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December 1, 2016 News 3 Comments

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The House passes the 21st Century Cures act in a rare, bipartisan 392-26 vote and sends it off for the Senate to review next week.

Provisions include a less-thorough FDA drug approval process, $5 billion in NIH research funding, $1 billion to address the opioid epidemic, and mandatory EHR interoperability requirements that prohibit information blocking with potential fines of $1 million. The bill would also combine ONC’s HIT Policy and HIT Standards committees

A controversial measure that would have reduced requirements for drug companies to continue publicly reporting their payments to providers was removed.

The bill would be funded by taking money away from preventive health projects.

Reader Comments

From Luna Immortal: “Re: [vendor 1 name omitted]. I’m hearing that they have an upcoming merger and wonder if it might be [vendor 2 name omitted] since there’s a lot of people who worked at both companies and Vendor 2’s home health software vendor stake would help Vendor 1, whose product isn’t robust.” Unverified. Sorry about all the Vendor 1/Vendor 2 stuff, but I don’t usually list the names of publicly traded companies when I run rumors even when it’s not hard to figure out who’s who.

From Byte Bard: “Re: upcoming webinar. Your speaker’s bio says his prior company went public. That’s not accurate – it was an SEC Regulation D investment.” I see a good bit of accomplishment inflation in this industry, like the executive’s LinkedIn profile I was reviewing this morning that, in the absence of actual graduate education, listed one of those super high-priced, days-long visit to the campus of a big-name school that offers programs for those who are flush with cash but who don’t find it convenient to earn an actual graduate degree like many of their underlings managed to do. I’ll trust your resume forensics in this case. I recall that I got all kinds of nasty and threatening emails years ago when I wrote about unaccredited schools and linked to the bios of healthcare people who were throwing around their fake MBAs and PhDs. If the credential can’t withstand any sort of inspection, then it has no place on a resume or LinkedIn.

DonorsChoose Updates


Donations from (a) the anonymous vendor executive who asked me to do a reader cybersecurity survey; (b) long-time reader Marty; and (c) our own @JennHIStalk funded these DonorsChoose classroom projects:

  • A library of books and a storage cart for Mrs. L’s first grade class in Cedar Hill, TX.
  • 30 calculators for Mrs. S’s sixth grade math class in Union, SC.
  • Math games for Mrs. S’s first grade class in Independence, MO.
  • Learning center headphones for Ms. M’s elementary school class in Chicago, IL.
  • Programmable robots for the library’s makerspace of Mrs. E’s elementary school in Greenwood, SC.
  • Science teaching items for the sixth grade class of Mrs. S in Union, SC.
  • Hands-on learning stations for the learning disabled students of Mrs. P’s kindergarten class in Oklahoma City, OK

Mrs. S from SC, who says she was “thrown in” to teaching science after school had already started and therefore had no materials to work with, checked in:

You do not know how much this means to me and to my students. This has been a difficult year trying to teach my students with limited supplies. I can’t wait to tell my students tomorrow morning. I’m sure they will be just as excited as I am. Thank you for your generosity.


Industry long-timer Tom sent a very generous personal donation with a note saying that it’s sad that charity has to provide classrooms with essential learning tools, but he’s still happy to donate for “our future adult citizens.” The matching money really added up in funding these teacher grant requests with Tom’s donation:

  • A listening center for Mrs. H’s first grade class in Battle Creek, MI.
  • Additional books for the library of Mrs. L’s first grade class (the first donation to her class was above).
  • A mobile organizer and spelling games for Mrs. S’s elementary school class in Gaffney, SC.
  • Three sets of building blocks for Mrs. K’s elementary school class in Rome, NY.
  • An iPad Mini for read-along lessons for Ms. N’s elementary school class in Brooklyn, NY.
  • A social emotional library of 33 books for the International Baccalaureate class of Mrs. M in Nashville, TN.
  • Non-fiction books and subscriptions for Ms. S’s elementary school class in Chula Vista, CA.
  • Robotics and engineering kits for Mrs. G’s elementary school class in Springfield, NY.
  • STEM learning project kits for Ms. L’s elementary school class in Independence, MO.
  • Music and band supplies for Mrs. R’s elementary school class in Wasco, CA.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

My fatigue is growing with lazy health IT reporters who craft “news” stories consisting mostly of loosely woven together tweets or quotes extracted from them. They should be practicing journalism that they promote via Twitter, not using Twitter as a news source. Every time I think that journalists (if you care to call them that) can’t possibly get lazier or less informed, they prove me wrong. The “eyeballs at any cost” movement among sites that don’t charge a subscription fee (and thus trade in titillation rather than education) has made us collectively dumber than we already were and that’s saying a lot. 

