Home » News » Currently Reading:

News 5/27/16

May 26, 2016 News 6 Comments

Top News


A federal judge grants Epic’s request to dismiss a patent infringement lawsuit brought by patent troll (or “non-practicing entity” in legal terms) Preservation Wellness Technologies, which sued Epic, Allscripts, Athenahealth, and NextGen for violating its 2009 patent covering the idea of giving patients and doctors access to electronic medical records with different levels of authorization. Apparently the US Patent and Trademark Office thought this was something new since they granted the patent.

The “inventor” apparently runs Carlo Coiffures, a beauty salon in New York. The lawsuit was brought by a Texas corporation with a Texas mail drop address that filed the suit in the rural Eastern District of Texas, which attracts 25 percent of the patent lawsuits filed in the entire US because that district’s troll-friendly practices make it hard for defendants to get a ridiculous lawsuit dismissed. A fascinating episode of “This American Life” describes a building in Marshall, Texas (population 24,000) whose long corridors contain locked offices representing the only physical presence of companies whose entire business is filing frivolous patent infringement lawsuits. Kudos to Epic for not just paying off the troll, although you have to wonder how much it had to spend to prove that it did nothing wrong.

Meanwhile, Epic didn’t fare as well in a federal appeals court where it had asked to have an unpaid overtime lawsuit brought by its technical writers dismissed. Epic argued that the arbitration terms that it forced all of its employees to accept to keep their jobs precludes employee class action lawsuits like the overtime one. The judge sides with the employees, ruling that  Epic’s mandatory arbitration clause violates the National Labor Relations Act because it prevents employees from acting together on employment issues, which they are allowed to do even if they aren’t union members.

Reader Comments

From Pumice Stone: “Re: vendor agnostic. Pet peeve time! Agnostic means someone who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God.” I agree. “Vendor-neutral” is a better way to convey a lack of bias, although the grammatical horse has left the barn and dictionaries that strive to reflect rather than define usage will no doubt be adding “vendor-agnostic” along with other recently added non-words like “WTF,” “beer o’clock,” and “awesomesauce” as lexicographers use the “everybody gets a trophy” model in rewarding those who create cutesy new words despite their obvious lack of mastery of the perfectly fine choices already available.


From Maple: “Re: Evariant. They just took Series C money this month but apparently laid off 30+ folks. No jobs are listed on their jobs board. A new CFO was announced this week, too.” Evariant, which has received $69 million in funding, sells a patient marketing system. I checked their executive page from a year ago and seven of the 10 people listed then aren’t on the current version of the page. 

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

image image

Mrs. Steele says her Tennessee kindergarten class is using the headphones and wireless mice we provided in funding her DonorsChoose grant request to listen to level-tailored stories to help them read better.

This week on HIStalk Practice: Compulink debuts an EHR for gastroenterologists. Pavlovian wearable helps curb user behaviors. Direct Urgent Care sends heart and lung sounds to its EHR via connected stethoscope. Duke University physicians share advice for PCPs in need of MACRA help. Connecticut passes telemedicine-friendly Medicaid legislation. Ohio physicians will soon have real-time access to controlled substances prescriptions.


June 28 (Tuesday) 2:00 ET. “Your Call Is Very Important.” Sponsored by West Healthcare Practice. Presenters: Cyndy Orrys, contact center director, Henry Ford Health System; Brian Cooper, SVP, West Interactive. The contact center is a key hub of patient engagement and a strategic lever for driving competitive advantage. Cyndy will share how her organization’s call center is using technologies and approaches that create effortless patient experiences in connecting them to the right information or resource. Brian will describe five key characteristics of a modern call center and suggest how to get started.

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

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

The software half of HP’s November 2015 split into two publicly traded businesses will spin off its enterprise services business in a tax-free merger with CSC that will create “a pure-play global IT services leader.” CEO Meg Whitman, who predicts industry consolidation, said on the earnings call related to corporate spinoffs, “We have this thing down to a science” in “unlocking the value of these two companies.”

Wellth, which rewards high-risk patients for taking their meds or testing their glucose correctly, raises $2 million in a seed round.


IMS Health acquires Privacy Analytics, which offers data de-identification tools.


Zebra Medical Vision, which sells a medical imaging analytics engine that supports diagnosis, raises $12 million in a round led by Intermountain Healthcare, increasing its total to $20 million.



Shore Medical Center (NJ) chooses Phynd to manage the information of its 5,000 providers within Cerner and other systems.



WEDI gives interim CEO Charles Stellar (AHIP) the permanent position.


Paul Tang, MD (Palo Alto Medical Foundation) joins IBM Watson Health as VP/chief health transformation officer.

Government and Politics


ONC publishes a list of health IT products and vendors that have not complied with its certification program.

The FDA will collaborate with Flatiron Health to explore how the de-identified treatment data of patients who aren’t enrolled in clinical trials could be used to investigate the safety and effectiveness of immunotherapy.


Health insurers stung by Affordable Care Act losses follow through on warnings of premium increases as a sicker-than-expected insured pool drives up their costs. The highest increase requested so far is in Western Pennsylvania, where Highmark wants to hike premiums by 38 percent. The administration continues to downplay the high premium costs, saying that most people will get federal premium subsidies.


A House committee wants the Justice Department and the state attorney general to investigate former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber and CMS for the botched rollout of the Cover Oregon insurance exchange, which spent $305 million in federal money and never enrolled a single person before shutting it down and moving to Healthcare.gov at no cost.


CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt — about whom I’ll editorialize is the most transparent, visionary, patient-focused executive in federal healthcare (I’m even placing him ahead of Karen DeSalvo because he gave up a huge income to work for CMS and he took a thankless job) — speaks to the Massachusetts Medical Society:

[User-driven policy] is actually not that radical a concept in the real world. In the real world it might be called “talking to your customers about what they want.” Perhaps in Washington, though, it is a bit of a new concept … Interoperability in some respects needs to just be as simple as this: how can we collaborate for the best outcomes when a patient is going to experience different parts of our fragmented healthcare system? What we want out of interoperability is simple: having a patient referred for other care and understanding what happens at that visit; or communicating with the physician when a patient is discharged from the hospital to make sure they are taken care of and are healing at home … We are not talking sending a man to the moon. We are actually expecting technology to do the things that it already does for us every day. So there must be other reasons why technology and information aren’t flowing in ways that match patient care. Partly, I believe some of the reasons are actually due to bad business practices. But, I think some of the technology will improve through the better use of standards and compliance. And I think we’ll make significant progress through the implementation of APIs in the next version of EHRs which will spur innovation by allowing for plug and play capability. But the reason that the pledge is important is because the private sector has to essentially change or evolve their business practices so that they don’t subvert this intent.

Privacy and Security


Apple posts a job opening for a HIPAA-focused privacy lawyer.

Innovation and Research


Cognitive science expert Roger Schank, PhD, says IBM Watson is “not doing ‘cognitive computing’ no matter how many times they say they are,” adding that “Watson can’t draw real conclusions by counting words in 800 million pages of text.” He concludes, “It would be nice if IBM would tone down the hype and let people know what Watson can actually do and stop making up nonsense about love fading and out thinking cancer. IBM is simply lying now and they need to stop. AI winter is coming soon.”



Citrix announces the HDX Ready Pi, a Raspberry Pi-powered thin client that will cost under $90 when it reaches the market in a few weeks. The device configures itself automatically when plugged into an available display; can be simply thrown into the recycle bin if it fails since its cost is negligible and there’s nothing to re-image; and it can be given to remote workers since it doesn’t store data.



A JAMIA-published study by consultants from Wolters Kluwer Health describes how Huntsville Hospital (AL) reduced sepsis-related deaths by 53 percent following implementation of a program that included change management, electronic surveillance, and sepsis detection algorithms.


Surveyed single ACOs spend an average of $2 million per year to participate, with $563,000 of that going toward health IT technology, population analytics, and reporting. More than half say they won’t stay in the Medicare Shared Savings Program if they don’t earn the 5 percent MACRA Advanced APM bonus.

A Federal Reserve Board survey finds that nearly half of Americans would struggle to pay an unexpected $400 expense, which might explain why people whose exchange-issued health insurance policies carry a $6,800 annual deductible before insurance starts paying anything aren’t necessarily going to actually seek care (or renew their policies for 2017).


In China, scalpers are tying up Beijing’s ATMs, which allow scheduling hospital appointments, to book hospital and doctor appointments that they then sell to buyers from $50 to $500.

Sponsor Updates

Blog Posts


Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Lt. Dan.
More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.
Get HIStalk updates.
Send news or rumors.
Contact us.


View/Print Text Only View/Print Text Only

HIStalk Featured Sponsors


Currently there are "6 comments" on this Article:

  1. While your ultimate conclusion that “vendor-neutral” is a better choice of words is valid, you’re off-base about the use of agnostic. It doesn’t exclusively mean “someone who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God.” That is one meaning, but the root “gnosis” is simply “knowledge,” and indeed agnostic was first used by Thomas Huxley in rejecting claims of any knowledge of the spiritual or mystical. The word also has a long history of use for non-supernatural phenomena. It’s a poor choice in this context, not because it’s being used outside of the religious context, but because the word makes epistemological claims. In this case, “vendor-agnostic” would seem to imply that claims of knowledge of vendors is faulty, which is surely NOT what they mean, since people using the term would certainly claim to have lots of knowledge of the vendors.

  2. “Vendor-neutral” is about how you conduct your business. “Vendor-agnostic” is about the technical capabilities of your product. You might not like the words people use to represent these concepts, but it’s not like every new phrase is just a silly fad that serves no communicative purpose.

  3. @andy_slavitt

    With all due respect, interoperability is a goal, but the safety, usability, and efficacy of these devices should be tantamount. What good is interoperability if the platform is defective? Just wonderin

  4. The debate about “vendor-agnostic”or “vendor-neutral can go one for ever with no one winning the debate. TPD prefers the more commonly used business term “vendor-independent” as it really tells the reader that independence is its primary feature!


  5. Let’s use it in a sentence!

    “We need ‘X’ [technology] to be vendor-agnostic.”

    I’ve used the term many times. When I do, I am often describing a functional requirement where X will work without regard to limitations specific to vendor capabilities. X must be able to work with all vendors. In other words, X must work without needing to understand vendor-specific limitations before have seen or interfaced with it previously. So, in this way, it makes perfect sense for me to use -agnostic.

    Vendor-neutral is a term I’ve never used in any context; though I agree with VendorGnostic’s comment in that I think it should be used describe a business rule, process, or model, rather than a technology.

    I can choose to be neutral about something I ‘do,’ and I can choose to be agnostic when I am uncertain of the capabilities of something I ‘use.’

Subscribe to Updates



Text Ads

Report News and Rumors

No title

Anonymous online form
Rumor line: 801.HIT.NEWS



Founding Sponsors


Platinum Sponsors





























































Gold Sponsors
















Reader Comments

  • 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...
  • Pat Wolfram: Such a refreshing article. Thanks -- there really can be a simpler version of an acute HIT implementation. But I do ...
  • Woodstock Generation: Bravo to HIStalk's Weekender recaps and other news/opinions. I read it first thing on Monday mornings..................
  • Veteran: #fakenews...

Sponsor Quick Links