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February 18, 2016 News 1 Comment

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IBM will buy Truven Health Analytics for $2.6 billion, with Watson Health GM Deborah DiSanzo saying the acquisition makes IBM “the world’s leading health data, analytics, and insights company.”

The Watson Health unit houses previous acquisitions Phytel, Explorys, and Merge Healthcare.

Veritas Capital acquired the healthcare business of Thomson Reuters in June 2012 for $1.25 billion, renaming it Truven Health Analytics. Reports in March 2015 suggested that Truven was preparing for an IPO that would have valued the company at $3 billion.

Reader Comments


From CareCloudian: “Re: former CEO Albert Santalo. He has been fully removed and last Friday was his farewell party. That’s the second company he’s founded and then was fired from.” Unverified. He’s still listed on the company’s executive page and I assume he’s still chairman of the board. Santalo was removed as CareCloud CEO in March 2015. Revenue cycle vendor Avisena fired him as its president and CEO in September 2008 and then sued him and CareCloud, claiming that he had violated his non-compete agreement.


From Seashore: “Re: Sandlot Solutions. I heard they’re going bankrupt.” Unverified. I didn’t hear back from Rich Helppie or anyone from the company after running the rumor that they’ve had big layoffs.

From British Bulldog: “Re: EMIS Health, the former Ascribe. Phasing out operations in Asia Pacific through the end of 2017.” Unverified. The England-based vendor renamed itself in June 2015 to unify products that include EMIS (primary care software with 53 percent of the UK GP market), Rx Systems (retail pharmacy software), Ascribe and Indigo 4 (pharmacy and e-prescribing), and Digital Healthcare (retinopathy screening). EMIS bought Ascribe for $80 million in 2013.


From Dedicated Reader: “Re: Boston Children’s hacker. Caught after trying to flee to Cuba.” The FBI arrests 31-year-old Somerville, MA resident Martin Gottesfeld after he was rescued from his small boat off the coast of Cuba by a passing cruise ship. He is charged with coordinating a week-long denial-of-service attack against the hospital in April 2014 on behalf of the hacker group Anonymous. He faces a five-year sentence for conspiracy.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests


Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor Catalyze. The Madison, WI company offers “Healthcare’s HIPAA Compliant Cloud,” making healthcare applications and digital health data secure, trustworthy, and interoperable. Developers build their tech stack, then turn things over to Catalyze to provide a HITRUST-certified platform-as-a-service that offers monitoring, dedicated logging, encryption, high availability, and backup and disaster recovery. The company just launched Redpoint, which offers an developer API that provides interface mapping, a RESTful API, a keep-alive VPN connection, and testing. Redpoint offers pre-configured EHR integration scripts (prescribing, encounter or note creation, results alerting, etc.), EHR connectors, and integration workflows. The company offers free reports, open source projects, and an innovator video interview series on its site. HIStalk readers will probably know co-founder, CEO, and privacy officer Travis Good, MD, MBA, who wrote HIStalk Connect for years until Catalyze grew so large (35+ employees) that he ran out of time. Thanks to Catalyze for supporting HIStalk.


Here’s a nice video of Catalyze’s Travis Good talking about compliance.


Ms. M from Colorado says, “I can’t believe someone would be this generous” in noting our funding of her DonorsChoose request for hands-on materials for her advanced placement statistics students.

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Also checking in was Mrs. Dickel from her Nebraska kindergarten class, explaining, “The kids are so into these new math tools that they even choose them over Legos during our regular center time! You are truly making a difference in these kids lives. THANK YOU!!!!”

This week on HIStalk Practice: Florida Accountable Care Services and UnitedHealthcare form Central Florida ACO focused on sharing technology and real-time data. Telemedicine market set to surpass the $13 billion mark by 2021. Associates in Dermatology rolls out Iagnosis telemedicine services. CMS introduces new core clinical quality measures. Brad Boyd ponders effective IT governance in the latest Consultant’s Corner. MTBC acquires Gulf Coast Billing. Genesis Medical Associates keeps acquirers at bay by staying tech savvy. Daria Bonner and Phillip Miles outline the importance of physician coder training systems in light of ICD-10.

This week on HIStalk Connect: As apparel companies race to build digital health ecosystems, Asics acquires fitness app Runkeeper for an undisclosed sum. Hackers turn to ransomware to monetize cyber attacks on provider organizations. Microsoft partners with Novartis to create a Kinect-based MS assessment tool. Researchers find little inter-rater agreement in a study designed to evaluate mobile health apps.

Listening: indie rock from Canada-based Wintersleep, whose upcoming release contains “Territory,” featuring a killer bass track by Rush’s Geddy Lee. They sound kind of like Nada Surf, which also has new album out in a couple of weeks. I’m also desk-drumming to a new release from the quirky boys of Weezer.