I’m also tired of people repeating the well-intentioned but dead wrong trite assertion that “Your ZIP code determines your health more than anything.” If that were true, people would be miraculously cured just by moving. Health status is certainly related to socioeconomic factors that are prevalent in a given ZIP code, but you and I won’t fall apart medically just because we move to East St. Louis. It’s a cute phrase that ironically confuses cause with effect and applies broad group characteristics to every individual in the group. Healthcare people should know better.

This week on HIStalk Practice: AbleTo adds care coordination capabilities to behavioral telehealth service. PCPs found extremely lacking in willingness to fess up to medical errors. Topline MD practices roll out telemedicine capabilities. Orb Health raises $3.2M for CCM-focused care coordination tech. Culbert Healthcare Solutions CMO Nancy Gagliano, MD shares four reasons why telemedicine hasn’t taken off more quickly. Excellus BCBS preps for MDLive roll out. CompuGroup Medical adds rehabilitation module. WebPT CEO Nancy Ham shares her thoughts on the importance of workplace culture in attracting top talent.

Listening: new from Seattle-based lo-fi rockers Dude York, which to my untrained ear can sound like the Pixies one minute and the Thermals the next. Their drummer nails it. I’m also kind of enjoying their former neighbors from their Walla Walla days, the riot grrrlish Chastity Belt, who bristle at being called a “girl band” in saying that all the members “just happen to be female” and that nobody would call Led Zeppelin a “boy band.” We get great recorded performances of both courtesy of the U-Dub affiliated KEXP in Seattle, which offers live streaming of its radio programming (I’m listening to it now). 


December 6 (Tuesday) 1:00 ET. “Get Ready for Blockchain’s Disruption.” Sponsored by PokitDok. Presenter: Theodore Tanner, Jr., co-founder and CTO, PokitDok. EHR-to-EHR data exchange alone can’t support healthcare’s move to value-based care and its increased consumer focus. Blockchain will disrupt the interoperability status quo with its capability to support a seamless healthcare experience by centralizing, securing, and orchestrating disparate information. Attendees of this webinar will be able to confidently describe how blockchain works technically, how it’s being used, and the healthcare opportunities it creates. They will also get a preview of DokChain, the first-ever running implementation of blockchain in healthcare.

December 7 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “Charting a Course to Digital Transformation – Start Your Journey with a Map and Compass.” Sponsored by Sutherland Healthcare Solutions. Presenters: Jack Phillips, CEO, International Institute for Analytics; Graham Hughes, MD, CEO, Sutherland Healthcare Solutions. The digital era is disrupting every industry and healthcare is no exception. Emerging technologies will introduce challenges and opportunities to transform operations and raise the bar of consumer experience. Success in this new era requires a new way of thinking, new skills, and new technologies to help your organization embrace digital health. In this webinar, we’ll demonstrate how to measure your organization’s analytics maturity and design a strategy to digital transformation.

December 14 (Wednesday) noon ET. “Three Practices to Minimize Drift Between Audits.” Sponsored by Armor. Presenter: Kurt Hagerman, CISO, Armor. Security and compliance readiness fall to the bottom of the priority lists of many organizations, where they are often treated as periodic events rather than ongoing processes. How can they improve their processes to ensure they remain secure and compliant between audits? This webinar will cover the healthcare threat landscape and provide three practices that healthcare organizations can implement to better defend their environments continuously.

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


Document Storage Systems will acquire Streamline Health’s patient engagement suite that includes patient scheduling and surgery management. Those are the former systems developed by Unibased Systems Architecture, which Streamline acquired in 2014 and then renamed from ForSite2020 to Looking Glass Patient Engagement. I ran a reader rumor from Twice Bitten on October 5, 2016 saying that Streamline had laid off half of the team involved. DSS offers products and services to government and commercial clients based on the VA’s VistA, so I’m not sure what they’re planning to do with the former USA products.


Omnicell will acquire Raleigh, NC-based Ateb, which offers pharmacy-enabled care and population health management solutions, for $41 million in cash. CEO Frank Sheppard left his IBM developer job in 1992 to form the company.


Lifestyle telehealth software vendor Fruit Street raises $3 million from physician investors in a Series A funding round.

