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Monday Morning Update 8/13/18

August 12, 2018 News 4 Comments

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The Wall Street Journal posts another critical review of IBM Watson Health for oncology, saying that “the diagnosis is gloomy” for Watson’s ability to improve cancer treatments.

Reader Comments

From Axe the Fax: “Re: fax machines. Finally someone is pushing to get rid of them in healthcare.” We healthcare folks are always embarrassed by technologies that, while understandably outdated in the consumer arena and in other industries, are nearly perfectly suited for our needs. We have a zillion things wrong with the healthcare non-system, and fax machines and pagers — while emblematic of healthcare’s resistance to change – can be swapped out whenever a provider finds a better alternative (and while CMS has jumped on the bandwagon, I bet they still require providers to fax in information to support claims or information requests). Fax machines are the one form of interoperability that data-hoarding and technically incompetent providers can’t suppress, and in that regard, are disruptive in their own way. They require no training, they always work, and incoming faxes are easily noticed and sorted without sitting down with a keyboard. I wish we would save the righteous indignation and smarmy dismissiveness for things that should truly embarrass us, like poor value, self-serving clinical and administrative practices, and treating patients like the widgets of profit. We spent billions of taxpayer dollars on EHRs, and while they allowed health systems to preen about their high-tech wonderfulness, most of those providers didn’t see their cost or quality needle move one iota and neither will dumping fax machines – a better hammer doesn’t necessarily make you a great carpenter.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests


Most poll respondents don’t like the idea of someone having to file bankruptcy over medical bills. PFS_Guy says people don’t manage their money well and he doesn’t have good answers on how to help them, hoping that those in need look to charity or hospital financial assistance programs. Greg Park advocates Medicare-for-all because the profit-driven system preys worst on those with little or no insurance. Cosmos says someone has to pay for medical care, and if your short-sighted, invincibility-fueled decision to not buy insurance turns out to be unwise, you should have to take financial responsibility, including filing bankruptcy if needed. He adds a hypothetical example in which someone’s life is saved with a million-dollar hospital bill – is it unreasonable that bankruptcy gives that health system part of your life’s income in the form of a repayment plan? 

New poll to your right or here, continuing with the theme and getting right to the heart of today’s healthcare debate: Is it OK for insurers to charge sicker people higher health insurance premiums or refuse to cover them as was common pre-ACA and is about to become common again? A follow-up question might ask what should then be done when someone quickly runs out of resources and simply signs up for Medicaid so taxpayers foot the bill.


Responses to last week’s question are here.


We’re in peak vacation season, which raises this week’s question: what have you done with time off that turned out to be especially motivating, enriching, or transformative? Something that changed your life, maybe? Those of us looking for something beyond the usual vacations need some guidance.

Here’s my favorite quote of the moment, which I thought of upon biting my lip as an acquaintance who is dying of cancer explained that she still puts in endless work hours because nobody else can do her job: “Graveyards are full of indispensable men.”


August 15 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “Raising the Digital Trajectory of Healthcare.” Sponsored by: Health Catalyst. Presenter: Dale Sanders, President of Technology, Health Catalyst. Healthcare ranks lowest in McKinsey’s Digital Quotient (data assets x data skills x data utilization) of all industries except mining and has largely ignored the digitization of patients’ state of health, but that’s changing. This webinar will describe the empathetic components of healthcare digitization strategy; the AI-enabled encounter; why today’s digital approach will never work and instead sucks the life out of clinicians; the role of bio-integrated sensors, genomics, and the “digitician;” and the technology and architecture of a modern digital platform. It’s going to happen, so let’s make it happen the right way.

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

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


This should stir up some debate. FDA approves the first “gene-silencing” drug that treats a rare nerve destruction disease. The company spent $2.5 billion to develop Onpattro and will sell it for $450,000 per patient per year, including a money-back guarantee. The chief medical officer of Express Scripts applauds the company for “taking a responsible approach to pricing and patient access in the rare disease space.” About 50,000 people worldwide have the condition, of which 100 percent will want the drug versus the approximately 0.0 percent that can afford to pay for it. What do you do?


  • Abington Hospital (PA) went live with Oracle HR software in January 2018.
  • Southeast Georgia Health System (GA) will go live with Kronos HR information system in September 2018.
  • Wake Forest Baptist Health (NC) plans to switch from Oracle HR information system to a new vendor that has not yet been chosen.
  • Sedgwick County Health Center (CO) switched from Azalea Health to MedWorks on February 1, 2018.
  • Parkside Psychiatric Hospital (OK) went live with Paycom HR software in spring 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.