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.

February 24 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “Is Big Data a Big Deal … or Not?” Sponsored by Health Catalyst. Presenter: Dale Sanders, EVP of product development, Health Catalyst. Hadoop is the most powerful and popular technology platform for data analysis in the world, but healthcare adoption has been slow. This webinar will cover why healthcare leaders should care about Hadoop, why big data is a bigger deal outside of healthcare, whether we’re missing the IT boat yet again, and how the cloud reduces adoption barriers by commoditizing the skilled labor impact.

February 25 (Thursday) 1:00 ET. “Clinical Analytics for Population Health: Straddling Two Worlds.” Sponsored by HIStalk. Presenters: Brian Murphy, lead analyst, Chilmark Research; Jody Ranck, senior analyst, Chilmark Research. The Chilmark Research clinical analytics team will be sharing some of their key findings from the recently released “2016 Clinical Analytics for Population Health Market Trends” report. This will be followed by a Q&A session to make sure everyone goes to HIMSS16 well informed.

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


Healthcare API vendor PokitDok receives an unstated investment from McKesson’s investment arm. The company had previously raised $46 million.


Leidos reports Q4 results: revenue up 10 percent, adjusted EPS $0.78 vs. $0.69.


Bloodbuy, which connects hospitals to blood centers, closes a $3.75 million financing round with Premier and St. Joseph Health (CA) as participants.


Allscripts announces Q4 results: revenue up 1 percent, EPS $0.09 vs. –$0.01, meeting earnings expectations but falling short on revenue.

The local paper profiles 20-physician, western Pennsylvania-based Genesis Medical Associates, which says UPMC and Allegheny Health Network are buying practices everywhere “to secure their patients, their referrals.” The practice says it has turned down “amazing” formal offers to be acquired. It describes its 2007 EHR implementation as “a challenge,” saying it will replace that system (apparently with Athenahealth) and adding that its patient portal isn’t user-friendly. However, the practice’s executive director embraces data-driven quality, seems to approve of the Meaningful Use program, and likes tracking referrals electronically.


From the Cerner earnings call:

  • The company says two big deals that didn’t close in Q4 would have allowed it to meet bookings guidance, avoiding the company’s first bookings miss since 2008, but says those deals are still on the table.
  • The former Siemens Health Services contributed $930 million in revenue for the full year. Cerner says the acquisition is meeting or exceeding financial expectations. However, Cerner says fuzzy revenue projections on the Siemens side impacted Cerner’s revenue expectations.
  • 2015 was Cerner’s best year ever for new footprint business, with 36 percent of Q4 bookings coming from outside.
  • President Zane Burke says the marketplace is becoming more aware of Epic’s high cost of ownership, lack of system openness, and lack of cloud-based systems to support population health, saying Cerner expects more success in new sales and selling population health software to Epic users. It says Epic-using Geisinger’s selection of Cerner’s HealtheIntent  validated “the shortcomings of our primary competitor.”
  • Forty Siemens customers signed to migrate to Millennium during the year.
  • Cerner says the EHR market is changing to what it envisioned in working with Intermountain, explaining, “We believe that EHR will evolve from a transactional system to an intelligent activity-based system that will enable faster adoption of best practices, reduce variance, personalize care, improve outcomes, and the ability to identify unit costs, which will be critical as reimbursement shifts to outcomes-based and bundled payments.”
  • EVP Jeff Townsend reports that Neal Patterson’s cancer treatments have gone well and he is progressing as expected.


Barnabas Health (NJ), East Texas Medical Center (TX), and Stanford Children’s Health (CA) choose Orion Health’s Rhapsody integration engine.

Partners in Care (NJ) chooses Wellcentive’s population health management solution.

AssistRx, Cerner, DrFirst, NextGen, and Practice Fusion subscribe to the ePrescribing State Law Review from Point-of-Care Partners to proactively identify system modifications that may be needed to address ongoing state and federal regulatory changes.


Phelps Memorial Health Center (NE) chooses Interbit Data’s NetRelay secure texting platform.


South Georgia Medical Center (GA) chooses Epic in a $50 million project to replace McKesson Horizon.



Divurgent will announce next week that it has hired Steve Eckert (MD Revolution, Encore) to the newly created position of president and COO.


Quality Systems hires Jamie Arnold, Jr. (Kofax) as CFO.

Announcements and Implementations


Nuance announces Dragon Medical One, a cloud-based, voice-driven physician documentation system.

Patientco announces Patientco Payments Hub, which allows RCM vendors to offer patient payment functions to their solutions with processing of all payment types and automated reconciliation. 