I messed up my New Zealand dollars currency conversion conversion in summarizing Orion Health’s just-announced results. Here’s the corrected version:

Orion Health announces first-half 2017 interim results: revenue up 9 percent, operating loss $12 million vs. $19 million in the first half of 2016. Shares dropped 18 percent to a record low on the news and are down 64 percent since the company’s 2014 IPO. While revenue is up, losses are down, and the company projects profitability in 2018, Orion’s cash position has dropped to $17 million after a net cash outflow of $23 million in the first six months of the fiscal year. The company has also expressed some concern that its predominantly US customer base might defer decisions following the presidential election, but it believes healthcare IT initiatives have bipartisan support.


Allied Physicians Group (NY) chooses Dimensional Insight’s Diver Platform for analytics.



Greg White (Allscripts) joins PerfectServe as COO.

Announcements and Implementations


Spok announces the T52 two-way pager that allows encrypting messages.


Health Catalyst launches Healthcare.ai, an online repository of open source machine learning algorithms.


National Decision Support Company expands its CareSelect clinical guidelines to include the Choosing Wisely campaign,medications, labs, and blood management.

NTT Data Services (the former Dell Services) announces analytics partnerships with Imbio (lung analytics) and AnatomyWorks (brain mapping analytics).

DrFirst will integrate pharmacogenetics-based point-of-care electronic prescribing from Translational Software into its Rcopia medication management system.

Northwell Health and Siemens Healthineers form research partnership to address imaging effectiveness and outcomes.

Government and Politics

A CDC study finds that the number of people whose families are struggling to pay their medical bills has dropped 22 percent in the past five years due to an improving economy and the large number of people who gained insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

Privacy and Security

From DataBreaches.net:

  • In Australia, SA Health fires two more employees for inappropriately accessing medical records, raising its total to seven after a February crackdown.
  • A research team hacks 10 types of implantable medical devices, claiming that a hacker could kill pacemaker and defibrillator patients within 15 feet.
  • In Canada, Carleton University temporarily bans Windows-using students from its network after ransomware takes down its internal systems.

Innovation and Research


A group of cadets in an Israel Defense Force officer training course creates a digital bracelet and associated sensors that can be attached to wounded soldiers to record information about their treatment. The bracelet is powered by near-field communication technology that connects to the smartphones of medics. Medical teams are testing it for potential general army rollout.



California is testing an electronic registry for POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) forms that would allow first responders and clinicians to look up their wishes for emergency treatments. POLST forms, intended for use by people near the end of their lives, contain actual provider orders and thus are more stringent than advance directives. Advocates fear that the barrier to widespread electronic registry use will be that hospitals won’t share their data. 


This is sobering: gunshot detection system vendor Shooter Detection Systems gets its first (unnamed) health system customer.

Sponsor Updates

  • Agfa Healthcare, GE Healthcare, and Lexmark Healthcare complete the RSNA Image Share Validation program.
  • Xerox develops a printer for ambulatory providers capable of sharing patient information via the cloud.
  • EClinicalWorks will exhibit at the Orthopaedic Summit December 7-10 in Las Vegas.
  • Deloitte includes Evariant in its list of fastest growing technology companies in North America.
  • Iatric Systems will exhibit at the Privacy & Security Forum 2016 December 5-7 in Boston.
  • Imprivata will exhibit at IHI’s National Forum on Quality Improvement in Healthcare December 4-7 in Orlando.
  • Deloitte includes Ingenious Med on its list of fastest growing technology companies.
  • InterSystems will exhibit at the NYeC Digital Health Conference December 6-7 in New York City.
  • CompuGroup Medical adds a rehab module to its WebEHR.
  • EHR integrations drive nationwide adoption of CareSelect Imaging.
  • Navicure will exhibit at the HIMSS Revenue Cycle Solutions Summit December 6-7 in Boston.

Blog Posts


Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Lt. Dan.
More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.
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Currently there are "3 comments" on this Article:

  1. Re: Streamline & DSS – DSS offers products and services to government and commercial clients based on the VA’s VistA, so I’m not sure what they’re planning to do with the former USA products.

    USA had installed its patent sched software in the VA hospital in Indiana years ago and it ran well with a Vista iface. USA never had the the resources to pitch it to the full VA even after the big bro-ha-ha over patient wait times. Could have easily solved that problem. I guess DSS is going to sell it to other Vista installs….could be nice fit. Streamline really never knew what to do with USA top KLAS rated products.

  2. [vendor 2] will never be able to get a “fairness opinion” through any legitimate investment bank thereby blocking the merger. It’s like GM and Ford all over again. GM went to Ford to merge to avoid bankruptcy. Ford’s CEO scratched his head wondering what was wrong with the GM CEO who was trying to bring Ford down with them. Crippling debt is crippling debt. The poorly planned and executed home health software acquisition might be the final nail in coffin even if it slightly pretty’s up their precarious situation.

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