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News 4/20/18

Top News

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The State of Illinois Procurement Board finds evidence of a conflict of interest in the $62 million contract awarded to Epic by University of Illinois Hospitals and Health Sciences System, prompting the board to refer the matter to the state’s ethics commission for a public hearing. The review follows a protest by Cerner that it lost the bid despite offering a lower total price. 

Cerner was one of the health system’s incumbent vendors, along with Epic and several other companies.

Board members seemed to agree with Cerner’s attorney that it may have been improper for the health system to hire Impact Advisors to assist with the selection since they also provide Epic implementation services.

Cerner also claims that Epic’s bid did not include the price of those implementation services, which it says could reach $100 million, and that it was not allowed to demonstrate its software.


Reader Comments

From The Hypocritical Oath: “Re: Cerner’s protest at U of Illinois. It’s especially embarrassing given: (a) the hypocrisy of its $16B no-bid VA contract, and (b) the fact that they’re the incumbent vendor and the client hates them so much that they’d rather start over with a new EHR instead of continuing the relationship. I don’t think a demo is going to change much.” Losing vendor protests don’t usually turn out well, especially with regard to public perception (do I as the next potential customer want to consider someone who might sue me if I don’t choose them?). It certainly didn’t help Allscripts when it tried the same thing years ago, when it finally smartened up and dropped its absurd lawsuit against NYHHC and Epic only after firing its own executive team. Imagine the frosty relationship if Cerner prevails and the hospital is stuck implementing a system that it doesn’t want.

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From Jolly Rancher: “Re: UNC Health. Several sites have mistakenly said they were the first health system to earn Stage 7 in the HIMSS Analytics categories of inpatient, ambulatory, and analytics this week. They were not.” The HIMSS-owned rag made a mistake in re-wording UNC’s press release in an attempt to look like an actual news report, apparently failing to notice that UNC’s press release said it was the only health system to earn all three Stage 7 designations that has ALSO been named as “Most Wired Advanced” in an unrelated award (the release clearly trying to one-up Duke by even bringing that up). Duke did its three sevens (I’m tired of typing it, so I’m dubbing the trifecta as AM21) on February 22. Other sites embarrassed themselves by either making the same mistake or by using the HIMSS rag’s site as their source instead of reading the actual press release.

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From VA Software: “Re: the Columbus, OH Ambulatory Care Center. Went live last weekend on MASS (Medical Appointment Scheduling System). Its backbone is Epic (just the scheduling application) that then writes data back to VistA.” The MASS project was announced in 2015, with Systems Made Simple (Lockheed Martin) and Epic being awarded a $623 million bid in what I think was a competitive RFP. The project was placed on hold in 2016 while the VA tried to decide whether to develop its own system, but Congressional pressure (or so I’m assuming) led for it to be restarted even as the VA decided to give Cerner a no-bid contract. Maybe the VA wants MASS to succeed to prove the value of commercial software, or maybe it hopes it fails so that Cerner looks like the only viable commercial software choice – I really don’t know, but would enjoy hearing from someone who does.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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I need more responses to my question this week – care to chime in?

I’m already tired of this phrase that everybody is copying after hearing it: “punching above their weight,” which Google turns up as being used by news sites 3,000 times all of a sudden. I’m hoping against hope that it will die out as people stop trying to be imitatively clever. Soon it will fade and you’ll hear it only from folks who still post-faddishly write “to die for” and “I threw up in my mouth a little bit.”


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Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Provider data management and scheduling software vendor Kyruus raises $10 million in a corporate funding round, increasing its total to $72 million.

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Health IT appears to have created cash flow problems within the financially strapped Tulare Local Healthcare District (CA), which filed for bankruptcy last fall. Former management company Healthcare Conglomerate Associates, which is hoping to recoup over $16 million from the district, attributed its struggles with payroll at Tulare Regional Medical Center to glitches in the Cerner system it implemented in 2016. An independent EHR implementation consultant is also looking to be paid, which lawmakers say may not happen any time soon.

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Medeanalytics relocates its headquarters to its expanded office in Richardson, TX.

Sharecare SVP of Corporate Communications Jen Martin Hall responded to my inquiry about its joint venture with HCA, confirming the rumor reported by reader Private Privatized earlier this week:

HCA and Sharecare are putting operations of Share Lab, their joint venture to develop a next-generation online scheduling product, on hold. While the Share Lab team built a great product which was successfully deployed into an HCA facility and was demonstrating promising initial results, we couldn’t agree on a go-to-market strategy.

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California Health Care Foundation’s innovation fund invests an unspecified amount in Collective Medical, which closes patient care communication gaps by using analytics to create a shared set of patient information, such as turning HIE data into clinically useful information. The company’s November 2017 Series A funding round raised $47.5 million.


Sales


People

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GetWellNetwork names Nikia Bergan (Advisory Board) as chief revenue officer.

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Ciox Health hires Arvind Ramakrishnan (IRI) as chief operations officer for clinical data acquisition and insights.


Announcements and Implementations

Comcast and Philadelphia BCBS insurer Independence Health will launch a health technology platform for consumers that will focus on “the effectiveness and efficiency of patient communications and education” that includes patient education and telemedicine. The insurer got the idea from the Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JP Morgan project, explaining, “We’re going to use all of the data that we have from both companies and actually be able to create specific journeys for you.”

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Frankfort Regional Medical Center (KY) goes live on Meditech Expanse with help from Parallon Technology Solutions.

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The Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center at the University of Nebraska Medical Center implements an HL7-based discrete genomic results reporting system from GenomOncology to access results more easily via EHR.

Olympus will allow endoscopy images to be shared across health systems via its Knowledge Exchange System connected to InterSystems HealthShare.


Government and Politics

The White House assigns Camilo Sandoval to acting CIO of the VA following Scott Blackburn’s resignation earlier this week, giving him a potentially important role in its Cerner project. Sandoval, a former Trump campaign data director later named as senior adviser to the undersecretary for health, was one of several political appointees who former Secretary David Shulkin accused of conspiring to get him fired. The White House says a permanent candidate for the job is being vetted.

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The FDA includes cybersecurity as part of its new Medical Device Safety Action Plan, emphasizing the need to shore up device vulnerabilities that could compromise patient safety. The plan will also help direct the ongoing establishment of the FDA’s National Evaluation System for health Technology (NEST) program.


Other

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The local paper covers Mayo Clinic’s (MN) employee training ahead of its May 5 Epic go-live. Over 26,000 staff have been shuttled to a training center daily over the last three years. The clinic has hired 260 trainers to handle the crowds. The center will stay open for ongoing training through 2019.

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A new KLAS report on inpatient systems in under-200 bed hospitals contains interesting facts:

A Chicago Tribune investigative report finds that Bala Hota, MD – former Cook County Health and Hospitals System CIO / CMIO – fraudulently obtained reimbursement for $248,000 in expenses that he claimed were work related but that in fact involved purchases of toys, ITunes products, and a piano, leading to his resignation in 2014 as auditors uncovered the issues. He repaid the money last year and is now VP, chief analytics officer, and associate CIO of Rush University Medical Center.

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Employees of Theranos – back when they had some – drank the Elizabeth Holmes Kool-Aid in believing that Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou was mistreating the company in exposing its fraud to the world, so they created a Space Invaders-type game called “Haters Gonna Hate” that used Carreyou’s head as the invaders to be shot at. Not only was this possibly the only company technology that ever actually worked, insiders went all Jim Jones in chanting “F— you, Carreyou” at an all-hands meeting. They have a dazzling array of reasons to be feeling really stupid right about now.


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