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Weekender 12/21/18

December 21, 2018 Weekender No Comments


Weekly News Recap

  • The VA considers terminating its patient scheduling contract with Epic and Leidos in favor of buying a similar system from Cerner.
  • 3M will acquire MModal’s physician documentation technology business for $1 billion.
  • Epic’s 75-year-old CEO Judy Faulkner tells The New York Times that she will probably never retire, but has instructed shareholders that when they choose a new CEO, they should replace her with an Epic software developer.
  • GE firms up plans to spin off its healthcare business via an IPO.
  • Teladoc’s COO/CFO resigns over an incident in which he shared stock trading tips with a Teladoc employee with whom he was having an affair.
  • Livongo hires former Cerner President Zane Burke as CEO.
  • HHS OCR issues an RFI for help reviewing how HIPAA impacts data sharing, how long it takes for patients to get copies of their own medical information, and how often providers refuse to share PHI for treatment purposes.
  • Change Healthcare acquires the API and blockchain assets of interoperability vendor PokitDok.
  • FDA names Flatiron Health Chief Medical Officer Amy Abernethy, MD, PhD as principal deputy commissioner.
  • A federal judge in Texas rules that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.

Watercooler Talk Tidbits

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Reader donations provided the first-grade class of Ms. L in Indiana with math games and activity centers by funding her DonorsChoose teacher grant request. She reports, “My students love getting to play with and use math tools at home. Families particularly like the games so that they are getting to learn and practice with their child during the week as well! Thank you so much for your generosity and helping my students be able to gain confidence in math and get more practice at home!”

Donations from Deborah and Vicki this week, supplemented by generous matching money, fully funded these DonorsChoose requests:

  • A wireless color printer for Ms. P’s second grade class in Morehead City, NC (impacted by Hurricane Florence)
  • Makerspace technology for Ms. B’s high school library in Houston, TX
  • Five laptops for Ms. H’s second grade class in Havelock, NC (her class was out for 5.5 weeks due to Hurricane Florence)
  • Four tablets and cases for Ms. S’s third grade class in Fresno, TX
  • Art supplies for Ms. W’s healthcare STEM high school class in Conway, SC (her school was impacted by both Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Matthew)
  • A molecular modeling set for Ms. G’s fifth grade school class in Tracy, CA (she is a first-year teacher)
  • LEGO bricks for Ms. W’s elementary school class in Balch Springs, TX 


A reader tells me that industry long-timer and friend of HIStalk Ford Phillips of River Bend Marketing passed away this week in Cape Girardeau, MO at 73.


Customer service reps for consumer DNA testing companies are finding themselves in the awkward position of shocking customers with news that their sibling doesn’t share the same parents, that their child was fathered by someone else, or that their DNA matches that of a previously unknown family member. Ancestry.com prepares employees with a months-long training program that includes role-playing and empathy.


A woman settles for $1 million her lawsuit against a plastic surgeon who she claims implanted an unapproved breast reconstruction device that injured her, then falsified her paper medical records to make it look as though she had approved. The doctor had been paid nearly $500,000 over five years by the device’s manufacturer and owns company stock.

Researchers analyze Sweden’s national cardiac patient database to find that while heart attacks happen more often in early mornings and on Mondays, the year’s peak happens at 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve. The study, along with others, finds that heart attack incidence rises during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, perhaps due to the stress caused by money issues, family gatherings, and increased consumption of food and alcohol.


Cigarette maker Altria will pay $13 billion in cash for a 35 percent state in vaping vendor Juul, valuing the three-year-old company at $40 billion. $2 billion of the sales price will go to Juul’s 1,500 employees as bonuses (that’s $1.3 million each, although individual payouts will be based on years of service and shares owned). Juul, which had vowed to make cigarettes obsolete, will benefit from Altria’s legal and marketing muscle as it tries to avoid FDA crackdowns on what some experts say is the top public health crisis in teens. Altria is also diversifying its declining tobacco business by making investments in cannabis and beer manufacturers.


Former President Barack Obama visits Children’s National hospital to sing Christmas songs and give gifts to children. He also thanked employees for working over the holidays.


In Nigeria, a financial consultant regularly visits a government hospital in Lagos to pay the bills of patients who have been discharged, but who aren’t allowed to go home until their bill is paid. Only 5 percent of the country’s residents have health insurance and hospitals sometimes even hold the bodies of deceased patients until relatives pay their bill. The man doesn’t want publicity or thanks for what he calls The Angel Project, where he advocates that “you be the angel you hope to meet.”

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Reader Comments

  • Mike Jude: Very interesting take on the Frost & Sullivan CDSS report. Since I wrote it, I thought I might provide some perspec...
  • Brian Harder: I get schadenfreude when learning of the woes of people who get too cocky (referring to the NULL license plate guy). ...
  • Math: Dittoing on how awesome Zenni is, I've been using them for a couple of years. Most people don't realize how much of an ...
  • Code Jockey: Gotta love it when the kids show up..... After a number of years of almost constant travel and well over 700+ flights...
  • Kermit: My family's been happily using Zenni for years. Never a problem with the quality of their products. My last order was fo...
  • Cosmos: During an inpatient stay at a Boston area teaching hospital, my wife was approached by a research assistant about enroll...
  • AlphaCodeJockey: Finally, CodeJockey has a incentive to play up issues with developing custom solutions for Epic's platform as improvemen...
  • DeltaCodeJockey: I'd also point out that Epic insiders are probably right to be touchy about this topic as they get flack publicly and li...
  • Gamma Code Jockey: Code Jockey's example of an IT form that ties into Epic's system is wrong though - you are allowed to do that and you ar...
  • Bravo Code Jockey: Code Jockey - thanks a tonne for persisting and for your rational and informed responses to a lot of name calling and mi...

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