Government and Politics


Apple goes public with its refusal to comply with the FBI’s request that it add a security back door to a new iOS release that would allow the FBI to examine the phones used in the San Bernardino terrorist attacks in December. Apple says a security bypass could fall into the wrong hands and would then jeopardize the data of every iPhone user, adding that “the government is asking Apple to hack our own users” and taking the unprecedented step of trying to force an American company to weaken its security.

Privacy and Security


Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center (CA) pays a $17,000 Bitcoin ransom to an unknown hacker to regain control of its computer systems that had been down for 10 days. The CEO says it was “the quickest and most efficient way to restore our systems,” as registrations had reverted to paper, medical records were unavailable, and the hospital was diverting patients to other facilities. The 434-bed for-profit hospital, which is owned by a Korean fertility specialist, was back up and running Monday. I assume they use a McKesson product since their portal is from RelayHealth. I collected some ransomware prevention tips:

  • Keep Windows, browser, browser plug-ins, and antivirus files updated.
  • Set the email servicer to block executable attachments such as .exe, .vbs, or .scr.
  • Disable Volume Shadow Copy Service (vssaexe), which ransomware sometimes uses to delete volume snapshots that could have otherwise been used to restore compromised files.
  • Disable Windows Script Host, Windows PowerShell, remote services such as RDP, and file sharing.
  • Store backups off site.
  • Don’t plug in USB storage or map network drives unless needed since ransomware often attacks there first. Use read-only folders wherever possible.
  • Define Software Restriction Policies to prevent executable files from launching from questionable folders such as /Temp and /AppData.
  • Make sure Office macros and ActiveX aren’t set to run automatically.
  • Enable “show file extensions” in Windows.
  • Install a browser pop-up blocker.
  • Deactivate AutoPlay.
  • Don’t stay logged on as an administrator unless necessary.
  • Install Office viewers so you can see what Word or Excel files look like before opening them.


A Fast Company article warns that while federal law prohibits medical insurers from denying coverage due to genetic testing results, companies that sell other forms of insurance (life, long-term care, and disability) are allowed to deny coverage to applicants with unfavorable genetic test results on file. Life insurance companies haven’t so far mandated that applicants be tested, but may decline to issue a policy if the applicant refuses to answer questions about past testing. The Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act originally covered all types of insurance, but the legislative sausage-making stripped out everything except medical insurance. Researchers are concerned that more people will drop out of clinical studies for fear that their entire family could be denied life insurance forever.


A New York Times op-ed piece titled “America’s Stacked Deck” points out the influence of money on elected officials, observing that drug companies spent $272,000 per member of Congress to lobby against allowing Medicare to negotiate Medicare drug prices, which it calls “a $50 billion annual gift to pharmaceutical companies.”


Florida deputies charge Malachi Love-Robinson with practicing medicine without a license upon finding that the 18-year-old is running a West Palm Beach holistic medical practice called New Birth New Life Medical Center & Urgent Care. The self-proclaimed doctor examined an undercover officer and provided medical advice, leading to his exit from his practice in handcuffs. He was also charged with stealing checks from an 86-year-old patient during a house call in which he wore a lab coat and a stethoscope, diagnosed her with arthritis, and charged her $3,500 for vitamins, later emptying her bank account by forging checks. Love-Robinson expressed indignation at his arrest, saying he feels “deeply saddened and a little disrespected.”

Sponsor Updates

  • Nordic publishes a new white paper, “Finding Your Balance: Applying Supply and Demand to Health IT for Growth and Efficiency.”
  • Computerworld profiles Nuance’s speech-to-text offerings.
  • Boston Software Systems offers white papers “Eliminate the Chaos: 5 Myths to Avoid in Your EHR Migration” and “Checking Medicare Claims Status: A Vendor Perspective.”
  • PatientPay announces the $10,000 Healthcare Billing Challenge.
  • Nordic releases a new HIT Breakdown podcast, “Chronic care management from three perspectives.”
  • Intelligent Medical Objects will exhibit at HackIllinois February 19-21 in Champaign-Urbana.
  • Oneview Healthcare publishes “5 Minutes with Niall O’Neill, COO.”
  • Verisk Health announces that its HEDIS solution is ready for the 2015 reporting system with HEDIS Certified Measures.
  • The Advisory Board Company announces two case studies in which health systems saved $7 million using its Crimson physician performance analytics software to identify improvement opportunities.
  • MModal announces that its Computer-Assisted Physician Documentation is being used at 150 sites.
  • Streamline Health will exhibit at the 2016 HFMA WA-AK Annual Conference February 24-26 in Seattle.
  • Sunquest Information Systems posts a client testimonial video from Tucson Medical Center (AZ).

Blog Posts


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