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Monday Morning Update 3/21/16

March 19, 2016 News 5 Comments

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Methodist Hospital (KY) is hit by ransomware, forcing it to run from a backup system while it decides whether to pay an unspecified ransom to regain access to its patient records. The hospital has declared an internal state of emergency and warns that it has “limited access to Web-based services and electronic communications.” The FBI is investigating.

Reader Comments

From Certifiable: “Re: Epic 2015. All upgrades are being delayed for 1-2 months until fixes can be delivered. Unusual!” Unverified.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests


It’s easy to describe the HIMSS keynoters that poll respondents want to see – they are the ones HIMSS doesn’t invite. The least-attractive speakers are government officials (HIMSS16 — Sylvia Burwell), authors (HIMSS16 — Jonah Berger), celebrities or athletes (HIMSS16 – Peyton Manning), and for-profit business leaders (HIMSS16 – Michael Dell). Topping the most-desired but rarely offered list are public health experts, patients, and not-for-profit provider leaders. Furydelabongo wants to hear from inspirational people who remind us of why we’re connected to healthcare and who can convey urgency, while Tracy wants to be inspired by what’s possible in transforming healthcare rather than hearing from a celebrity.

New poll to your right or here: has your employer laid anyone off in the past 12 months?

I was thinking about how the most prevalent form of healthcare ransomware is being distributed by hospitals – the kind that holds your own medical information hostage unless you’re willing to pay to get it back.

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We fulfilled the DonorsChoose grant request of Mr. Blachly in Indiana, whose high school advanced placement calculus and physics students experience “abysmal conditions and poverty” that cause them to miss classes. The video camera and accessories we provided has allowed him to archive his lectures so that absent students can watch them online, allowing them to return to class fully caught up. It also frees up his time for questions rather than re-teaching missed lessons.

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Also checking in is Mrs. Beggs from Maryland, who teaches a middle school math class for students with educational disabilities. She says of the math tools we provided, “My students could not believe that people that have never met them were willing to purchase items for them. We had a wonderful conversation about giving to others and why its so important. We are currently working on integers and absolute value. We will continue to practice our basic math facts while we learn integer skills. These skills are essential for the every day world and are helping prepare my students for life.”

Last Week’s Most Interesting News

  • HHS OCR settles two lost laptop HIPAA incidents for $5.4 million, one of them involving a non-hospital employee whose employer hadn’t signed a business associate agreement with the hospital.
  • The CMIO of two NYC Health + Hospitals hospitals resigns, warning that the system isn’t ready for its April 1 Epic go-live and that patients will be harmed if it isn’t moved back.
  • St. Joseph Health (CA) settles for $15 million a privacy class action lawsuit involving a 2012 incident in which a PHI-containing server was inadvertently opened up to the Internet. It states the total cost of the incident at $40 million.
  • Dell appears close to be selling its services business to Japan’s NTT Data for $3.5 billion.
  • The Senate’s HELP committee passes the MEDTECH act that exempts several types of health-related software from the FDA’s oversight.


March 22 (Tuesday) 2:00 ET. “Six Communication Best Practices for Reducing Readmissions and Capturing TCM Revenue.” Sponsored by West Healthcare Practice. Presenters: Chuck Hayes, VP of product management, West; Fonda Narke, senior director of healthcare product integration, West Healthcare Practice. Medicare payments for Transition Care Management (TCM) can not only reduce your exposure to hospital readmission penalties and improve patient outcomes, but also provide an important source of revenue in an era of shrinking reimbursements. Attendees will learn about the impacts of readmission penalties on the bottom line, how to estimate potential TCM revenue, as well as discover strategies for balancing automated patient communications with the clinical human touch to optimize clinical, financial, and operational outcomes. Don’t be caught on the sidelines as others close gaps in their 30-day post discharge programs.

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

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

An analysis of privately held Dell’s financial forms finds that sales are down across most of its divisions and it’s still largely a PC company, with 65 percent of its revenue coming from hardware sales. Revenue for the services business it is trying to sell was down 5 percent for the fiscal year.


Staffing and services firm HCTec Partners acquires Colorado-based professional services firm HIMS Consulting Group.

McKesson will take a $300 million charge for its cost-cutting restructuring plan that involves 1,600 layoffs.

Privacy and Security


Developers of the TeslaCrypt ransomware toolkit update their product to remove the ability of cybersecurity firms to use a known exploit to restore the encrypted files without paying the ransom. The FBI warned last month that ever-smarter ransomware can now search a network to locate and delete backups, leaving the victim with only one choice if they want their systems back. I’ll repeat my prediction that hospitals will have no choice but to block access to Web-based email services like Gmail that employees use to check personal email, bypassing IT security.



