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Monday Morning Update 12/12/16

December 11, 2016 News 2 Comments

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The Wireless-Life Sciences Alliance trade group and the HIMSS-owned Personal Connected Health Alliance merge.

PCHA — formed in 2014 by Continua Health Alliance, mHealth Summit, and HIMSS – merged with the Partners Connected Health Symposium in October 2016. 


PCHA’s Connected Health Conference, the former mHealth Summit, kicks off today (Monday), but its speaker star power seems to have dropped off considerably since I saw Bill Gates there in 2010. Here’s what I had to say about the mHealth Summit when I attended in 2013, which anyone attending this week’s show is welcome to compare and contrast:

I felt as though I had intruded on a geeky academic conference in 2010 … Presentations back then were often about public health projects in Africa, government informatics research, and government policy … I felt somewhere between virtuous and bored being there. HIMSS, as it usually does, put all of that unsexy and unprofitable subject matter almost out of sight. Now the conference is a freewheeling ode to capitalism showcasing companies willing and able to pay big bucks for space in the exhibit hall and in the endless number of HIMSS-owned publications. The exhibit hall is like a downsized version of that at the HIMSS conference and most of the educational sessions are either about companies or feature vendor people as presenters or moderators … HIMSS seems to be positioning the mHealth Summit as the minor league of its conference portfolio. Most of the small mHealth exhibitors will be toast in a couple of years, but those who survive will graduate to the big show, the HIMSS conference … The same issues dominated this year as in 2010. Nobody’s really sure what mHealth is, basically punting off by saying anything that runs on a smart phone must be, which means the subject matter is entirely unfocused and confusing. Startup companies keep trying to convince each other that they can hang on long enough to be bought out. Everybody fervently believes that mobile apps and brash startup spirit can transform the US healthcare system into one that’s cheaper, more health-focused, and more consumer driven. It’s always easy for me to be cynical and dismissive, but especially so at the mHealth Summit.

Reader Comments


From FlyOnTheWall: “Re: SPH Analytics. President and CEO Al Vega is out and the VPs, SVPs, and enterprise teams are all gone.” Unverified, but Vega’s bio has been expunged from the executive page and four of the eight execs listed on the August 2016 cache of the page are equally invisible. Vega’s apparent replacement, J.T. Treadwell, is a money guy who sits on the board of half a dozen companies. I didn’t recall having heard of SPH Analytics, having mentioned them just twice in HIStalk, once for hiring someone and another for choosing an underlying technology.

From The PACS Designer: “Re: CDI with ICD-10. With the launch next month of ICD-10 Procedure Codes, the increased specificity of ICD-10-PCS Clinical Document Improvement will give procedures much improved descriptions of what treatments a patient has endured. For example, a patient having a two stent insertion procedure would have the following ICD-10 Procedure Coded recorded: 02710D6 Dilation of Coronary Artery, Two Arteries, Bifurcation, with Intraluminal Device, Open Approach. This more specific ICD-10 code replaces 5 ICD-9-CM codes which are 36.03,00.41,00.44,00.46, and 36.06. As one can see, ICD-10 is a big improvement over ICD-9.”


From Smelly James: “Re: IBM. Putting itself at the feet of Donald Trump with several healthcare mentions. It wasn’t shy about suggesting future business interest with the VA. This letter will fit well in future RFP protests.” IBM CEO Ginni Rometty apparently congratulated Trump right after the election, suggesting six areas in which IBM could support his political agenda, including a cognitive computing system for the VA. She also dropped not-so-subtle hints that IBM would appreciate his proposed changes to a “punitive” tax system in which IBM’s $68 billion offshore cash stash would be taxed at a Trump-proposed 10 percent vs. the current rate of 35 percent in bringing it into the US, saving the company (and costing taxpayers) $13.6 billion.


From Rural HIT: “Re: Smith County Memorial Hospital and Family Practice. Went live on Cerner, the first of 25 critical access hospitals in the Great Plains Health Alliance switching to Cerner CommunityWorks.” The internal announcement suggests that the hospital was using Siemens Soarian and was steered to Millennium by its new owner Cerner.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests


Most poll respondents are interested in the most significant international health IT news stories. Mobile Man says it’s hard to make comparisons since other countries have different payment models, while Susan is interested because we in the US think we have the best healthcare in the world but really we excel only in spending the most. HIT Geek summarizes, “Innovation has no nationality.” New poll to your right or here: how do you expect your healthcare spending (including insurance premiums) to change in 2017 vs. 2016?

