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Weekender 2/9/18

February 9, 2018 Weekender 2 Comments



Weekly News Recap

  • Former GE CEO Jeff Immelt is named board chair of Athenahealth.
  • Former CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt launches United States of Care, a non-profit that hopes to spur development of healthcare policies that allow all Americans to obtain health insurance and avoid medical bankruptcy.
  • JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon assures the company’s healthcare banking customers that its venture with Amazon and Berkshire Hathaway won’t really be disruptive, but instead is an effort to lower the employee healthcare costs of the three companies through price negotiation.
  • A review by the Economist finds that the number of prescription-only digital health apps that have earned FDA approval is rising sharply.

Best Reader Comments

Regarding Dolin, I think looking at pics of infants and toddlers being sadistically abused makes you permanently toxic. Just because he’s out of jail doesn’t mean there won’t be social consequences for his depravity. I get what you’re saying, but I would find it difficult to have collegial feelings for the man. It wouldn’t make for a very productive work environment. (Sorry)

Those C-level org changes give you a clear mandate and direction for where your business IT systems need to go. And there’s a deep well of work to be fulfilled in order to get there. However, this also means that IT can fall far behind the curve of what the organization needs. Imagine the C-suite doing an M&A deal every 1-2 years. Meanwhile bringing those accreted organizations into payroll, into G/L, into EMR, into ERP, into purchasing, into HR. That can take 4-5 years or more, especially if the entire organization must be re-done around a new system.(Brian Too)

I was pretty bummed to hear about Jamie Dimon hitting the phones to play down the JPMorgan / Amazon / Berkshire deal. Either they’re lying to their healthcare clients and they actually do want to do something disruptive or they shouldn’t even bother because they won’t move the needle. If JPMorgan and Amazon can’t bargain based on volume already, I don’t know what makes them think they’ll be more successful together. Group purchasing is probably more beneficial in the small / mid market. They want to attack healthcare costs, yet they don’t seem to want to cut any of the cost. (MN fan)

Workplace wellness programs show recent evidence that already-healthy people are the most active participants even when there is a small pot of cash (incentive) to be earned for demonstrating healthy behaviors for anyone participating. Similarly, providers will leave incentives on the table all day long, but if you send along a negative payment adjustment, providers will roar for more time. In the sticks and carrots analogy, carrots don’t seem to work in healthcare. (ellemennopee87)

To my fellow IS colleagues, don’t let disgruntled physicians or bedside providers distract you from your mission to serve the patient. Also remember that doctors are not upset with EHRs and IT most of the time — they are upset at healthcare in general. The EHR and IS tend to be a lightning rod for physicians to leverage their frustrations at. I am very empathetic to practicing physicians today and feel that if I can help save a few clicks or get them home sooner, then they will care for my mom, sister, friends, etc. much better. (Dave Butler, MD)

Watercooler Talk Tidbits

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Readers funded the DonorsChoose teacher grant request of Mrs. T, who asked for take-home science and math games and backpacks to carry them in for her Michigan elementary school class. She provides an update: “The package was brought by our school secretary to the room right in the middle of our math lesson and also right during my principal’s visit for teacher observation. I apologized later to the principal for her not getting to see the whole math lesson and her reply was, ‘I loved it. You could feel the energy level skyrocket in the room when the secretary brought the box. I could tell how excited the kids were about this project.’ I have heard so many great comments like the little girl who came in smiling and said ‘I beat my Dad every time. I know lots more about force and motion then he does!’ I had two girls who were thrilled they were each taking home a backpack because they were having a sleepover together that weekend and said they would get to play the games out of each others’ pack. Thank you so much for helping make this year more fun and letting the kids feel special when they walk out of school with a backpack or win a game against their parents or sibling.”


Be careful getting your science news from Inc. or the several other crappy sites that ran this as sensationalized news. The researcher whose scholarly paper was turned into clickbait clarifies that, while a particular silicone product seemed to stimulate hair follicle growth in the lab and that same product is “reportedly” used by McDonald’s in its fryers, consuming it alone won’t cure baldness. He was baffled and then alarmed after seeing reader comments asking how many fries they need to eat to regain their tresses.

A nurse who sought care in a hospital in England for a mental health crisis is told that she’ll have to sleep on a row of chairs because no beds are available. Security camera footage shows her being groped by another patient as employees walk by without concern. The man admits that he kissed the woman, but says he didn’t sexually assault her, adding, “If she had told me ‘don’t’ I would have been like, OK, of, course, I’m a gentleman.” The man was found guilty, while the hospital assures the public that it was “an isolated incident.”

SNOMED International announces that its SNOMED CT clinical terminology will be used in the GE Healthcare’s Athlete Management Solution at the Winter Olympic Games. It also mentions a project called Olympic Healthcare Interoperability, which apparently will support cross-system athlete information exchange and portability to upcoming Olympics. 

Cardiologist and retired UC Irvine medical school professor John Longhurst, MD, PhD and his wife Cherril are killed when their single-engine plane crashes near San Diego. Newspaper accounts suggest that they were the parents of Chris Longhurst, CIO at UCSD Health.


The low-carb diet that I’ve been on for a couple of weeks has delivered spectacular results (zero hunger pangs, significant weight loss, improved mental clarity presumably due to better insulin control even though I’m not diabetic), so I was interested in this article. A comprehensive, 262-patient study finds that a low-carb diet combined with virtual adherence coaching from Virta Health yielded dramatic improvement in people with Type 2 diabetes:

  • HbA1c was lowered from 7.6 to 6.3 percent on average
  • Participants lost an average of 12 percent of their body weight
  • 94 percent of insulin-using participants either reduced their dose or were able to go off insulin completely
  • Every person who was taking an oral medication for diabetes no longer needed it

This will send ICD-10 wags searching for the right code. A Maryland hunter is airlifted to a hospital when the goose that someone in his party shot fell out of the sky onto his head, rendering him unconscious with head injuries.

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Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. I’m a long-time reader of Histalk and I read that you were on a low-carb diet. Quick questions: Are you doing Atkins or Keto or neither? I’m wondering if you went all the way down to minimal to no carbs or if you keep them in a range.

    • I’m not following a specific plan since I didn’t think that was necessary. I eliminated potatoes and other starchy vegetables, bread, pasta, beans, beer, cookies and other desserts, and any prepared product whose label indicates anything more than 4-5 net carbs (carbohydrates minus fiber) per serving. My appetite nearly disappeared within a day, even though it’s often 12-14 hours between the last thing I eat in the evening and breakfast.

      Even without a plan, I’m probably within the 20-carb daily Atkins induction range. Studies show that a lot of the benefit of low-carb diets is that you just aren’t as hungry and not only is that true, those carb-containing items I used to eat don’t draw me at all. I don’t want to become one of those preachy lifestyle evangelists trying to tell someone else what to do, so I’ll just say that it has worked miracles for me in just three weeks or so without any feeling of sacrifice or intrusion into my routine.

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