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Monday Morning Update 4/9/18

Top News


Facebook acknowledges that it deployed interventional cardiologist Freddy Abnousi, MD, MBA, MSc (who was then working at Stanford) to try to convince hospitals to give the company anonymized patient information. Facebook was planning to re-identify the medical information of those patients by matching their records to its own data trove, which it claims was to be used purely for medical research purposes.

Facebook has put the project on hold as it deals with its Cambridge Analytica privacy backlash.

The American College of Cardiology was on board, with its interim CEO explaining the research benefit of shipping patient data to Facebook. ACC was apparently aware that Facebook planned to re-identify its data simple database-matching  (“hashing”) techniques.

Abnousi’s LinkedIn shows that he spent 18 months as a Google Distinguished Scholar and remains an innovation advisor to the American College of Cardiology. It also says he has been “leading confidential projects at Facebook” since August 2016.

We can probably excuse Facebook for intruding on the privacy of its users since that’s what Facebook does. Who’s going to call ACC and Abnousi to task for trying to broker a deal for selling patient information knowing that it would not remain anonymous?

I couldn’t find anything online about whether ACC or its contributing hospitals inform patients that their data will be used or allows them to opt in or out, so I assume it falls under HIPAA’s “treatment, payment, or operations” free pass.

Reader Comments

From Apparent Irony: “Re: Ascension WI. Abruptly paused its Cerner OneChart implementation on Tuesday and let go all of the clinical associates on the project unless they can reclaim their former role. No severance and no word on when the project will be resumed.” Unverified.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests


Most poll respondents aren’t using LinkedIn to find employees or jobs, read/publish articles, or exchange messages, but rather to just see what friends and former colleagues are doing. Quite a few don’t use LinkedIn at all. A couple of readers find it useful to prep for the HIMSS conference (to see who works where) or for monitoring competing vendors. Another’s smart job-hunting strategy was to see who previously held the open position to gain knowledge about the company or to look up current and previous employees to understand the technologies they use.

New poll to your right or here: do you think your de-identified patient data is safe from being re-identified?

I received a few responses – some positive, some not — to What I Wish I’d Known Before … Serving on the Board of a Company or Non-Profit.


This week’s question involves choosing an EHR consulting firm.


Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor Collective Medical. The Draper, UT-based company’s lightweight, interoperable PreManage platform for providers or health plans closes the communication gaps that undermine patient care. Care teams trust it to identify at-risk and complex patients, facilitate collaboration, and provide real-time event notification to improve their outcomes. Hospital care teams get actionable care plan information as well as workflow-driven, point-of-care insights for social determinants of health, prescription histories, and advance directives. Its EDIE (Every ED Instantly) presents information from all ED visits to avoid unnecessary work-ups, cost, and under-informed treatment decision. The company’s nationwide network is engaged by every national health plan, hundreds of hospitals, and tens of thousands of providers. The end result is streamlined transitions of care, improved coordination across diverse care teams, and fewer unnecessary admissions. Thanks to Collective Medical for supporting HIStalk.


April 10 (Tuesday) 3:00 ET. “Using Socioeconomic Data, Not Just Demographics, to Create a Healthier Patient Population.” Sponsor: LexisNexis. Presenters: Erin Benson, director of marketing planning, LexisNexis Health Care; Eric McCulley, director of strategic solutions consultants, LexisNexis Health Care. Did you know that 25 cents of every healthcare dollar is spent on health conditions that are caused by changeable behavior? Use of social determinants of health (SDOH) — including information on households, neighborhoods, relatives, and assets — can directly improve care management and risk stratification. However, it’s important to first define what SDOH is and isn’t. A recent LexisNexis Health Care CIO survey found that only 50 percent of organizations are using SDOH data at all, and even then, they have only limited information from their EHR or from patient surveys. The question is: what are you going to do about it? This webinar will reveal the myths and truths that will help you avoid answering, “Not enough.”

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


Here’s the recording of last week’s webinar titled “Succeeding in Value-Based Care Via a Technology-Driven Approach,” sponsored by Health Fidelity.

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


An Alabama federal judge rules that 36 Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance plan licensees violated anti-trust laws in creating their longstanding agreements to avoid competing with each other in their respective geographic areas, thus using their clout to reduce competition and raise prices.

A Kaiser Health News investigation finds that drug companies are spending nearly twice as much on patient advocacy groups than direct lobbying, benefiting as group members testify before Congress, organize letter-writing and social media campaigns, and repeat company-issued talking points, all activities that don’t have to be reported as lobbying by the sponsoring company. The American Diabetes Association accepted $18 million of drug company money last year even as those companies repeatedly hiked the price of insulin, often in lockstep with each other.


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



Gillie McCreath (Oliver Wyman) joins Mazars USA’s healthcare consulting group as principal.


The White House hires Adam Boehler (CEO of investor-backed home care vendor Landmark Health) as director of the CMS’s Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation.

Government and Politics


Texas Agriculture Commissioner and former rodeo cowboy Sid Miller appoints Rick Redalen, MD (self-styled as “The Maverick Doctor”) to the state’s Rural Health Task Force, about which the Austin newspaper observes:

Privacy and Security

Steve Long, CEO of ransomware-hacked Hancock Health, is hitting the speaker circuit to provide digital defense advice, presumably to hospitals that, unlike his, (a) haven’t been hacked; and (b) if they were, wouldn’t pay a hacker the demanded ransom and thus encourage further such activity. I might well have done the same if I were in his shoes, but I don’t think I’d feel qualified to advise others.



Cardiologist, digital health expert, and HIMSS board member David Scher, MD weighs in on using digital health data for clinical trials, making these points:

Vince and Elise cover Athenahealth, EClinicalWorks, and Meditech, which occupy positions #4-6 in their list of top vendors by annual revenue.

Sponsor Updates

Blog Posts


Mr. H, Lorre, Jenn, Dr. Jayne.
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