From Give Rodney Another Chance: “Re: job hunting tips. You ran something awhile back that I could use for the upcoming conference.”Steer clear of companies with these characteristics:

  • The CEO is a well-traveled hack or private equity hired gun whose historical talent is boosting the short-term bottom line to get the company sold before the wheels come off.
  • The CEO refuses to move to the city where most of the employees work.
  • The position is not located in a primary company office. Out of sight means out of mind, which is great until your ambitious peers conspire to stab your absent back.
  • The company demands that you sign a non-compete agreement that will make it tough to land the next job. My favorite strategy is from Dilbert: scan the non-compete into Acrobat, change the wording in your favor, then print it and sign it. Chances are the always-clueless HR department won’t notice that what you signed isn’t what they handed you.
  • Management isn’t smart enough to fix problems, so they harm the business with company-wide budget and travel freezes.
  • They company has laid people off, meaning executives failed with their hiring choices, strategy, or execution and will almost certainly do so again.
  • Executives with reserved parking spots. I loathe big shots who think they are better than everyone else.
  • Your interviewer is late, distracted, or someone you wouldn’t hang out with after work. You’re seeing them as good as they’re going to get.
  • You get a vague answer when you ask what happened to your predecessor or the company declines to name them for fear you’ll solicit their honest opinion about why they left.
  • Your prospective boss talks about himself or herself instead of you.
  • The executive team you would be joining has two people who are related or sexually involved. You, Sammy Hagar, serve at the pleasure of the brothers Van Halen.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests


Less than 20 percent of poll respondents are attending the HIMSS conference to attend educational and keynote sessions, with 75 percent of respondents naming networking and the exhibit hall as their primary draw (which explains where you’ll find the crowds). New poll to your right or here: if you had equivalent job offers on the table from the vendors listed, which one would you accept? I asked that poll question back in 2009, so it will be interesting to compare the results.

Northeasterners who are bundling up against wind chills of up to 40 degrees below zero can look forward to better weather in Las Vegas, which so far calls for mid-70s and sun every day.

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Mr. R’s Robotics Team 968 from California sent an update on their activities using the laptop we provided in funding their DonorsChoose grant request. The five students been doing technology in-services at the local senior citizen center and are creating their three-hour Saturday “Rookie Training Days” in which students in grades 4-8 will be invited to learn more about STEM and join their team. We also funded a second request from the team for machining tools to help them build their robots, for which they send “a million virtual thanks.” They are working after school and on weekends to finish their robot for an upcoming competition and closed with, “Wish us luck as we will soon embark to Los Angeles for competition, move on to Phoenix, and hopefully compete in the championships in St. Louis.”

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Ms. H, a speech-language pathologist in New York, received the USB CD drive we provided. She says, “Thank you so much for your generosity and supporting a low income school. This is a great, especially for these snowy indoor months. You have helped to make a difference in our classroom.”

I donated $100 to DonorsChoose in honor of one of my CIO webinar reviewers, which (with matching funds) provided five voice recorders for Mrs. Hendrickson’s Akron, OH elementary school class. She describes her project as, “They come from the most challenging places, experiencing some of the most heart-wrenching things, and they teach me way more than I teach them. They thrive in love and learn only after they realize someone cares about them. They come unmotivated and leave yearning to learn. They struggle significantly in reading-often 3-4 years below grade level. My students will use the Easi-Speak recorders to analyze their own reading. In order to increase reading skills they need practice figuring out their problem.”

Listening: indie pop from England-based Viola Beach. All four band members and their manager were killed Saturday when their car ran off an open drawbridge after a show in Sweden. 

Last Week’s Most Interesting News

  • CommonWell adds several new members, including HIMSS.
  • The President’s proposed and rejected $4.1 trillion budget would have given ONC an extra $22 million for interoperability work.
  • The Senate health committee  passes the Improving Health Information Technology Act that follows on the HELP committee’s recommendations.
  • The Department of Defense gives Leidos and Cerner a $51 million DoD EHR hosting contract over the protests of IBM, CSC, Amazon, and General Dynamics, saying the military needs Cerner’s broad data for managing population health and that Cerner wouldn’t allow them to connect to its systems in any other way.
  • Britain’s NHS announces a $6 billion push toward a paperless environment.
  • Medical practice operator One Medical Group buys the nine-employee company behind the Rise nutrition app for $20 million.


