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May 30, 2017 News 5 Comments

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An internal UCSF study finds that 82 percent of the text in a typical Epic progress note comes from copying/pasting or importing from other sources. Clinicians physically enter only 18 percent of the note.

Several hundred of the 24,000 notes reviewed contained no human-entered text at all.

The study is especially interesting because it used a new text analysis tool – apparently provided by Epic – to determine the source of every character of text in the note.

Reader Comments


From Jack Fruit: “Re: CommonWell. Who were the original members?” CommonWell Health Alliance was founded in March 2013 by Cerner, McKesson, Athenahealth, Greenway, and RelayHealth (which is also owned by McKesson) as the Epic fears of the publicly traded competitors intensified to the point that they cooperated (and pony up a rumored $2 million each) to have something to announce at HIMSS13. Since then, McKesson has mostly pulled out of healthcare IT by spinning off Change Healthcare and looking for a buyer for its enterprise business and Greenway Medical Technologies was taken private by Vista Equity Partners a few months after the CommonWell announcement. Athenahealth shares are up 38 percent since the announcement, those of Allscripts are down 10 percent, and Cerner shares have risen 41 percent as all the founding companies have tried to diversify themselves out of a HITECH-free EHR market. CommonWell later added CPSI (now Evident) and Sunquest as founding members in mid-2013, but Sunquest is no longer listed as such on its site even though Sunquest’s site still says it’s a member.


From Kathy: “Re: CommonWell survey. It would be most accurate for me to vote that it performed exactly as I expected – which was very little. CommonWell was never going to work. It was a political and business tactic.” Above are the early poll results.

From Tammy: “Re: CommonWell. I work for RelayHealth supporting the CommonWell network. CommonWell is not one EHR, it’s a network. It brings together multiple health IT systems and helps to solve the challenge of connecting disparate software run by different companies, using different technology. People’s definitions of numbers are different depending on what and how they count. What really is important is that we are all working towards helping providers and people get access to important health data that they previously couldn’t. CommonWell is definitely moving the meter in the right direction on this. What is different about what CommonWell is doing is that providers don’t have to search for records and guess where they might be located. They also don’t have to download and store every document for their patients – we’re about making it more efficient to get the data that is most valuable to the provider when they need it. Providers can query and view what documents are available, similar to a search engine, and only download those they need. I have seen 2x the volume of query and retrieval growth in the past year.”

From David McCallie (Cerner): “Re: CommonWell. It seems like a case of apples to oranges – it would be bad math to compare numbers that aren’t measuring the same thing. For Cerner, CommonWell queries are a small (but important) fraction of Cerner’s overall document exchange interoperability. We don’t know exactly what counts as a ‘record’ or gets included in Epic’s CareEverywhere statistics, but for Cerner, document exchange includes not only CommonWell, but also many existing point-to-point query interfaces (via Cerner Resonance, including many connections to Epic clients) as well as local HIE-based document queries, and data routed to providers through the ‘Cerner Hub’ services.  Cerner also supports a growing Direct-based document exchange.  To the clinician, these are all equally available sources for external documents and data. In general, the user interface does not distinguish the means of transport. CommonWell in many ways represents a national-scale ‘back stop’ for data that can’t be found via local queries. Now that CommonWell and Carequality have committed to mutual interchange, we expect that the number of CommonWell-mediated transactions will grow, since CommonWell will provide a common gateway to both its own network as well as any requested Carequality sites. CommonWell automatically bundles an MPI and a national Record Locator Service, so the clinician does not need to spend time deciding where to look for documents that aren’t local. Don’t count CW out … the network is growing, and any numbers they report represent a very high quality of interoperability use case.”


From Spiker: “Re: health IT writing. Biggest problem is advertiser-friendly puffery. And mistakes like this one.” I disagree. The biggest problem is writer naiveté even in the absence of advertiser bias (unintentional or otherwise). Gushy, “world peace” kinds of health IT articles are always written by folks who have never actually worked in a health IT or clinical leadership role and thus have not learned from hard-won experience to distrust vendors, politicians, and health system executives until they provide a reason to believe otherwise. They’re also scared of being called out for lack of knowledge, so their writings tend to be harmless little bubbles floating aimlessly above the fierce, patient-impacting HIT battles being fought. The bar I set for everything I read regularly (especially if it expresses editorial opinion) is:

  • Does the writer enough knowledge and experience to be trusted?
  • Does the article tell me something I didn’t already know?
  • Can I really use the information?
  • Does the writer present the information clearly, concisely, and at my level, without time-wasting padding or distractingly unskilled writing?
  • Am I entertained, amused, or emotionally motivated in a positive way that makes me want to read more by the same writer?
  • And for the specific user-provided example above, make sure the author knows the difference between “pared down” and “parsed down” and doesn’t misstate “rev cycle” as “rest cycle.”


