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January 19, 2017 News 4 Comments

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Theranos announced in October 2016 that it would close all of its testing labs, but the Wall Street Journal finds that Theranos didn’t mention at that time that its Arizona lab had failed an unannounced CMS inspection several days earlier.


Meanwhile, Theranos investor and friend of CEO Elizabeth Holmes Tim Draper still maintains that Holmes is a victim of a Wall Street Journal vendetta, claiming that, “the guy is getting $4 million to continue this charade,” referring to the book and movie deal signed by WSJ reporter John Carreyrou, who Draper calls a “mouthpiece” for Theranos competitors.

Draper says big lab companies, drug companies, and insurers don’t like the idea of people taking control of their health and competing with a company selling tests for less. He adds that even though Theranos admitted that some of its lab results were unreliable, “I like that they’re self-policing.”

Reader Comments

From I See Light: “Re: HIStalkapalooza. HIMSS … what a freak show of excessive marketing budgets. At least there is HIStalkapalooza to set one’s mind right!  Listening suggestion: Pet Clinic, from my adopted hometown of Pittsburgh.” I’m listening to Pet Clinic on Spotify now and am struck by how much they sound like Frank Black and the Catholics at times, especially the singer’s phrasing. I’m also reminded of how much I like the Dirty O’s fries, although it’s hard to understand why their hundreds of available beers don’t include Iron City, often pronounced “Ahrn City” in the ‘Burgh, at least by those who still care now that its blue collar heyday is long past and it has moved out of town.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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We funded the DonorsChoose grant request of Ms. L from Michigan, who asked for a portable PA system so the class could easily hear her and students who are presenting their work. I was touched by her description of the impact made by a few dozen of our donation dollars:

Just today a student told me that he loves it when I wear the microphone because then he knows I am about to "say something important" and he can shift to listening mode. Another student wanted to write and perform a rap song for you but I did not have a way to upload video so he settled on writing a poem. You’ll see it in the pictures. He hopes you enjoy it. But surely my favorite was when one student saw and heard the mic for the first time and declared, "Ms. Lab, you’re crispy." You’ve made the impossible happen: fifty-eight years old and crispy! Kudos! This technology has allowed me to speak to my students and be assured that every student has an opportunity to hear instruction. Another benefit: I no longer leave work at night with a strained voice!

This week on HIStalk Practice: MDlive ups its employer offerings. UnitedAg expands relationship with Teladoc. Essex County Mental Health Services goes with TenEleven HIT. United Medical Laboratories connects to physician EHRs. AccentHealth’s Sara Johnston advocates for digital point-of-care education during flu season. Aprima acquires Healthcare Data Solutions. Oculus Health raises funds for further CCM, CPC+ offerings. Modernizing Medicine’s Mandy Long attempts to make MIPS a little less fear-inducing.


January 26 (Thursday) 1:00 ET. “Jump Start Your Care Coordination Program: 6 Strategies for Delivering Efficient, Effective Care.” Sponsored by Healthwise. Presenters: Jim Rogers, RN, RPSGT, director of healthcare solutions, Persistent Systems; Jason Burum, chief client officer, Healthwise. This webinar will explain how to implement a patient-centered care coordination program that will increase quality as well as margins. It will provide real-world examples of how organizations used care coordination to decrease readmission rates, ED visits, and costs.

February 1 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “Get your data ready for MACRA: Leveraging technology to achieve PHM goals.” Sponsored by Medicity. Presenters: Brian Ahier, director of standards and government affairs, Medicity; Eric Crawford, project manager, Medicity; Adam Bell, RN, senior clinical consultant, Medicity. Earning performance incentives under MACRA/MIPS requires a rich, complete data asset. Use the 2017 transition year to identify technology tools that can address gaps in care, transform data into actionable information, and support population health goals and prepare your organization for 2018 reporting requirements. 

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


Aprima acquires Coral Gables, FL-based EHR/PM reseller Healthcare Data Solutions.


Spok will add 60 positions at its Eden Prairie, MN office.


Athenahealth’s accelerator invests an unspecified amount in The Right Place, which helps hospitals place patients in SNF beds. The company had previously raised $2 million in a single October 2015 seed round.



Phelps Memorial Health Center (NE) selects Parallon Technology Solutions as implementation partner for its Meditech 6.1 upgrade and expansion.


BJC HealthCare (MO) chooses MModal for speech recognition and clinical documentation improvement as it transitions from NextGen and Allscripts to Epic.



Philips hires Roy Smythe, MD (Valence Health, HX360) as chief medical officer for health informatics.

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Allscripts hires Lisa Khorey (EY) for the newly created position of EVP/chief client delivery officer and Alan Fowles (Nuance) as president of Allscripts International.


Next Wave Health Advisors, a Huntzinger Management Group company, hires Greg Walton (El Camino Hospital) as an advisor.

