Home » News » Currently Reading:

News 12/6/17

December 5, 2017 News 16 Comments

Top News


Advocate Health Care will merge with Aurora Health Care pending regulatory approval, creating the country’s tenth-largest non-profit health system.


The CEOs would serve as co-CEOs of the new organization (Advocate Aurora Health) as a result of a “50-50 merger,” with naming two equal leaders appearing either indecisive or ego-stroking but unlikely to prove successful regardless.

There’s also the EHR challenge. Aurora uses Epic, while Advocate runs Cerner and Allscripts.

Reader Comments


From Not From Monterey: “Re: hospital luxury floors. I’m reading a book by written a doctor (Jacob Appel) in which the suicidal psychiatrist main character says that in his hospital, the posh floor where the wealthy people stay is unsafe compared to the rest of the hospital since it lacks residents and med students asking questions. Would you find this character’s statement to be plausible, or better yet, backed up by data?” I’ve written before that, amenities aside, I wouldn’t want to be housed in a hospital’s VIP unit. Personalized medicine is overrated in this regard – the nurses assigned are the most deferential rather than the most skilled; they are under the thumb of hospital executives whose suck-up meddling may negatively impact care; those annoying middle-of-the-night room rounds and always-beeping monitors sometimes detect real problems; and wandering off the cookie cutter center line of care is always dangerous (like asking the kid at McDonald’s to make you a steak dinner). Hospitals are well-intentioned but dangerous places where the last thing you want is extra attention. I created a poll for clinicians with firsthand experience to weigh in and hopefully offer comments. My only first-hand experience is when my colleague, the health system’s chief medical officer, mobilized the Big House’s trauma team to address a family member’s ruptured appendix, which I declined and instead chose one of our community hospitals with no VIP attention expected or desired. 


From Ty Dolla Cosine: “Re: Aetna’s CEO. Will get $500 million if the CVS deal goes through. It’s good for at least one consumer, anyway.” CEO and HIMSS14 keynoter Mark Bertolini will leave with a $500 million parting gift, consisting of the inevitable executive golden parachute plus his appreciated stock. His net worth already approached $200 million, so the only thing standing between him and near-billionaire status is the Trump Administration’s anti-trust people in the DOJ and/or FTC, which probably means he’s fine to book the truck to haul away his loot.


Had you wisely (given 20-20 hindsight) invested your money in Aetna shares (dark blue) five years ago, you would have realized a 292 percent gain vs. the Dow’s (light blue) 84 percent. You would also be singing the praises of Mark Bertolini for making you rich as he did the same for himself.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests


I finished my initial playing around with my Black Friday-priced Google Chromecast and Home Mini. They featured Apple-like slick packaging and no-instructions setup that had me running in minutes. Chromecast can display anything from your phone that can be cast onto your TV (photo albums, browser pages, YouTube videos, Netflix, etc.)  with just a WiFi connection and the provided HDMI cable into your TV. The Home Mini has an Alexa-like conversational interface that can provide weather, news, your daily schedule,  flight departure time, time to drive to a location given current traffic, and the usual smorgasbord of jokes, games, list-making, song-singing, and music-playing with pretty good audio quality. Both gadgets offer a lot of smooth technology at a price low enough to be impulse-purchased as a toy or stocking-stuffer. I’m happy with both.


Ben and Michelle from ST Advisors supported my DonorsChoose project with a $500 donation, to which I applied matching funds from my anonymous vendor executive as well as other sources to fully fund these teacher-requested projects:

  • 30 sets of headphones for Ms. B’s second-grade class in Chicago, IL.
  • 35 calculators for Ms. T’s all-girls elementary academy in Houston, TX.
  • STEAM supplies for Ms. C’s middle school class in Provo, UT.
  • A programmable robot kit for Ms. G’s elementary school class in W. Valley City, UT.
  • Science experiment kits for Ms. M’s pre-kindergarten class in New York City.
  • Hats and gloves for Ms. H’s elementary school class in Omaha, NE.
  • STEM activities for Ms. D’s elementary school class in Hialeah, FL.
  • An interactive whiteboard for Mr. T’s elementary school class in Houston, TX.
  • A document camera and speakers for Ms. K’s middle school class in New York City.

