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Weekender 10/12/18

October 12, 2018 Weekender No Comments


Weekly News Recap

  • Athenahealth is reportedly choosing from its options to accept acquisition bids from previously rejected suitors, sell out to NThrive, or continue as a going concern
  • Several hospitals evacuate patients and suffer damage from Hurricane Michael
  • The VA promotes Paul Tibbits to executive director for the Office of Electronic Health Record Modernization
  • The DoJ clears CVS Health to proceed with its $69 billion merger with Aetna
  • GE Healthcare’s former Value-Based Care Solutions Group, now owned by Veritas Capital, renames itself Virence Health Technologies
  • Mayo Clinic completes the final go-lives of its $1.5 billion Epic implementation
  • A study of 83 mostly top-rated hospitals finds that patients still struggle to get copies of their medical records

Best Reader Comments

Many states have information blocking (!) from their PDMPs. In fact, many state laws prohibit PDMP data from being exported outside the system to EHRs (it can only be seen in view-only mode on their web browser interface), making use in clinical decision support problematic. It’s not an issue of EHR vendor unwillingness, but rather that they can’t do an implementation if they can’t consistently get the data. (Harry Solomon)

Alerts seem like a perfect opportunity for an AI system rather than manual configuration files that will drive everyone crazy. (rxsdsu)

Tailoring every alert to each clinician requires work and maintenance far beyond the capacity, much less interest, of most IT departments. And, even people who rarely make mistakes still do make mistakes. Having a system that helps prevent that as a safety net is still relevant and helpful. I agree with you that too often a “one size fits all” policy is applied, which is inappropriate.  How much “tuning” can actually be accomplished is a yet to be seen outcome, but I’m not sure it is as much the hospital’s view of physicians as it is the financial and WorkStream reality we currently have. (Michael J. McCoy, MD)

As Warren Buffet has said, “When the tide goes out, it is easy to see who is swimming naked.” Jack Welch was really running a hedge fund within the GE Capital division. It accounted for over 50 percent of corporate profits many years. Everybody thought he was a management genius based on his PR announcements. Turns out he was nothing more than a hedge manager and the tide went out in 2009. He jumped ship and left the ruins to Jeff Immelt, who couldn’t turn it around for whatever reason. Now it looks like GE will follow many other firms like Xerox, Eastman, Alcoa, etc. Many years ago, I worked for GE and the inbreeding was smothering. (HISJunkie)

Totally agree with Mr. H about careers. Each time I was shown the door (boss conflict, downsizing, and failed salesmanship), I fell up to a better job, better pay, and more interesting work. Keep the resume ready, network all the time (it’s fun finding out who is where and what they are doing), keep records of your contacts, and keep reading HIStalk! (Laid Off)

Watercooler Talk Tidbits

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Readers funded the DonorsChoose teacher grant request of Ms. J-J, who asked for tablets and a printer for her Georgia class (whose 18 students, she notes, include six English language learners and three who are homeless). She reports, “The tablets we received allow students to work independently in small groups on lessons and activities that help to increase learning and comprehension. The printer has also been a huge help because now we can send information about school and additional practice work home to parents without hassle. I am beyond thankful that my class was chosen and was able to benefit from the generous donation that you sent.”

Here’s a summary of how my DonorsChoose project works:

  • I accept donations from individuals, but mostly companies willing to donate a significant sum in return for being included in my HIMSS-related activities, such as CIO/CMIO lunches.
  • Donors place their donation directly with DonorsChoose and thus receive charitable donation documentation directly from that organization for tax purposes. I never touch their money directly.
  • Their donation is matched by an anonymous vendor executive (who pretty much every HIStalk reader knows), doubling the original donation. That will continue until those matching funds are exhausted.
  • I choose STEM-related DonorsChoose projects that resonate strongest with me, most of those involving additional matching money from foundations.
  • I immediately describe on HIStalk the projects I chose, and when I receive updates and photos from the teacher involved, I post a summary. You don’t see them all right away since I run just one update each week, but I include all of them eventually.
  • As an example of the buying power of a donation, the project above totaled $735, which includes $30 to DonorsChoose for doing all the labor and an additional 20 percent general donation to DonorsChoose that I always select. Of that, the matching offer from Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation covered $368, and of the remaining $368, half of that was provided by my anonymous vendor executive. The original donor’s $184 donation thus provided this classroom with six Kids Edition Kindle Fire tablets and a Xerox wireless printer.

