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September 1, 2016 News 5 Comments

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The Department of Defense will push back the first go-lives of its MHS Genesis EHR project, according to a reader-forwarded announcement from Thursday. The DHMSM project management office declined to give specific dates, saying only that initial rollouts will be moved back “a few months” and that it will issue a new schedule within 30 days.

DoD had originally announced deployment of the Cerner system to sites in the Pacific Northwest beginning in December 2016. It reiterated that the original schedule was “aggressive, but achievable” in early August 2016 despite a May 31, 2016 DoD OIG report warning that the date “may not be realistic for meeting the required initial operational capability data of December 2016.”

The military is already taking longer and spending more than it expected long before the first go-live. The project awarded Cerner a no-bid, $74 million hosting add-on contract in July, far above DoD’s original self-hosted cost estimate of $50 million over 10 years. DoD said at that time that the extra spending would not raise the project ceiling.

A consortium led by Leidos won the $4.3 billion project bid in July 2015. Leidos and its spinoff SAIC have been paid billions to develop and maintain the DoD’s current EHR, AHLTA. Some experts estimate the total taxpayer cost for AHLTA — which was just voted in a physician survey as the worst available EHR –  could be as much as $20 billion.

Reader Comments


From Sturges: “Re: Epic. A big pro for public vs. private companies is transparency. John Touissaint at ThedaCare publishes all the time, but never mentions that he’s on Epic’s board. The boards of both Epic and Meditech will be a big deal in the coming years, particularly in terms of succession planning and how Epic will operate as a foundation once Judy turns it over as a charitable donation.” I edited Epic’s board and director list in the corporate document above to remove addresses since some of them are of private homes (including the shockingly modest residence of Judy Faulkner). John Toussaint is a former CEO of Epic customer ThedaCare (WI) and is CEO of the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value. The board members who aren’t Epic employees as far as I can tell from their names alone (which is all that’s on the state filing) are:

  • Roger Hauck. I assume it’s the one who’s on UW Medical Foundation’s board.
  • Leonard Mattioli. There’s an owner of a closed chain of Wisconsin appliance stores with that name.
  • Nicholas Seay, VP/CTO of Cellular Dynamics.
  • Paul Kundert, president and CEO of the UW Credit Union.


From MT Hammer: “Re: Nuance Transcription Services. Laying off all its California-based employees as of September 30. The layoffs will apparently include both transcriptionists and supervisory staff. Affected employees were informed via conference call on Wednesday, August 31.” Unverified, but discussion abounds on the MTStars message board, where posters suspect that their jobs are being offshored to India. That shouldn’t be surprising given the company’s announcement in January 2016 that it would hire 3,000 transcriptionists in five cities in India, hoping to achieve a 50 percent transcription growth rate there given the inherent time zone and cost advantages. It may not have helped that California is rapidly increasing its minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2022, which is more than at least some transcriptionists are paid as hourly employees.

From Mr. Porky: “Re: Kaiser Southern California. Its Cerner Millennium lab system was down most of Monday and Tuesday due to a server issue.” Unverified.

From Unfortunately Informed: “Re: [vendor name removed]. Their chief growth officer is about to be booted after a short stint following a mass exodus of the sales team and pending lawsuits of harassment.” Unverified. I’ve omitted the company name for obvious reasons, but we’ll see if an announcement is forthcoming.


From Victor Victuals: “Re: the upcoming OCR/NIST HIPAA security conference. Attendees can add lunch and refreshments to their registration fee for $306. The latest GSA for Meals and Incidentals is $69. Wonder what kind of lunch and refreshments they’re providing at that price?” It’s a really bad deal when you look at the registration page to see what’s included – just two continental breakfasts, two buffet lunches, and one afternoon break. The overpriced hotel restaurant (was that redundant?) has a bakery basket or fruit plate for around $10 and lunch items (even steak) for around $20, which would total maybe $60. Perhaps this is a social engineering experiment where NIST wants to see whether attendees will fall for an obvious, phishing-like ruse. I’m trying not to preach about their use of “EST” instead of the correct “EDT.”