I’ve already received thank you notes from most of the teachers, including from Ms. D, who says, “As a first-year teacher, I am absolutely ecstatic! My students are going to be so excited to learn about all these new tools. I am extremely thankful for your donation towards my little learners and I’m positive that they will be too. Thank you for our early Christmas gift! HAPPY HOLIDAYS!”


Mike also sent a $500 donation, saying that he’s been out of the industry for 10 years but still reads HIStalk every day. Merry Christmas to (and from) Mike, whose donation with matching funds has made these classroom projects a reality:

  • Programming books, posters, and whiteboards for Mr. C’s middle school class in New York City.
  • Lap desks to replace those lost in Hurricane Harvey for Mrs. A’s fifth grade class in La Marque, TX.
  • STEM activity kits for Mrs. C’s elementary school class in Havelock, NC.
  • Programmable robots for Mr. V’s elementary school student-driven programming class in Cherryfield, ME.
  • Five virtual reality headsets for Mrs. B’s high school class in Norfolk, VA.
  • A math and science library for Ms. G’s elementary school class in Houston, TX.
  • Two Bee-Bot programmable robots for Mrs. F’s kindergarten class in Los Angeles, CA.
  • Puzzles, books, and glue for the after-school clubs of Ms. B’s elementary school in Camden, NJ.

Want to donate, especially if your company is willing to pony up $500 in return for a mention of their largesse? Instructions:

  1. Purchase a gift card in the amount you’d like to donate.
  2. Send the gift card by the email option to mr_histalk@histalk.com (that’s my DonorsChoose account).
  3. I’ll be notified of your donation and you can print your own receipt for tax purposes.
  4. I’ll pool the money, apply the matching funds, and publicly report here (as I always do) which projects I funded, with an emphasis on STEM-related projects as the matching funds donor prefers.


None scheduled soon. Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre for information.

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


Philips acquires Netherlands-based interoperability software vendor Forcare.


Population health management software vendor VirtualHealth raises $7 million in a Series B funding round.


Genetic sequencing vendor Human Longevity dismisses its CEO after 11 months on the job, along with the COO, chief medical officer, and head of oncology. Co-founder and executive chairman Craig Venter returns to the CEO role. HIStalk reader Informatician tipped me off in a mid-November rumor report that the company had laid off its chief medical officer and his team of 15, at which time I noted that eight of 18 executives listed on a cached copy of its executive page from June 2017 had been removed (the number now stands at 11 of 18).


Patient education software vendor Mytonomy raises $7 million in a Series A funding round in which Philips and MedStar Health participated. The company previously pivoted from its original business of offering college preparation videos for high school students. The founders are CEO Anjali Kataria (who co-founded a drug company software vendor and then worked for HHS and FDA) and her husband Vinay Bhargava (Google).



Chesapeake Regional Healthcare (VA) will implement Glytec’s EGlycemic Management System.


Memorial Hermann Health System (TX) signs an enterprise agreement for PerfectServe’s communication and collaboration platform.


Steward Health Care will convert eight more of its hospitals to Meditech’s Web EHR.


Singing River Health System (MS) chooses FormFast Capture and ESignature, while Medical University of South Carolina (SC) will implement FormFast Capture and Mobile App. 



Brookfield, WI-based Insurance enrollment technology vendor Connecture hires Brian Lindstrom (Datica) as CFO. Industry long-timer Jeff Surges is the company’s CEO.


Tom Zajac (Philips) joins the executive-in-residence programs of Summit Partners and Noro-Moseley Partners.


The Chartis Group hires Tonya Edwards, MD, MMM (Impact Advisors) as principal.


Marc Andiel (Iatric Systems) joins HealthGrid as EVP of corporate business development.


Regenstrief Institute hires Jeremy Harper (The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center) as chief research information officer.


SCL Health (CO) hires Louis Capponi, MD (Cleveland Clinic) as VP/CMIO.

Announcements and Implementations


Ability Network streamlines the Triple Check process — for skilled nursing facilities to review Medicare Part A claims prior to submission —  via new functionality in its UBwatch platform.


The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital (OK) goes live on Harris Healthcare’s Novus ClinDoc linked to its QCPR EHR.


