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Monday Morning Update 10/23/17

October 21, 2017 News 9 Comments

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Athenahealth shares jumped over 8 percent Friday following Thursday’s announcement of mixed financial results, layoffs, office closures, and a cost reduction plan.


From Friday’s Athenahealth earnings call:

  • Jonathan Bush says that the company’s slowing growth rate is due to “lackluster market conditions in the post-Meaningful Use era” as overall buying activity has dropped off. It hopes to generate 15 percent revenue growth for 2018.
  • The company blames its revenue expectations miss on having one fewer working day in Q3 as well as hurricane-related usage decreases. It also notes that visits per provider are dropping.
  • Workforce reductions of 9 percent of the company’s total headcount will be completed by the end of 2017, with the goal of removing management layers and increasing employee engagement. The company “right-sized” sales and marketing and “rationalized” general and administrative support.
  • Bush says “We’re sharpening our focus, taking action to operate in a significantly more efficient way, and move faster on our highest-value strategic objectives.”
  • The company will close its San Francisco and Princeton, NJ offices, rent out office space freed up by the layoffs, and sell its Challenger 300 jet.
  • The company is still recruiting an independent board chair, CFO, and president.
  • Athenahealth has 56 small hospitals live and has retained 95 percent of the hospitals brought live on AthenaNet since entering the market three years ago.
  • Bush credits the pressure brought by an activist investor for causing the management team to “look at the company through different eyes” and for “helping us find our way.”
  • Population health and Epocrates are not keeping up with the core business growth.
  • The company expects to connect with 100 percent of Epic’s installed based and 45 percent of Cerner’s this year.
  • Bush said hospitals say, “I hope somebody buys Epic or whatever it is after me so I don’t have to be the last guy who went and put half a billion dollars into enterprise software in 2017.”

HIStalk Announcements and Requests


Two-thirds of poll respondents say not having a national patient identifier is a pretty big problem.

New poll to your right or here: How much impact will IBM Watson have on healthcare?

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Ms. B reports that her North Carolina middle schoolers “couldn’t keep their hands off” the science activity tubs we provided in funding her DonorsChoose teacher grant request.

This Week in Health IT History

One year ago:

  • McKesson says it will take a $290 million write-down of its Enterprise Information Systems business as it continues to seek a buyer for the division that includes Paragon.
  • Vocera acquires Extension Healthcare.
  • Jonathan Bush admits in the Athenahealth earnings call that followed a revenue miss that shifts in the market mean the company cannot maintain 30 percent bookings growth.

Five years ago:

  • An OIG report finds that the VA paid $6 million for 400,000 PC encryption licenses but has installed them on only 65,000 devices.
  • Apple announces the iPad Mini.
  • Allscripts sues Aprima for using the MyWay name in advertising aimed at getting those customers to switch to Aprima.
  • Athenahealth confirms that is negotiating with Harvard University to purchase the 11-building Arsenal on the Charles complex in Watertown, MA.

Ten years ago:

  • Misys creates an open source division to which it contributes its Connect software.
  • Misys announces MyWay, a hosted EHR it licensed from iMedica.
  • Medsphere CEO Mike Doyle predicts that the company will be the largest healthcare IT vendor.
  • Microsoft and HIMSS announce an overseas expansion of the MS-HUG conference.

Last Week’s Most Interesting News

  • Athenahealth announces big layoffs and planned expense reductions in response to pressure from an activist investor.
  • CVS and Epic will implement Epic’s Healthy Planet software to give prescribers point-of-care formulary and pricing information.
  • President Trump signs two executive orders to further destabilize the ACA, declaring that Obamacare no longer exists.
  • A state audit finds that University of Utah violated state procurement laws in its dealings with Patrick Soon-Shiong’s Nant companies.


October 24 (Tuesday) 1:00 ET. “Improve Care and Save Clinician Time by Streamlining Specialty Drug Prescribing.” Sponsored by: ZappRx. Presenter: Jeremy Feldman, MD, director, pulmonary hypertension and advanced lung disease program and medical director of research, Arizona Pulmonary Specialists. Clinicians spend an average of 20 minutes to prescribe a single specialty drug and untold extra hours each month completing prior authorization (PA) paperwork to get patients the medications they need. This webinar will describe how Arizona Pulmonary Specialists automated the inefficient specialty drug ordering process to improve patient care while saving its clinicians time.

