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Monday Morning Update 5/2/16

May 1, 2016 News 5 Comments

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Meditech releases Q1 results: revenue up 4.3 percent, EPS $0.51 vs. $0.53. Product revenue rose 3.2 percent, with 78 percent of that coming from services. The company generated $23.1 million in total cash flow, all of which was paid to shareholders as dividends.

Meditech Director Dan Valente, 85, has resigned as director and was replaced by CFO Barbara Manzolillo.

Reader Comments

From Dixie Chicken: “Re: Epic. Verona, WI will collect taxes based on an Epic campus value of $393 million, but Epic has spent billions on it. If that’s the basis of property taxes, is Verona celebrating when they should feel ripped off?” Verona will close the special tax district it created to get Epic to relocate there from Madison 14 years ago when the company had only 550 employees, cashing in the district’s financial surplus and making Epic’s campus taxable. The property’s value is established at the time the tax district is created, meaning Epic’s massive campus growth (from 550 employees to nearly 10,000) returns only a partial benefit as companies pay only lower, construction-related taxes when they expand.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests


Forty percent of poll respondents think that EHR redesign offers the best hope for reducing the time physicians spend entering data into EHRs, while 25 percent say the capture of non-clinical information is the real problem that should be addressed. Tech MD wonders if those readers who chose EHR redesign or reduced data capture burdens believe the other choice is a lost cause, while Mobile Man says it’s futile to expect EHRs to be redesigned because they are intended to be big filing cabinets. Curious (along with a least one person per poll I run) expresses an unrequited lust for surveys that allow shades-of gray answers, which of course means that he or she must also prefer capturing EHR narrative rather than easily interpreted check-boxes for precisely the same reason  — I would rather force respondents to choose the “best answer” rather than leaving me to wade through 431 free-text comments and abstract their thoughts into a collective opinion.

New poll to your right or here: is the proposed replacement of Meaningful Use with MACRA positive or negative?

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Ms. Ahrstrom says the math books we provided to her South Bronx, NY third graders in funding her DonorsChoose grant request have eliminated the boredom using the limited selection of books available in the school’s library, as students can’t wait to finish each book and start the next one.

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Also checking in is Ms. B from Minnesota, whose students are still talking about the field trip we provided to the Wildlife Science Center even though it was weeks ago.

Listening: Nico Yaryan, of whom I know basically nothing except he’s a newcomer and I like his music. He sounds like he could make it big. Here’s another of his songs.

Last Week’s Most Interesting News

  • HHS issues a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that spells out details of MACRA, the value-based payment model for providers who accept Medicare. MACRA will replace the Meaningful Use program with less-prescriptive measures called Advancing Care Information.
  • Joint Commission announces that it will permit clinicians to send orders via secure messaging, provided that the system they use supports specific message management and EHR integration standards.
  • Epic gives its side of the story on why the Coast Guard cancelled its EHR implementation plan.
  • NextGen confirms employee layoffs, immediate cessation of development on its NextGen Now cloud-based PM/EHR, and a strong focus on the HealthFusion PM/EHR it acquired for $165 million in January.
  • Apple releases the CareKit developer’s framework and announces availability of the first four apps that will use it.
  • The FDA rejects the “digital pill” drug application that would have used technology from Proteus Digital Health.
  • Nokia acquires consumer health device vendor Withings for $192 million to create Nokia Digital Health.
  • CMS releases the minimally redacted warning letter it sent to Theranos last month in which it accused the lab processing company with a lack of knowledge of CLIA standards and diluting finger-stick samples so they could be run on standard Siemens analyzers.
  • Verisk Analytics announces that it will sell its Verisk Health services business to Veritas Capital for $820 million.


May 5 (Thursday) 2:00 ET. “Reducing CAUTI and Improving Early Sepsis Detection Through Clinical Process Measurement.” Sponsored by LogicStream. Presenters: Jen Biltoft, director of quality improvement, SCL Health; Marla Bare, EHR architect, SCL Health. This webinar will describe how SCL Health reduced catheter-associated urinary tract infections by 30 percent in just three months through clinical process measurement. The SCL Health presenters will also share their plans for applying a similar process to the early detection of sepsis.

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

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


A small reference in Caradigm’s announcement of a new CEO last week says that Microsoft has sold its 50 percent interest in Caradigm the holder of the other 50 percent, GE Healthcare. The company didn’t explain why the change wasn’t otherwise announced.