Ashish Sant (McKesson) is named SVP/GM of enterprise imaging of Change Healthcare.


CancerLinQ, a non-profit data initiative of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, hires Corey Wiegert (IBM Watson Health) as CEO.

Announcements and Implementations


Mobile Heartbeat launches CURE Analytics, which allows users of its mobile communications platform to improve communications processes and quality and to add communication data to a data warehouse.


LOINC releases its FDA-funded “Guide for Using LOINC Microbiology Terms.”


The government of India develops “e-mortality” software, hoping to improve on the 90 percent of death records that are not medically certified to include ICD-10 codes that indicate the underlying and contributing causes.

Minnesota’s health department finds that an appendectomy can cost as little as $6,600 or as much as $35,500, due not to which hospital is doing the work or how risky a particular patient is, but rather the secret price negotiations between health systems and insurance companies. Hospitals with little competition charged 15 percent more and patients are getting stuck with ever-higher bills because of high insurance deductibles and co-pays. 

In the UK, Alder Hey Children’s NHS Trust wants to use Microsoft HoloLens for a heads-up display for surgeons and Surface Hub for single-screen collaboration in sharing EHR data and medical images.


Guess which country isn’t home to this market research firm whose website self-aggrandizes its “well-endowed research teams headed by true curators of talent and strong-headed individuals?”


Weird News Andy confides that he heard about this in a tweet. A bronchoscopy reveals that a four-year-old boy’s mysterious, whistling-like cough is being caused, in fact, by an actual toy whistle.

Sponsor Updates

  • Medicomp Systems is exhibiting at Greenway Health’s Engage18 customer conference in National Harbor, MD August 10-13.
  • Iatric Systems posts a case study titled “Prevent Third-Party Breaches, Protect PHI, and Avoid the “Wall of Shame” with Iatric Systems SecureRamp.”
  • Black Book updates its mobile healthcare survey apps.
  • Liaison Technologies achieves record-breaking growth in the first half of 2018.
  • Lightbeam Health Solutions will exhibit at the SHIEC Conference August 19-22 in Atlanta.
  • Vyne President and CEO Lindy Benton joins the Florida State University Alumni Association National Board of Directors.
  • MedData’s Pulse intranet software wins ThoughtFarmer’s annual Best Intranet Awards in the Innovation category.
  • Surescripts will exhibit at the 2018 Aprima User Conference August 17-19 in Grapevine, TX.
  • SymphonyRM and ZappRx achieves AICPA SOC 2 Type 2 compliance.
  • TriNetX releases the agenda for its annual user conference September 25-26 in Boston.

Blog Posts


Mr. H, Lorre, Jenn, Dr. Jayne.
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Currently there are "4 comments" on this Article:

  1. This should bring you to a link for the WSJ OIBM story where you don’t have to sign up to read the rest::


    Of interest is also IBM’s reply to the IBM story- interestingly only published on IBM’s intrenal blog site::


    AI is not easy by any means but they must be feeling the heat as the almost NEVER respond to stories. There have been several other stories published in recent weeks that have been less than flattering to IBM but I’m not going to kick a company while they are down.

    Looks like it’s going to take a while for this “Moonshot” to get to the moon…..if it ever does.

  2. Watson for Oncology isn’t an AI that fights cancer, it’s an unproven mechanical turk that represents the guesses of a small group of doctors…
    See https://boingboing.net/2017/11/13/little-man-behind-the-curtain.html

    Maybe physicians didn’t like the idea of a mechanical turk impersonating AI ?
    Maybe physicians lost all credibility when the above (criminal ? dishonest ?) fiasco was discovered ?

    More interesting – how can Watson recover from this , if at all ?
    Tsk, tsk, tsk

  3. RE: OnPattro

    The same market incentives that allowed the company to invest $2.5b in development of a drug that only impacts 50,000 worldwide are what produced the $450k price tag. Given the choice I’d take medical bankruptcy over nerve degeneration 10/10 times. The price tag seems strange to me though – if your intent is to maximize profits why set the price at a mark that drives consumers into said bankruptcy? You’re not collecting on those folks and thus not getting that return. Seems like a pricing strategy, ie set the list price at $450k and then “negotiate” discounts to provider orgs at something still ridiculous but in the realm of possibility for payment. It’s gross but if you wipe that possibility, maybe the drug doesn’t get made at all.

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