February 17 (Wednesday) noon ET. “Take Me To Your Leader: Catholic Health Initiatives on Executive Buy-In for Enterprise Analytics.” Sponsored by Premier. Presenters: Jim Reichert, MD, PhD, VP of analytics, Catholic Health Initiatives; Rush Shah, product manager analytics factory, Premier. Catholic Health Initiatives, the nation’s second-largest non-profit health system, knew that in order to build an enterprise analytics strategy, they needed a vision, prioritization, and most importantly buy-in from their executives. Dr. Jim Reichert will walk through their approach.

February 23 (Tuesday) 1:00 ET. “Completing your EMR with a Medical Image Sharing Strategy.” Sponsored by LifeImage. Presenters: Don K. Dennison, consultant; Jim Forrester, director of imaging informatics, UR Medicine. Care coordination can suffer without an effective, cost-efficient way to share images across provider networks. Consolidating image management systems into a single platform such as VNA or PACS doesn’t address the need to exchange images with external organizations. This webinar will address incorporating the right image sharing methods into your health IT strategy.


FamilyCare Health (OR) chooses Wellcentive’s population health quality reporting and care management solutions.



Health management software vendor AssureCare names Yousuf Ahmad, DrPH (Mercy Health) as CEO. He had risen from SVP/CIO of Mercy Health to president and CEO, finishing his career there as SVP of system development.


Verge Solutions hires Mark Crockett, MD (Best Doctors) as CEO.

Privacy and Security


Another hospital is hit by ransomware as Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center (CA) is locked out of its systems by hackers demanding $3 million to unlock its files. LAPD and the FBI are involved in the “internal emergency” that has lasted more than a week so far.


A security researcher shows a conference group how he hacked into a hospital while sitting outside in his car, challenged by the Moscow hospital to test its cyber defenses. He couldn’t initially get past the hospital’s firewall, so instead he sat outside and cracked its Wi-Fi network, stole a poorly chosen network key, and then accessed medical equipment. He concludes that hospitals should make sure their medical equipment isn’t connected to a public network. 



Chris Evert Children’s Hospital (FL) uses technology from its renovations contractor Skanska to send alerts to the construction crew if noise, dust, or vibration reach disruptive levels.


Professional basketball player Dwight Howard gives pediatric patients at Memorial Hermann Health System a Google Cardboard-powered virtual visit to the home of his Houston Rockets, then surprises them by showing up in person.

A London newspaper profiles the making of autobiographical video exploration game “That Dragon, Cancer,” created by the parents of a five-year-old boy who died of cancer.

Here’s a pretty funny Athenahealth commercial called “What Do You Do for a Living?”


A retired internist and self-proclaimed “dinosaur” says “the art of doctoring is dying” in a Washington Post op-ed piece. He says he would re-invent himself as a “confidentialist” who would take time to know a patient and “stand down the legions of specialists with their scalpels, catheters, and scopes; the backbone to stand up to bottom-line-toeing administrators and self-serving insurance executives and policy wonks.” He adds,

Physicians are now insulated from knowing too much about their patients. It is all about the technology, the testing, the imaging, the electronic health record, the data — once collected by the doctor, but now so regulated and overwhelming that paramedical professionals have been enlisted to record the so-called minutiae, the often rote information in which may lie important clues. Some of these may remain forever buried, the patient not wanting to share sensitive details with just anyone, especially someone who no longer makes eye contact, whose face remains buried behind a computer screen, who seems uninterested or just unskilled in reading body language — that downward glance, that shift in the chair, that half-swallowed response.


