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August 30, 2016 News 4 Comments

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Athenahealth acquires 12-employee, Austin-based care coordination system vendor Patient IO, in which Athenahealth had invested in October 2015 via its More Disruption Please Accelerator program. This is the second company Athenahealth acquired from the MDR accelerator, the first being scheduling system vendor Arsenal Health.

The three-year-old company had raised $4.3 million in three funding rounds. Its app offers collaborative care plans, secure messaging, wearables integration, medication management, and notifications.

Reader Comments


From Mick Mars: “Re: HIMSS Analytics vs. Definitive Healthcare for primary intelligence for vendors. People at our company hate HIMSS Analytics, but you lose HIMSS points and thus get a worse booth location if you drop them. Both companies are dropping their prices by the day, but it’s still a six-figure decision.” I’ll invite vendor readers to weigh in on the pros and cons of each since as a non-vendor, I haven’t worked with either company.

From CEO Cynic: “Re: KLAS. We stopped paying their ransomware fees last year.”


From Mobile Man: “Re: farming tech bubble. I find interesting similarities with our approach to healthcare IT. I wonder what would happen if we had Meaningful Use money for agriculture?” A Fortune article describes technology companies that create expensive sensors and data tracking software for farm equipment while keeping the data rights for themselves so they can sell it to fertilizer and equipment vendors. Venture capital firms are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in Silicon Valley-designed agtech such as GPS-guided tractors and aerial imaging drones that farmers aren’t buying, with experts saying farmers just need basic technology to track people and equipment, digitize their paper notes, and to display history of previously recorded problems. The market is soft because startups have bailed out and left farmers holding expensive equipment, the systems can be difficult to install and use, and those systems often don’t tell the farmer anything they don’t already know. At least some farmers already have their form of Meaningful Use in which they, like doctors, are paid by taxpayers to reduce their productivity (leaving fields unplanted or seeing fewer patients, respectively). We’re lucky government market interference doesn’t lead us into either starvation or death from unmet medical needs.


From Chilblains: “Re: Athenahealth. This is kind of a big deal – Doran was a huge asset and his departure, along with that of Ed Park, makes me wonder whether Kyle Armbrester and the new CTO can fill the holes.” Athenahealth GM of AthenaCoordinator Doran Robinson leaves the company to work for an online furniture company. ATHN shares have slid 6 percent in the past year vs. a 13 percent gain in the Nasdaq.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

Here’s my ingenious, semi-technical solution for patient engagement. Insurers look you up on Facebook to find your friends and family members, then bribe them secretly to encourage your healthy behaviors by applying peer pressure in the form of, “That’s a lot of wine for a weekday,” or, “You might want to sew on those shirt buttons with fishing line so they don’t shoot off under pressure and put someone’s eye out.”

I ran a comment last week from a reader who observed staff at Suburban Hospital (MD) operating under downtime procedures for a handful of hours. I’ve found that the problem wasn’t Epic, it was a connectivity problem among Johns Hopkins hospitals due to a power surge that overheated conduit. It’s interesting to me that hospital systems have become reliable enough that when someone says “XX system was down,” it’s usually not the system itself but rather the connectivity to it or a workstation-related issue. It’s not much consolation that a given system is running perfectly even though users can’t access it, but that is the case most of the time these days except during application software upgrades.

Listening: the new single from the Pixies, preceding the September 30 release of their new album, their first without Kim Deal. Their new stuff is familiarly full of droning guitar riffs and the quirky pop culture references of Charles Thompson IV (aka Black Francis, Frank Black). I can never get this song out of my head, nor do I wish to. 


None scheduled soon. Contact Lorre for webinar services. Past webinars are on our HIStalk webinars YouTube channel.

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


Digital engagement vendor Zillion raises $28 million in a Series C funding round. I interviewed President Bill Van Wyck in May 2016. He summarized Zillion’s market position then as:

The differences in the market exist where healthcare has been trying to build vertical silo products to address specific conditions. The reality is that patients don’t typically have just one condition. They are overweight and may have depression, or they may be diabetic and need other types of procedures and support. There are co-morbidities and multiple chronic conditions that exist in the real world.  Having a common backbone platform like Zillion where you can design, create, and deploy programs to patient populations and then refine and refine and modify those programs at scale is a differentiator for healthcare stakeholders. When you look at what they’ve been building, typically none of them interact with existing systems. They’re not interoperable. They don’t always reach patients on the devices and the technology that they use day to day.


Cardinal Health acquires 18-employee Iowa City, IA-based telepharmacy software vendor TelePharm, which allows pharmacists to verify prescriptions and counsel patients by video from any location.



Col. Mike Regan, former VP/CIO of Lower Bucks Hospital (PA) and an executive with Siemens Healthcare while he also pursued a 35-year career in the Air National Guard, is named Deputy Adjutant General-Air of the Pennsylvania National Guard.

