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Monday Morning Update 3/27/17

March 26, 2017 News 4 Comments

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The Trump administration appoints Roger Severino as director of HHS’s Office for Civil Rights, which enforces HIPAA. He was previously director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society of conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation.

Severino is on record as opposing the ACA-mandated LGBT anti-discrimination laws that he will be charged with enforcing. He says those laws create conflicts of interest in providers who don’t want to provide gender reassignment surgeries. 


HHS must have been in a hurry to run his bio on its leadership page since it not only is missing his flag-backed photo, but it incorrectly lists his new position as, “Director, Office of Civil Rights.”

Reader Comments

From Mideast Business Analyst: “Re: GE. Can anyone confirm that they are contemplating getting back into the HIS business? I heard many reports from contacts in the Middle East claiming that GE has bought (or is in the process of acquiring) a local HIS company with an existing client base in Saudi Arabia. While this might look like a smart move, I expect that it will take them a long time before they can fix the countless problems of the solution (in case it was the same one I know) and make their customers happy.”


From Skip Church: “Re: the usual HIMSS publication. Their Twittarrhea is always annoying in recycling the same old non-news, but this weekend’s automatically scheduled tweets included a bunch of articles written before AHCA voting was cancelled.” I assume they didn’t realize that lame stories posted before the AHCA vote were going to look pretty stupid when hurled up afterward on Twitter regardless of the schedule vote’s outcome. Most puzzling, however, is why the site thought their readers needed their cheap-seats rehash in the first place. Actual news sites were already amply covering AHCA voting, deploying real reporters with inside sources to write their lead story that the site simply re-worded from “published reports” in a cheap grab for eyeballs. It’s also not really a health IT story.  


Meanwhile, this is a refreshingly honest “primary accountability” from the job description of a HIMSS associate editor.

From Robert Lafsky, MD: “Re: cybersecurity. This Slate article is interesting.” The article says that technology companies have transformed cybersecurity from a “people problem with a technology component” into the opposite. A snip:

The tech industry has become such a colossus it has achieved a strange, self-interested triple role: as producer of flawed products and services, town crier about the gravity of these same vulnerabilities, and confidence man peddling the solution to the problem.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests


Most poll respondents have access to the patient portal of their most recently visited provider and most of them used it, but more importantly, 75 percent of those who used it liked it. HITgeek says it’s silly that providers have “their” portal instead of each of us having our own that those providers populate, questioning why the health data of individuals can’t be as integrated as their bodies are.

New poll to your right or here: Is your reaction to recent HHS appointments (Price, Verma, Fleming, Bardis, Severino) overall positive or negative?

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We provided eight tablets for Ms. B’s Missouri kindergarten class in funding her DonorsChoose grant request. She reports, “Words do not even express how much gratitude my students and myself have for your generosity. We received our donation and opened the package as a class. The light in my students eyes’ when they saw the tablets was irreplaceable. These tablets have helped with both literacy and math. Each day, we have literacy small groups as well as math groups. Students rotate around the room and have a chance to use the tablets at this time. We use instructional apps on the tablets that the students are able to utilize on their own. It is another reinforcement for the students to practice what we are learning in class.”

This Week in Health IT History


One year ago:

  • MedStar Health’s systems are brought down by a ransomware attack.
  • Dell sells its IT services business to NTT Data for $3.05 billion to raise cash for its acquisition of storage vendor EMC.
  • Epic updates its employment contracts with a mandatory arbitration clause to prevent lawsuits claiming unpaid overtime.
  • Orion Health announces that it will lay off 36 US-based employees.
  • Valence Health lays off 75 employees.
  • Sandlot Solutions shuts down.


Five years ago:

  • Newt Gingrich’s Center for Health Transformation closes and files Chapter 7 bankruptcy, listing several health IT vendors as creditors. 
  • VA CIO Roger Baker says the $4 billion joint VA-DoD iEHR system built by Harris Corp. could be available by 2014.
  • Vocera shares gain 40 percent on their IPO day.
  • BlackBerry maker Research in Motion reports sagging sales and an executive housecleaning.
  • Several medical device manufacturers conduct large layoffs to offset the 2.3 percent tax levied by passage of the Affordable Care Act.
  • The Coast Guard prepares for its go-live on Epic.

Weekly Anonymous Reader Question

Last week I asked readers for the most hilariously clueless one-sentence statement made by an executive in their organization.

  • Consulting firm CEO: “It’s not my job to provide a vision. People just need to do their damn jobs.” (at a leadership retreat where the goal was setting a 3-5 year trajectory), The company closed less than six months later.
  • "This is a go-live. No support tickets should be submitted with a priority less than high."
  • Regarding a chronically unhappy (with good reason) customer who was a 15-minute drive from company HQ: "Its not worth the time for one low-volume family doctor." Turns out that low-volume family doctor was good friends with a board member of a large medical group the company was trying to sell to.
  • CEO was upset that vendor had no way to upgrade the entire software with no downtime. Would have been content with a plan in near future for the vendor to do so. It only would have required re-writing the entire EMR from the ground up. Not to mention that certain upgrades require database engine and/or OS upgrades, which on their own also require downtimes. Even a failover to another instance requires a small downtime (OpenVMS folks, please stifle yourselves).
  • “We embrace failure.”
  • Our nurse recruiter said to me, "It’s not important for RNs to have EHR credentials — they do not need that to work at our facility.”
  • “Our quality scores are lower because, as an academic medical center, our patients are sicker.”
  • “We’re working on it.”
  • “We need a button in there that does some science.” (executive feedback to an application developer).
  • On "voluntarily leaving" after several years of poor performance and multiple rounds of layoffs: "I’m going to spend the next few weeks recharging my batteries and figuring out what’s next."