A Russian scientist makes 48 million journal articles freely available ok Sci-Hub,  the academic version of Pirate Bay, saying she’s tired of not being able to afford the journal articles she needs for her work. She says, “Payment of $32 is just insane when you need to skim or read tens or hundreds of these papers to do research. I obtained these papers by pirating them. Everyone should have access to knowledge regardless of their income or affiliation. And that’s absolutely legal.” The article notes that she isn’t alone – prestigious universities say they can’t afford expensive journals and 15,000 scientists are boycotting publisher Elsevier, which not surprisingly is suing the researcher who claims Elsevier’s business model is illegal and immoral since it doesn’t pay the authors of articles it publishes.

England’s NHS will monitor Facebook for negative postings about hospitals and will intervene when indicated.


CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt submits a great entry to #HealthPolicyValentines.


Here are others I liked.

Sponsor Updates

  • TeleTracking celebrates its 25th anniversary.
  • Valence Health will exhibit at The Center for Healthcare Governance Winter Symposium February 14-17 in Phoenix.
  • Xerox Healthcare will host Regina Holliday at HIMSS16.
  • ZirMed will exhibit at the Healthpac 2016 Users Meeting February 18-20 in Savannah, GA.

Blog Posts


Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Lt. Dan.
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Currently there are "7 comments" on this Article:

  1. Partners should acknowledge decision to use Accenture at $180+ hourly bill rates and provide housing at Ritz Carlton ($399 a night) to its staff for 18 months. You don’t think Epic got double it’s quote?? Woes of operating costs can’t overlook poor decisions on outsourcing.

  2. NHS certainly has a lot of issues and it goes back to US companies for a lot of it, like HCS, Tenet, Optum and more. In a post last year Dr. Halamka had been over in the UK attending NHS meetings and said they were now using “Chatham House Rules” which he had never heard of and referenced..so if you don’t know what it is, it seems there’s a lot of fear over there as you keep your identity anonymous if you contribute and share any ideas.


    So now it’s Facebook monitoring, where the dupes of hazard live?

  3. Job hunting tips – Excellent guidance!! All of that has happened to me over my 30 year career. You say to yourself that could never happen to me but it does. Trust your gut!!

  4. Dear CIO’s/CFO’s,

    The big firms like Accenture, etc sub-contract the “same certified consultants” the small firms use. Difference? The small firms only charge 130-150/hr when the big guys charge 180-225/hr. C-suite is so smart.

  5. Agree with the comments above. When will organizations see that the big firms like Accenture, Deloitte, etc. contribute lots of pretty documentation, but are incredibly weak when it comes to the system and strategy that goes along with it? Save your ego and your wallet and partner with a smaller firm that will treat the client like a priority and do a better job overall. I do not feel sorry for Partners in the least and can’t wait to see them kick Accenture out just like many other organizations have kicked out the big boys.

  6. Kenny nailed it as usual. Any organization that isn’t willing to take the time to work with an Epic specialized shop and still uses the Big 5 for these implementations is asking to overspend and underachieve.

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Reader Comments

  • jp: I'm with you on the icebreakers and other "interacting for the sake of interacting" types of things....
  • AynRandWasDumb: Re: VA/Jackson - WOW http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/documents/politics/ronny-jackson-summary-of-allegations/2922/...
  • Drivin' and Cryin': I witnessed a noted health IT leader do the same "tears after telling a story about how he didn't treat his wife well en...
  • Mr. HIStalk: I agree for a class, where an ongoing relationship is important -- you'll be spending time with the instructor and fello...
  • jp: On the whole conference thing and engaging the audience. If the purpose of a conference (or one of the main purposes) is...
  • MerryMe: Anyone besides me disturbed by the title of the Healthwise webinar listed? "Converting Consumers into Patients" -- Shoul...
  • Justa CIO: Wholeheartedly agree with System CIO's comment. I like him/her do not have time for HIMSS, CHIME, etc., as I am heads d...
  • shh bby is ok: I was taken by the tongue-in-cheek wit of your cartoon above Stealthily Healthily's comment. Then I clicked on it an...
  • Fourth Hansen Brother: My God, 60 is too old? Hint- rapidly aging population. He's not anywhere near retirement age, and CEO tenures are pretty...
  • Lisa Hahn, RN, Org Management/Clinical Strategist: I have seen a mixed bag of tricks for these situations. There is no specific singular “path” for for every organiza...

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