Announcements and Implementations


Coordinated Care Oklahoma will shut down following the requirement of an unnamed payer that providers submit their data to a competing HIE. CCO announced in June 2016 that it was the first Cerner-powered HIE to connect to the DoD. We interviewed CCO Chief Administrator Brian Yeaman, MD a couple of months ago, who gave no hint that the wind-down was imminent.

Government and Politics


A Backchannel article profiles the successes and uncertain future of the US Digital Service, created by tech-savvy President Obama, spearheaded by Todd Park, and enlisted to save Healthcare.gov but now wondering whether the Trump administration will keep the program. It’s a good article, although obvious election results bitterness makes it less effective (referring to the incoming President by last name only, slipping in smug put-downs, and ending with “God help us all” make it clear that the author doesn’t mind turning a nice feature into yet another ugly personal editorial). Here’s a snip of the less-whiny part:

Then came October 2013, when technology — once supposed to be an Obama strength — almost took down his administration. The signature legislation of his presidency, the Affordable Care Act, depended on a website that matched individuals to health insurers. It was a thermonuclear failure. When Park swooped into the situation with some of his PIF team, he realized that the only solution was to tap outside talent. Drawing on connections to the Obama campaign’s digital warriors and Silicon Valley companies, Park tapped a very small group of great coders and developers to rebuild in weeks, on the fly, what $500 million worth of contractors and government employees couldn’t do. In fact, an expensive, mishandled disaster was almost routine for government IT, where overpaid contractors with little oversight used outdated processes to work with jaded government workers. But this time the lifers had to cooperate. “The message that they got loud and clear from the White House was, This is bad enough that none of you is getting out of this alive,” Mikey Dickerson, a former Google engineer who led the team, later recalls. “Your only way out is if you get your act together and make the site work.”

CMS gives hospitals a couple of extra weeks to submit their eCQM data for the FY2018 EHR incentive program, extending the reporting deadline to March 13, 2017.


A Health Affairs blog addresses the Congressional Budget Office’s estimates of the effects of ACA repeal, noting that House rules implemented on January 3, 2017 specifically prohibit CBO from talking about the effects of ACA changes. The article says, “Congress has thus placed itself in the position of appearing to prefer no information at all to information that might conflict with its political objectives.” Recent CBO estimates that ACA repeal would cause 32 million more citizens to lose insurance and that premiums will jump 25 percent in the first year were based on a study that was performed before the ban.


Maryland-based Evergreen Health Cooperative – one of the last ACA-authorized, CMS-funded insurance co-ops that hasn’t gone belly up – converts itself to a for-profit, investor-owned insurance company.

Massachusetts plans to cap provider price growth rates and charge employers who don’t offer health insurance $2,000 per full-time employee. The state’s budget is getting hit hard by Medicaid enrollment that will grow to nearly 2 million in 2017 as full-time workers skip employer-provided coverage to take advantage of federal subsidies. The state’s previous universal coverage plan required employers to offer insurance and prohibited insurance-eligible employees from buying MassHealth coverage, but both requirements were eliminated with passage of the ACA.


CMS Chief Medical Officer Patrick Conway, MD of the CMS Innovation Center will serve as acting CMS administrator with the administration change starting January 20 pending the Senate’s approval of Seema Verma. He replaces Andy Slavitt.

Privacy and Security

MAPFRE Life Insurance Company of Puerto Rico pays $2.2 million to settle HIPAA charges involving the 2011 theft of an unencrypted flash drive from its IT department that stored the information of 2,209 customers. MAPFRE also failed to follow through on correct measures assigned by OCR. The HHS announcement suggests that it scaled the settlement to the size of the multi-national company rather than the extent of disclosed information, which is an interesting way to assess penalties.

The daughter-in-law of a man who died 2014 says she was billed for new surgical procedures in the fall of 2016 by a specialty practice owned by Sentara, which recently announced that 5,400 of its patient records were exposed in a breach of one of its contractors.

Innovation and Research

An interesting New York Times article notes the startling finding by The Johns Hopkins Hospital that fewer female patients were receiving blood clot prevention treatment than male patients, leading the hospital to develop a computerized decision support system that collects information at admission and recommends treatment, taking human bias and subjectivity out of the equation.


What a difference a domain makes: insurance shopping site Healthcare.com connected 2 million people with insurance brokers in 2016, all of whom confused it with the official Healthcare.gov.


A study with a ton of flaws (old data, small sample size, lack of analysis to determine the appropriateness of ordering, failing to account for the demographic difference in non-EHR practices) suggests that doctors who use EHRs order more diagnostic imaging and laboratory tests than those who don’t.

Drug maker Mallinckrodt will pay a $100 million Federal Trade Commission fine for jacking up the price of H.P. Acthar Gel from $40 per vial to $34,000 and for blocking competition by outbidding another drug company for a similar drug. The company’s predecessor was an early dodger of US taxes in taking an Ireland tax address instead of St. Louis, reducing its taxes by more than half. Most its actions, however unsavory, were legal.  