From FlyOnTheWall: “Re: Mary Piepenbrink, RN. Joined a startup called Pieces Technologies as SVP of sales. What do you know about them?” I’ve heard of the Dallas predictive analytics company, but only barely. They’re a Parkland Health spinoff as I recall. Founder and CEO Ruben Amarashingham, MD, MBA has good credentials in informatics. The company raised $21.6 million in a single Series A round just over a year ago and apparently has earned a couple of customers.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

The web hosting company is migrating the site to a bigger server, so let me know if you see anything weird, other than the fact that I’m posting this later than usual to accommodate the switch.

You’ll see some inarguably huge news related to a Meaningful Use-related EHR vendor settlement coming out, possibly as early as later today. The financial terms are mind-boggling. More to come once the Justice Department’s announcement is released.

Listening: The Stanfields, Nova Scotia-based hard-working rockers who wrap thoughtful, lyrically rich biographical stories with searing guitar (and mandolin) riffs. like AC/DC covering an Irish pub’s house band. It’s sonically spectacular poetry. You’re a poser rather a musician if you can’t play and sing acoustically in a bare room, to which I submit the amazing “Vermilion River.”


June 22 (Thursday) 1:00 ET. “Social Determinants of Health.” Sponsored by Philips Wellcentive. Presenter: David Nash, MD, MBA, dean, Jefferson College of Population Health. One of the nation’s foremost experts on social determinants of health will explain the importance of these factors and how to make the best use of them.

June 29 (Thursday) 2:00 ET. “Be the First to See New Data on Why Patients Switch Healthcare Providers.” Sponsored by Solutionreach. As patients pay more for their care and have access to more data about cost and quality, their expectations for healthcare are changing. And as their expectations change, they are more likely to switch providers to get them met. In this free webinar, we’ll look at this new data on why patients switch and what makes them stay. Be one of the first to see the latest data on why patients leave and what you can do about it.

July 11 (Tuesday) 1:00 ET.  “Your Data Migration Questions Answered: Ask the Expert Q&A Panel.” Sponsored by Galen Healthcare Solutions. Presenters: Julia Snapp, manager of professional services, Galen Healthcare Solutions; Tyler Suacci, principal technical consultant, Galen Healthcare Solutions. This webcast will give attendees who are considering or in the process of replacing and/or transitioning EHRs the ability to ask questions of our experts. Our moderators have extensive experience in data migration efforts, having supported over 250+ projects, and migration of 40MM+ patient records and 7K+ providers. They will be available to answer questions surrounding changes in workflows, items to consider when migrating data, knowing what to migrate vs. archive, etc.

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

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


Health management software vendor Mediware Information Systems acquires Kinnser Software, which offers home health and hospice systems.


Two former Theranos board members – former US Navy Admiral Gary Roughead and former US Secretary of State George Shultz – say they didn’t ask founder Elizabeth Holmes about media reports stating that the company wasn’t running many tests on its proprietary Nanotainer finger stick technology but instead was using commercially available analyzers. Legal experts question whether the company’s board failed to meet their responsibilities in providing checks and balances to Holmes, who controls 98.3 percent of voting shares. To paraphrase “Animal House” in work-friendly terms, “You messed up … you trusted us.”


Consumer health information site Sharecare, founded in 2010 by Dr. Oz and WebMD founder Jeff Arnold, receives an unspecified investment from Summit Partners, increasing its total to more than $300 million.

Announcements and Implementations

Google launches the free Data Gif Maker, a data illustration tool aimed primarily at journalists who need to tell data-driven stories but potentially useful to a wider social media audience. 

Medisolv chooses CloudWave’s OpSus Healthcare Cloud for making its quality management system available to customers as a SaaS offering.

Nordic announces that it has grown to 700 consultants serving 200 clients.


Reaction Data publishes a new report on patient referrals and self-scheduling.

Government and Politics

The CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina says that the ACA marketplace is stabilizing in price, utilization, and risk to the point that an 8.8 percent premium hike would have sufficed for 2018, but instead the company has filed for a 22.9 percent increase because the White House keeps saying that it may not continue paying the premium subsidies that have been challenged legally. “The information we’ve seen coming from the administration actually creates more uncertainty,” the CEO says.

Privacy and Security

Ascension-owned Seton Healthcare (TX) says it has identified “suspicious activity within our network,” but provided no details, although it sounds like a ransomware attack. Meanwhile, patients report to the local TV station that the hospital has gone back to paper after warning employees to shut down the computers.