ISpecimen releases data connectors that allow organizations to integrate their LIS and EHR systems to the company’s marketplace, where those organizations can offer their biospecimens to researchers.


The Sequoia Project announces that its Carequality initiative connects more than half of all US healthcare providers, with 1,000 hospitals, 25,000 clinics, and 580,000 providers exchanging 1.7 million clinical documents monthly.

Government and Politics

Hector Ramos, the former $200,000 per year IT director of North County Health Services (CA), pleads not guilty to stealing $800,000 from the organization. Prosecutors say he submitted and approved phony invoices from two fraudulent companies he created, telling employees the invoices needed to be paid quickly to avoid a computer system shutdown. They probably should have paid more attention to his resume, which boasts of advanced degrees “earned” from known diploma mills.  

Honduran officials arrest Eric Conn, the on-the-run Kentucky lawyer who conspired with doctors and judges to earn $550 million in fraudulent Social Security disability benefits for his clients. 



Google announces the open source release of its DeepVariant genomic analysis tool.



A Vox reports looks at ED facility fees, as hospitals are increasingly using higher-intensity codes to bill higher rates. The prices charged for those fees jumped 89 percent from 2009 to 2015 in raising ED costs by billions even as the number of ED visits dropped. The article profiles a man whose lifting-induced back spasms were treated by a hospital ED – the only place open — in 20 minutes at a cost of $3.50 for a muscle relaxant and over $2,400 in facility fees.


The owner of a New Jersey lab that was paid $150 million by Medicare and private insurers over eight years says he couldn’t compete against the national lab companies without bribing doctors to send him patients. His lab offered fake consulting agreements, prostitutes, sports cars, vacations taken on private jets, and Super Bowl tickets. The owner says the lab’s biggest expense was a New York strip club, where he spent $10,000 in one night to entertain a pediatrician who bragged about how many tests he was ordering on young patients. The owner spent $800,000 – less than one month’s profit from the lab — to build a pool shaped like Mickey Mouse’s ears. 

Sponsor Updates

  • Healthcare Growth Partners advised Russell Phillips & Associates on its sale to Jensen Hughes.
  • CenTrak donates RTLS equipment to students at Drexel University in Philadelphia.
  • Dental practice management company Dentisoft selects patient relationship management technology and services from Solutionreach.
  • Access partner The Last Well advances its clean water initiative in Liberia with matching grants through December 31.
  • Audacious Inquiry’s CALiPR earns ONC Health IT Certification.
  • Change Healthcare’s Stuart Hanson speaks at the AHIP Health Forum in Nashville.
  • Elsevier Clinical Solutions will exhibit at the North Carolina Council of Community Programs Conference December 6 in Pinehurst.
  • FormFast will exhibit at the 2017 IHI National Forum December 10-13 in Orlando.
  • Definitive Healthcare hires its 200th employee.
  • Impact Advisors publishes a new report, “Constructing an Analytics Strategy.”
  • Kyruus will exhibit at the Diabetes Innovation Summit December 7 in Boston.

Blog Posts


Mr. H, Lorre, Jenn, Dr. Jayne, Lt. Dan.
Get HIStalk updates. Send news or rumors.
Contact us.


HIStalk Featured Sponsors


Currently there are "16 comments" on this Article:

  1. In response to how Advocate and Aurora could resolve its multi-EHR conundrum; how about leveraging an EHR agnostic and we’ll established HIE — WISHIN (WISHIN.org)? This seems like the most logical approach, doesn’t it? Disclaimer, I am the COO at WISHIN.

  2. Sequoia connects half the providers in the country with 1.7 million (EHR-neutral) clinical exchanges per day and NONE of those come from the largest EHR company in the world. Cerner and CommonWell should be embarrassed.

    • Re: Vaporware?

      You do realize that Cerner is a founding member of Carequality and participated in the framework pilot, right? Do you also know that any member/participant in CommonWell can get access to CareQuality as well, they just have to choose to make that decision. Its on the Health system to make that connection so why are you blaming Cerner…..

      • You just restated my point in different words.

        In the world of logos on powerpoints and websites, they’re amazing visionary leaders. In the world of reality, the number is still zero/1.7 million. That’s vaporware.