October 25 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “Delivering the Healthcare Pricing Transparency that Consumers are Demanding.” Sponsored by: Health Catalyst. Presenter: Gene Thompson, director, Health City Cayman Islands. Health systems are unlike every other major consumer category in not providing upfront pricing information. Learn how one health system has developed predictable, transparent bundled pricing for most major specialties. Attendees will gain insight into the importance of their quality measures and their use of actual daily procedure costing rather than allocated costs. They will also learn about the strategic risk of other market participants competing with single bundled pricing. The organization’s director will expand how its years-long process is enabling healthcare delivery reform.

October 26 (Thursday) 2:00 ET. “Is your EHR limiting your success in value-based care?” Sponsored by: Philips Wellcentive. Presenters: Lindsey Bates, market director of compliance, Philips Wellcentive; Greg Fulton, industry and public policy lead, Philips Wellcentive. No single technology solution will solve every problem, so ensuring you select the ones most aligned to meet your strategic goals can be the difference between thriving or merely surviving. From quality reporting to analytics to measures building, developing a comprehensive healthcare strategy that will support your journey in population health and value-base care programs is the foundation of success. Join Philips Wellcentive for our upcoming interactive webinar, where we’ll help you evolve ahead of the industry, setting the right strategic goals and getting the most out of your technology solutions.

November 8 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “How Clinically Integrated Networks Can Overcome the Technical Challenges to Data-Sharing.” Sponsored by: Liaison Technologies. Presenters: Dominick Mack, MD, executive medical director, Georgia Health Information Technology Extension Center and Georgia Health Connect, director, National Center for Primary Care, and associate professor, Morehouse School of Medicine;  Gary Palgon, VP of  healthcare and life sciences solutions, Liaison Technologies. This webinar will describe how Georgia Heath Connect connects clinically integrated networks to hospitals and small and rural practices, helping providers in medically underserved communities meet MACRA requirements by providing technology, technology support, and education that accelerates regulatory compliance and improves outcomes.

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

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


Global health research network operator TriNetX will expand its Cambridge, MA office space as its headcount has expanded from 20 to 75. The new 20,000 square foot space will also include a network operations center.

Harris Healthcare acquires practice management software vendor Clinix Medical Information Systems.



Population health management services provider HMC HealthWorks will implement Medecision Aerial applications that include analytics, financial performance dashboards, care management, evidence-based clinical programs, and personal health record.


In Dubai, UAE, Latifa Hospital for Women and Children chooses Vocera’s intelligent communication technology.


  • Fort Madison Community Hospital (IA) will replace Greenway’s ambulatory EHR with Meditech in 2018.
  • Women’s Healthcare Associates (OR) will switch from GE Healthcare to Epic’s ambulatory EHR in May 2018.
  • Palmetto Health (SC) will replace McKesson Star with Cerner revenue cycle management in October 2018.

These provider-reported updates are supplied by Definitive Healthcare, which offers a free trial of its powerful intelligence on hospitals, physicians, and healthcare providers.

Announcements and Implementations

ZeOmega launches a Jiva certification program for third-party consultants

Government and Politics

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Wisam Rizk, former CTO of Cleveland Clinic Innovations spinoff Interactive Visual Health Records, is arrested for defrauding the clinic of $2.8 million. The charges came nine days after former Cleveland Clinic Innovations Executive Director Gary Fingerhut pleaded guilty and agreed to serve federal prison time for accepting $469,000 from Rizk in return for lying to the FBI during their fraud investigation. Prosecutors say Rizk created a shell company that he hired to develop IVHR’s medical charting product at an inflated price, then contracted with an offshore company to do the actual work and pocketed the difference.

Privacy and Security


Computer systems of FirstHealth of the Carolinas (NC) have been offline for several days following a ransomware attack that it attributes to “a new form of the WannaCry virus.”


An interesting research project finds that anyone willing to pay $1,000 for online ads can track a mobile phone user’s movements, their precise location in near real time, and the apps they use, as long as they can obtain that person’s mobile advertising ID by examining their phone or eavesdropping on their wireless connection. The target doesn’t even need to click the ads – just having the ads displayed on their device records the information. Advertisers are already receiving this information, of course.