A researcher says high-profile cases, such as the Golden State Killer, that were solved through DNA forensics prove that just about every American could be genetically identified if just 2 percent of us have our DNA tested through consumer sites such as MyHeritage and Ancestry.com. Such matching requires only a third-cousin or higher relationship and the authors say that “such database scale is foreseeable for some third-party websites in the near future.” 


Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center (TX) threatened to punish an internist in “an assassination” in retaliation for his complaining about unnecessary services his patients received in the ICU. A private practice physician who serves on the hospital’s medical executive committee warned Tomas Rios, MD that “you’ve got to get the guy you’re going after and none of the people who were involved get implicated” and suggested that he resign instead. A hospital committee found Rios in violation of patient care standards just weeks later. The hospital says in response to his lawsuit that Rios is not a board-certified intensivist and opposes the closed ICU process that would place them in charge of all ICU patients, while legal experts have noted that hospitals have in some cases used peer review threats to silence doctors from speaking out about patient care issues.

Five New York City doctors are called “drug dealers in white coats” by the US attorney who has charged them with writing prescriptions for 5 million oxycodone pills to patients with no documented medical need who paid them $5 million. Neighbors called police several times to complain about lines of people at all hours outside of the office of one doctor who had two of his own employees, along with several patients, die of overdoses. Another doctor took in so much cash that he had to count it using one of those bill counters that banks use, after which he would hand out wads of cash to his employees. Another doctor prescribed 12,000 tablets for a single patient over five years. A pharmacist who received free lunches and a trip from a customer observed, “I guess you could call us licensed drug dealers. Oxy pays the bills around here.”


A Chinese tech site finds that fitness trackers will display a heart rate when wrapped around anything cylindrical, most impressively a roll of toilet paper or the arm of a stuffed animal. Apparently the light sensors that attempt to detect a pulse rate are easily confused by reflections, although they still read a human pulse accurately.


It’s all in the fine print: a small research study concluding that paper towels are better than air dryers in hospital handwashing was funded by the paper towel lobbying group.

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Reader Comments

  • CommentsTwoWeeksLate: I'd be really disappointed if the "de-identified" data set contained full birth dates or zip codes. That doesn't seem t...
  • Code Jockey: Mr. H - this is a response to 'Really' but I'm not sure how to respond to his post. Also, this is a note for both you an...
  • Clarence: From my experience 7 years as an Epic employee and then 4+ years integrating 3rd party clinical content/software into EH...
  • meltoots: I take issue with one thing in this. The ACR AUC system is ridiculous for specialist physicians. I am a board certified ...
  • Really: Come on Code Junkie... Would any software company on the planet let you take their code, do a minor modification and ...
  • Code Jockey: Sigh.... Code Corrections - the origin of this conversation was a statement by someone that Epic clients were creating t...
  • WhatstheretoWonder: Fairly clear that the ambitions were crushed by unchecked capitalism and Republican waffling on doing the necessary chec...
  • Woodstock Generation: Re: Mr. HIStalk's response to Post-Acute Pat - Mr. HIStalk, you couldn't have said it better about today's healthcare i...
  • It'sNotYouIt'sMe: I also at some point "consented" to give my bank and credit data to Equifax. If you asked the average person when they s...
  • Michael: Re: WSJ article - "without the patient's knowledge or approval." All of the patients consent to give their DNA for resea...

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