      • Fake news :/
        Cerner was late to the Carequality game after Epic had already made great advances down the field.

        “Barely a month after its launch, the Carequality Interoperability Framework devised by The Sequoia Project has already signed up five health IT heavy-hitters to be the first to implement its data exchange principles: athenahealth, eClinicalWorks, Epic, NextGen Healthcare and Surescripts.”


        Cerner was still clinging to CommonWell for some time before CommonWell “partnered” into Carequality.

        • Member of everything. User of nothing.

          DoD connected? “No.” VA planned to be connected? “That will be a future appropriation.”

          • With regards to the DOD….The DOD contract was done July of 2015 while CareQuality was not even operational until June of 2016. Kind of hard to “connect” to something that isn’t even in the contract since it didn’t “exist” during contracting…..

          • Advertised: CommonWell will make the DOD interoperable with the VA and community providers.
            Reality: CommonWell not turned on at DOD.

        • Please explain, how is this “Fake News”….What is fake here? I see both of your are apparently upset that Cerner was “late” to CareQuality yet neither of you seem to have any issue that EPIC is not part of CommonWell, a service that is every bit as big and as widely used as CareQuality,not to mention was actually launched first (now this in no part means that being first is being better).

          So, are we going to to have a factual based debate here or are you just wanting to Cerner bash (full disclosure, I work with several EHR systems and don’t care which system a Healthcare Organization uses)

          And the definition of Vaporware is : software or hardware that has been advertised by is not yet available to buy because it is still in concept or design. So, how does this qualify as “Vaporware”. Cerner and several other HIT firms utilize CommonWell, which on the surface, appears to be “competing” against Carequality. So how is that vaporware? It isn’t, its using a different service to accomplish the same outcomes….So if Cerner is accused of “Vaporware” then shouldn’t EPIC be in the same boat since they aren’t on CommonWell.

          • Advertised: “any member/participant in CommonWell can get access to CareQuality”

            Reality: not yet available to buy because it is still in concept or design.

          • CommonWell is NOT every bit as big and widely used as Carequality. Epic’s participation in Carequality means that they include the entire CareEverywhere network which is several orders of magnitude more active than CommonWell (and free). The whole reason Epic never elected to participate in CommonWell is because they didn’t want to bilk people for interop (something Cerner wanted, and separately Jonathan Bush also gushed about).

            Remember when Cerner made a website that showed a map of fake CommonWell record exchanges with crappy APIs on the page source like “generateRandomPatName”? Yeah I remember. Vaporware? Vaporware.

          • ARWD, I don’t think it’s true that every Epic customer is live on Carequality. That said, I haven’t seen Epic try to advertise that they are.

            A-CIO, I agree it is interesting that CommonWell is so much older than Carequality – and yet many multiples smaller. I think ever since athena’s leadership bailed (realizing Carequality accomplished the same idea without cutting a check to RelayHealth), CommonWell has been mostly rudderless. It’s been claiming “5,000 live sites” for like the last 4 years.

          • Not all EPIC sites are live on carequality. From my understanding all NEW customers will automatically be part of the program upon go live. I believe EPIC has to go back to older clients to have them sign up to be part of carequality on an individual level. From what I am told it is a fairly simple process to enroll, but does need to happen for each site.

    • Since there are about 2.4M patient visits a day in the US, 1.7M transactions would be unbelievable accomplishment, especially without the “largest EHR vendor” involved.

Founding Sponsors


Platinum Sponsors



















































Gold Sponsors













Reader Comments

  • IANAL: What PB brings to the table is the compulsion to disregard anything except his own bottom line. He'll say and do whateve...
  • ellemennopee98: I am not clear when you want to print a copy of your own lab results for yourself that you have to involve staff particu...
  • AnInteropGuy: Tony, Where to start? -ACA did not mandate an EHR. -There is little to no interaction between the EHRs and the go...
  • TooMuchBull: Fact: The Affordable Care Act did not mandate EHRs....
  • Tony Boyer: If doctors are so unhappy with EHR entry, they should be more aware of the fact that the so-called Affordable Care Act (...

Sponsor Quick Links