Announcements and Implementations


Cerner will use episodes of care software from 3M Health Information Systems in its HealtheIntent population health management system.

In Australia, two northern Queensland hospitals go to market for for a clinic and hospital EHR, with $26 million budgeted. Cairns Hospital, the major health system, is already live on Cerner, which probably places it in a strong bidding position.

Government and Politics


ONC announces the winners of its Blockchain in healthcare challenge, which drew 70 submissions. The 15 winners from which up to eight will be selected to present at the ONC/NIST workshop September 26-27 are:

Privacy and Security


Two West Virginia hospitals owned by Appalachian Regional Healthcare go back to paper when their computer systems are infected by unspecified malware. The systems went down last weekend, and according to a Tuesday update on AHR’s site, are still down.

A judge rules that a lawsuit brought by the mother of a murdered TV news anchor against two hospital employees who viewed her medical records can proceed, although the judge finds that the hospital is not liable for the actions of its employees.

Innovation and Research

Researchers question whether physicians should order more diagnostic imaging tests or inform patients when their studies turn up incidental findings of unknown significance. The authors say genetics testing may provide a model that’s applicable to radiology, where patients decide upfront how much they want to know and their medical experts don’t disclose minor, low-risk findings. Others caution that it’s not practical in a litigious malpractice environment to withhold information of unknown future significance, especially when a lot of diagnostic imaging tests are performed purely to avoid malpractice claims. 


Huffington Post covers the hospital use of virtual reality as an alternative to drugs for pain management and relaxation.  


Two radiologists in Canada create Tipso, which projects PACS images onto a surgical drape so that surgeons can manipulate them with their hands without breaking the surgical field. Tests suggests that the system can reduce surgery time by up to 15 percent.



A former Mount Sinai School of Medicine researcher who was fired in 2010 for data fraud and then sued the school unsuccessfully for discrimination shoots two men outside a Chappaqua, NY deli, one of them the dean of the medical school, in an apparent revenge attack. Both the dean and a bystander suffered non-life threatening injuries.


A Gallup poll finds that healthcare, pharma, and the federal government take the bottom three spots in consumer perception. Restaurants and the computer industry top the list.

Researchers find that one-fifth of genetic research papers whose authors used Microsoft Excel to analyze their data contain incorrect gene names, as the authors fail to notice that the worksheet software automatically translates symbols (SEPT2) to dates (September 2).


In China, a state-run newspaper covers a hospital’s Internet addiction treatment center that has used electroshock on 6,000 people, mostly teenagers who are sent there by their parents. The patients are forced to attend ideological education and military training and are given shock treatments for breaking any of 86 rules, which include not taking their meds on an empty stomach and not sitting in the dean’s chair. Such treatment would be equally popular with providers here if insurance would pay for it.

Sponsor Updates

  • Gibson Consultants publishes “Independence remains a rewarding choice for doctors” by Aprima CEO Michael Nissenbaum and Chadwick Prodromos, MD.
  • Arcadia Healthcare Solutions analytics earns NCQA PCMH pre-validation.
  • Impact Advisors is recognized as one of the largest healthcare management consulting firms. 
  • KLAS recognizes Nordic as a top performer in optimization services.
  • Besler Consulting publishes a “2017 IPPS Final Rule Analysis.”
  • Leadership Columbus selects CoverMyMeds Communications Manager Mike Bukach for its Signature Program Class of 2017.
  • The Mental Health Association of Erie County will honor CTG for its contributions to the cause at its annual Benefactor Society Reception on September 7 in Buffalo, NY.
  • Elsevier Clinical Solutions receives a Merit Award for Patient Education from Health Awards.
  • Fortune features comments from Extension Healthcare CEO Todd Plesko in an article on WhatsApp.
  • Built in Colorado profiles Healthgrades CTO Bill Bell.

Blog Posts


Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Lt. Dan.
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Currently there are "4 comments" on this Article:

  1. HIMSS used to be both current and easy to use. The user interface redesign has made it difficult to get the data or report you want, and too often lately the data is just wrong. It’s a case of ‘fixing’ that which was not broken.

    Too bad, I used the product for 15 years, and I still have a login through my company, but it’s just too difficult to get the data I want. If corporate purchasing were to ask if we should renew, I would recommend against.

  2. Re: Your ingenious, semi-technical solution for patient engagement: Check out PerkHealth (www.perkhealth.me) which uses social media cues (like Facebook-style updates and messages to personal groups for all to see) to encourage healthy behavior.

  3. Regarding HIMSS and Definitive. Yes, both have errors in their data but a bigger differentiator is how they do business. Definitive has automatic renewals in their contract where the automatically put a price increase. They won’t tell you what the increase is until it is activated. Read the fine print as they won’t let you out of the agreement after the renewal kicks in.

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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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