Thanks to Jenn for covering my little pre-Christmas break last week. I waded deep into some HIStalk website technology catch-up when I returned, with some tricky upgrades to newer versions of PHP and other stuff that will hopefully make the site more stable and secure.

I was chatting with someone about terrible singers who still have managed to create hugely successful singing careers – the names that came up included Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, and Rod Stewart. That doesn’t even count those warblers who sound passably good only through audio techno-trickery. One who could carry a tune, though, was Emerson, Lake, and Palmer’s Greg Lake (also of King Crimson), who died last week at 69. We lost two-thirds of ELP in 2016 with the suicide of Keith Emerson, leaving just P and ensuring that their collective demise will be alphabetical.

Listening: a new cover of the telethon chestnut “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from Massachusetts celt-rockers the Dropkick Murphys.


We provided 21 sets of headphones for Ms. S’s elementary school class in Tennessee in funding her DonorsChoose grant request. She teaches math and science to two classes totaling 44 students and says the classroom sounded like an arcade as students used the Chromebooks for assigned exercises, but now it’s quiet and they can concentrate.


Donations from reader Laura and Direct Consulting Associates, plus matching money, fully funded these DonorsChoose teacher grant requests:

  • An amplifier and microphone for Ms. L’s high school class in Center Line, MI
  • Two Chromebooks for the seventh grade math class of Ms. F in Phoenix, AZ
  • Two tablets and headphones for the kindergarten class of Ms. W in Los Angeles, CA
  • A library of 26 science books for Mrs. G’s first grade class in Saint Paul, MN
  • A greenhouse set for Mrs. M’s high school class of severely mentally and physically handicapped students in Elyria, OH
  • Eight tablets for reading and math listening libraries for Ms. B’s kindergarten class in Kansas City, MO
  • A 9×12 reading circle carpet for Mrs. V’s first grade class in Seagoville, TX
  • A document camera for Ms. B’s second grade math class in Phoenix, AZ
  • 15 sets of headphones for Mr. S’s second grade class in Yonkers, NY

Ms. W sent a note saying, “Your kindness and generosity bring tears to my eyes! I love telling my students how amazing and kind people all over the world donated and funded our projects so we can have fun learning and be successful in the future. Then, I remind them when they have accomplished that to remember to pay it forward. For now they will learn how they can help protect our environment with the tablets!”

Last Week’s Most Interesting News

  • The Senate passes the 21st Century Cures act, which includes healthcare IT provisions related to interoperability, privacy, and security.
  • Entrepreneur Sreedhar Potarazu, MD, founder, chairman, and CEO of the now-defunct business intelligence vendor VitalSpring Technologies, pleads guilty to defrauding shareholders of the company by hiding its tax liabilities, overstating its financial condition to the tune of $30 million, and falsely telling investors that the company was on the threshold of being sold for a profit.
  • CompuGroup Medical ends discussions about a possible takeover of Agfa.
  • Epic’s quality assurance employees again sue the company claiming they were misclassified in being ineligible for overtime pay.
  • China-based Apex Technology completes its acquisition of Lexmark, renaming its enterprise software group (which includes the former Perceptive Software) as Kofax and announcing plans to sell it.


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.

Here’s the recording of last week’s webinar titled “Get Ready for Blockchain’s Disruption.”

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


Asset monitoring vendor Emanate Wireless raises $1.5 million in angel funding.


Health coaching app vendor Vida Health raises $18 million in a Series B funding round, increasing its total to $24 million.



Rusk County Memorial Hospital (WI) chooses Harris Healthcare Affinity ERP.

Los Angeles County Department of Health (CA) selects Allscripts EZCap for benefit management.


  • Cogdell Memorial Hospital (TX) will go live on Cerner in 2017.

These provider-reported updates are provided by Definitive Healthcare, which offers powerful intelligence on hospitals, physicians, and healthcare providers.



Ed Park will join Athenahealth’s board following his previously announced resignation as EVP/COO that takes effect December 31.

Steve Holmquist, industry long-timer and SVP of new client development at Allscripts, died on November 29, 2016 in Phoenix, AZ. He was 55.

Announcements and Implementations


New Zealand primary care provider Pegasus Health chooses Canada-based Intrahealth as its patient management system vendor of choice, ruling out Epic due to its cost.