Cerner holds a topping-out ceremony for its $4.45 billion Cerner Trails campus in Kansas City, MO. The 16-building, 4.7 million square foot complex with two, 15-story towers will house up to 16,000 employees. Kansas City will pay $1.1 billion of the project’s cost.

The two surviving original members of The Who, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, open a teen lounge at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (NY). The space was created using $1 million raised by a concert in which Daltrey and Townshend performed via Teen Cancer America, a charity they founded in 2012.

A profile of India-based 32-hospital chain Narayana Hrudayalaya describes its mission to “dissociate healthcare from affluence” in proving that “the wealth of the nation has nothing to do with the quality of healthcare” in a country where most residents can’t afford drugs or surgery. It offers CABG surgery for as little as $2,700 and surgery insurance for $3.60 per year. Some of its cost-cutting methods:

  • Do as much as possible in an outpatient setting.
  • Focus on high-volume procedures to gain economy of scale. Its 16 cardiac surgeons each perform 400-600 procedures per year.
  • Minimize facility expense by not investing in fancy buildings, artwork, or even air conditioning.
  • Competitively bid for drugs and medical equipment.
  • Use top-of-license practices to shift less-critical work to junior employees.
  • Use iPad-based ICU monitoring software called iKare to update patient records and provide alerts.
  • Connect all hospitals via a cloud-based information system that includes ERP and EHR.
  • Teach patient families to deliver post-op care at home.
  • Offer free telemedicine services via Skype, including consultations, radiology reports, EKG, and second opinions.

An anesthesiologist in England faces dismissal for having sex with a prostitute in a maternity hospital. He was blackmailed by the woman’s “associates,” who threatened to tell his wife if he didn’t pay them $15,000. He worked with police to set up a sting operation to capture the blackmailers, and as it was underway, he showed officers an X-ray showing a patient with a bottle lodged his most private of areas.

Sponsor Updates

  • TierPoint will exhibit at the Boston Premier CIO Forum March 22-23.
  • VitalWare will exhibit at HFMA Dixie 2016 March 20-23 in Nashville, TN.
  • PatientMatters will exhibit at the HFMA Northern California – Spring Conference March 20-22 in Sacramento.
  • Sagacious Consultants publishes the March 2016 edition of its Sagacious Pulse newsletter
  • The SSI Group and Streamline Health will exhibit at the Region 5 Dixie HFMA meeting March 20-23 in Nashville.

Blog Posts


Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Lt. Dan.
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Currently there are "5 comments" on this Article:

  1. The Epic 2015 comments are valid. Our boss informed us last week that they had been contacted by senior client leadership to notify us to delay our upgrade. This came as quite a surprise, though we could be in a worse spot in terms of having other project contingencies dependent on the upgrade. This is probably not the case for all Epic’s customers.

    I definitely got the sense from people on the call that trust in Epic’s management has taken a big hit. The message was that 2015 is somehow in line with prior versions in terms of the number of issues found, that we should delay until a package of significant problems can be fixed, and that everything would be okay. My boss felt like the people on the call were being lied to on some level, even bullied a little bit, as this doesn’t exactly stand up to scrutiny. By the time this package is available 2015 will have been on the market for almost a year. It just isn’t typical of Epic for a version to be this problematic this far after it was released, and I’m surprised Epic’s leaders don’t intuitively understand that.

  2. Seems like I’ve read about two hospitals that have recently been victims of ransomware. Would appreciate it if you’d provide some additional coverage of this recent issue, who’s most susceptible, the extent of the problem thus far, what hospitals are doing about it, etc. Is this the newest way some people are earning their living?

  3. Although the 315 respondents to your survey on HIMSS annual conference speakers indicate they want to see certain kinds of speakers (such as patients), the actual attendees who filled ballroom-packed keynote sessions (and overflow rooms) for George Bush, Hilary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Peyton Manning, etc., paint a different picture. HIMSS gives attendees the opportunities to hear and see famous people, whatever their ties to healthcare, despite your criticisms. I doubt that John Doe, a cancer patient, would draw 8,000 to a keynote session, although he may have a compelling story to tell.

  4. The hacked site, Methodist of KY appears to be a Meditech shop. Their patient portal is “My MH Chart”, but that doesn’t appear to be what some folks might be thinking.

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  1. I share your concerns about a lot of similar projects, but I think this one's an outcomes comparison thing, not…

  2. "Ascension Via Christi sent several ICU nurses home after they raised concerns about inadequate staffing." Nice. That'll show em.

  3. Thank you for sharing the full HIStory file. What a great tribute to Mr. Ciotti. “Those who cannot remember the…

  4. "Epic will roll out a “patients like this one” type tool to its users in Indiana this summer. It will…

  5. I don't see Cerner winning employee satisfaction surveys. I can't see VHA pivoting to Epic. It's going to be some…

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