From Kitty Has KLAS: “Re: KLAS. Vince is incorrect in saying that KLAS requires vendors to pay. They don’t – they only have to provide a customer list. However, if they want to review the report ahead of time or publicize their rating, they have to pay. KLAS also offers billable consulting services, where they tell vendors where to improve based on the feedback from their customers.”

From Skitch: “Re: KLAS. They’re the Consumer Reports of healthcare IT. Enough said.” No, they aren’t, and they don’t claim to be. Consumer Reports is a publication whose paying customers are readers, not vendors, and trying to assess the quality of a dishwasher is a lot different than rating hospital software based on a few customer reports. Both organizations rate products, but Consumer Reports:

  • Is published by an independent, non-profit consumer advocacy group.
  • Does not accept advertising or any form of payment from vendors.
  • Does not allow vendor involvement in testing products or obtaining customer feedback.
  • Performs product testing in its own labs.
  • Does not sell consulting services, customized reports, or anything else to vendors and investors in keeping arm’s length from them to maintain objectivity and transparency.
  • Does not allow vendors to publicize the rankings they receive.

From Good4U: “Re: patient advocates. Is inviting them to industry meetings the best way to improve the healthcare system?” I don’t think so since there’s no scale or consumer push involved. I would rather invest the time and money to mobilize consumers to understand their rights, instruct them on how to protect themselves or their loved ones as patients, and give them resources to contact when they need help with medical decisions they don’t fully understand. It would be a nice tribute to Jess Jacobs to develop an educational program to help others navigate the indifferent, inefficient, and sometimes life-threatening healthcare quagmire she found herself immersed in since every one of us will face it eventually despite what we know as insiders. We may happily work in hospitals, but deep down we all know that one of the most dangerous places in the world is a hospital bed.

From Spastic Colon: “Re: [publication name omitted]. Check out their top stories.” I get tired of being asked to analyze what other sites run as news since I don’t really care and I don’t read them anyway, so I’ll answer just one last time. The site has 11 “latest news” stories on their home page. None of them contain any actual reporting – they are simply re-worded material they found on other sites (not always credited) in padding out uninteresting items to 10 or more paragraphs. I had already declined to cover nine of their 11 items that I felt weren’t worth the time of HIStalk readers. Of the 11 news items:

  • Six are re-worded press releases, two of which have zero to do with health IT.
  • Two summarize journal articles, while another re-words a TV station’s story.
  • One is a sponsor advertisement.
  • One is a slideshow of old news.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

Grammar gripe: beginning a sentence with the word “there.” It’s easy to instead word the sentence with the usual subject followed by a verb. Instead of “There are many articles covering population health management,” write, “Many articles cover population health management.” Try to determine the subject and verb of each of those sentences and you’ll see the problem with the former. I also continue to be annoyed by listing a physician as “Dr. John Smith, MD” or simply as “Dr. John Smith.” In my experience, the former is usually written by a third-party person of cluelessness or an arrogant doctor determine to shove his or her title down one’s throat twice, while the latter is often employed by those who are at least slightly and illogically embarrassed that they hold non-MD medically-related practicing doctorates such as DNP, DO, DC, MBBS, DPM, DPT, DAUD, or PharmD.

We run a back-to-school type new sponsor special every Labor Day as the industry picks back up, giving new companies extra months for free. Contact Lorre. We’ve had quite a few sign up lately, wisely avoiding the pre-HIMSS rush period that sometimes stymies procrastinators.

This week on HIStalk Practice: NorthStar Anesthesia deploys Plexus Technology Group’s anesthesia EHR. Pennsylvania goes live with ABC MAP PDMP. AMA adds population health data to its workforce mapping tool. Senator Gary Peters includes a telemedicine stop on his statewide motorcycle tour. HHS announces $53 million in funding to help states combat opioid abuse. Falcon Physician adds charting capabilities to its EHR for nephrologists.