Government and Politics

John Halamka summarizes the health IT impact of the 21st Century Cures act. He seems mostly positive, but is concerned about the effort required of EHR developers. His highlights:

  • ONC’s HIT Policy Committee and HIT Standards Committee will be merged into a single HIT Advisory Committee.
  • HHS is charged with developing voluntary certification of health IT for medical specialties and sites where the technology isn’t available or is not mature.
  • Vendors are prohibited from information blocking, are required to publish APIs, and must provide HHS with performance documentation. HHS is empowered to reward or punish performance as appropriate.
  • New interoperability, security, and certification testing criteria will be developed and ONC will get $15 million to support them.
  • HHS will develop or support a trusted exchange framework and ONC will publish an annual list of health information networks that are capable of using it.
  • Vendors must be able to exchange data with registries and will be treated as patient safety organizations for reporting and conducting care improvement activities.
  • The GAO will review ONC’s work on patient matching.
  • The GAO will conduct a study of the ability of patients to review their own PHI.


NIH issues a challenge to develop a wearable sensor that can measure blood alcohol levels in real time, offering $200,000 for the first-place prototype and $100,000 for second place. The sensor would help researchers study alcohol use disorder and related conditions without relying on questionably reliable self-reported drinking data.

Privacy and Security

Fortified Health Security releases a review of 2016’s significant cybersecurity issues and its outlook for 2017.



EClinicalWorks issues a curious patient safety announcement about its EHR as part of its “ongoing effort to respond to and minimize such risks,” suggesting that users:

  • Pay attention to the company’s patient safety notices and apply available patches and upgrades
  • Update their Multum or Medispan drug databases
  • Designate a patient safety officer as ECW’s patient safety liaison
  • Confirm that orders are accurate and encourage patients and their families to do the same
  • DC and re-enter changed medication orders rather than modifying the existing order.
  • Limit the use of custom medications
  • Report any patient safety concerns or unexpected software behavior to ECW or by filing an ONC complaint.

ONC cited ECW’s announcement as the key item in its email newsletter, echoing the company’s recommendation to iECW’s customers that they apply available upgrades and report problems to the company and via ONC’s complaints website. I asked ONC If the announcement was triggered by a settlement with ECW over some unspecified issue and they said no, but the announcement suggests some kind of problem that raised ONC’s interest.


Partners HealthCare posts its largest operating loss ever at $108 million, most of that coming from its Medicaid insurance division. Partners says it isn’t being paid enough by commercial insurers and government programs to cover its labor and drug costs. Including investment performance that must have been awful, Partners lost $249 million in 2016.

India-based media claim that 280 people have died of grief and shock following the December 5 death of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram, raising the question (at least for me) of how their cause of death was determined. The political party in power says it will compensate their families and will also pay $750 to a party official who set himself on fire and another who cut his finger off in mourning.  

Sponsor Updates

  • Spok publishes a case study of the implementation of its Care Connect Suite at St. Dominic – Jackson Memorial Hospital (MS).
  • TelmedIQ earns a 91.4 score in KLAS’s review of secure communications.
  • Dimensional Insight earns top scores in 14 KPI categories in BARC’s “The BI Survey 16.”
  • The Chartis Group publishes “Election 2016: Implications for Providers.”
  • PeriGen’s PeriCalm Checklist is nominated for an Edison Award.
  • TeleTracking releases a new podcast, “The Essentials: 2017 Regulatory and Compliance Requirements for Patient Flow.”
  • CIOReview names Validic a Most Promising Healthcare Solution Provider of 2016.
  • Glassdoor ranks CoverMyMeds and Health Catalyst in the top 50 places to work nationally.
  • Verscend Technologies celebrates the 20th anniversary of its DxCG risk adjustment and predictive modeling solution that serves as the foundation of CMS’s hierarchical condition categories.

Blog Posts


Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Lt. Dan.
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Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. Re: IBM. Putting itself at the feet of Donald Trump with several healthcare mentions. It wasn’t shy about suggesting future business interest with the VA. This letter will fit well in future RFP protests”: Perhaps there is an alternative perspective on IBM “costing” the taxpayers $13.6 billion dollars bringing the company’s (not yet taxpayer’s) earned income into the US from legal locations abroad. Would it not be an immediate increase of $6.8 billion from $0 that would just keep rolling on an on? Just sayn’

  2. I heard from a very reliable source that Pravene Nath, Stanford’s CIO (or Chief Digital Officer as he likes to call himself), will be leaving the organization in February. No word yet on his replacement.

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Recent Comments

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  5. That BH ER experience matches mine even years before the pandemic - went in with a suicidal friend, and they…


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