A study finds that hospital EDs charge an average of 3.4 times the Medicare-paid rate for services they provide, providing as an example EKG interpretation, for which Medicare pays a median of $16 but for which hospital EDs charge other patients anywhere from $18 to $317, averaging $95. The highest-charging hospitals are for-profit, mostly in the South and Midwest, and serve more uninsured and minority patients.

USA-based Syria medical aid group UOSSM launches Syria Solar, a project to install solar power systems in the country’s hospitals, which run generators that use erratically available diesel fuel. Much of Syria’s electrical grid has been destroyed by bombing, leaving already struggling hospitals to deal with power outages for incubators, dialysis machines, and other vital equipment. 


Rapidly rising drug prices are hitting seniors hard with higher co-pays even as Medicare’s share of the Part D cost has become its fastest-growing expense.  Novartis AG has raised the price of cancer drug Gleevec 77 percent in the past five years, increasing Medicare’s annual cost from $500 million to $1.23 billion and leaving the average Medicare patient paying $4,400 per year out of pocket.

I’ve read that Europe has become even more overrun with summer tourists in the past few years because huge-population countries like China and India are moving up the economic food chain and their now-wealthier citizens are joining the lines in Rome, Paris, and London. A New York Times article says that’s also true in healthcare, as frustrated, affluent citizens of China are bypassing the country’s overloaded hospital system and paying cash for care in the US and other countries despite the inevitable problems with transoceanic care coordination.

A Wall Street Journal article questions whether towns should continue operating tax-supported nursing homes, seven percent of which are government-owned. Their financial losses are increasing due to a glut of Baby Boomer residents, a high proportion of Medicaid residents as those with more assets seek out tonier facilities, and the White House’s proposal to cut Medicaid by nearly a trillion dollars. Cities are selling their nursing homes to private operators with mixed experience. The article profiles the city-owned, 45-bed nursing home in Cape Cod’s Nantucket, MA, which is losing $3 million per year, needs major repairs as the city grapples with other huge infrastructure upgrades, and attracts only the financially struggling year-round residents who would have to move out if the city’s only nursing home shuts down or raises rates.

Sponsor Updates

  • AdvancedMD publishes a MIPS Improvement Activities fact sheet.
  • Aprima will exhibit at the Associated Professional Sleep Societies Annual Meeting June 5-7 in Boston.
  • Audacious Inquiry publishes a series of white papers on what HIOs need to know about the 21st Century Cures Act.
  • Bernoulli publishes a new case study, “Achieving medical device connectivity across a multiple-hospital enterprise.”
  • Datica will present at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference June 6-7 in Madison.
  • Carevive Systems will exhibit at the ASCO Annual Meeting June 2-6 in Chicago.
  • Casenet will exhibit at AHIP Institute & Expo June 7-9 in Austin, TX.
  • Docent Health is featured in Redox’s “Digital Health Done Right” series.
  • The Jacksonville Business Journal includes CSI Healthcare IT in its list of “Best Places to Work 2017.”
  • Dimensional Insight will host its annual User Conference June 5-8 in Boston.

Blog Posts


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

  1. Given your well documented distaste for hyperbole, I’m curious to know what mind-boggling financial terms works out as…

  2. What?!? Affluent Chinese are frustrated with gubberment run overloaded hospitals and choosing to pay cash elsewhere? Hmmm.

  3. One thing this poll proves is that nobody really wants the person to be in control of how their data is shared. This argument is nauseating and so-2008

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Reader Comments

  • CommentsTwoWeeksLate: I'd be really disappointed if the "de-identified" data set contained full birth dates or zip codes. That doesn't seem t...
  • Code Jockey: Mr. H - this is a response to 'Really' but I'm not sure how to respond to his post. Also, this is a note for both you an...
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  • Really: Come on Code Junkie... Would any software company on the planet let you take their code, do a minor modification and ...
  • Code Jockey: Sigh.... Code Corrections - the origin of this conversation was a statement by someone that Epic clients were creating t...
  • WhatstheretoWonder: Fairly clear that the ambitions were crushed by unchecked capitalism and Republican waffling on doing the necessary chec...
  • Woodstock Generation: Re: Mr. HIStalk's response to Post-Acute Pat - Mr. HIStalk, you couldn't have said it better about today's healthcare i...
  • It'sNotYouIt'sMe: I also at some point "consented" to give my bank and credit data to Equifax. If you asked the average person when they s...
  • Michael: Re: WSJ article - "without the patient's knowledge or approval." All of the patients consent to give their DNA for resea...

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