This week on HIStalk Connect: DoseMe, Health2Sync raise new funding rounds. NIMA develops gluten-testing tech. Access announces new partnerships. Elementary school student prints prosthetic hand for teacher. My Health Guide App produces new case-study video.


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

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


Theranos withdraws its request for fast-track approval of its Zika-virus blood test after the FDA finds that the company’s trials in the Dominican Republic were not overseen by an institutional review board. CEO Elizabeth Holmes used her August 1 stage time at the AACC conference to pitch the test and a new lab analysis machine, neither of which have passed FDA muster to reach the market.



Sharp HealthCare (CA) will implement Cerner PowerChart Ambulatory for one of its two medical groups, integrated with its inpatient Millennium system.



University of Rochester Medical Center (NY) hires Tom Barnett (NorthShore University HealthSystem) as CIO.

Announcements and Implementations

Philips and Qualcomm will use each other’s technologies to offer personalized connected care solutions involving home medical devices.


In England, King’s College Hospital goes live with Allscripts Sunrise.

Government and Politics


A McKinsey analysis of proposed ACA-sold insurance plans for 2017 finds that three-fourths of them will be of the higher-profit HMO type with a narrow network (often just a single hospital system and its affiliated doctors), while only one-fourth will be PPO type plans with broader coverage.

Privacy and Security

From DataBreaches.net:

  • Information from ambient light sensors used to adjust smartphone and laptop screen brightness to any website that uses a new API, meaning a website or hacker could use the information to identify a specific user or determine information about their home. I didn’t realize that some retailers adjust their prices based on the user’s device, charging iPhone users more than those shopping with an inexpensive Chromebook.
  • In the UK, healthcare represents by far the greatest number of Q1 data breaches, although most of the incidents involved paper rather than electronic information.
  • Also in the UK, Wythenshawe Hospital launches an internal investigation into the journal report of “bagpiper lung” cited by Weird News Andy. The deceased patient’s daughter wasn’t told why he died – she learned it only because the journal article contained enough details to make it obvious to her who the case study involved.
  • New York State Psychiatric Institute notifies 22,000 patients that its systems were breached this past spring.
  • A potential class action lawsuit against Flowers Hospital (AL) involves a now-imprisoned phlebotomist who used information contained in unsecured daily file folders to file fraudulent tax returns.

A DataBreaches.net analysis of the FTC’s case against LabMD notes the “pretzel logic” of going after theoretically exposed data that was viewed only by a vendor trying to sell security services to LabMD. It calls out the lack of FTC definition of acceptable security standards and the FTC’s subjective interpretation of risks that might reasonably cause consumer harm, which should interest every healthcare provider since FTC is getting more active in healthcare security. It concludes,

If one government agency – HHS – that is the premier agency for protecting patient privacy and data security didn’t even consider this incident a reportable breach under HIPAA back in 2008, then doesn’t it strike anyone else as a bit absurd that the FTC would turn around years later and claim that this incident was not only “likely” to cause substantial harm, but did cause substantial harm – even though they didn’t interview even one person whose data was in the errant file? For the FTC to declare by fiat that consumers experienced substantial harm in this case is just over the top.

Innovation and Research

NIH profiles AiCure, a medication adherence app whose further development was funded by NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. The company’s app uses facial recognition and motion-sensing smartphone sensors to visually verify that a particular med was taken as prescribed, specifically targeting clinical study participants (and obviously hoping to tap into the always-popular and cash-flush drug companies as customers). The New York company has raised $12 million.



A Slate article declares that workplace wellness programs are “a waste of time and money, they don’t improve health outcomes, and they’re a front for shifting costs onto employees.” The article adds that such programs promote questionably useful tests, encourage unnecessary doctor visits, and collect health information using sloppy security policies. It cites the 2009 claim of grocery store operator Safeway that its wellness program (optional, but employees had to pay higher insurance premiums if they opted out) helped hold its healthcare costs flat, when in fact only 14 percent of its employees were even eligible to participate and the way Safeway kept costs down was to raise insurance deductibles. The company’s questionable wellness program results led to the so-called Safeway Amendment to the ACA that allows employers to shift more premium costs to employees who fail wellness tests.