From the Athenahealth earnings call:

  • The company has partnered with Intacct to offer its hospital customers an ERP solution and says it will seek additional partnerships to expand its service capabilities.
  • Jonathan Bush said in answering a stock analyst’s question, “In the small-hospital market, there is a borderline collapse of the established technologies, so there is a huge demand … with the exception of Epic and Cerner, most of the HIT companies appear to be just not able to make a go of it.”
  • Bush added that Athenahealth won population health management system deals at Dignity and Providence because those health systems trialed products from their existing vendors and found them unacceptable (Dignity is a Cerner shop, while Providence uses Epic).
  • Bush said of the company’s efforts to move users of systems from the acquired RazorInsights to those of Athenahealth, “It’s very hard … in order to be that fast, the architecture was more client-centric than network-centric. Every single table — the drug list, the provider directory, the pharmacy supply, the medical supplies — every single one of them is a separate table that only works for each individual customer. That is not the point of Athenahealth … we are taking back those tables, taking back the administration of them and connecting them to great little Web services that connect to national tables that are always current, always correct because they’re maintained by us. That work involves moving the cheese of people that have worked very hard on their tables for years. So, it’s painful.”
  • Bush replied to an analyst’s question about an unnamed competitor moving to a cloud-based product, “You need to double-check on the idea that anybody that you’re thinking about is cloud-based. That somebody will host your data center and run backups does not make them cloud-based. I just described the agony we’re going through centralizing the remaining tables that are being maintained by clients. These are companies where 100 percent of tables are maintained by clients. This is just rental software and 99 percent of the code is running on the servers in the client side. So let’s be clear — those guys are not cloud-based.”
  • When asked about the credit-worthiness of hospital prospects, Bush said, “We used to joke in selling to doctors in the early days that we restrict our sales team to doctors that have a pulse. That was an interesting comment at the time because a lot of the doctors’ pulses that we originally signed were quite thready at best … not only are the HIT companies dying, but a lot of the hospitals are dying … . You have very, very low bed occupancy in this segment, a need to dramatically change strategy from kind of end provider of inpatient and acute care to front-end of the larger health system for the ill … if you took the imaging margins out of every hospital right now, more than half the hospitals in the country would close. Some of the best names in healthcare with the best institutions in healthcare have the majority of their profits coming just from an anomaly where the cost of the imaging equipment is going down because of digital equipment faster than Medicare can figure it out and chase them down.”
  • Bush explained the company’s More Disruption Please program as, “It’s too bad that Epic and Cerner and Meditech and all these guys can’t build open enough platforms, because we don’t really want to do Athena dietary management systems. But if it doesn’t come out of MDP and if Epic and Cerner and Meditech don’t open up their API so that they could be used by responsible developers, what can you do?“
  • Bush replied when asked about adding billing capabilities to the former RazorInsights product, “The front desk for the hospital is the front desk for AthenaNet. It’s the same front desk, same work flow, same insurance capture, same portal registration … one of the big arbitrage opportunities for AthenaOne for the inpatient is, we get all the doctors around the hospital. We don’t have to register them when they show up at the hospital. We already know what their deductible utilization is, we already know their eligibility, we know their medical records, et cetera, et cetera  … there has been a product we’ve been dying to release for years, for a decade, called AthenaController, which basically takes on the same approach to the cost cycle as we have to the revenue cycle. We are now pregnant with that baby. We have to do it.”



Ryan Nellis (Optum) joins Stanson Health as SVP of sales and marketing.

Announcements and Implementations


Clinical Architecture launches its SIFT Services product line, which uses natural language processing to extract coded data from free-text documents for specific data targets. The company offers a free trial of the first offering, SIFT for Meds. 


Nordic hires its 600th consultant.

Government and Politics

Political differences aside, President Obama might offer Ronald Reagan a challenge for the title of funniest American president ever. Above is the video, “Couch Commander,” released by the White House and presented at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. The Obamacare references at 1:33 are interesting.

Privacy and Security


A science magazine analysis finds that the agreement between the UK’s NHS and Google’s artificial intelligence company DeepMind gives the company full electronic information on 1.6 million patients treated annually by three hospitals of Royal Free NHS Trust. Google says it needs complete information on all patients because NHS can’t provide a subset just for the kidney patients who will be monitored by Google’s Streams system. The agreement also calls for Google to develop a clinical decision support and surveillance system called Patient Rescue that will use real-time data streams from the hospitals. Critics are not only worried about Google keeping the patient information secure, but also that Google is the only company with access to the data.