A medical resident’s New York Times opinion piece warns that the volunteer army of people who care for their older relatives is stretched too thin due to longer life expectancy, more complex medical care, smaller family sizes, and greater geographic separation. The current ratio of seven potential family caregivers for each person over 80 will drop to three-to-one by 2050 with the resulting loss of income as they either leave their jobs or work fewer paid hours to focus on attending to their family member’s needs. The author suggests that doctors list family caregivers in the medical record, include them in decision-making, and train them to perform medical tasks.

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HIMSS finally acknowledges creation of its Media Lab that will “leverage the HIMSS database of over one million health and technology experts as our laboratory” to “lift audience engagement and revenue.” The Media Lab will use your personal information to “identify the emotional and business triggers” that will help it sell advertising-driven webinars, videos, and conferences to vendors. ”We know what information they [meaning you] consume,” HIMSS brags in describing members like a scientist talking about lab rats and highlighting that whatever “news” it produces should be taken with a grain of salt. The announcement adds, “Many healthcare IT vendors are struggling,” failing to mention that maybe the failing ones could use better products or leadership instead of more aggressive marketing. Every time I think HIMSS can’t possibly do anything more commercial or member-intruding in chasing vendor dollars, they prove me wrong (imagine the Salvation Army or Doctors Without Borders selling marketing advice and leads). As you might expect, the lengthy roster of the Media Lab people includes basically nobody with any education or background in healthcare or technology – their life’s work is to push whatever widgets they’re paid to promote. HIMSS Media runs the Privacy & Security Forum, so perhaps that’s a good venue in which to consider the privacy implications of selling member data to advertiser-stalkers. I wish I had Photoshop skills so I could superimpose Steve Lieber’s head onto that of Alec “Always Be Closing” Baldwin in the “Glengarry Glen Ross” shots above featuring “the good leads,” as HIMSS envisions those of us who pay dues and conference registrations.


West Virginia Public Radio notes that the one bright spot in a state ravaged by drugs and unemployment is WVU Medicine, which thanks to the Affordable Care Act’s $12 million boost to its bottom line has been able to build new buildings and hire more than 2,000 people last year. The health system is the state’s largest employer and its flagship hospital runs at 98 percent capacity, with the CEO saying, “There’s almost an insatiable appetite for everything we do.” That’s good news for everyone except us federal taxpayers footing most of the bill. The health system’s 15,000 employees mean that nearly 1 percent of the state’s declining population works there.

A study finds that around-the-clock hospital chaos can cause and accelerate dementia in elderly patients that can ultimately kill them.

Sponsor Updates

  • Kyruus adds two physicians to its clinical advisory board.
  • Ivenix will demonstrate the integration of its Infusion Management System with EHRs and alarm management systems at the HIMSS17 Interoperability Showcase.
  • The Red Hot Healthcare podcast features Medicity’s Brian Ahier.
  • Optimum Healthcare IT publishes a new case study, “Security Remediation at a Large Academic Medical Center.”
  • NCQA certifies ZeOmega’s Jiva for five HEDIS 2017 measures.
  • Fortune ranks Health Catalyst one of the 30 best workplaces in the US technology industry.
  • GetWellNetwork’s All-In-One PatientLife Console achieves Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool certification.
  • InstaMed and PatientMatters will exhibit at the HFMA Mid-South Institute January 25-27 in Memphis, TN.
  • InterSystems will exhibit at the CIO Exchange January 22-24 in Orlando.
  • Intelligent Medical Objects will exhibit at the Allscripts 2017 South ARUG January 21-22 in Raleigh, NC.
  • TransUnion publishes a new white paper, “Money talks: Rethinking what it means to put patients first.”
  • MedData will exhibit at the American Society for Anesthesiologists Practice Management event January 27-29 in Grapevine, TX.
  • Meditech will exhibit at the 50th MHA Annual Mid-Winter Leadership Forum January 27 in Framingham, MA.
  • NTT Data team members support local children in need by volunteering at Cradles to Crayons.
  • Obix Perinatal Data System will exhibit at the SMFM Annual Pregnancy Meeting January 25-27 in Las Vegas.
  • Experian Health will present at the HFMA LA Women in Healthcare Luncheon January 24 in Baton Rouge.
  • Phynd will exhibit at the North Carolina Epic Users Group Meeting February 8-9 in Greensboro.

Blog Posts


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

  1. Couldn’t agree more with your HIMSS Media Lab sentiment (though I struggle to liken them in any way to the Salvation Army / Doctors Without Borders).

  2. That NYTimes piece on women being given anticoagulants at a lower rate due to implicit bias is incredible. Estrogen is a *known risk factor* for clotting! Nothing implicit about that, and no excuse for women being withheld treatment when their own biology increases their likelihood of experiencing clots.

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Reader Comments

  • MiroslavB: Great insights - Thanks Ed !...
  • SteveS: I’d like to hear more from Ed about his perspective on the current state of “Professional Organizations” – in te...
  • Brian Too: Nice to hear from a small hospital for a change. We hear lots from the large players and consolidation has meant that b...
  • 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...

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