Anesthesiologist and Georgia state representative Betty Price, MD – who is married to fired HHS Secretary Tom Price – asks a state public health official in a public meeting if it would be legal to prevent the spread of HIV by quarantining people who have it. She flaunts clinical expertise in noting that dead HIV sufferers can’t spread it: “It’s almost frightening the number of people who are living that are … carriers with the potential to spread. Whereas in the past, they died more readily, and then at that point, they’re not posing a risk. So we’ve got a huge population posing a risk if they’re not in treatment.”

Sponsor Updates

  • Liaison Technologies makes its Alloy platform available in Europe.
  • MedData will exhibit at the Ohio AAP 2017 Annual Meeting October 27 in Columbus.
  • Colquitt Regional recognizes the benefits of Meditech’s EHR in a new video.
  • Navicure and Surescripts will exhibit at the Centricity Healthcare User Group Fall 2017 October 26-28 in New Orleans.
  • Madison Magazine recognizes Nordic President of Managed Services Vivek Swaminathan as an innovative leader.
  • Experian Health will exhibit at the HFMA First Illinois Fall Summit October 24-25 in Oakbrook Terrace.
  • Patientco CEO Bird Blitch aims to make the company a “Best Place to Work in Atlanta.”
  • T-System will exhibit at the 2017 Urgent Care Fall Conference October 26-28 in Anaheim, CA.
  • ZirMed will exhibit at the 2017 MedTrade Fall Conference October 23-26 in Atlanta.

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Currently there are "9 comments" on this Article:

  1. Anyone else think that it screams excessive for athenahealth to OWN a Challenger 300 private plane? EHR vendors have a new world of hurt coming. The main market is saturated, they will need to come up with all bright and new plans for sales, and guess what, no one is buying.

    • Selling the Challenger is a nice gesture, but I suspect it won’t fix the addiction. Consider GM when when they asked for a government bailout to prevent bankruptcy. At that time, they owned a fleet of private planes, and had a private terminal in Detroit just for their jets.
      After taking heat, they sold the jets to a private jet operator, and then leased them all back. Spotters continued to report on the excessive use of private planes by GM execs, so they petitioned the FAA to mask their tail numbers in flight tracking systems for the safety of their execs (!).
      Fly private once, and you quickly understand why giving it up is so hard for CEO’s. I suspect we’ll see the use of private aircraft unchanged, despite not directly owning the jet anymore.

  2. Dissing on Epic to dismiss athena’s failures.

    If your fundamental premise in business is that every one of your competitors is an idiot, maybe that doesn’t lead to a business success for you on it’s own.

    If Jonathan didn’t burry his head in the sand assuming he’s the smart one he’d learn how to compete in a very competitive industry with very high quality competitors.

    Assuming customers are stupid just doesn’t seem to be working for him.

  3. Jon literally blamed their earnings miss on having one fewer day in the quarter. This isn’t exactly something that sneaks up on you – any professional organization would simply adjust their forecast and guidance. He’s a spin artist, when will people figure this out!?

    • It wasn’t the earnings “miss” that was blamed on one fewer working day; it was the YoY comparison vs. Q3 2016. Where growth rate is important, it’s reasonable to highlight the comp to get an apples-to-apples measure.

      ATHN also doesn’t issue quarterly forecasts or guidance, so there was nothing for them to “adjust”.

  4. He did a little dance around the pharmacy mess issue by very carefully specifying: “we have retained 95% of the hospitals we have brought live”.

    That doesn’t account for those who didn’t make it live, which I’m sure Kyle will come back to transparently address.

  5. Jonathan also spends so much time bashing Epic’s ability to integrate yet it seems easy enough that he’s going to be able to integrate with 100% of their massive client base by the end of the year. Hilarious.

  6. Anesthesiologist and Georgia state representative Betty Price, MD – who is married to fired HHS Secretary Tom Price – asks a state public health official in a public meeting if it would be legal to prevent the spread of HIV by quarantining people who have it. She flaunts clinical expertise in noting that dead HIV sufferers can’t spread it: “It’s almost frightening the number of people who are living that are … carriers with the potential to spread. Whereas in the past, they died more readily, and then at that point, they’re not posing a risk. So we’ve got a huge population posing a risk if they’re not in treatment.”

    These comments are frightening. Particularly from an educated medical professional. Maybe that is why she left medicine to go into politics.
    All that said I don’t think HISTalk needs this type of content to inform its readers about healthcare it.

    • Dr Betty should have been a little more articulate about this. It looks like she might have been trying to say that the deceased would not be doing the risky activities and those in treatment would pose less of a risk versus those not.

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