A smartly written editorial by a surgeon criticizes a Texas district attorney who continues to publicly declare that vaccines cause autism and who appeared in a trailer for the movie “Vaxxed.” He summarizes by comparing the respective burden of proof required by the court system and the FDA:

The video in which he appeared is so much like anti-vaccine videos I’ve deconstructed over the years and suffers from the same confusing of correlation with causation. LaHood himself views the movie like a trial against vaccines and seems quite impressed by the “evidence” it presents. Unfortunately, as tempting as it is for a lawyer and DA to see everything in legal terms, science doesn’t work that way. He goes on and on about how children seemingly regressing after vaccines is “strong circumstantial evidence.” Yes, perhaps, but in science, circumstantial evidence … is what we in the medical biz call anecdotal … the weakest form of evidence.


A reporter from the Boston business paper tweets out while visiting Steward-owned New England Sinai Hospital that computers on wheels were jamming up family waiting areas because employees had limited wall sockets available for charging them. Hospital executives responded by saying the carts had been moved, which is good since it means that someone at the hospital follows Twitter, although that doesn’t seem to address the problem of needing to charge them somewhere.


Columbus-based Big Lots donates $50 million to Nationwide Children’s Hospital (OH) and will get naming rights to the clinical department and a planned pediatric psychiatric hospital. Even though I’ve bought stuff at Big Lots (while overlooking piles of junky merchandise and the occasionally troubling behaviors of my fellow bargain-seeking shoppers), I don’t know that I’d want to be admitted to a hospital named after a company selling closed-out distress merchandise out of previously abandoned stores in dying strip centers. The NYSE-traded retailer is worth $2.2 billion on $5 billion in revenue, while recent tax forms show that the hospital made $244 million on $1.4 billion in revenue. 

Sponsor Updates

  • Influence Health will exhibit at SHSMD Connections September 11-14 in Chicago.
  • Ingenious Med and Obix Perinatal Data System will exhibit at the Georgia HIMSS annual conference September 7 in Atlanta.
  • Illinois Senator Dick Durbin visits the Intelligent Medical Objects office.
  • Live Process will exhibit at the Nevada Hospital Association Focus on the Future conference September 7-9 in South Lake Tahoe, NV.
  • MedData will exhibit at the Texas Society of Anesthesiologists Annual Meeting September 8-11 in San Antonio.
  • Meditech representatives discuss interoperability at the 2016 KLAS Cornerstone Summit.
  • PatientMatters will exhibit at the Kansas Hospital Association Fall Conference September 8 in Overland Park.
  • PaymentsSource profiles PatientPay’s healthcare “paper fix.”
  • Forbes names Red Hat as one of the world’s most innovative companies.
  • The SSI Group will exhibit at the CASA 2016 annual conference and exhibit September 7-9 in Carlsbad, CA
  • IT Business Edge covers SyTrue’s partnership with IDS.

Blog Posts


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

  1. I hope this comment finds the The PACS Designer TPD doing well. I miss his|her comments since I found time again to pursue more enjoyable reading in my life like HIStalk. I have been wasting away my career for the last two years working on VA Vista project. Talk about beating your head up against the wall and I love the VA because I am one – U.S. Army Medical Corp 1967 – 1970. It is still the old game of hurry up and wait. 🙂

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  1. Part of my attitude relates to an experience I had. And this was within a single HIS. I wanted to…

  2. For what it's worth, the VA currently releases C-CDA (or HITSP C-32...my memory fails me) via eHealth Exchange and has…

  3. Unfortunately, I can't disagree with anything you wrote. It is important that they get this right for so many reasons,…

  4. Going out on a limb here. Wouldn't Oracle's (apparent) interoperability strategy, have a better chance of success, than the VA's?…

  5. Dr Jayne is noticing one of the more egregious but trivial instance of bad behavior by allegedly non-profit organizations. I…

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