This week’s question: What is the proudest moment of your health IT career?

Last Week’s Most Interesting News

  • The White House and House Speaker Paul Ryan cancel voting on the American Health Care Act at the last minute after failing to gain the votes needed for its passage.
  • A study concludes that mortality and morbidity is increasing among white, non-Hispanic, low-education American men due to drug overdoses, suicide, and alcohol-related liver disease, while life expectancy among those with higher educational levels is increasing.
  • GE Healthcare announces plans to invest $500 million and hire 5,000 software developers over the next three years.
  • President Trump appoints former Congressman John Fleming (R-LA) to the newly created position of HHS deputy assistant for health technology, after which Fleming expressed uncertainty about what the job entails because he thought he was interviewing for National Coordinator.
  • Theranos offers investors additional shares if they agree not to sue the company or founder Elizabeth Holmes.


March 29 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “Improving patient outcomes with smartphones: UW Medicine Valley Medical Center’s story.” Sponsored by Voalte. Presenters: James Jones, MBA, MSN, VP of patient care services and nursing operations, UW Medicine Valley Medical Center; Wayne Manuel, MBA, SVP of strategic services, UW Medicine Valley Medical Center. UW Medicine Valley Medical Center dramatically improved patient outcomes after moving to a smartphone-based platform for clinical communication and alarm and alert notification. Before-and-after analysis shows a reduction in hospital-acquired pressure ulcers and skin integrity events, fall and slip events, and medication errors. By limiting overhead paging, the medical center also created a calmer, quieter environment and improved engagement among nursing and hospitalists. Hospital executives will describe their experience and vision for the future in addressing quality, cost, and the patient-caregiver experience.

April 26 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “SSM Integrated Health Technologies Clinical Data Migration: Functional and Technical Considerations.” Sponsored by Galen Healthcare Solutions. Presenters: Sandy Winklemann, MHA, RHIA, project manager, SSM Integration Health Technologies; Tyler Mawyer, MHA, managing consultant, Galen Healthcare Solutions; Kavon Kaboli, MPH, senior consultant, Galen Healthcare Solutions. GE Centricity and Meditech to Epic EHR transition. Join us for a complimentary webinar as present the decisions that are important to consider when performing a clinical data migration from the point of view of  the healthcare organization program manager, the clinical analyst, and the technical implementation team. Our expert panel will survey data migration considerations, best practices, and lessons learned. The webinar will present a unique client perspective, offering insight into considerations surrounding staffing, clinical mapping, legacy application support, and validation and testing.

Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre for information on webinar services.

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


Reuters reports that Advisory Board Company and Evolent Health are considering a merger of some or all of their businesses but ABCO has other bidders, among them Press Ganey. Advisory Board and UPMC created Evolent in 2011 and it went public in 2015, with Advisory Board owning 13.7 percent of the shares.

Announcements and Implementations


Docent Health expands its in-person patient experience program with digital and phone-based services.


Vince and Elise kick off their annual series covering the top 10 HIS vendors.

Sponsor Updates

  • Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters (VA) reports a fourfold investment return in 24 months from working with Influence Health to book procedures to correct a rare pediatric chest wall deformity.
  • ZeOmega will exhibit at the Population Health Colloquium March 27-29 in Philadelphia.

Blog Posts


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

  1. I am a huge fan of Vince’s industry information, so don’t take this the wrong way. Regarding the ranking by revenue, however, I don’t understand how ECW with “13 pilot sites in the works” gets on a list where “accute care is their primary market.” Also hard to believe Athena makes the list as acute care is definitely not their primary market. GE Healthcare has about 20 hospital site that do their hospital billing, and with its PACS business, has HIT revenues of over $600 million so I’m not sure how they get left off.

  2. Re. GE investment of $500 million into 5000 software developers over the next 3 yrs

    There is no way this amount would pay for 5000 software devs for 3 years in North America. It looks like GE is thinking of an offshore team (India or elsewere?). I wonder how Trump is going to react to this.

  3. AHCP
    1. Ryan’s proposed law was awful. (How could it not be; it was all about politics and not healthcare financing. Not that that is anything new in DC…)
    2. Trump gave it a lukewarm hug.
    3. The rest of the country registered their discontent.
    4. GOP pulled the bill (good decision).
    I only hope the Pres has moved past his toddler tantrum about letting ObamaCare die on its own so we can start working on getting rid of the flaws.

    GE Healthcare – Having worked at an IDX client in my distant past, this is very interesting. They sound committed, but wondering how much is throwing all their resources at a dying patient.

    PS – Absolutely love the DonorChoose stuff — still an outstanding way to use your online presence to improve the world.

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