The American Dental Association notifies subscribers to its Dental Procedure Codes that some of its thumb drive updates contain malware. The ADA speculates that one of the duplicating machines used by ADA’s China-based manufacturer were infected with data from a previous customer, meaning that only the drives produced by that specific machine contain malware.



Here’s a nice quote from Farzad Mostashari, MD in responding to a tweet saying that non-profit Minnesota HIMOs (like most health systems everywhere) insist that what’s left when income exceeds expenses is a “surplus” rather than a “profit,.” although they seem to love the word “loss” when things aren’t so rosy. Perhaps Farzad can weigh in on “payment” vs. “reimbursement” and “invested” vs. “spent.”


Dear Health Data Management, please spell company names correctly, not like the actual word is spelled. Thank you.  While I’m quibbling journalistically, I would to ask newspapers to stop saying that someone “checked himself in” to a hospital since that just doesn’t happen.

Here’s the next HIS Vendor Review from Vince and Susan, which this time looks at high-end vendors.

Sponsor Updates

  • T-System will exhibit at the CHIMA Annual Meeting May 5-6 in Denver.
  • The local news interviews TeleTracking President Michael Gallup about the company’s sponsorship of the Walk MS Pittsburgh 2016 event.
  • Fortune profiles Validic.
  • Vital Images will exhibit at the McKesson User Group May 2-4 in Atlantic City, NJ.
  • Huron Consulting Group will exhibit at the MAGI Clinical Research Conference 2016 East May 1-4 in Boston.
  • Wellsoft will exhibit at Emergency Medicine Update 2016 May 3-5 in Toronto.
  • ZeOmega offers the Jiva Consultant Certification Program.
  • PatientPay extends the $10,000 healthcare billing challenge.
  • Streamline Health will exhibit at the 2016 DCHIMA/MDHIMA Annual Meeting May 6 in Hanover, MD.

    Blog Posts

Blog Posts


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

  1. Mostashari quote on non-profit v tax-advantaged — was he responding to something in particular? Actually, from a regulatory view, “non-profit” is a game-changer in Minnesota as it brings a different level of governance from the Attorney General’s office.

  2. How do you review Allscripts without mentioning their debt load? They have $625 MM in debt (~20 million more than Cerner) with a current ratio of 1.05 (current assets / current liabilities). Cerner has $605 MM in debt with a current ratio of 2.35. Allscripts is at a very real risk of struggling to make their debt payments. Who wants a vendor that’s going broke?

    For another comparison, Cerner has $513 MM in cash vs Allscripts $116 MM. The future of the Alltel / Eclipsys / Allscripts borg is not very bright. On the other hand if you’re a CIO with an interest of implementing EHRs, Allscripts might be a good bet. In a few year’s, you’ll get to implement another EHR if they default!

  3. @PM_From_Haities: Touché. It’s a pretty superficial review – not only there’s no mention of debt, there’s also no concept of net income or cash flows – just the top line gross revenue, which, by itself, doesn’t even give you a complete picture of the past; leave alone telling you anything about the future.

  4. As an EHR vendor for surgical specialists, we have always designed our solution to deliver an optimal clinical documentation experience that enables speed while ensuring accuracy. To facilitate this approach, we focus on relevant data capture at the point of care, as well as the ability to streamline the redundancies in the capture process. One-size-fits all vendors typically focus on breadth of data capture rather than on relevancy or depth.

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Reader Comments

  • MiroslavB: Great insights - Thanks Ed !...
  • SteveS: I’d like to hear more from Ed about his perspective on the current state of “Professional Organizations” – in te...
  • Brian Too: Nice to hear from a small hospital for a change. We hear lots from the large players and consolidation has meant that b...
  • Sam Lawrence: Except in this case, coding = medical billing, not development. Though the same warning may be true...
  • BeenThere: Partners will find the savings from their cuts of coders as fools gold. There are a lot of hidden costs running an outs...
  • JC: If there is not there can be. VistA has a reference lab interface that can create the manifests/labeling and such as we...
  • Tom Cornwell: Great stuff from Dr. Jayne as usual. One small typo, last sentence of second-to-last paragraph: should be 'who's' not 'w...
  • HIT Observer: What I find most interesting here, is people defending their common practices rather than truly taking this as invaluabl...
  • Bob: There's no incentive for the provider to spend time doing a price comparison for the patient. Nor is it a good use of th...
  • Peppermint Patty: Veteran - can you clarify what was "fake "? Was something made up (definition of fake) or did you disagree with Vapo...

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